CRESTVIEW — As the school year closes and summer quickly approaches, Walker Elementary School ensured its students will know beach safety following a presentation focused on life preservation.
"I learned that you should bring a buddy (to the beach)," Stephen Sutherland, 10, said.
"I also learned that if you get stung by a jellyfish, that you need to see a lifeguard," Brooke Lesher, 10, said.
Several classes on Thursday received such tips from Okaloosa County lifeguard James Stultz and his assistant, Buddy the dolphin.
The goal was to prevent students from becoming statistics.
"We just felt that there was a need for local kids to start learning about beach safety," Stultz said. "Florida is one of the leading states in the country for pediatric drowning incidents and we are trying everything we can to curtail those numbers."
Stultz instructed students to ask parents for permission before swimming anywhere, and to look for a red beach flag indicating dangerous conditions. Additionally, he said to stay calm, let rip currents take them farther out and swim parallel to the shoreline to break free of the current.
Kids should bring hats, sunscreen and plenty of liquids to stay hydrated when they go to the beach, Stultz said.
Trouretha Henry, the school's physical education coach, said the presentation benefits far more than students.
"I think that it is important that children learn water safety at an early age," she said. “This way, they can share with a family member or friend and be ready for the beach this summer."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.