Monday, November 17, 2014

Show, don't tell

People really do want to make the proper preparations when it comes to potential disasters. Seriously. No one envisions being left without power, a method of communicating or something as basic as food after a disaster visits. "Boy, I hope my smoke detector batteries don't work when a fire breaks out!" is something I doubt you will ever hear as a disaster preparedness spokesperson.

The problem is that for many people, they mean well, but they may not be aware of how to actually do the task you need them to do. Again, it's not that people are ignorant, they just don't have disaster preparedness in the fore of their minds as many of us do, and they may not have the know-how to take the proper steps. Or, even worse, they may have heard the 'old wisdom' of doing things a certain way, but don't understand how worthless - or even dangerous - these incorrect methods can be.

Taping windows before a hurricane arrives
Let's talk for a moment about something we see here in hurricane country - taping windows.  Study after study has shown that taping windows is a totally worthless step in preparing for a hurricane's impact. There isn't even any consensus of how taping windows even works. I have heard all sorts of reasons why taping is supposed to be effective - it hold the glass together if debris blows into the window. It cushions the impact on the glass. It strengthens the glass, making it less likely to break.

Despite all of the times we have explained to people why taping their windows is just a myth, we still see tape going up when  hurricane threatens.

What we needed was a way to demonstrate once and for all why taping windows was such a bad idea. Fortunately for us, we have a local high school whose mascot name is the Hurricanes - Clearwater High School. In Florida, students can also qualify for scholarship dollars through the Bright Future program if they perform a number of volunteer hours. With a little bit of thinking, a few phone calls and some imagination, we came up with the Tape Strikes Out video, one of our most popular on the YouTube channel.

By using a bit of humor, a few video cameras and an explanation of why taping is ineffective, we were able to show with no question why shuttering windows with plywood is far superior to taping them.

While our efforts were just a small drop in the bucket, the idea was picked up by other organizations, namely the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Their Go Tapeless campaign of a few years ago built on the momentum we had started in our county, pushing the message nationwide.

FLASH invites you to Go Tapeless
This is just one example of how addressing a myth head-on can hopefully change behaviors to encourage residents to take appropriate, meaningful steps to improve their safety. This template can work with just about any other public safety education campaign, and is a perfect way to invite others to the table to partner together.

Tom Iovino, Public Information Specialist
Pinellas County, Florida

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent presentation! The use of humor and a very willing young athlete provides interest and enthusiasm. Plain language and excellent filming make it easily understandable.
    Great work, Old Man!