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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Safety tips for back to school

STILLWATER, Okla. – As kids head back to school this fall, parents and guardians should spend a few minutes discussing back-to-school safety tips.

“The better prepared we are for potential emergencies, the more we reduce our risk and increase our ability to stay safe,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer and housing specialist. “This applies to both adults and children.”

There are several easy ways adults can get kids ready to safely face a new school year. Start by assembling an emergency kit for a child’s book bag or locker. Similar to kits families are encouraged to build for home use, it should include basics such as water, food, a small flashlight with extra batteries and a first aid kit.

For a complete list of suggested emergency kit supplies, visit

“Be sure to check with the school to confirm what is and is not allowed on campus. For instance, schools prohibit knives or medicines outside the nurse’s office,” Peek said. “Don’t forget to include an emergency contacts card sealed in a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet.”

Parents and guardians also should talk to children about how to react in case of an emergency. The goal is not to scare them, Peek emphasized, but to give them the confidence to know what to do even if a teacher or other adult is not around. For help framing the conversation with a child, contact your local county Extension office for resources.

Meanwhile, most schools are required to post in each classroom evacuation routes for tornadoes and fire. Encourage kids to locate the posted routes and make sure they know where to go in the event of an emergency.

“Parents also can request a copy of a school’s emergency operations plan and ask about the precautions the school is taking to protect against possible intruders,” Peek said. “As it’s appropriate, share the details with your kids so they are prepared to react.”

Finally, for kids who walk or ride a bike to school, parents and guardians should accompany them several times to make sure they are comfortable. Then, mark the route on a map and include places where they can take shelter from bad weather or for other safety related reasons.

“Examples of safe places include other schools, community centers, friends’ homes, libraries and police and fire stations,” Peek said. “Designating these areas ahead of time hopefully will help your child feel safer traveling to and from school and give you a greater peace of mind as well.”

Seal the marked map in a plastic bag to protect it against general wear and tear and store it in the child’s school bag for easy reference.


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078