School Safety Tips from Sheriff Nolan

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It's that time of year again! School is back in session and we all need to remind ourselves that young children will be out waiting for those big yellow buses that join us on the road during our morning commute. We all need to adjust our routines to include the hectic pickup and drop-off schedules, the demands of homework and constant reminders to take your lunch money. Sometimes the real important issues to remember are the ones that are forgotten... the ones that lead to a child's safety.

In the first years of our children's lives we are constantly there to protect them. We sometimes take for granted the little things that add up to safety for our children. When our children enter into the school year, it is not always possible to keep a constant watch over them and we gamble the odds that nothing will happen or think they will not understand. Sometimes we just don't think to plan ahead or share that plan with our children.

Sheriff Nolan and the Cape May County Sheriff's Office wants you to sit down with your children and go over these safety tips together. Create an emergency plan together and review things such as what to do if your children should come home to find that nobody is there. Set a scheduled review time to go over the emergency plan regularly to keep it fresh in their memory. Quiz children about the emergency plan every so often.

If you see something, say something!. It is important for criminals to know that everyone is watching and will report it. Don't be afraid to ask someone if they are ok.

Your emergency plan should include:

  • Make arrangements with at least two of your neighbors that your children can go to if  they should come home to an empty house. If you know you can't be home in time for the children to get back from school, contact one of the designated neighbors to meet your children at your house or the bus stop and take them to their home until you are able to return.

  • Make sure your children and the designated neighbors know your cell numbers and any phone numbers you can be commonly contacted at. If you can't be reached or you can't make contact to the neighbors. Have the neighbor at least leave a message on your cell phone or home phone answering machine so you can locate your children as soon as possible.

  • Make sure your children are aware not to talk to strangers. If they are approached by a stranger they should walk or run away. * Remember what McGruff the Crime Dog says to do.

  • If a stranger is following them, tell children to run to the nearest public place ask someone for help. Scream and yell if you have to. If there are no public places then knock loudly on the door of the nearest house and scream and yell as loud as you can.

School Bus Safety

Drivers need to remember to be aware that children will be out waiting for that big yellow school bus. Make sure to keep your eyes open for children crossing the street.

 

  • Explain to your children about school bus safety and show them the danger zones (A) around the school bus when getting on and off the bus. The bus driver may not be able to see children who are in the danger zones.

School Bus Danger Zones
  • Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.

  stop for the bus  school bus stop sign
  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, do NOT stand in the street, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.

  • Do not approach the bus until it has come to a complete stop.

  • Teach children to make sure the bus driver can see them at all times. Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus. If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.

  • Instruct children to never get off at a different bus stop unless you tell them to do so.

  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door.

  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading. Look both ways before crossing the street when getting on and off the bus.

  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.

For more information about school bus safety, contact the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) or https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety.

Walking/Biking to School

  • Make sure your child's walk to a school is a safe route. Some towns employ Traffic Safety Guards at intersections around schools. Try to find a buddy in your neighborhood for your child to walk or bike with. You should never let a child walk or ride to school alone.

  • Remind children to follow the rules of the road, obey traffic signs and signals and to come directly home. Do not make any stops along the way.

  • Make sure your children know not to get into a car with a stranger no matter what they may say. Let them know you would never send somebody they don't know to pick them up.

  • Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills, because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic. Carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.

  • Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

  • Bicyclists should always wear their helmets and obey all traffic laws.

Back Pack Safety

  • Choose a backpack with wide padded shoulder straps and a padded back.

  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's body weight.

  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.

Before and After School Care

  • During middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school until you return home from work.

  • Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.

  • If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.

  • If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.

  • Install a Home Video Surveillance System that you can monitor from your phone.

College Safety Tips

College is supposed to be wonderful experience in your life. You have decided to continue your education to prepare yourself for a career. It will be both demanding and fun but the experience of it all will be with you for the rest of your life. You can minimize your chances of having a bad experience while attending college and make that memory one your favorites. Sheriff Nolan and the Cape May County Sheriff's Office would like to help you experience the better part of your College years by utilizing the following simple safety tips.

Avoid becoming intoxicated. If you're getting to the point that you don't have control of yourself or your surroundings, you need to stop and think about the types of situations you're putting yourself in. It's far too easy for others to take advantage of you or a situation if you can't think or act rationally. Additionally, you can be charged with underage drinking.

If you see something, say something!. It is important for criminals to know that everyone is watching and will report it. Don't be afraid to ask someone if they are ok.

Check to see if the campus has a safety app for your phone. They are extremely useful in reporting incidents or just push the emergency button for help.

Protect your privacy on Social Media. Be sure not mention your plans before you perform them. Don't publish your address or class schedule. This gives strangers the opportunity to know your whereabouts and can easily figure out your daily routine. This can put you at risk of burglary, robbery or an attack upon yourself. Identity theft is on the rise so don't become a statistic by boasting yourself on social media because more than just your friends are watching.

 Personal Security

     Protect your Room or Apartment

  • Lock your door - Even if you are only going to the bathroom or into the room next door. It only takes eight seconds to enter an unlocked room and steal valuables.

  • Lock your door when you are sleeping.

  • Do not prop open any exterior doors. Those doors are locked for your safety. If you see an open door, close it and don't worry about who may have propped it open.

  • Do not loan your keys to anyone. Friends may be careless with your keys.

  • Do not leave your keys lying around or in your coat pocket when not wearing it. Carry your car keys on a separate ring and do not put your name or address on the keys.

    Protect Your Property

  • Have valuables engraved with your driver license number. Tag or label items in a discreet place if engraving is not possible.

  • Photograph valuable items and any identifying marks made on them. Send the photographs home so they are not stolen as well.

  • Record model numbers and serial numbers of valuable items, bank and credit card account numbers and the telephone number to report them stolen. Keep this information in a safe place or at home.

  • Do not leave valuables, personal property or items such as electronics, briefcases and purses that would contain personal identifications or account numbers lying around. Leaving these things accessible is gateway to Identity Theft.

  • Open a savings or checking account rather than leaving large sums of cash in your room.

Driving

     On The Road

  • Always keep windows up and doors locked when driving. Try not to leave any valuables visible from the outside.

  • Always keep your car in gear while stopped at intersections and traffic lights. If threatened, blow the horn and drive away if it is clear to do so.

  • Keep your cell phone on your person and not in a purse or backpack. If these items are stolen you will not have anyway to call for help. There are no longer payphones available on every street corner. Keep your cell phone charged.

  • Know certain information about your car such as the tag number, color, make, model of vehicle and any obvious damage or markings that would make the vehicle more identifiable to law enforcement authorities.

  • If you are driving at night, be sure you know your directions before departing. If you must ask for directions, ask a police officer or gas station attendant. DO NOT ask a pedestrian walking on the street.

  • If you suspect you are being followed, DO NOT drive home or leave the car. Note where you are and call 911 on your cell phone. If you can't make a phone call then drive directly to a police station, or open store or gas station for help. It is not illegal to use your cell phone while driving to report that you or someone else may be in danger although it advisable to pull over if you it will not cause harm to you.

  • If you experience car trouble, try to get the car off the road and out of the way of traffic. Turn your hazard lights on if they work. Call for help on your cell phone. It is important to know where you are so help can find you. If you don't have or can't use a cell phone then put the hood up and get back in the car and lock the doors and put the windows up. If stranger stops, ask them to report your predicament to the police or nearest service station.

  • NEVER pick up hitchhikers or accept rides from strangers.

    In The Parking Lot

  • Try not to walk out to your car alone. At least have someone watch you until you drive away, if possible.

  • Always park in a well lit area. If you park during the day and know that you will be returning after dark, take note of the lighting setup in the area.

  •  Always lock your car with the windows closed. Lock valuables in the trunk, out of sight.

  • Always carry your keys in your hand when walking back to the car. This saves you time in case you must get to the car quickly.

  • Walk back to the car out of the way of hiding areas between parked cars.

  • Before you get in your car, check both front and back seats to make sure no one is hiding.

  • Avoid parking anywhere you feel unsafe.

Safety Walking On the Street

    Where To Walk

  • Don't walk alone unless you absolutely must!! Walk in the middle of the sidewalk to avoid hiding places along the way.

  • Take a walk during daylight hours with friends to familiarize yourself with the campus. Most campuses now have Emergency Call Stations or buttons located throughout the campus grounds. You should become familiar with thier locations. Knowing your surroundings can be important if you should need to run away.

  • Stay in well lit areas at night.  Walk in areas where there are other pedestrians.

  • If you walk home regularly, vary your route home. This holds true when jogging too. Let someone you trust know which routes you take home.

    How To Walk

  • If you must walk alone be aware of your surroundings and know your route. Move along briskly and confidently. Wear comfortable low heeled shoes and loose fitting clothes so you can run if you must. Advise a friend of the route you are taking and call them once you get home and are safe. 

  • Always carry a purse with the strap over your shoulder or or in the crook of your elbow. Never dangle the purse from your hand.

  • Keep your cell phone on your person and not in a purse or backpack. If these items are stolen you will not have anyway to call for help. There are no longer payphones available on every street corner. Keep your cell phone charged.

    Do not allow technology to distract you from your surroundings. Texting while walking can cause you to become unaware of your location. Wearing headphones while jogging takes away your ability to hear someone running up behind you or someone yelling to you that you may be in danger.

  • Carry Pepper Spray and keep it in a location where you can get to it quickly.

    If there is Trouble

  • If you think you are being followed by someone on foot, cross the street. If you fear danger, scream loudly to attract attention. Call 911 and tell them your location immediately then tell them what is happening. This is why it is important not to become distracted from your location. Officers cannot respond to you quickly if you don't know where you are. Cell phones do not give your exact location when you call 911.

  • If you are being harassed by occupants of a vehicle, turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The driver will have turn the car around to follow you. Get the license plate number if possible. Call 911 on your cell phone.

  • If you are attacked, the quicker you regain control of your emotions, the better you'll respond to the situation. Try observe the persons clothing and physical characteristics.

These are just a few of the many ideas that are out there to improve your safety during your college experience. We hope this helps you and wish you good luck with all of your classes. Enjoy it!


Revised on January 7, 2019

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