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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2006
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department
(Phone)

Back To School Health and Safety Tips

It is time to prepare to go back to school. Parents and caregivers are reminded to discuss some health and safety tips with their children to help make this a safe and fun school year. The ________ County Health Department suggests the following tips:

General Safety

  • Be sure your child knows his or her home telephone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to use 911 for emergencies.
  • Make sure your child knows how and where they can make an emergency phone call.
  • Teach your child that a stranger is anyone you or your child doesn’t know well or trust. Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers.
  • If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff, staff-to-child ratio, rooms and playground safety.

Traveling to and from School

Review the following basic rules with your child:

School Bus

  • Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from the traffic and the street.
  • Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Teach your children to remain seated while on the bus when it is in motion.
  • Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
  • Check to see that no other traffic is coming before getting on or off the bus.

Car

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. The current graduated licensing law limits the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distractions. If a teen driver has more than one passenger, they either have to have a licensed driver age 21 or older as a front seat passenger, or the other passengers must be siblings. These restrictions are removed after six months for teens who take a driver education course, and after a year for those who don’t.
  • Do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone.

Bike

  • Teach your children to wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride. Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Teach your children about the use of appropriate hand signals.
  • Teach your children to respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Teach your children to wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.

Walking to School

  • Make sure your child has a safe walking route to school.
  • Teach your child about safe pedestrian skills.
  • Carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • Teach your children to wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.

Eating During the School Day

  • Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home. Try packing a nutritious lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
  • Encourage your child’s school to offer healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice in the school cafeteria and vending machines.
  • Contact your principal to learn how to become involved in your school's Healthy and Fit School Advisory Committee.

Backpack Safety

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over only one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.

Developing Good Homework and Study Habits

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Children need a permanent workspace in a part of the home that offers privacy.
  • Set aside ample time for homework.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
  • Be available to assist but never do a child's homework for him or her.
    Children should break and rest for 10 minutes every hour while studying.
  • Talk with your child’s teacher if they are struggling with school issues.

For more information on getting ready for back to school, contact the ________ County Health Department at (phone number).

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