Preparing for safety in the school year

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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —

With the school year rapidly approaching, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson recommends that parents begin to prepare themselves and their children for safety in the upcoming school year.

“If you live in an area where your kids walk to school, now would be a great time to take a walk with your kids to show them where the crosswalks are,” said Holly Warners, JBER school liaison officer. “Make sure your children understand traffic safety and about looking both ways, even in a crosswalk. Drivers get so focused on what they are doing, they don’t even slow down.”

“Parents need to remind their children to make themselves visible to drivers and use crosswalks while crossing the street,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Tuepker, 673d Air Base Wing noncommissioned officer in charge of installation safety. “Children need to use situational awareness while walking in trafficked areas, however it is also a driver’s responsibility to be aware of pedestrians along their route.”

Although the base currently has longer daylight, parents need to remember as autumn and winter approach the number of daylight hours will decrease.

“Parents need to remember that kids will be walking to and from school in the dark,” said Tuepker. “The children should be wearing something reflective on their backpack or clothing. Parents also should ensure that children are dressed properly for the weather.”

Tuepker recommends that children walk in groups for added visibility.

Warners suggests that whenever possible, students walk to school to reduce traffic around schools.

“I like to encourage families that live in walking areas to let their students walk,” Warners said. “We do get a lot of traffic congestion around schools. If students walk when weather isn’t terrible, it minimizes this traffic.”

Drivers should be vigilant and use situational awareness while driving when children are traveling to school. Drivers should also be aware of locations of bus stops along their routes.

“Parents who have children riding the bus should encourage their children not to be rowdy at bus stops or while riding the bus,” Warners said. “Rowdiness at the bus stop presents a safety hazard to drivers on the road as well as to students. While on the bus children need to sit down because safety is the bus driver’s top priority.”

Drivers need to be aware of school zone speed limits on JBER. School zones on the JBER-E side have a posted speed limit of 20 mph during normal operating hours and on the JBER-R side the zone’s speed limit is 15 mph. The speed limits in school parking lots on both sides of base are 5 mph.

Additional resources are available throughout the year at both of the Military and Family Readiness Center locations.

To contact a school liaison officer, call 384-1505 or 384-7500.

For more information about safety, contact the safety office at 552-6850.

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