Infant Safety Initiatives

With the mission to reduce our local infant mortality rates as our top priority, the Healthy Start Coalition of Okaloosa and Walton Counties recently set out to address accidental causes of death among children and infants. Unfortunately, the number of child drowning fatalities and the number of children who die from heat stroke after being forgotten in a hot car is too high in the state of Florida and nationwide.

Our goals are to educate our community and provide tips to caregivers on ways to be water safe, as well as tricks to never forget their baby in a hot car. With the partnership of Cumulus Broadcasting, we were able to share this education in a way that was both creative and effective.

The following Public Service Announcements that were written by the Healthy Start Coalition and recorded by Cumulus Broadcasting were played over local radio stations throughout the months of May and June to relay these safety messages to the public on a large scale.

The following videos produced by the Healthy Start Coalition are now available on Be sure to subscribe to our channel for future informational videos.



Charlie's Kid's Foundation "Reducing Sleep Related Deaths One Book at a Time"

In 2018, seventy-one percent of infant deaths in Okaloosa and Walton counties were directly related to unsafe sleep practices.

Creating a safe sleep environment for a baby is as simple as A B C. Any time a baby is sleeping they must be Alone, on their Back, and in a Crib!

One initiative the Coalition has invested in to combat this issue is the Charlie's Kids Foundation book "Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug." The Charlie's Kids Foundation was founded in 2011, after Sam and Maura Hanke lost their son, Charlie, to SIDS. The foundation's goal is to reduce the SIDS mortality rate through education and awareness. The book "Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug" was created to teach parents and caregivers about the Do's and Dont's of safe sleep. Because books are often part of the bedtime routine, this board book serves as a safe sleep reminder to be used right before the child is placed in their sleep environment. Since 2013, the Charlie's Kids foundation has distributed more than 2.5 million copies of the safe sleep book worldwide.

At the beginning of 2018, the Healthy Start Coalition purchased 3,800 copies of the "Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug" book, 300 of which are in Spanish, and distributed them to four local labor and delivery hospitals in Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

The intent with this project is to give a copy of the "Sleep Baby; Safe and Snug" book to all new parents and have Labor and Delivery staff review the safe sleep education with them. Our hope is that parents will utilize the Do's and Dont's list on the back of the book and share this information with other caregivers who may be watching their child.

As of November 2018, all four labor and delivery locations are successfully distributing the book and have received positive feedback from parents.

We would like to extend a special thank you to North Okaloosa Medical Center, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Eglin AFB 96th Medical Group, and Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast for partnering with us and implementing this project in their Labor and Delivery Departments.

For more information on the Charlie's Kids foundation please visit


Healthy Start Community Coalition of Okaloosa-Walton Counties, Inc.
102 Beal Parkway SW | Fort Walton Beach, FL  32548
(850) 833-9284  |  Fax (850) 833-9484 

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