Friday, 20 July 2007

Be safe

Today it's another home ed outing. This time to a safety centre to learn safety rules and important things like how to use a pelican crossing without screaming or pushing your sister in the gutter because she pressed the button first. And other things too, like calling the emergency services on a 999 call from a phone box but not to shout 'there's a train on the line!' before running off. Then there's what to do if you've knocked someone unconscious by accident with a puffin, and how to get out of a burning house, which mummy Grit may have inadvertantly started like last time with a wooden spoon stuck under a saucepan of boiling peas.

The scenario of getting out the burning house is particularly good, says Vi, one of parents, because the safety guides lead the kids inside, then run off when smoke starts coming under the door. Apparently that gives the kids a chance to decide what to do for themselves without asking a grown up all the time.

And this is what it's all about. The kids are led about every hazard by safety guides who leave them to act on their own before giving them a talk about what to do in a real emergency. The parents are given a good talking to about how we shouldn't go down there and run about after our little darlings, telling them to grab a wet tea towel or the recovery position is like this, not like that, and give that phone here you dim wassock because the fire crew won't ever come if you mutter. Once the over-protective and pushy parents are out the way the kids set off, and we can watch them from the coffee area on CCTV screens, which is especially gratifying because now I feel like a proper surveillance officer. Vi even provides a mug of tea.

First up I watch Shark in the phone box, who fiddles with her plaits and leaves all the difficult bits, like pressing buttons and talking, to a little kid half her size. This is not impressive when dealing with an emergency, saying, 'You do it' to the nearest five year old, and I resolve to tell her so later.

Next up is Tiger and Squirrel.

It doesn't start well. Squirrel and Tiger get into the phone box, look at each other in a bit of a panic because the shop dummy is drowning in the lake, then run out. So, mummy Grit, you can take it that if you are to be rescued by Tiger and Squirrel you will surely drown, be burned to death or lie in a comatosed heap choking on your own vomit until Dig gets home.

In a couple of minutes they're back. Clearly the safety guide has told them to get a move on with it because the poor sod is nearly dead. Now here Tiger really starts to look panic-striken. And Squirrel shows a particular ineptitude when it comes to making the phone call. Squirrel presses 999, then lifts the handset. Disaster. This is the wrong way round. Both stand listening to the dial tone for a good five minutes. I'm a gonner. And so's the dummy in the lake.

Next to appear is Tiger again. With the safety guide. Tiger can't take any more apparently, the stress is too great, and she wants to get out. She's flunked, and we're all doomed if Tiger's in charge. I sit with her on my knee trying to say nice things and not making jokes about burning houses until it all ends and all the kids come out, talking about how to get out of your bedroom when it's only steam and where's the ambulance anyway. Squirrel seems to have enjoyed herself, although she's been directly responsible for at least one death. And Shark enjoyed the burning house the most.

Well at least we have two trained emergency staff in the house, although, Shark and Squirrel, I'm sure your parents can teach you a thing or two about safety.

Like the time mummy Grit called 999 because Tiger, aged 2 and a half, fell asleep down the back of the sofa, and all the cushions tipped on tip of her, and mummy Grit couldn't see her! My goodness! After an hour of running about, she's just on the phone to the police when a sleepy looking Tiger appears from the front room! What a hoot that was.

Or the time that daddy Dig left the gas on all day long after cooking boiled eggs for breakfast. We all went off to the English Heritage Festival of History for the day, came back at 8pm and saw the hob brightly burning away. Thank goodness he'd remembered to take the pan off!

We won't list the car accidents, or mummy Grit locking herself out of the house, twice, or the day when the fire men came round and mummy Grit shattered a burning hot light bulb over her head by swinging a ladder at it.

Neither will we mention the day mummy Grit put special cleaning soap all over the wooden stairs to the cellar and then screamed at the top of her voice. Oh dear. What she should have shouted was, 'Eek! I have seen a spider!' That might have helped daddy Dig make a decision before putting his foot on that top step.

Well, I'm just very glad we have some safety wise young ladies in the house now who might spot these hazards before they turn into disasters. Let's just hope it's not Tiger who discovers the body or Squirrel who has to make the phone call. And I'm hiding the matches from Shark just in case she wants to replicate the experience at home.

No comments: