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Back to School

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Back to School Safety Tips

By Janet Werst, Injury Prevention Coordinator, University of Colorado Health

 

 Families are starting to get back into the routine to head back to school.  Some important things parents should remember to review road safety rules to make sure they get to the classroom safely, whether walking or biking.

Before sending them on their way, talk to your child about a safe route to school. Got to http://www.fcgov.com/saferoutes/schools.php and pull up a map of your neighborhood school and talk about the traffic flow, obstacles, and a safe route for them to follow.  Encourage him to stay on that safe route and not deviate unless they talk to you first (ie. Going to a friend’s house after school).  Identify safe places to stop if he needs help (flat tire, feeling unsafe, etc.).

Discuss personal safety with your child as well.  Your child should never go with a stranger or someone you have not approved.  Develop a safe password, so if there is an emergency they know you talked to the adult that is asking them to get into their vehicle.  More information on personal safety can be found at http://www.fcgov.com/police/pdf/childsafe09.pdf

A bicycle is considered a vehicle and must follow the same rules of the road:

  • Right on the RIGHT with the flow of traffic.
  • Stop at all stop signs and traffic signals
  • Make eye contact with drivers to make sure you know who has the right of way.
  • Use hand signals to let drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists know your intentions.
  • Be predictable—don’t swerve around cars and be aware of your surroundings.
  • If a bike lane is provided, use it.  Safe Kids recommends children under the age of 10 years old ride on the sidewalk, until they can control their bicycle safely.

More than 27 million children ages 5 to 14 ride bicycles.  Other safety tips include:

  • Wear a bike helmet at all times when bicycling and snap the straps!  Helmets should be replaced every 3 years, when it no longer fits, or if it has been involved in a crash.
  • Wear light colored clothing if riding after dusk.
  • If riding after dark, make sure the bicycle has a head lamp and tail lamp.  Reflectors are not enough to be seen.
  • Make sure schools provide cyclists with “safe areas”.

For our little pedestrians, the rules are a little different.

  • Walk on the sidewalk.  If a sidewalk is not available, pedestrians should walk AGAINST traffic (facing the cars) as far off the side of the road as possible.
  • Cross at corners and use crosswalks if available.
  • Look LEFT, RIGHT, and LEFT again to ensure it is safe to cross.  Do not assume that a green light or walk signal means it is safe.  Drivers are not always paying attention.
  • Make eye contact with drivers to make sure you know who has the right of way.
  • Children under the age of 10 years old should be supervised while walking to school.  You can find information on walking school buses at http://www.fcgov.com/saferoutes/

Now that your child is ready to mentally tackle the challenges of getting to school, don’t forget to do the ABC Quick Check suggested by the League of American Bicyclists to ensure it is safe for him to ride.

A is for air

  • Inflate tires to rated pressure as listed on the sidewall of the tire
  • Use a pressure gauge to ensure proper pressure
  • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace if damaged

 B is for brakes

  • Inspect pads for wear; replace if there is less than 1/4” of pad left
  • Check pad adjustment; make sure they do not rub tire or dive into spokes
  • Check brake level travel; at least 1” between bar and lever when applied

C is for cranks, chain and cassette

  • Make sure that your crank bolts are tight; lube the threads only, nothing else
  • Check your chain for wear; 12 links should measure no more than 12 and 1/8 inches
  • If your chain skips on your cassette, you might need a new one or just an adjustment

Quick is for quick releases

  • Hubs need to be tight in the frame; your quick release should engage at 90 degrees
  • Your hub quick release should point back to ensure that nothing catches on it
  • Inspect brake quick releases to ensure that they have been re-engaged

Check is for check it over

  • Take a quick ride to check if derailleurs and brakes are working properly
  • Inspect the bike for loose or broken parts; tighten, replace or fix them
  • Pay extra attention to your bike during the first few miles of the ride

If in doubt, take it to a bike store.  For more information and safety tips, visit www.safekids.org  or call us at 970.495.7504.

 


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