Wednesday Fire Safety Programming Tip 2/2/11

Welcome to the "Playing it Safe" blog! Hope that everyone is having a good week so far. Let's get started with this week's fire safety programming tip.

You see them out there. Companies of all types trying to sell your fire department their wares, from everything to oven mitts, to cups, to coloring books, you name it. These things might be nice to have, but many items might be over the top and too expensive. Have you considered developing your own materials? Developing your own materials can be a less expensive option and can help your department target those particular risks in your community.  

Before I share a tip for helping save money with one of my favorite items, trading cards, I would like to mention two important things. The first is that it is important to know the risks in your community and the second is that these materials should be considered a supplement to your fire safety efforts.
Our fire department started using trading cards years ago. The cards have been given to thousands of children and adults over the years. The cards are visual and each share an important fire safety message.
Sharing the fire safety message: The sky is the limit! Have a cooking fire problem in your area? Then why not develop a trading card for cooking fires? Cigarette fires, educational messaging such as stop, drop and roll, you name it! We have an issue in our area of people not having working smoke alarms. We featured the primary school principal on a trading card and gave each of the students at the school one. Not only do the children realize the smoke alarm message, they know that their principal says that it is important to have the grownups at their home check their smoke alarm once a month. It works!
Have a high Hispanic or other population? Have someone help you translate your card into the particular language that you would like and pass them out as well.
Long term effects: We have found that children keep the trading cards as opposed to stickers (which can only be used once and are generally thrown out). Our firefighters have been told by several parents that their children proudly display the cards in their bedrooms. One mother even mentioned that her child keeps his Sparkles’ card under his pillow at night when he sleeps!
The cards that our department has purchased have been funded by sponsors of our program as well as from grants. What about checking with a local printer that may have the ability to make trading cards? Possibly they would donate cards for your fire safety efforts and in return include their logo on the card. Civic organizations, banks, the possibilities are endless!
Final thoughts:
When photographing people for your cards, be sure to have a release form signed. You want to make sure that you have their permission, and should you use children on your card, their parent's permission. 
I put together a shortvideo showing some of our trading cards. Hope that you find this video useful! If you did, please let me know and I will try to do videos more often. The more feedback that I get, the better I will be able to target this blog to those of you out there.
Take care and until next time, stay safe!