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Photo of Senator Martin Looney.

SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE

Martin Looney

An Advocate for Us

Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Help victims of Hurricane Harvey

The American Red Cross is helping the people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and all across the Gulf coast. Shelters are open, truckloads of supplies are being distributed, and volunteers are in place. All they need is a donation from you. Please consider giving!
 

Back To School Safety

Over half a million children are headed back to Connecticut's public schools, and that means--once again--that for the next nine months, we will be sharing the roads with walkers, bicyclists, school buses, and automobiles, all trying to get children safely to and from school.

We're Back in School...Be Alert!

I'd like to take a moment to share some back-to-school safety tips with you as suggested by the National Safety Council. I know all of us are concerned with keeping our children, our grandchildren, our friends and our family safe as children return to continue their public education right here in Connecticut.

Here are a few tips; for a more complete summary, please visit the National Safety Council website.

On the Bus

School buses are a safe way for students to travel, but children also need to do their part to stay alert and aware. When waiting for the bus, kids should stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. When on the bus, wear a seat belt if they are available. When exiting the bus, if it is necessary to cross in front, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until the bus driver is in sight. And watch for traffic! Connecticut law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses and students, but unfortunately, not everyone obeys the law.

This time of year, it's especially important for motorists to be aware of stopped school buses and students heading to and exiting buses. Under state law, it's mandatory that drivers stop for school buses that have their flashing red warning lights activated, whether they are approaching or following the school bus. Drivers failing to stop are subject to a $450 fine.

Playgrounds

Nearly 80 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls. Equipment associated most with injuries are climbers, swings, slides and overhead ladders. Playground surfaces should be made of wood chips, mulch, wood fibers, sand, pea gravel or rubber mats and should be at least 12 inches deep. Beware of hardware that is capable of cutting a child, such as bolts, hooks, rungs, etc. Children age 4 and under shouldn't play on climbing equipment or horizontal ladders. If your playground seems unsafe, report the problem to school or park officials.

Backpacks

Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture. Backpacks shouldn't weigh more than 10 percent of a child's weight (for example, an average 12 year old boy weighs 85-100 pounds, so his backpack shouldn't weigh more than 9 or 10 pounds!)

When selecting a backpack, look for: the correct size (never wider or longer than your child's torso, and never hanging more than four inches below their waist); padded back and shoulder straps; hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight; multiple compartments to better distribute the weight; and reflective material to help provide visibility in low light.

Also remember: a roomy backpack may seem like a good idea, but the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will want to fill it!

Concussions and Sports Injuries

Older students may be involved in after-school sports, and for many, that means the possibility of a concussion. Every three minutes, a child in the U.S. is treated for a sports-related concussion. In sports in which girls and boys both participate, girls suffer a higher percentage of concussions.

concussion

About 10 percent of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sports season, although fewer than 10 percent of those concussions will involve a loss of consciousness. Football is the most common sport with a concussion risk for boys, and soccer is the most common sport with a concussion risk for girls. About 80 percent of concussions occur during games, not practices.

Signs and symptoms of concussion include confusion, forgetfulness, glassy eyes, disorientation, clumsiness or poor balance, slowed speech, and changes in mood, behavior or personality. Make sure all coaches know how to recognize the signs of a concussion and have a plan in case of emergency.