Flexing to Meet the Needs of Our Audience
“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.