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It’s here: summer. With pencils down and the temperature up, these next few months open the door for more free time for kids. Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook wants parents to keep that – and safety – in mind. “Summer is a great time for families to spend more time together and enjoy what our beautiful county and state have to offer,” she said, “We want to make sure our county’s kids have a fun and safe time, and that falls on parents or caretakers to educate their children and to be aware of how they spend their days.”


  • Social media and internet

Teach kids and teens to not share personal information, don’t correspond with someone they don’t know, and always tell a parent or other trusted adult about any communication that was inappropriate. Be aware of the apps your child or teen is using on their phone.


  • Medication safety

Keep medications out of reach – and sight – so young hands can’t get ahold of them. Put medications away every time you use them and make sure the safety cap is locked. Don’t tell your child the medicine is candy to get them to take it. Talk to teens about the dangers of abusing medication and being with people who are. Be mindful of the inventory of all prescription and over-the-counter medications in your home.


  • Safety on the water

Always supervise kids without distractions when they’re in or near water. Drownings can happen silently and in a matter of minutes. Be mindful that floatation devices can give kids who can’t swim a false sense of security. If you don’t have a gate around the pool, put barriers with locks around it to restrict access. Young children need U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets on the boat or on docks. Be mindful that ponds, wading pools, and five-gallon buckets can pose drowning hazards for young kids


  • It’s hot out – so are vehicles

Warn kids about hiding in enclosed spaces outdoors, including cars. Teach them a car isn’t a place to play. Never leave a child in a vehicle alone, even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running. You might think that you won’t forget your child in a vehicle, but it’s happened, tragically, many times. You can ask your childcare provider to call if your child doesn’t show up as expected. You can also put a personal item you need in the backseat to remind you to check. Keep keys out of a child’s reach when you’re at home.


  • Don’t make an open house for thieves

When you’re heading out on vacation, make sure your home doesn’t look empty. Leave a lamp on inside and the porch light on outside. Have a trusted neighbor take in your mail. Also, don’t post that you’re out of town or heading out of town on social media. Wait to upload those beach pictures until you get home.


Summer is a special time of year. Families can make memories, and kids can be kids. Sheriff Cook, a mom herself, said spending time educating children and teens about safety can go a long way. “Every parent wants their child to stay safe, but sometimes, it’s hard to realize where certain dangers exist. Taking a moment to educate yourself, and then your kids and teens, can be instrumental in keeping them safe.”

CEO Judson Sapp and Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook

Judson Sapp hosts Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook to discuss law enforcement issues. From the latest breaking news to cold cases, we answer the questions you have always wanted to ask. Tune in weekly!