OTTAWA — Parents and other caregivers often warn children of the potential hazards they could face. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week, nearly 500 Putnam County kindergartners and pre-K kids received and will receive practical hands-on training in how to avoid these possible pitfalls.

An annual event sponsored by the Putnam County Task Force and The Putnam County Educational Service Center, Safety City offers real world scenarios in miniature, and instructs children how to safely interact with the world around them.

Held in the merchants buildings on the Putnam County Fairgrounds, the kids learn a variety of valuable lessons related to railroads, pedestrian/car interactions, seatbelts, bicycles, and swimming and water hazards.

At one station on Tuesday, Sheriff Brian Siefker, towering over a miniaturized railroad crossing, exhorted the children to look both ways before crossing, and to always stop when the gates are lowered. At another, former County Sheriff Jim Beutler discussed safe bicycling, and the need for protective equipment. At a third, Ottawa Police Officer D’Ante Barginere talked about traffic safety, then guides his young charges to kid-sized cars where they negotiate a traffic course. At the final station, volunteers emphasized the need for playing it safe around water, and hosted interactive games reinforcing the lessons taught.