Reed City Safety Town in full swing

REED CITY — The children's eyes opened wide with surprise as they looked at the dozens of gauges on the firetruck's pump panel.

Minutes later, their faces lit up as they propped themselves up in the seat behind the steering wheel, getting an opportunity to take a a look out from the driver's seat of a Reed City Fire Department firetruck.

Reed City firefighter Gary Montague brought the firetruck to Reed City Safety Town Thursday morning at G.T. Norman Elementary to talk about fire safety with the children participating in the summer program.

While showing his gear and equipment, Montague talked about the importance of having working fire detectors in homes.

Fire safety is one of many subjects covered during the 10 days of Safety Town, a nationally certified program designed to teach 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds safety procedures by placing them in a real town atmosphere scaled to their size.

This summer's topics cover pedestrians in traffic, strangers, poisons, fire, playgrounds, bicycles, matches, drugs, railroad crossings, seat belts, bus safety, animals and more, said Kylene Nix, a first-grade teacher at G.T. Norman Elementary who teaches the course.

"I hope the children become confident and they learn if they run into a dangerous situation they will be able to use what they learned here at Safety Town," she said. "They get to learn about these different scenarios and can have fun doing it."

Broken into groups, about half of the children learn from community safety experts in the classroom, while the other group is busy learning about road safety at the makeshift town complete with a traffic signal, helping teach the importance of buckling up andwhen it's safe to go in a fun way on tricycles.

A stalwart in the Reed City community for more than two decades, Nix said Safety Town takes place every other year.

"We have some 6-year-olds who have already gone through it before as 4-year-olds," said Nix, who has taught the course for the last 10 years.

Helping Nix and energetic children include students from the high school, middle school and elementary school, as well as past Safety Town students and some from families she knows.

"They really help make sure things run as smooth as they can with 29 kids," she said.

Nix said scholarships are available for those want to participate, but may not be able to afford the cost of the program.

"We want to keep the costs down so the children can learn this important information," she said.

To help with this summer's course, Cargill, the Reed City Rotary and the Mecosta County Children's Council provided funding, Nix said.

"The children receive a Safety Town T-shirt and a diploma at graduation," she said. "The children wear little graduation caps and get to meet Clancy the Clown, the main figure for Safety Town.

"To graduate, we'll split them into small groups and I'll present them a couple different scenarios and ask them what they will do," she said.

Safety Town continues through Friday, June 23.