Thursday, August 02, 2001

Learning to hone those survival instincts

If disaster strikes, can your kids cope?

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

Debbie Bidwell of MetroParks blows to coax a flame out of tinder.
        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods can damage more than plans for a summer outing. As recent events have shown, Cincinnati-area residents need to know how to respond to weather disasters.

        To help children become weather-savvy, MetroParks of Butler County sponsored a program Wednesday on severe storms. “Stayin' Alive — Part I” included a presentation by Channel 12 meteorologist Layne Mason. Afterward, the 50-plus participants at the Voice of America Park had fun with wind by making and decorating kites, then flying them.

        “Mine's a safety kite,” said Gabrielle Metzler, 6, of Ross Township. She pointed out her drawings of a tornado, a lightning strike and a fire, with a woman screaming.

        “She's really scared,” Gabrielle said.

[photo] At Voice of America Park in West Chester, Amber Kellum, 8, flew a kite she made during a survival program for kids 6-12.
(Dick Swaim photos)
| ZOOM |
        Benjamin Wolf, 5, of Ross Township created a kite with Mr. Mason's instructions for tornado survival. Benjamin had his mother, Annette, write, “Jump into a ditch when a tornado is coming.” Benjamin illustrated the kite with a fearsome-looking tornado, complete with frogs.


        Benjamin was remembering an anecdote told by Mr. Mason. The meteorologist described a tornado in Oklahoma that sucked up pond water, frogs and all, where it touched down, then rained water and frogs on an area nearby.

        “He said there were more car wrecks then than with snow and ice in wintertime,” Ms. Wolf said.

        “With the slippery frog situation,” added Benjamin.

        Before everyone left Wednesday's session, MetroParks staff offered children a preview of Part II today.

        Debbie Bidwell demonstrated one fire-starting technique using flint and steel. Kevin Clements showed how to set tinder smoldering with a magnifying glass.

   “Stayin' Alive — Part II” is aimed at children ages 6-12. The program will include a variety of survival skills and will feature a crisis re-enactment. MetroParks naturalist Bonny Seegmueller said the skills are helpful for children who become lost in urban situations as well as for those who can't find their way out of the woods.
   The program is from 10 a.m. to noon today at Voice of America Park, Tylersville and Cox roads in West Chester. Participants should use the Cox Road entrance. There is no charge for the session, and no advance sign-up is necessary.
   Next week, MetroParks presents “Incredible, Edible Insects,” a chance to explore the world of six-legged critters. The program includes information on what insects are good to eat in a survival situation.
   The session takes place at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 at Rentschler Forest Preserve, 5701 Reigart Road in Fairfield Township. Admission is free, although a motor vehicle permit is required.
   For information about either program, call MetroParks at 867-5835 or toll-free at (877) PARKFUN.


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