School started throughout Polk County this week. As life — and traffic, but vehicular and pedestrian — gets more hectic around town, it’s important to remember — and share with your children — some key tips that will help keep them safe and healthy throughout the school year.

Whether children walk, ride their bicycle, or take the bus to school, it is important to take proper safety precautions. Here are some tips to make sure your child travels safely to and from school:

Walk on the sidewalk, if available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic.

Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right, and left again to see if cars are coming.

Make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets or entering intersections.

Stay alert and avoid distracted walking.

Teach your children the rules of the road and practice riding the bike route to school with your child.

Remember: Ride on the right side of the road with traffic and in a single file.

Come to a complete stop before crossing the street — even though Oregon laws have been modified to allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields, it is good practice to come to a complete stop and look for cars. Walk your bike across the street.

Stay alert and avoid distracted riding.

Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted helmet and bright colors.

When riding the bus, make sure your child knows the proper way to get on and off the bus.

Teach your children to stand 6 feet — three giant steps — away from the curb.

If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the side of the road until they are 10 feet ahead of the bus; your child and bus driver should always be able to see each other.

When driving your child to school, obey zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure.

Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street.

Never pass a bus loading or unloading children, or that has its red lights flashing — those are the same as a stop sign.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to allow them to safely enter and exit the bus.

If your teenager is driving him or herself to school, practice with them before and after they get their license. Sign the New Driver Deal, an agreement that helps define expectations for parents and teens. And set a good example for young drivers: drive the way you want your teen to drive.

Safety at school means taking precautions with backpacks, playgrounds and sports.

Ask your child to use both straps when wearing their backpack to distribute weight evenly. Don’t over stuff a backpack: It should weigh no more than 5 or 10 percent of your child’s body weight.

When playing sports, bumps and bruises can be expected, but head injuries should never be ignored.

— Tips from the National Safety Council

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