As school year nears, OVPD offers safety tips


With back-to-school time right around the corner, it’s a great time to go over safety tips with kids. And for people who don’t have school-age children, this time can serve as a reminder to be a diligent driver as the buses start running again and children start walking and biking to school.

Coastal point • File photo

School safety is an important initiative for the Ocean View Police Department. They recently designed a tip sheet that will go out to parents of children to serve as a reminder to be prudent and help kids stay safe.

Once school starts, OVPD officers will also focus patrols on school bus stops and will conduct daily visits to the school. Additionally, OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin advised, laws against speeding in school zones will be strictly enforced.

“The Ocean View Police Department is continuously working with the staff at Lord Baltimore Elementary in Ocean View to maintain a safe and secure environment for the school children in our community” said McLaughlin.

Special tips for the kids include walking or biking with a friend, always crossing at crosswalks, obeying traffic signals, and stopping, looking and listening before crossing the street. Other tips for walkers include having parents walk or bike the route beforehand to identify any potential hazards and going directly to school and coming home directly afterward.

Some other helpful hints directed toward young walkers:

• Do not play in vacant fields or lots.

• Stay on the sidewalk or bike path and do not take shortcuts.

• If someone approaches you or makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t talk to them and keep walking or riding.

• If a vehicle is following you, turn around and go the other direction.

• Don’t put your name on clothing, backpacks, books or lunch boxes where it is visible to others.

• If approached by a dog, do not run. Do not touch the dog. Stand still and tell the dog to go home. If the dog will not leave, slowly back away from the dog putting distance between him and you; then continue walking.

If riding a bike to school, the department advises that students wear bright-colored clothing; always wear a bicycle helmet – state law requires anyone younger than 18 to have one on; wear backpacks tight so they don’t drag; respect traffic lights and stop signs; and always ride on the right, going the same direction as traffic, and be sure to use appropriate hand signals.

As many students either ride buses or are driven to school, it is also important for them to follow the rules concerning the bus and bus stops, and for parents and other motorists to be careful of their driving around schools.

At the bus stop:

• Know your bus number;

• Stay in a group while waiting for the bus;

• Do not play in the street. Stay on the sidewalk or grass;

• Wait for the bus to completely stop before approaching it;

• Look both ways before crossing the street to get on the bus;

• Stay seated while on the bus, and keep hands and head inside the windows;

• If someone offers you a ride, say no.

• A parent should be at the bus stop before and after school for extra safety.

Additional school bus safety tips from the American Red Cross include lining up facing the school bus door, as opposed to along the side of the school bus; not playing in the street while waiting for the school bus; carrying belongings in a backpack or book bag; and never reaching under a school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen underneath.

After getting off the school bus, children are advised to move immediately onto the sidewalk, out of traffic, waiting for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street, and to walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so that the bus driver can see them, and cautioned never to cross the street behind the school bus.

For parents and motorists:

• While driving, be more aware of the speed limits in your neighborhood and around schools;

• Observe the sides of the roadway, watching for children walking and biking;

• Give children right-of-way in crosswalks and school zones;

• Avoid backing your vehicle at schools;

• Children should exit to the right side of the vehicle;

• Do not leave until your child is completely on school property.

For more information on bike, pedestrian and motorist safety during the school year, contact the Ocean View Police Department at (302) 539-1111.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers general school safety tips about making the first day easier, traveling to and from school, eating at school, dealing with bullies and developing good homework and study habits. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/augschool.cfm. The same tips are available in Spanish at http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/schooltips-spanish.pdf.