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The end of August is often dreaded by many kids. With September right around the corner, they only have a couple of weeks to finish their summer projects or get those extra hours of sleep. This time of year can also bring a lot of stress to parents. Whether it be helping their kids gather new supplies or just getting back in the mindset of the school routine, parents want to make sure their kids are ready for the new school year.
Once the new school year begins, you can be sure that the Long Island traffic will get worse. Highways will be filled with a few more college students. Bus routes will frequent the morning and afternoons. Kids and teens will be walking on the sidewalk or riding their bikes and many parents will be dropping off their kids by the entrance. Whether or not you have kids, all drivers need to account for this traffic and take the necessary preparations so that everyone can be safe.
For Parents Driving Their Kids
If you are a parent driving your kid to school, there are a couple of things you can do to make the trip a little safer every day.
- Carpool: With all the car clutter that happens at the beginning and end of a school day, reducing the number of cars around the schools and parking lots creates a safer environment for everyone. If possible, why not make arrangements with other parents nearby to carpool to school together. An added bonus for parents since they now wouldn’t have to drive their kid to school every day of the week.
- Unload on the same side of the street as the school: When you are unloading your child, dropping them off at a location where they have to cross the street makes a worst-case-scenario possible every day. Drop your children off where they don’t even have to cross the parking lot to reach the entrance if possible.
- Never double park: It might be tempting to quickly double park to drop off your kid but doing so creates a dangerous situation for the entire road. It greatly reduces visibility for other drivers or students who need to cross the street.
For Regular Drivers
It goes without saying that driver’s need to follow all the traffic laws regarding schools and school busses. Even though every driver knows this, these laws are often neglected. Still, one in five children (under 15) who were killed in a traffic accident were pedestrians.
- Be observant: Look out for young pedestrians especially in the morning and afternoon. Take extra caution when around school zones, playgrounds and residential areas.
- Observe School Zone Speed Limit: Kids are more unpredictable then regular pedestrians. So it is imperative for drivers to be extra careful at school zones and need to follow the school zone speed limit. Whether parents are dropping their kids off or kids are walking themselves, many could be crossing the streets at these school zones. Not every school has a crossing guard and you do not want to be speeding when a kid runs across the street without warning.
- Stop for Buses: Drivers also need to stop when a bus has stopped to pick up students. Remember, when the stop sign on the bus is out, that means drivers on both sides of the road need to stay stopped until the sign has retreated. Give plenty of space for kids to cross the street to board the bus. Even after the bus has left, wait a couple of seconds or move slowly down the street. Sometimes when a kid is late for the bus they might run across the street without paying attention to try and catch the bus.
- Leave Crosswalks Open: Always follow the direction of the crossing guard. Even if there is no one waiting to cross the street, do not block the crosswalk at a red light. If a student were to cross the street, they now might have to walk in moving traffic as they walk around your car.
- Leave earlier: While these safety measures seem self explanatory, the extra traffic that comes with the school year means extra delays on the way to our commutes. Drivers have no problem obeying traffic laws when there is no rush. But when traffic causes possible lateness at work or other appointments, that is when drivers begin to make poor decisions. Rather then putting yourself in the stressful situation that you are running late due to school traffic, make the preparations necessary so you are not tempted to rush. There are many web mapping service applications (such as Maps for iOS and Google Maps) that can pretty accurately predict how long it will take to get somewhere with traffic in mind. Make the necessary adjustments and leave your home early enough to be ready if school buses and increased traffic cause delays.
Teach Your Kids Pedestrian Safety
If your son or daughter walks to school every day it is very important that you teach them the proper pedestrian safety so that they can prevent dangerous situations. Distraction is the biggest problem with child pedestrian safety. Statistically, teenagers have a higher risk of getting a fatal pedestrian injury the older they are. The main cause of this involves these teens being distracted while they are walking.
As you probably guessed, the distractions stem from smart phones. Teens can use their smart phones to text, browse social media and listen to music. According to a study at safekids.org the most common distraction for young pedestrians were wearing their headphones to listen to music, with texting being a close second. It is important that you warn your teenagers of the dangers of being distracted while walking to school.
Children usually aren’t ready to start walking to school without a parent until they are 10. If you plan to let your children walk by themselves when they’re older, it’s a good idea to walk with them to school when they are young so they are familiar with the neighborhood. When they do eventually walk alone, it would be ideal for your child to walk with at least one neighbor or sibling so that they are never alone. It is best to show your child a route that has crossing guards and sidewalks.
We are wishing parents and students alike a safe and productive school year.
Traveling for work or going on a trip with friends can be stressful if you have to leave your kids at home. For parents who travel a lot – particularly single parents – ensuring the safety of their kids at home is paramount. Before smartphones came into the picture, parents were worried that their child could not reach them in case of an emergency. Now however, smartphones and easy internet access often leave parents feeling worried about the prospect of their teenagers at home alone.
When you are forced to leave your teen at home, enabling child safety measures online and offline are the best alternatives for parents. If you are wondering where to start, here are some effective hacks that you can use to monitor your child’s safety when you are not around.
Thinking Just Makes It Worse
Leaving kids back home when you are traveling abroad for professional or personal reasons is an unpleasant feeling for most parents. It gets worse with the ‘what if’ thoughts that seem to constantly hover at the back of your mind, intensifying stress and making you panic the whole time you are away. Some of these thoughts include:
- What if they are kidnapped?
- What if they are sick or injured, or have an accident?
- What if we are targeted by online scammers?
- What if my kids bring friends home who want to do drugs?
- What if they go somewhere they shouldn’t be going?
- What if they access illegal sites?
These thoughts cannot be overlooked as there is always a faint chance they might come true. Regardless of whether you’ve had the talk with your children about screen-time limits and online safety measures, it remains a challenge to check up on them when you’re not around.
The best idea is to be transparent and chalk out a safety plan together with your child. While there are many ways to spy on your kid’s devices and smartphones, you should always consider spying your “plan B.” Here are some practical solutions that are for ensuring your child’s safety when you are traveling.
1. Configuring Parental Control on Your Router
An effective strategy to set up parental controls is by modifying the configuration of your home router. Routers are the first stopping point for all internet traffic that enters your home, so setting up parental controls enables you to monitor sites for various gadgets running on your home Wi-Fi, like tablets, mobile phones, PCs and gaming devices.
2. Child Browsing Programs
Also known as “walled gardens,” these are blocking programs that prevent children from accessing any sites on the internet that are not pre-approved. They commonly allow access to recreational, email and social network websites. The good news is that these child-friendly browsers are frequently available for free, while also offering more powerful features in paid versions. These programs are generally more suitable for younger children, but are also now available for adolescents.
3. Managing Your Home Network
Your WiFi and mobile data plans can control your home network through both hardware and software options. You can use options like Circle Home and OpenDNS which will help in filtering Internet content, create search limits, and pause connections when required. These options are suitable for kids of all ages and help keep you at peace when you are away.
4. Safe Mode On
SafeSearch control is now widely accessible in most Android and Safari devices. With the help of this, parents can
- Manage and limit data usage
- Block calls and texts from unknown people and monitor (if required) children’s social media connections
- Filter searches and put age restrictions on applications like YouTube
- Monitor website access, for example blocking dating apps or explicit sites if a child is under 18
- Accurately track a child’s location when he or she is away
- Disable apps that parents feel are inappropriate
Services like Netsanity are currently very popular medium for monitoring internet use, ensuring your child is safe both physically and virtually.
5. Parental Control Spying Devices
In this day and age, many parents are choosing to monitor their children in order to cope with growing menaces like virtual kidnapping, stalking, cyber crimes and gun violence. Nick Herbert, a British digital specialist, has recently devised an application called ReplyASAP that parents can use to secretly monitor and track their kids when they are not around. Other similar options are also widely available, such as tracking systems and listening devices that parents who travel often or stay away from their kids rely on.
Cell phone and network safety for parents doesn’t have to unduly interfere with kid’s privacy orcontrol their lives. On the flip side, children must also consider their parents’ concerns and realize that ensuring online safety doesn’t mean that parents don’t trust them or that they are doing something bad. In most cases, the children might not be involved in anything dangerous, but early action is sometimes required to avoid falling down a slippery slope. As the famous saying goes:
“There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child, and nothing more important to our future than the safety of our children.”
About the Author
Youth Technology Safety Specialist at KidGuard Dedicated to finding the best child safety measures for parents, grounded in research. Being knowledgeable about youth online usage is a key component of effective 21st-century parenting.
The holidays come and go so quickly. Perhaps it’s because of the rush that comes with the holidays – rushing to buy presents, prepare for family gatherings, and decorate your home all while many are still working full time. A lot of families stow away their decorations each year for reuse, including the electrical equipment they use for lighting up their homes with festive décor. But there may be safer products out there that reduce wire clutter, the risk of power shortages, and the risk of home fires.
The ESFi has offered up numerous online resources for shoppers, electrical safety, fire prevention, etc. for holiday decorators. We’d like our readers to follow their safety checklist.
- When purchasing electrical equipment, make sure it’s undergone independent safety testing by nationally recognized testing laboratories. Look for their labels. Three nationally recognized testing laboratories are Underwriters Laboratory (UL), Intertek (ETL), and Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
- Purchase from trusted retailers so you run less risk of ending up with counterfeit products.
- Read everything on the labels of decorative lights or electrical equipment. Weather resistant/outdoor equipment should only be used outdoors and indoor equipment should only be used indoors.
- It’s a good idea to send warranty and product registration forms to the manufacturers of the products you purchase. This way, you can be notified if the product your purchased undergoes a recall.
- When buying a natural tree, find a well-hydrated one with vibrant green needles that aren’t brittle. And although sap may be annoying to wash off your hands, choose a sappy tree.
- Make sure your tree stand can hold enough water to keep the tree hydrated.
- If you decide on an artificial tree, make sure it’s tested and labeled as fire resistant.
- When it comes to lighting, take note that LED lights:
- Last up to 20X longer than “incandescent” lights
- Generate less heat – which means they are more energy-efficient and possibly safer depending on how you use them
- Designed with “epoxy” lenses, which are more durable than glass
- Are more expensive, but more energy-efficient
- Don’t burn as bright as incandescent holiday lights
Safety Checklist For Your Christmas Tree
- A fresh tree lasts longer and is less of a fire hazard.
- Before you place your tree in the stand, cut 1-2 inches from the base of its trunk so it can absorb water better
- Make sure your tree gets water daily. Especially if it’s in a heated room, which will dry it out faster.
- Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including (but not limited to) fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters.
- If you’re trimming your tree, use only flame-resistant materials.
- If you’re using a fake tree, don’t use electrical ornaments or string lights over its metallic leaves or branch coverings.
Candle Safety Tips
- Consider using battery-operated candles instead of regular candles – some are designed to give off aromas much like normal candles.
- Never leave a lit candle unattended for any amount of time, long or short.
- If you’re lighting a candle, make sure it’s in a place where it cannot be easily knocked over.
Extension Cord Safety Checklist
- Never plug two extension cords together. Purchase an extension cord long enough for your needs.
- Make sure your electrical equipment is certified by UL, ETL, or CSA.
- Don’t leave extension cords plugged in for too long. And make sure to wrap them up and place them somewhere safe, away from children and pets, every night after turning off your lighted decorations. They can be a safety hazard if left plugged in or even on the ground where they can be stepped on or tripped over.
- Never place extension cords near/under carpets, rugs, furniture, or where a lot of people walk.
- Never nail or stable them to walls or baseboards – this can damage the wire insulation and lead to an arc-fault, which could lead to a fire.
- Never attempt to remove the ground pin (the bottom prong) to make a cord fit into a two-prong outlet (an outlet with two slots).
- If you’re using an extension cord outside, make sure it’s designed for outdoor use. If you’re using an extension cord inside, make sure it’s designed for indoor use. And make sure it meets or exceeds the powers requirements of the item you’re plugging it into.
- Never run extension cords through walls or ceilings. This could cause your cord(s) to overheat and cause a fire hazard.
- Make sure when you plug in your extension cord(s) they’re fully plugged in, and no prongs are exposed.
- Make sure you read and follow to the letter all warning labels on decorations, toys, etc. Make sure if you’re to give your child a toy, it is age appropriate for them and plan accordingly for adult supervision.
- If you have children, using battery-operated candles may be a much safer option than regular candles. Children may not understand how dangerous regular candles can be.
- If you’re using strings of light or garland to decorate your tree or any other area of your home, make sure your child knows that they are not playthings. They can pose a serious strangulation hazard.
- Try to avoid using decorations that are brittle or sharp. If you do use decorations, such as ornaments that are brittle or sharp, make sure they are fully out-of-reach for children.
- Avoid placing any mouth-sized ornaments (even metal hooks) or other decorations in the reach of children. For instance, place small ornaments near the top of your tree, out of a small child’s reach.
- Wax fruits, holly berries and similar decorations can present a choking hazard. Make sure they are out-of-reach for small children.
- Use plastic caps on unused outlets.
- Never allow children to play with the decorations or cords you use in your home.
Outside Decorating Safety Checklist
- Make sure any extension cord(s) you use outside are designed for outdoor use
- Make sure your extension cord(s) match your power needs (amperage rating)
- Any outdoor electric lights should be plugged into circuits protected by Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
- Make sure all lights, decorations, and extension cords you plan to use are not damaged in any way, shape or form.
- Fasten the lights you put up securely to the house, your tree etc. with firm support that in no way could damage the cord’s insulation.
- All extension cords and lights should be kept away from spots that gather water or snow.
- Keep spotlights a safe distance away from flammable items and ensure they are well-ventilated so they do not overheat
- Before using ladders, inspect them for missing screws, hinges, bolts, nuts etc. – make sure they are sturdy enough to hold your weight
- If you’re using a ladder to put up lights, use a wooden ladder instead of a metal ladder, which conducts electricity.
- Make sure your ladder is the right height – extending at least three feet past the edge of your roof.
- Avoid decorating near power lines.
- Do not overload outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. This can cause your outlet to overheat and possibly cause a fire.
- Make sure no cords are pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture. This could damage the cord’s insulation.
- Make sure that before you replace any bulbs or fuses, you unplug cords and decorations on that same circuit.
- Always turn off your outdoor decorations before leaving your house or before you go to sleep.
Indoor Decorating Safety Checklist
- Make sure you purchase your indoor decorations from a reputable retailer.
- Make sure your decorations are certified by UL, ETL, or CSA.
- Avoid connecting more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
- Consider LED lights as opposed to incandescent lights. They use less energy and they run cooler.
- Determine how many outlets are available and where they are located so you can plan your decorating without causing wire clutter or placing too many decorations in outlets.
- Carefully inspect all electrical outlets for damages. If they are damaged, don’t use them.
- Follow the care instructions written by the manufacturer of your electrical decorations.
- Do not overload outlets – this could cause them to overheat and potentially create a fire.
- Never mount electrical cords or decorations in a way that could damage their insulation (ie. poking holes through them)
- Always unplug your decorations from the wall (make sure all lights are off) before replacing bulbs or fuses.
- Remember to turn off all decorative lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
With all of these safety measures taken seriously, you shouldn’t have to worry electrical fires, candle fires, child accidents or any type of accidents taking place while you’re decorating your home or place of business.
We’d like to extend a warm Happy Holidays from Palermo Tuohy Bruno, P.L.L.C.