Originally created 06/08/06

Exhibit teaches children fire safety

Antonio Phillips had done his homework.

He had come up with a fire escape plan with his family after visiting The Great Safety Adventure on June 1 at the Dogwood Terrace Boys and Girls Club.

"We meet at the mailbox," said Antonio, a 7-year-old Meadowbrook Elementary School pupil who wanted to go through the traveling safety exhibit once more Saturday before it left town.

The Great Safety Adventure, a nearly 1,000-square-foot safety home that unfolds from an eighteen-wheeler, made four stops in the Augusta area last week - the Family Y, the Hagler Boys and Girls Club, Dogwood Terrace Boys and Girls Club and Lowe's on Bobby Jones Expressway.

On Saturday, Antonio visited the Lowe's location with his stepfather, Carlos Gartrell.

"It was fun," Antonio said. "We had a lot of fun."

Antonio had a list of things he'd learned.

"Real smoke can really hurt us," he said.

In case of a fire, after evacuating, families should meet "somewhere far away and you can't go back," Antonio said.

Mr. Gartrell said he also learned about fire safety from the exhibit. He said it opened his eyes to the many dangers and the real need for a plan of escape.

"It was wonderful," he said.

The Greater Safety Adventure has been on the road since 1999. There are two 18-wheeler classrooms on the road - one covers the Western states, while the other covers the Eastern half of the country. Lowe's is the major corporate sponsor.

"During the school year, we go to elementary schools. We can reach up to 700 children a day," said Kent Shipman, a safety ranger who takes children through the house. "This is a field trip on wheels."

With a magic flashlight, children can spot the dangers inside the house.

Among them are a newspaper too close to a fireplace, toys on stairs, chemicals in cabinets under the sink and a plugged-in hair dryer too close to water. The last room fills with smoke, and children must crawl out of the house.

"Every year, approximately 21 million people are injured in the home," Mr. Shipman said. "Twenty thousand deaths come as a result."

The most common household injuries are from falls, poisoning, burns, choking and suffocation.

Also at Lowe's on Saturday, members of the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue brought two fire trucks, and members of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office fingerprinted children.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.

Safe houses

To learn more about safety in the home, visit www.homesafetycouncil.org. Safety games for children are available at www.coderedrover.org.


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