South School prepared for disaster

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin
Jayden Stotler and Noah Shane illustrate how close children need to swim with a buddy during the water safety portion of South School’s “Be Prepared for Anything” April 1. The American Red Cross Central Illinois Chapter officials taught the children, thanks to a grant from the Chillicothe Foundation.

Safety preparedness is no joke to the American Red Cross Central Illinois Chapter and South School.

All of South’s classes — kindergarten through third grade — took part in “Be Prepared for Anything” April 1.

Each grade level moved through four 15-minute segments on the topics of tornado preparedness, water safety, fire safety and car safety.

“This was the first time the Red Cross went into a school and offered a disaster preparedness day,”?said Ashley Bauer, education and outreach coordinator for the Red Cross.

Usually they teach a class or couple classes on one topic for about 30 minutes.

The Red Cross received a grant from the Chillicothe Foundation to fund coloring books, pencils and purchase DVDs and more information for the day.

“Without them, we would not have been able to do it,” said Bauer.

The Red Cross, she said, is grateful for its partnerships with Pearce Community Center, Chillicothe police and fire and the foundation.

The students also received a certificate to take home, which included key points that parents should know as well from the day.

Water safety

Bauer emphasized two important tips after the students watched a DVD — they need to swim with a buddy and be in a supervised area.

Using Noah Shane and Jayden Stotler as examples, Bauer told Pody Goines’ kindergarten class they need to be close enough to their buddy to touch them in order to stay safe.

Stressing no pushing others into a pool, one child said he liked to “cannonball.”

Before jumping into a pool, she reminded them to look below the water and see if anyone else is there.

“Does a?lifeguard use a whistle to be mean?” Bauer asked. “No,” the children replied. “To be safe?”?she asked. “Yes,” they replied.

She also cautioned them about pools in their backyard.

“No one should go swimming by themselves, even adults,”?Bauer said.

Fire safety

Monica Grugett asked the students what colors fire can be, including orange, yellow and red — sometimes even green or blue.

She told them some fires are good, such as a bonfire and roasting marshmallows — but children should not touch it.

Using props to help illustrate, she showed students what a smoke alarm looks like, how it sounds, and what the inside looks like.

If they hear an alarm, she told them to crawl on the ground — to help with any smoke — and if the door is not hot, go out the door.

She told them to go home and talk with their parents about a designated family gathering place outside.

The grown up, she said, should call the fire department.

“But what if the grown up can’t get to the phone?”?she asked.

Pulling out both a regular and cellular phone, she cautioned them about calling 911 and the important information they should tell the dispatcher.

“Don’t call for fun — only in an emergency,” said Grugett.

She also showed items children should not touch, such as candles and pocket lighters.

Safety in the car

Moving to seat belt safety, Jeneva Gillette asked the children to feel their stomachs, necks, shoulders and hips.

The soft parts, she told them, is not where to put a seat belt.

The hard parts — shoulders and hips — are where a seat belt should cover.

Showing them photos of correct and incorrect positions, she told them about using a booster seat to put them in the proper alignment.

Children should use a booster seat after they are 4 years old or 40 pounds until age 8.

Due to an air bag potentially hitting children in the face, the Red Cross officials say the “best practice” is for children to not sit in the front seat until age 13. The age used to be 12.

“Everyone needs to wear their seat belts because everyone needs to stay safe,”?Gillette said.

Tornado safety

With this being tornado season, Nancy Cortes told students what they needed to know about being prepared.

“The Red Cross takes care of people when something bad happens,” Cortes told the kindergarten students.

At 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month, the testing of sirens occurs throughout the United States.

Any other time the sirens sound, he told the children they need to get to shelter, a basement or a bathroom without a window.

She pulled out a disaster preparedness kit, and showed them the things that should be in it — blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, canned goods with a can opener, snacks, bottled water, first aid kit and a change of clothes including underwear and socks for each person in the family.

She also suggested they make a bag for their pet of food, a bowl and more.

“You do it now so you have it in a safe place,” said Cortes. “When the siren goes off, you take it with you to the basement.”

Cortes knows firsthand how important it is to do what she told the children to do.

She went two weeks without electricity after Hurricane Andrew hit Florida.

“This is no joke to me,” she said.