Getting ready to go back to school

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By Marci L. Stone, MBA, EFO
Deputy Chief
Bedford County Department of Fire & Rescue
    Pool time and vacations are quickly coming to an end and in the next few weeks it will be back to school time again. 
    As your child begins to pack up all of those much needed school necessities and dons their new outfit to head to school for their first day back, it is our responsibility as parents to ensure they are prepared and to cover some basic safety aspects, regardless of our child’s age, Bedford County Department of Fire & Rescue has compiled some general safety tips for children of all ages.
    For children that will be using the bus as their means of transportation take the time to remind children:
    • Stay completely clear of the bus until the driver has acknowledged their presence and the bus has come to a complete stop
    • Keep a  10 feet clearance in front of the bus so that the driver can see them when getting on and off the bus
    • Hold handrails while boarding and unloading the bus and always remain seated while the bus is in motion
    Remind children of the school procedures in the event someone is not at the bus stop to get them off the bus, remember Bedford County does not allow small children to get off at unattended bus stops and the child needs to be prepared by knowing the rules so they are not alarmed when they are returned to their school.
    Due to safety regulations that affect schools and dormitory occupancies facilities throughout the state are required to participate in regular emergency drills to ensure students know how to respond appropriately.  Prepare your child for these drills and emphasize the importance of their participation, truly it could save their lives!  Remind them to:
    • Participate in drills, stay calm and listen closely to the direction of those in charge.
    • Know who to report to if they discover an emergency as well as how to respond if there is an emergency.
    For children going off to college, it is important to also remind them of the importance of knowing their campus safety plan.   Most campuses now require that students sign up for emergency alerting through text messaging, students should not only utilize such services but also know how to react.
    Develop a family plan: Discuss what your actions will be if there is an emergency at your child’s school, in a real life event, you will want to ensure your family is OK.  Keep in mind that you may not be allowed access to the school during a crisis so insure that once restrictions are lifted that your child knows what to expect your actions will be as well as your emergency contact information.
    For more information about school preparedness visit our Web page at www.bcofr.com.