Back to School Safety: Tips from Sparky and the HVFC

With the new school year in full swing, Sparky the Fire Dog® and the Haddam Volunteer Fire Co. have an important safety lesson for kids heading back to class.

The last thing kids want to hear this week is the dreaded “h” word. Homework… already? But with the new school year in full swing, Sparky the Fire Dog® and the Haddam Volunteer Fire Co. have an important safety lesson for kids heading back to class.

“Smart kids are safe kids,” said Haddam Fire Chief Gary Klare. “Before school gets underway, parents should take a few moments with their kids to review some safety basics.”

Bus “Musts”

• At the bus stop, Sparky says take five giant steps back from the curb until the bus has stopped completely.
• Once inside, stay seated at all times.
• Keep your head, arms and hands inside, and never throw anything out of the window.
• Use handrails when getting on or off the bus so you don’t fall, being careful not to catch clothing, backpacks or key rings in handrails or doors.
• When getting off the bus, head to the closest sidewalk or side of the road and take five giant steps away from the bus.
• If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. If you bend over to pick it up, the driver may not be able to see you.

Bike Buzz

• If you’re old enough to bike alone, Sparky recommends that you plan a safe route to school and have a grown-up ride with you the first few times.
• Children 10 or younger should never ride on the road without a grown-up.
• Make sure your helmet fits. It should sit even on top of your head – not rocking in any direction – and always fasten the safety strap.
• Learn proper hand signals and use them when you turn or stop.
• Walk, do not ride your bike across the street.
• Come to a complete stop before entering driveways, paths or sidewalks, then look left, right and left again for other bikes, cars or pedestrians heading your way.
• Never ride at night.

Home Alone?

• Parents need to carefully consider the pros and cons of having a child stay home alone before/after school. Because children mature at different rates, your decision should not be based on age alone.
• Children should master important safety skills before staying home alone. Make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a designated “safe” area outside where everyone will meet if the smoke alarm sounds.
• Make sure they know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
• Unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires. Sparky strongly recommends having after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking and that children only use kitchen appliances while under close adult supervision.

For additional safety tips from Sparky, visit http://www.sparky.org/news.html

On the Road Again

A driver’s license and the car keys – every teenager’s dream and most parents’ worst nightmare … for good reason. As drivers or passengers, teens are at a statistically higher risk of injury and fatality when riding in an automobile. Yet too often, teens operate under the assumption they’re invincible and nothing bad will ever happen to them.

Statistics tell a different story.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• Car crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths in the U.S.
• In their first year of driving, one in five 16-year-old drivers has an accident.
• Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely to die in a crash than drivers between the ages of 25 and 69. 
• Teens have the highest chance of having a fatal crash within the first six months of getting their driver’s license.
• 2,739 teenagers died in car accidents in the United States during 2008.
• Teen drivers were involved in 12% of all fatal crashes reported to the police.
• Males are twice as likely as females to be killed in a crash while they’re teenagers.
• 37% of male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were speeding at the time of a fatal crash.
• 55% of teens killed in car crashes weren’t using their seat belts.
• 31% of teens drivers were drinking alcohol at the time of their death.

Hopefully that gets their attention.

Here are some safe driving tips for teens:
• Limit distractions. This means texting and driving and talking on cell phones, as well as driving or distracted by too many passengers in the vehicle.
Learn the rules of the road. Lack of driving experience continues to play a major role in teen injuries and fatalities. Parents can help by supplementing driver’s training by giving teens plenty of practice behind the wheel (expose them to a wide range of driving situations like traffic jams, rain and night driving, to name a few).
• Obey all traffic laws and posted street signs.
• Never drink and drive or drive under the influence of drugs.
• Keep an open line of communication with parents, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you shouldn’t be driving.

Fire Chief Klare also reminds Haddam motorists to exercise extra caution.

“With schools back in session, drivers should take extra time to be on the look-out for kids at intersections and in roadways,” he said.

A Safe “Home Away from Home”

Last but not least are the adult children who know EVERYTHING … the six million young adults leaving home to attend colleges and universities this fall. Whether they’re heading to the residence hall, fraternity or sorority house or off-campus housing, packing fire safety equipment along with laundry baskets and shower caddies is a must.

• Make sure your housing contains a working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm doubles a person’s chance of surviving a fire and could reduce fatalities by up to 90 percent.
• Place smoke alarms in every room of the housing unit, including basements, kitchens, finished attics, bedrooms, outside of sleeping areas and at the top and bottom of stairways.
• For maximum protection, install a mix of photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or dual sensor alarms with both photoelectric and ionization technology, which may provide the best opportunity of detecting either smoldering or fast flaming fires sooner.
• To help ensure ample battery power, replace the batteries in smoke alarms at the beginning of fall and spring semesters.
• Do not leave burning candles, incense, or a lit cigarette unattended.
• Identify the location of fire extinguishers throughout your residence hall or apartment complex.
• Be familiar with at least two escape routes and practice an escape plan at different times of day and night to mimic the most difficult fire situations.

Thanks for paying attention, class. Welcome back and stay safe!

More information on the activities of the Haddam Volunteer Fire Co. and ways you can get involved can be found on our website – www.HaddamFire.com.

Sparky the Fire Dog® is a registered trademark of the National Fire Protection Association.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Barbi Batchelder August 29, 2012 at 04:22 PM
...Awesome article, Jesse!


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