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Everage: Keep safety part of back-to-school plans

For some, school started Friday. For others it will kick off next week. But for all, law enforcement are encouraging students and parents to remember one important element of back-to-school: safety.

“There are many things parents can do today to make the start of the school year safer for their children,” said Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage.

From traveling to and from school to keeping in touch with parents, there are many steps to take to ensure a safer school environment.

“Remember to provide phone numbers to your child as he or she heads back to school,” Everage said.

“With today’s technology, many families have multiple phone numbers. To make things easier, print all numbers that your child may need on a laminated index card and place it in their backpack in a safe place.”

Everage also said it is important to emphasize safety in traveling to and from school, whether children are riding with parents, driving themselves, biking or walking.

“Make sure that all children are buckled into your vehicle before you begin your drive, and drop them off as close to the school as possible,” Everage said.

“If someone besides you is picking them up from school, pick a password that your child knows to ensure it is a safe adult.”

Those biking or walking to and from school should be aware of the route before the first day of class.

“Teach your children that bikes have rules just as cars do, and make sure that they always wear a helmet,” Everage said.

“If your child walks to school, plan their route and minimize the number of streets that he or she has to cross.

“Make sure your child walks in a group and has made the trip before the first day of school.”

And, whether biking or walking, Everage said make sure students know the importance of not talking to strangers.

Everage said another thing to do before the school year begins is to organize a family meeting spot in the event of a crisis.

This spot could be a common location between the school and home for them to meet, said Troy Police spokesman Sgt. Benny Scarbrough.

For children who will be alone after school, Everage said make sure they understand the importance of keeping doors locked and know where the emergency phone list is kept in the home.

“Have your kids call you when they get home and make sure they never tell someone on the phone they are home alone,” he said.

“Back to school is a great time to implement safety tips that we should be using all year long,” added Scarbough.