On Monday, November 16, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) hosted a live Facebook event featuring ways for Fire & Life Safety (FLS) Educators to reach their communities with life saving winter fire safety information and resources. Promoting winter safety isn’t anything new, however the impacts of COVID-19 have created new challenges in connecting with our communities.
Moderated by Michael McLeieer of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association, the event focused on key fire & home safety risks during the winter months and innovative ways to connect communities with education and resources. From cooking to heating to electrical to candles and decorations, I along with co-panelists Teresa Neal, Fire Program Specialist of the US Fire Administration, and Blaise Harris, Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Rocky Mount Fire Department in North Carolina, answered a variety of questions related to how FLS educators can package and promote fire safety.
“One thing is for sure,” says Harris, “this virtual environment isn’t going anywhere. Even when we are able to be in a room together again, we will still be using technology.” Getting comfortable and partnering with those who have the skills using the various platforms is key to staying relevant and staying connected.
“Reach out to your day care and pre-schools,” suggests Neal, adding, “this is a great way to send home materials like home safety checklists, home escape planning sheets and other materials.” While many schools and organizations may be closed to the public, take advantage of what is still operating to partner and use as a vehicle to deliver your educational messages.
“Collaborate and learn from each other,” says McLeieer, promoting participation in the Fire Life Safety Educators and Coordinators Facebook Group, an open forum to share, ask, and learn. Taking advantage of local and national webinars and virtual conferences for professional development will continue to a need and the norm for FLS educators to keep up with a changing world.
Other ideas generated from the conversation included:
Partnering with your local library to host virtual education sessions and support outreach,
Partnering with local take out and deliver services to incorporate educational materials for home safety,
Use of all social media platform – YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to both create repetition of messaging and reach a variety of demographics in your community,
Use good, credible resources like those from NFPA and USFA to assure up to date, relevant and accurate information,
Use the NFPA Educational Messaging Desk Reference
A recording of the event is available for those who missed it.
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