DA’s office launches child safety campaign

  • Safety posters designed by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Fatality Review Team to warn about the dangers summer poses for children and infants. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

  • Safety posters designed by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Fatality Review Team to warn about the dangers summer poses for children and infants. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

  • Safety posters designed by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Fatality Review Team to warn about the dangers summer poses for children and infants. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

  • Safety posters designed by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Fatality Review Team to warn about the dangers summer poses for children and infants. NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

  • SULLIVAN

Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2021 2:29:50 PM
Modified: 7/6/2021 2:29:54 PM

As summer brings scorching heat, regional officials are warning of the child safety dangers the season carries with it.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Fatality Review Team has launched a safety campaign this month aimed at informing people about the water, vehicular, window and sleeping dangers that young children face.

The Child Fatality Review Team is a state-mandated program that gathers experts from across disciplines to study infant and child deaths to determine whether they were preventable. The team issues recommendations for change to reduce such deaths, and looks to educate the public about how to avoid them.

“It’s really proactive,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in a statement. “It’s not punitive. We meet to talk candidly about what could have been done to change conditions if a death was preventable. We feel that could save young lives in the future.”

The team is made up of members from the Department of Public Health, Department of Children and Families, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the DA’s office, other law enforcement agencies and other medical professionals, according to Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Linda Pisano.

“Summertime brings a whole host of additional dangers,” Pisano, who is chief of the child abuse unit for the DA’s office, said in an interview.

This summer, Pisano said the team is hoping to draw attention to the dangers of leaving children inside vehicles in the summer heat for even just a few minutes, unsafe infant sleeping positions that increase the risk of death and the risk that windows can pose to toddlers.

The Child Fatality Review Team has created four posters in an attempt to educate people about water, vehicle, sleeping and window safety.

Around water, the team recommends actively supervising children, teaching them to swim, locking pool gates with regularly checked locks, fencing in pools, being mindful of koi ponds and waterfalls, and learning how to do CPR on a child, among other measures.

Regarding vehicle safety, the team is highlighting the fact that in just two minutes, the temperature in a car can spike by 15 degrees, increasing by 30 degrees after 30 minutes and 40 degrees after an hour.

“The temperature can go up so quickly inside of a car,” Pisano said, stressing that children should never be left inside vehicles. “People don’t realize how quickly that happens.”

People tend to open windows frequently in the summer, which Pisano said increases the danger of children falling out of them.

The team is advising people to be “window wise” by recognizing that screens do not protect children from falling. The team suggests opening windows from the top down when possible, locking unopened windows, using stops to prevent windows from opening more than 4 inches, moving toys and climbable furniture away from windows, not letting children lean on windows and reminding other caregivers about window safety.

Finally, safe infant sleeping conditions are a frequent topic the Child Fatality Review Team hopes to educate caregivers about.

Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and no bedding, pillows, padded bumpers, soft toys, blankets and stuffed animals inside the crib. Keeping homes smoke-free reduces the likelihood of infant death, as does having babies sleep near caregivers, though not in the same bed.

“So many people have no idea,” Pisano said. “If people only knew how often we’re looking at deaths of infants simply from rolling over on the child.”

The team’s public service announcement campaign began running this month, in time for the holiday weekend. It features posters about the dangers, and how families can stay safe during the increased dangers of the season.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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