Editorial: Teach now to avoid tragedy

By Andrew Austin

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There is a civil defence advert on radio at present that has a bunch of children describing what causes an earthquake. The answers make one smile because it is clear they have no understanding at all. However, in reply to the question: What do you do in an earthquake? the shouted response is "Drop, cover, hold."

The point of the advert is that even if most kids cannot give you the scientific explanation of an earthquake, they all know what to do if the ground starts shaking.

The reason is they have been taught it and have practised it many times. That is the thing with children, make something interesting and they will remember it.

The physical activity of dropping to the ground, covering and holding will remain with them and come in handy if they need it.

I am constantly surprised how my two younger girls can repeat something important they have learnt from school in minute detail. The reason is it has been interesting enough for them to remember. I am regularly given lectures by my five-year-old on some important safety tip she has learnt.

That is why the Safe Communities House at the Hastings Fire Station is a really good idea. The house was built by the Certified Builders Association with support from businesses and includes two identical children's bedrooms. The difference is that one has been gutted by fire.

The house has a kitchen area where kids can play a game called "spot the hazards", based on the ACC's Home Safety Action Week 2012 message: "Fight the five home hazards."

The house is part of an education programme run by the Fore Services Community Risk Reduction team.

It is expected about 2000 children and caregivers will visit the house each year.

You can rest assured that any child who visits that house will come home with a vivid knowledge of the devastating effects of fire and also some idea of what to do when a fire breaks out.

The more schools that take their children there, the better.

It will be knowledge that could save many a life in the future.

The more we teach our children, the more they will learn.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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