Chad Clark

Chad Clark

Guest Columnist

It seems hard to believe that summer is coming to a close. Next week our local schools are back in business and the kids are all excited to go back! OK, most are excited!

This means getting up early, getting into a hurry to rush out the door to catch the bus or walk to school. Parents are also excited for this time of year, but will also feel the rush to get the kids up earlier and all ready for school.

Safety is a major priority for the schools, but also the parents who send off their loved ones. Here are a few tips to keep kids safe:

Bus stop:

n If your child is walking to the bus stop down the road to the corner, make sure they wear a bright colored jacket or shirt as the mornings are staying a bit darker longer.

n Tell them not to talk to strangers who may be driving up to the bus stop or walking up to it. You may want to be with your child the first day or two to check things out.

n Remind your kids to stay well off the traveled portion of the roadway as drivers are getting used to kids out and about early.

Walking to school:

n If your child is walking to and from school, please walk the route ahead of time.

n Ensure the route is safe and if possible is near where other kids are walking.

n If the route requires crossing a street, make sure the crosswalks are being used by your child and for them to wait for the crossing guard if the intersection has one.

n Insist your child not wear ear buds while walking to and from school as it will take away their awareness of possible dangers around them.

Another huge safety concern is when your child returns home but no one is home and the doors are all locked and no key is available.

I know this sounds unrealistic this day and age but here is a scenario that happens:

A neighbor observes someone crawling through a window at a nearby house. The neighbor isn’t sure who it was and doesn’t want to go investigate, so a call is made to 911 and police are dispatched. The officer/deputy who arrives at the house does not know if this is a burglary, but must treat it as one after seeing a person inside the house. Now things may get scary for both your child that crawled through the window and the officer who still doesn’t know the person belongs there.

Please avoid this scary situation.

As a deputy this has happened to me while on patrol. Everything ended fine but the neighbors are being good neighbors by calling this in and not assuming everything is OK. Having a plan with your child before this scenario plays out is crucial.

Please take a moment and have discussions with your kids about overall safety and being safe to and from school.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Send questions to askpatrolchief@gmail.com.

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