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First-Grader Helps Get Out Message on Children’s Safety

May 8, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Five-year-old Shayna Burden tried to stop her mother from throwing a cup of water over a grease fire in the family kitchen.

She had just learned in a safety tip class in a Detroit school the day before that the water would only make the fire flare up. And it did.

The flames burst toward the ceiling, spreading to the upper hood of the stove and the shirt-sleeve of Shayna’s mother, Sharon Burden.

Shayna, now 6, yelled to her mother what she had just learned: ``Stop, drop and roll.″ She helped get her smaller brother and sister and a friend’s baby out of the house, then grabbed a cellular phone and called 911 while sitting on her autistic brother to keep him from running back inside.

On Monday, Shayna _ with her mother _ and several other children shared their experiences at Washington’s Janney Elementary School to kick off a national family safety check campaign this week in schools across the country.

The National Safe Kids Campaign is distributing safety tip sheets to an estimated 4 million third- through sixth-graders in 48 states who are being encouraged to take it home and review it with their families.

The checklist include information on preventing burns, drownings, traffic-related injuries, falling or ingesting poisons.

There were some adults at the school getting out the message too: Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena, actor William Shatner and Dr. C. Everett Koop, chairman of the National Safe Kids Campaign.

``Each year 7,200 children die and 50,000 are permanently injured by preventable causes,″ said Koop, who was surgeon general under presidents Reagan and Bush. ``If every family took the simple minimum steps outlined in the safety check, we could prevent deaths and injuries.″

Kelly McHood, 14, of Gilbert, Ariz., said she was scalded by hot tub water when she was 2 years old and had to spend three months in the hospital with burns over 45 percent of her body.

``I’m here today because I don’t want other kids to go through what I did,″ she said.

Later in the day, Pena, Shatner and Koop also addressed an assembly of more than 200 elementary students at Janney.

``What do you do when you ride a bike?″ Pena asked. ``Wear a helmet,″ the group answered back.

When Pena asked how many people watch ``Star Trek″ and know who Capt. Kirk is, nearly every hand shot up.

``I noticed there was something you didn’t have on when you were sitting in the captain’s chair,″ Pena told Shatner, dangling a seat belt in his hand.

Shatner replied: ``I’m going to wear a seat belt as captain here on in.″

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