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3 Posts authored by: avastis Employee

 

 

 

“Necessity is the mother of invention. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem,” is a quote often attributed to Plato’s Republic. While the saying may or may not have originated with Plato, it is an appropriate perspective during this major shift in our daily lives due to Covid-19.   

 

Fire and life safety education is also constantly flexing and innovating out of necessity: Shifting demographics in the US and the globe, rapid changes in technology and information sharing, and the decrease in some hazards and increase in others are just some of the paradigms to which FLS Educators must respond in order to be effective.

 

In my training as a K-12 health educator so many years ago, I was taught to always have a “plan B” method of presenting.  Back then it meant having a back up for my slide or overhead projector. Today it means finding a way to connect via virtual methods as many are using social media to keep the lines of communication open and shifting to on-line instruction.

 

As my daughter’s middle school figures out how they will continue instruction for the next three-plus weeks, and families are increasingly housebound, we are seeing amazing examples of fire and life safety educators maintaining contact with their communities. Rebecca Clark, life safety educator of the Windsor Severance Fire Rescue in Colorado has set up a You Tube channel with Firefighter Story Time and short safety videos. “Since all of our public education events were cancelled, and our libraries and schools are closed, we wanted a way to connect with our community,” says Clark. Storytime, in which a local firefighter reads a particular book, is an opportunity to share safety information and spark conversation among family members.  Some of her favorite titles include “Impatient Pamela Calls 911,” “Today I Feel Silly,” and “Arthur’s Fire Drill.”  In addition, Clark is promoting the link to NFPA's Home Fire Escape Planning Grid which is also available in Spanish, encouraging residents to download, fill it out and email it to the department.  All community members who do so will be invited to a future ice cream social to be held at the station.

 

In our quest to support the "Informed Public" cog of NFPA’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, we need to consider myriad ways to reach people to create an informed, activated public engaging in appropriate prevention and response behaviors.  While so many are homebound due to Covid-19, Sparky.org  has videos, printable activities, and downloadable Apps such as Sparky’s Brain Busters to fill the time with educational and fun activities.  If you’re looking for a lesson-based approach, Sparky School House has lesson plans, e-books, music and videos to supplement at home learning activities.  So “spark” some creativity with your fire and life safety efforts, and use the resources at hand whether in your living room or the office, to put some fun and learning into your “Coronacation.”

 

Follow us on Twitter @Sparky_Fire_Dog, on Facebook at Sparky the Fire Dog and on Instagram @nfpadotorg to keep up with the latest.

This Wednesday, March 18th marks Sparky the Fire Dog’s 69th birthday.  Sparky plays an important role as both a mascot and cue to action within NFPA’s mission to eliminate loss of life & property from fire, electrical and related hazards.   Indeed, Sparky encourages the “Informed Public” cog of our Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem, to assure people are engaging in appropriate prevention and response behaviors, making personal investments in safety, and holding their government officials accountable.  While Sparky is truly ageless and timeless, as a 69-year old, he is also a Baby Boomer, offering insight into a major need for Fire & Life Safety Educators – a way to reach varied audiences with tailored, relevant, and accessible information and resources.

 

The Boomers are an especially unique generation as they have participated in some of the most dramatic technological changes in society.  They are the ones who went from two cups and a string as a telephone, to using their smart phones to respond to “Ok, Boomer” remarks on social media.  Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 in the US.  By 2030, all Boomers will be at least 65 years old.  While they will be older and wiser, they will still need us for their changing fire & life safety needs including increased risk of falls, medical complications from chronic conditions, and increased risk of death/injury by fire.  

 

It is imperative that we in the world of Fire and Life Safety Education know our audiences not only in terms of their demographics and data-informed risks, but of how they consume their information.   Flyers and brochures alone won’t cut it.  Unless we do our diligence to learn about our audiences – who they trust, how they communicate with each other, and how they want their information, we will still struggle to get full reach and scale of our programs.  My own Gen Z kids, for instance, are happy to remind me (a Gen X/Boomer cusp) that Facebook “is for Boomers” and that neither they nor their friends are doing anything on Facebook.

 

The Public Education Division at NFPA is continuing to find ways to support your efforts to reach people across the lifespan.  Sparkyschoolhouse.org and Sparky.org offers a variety of lessons, games, apps and videos for children and their families.  The Remembering WhenTM Older Adult Fire & Fall Prevention Program provides education, tools and resources for communities to prevent and intervene with their older adult residents.   

 

Our social media efforts are targeting a greater variety of audiences with tailored messages across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and our Public Education pages on NFPA.org contain numerous resources that can be tailored for your needs. 

 

Sparky’s birthday is a great time to look at your fire and life safety programs and consider who in your community could use some updated information and resources to help them lead safe and healthy lives.  And, since so many are now stuck at home for the next few weeks, consider throwing a Sparky Birthday Fun party with all the trimmings.  

 

Follow us on Twitter @Sparky_Fire_Dog, on Facebook at Sparky the Fire Dog and on Instagram @nfpadotorg to keep up with the latest.

Photo courtesy of KEPR-TV/CBS

 

I recently came across a news story about four people who safely escaped a fast-moving fire in their Kennewick, WA home. Working smoke alarms were credited for awaking them in time to get out safely.

 

It’s always great to hear stories about smoke alarms alerting people to fire, and I’m always grateful when local news outlets highlight their life-saving impact. But here’s where this new story differed from most others. It addressed another vital part of home fire safety that’s often overlooked: home escape planning and practice.

 

While I’m appreciative of the KEPR-TV news reporter who included this information in the story, I’m particularly thankful to Battalion Chief Tod Kreutz of the Kennewick Fire Department, who clearly made a point of highlighting the critical importance of home escape planning and practice.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

 

“He (Kreutz) says they're still not sure why the man was forced to break the glass but says it shows the importance of planning ahead… The battalion chief is reminding families about the importance of having a plan in place, saying it's nearly as important as a working smoke detector. He recommends reviewing everyone's escape routes and your designated meeting place at least once a year.”

 

The story goes on to provide a series of home fire safety tips and recommendations.

 

As public educators in the fields of fire and life safety, we know today’s home fires burn faster than ever, leaving people with a minimal amount of time to safely escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. While smoke alarms are surely the first line of defense in a fire, knowing how to use that time wisely takes advance planning and practice, and can make the difference between life and death in a home fire.

 

This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape,” serves as an ideal platform for communicating these messages in the months ahead.

 

Finding opportunities to promote home escape planning and practice, whatever the circumstances, is incredibly valuable; its importance can’t be overstated. I applaud Chief Kreutz for capitalizing on a local news story to do just that.

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