Emergency Nurses Association Offers Tips for a Safe School Year

New backpack? Check. Class schedule? Check. Binder, notebooks and pens? Check. Emergency information card?

It’s the time of year when kids all over the country return to school, ready for anything the new school year with bring them – new classes, new teachers, new information, new friends. But they (and their parents) may not necessarily be ready to handle a health or medical emergency at school or to avoid a potential health problem.

“Even if your child has a perfect bill of health there are still precautions you should take when they go back to school,” said Emergency Nurses Association President Diane Gurney, RN, MS, . “We know that parents don’t want to see their child end up in the Emergency Department so, as nurses, we strongly advise you to take the necessary measures to ensure that the school year is a healthy and safe one.”

This year, the Emergency Nurses Association () is urging families to take simple precautions to ensure that children are safe as they head back to school, by following these tips:

1. Getting to and from school. A child who lives within walking distance of school should always walk in a group, never by themselves. Children should know not to accept rides from people they don’t know, even if the person says the parent asked them to pick the child up. Exchange a phone call or a text message if transportation plans change. Parents should wait with their kids for the bus in the morning, especially if the children are elementary school age. Make sure they understand the bus-riding process. “They should know what to do when they get off the bus in the afternoons,” says Deena Brecher, RN , BC, , Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Specialist at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. “Are they expected to stay there and wait for you? Do they walk home by themselves?” Look both ways before crossing the street and be cautious when crossing in front of a school bus or other vehicle where the driver may not be able to see you.

2. What you can do at school. Parents should fill out a new emergency information card every year. “Make sure there are real, working phone numbers on those cards,” Brecher says, “and make sure the secondary contact you list is someone who is reliable and knows how to get ahold of you.” Emergency Departments need consent from a parent or guardian to treat a child, so you should be accessible by phone or have gone through the proper steps to give someone else the power to make medical decisions. Know the school’s policy about medication. Often, a child will need to leave medication in the care of a school nurse or other official instead of carrying it around, but policies vary by school and by state. A child with an allergy or a medical problem should be educated about his or her condition. For instance, they should know if they’re allowed to share food with classmates.

3. What others can do at school. Attend back-to-school night and get to know the teachers, principals and guidance counselors. They’re partners in keeping your children safe and healthy. Don’t hide things from school officials; always disclose medical problems or special needs. Bullying is a problem in a lot of schools, Brecher says, and it can escalate to violence. Teach children to stand up for themselves, but also to recognize when they’re in an unsafe situation. They should know who the “safe adults” are at the school and be willing to share information with them.

4. After school. If kids are involved in sports, make sure they have gear that’s appropriate for the season and fits well. They should always wear sunscreen, and reapply it often. It’s also important to wear breathable clothing and appropriate shoes, and stay hydrated.

Updated 08-23-2010

Back to Top


email (we never post emails)
  Textile Help

Back to Top

Contact GTR News