Back to school safety tips for parents, students and motorists
American Red Cross volunteers responded to 11 home fires in Chicago, Island Lake, Robbins, Villa Park, Elgin, and Hoffman Estates in the past week and provided assistance to 90 individuals, through supplying them with items to meet immediate needs after a fire, and additional support in the form of health and mental health services and one-on-one support.
Visit redcross.org/fire for information on setting up your home fire escape drill and to learn more about home fire safety. Download our free Emergency app by searching for “American Red Cross” in app stores or visiting redcross.org/apps.
Please call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) if you or someone you know needs assistance after a home fire or local disaster.
Back to School Safety
It’s almost time for the school bells to ring and students to return to their classrooms. The Red Cross offers ten ways to help make sure your student is safe as they head back to school for the upcoming year.
- If your student rides a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
- Students should board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
- All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
- Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
- Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
- If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
- If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls and avoid eating or drinking while driving.
- Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right, in the same direction as the traffic is going.
- When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
- Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for students to walk to school with a friend or classmate.
Parents of younger kids, especially those going to school for the first time, should make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 911. Teach them not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.
Drivers, Slow Down!
Drivers should slow down as children head back to school. Know that yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.
Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
About the American Red Cross of Illinois
The American Red Cross of Illinois serves 12.4 million people in 88 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri including Adams, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cook, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, De Witt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jasper, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Putnam, Richland, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson Winnebago, Woodford. Iowa: Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Van Buren. Missouri: Clark, Lewis, Marion and Ralls. 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 us at Redcross.org/Illinois or visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RedCrossIL.