FIRST 5 Update: Water Safety in Riverside County


This year alone, four children through age 5 have drowned and 28* have had a near drowning experience.

This summer, First 5 Riverside grantees – The YMCA of Riverside County and the Riverside University Health System Public Health’s Injury Prevention Services provided swim lessons, water safety information and CPR training to help avoid senseless tragedy.  The Commission also recently approved grant funding for the Desert Healthcare Foundation‘s Ready Set Swim! Jr. program in the Coachella Valley, which will launch next month. Classes will be held at pools in Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Indio, Coachella and Mecca. Workshops and presentations will be held throughout the desert region.  See and share the English or Spanish flyer.

By the end of next summer 850 children and 1,700 parents/caregivers are expected to participate in grantee programs.

Stay connected with us for more updates and details.

* As of 8/17/16

Sienna Garcia

Know and practice the ABCs of Drowning Prevention:

 A is for ACTIVE ADULT Supervision – Maintain constant eye contact when your child playing in or near water. Most children under age 5 have no fear of water and no concept of death. Water is associated with play. Being intensely focused on your supervising duties is essential to your child’s safety.

Next are BARRIERS This includes installing a fence, gates, latches, alarms, pool safety nets and covers to effectively keep children safe. Multiple barriers should be used and tested frequently to make sure they are functioning properly.

And, finally, be proactive and seek CLASSES – to learn proper rescue techniques, how to swim and water safety practices for the whole family.

First 5 Riverside is a proud member of the Riverside County Water Safety Coalition. Get more resources at

Goodbye Spring Allergies, Hello Relief

Spring is in the air…and so is the increase in pollen causing allergies. According to Loma Linda University Asthma Programallergies affect 10 percent of children! 


As the flowers are in bloom and the days get sunnier, the pollen count rises. Pollen is the main cause of spring allergies. Other sources come from dust and pet dander. Some common symptoms of spring allergies includes: repetitive sneezing, a running nose, watery eyes and itchiness in the nose, eyes, ears and throat (you get the idea, a lot of itchiness!). 


Asthma and allergies go hand-in-hand. Pollen, dust and dander can also trigger asthma. Because of that, there is an increase in likelihood of asthma attacks during the spring. But most people with allergies do not develop asthma.

seasonal specials

  1. Dry clothes in the dryer: Don’t hang clothes outside to dry. This is how your children’s clothes gets coated with pollen!
  2. Windows and ventilation in the car: Keep the pollen out in the car by shutting the windows when driving. Also, by setting your ventilation to recirculate, it keeps the air moving around evenly.
  3. Shower at night: allergies are worst in the evening considering that your kids have been playing outside all day. Taking a shower before bedtime will wash off the pollen and keep your kids from bringing the pollen to their beds.
  4. Minimize morning outdoor activities: Pollen count is highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. So limiting your child’s outdoor playtime during those times can be really beneficial for minimizing their allergies.
  5. It’s not too late for spring cleaning: You might want to have your parenting partner, grandparents, caregiver or other relatives get the kids out of the house for this one. Vacuum carpets, wash all bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) and clean out air conditioner filters to get rid of dust mites in your home. Another place that dust mites likes to hang out is on your child’s stuffed animals. Try freeze cleaning! After cleaning the stuffed animals in a washing machine, kill the leftover dust mites by placing the stuffed animal in a freezer bag and freezing it overnight. For maximum protection, you can try spraying the toy with Lysol and then freezing it!
Got more questions about spring allergies and asthma? Loma Linda University Asthma Program and Riverside County Asthma Division are great local resources to get more information on this topic! Both of these agencies are funded by First 5 Riverside to reduce the negative impact of asthma and asthma-like conditions (like spring allergies) on children. Learn more about First 5 Riverside grantees.


You Asked, Our Experts Answered

Today I witnessed my sweet little angel hit a kid because she was frustrated or irritated. My child! How do I stop her from repeating the behaviors?

That is a great question! Our first instinct as a parent is to make our child stop the undesirable behavior immediately…saying things like, “Don’t hit!” or “Stop that!” However, we often end up seeing it again   stopand then repeat the same process, feeling like a fireman running around, putting out “fires” of misbehaviors over and over. Often we inadvertently reinforce the behavior by giving it negative attention, so it happens again when our child seeks our attention because the little angels live and breathe for our attention, positive or negative. As parents, we have to flip the coin towards the positive attention to shape appropriate behaviors. Here are a couple of ideas I give parents as I coach them.

  • Remind your “angel” of the simple rules right before the activity is set to occur. EXAMPLE: “We are going to play at the park with friends. The rule is to always use your nice hands. If you feel upset, it’s good to use your big girl words like ‘I need help’ or ‘please share with me’.”
  • The first time you see/hear your “angel” use nice words and keep her hands to herself, give specific praises to reinforce that behavior. GreatjobEXAMPLE: “Great job playing using gentle hands with your friends”, or “I’m so proud of you for asking for the toy when you wanted a turn, that’s being a good friend when you use your nice words”.
  • Use selective attention—ignore the minor misbehaviors, and then watch for the positive opposite behavior like a hawk, ready to dive in and describe what you like! Now you are giving positive attention to the acceptable behavior, rather than negative attention to the undesirable behavior. Ignore rough play with toys, and the moment your child is playing gently, offer reinforcement by describing the acceptable behavior. EXAMPLE: “You’re taking your time and putting the toys in the box gently”.
  • Be a good role model! Always, always put your best foot forward and be on your best behavior because your child WILL imitate you because you are the most important person in the world to them. Describe your behaviors that are appropriate, so they hear it, to reinforce learning. EXAMPLE: “I’m going to find another toy to play with while you play with the car,” or “ I’m waiting my turn patiently even though it’s hard to wait”, or “I’m keeping my hands to myself because that is what good friends do”.
  • talkDO THESE THINGS OFTEN!! Life is a 24/7 opportunity to teach our young ones the goodness we desire for them. NEVER miss an opportunity to help them grow positively! Our children aren’t born knowing how to behave; it is our job to teach them. I talk all day long to children and I enjoy it! Why? Because they LOVE hearing the good things about themselves more than they want to hear how about how bad they were today. The more you catch them being “good,” the less they will act “bad” to get your attention. Parents often feel it will “upset the apple cart” if they interrupt quiet play with their words, when in fact, the opposite is true! Talk often to your children, play with them, praise them, and watch them blossom!




Starr Ramirez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Riverside County Department of Mental Health Preschool 0-5 SET-4-School Program, a First 5 Riverside-funded program focused on providing social emotional development services. The Riverside County Department of Mental Health is one of two grantees providing services under the First 5 Riverside Growing Healthy Minds initiative.  Family Service Association also provides services.

Defeat Monster Mouth Early

Statistics show that caries (dental decay) is the most common, chronic childhood disease in the U.S. — five times more common than asthma, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).   Unlike asthma, caries can be prevented!

For National Children’s Dental Health Month, the ADA provides the following tips to help parents and caregivers brush up on the basics of keeping kids’ mouths healthy:

  • First tooth = first dental visit. When a child’s first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. Treat the first dental visit like a well-baby checkup and continue checkups as recommended.
  • There’s no such thing as “clean” spit. Caries-causing bacteria are passed through saliva. When parents or caregivers “clean” a pacifier or use the same utensil to taste food before feeding children, the bacteria can be passed along.
  • Brushing begins with first tooth. By the time children are 3 years old, most will have a full set of 20 baby teeth. Parents shouldn’t wait until then to start children brushing, which should begin when a child’s first tooth appears. Visit  for recommendations on how to brush, including how much toothpaste to use.  
  • Brushing doesn’t have to be boring. Keep a sticker chart to track and reward brushing, and play videos to get kids into the habit of brushing for a full two minutes. Get a free, downloadable sticker chart and videos at



monstermouthEach February, the ADA sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month, a national health observance that brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, other healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good dental health habits to children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others. This year’s campaign theme is Defeat Monster Mouth and features the McGrinn Twins, Flossy and Buck, who are fighting to defeat Plaqster the Monster.


The Loma Linda University Riverside County Dental Program is one of four programs funded by First 5 Riverside to provide low cost to no cost screenings, treatment and access to dental coverage for Riverside County children through age 5. Other grantees include Loma Linda University Special Needs Dental Care, Borrego Community Health Foundation (serving Nuevo and the Desert) and Palo Verde Unified School District in Blythe. Learn more about these programs and other First 5 Riverside grantees.