UAE: 50% of children don't know how to exit school bus if trapped inside, study reveals

Failure to exit the bus or get immediate help may lead to suffocation and death due to high temperatures and lack of oxygen inside a locked vehicle


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 3:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 11:14 PM

Half of UAE children aged between 6 and 8 wouldn't know what to do in case they are trapped and forgotten inside their school buses, a Sharjah authority has found.

Sharjah's Child Safety Department (CSD) — in collaboration with the emirate's Civil Defence Authority — recently conducted a social experiment at a public school, targeting several male and female students of various nationalities.

Each child was left alone inside a closed school bus to monitor their reactions and see if they could successfully exit the bus. The children's responses varied, the experiment revealed — with only half of the participants being able to take the necessary steps to leave the bus.

The kids also did not know how to draw the attention of passers-by to help them, which puts them at serious risk when placed in an actual scenario, according to the study. Failure to exit the bus or get immediate help may lead to suffocation and death due to a lack of oxygen and high temperatures inside a locked vehicle.

"We carried out the social experiment to present to officials and parents statistics revealing the importance of raising children's awareness on safety measures and organising workshops at educational institutions to teach students basic safety skills," said Hanadi Al Yafei, director of the CSD.

Teaching kids the necessary steps

Alongside the experiment, Sharjah Civil Defence conducted an awareness workshop, educating children on the steps they should take if they are left inside a bus or closed vehicle.

It should start with opening the windows for ventilation and repeatedly honking the horn to attract the attention of people to help the child exit.

"We hope this experiment will serve as a model for institutions in the UAE and the region to measure the risk and find solutions to prevent childhood accidents," said Al Yafei.

"We also hope it serves as an incentive for parents and organisations dealing with children to raise awareness of the young segment of the community on the necessary actions to take when they are at risk."

The social experiment is part of a series of CSD initiatives to increase the community's awareness of all factors that impact children's safety.

At the beginning of the school year, the department hosted a two-day workshop titled 'School Bus Safety Golden Rules', which was attended by 900 bus drivers, supervisors and navigators who are responsible for the bus commutes of thousands of school kids across the emirate.

CSD also published an awareness video on social media highlighting the experiment's findings. The video underscored the danger of leaving children unattended on buses and inside vehicles and asserted the importance of cooperation between various stakeholders and parents in safeguarding children.


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