With school back in session, many local children may be walking to and from school or the bus stop. Local police believe that there is important information for young children and parents when it comes to making it safely from one destination to another.

While it is important to keep children safe always, here are five tips for students who may be walking to and from school.

1. Plan out your route

Sherman Police Sgt. Brett Mullen it’s a good idea for families to sit down together and map out the routes their children will most often use when walking between home and school or any other locations, including athletic practice, a friend’s house or an after-school job.

“That way, if anything happens, you know where your kid is typically supposed to be and what direction they would have been traveling,” Mullen said. “And if you know the route well, you also know how long it takes them to get back and forth. That gives you a better idea of when they maybe need to leave the house or whether they’re running late and if that’s unusual.”

2. Stay on sidewalks and cross at designated areas

“Drivers are, by law, required to stop for pedestrians, but a pedestrian should always go ahead and yield to a moving vehicle, just to be safe,” Mullen said. “Be aware of the traffic around you and, like we’ve been told since kindergarten, always look both ways before crossing the street.”

3. Don’t be distracted by phones and music

“When you’re on your phone and especially when you’re wearing headphones, you can lose a lot of your spacial awareness,” Mullen said. “When you’re walking, you need to be able to see what’s going on around you, to hear what’s going on around you and react to that. It could be vehicular traffic that’s approaching or someone who’s following you.”

4. Walk with a buddy and steer clear of strangers

“The old adage is that there’s safety in numbers and that is true,” Mullen said. “Having someone with you when you’re walking you does provide an added level of safety and security.”

And while Mullen said there are plenty of well-meaning strangers out there, students should be cautious of anyone who approaches them and report any suspicious individuals to 9-1-1.

“Never get in a car or go somewhere with somebody you don’t know,” Mullen said.

5. Check-in when leaving or arriving

It is a good practice for students with cell phones to call or text family members to let them know when they’ve left for their destination and when they’ve arrived.

“Getting a routine of doing that can be a great thing because if there’s ever a time where parents or someone in the family doesn’t receive that text, it could be an early indicator that something might be wrong,” Mullen said.

Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.