At Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, our Child Advocacy Program is a proactive approach toward keeping area children healthy and safe. Utilizing a team approach, the purpose of the Child Advocacy Program is to raise awareness about social issues which impact children, provide educational classes, and partner with community organizations in an effort to promote the health and well- being of all children in our area.
Child Safety Seats
The parents are smart, well educated, and positive they’ve done everything right. Yet, their children are in danger while riding in the car, even with car seats and safety belts. It happens too often, according to experts at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Child advocates coordinate the hospital’s Child Passenger Safety Program, making sure every newborn leaves HealthPark Medical Center safely. They explain the importance of car seats to first-time parents and then take dad to the car to demonstrate correct installation. The advocates are Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.
The program is open to the public, and with an appointment, anyone can have child car seats inspected free. Improper installation, however, is NOT the only problem when it comes to car seats. Many parents do not understand car seat rules. Infants need to be rear-facing until they are 20 pounds and one year of age.
Another big problem—the fact that Florida Child Restraint Law says children 4-5 years old can use a safety belt, yet seat belts are a hazard for children that age. It is recommended that a child shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches ride in a belt positioning booster and that a child aged 12 and younger ride in the back seat, which is safest.
To ask a question or make an appointment to have car seats checked, call 239-343-6199.
Swim Safety Program
There are more places to swim in Southwest Florida than most places on earth; it’s no wonder, then, that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for Florida children. Pediatrician Nancy Witham says the need to educate parents about water safety never stops.
“It’s easy for someone to say, ‘Always watch your children,’ but toddlers are extremely active and can get into trouble even when you’re watching,” Dr. Witham says. “That’s why it’s important to watch your children and make the environment safe.”
Michele King, Director of the Child Advocacy Program for the Children’s Hospital, agrees with Dr. Witham.
“There is absolutely no substitute for adult supervision, but we need layers of protection. Have an adult present at all times, but you also need barriers like pool fencing, special locks on doors or alarms on doors leading out to the pool.
“Take a life preserver and a cell phone with you,” Michele continues. “The point is that there is something you can do. With layers of protection, if one thing fails another step you’ve taken can save the child’s life.”
Just one blistering sunburn as a child can double the risk of melanoma during your lifetime. More than one in four Americans develop skin cancers, making childhood education about sun safety a vital step towards reducing risk.
“You receive more than half your total lifetime sun exposure before age 19,” says pediatrician Irwin Kash, MD. “Children spend more of their day outdoors than adults do, and their skin is more sensitive.”
Dr. Kash recommends protecting children and adults every day with clothing, hats, SPF 15 UVA/UVB sunscreen and sunglasses with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection. Children under six months old may use sunscreen, but the best protection at that age is to avoid the sun.
“People think they only need sun protection in the summer or at the beach. They don’t think about physical education class at school or when kids are playing in the yard,” Dr. Kash says. “In our area, we need sun protection 365 days a year, whether it is sunny or cloudy.”
Bicycle Helmet Safety
Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except automobiles.
Universal bicycle helmet use by children ages 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries each year. A good fit is vital for a helmet to offer the best protection. Avoid buying an oversized helmet for your child to grow into it.
When selecting a helmet, have your child try on the size you think will fit and one size smaller. Select the smallest size that fits comfortably.
Learn all rules of the road and obey all traffic laws. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against traffic. Use appropriate hand signals when stopping and turning so others will know your intentions.
Be the best parent possible! Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida offers FREE specialized parenting classes to teach new parents how to focus on their strengths and set appropriate expectations for their children. Classes are held weekly and are facilitated by the trained staff of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida in Lee County and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County. They are available to all interested parents and families. The Parenting Classes help parents to learn, understand and implement the “building blocks” for strong child development. Refreshments provided. For more information click here or please call: 239-343-5890.
The Golisano Children’s Hospital Parenting Classes are made possible through the generosity of the Prendergast Family Endowment Fund.
ASK “Asking Saves Kids”
Every time we lose another child to gun violence, we hear outrage at the senselessness of the tragedy, but rarely do we hear about a tangible opportunity to do something to prevent more children from dying.
The Golisano Children’s Hospital Advocacy Program is participating in a national effort called the ASK Campaign. The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign urges parents to ask other parents if they have an unlocked gun in the home before sending their children over to play. It is a comprehensive national public health campaign, organized by The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In America, one out of three homes with children has a gun, and nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. Every year thousands of children are killed or seriously injured as a result. The ASK Campaign provides a practical opportunity for parents to protect their children from gun violence. Parents across the country are committing to ASK the simple question that could save their child’s life – is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?
To learn more about our Child Advocacy Program, please contact Michele King at 239-343-5890.