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DFES goes digital to keep WA kids safe this summer

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The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) WA has joined with award-winning digital agency, Equilibrium, in a state first, launching a new app to help WA primary school kids identify and manage risky behaviours around water this summer.

The app called 'Be Safe Around Water' shows kids how to do exactly that, according to Department of Fire and Emergency, Director Community Engagement, Suellen Flint.

"We wanted to create a way for primary school aged kids in WA to really engage with water safety, beyond the backyard pool, by looking at natural and man-made hazards involving water.

"The aim is to help kids to first recognise risky behaviours around water and from there be confident to react in a safe way.

"The best way to do this was to use an educational, game-based app that would challenge, entertain and educate all at the same time," said Ms Flint.

The app demonstrates a combination of 11 man-made or naturally occurring, high risk situations involving water, that kids and their parents could come across day to day.

High-risk scenarios include dealing with floodwaters; ocean swimming and storm warnings, and fishing off rocks, to name a few.

Children are then required to navigate the scenario and identify safety concerns, with each correct identification unlocking subsequent levels and scenario-specific information.

Equilibrium Digital Director, Stephen Dodge said the app introduces kids to a new and safe level of engagement with real life, hazardous scenarios.

"The way we deliver educational content to primary school aged children today is multidimensional with apps playing a significant role in making often complex information easily digestible.

"Having worked with DFES previously on a bushfire awareness and prevention website for primary kids, we know that the Department's safety messages translate very effectively into interactive, visual representations.

"With 'Be Safe Around Water' were able to quite vividly capture the 11 risky scenarios through illustration, and introduce a high degree of interactivity and game-based challenge that we know kids respond really well to," said Mr Dodge.

The app was developed specially for the DFES display at this year’s Royal Show, however, given its popularity the Department is rolling it out more broadly for both schools and the general public.

"Now is the time to start having a dialogue about every day water safety.

"The feedback we have received from kids and parents alike has been overwhelmingly positive so we have moved the app station into the Education and Heritage Centre in East Perth as a permanent installation, for families and schools to access.

"Further to that, we will make the app available in the Apple App Store as soon as possible, with Google Play to follow," said Ms Flint.

It is hoped that by making the app publically available and free via the app store WA teachers will be able to seamlessly incorporate this water safety message into their teaching plans over the summer terms, and WA families will also have an opportunity to explore these themes at home.

Mr Dodge added, "At the end of the day, the app empowers kids to make smart choices in potentially risky scenarios, which is an invaluable skill coming into summer."

Be Safe Around Water App

Welcome page and home page 'Be Safe Around Water'

About DFES and WA Primary Schools

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has long been involved in the development of hazard identification and safety resources for WA primary schools. All DFES resources are linked with the National Curriculum in the areas of social sciences and humanities, and health and physical education.

About 'Bushfire Patrol'

Equilibrium was contracted by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in 2014 to develop an interactive, educational and game-based website for primary school aged children, seven to nine years old, addressing bushfire prevention and safety messages.

The website won an award at the 2014 Australian Resilient Awards recognising innovative practices and achievements contributing to safer communities across the country.

For more information contact:

Stephen Dodge

Equilibrium | Digital Director
(08) 9218 8914
View all news

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