HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – In an effort to help reduce the infant mortality rate — which is higher than the state and national average in Trumbull County — a local fire department is doing its part to promote safe sleep practices.
The Howland Fire Department partnered with Baby Box University, a safe sleep education initiative, and became the first distribution site for the boxes in Trumbull County.
According to the latest data from 2015 released by the Ohio Department of Health, Trumbull County’s infant mortality rate of 9.6 ranks higher than both the state’s average of 7.2 and the nation’s of 5.8.
Baby Box University hopes to reduce those numbers through education and by offering the free boxes that double as a new baby starter kit.
“We want to make sure that parents in the area know that this is a good opportunity for them and their children,” Natalie Gifford said.
Gifford is an administrative assistant for the Howland Fire Department. She’s also an expectant mother, due any day now, and knows the importance of safe sleep for newborns.
“We want to educate the area on better infant safety,” Gifford said.
Chief James Pantalone is excited to provide Baby Boxes — simple, safe sleeping spaces for infants — to the community.
The boxes are inspired by maternity packages the Finnish government sends to all expectant mothers. Finland has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
“To think that this simple box, cardboard box…the statistics of saving kids’ lives with just a simple item,” Pantalone said.
To get a Baby Box, visit their website to complete a short class and print out your certificate.
Pick-up hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the station on Niles-Cortland Road from 8 a.m. to noon. If you can’t make it during those hours, you can always call the department ahead at 330-856-5022 to schedule an appointment.
Make sure you bring your photo ID and certificate from Baby Box University’s website when you go to pick up your box.