Thursday, May 28, 2009

Storm Preparedness for Families with Children

As Floridians enter into hurricane season it’s important to remember that children probably will need special care and attention during this time. Children’s fears can stem from their busy imaginations, and adults should take their feelings seriously.

When talking to your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. Be aware that after a disaster, children most fear that:

  • They will be separated from family, and they will be left alone;
  • The event will happen again; or
  • Someone will be injured or killed.

Assemble a kit for your child, including:

  • A few favorite books, crayons and paper
  • Puzzles, a board game, deck of cards
  • Two favorite small toys, such as a doll or action figure, a stuffed animal
  • Favorite blanket, pillow
  • Pictures of family and pets
  • Other special items that will comfort children

Children’s immunizations should be up-to date to protect from vaccine-preventable diseases, including an unexpected outbreak during a disaster. Keep a copy of your children’s complete immunization histories in your disaster kit attached to the family emergency information. All family members should also record the date of their last tetanus-diphtheria shot in this record as well.

Communicating with children about disasters

Here, from the Pinellas County Health Department, are some tips on communicating with children and adolescents during an emergency situation:

  • Remember that your words and actions can provide reassurance to a child who feels afraid.
  • Assure your children that the family is safe. Make sure children know that the family circle is strong.
  • Share your family disaster plan, so that children know that you’ve taken steps to ensure their safety.
  • Discussion is critical. Adults need to help children understand the emergency or disaster. More information is available at

For more information, please contact your pediatrician, health care provider, local county health department or visit or The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557

The mission of the Pinellas County Health Department is to promote, protect and improve the health and safety of our community through public and private partnerships in an environment that respects diversity.

Safe Steps to Protect Florida's Children

A Parent's Guide to Online Safety, Child Abduction, and Runaway Issues

Message from the Office of the Attorney General

Parents and Guardians, The safety of Florida’s citizens, especially our most vulnerable, is a top priority of the Office of the Attorney General. It is for this purpose that we are presenting a new tool that deals with the safety of our children. 

SAFE STEPS is designed with parents in mind as they pursue their primary responsibility of protecting the youngest members of their family. Over the past year, we went into elementary schools throughout the state to train children - as well as their parents - on child abduction prevention strategies. They were introduced to the concept of a “bad stranger” based on a person’s actions instead of their appearance. An important area where parents must be involved with their children is the use of the Internet. It is not uncommon for young children to fall prey to Internet predators who have the influence and the ability to lure children into situations and circumstances that are harmful. News reports have detailed instances where a child has been lured out of their home, across state lines, and even across international borders. SAFE STEPS can assist in minimizing the risks so that families will not suffer a similar fate. This publication contains valuable information and resources that may be of assistance to you and your children. We hope you find this useful. 

Office of the Attorney General PL-01, 
The Capitol Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050 

Child Car Seat Guidelines

Give children the best protection as long as possible - Child car seats protect well, but only if used correctly.

* Babies up to 20 lbs. (and under one year of age) should use a rear-facing Infant Seat.

* Babies weighing 20 lbs. before one year of age, or if baby’s head is one inch from top of Infant Seat should use a rear-facing Convertible Seat that goes to 30 lbs. or more.

* Children over one year of age (20-40 lbs.) should use a Forward-Facing Seat with harness.

* Children over 40 lbs. (to a maximum of 80-100 lbs.) should use a Booster Seat to make the lap and shoulder belt fit properly.

* Use Booster Seat until child is about 4/9” tall or can pass the 5-Step Test:

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the lap belt stay on the top part of the thighs?
  4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the chest and shoulder?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

For more detailed information, visit American Academy of Pediatrics’ Car Seat Safety Guide at

Monday, May 25, 2009

National Hurricane Preparedness Week May 24th-30th

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. Hurricane Preparedness Week during 2009 will be held May 24th through May 30th.

The goal of this Hurricane Preparedness Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water. Visit the website at Hurricane Preparedness Week to learn more about getting prepared for the upcoming storm season.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clothes To Kids, Inc. Plays a Critical Role in the Community

Here is a grat community resources for you to consider. 

Clothes To Kids, Inc. provides new and quality used clothing to low-income, school-age children in Pinellas County, free of charge. In 2008 a total of 9,013 wardrobes were distributed as well as 44,728 pairs of socks, 43,886 pairs of underwear, 35,052 pants/shorts, 4,079 jackets and 7,424 pairs of shoes. For more information visit their website at

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

There was a day when parents only had to worry about "Street Smarts". If our kids had Street Smarts we didn't have to worry. Then along came the Internet. The Internet is a wondrous tool. It exposes our children to new ideas, cultures and people. But, it also exposes them to dangers.

In addition to resting a bit easier knowing that you have educated your kids to stay safe you will have the satisfaction of being involved in this increasingly important part of their lives. In today's hustle and bustle and with computers and the Internet becoming such an important part of all of our lives, it's a journey you can take together. The Internet really is presenting parents with the opportunity for "quality time for the new millennium."

Online Safety Guidelines for Parents

  1. Personal information stays personal. While this is an important rule for children it's also an important rule for parents. Giving information on your family and your children to the wrong person could be dangerous.
  2. Make sure your child doesn't spend all of his or her time on the computer.
  3. People, not computers, should be their best friends and companions.
  4. Keep the computer in a family room, kitchen or living room, not in your child's bedroom. This way parents can monitor what is happening when the child is online. Knowing you are watching, kids are less likely to put themselves in risky situations and you can safely oversee what's going on.
  5. Learn enough about computers so you can enjoy them together with your kids.
  6. Watch your children when they're online and see where they go.
  7. Make sure that your children feel comfortable coming to you with questions. This should apply to all situations including the computer. If your children feel they can trust you they are more likely to come to you with tough problems and questions.
  8. Keep kids out of chatrooms or IRCs unless they are monitored.
  9. Encourage discussions between you and your child about what they enjoy online. This way you can direct your children to safe sites that fit in with their interests and it helps our children like we want an active role in their lives.
  10. Discuss these rules, get your children to agree to adhere to them, and post them near the computer as a reminder.
  11. Help them find a balance between computing and other activities.
  12. Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer.
  13. Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends.
  14. Warn them that people may not be what they seem to be. I can say I'm a 12 year old boy named Billy but I'm not. The Internet provides a cover for people to put on whatever persona's they desire. Predators often pose as children to gain our children's trust.
  15. Passwords: Don't give out your passwords and change them frequently.

Excerpt from

Florida Kid Care

What Is Florida KidCare?

Florida KidCare is a new health insurance program for Florida children age 0-18. There are several types of insurance within KidCare to meet the needs of your child.

Who's Eligible?

  • Children age 0-18 who don't have health insurance now
  • Your child may be eligible even if both parents work
  • Families may make application for unborn children prior to the birth of the baby so that coverage can begin at birth

How Do I Apply for My Child?

The application process consists of completing a simple, one page form. The form can be obtained from the Pinellas County Health Department, the Healthy Kids office, the school, the Department of Children & Families or by calling 1-888-540-KIDS (1-888-540-5437). The application is quick and easy to fill out. If you have any questions or difficulties, call our toll-free hotline.

How Much Does It Cost?

  • Some families pay $20 a month
  • Some families pay more or none at all

What Types of Things (or Benefits) Are Covered by Florida KidCare?

Florida KidCare offers a complete set of health benefits for your child, such as:

  • Doctor's visits
  • Hospital care
  • Prescribed drugs
  • Lab tests
  • Behavioral or mental health

Who Provides Health Care?

Florida KidCare uses licensed health care providers and health plans who provide high-quality care to your children.

Important Numbers to Call:

Call either Florida KidCare at 1-888-540-KIDS (1-888-540-5437) or The Pinellas County Health Department at (727) 824-6900 or visit

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pfizer offers 70 medications free to unemployed

Pfizer Inc. is unveiling a new program Thursday that will let people who have lost their jobs and health insurance keep taking some widely prescribed Pfizer medications - including Lipitor and Viagra - for free for up to a year.

The world's biggest drugmaker will provide more than 70 of its prescription drugs at no cost to unemployed, uninsured Americans, regardless of their prior income, who lost jobs since Jan. 1 and have been on the Pfizer drug for three months or more.

Applicants will have to sign a statement that they are suffering financial hardship and provide a "pink slip" or similar employer notice. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 31, with medication provided for up to 12 months after approval - or until the person becomes insured again.

Starting Thursday, patients can call a toll-free number, 866-706-2400, to sign up, and those whose drugs are not included in the program will be referred to other company aid programs. Starting July 1, patients can also apply through the Web site, , which has information about the other Pfizer aid programs.

Free Glasses to Kids at Target

In case you have a child or know of someone who does (ages 12 and under), they can get a FREE pair of eyeglasses from Target.Target is doing a special promotion for their optical service. It could end any time but will definitely end no later than April 29th. Children 12 and under can get a free pair of glasses.

They need to bring in a valid prescription for glasses from their doctor and Target will let the child pick from about 40 different frames. They will place their best lenses in the frames which are non-glare and scratch resistant and normally sell for $200.00. There are no income guidelines. Any child 12 or under is eligible.

You can find stores with optical departments at to confirm they are participating before making a trip to their store.


Pinellas Schools have a zero tolerence policy for bullying due to a new state law. You can view that new law by clicking here.  If you or your child has been bullyed in a Pinellas County School, you should report the incident and you can report those instances here. If you are in Citrus or Hernando County Schools, please contact your school administrator to file a report.

Bully has been getting lots of press these days from schoool zero tolerance policies to state and federal legilsation conversations. 2-1-1 TBC has looked high and low to find some great resources for kids and parents reagrding bully. 

Stop Bullky Kids Now - The US Department of Health and Human Services

Publications Regarding School Bully

Help Children Deal With Bullying - Mayo Clinic Children's Health 

No Bully - San Franscico Initiative

Articles on Bullying in School - National School Safety Center

Bully Police - Watch Dog Advocacy Group

Bullies to Buddies Program - Bullying Alternative

Bullying: Tips for parents and victims

Every day, many children stay home because of bullying. Every child deserves an environment where they can develop without fear of aggression or cruelty.

Tips for parents:

  1. Be a good listener to your child.
  2. Be a positive role model - respect others and stand up for yourself when others don't respect you.
  3. Teach your child to walk away and get help from an adult if they witness bullying.
  4. Build your child's self confidence. Encourage them to set and reach goals.
  5. Use positive discipline and teach nonviolence.
  6. If you have concerns, consult a professional for support.

Tips for victims and witnesses...

Many children who are bullied keep it a secret. They may think telling will make matters worse, so know the warning signs. A victim may:

  • Seem quiet or depressed.
  • Have bruises or other injuries.
  • Come home with missing or damaged belongings.
  • Ask for more lunch money.
  • Loose interest in school or do poorly in school.

If parents learn that their child is being bullied, they can do the following:

  • Stay calm. Tell the child that nobody deserves to be bullied.
  • Ask why your child thinks he or she is being bullied.
  • Think of peaceful solutions together.

Encourage your child to:

  • Stick with a group. Avoid being alone in "target" areas like locker rooms, restrooms or empty classrooms, and avoid places where the bully hangs out.
  • Don't fight back or seek revenge.
  • Be assertive and confident. Use body language to show you are not afraid.
  • Agree with the bully. Say, "You're right." Then walk away.
  • Tell the bully to stop or walk away and get help from an adult. Report all bullying incidents.
  • Teach your child not to be a bystander. When no one speaks up, the bully learns he or she can get away with it.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

H1N1 Product Scams

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission are alerting the public to be wary of Internet sites and other promotions for products that claim to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.  The agencies are also advising operators of offending web sites that they must take prompt action to correct and/or remove promotions of these fraudulent products or face enforcement action.

“Consumers who purchase products to treat the novel 2009 H1N1 virus that are not approved, cleared or authorized by the FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza risk their health and the health of their families,” said Michael Chappell, acting FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “In conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission, the FDA has developed an aggressive strategy to identify, investigate, and take regulatory or criminal action against individuals or businesses that wrongfully promote purported 2009 H1N1 influenza products in an attempt to take advantage of the current flu public health emergency.”

Products that are offered for sale to the public with claims to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure infections caused by the H1N1 influenza virus that have not  been proven to be safe and effective for these uses must be carefully evaluated. Many of these deceptive products are being sold over the Internet via illegitimate web sites. The operators of these web sites take advantage of the public’s concerns about H1N1 influenza and their desire to protect themselves and their families.  These fraudulent products come in all varieties and could include dietary supplements or other food products, or products purporting to be drugs, devices or vaccines.  Such fraudulent products will not prevent the transmission of the virus or offer effective treatments against infections caused by the H1N1 influenza virus.

“The last thing any consumer needs right now is to be conned by someone selling fraudulent flu remedies,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “The FTC will act swiftly against companies that resort to deceptive advertising.”

Consumers are urged to contact their health care providers or legitimate medical supply services if they have questions or concerns about medical products or personal protective equipment. Consumers are also urged to visit the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web sites for more information about this emergency, and to determine which products the FDA has approved, cleared or authorized for use to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate or cure infections caused by H1N1 influenza virus. 

Consumers should also visit FDA's web site for tips about how to protect themselves when buying medicines online:

The two antiviral drugs approved by the FDA for treatment and prophylaxis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir).  Tamiflu and Relenza, in addition to their approved labeling, have Emergency Use Authorizations that describe specific authorized uses during this public health emergency.

For more information about FDA-approved antiviral drugs for influenza, see

For more information on CDC recommendations regarding use of antiviral drugs against the current novel 2009 H1N1 influenza strain, see

For more information about personal protective equipment see

At present, there are no licensed vaccines approved for this new H1N1 influenza virus.