Drowning, unsafe sleep, and abusive head trauma are the top three leading causes of preventable child death in the Tampa Bay area
TAMPA, FL. (Sept. 14, 2017) – Nearly 200 children in the Tampa Bay area died in the last five years due to drowning, unsafe sleep and abusive head trauma – all causes that could have been prevented. These are tragedies that can happen to any family, at any time.
September is National Baby Safety Month and the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign is urging parents and caregivers to learn and share important safety tips to prevent children from dying a 100 percent preventable death.
“While these dangers threaten the lives of Tampa Bay area infants year-round, National Baby Safety Month is a good time for parents and caregivers to double check that they are taking precautions to keep children safe from drowning, unsafe sleep and abusive head trauma,” said Kelley Parris, Executive Director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, one of the partner organizations in the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign.
Take a few moments to learn about prevention and share these life-saving tips:
Drowning prevention and water safety:
Over the last five years, more than 40 children under the age of 6 have died from drowning in our area. Young children can drown in as little as 20 seconds, and it often happens silently, as young children do not call out for help or splash around. Practice and share these rules for drowning prevention:
• Designate a “water watcher.” Lack of adult supervision in and around the water is the No. 1 reason children die from drowning. An adult should be assigned to keep their eyes on the child at all times when they are in or near water, and must avoid distractions such as texting or checking social media. Infants and toddlers should always be accompanied in the water and adults should stay within arm’s reach of the child.
• Never rely on floatation devices. Flotation devices, such as water wings, inner tubes or even life vests should be used only in conjunction with close adult supervision.
• Be aware of hidden hazards. A child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Everything from your toilet to your pet’s water bowl can pose a drowning risk. Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub and always drain bathtubs immediately after use. Keep bathroom doors closed.
• Enroll your child swim in lessons. Formal Swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent, and children can begin learning to swim as young as age 1. Call your local public pool or recreation center for more information about swim lessons in your neighborhood.
Safe sleep practices:
Parents and caregivers should never co-sleep with a baby, as infants are 40 times more likely to die in an adult bed than in their own crib. In addition to never co-sleeping, practice and share these rules for safe infant sleep:
• Remember the ABCs of safe sleep. The safest way for infants to sleep is Alone on their Backs in a Crib. This minimizes the risk of the infant suffocating, especially if they have not yet developed neck muscle control.
• Follow crib setup recommendations. Crib mattresses should be firm and fit snugly inside the crib’s frame. Sheets should fit tightly around the mattress and the sleeping area should be free of items that could cause a baby to suffocate, including blankets, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, sleep positioners and toys.
• Be prepared for naptime and bedtime away from home. If a child sleeps at a caregiver’s home, make sure they have a safe sleeping arrangement, like a crib or pack-n-play with a fitted sheet. Babies should never be placed on a blow-up mattress and should never share a sleeping space with another child.
Abusive head trauma prevention:
Shaking an infant or young child – even once – can be fatal. In most cases of abusive head trauma, or shaken baby syndrome, the parent or caregiver does not mean to harm the child, but lacks the skills to handle a stressful situation. Practice and share these rules for head trauma prevention:
• Understand that crying is normal. Crying is the way infants communicate. A baby may cry because they are hungry, need their diaper changed, are teething, are too hot or too cold, or simply because they are over-tired. Prepare for situations when your child might cry, and make sure caregivers know how to safely respond.
• Attempt to soothe the child. If the common solutions do not seem to be working, try soothing your child by swaddling them in a blanket, slowly rocking them in a chair, humming or going for a walk. Provide other caregivers with recommendations that typically work for you.
• Remember it’s okay to take a time out. If a child is crying and the situation becomes frustrating, it’s okay to leave the child safely on their back in the crib and step out of the room to regroup. Check on the child every few minutes to ensure they are still safe.
To learn more about preventing needless deaths among children in the Tampa Bay area, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
About Prevent Needless Deaths:
Prevent Needless Deaths is an awareness campaign that aims to educate people in the Tampa Bay area on how to prevent needless deaths among children related to water safety, safe sleep practices and head trauma prevention. For more information, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
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