With this annual wake-up call to help prevent fires nationwide, are the efforts actually working?
Since the late 1960s, March has been recognized as Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines. How did that come about? It was then President Ferdinand Marcos who assigned a specific area in society to be given focus regarding safety every month. At the time—long before the issue of global warming started turning our seasons upside down—March was considered the hottest month of the year in our country. (I believe, by now, it’s turned into May.)
Back then, statistics likewise indicated a higher incidence of fire cases and casualties in March. Interesting, though, that for these past several years, March has been superseded by April as the month with the most fires. It’s hard to tell if that’s because efforts for fire prevention in March actually work…but only to delay the inevitable until April?
What Causes Fires
Reports from 2010-2013 show that the number of fires have, sadly, been increasing. Based on statistics from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), most fires occur in residential areas and happen between midnight and 3 a.m., the known causes of which are mainly faulty electrical wiring or loose connections (29.6%), unattended open flame, with cigarette butts topping the list (25.9%), neglected devices or electrical appliances (3.9%) among others. Now, if you can do mental math way better than I can, then you would have noted that there remains a huge percentage of fires of unknown origin. I myself had lived through the horror of watching my childhood home burn down, and when my parents asked the firemen for the possible cause, we were told it could’ve been faulty wiring, a cigarette or a curtain catching fire from a lamp left on. We can only guess as to how they arrived at those conclusions—if you could even call them that. (I, personally, came up with the simple verdict that it’s dangerous to have too much wood. So now, I live in a solidly concrete house. That’s my version of fire prevention 🙂 )
Now, let’s take a look at some of the imagery propagated this time of year in support of this cause.
Notice something? They’re all focused on the fire—on how to escape it, and who or what puts it out after it’s started—whereas the purpose of the month is PREVENTION. Based on the sparse statistics that we have, the messaging would probably work better if images showed the positive action points before the fire has any chance of starting. Putting out cigarettes and blowing out candles, turning off stoves, lights, and unplugging devices that could overheat.
Advertise on a Positive Note
In a nutshell, it’s one neat trick advertisers do to make sure their campaigns work. Focus on the positive. If you’re a solution to being overweight, don’t show what I look like fat—show me sexy models. If you’re a sports product, don’t show me struggling to run—show me jumping higher than all the others. If you’re a laundry detergent, don’t show me piles of dirty clothes—show me how my neighbors will ogle at my blindingly white outfit.
In other words, consumers don’t want—or need—to be reminded of their problems. Research constantly proves they dislike seeing ads that do that. What they want to see is the bright side of things.