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Ask the Chief: Before school safety tips

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

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Q: I am a single parent and I have to be at work before my child leaves home for school. I worry at my desk if my child made it safely to school or not. Do you have any safety tips for my child who walks to school every day?

A: You are not alone in your concern, being a single parent has many challenges and I want to thank you for raising awareness on this particular issue and giving me the opportunity to share a few safety tips and community resources.

I know child care is expensive, however for your peace of mind and your child's safety, I highly recommend a before-school program. Worrying at your desk and hoping the school's attendance officer doesn't call you at work is not a good plan. I recommend the following:

• Network with your neighbors to form a before- and after-school walking plan for your neighborhood.

• Explain your situation to the principal, attendance officer and the school counselor; they may have before school options for you.

• If your child is old enough to have a cellphone, have your child text or call you when he or she departs from home and text or call again when he or she arrives safely inside the building.

The following are helpful community resources:

1. Children Junction Before School Program:

2. Y School Age Child Care:

3. Sunnyside School Safe Walking Routes:

4. Twin Bluff Middle School Safe Walking Routes:!/RW_SafeRoutesHandout_TwinBluff_0414_Print.pdf

Here are a few safety tips from the Minnesota Safety Council:

Walking to school

• Choose the safest route and walk it with children.

• Have children walk facing traffic, on sidewalks or paths. Walk as far to the left as possible if there are no sidewalks.

• Make sure children look both ways before crossing the street, and cross at designated crosswalks or at corners.

• Don't allow a child (typically under age 10) to cross streets alone. Every child is different, but developmentally, most children are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.

• Distraction among drivers is at an all-time high, so remind children to make eye contact with the driver in a stopped vehicle before stepping into the road.

• Remind children to put down the phone and turn off the volume in headphones when crossing the street.

Stay aware and stay safe!