Get your kids ready for longer walk to school bus

High gas prices are prompting Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to devise bus routes that will result in many children being forced to walk farther to their stops. Before the first day of school, talk to your child about safety.

Walk with your kids to the stop and identify any potential dangers (e.g., streets/intersections, alleys, high bushes or secluded fields).

Talk about how to respond if strangers approach in vehicles or on foot. Tell them to try to remember details about the person or car.

If your child has a cell phone, teach him how to call for help, as well as how to take a photo of any potential problem.

Arrange a designated safe spot/neighbor's home where your child can go if he becomes uneasy between home and the bus stop.

Stress the importance of heading home directly and immediately from the bus stop after school.

If they're coming home to an empty house, tell them to enter cautiously. If something appears out of place, they should head to the designated safe spot/home.

Parents should require kids to check in with them by phone the minute they get home.