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Home Safety Council’s® new injury prevention education program offered to fire and life safety educators and preschool teachers at no charge.

Fire and life safety educators will soon have free access to a comprehensive new teaching tool to support local early-education safety outreach: the Home Safety Council’s (HSC) Start Safe: A Fire and Burn Safety Program for Preschoolers and their Families.

The Home Safety Council developed the program with support from a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Office of Domestic Preparedness. Its partners include the National Head Start Association, Weekly Reader Custom Publishing, Oklahoma State University’s Fire Protection Publications, and ProLiteracy.

“We created Start Safe in response to the higher risk that preschool-aged children have of being seriously injured by home fires and burns, especially in low-income families,” says HSC President Meri-K Appy. “This is a vitally important target population, yet our 2007 survey of U.S. fire departments found that 80 percent of fire safety education is done through elementary schools, with very few using curricula to target young children. Start Safe will help fire departments bridge that gap and reach more preschoolers and their families with life-saving fire and burn prevention messages.”

The program’s resources are developmentally appropriate for preschool classrooms and the materials are presented in both English and Spanish. Take-home materials for parents and other caregivers are written in plain text to ensure readability. The program includes comprehensive expert guidance developed specifically for fire and life safety educators as well as teaching guidance designed for preschool teachers and administrators. A special focus is on helping the parents and caregivers of young children understand what they can do at home to keep their families safe from fires and burns.

A national Start Safe training program will be conducted by HSC in Orlando, Florida, April 27-28, 2009. Funded in part through a generous donation from Tyco International, the training will bring together 13 teams of Head Start teachers, parents and fire and life safety educators to introduce them to the Start Safe program and provide best practices for implementation.

The Home Safety Council will formally evaluate the Start Safe program during a 10-week pilot test and use the findings to revise the guidance materials for program implementation. Start Safe has been distributed to 6,700 preschool classrooms across America, and in August 2009, the free program will be offered to the fire service through HSC’s Expert Network resource: www.homesafetycouncil.org/expertnetwork.

“It’s wonderful to see fire and life safety educators already working to utilize this new teaching tool across the country,” says Appy. “One of the most ambitious efforts underway is a state-wide implementation being led in North Carolina by the Jaycee Burn Center with support from Touchstone Energy. Along with local partners, the Jaycee Burn Center will deliver Start Safe to preschools in low-income areas across the state.”

Learn more about Start Safe by visiting www.homesafetycouncil.org/startsafeprogram.

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