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When I think of the word "community," I think of a place where people would want to be – a place of warmth and comfort that is calm and inviting. In short, a place that is safe. We are working to make communities even safer, and I am seeing noteworthy progress.
The National Safety Council Safe Communities America program is a unique accreditation program that recognizes communities that prioritize safety where people live, work and play and creates local solutions for local challenges.
After 10 years of rising injuries and injury rates in one community, the decision to seek SC accreditation was followed by a two-year decline in injury hospitalizations. An NSC study shows that nearly 300 hospitalizations may have been prevented, saving the community over $14 million in health care costs.
What's most exciting to me is the growth of the program. As of December 2015, we have 18 accredited communities as part of the Safe Communities America program. Those communities have come together to promote safety, reduce injuries, and prepare citizens for natural and man-made disasters. We also have an additional 17 communities interested in becoming accredited and eight more who have committed to accreditation. So in next 18 months, we could potentially see the number of accredited communities go from 18 to 43.
I look at all of these communities, those who achieved accreditation and those aspiring to it, and I am thrilled about our future. What might our country look like if we were to continue doubling the number of Safe Communities America-accredited cities? If we can be at 43 accredited communities in 2017, can we be at 100 communities in 2020 and at 300 in 2030? How many families, years from now, will have avoided the heartache of a tragic death as a result of their hometown deciding, today, that making safety a priority is both necessary and worthwhile?
Perhaps I am reading too much into the progress to date. Perhaps I am being optimistic. But what I do know is, when communities make a commitment to safety, their citizens are the beneficiaries, so I hope this progress continues for decades to come.
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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Donate to our cause.
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