Groups Focusing on Childhood Injuries Merge

Two major organizations that have long shared similar missions will combine efforts soon.

The merger of the Home Safety Council and Safe Kids Worldwide will strengthen the focus of preventing injuries to children, said Meri-K Appy, president of the HSC.

Appy, a longtime safety advocate, will become president of Safe Kids USA, the new organization.

"This is a match made in heaven," Appy said with a laugh in a telephone interview Tuesday. "We've both been doing similar things to prevent childhood injuries."

Appy said Safe Kids has always had a strong relationship with fire and life safety educators. "We are excited to be able to partner with the more than 300 coalitions that Safe Kids has nurtured"

In a prepared statement, Safe Kids Worldwide President Mitch Stoller said: "Home Safety Council is a well-respected organization with strength in home injury prevention that complements Safe Kids' programming strengths in child passenger, pedestrian and recreational safety. We're excited about the prospects of moving forward together, particularly the capability we will have to better serve at-risk audiences."

Appy said the merger talks have been ongoing for about a year. "We took a business approach. What was the outlook for the long-term future? Both of us have been working on preventing injuries"

With both groups bringing partnerships to the table, she said she considers it a win-win.

"We'll have a stronger delivery system."

The opportunity to work with people around the world on issues involving child safety is exciting, she said. "We will share strategies and will have more resources readily available as we work to keep kids and families safe."

Two projects funded by AFG grants will be launched early next year as well.

One -- the Expert Network Academy -- is geared for fire and life safety educators.

The program is divided into modules, and will provide instructors with information about risk prevention tips, there will be statistics as well as other educational opportunities. There also will be downloadable tools.

"The HSC and the IAFC partnered to obtain a survey of chiefs about their public safety education programs. They said while they would like their instructors to have more training, their budgets would allow for it."

That's when the HSC stepped up, and obtained the $1M AFG grant.

The second program set to launch -- Start Safe -- involves firefighters working with National Head Start officials to prevent injuries in high-risk families.

Appy said early results are very encouraging. The effort focuses on parents and caregivers as statistics show that low income families are at a higher risk for injuries.

People that have been involved in similar programs have indicated they are conducting home exit drills and have installed smoke alarms.

"We are re-releasing the program in January. With the new resources available and broadening our base, we're certain it will strengthen it."

Two other HSC board members -- Dennis Compton and Carmine Schiavone -- will assume similar roles with Safe Kids USA next year.