Animated characters bring fire safety messages to life

A cartoon featuring the exploits of a risk-taking family is the centrepiece of a new summer safety campaign by two fire and rescue services in England.

The Byrnes family (Pic credit: KFRS)
The Byrnes family (Pic credit: KFRS)

The Byrnes family, created by the Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), is depicted in various situations during their annual summer holiday. Safety issues in those settings are flagged up in an activity booklet produced with the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

The mother drives while using her mobile, and the father is too busy drinking to spot his daughter getting dangerously close to the barbeque he's supposed to be in charge of.

In another scene, when they are on the beach, the parents are blissfully unaware that their daughter is struggling in the sea.

Their exploits are the basis of the 'Road Trip for a Safe Summer' booklet – about 30,000 copies of which are being distributed at campsites and visitor information centres, community events and fire-station open days across Kent and East Sussex.

No external PR agencies have been involved in the campaign, which was created by the KFRS comms team and designer. This has kept costs down to a spend of less than £6,000 on the campaign.

Key messages include road safety advice such as to always wear seatbelts, not to use phones while driving, and not to distract the driver. Other topics covered are barbeque safety, with messages such as never to bring a barbeque inside the tent, and water safety tips such as to always keep an eye on your children in the water.

The campaign is primarily aimed at families with children of primary school age.

Ian Thomson, assistant director for community safety at KFRS, said: "Families are already telling us they're benefiting from the activity booklet that encourages children to think more about how to stay safe over the summer holidays – whether in the car, outdoors or in and around water."

He added: "It’s all about instilling key safety messages while they have fun and enjoy completing the Byrnes family story with stickers, colouring-in and having a go at a word search."

In addition to the activity booklet, the Byrnes family has its own website, reinforcing the simple safety messages though a mix of cartoons, games and information.

Engagement will be measured using metrics such as 'likes' and shares on Facebook, as well as hits on the website.

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