A Mobile Safety Center will be traveling the streets of Baltimore next year with the goal of making injury prevention information and safety products more accessible to families. The center--a brightly painted tractor-trailer--is designed as a house on wheels and will simulate the hidden injury risks lurking in every home.
Launched by the Johns Hopkins Children's Safety Center, a service of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, it is one of two new initiatives to keep children safe from unintentional injury, which is the leading cause of death nationwide for children. The second is the release of the Johns Hopkins Children's Safety Center Replication Guide, which will help child advocates create safety programs in their own communities.
Both initiatives were announced at a news conference, held June 20 at the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel, that marked the beginning of a daylong injury prevention symposium, "Models of Safety," which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and its ongoing efforts with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Hopkins. Injury prevention researchers and practitioners from the region discussed model injury prevention research, policies and programs and the importance of strong partnerships between academic research, public health practitioners and the community.
The Mobile Safety Center is a cooperative project between the Baltimore City Fire Department, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and is based on the success of the Johns Hopkins Children's Safety Center, located in the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Earlier this year, an assessment of the Safety Center, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that parents of young children who visited the center were twice as likely to observe safety practices in their homes than those who did not.
"The Mobile Safety Center will allow us to provide potentially life-saving education and safety products to many more families throughout Baltimore," says Eileen M. McDonald, program director of the Children's Safety Center and assistant scientist in health policy and management at the Bloomberg School.
The 40-foot Mobile Safety Center, funded in part by a grant from BP, contains a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and stairway that illustrate potential hazards in a typical house. In addition, a smoke generator and heating elements will simulate conditions during a fire. Instructors will use the facility to illustrate for children and parents the proper safety techniques for avoiding burns, falls, strangulation, poisoning and other unintended injuries. The trailer also will carry an inventory of safety products, including gates, cabinet locks, bike helmets and car seats, that will be sold at below-retail costs.
"Our mission is to promote the safety of children and families by delivering fun, interactive education and affordable safety products to the community," says Andrea C. Gielen, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and professor of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School. "Every year more than 1,000 Baltimore children are hospitalized as a result of an injury--that's almost three children every day who do not need to be suffering from these preventable injuries."
The Mobile Safety Center is scheduled to be on the road in fall 2003.
The 65-page Johns Hopkins Children's Safety Center Replication Guide, published with support from the Lowe's Safety Council and released June 20, contains step-by-step instructions to help communities develop safety centers similar to the one in Baltimore.
In the United States, 6,700 children die and another 50,000 are disabled from unintentional injuries each year.
The day's celebration concluded with a dinner at the Peabody Library honoring Susan Baker, a professor in the Bloomberg School, who is a pioneer in injury prevention and the first director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.