School safety a must for our children

Off the fence
School safety a must for our children

Off the fence
Maurice Buckley

OVER the past fortnight, 4,000 schools throughout Ireland have re-opened their doors and in Mayo more than 25,000 pupils have walked through their school doors once again. And while many parents are happy for the school year to start again, they should also be very aware of some important safety tips that will ensure their children’s safety before, during and after school time.
The start of a new school year can make many parents nervous as they will not be able to keep a close an eye on their children as they had during the summer holidays. There are however a number of safety related standards that will help ensure you and your children have a safe return to school.
If your child is cycling to and from school, make sure that they are wearing a bicycle helmet and a high visibility vest.  It is recommended that when cycling hi-visibility vests are worn at all times to ensure that motorists can see your child clearly and always wear an appropriate helmet when cycling, rollerblading or skateboarding to school.
77 per cent of child fatalities in collisions (1996-2000) were due to a lack of or misuse of a child restraint car seat, according to the Road Safety Authority. Make sure to choose the right child safety seat so that your child is safe while on the car trip to school; child seats are categorized by the weight of the child, not the child’s height.
The return to school also means the return to team sports for many children. NSAI developed the Irish Standards I.S. 356 and I.S. 357 in response to fatal accidents that occurred when people came in contact with goalposts that were defective, unstable or modified. These standards have robust codes of practice in place for sporting teams and bodies to adhere to across all sports, including soccer, rugby, GAA and Camogie.
Those working in child care such as in crèches, playschools or schools should ensure that toys possess the CE Mark. By law, the CE mark should be on all toys placed on the European Union market and it can also display the standard mark for toys, EN 71. It shows that the toy meets the essential safety requirements of the European Toy Safety Directive. This allows you to be safe in the knowledge that the toy is flame retardant and that the design, construction and materials used in its composition are safe for your child to play with.
Whether making the regular ‘school run’ or playing sport for the school team, consumers are protected by NSAI standards that ensure their safety and can help reduce injuries. By exercising caution and a little common-sense, families can enjoy a safe school year.

Maurice Buckle
y is CEO of the NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland).