Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEWS ADVISORY: Back to School Safety

Rockville, Maryland - - - Children across the area are heading back to school and Fire Chief Richie Bowers wants all children to have a safe return to school. “With schools back in session, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging parents to revisit safety tips with their children, said Chief Bowers. “Additionally, drivers are reminded to pay extra attention due to the increased school traffic.”

For Drivers:
• Be watchful for bus riders. For many of these children this may be the first time they have ridden on or gotten off a bus. They may suddenly dart out in front of you without warning.
• Please exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the watch for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year, and you may encounter a school bus where you have never seen one before.
• Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
• Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
• Enter and exit driveways and neighborhoods slowly and carefully.
• Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours.
• Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.
• Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be taking the road and driving to school for the first time.

Reminders for Children:

• They should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
• Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
• Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars.
• Make sure they always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.
• Always look both ways before crossing the street and never enter streets from between parked cars or from behind shrubbery.
• Teach children to always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.
• If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet! Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.

Drivers should be aware Maryland law states that vehicles must come to a complete stop on both sides of the street if there is no physical divider or barrier. Drivers who pass the bus before all lights have ceased flashing may face the following consequences:

- Drivers who pass school buses while the lights are flashing will receive a citation that carries a maximum fine of $570 and a 3-point penalty.
- Drivers who stop but then proceed while the lights are flashing will receive a citation that carries a maximum fine of $570 and a 2-point penalty.

Home Alone

If your children will be “home alone” after school, make sure they know the rules. Consider having kids call a parent or other relative to let them know they got home. Make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a “safe” area for everyone to meet if the smoke alarm sounds. Make sure they know when and how to call 9-1-1. Ensure there is a list of telephone numbers they can call if they have a question or if an emergency arises.

Unattended cooking continues to be the leading cause of home fires. Montgomery County Firefighters strongly recommend having after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking and that children only use kitchen appliances while under close adult supervision.

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