Protecting lives against fire and water using fun technology

Striving to protect against the devastating effects of fire and water are two of our most pressing challenges when safeguarding lives, homes and businesses. So how can we in the insurance industry help reduce this risk? At RSA, we have been using some very modern methods to deal with the potentially deadly consequences of these two elements.

The power of fire and water are evident and yet the statistics remain startling: in 2014, Sweden lost almost 250 lives through either household fires or drowning accidents. These are real families experiencing real tragedy.

As an insurance business, we believe raising awareness to help avoid fatalities is a key part of our role. Seventeen Swedish homes experience fires every day, meaning 10% of all families have faced a fire incident in their house at some time. Despite those figures, we know that very few people are prepared for the eventuality.

Just 4% of households ever run a fire drill. Yet knowing how to leave the building quickly and safely has benefits for everyone, particularly children, who often put themselves at greater risk by seeking out hiding places instead of exit points.

To engage today’s children about the importance of exiting safely from a fire, our Swedish business, Trygg-Hansa, designed an online game. In The Fire Race, the player navigates their route through a burning home to safety. Along the way, young people learn the do’s and don’ts of escaping a house fire, unlocking hints and advice.

When we turned our attention to water safety, it was to a very different demographic. We found the majority of water accidents were the result of alcohol use, particularly amongst men over 50.

In Sweden, many people traditionally swim at midsummer whilst celebrating winter’s end. Some swim after drinking and 2014 saw the highest number of drowning fatalities for 12 years. So just before midsummer, we launched our Don’t Drink and Dive campaign, featuring a video highlighting the dangers of drinking and swimming.

How successful were our two campaigns? Over 30,000 children played The Fire Race and the app’s national media coverage meant our fire safety information reached over 60 million people.

During midsummer week, Don’t Drink and Dive was one of Sweden’s most watched videos, with over 1 million views to date and an estimated total reach of 250 million. Our water safety work won three European Excellence Awards – Best CSR Project, Best Corporate Film and Best Campaign.

Of course the biggest win is the impact we can have on saving lives. In 2015, after our campaigns, the number of deaths due to drowning amongst men over 50 decreased by 39%. The number of fatalities due to home fires decreased by 21%. Whilst we will never know for certain, we hope our multimedia messages made some small contribution to those reductions. We certainly intend to build on these projects and use new technology to keep engaging our target audiences.