Q&A with Barbara Guthrie: Getting Kids Wild about Safety
UL’s Safety Smart® program, designed to improve children’s understanding of safety, was championed in part by Barbara Guthrie, UL’s Chief Public Safety Officer. Today, she’s sharing details about what has made this program so successful.
In 2007, UL launched Safety Smart® — a global educational program designed to improve children’s awareness and understanding of safety, health and environmental issues, and encourage changes in their behaviors. Barbara Guthrie — UL’s Chief Public Safety Officer — was one of the program’s champions from its inception. Today, she’s sharing details about what has made this program so successful for nearly a decade.
Q: Tell us about the origins of the Safety Smart® program.
BARBARA: Each year, accidents claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of children worldwide, and it’s the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. As a company committed to safety science, we created the Safety Smart® program to help educate children about safety risks. Safety Smart® cultivates safety awareness, teaches safe behaviors and helps children make more informed choices. Safety Smart® has reached millions of children, teens, young adults and parents in more than 25 countries around the world.
Q: What is the Safety Smart® learning model?
BARBARA: Safety Smart® is driven by a guiding principle — unintentional injuries can be avoidable and preventable through Safety Smart® choices. By teaching Safety Smart® choices we begin to build a consciousness and knowledge which children draw upon to help them make better life-sustaining choices. Combining thoughtful decisions with a curriculum-based approach, children are taught safety in the same manner in which they are taught reading, writing and math.
Q: Can you share examples of Safety Smart® choices?
BARBARA: Safety Smart® choices focus on the cause of the injury and safeguarding against that injury. For example, the Safety Smart® choice of not playing with matches will help avoid the start of a fire, using hand rails will help avoid a fall, washing your hands will help avoid the spreading of germs and wearing a life jacket will help avoid drowning.
Q: How is UL working to get kids “Wild about Safety”?
BARBARA: By arming our employees, business partners, teachers, parents, grandparents and essentially all people with Safety Smart® materials! These Safety Smart® Ambassadors share reassuring, clear and confidence-building messages with children in the classroom, at camp, scouting and youth group meetings, and community events — anywhere children are gathered. They are helping to empower children to be safety advocates, safety scientists and Safety Smart®.
Q: How can people learn more about the Safety Smart® materials?
BARBARA: Visit www.ULSafetySmart.com to access Safety Smart® operating guides, activities and education videos. Additionally, the website is a place where children can play interactive games and learn about the latest in educational safety and global safety news. The site can be accessed via desktop, tablet and mobile devices.