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9 Safety facts every kid should know before school starts

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.

Start the school year by reviewing the safety facts kids should have down

Before sending your babies out in the world to go to school, there are a few key facts they need to have to keep them safe. Even for older kids, a review can be helpful, especially if you've recently moved to a new area. Here are nine key details they should know from memory for their own safety.

1. Name

Make sure your kiddo doesn’t just know their first name, but how to spell their first and last name. If school or any other officials need to get information on your child, it’s important they have the correct spelling of your child’s full name. Most schools require kids to be able to do this to start kindergarten, but it’s always smart to review, especially if your child's name has recently changed as the result of a marriage or divorce.

2. Phone numbers

This one’s hard, especially since every number is already programmed into your phone — how many phone numbers do you have memorized? Take the time to teach your kid your phone number and the phone number of one other emergency contact. That way no matter where they’re stuck, they can call you for help. Here are some good tips on helping them learn their personal details fast.

3. Address

If your child is somehow lost and needs to get home, they need to be able to tell an adult their address. Many states offer official ID cards for kids with all this information. If your child is traveling a far distance or through a busy city where it’s easier to get lost, an ID card might be worth the trouble. There are also private services like Ident-a-Kid that offer ID cards for kids.

4. Who to call in case of an emergency

You set up an emergency contact every year with your child’s school, so make sure they know who that person is and how to reach them too. Maybe both parents are unavailable during work hours, so Grandma is the only one available to respond to emergencies at school. Your child should know all those details so when they need help, they know exactly who to call.

5. How to call 911

Knowing what constitutes a serious emergency and when to call 911 are critical for keeping kids safe. Practice with little ones on a toy phone, and talk to older kids about when it’s appropriate to call 911. This might also be a good time to remind little pranksters that Emergency Response doesn’t think prank calls are funny and that they can get into serious trouble for falsely reporting an emergency.

6. Stranger danger

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare — a creepy stranger approaches your baby on the way to school. Teach your kids the difference between a safe stranger, like a police officer or firefighter, and a dangerous stranger, like someone who offers a ride or asks them to help find a lost dog. Most important of all, tell your kids to trust their instincts, and if they feel like they’re in a dangerous situation, to yell like crazy for help.

7. Personal privacy

Along with identifying strangers, it’s important to talk to kids about preventing sexual abuse, starting at around 3 years old, according to pediatricians. Teach kids the correct names for their private parts and the difference between “OK” and “not OK” touch, and encourage them to set their own boundaries for privacy.

8. Familiar landmarks

If your kid had to, could they find their way home from school without help? Walk your kid around the neighborhood, teach them the street names and landmarks, and introduce them to neighbors. Stick a good map into their backpack too, just in case they get a little turned around, so they can refer to it if they need to.

9. Medical alerts

Review allergies, medication schedules or any other medical needs your child might have during the school day. New routines, new teachers and new surroundings can make the first few days of school chaotic for teachers, school nurses and students, so make sure your child is prepared to ask for what they need, and remind adults around them of their medical needs.

More on school safety

Back-to-school safety: Teaching your child to manage their allergy
School safety measures every parent should take
Pros and cons of mobile phones at school

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