What Is Safety Town? And Why You Should Go


Do you remember taking a class field trip to Safety Town as a kid? Many of us did, and for the ones that didn’t, you missed out. All around the world, cities and towns have their own versions of Safety Town for the local youths. What exactly is Safety Town and is it worth going to?

Safety Town is a child’s educational program that teaches kids about the dangers of drugs, poison, dangerous objects, and fire. Although these are harrowing topics, kids have to learn about them sooner or later, which makes Safety Town worth going to.

kids listening to firefighter

In this article, we’ll talk further about Safety Town, including the history of it, what kids can learn there, and what the ideal age range is. We’ll even discuss how to find a Safety Town program in your neighborhood, so keep reading! 

What Is Safety Town?

As we touched on in the intro, many, many kids who are now adults recall taking a school trip to Safety Town. The school program was created in 1937 in Mansfield, Ohio by Officer Frend Boals. 

That same year, a child in the town had been hit by a car while walking to school. The child later died. Boals decided that it would help prevent other needless deaths if kids could learn about pedestrian safety as well as other safety ideals.

The concept caught on so much that Dorothy Chlad, in 1964, started the National Safety Town Center in Cleveland. 

Of course, Safety Town exists outside of Ohio. Today, you can find Safety Town programs in cities and towns throughout the United States. Other parts of the world have their takes on Safety Town as well. For example, in Canada, instead of being called Safety Town, the program is known as Safety Village. 

Although it’s not quite a global institution, Safety Town is still an enduring legacy today. 

The organizations that host Safety Town programs run the gamut. In some cities and towns, it’s their local Police Athletic League or PAL. For others, it’s community centers like the YMCA. 

Children might visit Safety Town as part of a class field trip, as mentioned before, or they could attend it on a volunteer basis during their summer break. Today, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Safety Town has even gone virtual! 

What Can You Learn at Safety Town?

Safety Town wouldn’t be the enduring institution it is if it didn’t teach children valuable information. Kids will learn about a myriad of topics that we touched on in the intro. Here’s a recap of the subjects that are usually covered during a day at Safety Town.

D.A.R.E Program

Although today, many kids go through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E. program (founded in 1983) as part of their school education, before D.A.R.E., lots of kids first learned about the dangers of drugs at Safety Town.

From recreational drugs to harder drugs, children will become privy to the effects that drugs can cause, including addiction and death. Safety Town programs might teach kids about how someone who’s on drugs will behave as well as how to say no to drugs. 

Poison

Kids are curious about seemingly everything, and they don’t always realize that substances like bleach or laundry detergent pods are poisonous until it’s too late. Safety Town instructors will identify common sources of poison in households and explain their effects so kids know to stay away.

Children might also learn what to do if they’ve accidentally ingested poison, such as alerting a parent, teacher, or authority figure so they can call 911. 

Dangerous Objects

Although we often talk about violence in the context of adults, kids can be and are victims of violence frequently.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2017, the number of deaths that kids and teens experienced was at its highest in 19 years. It hasn’t gone down since and doesn’t appear that it will anytime soon.

Kids need to learn about the dangers of violence from an early age so they know not to touch or play with dangerous objects. The information they learn could prevent them from becoming another statistic.

Water

Water safety is another paramount topic at Safety Town. Stanford Children’s Health states that every year, 830 kids under the age of 14 years old will drown. 

Children might not know how to swim, or they might underestimate the depth of the water they’re in until they’ve dived in. Safety Town will present guidelines for kids who want to swim, such as never swimming unsupervised. 

Traffic/Pedestrians

This is the topic that Safety Town was born from after a child was unfortunately killed by a passing car in Ohio in the 1930s. Safety Town will teach children that as a pedestrian, you must respect the rules of traffic.

Kids might learn what each of the traffic signals means, including the differences between red, yellow, and green lights. 

Fire

Fire is a risk no matter your age, so the earlier kids are aware of that, the better. In Safety Town, children can learn what causes fires, what to do when there’s a fire (evacuate, call 911), and how to prevent fires. 

The Benefits of Going to Safety Town

If your child’s school doesn’t offer Safety Town as part of its curriculum (like as a field trip), it might be tough to convince your child to take a day from their summer break to spend learning. 

This is one educational experience your children shouldn’t miss even if it means going to Safety Town in the summer. Here are several benefits of a Safety Town experience that ought to convince you to enroll your kids. 

Interactive to Make Learning Interesting

Safety Town is educational, yes, but kids don’t sit in a classroom all day. They visit a real place that’s modeled after a mini town. Kids can walk on faux crosswalks and streets and engage with interactive exhibits that will captivate their attention.

For kids that tend to nod off during school hours, a day at Safety Town will captivate their attention enough that they’ll be sure to get something out of the experience. 

Provides Great Life Skills

Parents are always trying to teach their children life skills. Safety Town is like a crash course on how to safely go through life. Your kids will learn how to avoid water and fire risks, how to stay safe as a pedestrian, and how to avoid drugs and guns. 

These skills aren’t only good for a kid’s childhood, but for life. After all, none of the above risks ever disappear in life, so avoidance from an early age is key. 

These Topics Aren’t a Part of Classroom Learning 

Okay, you’re thinking, but won’t your kids just learn about this stuff during the next school year? Not exactly, no. Although it would be nice if classrooms included life skills alongside topics like history or math, that’s just not how the current school curriculum works.

Outside of you lecturing your kids about gun safety or poison control, Safety Town might be their only educational experience on these topics. 

What Age Is Safety Town For? 

You certainly want your children to attend Safety Town, but how young is too young? While it varies by city and town across the country (and the world), the general recommended age for Safety Town attendees is between four and a half years old and six years old.

The average duration of the Safety Town program is three and a half hours, so even very young kids should be able to get through the program without fussing or needing a nap. 

Is Safety Town Free? 

Parents are always pinching pennies, because let’s be real, raising kids is expensive. Although you would love for your children to gain a unique educational experience at Safety Town, you worry about the fees.

Safety Town is usually free, but some school districts or organizations that run Safety Town may charge a registration fee. If that’s the case in your neck of the woods, the fee is usually reasonable. We would recommend prioritizing a day at Safety Town for your kids even if you have to budget elsewhere. 

How Do You Find a Safety Town Program Near You?

Safety Town has become a global institution, as we said, and more than likely, your city or town has a Safety Town program in place already. You can search online or contact your child’s school, your local YMCA, your area PAL, or other community centers to ask. 

Conclusion 

Safety Town has been an educational institution since the 1930s. In the program, children learn in an interactive, engaging way how to avoid drugs, gun violence, fire, unsafe bodies of water, and more. 

We hope this article has inspired you to sign your child up for a day at Safety Town!

Mike Pertz

I’m Mike, I’m a full time firefighter/paramedic/diver for a department just west of Cleveland, Ohio and the founder of FirefighterNOW. I’m also a columnist for FireRescue1. If you’re reading this blog my guess is you are interested in the fire service. There's information on fitness, gear, interviews, tests and more. I hope you find what you're looking for.

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