Four Tips for Back to School Safety

Written by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant.

1. Add an emergency supply kit to your child’s book bag or locker.
Back-to-School-Internet-Safety
You know you need an emergency supply kit at home. Do you know that  having a kit for your child at school is also important? The kit may come in handy if the school goes on lockdown or if there is another disaster or emergency. Make sure everything in the kit is allowed. Most schools do not allow knives on campus or medicine outside the nurse’s office.
Include emergency contact information cards in your child’s kit, book bag, or another accessible location. Even though your child may be old enough to memorize emergency contact numbers, he or she might forget the number during an emergency, or might be in a situation where someone else needs to call.

2. Use a map to mark your child’s school route, designating safe zones where he or she can get help during an emergency.
If your child is walking or riding a bike to school show him or her the way a few times. The child should be comfortable taking the route. Remind him or her that shortcuts are not permitted. Point out places along the way that offer shelter if there is ever bad weather, or some other threat. These places could be other schools, community centers, libraries, or friends’ houses. Having these safe zones will make you and your child feel more secure on the journey to and from school.

3. Review the school’s safety plan with your child.
Most schools are now required to post tornado and fire evacuation routes in every classroom. In addition, each school will have an emergency operations plan. You can ask the school principal for a copy. Also ask what plans they have in place to protect against intruders.

4. Teach your child how to react in an emergency.
Teachers cannot always protect children when things go wrong. Talk to your child about these events without using fear tactics, and explain what he or she should do in similar situations. For example, your child should know what to do if a person shoots a gun on the school grounds or in the building. Students of varying ages will benefit from the Auburn University Department of Public Safety video demonstrating what to do if there is an active shooter nearby. Teach your child about ALICE; it may keep him or her safe.

ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The letters do not have to be used in this order, the situation determines what should be done. Alert refers to how you learn about the danger. Lockdown refers to locking and barricading the door between you and the aggressor. Inform refers to telling the authorities where you are and where the aggressor is. Counter should be used if the aggressor makes it into your safe area. Do not just hide. Distract and disrupt the aggressor by throwing whatever is at your disposal: bookbags, books, desks, or whatever is within reach. The police suggest that Evacuate is the best option; remove yourself and anyone else from harms way if at all possible.

For more resources about helping children before and after disasters visit this website.