A broader look at campus safety: Tips and takeaways from Augustana Safety Day

What do recipes and fire extinguisher demos have in common? They're both important elements of safety on a university campus and featured topics at Augustana Safety Day 2023.


Photo: Wetsat Bako

In this story, Health, Safety and Environment safety advisor, Myja Trinh, who works on Augustana Campus, described some of the safety topics communicated at Augustana Safety Day 2023 — illuminating just how vast the concept of safety is on a university campus. 

What is Augustana Safety Day? 

Hosted on the U of A Augustana Campus in Camrose, Alberta, Augustana Safety Day is “a day to connect people with people, and people with information and resources,” Myja shared. 

“It is a day where the concept of safety can be humanized to demonstrate the reasons why safety is important. It is also an opportunity to share resources on meeting legislative and university policy requirements.”

She added that the most important thing about safety day is how it brings U of A’s Culture of Care to life and reminds us all to do our part to ensure that we go home to our loved ones each day.

Augustana Safety Day was initiated in 2017 by the Augustana Health, Safety and Environment committee and was one of the first initiatives launched by the committee. 

Occurring every fall semester since then, Safety Day is an important aspect of the variety of safety-related events and training that occur across all five U of A campuses.

Safety day topic 1: How to use a fire extinguisher

For the fire extinguisher safety discussion and virtual demonstration, participants start by completing an online fire extinguisher course hosted by Emergency Management, Facilities and Operations.

After successfully completing the online portion of the course, participants can register for the practical session, hosted on Augustana Safety Day, and learn how to use a fire extinguisher in real life. 

From seeing the fire to pulling the pin, this demonstration lets you safely act out how to respond to a fire and use an extinguisher. It also comes with a certification you can add to your resume!

Photos by Wetsat Bako

“Whether a fire occurs at work or at home, the technique for using a fire extinguisher is the same. Being trained how to properly use an extinguisher can help prevent you from panicking and inadvertently spreading a fire by responding improperly and unsafely. With a small fire, you may be able to prevent it from growing into a fire that can threaten lives or damage property.”

“Just remember,” Myja stressed, “if the fire is large, out of control or you don't have a safe exit from the building, call 911.”

Safety day topic 2: How to cook safely 

It might sound strange for food safety to be a component of Augustana Safety Day, but Myja highlighted a couple near-miss incidents involving the cooking equipment in student residence kitchenettes. This discussion focused on fire safety while cooking: for instance, what to do if a pan catches fire.

Also included — and one of the most popular aspects of last year’s Augustana Safety Day – were recipe cards. Recipes, which are also integral to food safety, give people instructions to follow and provide assistance to newer cooks who may not know how to safely prepare certain food items like chicken.

“I have to give a shout out to Laurel Warkentin, information services specialist, Library and Museums, for all of the recipes and tips. They were amazing!” Myja added, “I've even tried a few myself, but the most popular I think was the tortilla pizza.” Yum!

Make your own tortilla pizza

Safety day topic 3: How to work out safely and keep your muscles and joints moving during or after a workout

Workout safety was discussed in three ways: General safety tips, information on getting the most out of a workout and how to create a balanced exercise program. 

This session also included demonstrations of exercises that help with joint discomfort: in particular, how to tweak exercises to increase joint stability, core stability and scapular setting, which helps prevent injuries while working out and while on the job. 

This session also helped participants learn how to modify exercises to adjust for previous injuries and reduce the risk of another injury, which, in turn, helps alleviate some of the fear that can be associated with reinjury, allowing people to confidently work and work out.

Safety day topic 4: How to care for your community

Talking about suicide and suicide awareness isn’t easy, but the Augustana HSE committee, as proposed by Karen Aloisio, Augustana's student life counsellor, planned a suicide awareness session with one of the goals being normalizing open discussions about suicide and to provide information and resources on available supports.

“Talking about suicide decreases the risk,” added Myja. With this type of session, Myja and the team recognised the importance of connecting people with support and having counselors host this discussion: “They are subject matter experts with specialized training who can share valuable resources and information that can make a difference.”

Safety day topic 5: How to work with local emergency units

Including a session on local emergency services gives everyone — in particular, international students who may not be familiar with what our local departments offer — an opportunity to get to know the organization and feel safe with its members.

“I think the biggest benefit of working with local emergency services is the contribution to cultural safety,” Myja shared. 

Someone’s past experiences with people in uniform — not just emergency officials — can impact their perception of safety. If someone has had a negative experience, for instance, this session can help alleviate anxieties by giving individuals an opportunity to meet the folks behind the uniform and make positive connections. It also helps the community learn about available emergency support and resources. 

Moreover, as Myja highlighted, “developing emergency response plans is an integral part of keeping our campus safe. Being able to collaborate with our local departments helps ensure that we are all on the same page and can help each other out when it matters the most.”

Photos by Wetsat Bako

What’s in store for Augustana Safety Day 2024?

Myja and the team are constantly thinking about safety and innovative ways to explore and present a range of safety concepts at the next Augustana Safety Day, and planning officially begins this spring to prepare for Fall 2024.

Are there any safety topics you’d like to learn more about? Email hse.info@ualberta.ca and let them know. Remember to include why that topic would be an excellent area to explore in future safety initiatives. You can also read the Culture of Care Safety Action Plan and learn about some of the initiatives U of A has planned.