Back to school: does your child know their emergency contact information?
School is starting this week, meaning schedule changes for you and your family. If your student gets lost in the new routine, would they know what to do to get home?
Clark Elementary School’s secretary says updating emergency contact information as soon as it changes is crucial. Emergencies can happen at any time, and a wrong number or old address can make situations difficult when time matters.
Paducah Police Sgt. Matt Smith suggests keeping information like phone numbers and addresses in your child's backpack. He says when kids get lost, most times they panic.
"I've rarely had a situation where a child walks up and has specific information. We've had to really dig and try to get, you know, if we don’t know this person's information, who is someone else that we can call? Or what are some landmarks that are close to your house? Things of that nature," Smith said.
Phillip and Amy Chesnut have a son named Carson who is about to enter first grade at Clark Elementary School. They've tried preparing Carson for what to do if he ever gets lost going home. He will be riding the bus for the first time this year.
”We've talked specifically about not getting in a car with people you don't know,” Amy said.
Carson says he knows his dad's number or to call 911 —a number Smith says kids should never hesitate to call if they're lost.
“Look for a police officer or maybe even a fireman,” Smith said.
He recommends keeping a current picture of your child, with no one else in the photo, in case they ever disappear.
Smith also recommends coming up with a plan if you're going to a crowded place, “to come up with a plan for some specific landmark to meet at if a child gets lost: maybe a specific building or a specific door."
Phillip and Amy tell Carson to look for people in uniforms in those situations.
“And we've talked about finding families with children and trusting those adults, you know, if he can’t find an employee around,” Phillip said.
Paducah Public Schools Transportation Director Steve Spraggs says one way they keep track of students riding the bus is to require parents to call the school ahead if their child will be getting off a different stop than usual.
In addition, kindergarten and first grade bus riders have a bus tag on a lanyard with their addresses on them. Teachers put those on as the children are leaving school, and a bus driver checks them as kids are getting off to make sure they're at the right place.
Spraggs also encourage kids who walk to and from school to monitor sidewalk safety, making sure to always use crosswalks and staying out of the road.