For two days last week, 120 fourth- and fifth-graders from Andover and Ham Lake learned many ways to stay safe inside and outside their homes.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office annually hosts a two-day safety camp to teach young kids what to do in various emergency situations. They learned that pouring water on a grease fire is very dangerous because a fire ball will shoot up. They were informed that they should be very cautious with unlabeled material even if it looks harmless.
Safety camp is important for kids of this age because this is when parents are starting to leave them home alone, said Laura Landes, crime prevention coordinator for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
“Kids of this age constantly need to be reminded of safety measures,” said Landes, who was in charge of organizing this camp. “You can’t tell them often enough over and over again to not jump over the camp fire or to wear a helmet when riding a bike.”
Most of the kids are wearing their seat belts, but they should be in a booster seat until they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. That is because car seats and seat belts in vehicles are designed for older children and adults, according to Andrea Hunt, a nationally certified child passenger safety technician who gave a presentation on car seat safety.
Although the law since 2009 states that a child must be in a booster seat until they are eight years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall, it is highly recommended that parents base their decision on their child’s height and not their age. All children at the safety camp are older than eight years old, but 40 percent of the 120 kids are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches and should still be in a booster seat, Landes said.
Eight-year-old Shae Crawford of Andover shared his story of how a bike helmet protected his head when he fell while attempting a bike stunt. His mother Shelly believes the helmet saved her son from paralysis or even death.
Don Bania Jr. was seriously injured in an accident and is now a quadriplegic. He stops by the safety camp each year to stress the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bike or seat belt while in the car.
The Andover Fire Department started a grease fire. The natural reaction to putting out a fire is to pour water on it or get a fire extinguisher. The last thing you want to do for a grease fire is pour water on it because a fire ball will come up at you, Andover firefighter Musarraf Hussain demonstrated.
A universal fire extinguisher that can put out any fire can help, but you must know how to operate it. Or you could slowly slide a frying pan cover or cookie sheet over the pan, but do not drop it on the pan because the flames can shoot out as you drop the lid.
In most cases, especially for a child, it is best to get out of the house and call 911 at a neighbor’s home.
A class on Internet safety taught the kids about the negative effects of cyber bullying and to not share personal information with strangers. The Climb Theater did a skit on how hurtful bullying is.
If a dog comes up to you, do not pet it unless the owner gives permission. If an unsupervised dog is attacking aggressively, kids were told to get a fetal position until the dog is bored and wanders away.
Brian Richards explained to the children through magic not only about the danger of drugs, but how drugs will take away their future success, ambition and the things they love. This session was called “Drugs Steal the Magic.”
Some of the kids will be going on camping trips with their parents. If they become separated somehow, they learned tips on how to be found. Perhaps someone they are with falls down an embankment, trips and gets a bad cut, falls into the water or gets heat exhaustion. The kids learned how to confront these outdoor situations as well as how to help someone inside their own home during first aid and 911 training.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]