Health and Safety E-News for Caregivers and Teachers

Welcome to the January 2007 issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics Health and Safety E-News for caregivers and teachers.

Click here to view previous issues of E-News or to sign up to receive this newsletter.

This issue includes information and action steps for you on the following topics:

Issues to Consider Before Transporting Children

Whether to transport a child or not is an important question, and this decision should be made thoughtfully. Here are some things to think about:

  • Use school buses or vehicles built to school bus standards. Do not use 15-passenger vans as they are not safe for transporting groups of children. Examine each vehicle; remember that loose items should be tied down as they can cause damage if the vehicle has to stop suddenly.
  • Select drivers carefully. Make sure they have a current driver's license, excellent driving record, no criminal record, and the ability to communicate with passengers.
  • Meet the staff to child ratios required in your state when transporting children. Drivers should focus entirely on driving, leaving the supervision of children to other adults in the vehicle. These other adults can pass the time by singing songs, playing games, telling the children stories, or encouraging them to talk about what they see. Music appropriate for children can be played in the vehicle, as this can be calming and enjoyable.
  • Look at pick-up and drop-off locations, and discuss plans for loading and unloading with children and other passengers before entering and leaving the vehicle. Watch and supervise carefully when children get in and out of vehicles.
  • One staff member in each vehicle should be trained in pediatric first aid, rescue breathing, and first aid for choking. Provide a first aid kit and a resource list for each vehicle. The resource list should include local emergency numbers and information on each child (name, birthdate, medical conditions, medications, and contact numbers for their parents/guardians).

Strategies for Transporting Children Safely

Each child should be safely secured in a seat belt, car safety seat, or booster seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height. Each car safety seat should fit the vehicle, have never been in a crash, and be properly positioned and installed. Here are some things you can do to keep everyone safe:

  • Set a good example; always wear your seat belt and make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up every time. Place all children in the back seat and use the proper vehicle restraint for each child. Make sure the child is fastened correctly with a safe and snug fit. Click here for details. Never try to change a car safety seat to fit a child with special needs. A physical or occupational therapist can help you to find or customize the right restraint for a child with special needs.
  • Always supervise each child directly by sight and hearing; never leave a child unattended. Children should be counted when getting into a vehicle and counted when they exit a vehicle (to prevent a child from being left behind).
  • The driver should not use earphones, cell phones, or listen to loud music. Cell phones should only be used in an emergency.
  • Post and follow a written transportation policy. Share this policy with drivers, child care providers, and parents so that everyone is clear about the safety practices to be followed in your program.

Educating Others About Child Passenger Safety

Share important transportation safety policies, information, and resources with caregivers/teachers, drivers, parents, and children.

  • Give drivers and staff copies of the written transportation policy, and talk to them about their role in carrying out what is included in this document.
  • Ask adults what they would do if:
    • An appropriate car safety seat isn't available for a specific child.
    • There are too many children to be transported safely in a vehicle.
    • A driver or staff person scheduled to go on a trip cancels or is absent.
    • A child has a special need or is injured and properly restraining them is not possible.
    • Someone in a position of authority (or even a personal friend) makes the wrong decision or urges them to disregard the policy "just this once".

  • Have a local police officer or Child Passenger Safety Technician talk to the children, caregivers, and parents. Child Passenger Safety Week is in September, so this is a good time to focus on this topic!
  • Help children learn through puppet shows, videos, stories, art activities, and play.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to cancel a field trip or refuse to transport a child. When the safety and protection of children is involved, it's always best to make the "safest" decision. Remember, "It is better to be safe than SORRY."

For resources on Child Passenger Safety, visit the Resource Library.


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