NEW PORT RICHEY — Sheriff Chris Nocco visited Salvation Army summer camp youngsters this week to remind them about safety when they return to school on Monday.
“If something bad happens in your house, what number do you dial?” Nocco asked the children.
“9-1-1!” they shouted in unison.
Then the sheriff asked how many of the youths know the address of their homes. The answers were more mixed.
“That’s something you need to memorize” and give to deputies in an emergency, Nocco told the youngsters.
Landline phone calls register an address on computer screens of the county’s 911 operators, Nocco said. Nowadays, though, many residents only mobile phones and forgo a home phone. The 911 system doesn’t always display an exact location for mobile calls.
“Don’t call 911 unless it’s a real emergency,” Nocco cautioned. “Don’t dial it just for fun.”
A summer camper had a question about stranger danger.
“You don’t jump in the car with them” if strangers cruise past the front of your house, Nocco emphasized.
“If a stranger comes to your door, don’t answer it,” Nocco remarked.
If danger arises, children should know a good hiding spot, the sheriff advised. “When you go home today, find a hiding spot that only your parents will know where you at.”
Families can take precautions about sending someone to pick up a child after school or some other event, Nocco said. “Sometimes people have passwords in their families so you know to go with somebody. So if your cousin is going to pick you up, parents can say, OK, today’s password is going to be blue.”
Nocco stressed that children should always tell a parent or guardian where they will be, such as visiting a friend’s house to play.
“A lot of time we get calls that kids are missing,” Nocco explained. “And then we go out and search for them” with helicopters and K9 dogs only to discover the kids are playing at a friend’s house.
“You don’t wander off with your friends,” Nocco said, especially near ponds or lakes. “Kids sometimes ... fall in and they don’t realize that they’re going to get stuck. It’s very, very dangerous. Don’t play around a wooded area unless you’re with an adult.”
It’s also very hazardous for a child to go swimming alone in a pool, Nocco said.