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      Back to School Safety

      Posted on August 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      School buses ready for students 
      Photo Credit: Flickr user Larry Darling

      ST. PAUL — For parents and students, the start of a new school year brings anticipation and excitement. But there are also safety issues to consider. 

      Whether students are starting kindergarten, finishing high school, or are away at college, parents are encouraged to make themselves aware of potential dangers and teach their children how to stay safe.
                                                                                                                                
      The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has compiled a list of issues and tips to help parents. From walking to school to surfing the Internet, kids will be safer if they and their parents abide by a few common-sense principles.

      “If you’re providing transportation, access to technology, or any type of guidance to a student of any age, you have the ability to help assure they get safely through the school year,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “We’re providing this information because we want to be sure our students learn safety lessons the easy way — from adults who model safe behavior and give them good advice.”

      Stay safe online — Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
      As children become reacquainted with their peers, they’ll continue classroom conversations online. Sometimes, that includes teasing, humiliating or harassing others. Stop your child from cyberbullying or being a victim by learning the signs and stepping in to deal with the issue. Talk with your child about limiting what they share, including photos, and take steps to help your child be safe online. 
      • Take charge – establish use guidelines for electronic devices and understand the technology you’re bringing into your home.
      • Monitor – use monitoring software to supplement your attention to your child’s Internet use.
      • Communicate – talk with your children about protecting themselves and respecting others online.
      • Go to bca.dps.mn.gov to learn more about cyberbullying and steps you can take to prevent it. Report instances of inappropriate online contact to: www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.

      Prevent fires on and off campus — State Fire Marshal 
      Fire kills Minnesota college students every year both on and off campus. There are many causes of campus fires, but most are due to a lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Alcohol also plays a role. Awareness and an action plan will improve chances of survival. Here are some basic campus fire safety tips:
      • Make sure there is a smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every level of the house if you live off campus. 
      • Clean up immediately after parties and take trash outside. 
      •  Is your dorm equipped with an automatic fire-sprinkler system? Find out. 
      • Know two escape routes out of your dorm or off-campus residence. Practice using that route when you are awake and not impaired. 
      • If an alarm sounds, get out. Don’t worry about grabbing your personal belongings. 
      • More fire safety tips and a SFMD video on campus fire safety are available at sfm.dps.mn.gov

      Know what to do during a fire drill — State Fire Marshal 
      Kids may know how to escape their burning home, but what about their school? Would your child take a fire drill seriously? Fire drills play a big part in classroom safety by preparing students for the unexpected and teach them to get outside quickly and quietly. Teachers and parents should talk to their students and children about fire drills. Here’s what they should know:  
      • Take fire alarms seriously. 
      • When the alarm sounds, get out and stay out. 
      • Younger children should understand they should not hide from fire. 
      • Know at least two escape routes beforehand.
      • Identify the outside classroom meeting spot.
      More information about school fire drills is available from the National Fire Protection Association.  

      School bus safety is for motorists and children — State Patrol
      Study up on school bus safety: Drive attentively, be ready to stop for school buses and be watchful for children exiting buses and crossing streets — that’s where and when they are most vulnerable. 
      • It’s the law to stop for red flashing lights and when bus stop-arms are extended — both when driving behind a bus and when coming toward a bus on an undivided road.
      • Red flashing lights indicate children are entering or exiting the bus. 
      • Motorists are encouraged to alter their routes or schedules to avoid busses. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves driving behind a bus and potentially putting children at risk.
      Parents should discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children, and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus. Specifically, when getting off a bus, children should look to be sure no vehicles are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). And before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, make eye contact with the driver, wait for the driver to signal that it is safe to cross, and then keep watching traffic when crossing.

      To read more, visit the Department of Public Safety website.