“Have Two Ways Out”
NFPA Journal, September/October 2012
NFPA’s largest outreach to school-age children occurs during our annual Fire Prevention Week Campaign, scheduled this year for October 7–13. The Public Education Division at NFPA supports this campaign each year with a school-based outreach initiative distributed through Scholastic, Inc. Scholastic has worked with teachers, parents, and children for more than 90 years to promote intellectual growth through literacy. NFPA recognized the potential impact of this partnership and has supported this annual project since 2006.
Each year, the Public Education Division works with the creative staff at Scholastic to develop lesson plans and activities to support NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week theme, which this year is “Have Two Ways Out.” We began work in January with a brainstorming session of thematic ideas for the project, which is geared for families and children in preschool through grade 5. The theme generated some fun ideas, and we decided to explore an Alice in Wonderland creative approach.
A great cast of characters was brought together for the project. Sparky the Fire Dog® teams up with Alice, and the two of them find themselves in Wonderland. They meet the White Rabbit and discover that he is working on a home fire escape plan. The trio ventures throughout Wonderland, meeting the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, and the Mad Hatter. Easy-to-use lesson plans and activity sheets teach the important parts of home fire escape planning, including working smoke alarms, having two ways out, and establishing an outside meeting place.
The project is designed to reach three age levels: preschool – kindergarten, grades 1–3, and grades 4–5. A package of materials was created for each age group. Each package includes a poster with lesson plans and activity sheets on the reverse side and a take-home package to reach families with important escape planning information. Two hundred thousand packages are mailed to teachers throughout the United States. The materials, produced in both English and Spanish, are also available at firepreventionweek.org.
The packages mailed to teachers reach at least 5 million students and their families. An additional 225,000 posters are distributed with Scholastic’s Instructor® magazine and bundled in Scholastic Book Club boxes, bringing the total outreach to 425,000 teachers and more than 10.6 million children. This project also provides NFPA with an ad promoting Fire Prevention Week in Scholastic’s Parent & Child magazine, which has a circulation of more than 1.3 million. In addition to the printed materials mailed and the digital content on firepreventionweek.org, materials are also available on Scholastic’s website, scholastic.com.
The final report for our 2011 program included analytics of the materials on scholastic.com. Last year, our program had 280,483 page views, 73,960 visitors, and 174,340 downloads. Scholastic also conducts a post-program study to gauge the level of usage of the materials mailed to teachers. Typically, our program receives high praise, with more than 90 percent of the teachers rating the program very to extremely useful. Teachers like the interactive aspects of the program and the fact that no preparation is needed.
Help us expand our classroom outreach. Reach out to an educator in your community to encourage teaching the important Fire Prevention Week message of “Have Two Ways Out.” The Scholastic project materials and other educational materials are available at firepreventionweek.org.
Judy Comoletti, is division director of Public Education at NFPA.