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Learning the rules of safety early

Louie, the lightning bug, and DTE's electrical safety instructor Maya Rich teach kindergarteners and first graders about electrical dos and don'ts. photo by Pete Balaya.

July 24, 2014
What do Louie the Lightning Bug, the smoke house, police officers, firefighters and questions about weather have in common?

They are all topics covered by kindergartners and first graders attending Safety Town at Barnes Early Childhood Center.

For 2 1/2 hours each day for two weeks, young students learn about all types of safety measures including bicycle safety, putting on sunblock, staying hydrated and what to do during summer, winter or spring storms.

For instance, when asked what lightning tends to strike, little hands shot in the air as children provided the answers of tall things, metal and water.

Discussion about stormy weather continued as they said leaving the pool or going into the house when a thunderstorm approached was the best practice and not be scared if the lights went out.

Student Aubrey Lindow said if the lights went out, she would play games using a flashlight.

Safety Town is a national program the Grosse Pointe Public School System has offered for 25 years to teach young children safety and good citizenship. Topics cover stranger danger, recycling, home, water, fire safety, poison awareness and seasonal consciousness such as wearing sun block in the summer, the meaning of dehydration and how thick the ice should be before venturing onto the lake.

Safety Town has been around long enough, said Andrea Sanders, child care coordinator at Barnes, early Safety Town alum are now bringing their children to the program sponsored by Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

"It's a great program to be involved with," said Suzy Berschback, community affairs manager, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

She recalls when her now grown daughters attended Safety Town and brought home the days' lessons. "They would teach us," she said.

One particular impression on Berschback's daughters, as well as the new generation of attendees, was the smoke house and how much they enjoyed it. The two-story house on wheels is filled with non-toxic smoke so children learn to crawl to exit the house, stop, drop and roll and how to call 911. Two days are spent on fire safety.

Beaumont is also a sponsor of the fire safety house. With the help of MJ White & Sons Inc. of Novi, the two-story house was recently renovated.

The windows, outside ladder and deck were replaced and carpeting installed.

Former Harper Woods fire chief and now MJ White & Son sales representative Sean Gunnery said of the restoration project, "As chief this was close to my heart to make sure children know how to get out of the house safely. I knew it was in need of a facelift and we had an opportunity to do it."

Grosse Pointes' public safety officers provide instruction on fire safety and use the house as an instructional tool.

The final Safety Town sessions are either 9 to 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 to 3 p.m. Aug. 1 through 17. The cost is $160.

Registration can be done on the Grosse Pointe Public School System's website, gpschools.schoolwires.net. Type safety town in the search box.

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