With flames blazing on their backs, kids roll around the floor, trying to put out the conflagration. Fortunately, they’re only fake flames attached to yellow vests, teaching kids the stop, drop and roll technique of putting out real fires.
Over the course of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, about 250 students from eight area schools took in presentations such as this and more, such as a miniature model of a farm depicting safety hazards, moulds simulating brains, high voltage displays and more at a Farm Safety and Awareness Seminar, hosted by local Ag Societies.
When asked what she learned at the presentation, École Mallaig School student Jessica Ortlepp answers with a laugh, “I’m not treating my dog properly.” She learned it’s not a good idea to put metal collars on dogs running loose, in case they get caught on something.
Other things that stood out for her and fellow classmates Baylee Jeffrey and Haley Ozga were lessons about farm equipment safety, quad safety and safety using dugouts.
“If you’re ever going swimming (in a dugout), which I would never do, we learned you should have an adult friend and a lifejacket with you,” said Baylee, with Jessica adding they also learned about ensuring, in the winter, that ice in dugouts are thick enough for skating.
All three nod enthusiastically when asked if they enjoyed the day, talking over each other as they list their favourite presentations.
Charlotte Hedin, a volunteer with the St. Paul Ag Society, explains that Lac Bellevue, Elk Point, Rich Lake, St. Lina and St. Paul’s agricultural societies partnered with the County of St. Paul to offer the two-day seminar, with the help of a $2,500 grant from the province.
“Unfortunately, just because of the weather, for harvesting, the farmers are on the field combining,” Hedin said, noting that most farmers were unable to make it to the seminar. However, the Ag Societies were keen provide safety education for kids, so part of the grant monies was used to help pay for busing for students, who came in from St. Paul Elementary, Mallaig, Ecole du Sommet, Elk Point, Myrnam, and both Two Hills schools. “Our number focus when we started was to get kids from Grade 5 to Grade 9, to educate them on all aspects of safety and agriculture,” said Hedin.
Brian Pedersen, a volunteer with the Ag Society, manned a booth showcasing a farm with animals, vehicles and people all in various poses of danger. Children had to pick out hazards in the display.
Many of the kids, particularly those living on farms, were quick to recognize the signs of danger. But Pederson noted that some were surprised by the hazards. “I had one kid say, ‘I didn’t realize how many things could go wrong on the farm.’”
He also took the opportunity to show kids safer methods of working on the farm. For instance, a farmer sitting atop a bin was a sign of danger, but Pederson explained that the appropriate way of getting on top of a bin to look inside was by harnessing one’s self. And with figures peering into open machinery, he reminded the kids that although they may have to check farm equipment, they should do so only after making sure the machine is shut down.
“If we can . . . prevent just one kid from being in an accident, it’s all been worthwhile,” he said of the safety seminar.
Through participation with the local school boards and businesses, the sponsors of the event also collected 503 entries in a Farm Safety colouring contest, in which 14 winners were chosen, ranging in age from two to 11. Twenty-one door prizes were also handed out during the event, and each person walking through the door left with a first-aid kid to take home.