By Neale McDevitt
In the exciting – often festive – atmosphere of the new school year, it is easy to disregard the potential danger that lurks around the corner – even in the bucolic setting of McGill.
Although not regular occurrences, things like lab accidents, fire, theft and assault do unfortunately take place, which is why Pierre Barbarie is promoting McGill’s second annual Safety Week (Sept. 13-17).
“Most people are reactionary when it comes to safety – there is a fire, they get out; there is a lab spill, they call 3000 [the 911 equivalent for the downtown campus]” said Barbarie, Associate Director, University Safety (Security Services). “But we want to raise people’s awareness to the measures they can take to avoid these situations altogether.”
Kicking off at Macdonald campus on Monday, Sept. 13 and moving to the downtown campus from Sept. 14-17, Safety Week will offer students, faculty, staff and guests a series of events, demonstrations and displays designed to educate them about the safety services and procedures available at McGill.
These classes and information sessions will cover a vast array of topics ranging from rape aggression defense and non-violent crisis intervention to office ergonomics and safety in agriculture. “But the classes and services we’re highlighting during Safety Week are available year-round,” said Barbarie (go to www.mcgill.ca/safety/ for the full list of activities and services).
First-year students should be particularly vigilant this time of year, Barbarie said.
“A lot of these students are living away from home for the first time and they should be careful to draw their blinds, lock their doors and not walk alone at night,” he said. “People have to remember that we live in a large metropolitan area where, unfortunately, there are risks. The key is to minimize those risks.”
Theft is another safety concern, especially early in the semester. Unattended laptops are easy pickings for thieves and Barbarie suggests that staff, students and faculty take advantage of the University’s Security Tracking of Office Property (STOP) program in which people can have a special security plate affixed to their laptop that makes resale of the computer (the prime reason for laptop theft) virtually impossible. The service will be offered for half price ($10) on Sept. 13 at Mac on the first day of Safety Week.
The week-long event will wrap up with a barbeque where members of the McGill community can meet their local emergency responders. When asked if he would be manning the grill, Barbarie laughed. “I don’t think you’d want that. It could be a fire hazard.”
For more info go to www.mcgill.ca/safety/safety_week/