“Kasey the Dog knows fire ain’t no fun. If you see a fire burning, dial 911.”

Those easy lyrics and a catchy tune taught by guitar-strumming firefighter Jeff Owens will probably stick in the heads of Ouabache Elementary students and staff who visited with Kasey and Owens on Friday.

The musical message could save a life, and that was the reason the sing-along reinforced fire and life safety skills taught by Owen through fire dog Kasey and fire-dog-in-training Kali. 

The Kasey Program visited Ouabache and Meadows on Friday after going to Terre Town and Fayette elementary schools on Thursday.

The black Labrador retrievers Kasey and Kali held the students’ attention as the dogs demonstrated how to crawl under smoke, how to stop-drop-and-roll and how to close bedroom doors to keep out smoke at night.

Owens quizzed the students to make sure they understood what to do in case of fire.

”Your job is to get out and stay out,” Owens said of burning houses. “Don’t go back in for anything -- toys, pets or a baby brother or sister. Let the firefighters do their job.”

The youngsters learned that when they go to bed at night, their noses are the first things that go to sleep. That is why smoke detectors are important in alerting sleeping people to the presence of fires.

Kasey and Kali also demonstrated how to check a closed door to make sure it is not hot from fire on the other side, and Kasey showed how to crawl on her tummy to stay out of smoke.

About 325 students in kindergarten to fifth grade also received “homework” to:

— Ask their parents to check the smoke detectors and change batteries.

— Establish a meeting place outside their homes in case of a fire.

— Determine safe ways to get out of their individual houses by planning for two exits, such as a door and a window.

Owens said the Kasey Program, sponsored by Koorsen Fire and Security, is in its 24th year and has been credited with saving 16 lives through programs presented around the country.

The canine Kasey — who is actually the fifth Kasey to wear a safety vest — connected with the many children who paused to pet her on their way back to class after the program.

”The kids, for whatever reason, seem to grasp and retain from the dogs better than from us standing up there and talking to them,” explained Kevin Murphy, safety and public education officer for the Riley Fire Department, following the program.

Riley Fire sponsored the program for its third year in Vigo County. In the past, the program has gone to Riley, Sugar Creek, Hoosier Prairie, Lost Creek, Dixie Bee and West Vigo elementary schools  in an effort to cover each elementary school in the county on a five-year rotation.

Principal Susan Cobb praised Owen, Kasey and Kali for presenting life-saving tips in a way students will remember.

”It’s a wonderful program to teach them the rules of fire safety,” Cobb said. “My favorite part is teaching the song. With the song and the dogs, these kids won’t forget it.”

Indeed, several youngsters softly sang the tune as they returned to class.

To check out some of the student participation performance of the song from Friday morning’s program, go online to www.tribstar.com and click on multimedia. But be warned, the song sticks with you like an earwig, and could save your life.

<\Iz14>Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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