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Health Stories

Heading Back to School — Safely

With the new school year fast approaching, many children in Ottawa will be walking, cycling, skateboarding, in-line skating and boarding school buses — many for the first time in order to get to their destinations. Here is some information to help kids stay safe on their journey.
Did You Know?

  • Most pedestrian injuries happen between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
  • Many injuries happen in driveways
  • Many serious bike crashes happen close to home. Most do not involve cars, trucks or buses.

Teach your child to:

  • Cross the street at pedestrian crosswalks or at corners only.
  • Look left, right then left again when crossing and before stepping out onto the street. Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Make sure the driver of a car can see them before they cross.
  • Not cross the street between parked cars. To NEVER run onto the street.
  • Always wear a bicycle helmet when they ride their bike – it's the law.
  • Take a cycling course
  • Learn the rules of riding on the road.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Walk their bike across busy intersections.picture showing how to wear a helmet correctly

Even though wearing a helmet for all wheeled sports is currently not yet legislated, we recommend that a correctly fitted certified helmet be worn when taking part in activities that may result in a head injury — that includes scootering, skateboarding and in-line skating.

Your child should also:

  • always ride on smooth surfaces, away from traffic,
  • learn how to stop properly,
  • wear protective gear – elbow pads, kneepads and wrist guards (when scooters are used wrist guards are not recommended)

Follow these simple tips and they will get to where they are going — safely.

Did You Know?

  • School bus-related fatalities are nearly 5 times more likely to happen when children are outside the bus than when they are riding in the bus. School buses are safer than cars. There are very few injuries to school age children while traveling on buses in Canada.
  • At CHEO from 1997 to 2001, 78 children were seen in the Emergency Department as a result of an injury that occurred on or around a school bus. Similar to the national statistics the most serious injuries were those involving incidents where children were struck by a vehicle before getting on or after getting off a school bus.

CHEO's Plan-It Safe encourages all drivers to obey the rules of the road with respect to school buses. Parents are also encouraged to review the following school bus safety tips from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario with their child or youth before the start the school year:

Getting On the Bus Safely

  • Be at the bus stop on time. Never run to or from the bus. If it is dark make sure you are visible by using retro-reflective tape on clothing and avoiding dark colors.
  • Wait in a safe place and stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop, the doors open and the driver signals you to enter before boarding.
  • The school bus has a Danger Zone. This is anywhere close enough to the bus to touch it. When you are in the Danger Zone the bus driver CANNOT see you.
  • If you cross the street to get on the bus wait until the bus has come to a complete stop. The bus driver will make sure all the traffic stops. The stop arm will be out and the red lights will be flashing. Watch the driver. When the driver knows it is safe, he or she will signal you to cross, but watch for traffic yourself. Walk, don't run.
  • Hold the hand rail as you get on the bus. Don't push or shove.
picture of a school bus

Riding On the Bus Safely

  • When you board the bus take your seat promptly and sit properly, facing forward at all times. Do not fight, shout or play in or around the bus.
  • Do not stick your feet into the aisle, someone might trip.
  • Keep your head and arms inside the bus. Don't throw anything out the windows or around the bus. Save snacks for snack time at school or till you get home. You may spill or choke if the bus goes over a big bump.
  • Talk quietly. The driver must concentrate to drive the bus safely.
  • Always follow the bus driver's instructions.

Getting Off the Bus Safely

  • When you leave the bus, hold the handrail and take TWO GIANT STEPS away from the bus to take you out of the DANGER ZONE at the side of the bus.
  • To cross the street in front of the bus, walk ahead at least TEN GIANT STEPS (three meters) to take you out of the DANGER ZONE at the front of the bus.
  • Cross only when the driver gives a signal.
  • Cross the street in single file.
  • If you drop something near the bus, don't pick it up. Tell the driver or other adult.
  • If everyone is getting off the bus, the people at the front leave first. Do not push.
  • Be familiar with the rules for emergencies.

Information Sources:

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario,
CHEO CHIRPP Database
Plan-it Safe 4 Kids – A Personal Safety Guide for Kids

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