Safety fair steers Empire kids from dangers

EMPIRE — Students got lessons Wednesday in how to stay safe near railroads, rivers and other hazards.

They also learned how emergency workers help people who don't follow the advice.

Empire School held a safety fair that featured law enforcement officers, firefighters and other experts in how to be safe and healthy.

"There are insects that are dangerous, and tractors and lawn mowers and Weed Eaters and farm equipment that can hurt you," seventh-grader Howard Dowd said.

The event was one of many put on in the United States and Canada this year by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, based in Birmingham, Ala.

"It's to provide kids a lot of safety topics before they go on summer break," said Assistant Principal Kathryn Machado, who coordinated the event.

Speakers covered many farm safety issues, including keeping children away from tractors and pesticides. Students learned how to stay out of trouble near the town's busy railroads and the nearby Tuolumne River, which is running high these days.

They heard how to handle food safely, how to avoid electrical shocks and what to do if they find a gun. And they got reminders about good nutrition, exercise and sleep.

Out on the baseball field, students looked over a ladder truck from the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District.

"We're going to work as a team, as firefighters do," Capt. Jeff Frye told a group of fifth-graders getting ready to lay out a 100-foot hose.

They laughed as they tried not to stumble over each other, then panted when they found out how strenuous the task is.

The students saw how firefighters pluck injured people from streams with a rope dangling from the top of the ladder.

"When someone needs help, you have to get a rope and start pulling," student Mayra Gamez said.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at 578-2385 or