Families across Kent and Medway look set to live safer lives thanks to the help of a new cartoon family called ‘The Byrnes Family’, which was officially unveiled at the Kent County Show by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) on Friday 6th July 2018.
The brand new approach in helping youngsters understand safety at home, on the road and around water follows extensive research into pioneering techniques into behaviour change, which has helped Kent Fire and Rescue Service develop the new ‘family safety’ product.
Two members of the Byrnes family have been made into life-size mascots to help the team at KFRS engage with youngsters and to encourage them to ‘Learn with the Byrnes’ to keep their family safe. 11 year-old Woody and his younger sister, Elsa who is seven, came to life at the County Show as part of the service’s launch of their activities being delivered over the weekend, all aimed at helping people who visit the KFRS arena live safer lives.
Assistant Director of Community Safety at KFRS, Ian Thomson said: “The Byrnes family forms part of a new approach to safety at KFRS. The family is already helping us to engage with youngsters across Kent and Medway. Each individual member of the Byrnes family faces risks; and they all learn what they need to consider about safety to keep themselves and their family safe.
Ian added: “Positive behaviour change initiatives have to be innovative to encourage, enable and support people to make better choices for themselves. We believe that young people will be influenced to remember the things they see and learn from the Byrnes family, how it relates to them and their family and, we hope, will stay with them for life - positive behaviours and important life skills. Not only this, but we also know that young people are very good at explaining some of the things they learn, either at school or through organisations like KFRS, to their parents – pester power can be very effective.”
The Byrnes family will soon be featured in a series of live animations, but are now available to see through a wide variety of images in new products that young people will be given, including activity books and puzzle sheets, as well as a new Brynes website dedicated to the family that will be a resource for learning about family safety and having fun at the same time. The Byrnes family also has a dedicated Facebook page that is aimed at parents to help them share some of the useful content with their children in a safe environment, but also to engage with the family at events across the county.
Ian said: “One of the important areas of the research we carried out explored how ‘family’ is important to the people of Kent and Medway, and that we would do anything to protect those we love the most. So the Byrnes family will be reflecting that in a big way – family, generations, safety and fun.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s stand also had important messages about road safety including the dangers of driving under the influence of drink and drugs. There were also interactive, hands-on experiences from KFRS’ Road Safety Experience that explained the importance of wearing your seatbelt and how your reaction times can be impacted when you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Visitors to the KFRS area were also encouraged to sign up to the Road Safe Pledge which encouraged people to always wear their seatbelt and to avoid mobile phone distractions at the wheel.