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It can be a stressful time of year for children and parents: Back to school season. While it can be exciting to go to ‎school, young children may face the anxiety of not know who will be in their class, who their teacher ‎is, and may struggle in developing a new routine.  Parents also may face anxiety when their kids go to school, especially in the first years. From first time day care, to planning after ‎school care, to school bus safety can create worry for parents. The list of tips below can help to ease certain ‎safety concerns so you can focus on making it the best year ever!‎

‎1.‎ Check your caregiver’s home for corded window coverings as they may pose a potential strangulation hazard: If you send your child to daycare or a caregiver’s home before or after school, make ‎sure to ask the caregiver about safety, including the use of cordless window ‎coverings. Only cordless window coverings should be used where young children are present and will provide one ‎less safety hazard for you to worry about.

‎2.‎ Make sure a caregiver understands your child’s allergies: Make sure your child’s after school ‎caregiver knows about any potential allergies—whether those allergies are related to pets, ‎food, or household chemicals. By knowing what your child is allergic to, the after-school ‎caregiver can keep allergens out of the house and create a safer environment. Additionally, if ‎your child requires an EpiPen make sure both your child and the caregiver know where the ‎EpiPen can be found and how to use it.‎

‎3.‎ When riding the bus, make sure your child understands they must always remain seated and ‎keep their head and arms inside the bus: While riding the bus can be a fun time to see friends ‎and decompress from a long day at school, safety still needs to be at the forefront. Before ‎your young child steps foot on the bus, remind them to stay in their seat and keep all limbs ‎inside the bus to avoid an accident.‎

‎4.‎ Develop a unique “safe word” to prevent someone other than parents or designated ‎caregivers from trying to pick a child up from the bus stop: Sometimes you or a designated ‎caregiver may not be able to pick your child up from the bus stop, meaning an alternative ‎caregiver must perform the task. If you cannot reach your child to inform them of an abrupt ‎change of plans, make sure to develop a unique safe word that your child and the person ‎picking them up know to act as a safety signal. This safe word should be something not easily ‎guessed, such as a family nickname. Similarly, don’t put your child’s name on the outside of their school bag.

5.‎ Update your contact information with the school: Your child could come down with an illness ‎or be injured in an accident while at school. Make sure to update your contact ‎information with their school as-needed so you can easily be reached in such instances. It ‎is also a good idea to provide the school with contact information for trusted caregivers, such as a ‎relative or family friend, in case you cannot be reached.‎

‎6.‎ Don’t overstuff a backpack: You might not think your child’s bag is heavy, but they might. ‎Between books, lunch, umbrellas and pencil bags, the weight can quickly add up for a young ‎child and be harmful to their neck, shoulders and back. Remember to keep their backpack ‎between 5%-10% of their overall body weight, distribute the weight of materials inside the bag ‎evenly, and remind them to wear both shoulder straps. ‎

‎7.‎ Talk to your child about bullying: School ‎should be a safe and enjoyable place for kids to learn and develop social skills. Talk to your children ‎about what to do if they are bullied and how to help a classmate who is being bullied.‎