Spring 2012 / VOL 4 ED 2
BERNSTEIN Law firm
A Letter from the Firm Dear Friends, Thank you for the great positive feedback I received from many readers of the Winter 2011-12 edition of The Safety Report. I sincerely hope you find this latest issue to be informative and interesting. By publishing The Safety Report, I am hopeful that an article in this issue helps you or a loved one avoid a misstep that could cause serious harm. This issue of The Safety Report contains informative articles and safety tips to help protect you, your family, your friends, and the community from preventable injuries. Do not hesitate to share this magazine with friends and family after you are finished reading it. I feel that anyone who is in a position to give back...should. Besides publishing The Safety Report, I am one of the founders of Lawyers Against Hunger, a nonprofit corporation to help feed the less fortunate. Last Thanksgiving, Lawyers Against Hunger provided turkeys to 700 families in financial straits from my firmâ€™s parking lot so that they could enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal. In addition to publishing The Safety Report every three months, I also blog on current issues of interest. Please go to my website at www. USASafetyLawyer.com and click on the blog section to read my latest posts. If you are reading someone elseâ€™s copy of this magazine and would like to be put on our mailing list, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. Bernstein Law Building
If you would like more information about my law firm, please go to the back inside cover of this magazine. Of course, you can call us if you have any questions at 405.329.1484, or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial, free, confidential consultation. Best wishes, and enjoy reading The Safety Report. David Bernstein
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inside this issue
On the Cover SPRING 2012
/ VOL 4
62 New Section
Sharing stories from everyday people whose lives have been impacted by others
32 Distracted Driving: 1 Second Can Change Everything Blink once or twice. By the time you’re done, life as you know it could be over. That’s how long it takes to get into a distracted driving accident. In this issue’s cover story, we take a sobering look at this trending topic and how to stop the problem from reaching epidemic levels—one person at a time.
2012: Year of the Recall?
Off the Couch and Into Action
Bringing Home Baby: 10 tips
12 Think Mold is Getting You Sick? How to Check 21 Dissecting the Popularity of Running Marathons 39 ‘Don’t’ Party Like a Rock Star 43 Is Spring Cleaning Enough? news you can use 16
Sexual Harassment: Still A Problem in the Workplace
The Single Traveler’s Guide to Hotel Safety
The Dos & Don’ts of...
Year of the Recall?
Look for mold to be a key factor
hen Novartis announced its recall of four over-the-counter medication brands in January, it not only took the hit of having to deal with the returns and concerns of 140some different products, but it had to announce a cost to the company of $120 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 alone. Since 2009, the American food industry has experienced a recordbreaking food recall every year. Peanut butter for salmonella in 2009. A halfbillion eggs for salmonella in 2010. Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in 2011. It’s unlikely 2012 will escape without a similar fate. Based on 2011 trends and consumer interest, mold could play a larger factor in 2012 recalls. In the third quarter of 2011, pharmaceutical recalls were at their highest with 40 million units recalled and a recall every single day. Six times as many food recalls were announced
04 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
compared to the previous quarter. The mainstream media now regularly reports on product recalls: from Toyota to strollers. Companies don’t like recalls. Consumers don’t like them. And the media often don’t understand them. As social media opens channels for the flow of information and reporters come to understand how recalls work, it seems every day consumers have a new recall that needs their attention. Based on 2011 data, consumers can expect a few common threads this year among recalls: Drug recalls will not slow down. Last year was a record year for pharmaceutical recalls. FDA enforcement reports documented 97 pharmaceutical recalls during the second quarter of 2011, a five-quarter high. After two years of constant recalls of hundreds of millions of units of Tylenol, Motrin and Excedrin, consumer eyes
By Stephanie Haller will stay fixed on OTC products while regulatory agencies will continue to increase oversight of retailers and manufacturers. On the rise? America’s food allergies. Food allergies are on the rise and even the slightest mislabeling of ingredients can have severe consequences. In July 2011, Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen made a personal declaration to focus on allergy-related recalls and allergylabeling. Her statement came in a letter to 8,000 inspectors in the field on why reducing a number of allergenrelated recalls should be a priority. “This rise is of particular importance to me both as a medical doctor and as a parent,” Hagen said. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service oversaw 27 recalls for undeclared ingredients between January and June 2011 with almost 75 percent due to allergens, a sharp contrast to the 32 recalls total for undeclared allergens in 2009 and 2010 combined.
Last year’s weather conditions will affect our food this year. Increased attention on the effect of environmental changes and food supply is to be expected in 2012, with new programs and data. The FDA started a project last year to identify strains of salmonella in pet food and to pinpoint ways of removing that food from the supply chain after findings found 1 in 10 pet food samples have some level of salmonella. Last year’s unusual weather patterns may have an impact on the prevalence of certain bacteria, mold growth and the discovery of new information, such as transmit methods. Listeriacontaminated cantaloupes were recalled in the summer—a discovery that came as a surprise, as Listeria has previously only been found in dairy products, according to the FDA. Due to the very public discussion and consumer concern over dog food recalls in December 2011 (due to a toxic fungus), pet owners are going to be more cautious about the brands they buy this year. It’s possible that alfatoxin and other fungi could be a new focus for the FDA and other regulating agencies as warmer weather during the summer months, as we saw in the Plains in 2011, encourages growth of alfatoxin-producing fungus in corn, a main ingredient in pet foods.
Consumer goods recalls will stabilize. The number of consumer goods being recalled is down, and that trend should continue through 2012 when numbers are compared to 2011 or 2010. New regulations passed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, such as lower acceptable levels of lead in children’s products and standards for crib manufacturers, contribute to a climate of safety and fewer recalls, which we should expect to continue. Recalls that make it to mainstream media will likely be extreme cases and not necessarily representative of recall trends for consumer goods. An increase in recalls will have an effect on retailers and manufacturers. But as technology gets better, companies will have to get smarter about how they communicate the details of an important recall. Ellie Cachette, CEO of ConsumerBell, a company that provides product recall information, believes this will be a year of new tactics for companies. ”Consumers need to be reached online and given easy access to information and steps for recalls,” Cachette says. “What we will see in 2012 are manufacturers getting creative in how they reach consumers...it’s enough to mail a letter to an old address.”
Recalls in Brief 1. Excedrin, No Doz, Gas-X Date: January 2012 Recall Size: Unknown Reason for Recall: Chipped pills and a potential mix-up between prescriptionstrength pills and OTC. Consumer Impact: Minimal, but potentially severe if prescription-strength pain reliever has been put inside of No-Doz instead. 2. IKEA ANTILOP High Chairs Date: January 2012 Recall Size: 169,000 Reason for Recall: The high chair’s restraint buckle can open unexpectedly, posing a fall hazard to the child. 3. Iams Dog Food, Arrow Brand Dog Food, River Run and Marksman Date: December 2011 Recall Size: Unknown Reason for Recall: Aflatoxin-producing fungus Consumer Impact: High. There are numerous reported cases of severely ill puppies and cats after consuming some of the brands. The true size of the recall and depth of products is unknown, as items were pulled from shelves prior to an official recall and reportedly included cat food as well. 4. Motrin IB Date: November 2011 Recall Size: 12 million Reason for Recall: Did not dissolve quick enough. Consumer Impact: Minimal, but could pose a problem if the medicine is not dissolving fast enough and another dose is taken. 5. Walgreens Quick Read Digital Thermometers Date: November 2011 Recall Size: 92,000 Reason for Recall: Inaccurate time readings. Consumer Impact: An inaccurate time reading could cause a parent to mistakenly head to the emergency room if a fever appears high enough. Source: ConsumerBell
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LEGISLATIVEBEAT Editor’s note: In each issue, we will bring you news from around the legal world that affects the safety of you and your loved ones. The information is provided by the American Association for Justice. For more information, visit AAJ’s blog, fightingforjustice.org.
Only 1 in 7 Hospital Medical Errors are Reported The Office of the Inspector General at HHS recently released a report detailing how most medical errors that harm Medicare beneficiaries are not reported by hospital staff. The adverse events that HHS investigated included medication errors, severe bedsores, infections that patients acquire in hospitals, delirium resulting from overuse of painkillers and excessive bleeding linked to improper use of blood thinners. HHS’s investigation found that only 1 in 7 medical errors are currently reported. This is a very troubling statistic, especially when you consider the results from a previous HHS investigation that found that each month more than 130,000 Medicare beneficiaries experience adverse events in hospitals. As the New York Times reported, what makes this even worse is that some of the most serious problems, including some that caused patients to die, were among the medical errors that go unreported. Additionally, little is being done
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to stop the errors from happening again:
Yet even after hospitals investigate preventable injuries and infections that have been reported, they rarely change their practices to prevent repetition of the “adverse events,” according to the study, from Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. In the report, being issued on Friday, Mr. Levinson notes that as a condition of being paid under Medicare, hospitals are to “track medical errors and adverse patient events, analyze their causes” and “improve care.” Ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine found that as many as 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors. A recent study estimated that the annual cost of measurable medical errors that harm patients was at least $17.1 billion in 2008. HHS’s investigations confirm the problem is even worse than we thought.
Despite talking points to the contrary, according to HHS, hospital employees are not underreporting errors because they are afraid of litigation. As the New York Times pointed out, it is something entirely different: More often, Mr. Levinson said, the problem is that hospital employees do not recognize “what constitutes patient harm” or do not realize that particular events harmed patients and should be reported. In some cases, he said, employees assumed someone else would report the episode, or they thought it was so common that it did not need to be reported, or “suspected that the events were isolated incidents unlikely to recur.” There is a clear way to lower health care costs by getting serious about focusing on patient safety and preventing avoidable medical errors. But this cannot be accomplished unless health care providers take this problem seriously. Patient safety must be priority number one.
FMCSA Hours of Service Regs Not Enough v
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released its final rules on hours of service for truck drivers, and the new limits are much like the old limits,
still maintaining the 11-hour daily drive limit. AAJ, along with other consumer groups such as Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway Safety, had advocated for a 10-hour driving limit for greater highway safety. Every year, more than 4,000 people are killed in accidents involving trucks, according to the FMCSA. The National Transportation Safety Board has said driver fatigue is a factor in 30 to 40 percent of these crashes. In fact, research shows the risk of a crash increases twofold after eight hours of consecutive driving, and driver fatigue is the leading contributing factor in truck driver deaths from crashes.
These new rules do not change the 11-hour daily drive limit that has been in place for years, putting truck drivers and also the passengers that share the road at greater risk for accidents related to fatigue. Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway Safety and other consumer groups had filed a lawsuit against FMCSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) because of the Bush administration rule that had increased truck driver hours of service. The agencies had agreed to open a new rulemaking as part of the settlement. The final result: more of the same anti-safety, anti-worker regulations. In fact, little has changed from the previous regulations.
What Happens When You Go Under the Knife? w When you put your life in the hands of a medical professional, you hope that they will be just that— professional. But as the New York Times highlighted in a frontpage article, this is not always the case. Instead, you may encounter a scary new trend, “distracted doctoring.” Similar to distracted driving, this is when doctors use new technology— cellphones, computers, and other devices—while performing surgeries and medical procedures. The article explains:
critical care. And they are not always doing work; examples include a neurosurgeon making personal calls during an operation, a nurse checking airfares during surgery and a poll showing that half of technicians running bypass machines had admitted texting during a procedure.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices, hoping to curb medical error, have invested heavily to put computers, smartphones and other devices into the hands of medical staff for instant access to patient data, drug information and case studies. But like many cures, this solution has come with an unintended side effect: doctors and nurses can be focused on the screen and not the patient, even during moments of
Scott J. Eldredge, a medical malpractice lawyer in Denver, recently represented a patient who was left partly paralyzed after surgery. The neurosurgeon was distracted during the operation, using a wireless headset to talk on his cellphone, Mr. Eldredge said. “He was making personal calls,” Mr. Eldredge said, at least 10 of them to family and business associates, according to phone records.
This new trend has already had detrimental effects on real patients. AAJ member Scott Eldredge (Denver, Colorado) is quoted in the article:
If this trend is allowed to continue, this will only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to medical errors resulting from “distracted doctoring.” To learn more about the problem of medical malpractice, the importance of preventing medical errors, and improving patient safety, visit www.justice.org/resources. And next time you go in for a medical procedure, remember to ask your doctor to turn off the cellphone.
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Between 1970 and 2000, incidents such as the Exxon Valdez disaster spilled more than 3 billion gallons of oil into marine waters worldwide. Trial attorneys worked for two decades to force Exxon to clean up its mess, and have proven to be the best mechanism for holding corporate polluters accountable.
More than 50 million U.S. residents live with unhealthy air. Even after Congress passed the Clean Air Act, corporations continue to pollute the air we breathe with chemicals and carcinogens from arsenic to zinc. In the face of weak federal enforcement, it has been trial attorneys who have led the fight, seeking justice against all the odds for communities such su as the cancer-ridden town of Globeville, poisoned by the cadmium-spewing smelter that rose above it for 100 years.
As many ma as 49 million Americans have water supplies that contain levels of arsenic, radioactive substances and coliform bacteria that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act. Trial attorneys were the first to take action in the 1970s, holding Velsicol Corp. accountable in Tennessee for contaminating drinking water 300,000 barrels of chemical waste. with 3 While federal agencies pursue only three percent of the more than 23,000 companies that violate federal law by contaminating rivers, streams and groundwater sources, it continues to be trial attorneys who offer the best protection of Americaâ€™s water supply.
Poisoning the Poor
For decades, corporations handling waste disposal and hazardous materials have targeted low-income communities as locations for processing plants, dumps and landfills. State and federal agencies were of no help, routinely allowing permits for sites in economically vulnerable communities without any oversight. Trial attorneys have worked on behalf of targeted communities, such su as Camden, New Jersey, which was forced to accept an industrial plant producing over a millions tons of hazardous waste a year in a neighborhood already marked by 15 contaminated sites. Trial attorneys were successful on behalf of Camden and continue to stand up on behalf of many other similar communities.
U.S. corporations produce more than 25 billion pounds of hazardous waste every year, nearly half a billion pounds of which are so toxic that they do not break down in the environment. In cases such as Love Canal, Hooker Chemical Co. dumped 20,000 tons of chemical waste in an unlined canal and then sold the land to the local school board. Time and again, it has been trial attorneys who have worked to stop corporations from dumping toxic waste and held them accountable for the injuries they have caused.
Really Considered a Vegetable Know what your kids are eating at school
ave you seen what a school lunch looks like these days? According to new rules, your child’s school now recognizes both tomato paste—yes, the kind from a can—and French fries as vegetables. Yes, vegetables. So, while pizza itself has not been included in these new guidelines (this is myth, rather than fact), the tomato paste that serves as a chief ingredient has. Regardless, let’s take a pizza as an example. Is there nutritional value in pizza? Maybe, but there are drawbacks as well. Tomato paste in the pizza used in schools has high sodium content and fat in the dough. While there may be vegetables on top, this type of food is not necessarily considered a “nutritious” lunch. Add pepperoni, and
you increase the sodium content even more. So what, as parents, can you do to combat the school lunch? Well, for starters, pack your own. Packing your child’s lunch not only gives you all the control over what he/she eats, but will probably also save you a bit of money as well. You should also educate your children about their health and healthy food options. Teach them about fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber and vegetables. Get copies of your child’s lunchroom menu and go over it with him/her. Let them choose what they want and make some suggestions about what they might want to think about when choosing their food. Go to lunch with them if the school allows. Talk to their principal and teachers
by Jon Lewis
about the lunches offered and offer to speak to the students about their food. Children can be parrots. They watch what you eat and how you eat. If you fill your plate with food every meal, they will as well. If you limit your portion sizes, they will learn to limit theirs. If you eat fried foods, they will eat fried foods. As with everything, what your children eat begins at home. Show them that it is good to be selective in what you eat, and they will hopefully learn to be selective at school. If we can all take these small steps, maybe we can reverse the childhood obesity trend, which is still increasing each year. For more tips on healthy eating and food alternatives, here are a few great sites: parents.org, KidsHealth.com and HealthySchoolLunches.org.
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Spring is here... NOW WHAT? By Edric Cho, Pharm.D.
llergy season officially starts at springtime and with the myriad of over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications available, itâ€™s amazing how the average consumer doesnâ€™t get confused wading through the plethora of formulations in the drug aisle at their local drugstore. The immune system responds to allergies in a defensive manner by reacting to normally harmless substances that it mistakes for harmful substances. Substances that cause allergies are called allergens. Examples include pollen, dust and cat dander. There is no cure for allergies, but there are several medications to treat the symptoms; symptoms that include, coughing, sneezing, itching eyes and nose, congestion and runny nose. For the sake of this article, the focus will be on OTC drugs. These OTC allergy drugs include: antihistamines, decongestants, combination drugs and saline. They come in all kinds of dosage forms like pills, liquids, inhalers, topical creams, eye drops and nasal sprays.
Antihistamines Antihistamine medications are usually taken in advance to stop allergy symptoms before they start. They prevent the sneezing, runny nose and itching associated with the onset of most allergic reactions. The general rule is that the more sedating (drowsiness) the antihistamine is, the stronger antihistaminic effect it has. Here is the antihistaminic potency and sedation order from greatest to 10 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
least: Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Nyquil (doxylamine), Dimetane (brompheniramine), Chlortrimeton (chlorpheniramine), Tavist (clemastine), Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Claritin (loratadine). All these drugs are available in generic form (names in parenthesis) as well. Generally, you should not take antihistamines if you are on an MAO inhibitor. Antihistamine eye drops are combination ingredients that contain the antihistamine, pheniramine and the decongestant, naphazoline. These are found in the brand names Visine A, Vasocon A and Opcon A. They are very effective for short-term therapy.
Decongestants Decongestants are available in nasal spray or pill form. Decongestants in pill form generally take longer to work; nasal sprays tend to provide more immediate relief of symptoms. Pills are recommended for longer use, because decongestant nasal sprays used more than five to seven days may actually worsen symptoms. There are only two available activeingredient decongestants in pill form available OTC in the U.S.: Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) and Sudafed PE (phenylephrine). Regular Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is purchased behind the counter even though it is OTC. Because the drug is used to manufacture methamphetamine, federal and state governments regulate its purchase. Sudafed PE can be purchased in the aisles, but its relative effectiveness to regular Sudafed is
inferior. The decongestant nasal sprays include only two active ingredientsâ€” Afrin (oxymetalozone) and NeoSynephrine (phenylephrine). Again, nasal sprays should not be used longer than a week or else symptoms may worsen. The same goes for nasal drops, such as Dristan fast-acting and Vicks sinus.
Combination Drugs Since antihistamines do not relieve congestion, several allergy medicines combine the active ingredients of both antihistamines and decongestants into a single medication: Actifed, Allerest, Benadryl Decongestant, Chlor-Trimetron, Contac, Drixoral Cold and Allergy, Sudafed Plus, Tavist-D and Zyrtec-D. Allegra-D combines pseudoephedrine with fexofenadine and Claritin-D combines pseudoephedrine with loratadine to name a few. In sum, when picking out an OTC allergy medication, it is always best to seek the advice of your pharmacist or physician.
Putting a face to the drugs under review By Steven Davis
here are real consequences to post-market drug investigations. Barbara’s story is not rare—at least 500 people have a similar story. While most understand the risk and benefit of a drug, it is essential to remember that real people that are impacted each and every day. Barbara was getting ready for church one Sunday morning when she noticed blood in her stool. Frank, her husband, took her to the emergency room. There, she was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Surgeons operated to stop the bleed, but Barbara became septic. Less than a month later, Barbara’s husband and children buried her. About a month prior to that Sunday morning, Barbara’s doctor recommended she switch from Coumadin (warfarin), a common and
popular anti-coagulant, to Pradaxa (Dabigatran), a newcomer to the anticoagulation market. Barbara had been on warfarin therapy for years because of a heart rhythm problem known as atrial fibrillation. Warfarin therapy requires regular blood tests to ensure that the blood is being thinned to the right level. While on Coumadin, Barbara was tested monthly. Marketed as a therapeutic simplification, Pradaxa, on the other hand, does not require the monthly blood tests. Barbara and Frank discussed the drug change with Barbara’s doctor. The doctor informed them that, as he understood it, Pradaxa was more convenient and no more risky than Coumadin. Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacturers of Pradaxa, did not include additional significant risks on the label, which both Barbara and
Frank read. After research led Barbara to conclude that the risks of both anti-coagulant drugs were similar, she decided to switch to Pradaxa, leaving behind inconvenient and painful blood tests. Two months later, Barbara was dead. The FDA is now monitoring patients taking Pradaxa. Since January, more than 500 reports of serious adverse events associated with Pradaxa have come to light, including gastrointestinal bleeding, heart attack and hemorrhage—all from a drug that has been on the market for just over a year. Ultimately, the FDA has (at press time) taken the position that the jury is still out, so-to-speak. While patients who take Pradaxa should not stop taking the drug without first consulting with medical professionals, if you are taking Pradaxa, perhaps that is a conversation worth having.
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Think Mold is getting you
Here’s How to
By Wendi Lewis
There are many ways and reasons you can get sick. Mold should not be one of them. Mold, often called “mildew,” is a fungal growth that cannot grow without water or moisture. Tiny mold spores are generally invisible to the eye. The spores are usually not a problem unless they land on a wet or damp surface and start growing. However, inhaling large quantities of mold spores—or continued exposure to inhaled—mold, may cause respiratory problems, and the presence of mold on surfaces has the potential to cause health problems. The key is to control moisture in the environment to eliminate mold growth.
Health Problems Associated with Mold Allergic reactions are common. These include symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, coughing, hoarseness and skin rash. People with asthma who are allergic to mold may experience asthma attacks when exposed. Mold also can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both allergic and nonallergic people. 12 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
If mold is inhaled in large quantities or over an extended period of time, more serious problems may result. Those at greatest risk are the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women, people with existing respiratory conditions, and people with compromised immune systems. Unfortunately, it is usually difficult to diagnose mold-related illnesses, as many of the symptoms caused by mold irritants and mold allergies also can be caused by other things commonly found in the home. However, if you experience symptoms, you should talk to your doctor, and let him or her know if you have found mold in your home.
If You Suspect Mold is Causing Illness... The simplest and most effective way to manage mold is to eliminate moisture in the environment. Without moisture, mold cannot grow. If the mold is a result of water damage, first identify the source and fix it, if it is a leak. If the water damage is the result of a catastrophic event such as a flood or storm, make sure the affected area is completely dry and any items in the affected area are dry, and clean all surfaces. According to FEMA,
water damage must be cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Scrub hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry them completely. Soft, porous surfaces and absorbent materials may need to be discarded. It is almost impossible to fully eliminate mold from these types of surfaces once they are contaminated. You may want to consult a professional cleaning service or mold remediation company if the affected area is very large, or if you are concerned about treating items that are delicate, valuable or of great sentimental value. Even if you do not have obvious water damage, mold can still be present in the home. Not surprisingly, the bathroom is a common location for mold, because surfaces are often or always damp. To prevent or minimize mold growth, try increasing ventilation by running a fan or opening a window, and clean the affected surfaces more often. This should help keep mold recurrence to a minimum.
Common household cleaning products should be effective at treating and combating mold. Make sure your cleaning products include a disinfectant to kill germs. Also, keep in mind that wallpaper and wallpaper paste can harbor mold. If wall coverings are water damaged or you see mold on them, they may have to be replaced. Once mold is present on this type of surface, recurrence is very likely, even with diligent cleaning. Another area of concern for homeowners is the home ventilation/ heating/air conditioning system, often referred to as the HVAC. If you suspect your homeâ€™s ventilation system is contaminated with mold, you may need to have the ducts professionally cleaned.
Legal Responsibilities Associated with Mold There are some specific legal responsibilities associated with mold, most commonly in the relationships between landlords and tenants, or
home buyers and sellers. A landlord is responsible for providing proper living conditions for his tenants, including making sure the home is free of mold contamination. If you are a tenant and discover the presence of mold, you should alert the landlord, who is responsible for making sure the mold is removed. The landlord is responsible for any cost associated with this process. He may require an inspection to confirm the presence of mold. Likewise, if you are a home buyer, you should be made aware of any current mold contamination in the home. However, if there has been previous mold contamination that was effectively cleaned, the seller does not have to disclose that information.
SOURCE GUIDE FEMA
http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Mold_ health_issues
Mould Inspector Laboratory
www.mdsdog.com/ articles/Mold%20 Legal%20Liability.htm
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INJUSTICE Faces of Injustice is a platform that seeks to give a voice to those whose suffering does not end with the conclusion of their legal case. At facesofinjustice.org, we share stories from everyday people whose lives have been impacted by the actions of others. From malpractice to the fine print, these everyday people have been negatively impacted by tort reform, abusive defense tactics, improper judicial interference or jury bias. Faces of Injustice tells their stories. To read more or if you have a story you would like to tell, please visit facesofinjustice.org. Follow us: @faces_injustice
FacesofInjustice.org Names, photos and documentation has been approved by all interested parties.
prescription drug abuse the new
killer on the Block
By Pete Strom
If you have children, you are well aware of the need to discuss the dangers of illegal drug use. What you may not know is that if you do not discuss the dangers of prescription drug abuse with your loved ones, you are overlooking the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. The abuse of prescription drugs is rapidly increasing, due, in part, to the fact that prescription drugs—including painkillers, depressants, stimulants, opioids and steroids—are readily available. In fact, according to a report issued by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, it may be easier for your teen to obtain prescription drugs than beer. Think your child is immune? Think again. The sources of prescription drugs are closer to home that you realize. Statistics indicate more than 70 percent of those who have abused prescription narcotics got them from a friend or relative who had a prescription. In other words, the supplier is no stranger. Prescription drug abuse is further exacerbated by the number of scripts written. In 2009, hydrocodone (Vicodin
and generic equivalents) was the most prescribed prescription drug in the United States—with the number of prescriptions doubling that of the second most prescribed drug, Lipitor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 alone, there were enough painkillers prescribed to supply every adult with a one-month supply. It’s never too early to discuss prescription drug abuse as the problems start at a young age. A 2009 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (a federal agency) demonstrated that as many as 33 percent of kids 12 and older began their path to drug abuse by using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, namely to get high. Absent education, many young people believe that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, leading teens to be more apt to try them. Many abusers further fail to realize that long-term use can lead to dependence and addiction. In cases in which prescription drugs are used repeatedly, in high doses or with other drugs, serious side effects can occur. Extended use can even alter normal brain function, increasing the risk of addiction.
What’s At Stake? Every 14 minutes a person dies from a prescription drug overdose in the United States. This adds up to more than 35,000 deaths every year, exceeding the number of deaths suffered as a result of a car wreck, homicide or suicide. Short of death, the abuse of prescription drugs is illegal. A drug charge can seriously damage your child’s academic and professional future. If convicted for possession of illegal drugs or possession of prescription drugs, your child may receive academic discipline, lose financial aid or scholarship money, and be precluded from obtaining a professional license—hence destroying a potential career. Discuss prescription and illegal drug abuse with your children. Stay actively involved in your children’s lives. Know their friends and make sure you know where your children are. Don’t let them slide down this slippery slope. For more information on how to talk with your teen, visit: www.nida.nih.gov/prevention/index.html.
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HARASSMENT STILL A PROBLEM IN THE WORKPLACE
o one ever really wants to talk about sexual harassment—especially in the workplace. But it still happens... more than you think. In fact, according to a recent AOL Jobs Survey, one in six persons has been sexually harassed in the workplace. Of those harassed, 43
16 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
percent say it was by a manager and 51 percent say it was by a peer. While the numbers may be surprising, the response to these advances is not: a high percentage of sexual harassment acts go unreported: only 35 percent of people harassed reported it; women (47 percent) are more likely to do so than men (21 percent), the survey says.
By Jim Cole and Will Sciba
So what, exactly, is considered sexual harassment? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines it as occurring “when one employee makes continued, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, to another employee against his or her wishes.”
So what should you do about it? Read the company policy. Most employers have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment and describing the steps to be taken if it happens to you. Read the steps and follow them. Following those steps is often necessary to file a claim.
In a very clear manner, tell them to stop. It is helpful if the victim makes it known to the person committing the sexually offensive conduct that it is unwelcome.
Report the sexually offensive conduct. When possible, report it in writing. In most cases, the employee must have reported the conduct and given the employer an opportunity to correct the problem. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker who reports sexual harassment.
File a legal complaint. If after reporting the conduct the harassment continues, the next step will likely be to file a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or in some cases a state agency. An EEOC complaint can be filed in person, online or by mail or telephone.
What the Law Says About
Sexual Harassment Victims of sexual harassment can recover damages for loss of income, emotional pain and mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages. Generally, there are two types of sexual harassment: Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment.
• Quid Pro Quo
This is an exchange based on “You do something for me and I’ll do something for you.” It simply means that a supervisor or person in authority demands sexual favors in exchange for getting or keeping a job or a job benefit. A company is liable for damages caused as a result of the supervisor’s actions.
• Hostile Work Environment
The courts have found that a workplace is “hostile” when the
conduct is unwelcome, based on sex and is severe or pervasive. There is no exact definition for a hostile work environment, but it usually involves sexual advances, touching, degrading comments, pornography, vulgar language, jokes of a sexual nature or questions of a sexual nature. An employer can be responsible for damage when such behavior rises to a level that causes the workplace to be intimidating, hostile or offensive. In some cases, an employer also has a responsibility to protect employees from work-related sexual harassment by third parties.
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STOP By Darren Tobin
ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionâ€™s most recent numbers, the average American lives to 77.9 years of age. Chances are, that number will only continue to rise. In response, there has been a surge in the number of nursing home openings across the country. 18 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
And while these nursing homes are supposed to offer a safe haven for our elderly, all too often these homes offer a bastion for abuse. Elder abuse and neglect can occur at any time and at any facility, regardless of how fantastic the facility seems to be. Therefore, selecting a nursing home is a serious family responsibility that should be weighed in more than just dollars and cents.
Based on best estimates available to the National Center on Elder Abuse, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured or abused by someone on whom they depended for care or protection. You can minimize the chances that your loved one will suffer a form of neglect or abuse by carefully selecting the right facility. Meet the staff. Tour the facility. Ask questions. Be present.
Frequent and irregularly timed visits achieve that goal. When you visit, be sure to interact with both the staff members as well as with other residents who share your loved one’s communal living space. Your act of kindness with your family member’s fellow neighbors may make a meaningful difference in that person’s life; it may also create a new friendship for your family member. Plus, developing connections with the nurses and staff can only benefit the physical care your loved one receives when you are away.
Don’t Be A Stranger Your job is not over once you’ve chosen a facility that you believe has the best interest of your loved one in mind. The single best way to keep your family member healthy, safe and free from neglect is by your visiting him in his new home. In addition to providing him with your companionship, your visits play another important role—to help you monitor his physical and emotional condition. Your visits ensure that the facility’s staff will take extra care in their physical treatment of your family member for fear of being caught dozing on the job or worse: abusing your family member.
Physical Activity Is Key Assuming the nursing home you have selected is a place in which residents are respected, there are still things you can do to help your family member live a healthy life. Simple and light exercising, such as walking and lifting his arms above his head, will create good blood flow throughout the body. You never want your family member to suffer from bedsores—especially the stage four variety. Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, are excruciatingly painful and can be potentially devastating if the resident is neglected. When a person stays in the same position for too long, such as sitting or lying down in bed for more than two hours, pressure closes tiny blood vessels that flow to the skin and supply oxygen. The lack of nutrients and oxygen causes the skin’s tissue to die and a bedsore forms. Typically, bedsores form over the bony areas on the back, hips, heels, buttocks or ankles. A stage four bedsore can become so bad that death can result. By taking a small bit of time and following a few safety tips, you can help your loved one live far beyond their average life expectancy and enjoy a healthy and dignified life.
beware of bedsores Follow these tips when visiting your loved one to minimize his risk of developing bedsores. 1
Check your loved one’s skin over bony areas. If you find red skin, you know he is not being moved as often as he should.
Make sure his skin is clean, dry and moisturized. Apply moisturizing lotion if necessary.
Make sure he is eating a healthy diet high in protein. Obviously, a nursing home resident’s options are somewhat limited by the meals he is fed, but you can make sure the meals he is eating are reasonably healthy.
Get him moving. If he is in bed most of the day, have him stand and walk. If he is in a wheelchair and cannot get up, at least make him shift positions frequently. Seat pads specially made to decrease pressure on the buttocks and hips are good options for residents in wheelchairs.
Check his bedsheets to make sure they are dry. If he is prone to sweating or urinating during the night, have the staff check his sheets daily.
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THE POPULARITY of marathon runners By Doug Landau
Are you a runner? If not, I’m sure you know someone who is. You probably also know at least one person who runs marathons. And why not? There’s no denying that running has seen a huge resurgence in the past few years. From bucket lists to those fancy shoe commercials, more people are buying into the idea of running a marathon. And not just running the marathon, but completing it. It is not speed, but endurance that is the hallmark of long-distance runners. As Americans, we like to think we still have plenty of courage, strength and “stick-to-itiveness.” With the improvement in athletic shoes, pre- and postrace nutrition and sports medicine, more and more people are running in road races.
Plus, the advent of “running entertainment” (or discomfort distraction)—in such forms as the iPod, iChip, GPS and Polar Heart Rate Monitors—offers enough sensory stimulation and information feedback for even the “geekiest” recreational athlete. So much for the “loneliness of the long-distance runner.” Today’s joggers have access to music, altitude information, speed, distance, location, average pave, temperature, humidity, heart rate and calories burned, as well as their own personal physiological information. In addition to the personal achievement aspect of marathoning, the increase in charity sports events has helped fuel the buzz. Groups such
as “Team in Training,” which supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, bring groups of runners together to finish marathons and other endurance events, all while raising money for a worthy cause. Another reason for the increase in marathon participation is that running is a relatively inexpensive endeavor. It is one of the cheapest exercises one can embark upon to combat the obesity crisis. Other than shoes and an entry fee, there is little in the way of “required” equipment for jogging. A “runner’s high” does not cost a lot of money, and the endorphins can make people feel better for a long time after they are done running. Psychologically, marathon runners report feeling better about themselves, their health and their ability to accomplish difficult tasks.
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With so many marathons selling out shortly after they open for registration, evidence tends to suggest that Americans’ appetites for this test of endurance running is on the rise. In order to maximize your safety and enjoyment, I would recommend the following steps before and during your marathon experience: 1
Carry identification. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. By the time you sense you are thirsty, it may be too late to reverse dangerous dehydration. I take a bit of water at every aid station, no matter how long the race.
Have a complete physical exam well before “race day.” Know your physiological limits, train smart and pace yourself to finish realistically given the conditions on race day. For example, if it is hotter and/or more humid than you are used to in your training runs, go slower.
I wear a wrist bracelet with all my contact information, medical conditions and my name. One can get dizzy, confused or simply need help suddenly. Carrying identification and a little bit of “mad money” (for emergency food, drink, cab fare, etc.) is always smart. Also, letting your friends know where you will be participating, and even carpooling to the race, will lower your anxiety and increase your overall marathon enjoyment.
Do not try anything new on race day. 5
Most importantly, have fun! Participating in and completing a marathon is quite an accomplishment. Look around, take in the scenery and live in the moment.
Wear your marathon shoes and outfit BEFORE the day of the event. Also, practice drinking water or electrolyte replacement drinks and eating snacks/gels during your training runs to see what works for you (and what may upset your stomach). Try using Vaseline or other lubricants to help reduce chafing and rubbing in sensitive areas and also consider a hat, sunscreen and other sun protection. Try these items out before lining up marathon morning.
While Doug Landau competes in triathlons and shorter road-running races all over the country, he has completed several marathons, with a personal best of 3:14. He is an All-American sprint triathlete who is training to represent the United States at the Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand in October 2012.
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How to Survive Your First Camping Trip By Mark Venardi
Camping can be an exciting, invigorating and relaxing event for the entire family. However, nature can also be unpredictable and present hazardous situations. Whether you are a seasoned camper or a first-time adventurer, following some simple, yet important guidelines are key to creating some lasting memories. Know the Area Educate yourself on the area to which you are traveling. Read guidebooks, consult with park rangers and talk with other campers who are familiar with the area. Take time to plan ahead and anticipate needs for unexpected occurrences that may arise. Learn Your Landmarks Teach your children how to recognize “landmarks” at your campsite and in the surrounding areas and trails. Teach them to stay calm and remain in one place should they get lost. Always use the buddy system. Watch for Poisonous Plants Common plants to be on the alert for are poison oak, poison ivy, and sumac. Learn to identify plants by looking at pictures before your trip. Wear long sleeves and pants or apply protective products that provide a barrier against the plant oils that cause allergic reactions. Bugs Be Gone Mosquitoes, wasps, yellow jackets and bees are commonly encountered pests when outdoors. Use citronella candles
to repel insects from your campsite and citronella-based products for application on clothing. Repellents containing DEET can be used, but are potentially toxic if used improperly or in excessive amounts. Keep the Campsite Clean Animals in the wild can be easily threatened, become defensive and aggressive. Do not approach or feed wild animals. Keep the campsite free of food odors and do not bring food into tents. Pack food in resealable plastic bags and animal-resistant containers. Pack food in your car nightly. Practice Fire Safety Build or use a campfire pit away from overhanging tree branches. Make sure athe fire is enclosed by a metal fire ring or a circle of rocks. Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby. Never leave the campfire unattended and put out the fire completely before you leave. Don’t Drink the Water Bring bottled water, have a water purification system or water purification tablets. Assume that the water in streams and creeks is
contaminated. Giardia Lamblia, a commonly found parasite in wilderness waters, causes severe intestinal infections in humans. Heed the Sun Limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Use sunscreens and lip balms that offer adequate SPF. Apply liberally and often (swimming, outdoor activities and sweating can make repeated applications essential for even minimal and consistent protection). Wear hats, sunglasses and SPF-rated clothing for additional protection. The sun’s peak hours for UV exposure are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Stay Hydrated Whether temperatures are hot or cold, most people underestimate the amounts of fluid required to stay adequately hydrated. Pack Appropriately Bring shoes that are appropriate for the activities in which you will be participating. Make sure shoes are broken in, comfortable and properly sized. Always bring an extra pair should one pair get wet. It’s usually best to dress in layers to accommodate changes in temperature. Remember, preparation is the key. Take the time to plan ahead, learn about the area and bring necessary and appropriate gear and supplies. Doing so will help make for a wonderful outdoor adventure.
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Outdoor Adventures By Doug Landau
Ever wanted to kayak? Whitewater raft? Here are some tips for starting out on your newest adventure… The exhilaration of bouncing through whitewater rapids and splashing down deep gorges is an adrenaline rush few sports activities can match. Part thrill ride, part athletic endeavor, rough water kayak and raft trips can give participants a real rush, a “natural high” that is often captured in amazing action photos and lifetime memories. 24 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
Having enjoyed both family and adventure trips, I have seen exhilaration and injury. In order to maximize the former and minimize the latter, here are some recommendations for river fun: 1. Whether you are an Olympic swimmer or use “water wings” in the local pool, wear your life vest or life jacket. Make sure it fits properly before you embark! According to American Whitewater, “a third of all
whitewater accidents could have been prevented if the victim was wearing a life vest; many deaths occur in very easy rapids!” 2. Know the conditions. Listen to your guides. I have kayaked on rivers when it was snowing and was glad to be wearing a wetsuit with additional layers. Where the water had many rocks, I have worn a helmet. On some rivers, water may be released by dams or power companies, which changes the flow
considerably. It is important to know the schedule just as a fisherman wants to know the tides. Know the water flow before you go. 3. Having learned the hard way, carry a waterproof pouch or container for identification. Also secure valuables, camera and expect that everything you have will get wet. Do not bring breakable items as there is movement in kayaks, rafts, canoes, action cats (inflatable river rafts) and other similar watercraft. Glass bottles, delicate reading glasses and other easily broken items do not belong on the river. Many river companies have “dry bags” for items that cannot get wet or need to be protected from being thrown around in the boat. If your guide does not have such a secure bag, then stow breakable items in your car or elsewhere. 4. Avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and combining drugs and alcohol. Alcohol dulls reflexes and survival responses and is often linked to fatalities. On the river, split second decisions need to be made.
Stay focused, sober and have fun. Celebrate later at your campsite or home. 5. Prepare for the weather. Sudden drops or increases in temperature require advance planning, just like changes in water flow. Very hot days require hydration; very cold days require dry layers and extra calories. I have never eaten as much as I have consumed on a cold river-rafting excursion in the Midwest! I ate at every stop and did not gain an ounce! Bring snacks and dry clothes if it is cold. Hats, waterproof sunglasses (with attachments so that they do not wind up at the bottom of the river bed!) are also a good idea if the sun is strong. 6. Know the environment. On one trip I took, there were poisonous snakes! So a snakebite kit was something that was on every boat. A first-aid kit should always be packed. In some tropical areas, a good bug repellent can reduce the likelihood of an itchy trip. Some rivers have special dangers. A good friend was fishing and landed
a small fish. Before he know it, there was blood everywhere, but he did not feel any injury. He then realized that the small fish was a ferocious piranha, and he had been bitten on the hand. Because this carnivorous fish’s teeth is so razor sharp, he never felt the bite to his hand, and he has a permanent scar. Know special river dangers (i.e., piranha, snakes, rocks, dams, lowhanging branches, insects, etc.). If there are rocks, and there usually are, wear foot protection. If you fall out of the boat, you should probably go feet first with the current with your legs bent. That way, your feet would cushion your body from hitting any large rocks and you could bounce off without injury. Bottom line—know before you go.
River rafting and kayaking are great fun. I have seen incredible sites and had wonderful adventures. With a little bit of planning and forethought, you will have memories for a lifetime. Be safe and enjoy!
@THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 25
Who Protects Consumers Across The U.S.?
The Civil Justice Foundation is a national
How Do We Do It?
charitable organization dedicated to
The Civil Justice Foundation is proud
safeguarding justice for all Americans by
to award grants to grassroots organizations
strengthening the alliance between trial
that are at the forefront of the consumer
attorneys and consumer advocacy groups.
advocacy movement â€” particularly to groups that have difficulty securing traditional funding
It is the only national foundation devoted solely
because they are newly organized and/or
to protecting the individual rights, health and
address a controversial issue.
well-being of the injured â€” providing small but significant grants to the tireless organizations
To date, the Foundation has awarded
fighting for injury prevention and justice
more than $1.4 million to more than 110
preservation across the country.
of these groups.
Fo r m o r e i n f o r m ati o n , p l ea s e v i s i t w w w. c i v i l j u s t i c ef ou n d a t i on . or g .
Children on Boats Are Still Children By Mario Vittone
How much supervision is enough out there on the water? A woman recently wrote to me on this topic. Here’s her question and my reply:
Do you think it is wise for an adult to boat alone with two 2-year-olds? They would be on a standard pontoon boat that has seating around the entire front and 36inch guard rail where there isn’t seating. The little ones would obviously be in life vests. The adult would not be wearing a life vest (but there would be an available life vest for him on the boat). Thoughts?
There are a huge number of variables to consider and I thought about getting into all of them but I’ll just tell you my initial gut reaction and why I had it. On a calm, shallow, backwater or pond? Sure, if I could strap the kids down, and I knew the area and I could walk the boat back to shore. On almost anything else—rivers, large lakes, the ocean, bays—no way! There is no way in the world I would feel comfortable handling a boat and two toddlers on open water. If anything does go wrong, the consequences are too great for very little gain. Sure, the kids would have a blast and it would be a great experience, but they would have a blast if two adults were aboard as well. Why go
alone? I can’t imagine what would be so pressing that I would not be able to wait for another adult (or young adult) to be available to go along for the ride. Most people make these decisions (What could go wrong?) based on the likelihood of all out tragedy. The logic sounds like, “They are wearing life jackets, if they do fall overboard, I can definitely get to them….what could go wrong?” It’s a fair point—the chances of all out tragedy are remote—but there are other things besides drowning to consider:
Example: The adult is handling the boat (a fulltime job) and another boat throws a wake (as they often do) and the toddler that isn’t on the operator’s lap takes a tumble and cracks her mouth on the really nice 36-inch railing. Now we are offshore, alone, 45 minutes from medical care (if we are lucky) and we have two full-time jobs—boat handling and a screaming toddler. And the life jackets never came into play. (I’ve seen that one, personally. It was a full lip split and face fracture of a 3-yr old on a North Carolina sound. Calm water, one mile from shore.) Sometimes it helps to rephrase the question to change perspective.
Put it this way: “Do you think it is wise to take small children who have yet to fully develop basic coordination, who may or may not follow instructions, and who’s basic response to crisis is screaming, out on the most unpredictable environment within 50 miles of our house, in a machine with literally hundreds of moving parts alone?” What is YOUR answer to that question? Mom, I don’t know which side of this you are on, but from my perspective (and no kidding I am an expert at this stuff) I wouldn’t take a small boat on the open water with two children alone for love or money. Two adults. One for the boat, one for the kids. Now we are being safe enough for the risk. I hope that helps. Mario Vittone is an expert in water safety and a marine safety specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard. The views and opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Coast Guard. Learn more about Vittone at www.mariovittone.com.
You asked, “Do you think it is wise for an adult to boat alone with two 2-year-olds?”
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a Motherâ€™s POV:
Off the Couch & Into Action
By Lindsay Rakers
Thereâ€™s no doubt that active kids lead healthier, happier lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, children age 6 and older need at least an hour of physical activity per day. There also exists plenty of research that shows that outdoor activity not only leads to better physical health but also helps improve mental health. As a mother of two young children, I understand that the easy thing to do is to turn on a movie for the kids so that the housework can be completed. But the easy thing is not always the right thing. 28 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
With nicer weather on the horizon, let’s vow to get off the couch and into action. Here’s some help to get you started.
Set an Example So how do you get them out the door? Set a good example and go with them. If your kids see you eating in front of the television, they won’t understand why you tell them to do the opposite. Likewise, the reverse is true—if they see you active outside, they will follow your lead.
Be Prepared To keep these activities safe, make sure you are prepared. Keep a container with a tight-fitting lid outside to conveniently store sunscreen, bug spray, antiseptic and Band-Aids. Also, create a “to-go” outdoor bag with the same supplies to store in your car for those impromptu stops at the park or playground. Having these supplies on hand will ensure your outdoor fun doesn’t result in a nasty boo-boo!
Provide Consistency Make activity a part of your routine—not a special occasion. It’s best if your kids get into the habit of expecting daily outdoor activity. Also, keep it fun so your kids don’t view this time as a chore. Promote “play” as opposed to “exercise” and the results will surprise you. Getting outside with your kids will not only help keep them active, but it will help with some much-needed family time.
Backyard Games • • • • • • • • •
Horseshoes Bubbles Kickball Hopscotch Four Square Potato sack or three- legged races Scavenger hunt Egg toss Play tag on the local school track
Cloud shape: Lie down on the ground and look up at the sky. Take turns shouting out shapes you see in the clouds and see if the other family members can find them. Catch (and release) bugs
Enjoy the Weather • Bike rides • Playground • Sidewalk chalk • Build a fort • Use PlayDoh outside
• Play in the sandbox • Finger paints • Make a nature journal with photographs
nighttime fun • Stargazing • Glow-in-the-dark baseball • Flashlight tag • Sardines—One person is “it” and
hides. The rest of the group tries to find the person and then hides with that person until only one person is left.
make a splash • Go to the pool • Water balloons • Sponge toss • Set up a sprinkler • Squirt guns • Water table—Set up
a water table outside or make your own with containers, funnels, spoons and bottles.
Help the Environment • Plant a tree or bush • Make a worm farm • Set up a kid garden with hearty plants
• Leaf piles—rake up leaves and jump in!
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Need a New Hobby?
Try Fishing Safety tips for the first-time fisherman By Stephanie Andre
Ah, the winter is thawing and the sun is shining just a bit brighter each day. The smell of fresh-cut grass is nearing and that chill in the air is no longer too tough to bear. Finally, spring is here. Most of us cannot wait to open the windows and get outside. To that end, if you’re looking for a great springtime activity, consider fishing. Whether a novice or pro, fishing is an activity that doesn’t require much training in order to enjoy. By April or May, it will be time to get the rods ready to enjoy a perfect day by the water. To help aid in this endeavor, here are some great tips, courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, for making your day of fishing a safe one. 30 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
Use Your Tackle Safely Fishing tackle can be dangerous if you’re not careful. • Know your surroundings before casting so your hook doesn’t catch a power line, tree or another person. • Don’t leave your tackle lying on the ground. Someone may trip and fall on it, step on a hook or even break your tackle. • If a hook is deep inside a fish’s mouth, don’t put your hand inside. Instead, use some kind of a hook remover to carefully remove the hook. If this doesn’t work, cut the line as far back as you safely can to release the fish. • Always remove hooks and lures from your line and store them in your tackle box when moving your equipment.
Protect Your Body: Wear the Right Clothing Like with anything else we do outdoors, always make sure you
wear the right clothing and use the appropriate amount of sunscreen. • Whenever around water, small children should wear a Coast Guardapproved personal flotation device that fits properly. • Wear a hat. Hats keep your head cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They also can help keep the sun out of your eyes and protect your head from hooks during a stray cast. • Wear sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses also help you see below the surface of the water to see fish and other objects. • Shoes should always be worn whether fishing on shore, in a boat or wading in the water. Stray hooks, glass, sharp rocks and other objects on shore and in the water could cut your bare feet. In a boat, shoes designed to keep your feet from slipping in a wet boat could help prevent you from taking an unexpected dip into the water.
Boating 101 While you don’t need any experience to go fishing, you do need to know how to use a boat should you choose to take one out on the water. • Make sure all required equipment and a first-aid box are in the boat before going fishing. • Know how to properly use the rescue devices. • Stay seated as much as possible while in a boat. • Never overload a boat. Know how much weight your boat can safely carry and always evenly distribute your load. • Remain a safe distance from low water dams and other restricted areas. • Keep your eyes on the weather. Leave the water before storms arrive. If on the water and caught in a storm, make sure your life jacket is on and cautiously travel to shore and beach the boat. • Travel slowly in shallow areas and areas of flooded trees.
ATV’s & Kids: A Dangerous Mix From 1982-2008 nearly ONE-THIRD of the 9,633 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) related deaths were children under 16. Over one hundred children are seriously injured EVERYDAY and approximately one dies EVERY OTHER day from an ATV related crash. Injuries to children from ATV accidents cost society OVER 2 BILLION DOLLARS annually in medical and economic costs.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE. Don’t allow children under the age of 16 to ride ATV’s Concerned Families for ATV Safety
Visit www.ATVsafetynet.org for more information.
@THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 31
driving 1 second can change
everything By Stephanie Andre
Blink. Blink again. In those one to two seconds, life as you know it could be over. One second is all it takes to be distracted from driving. One second between life and death. Maybe yours. Maybe someone else’s. Maybe both. Your cellphone is ringing and you “need” to answer it. You’re hungry and need to eat breakfast. You forgot to shave and think it’s OK to do so on your way to work. These are all situations many find themselves in while driving. Is any of it really worth the risk? While your first reaction may be to say no, statistics say otherwise. Studies suggest that distraction from cellphone use while driving (handheld or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of 0.08 percent, yet millions of people still drive distracted each day. In fact, distracted driving is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths and close to 450,000 accidents in the United States every year. And that number is trending upward. What’s more, it’s no coincidence that boosting numbers are in sync with the rapid rate with which technology is advancing. After all, there isn’t much you can’t do with a cellphone today.
Not Just a Cellphone Problem
We are now in an age in which “instant updates” are the norm. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, generate tens of thousands of updates per second. The need for instantaneous information is only exacerbated when you couple it with the continued rise of text messaging. To that end, in June 2011 alone, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the United States, up nearly 50 percent from the same period two years earlier, according to CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. And consider this: In 2009, 16 percent of fatal crashes involved reports of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). While numbers have not yet been released for 2011, the chances of a higher fatality rate seem likely. In fact, a 2011 Virginia Tech study found that a driver is 23 times more likely to crash if he/she is texting while driving. Not an uplifting stat to consider when you think about the fact that there are an estimated 210 million drivers in the United States alone.
Given these numbers, it may seem like cellphones and texting are the only offenders in the war over distracted driving, but it simply isn’t true. According to endDD.org, a nonprofit organization founded by Philadelphiabased Joel Feldman after his daughter was killed as a pedestrian by a distracted driver (see sidebar), only 18 percent of distracted driving fatalities occur because of cellphone use. So what makes up the other 82 percent? Well, just about everything else: eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading; using a nav system; and adjusting a radio and/ or iPod, just to name a few. “While cellphones and texting are, of course, extremely dangerous and should never be used while driving, most people don’t realize that any time you take your eyes off the road—even for one second—you are distracted,” says Feldman. “It can happen to any of us. In an instant, your life can change.” Even with state laws that ban cellphone use (note: no state bans cellphone use for all drivers, but many prohibit all use by certain drivers), distracted driving still runs rampant. “You see it every day. Just recently, I watched someone eat a yogurt and steer their SUV with their knees,” @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 33
Feldman says. “People need to wake up and realize that these behaviors are preventable and they can save lives.”
‘It Won’t Happen to Me’ Most people assume distracted driving is only a teen problem, especially given its correlation to cellphone use, but that’s a misconception. “This is not a teen problem; this is an everyone problem,” says Feldman. “Yes, teens are on their phones, but so are we. We are the ones yelling at the kids in the backseat or putting on lipstick in the mirror—and we are the ones our children look to as examples of how they should be.” Children live in a “monkey see, monkey do” environment. “When you see your parents constantly on the phone while driving or doing anything else that is distracting, it becomes
What is 60 for Safety?
acceptable behavior,” he says. Hence, the cycle continues. In addition to the behaviors teens see, there are additional factors to consider: sheer inexperience on the road, shorter attention spans and the temptation to stay “connected.” The reality is, today’s teens have never lived in a world in which iPhones and Androids didn’t exist. They don’t see a reason why they cannot be in contact at all times and, at this age, their belief very much hinges on the “it won’t happen to me” philosophy. However, because teens are still young and somewhat impressionable, they’re also the ones who are key to breaking the cycle.
Educate Early The question now becomes, how do you get through to teens about
60 for Safety is all about making our communities a safer place for all of us. To help accomplish this mission, the group works with national nonprofit organizations, big and small, to develop informative and inspirational 60-minute safety presentations that can be presented to local audiences.
What Topics Will 60 for Safety Cover? Each 60 for Safety presentation highlights key safety information related to an important everyday activity. The first presentation, scheduled for April 2012, is distracted driving. In the months to come, additional topics may include keeping kids safe around motor vehicles, efforts to end bullying in schools and ensuring that local blood banks have a safe and sustainable blood supply.
Who Are the Presenters? Most presenters are the attorneymembers of The Injury Board from across North America, who
nodd.org The goal of NODD.org (No to Distracted Driving) is to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to encourage drivers to put down their cellphones while driving— no talking, texting, web surfing or emailing. Just driving with the right attention focused on driving. Attorney Jeff Weinstein, founder of NODD.org, has presented given presentations on distracted driving to more than 12,000 mostly student-age drivers in the last three years. This is his main mission with his organization.
volunteer their time, talent and financial resources to offer exciting and informative 60-minute safety presentations on a variety of topics to a wide range of audiences in their local areas.
Who Participates? Participants are local schools, PTAs, civic groups and community organizations. The hope is that these safety messages are not just heard, but shared with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
What’s In a Presentation? Presentations are created around expert information and advice from our safety partners—nonprofit organizations, such as EndDD.org, KidsAndCars.org and more—who promote proven methods to educate the public, all in the hope of creating a safer world for the ones we love. For more information, visit 60forsafety.org, facebook.com/60forsafety or twitter.com/60forsafety.
distracted driving so they put down the phones on their own? While the stats don’t lie—10 percent of drivers aged 16 to 24 years old are on their phone at any one time—there is some hope that teens realize driving distracted can be deadly. A Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that 40 percent of American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cellphone in a way that put people in danger. Through Feldman’s endDD.org and other groups, such as NODD.org (No to Distracted Driving) and 60 for Safety, work is being done to speak to teens across the country in hopes that
There’s an App for That, Too useful
Looking for an app to help quell your distracted driving tendencies? Following is a sampling of some free and/or inexpensive apps for your phone.
FleetSafer Mobile Application (available for BlackBerry, Windows and Android)
with the vehicle’s onboard
The software automatically locks
other mobile devices, including
the phone during driving to
laptops and tablets.
prevent calls, texts, and e-mails.
prevents distracted driving from
DriveSafe.ly (free for iPhone, Android, BB and Windows phone users)
DriveSafe.ly is a mobile application
that reads text (SMS) messages
This is not a teen problem; this is an everyone problem.
FleetSafer Mobile can be triggered
—Joel Feldman, founder of endDD.org
iZUP holds incoming and outgoing
In addition to the cellphone, it also
It also sends auto-reply messages to incoming texts and e-mails.
they will finally understand what can happen if they don’t drive safely. In April, as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, 60 for Safety—in conjunction with endDD.org, the Casey Feldman Foundation and NODD.org—will offer high school teens an educational, yet sobering glimpse into the tragic results that can occur when driving distracted. The 60-minute talks are being held across all 50 states and throughout Canada. To find out if a local talk is being given in your area or to request a presentation, visit 60forsafety.org. “I hope it doesn’t take personal tragedy to show people why they shouldn’t drive distracted,” says Feldman. “That’s part of why we’re doing these presentations—to tell the right story with the right message. We want to save lives. This is a great way to start.”
diagnostics to determine motion.
either by telematics, Bluetooth or
and emails aloud in real time and
iZUP ($2.95/month – available on BlackBerry and Android) calls, texts and emails when it detects that users are moving faster than 5 mph. Drivers are allowed
automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone. www.drivesafe.ly
DriveFirst (for Sprint customers – $2/month after free 15-day trial)
to pick one application, such as
DriveFirst automatically activates
navigation, when iZUP is on.
when the phone is in motion. When
in use, it prevents texts, calls and other unsafe distractions from
Textecution Application ($9.99 – available for Android) Once Textecution recognizes that the phone is traveling faster than 10 mph, it disables the phone’s texting features so text messages cannot be sent or received. www.textecution.com
Cellcontrol Application Cellcontrol leverages Bluetooth-enabled technology that directly integrates
coming through. drivefirst.sprint.com
DriveMode (AT&T – free for Android and BB users) When downloaded and activated, AT&T DriveMode automatically sends a customizable reply to incoming texts, notifying the sender that the user is driving and unable to respond. The autoresponse is similar to an “out-ofoffice” email alert. drivemode.att.com
@THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 35
5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448k were injured (NHTSA)
the breakdown on
2009 20% of injury crashes involved
reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
In a study over 18 months, college students using a sophisticated driving simulator showed an 8x greater crash risk when texting than when not texting. (2009, University of Utah Study)
Q&A with Joel
founder of endDD.org
Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson lost their daughter, Casey, in July 2009 when she was struck as a pedestrian in a distracted driving accident. Borne from this tragedy were two nonprofit organizations: the Casey Feldman Foundation and endDD.org. Here, we talk with Feldman about his passion for these two groups, how he hopes to educate the masses about distracted driving and even a little bit about Casey.
The Safety Report: Let’s talk about the origins of endDD.org. Joel Feldman: After Casey died, I realized I needed to do something, so I spent the next eight months working with state traffic safety professionals about getting a law passed so vehicles must now stop for—not yield to— pedestrians. We dubbed it “Casey’s Law.” It was enacted in April 2010. Over the course of those meetings and talking about what happened, we came into contact with more and more people who had suffered similar tragedies. We eventually connected with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. It’s his mission to reduce and end distracted driving. He’s our champion. He came up with Faces of Distracted Driving (www.distraction.gov/content/ faces), which features stories of others
killed by distracted driving. Stats don’t stick, but faces and stories do. I looked at that and thought Casey’s story needed to be there, so we made it happen. From that, we received an overwhelming response. Our cause began to take off. We gave talks in communities and schools. It was amazing. With help from colleagues, we founded endDD.org. We did all the research, collected the data and even had some of Casey’s friends contribute videos. We very much wanted it to be a place where anyone could learn about distracted driving. Once you do these things, you find out that people in traffic safety really want to help. I’ve now worked with people at NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration), the National Safety Council and more.
Using handheld devices makes you 4x more likely to get into a serious crash. (Monash University)
85% of respondents who text
while driving agree that texting while driving is a problem and 89% recognize that the behavior reduces reaction time. (Ad Council, 2011)
An online survey of 1,999 teens ages 16-19 found that 86% had driven while distracted even though 84% know it’s dangerous. (2010, AAA and Seventeen Magazine)
TSR: What is it going to take to get people to stop driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on their phone? Feldman: It’s tough. People who are involved in these accidents are just like you and me. It takes just a second and you can be on the other side. I hope it doesn’t take a personal tragedy to get people to stop driving distracted. That’s part of why we do these presentations—to tell the right story with the right message.
TSR: Can you see a time when the laws reflect just how dangerous distracted driving truly is? Feldman: It makes sense to ban handheld cellphones, texting, any electronic device. While they’re not the only cause, cellphone use is at the heart of the problem. If you pass
that legislation, then you can educate people on the laws and enforce it. Right now, the NHTSA is running a pilot program in states, such as New York and Connecticut, in which cellphone use is banned. They’ve seen a 40 percent reduction in distracted driving. Now, that was a targeted and expensive program, but it worked. It’s about education, legislation and enforcement.
TSR: Tell us a bit about Casey and the Casey Feldman Foundation. Feldman: Casey was an aspiring journalist who loved volunteering and animals. She worked in soup kitchens and no-kill animal shelters; she always wanted to help those in need. We want to continue that mission, so we encourage young people to volunteer, we work with various no-kill animal
77% of young adult
drivers are very/somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving. (Ad Council, 2011)
shelters and, of course, push to end distracted driving. One of the things I noticed in nonprofits as we’ve worked more with them over the past few years is that they have great programs, but no one knows about them. So, through the Foundation, we are bringing together skilled college students with nonprofits to help them boost their websites and more. Also, because of Casey’s love of animals, we’ve started working with a rehab center in Philadelphia and just funded their first service dog. After the dog and new owner are trained, patients will work on feeding the dog, walking the dog and more. It helps with their rehab efforts. I think Casey would have loved that. For more information, visit caseyfeldmanfoundation.org or endDD.org @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 37
DID YOU KNOW?
6,000 people died last year due to distracted driving. What if that could have been prevented? It can. A serious threat to our roadways, texting while driving, cellphone usage and other forms of distracted driving are rising at alarming rates. We believe it is our duty to help educate people of all ages about this growing epidemic. The goal of NODD.org is to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to encourage drivers to put down their cellphones while driving:
No Talking, Texting, Web Surfing or Emailing. Just driving with your attention focused on driving. Keep our roadways safe, keep yourself safe and “X THA TXT.” Take the pledge and support the cause – Say No to Distracted Driving.
Party Like a (Don’t)
Rock Star By Linda Chalat
Talking to your older kids about what they should—and shouldn’t —do on spring break
pring is here once again. And for about 1.5 million American college students and many high school students, that means spring break has arrived. While this may seem like a muchneeded break from the rigors of academic achievement to the students (and $1 billion to spring break-related businesses in Florida and Texas alone), mothers and fathers see it more as a period of enhanced parental apprehension. Those memories of our own abandonment of common sense and self-preservation seem much less nostalgic when we are watching our daughters pack Band-Aid-size bikinis and our safety-conscious sons learning how to say “alcohol poisoning” in Spanish—just in case, of course. The kids are worrying about the best beaches and bikini bodies; it is up to you to talk to them about the dangers of spring break.
Alcohol Consumption & Sexual Encounters By far, the biggest concern when it comes to spring break is alcohol. Almost all female students—92 percent—find that alcohol is easy to come by at this time. Both men and women consume an average of more than 10 alcoholic drinks PER DAY, compared with six drinks PER WEEK during the rest of the school year. A recent study found that 40 percent of men and 33 percent of women reported being drunk throughout the entire day during spring break. Fifty percent of men and 40 percent of women reported drinking until they passed out every night. Drinking to such excess raises the obvious concern of alcohol poisoning, but also frightening worries about what kids are doing when they voluntarily lower their inhibitions so egregiously. Another poll found that 74 percent of women use drinking as an excuse for outrageous behavior. Some 59 percent of women reported having friends who had sex with more than one partner 40 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
during spring break and 3 out of 5 had friends who had unprotected sex. In fact, a full 50 percent of all sexual encounters during spring break may be unprotected. These numbers, when multiplied by the 1.5 million college students out there, are truly scary.
Getting Arrested, Here & Abroad Alcohol fuels more than sex among party-goers. According to one source, more than 60 percent of students have had a run in with a police officer. Panama City Beach (Florida) has reported
74% of women
use drinking as an excuse for outrageous behavior.
under Italian law) of murdering her roommate after drug-fueled sex games. She was convicted without the presumption of innocence and without the guarantee of a speedy trial (she waited two years before her trial). While her conviction was eventually overturned, she lost four years of her life in an Italian prison cell. Many countries do not guarantee access to an attorney or to a timely court appearance. Students should be made aware that what may seem to be a relatively minor offense in the U.S. could result in an open-ended stay in a dirty Mexican jail.
Mindless Injuries Another concern is what will happen if a student gets injured on spring In fact, a full break. As of all sexual encounters many as 60 during spring break may be unprotected. percent of students get injured, often through their own actions. It seems as though every year we hear about a drunken spring breaker falling off a balcony to serious injury or death. Every student should check with their insurance company to find out what kind of costs will be involved if they have to go to the emergency room or other out-of-plan provider, either in the U.S. or overseas.
Some of women reported having friends who had sex with more than one partner during spring break and 3 out of 5 had friends who had unprotected sex.
arresting about 1,300 students, while South Padre Island (Texas) arrests an average of 25 people per day. Being arrested does more than ruin a good day and potentially cause a permanent blight on the students’ records; South Padre Island also collects $80,000 in fines each day of spring break. Drunk driving is a major concern, as is fighting. Perhaps underestimated by many partiers is the increased likelihood of rape, either by a friend, acquaintance, or stranger. Being arrested on Padre Island or in Panama City is bad enough, but many spring breakers leave the country for their vacation. One need only to look at the Amanda Knox case in Italy to understand that many of the rights we take for granted are not universally recognized. Knox was convicted (legitimately
Talk to Your Kids Spring break is a great opportunity for students to take a break, spend some time on the beach or visit a foreign country. Many view it as a rite of passage, and most escape with few or no harmful repercussions. Parents need to have a good discussion with their barely/soon-to-be adult children to raise the real issue of remaining safe while still having a good time. That conversation, combined with a little luck, may lead to them having the same conversation with their own children in two or three decades.
THIS IS WHAT THE “BAR OF JUSTICE” HAS COME TO MEAN TO MORE AND MORE AMERICAN CONSUMERS AND WORKERS
“The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government. It is one of the highest and most essential privileges of citizenship.” That’s what the Supreme Court said a century ago. But now the “right conservative of all other rights” is under attack. Public Justice was founded to enforce that fundamental right. We fight in the courts – for the wronged, the poor and the powerless; the environment; consumers’ rights; workers’ rights; civil rights; civil liberties; and corporate and government accountability. We cannot allow access to the courts to be eliminated for anyone.
Help us keep the courthouse doors open for all! To support our Access to Justice Campaign, become a member of the Public Justice Foundation, or to learn more about our fight to hold wrongdoers accountable, visit our website at www.publicjustice.net or call us at (202) 797-8600.
Attention Foodies: How to protect yourself from your own kitchen. By Pete Strom
You’re a foodie. You love to cook and experiment with new foods, ingredients and spices. But even with the most proper use of safety techniques, cooking fires can occur. So what do you do? Following are some important tips. • Don’t Panic Step #1 is to remember is not to panic. Panicking can make the situation worse as the fire is more likely to spread due to any rash decision making. If the fire is unmanageable, call 911. Leave your house and close the door to keep the fire contained as much as possible.
• Don’t Use Water! If a cooking fire is confined to a pot or skillet on the stove, cover the pot or pan on the burner with a lid or close the oven door to snuff out any oxygen that may fuel the fire. Do not attempt to move anything or use water as both of these actions run the risk of igniting the fire even more. It is important to remember that transporting a burning pot or pan can cause the fire to spread. Similarly, water thrown on a grease fire, will also fuel the fire and make it bigger. Fire extinguishers are good to have on hand in the event of a manageable kitchen fire; however, small fires can become big and spread very quickly. Alerting the fire department is always in your best interest. 42 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
• Stop, Drop & Roll If the flames spread to your clothing or skin, cover your eyes and stop, drop and roll. These three easy steps will keep you protected from the fire spreading further on your body and causing burns. Attempting to extinguish a fire yourself might prove to be much harder than you anticipate, so in the event of a fire, call the fire department is always in your best interest.
• Preventing Fires & Burns in the Future Before you begin working on your next kitchen concoction, learn some simple tips for keeping the kitchen fire free. • Stay attentive and alert to your working area. • Be aware that oils and grease can pop and can easily burn your skin even if you are paying attention. • Avoid placing anything you might need to reach for over the stove. • Educate children on burns and kitchen safety. If they’re not old enough to cook themselves, it’s important they understand how harmful a kitchen setting (and even a microwave) can be if they’re not careful. • For minor burns, place the affected area under cool water. Always seek medical treatment if you are unsure whether the burn is serious.
Heeding these rules will help you keep the fire out of your kitchen and bring the taste into your food.
IsEnough? Spring Cleaning
As more people develop allergies, more cleaning may be necessary to keep you healthy By Fidelma Fitzpatrick
Do you ever feel like the transition from winter to spring is like a bear waking up from hibernation? The days are longer, you have more energy and the sun shines brightly enough to show all the dirt that winter—or your sleepiness—has hidden. Either way, spring cleaning has become a tradition in many households, but is it really enough? This year, Quest Diagnostics’ Nichols Institute reported that 1 in 5 Americans suffered from allergies, a 5.8 percent increase over the past four years. A once-a-year deep clean may not be enough to keep the allergies at bay and your family healthy. This may be especially true when you take into account that mold, dust and pet dander are the three most common allergens and have the strongest link to asthma.
Be Careful When You Clean Just remember that a good deep cleaning, whether done once a year or once a week, can pose dangers of its own. According to the Home Safety Council (HSC), there are more than 10 million unintentional home injuries each year that result in emergency room visits. When cleaning this spring, the HSC offers these tips: • Keep stairs, landings and floors clear at all times. • When carrying objects, make sure you can see over them and keep one hand free to hold onto railings and banisters. • Never leave buckets of water unattended if you have young children; they pose a drowning hazard. • When using harsh cleaning products, wear gloves and masks. Never mix products because it may cause a dangerous reaction.
Children = Allergies Your children are twice as likely to have allergies as you are. Quest found that 53 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 17 have at least one allergy. So year-round cleaning—or a quarterly deep clean—might be a healthier option for your family. Families with allergies are encouraged to regularly maintain a clean home, focusing on washing linens, vacuuming carpets and furniture and sweeping floors, which hold dust mites, mold and pet dander.
Mold Allergens According to Quest, mold allergies have increased by 12 percent in the last year and the presence of mold in your home should be addressed immediately. If you rent, report mold to your landlord immediately. The homeowner is liable for providing a healthy space for you and your family. @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 43
Home Invasions Playing it safe By Jerry Trachtman
It’s late afternoon and your doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone, your spouse is at work and since you don’t have a peephole in your front door, you ask loudly, “who’s there?” A response comes quickly, “Federal Express with a package that must be signed for.” Even though you are not expecting anything, you open the door. Immediately, two men wearing ski masks and brandishing guns force their way in. They immediately demand your money, jewelry and ATM cards/PIN numbers. You fear for yourself and for your children, who are home from school and watching TV in another room. What happens next may depend in large part on you. More importantly, how could this situation have been prevented? According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, 38 percent of assaults and 60 percent of rapes occur during home invasions, and 1 in every 5 homes will experience a break-in or 44 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
home invasion. Those are incredible statistics, but there are some simple measures you can take to minimize your risk: • Install a wide-angle peephole in your front door. Check to see who is there before opening the door. Don’t open the door to a stranger. • Some home invaders go so far as to wear utility company or police uniforms. Remember, utility workers do their work outside the house, not inside. Call your local police and verify before letting a “policeman” into your home. • Some home invaders will claim their car has broken down, and they would like to use your phone. Resist the instinct to be helpful. Without opening the door, tell them if they give you a phone number you will make the call for them. • Although expensive, the best deadbolt door lock is a digital lock. • Do not rely solely on a deadbolt door lock. There are many inexpensive devices available that mount inside the door and prevent it from opening. • Carry a cellphone or cordless phone to the door if you are not sure who wants in, and be ready to dial 911. Better yet, create a speed dial option for 911.
important safety tips If armed home intruders have successfully entered your home, stay calm. How you behave in the first 30 seconds can set the tone for all that follows. Most experts recommend complying with demands to the extent necessary to prevent physical harm. Money, jewelry and valuables can be replaced. Never take aggressive action unless you believe that you are in a lifethreatening situation. Try to remember physical characteristics of the intruders, such as speaking accents, scars and tattoos, as well as clothing. As soon as possible, call 911 and provide all the information you can.
Child's Play Educate yourself about the safety of your kids’ toys By Larry Coben
Did you know that no independent agencies routinely test or study the toys you buy your kids? While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued some standards dealing with choke hazards, restrictions on paint or coatings of children’s products, flammability requirements and excessively loud toys, the fact remains that this agency is woefully understaffed and underfunded, making it impossible for it to marketing of safe products. That means that the safety of the hundreds of millions of toys that consumers buy each year are dependent upon the careful methods employed by product manufacturers in designing, packaging and marketing their products. Oh, and just in case you thought you could count on reputable retailers to screen for safety risks, forget about it. In this mass market era, caveat emptor is back in vogue.
Choking: What to Do First, you must assume that any toy you buy for a child under the age of 5 will be put in her mouth. Every caretaker must take every toy or every small part that is removable from every toy and see if it physically fits through a “test cylinder.” The CPSC uses a cylinder with a diameter of 1.25 inches and you should use a tube from a roll of toilet paper. If the toy or any removable part can pass through the tube than the toy is sized so that it can be swallowed and/or act a choking device in children. Keep in mind that any small ball may become a tool for closing off a child’s throat and result in asphyxiation. And, one of the primary hazards in this regard is posed by simple balloons. Magnetic toys are also a problem. They continue to be reported as associated with choking hazards leading to death or serious injury. Small neodyminum iron boron magnets are
commonly used in magnetic building sets and in bracelets and earrings, as well as in dolls. These magnets can be no larger than a half-piece of popcorn but strong, so if two were swallowed they could attract each other and obstruct major vessels in the body. Watch for Paint Lead-based paint continues to plague the toy market. Check labels for information on the contents of any paint coverings and eliminate these products from your child’s basket of goodies. Clothing Warnings Drawstring clothing remains very popular and potentially leads to strangulation and death in young kids. Hooded sweatshirts, jackets and pajama bottoms are poised as the leading products resulting in these deaths.
Caveat Emptor: Consumers Are On their Your Own Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons remains a leading cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 200 children died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part. In 2009, more than 5 million toys and other children’s products have been removed from store shelves over the fear of choking hazards. @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 45
60 for Safety is an ongoing effort to kickstart a safety revolution. The idea is simple â€” Give us 60 minutes, either as presenter or participant, and weâ€™ll help you make the world a safer place.
Our presenters are attorney members of The Injury Board from across North America, who volunteer their time, talent and financial resources to offer exciting and informative 60-minute safety presentations on a variety of topics to a wide range of audiences in their local areas. Our participants are local schools, PTAs, civic groups and community
join the movement!
organizations where we hope our safety messages are not just heard but shared with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Our presentations are created around expert information and advice from our safety partners, nonprofit
for more information visit us online
60forSafety.org follow us:
organizations, such as EndDD.org, KidsAndCars.org and more, who promote proven methods to end distracted driving, keep kids safe around cars, put a stop to bullying in schools, and other great ideas that help us create a safer world for the ones we love.
Keep Tabs on Your
10 home products to keep track of throughout the year By Jim Gilbert
Home appliances and electronics provide us with unprecedented convenience in our daily lives. Yet, along with the benefits of these products come certain risks. The Home Safety Council estimates that 21 million injuries and 20,000 deaths occur each year from home-related incidents. It is important for consumers to identify potential safety threats within their homes and familiarize themselves with preventive measures to protect against accidents. 1. Kitchen Appliances: Recent consumer incident reports to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicate that lights and control panels in some refrigerators and dishwashers have malfunctioned and caught fire, leading to home fires and electrical and burn injuries. Inspect the lights and control panels in your refrigerator and dishwasher to ensure they are properly working. 2. Water Heaters: The flues on a limited number of water heaters produce extreme heat in the venting unit, presenting a fire hazard. Have your water heater inspected annually for fire hazards. 3. Space Heaters: The CPSC reports that space heaters cause 21,800 home fires and approximately 300 deaths annually. Many of these incidents
occur from malfunctioning heaters or flammable objects left too close the heater. Keep space heaters at least four feet away from any flammable objects. Do not leave the heater running when you are not in the room. 4. Falling Hazards: Unstable televisions, appliances and furniture present falling safety hazards, particularly to children. Between 2008 and 2010, an average of 22,500 injuries resulted from the instability of these items in the home, with 19,200 injuries involving unstable televisions, according to a September 2011 CPSC study. Check that appliances and home electronics—particularly top-heavy televisions—are adequately secured to prevent toppling. 5. Furnaces & Heaters: Component electrical parts in certain direct-vent wall furnaces and other fuel-generated heaters can fail and create a risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning in the home. Have the safety and operations of any panel of wall-heating product in your home inspected annually. 6. Washers & Dryers: Clogged clothes dryer exhaust hoses and lint filters cause approximately 15,500 fires and 10 deaths each year, according to the CPSC. Clean out the dryer lint filter after every use and inspect the dryer vent hose for lint accumulation every few months.
7. Malfunctioning Products: If an appliance or electrical product appears to be malfunctioning, smoking or on fire, exit your home if your safety is at risk, and turn off the electrical circuit breaker to that area of the home. 8. Flammable Objects: Check around your home to ensure that flammable objects are removed from the vicinity of heat-producing appliances and products. Test the positioning of furniture, appliances and televisions to protect against falling hazards. 9. Smoke Detectors: Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all major rooms, hallways and bedrooms and in the vicinity of the HVAC systems. Place fire extinguishers in strategic locations. Inspect the detectors quarterly. 10. Up to Code: The CPSC recommends that consumers make sure that appliances are installed and operated to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes by having a licensed professional install your home appliances. By abiding by these few, simple rules, you’ll have a safer home.
For more information on product complaint and recall notices,
@THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 47
Is Asbestos Ever Safe to Leave in a Home? What to do if you discover the minerals in your home By Steven Kazan
carcinogen can be found in insulation, roofing shingles, paint and patching compounds, millboard, duct lining and covers, cement sheeting, floor and ceiling tiles, pipe coatings and drywall joint compound.
What to Do Once Asbestos Is Found
eople may feel like they are safe in their own homes, but many older houses contain asbestos, exposure to which can have devastating consequences. Asbestos—a set of six naturally occurring minerals—was once widely used as an insulator and flame retardant. Due to these properties, the substance was utilized in a great many products that are now commonly found in older homes. However, it has long been proven that exposure to the naturally occurring substance could cause a number of serious illnesses such as asbestosis (by 1930), lung cancer
48 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
(by 1955) and (by 1960) malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that attacks the thin lining of the chest and abdomen.
Where Can Asbestos Be Found in My Home? In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule banning the use of most asbestos products. Two years later, an appeals court overturned that rule. However, new use of asbestos is uncommon in the U.S. and a number of specific products are banned. Still, homes built before this period often contain asbestos in certain products. According to the EPA, the
Once asbestos is identified in the home, it can be tempting to want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. However, often the best thing to do is nothing. Asbestos poses the most danger when it becomes disturbed and the mineral fibers become airborne; the inhalation of these fibers is what causes illness. Typically, if the asbestos is not disturbed or damaged, it does not pose a risk. The EPA recommends that people regularly check areas in which they believe asbestos may be to ensure that the substance is not damaged. In addition, people should be sure to avoid projects that could potentially disturb the substance, such as drilling into a wall coated with asbestos-containing paint or joint compound.
Caution is the Name of the Game Due to the devastating consequences asbestos exposure can have—the World Health Organization estimates that asbestos-caused diseases kill 107,000 people each year—one should never attempt to remove asbestos on his or her own. While it may take additional time, contacting a certified asbestos abatement professional will ensure that the material is handled and disposed of properly. This is the best way to protect your family and your home’s resale value.
read the fine print Four lessons to learn before purchasing your next home warranty. By Wayne Parsons
Too often, home buyers close on a home without ever really looking carefully at their new home’s warranty. When a potential problem arises, they end up out of luck—and money. Following are four things to consider before you signed on the dotted line. 1
Follow the Rules Each warranty will state what must be done to file a claim. Failure to follow each step may void the warranty. Warranties may be called “Full” or “Limited” or “Repair,” but a homeowner must not make assumptions based upon the label and should read the warranty carefully to understand what exactly is covered. Follow the rules in the warranty, make all claims in writing and keep copies of all correspondence and proof of delivery. Calling “customer service” and speaking with someone is not enough.
reasonable expectations of a home buyer, in terms of the quality and maintenance of a new home. For instance, a roof should not leak. Implied warranties cover areas such as structural integrity. No “implied warranties” are in the sales packet. Every buyer gets them from courts and judges who have ruled that the law will step in on the side of a home buyer if shoddy workmanship or defective materials exist. The implied warranty is based upon what a reasonable “buyer” would expect in a house, not what the seller states. The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose covers situations such as the use of a slippery tile floor in an area exposed to rain or a roof that leaks.
Written vs. Implied Warranty Courts have created “implied warranties” that create a duty on the homebuilders and sellers to meet the
Don’t Be Fooled by a Short Warranty Many times, a seller will state that there is a one-year warranty on a home after the final walk-through. Each state has different laws and different time periods for these “statutory” warranties, but they do not limit the home buyer’s rights
to pursue claims under the implied warranties. If the seller rejects your claim because the one-year warranty has expired, check the law on implied warranties in your state because you may have more time. 4
After the Warranty Expires Generally, an express (written) warranty will be void if the claim is not made within the written warranty term. However, an implied warranty doesn’t have a set time for expiration. “Latent” defects are those that lie beneath the surface and are hidden from the buyer’s view. Latent defects surface sometimes years after occupancy when, for instance, a portion of the structure fails and investigation shows that a defective material was used or shoddy workmanship was involved. If the defect was not apparent to the buyer for a number of years, the time to bring the claim may be extended under the applicable implied warranties. This is a complex area that requires skilled legal analysis by an experienced local lawyer. @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 49
Ten tips for keeping newborns safe and well By Ed Graham and Luis Chastain, MD
As an expectant parent, you maintained optimum health through proper diet, exercise and prenatal care. You finally made it through labor and delivery and are now taking home your bundle of joy. The hard part’s over, right? Well, not so much. For every new parent, the safety and well-being of your baby is job one. Here, we offer 10 ways to help you transition your baby safely to a bold, new world. 1
Home environment. Long before delivery, safeguard your home. • Make sure there is no mold, carbon monoxide, radon or lead paint. • Verify that smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms are properly installed and powered. • Lock cabinets that contain alcohol, drugs, insecticides, cleaning agents, perfumes, fertilizers, poisons or other noxious substances. • Remove all firearms, or at least keep them locked and unloaded. • Forbid smoking in your home. If you insist on smoking, do so only outdoors, away from you child; then shower and change into freshsmelling clothes as soon as you enter your home. • Block all electrical outlets not in use. • Change HVAC filters regularly. • Set your water temperature not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. • Purchase and use a cordless telephone headset to free up both hands for baby while multi-tasking. • Learn baby CPR. • Avoid crowds and sick people the first two months, as fever the first two months often requires hospitalization. • If domestic violence is a problem in your home, resolve that before your new one arrives. Car Safety. Verify your baby car seat is installed correctly. Rear-facing is best for small infants and remains best until age and size dictate a forward-
facing installation. Never place your young child in the front seat. Middle of the back seat is best. Remember, car seats work in airplanes too. Do not get distracted and leave your baby alone in your car, as extreme temperatures can be deadly. As your baby gains mobility, be mindful of blind spots behind and in front of your vehicle. 3
Feeding. If you breastfeed the first six to 12 months or use formula, pay special attention to maternal nutrition during that time. As you later introduce solid foods, offer a variety including pureed fruits and veggies from your own plate. Never offer a bite size that could possibly cause choking. Sleeping. Place your baby on his or her back for sleeping, in a crib that does not present risk of head and neck entrapment. Remove unnecessary dangers, such as plush toys and soft bumpers. Favor warm pajamas over extra blankets. Purchase and use a monitor to alert you to crying or interruption of normal breathing. Resist the temptation to let your baby sleep with you. Fall Hazards. Install a baby gate at any stairs. Change diapers at a low height. Refrain from lying down with your baby in your bed or on a couch. Carry your beloved with two arms or in a strong and secure child carrier. Secure heavy items in your home, to prevent them from falling and hurting your newborn.
Choking and Strangulation Hazards. Keep small objects and toys with small parts away from your baby. As he or she starts to crawl, pay attention to objects on the floor, such as coins, paperclips and bobby pins. Keep bite sizes small. Use loose blankets sparingly.
Drowning Hazards. Do not leave your baby alone in the tub— ever. Even two inches of water can cause death
by drowning. Restrict access to pool areas and bodies of water. Early swim lessons promote water safety and will reduce anxiety for you and your growing child. 8
Sun Hazards. An adjustable roof on your baby carriage should be positioned to minimize sunburn risk, but light complexions also need sunscreen. You should not overlook sunstroke risk during extended time outdoors, so limit sun exposure and hydrate appropriately. Sun rays can be intensified by auto glass, so be mindful of sunburn even while driving.
Doctor Visits. Schedule well-baby visits first thing in the morning or right after lunch to minimize exposure to illness. Write out any questions or concerns ahead of time, so you do not forget or shy away from getting all the information you need. Insist pleasantly that your physician wash his or her hands in your presence.
Take Care of Yourself. Your child depends on you. Keep yourself physically, mentally and emotionally well, with good nutrition and exercise, so you can provide optimum care. If you experience sadness, get evaluated for postpartum depression and follow treatment recommendations of your physician. Report domestic violence and seek safe refuge when necessary to protect your child. Above all, have confidence that with every passing day you gain valuable skill and experience as a parent. Attentive parents learn to trust their own instincts to maximize their child’s health and safety. The time and effort you devote to keeping your baby safe offers priceless returns on investment.
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Do Your Homework
for traveling to an unknown destination
By J. Robert Davis
Two years ago, after much prodding by my 12-year-old son, we decided to embark on a fishing trip to the Amazon Basin. Excited but a little uneasy about making the trip with my child, I logged on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. What I learned was that several outbreaks of deadly Yellow Fever had recently occurred in the Basin. I immediately contacted my brotherin-law, a board-certified doctor in the field of infectious diseases. He said, “There is a vaccine, but you really should wait until Birch is a little older. Why take the risk?” We have not made the trip...yet. And I still feel good about the decision. Put safety first when traveling to an unknown destination. Research, prepare and consider these tips:
52 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
Travel with a stash of medicine. Obtain the necessary vaccinations well in advance. Bring Benadryl for allergic reactions (don’t forget your Epi-pen if you have known serious reactions). Neosporin for cuts and scrapes. Proair for your asthma. Antibiotics to ward off more serious problems. Talk to your doctor before you go.
Avoid checking bags; carry on whenever possible. Never pack valuables in checked bags. Always carry them on. Keep ID tags updated and attach a colorful marker to your bag. Never turn your back to your luggage.
Check the weather at your destination before you pack. Always
weatherize your vehicle before a trip. Have an expert check your tire wear. Keep an emergency pack in your vehicle with food and water, first aid and hazard warning in case you break down. Dress warm (unless you are driving in Texas in August!) Check out www.wunderground.com (the weather underground details forecasts wherever you go); and www.fhwa.dot.gov/webstate.htm (offers travel advisories and road closures by state).
Your Travel Documents
Always make a copy of your passport and keep the two separate and safe (I secure my passport in the hotel and venture out with my copy). Ditto with your driver’s license (keep a copy in your vehicle). Bring a valid copy of your proof of insurance. Check out www.travel.state.gov. (If your
on the road
passport is lost or stolen, you can find the local consulate here.)
Always keep a secret stash separate from your purse or wallet. Never flash your cash when paying. If you must use the ATM, use a welllit location in a hotel lobby, bank or airport. Call your bank and set a limit on the max you can withdraw from an ATM in a single day, and tell them if you are traveling abroad.
Your Day Trips
Never travel alone unless it is unavoidable. Dress modestly. Avoid provocative or flashy clothes and jewelry (leave it at home). Use only taxis called by the hotel concierge or restaurant doorman. Employ a local guide recommended by your hotel. Beware of strangers.
Always stay buckled when seated (clear air turbulence can occur without warning). Beware of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Drink plenty of fluids. Get up and walk around. Ask your doctor. He may prescribe a diuretic. Comply with security (like it or not).
Avoid driving fatigued. Never drink and drive. Eyes on the roadâ€” not on your phone (see cover story for more). Slow down and always stay buckled up. Check out www.dot.gov/citizen_services (provides numerous handy links to safe road travel wherever you go).
or electronics in your vehicle. Use the concierge for local information or to obtain a guide. Use the room safe or front desk to secure valuables. Keep your doors locked at all times inside your room.
Research and Checklist
Make a checklist of important items to bring. Know your destination. Check for travel alerts and warnings about local conditions. Check out www.travel.state.gov (Bureau of Consular Affairsâ€”a must when traveling abroad); and www.fco.gov.uk (British foreign office for a different view of your destination).
Do your research. Be prepared. Be safe. Have fun!
Stay in the best hotel you can afford. Never leave luggage, valuables @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 53
The Single Traveler’s
Guide to Hotel Safety By J. Gregory Webb
In fact, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), more than 1.5 billion people slept in a hotel or motel in 2010. Though most hotels are safe and secure, awareness of your surroundings and using common sense can help you avoid becoming the victim of a crime. Whether at a bed and breakfast, five-star luxury property or an airport hotel, use these tips to keep you safe.
Before You Head Out • Read travel reviews and guides to find out if the hotel is located in a safe area. • Find out if the hotel’s hallways, exits, entrances and parking lots are monitored by a security camera.
From business trips to single-girl getaways, traveling alone has never been more popular. 54 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
• Ask for a room above the ground floor, especially if there are sliding glass doors—an entry point offering easier views of and access into your
room. Once inside your room, check the door and window locks and make sure connective room doors are locked. • If your room is too isolated, move to another room in a higher traffic area. • If the desk clerk says your room number out loud, request that you be given a different room and have him write it down. • Have the key in hand to avoid fumbling with it in the hallway. This helps you focus on being aware of your surroundings.
While In Your Room • Turn the deadbolt and fasten the security chain and keep the door locked at all times. • Do not open your door to strangers. • If someone knocks, use the security viewport to see who is outside your door. Do not trust someone claiming to be a hotel employee if you are not expecting one. If you are unsure, call the front desk to check. Leave the security chain engaged while opening the door for further protection. • Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door when you’re out so people think the room is occupied. Do not hang the “Please Make Up Room” sign—that’s a dead giveaway that you’re not there. Instead, call housekeeping when you need service.
Coming and Going • When you leave your room, pull the door completely closed behind you. Make sure the latch has engaged. • Do not display cash or expensive jewelry. • Always use the main entrance when entering or leaving the hotel after dark. Traveling alone can be a great experience. Taking the time to better educate yourself on some simple safety rules will help make your trip all the more enjoyable.
Simple, But Obvious
the teen driver Tips for in your life By Stephanie Andre
Attention parents of teenagers! Is your son begging you to let him get his driver’s permit? Does your daughter long for her independence from you, carpools and the embarrassment of pickup and dropoff? If so, you’re not alone. Whether your teen is enrolled in driver’s ed or you’re teaching him or her yourself, here are some smart tips to remind them of before they get behind the wheel.
Always Pay Attention A good defensive driver always knows what is ahead, to the side and behind the vehicle. He/she always drives for the road and weather conditions.
Know Your Speed The faster you go, the less control you have over the vehicle. Speed limits have been established for the safety of all road users.
The Driver Is Responsible Don’t move the car until all occupants are wearing their seat belts. Passengers in the front of the vehicle must properly adjust their headrests (they should be adjusted at approximately mid-ear level). Too high or too low can cause injury.
No Child’s Play Talk about overstating the obvious. Plain and simple, a motor vehicle is a potentially dangerous weapon if it is not used properly. A vehicle is a form of transportation, which is meant to get you from point A to point B. It is not meant to be used as a way to impress your friends.
No Drinking & Driving, Period Alcohol, drugs and driving don’t mix. Lack of sleep can lead to collisions. To drive safely, you must be sober and alert. Spell out what the consequences of driving drunk, etc., will be.
What to Do If You Miss a Turn or Exit Go to the next turn or exit. Know your route. Look it up before leaving for your destination or use a GPS.
Be Ready to Share the Road You’re not the only one on the road. You have to be aware of other drivers, pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles. Plain and simple, you have to share the road with others.
Who’s Paying for This Car? Will your kid have to pay for gas? Car insurance? Damage done to the car? These are questions you should discuss with your teen prior to letting him/her get behind the wheel.
Consequences for Actions Lay down the rules about car usage. What penalties/consequences have you discussed with your teen with regard to breaking the rules? Is your kid aware of the legal consequences of not playing by the rules?
Just Drive Safely Follow the rules and you’ll just be another driver on the road.
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WORKING TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE IN AND AROUND VEHICLES Behind this SUV is a group of daycare children. Not one of these children can be seen by the driver behind the wheel. Before you turn the keyâ€Śmake sure you can see! Most drivers are unaware of the large and very dangerous blindzone that exists behind all vehicles. Every week at least 50 children are seriously injured or killed after being backed over because a driver was unable to see them behind their vehicle.
Help save the life of a precious child Donate to KidsAndCars.org Log on to donate: http://kidsandcars.org/donate.htm Follow us: @KidsAndCars
Until there are nationwide standards to which all must abide, here are some tips to keep you safe at railroad crossings:
Forget the Bells
Know the rules for staying clear of passing trains By Brett A. Emison
What if the roads you traveled were filled with constant hazards, such as large, metal objects hurtling through the dark at high speeds, often careening into the line of traffic unannounced, without warning to motorists, seriously injuring or killing those individuals? This happens hundreds of times daily at railroad crossings across the U.S., resulting in more than 29,000 railroad crossing collisions, 10,000+ injuries and more than 3,500 deaths over the last decade. It seems like a train would be an easy obstacle to miss, just based on size alone. But a train’s girth can be deceptive; an entire train can be
hidden by improper sight lines or even a simple, overgrown shrub. Despite the danger, most railroad crossings are not protected by flashing lights, bells or gates. Most crossings are identified only by the small, X-shaped railroad crossing “cross buck” signs. Even if lights and gates are present, poor maintenance or malfunctions may cause these warning devices to be unreliable. Malfunctioning lights and gates make railroad crossings even less safe because motorists rely on those devices to warn them when a train is approaching. Many railroad crossing collisions could have been prevented by the railroad company, but corporations often refuse to install safety devices unless they are paid for by federal, state or local funds.
• Often, railroad companies fail to install proper warning devices, such as lights, alarms (crossing bells) or a functioning crossing gate, so if you see the yellow and black RR crossing sign, don’t assume it’s “all clear.” • Many railroad crossings have improper sight lines that make it difficult (or impossible) to see oncoming trains. Be extra cautious when approaching a crossing that might have shrubs or other obstacles that could hide a train. • Sometimes a train is parked too close to a crossing—even directly across the road. At night, this can be particularly dangerous. If you see your path of traffic is close to an active rail line, keep in mind that a parked train is one of the more severe points of collision out there. • Listen for train horns or whistles at or near a crossing—but don’t depend exclusively on them. Brake and proceed with caution. Just because there’s no audible warning of a train crossing your path, doesn’t guarantee that a train is not approaching.
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‘Driving’ each other
Keys for motorists, cyclists to coexist on the roads Most main roads are congested. Whether it’s during rush hour—or any hour—unless we start driving flying cars, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. Add to this a growing number of cyclists, and you have a recipe of dangerous behavior and maybe even some road rage.
Driver Errors Below are some common mistakes motorists make. Don’t be a statistic. Review these scenarios and change your driving habits. You never know who you may be saving. The Right Hook - A motorist tries to overtake a cyclist, and not realizing how fast the cyclist is traveling, has to “gun it” in order to pass the cyclist only to make a hard right turn in front of the cyclist, often resulting in a collision or the cyclist being forced off the road. The Left Cross - The motorist and cyclist are traveling in opposite directions on the same road and as they approach each other, the motorist turns left in front of the cyclist, often resulting in the cyclist broadsiding the car and then flying into or over the vehicle. Buzzing - The motorist often sees the cyclist up ahead and makes it a point 58 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
By Danny Feldman
to pass very close to the cyclist in order to show the cyclist that the motorist is aggravated that it must “share” the road with the cyclist. Obviously, the slightest miscalculation will result in the cyclist being struck or forced off the road. What’s the Solution? - Bottom line: These behaviors are either the result of intentional misconduct (buzzing) or the result of carelessness or distracted driving. They can even sometimes be the result of the motorist simply underestimating the speed at which the cyclist is traveling (most often, the right hook). As a driver, be more careful and have greater respect for cyclists on the roadway, which may be achieved by a number of factors, including driver education and 3-foot passing laws.
Mistakes Cyclists Make Drivers are not the only culprits in motorists vs. cyclist incidents. Heed these warnings. Spend more time watching for cars and less time weaving between them. Running Red Lights / Stop Signs Cyclists (like motorists) who do this, do so at their own risk. Of course, it is even more aggravating to a motorist who is sitting in a line of cars waiting for a light to turn green to see a cyclist pass the stopped vehicles and then run the red light.
Listening to iPods and/or Other Devices – Some cyclists are “plugged in” when they ride and thus cannot hear street sounds and other things that may alert them to danger. Although motorists are often listening to music with their windows rolled up, many seem to still be aggravated by the sight of a cyclist (or pedestrian) on the road with their ears plugged up. Unpredictable Riding Behavior – Weaving around and through cars, suddenly changing directions without giving hand signals regarding the rider’s intentions annoys drivers and, obviously, surprise moves by the cyclist may well put them in danger. What’s the Solution? Unfortunately, such behavior is primarily dangerous to the cyclist because he is the one who will bear the brunt of the physical injuries. Cyclists—who also almost always are motorists as well—could eliminate these behaviors by considering how they would feel if they were the motorist in question in any of hte above situations. Whether you are driving a car or a bicycle, always consider those around you and be cognizant of the environment in which you are traveling.
It Always Happens to Someone Else
for more info
...until it happens to you
By Janette Fennell In a matter of minutes, something unspeakable and unthinkable can happen in a place where you and your children spend a lot of time—the family vehicle. And, even a bigger problem is that no parent thinks it will ever happen to them. What is this common safety risk that parents want to deny? Children left alone in vehicles. More than 600 children have died in vehicles from heat stroke since 1990, including 49 such fatalities in 2010—the most ever reported in a single year. But here’s an even more shocking statistic: In more than half of the incidents, the children were unknowingly forgotten by the driver
and left alone in the car. You’re probably thinking, “That’s dreadful, but I would never do something like that.” You’re probably right, but have you ever had one of those days when you’re so stressed and exhausted that you find yourself operating on ‘auto pilot’? Going through your daily routine…driving to work and not realizing how you got there?
Police chases kill at least
A child left alone in a car on a warm day is a tragedy waiting to happen. The good news is following the simple steps below will ensure that your children will never be inadvertently left alone in a vehicle. • Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. Place it on the front seat as a reminder when your baby is in the back seat. • Put something in the back seat such as a cellphone or employee badge that requires you to open the back door every time you park. • Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived by the normal time. • Make it a routine to open the back door of your car every time you park to check that no one has been left behind. • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway. • Keys and remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
innocent bystanders every week.
How many deaths before it’s not okay? Police chases for non-violent crimes often spin out of control, killing and injuring innocent bystanders.
PursuitSAFETY is a national nonprofit organization working to raise awareness about a real crisis that will continue to affect thousands of law-abiding people if we don’t come together and do something about it. Please visit pursuitsafety.org so you can find out more about what PursuitSAFETY is doing to:
• Serve injured victims and bereaved families • Unite people together to solve this global crisis, and • Save Lives by promoting pursuit policies and legislation that strike an appropriate balance between (a) apprehending fleeing drivers or answering first-responder calls and (b) ensuring public safety. Your tax-deductible gift will help us save lives.
A National Nonprofit Organization • PO Box 3128, Chico, CA 95927 • 530-343-9754 • www.pursuitsafety.org @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 59
The coolest new safety innovations for your next car By Henry N. Didier Jr. includes, most notably, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology. Brake Assist is designed to detect sudden or “panic” braking and adds the full pressure needed to help prevent a collision. Smart Stop Technology automatically reduces engine power when both pedals are pressed at the same time under certain conditions. For a longer version of this article, visit thesafetyreport.com.
rguably, the biggest change in the auto industry over the past decade is manufacturers’ attitudes toward investments and advancements in safety technologies. Whereas style, performance and price used to reign supreme, now safety is what sells. For years, safety innovations were being developed and improved, yet automakers were slow to incorporate them. But now, they’re catching up— and with a vengeance. The result is a wide array of standard and optional safety features on luxury as well as midrange vehicles.
Crash Avoidance Features The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimated that current crash avoidance features have the potential to prevent or mitigate as many as 1.9 million crashes each year, including 1 in 3 fatal crashes. Among the many car companies now offering choices, Volvo continues to be the gold standard in safety through the use of advanced technology. Case in point, its high-tech “City Safety” system helps drivers avoid rearend, low-speed accidents via an optical 60 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
Additional Key Features radar system that will activate the car’s brakes automatically if a collision is imminent to prevent an impact. Also, it offers the world’s first Pedestrian Detection system, which can prevent accidents involving pedestrians by automatically stopping the car if a person walks out in the street.
Watching Your Wallet In the budget-friendly category, Ford offers new safety options on some of its new models. The 2012 Explorer can be equipped with inflatable rear seat belts, which, in the event of a frontal or side crash, deploy and help distribute crash force energy across more of the occupant’s torso than a traditional belt. Also from Ford and available on the Edge, Taurus and Explorer in 2012 is Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning. With Adaptive Cruise Control, drivers select a cruising speed and the distance they want to maintain from the vehicle in front of them, and the car automatically slows or accelerates to maintain that distance. Not to be outdone, Toyota now offers its Star Safety System package as standard on all of its vehicles, which
Regardless of model, customers should consider a few additional key features for added safety. • First, ask whether the seatbelt system has pretensioners or belts that tighten belt if a crash is likely. • Also, don’t be fooled by claims of “side airbag head protection.” Investigate further to ensure that the side airbags extend to the rear-seated passengers where children often sit. • Rollover canopy airbags are another important life-saving feature to consider, particularly with SUVs. • Finally, inquire as to whether laminated glass is available for side and rear windows, in addition to the windshield. This is an option worth buying to prevent ejections in rollover crashes. When looking for a new car, decide what is most important to you and research the models that offer features you desire.
Editor’s note: In each issue, we will share stories from everyday people whose lives have been impacted by the actions of others.
Looking to Change the Law
Don Nelson and his son, Kenny
How only one person took the fall, while two are to blame By David Ransin
hen it comes to letting family or friends drink and drive, most of us are unaware of the civil legal rights and responsibilities that do or do not exist—nor of the legal consequences that may result. The Nelson family’s tragedy tells this story. Don Nelson—a respected eader and high school coach—was killed after being struck head on by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. Nelson’s death could have been avoided had one person stopped Harry Widener from driving—his wife, Donna. And yet, while Harry Widener is at fault and liable, his wife is not. Widener was an alcoholic. He and his wife knew it. When Harry started drinking, he just kept drinking and neither of them kept count.
Besides Harry’s three prior DWIs, his wife knew there were many more times he drank too much and drove any way—often with her in the car. Widener’s drinking and driving had been a recurring problem throughout their marriage of more than 20 years. Nonetheless, she invited him to join her and some friends after work at a local bar, knowing he would be driving there on his own and probably driving afterward. For four straight hours, she sat watching as Widener drank beer after beer. As her husband got up to leave, Donna questioned whether he was sober enough to drive. She admittedly did not try very hard and—despite knowing better—agreed to let Widener drive himself home. Leaving the parking lot in his pickup, Widener turned left—the wrong way—
Don Nelson’s motorcycle after the head-on collision.
on a one-way divided highway. He went only two blocks, rounded a curve, and hit Nelson and his motorcycle head on. Nelson was dead. With a blood alcohol content level of nearly three times the legal limit, Widener was criminally responsible for Nelson’s death; he pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and served time from his conviction. However, establishing the full responsibility of Nelson’s death—in terms of his family’s civil claims for their harms and losses—was not as clear cut. The civil law holds Widener responsible, but it does not hold his wife responsible for her actions, which, in this case, clearly contributed to this tragedy. If anyone could have, and should have, stopped Widener, it was his wife. Widener never would have been at the bar without her invitation. Even Widener admitted that had she been more adamant and refused to let him drive home that night, he would have let someone else drive. If that had happened, there would have been no accident, no conviction…and Nelson would be alive today. In Missouri, as in most states, one spouse is not liable for letting the other spouse drive drunk. Under the present law, because of the marital relationship, any property owned jointly by spouses in this situation is completely protected from these type of claims brought against the other spouse. That is, the Nelsons claims for the wrongful death of their father against Widener cannot reach property owned jointly by the couple. The end result is that the wife’s @THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 61
INJUSTICE property rights are fully protected from any claims against her husband for his drunk driving and she bears no legal responsibility for her role in allowing her husband to drive drunk and kill someone. Thus, the victim’s family is limited to recovering only the small amount of liability insurance that the drunk driver had available. In other words, the drunk driver and his or her spouse can have millions of dollars in assets fully protected, but can do so while only carrying the minimum legal limit of automobile insurance, which can be as low as $25,000 or even $15,000. In their dad’s memory, and for the right reasons, Kenny and Stacy are pursuing a lawsuit against Donna trying to change this law. Their claim is that if Donna enjoys unique property rights due to her marital relationship, then she should also bear unique responsibility as well for her failure to prevent injury and death to innocent victims of her husband’s drunken driving. They hope to establish a fair balance in which such a legal right of protection for jointly held property also bears a reasonable, jointly held responsibility to the public. Without this change in the law, families will be denied full justice from all parties who are directly responsible for causing needless harms and losses.
Kenny, Stacy and Don Nelson.
62 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
A Story of Disfigurement and Deception By Linda Chalat
n 2004, Stacie Hintz was a young mother living quietly with her husband and daughter in Colorado Springs. Then she was given a life-changing diagnosis by a local pathologist of an aggressive type of breast cancer called DCIS. The National Cancer Institute defines DCIS as a precancerous condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. In some cases, DCIS may spread to other tissues, according to the institute. After the initial diagnosis, two partners of the primary pathologist confirmed her finding of DCIS. As a result of the diagnosis, the treating breast surgeon recommended a total bilateral mastectomy and removed both breasts. After Hintz’s double mastectomy, the primary pathologist reviewed surgical tissue samples and diagnosed them as benign. She also reviewed the original biopsy slides
and revised her diagnosis, but did not tell Hintz. “I was pretty scared at the time,” Hintz told the New York Times. “My daughter was 2 years old. The state of mind that I was in was saying, ‘I need to live to raise my daughter— just do what you need to do.’“ Hintz later moved to Denver and sought follow-up care at a larger facility—the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. To manage her case, doctors at the University of Colorado asked for the pathology slides from her previous doctors. Several weeks later, Hintz received a letter from her new doctors: She never had breast cancer. “It said we’ve reviewed these slides and we’ve found no cancer,” she said. “I’m standing there, in shock.” That is when Hintz learned for the first time that she had been the victim of medical malpractice and a victim of the “code of silence,” which dominates the medical community.
She hired our firm to represent her in claims against the pathology group responsible for the initial misdiagnosis and her breast surgeon for advocating immediate surgical removal of both breasts. There was a huge fight over the failure of the pathologists—any of them—to inform Hintz of the revised diagnosis of no cancer. One defendant, who had reexamined the slides and found no evidence of cancer, and who had joined the “conspiracy of silence” was dismissed from the case under the rubric of “quality control” and “peer review.” The corporate employer of the pathologist, in whose files the evidence of no-cancer was kept from Hintz, and against whom a claim of outrageous conduct was made, was also dismissed on the rubric that corporations do not practice medicine, and in any event the
failure to furnish a patient with truthful information that her diagnosis of cancer was incorrect was tantamount to outrageous conduct was also dismissed. The court held that the failure to inform, intentional or not, was included within the “practice of medicine” and thus barred the claim under the immunities extended by the Colorado tort reform statute. The doctors involved with her DCIS diagnosis and subsequent double mastectomy consciously decided not to tell Hintz that she did not have cancer—condemning her to live under the shadow of the diagnosis of cancer the remainder of her life, receiving care predicated on the falsehood and having her daughter labeled as the child of a breast-cancer survivor. These pathologists suffered no consequences for their outrageous deception. But Hintz does live with dramatic consequences. She lives with the severe disfigurement that results from a double mastectomy. Her past and future medical expenses, including reconstructive breast surgery, are expected to total approximately $80,000. Hintz ultimately reached a settlement with the pathology group that had given her the misdiagnosis. And this is when she was victimized a third time.
In Colorado, there are very strict caps on damages in medical malpractice cases limiting all noneconomic damages, including disfigurement, to $300,000. Even though she had been deliberately misled by her doctors as to her cancer diagnosis, and she had both of her healthy breasts surgically removed, the Colorado legislature had predetermined that her injuries were worth no more than $300,000, irrespective of what a jury might award. Although the exact financial terms of the settlement are confidential, the settlement reached for the Hintz family reflected that cap on damages. Under current Colorado law, a person suing a doctor or hospital for malpractice can recover only $300,000 in noneconomic—or “pain and suffering”—damages and disfigurement and permanent impairment damages. For other types of tort claims, caps on noneconomic damages do not include disfigurement and impairment—only when the disfigurement is caused by a medical professional does the cap extend to physical disfigurement and impairment. All damages in Colorado medical malpractice cases are still capped at $1 million, unless a judge approves a higher award.
What is Faces of Injustice? Faces of Injustice is a platform that seeks to give a voice to those whose suffering does not end with the conclusion of their legal case. From malpractice to the fine print, these everyday people have been negatively impacted by tort reform, abusive defense tactics, improper judicial interference or jury bias. Faces of Injustice will tell their stories. To read more or if you have a story you would like to tell, please visit facesofinjustice.org All names, photos and documentation has been approved by all interested parties.
@THESAFETYREPORT / THESAFETYREPORT.COM / 63
Dos & Dont’s of...
Dieting By Stephanie Andre
Don’t drink plenty of water!
watch your portions.
go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
Do plan your meals in advance.
stress about how much weight you are—or are not—losing.
eat half a bag of cookies because it says “reduced fat.”
give up! take pride in building willpower.
64 / THE SAFETY REPORT / SPRING 2012
Do keep a food journal.
bring your own lunch to work.
Driving While Texting Should Be Banned By David Bernstein
ccidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Some are preventable. Others are not. Distracted driving would fall into the preventable category. That is why more and more states are making it illegal to send text messages while driving. In fact, at least 30 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. In addition, at least eight states prohibit all handheld cellphone use while driving. The federal government has also banned texting while driving by federal employees on duty and by all commercial truck and bus drivers. According to the Kansas Transportation Department, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision. To put this number in perspective, drunk drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a collision. There are three types of distractions while driving: (1) Visual (eyes off of the road); (2) Manual (hands off of the steering wheel) and (3) Cognitive (mind off of driving). Texting while driving involves all three types of distractions. A new bill was introduced in Oklahoma this January to prevent all drivers from texting and driving. Hopefully by the time this issue of The Safety Report is published, the Oklahoma legislature and governor will have passed and signed this new bill into law. At press time, Oklahoma law only prohibits drivers 18 and under who have a learner’s permit or intermediate driver’s license from using a cellphone to talk or text while driving, except in case of emergency. In addition, the governor previously signed an executive order prohibiting state employees from texting while driving on state business in state-owned or personal vehicles.
If you, a friend or a family member have been injured by a defective product, a medical device, a prescription drug, an impaired or inattentive driver, a trucking company, an on-the-job incident, or if an insurance company has not treated you fairly, please consider contacting David Bernstein for a free initial, confidential consultation. Bernstein has been recognized as a Super Lawyer (restricted to the top 5 percent of all attorneys) in Oklahoma every year since this prestigious program began in 2006. In addition to being published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal and teaching attorneys and insurance adjusters every year at legal seminars on topics such as “Insurance Bad Faith,” “Trying Personal Injury Cases,” Trying Large Truck Cases,” “Uninsured Motorist Coverage,” and “Evidence,” Bernstein is proud to give back to the community. In addition to being one of the founders of Lawyers Against Hunger, a nonprofit corporation to help feed the less fortunate, Bernstein is proud to donate to charities
If the proposed bill has not been passed by the Oklahoma legislature when you read this article, I strongly recommend that you contact your representative and encourage him or her to support this bill making texting while driving illegal. Texting while driving is a serious problem. The proportion of drivers distracted at the time of fatal crashes increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2008, when nearly 6,000 people died and more than a half million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. And those statistics don’t even tell the whole story. The problem may be even larger since driver distractions may be vastly underreported to law enforcement. There is good news, though. As mentioned above, more and more states are implementing bans on texting while driving. Accidents caused by texting are entirely avoidable. Drivers need to understand that certain distractions are preventable. Writing or reading a text while driving can be delayed until the car is stopped. No text is worth risking your life as well as the life of other innocent families traveling on the roads. With the help of laws prohibiting such behavior, the roads should become substantially safer.
including United Way, the National MS Society-Oklahoma Chapter and the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children. He also served as one of the original members of the Norman Historical District Commission for many years. Please call 405.329.1484 or 800.235.0529 to set up a free initial, confidential consultation and enjoy a free cup of coffee/soft drink. Or, if you prefer, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and describe your legal issue. Our main office has plenty of free parking and is located in downtown Norman at 104 W. Gray St., just two blocks from the Cleveland County Courthouse. There is also an alternative location in Oklahoma City if that is more convenient. In some circumstances, if you are unable to travel, Bernstein can come to you. Please visit www.USASafetyLawyer.com for more information and to read blogs on current issues of interest.
PROMOTING SAFETY. PROTECTING RIGHTS. GIVING BACK. FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS. CONTACT US TODAY
USASafetyLawyer.com Call us at 405.329.1484 Email us at DBNormanOK@aol.com
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