By the Fire Dog, as interpreted by Patrick Reitz, Idyllwild Fire Chief

Time to get the kids up and off to school! Is it a joy, a chore or somewhere in-between?

Did your child get enough sleep last night? Are they getting enough sleep regularly? Sleep is very important to development and not enough sleep can lead to problems down the line.

A lack of rest and sleep has been shown to contribute to social, mental, and physical development problems. Not enough sleep can also cause problems in the classroom with concentration and participation.

If your child is not getting enough sleep, why not? Are they stressed with schoolwork, problems with their peers, problems at home, or just not comfortable?

Hand-in-hand with sleep is nutrition. Are they getting enough to eat? Are they getting enough of the right foods or are they surviving on “junk food”?

Kids need a well balanced diet for proper development. Too much fat, sugar, and caffeine can obviously cause problems, but so can too many carbohydrates and proteins. While supplemental vitamins may be helpful, they can also be just as harmful. Check with your doctor to see which ones and how much is right for your kids.

Exercise is also important. Get them out from in front of the TV or the computer and play! Playing not only stimulates the muscles it stimulates the mind. It encourages social development as well.

Now that you’ve got the kids up, bathed them, dressed them in clean clothes, and fed them breakfast, they are ready to head off school. Or are they?

What about that backpack they are carrying? What is in that thing? Are they packing to go off to school for the day or crossing the continent? Do they really need to haul all that around? Is it stuff that they need to bring home from or take to school? Is it going to cause them back problems in the future? Is it going to injure them if they fall with it on or try to run?

How do your kids get to school? Do they ride the bus or do you, a family member, a friend or neighbor take them?

If they take the bus, are you or is someone else waiting with them? If it is someone else, do you know anything about that person? While your kids are waiting for the bus, are they waiting out of traffic or are they standing in the road? Are they wearing clothing that can be seen by drivers? Are they protected from the elements — you know hats, gloves, coats, proper footwear, etc.? Or are they too “cool” for that?

If you take them, are you all buckled-in? Do you leave in plenty of time so as to not exceed the speed limit?

What about that other person who may be driving the kids to school? Do they wear their seat belt? What kind of example are they setting when they drive? Is their car in good repair? Is it safe to drive? Do they have a valid license? Are they smoking with your kids in the car?

And of course, there are the dreaded topics of cell phones and iPods. For now, I will just mention to pay attention to the use of the ear buds that are pumping noise directly into the ears and the hearing problems that are already showing up in epidemic proportions.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact us care of the Town Crier or [email protected].

I’ve got some smells to sniff...

Remember to play it safe in all that you do!