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Fire safety awareness needed among students, says director of Safe Kids Foundation India

Cinthia Pinto, programme director of Safe Kids Foundation India (SKF), believes that all children deserve to grow in a safe environment, and to further this vision, her foundation has been working to spread awareness about fire safety in different schools of Pune. Excerpts from her conversation with Ananya Barua. 

pune Updated: Jan 23, 2018 16:46 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Fire safety awareness,Safe Kids Foundation India,programme director of Safe Kids Foundation India (SKF)
Cinthia Pinto, programme director of Safe Kids Foundation India (SKF)(HT PHOTO)

When and how did SKF start the fire safety initiative?

Safe Kids Foundation is a part of the Safe Kids Worldwide and was launched in November 2015. We, along with Honeywell India, had carried out a research to understand the risks that children below 14 years of age face in their day to day lives. The results were all preventable risks or injuries while falls, burns, cuts and bruises were the common injuries. We realised that injuries caused due to fire, that is burns, were the second highest on the list. Almost 76,000 children under 14 years of age, in Pune alone, had suffered some sort of fire-related injurytill date which needed medical intervention. Of this, in a year, almost 3,000 had suffered third degree burns. Hence, we decided to concentrate our efforts on spreading fire safety awareness among students, and the best place to begin was schools.

What is the vision behind the awareness drive?

Our main target has always been children due to our approach to reach out to the youngest first and then to the eldest. These kids have been spreading awareness in their families as well. We also have drives to spread awareness in communities. In addition to our school programme for children, we also have the‘Agni Suraksha Mitra’ orfire safety volunteer programme which inducts teachers and others as fire marshals. They are taught about how to react and help the fire departments in case of a fire emergency.

What has been the response in these three years?

Last year, during Diwali, we had stated that in Pune, only fire injuries were reported during Diwali. This is a 40 per cent decrease in the number of injuries when compared to the stats of 2016. This is the impact of the work we have been doing with the support of the civic bodies. The point is, our fire safety programmeforms a part of the curriculum which helps children understand the basics of fire safety, who then go out and spread the knowledge in their own families. I feel that it is the bottom up approach, coupled with the support of the government bodies, that has made the difference. The feedback received from the model making competition revealed how clear the students are about fire safety measures now.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 16:46 IST