We know that Smokey Bear is the spokes animal for wildfire prevention, and many people are familiar with Sparky the Fire Dog and his messages about home fire prevention, but have you ever heard of Quinn the Quarantine Fox? Unlike Smokey’s longevity in the public eye, Quinn is new to the public messaging scene. Firefighters are always concerned for your safety and think Quinn is a valuable member of their community risk reduction team.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) protects buyers from the dangers of household items. The commission issues recalls and teaches people how to avoid common, life-threatening emergencies like kitchen fires and ingesting poisonous cleaners. Now that a large portion of the country’s population is spending an inordinate amount of time at home, the commission has increased the frequency of its messaging and channeled it through a new mascot. According to leaders at the commission, Quinn the Quarantine Fox has helped them inform people about various home safety tips so they can avoid injuries and avoid going to the emergency room. Firefighters and first responders fully support this idea, because it aligns with their community risk reduction plans that are designed to keep residents safe.
Quinn the Quarantine Fox was created by Joseph Galbo. Galbo is charge of making memes for the social media department at the government agency. Educating consumers about home safety in engaging and entertaining ways has always been the focus of the commission. However, as the pandemic spread and shelter-in-place orders expanded, the commission was faced with a new challenge around relevant social media messaging.
Drawing on the idiom “clever as a fox” and using Wes Anderson’s character Mr. Fox from the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox as inspiration, Galbo carefully selected the commission’s new spokesanimal. According to Galbo, Quinn the Quarantine Fox is a character that people can attach to emotionally and was deliberately created using crude Photoshop skills. The fox symbolizes being clever and creative and staying on top of what’s happening around us.
There is much more to Quinn than meets the eye. The character also nods to the wartime idea of hunkering down in a foxhole. This is relevant as more people are staying home and preparing themselves for change. Of course, the agency does not want to frighten anyone, nor do they want to issue propaganda. It is difficult to strike a balance between being cute, but also being serious. The commission is always analyzing what is hurting people and it uses data from the its research department, surveys of emergency room records, and product injury reports to develop its messaging. Quinn’s Twitter posts so far have focused on topics like child safety, poison control, smoke detectors, anchoring furniture, and preventing falls.
Recent tweets from Quinn suggest that now is the perfect time to make and practice a fire escape plan. The fox also tweets about preventing window falls and how to keep children safe near windows. Other messages from the clever mascot include keeping your children safe by anchoring furniture and TVs to the wall so they do not fall and by testing smoke and CO alarms to ensure they will work in an emergency. Quinn also suggests that residents frequently check the commission’s website for safety recalls.
In response to the epidemic, Quinn shares a nightly message that people find positive and comforting. His face hangs in the halo of the moon and hovers over a new landscape each evening, and while his message is always different, a few lines of his text are always the same: “Good night, kind friends. Tomorrow we care for one another all over again.” Galbo hopes that Quinn’ messages help contribute to the idea that we are going to get through this together.
The commission continues to protect the public from dangerous consumer products through science, investigation, corrective action and communication. In response to the current crisis, the commission has created a series of Home Safety Checklists. For more information on what steps you can take for the safety of your family, you can follow Quinn on Twitter using his handle @Quinn_Colton or visit www.cpsp.gov.
By the way, Quinn asked me to remind you to put the Poison Control Center’s hotline number in your cell phone so you have it when you need it! The number is 800-222-1222.
This column was written by Jane Perkins, Fire Safety Specialist for the Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League and Captain of the Watch Hill Fire Department. If you would like to see a question answered in this column, please e-mail her at email@example.com.