By Mr. James Brabenec (IMCOM)August 16, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- As students return to their studies Aug. 17 everyone should pitch in to keep this a safe 2012-13 school year at Fort Sill.
Keep a lookout for children traveling to and from school: be it on bicycles, walking, riding buses or, for older students, driving. Department of Army civilian policemen will patrol school zones and housing areas again this year ensuring compliance with posted speeds and the safety of children.
Special speed zones signs are up again warning drivers of school zones. These zones, adjacent to Sheridan Road, and Geronimo Road Elementary schools, require drivers to stay at or below the 15 mph speed limit when the flashing yellow light is lit. Speeding tickets in school zones can be extremely costly to drivers, and though law enforcement officers wouldn't state how high the fine would be, Joe Glanzer, Fort Sill Police chief, said violators can expect a mandatory court date in front of a judge.
Motorists should be especially wary around children on bicycles. Expect the unexpected as children ride to and from school. Children are required to wear approved safety helmets when riding. Post safety officials recommend parents ensure their children aren't wearing loose or poorly fitted clothing or carrying backpacks with long straps that could get caught in spokes or chain guards.
Children should arrive early to catch the bus and not play in the street prior to its arrival. Moving buses should not be approached until they stop, and children shouldn't exit buses that are moving. When exiting, use the hand rails and take about 10 steps away so drivers can see disembarking passengers before proceeding. Motorists are reminded to stop when bus drivers light their red warning lights. They must remain stopped until the lights shut off.
A backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of a child's body weight. To reduce weight, limit items to only those necessary for class work. Always use both shoulder straps or use other convenience features such as wheels and towing handles when appropriate.
Parents should teach their children not to talk to strangers. After school or at home alone, children should keep doors shut and locked. They should never tell a caller they are home alone. Children should never open the door to talk to anyone who comes to the home unless that person is a family friend or relative. Children should have clear guidelines on what kitchen appliances they may use when at home alone. Keep a list of emergency numbers posted by the phone. Parents should know the phone number and address of their children's schools, as well as the principal's name and number.
Editor's note: Some information courtesy of the U.S. Army Combat and Readiness Safety Center's publication "Schooling Your Kids in Safety."