Back-to-school: 6 Pro Tips for Teachers and Students

Glenna Housman and her family. Photo courtesy of Housman family.

It’s officially that time of year again: back-to-school. We know many of you may be getting your little ones ready for their first day, or settling into the groove of things with classes back in session. It’s a chaotic week for families, students and staff. In an effort to help get your kids prepared and to help prepare teachers, we talked to some experts in education, namely Glenna Housman, a middle school nurse in Virginia.

“We know that when it’s time to get kids ready to come back to school, parents’ lives get a little hectic,” says Glenna. “Staff members tend to rely on parents to share a lot of information about their students, but I think it’s also very important for teachers and school administrators to take certain prep steps, too.”

Here are 6 tips for teachers and students alike to be Red Cross Ready as they embark on the new school year:

Get a Kit

  • Think about emergency preparedness items you don’t already have in your classroom. Some good supplies to have on hand are a flashlight and cell phone charger in case the power goes out. We tend to rely on our technology in times of crisis, especially to communicate.
  • Talk to your school nurse and ask for an extra batch of first aid items like gauze pads and bandages without latex (in case of allergies), for emergencies or if you can’t get to the nurse’s station right away.
  • Know which students have allergies and which ones do not. If you’re a parent, we suggest putting a supply kit together in your student’s backpack. If they have allergies or certain medical needs, be sure to have those things noted for the teacher. If you’re a teacher, have some snacks in your classroom that can be used for kids with allergies or diabetes. Some examples include non-peanut snacks, non-perishables, hard candy. Also be aware of allergies to things like grass or wood chips often found on playgrounds, in case a student has an allergic reaction at recess.

Make a Plan

  • Know where to go for emergencies like a tornado or fire in the cafeteria. Most schools have policies in place and practice drills regularly. If your school doesn’t have these policies already in play, talk to your administrators and staff about how to protect your students.
  • Don’t forget to update your child’s school health records. These records should be updated at the beginning of every school year. Any health care plans signed by the doctors are needed each fall for food allergies, inhalers, diabetics, sickle cell anemia, etc. so teachers and nurses are well-equipped to treat your kids.
  • Talk with your class about what to do in emergencies. Keeping the steps simple and easy to follow will help them remember when you practice.

Be Informed

  • While we hope your school year goes off without a hitch, we know it’s always best to be prepared for whatever may happen.
  • If you’re on top of emergency preparedness, then you’ll be teaching your students a good life skill and making their parents feel better while they’re under your care.
  • If it’s not already, your school could be a Red Cross shelter if disaster strikes. Learn more about how to make your facility a safe space with Red Cross Ready Rating.

This post was originally published on Red Cross Chat and is published on this blog with permission. 

Home Alone Safety Steps

Children are returning to school during the coming weeks. Some will be spending time home alone until parents return home from work. Now’s the time for both parents and children to take and learn safety steps that will make after-school hours at home alone safer and less stressful for everyone.

Top ten steps parents + guardians can take:

  1. Develop a home safety plan and discuss and practice it with the whole family.
  2. If a child is going home after school, have him or her call to check in after arriving home.
  3. For an older child, set ground rules about whether other kids can come over, whether cooking is okay, and whether the child can leave home.
  4. Post an emergency phone list where the child can see it.
  5. Make sure the first aid kit is stocked and stored where your children can find it, but keep our of reach of young children.
  6. Identify neighbors whose home your child can go to in case of an emergency.
  7. Remove or safely store in locked areas dangerous items like guns, ammunition, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, scissors, and other objects that can cause injury.
  8. Make sure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, care-care fluids, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
  9. Make sure medicine is kept in a locked storage place or out of the reach of children.
  10. Make sure at least one approved smoke alarm is installed and operating on each level of the home.

Top ten steps kids can take:

  1. Lock the door and make sure all the windows are closed and locked.
  2. Never open the door to strangers.
  3. Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives.
  4. Never tell someone on the telephone that mom or dad are not at home. Say something like “My mom is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  5. Do not talk about being home alone on public websites.
  6. Never leave the house without permission.
  7. Do not go outside to check out an unusual noise. If the noise worries you, call mom, dad, or the police.
  8. Do not have friends over to visit when mom or dad aren’t at home without permission.
  9. Do not let anyone inside who is using drugs or alcohol, even if you know them.
  10. If you smell smoke or hears a fire or smoke alarm, get outside and ask a neighbor to call the fire department.

Perhaps you have more steps + tips that you’d like to share. Also, visit redcross.org to learn more about being Red Cross ready before, during, and after emergencies.