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18 Posts authored by: avastis Employee

    Hoarding criteria include the inability to use living space for its intended purpose. 

 

Compulsive hoarding behavior among residents increases the risk of serious injury and death to both the resident and to responding fire service personnel. The excessive accumulation of materials in homes increases risk of falls, exacerbation of chronic illness and impedes successful escape in the event of fire.  Hoarding situations also pose a significant threat to fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to neighboring residents. Often, the fire department is the first to identify this behavior in the home and, working with community partners, can address this complex issue.

 

Hoarding: From Enforcement to Engagement is just one of the four expert-developed workshops featured in the 2020  NFPA Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE), virtual conference, taking place Tuesday, October 27th from 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST.   This presentation will identity the characteristics of hoarding behavior and examine the hazards that loom during emergency response in hoarding conditions. It will provide assistance in the identification of resources in your community that are needed to develop a task force and allow you to engage with task force professionals who can answer questions that exist around the social, psychological and environmental considerations that play a part of the treatment for a person who hoards.

 

This session is appropriate for Fire & Life Safety Educators, Elder Service, Public Health, and Injury Prevention professionals.  Register Today and learn from your peers the challenges and successes in working with community partners to support resident health and safety.  Other SOPE workshops feature Falls Prevention among Older Adults, Community Risk Assessment, and Integrating Technology into Education Programs, as well as Networking Roundtables and dedicated NFPA Resource Center.  All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for registrants so if you have to step away from your computer, you won’t miss a thing.  Join the over 1000 public education professionals who have already registered for this event!

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.

Jennifer Froehlich, fire & life safety educator from Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, Michigan displays her virtual learning environment with tools she learned from a recent workshop delivered by Brene Duggins.

 

Search the term “Virtual Education” on-line, and a never-ending list of news articles, editorials both for and against, and advertisements promoting virtual learning platforms will fill your screen.   As we are still in the throes of COVD-19 restrictions and uncertainty, Fire & Life Safety (FLS) and Public Educators find themselves fast-tracking their conversion of in person activities to virtual options. 

 

Taking your education programs virtually anywhere is just one of the four expert-developed workshops featured in the 2020  NFPA Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE), virtual conference, taking place Tuesday, October 27th from 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST.  This dynamic session will engage and enhance putting digital tools, tips and tricks into participant hands. 

 

Delivered by Brene Duggins, Fire Prevention Coordinator for the Holly Grove FD, and Media Coordinator of the Oak Grove High School in Davidson County, NC, this session is appropriate for FLS educators, school and community health educators, injury prevention professionals and anyone trying to reach their population in a virtual world. 

 

Register Today (hint: registration link works best in Chrome/Firefox/Safari) to take part in this and other SOPE workshops: Falls Prevention among Older Adults, Community Risk Assessment, and Hoarding as a Community Issue, as well as participating in Networking Roundtables and dedicated NFPA Resource Center.  All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for registrants so if you have to step away from your computer, you won’t miss a thing.  Join the over 1100 public education professionals who have already registered for this event and step up your virtual education game.

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.

 

As approximately 95% of older adults live independently in their own homes, helping aging adults navigate daily activities such as cooking, bathing, and moving through their home without incident is essential to maintaining their independence. Falls send an average of one of every 17 people who was at least 65 to the emergency department per year in the U.S.  Many firefighters see more fall victims than fire victims, often called to help someone who has fallen get back into their bed or chair.   In 2016 and 2017, local US fire departments went to more “assist invalid” incidents than to structure fires, with many of these incidents caused by falls.   The data are similar in Canada with falls being the most common injury among those aged 65+ and being the leading cause of hospitalization.

 

With increasing calls to EMS for fall-related incidents (for both the first fall and repeated falls), the fire service is in a unique position to work with community partners for prevention. NFPA’s Remembering When Older Adult Fire & Fall Prevention Program  pairs fire service with community partners to support improved health outcomes of this population and reduce strain on fire service resources for non-emergency lift assist calls.  Falls prevention among older adults is just one of the expert-developed educational sessions at the 2020  NFPA Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE), taking place Tuesday, October 27th from 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST. 

 

This fully virtual and free professional development lets you learn from the successes and challenges experienced by your peers in the world of prevention and risk reduction.   Falls Prevention workshop presenter Dori Krahn, Community Relations Coordinator for the Saskatoon, Canada Fire Department offers the benefits of the fire and falls prevention efforts to her population, Fire and falls are a great combination – fire safety gets us the group presentation and once there, participants are often surprised by how much they learned about fall prevention. Conversely, fall prevention gets us into people’s homes and once we are there, they are surprised that their smoke alarms haven’t just automatically taken care of themselves and their fire escape plans can’t be left to intuition.”

 

Register Today to take part in NFPA’s first ever fully virtual Spotlight on Public Education featuring four timely topics facing public educators:  Hoarding, Falls Prevention, Community Risk Assessment, and Integrating Technology into Education Programs, as well as Networking Roundtables and dedicated NFPA Resource Center.  All sessions will be recorded and available on demand for registrants so if you have to step away from your computer, you won’t miss a thing.

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.


 

Fire Prevention WeekTM (FPW) is celebrated once a year in the beginning of October to raise awareness of fire safety, and all month long we’ll continue to see communities engaged in a variety of activities to help reduce the incidence of home cooking fires, addressing the number one cause of home fires & home fire injuries.

  

Fire and Life Safety (FLS) Education, however, happens all year long, addressing a myriad of community needs such as electrical safety, falls prevention, smoke alarm use, and home escape planning.   The work of the FLS Educator is one of constantly staying on top of local data and trends, finding ways to connect their community members with resources, and continuously engaging across platforms, audiences and topics. 

 

Enter NFPA’s Spotlight on Public Education first ever virtual conference, to be held Tuesday, October 27th from 11am – 5:30 pm EST.   NFPA kicked off the month with the annual celebration of FPW, and we are rounding out the month preparing FLS Educators for the year-long work they do to engage, educate, and advocate for the health and safety of their communities.  With four expert-developed sessions on Hoarding, Older Adult Falls Prevention, Community Risk Assessment & Reduction, and Integrating Technology into your Fire Safety Programs, there is something for everyone who involved in fire safety, injury prevention, healthcare, and public education. 

 

This FREE event includes live networking roundtable sessions along with an NFPA Resource Center, and will be recorded with access for all registrants.  One of the many lessons learned in the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to continue to learn, innovate, and grow to meet the needs of our community. Register today for this professional development event to learn from the successes and challenges experienced by your peers in the world of prevention and risk reduction.   In the coming weeks we’ll be featuring highlights of each of our Spotlight on Public Education sessions. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest in fire and life safety education.

 

 

As the 98th annual Fire Prevention Week (FPW) comes to a close, I would like to take this time to thank the our fire departments, community agencies, public educators and all who work so hard to bring fire and life safety education to their communities.   Our world changed the second week of March due to COVID-19, and fire and life safety educators (FLS) were challenged with finding new ways to reach their communities amidst numerous restrictions.

 

The Public Education Division at NFPA is honored to have been able to be a part of the incredible innovation in this year’s Fire Prevention Week’s activities.  From having over 1400 people attend our FPW Out of the Box Ideas Webinar, to the amazing use of our Social Media Cards and #firepreventionweek, to literally crashing Sparky.org with so many people viewing our new I Spy Cooking Safety Video, we worked together across the U.S., Canada, and areas across the globe to promote home fire safety through our “Serve up Fire Safety,TM” efforts.

 

Communities held cooking and poster contests, motor vehicle parades, partnered with food pantries and restaurants, made Tik Tok and Youtube videos, all in support of the oldest Public Health Observance in the U.S.  The dedication, creativity, and perseverance of our fire and life safety professionals to Fire Prevention Week, during a pandemic in which most were juggling multiple responsibilities, is a testament to the importance of fire safety education.

 

While the official observance of FPW is coming to an end, all month long we’ll continue to see communities engaged in a variety of activities to help reduce the incidence of home cooking fires, addressing the number one cause of home fires & home fire injuries.   There’s so much more that we’ll highlight this month as regards to FPW, and there’s so much more great work ahead of us to educate, engage, and advocate for the safety of our communities.

 

Fire Prevention Week is developed and launched year after year through the amazing work of dedicated professionals here at NFPA, and then it comes to life from all of you out there who do amazing work every day to keep your communities safe.  My sincere thanks to all the fire and life safety educators, burn prevention professionals, school and community educators, and anyone who continues to help their communities to “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” during Fire Prevention Week and throughout the year.

 

Check out the new cooking safety animations created through a collaboration of Vision 20/20, NFPA and US Fire Administration to keep the efforts rolling.  And continue to visit www.fpw.org and www.nfpa.org/education for toolkits, tip sheets, lesson plans and more.

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

 

 

 

Cities and towns throughout the US, Canada, and other locales will celebrate this week and throughout the month of October to raise awareness of cooking and kitchen safety to celebrate the 98th annual Fire Prevention Week (FPW).   Cooking remains the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and as COVID-19 restrictions have kept families in place, the need to assure safe cooking practices at home is critical.

 

So many communities have found innovative ways to reach their residents as traditional open houses and classroom presentations have been cancelled this year:  Kannapolis, NC Fire Department, home to our Educator of the Year Maria Bostian, is hosting a “Serving up fire safety with Flat Sparky” social media selfie event.  Bob Duvall, NFPA Regional Director, and Fire Chief of the volunteer Fire Department in Wauregan, Connecticut shares what they are doing in his hometown this year.  “We sent all the school kids home with FPW ‘swag’ and we will be doing a neighborhood Fire Prevention Week canvas/recruiting drive in the coming weeks, to distribute additional educational materials.”

 

The Firefighters Burn Institute of Sacramento, California partnered up with numerous organizations including their SafeKids Coalition, local Shriners Hospital, various Fire Departments a local pizza restaurant to host a Fire Prevention Week poster contest, complete with pizza party prizes!  In Duxbury, Massachusetts, the Fire Department collaborated with a video producer who donated her time to create a 3-D virtual tour of the station house in which viewers can feel like they are actually scaling the fire ladder.  

 

Saksatoon, Canada FD created numerous opportunities for participation including a Cooking Safely contest and Mountainview Rescue in Colorado created Youtube videos featuring truck tours, reading safety stories and pairing up with Sparky to teach kids the difference between toys and tools, educating children on items that are for adults only

 

Throughout it all, we’ve seen an amazing array of the use of social media by our community partners, whether creating their own posts or using NFPA’s Social Media Cards which are sized for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and available in English, Spanish, and French.   And the #firepreventionweek is on fire (in a good way!) with thousands of organizations promoting FPW.

 

Whether making videos for Youtube, partnering with local food pantries, restaurants, and places of worship, or organizing a fire truck parade, our shared goal remains:  to increase awareness of fire safety and to provide community members with the knowledge and tools they need to lead safe and healthy lives. 

 

My sincere thanks to all the fire and life safety educators, burn prevention professionals, school and community educators, and anyone who continues to help their communities to “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” during Fire Prevention Week and throughout the year.

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

 

A recent article in the Washington Post described a situation in which teachers were noticing the “chirping” sounds of smoke alarms in their students homes during virtual classes.  As the article notes, “And while the teachers heard it, the parents and students at the homes seemed so accustomed to the incessant noise that they didn’t notice it.”  That prompted the principal of a Washington D.C. elementary school to call his local Fire Department, as did numerous leaders of other schools.

     

The response from Tony Falwell, Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief of the D.C. fire department was one of action.  “As soon as you hear it, you need to address it,” Falwell said in an interview. “Because if you continue to ignore it, it just becomes background noise.”   Staff from his department began a campaign working with the schools and Parent-Teacher organizations to promote smoke alarm education to the families through the virtual learning platforms used for classroom-based education.  The campaign includes installation of smoke alarms in homes of families who cannot afford to buy them.   They even came up with a catchy slogan “When you hear the chirp - it’s time do the work.”

 

Fire and life safety education happens at all levels, and at all times, day or night.  What started out as addressing a distraction during remote learning, created a life-saving opportunity for families.  This October, as you “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen as part of your Fire Prevention Week efforts, make sure to include smoke alarms in your fire safety plan.

 

 Download NFPA’s Smoke Alarm Tip Sheet and NFPA’s Smoke alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people tip sheet to make sure you know what to do in your home.   And like they say in D.C., “When you hear the chirp – it’s time to do the work!”

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

 

Every day, 10,000 Americans in the “Baby Boomer” generation are turning 65, with currently over 52 million Americans over the age of 65, representing approximately 16% of the population.  Adults 65 and over experience higher incidence, injury and deaths from fires and falls than the general population, regardless of sex, race, socioeconomic status and geographic location.  Whether you are over 65, or like me, the “Sandwich Generation,” taking on increased responsibilities for aging parents while still caring for children, preventing falls is critical to maintaining quality of life and independent living.

 

NFPA’s Remembering WhenTM (RM) Older Adult Fire & Fall Prevention Program  pairs fire service with public health and elder care agencies to support healthy behaviors among older adults and their caregivers.  Based upon eight key fire and eight key fall prevention messages, the program is used to support behavior change, community engagement and public education.   Program components includes a group presentation for use in the community, materials to support conducting home assessment visits, implementing community smoke alarm installation programs, and addressing hoarding issues.   All materials are free and available for download from the NFPA Public Education website.

 

The risk factors within aging populations are similar for fires and falls, making the need to educate older adults on adopting prevention and response behaviors critical.  The aging process alone creates limitations such as decreased mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive functioning.  Combined with aging homes/appliances, increased clutter, hoarding behaviors, and an increase in the use of medications for chronic conditions, the older adult population is consistently vulnerable to the effects of falls and fires. Medications to manage chronic conditions and disabilities too, increase the risk for fire and falls. 

As approximately 95% of older adults live independently in their own homes, helping aging adults navigate daily activities such as cooking, bathing, and moving through their home without incident is essential to maintaining their independence, reducing fires and falls, reducing strain on fire service resources for non-emergency lift assist calls.  Dori Krahn, Community Relations Coordinator for the Saskatoon, Canada Fire Department offers the benefits of the RW program to her population, Fire and falls are a great combination – fire safety gets us the group presentation and once there, participants are often surprised by how much they learned about fall prevention. Conversely, fall prevention gets us into people’s homes and once we are there, they are surprised that their smoke alarms haven’t just automatically taken care of themselves and their fire escape plans can’t be left to intuition.”

 

Falls send an average of one of every 17 people who was at least 65 to the emergency department per year.  Many firefighters see more fall victims than fire victims.  In some cases, they are called to help someone who has fallen get back into bed or chair.   In 2016 and 2017, local fire departments went to more “assist invalid” incidents than to structure fires. Many of these incidents were caused by falls.  NFPA found that “assist invalid” incidents increased 35% from 2014 to 2017   With increasing calls to fall-related incidents, the fire service is in a unique position to work with community partners for prevention. AG

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NFPA's Home Safety Checklist  helps public education and injury prevention professionals to engage with their residents in taking stock of simple, critical ways to prevent falls and fires, and creates opportunities to address barriers to behavior change.  From clearing stairways and exits of clutter, to installing proper lighting, to safety rails in the shower, there are numerous ways to prevent falls among older adults and support healthy aging across the life span.   NFPA's Remembering When Older Adult Fire & Fall Prevention Program  provides the tools, talking points, materials and motivation to help older adults reduce their risk of fire and fall.  Falls Prevention Day is sponsored by the National Council on Aging, is a great time to reach out to the older adults in your life and your community to protect and promote their quality of life.

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

“Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” is the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, highlighting the need for people to “cook with care” in the kitchen. And it's less than a month away!

  

We know current circumstances present unique challenges to promoting the campaign this year.  While COVID-19 may have changed the way we work, play, and learn, it hasn’t changed the need to address the number-one cause of home fires and home fire injuries – cooking.

 

NFPA’s FPW Out of the Box ideas document provides multiple, creative options to bring fire safety messaging to your communities, such as virtual truck tours and open houses, poster contests, and distributing materials through local take out restaurants.   Here are some additional activities to consider:

  • Our Cooking Checklist has room for your logo and can be downloaded and copied to insert along with local take out restaurants, pizza delivery, school lunch programs, and food pantries, and is available in English, Spanish, and French.
  • Partner with your local grocer for the early morning hours dedicated to Older Adults to disseminate vital cooking safety information and FPW branded materials.
  • Use NFPA’s FPW social media posts which are formatted for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and available in English, Spanish and French. (All social media posts like the one shown to the right are formatted for specific platforms and available in English, Spanish, and French.)

 

These are just a few ways that fire and life safety educators can be creative and innovative in celebrating Fire Prevention WeekTM, the oldest public health observance on record in the U.S.  

 

It’s time to “Serve up Fire Safety” for your community!

 

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on TwitterFacebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

 

Remote school environments, distancing requirements and increased responsibilities for fire departments mean getting creative with public education and outreach activities. As Maria Bostian, Fire & Life Safety (FLS) Educator for the Kannapolis, NC Fire Department notes, “we are thankful to have strong partnerships to rely on to help us find new ways to disseminate our educational materials.”

 

When schools went remote in the spring, Bostian, who is NFPA’s 2020 FLS Educator of the Year, sprang into action, working with the school lunch program to assure cooking safety and related materials were distributed along with the lunches to students and their families. She also worked with a local caterer to insert FLS safety information into take out dinners reaching across multiple audiences in her community. Her department’s strong ties to the local parks & recreation department means that all three entities are working together to create and sell home pizza kits that will include goody bags of fire safety information as part of their “Pizza and Prevention” event. And residents are encouraged to join the Fire Prevention WeekTM fun by taking selfies around town with Flat Sparky.

 

FPW is going to look different this year, but fire & life safety educators are showing their commitment to public education by continuing to find new ways to reach their audiences. NFPA’s FPW Out of the Box Ideas document provides multiple options for FLS educators to promote this year’s campaign and year-round fire prevention education.   Use #firepreventionweek in all your FPW Social Media Posts.

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest.  NFPA’s COVID-19 page has resources to support your FLS education efforts including videos, tip sheets and social media cards.

avastis

Changing the Way We Learn

Posted by avastis Employee Aug 21, 2020

In April 2019, 90 fire and life safety (FLS) educators from various fire departments came to New Orleans, LA for a day of in-person learning. In 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were rolling in, the possibility of such an event was in question.  Ashley Rodrigue, public affairs director of the LA State Fire Marshal's Office and state public education representative for NFPA describes the situation.

 

“At first, we thought we could still host an in-person event, just changing up things like swapping buffet lunch for boxed lunches.  But then vendors started pulling out because of travel restrictions and we realized this wasn’t going to happen,” she says.

 

When Kelly Ransdell, her NFPA staff contact, asked the planning committee if there was interest in moving to a virtual format, the answer was a resounding “YES.”

 

“Being able to have NFPA on board from the start, with the mechanisms to make it happen, and being the true partner that they’ve been, we were able to still provide our summit,” said Rodrique.

 

They modified the program and flexed to meet the virtual format. Round table discussions with vendors, for instance, wouldn’t work in a simplified virtual meeting. They selected three topics that were timely and would resonate:  Using social media for FLS efforts; addressing burn-out among first responders; and updates/national outlook from NFPA. Attendance at the event stayed steady at around 70 people, even with the built-in breaks. One benefit of the virtual environment was the attendance of FLS educators from outside LA.

 

A similar scene was unfolding in Mississippi and Alabama. In July of 2019, MS and AL each hosted an in-person summit with a full house of FLS Educator attendees. This year they joined forces to host a combined virtual summit.  “I had recently attended a virtual training and thought – this is a good possibility for us,” says Tamm Peavy, fire safety educator for the MS State Fire Marshal's Office, and state public education representative for NFPA.

 

Even with a few technical glitches, the combined summit had as many as 155 people logged into the event, including professionals from other states. The day-long event included planned breaks and allowed for attendees to log in and out for particular sessions, giving them the flexibility to work in between sessions. 

 

“I would definitely consider a hybrid event in the future. The in-person experience is important, but a virtual option allows people from far away to participate,” says Peavy. COVID-19 has made Peavy rethink many of her future FLS education efforts, especially as schools are less likely to invite fire departments to do in-person education, and fire department open house events are difficult to manage.  Her team is planning for how to engage for Fire Prevention Week this year and using

 

As the the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and our fire and life safety educators are on it! 

 

Follow us on Twitter, Sparky the Fire Dog’s Facebook page, NFPA’s Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube to keep up with the latest!

 

This year’s Fire Prevention WeekTM (FPW) theme of “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” is even more compelling as the incidence of home fires and burns related to cooking climb amid COVID-19 stay at home orders.   With resources in English, Spanish and French, fire and life safety (FLS) public education professionals can use the free resources found on FirePreventionWeek.org and purchase specially themed products from NFPA to support their FPW activities.

 

On July 30th, over 1400 people tuned into NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week 2020: Out of the Box Ideas Webinar  to learn new ways to reach their communities through a blend of traditional, digital and virtual activities.  Featuring Maria Bostian, NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year, the webinar offered easy to implement ways to use the tools and resources found on FirePreventionWeek.org to provide critical, lifesaving education that is fun and engaging for all audiences. This year the much-anticipated Sparky the Fire Dog stuffy has made its way into our product offerings, and FLS educators are finding new ways to reach their audiences amidst community contact restrictions.

 

John Yacovino, Fire Marshal and Director of Emergency Management in Meriden, CT is just one of many getting creative with outreach efforts.   With funding from a local grant, he purchased 100 Sparky stuffed dolls to have on hand for children who are displaced due to house fires.    As schools are unlikely to have fire service professionals come into classrooms, he is working with his local Board of Education to assure FPW materials find their way to the students and their families. 

 

Other FLS educators are collaborating with their community partners to provide FPW materials at school-lunch pick up sites and food pantries in their communities.  Some are taking advantage of their artistic sides to create YouTube videos reading The Story of Sparky , delivering NFPA Mini-lessons, and even reaching Gen Z with Tik Toks about fire safety. Our Out of the Box Ideas document can help you and your colleagues plan for  your FPW 2020 efforts. 

 

Share what you are doing in your community to get the word out about cooking safety using the hashtag #firepreventionweek on social media!

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and Follow NFPA on twitter @Sparky_Fire_Dog, Facebook Sparky the FIre Dog and Instagram @nfpadotorg to keep up with the latest.  NFPA’s COVID-19 page has resources to support your FLS education efforts including videos, tip sheets and social media cards.

 

This year, Fire Prevention WeekTM activities may look different due to continued COVID 19 restrictions. Join us for our FREE webinar discussing the latest data on cooking fires & burns, free resources available on FPW.org and learn new ways to educate your community when you can’t all be together in one room.   Register Now for the webinar on Thursday, July 30th from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST.

 

Time to Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!

 

 

Recreational vehicle (RV) living and travel offer the flexibility to live, work, and play while exploring new places. With media outlets reporting a sharp increase in RV rentals this year as people work to travel safely amid continued COVID-19 restrictions, NFPA’s RV Safety Tip Sheet  offers simple but critical advice for enjoying them safely safely, as there are potential fire safety hazards associated with RVs. For example, when a vehicle is used as a structure, the most common area for fires to start is the kitchen or cooking area, followed by the engine area, running gear, or wheel area. As a result, it’s important to fully inspect the vehicle to make sure it’s functioning properly inside and out, and to follow recommended guidelines.

 

As fire & fire safety educators look for new ways to connect with their communities and keep up with changing trends, NFPA offers numerous resources for public educators to support those efforts, particularly as the summer continues, COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, and the school year approaches. We also have our usual suite of fire & life safety education lesson plans, tip sheets, videos and infographics.

 

Help your communities enjoy their vacations and adjust safely to the new ways in which we live!

Follow us on Twitter, Sparky the Fire Dog’s Facebook page, NFPA’s Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube to keep up with the latest.

Sparky practicing according to CDC guidance for proper social distancing behavior in Farmington Hills, Michigan

 

At the start of the “stay at home" orders in Rhode Island, my 81-year-old father continued his daily habit of going to his varied grocery stores to pick up his fruit and whatever was on sale that week. He’d call me from the store saying, “Can you believe Shaw’s is out of milk!?” to which I would reply, “This is not a game – stay home!”

 

Fire and life safety educators are often finding themselves banging their heads against the wall, wondering, “What will it take to get people to do what they are supposed to do?”  The fact is, driving behavior change is a complex process under the best and even most dire of circumstances.  Our daily behaviors are rooted in and derived from the interplay of attitudes, beliefs, access to resources, socioeconomics, geography, and cultural norms. Changing behavior, even when motivated to do so, is hard because behaviors are ingrained into our daily lives, have an emotional component (we like our comfort zones), a physical and/or social environmental component, and generally require some form of support to get started.

 

At this time when people are being asked to double-down on their COVID-19 mitigation efforts, fire and life safety educators are maneuvering through emergency response, code compliance and getting their residents to adopt critically important behaviors for disease and home fire prevention.  As part of their efforts, providing accurate and timely information is essential, especially in times of crisis management. 

 

Information alone, however, does not equal action.  To support behavior change we must also address people’s perceptions of their personal risk.  Consider those who will admit to having read and/or sent a text while driving.  Most will tell you they know that texting and driving increases the risk of a car crash.  What they often perceive however, is that the risk is increased for the other driver, not for themselves.  People overestimate their perceptions of their driving skills, visual acuity, reflexes, and underestimate the time their eyes off the road making it easier for them to justify what is widely evidenced as risky behavior. 

 

Getting individuals to make change is the cornerstone of our work and involves engaging people as they conduct their own cost-benefit analysis when making decisions.   It’s the classic “There’s not too much traffic, and I am a good multi-tasker, so I can text while I drive,” conversation that is going on, even subconsciously, in people’s brains, that we find ourselves pushing against and prompting them to reconsider their belief system.   

 

Another factor in behavior change is what is widely accepted as the three elements needed to move individuals through change.  Regardless of what behavior change model you use, most agree that critical to behavior change are:

 

  • A motivator: a reason to do a behavior
  • An enabler: help, support, resources to adopt the behavior
  • A reward: a benefit to doing/maintaining the behavior

 

It’s not enough to tell people to keep 6 feet apart, or that they need working smoke alarms and an escape plan.  We need to provide people with valid reasons to do it that they can latch onto. Asking people to prevent infection not just for themselves, but for the elders in their life, their healthcare workforce and their first responders is one way we’ve seen public health education efforts motivate people.   

 

The amazing work being done by our school and community educators in providing digital learning opportunities, and in local businesses providing free delivery services, are examples of providing resources and support, enabling people to stay home and stay connected. 

 

Tom Malcolm, chief & EMA director (left) and Matthew Farrington, 2nd chief (right) of the Millonocket, Maine Fire Department use persuasive language and visuals to prevent the spread of COVID-19

 

The reward?  Well, that’s the tricky part. It’s hard to accept a reward for something that doesn’t happen, making “not getting sick” or “not having a home fire” a non-tangible. That’s why so many programs have incentives built in. Yes, people should do things for the right reasons, but getting people to change behavior means sweetening the pot sometimes. Kudos to the Coppell, Texas Fire Department for putting together bags of fire safety education materials to deliver to their residents as both encouragement for home safety and a thank you for doing their part. 

 

Whether dealing with emergency issues or our constant struggle to get people to adopt proactive fire and life safety behaviors, it’s important that we go beyond information and consider how we are motivating, enabling and rewarding our community members.  Consider how you will use your information and communication channels.   Create the conversation in your social media posts, shape the perception of risk using local data, appeal to the values of your residents through local partnerships (note – the messenger is just as important as the message), and reward and thank your community members for doing their part.  

 

My sincere thanks to all of you out there doing amazing work every day for the benefit of your community.  For resources to support your fire & life safety education efforts, go to www.nfpa.org/education and stay on top of NFPA’s COVID-19 efforts at www.nfpa.org/coronavirus

 

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