Get smart, stay safe: a back-to-school checklist

Lunchbox? Check.

School supplies purchased? Check.

Perfect first-day-of-school outfit planned? Check.

Back-to-school season is, once again, upon us. Below, we share a few important health and safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Ben Hoffman, director of our Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center. Add these to your back-to-school list!

  • Update your child’s vaccinations: Oregon state law requires immunization records for children attending public and private schools, preschools, childcare facilities and Head Start programs. Check with your child’s school district and healthcare provider to determine required vaccinations and ensure records are up to date.
  • Establish healthcare needs at school: If your child takes any medication, or experiences common health problems like severe allergies, asthma or physical restrictions, it’s a good idea to prepare your school nurse or administrator for potential health issues prior to the first day of school. Provide proper medicine and dosage information, as well as emergency and physician contact information. This will help ensure your child is properly and efficiently cared for in the case of emergency.
  • Prepare for an emergency: If your child receives afterschool care or attends a daycare center, the caretaker needs to be allowed to provide consent for your child’s emergency care if you’re unavailable. You can download and print our emergency consent form here.
  • Re-set the sleep clock: Defend yourself against difficult early morning wake-up calls by following these easy steps for resetting your ‘night-owl’s’ internal body clock.
  • Get the right fit (and we don’t mean OUTFIT!): Backpacks are an essential part of the school day, but carrying one shouldn’t hurt or cause long-term health issues. Make sure the straps of your child’s backpack are wide enough that they don’t cut into the shoulders. Further, the contents of the pack should not exceed 15 percent of the child’s weight. See more of Dr. Hoffman’s backpack tips here.
  • Confirm drop-off and pick-up procedures:If your child takes the bus or gets a ride to school, your family should establish safe, well-lit and visible pick-up/drop-off locations to ensure safety.
  • Brush up on bike safety: No matter how long or short their journey, kids should always wear bicycle helmets. Quiz your child on the ‘rules of the road’ to make sure they know to ride in the same direction as auto traffic, to use appropriate hand signals and to respect traffic lights and stop signs. Your child should wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility – white or light-colored clothing and reflective gear are especially important after dark.
  • Talk the walk – and walk it, too: Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection. Walk with them the first week until you’re sure they know the route and are comfortable with their pedestrian skills. Consider organizing a “walking school bus” (an adult accompanying a group of neighborhood children to school) or finding other neighborhood kids who will walk together. Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

Interested in learning more? The American Academy of Pediatrics compiled a list of additional back-to-school health and safety tips.