Backpacks, bikes and buses: keeping kids safe this schoolyear

- Going back to school is an exciting time of year for kids. The Kohl's Injury Prevention Program at the Children's Hospital of Michigan and Safe Kids Metro Detroit want to keep your kids safe this school year.

Backpack Safety
Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture.  These injuries can be avoided by following a few safety rules.

Top tips for Backpack Safety:
A lightweight pack: get one that doesn't add a lot of weight to your child's load
Two wide, padded shoulder straps: Always use both straps
A padded back: Provides comfort and protection from being poked 
A waist belt: this helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body
Maximum weight of the load should be 15-20% of child's bodyweight (i.e. a child that weighs 30 lbs should not have a backpack heavier than 6 lbs).

Bike Safety:
When the weather is nice, riding a bike to school is a great way for children to get exercise.  Here are some bike safety tips to be aware of during this busy time of year.

Top tips for Bike Safety:
Make sure your child ALWAYS wears a helmet and that it fits properly.
Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic and in a single file.
Come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk your bike across the street.
Always use a bike lock to keep your bike safe while at school.

School Bus Safety
School buses are the safest mode of motorized transportation for getting children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful and aware when getting on and off the bus.

Top Tips for School Bus Safety
Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
Teach kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and never to walk behind the bus.
Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Drivers should always follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
Slow down and stop if you're driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off.

Pedestrian
Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. Teenagers are now at greatest risk. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

Top Tips for Pedestrian Safety:
Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.

Passenger Safety
Everyone should ride in a car seat, booster seat or seat belt, based on individual age, weight and height.
Ensure that each child under 13 is riding in a back seat. Drive only as many occupants as there are seat belts.
Make sure that all children exit the car on the curb side. Once children exit the car, wait until they are safely supervised before driving off.
While it may be tempting to dash out for a minute while your kids are sitting peacefully in their car seats, the temperature inside your car can rise very quickly and cause heatstroke. Remember to lock your car when you are done driving so kids can't get in on their own.
 

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