In the United States, 93 million adults live with limited literacy skills, and one in five people speaks a primary language other than English (White, 2003). Fire prevention and safety education materials are typically written in English at a 6th -11th grade reading level. This means that many of these people do not have access to fire prevention and safety information written in a language and at a level that they are able to understand.
In addition, many have little contact with safety educators and may be reluctant to attend safety presentations. Some worry that they will have to admit that they cannot read. Others may have a deep-seated distrust of people in uniform. And some just don't have any time left after working, taking care of their families, and attending adult education classes. Without fire safety and prevention education, these adults and their families are at a greater risk for loss, injury, or death due to fire (Gielen, McDonald, & Piver, 2007).
ProLiteracy's Keys to Safety Campaign is a national effort that seeks to change these statistics by promoting fire prevention and safety education through local organizations that serve adults with limited literacy or English language skills, and by encouraging these organizations to work together with their local fire departments or fire safety educators to reach adult learners and their families.
The project was made possible with funding from DHS/FEMA’s Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants and assistance from the Home Safety Council, the Syracuse Fire Department, Onondaga County 9-1-1, and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
The Keys to Safety Campaign has three goals:
- To increase the capacity of adult literacy and basic education programs to teach key fire prevention and safety messages to the adults they serve.
- To help create lasting partnerships between programs and local fire departments, providing an opportunity for fire departments to share important safety messages with the adult learners served by the programs.
- To reach adults with limited literacy or English language skills with life-saving fire prevention and safety information.
This website includes free materials programs can download and use to organize Keys to Safety activities in their communities, independently or in collaboration with area fire departments.
Keys to Safety Campaign Materials: The Keys to Safety materials include promotional items designed that programs can use to launch a local awareness effort, as well as tip sheets and lessons that can be used to teach key safety messages to adult learners.
Home Safety Literacy Project Instructional Kit: The Home Safety Literacy Project Kit includes easy-to-read home safety materials suitable for instructors or tutors to use with adult students. The kit was developed and tested by the Home Safety Council, Oklahoma State University Fire Protection Publications and ProLiteracy through previous Fire Prevention and Safety grants
Gielen, A.C., McDonald, E.M., & Piver, J. (2007). Fire and Life Safety Education in U.S. Fire Departments: Results of a National Survey, Final Report to the Home Safety Council. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.
White, S. (2003). The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). (NCES 2003 -495r). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.