The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

It’s that time of year again! Time to kick off another exciting and fun-filled school year. Even if your kids have already walked out the door for the first day of classes, it is not too late to remind them how to get to and from school safely. Safety must be the first lesson of every new school year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission suggests the following for a safe return to school from the summer vacation.


School buses are one of the safest ways for children to travel to and from school. However, there are dangers when children are boarding and leaving the bus. Teach your child to always play it SAFE:

Stay five steps away from the curb.
Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.


Walking to school is great exercise and gets kids ready to face their studies. Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. Teach your child to always

Use the sidewalk whenever possible, and if there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.
Focus when walking near traffic – this is no time for horseplay.
Use crosswalks whenever they are available to cross the street.
Look left-right-left before crossing any street.


Kids love riding their bikes and it can be a fun, quick way to get to school. Be sure to do these simple things to keep your bike ride safe:

Always wear a properly fitted helmet and securely fasten the chin strap.
Ride in the same direction as traffic and follow traffic signs and signals.
Stay in the bike lane whenever possible.
Use the sidewalk appropriately and keep an eye out for other pedestrians.
Never use electronics while riding – they are distracting.


For some teens, back to school also means the new-found freedom of driving. Keep these things in mind when driving to keep your ride safe:

Have a safe driver behind the wheel.
The car shouldn’t move until everyone is buckled up.
Finally, remember that the phone stays down when you’re driving!