#KnowCO: Technical Safety BC's carbon monoxide campaign
After carbon monoxide (CO) led to the tragic death of a BC family in the rural town of Ashcroft in 2017, CO poisoning awareness became a priority to message across BC. CO has no taste or smell and is a risk no matter the season. For these reasons it was determined that a year-long carbon monoxide campaign would be dedicated to raise awareness. The Ashcroft incident occurred in an off-grid community with limited access to traditional media. This was a crucial point in our decision to experiment with a variety of advertising and outreach activities throughout BC.
Ashcroft Press Release
Our campaign launch in March coincided with the anniversary of the Ashcroft CO incident. Our press release warned about the importance of having gas appliances installed and inspected by licensed contractors. This release targeted the rural, small communities of BC and was picked up by a number of local newspapers, including the Ashcroft Journal.
Digital Campaign and Partnerships
A parallel digital campaign was implemented a month later sharing the symptoms of CO and the actions to take if you experience CO poisoning. Most off-grid communities rely heavily on social and digital media so executing a digital campaign was necessary.
At the end of the month, our CO messaging had almost 400,000 impressions and we were exposed to several CO awareness groups via social media. A combination of social listening and our content being shared by several accounts helped us discover a very active CO awareness community on Twitter.
With the discovery of the Twitter CO community, we used the summer to focus on creating and placing our own content in the community. We wrote CO focused stories from various perspectives and tried to appeal to different segments (homeowners, pet owners, elderly, parents, etc.)
We also introduced the hashtag #KnowCO and used industry tags like #TestitTuesday (promoting frequent CO detector testing) and tagged influencers in our posts.
These actions on Twitter drove 900 site visits from just 40 tweets and our six CO stories had 1,400 page views. These results were encouraging and our digital campaign presented us with some some great leads, including an opportunity to share public safety messaging around CO at the Vancouver Fall Home Show.
Vancouver Fall Home Show
The October Vancouver Fall Home presented an opportunity to speak to and engage with the public in a more intimate way. Over 35,000 home owners and renters from across the Lower Mainland attended the show. Speaking to the cause and effects of CO poisoning, we transformed our booth space into a small kitchen and highlighted the dangers of improperly-installed gas appliances.
More than 4,500 attendees took our quiz about carbon monoxide. The results from this quiz provided valuable insights about the lack of CO awareness in BC.
Northern Health Screens
The results from the Vancouver Fall Home Show CO quiz revealed a knowledge gap when it comes to the basics of carbon monoxide. Seeing the importance of reaching more people across BC, we used the renewal of an advertisement slot to promote CO awareness. Messaging was displayed on hospital waiting rooms in Northern BC and Vancouver Island reaching on average 650,000 British Columbians every month.
Continuing CO awareness
Throughout 2018 our CO campaign reached British Columbians all across the province, in different media formats with varied messaging. CO is a tasteless and odourless gas making it extremely dangerous and easy to miss. Seasonality doesn’t affect CO and it can occur in a dense city like Vancouver or a rural neighbourhood in Northern BC. Even with the success of our 2018 campaign CO incidents still occurred reminding us the importance of continuing promoting CO awareness throughout 2019.