Fort Lauderdale Fire Department Infant Safe Sleep Initiative Expands Throughout Broward County

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The Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department teaming up with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County, Inc., is providing local fire departments training in an effort to help reduce to zero the number of babies that die each year from unsafe sleep environments. Representatives from the Broward Sheriffs Office Fire Rescue, Coral Springs Fire Department, Pompano Beach Fire Rescue, Sunrise Fire Rescue and Tamarac Fire Rescue are attending a 3-hour class that is being conducted at the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Headquarters located at 528 NW 2 Street on September 26th and 27th. This information will be shared with their respective departments where similar programs can be replicated.

The Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department began this initiative back in April 2012 to help decrease the number of babies that die each year from unsafe sleep environments. In 2012 alone, 17 infants died in Broward County, 7 of those were in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Teaming up with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County Inc., a program was developed and training provided to Fort Lauderdale Firefighters in an effort to reduce the number of deaths.

When responding to a 911 call, firefighters are now trained to look for possible unsafe sleep conditions and offer the residence information in an effort to create a safer environment for the infant.

“Our mission is to reduce the number of preventable deaths to zero” said Captain James Carrol of the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department  “We developed a multifaceted action plan that specially trains personnel who will be responsible for on-site sleep environment evaluations, one-on-one education with parents and other caregivers and the distribution of Safe Sleep kits.”

In just the few short months that the program has been in place, nearly 30 infant home sleep environments have been positively impacted through this initiative.

Parents and caregivers are provided with a packet of information depicting illustrations of safe sleeping environments.  Parents will “Sleep peacefully knowing that your baby is sleeping safely,” reads the headline on the packet, which includes the following 10 guidelines for reducing the risk of SIDS:

1.  Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.

2.  Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.

3.  Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

4.  Do not allow smoking around your baby.

5.  Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.

6.  Use a clean, dry pacifier when placing your infant down to sleep.

7.  Do not let your baby overheat during sleep.

8.  Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.

9.  Do not rely on home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.

10. Provide “tummy time” when your baby is awake to reduce the chance of flat spots developing on your baby’s head.

“We want to spread the word to parents, grandparents, babysitters, childcare providers and other caregivers to ensure that everyone who cares for a baby knows the Safe Sleep Top 10,” Captain Carroll said.  “With the right training and community support, we can dramatically decrease preventable infant deaths in Fort Lauderdale and provide the tools needed for other fire rescue agencies to utilize as a model program in their service areas.”

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Source: Fort Lauderdale Fire Dept.