Festival focuses on educating children on importance of safety

June 12, 2005|by HEATHER KEELS

One of the most important lessons children learned Saturday at the annual Kids Alive Fest at Children's Village of Washington County didn't come from a teacher or even a firefighter, but from a soft orange carpet.

The carpet, on the floor of a building known as the Power of Fire House, remained unharmed, though the walls and ceiling had been blackened by a kitchen fire more than 15 years ago. Rochelle Morrell, executive director of Children's Village, said she hopes after sitting on the carpet and seeing the difference between it and the walls, children will remember the importance of staying low to the floor in a fire.

"It leaves a lasting impression," Morrell said.

Brooke Hood, 9, agreed.

"I never knew fire could be this powerful," Brooke said after seeing the charred remains of the stove and the handprint melted into the phone from where someone called 911. A sign next to the phone reminds visitors to always get out of the house before calling 911.


The Power of Fire House was one of seven interactive safety education stations children and their families needed to visit Saturday to be entered in a drawing. The free event, in its 14th year, is intended as an opportunity for children to learn safety skills such as fire prevention, fire safety, water safety and pedestrian safety.

It also serves as a fundraiser and open house for Children's Village, a nonprofit safety education center at 1546 Mount Aetna Road that runs two-day safety classes for Washington County second-graders as part of the county's life-safety curriculum. The center, which opened in 1991, has received community support as well as a federal grant, and will expand to include students from Franklin County, Pa., next year, Morrell said.

The Kids Alive Fest ran from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and drew a large crowd despite the heat and other events in the area. Other activities included a show by Ronald McDonald, a K-9 demonstration by police dogs, firetruck tours and practice in "Stop Drop and Roll" and "Crawl Low and Go."

After coming out of the practice station, 6-year-old Krystle King still was afraid of fire, but she could tell you exactly what to do in one: Back down the stairs on your knees, crawl with your hand on the wall and go to the meeting place outside.

"A teacher can stand at the front of the room and tell them these things, but when they can see something that puts a visual to it, that's what's effective," Morrell said.

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