Safe Communities FAQ
Safe Communities America, Inc. is the
non-profit, coordinating and accrediting
organization for Safe Communities in
the United States.


What is Safe Communities America?

Safe Communities America is a US-based accreditation program that recognizes communities who make a commitment to safety.  Safe Communities America is a founding member of the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network (PPSCN), an international movement made up of communities from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States all promoting locally-driven injury prevention. 

How does Safe Communities work? 

The Safe Communities model is a long-standing approach to reducing injuries and deaths.  It works through engaging local partners who care about safety, using data to identify leading causes of injury, making a plan to address the issues using proven methods , and measuring progress.  Safe Communities focus on six strategic issues: motor vehicle crashes, substance use, falls, workplace injuries, suicide, and emergency preparedness. 

If we become a Safe Community, does this mean that we can only focus our injury prevention efforts on the six listed strategic issues? 

No, it doesn't.  Communities differ and local needs vary.  Communities may find that they need to work in other injury prevention areas such as drowning prevention, residential fire safety, or violence prevention.  What is important is that communities (a) determine their needs based upon injury data, rather than relying upon anecdotal evidence or simple preference, and (b) that they implement evidence-based projects that address at least three of the six strategic issues.  Safe Communities are free to address any additional issues that are identified as important during reviews of their local injury data. 

What is a Safe Community? 

A Safe Community works together to build an environment where citizens are free to live to their full potential.  A Safe Community shares a designated geographic area; for example, a city, a county, a university campus, or a designated region. 

Who is involved in Safe Communities? 

Within each community a network of people, organizations, and institutions play a vital role in keeping one another safe.  The networks include representatives from law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services and rescue agencies, public health departments, faith-based organizations, healthcare providers, educational organizations, safety advocates, citizen groups, and businesses.  Every Safe Community has the support and acknowledgement of their local government's chief executive (e.g., mayor, county executive, university president, etc.) and other local leaders. 

At the national level, Safe Communities America is made up of the accredited Safe Communities within the US, along with representatives from the National Accrediting Center and the International Safe Communities Support Center.  

Why become a Safe Community? 

There are nearly 200,000 deaths from injuries each year in the United States.  That's one person every three minutes.  Becoming a Safe Community can help reduce the incidence and cost of injuries, promote residents' health and safety, and enhance community pride. 

The Safe Communities model provides an organized structure for planning, implementing, and evaluating injury prevention projects and programs within the community.  By bringing together a variety of stakeholders and partners, prioritizing activities based upon the most common and most serious injuries in the community (as shown by local data), using prevention activities that are based upon the best available evidence and current science, and monitoring the progress and results of prevention activities, the model allows partners to best allocate their available resources to address the most common and serious injuries in their community. 

Injury prevention works.  Research shows that: 

  • safety belts saved an estimated 69,000 lives in the US from 2006 to 2010
  • School-based violence prevention programs can cut violent behavior by nearly 30 percent among high school students

Furthermore, prevention makes financial sense. Studies have shown the cost savings and benefits of implementing preventive measures:

  • Battery-operated smoke alarms provide an estimated cost savings of $880 while costing only a few dollars per alarm
  • Child safety restraints provide an estimated cost savings of $2,400 but cost less than $100 per seat

Prevention programs lead to healthier communities, an able-bodied workforce, and ultimately to a community with a culture of safety.

What are the benefits of becoming a Safe Community? 

Some of the benefits of Safe Community accreditation include: 

  • Public recognition for leadership in public safety
  • Reductions in injuries through effective local programs
  • Potential reduction in health care costs
  • Being known as a community that actively plans for visitors and citizens to live and work in a community that values safety
  • Access to a growing network of communities sharing ideas and resources to reduce injuries
  • Opportunities to leverage and streamline community resources
  • Access to experts to help plan, implement, measure, and share your success
  • Membership in the Pan Pacific Safe Communities Network - a group working with the World Health Organization to reduce injuries, promote safety, and share best practices

Is there a cost to become accredited as a Safe Community? 

Yes, there are some costs associated with accreditation.  An accreditation application fee of $1,500 must be submitted to Safe Communities America when the community submits its letter of intent, stating its intention to apply for accreditation.  Once the community has submitted an application, and the application has been reviewed, the applicant community is responsible for covering the travel costs associated with having two representatives of Safe Communities America visit the applicant community.  During the 1.5 to 2 day site visit, the SCA representatives will verify that the community is ready and willing to assume the role and responsibilities of an accredited Safe Community.  Finally, the community is responsible for covering any travel costs associated with having 

Why is there a fee to become accredited?  

Safe Communities America is a non-profit organization composed of the various Safe Communities within the US.  The individuals representing the Safe Communities, the National Accrediting Center, and the International Safe Communities Support Center are supported by their community or center; they do not receive any compensation from Safe Communities America.  The application fee paid by a community seeking accreditation covers the costs associated with processing its own application.  A small portion of each application fee is also used to cover the costs associated with maintaining communications among the Safe Communities, such as this website. 

Because the individuals who perform community site visits are all volunteers, it is the responsibility of the community seeking accreditation to cover the costs of their travel to perform the site visit.  The same is true for the accreditation ceremony.  The National Accrediting Center and the site visitors work with communities to minimize travel costs for the site visit. 

The ability and willingness of a community to invest the relatively small amount required for the accreditation application fee and site visit is also an indicator that the community is genuinely committed to the principles and requirements of the Safe Communities movement.  Just as the existing Safe Communities and the centers support Safe Communities America by supporting the personnel who keep the network growing, new communities are expected to become active partners in the Safe Communities movement. 

Are there ongoing requirements to maintain or renew accreditation? 

Yes.  There is no annual fee or dues payment required to retain Safe Community status, but there are some requirements to maintain accreditation.  The local Safe Community coalition must meet at least twice each year, the coalition must review injury data and conduct injury prevention projects or activities, and the designated coordinator for the Safe Community must submit an annual report to Safe Communities America.  The coordinator, or his or her representative, must also participate regularly in quarterly Safe Communities Network conference calls. 

The Safe Community coordinator or another authorized representative of the community is expected to participate in the Safe Communities America annual meeting.  Participation in the annual meeting may be through electronic means, such as online conferencing, so the community does not have to fund travel expenses to send a representative to the annual meeting. 

Accreditation is granted for a period of five (5) years.  Communities must apply for reaccreditation during the fifth year of each accreditation period if they wish to remain accredited as a Safe Community.  The application for reaccreditation is similar to the application for initial accreditation, but the fee is reduced to $1,200.  If the community has been active as a Safe Community throughout the current accreditation period, there is usually no need for a site visit during the reaccreditation process. 

Does Safe Communities America offer financial support? 

We do not currently offer financial support to communities, but we continuously look for funding opportunities to share with local Safe Community coalitions that implement evidence-based strategies.  We are often able to provide recommendations and technical advice to Safe Communities that are seeking grant funding or other funds to support local injury prevention projects. 

What are the criteria for becoming an accredited Safe Community? 

Communities seeking Safe Communities accreditation must meet the following criteria:

  1. Sustained collaboration: Community leaders and safety advocates work together to improved the quality of life in the community.
  2. Data collection and application: Collection and examination of community injury data to set priorities.
  3. Effective strategies that address intentional and unintentional injuries: Use of proven and strategic approaches to address the most common and/or most severe injury issues in the community.
  4. Use of evaluation methods: Implement sound methods to measure progress of coalition-supported initiatives.

Click here for a detailed overview of the accreditation application process. 

What can I do as an individual? 

As an individual concerned about safety and injury prevention you can:

  • Determine if you live in or near a Safe Community; if you do, contact your local Safe Community coalition and ask how you can get involved.
  • Find a core group of individuals and organizations committed to safety and begin to organize a local injury prevention coalition.
  • Reach out to Safe Communities America for information on becoming a Safe Community.