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FL Red Cross Offers Back to School Safety Tips

The first step is to make certain your child's school has a current and accurate emergency contact list, stated Regional Communications Officer Janet McGuire

As students around the area get ready to return to campuses from elementary school to college, now is the time to also check their emergency preparedness needs for school.

"The first step is to make certain your child's school has a current and accurate emergency contact list," stated Regional Communications Officer Janet McGuire. "Take time to think about who you're listing. Are they reliable and can they be available should an emergency arise? Do they handle crisis situations well?" It's important to ask in advance for their agreement to be an emergency contact and to explain what their responsibilities could be. Once they agree, provide them with the school's name, number, point person and the school's emergency procedures for them to be familiar with in advance should any needs arise. Also remember to let your child know who's on the list in addition to you.

With more schools using automated notification systems to inform parents of early dismissals and when schools are on 'lock down' for weather related and man-made emergencies, it's important that parents, as well as selected contacts be accessible to receive calls," stated Williams. Make a note to update the school with any changes to your phone numbers or email addresses throughout the school year.

Emergency preparedness is also critical for college students. "We've recently experienced a couple of incidents in Florida where universities have activated safety alerts to students through their cell phones or emails," stated McGuire. "It's important for students, full and part time, living on or off campus, to understand how their college or university's system operates and to participate in this critical safety measure."

As a large number of Florida students of all ages possess personal cell phones, downloading and becoming familiar with the numerous areas of the Red Cross First Aid and Tornado app can add to their safety readiness. "In addition to useful information and tips on both apps, there is also the ability to build an emergency plan where information can be added for the student's use to reach out to loved ones for help whether they're at school or play," stated McGuire. "This can add comfort to the student and parent."

In addition to the First Aid and Tornado apps, Red Cross offers an Earthquake, Hurricane and Wildfire app, all of which are useful in Florida as well as any location students may travel across the country. "The apps include a flashlight, emergency siren and 'I'm Safe Button' that can access various forms of social media for students to let parents and teachers know all is ok wherever they may be located." Special badges can also be earned on each app and shared with friends," stated McGuire.

All Red Cross apps are free and can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. For more safety tips for school and home, visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps.

More Back to School safety tips can be found at http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Keep-it-Safe-When-You-Head-Back-to-School.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.