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Safe America Helps Americans Be Prepared, Not Scared

By Pamela Sosnowski

You may not be that familiar with their name or be aware of their involvement in many safety programs, but for over 20 years the Safe America Foundation has been educating American citizens to "be prepared, not scared."

The Marietta-based nonprofit partners with corporate, governmental, public and private sector organizations, and other nonprofits to help Americans become more aware of safety in their day-to-day lives at home, work, school, and play, and become prepared for emergencies. It was founded in 1994 as a response to a rise in infant deaths in car accidents.

"The catalyst for the foundation's creation was the sharp increase in infant car crash fatalities," says Len Pagano, Safe America's CEO. "Working with groups like Travelers Insurance and others, Safe America helped educate new working parents on the vital importance of using an infant and child car seat. By the end of the decade, the foundation had distributed and trained tens of thousands of financially disadvantaged parents on using car seats."

From there, Safe America began to broaden its focus on preparedness for natural disasters and planned attacks, something that began to take on more significance after the events of 9/11.

The organization's reach spans a wide variety of safety issues. Since its inception, some of the many accomplishments by Safe America include developing a national Safe America Month with Walmart, creation of the country's first "countering terrorism" brochures that were distributed through Lowe's stores, and advising Verizon Wireless on their cell phone safety program for teens.

Two rising concerns for Safe America in recent years are the threats of cyber security and identity theft. "When it comes to the former, making sure you have security/malware protection on your computer is a must," advises Pagano. "Many free software security packages today are just as good as the premium anti-virus programs."

"Identity theft can destroy a person's credit and have long-term negative financial implications," he continues. "The good news is that packages that monitor an individual's accounts and protect them from having their identity stolen are very affordable. Another option is to invest in recovery assurance with a company like CoreID. These recovery packages manage all the work needed to recover a person's identity and financial standing in the event their identity is stolen."

Besides cyber security, identity theft, and disaster preparedness, other programs that Safe America promotes include road safety, youth safety, and safety of our nation's veterans. The "Welcome Home, Heroes!" transitional assistance program provides information on resources for military veterans to help them readjust to life back home.

As society changes and more safety challenges surface, the foundation will adapt to keep up with emerging threats. Says Pagano, "Over the last twenty-plus years Safe America's focus has broadened and evolved, but we remain focused on our central mission of making people safer."

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