OTTAWA — More than 500 kindergartners from all of the elementary schools in Putnam County this week are learning about railroad, pedestrian, water and bike safety.
Putnam County Safety City in its 20th year was held Tuesday and Wednesday and continues today and is put on by Putnam County Task Force For Youth and Putnam County Educational Service Center. It is in partnership with Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Ottawa Police Department and Putnam County Extension office.
The event was broken up into four safety sections where law enforcement and task force members taught students about safety measures.
Megan Brickner, Leipsic St. Mary’s kindergarten teacher, was instrumental in creating the curriculum and miniature buildings for the safety city with her Girl Scout troop in 2000.
“When I was in high school in Girl Scouts we needed to come up with a project, and we came up with the idea of educating students on safety cities,” Brickner said. Miniature buildings such as churches, police and fire stations were donated and the Girl Scouts painted the buildings.
Putnam County Task Force and Putnam County Educational Service Center were able to obtain a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety to purchase helmets, bicycles and a trailer to store the safety equipment.
Kathy Schroeder, event coordinator, said the event is a great way to prepare students to be safe this summer.
“We want them to know how to be safe in things that are applicable to them like riding a bike, swimming or going for a walk,” Schroeder said.
Putnam County Sheriff Brian Siefker taught students about railroad safety.
“It’s a good idea at a young age to teach them these things so as they get older they will know what to do,” Siefker said. He said over the years he has seen train fatalities in Putnam County, and he wanted to educate students to be cautious around railroad tracks. He used laminated signs to help students remember to stop, look and listen around railroad tracks.
Putnam County Sheriffs Office Lt. Brad Nelson taught students about water safety — using life vests and the importance of not running around pools and ponds.
“They should always have a swim buddy or someone supervising them so if something happens there will be someone there,” Nelson said.
Ottawa Police Department and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office taught pedestrian safety. Students were allowed to ride in small black electric cars along a path made of turf material with miniature stop and pedestrian signs with a pedestrian crosswalk and stop lights.
Becky Young, sheriff’s office records clerk, talked to the students about pedestrian safety and the importance of looking both ways before crossing the road.
“We teach them to look both ways before they cross the road, stranger danger and when and how to call 9-1-1,” Young said.
Putnam County Extension office employee Anna Gerten and youth task force members taught students about bicycle safety. Students were able to practice the bicycle hand signals and bike safety skills they learned by riding on bicycles and wearing helmets that were purchased from a grant. A makeshift bicycle path was set up in the fairgrounds building with orange cones, stop signs and no bicycle signs.
“We are teaching them about ways to be safe when they ride their bikes and about tying their shoes and wearing bright clothing when going for a bike ride,” Gerten said.
Every students who attended the safety city took a 9-1-1 activity book home with them.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.