Prepare Your Child for Safety at Night with These Tips


November 5 signaled the end of Daylight Savings Time for 2017. What does that mean here in Carrollton, Georgia, and the surrounding region? Afternoons get shorter and darkness falls sooner.

Earlier darkness makes night safety a priority for everyone, especially our children.

Often distracted by conversations with friends and hand-held technology, tweens, teens, and college students may not be paying attention to their surroundings. This lack of awareness can put them at risk for vehicle-pedestrian accidents or personal attacks.

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. In 2015, 186 U.S. children younger than 13 were killed in pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.
How can you prepare your child to be cautious when walking at night on their school campus and in your neighborhood? We have a few tips.

First, talk to your kids regularly about being aware of their surroundings. Second, start early. Safe Kids recommends the following strategies:

 Teach kids at an early age to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street. Remind them regularly.

 Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street, even at a traffic light or crosswalk.

 Teach kids to put phones, headphones, and devices down when crossing the street. Reinforce this message with teenagers. Parents can set a good example by putting their phones, headphones, and devices down when walking around cars.

 Teach kids to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

 Teach kids to walk in parking lots and to avoid crossing between parked cars. Parking lots are limited visibility areas, especially for children who are shorter than a car’s hood. Teach kids to be especially alert for cars that are turning and backing up.

Parents of young children are better able to hold on to their youngsters as they cross roads and walk through high traffic areas. But teenagers are often out with friends or walking alone to their cars. Parents can help teens be safer by talking to them about situational awareness—being perceptive about potential risks and threats in one’s environment.

Dr. Yolanda Evans, writing for Teenology101, an education program of Seattle Children’s Hospital, says that being aware of one’s surroundings is important in every environment—from the most rural wilderness to the big city. It’s a matter of looking, listening, and allowing one’s gut instincts work, Evans says.

She offers these tips to parents:

 Encourage your teen to tell people where they’re going and when to expect them back.

 Don’t walk and text or talk. Keep devices stored in a backpack or purse and out of sight of potential thieves.

 Stay in a group. After work or school events, have friends walk each other to their cars and watch out for everyone as they safely leave the area together.

 Tell your teens to listen to their gut. “Sometimes we can get into situations where we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. If something feels wrong, don’t ignore that feeling. Get out of the situation – go back inside the store or back to the dance.”

 Consider a self-defense class. Even the most basic martial arts skills can be a lifesaver if someone is a target of a personal attack.

Because of late afternoon and evening classes and a greater degree of independence, college students have to take their personal security a step further.

“College students don’t always keep the most regular hours,” said Scott Field, Global VP of Sales and Marketing at MAG Instrument, one of the world’s leading flashlight manufacturers. “Being able to see in any condition is an important safety and security issue … whether it’s coming back from a late night in the library or late night out with friends.”

MAG Instrument makes a variety of durable flashlights that can be easily carried in a pocket or backpack for use in everyday situations or emergencies, as does a variety of manufacturers. Remind your teen or college student to keep a working flashlight handy in their car, purse, backpack, or pocket, especially if they regularly go out at night.

CollegeMagazine.com also suggests that college students keep a self-defense whistle and a protection spray like mace or pepper spray on hand for emergency situations.

Fortunately, most college campuses, including the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, offer campus shuttles to carry students between academic buildings and parking lots. UWG’s University Police also can provide an escort. To see more tips about staying safe on campus, visit www.westga.edu/campus-life/housing/safety-and-security.php.

Carrollton, Georgia, and the surrounding area has some of the most walkable neighborhoods in Georgia. If you are looking for a new home, let one of Duffey Realty’s agents help you find the neighborhood that best fits your family’s needs. Contact one of our REALTORs® today.