By Melanie Williams
Provo families gathered the night of August 7 for the 18th Annual National Night Out to learn about how to make their neighborhoods safer.
“I live down by the lake and I”m sure there”s crime down there, but I”d feel safer if I was involved as a parent,” said Linda Christensen, a Provo homemaker who brought two of her sons, Tyson and Dakota Davis, to the Pioneer Park location August 7.
Christensen said her family went around to all of the booths at Pioneer Park and got to watch a police officer get dunked at the dunk tank. She said she feels more informed about what services are available to her after participating in the event.
“In fact,” Christensen said, “I want to join the neighborhood mobile police watch for my area.” Christensen said she appreciated the information at the American Red Cross booth because she learned how they can help families during disasters.
The American Red Cross for Provo had a disaster relief truck available for the public to look at and informational pamphlets explaining the objectives of the organization, said Devan Bosch, disaster services vice chair for the American Red Cross in Provo who was at the booth at Pioneer Park.
Bosch said the American Red Cross participated in the National Night Out to make sure people know the Red Cross is in their community to help them if they ever have their house burn down, are involved in a flood or another situation where they need assistance.
“A lot of people don”t know what the American Red Cross does,” he said. “They know about the blood drives and we do that, but disaster services is probably one of the most useful things that the Red Cross does.”
In addition to the American Red Cross booth, there were booths for bicycle safety, the neighborhood mobile watch program and the poison control center among other booths.
A popular feature at the Pioneer Park location for the National Night Out was the Provo Fire Department”s “Learn Not To Burn” trailer. Kevin Peterson, paramedic firefighter for Provo, said the trailer is primarily targeted at helping children learn what to do in a fire.
“It goes over what to do if a fire happens and it”s things that they can then take home to teach their siblings and talk to their parents about it.”
The inside of the “Learn Not To Burn” trailer is set up to look like a home with a living room, kitchen, stairs and a bedroom, Peterson said. Children are guided through the rooms and are exposed to different scenarios and learn how to be safe and what to do during a fire, Peterson said.
During the bedroom scenario, a theatrical smoke generator is turned on and children practice fire safety by crawling on the ground to stay below the smoke, he said. Participants check the door and feel realistic heat simulating a fire and then have to find an alternate escape route, Peterson said.
“It actually gives them a realistic scenario that they can work through and logically think, ”What would I do in a fire?”” he said.
Peterson said the best part of operating the trailer is seeing the children who want to go through the trailer over and over. “I think if they can have fun, but still learn some important principles, then it”s well worth the time,” he said. “If they enjoyed it, they”re going to learn more, they”re going to talk about it more and they”re more apt to share it with other people.” Tyson Christensen, 12, who is going to be in the seventh grade at Dixon Middle School in the fall, said he wanted to go through the “Learn Not To Burn” trailer a second time.
He said he would know how to save his younger brother if there was a fire.
“Get on the ground and try to find some way to get out and feel the door to see if it”s hot,” Tyson Christensen said.