The Downtown campus’ annual McGill Safety Week activites took place on Lower Field on Sept. 12, replete with both informational booths and fun activities. The event aimed to inform students about a wide variety of important, yet hard to come by, safety skills.
First and foremost, Safety Week was a fun pitstop for students walking down the Y Intersection. Cuddly therapy dogs and cookies were available to passersbys, and Macdonald campus farms provided apples at the Safety Week promotional desk. Randy Westman, a Campus Public Safety employee who distributed apples at the event, expressed his enthusiasm regarding safety week to The McGill Tribune.
“I really enjoy seeing students happy and doing what I can through food and being informative on safety,” Westman said.
The light-heartedness of the event bled-through to the more serious panels on offer. The ‘drunk goggles’ stand offered a sober view of how one perceives their surroundings when their blood alcohol concentration is more than twice the legal limit permitted for driving. When worn, the goggles distort a user’s visual perception, complicating users’ task of completing a series of challenges they might encounter on their way home from a night out on Boul. St. Laurent.
First, the participant had to count $3 worth of change from a pile of coins. Then, they had to use a key to open a door and walk in a zigzag obstacle course. Finally, the fourth challenge tested their aim: Participants had to throw five beanie bags into a bucket roughly two feet away from them, which most failed to do.
At the fire prevention desk, participants had to wear almost 80 pounds of firefighter equipment, ‘rescue’ a dummy of average human weight, and return as soon as possible to put out the fictional fire.
Lukas Shannon, U3 Science, appreciated being able to consult professional fire fighters for needed insight on fire safety tips.
“I was thinking of getting a [fire] extinguisher for my apartment […] so when I saw this activity […] I had the opportunity to ask someone who really knew how to use one about how to do so, rather than just the guy at the hardware store,” Shannon said. “I also learned some good tips, like I didn’t know I was supposed to point at the base of the fire. I also found out that the extinguisher is good against combustibles, electronics, and liquids. ”
In the context of Safety Week, the McGill Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) also introduced attendees to basic defibrillator use.
Overall, Safety Week organizers hope to impart valuable skills. Heather Durham, Safety Week 2018 Ambassador, wanted students to understand the importance of Safety Week. Although it’s an uncomfortable thought, she emphasized that events can quickly take a dangerous turn which necessitates quick and collective responses.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” Durham said. “It is easy to take for granted that we are in a safe environment, but safety requires constant vigilance [….Safety Week] reminds us that we are all collectively responsible.”
Moreover, Durham stressed that it is important to be informed.
“Best practices for safety also evolve with time, so it is important to keep up to date on how we can incorporate safety into all our activities,” Durham said.