Florida Officials, First Responders and Community Organizations Launch Safe Sleep Campaign

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2013

Whitney Ray, DCF Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450
DOH Office of Communications, (850) 245-4111

Florida Officials, First Responders and Community Organizations Launch Safe Sleep Campaign
Babies Should Sleep Alone, on their Backs and in a Crib

Tallahassee, Fla.— So far this calendar year, 95 infant deaths related to unsafe sleep have been reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline. In an increased effort to prevent these tragedies, today Florida government agencies, state officials including Representative Gayle B. Harrell (R-Stuart) and Representative David Santiago (R-Deltona), community organizations, medical professionals and first responders came together to launch The Safe Sleep Campaign.

“The very sad reality is that unsafe sleep deaths happen in every community across the state. We are glad that so many partners have come together to support the prevention of these senseless tragedies. The dedication to this cause is inspiring, and together we can make a difference in the lives of so many children and families,” Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said.

“Moms and dads want to protect their babies as they sleep,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Babies are safest when monitored in their cribs without stuffed animals or blankets.”

The Safe Sleep Campaign expands on successful programs implemented by Ft. Lauderdale Fire-Rescue and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies of Broward County and Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The campaign will provide free online continuing education training to first responders about how to identify unsafe sleep situations and take preventative measures. First responders will also receive free printed materials to distribute to families. The program was tested at the local level by the Tallahassee Fire Department and has received support and participation from first responder and community organizations statewide.

“I am very proud to be part of this effort to highlight the significance of Safe-Sleep Practices in further reducing infant mortality in the State of Florida. This was the exact intent of adding the Safe-Sleep language to my bill this past session. I am glad to see many of the agencies that deal with this problem coming together with a common purpose,” Representative Santiago said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep ALONE, on their BACKS and in a CRIB. Cribs should be clear of items like blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, strings/cords, sleep positioners and bumper pads. Babies should sleep in their own cribs, as the risk of infant death is 40 times higher for babies who sleep in adult beds.

The campaign encourages the public to donate new Pack ‘n Plays (portable cribs) to designated fire, emergency and law enforcement stations. The cribs will be distributed by Healthy Start. The campaign launch coincides with September as Infant Mortality Awareness Month and October as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) Awareness Month.

For more information, free resources, designated pack n play drop-off locations, video PSAs, an interview with a mother impacted by unsafe sleep and a full list of partners, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com/SafeSleep.