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Bringing Safety Home to Children

Students in Chatsworth get a firsthand lesson in spotting hazards.

August 30, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

Scott Copeland pointed his flashlight at a boiling pot on a stove, pill bottles left on a bathroom counter and smoke coming in from under a bedroom door as he walked through a model home set up Friday on the playground at Germain Street Elementary School in Chatsworth.

The fifth-grader and about two dozen other children were "safety rangers" on a quest to find common household hazards that cause tens of thousands of injuries among children each year. They were careful not to correct any of the hazards, but to get help from an adult.

The children toured the Great Safety Adventure, a 1,200-square-foot replica of a house that is the centerpiece of a program run by the nonprofit Home Safety Council and sponsored by Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. Guides teach children and their parents how to identify and rectify household hazards.

"The program was started to reduce the number of accidents in the home," said safety council spokesman Jonathan Martin. "We teach the kids to identify hazards and to call a grown-up over rather than trying to fix a hazard themselves."

An estimated 7 million people are injured in home accidents each year, according to safety council statistics. About 7,000 deaths and 50,000 disabling injuries occur annually among children. To reduce those numbers, the Wilkesboro, N.C.-based council launched the Great Safety Adventure in 1999. More than 500,000 children and adults have toured the exhibit at schools and community events nationwide. The exhibit is to be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Lowe's store on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in West Hills.

The traveling exhibit contains a living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and backyard. Children and their parents search the home for safety risks such as burns, poisonings, choking and suffocation, and slips and falls.

After watching a short video, Scott and the other children sat on the kitchen floor and used flashlights to point out a toy in front of the stove and a pot handle turned outward on the stove. In the bedroom, guide Christy Vergara emphasized the importance of having smoke detectors, an escape route and meeting place if a fire breaks out.

At the end of the tour, Scott, 10, of Granada Hills, said he learned a lot about safety. "I will go home and tell my mom that we need to go over our escape route."

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