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OHSU researchers partner with women firefighters to protect children

Children younger than 5 are particularly vulnerable to fire- and heat-related injury and trauma in the home. Burns, scalds and electrical injuries can be catastrophic among this age group and often result in disfigurement and disability. To ensure moms have the information and skills they need to prevent these accidents and injuries, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has partnered with the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen) to create two free instructional videos. 

The 20-minute videos, funded through a Fire and Safety grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are available online in English and Spanish at safemoms.org.

“Ten years ago our division designed an NIH-supported occupational safety and health program for first responders called PHLAME. In ride-alongs, we noted that firefighters took the time to educate people, and women firefighters were especially effective in counseling moms about home safety and fitness. We’ve now translated those unique skills into videos for wide distribution to help moms keep their families safe,” said Diane Elliot, M.D., project lead and a professor of medicine, Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

The first video, “Home Safety,” instructs moms on how to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents in at home, including bathroom, kitchen and bedroom safety. The second, “Fitness for New Moms,” shows moms how to get in shape and avoid injury using simple techniques employed by women firefighters.

“We piloted the videos with moms with young children and the response was beyond our expectations — they enjoyed watching, learned new information, acted on the safety advice and wanted copies to show to their families and friends,” said Elliot.

iWomen members are distributing the videos through fire departments and fire marshals nationwide. OHSU’s Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine is working with Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, to ensure the 2 million women participating in WIC’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program have access.

“We especially appreciate partnering with the Oregon Women Infants and Children program. In Oregon, 1 in 3 children younger than 5 receive WIC services. WIC assisted in tailoring the messages for the targeted audience and will be helping distribute the videos to millions of U.S. moms,” said Esther Moe, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of medicine (health promotion and sports medicine) in the School of Medicine who worked on the project.

The videos were produced by Your Favorite Entertainment (YFE), a creative house and production company in New York City headed by Michael Goldberg, a former Lake Oswego resident. Sophie Medina, a bilingual firefighter with the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY), narrated the videos.

“iWomen appreciates the opportunity to work with such talented individuals at OHSU and YFE to provide a resource to women and children. We believe that education is critical to inform our citizens about the importance of fire and home safety as well as fitness and health to help keep our communities and citizens safe and healthy,” said Laura Baker, M.S., deputy chief of fire prevention for the Tucson Fire Department and iWomen vice president.

Linn Goldberg, M.D., head of the Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine, also contributed to this project.

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