St. Pete First Responders Volunteer with JWB to Save Babies’ Lives
Oct 25, 2023
While they are usually saving lives by responding to emergency calls, first responders from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue volunteered their time on October 25th to pack nearly 1,000 bags filled with items designed to save babies’ lives during sleep.
It’s all part of Sleep Baby Safely, a campaign created by the Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) that has cut infant sleep-related deaths in half since it launched in 2018. Given October is National Infant Safe Sleep Month, it’s also the perfect time to share with parents and caregivers the importance of protecting babies from suffocation during sleep, every night and every nap.
JWB launched Sleep Baby Safely with its partners when data revealed that, on average, a healthy baby was dying every month in Pinellas County. Over a 10-year period, our county lost more than 100 babies from suffocation due to unsafe sleep practices – this represents six empty kindergarten classrooms!
The Sleep Baby Safely campaign features consistent messaging, data-based facts and tips, and coordinated materials used by all Pinellas County birthing hospitals, doctors’ offices, parent educators, and first responders, such as St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. Learn more at www.SleepBabySafely.com.
“Suffocation from unsafe sleep is the No. 1 cause of preventable child death, not just in Pinellas County but across Florida and the U.S.,” stated St. Petersburg Rescue Chief Ian Womack, who is part of the campaign. “Our men and women are usually the first to arrive on the scene. It’s a tragedy that’s 100% preventable, and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to educate and prevent these needless deaths.”
Each year in Pinellas County’s four birthing hospitals, more than 7,000 parents of newborns are given face-to-face education and Welcome Baby Bags filled with life-saving items, including a Sleep Me This Side Up onesie, Alone-Back-Crib sleep sack, and more. The bags are packed by volunteers, like St. Pete Fire Rescue first responders, and filled with items to keep babies safe during sleep in their first year of life. View the Facebook album of the event.
In addition, and thanks to the leadership and support of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, the Florida Department of Health secured funding last year to expand the Sleep Baby Safely Campaign statewide, introducing it into eight additional counties.
ABOUT SLEEP BABY SAFELY: On average, a healthy baby was dying due to unsafe sleep every month in Pinellas County. In response, JWB and its partners launched the Sleep Baby Safely campaign which features data-driven facts, consistent messages, and easy-to-remember tips for parents and caregivers. Babies need to be protected from suffocation. Share three live-saving tips to sleep babies safely every night and every nap and learn more at www.SleepBabySafely.com.
• Follow Safe Sleep ABCs: Alone, Back, Crib. Always put babies to sleep alone on their back in an empty crib, bassinet, or Pack n’ Play. Remove all items from crib, such as blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and bumper pads. Use only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet. Use a one-piece sleeper or sleep sack to keep baby warm.
• Share a Room, Not a Bed. Bring crib into parent’s room for baby’s first year; room-sharing keeps baby close without the risks. Never put baby to sleep on soft surfaces like adult beds, couches, futons, recliners, or air mattresses.
• Stay Alert While Feeding. Set an alarm and always return baby to crib after feeding. Breastfeed if possible; it’s best for baby’s protection. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around baby and avoid misuse of alcohol or drugs.