Washington, DC — An estimated 55 million students nationwide from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade head back into the classrooms in only a few weeks. The nation’s emergency physicians want every student to get to school safely, remain safe and healthy throughout the year and not end up in the emergency department or perhaps even worse.
“This should be an exciting time of year for every student, focused on starting a new chapter in their lives,” said Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Parents need to take important steps now to protect their children’s health before sending them back to school.”
ACEP has created a list of medical priorities that should go right along with those lists that include buying pencils, notebooks and backpacks. This will help both parents and children start the school year right.
Any of these necessary medical forms can be found on ACEP’s Emergency Care for You website:
- Organize your child’s medical history records and emergency medical contact information. Provide a copy of this information to your child’s school or daycare provider with instructions to take it with them to the emergency department if your child is sick or injured. The form should include information related to prescription medications, medical problems, or previous surgeries as well as pertinent family history and emergency contacts.
- Fill out consent-to-treat forms and give one to the school or your daycare provider for them to keep in your child’s record and to take with them if your child goes to the emergency department. The form will allow caregivers to authorize treatment in an emergency situation.
Schedule medical and dental check-ups before school starts. Some children may need immunizations.
- Review and do a dry run of your child’s route to school, explaining potential hazards along the way. This is a good time to discuss safety rules and what to be on the lookout for with your child.
- If your child takes the school bus, establish a safe, visible pick up/drop off spot, preferably with a group of additional children and in an area where they can be clearly watched by adults.
- If your child drives to school, make sure they obey all laws and wear seatbelts. Also remind them that more children are waiting outside for school buses at that time and that more cars are on the roadways and all drivers need to stay alert.
- Make sure the children understand potential traffic dangers, especially if they walk to school.
- Make sure your children know how to telephone for help. Post emergency-contact numbers by every telephone in your home. Have them practice how to call 911 or the local emergency number, and giving their name, address and a brief description of the problem.
- Develop a family emergency plan in case something happens on the way to or while at school.
- Be aware of any emergency and evacuation plans your children’s schools may have established.
“Going back to school for children should be about learning, participating in extra-curricular activities and spending time with friends and peers,” said Dr. Gardner. “Even though we are here whenever you need us, we’d rather not have any of these kids end up in our emergency departments because of something that could have been avoided.”
For more information on back to school safety or any other health related topic, please go to www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.