Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't blame the cow



After watching football yesterday, it occurred to me that the awareness of breast cancer and the support behind the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is absolutely staggering.  As a family member of more than one family matriarch lost to breast cancer….I think it is just downright cool to see all those athletes wearing pink as a sign of solidarity.  I have personally given up large parts of my life to fight against cancer, and if there is one thing that I hope for the future, it is a cure for cancer.

But honestly, I also hope for just a little more focus on fire prevention too.  

It is, after all, National Fire Prevention Week.  We have, after all, been recognizing this week (and the month of October) since President Woodrow Wilson signed the very first presidential proclamation of National Fire Prevention Day in 1920. Fire Prevention is; after all, the longest running public health and safety observance on record. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to pit one cause against another.  I am simply asking that Fire Prevention not be lost in the mix of “causes” to be remembered and taught.

Here is what I propose:

What if at each of those football games-where there are anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people in attendance and millions more watching on TV--we had one less “Go Daddy” Commercial with Danica Patrick talking about a website?  Instead, she would remind people to install smoke detectors.  Or change the batteries in their existing smoke detectors.  Hell…put her in a bikini if you REALLY want to draw attention to the message. 

To be fair there could be a second Ad with Clay Mathews flexing his man things while wearing a Speedo and reminding the viewing audience that he practices E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home), all the while asking the viewer if they have too? 

I GUARANTEE that either of these ads, could -- in a single advertisement -- capture millions of viewer’s attention, and would likely get national press.  More publicity would mean more times the message gets out to the people who NEED to hear it as much, if not more than the kids: ADULTS. 

Yep.  I’m crazy like that.  Fire Prevention Education for people who think they already know everything:  Adults. 

We, the "adults" are the ones who are supposed to be teaching our kids and leading by example…right?  So let me ask:
  • How careful were you when you lit that charcoal grill? 
  • Did you use too much lighter fluid? 
  • Did you laugh when it went “WHOOOOFF”?
  • Did you joke about the singed hairs on your arm? 
  • Who was watching, listening and learning from you that making a big fire is funny, fun and exciting? 
  • Where did you put those matches and lighter fluid when you were done? 
  • Who was watching where you put those items?

Doh!  There it is.  The reality that strikes a nerve in all of us.  Whether it is a camp fire that has gotten too big, a candle that we "forgot" to blow out, or simply just a "relaxed" attitude that we can "CONTROL" fire......We're all guilty of this (myself included), and our kids are watching.

So, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public -- what do our actions tell our kids about fire safety?

Think about this a little bit.  If we are REALLY doing this correctly: we will teach our kids that fire is a tool.  It is used carefully and for a specific purpose.  Fire is not unlike a hunting rifle, chain saw, or any power tool that we use carefully, then put away.

Truth is, all fire safety messages begin at home.  With us.  The adults.  I think we should start there, before we work on that ad campaign. (Oh yeah...I have ideas on how to get this off the ground...stay tuned for later posts...)   In the mean time, here are a couple of truths to get us going:

Truth #1:  You are being watched and learned from.  What is your attitude towards fire safety? (I’ll give you a hint:  Watch your kids as they mirror your own actions)

Truth #2: I bet your kids know more about prevention than you do…but they are in no position to make a change at home.  Listen to them.  Learn from them, and ask them to help make your home a little more fire safe.  Trust me when I tell you that they will jump at the chance to help!

And last but not least, back off the cow!

We really aren’t 100% certain that it was Mrs. O’Leary’s cow that tipped over the lantern, starting the Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871.  But we are sure that there was also another giant and deadly fire that same day (Peshtigo, WI).

Between Chicago and Peshtigo: more than 1300 people died, 16 towns in Wisconsin, the entire city of Chicago, and more than 1.2 million acres of land were burned because of two PREVENTABLE mistakes made with fire.

We also realized at that moment, that it was time to make a change. 

Dunno about you…but I’m just not interested in repeating that kind of history and I'm starting with my kids.

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