Most schools are now conducting their classes online in response to the current coronavirus crisis. For those who are still required to go to school for in-person classes, it’s important to be doubly careful. Aside from wearing masks and practicing social distancing, they should also know how to stay safe when they walk to school.
Even with the COVID-19 threat, there are still people out to do no good. You also have to consider accidents, emergencies, and other threats to your safety and security. That said, we need to prepare ourselves and take the necessary steps to stay safe while walking to school.
Incidentally, we recently celebrated National Walk to School Day on October 7. Others celebrate the annual event as Walk and Bike to School Day, since it’s more about promoting the health benefits of walking and biking to and from school. Plus, this will help develop the child’s discipline, independence, and self-reliance. It’ll also be a fun bonding moment to walk to school with their siblings or friends.
This event should not be confused with National Walk Safety to School Day, which is held every September. This one is focused on the safety aspect of walking or commuting to school. As you probably figured out, health and safety go hand in hand. That said, we will be discussing some health tips and pointers on how to stay safe when you walk to school. Also, we’re talking about children who are old enough to go on their own. Students less than ten years old should be accompanied by an adult.
Check the Route
You want your kids to bike or walk to school to get some exercise but you just can’t let them go without doing a little investigation. Walk the route yourself. Practice your situational awareness and see if there are possible threats to their safety along the way.
Keep an eye out for open manholes, dead branches, and other accidents waiting to happen. Report them immediately to the local authorities so they can take action. Be wary of alleys and other areas that seem dangerous or where suspicious-looking people like to gather.
Check with the National Sex Offender Registry. If there’s a sex offender residing nearby, it’s best to not let your child walk to school alone. Have a trusted adult accompany your child if you’re unable to do so yourself.
Wear Proper Attire
We don’t mean wearing a hard hat to stay safe when you walk to school. That’s actually a good idea if you know you’re passing through a construction site. Otherwise, this may seem a little absurd. We also don’t mean not wearing shorts or other skimpy outfits.
What we mean by wearing the proper attire is donning bright clothes and wearing the right shoes. Bright colors are easier to see, especially in the dark. Wear bright-colored clothes or attach reflectors to their clothes and bag. As for their footwear, use closed shoes with thick soles. Avoid flip-flops and shoes with heels. They can easily trip wearing them. Wear thick yet comfy socks to avoid blisters.
Check out Joy of Socks for socks with an attitude. Your child, especially the teen ones, will get a kick out of something like the Kid’s A Little Cheesy Socks 3 Pair Pack courtesy of Socksmith. I can just hear your daughter saying, “You and your dad jokes!” once she sees these cheesy pairs of novelty socks.
Check the weather regularly so you can dress your child properly. If the forecast is rainy, make sure they bring an umbrella and wear their raincoats and rain boots. Once winter comes, remind your child to bring their jacket, mittens, and headgear.
This Ericdress Plain Falbala Zipper Girl’s Mid-Length Down Jacket, for example, is a must-have come winter so your child doesn’t get cold. Get the red one, pictured above, so they can easily be spotted when they’re out.
Walk Don’t Run or Skate
Running is good for your body. Skateboarding or using in-line skates is fun and also a good form of exercise. However, walking is still the safest way to get to school if you’re not taking the bus or carpooling.
Watch Your Step
Kids need to be aware of their surroundings. Even if they’re talking to a friend while walking to school, they should watch where they’re going. Look out for potholes, puddles, fallen branches, and other obstacles.
They should refrain from reading books while walking. If they are allowed to bring a phone, they shouldn’t use it while walking. You don’t want them to end up in one of those video compilations of people on their phones tripping and falling. They may look funny but people have seriously gotten hurt from that. They should keep their phone in their pocket. If they have to use it, stop in a safe area before taking out their phone. Chin up and eyes ahead, always.
Is your child taking a ball home from school? They should keep it in a bag and sling it over their body. Never dribble or play with the ball while you’re on the sidewalk or crosswalk. Don’t play with other toys such as a Gameboy, yo-yo, and paper airplane. Just focus on walking.
Stay on the Sidewalk
Remind the kids to stick to the sidewalk. Don’t venture out on the street as the chances of getting hit or sideswiped by a car greatly increases. While walking, they should be wary of the vehicles passing by. If they notice a speeding car, move farther away from the curb. If there’s an obstruction on the sidewalk, look on both sides first before walking on the road.
Use Pedestrian Lanes or Crosswalks
Jaywalking is against the law. It’s also not safe. Use crosswalks or pedestrian lanes when crossing the street. Don’t forget to stop completely at the curb and look both ways repeatedly before crossing. Some irresponsible or distracted drivers tend to drive too fast and fail to stop in time to avoid a crossing pedestrian. This has happened so many times before so your child should make sure the coast is clear before taking a step.
Never Dash Out Between Vehicles
In case there are no crosswalks, avoid dashing out between cars. First of all, you should check if the road is clear before crossing. Second, passing through two parked cars is not smart. An approaching vehicle may not see you because of the cars blocking you from their view.
Learn How to Deal With Strangers
There’s quite a controversy with the concept of “stranger danger.” It’s understandable that many parents warn their children about potentially dangerous strangers. Just watching the news and hearing about all these abductions, rapes and murders makes you want to stay indoors all your life. Of course, that’s not feasible.
Also, statistics show that most sexual abuse cases against children are committed by someone known to the victim. According to Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse author and psychology professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., about “93 percent of sexual abuse against children is perpetrated by those known to the child.” These perpetrators can be family members, friends, teachers, coaches, and other people they know.
Recognize Suspicious Behavior
The point is that we should teach children about situational awareness instead of panicking at the sight of a stranger. Aside from surveying the environment for potential threats, they should also know how to read people, particularly suspicious behaviors.
For example, when a stranger approaches them and asks for help to look for a missing pet, that’s a red flag. The same with strangers asking for help with some emergency. Unless the emergency is pretty obvious, like he’s been hit by a car, then the person has no business asking a kid for help. Adults, in general, can handle themselves and don’t need assistance from children for such petty problems.
Don’t Accept Anything From Strangers
Teach them to never accept anything from people they don’t know. If someone is just being friendly, they should ask permission from the parent or guardian first if they want to give something to the child. At the same time, your child should know that they need to ask you first before accepting anything.
Keep Your Distance
In this day and age, you should be worried and annoyed that other people are too close to you. Everyone should practice social distancing measures by keeping at least one meter of space between you and the next person.
That meter of space between you and the stranger will also make it harder for them to grab or attack you if that is their intention. If you have that separation, you give yourself a chance to evade and run for help.
In case someone succeeds in grabbing your kid, they should do their best to get away or keep the stranger from pulling them away.
Trust Your Instincts
Aside from knowing how to recognize possible threats, they should also learn to trust their instincts. Even if a person is not acting strangely, your child should take immediate action as long as they feel uncomfortable. They should get hold of anything that can be used to protect themselves such as a whistle or pepper spray. Keep walking as they seek help from other people. Be wary of the other person’s actions and be ready to use whatever non-lethal weapon they have.
Bring Your Everyday Carry Kit
An everyday carry or EDC kit is a simple emergency kit containing all the basic items you need for, well, emergencies. As the name implies, you take it with you everywhere you go. You’ll be surprised (or maybe not) that some of the items in this list are things that you already have on you at all times. Take food and water, for example. Every day, you make sure your child has snacks and a packed lunch along with juice or a bottle of water before they head to school. Aside from their usual food and drinks, pack an energy-boosting snack in your child’s bag. They may come in handy in emergencies.
Wallet, IDs, and Money
Whenever adults go out, they always take their wallets with them. Inside the wallet are cash, cards, identification cards, and photos of their family. It’s obvious why you shouldn’t leave home without cash and cards. Small children don’t have cards yet and will not carry that much money. They should have emergency cash tucked somewhere in case they get thirsty or need to ride the bus for some reason.
Zazzle offers customized trifold wallets. You can choose the photo and/or text you want to be printed on the wallet. Your family photo and name would be a good choice for identification purposes. The classic tri-fold wallet is made of durable nylon and comes in six different colors. It utilizes a hook and loop closure, otherwise known as Velcro.
Adults and older students need identification cards for business or school transactions. For the younger ones, the cards are mainly for identification purposes. You need an ID with contact numbers so people can identify you and call your family in case you’re in an emergency. The photos will also help in identifying you and your family.
A luggage tag will also help in case of an emergency. The Dr. Seuss Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Luggage Tag by Zazzle uses the AcryliPrint®HD printing process for the design and your personal details. The tag is UV resistant and waterproof so durability should not be an issue. Just remember to place the tag inside the bag so strangers cannot see your child’s name, where you live, and your contact number. They might use these details for wrongdoings.
Phone and Charger
There are some reservations about allowing small children to have their own smartphones. Ideally, only those 12 years and older are allowed to own one. However, many parents find it necessary to let their children bring a phone to school so they can call if there’s an emergency.
If you’re thinking of letting your kid bring a phone to school, there are a few things you need to know. First, most schools don’t allow phones inside the campus. Second, your children should only use their phones to call you or if there is an emergency.
They’ll also need a phone charger, especially if they always forget to charge their phones. The QuickHeat Rechargeable Hand Warmer with Portable Power Bank by Frog & CO doubles as a phone charger and a portable heater. This survival tool is useful during cold days as it provides up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. For the younger ones, they should know not to play with this gadget and only use it when necessary.
Face Mask and Face Shield
These days, when can’t talk about outdoor safety without mentioning face masks and face shields along with other coronavirus safety tips. The best safety tip is still to stay at home to prevent getting the virus. But since some schools still require in-person learning, wearing proper protection is still the way to go.
Let’s start with face masks. The best of the lot is the N95 respirator. The N95 NIOSH 20-Pack Medical Face Masks by A.R. Medicom staves off 95 percent of dust, solids, and liquid aerosols. Most importantly right now, it can protect you from COVID-19.
Surgical masks are next in line. They’re not as effective as N95 respirators but they provide ample protection from the coronavirus. The most common face protection you’ll see nowadays is the cloth face mask. This is not as effective as the N95 respirator and surgical mask though it is recommended by the World Health Organization for the general population mainly because the first two masks are limited in supply right now.
The Pirates Will Be Pirates Mask, available on Redbubble, is made of two layers of soft 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex fabric. The design of the reusable face mask is courtesy of the sublimation print process.
Face shields provide additional protection from the coronavirus. It is, however, not a better option than the aforementioned face masks. You need to wear both a face mask and face shield to be more protected from the virus compared to wearing just one of them.
Zazzle has an impressive collection of customizable face shields. Its Modern Personalized Name Astronaut Space Helmet Face Shield makes you look like you’re wearing an actual space helmet. The face shield is made of clear PET plastic. They also have a pirate face shield to go with the pirate-themed face masks.
Another EDC item that’s become pretty popular during the pandemic, hand sanitizers provide protection from viruses, germs, and other nasty stuff. During times when your child cannot wash their hands with soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do. Like handwashing, you should get all nooks and crannies of your hand whenever you use a hand sanitizer. Remind your child to take this seriously.
Owning, open carrying, or concealed carrying of multi-tools is not prohibited based on the lack of a US Federal Knife law saying that it is. That means it is perfectly legal to bring one to school and wherever you go. However, some states have their own local laws regarding pocket knives and multi-tools with blades. Also, some schools may be tight about their students bringing anything sharp inside the school grounds. Before letting your child bring one in their EDC kit, make sure it is allowed. Most importantly, see if the kid can be mature and responsible enough to own one. If you do get your child one, teach them how to use it properly.
Since emergency blankets are lightweight and pretty useful, might as well pack at least one in your EDC kit. It fits in any bag and even in your pocket so it shouldn’t really be a bother. It helps trap about 90% of your body heat. It’s a great survival item to have when it rains or it gets too cold. Since it has a reflective surface, you can even use it to signal for help in case you’re lost.
Speaking of calling for help, an emergency whistle is another EDC kit must-have. The Micro Scream Whistle produces a 100-decibel sound that can be heard from a mile away. Keep it handy while you walk to school. Use it when someone approaches and tries to grab you. The loud noise should draw attention and scare your would-be attacker. The pealess whistle weighs only 0.2 ounces so you can keep it in your pocket, use it as a keychain, or hang it around your neck. You won’t even feel it’s there.
First Aid Kit
Teach your kids to take care of themselves when they get hurt. They should know how to clean and close wounds and other basic first aid skills. Pack a small first aid kit in their bag and make sure they only use them when necessary. Again, they should be responsible for them.
The First Aid 0.5 Ounce Tin Kit from Adventure Medical Kits comes with bandages, Moleskin, insect sting relief pads, antiseptic wipes, alcohol swabs, and antibiotic ointment. They should come in handy when they scrape their knees, cut their fingers, or have a blister. The tiny first aid kit also has a splinter picker, safety pins, and a Slim Rescue Howler Whistle.
In any discussion regarding how to stay safe when you walk to school, pepper sprays and other non-lethal weapons will always be mentioned. Everyone, especially the ladies, should have a pepper spray. They should also know how to use them.
When you give your child a pepper spray or other non-lethal weapons, you have to show them how to use it properly. Also, you need to make sure they are disciplined and responsible enough not to use these survival tools for stupid things. They are for self-defense. They’re not to be played with or to be used for bullying other people.
A whistle will create a piercing sound that may scare potential attackers away. However, it takes a precious few seconds to get the whistle, put it in your mouth, and blow. A personal alarm can be activated with just a click of a button or a pull of a string. Remind your child to keep their personal alarm in their hand while walking to school and going home.
The KOSIN Safe Sound Personal Alarm emits 140 decibels of sound that will surely get some attention even from over 600 feet away. The alarm is activated by simply pulling out the contact pin. The siren can last up to 40 minutes. You can turn it off by re-inserting the pin. The multi-purpose survival tool also comes with an LED lamp.
Pandemic or not, we need to be serious about teaching our children how to stay safe when they walk to school. Hey, we’re talking about the safety of our kids so this should be a no-brainer. If you want to know more tips on how to keep our family safe, follow Gentleman Pirate Club. And if you think we missed something important, please share your safety tip in the comment section.