FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2012) -- A kindergartener in a bright blue ice cream cone shirt sat in the nurse's office at Fort Rucker Primary School and talked about her plans for the summer.

"I'm going to the pool!" Elly Hanks said with a grin. "And maybe eat some ice cream."

But while Elly is splashing in the sun, she's also going to drink water, wear sunglasses and apply some of the principles she and the other FRPS students have learned about summer safety.

In the weeks leading up to the end of school June 1, Debbie Doggett, the school nurse, dressed up as "Miss Cool" and sang a rap song she made up to teach the students about wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated, watching for snakes and insects, wearing bicycle helmets, and not talking to strangers.

"They get a kick out of that," she said. "They're pretty good at remembering things."

Claire Cohen remembers to call 911 to reach the "ambulance, the fire truck, and the police" if there is an emergency. Nate Smith remembers to wear a helmet when he rides a bicycle so he doesn't hurt his head and Hunter Wade remembers to wear tennis shoes, and watch for ants and snakes.

"If you don't wear sunscreen when you know you're going to be outside for a very long time or if you're at the pool, at the beach or an indoor pool, you'll get sunburn," explained Adara Noble, a first-grader.

"And you have water in your body and if you're running, all the water falls out," Nate added excitedly. When you stop running, you need to put more water in it so you can be hydrated."

Doggett said she is impressed by what the students remembered, but she also hopes parents remember to reapply sunscreen.

"You'll have children come in with some really bad burns," she said. "It's not because the parents didn't put the sunscreen on, but they put it on one time and forgot to reapply."

Parents should be applying sunscreen every half-hour, she said, adding that if you wait until a child looks burned, it's too late.

Students aren't the only ones getting ready for summer, as Fort Rucker police are preparing to be more active in post neighborhoods, according to Marcel J. Dumais, Directorate of Public Safety Department of the Army Civilian Police Chief.

"When school lets out, we're going to be more critical about enforcing the traffic and speed limitations in the housing areas," he said. "Knowing that children are out and about, we ask that people pay particular attention when passing parked vehicles on the side of the roads -- those hazards where children could potentially dart out into the road."

Dumais said the posted speed limit is 20 mph in neighborhoods and 10 mph in parking lots, but that doesn't mean drivers have to go that fast.

"You need to go the speed that's safe or prudent for the conditions," he said.

Peggy Contreras, crime analyst and community police supervisor, said one of her big concerns for the summer is the heat. She advises parents to be aware of the temperature and keep children hydrated.

"It's extremely hot," she said, so parents should never leave children or pets in the car.

Some other summer safety concerns are water safety and medical needs, she said.

"When you're at the community center pools, a lot of times you're talking with your friends and neighbors, but just be aware of the kids," she said. "There should be lifeguards, but don't leave the total responsibility with the lifeguard."

Also, be sure a neighbor or child care provider is aware of any medications or allergies, she said. Make sure they know where the medications are kept and have emergency contact information.

Since many children will be at home during the day, Contreras also said parents should discuss situations like opening the door or talking to someone who stops in front of the house.

Children should not open the door or go to the street to answer questions, she said.

"I think the main thing is staying focused on safety throughout the summer," said Dumais. "That includes a myriad of things but from my point of view, everything on the roadway is a potential hazard. I just want people to be aware of that."

Page last updated Mon June 4th, 2012 at 00:00