Our intent was to make safety easier and less overwhelming by offering weekly actions that wouldn’t take much time, effort, or money. We’re finding that goal harder to achieve than we thought it would be.
So what’s derailing us? There are a few common themes that we think you might recognize, too.
Time: After work, kids’ homework, getting dinner on the table, laundry, and all the little things that need to happen every single day, time is often the biggest obstacle to addressing safety. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. See also: Tyranny of the Urgent
Money: Sometimes, safety is free, but in other cases, it requires some budgeting. For instance, replacing smoke alarms in a whole home could add up to more than $100, an amount many families would consider a hardship. When it comes between feeding the kids and buying a smoke alarm, we know what wins.
Energy: Lack of energy could be a number of things. It could be physical energy—sometimes it’s hard to accomplish these tasks because they require bodily effort, like getting up and down on ladders and into places that are hard to reach. After the daily grind of life, sometimes it’s hard to summon that energy when the couch is calling.
It could also be emotional energy. Addressing safety means thinking about tragedy, and that often leads to thinking about how we’d feel if those tragedies did happen to us. In many cases, people don’t want to think about an injury or worse, so they don’t think about the issue at all. While we view safety as peace of mind against those fears, some people just don’t see it that way.
Tyranny of the Urgent: For many, the main obstacle is Tyranny of the Urgent. Similar to a lack of time, Tyranny of the Urgent requires that attention be paid to the most pressing problem, which often does not include routine safety, like checking smoke alarms.
For one member of our little accountability clan, that’s exactly why he didn’t do the action this week: he has a 6-month-old son, and he’s more concerned about remembering to get stage 2 nipples for bottles than whether he has enough smoke alarms. He has three working alarms in his house already, so the Tyranny of the Urgent took over and sorted his to-do list by level of necessity and risk of harm. For him, the possibility of a hungry (and crying) baby won out over double-checking fire protection.
Didn’t Think It Applied to Me: One member of our group admitted that she just didn’t think she needed to check her smoke alarms. She’s a student who’s living with her parents. She didn’t think about checking the smoke alarms because she’s not the homeowner and to her, this action was for homeowners. As we talked, though, she realized that it doesn't matter whether you own, rent, or live in the family home; if you live there, you have an interest in the safety of that home.
Do you see yourself in any of these obstacles? We bet you do, so we’re thinking about ways we can make Operation End Injury even more user-friendly. We’ll still post weekly actions, but we’re going to try some different approaches to see what works for us. After all, if it doesn’t work for us, we know it won’t work for you, either.
Maybe we need to think about budgeting for some of these items, or maybe we can link you to more free resources, like fire departments that have smoke alarms available for people who live in their communities. Maybe it's testing out strategies to create new habits, like blocking off the same time every week for safety as you would for a meeting.
If you’ve been doing the Operation End Injury actions or have struggled to find time, money, motivation, whatever, we want to hear from you. We’re listening. How we can help you achieve your mission to create a safer world for a child?
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