Revision and Redesign of Fire Safety Instructions

  1. In case of a fire, call the Hotel Operator immediately. Remember to provide your name and room number.
  2. Carry your key with you before leaving the room.
  3. Ensure that your roommates are aware of a safe fire assembly point outside the building.
  4. Before leaving, touch the door with the palm of your hand to ensure there is no risk of fire on the other side. If the door or the knob is hot, avoid opening it.
  5. If the door is not hot, kneel down slowly and open it.
  6. Check whether the hallway is clear before heading for the nearest exit. Avoid using the elevator!
  7. Crawl or keep your body low to avoid smoke and carbon dioxide.
  8. Stay on a clear path towards the exit. Count the number of doors between you and the exit.
  9. After reaching the exit, walk quickly but cautiously down the stairs.
  10. If you encounter smoke, proceed to a smoke-free corridor and head to an alternate exit.
  11. Try to notify someone if you’re stuck in your room. Call the Hotel Operator or dial 911 and provide your exact location to the operator.
  12. Signal to outsiders by hanging a bedsheet on the window of your room.
  13. Open the window to get rid of any smoke.
  14. Fill the bathtub with water and stuff hot towels and sheets around doors and vents.
  15. Bail water on any hot doors and walls with your ice bucket to keep them cool.
  16. Wet the mattress and place it up against the door. Hold it in place with the dresser.
  17. Keep everything wet.
  18. In case of any fire outside the window, pull down the drapes and move any flammable thing away from the window.
  19. Protect yourself from the fire and signal out the window for help. Avoid jumping from the room, especially if you are on the second floor.  

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Rhetorical Analysis of The Revision and Redesign of Fire Safety Instructions

            The revision and redesign of fire safety instructions was founded on my in-depth analysis of the old instructions on the basis of the general framework for writing effective and persuasive documents. This framework considers the rhetorical situation and design principles. The rhetorical situation generally consists of purpose, context, the audience, and the writer. As the writer, I looped back, revisited, rethought, reconsidered and refined the entire list of instructions to make sure that it would be persuasive in accordance with the context, purpose and audience. I continually revisited the steps of the emergency procedure and adjusted each stage through gradual improvements. Before embarking on the writing process, I recalled that writing is a form of conversation, and thus as I would write, I would do so for someone or for a group of people – the audience. Therefore, what I would write would be under the influence of my purpose of writing, my knowledge about the subject, as well as the expectations of the audience.

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The general purpose of writing and redesigning the fire safety instructions was to outline specific actions that occupants and managers of the building should take in the event of a fire or a comparable emergency situation. Additionally, the final draft would specify the actions that must be implemented to manage the fire or prevent the loss of lives resulting from the fire. Therefore, it was my task as the author to make sure that this purpose would be clear not only to myself but also, and especially, to the audience. If the purpose would not be clear, there would be a likelihood that the audience would not successfully receive the message. As such, I had to make several design decisions pertaining to the purpose. For instance, the first step in the initial set of fire safety instructions was not aligned with the purpose because it did not communicate the situation in a direct manner. It read “If there is any indication of a fire, call the Hotel Operator immediately. Give your name, room number and a brief description of the situation.” It is clear that the language used in the initial statement was not straightforward and embodied some degree of unnecessary wordiness as far as the purpose of the instructions was concerned. Hence, I redesigned it to a clearer and more purposeful statement “In case of a fire, call the Hotel Operator immediately. Remember to provide your name and room number.” As a writer, it is imperative for me to ask “why I am I writing?” I therefore mulled this question in every step of the safety procedure. The ultimate purpose was to instruct.

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Secondly, I considered the context of writing. The context refers to the some cultural, historical, political or professional setting in which the communication occurs. In this case, the communication would occur in the event of a fire or a similar emergency situation. Some of the questions I contemplated included: what will go on in the word of the readers that will affect their feelings and thoughts about the document? Does the intellectual content impose a burden of proof on the writer? Will my readers expect me to cite sources? Who was the original writer of this work? Does the reader have any background information they are familiar with? Notably, the way a writer writes relies on the context. For instance, the 9/11 terrorist attack altered the context for debates on terrorists. In this case, the context, which would involve a fire event, affects how I rephrased the instructions as well as how I organized each step and what instruments I used to deliver the message. In particular, the context influenced my tone of writing as well as the length of expressions I used, keeping them as short and informative as possible so as not to waste time in the emergency situation. An example of a concise instruction a wrote was “Carry your key with you before leaving the room.” The earlier phrase “Before attempting to leave your room, grab your key. If you family is with you, determine a meeting place outdoors so you will know everyone is safe” was overlong and hard to comprehend at first glance.

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Next, I keenly took into account the audience and their needs. In order for my writing to be extremely effective, I had to think about the target audience and adapt my writing approach to their needs, backgrounds, interests, and expectations. The main need for an audience in an emergency situation would be safety and a sense of security. Their expectations and interests would hinge on locating an exit or reaching a Samaritan. Consequently, I focused on delivering the message while taking consideration of these facts. Markedly, emergency situations can cause individuals to panic or become paranoid about their sense of safety. They therefore need some form of assurance from a list of instructions which reflect the voice of a professional expert. My tone of writing remained formal throughout the drafting process. I also adopted a commanding tone to give the reader a sense of trust in the instructions. Examples of instructions that embody these tones are “In case of any fire outside the window, pull down the drapes and move any flammable thing away from the window” and “Signal to outsiders by hanging a bedsheet on the window of your room.”

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It is important to note that safety instructions are not only drafted for emergency situations but also for education in a regular environment. For that reason, they need to personify a sense of authority and expertise. Additionally, an educational purpose implies that factors of background knowledge, expectations, attitudes, biases, and demographics may have a very negligible impact on the style of writing and the subject of the message. For instance, with regard to background knowledge, I included what my audience already knew about the topic. Similarly, all messages were included despite the audience’s expectation concerning the subject. Apart from the circumstance of the audience and their urgent needs, personal elements and demographics did not influence my style of writing owing to the fact that things such as ethnic and cultural backgrounds, political preferences, age, religious affiliations, gender, and professional background do not influence an emergency situation or safety.

            Lastly, as the author, I used rhetorical appeals to some degree to persuade the reader. First, I established myself as a credible source of information via appeal to “ethos” or simply, appeal to my own character. Three major prerequisites that I adopted in order to appear credible were empathy, good intention, and competence. I portrayed ethos through the use a formal tone and a consistent pitch. I also avoided all factors that affect ethos including the use of slang and vocabulary. Second, I appealed to “pathos” or emotional influence of the audience as little as I could so as to reduce the likelihood of causing an emotional imbalance in an emergency environment. As seen from the list of safety instructions, all guidelines are fashioned in a manner that will not influence the audience emotions. This is because emotions can alter judgements and more often accompanied by either pleasure, or pain. In the event of a fire, emotional breakdowns can lead to further injuries or even death. Lastly, I appealed to “logos” or logical reason by presenting arguments that appeared to be sound to the audience. The aim was mainly to create a persuasive effect through natural proof.           

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In conclusion, the revision and redesign of fire safety instructions was founded on my in-depth analysis of the old instructions on the basis of the general framework for writing effective and persuasive documents. As the writer, I looped back, revisited, rethought, reconsidered and refined the entire list of instructions to make sure that it would be persuasive in accordance with the context, purpose and audience. I continually revisited the steps of the emergency procedure and adjusted each stage through gradual improvements. I recalled that writing is a form of conversation, and thus as I would write, I would do so for someone or for a group of people – the audience. Therefore, what I would write would be under the influence of my purpose of writing, my knowledge about the subject, as well as the expectations of the audience.

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