Safe Kids Carroll: Safety reminders as kids go back to school

Starting the new school year can be a time of great excitement … and anxiety. Help calm your child’s fears (and your own) with these important reminders

Backpack Safety

Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.


Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's body weight.

Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.

Consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.

School bus

Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.

Walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus so the driver can see you.

Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing.

Be considerate of the bus driver with talking softly and never distracting them.


Maryland Law states a child up to 8 years of age or 65 pounds is required to be in a booster seat. Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat.

Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4-foot-9 in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach; and the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down.

All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.

Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction; please refer to the MVA handbook on the law. Never allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone.

Walking to or off the bus

Walk in groups or with at least one buddy.

When possible, organize responsible adults to take turns accompanying the children as they walk to and from school.

Be a good role model: Teach safe pedestrian behavior and follow the rules.


Make sure your child has someone to check in with when returning home.

Start an active Neighborhood Watch program to help keep your neighborhood safe.

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