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Teaching our safety messages at CamJam

Posted on 25 August 2015 11:57 AM by elsey2t

Scouts and Guides numbering in their thousands had camped overnight at Huntingdon racecourse, and come 10am when the sun came out, they started roaming the site in pairs and small groups hungry to be entertained!

CamJam 2015 (international jamboree in Cambridgeshire) had offered us a chance to attend and help teach vital safety messages to these young people about staying safe around electricity – after all how many of them thought to beware of their tent poles coming into contact with overhead power lines, when they set up stall on the racecourse site?

Volunteering in the community
We offer staff two paid days a year to volunteer in the community, so I took the chance to take part and arrived to see the organisers had set up a large tent housing our educational games and puzzles, even kindly delivering bags of packed lunches for our five-strong contingent. It was a reminder of my Brownie and Girl Guide days and that sense of community was still there.

I thought it was impressive to see all the demonstration kit being used at once - most of our public safety events usually feature the ‘ghostbox’, or ‘large set’ but it’s rare we have everything under one roof - but I still couldn’t help wondering whether it would be enough to hold teenagers’ attention!

At CamJam the Scouts and Guides do amazing activities like rafting, kayaking and wall climbing – would they really want to talk to us about staying safe?

Glow-in the-dark wristbands
 I was delighted and it was a little bit of a buzz when the first groups actually started to venture towards us, curious to see what we had to offer. We did have tempting glow-in the-dark wristbands, which they loved, which could be earned by completing an activity and showing us what they had learned. So we got the first group of boys trying on Personal Protective Equipment – the fireproof boilersuit, face visor, gloves, high vis jacket, hard hat, eye protectors etc which our engineers use every day. Usually youngsters like to take ‘selfies’ of themselves dressing up but the event had banned mobile phones so only one naughtier lad produced a camera phone all day. It was actually nice to see so many young people without a phone in their hand for a change.

Piece de resistance’
Then wave after wave of young people came into our stand, some wanted to watch our film about what happens to a boy who climbs into a high voltage substation, do the quizzes on our Powerup website, and most sat enthralled by the ghostbox which uses illuminated holograms to talk about the hazards children might come across.

We ran races to see which gang could complete magnetic jigsaws, featuring a ‘danger of death’ sign, the quickest. They also studied large cartoons on the wall to spot potential electrical safety hazards, and learned which materials conduct and insulate electricity to complete a circuit.

The ‘piece de resistance’ was the pretend electricity substation which youngsters had to think about how to retrieve a football from. Many were tempted to use a stick to fish the ball out, believing that wood would insulate them from the electrical current but if they tried this it set off a loud bang and sudden flashes of light. It was enough to make most people jump back in surprise. We explained that wood damp with sap, dew or rain, and even their arm could conduct electricity, and what they needed to do instead was ring the number on the substation fence so that one of our trained engineers would come in all his safety kit to get their ball back for them.

Good kids
These were good kids, eager to learn and keen to be entertained in between their sporting activities and games. They asked questions about how fast electricity could travel, and why building sites could be dangerous. I knew that if even one of the several hundred children we had spoken to that day, went home and remembered something of what we had discussed on that sunny day on the racecourse, a life might just be saved in future.


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