Be On The Safe Side: Transportation Safety
Every year it happens - a parent who was busy, distracted, or out of their routine leaves their child in a hot car while the parent is gone. Sometimes these stories have a tragic ending.
Unfortunately, these same scenarios also occur in child care. Caregivers are asked to drive a transportation route out of their normal routine because the typical driver is sick, or a teacher is busy trying to gather children to head to the park and forgets to do the name-to-face check. Whatever the reason, each of these incidents are entirely preventable.
With summer in full swing and schools out of session, there are more children in child care. Requirements for safe transportation are not exclusive to child care centers, they involve anyone transporting a child. As such, all child care facilities must practice safe transportation and are encouraged to partner with parents to do the same.
Child care centers are required to implement transportation policies and have procedures to check vehicles to ensure that all the children have loaded out, but they can also help parents. If a child is absent, take the time to call the parent. A quick phone call shows that you noticed their child's absence and that you genuinely care about their well-being. That care and concern not only builds a better relationship with enrolled families, it forms a partnership and ultimately could save a child's life!
Transporting children is a high risk activity, particularly for child care centers. Child care operators, staff members and parents need to be aware that transporting children requires careful planning and proactive, protective measures to ensure the safety of children and staff. Careful planning also reduces liability for facility operators and their programs.
Help staff and families prepare for safe travel by sharing safety bulletins and helpful tips. For example, offer methods to help remind drivers that a child is in the vehicle. These include but are not limited to: placing a purse, briefcase, or even one of your shoes behind the driver seat so that when you reach your destination, you are required to check the back seat. Child care operators can prepare their staff by carefully reviewing all child care rules and laws regarding the transportation of children and training staff, before a trip is underway, in the procedures that should always be followed. Have clear and practical procedures that are practiced often to ensure that they work and are used correctly.
Here are the specific child care rule references related to safe travel and transportation:
Another great resource for safety information is Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to "preventing injuries in children, the number one killer of kids in the United States." Their website, www.safekids.org, contains valuable information on Heat Stroke Prevention as well as Child Passenger Safety. Please visit their website for more information.
KidsandCars.org is committed to "preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles." This non-profit organization provides education and information regarding concerns such as injuries from power windows, trunk entrapment, vehicles accidentally set into motion by children, visual blockage of children while either backing up or driving forward, and children left in vehicles unattended. To learn more about the impact of heat stroke in children related to transportation, click the link to their Heat Stroke section. While this data is not exclusive to child care, it certainly can provide a clear understanding of the concern. Take the time to read the information contained on this website and educate staff in your child care facility. It could save a child's life!
For North Carolina Occupant restraint laws, including child passenger safety laws, refer to www.buckleupnc.org.