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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Street Safety

I remember when my mother taught me how to cross a street. She said, "Look up and down before you cross." It took me the longest time to figure out why that was important since looking "up" at the sky and "down" to the ground didn't seem to help me when it came to street safety. Finally I asked why we look "up and down" and she explained that she meant "up the street one way and down the other."

Years later when crossing a side street near a busy corner, I almost got hit. I was heading across and didn't see the car coming. The car's driver didn't see me. Luckily we both stopped in time. Since then, I always catch the eye of the driver and signal to him or her before crossing a street to make sure they are paying attention.

I've never read about as many people being struck and killed by cars in my life as I have recently. Just yesterday a beautiful young woman from Massachusetts was struck and killed. How sad is that. I ache for her loved ones today.

As educators we need to help our students know how to be safe. Before the roads were so busy, populations dense, and distractions such as iPhones great, crossing the street was not the safety issue it is today. Today crossing the street is often dangerous business and it's important that we teach students how to do this. Stop, look around, catch the eye of any nearby vehicle even if the signal is telling you to cross, and then cross. Cross defensively.

There are a lot of other safety rules we need to share as well. For example we work with many immigrant families, and in some cases, if those families are from warmer climates they may not know the risk of ice covered ponds and lakes. Tell students to never walk on ice unless an adult has deemed the ice safe. Similarly those from regions with few lakes, ponds, or oceans may not know the risk of a rip tide or the threat of swimming out too far. So tell students never to swim without an adult nearby, and don't take risks in water.

The simple rule, "Don't play with matches," is worth repeating too. Every year we read stories of students who play with matches and then get hurt or even worse, die.

Families do a good job keeping their children safe, but it doesn't hurt if teachers do their part too of fostering safe and healthy behaviors, the kind of behaviors that set the stage for long, healthy lives. There's enough to worry about that's out of our control, but the safety tips above are within our grasp, so let's help students stay safe.