Most of us on Bowen Island are well aware of the dangers of fire. We tend our wood-burning stoves through the winter and pay close attention to fire bans in the summer. Many of us have supported other community members who have suffered great loss as a result of fire.
At Bowen Island Community School, students are given the Fire Safety Guide (a booklet and DVD) created by Community Safety Net. Teachers help the kids to engage with the material in different ways. Its design is fun, interactive and age-appropriate and covers fire prevention, emergency preparedness and responses. Kids get the chance to design their own fire escape plans; the guide now promotes an online interactive tool for doing this.
As a parent, I noticed how this online tool (which allows kids to map out the floor plan and escape routes for their own home) makes it much more personalized and real. I was initially concerned that discussing the reality of not being able to access the adults in the house might be frightening for my son Sacha, then 10. The actual result was an increased confidence about his options in the case of an emergency.
Sacha was drawn in by online tool’s colourful visuals, live footage, interactive quizzes and games. The last page noted a contest to win an iPad tablet by submitting a letter describing what he had learned in the guide and how he might use this information to keep himself and others safe. Parents were also encouraged to write in expressing our perspectives. As I could see that Sacha had truly taken away a few new golden nuggets of wisdom, we decided to try our luck and complete our evening by entering the contest.
Imagine our surprise to get a call six months later informing us that among thousands of entries across Canada, Sacha had won the contest!
On July 23 at municipal hall, local safety advisor for Community Safety Net Chuck Venhuizen, along with Bowen Island fire chief Ian Thompson, presented Sacha with a “We Care” safety kit, a certificate and a much-anticipated iPad with Sacha’s name inscribed on it. Sacha hopes that his win will inspire other kids to look more closely at the guide “to learn more about what they can do in emergencies.”
A big thank you to Sacha’s Grade 5 teachers, Ms. Layzell and Ms. Daniels, for bringing this into the curriculum, and for the school’s commitment to fire safety.
And, to the entire Bowen Island Fire Department and associated Emergency Response teams, gratitude for all you do for this community.