Talking Points


Use the talking points below when discussing the different aspects of fire safety.

Escape Planning

  • Infants and toddlers cannot get out of the house on by themselves.

  • Assign an adult to each child when developing and practicing your home escape plan.

  • The key to helping school-age children prepare for a fire in the home is creating a plan and making it second nature by practicing it together on a regular basis.

  • Respect all fires, regardless of size. The main objective is safe escape.

  • The NFPA offers step-by-step instructions  


Smoke Alarm Installation & Maintenance

  • Install a smoke alarm in every room of the house including: basements and finished attics, in each bedroom and hallways outside of every sleeping area, and at the top and bottom of stairways

  • Alarms should be replaced every 10 years or sooner.

  • Change smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks and "spring forward" or "fall back". These are also good times to change batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms.


Fire Extinguishers

  • Fire extinguishers should only be used when the fire is small and contained, to create an escape path to safety, or when there is a clear exit behind you.

  • Always call the fire department before you try and extinguish the fire yourself.

  • Fire extinguishers are one part of a comprehensive fire safety plan.

  • Install a fire extinguisher within reach on every level of your home and close to the exits, including in the kitchen and garage. Include all locations where there is a potential for accidental fire.

  • Read the instructions and know how to use your extinguishers before a fire breaks out.


Use the talking points below when discussing the different aspects of carbon monoxide safety.

Overall Facts

  • Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.

  • 67% of Americans use gas, wood, kerosene, coal, or fuel as their major heat source.

  • Only about 25% of American homes have carbon monoxide alarms.

  • CO poisoning is a year-round problem. It can happen whenever fuel-burning appliances, tools or engines are used improperly or malfunction.

  • CO poisoning from improperly used appliances kills more than 200 people each year and sends about 10,000 to hospital emergency rooms.

  • Early symptoms mimic the flu: headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue.


Safety Messages/ Prevention

  • Install at least one battery-powered or AC with battery backup CO alarm on every floor and in sleeping areas. Test weekly by pressing test/reset button.

  • Install fuel-burning appliances properly, inspect annually and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Don't block or seal shut chimneys, exhaust flues, or appliance ducts.

  • Don't leave your car running in an attached garage or carport, even with the door open.

  • Don't operate gas-powered tools or engines, like generators, indoors or spaces attached to your home.


CO Alarm Features/Placement

  • A digital display feature shows the level of CO as soon as it is detected.

  • Peak level memory feature records the highest level of CO present, helping emergency personnel determine treatment.

  • Keep CO alarms at least 15 feet away from cooking or heating appliances to prevent unnecessary alarms. 

Answering Questions from the Media

In preparing for questions, anticipate what the interviewer or audience member may ask and have answers ready. Answer patiently and confidently, and don't get defensive. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Tell the questioner that you will get back to him/her with the answer. Get his/her name and number and follow up. 

The question and answer period is often a good place to refer to the key messages. Many times you can answer a question by emphasizing one of your corporation's key messages. The best rule to follow is to address the question asked and then transition to a message point to redirect the discussion back to what you want to talk about. Remember that you don't want your messages to disappear in the question and answer session. Your must return to them often.

Think like a Reporter

Think Like a Reporter Most people answer questions like a pyramid is built. A broad and strong foundation with additional levels in sequence building to a final point at the end.

You need to answer questions like an inverted pyramid. State your most important point immediately, and then add to it if appropriate. That is how a reporter writes a story - not in sequence or chronological order, but with the most important point first. When you do this, you will be thinking like a reporter. Reporters always think in terms of inverted pyramids. 

Successful interviews of any type are all about presentation. Somebody controls every interview. The best control technique is to be fully prepared. 

Broadcast Interviews: The Basics

Being interviewed for television or radio is much different than being interviewed for a print publication. In addition to preparing for the questions that may be asked, keep these steps in mind.

Be Conversational

Viewers and listeners will never understand your business as well as you do. That doesn't matter. What does matter is that you speak in terms they understand and which inspire them to take a desired action.

Be Brief

TV and radio are all about sound bites. And if your sound bite is re-purposed for use on a news web site, the shorter it is, the faster the download and the better your chances of getting your message heard. Say your message in a 5-to-10 second sound bite. Say anymore and run the risk of having your message edited, or left on the cutting room floor.

Be Clear 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. A good example of being clear is stating one of your messages. That immediately leads to additional questions that will allow you to expand on that basic sound bite with supporting examples.

Body Language 

We all use body language in normal conversation to make our points and involve our listeners. Don’t let nerves or the formality of an interview/presentation prevent you from using the same technique. Here are a few tips: 

  • Aim for good posture that displays your confidence. Do not lean on the podium.

  • Lean forward slightly when engaging an audience member, or when making a particularly important point.

  • Get out from behind the podium and into the audience if you can.

  • Maintain eye contact with the audience. Try focusing on one individual member of the audience at a time in different parts of the room.

  • In the event of a hostile or challenging question, physically take a few steps toward the questioner. It shows your confidence and control over the situation.

  • Be energetic. If your presentation style tends to be low key, you will need to make an extra effort to be more animated.

Bridging to Key Messages 

We all use transitional phrases in everyday conversation that we can draw upon to take control of a question and answer session. These phrases allow you to move smoothly back to your key messages, even from the most difficult questions.

Remember, always respond to the question that you are asked, then within your response, you can use a transitional phrase to make another key point or to redirect the session back to one of your three key messages. Here are some examples of possible transitions that will get the discussion back in the direction you want it to go:

  • "The bottom line is..."

  • "The key thing to remember is...?"

  • "The point that is really important in all this is...?"

  • "I do want to make a point..."

  • "I can’t speculate on that but what I can tell you is..."

  • "On the contrary..."

  • "And that is just a reaffirmation of..."

  • "I’m not the right person to answer that question, but I can refer you to the expert. What I can tell you is..." 

A Formal Speech

  • Triple space your copy and leave at least three inches blank at the bottom of each page.

  • Prominently number each page.

  • Don't staple or clip the pages together so that you can move smoothly from one page to the next.

  • Use a large bold font. Make sure you can read it from a slight distance. At least 16 pt. Font size is recommended.

  • Mark your script before you speak. Indicate pauses and underline words to remind you of special emphasis.

  • Before speaking, adjust the microphone for your voice. If you have a soft voice, get closer to the microphone. If you are loud and tend to overpower the microphone, position it to the side of your mouth. Best of all, ask for a lavaliere microphone that moves with you.

  • Push the script high up on the podium so that you don't have to drop your head low to read it. This will improve the fluidity of lifting your eyes from the script to the audience and back.

  • Be conversational and energetic.

  • Use hand gestures to emphasize your points.

  • Be as familiar as possible with your speech. It frees you to read ahead, make eye contact with your audience and adjust your pacing.

Media Guidelines

Remember these key steps when preparing for any public speaking or interview:

  • Reduce your message into three points.

  • Prepare responses to difficult questions.

  • Each question demands: answer - transition - message.

  • Keep it simple.

  • Don't ramble.

  • Be quotable! Start with a strong conclusion and then give the specifics.

  • Don't repeat a charge or pick up a reporter's negative language.

  • You are always "on the record."

  • Stay in control. Never lose your cool.

  • Do not speculate or answer questions outside of your responsibility.

  • "No comment" is a comment.

  • Be an accessible, reliable source.