NSC to parents: Five questions about back-to-school safety you should be asking

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Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council is reminding parents to keep safety top of mind as back-to-school season arrives.

Here are five questions NSC suggests parents get answered before the first day of school:

  1. How is my child getting to school? Children are 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely when they take the bus, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, if your teen drives to school, NSC recommends that he or she travel alone. Just one other teen passenger increases a new teen driver’s crash risk by 44 percent, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
  2. Does my child have the right backpack? As many as 14,000 children suffer backpack-related injuries each year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission states. The weight of your child’s backpack shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of his or her own weight, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
  3. Is the playground equipment safe? Look for equipment hazards such as cracks, rust, sharp edges, tripping hazards, splits in wood, platforms without guardrails and loose bolts. Ensure playground equipment rests on either rubber, sand or wood chips – never pavement. Notify school staff immediately if conditions appear unsafe.
  4. Are coaches trained to spot the signs of a concussion? A child receives emergency room treatment for a sports-related concussion every three minutes in the United States, according to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. Consult school officials to ensure coaches have proper training and education to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
  5. Does my child get enough sleep? Make sure children follow National Sleep Foundation guidelines: School-aged children need nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, while teens require eight to 10 hours. NSC recommends planning children’s extracurricular activities so they don’t affect kids’ ability to get adequate sleep.

“We would never forget back-to-school supplies, but we tend to overlook safety,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in an Aug. 15 press release. “While unintentional injury deaths are the leading cause of fatalities involving school-age children, we often spend more time discussing first-day-of-school outfits than safety.”