Safety Tips from Sheriff Pete Wallin



The Emmet County Sheriff’s Office encourages drivers to cut down distractions and concentrate on the road as kids of all ages get back to school.

Children are often eager to get on and off the bus because they are excited to get to school and they are also excited to get home and tell their parents about their day.  Sheriff Wallin has some safety measures for both students – and motorists – to help ensure safety for everyone.

Tips for Students

  • Always arrive at the bus stop early.
  • Prior to boarding, wait until the bus has some to a complete stop, the door is opened and the bus driver says that it’s OK to board.
  • Once on board proceed quickly to your seat and stay seated until the bus arrives at your school or other drop off location.
  • Do not move around on the bus.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus.  Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • If you are walking beside the bus, make sure you are at least 10 feet (10 “giant” steps) away.
  • Take extra precaution to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the hand rail or door.
  • Never stop to pick something up you have dropped while the bus is stopped.  Wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.

Tips for Motorists

  • Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions.  Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
  • If you live in an area where there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously.  Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.
  • Be more aware of children playing near school bus stops.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Put down your phone – don’t talk or text while driving!
  • Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.
  • Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights.  This is a sign that children are getting off the bus – and it’s the law!

Traveling to and from School

  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop.  Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.
  • Walk the route with your child beforehand.  Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
  • Teach your child to never talk to strangers, accept rides from strangers or accept gifts from strangers.  Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.
  • Be sure your child walks to and from school or the bus stop with a sibling, friend or neighbor.
  • Teach your kids – whether walking, biking or riding the bus to school – to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers.  Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.
  • When driving kids, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible.  Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.
  • If your child bikes to school make sure he wears a helmet that meets safety standards.  Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85%.
  • If your child rides a scooter to school, make sure she wears sturdy shoes, al helmet, kneepads and elbow pads.  Children under 12 should not ride motorized scooters.
  • Be sure your child knows his or her home (or parents’ cellular) phone number(s) and address.  They should also know where you work, your work phone number, the phone number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.


Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin today is urging area lawmakers to support a school safety plan recently introduced by a broad coalition of Michigan’s top law enforcement and education groups, designed to prevent violence in the classrooms.

“The safety of our students and schools needs to be a top priority with all the recent school shootings. We need to be proactive to prevent violence in the classroom. It’s time for a change.” Said Sheriff Pete Wallin

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is a noncontroversial, common sense approach to school safety that has united republicans and Democrats, school leaders and law enforcement. The plan call for a new $100 million grant program for personnel, a $20 million grant program for safety infrastructure, and other reforms, including:

  • More school resource officer – sheriffs and police – working in school facilities through a new state grant program.
  • More school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program.
  • Grants to ensure sager buildings for students and teachers
  • Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.

Michigan schools have experienced 41 threats of violence jus since the February murders of 17 students in Parkland, Florida – the 5th highest threat total in the United States.

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is backed by:

  • Michigan Sheriff’s Association
  • Michigan Association of School Administrators
  • Michigan Association of School Boards
  • Michigan Association of School Psychologists
  • Michigan Association of School Social Workers
  • Michigan School Counselors Association
  • Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan


To ensure this Halloween is safe for your children and others in the community, Sheriff Wallin offers the following safety tips:

  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping. Masks should not be too restrictive with adequate holes for proper respiration and peripheral vision.
  • Consider using cosmetics to create fun or scary faces instead of masks.
  • Watch costumed children around pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened, especially if the child is using a prop such as a sword or dagger as part of their costume.
  • Avoid hard plastic or wooden props, opting instead for items made of foam rubber which is soft and flexible.
  • To help make the child more visible after dark, trick-or-treaters should carry a brightly colored bag and a flashlight or glow stick. Add reflective tape to the sides, front, and back of the child’s costume.
  • At all times, watch for traffic and avoid walking in the street whenever possible.
  • An adult should always accompany young children. A parent should stay within close range of young children at all times and children should never be allowed to go down a street alone. Walk with your children to each house and wait near the porch or front entrance of the home until they return.
  • Older children should travel in pairs or in groups at all times while trick-or-treating and never venture down a dark, empty street.
  • Parents should know the route that their children are following. Children should always walk together to the front door of each house and only cross the street at crosswalks.
  • Dark, unlit homes should be avoided.
  • Children should save their candy until they get home so you can inspect it. Discard any unwrapped or suspicious looking goodies. If your child does get sick, call your family doctor or the hospital emergency room immediately and save all wrappers. It is also helpful to determine what he or she ate and which house it came from.
  • Keep flammable items, such as your jack-o-lantern, away from small children, pets, and flammable materials such as draperies, furniture, and paper decorations. Never leave a candle burning unattended.

“Halloween is a fun time in Emmet County,” Sheriff Wall concluded. “Let’s make it a safe time as well.”


As family and friends reunite this holiday season many leave their houses empty, which is tempting to burglars. Sheriff Wallin wants to offer the following tips to help make your absences less noticeable and your house less attractive to burglars.

  • Remember to lock all doors and windows – even the doors that open into your garage. Those garage doors are easier to open than you think.
  • Make sure your locks are sturdy – all entry doors should have deadbolts. If your entry doors have windows in them make sure your deadbolt is keyed on both sides and DON’T leave the key in the inside lock.
  • Make sure you put your newspaper and mail delivery on hold before you leave. Burglars really do look for piled up newspapers and mail as a sign your home is empty. Leaving mail unattended for days also opens you up to potential identity theft.
  • Make arrangements for a neighbor to create car and foot tracks to your house if it snows while you’re gone. You should arrange for someone to shovel your sidewalks and driveway while you’re away too.
  • A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town you can buy a device which works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.
  • Make sure someone you trust in your neighborhood knows you’re out of town so they can watch for anything suspicious. Nosy neighbors are a great deterrent because burglars will break a window to get in knowing that most people will stop if they hear a sound but if the sound doesn’t repeat they will shrug it off. Your neighbor is more likely to call the police if they know you’re out of town and it can’t be you making that noise.
  • Avoid announcing your vacation on Facebook or any other social networking site. It’s easier than you think to find your address.


With the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) citing traffic accidents as the leading cause of deaths during winter months, the Emmet Sheriff’s Office is reminding travelers that despite adverse conditions, many accidents can be avoided.

“What a lot of people need to understand is that a high percentage of traffic fatalities are a result of poor decision-making,” says Sheriff Wallin. “In bad weather, it may come down to something as simple as postponing travel for a day. If you do have to brave the elements then watch your speed, don’t try to drive too far if you’re tired, and make sure your vehicle is equipped with the necessary equipment for the conditions. Most importantly, always wear safety belts and never get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.”

In 2011 almost 834 people were killed and 62,487 were injured in crashes where the driver had been drinking alcohol. Despite statistics showing that seat belt usage in the U.S. has increased over the years with about 4 out of every 5 travelers now buckling up, there is still room for improvement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that if all drivers and passengers wore seatbelts, approximately 8,000 lives would be spared nationwide.

With the early arrival of winter weather Sheriff Wallin suggests the following safety tips for safe travel:

Winter driving Tip:

  • Check your tires, engine oil, antifreeze, and brakes before embarking on a trip.
  • Buckle up, and make sure your passengers do too.
  • Reduce speed in snow, sleet, and rain.
  • Allow yourself plenty of braking space in wet weather.
  • Lightly pump your brakes on wet roads when slowing the vehicle.
  • Never venture down unplowed roads.
  • Avoid distractions such as talking on your cell phone or eating.
  • Keep headlights on and use low beams in fog.
  • Listen to the radio for information on local road and weather conditions.
  • Pull off the road if you’re tired or if outside conditions worsen.
  • If you break down, don’t venture more that 100 yards from your vehicle to seek help.

Things to include in your vehicle during Winter driving.

  • Map of the area where you’re traveling
  • Water
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Candle (for heat and light)
  • Snowbrush and ice-scraper
  • Package of cat litter (for tire traction)
  • Spare tire
  • Small shovel
  • Hats, weather proof gloves and boots, and a heavy blanket
  • Matches and flares
  • Cell phone (for emergency use only)

Authority Sheriff Pete Wallin


Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin reminds motorists that during fall and the hunting season, deer populations will be on the move. This activity heightens the chance of a car/deer crash occurring.

Last year more than 53,000 accidents in Michigan involved deer. “Most often, you’ll see a deer near dawn or dusk,” said Sheriff Wallin. Motorists are encouraged to look beyond the beam of their headlights for eyes of deer that may be near the path of you vehicle.

Trying to dodge a deer is not a good idea according to Sheriff Wallin. Deer often move erratically and swerving which may cause you to lose control of your vehicle, resulting in injury or even death. In 2011, 1,295 injuries and 8 deaths were reported as result of a car-deer collisions. The best way to avoid a deer/car collision is to slow your car down, flash your headlights and/or blow your horn to try and scare the animal. Deer travel together, if you see one chances are others are coming so please proceed with caution.

Remember heed deer crossing signs. If you do hit a deer make sure you report it to you local police or the Sheriff’s Office.


Sheriff Wallin wants to make sure the citizens of Emmet County stay safe this winter by staying off this ice.  Ice on our lakes and rivers must be five inches thick to hold the weight of a person and eight inches thick for snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

While Sheriff Wallin hopes that all residents will wait until the ice has thickened, he warns that the ice is never 100% safe.  Anyone venturing out onto the ice should take the following precautions:

  • Do not make the first tracks on the ice.  Check with someone familiar with the area before going out.
  • Leave a travel plan with someone in case you don’t return.
  • Dress in layers to protect all exposed body parts.  Consider wearing a personal flotation device, or ice creepers for boots.
  • Carry safety items such as a cell phone, whistle, or rope.  Ice picks, or even screwdrivers, can be used to climb over broken ice.
  • Check ice thickness by using an ice spud, auger, or cordless drill.  Keep a safe distance between yourself and others in your group.  And, if you find a weak spot, retreat.
  • If you hear the ice crack, have your group spread out.  Everyone should immediately lie down to distribute the weight on the ice more evenly, then crawl on your belly to safer ice.
  • If someone falls through the ice, do not run to the hole.  Call 911 and then use a pole, branch, rope, or other long object to try and reach the victim.
  • If you fall through the ice, stay calm.  Call out for help and kick your feet while getting hands and arms up onto safer ice.  Ice picks or screwdrivers can get a grip on the ice.  Continue to swim up onto the ice until you can crawl or roll out onto the ice to safety.
  • Pets that go out on the ice are a major cause for many near-drownings and deaths.  If you pet has wandered onto dangerous ice, do not follow them.  Stay where you are and coax them back to safety.

While Sheriff Wallin hopes that nobody in Emmet County will find themselves in such a precarious situation on the ice this season, be heeding the warnings above he knows you can stay Alive!

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us