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The ambitious two year smoke alarm giveaway program by the City of Winnipeg (Manitoba) Fire Department and the Kiwanis Club of Winnipeg, Inc has been honoured with the Rolf H Jensen Partners in Public Education Award from the US based National Fire Protection Association. From 1996 to 1998 SAFE (Smoke Alarms for Every) Baby distributed 26 000 fire and burn prevention kits. Before leaving hospital, every mother of a baby born in Winnipeg during that period (including many residents of rural Manitoba) received the kit containing a smoke detector, safety booklet, fire escape plan fridge magnet, and bath water thermometer. Babies also receive a birthday card on their first birthday with a reminder to mom and dad to change the battery in the smoke detector.
To determine SAFE Baby's effectiveness in raising public awareness, improving smoke detector use, and reducing fire and burn rates a three phase evaluation of the program is being conducted by IM-PACT, the injury prevention program of Winnipeg Children's Hospital. The first phase analyzed 2000 surveys collected by public health nurses on postnatal visits (one to two weeks postpartum) and found nearly universal coverage and a high level of awareness of the information provided. Phase 2 interviewed a random sample of mothers, whose babies were then 3 to 20 months old, and found that 71% to 80% of families had installed the smoke detector, most detectors were functioning, and nearly all families who had not installed the smoke detector said they already had one. Both phases, however, found much poorer results in Winnipeg's poorest neighbourhoods.
Phase 3 of the evaluation—an analysis of fire incidence and injury statistics after the program—will provide further information on the value of this kind of intervention.
IM-PACT's report on the first two phases of the evaluation includes this telling anecdote: one …