Protect the Children "Our Most Valuable Resource"

Children board a school bus in Hurlburt Field housing, Oct. 1, 2013. There are several bus stops throughout base transporting more than 500 children who reside in housing, to and from school. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Children board a school bus in base housing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., Oct. 1, 2013. More than 500 children, who reside in base housing, take the school bus to and from school. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Many of the more than 500 school-aged children in housing go to and from school at the same time the majority of the base commutes to and from work. To avoid heavy traffic, some drivers cut through base housing.

When entering from the Bakke St. entrance, there's a speed limit sign posted which displays the driver's speed. More often than not, the flashing indicator blinks wildly meaning drivers are exceeding the speed limit.

"If people are going to cut through that's fine, but they need to respect this is a housing resident area and there's going to be children playing," said Nicole Holt, base housing resident. "They're using it to cut through and make it faster, but the speed limit is only 15 mph and a lot of people don't do that. Most of the time people speed through and they don't even pay attention."

The combined efforts of parents, drivers, safety, and the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron are essential to keeping children safe on the base.

Parents can do their part by supervising young children. Children ages 5 through 9 are allowed to play outside with access to a supervisor, while children 10 and older can play outside unsupervised, according to HFI 34-801. 

Parents should also teach kids the basics of safety, like how to look both ways before crossing a street.

Drivers need drive slowly through housing and watch for children, especially near driveways and parks.

On this installation, security forces enforce strict rules in areas where children are commonly found.

"There are lower speed limits around both of the child development centers and the youth center," said 2nd Lt. Taylor Heckman, 1st SOSFS officer-in-charge of operations. "A patrol will monitor these areas to make sure the children stay safe during high traffic hours. Our security forces units, both bike and vehicle, make sure to remain vigilant around the housing areas as well as any other areas frequented by the local children."

In the words of President Herbert Hoover, "Children are our most valuable natural resource."

Preserving that most valuable resource is the responsibility of not only the families who reside on this base, but the personnel who occupy it as well. Adhering to the laws, being vigilant, and using less populated traffic routes can help ensure children have the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.