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News > Commentary - It’s back-to-school time, so be aware and help children be safe
It’s back-to-school time, so be aware and help children be safe
Children around Anchorage and on JBER return to school Wednesday – so be careful while driving in residential areas and near schools. JBER Security Forces strictly enforce speeding policies in school zones. (Courtesy photo)
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It’s back-to-school time, so be aware and help children be safe

Posted 8/17/2012   Updated 8/17/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by David Sharrow
ASD safety specialist

8/17/2012 - ANCHORAGE -- It's hard to believe school is starting already.

We've enjoyed having our children home for the summer but it's time to send them off to learn.

Classes begin Wednesday, and the Anchorage School District wants to remind you just getting to and from school can be hazardous.

We need to work together to ensure every student stays safe and healthy so they can get the most out of their education, recreation and life in general. Walking to and from the bus stop, or the school itself, can be dangerous.

Distracted drivers, lack of visibility and poor weather conditions all lead to potential safety hazards.

As a parent, you can help by outfitting them in light-colored outerwear and investing in reflective tape so they will be seen as they stand or walk alongside the road.

As a driver, you can help by being aware of pedestrians and remembering that children believe you will always stop, no matter what.

You have the ultimate responsibility for keeping your speed down in neighborhoods, around bus stops and school zones.

Please watch out for children suddenly appearing in the roadway.

Also, remember to ensure your child isn't carrying a backpack that is too heavy.

Pediatricians recommend a backpack or book bag should not weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the child's total weight.

For more safety tips, visit ASD's website at

I simply want to remind you that as the carefree days of summer are coming to an end, students' health and safety remain our top priority.

Let's join together to make some minor adjustments in our schedules and alert levels to make a safer environment for our children.

Some walking and biking tips:
Most schools are designed to allow children within one and a half miles to walk.
In Alaska, children will walk to school in the dark for several months of the school year.
· Choose a school route and practice walking it with your child.
· Have your child wear reflector tape on their coats and backpacks.
· Encourage students to travel in groups.
· Teach children to recognize traffic signals and pavement markings.
A walk signal does not always mean it is safe to cross; they still need to look both ways before crossing.
· Follow instructions provided by school crossing guards.

For those who drive:
Frequently, parents unknowingly create traffic hazards as they drop off or pick up their children.
By making simple changes, the danger can be reduced.
Try not to arrive at the school prior to the final bell at the end of the day.
· Have your vehicle seats clear so your child can easily enter the vehicle.
· Make sure a car seat is installed properly before arriving at the school.
· Drop your child off as close to the school as possible so they do not have to cross streets.
· Ensure children enter and leave the vehicle on the curb side.
· Try to get out of fire lane as quickly as possible. Try to hold conversations in the parking lot or elsewhere.
· Avoid using handicapped parking spaces to pick up your child unless you have a designated permit.
· Do not double park or stop on crosswalks.
· Carpool when possible.

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