As your kids head back to school, Gainesville Memorial Hospital offers these tips to make this a safe school year.

Riding the bus

A checklist to discuss with your children:

1.         Find a safe place to wait for the bus, away from traffic. If possible, stay in a group while waiting.

2.         Do not approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop.

3.         When getting off the bus, immediately walk away from the vehicle.

4.         Watch out for other vehicles. Not all drivers obey traffic rules concerning buses.

5.         When the bus is moving, stay seated, facing forward.

Walking to school

1.         Map out a route to school. Choose the most direct route (with the fewest intersections). Walk the route with your child at least once.

2.         Teach your child traffic laws and instruct them to obey these laws at all times.

3.         If possible, have your child walk to and from school with a friend, neighbor, or relative.

4.         Instruct your child to never accept rides from strangers.

Biking to school

Teach your children to:

1.         Always wear a helmet

2.         Obey all traffic signals.

3.         Always ride on the right (with the flow of traffic) and in single file.

4.         Always be prepared to stop.

5.         Be alert. Listen for cars and watch for obstacles in the road such as potholes, storm drains, and litter.

6.         Never wear headphones.

7.         Always signal when making turns. To signal a right turn, hold out your left arm, bent up at the elbow (in an “L” shape). To make a left turn, hold your left arm straight out, away from your body.

8.         Be particularly careful around parked cars. Ride three to four feet from parked vehicles to avoid colliding with an open door or someone pulling out of a parking space.

9.         Wear reflective material.

Driving kids to school

1.         Drive with your headlights on. Vehicles with their lights on during the day are easier to see.

2.         Be particularly alert to pedestrians at intersections, around school buses, playgrounds and parking lots. Remember, pedestrians have the right of way at intersections.

3.         Allow plenty of time to get to school (especially in bad weather).

4.         Obey lower school zone speed limits. The speed limit in school zones is 25 mph when children are present.

5.         Everyone in the vehicle must be buckled up. Children 12 and under should be in the back seat, younger kids need booster seats, and those 40 pounds and under are to be in child safety seats.

6.         Keep your distance from school buses and always stop for buses flashing their red lights.

7.         Drop off and pick up children as close to school as possible. Do not leave until children are in the schoolyard or building.

After school

1.         Insist that your child get permission to stay late or go to a friend’s house after school.

2.         Be sure your child knows his/her home phone number, parent’s work numbers, numbers of other trusted adults, and how to use 911 for emergencies.

3.         If your child is alone at home after school:

- Instruct your child on how to lock doors and windows, when and how to answer the door, what to say on the telephone, and appropriate after-school activities.

- Have your child check in with you or another adult when he or she gets home from school.


1.         Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers.

2.         If someone tries to take your child somewhere, instruct them to get away and scream “I do not know this person! This is not my mother (father)!”

3.         Do not put names on articles of clothing or possessions where a stranger can easily see them. A child can become fooled and confused when strangers call his or her name.

Food Safety

1.         When preparing your child’s lunch:

*           Wash your hands often.

*           Check food labels to make sure foods are stored at proper temperatures.

*           Use insulated lunch boxes and freezer packs when necessary.

*           Seal thermoses properly.

2.         Instruct children to wash their hands before eating lunch.

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