Living Safer - Vol. 8, Ed. 4

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Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Andre Art Director Eva Talley

A Letter fro m th e E d ito r

Associate Editor Brittany Monbarren

Preparing for the Unpredictable

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@ livingsafer

2016 has been quite a show, right? From not one, but two natural disasters to a very different and divided election, the events in the latter part of the year certainly could not have been predicted. Just when we think we have this “adulting” figured out, reality smacks us in the face to remind us that life is about ups and downs, lefts and rights and even a few loopty-loops. It leaves us asking ourselves, “how can you prepare for the unpredictable?” Well, that depends. After all, this question could be raised in just about every section of this magazine—and often is—in many different ways. To be honest, every day we spend as parents could be considered unpredictable! However, after much thought and review of what’s transpired as of late—looking at both the massive flooding in Louisiana and the disaster and destruction brought on by Hurricane Matthew—we decided to dedicate this issue’s cover section to the idea of disaster recovery. In this story, we take a deep dive into how to protect your property, your family and your finances in the wake of a disaster. We’ll go step-by-step through the recovery process: what to do, what not to do, who to call and when, deadlines to remember and more. It also offers tips on how to avoid scammers—both on and offline. I highly encourage you to read this article, starting on page 32. You never know when life may present you with unavoidable challenges out of your control. Being prepared—at the very least—will provide some comfort should disaster strike. I firmly believe that preparation of any kind is always a plus. To that end, I would highly suggest taking a look at some of the other stories we have included in this issue of the magazine, including a look at car insurance minimums, talking social media with your babysitter and deciding if you’re ready to make your home “smart.” Until next time,

© 2016 by Claris Marketing, Tampa, Florida. All rights reserved. Editorial and executive offices at 320 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 650, Tampa, FL 33606. Telephone: 813-225-1313. Material in this publication may not be stored or reproduced in any form without permission.

Stephanie Andre, Editor-in-Chief

Requests for permission should be made to Stephanie Andre, Editor-In-Chief, Living Safer, The opinions expressed in this publication are those of specific authors and are not intended to or do not necessarily represent the opinion or views of the publisher, staff or other authors.

l i v i n g s a f e r i s yo u r g u i d e t o a l l t h i n g s s a f e t y .

Inside This Issue ON THE COVER

32 You Weathered the Storm: What’s Next? How to protect your property, your family and your finances in the wake of a disaster












For Jay Reynolds—a 56-year-old employee of the Methanex plant near Baton Rouge, La.— the August floods brought a pain he was not expecting. “If your home burns down to the ground, you have nothing left. With a flood, it’s so much more cruel…you can see every picture of your family and children smeared and ruined.”

















Keeping Our National Flood Insurance Program Afloat by Bryan Silver The past year has certainly put our flood insurance program to the test, with storms like Hurricane Matthew and historic flooding in Louisiana. Yet, when you consider what might be waiting in the wings as we progress into a potentially storm-filled future, the current numbers seem like just a drop in the bucket. While no one denies that our federal program is reeling from hit after hit (see sidebar on page 37), one must wonder if the program can recover or if it was ever designed to weather this kind of punishment in the first place. To better understand where we’re going in regards to government-supplied flood insurance, it helps to understand where it all originated. In 1968, Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act. It was an attempt to alleviate the economic burden associated with catastrophic flooding in high-risk areas. The result was the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which offered flood insurance with subsidized premiums to area property owners, and in return participating communities were expected to adopt and enforce a certain level of flood plain management. While there have been amendments and changes over the years, the program continued to work well—then in 2005 Hurricanes Dennis and Wilma devastated parts of Florida and Katrina and Rita ravaged the south central U.S. Previous to this point in time, the NFIP had a cap on what it could borrow from the U.S. Treasury to pay out on claims. Initially $1 billion, it had been increased to $1.5 billion by the mid-1990s. By 2010, it was raised to $20.725 billion— and thus began a downward spiral that was further perpetuated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the events of 2016 in Louisiana and parts of the Southeast. Looking at recent years, the NFIP, on average, takes in anywhere from 3.2 to 3.5 billion in flood insurance premiums. Even

with yearly payouts, it seems like a solvent program. Then, look at 2013 when Sandy hit, claims skyrocketed the amount to 8.2 billion and the potential problem is evident. The system works when you’re only covering the “flood of the century,” but not so much when the frequency of large-scale flooding events is less than a decade. The evidence more than suggests that our current program is not designed to handle what the future might bring. While many are clamoring for changes that take climate change into account, there are others who are scrambling to limit the government’s liability in future situations. Currently, the congressional authorization for the NFIP is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2017—only eight months after a new administration takes office. It’s hard to judge how this will play out, but action definitely needs to be taken. Many are worried about the rezoning of flood areas and what that might mean for their homes and businesses. Others feel the government should take more proactive measures, such new building codes and improved infrastructure. And there is yet another group that feels the issue transcends government efforts and citizen responsibility, that this is a situation where we need to come to terms with Mother Nature. Brian Deese, a White House senior adviser on climate, might have put it best, “We are going to need to have very tough conversations about things like the federal Flood Insurance Program and start to recognize what major insurance companies are recognizing, which is the 100-year flood standard is less useful when 100-year floods are occurring every five years.” @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 5

Gear Up with These

Emergency Gadgets Since emergencies and disasters can strike suddenly, individuals and families can make a difference by gathering important emergency supplies, making a plan and being informed. Once your basic needs are covered—food, water, batteries, flashlight—you may want to start thinking about how you can stay connected, charged, hydrated and out of the dark. Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, blizzard, or earthquake, these latest life-saving gadgets can help you survive through some of the toughest conditions.

by Brittany Monbarren

Pocket Socket 2 K-Tor’s Pocket Socket 2 is a hand-powered generator that charges electronics by hand crank. It generates up to 10 watts of electricity at 120 volts. That is enough power to charge a wide range of devices.

Blackout Buddy H20 Never get left in the dark again with the Blackout Buddy H20. This eco-friendly, water-powered emergency light is the ideal alternative to candles and matches. Simply dip the device in a small cup of water to activate and keep the light shining for up to 72 continuous hours.

AquaPodKit A simple, safe solution when emergencies strike, the AquaPodKit allows you to store up to 65 gallons of fresh water using an ordinary household bathtub. AquaPodKit is the easy way to store temporary water when the need arises.

OKO Odyssey The Odyssey is the only survival tool that allows you to have access to clean water, food, and light source and an emergency beacon all in one. This sixin-one survival system includes two different water filters, cups/storage unit, hanger hook, flashlight adapter, which doubles as a lantern, as well as an additional mode that works to give you a flashing emergency strobe light.



LuminAID The LuminAID light is a solar-powered, inflatable light that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern. Safe, sustainable, and portable, the LuminAID light provides up to 50 hours of LED light.

SteriPEN SteriPEN makes safe drinking water available for your family even in the worst circumstances. SteriPEN UV water purification technology is certified by the Water Quality Association to destroy over 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and protozoa in water (like Giardia) in as little as 48 seconds.

Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater Get instant, endless hot water with the Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater. This device runs on two D batteries and offers 30-35 degree temperature rise at 1.5 gallons per minute.

Battery Adapter These handy adapters allow you to use a smaller size battery as a larger battery and are sometimes called battery upsizers or up-sizers.

Eton FRX American Red Cross Field Radio Be Red Cross ready. This all-purpose, rechargeable weather alert radio with solar panel and hand turbine power generator will keep you in the know, on alert, and well connected. The radio includes a headphone jack, alarm clock, AM/FM radio, AUX-input, digital tuner, glow in the dark locator, crank charging, LED flashlight, NOAA weather band alerts, and solar or USB power. No emergency kit is complete without it.



Don’t Risk Not Recognizing MRSA by Bryan Silver


ethicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, is an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph outbreaks. The danger here is obvious, as the resulting infection is often difficult to control and can quickly become life-threatening. As with most skin infections, MRSA usually starts as a swollen, painful red area that is warm to the touch. Often such infections will look like a common pimple or even a spider bite, but they can grow into something far worse in a very short period of time. The bacteria will start to penetrate deeper into the skin, creating a deep and painful abscess that needs to be drained and treated by a medical professional before it can heal. If the bacteria finds its way deeper into the body, it can then begin to infect bones, joints, the bloodstream and other bodily organs.

How Is MRSA Different from Other Infections? First, it’s important to understand that we commonly use the term “staph” infection to refer to contamination by any one of several varieties of staphylococcus aureus. In fact, some form of staph

bacteria can be found on the skin and in the noses of about 30 percent of the population. Generally, the bacteria is harmless until it finds its way into a cut or wound—even then, it will most likely cause minor and easily treatable symptoms within the tissues of a healthy individual. The problem is that, modern medicine has often overtreated infections of all sorts with the prescribing of antibiotics. For years, this misuse has led to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. These resistant strains are not only hard to combat, but they often multiply and spread quickly—a combination that can be quite serious if not caught early.

What Are the Ways a Person Can Be Exposed to MRSA? While a large portion of the population is walking around with staphylococcus aureus on their bodies at any given time, it’s important to note that only two percent of the population is believed to be chronic carriers of the more deadly variety known as MRSA. Most of the time, MRSA infections occur in hospitals and other health care facilities. The concentration of individuals, caregivers


going from patient to patient, old or sick individuals with weakened immune systems and the prevalence of wounds, sores and invasive surgeries provide the perfect climate for such bacteria to thrive. While most medical environments work hard to keep their areas clean and sterile, pathogens do get passed on. Another way individuals can get a MRSA infection is simply through contact with other people. While rarer than the infections that occur in healthcare settings, healthy people can develop MRSA through close, skin-to-skin contact. Often seen in athletes, those who work with children and people living in crowded conditions, this form of MRSA usually starts out as a benign-looking boil that quickly turns into an extremely painful, pus-filled abscess.

Know the Signs of a Staph Infection The best protection against a MRSA infection is early detection, so it’s good for everyone to know the signs. Remember that only a doctor will be able to tell you if your infection is caused by the MRSA bacteria as opposed to a more common variety of staphylococcus, so take any sign of a staph infection seriously until you know for sure.

Hand sanitizers can also be effective, but only if they contain at least 62 percent alcohol. Keep wounds covered. Staph bacteria is not only present on some people’s skin, but it’s rarely a problem unless it finds a way into the body. Cuts, scrapes and other wounds should always be covered by a dry, sterile bandage until completely healed. Keep things to yourself. When you share personal items, you put yourself at risk for staph infections. Easily spread, the bacteria can be transferred by both objects and skin-to-skin contact. If you must share, make sure items are thoroughly cleaned first with an appropriate disinfectant. They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s something to keep in mind when talking about MRSA. By simply following a few rules, you can prevent the majority of staph infections—and by knowing some of the key signs of an infection, you’ll be able to recognize a serious situation and react appropriately. Ultimately, you should remember this; if you even suspect you might be suffering from a MRSA infection, you should see a doctor immediately.

Skin-based symptoms. Most likely the first signs you’ll see will be on the skin. A staph infection might initially be seen as a sore, rash, or blister that could be accompanied by discharge or pus. »» Boils are a very common symptom of staph infections. The area will often be red, swollen and filled with pus »» Impetigo is a contagious rash that is characterized by large blisters on the skin »» Cellulitis will appear as a red or swollen area with the source of infection seeming to be under the skin. Sores can appear around the affected area and even emit a discharge Signs of systemic infection. When staph bacteria makes it into your bloodstream, the resulting condition is called bacteremia. The fact that the infection is now free to travel to other parts of the body through the blood makes this a very serious condition. »» Fever in conjunction with signs of a staph infection could indicate bacteremia »» Low blood pressure is usually present when bacteremia exists in the body Presence of toxic shock syndrome. When staph bacteria has been present in the body for a long enough period of time, a life-threatening condition can develop called toxic shock syndrome. If any of these symptoms accompany a staph infection, seek immediate medical treatment. »» A high fever, usually in excess of 103 degrees for adults »» Muscle soreness »» Abdominal pain »» Nausea »» Vomiting »» Diarrhea

How to Prevent the Spread of Common Staph Infections Keep things clean. Hand washing is the best preventative measure for reducing the chance of contracting a staph infection.


5 Tips for Helping Your Child Keep a Healthy Weight by Hillary Rinehardt fter three decades of rising obesity among kids, there is a ray of hope. According to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente published in the Journal of Pediatrics, obesity and overweight rates among kids are beginning to fall. The progress in dealing with this issue has been the result of awareness of the problem and making smart choices. To help your children maintain a healthy body weight, consider the following tips:


Monkey see, monkey do. Choose healthy foods and snacks for yourself. The best way to influence your child is by your own healthy example. If your children see you eating your vegetables and being active, there’s a good chance they will too. Make a commitment to be a good role model for your children—it will have the happy side effect of helping you maintain a healthy weight as well.


your kids are eating healthy foods first, but don’t use food as a reward. If they are full with healthy foods, it will be easier to deflect them from the urge for sweets and treats, or at least to keep the portion to a reasonable size. Eat out responsibly. Avoid fast food whenever possible. If not possible, order the healthiest thing on the menu. When dining at a restaurant, choose simple food items for your kids— not items loaded with extra calories and fat. Look for options on the kids’ menu such as grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and vegetables. Stay away from the deep fryer. If you order take out or home delivery, remember that you can add items to the meal from home, like a glass of skim milk, a cup of applesauce, or a side salad.


Lay off the sugar. It is scientifically proven that sugar is 2 addictive. The more you have it, the more you crave it. And it’s everywhere. Instead of eating meals and snacks filled with sugar, encourage your kids to eat fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit will help curb the craving for sweets. Beware of sugary drinks. Read the labels—even fruit drinks and fruit punch can contain added sugar and extra calories. Encourage your family to drink lots of water. Try flavored waters with zero calories.

Be physically active. It's important for all of us to stay physically fit. Make it a family effort. Get your kids dancing by playing their favorite music and dance along while preparing dinner or after meals. Plan family activities that get everyone moving like biking, evening walks, or sports at the park. If your kids love video games, expand their choices by including active games that promote balance and fitness instead of sitting and only using their thumbs. Also, check out the local YMCA for kidfriendly activities.

Don’t forbid foods or use food as a reward. Forbidding foods only increases a child’s desire for that food. Instead of saying no to your child’s favorite food, limit the portion size. Make sure

Whatever your children’s weight, let them know that you love them and that all you want to do is help them be healthy and happy.





Not All Hospitals Are the Same by Charles M. Murray In the middle of the night, a medical concern may arise for a loved one, and someone decides to call for help. When an emergency strikes, we call 911. We may not give much consideration to which hospital we need; we just know a loved one needs to be seen by a medical professional. Please keep in mind that not all hospitals are the same, and we have to be mindful of these limitations. For example, a rural hospital may have one doctor in the Emergency Room, but no other doctor is in the building until an emergency strikes. Other doctors are on call, and it takes time to assemble the team. A trauma center is a special designation that only some hospitals will achieve. It is ready to handle patients suffering from major traumatic injuries. The highest level of designation is a Level 1 and the lowest is a Level 3. The highest levels will have specialized medical and nursing teams across multiple fields such as emergency, trauma, critical care, neurosurgery, cardiology and orthopedics. These centers have advanced radiology and anesthesiology staff and the highest sophistication of surgical and diagnostic equipment.

On the other hand, a major hospital may not be as ready for crisis as we expect. The Plain Dealer reported in October 2016 that although some major hospitals, including one in Cleveland, have some of the finest surgeons in the country handling complex cases, these same surgeons are not fully prepared for crisis events. Because the staff schedules and prepares for surgery on a regular basis, they are equipped to have everything go smoothly. So they are now preparing with simulations, just in case. It is important to think about a plan BEFORE a crisis occurs. Is the closest hospital the best hospital to handle the situation? Should we insist on having the loved one transferred to a higher level of acuity? Lower level centers may be able to stabilize someone, but we need to think about transferring to the next level right away. We should also have emergency medical papers such as health care power of attorney forms available before the need arises. We should discuss expectations with doctors and family members, so that we have the best opportunities for reducing anxiety and confusion. A great book on the subject is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 13

Going to Bed Early is a Habit That Can Have Lasting Effects on Kids by Susan Schmidt

ew doubt the importance of getting enough rest, as sleep is known to be a vital factor in your body’s growth and healing. A chronic lack of sleep throughout one’s life has also been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and stroke. While adults can get by with seven to eight hours of sleep a night, children need far more as their bodies are still under development. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s recommended that teenagers get eight to 10 hours of sleep, school-aged children get nine to 11 hours of sleep and preschoolers should get 10 to 13 hours in order to enjoy the full health benefits of their slumber. So, how do you ensure kids get their 40+ winks each night while still waking early enough to make it to school on time? The answer seems obvious, but the practice is not so prevalent—while many sleep experts advise that young children should go to bed between 6 and 8 p.m., National Sleep Foundation survey data shows that more than half of all toddlers and preschoolers in the U.S. go to bed after 9 p.m. Not surprisingly, the same surveys show that 30 percent of kids under the age of 11 years get less sleep than is recommended. In addition, there are other studies that show kids who go to bed later take longer to actually fall asleep than those who call it a day earlier, thus receiving even less rejuvenating benefits.


All Sleep Is Not Equal Beyond directly affecting the duration of a child’s sleep, an early bedtime could offer even more benefits. This is according to pediatrician Marc Weissbluth, author of the best-selling book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, who states, “when a child sleeps is probably as important or maybe more important as how much.” 14 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 8 ED 4

That’s because sleep that occurs earlier in the night tends to be more restorative than sleep that takes place in the early morning as the child’s circadian rhythm begins the waking process. So it’s not much of a stretch to conclude that late bedtimes can adversely affect the quality of your child’s sleep, but would you believe that late bedtimes can also increase a child’s risk for obesity? That’s exactly what a new study claims from Ohio State University’s College of Public Health. “This study adds to a body of research that demonstrates that young children benefit from having a regular bedtime and bedtime routine," said Sarah Anderson, associate professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study. The current study analyzed data from a previous study done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development entitled Early Child Care and Youth Development. Following 977 children from preschool-age to adolescence, the study tracked the time they went to bed, as well as their height, weight and body mass index. What researchers found was that only 10 percent of the children who went to bed at 8 p.m. or earlier during their preschool years were obese as teenagers. There was a 16 percent rate of obesity in children whose preschool bedtime was between 8 and 9 p.m., and for those who went to bed after 9 p.m.—the obesity rate as teenagers was 23 percent. “Preschool-aged children with early weekday bedtimes were half as likely as children with late bedtimes to be obese as adolescents. This was true even after taking into account other factors that we know are related to risk for obesity,” Anderson said. “Other research has shown benefits for children's behavior, cognitive development and attention. Regular bedtime routines, including an early

bedtime, also are linked to fewer sleep problems such as nighttime awakenings or difficulty falling asleep.”

How Sleep Patterns Affect Our Health Not much is known in regards to a direct causal relationship, but experts believe there are several mechanisms in play in relation to the timing of when our kids actually put on their pajamas and turn out the lights. “Children who have a regular early bedtime are more likely to get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can result in changes in the hormones controlling appetite and metabolism,” Anderson said. “Also, staying up later in the evening provides more opportunity for snacking and viewing television commercials that promote snacking,” she added. “Recommending that preschool-aged children are in bed by 8 p.m. is a potentially modifiable household routine that may help to prevent obesity.” There is more at stake than physical development, as research shows that restful sleep, the kind you get when you go to bed early, is shown to affect both mood and mental health. This suggests that sleep is not only a time for the body to recover, but also the brain. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology followed a group of children all between 8 and 12 years old. For a period of three weeks, they were instructed to go to sleep either one hour later or earlier than usual each night, then asked to complete certain tasks at the end of each week. Researchers designed the tasks to measure emotional functioning, memory attention and math fluency—and the results showed that going to sleep one hour later actually impaired children's performance. As mentioned, the correlation between sleep, body and brain are not fully understood. Sumit Bhargava, M.D., a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine

and sleep physician at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, points out some of the various theories that exist as to why we need to sleep, “some of the reasons are energy conservation theory: we sleep to conserve energy so we can be functional during the day.” In addition, “restorative theory suggests we sleep to ‘restore’ something that we lose while awake, with the body repairing and rejuvenating itself. Important hormones are secreted while we sleep and byproducts of the brain’s activity are cleared.” He concludes with, “brain plasticity theory suggests sleep is correlated to changes in the structure and organization of the brain.” So, which is right? How does sleep affect the body and mind? Could it be all three are happening simultaneously in the wee hours of the night?

What Parents Can Do So Everyone Sleeps Easy Regardless of exactly what is happening, all evidence shows that it’s affected by “when” we sleep as much as, if not more than, “how long” we sleep. Also, it’s important to realize that there is no exact science as to bedtimes. Kids don’t come with manuals, so, unlike the charging of your new smartphone or when it’s best to change the water filter in your fridge, we really don’t know an exact time or duration at a given age. Parents need to be involved with setting and fine tuning a structure that works best for their child. Marc Weissbluth, M.D., a pediatrician, suggests a simple experiment to see if you currently have your child going to sleep at the right time, “try putting your kid to bed 20 minutes earlier for a few nights and watch what happens. If he falls asleep easily, then chances are he or she should be going to bed earlier.” Just remember that consistency plays an important role in establishing good sleep habits. Start early and stick with it, both are key to helping a child develop to his or her full potential. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 15

Tall Tales: 4 Brain Injury Myths Debunked by Florence J. Murray

iven the complex nature of the human brain, it is not surprising that there is no one symptom that conclusively indicates that a person has suffered a brain injury. However, when combined with a full picture of the person before a concussive event has occurred, those who interact with a person are more likely to be able to spot these injured brains. Hopefully reading this article will help you to ask the questions of not only the injured person, but also their family and friends, and even coworkers. It would be much easier for all involved, and certainly much better for the injured, if the medical community was focused on always looking for injuries to the brain. But given the way in which trauma centers and emergency rooms are structured, namely to triage patients and send home those who do not appear to be suffering from any life-threatening injuries as quickly and efficiently as possible, brain-injured people can fall through the cracks in so far as a diagnosis is concerned. You can help them get the care they need by knowing what questions to ask and what to keep looking for as the recovery process begins.


Here are some prevailing myths and how to overcome them: URBAN LEGEND #1: No loss of consciousness was noted on the records so the injured person could not have a brain injury. Shockingly, the medical field relies on the person who has been through a traumatic injury to know whether she/he lost consciousness. However, unless the injured person has an onlooker who saw them lose consciousness, this form of reporting has no value. In a person who lost only a slim time of consciousness, how will they know that they did if they were not conscious when it


happened? It seems obvious, yet ask any medical professional and this is the process that they are taught to follow. URBAN LEGEND #2: The injured person’s head did not hit anything so they could not have a brain injury. Although a few decades ago many believed that one could only get a concussion, and therefore a brain injury, if the head struck a hard surface, this myth was disproven. Once lay people understood that brains float in a viscous substance that does not prevent them from impacting with the skull, it became known that a person simply had to experience a sudden change in the speed or direction of the movement of the head to likely have a brain injury. URBAN LEGEND #3: The injured person does not suffer from headaches anymore so even if there was a brain injury it must have healed. Although many people with brain injuries suffer from headaches, not all do. Even those who have headaches from an injury and have them resolve can suffer from a brain injury for months, years and sometimes a lifetime. Although the presence of headaches after an injury is highly indicative of a head injury, headaches are simply one symptom. The damage to the brain does not heal merely because the head stops sending pain signals. URBAN LEGEND #4: A CT Scan of the injured person’s brain was negative so no brain injury occurred. The purpose of the CT Scan is to detect the presence of brain bleeds, current bleeds if done at or near the time of the injury, or past bleeds if done later in treatment. Because a majority of brain injuries (which are the same as “traumatic brain injuries” or TBIs) do

not involve bleeding on the brain, this test will appear normal. Currently, the best methods for documenting abnormalities in the brain due to an injury are: 1) A functional MRI (fMRI) 2) Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI) The problem is that since health insurance companies will not pay for this testing, few doctors are fluent in the technology and few machines exist to have it done. How does one help injured persons and their families to identify the signs and symptoms that may be indicating that someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury? The best way is to start by asking both the injured person and that person’s family and friends about the presence of or changes in any of the following: »» Complaints of headaches or dizziness »» Vision changes »» Sensitivity to light or sound »» Balance issues – including stumbling or tripping »» Speech and language difficulties »» Communication difficulties – including repetitive, slurred, too fast or too slow speech »» Attention deficits »» Fatigue and tiredness »» Increased impulsiveness »» Irritability – wide emotional swings »» Learning and memory problems – sometimes only short-term, and sometimes just the ability to learn new information

»» Low frustration threshold »» Temper outbursts and changes in mood »» Inflexibility »» Lack of initiative »» Disassociation between thought and action – such as between what is safe and what is dangerous »» Socially inappropriate behaviors »» Self-centeredness and lack of insight »» Poor self-awareness »» Personality changes »» Delayed reaction times »» Difficulty sleeping, hyperactivity »» Excessive daytime drowsiness Although some of these lines of inquiry may seem repetitive, it is surprising how different questions and discussions may cause a particular person to recall a specific incident. It is important to ask these questions from the outset of all of any and all individuals with whom an injured person interacts because the greatest chance of recovery occurs based upon the amount of therapy received in the first five months post-injury. Furthermore, the sooner the therapy begins, the more reduced the likelihood that the brain injured person will develop the complications that are clinically known to result. As has been shown in statistically significant results, TBI begins a chronic disease process that affects the person’s morbidity and can result in the risk of epilepsy, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Parkinson’s disease, neuroendocrine disorders and psychiatric disease. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 17


Why Minimum Car Insurance is Not Enough Part 1 by Nathaniel Fick



tate minimums for automobile insurance are a relatively new status quo. Although one may argue that these minimums have created more stability within society, one fact is clear: state minimums are usually never enough to truly protect anyone. Although the minimums that states require are different, they are all the same in that most injuries that occur from many car crashes and other motor vehicle collisions cost more than even the most expensive of them. The risk of bad coverage only increases if you have loved ones to protect. Before you believe that you and your family are protected by state minimums, look closely at the facts below.

The Three Auto Insurance Numbers You Need to Know All automobile liability insurance packages consider three major concerns: »» Bodily injury coverage for the injuries of a single party »» Bodily injury coverage for all parties involved in an accident »» The maximum property damage coverage per vehicle You may have seen these three numbers abbreviated in a format that resembles A/B/C: A representing single coverage bodily injury, B representing maximum bodily injury coverage for all parties, and C representing maximum property damage coverage per vehicle. When these numbers are printed, they are printed “per thousand.” For example, in California, state minimum coverage is 15/30/5, meaning that if you obtain the minimum auto insurance required by California law, you are covered for $15,000 of primary bodily injury, $30,000 of total bodily injury, and $5,000 of property damage per vehicle. If you know anything about the prices of vehicles and property in California, you can guess that these minimums are nowhere near what the average person actually needs in the state. The same is true in all 50 states, and is actually more pronounced in high value areas such as New York and California, surprisingly. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA) estimates that the average minimum coverage that states require is 20/40/15. Most people, especially those with families to protect, carry more than this average minimum.

Traveling Over State Lines Because state minimums are different, you might wonder what happens if you obtain state minimum coverage in one state and have an accident in another. For instance, if you hold the minimum amount of insurance in Louisiana (15/30/25) and have an accident in Maine, where the minimum coverage requirement is 50/100/25, will you be prosecuted for holding less than the minimum state requirement for Maine? The answer is not a simple one—you must look at your policy. In past generations, most insurance companies would automatically cover the minimum of whatever state you had the accident in as long as you held the state minimum in your home state. This is not always the case, and you should check your policy to make sure what conditions you are driving under. If you have a policy that does not transfer state minimums, you could be on the hook for a much higher portion of the damages, and you


may also be in trouble for holding less than that state’s minimum, even if you are not at fault in the accident.

Common Factors That Justify More Auto Insurance There are many factors that experts say you should consider when setting your level of auto insurance protection. We will go over the most important of them now. »» Your assets. People with a higher net worth than average should protect this net worth with more auto coverage. If you are in a collision, and at fault, those assets may stand accountable for sums beyond the highest level of coverage your insurance company is contracted to pay. »» Your personal finances. You should, of course, consider the amount of money that you can actually pay each month towards an auto insurance premium. If you have room within your budget for a larger payment and you have things you need to protect, then you may do well to spend that money and protect them. »» Your location. Statistically, urban areas are locations with a higher instance of motor vehicle collisions. (Rural areas with less dense populations are the least likely for accidents.) Also, consider additional coverage depending on the amount of time that your vehicle is within the public reach. For instance, if you have no garage, then you may want to consider higher coverage and possibly even specialty coverage. If you have to park outside at work, this is another high risk activity that should be covered as fully as possible. You will need comprehensive coverage in order to protect yourself from theft and the property damage that occurs from theft. »» Your vehicle type. If you cannot afford the proper insurance to fully cover a luxury vehicle, then you may want to reconsider the purchase of that vehicle until you can. Newer vehicles should obtain more coverage, because their value has not depreciated, and you likely have an emotional investment in the aesthetics of the car, as well as its ability to run properly. Higher collision and specialty comprehensive coverage will ensure the safety of your new or luxury vehicle in an accident or in other situations. »» The presence of additional drivers in your household. If you have young drivers or elderly drivers who drive your cars, you must consider their experience and additional health concerns when determining the level of automobile insurance you need.

The Risks of Keeping to a State Minimum Many people invest in the state minimum auto insurance package thinking that they will drive carefully and stay out of accidents. This is exactly why the interaction is often erroneously called an “accident”—no one means to get into one. Assuredly, if the other person causes the car crash, causing substantial or even catastrophic injury to you or a loved one, you will never call it an “accident.” Instead, you will recognize it as a completely avoidable car crash due to some level of neglect of the other driver. There are some serious risks involved with maintaining car insurance that is lower than what you really need, and the cost is never worth it.

»» An uninsured driver. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, there is virtually no recourse for the damages you may incur outside of the policy that protects you. Although you may sue the uninsured driver in court (if he does not run first), it is highly unlikely that any driver without auto insurance will have any assets or extra money to pay for your damages even if ordered by a court. You can’t get blood from a turnip, as they say, and if your coverage is too low, then you will end up paying out of pocket, or just suffering the losses. »» A hit-and-run driver. Hit and run collisions occur everywhere —the other driver may not even realize that he sideswiped your door, or he may simply see an opportunity to keep from paying you and zip off down the road. This behavior is especially prevalent in large cities like Los Angeles. In cities like LA with exceptionally dense traffic and other pressures on police, you cannot always count on them to show up after an accident occurs. As a matter of fact, drivers are trained in some cities to

clear the road and exchange information on their own—police will not come out unless there is a serious injury reported. If a driver knows this, he may speed off after hitting you, leaving you with no recourse. In such a case, your only recourse is the insurance package and levels of coverage that you carry. »» Unauthorized drivers on a policy. You may have an accident with a driver who simply thought that her insurance was paid, but it is not. Her insurance company will not compensate you in this case. You may pursue other restitution in court, but this process is much more difficult. There is also the matter of your time. Court proceedings take time, and you may be in need of your car right now. The only way you can really get more dependable and quick restitution is with a proper insurance policy on your own car, whether or not you eventually receive restitution from the other party in court. Part 2 of this article will run in the next issue of Living Safer.



Know the Signs:

Elder Abuse by Stacy Donnelly lder abuse is an intentional or knowing act, or failure to act by a caregiver or another person that causes harm or serious risk to a vulnerable elder person, age 60 or older. According to the National Council on Aging, approx. 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. However, it is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse ever get reported to the authorities. Elder adults who have been abused are at a much greater risk of death than those who have not been a victim of abuse. Elder abuse can happen to anyone of any ethnic background, gender, and socioeconomic status. The abuser or perpetrator is typically known to the victim such as a relative, caregiver, or “trusted other” and data shows that perpetrators come from all backgrounds, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. Many times, there are signs of abuse or neglect that go unnoticed. Below, we highlight some of the common warning signs that may indicate abuse is occurring. We also provide advice on how to report abuse and ensure the welfare of your loved ones. It is important to remember that these signs of abuse do not necessarily confirm that abuse is occurring, but should serve as indicators of a possible problem that requires a heightened awareness.


Warning Signs: »» Sexual abuse warning signs could be sudden and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, bruising, cuts and sores in or around the breasts, genitalia, inner thighs, and buttocks. »» Physical abuse warning signs can include unexplained injuries such as bruises, fractures, cuts, sores, burns and pressure marks. »» Emotional abuse warning signs may present as unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in mood and behavior, self-isolation, and withdrawal from previously engaged activities.

»» Financial abuse warning signs include a sudden or slow onset of an inability to afford amenities. The person may be excessively gifting money to an organization, a friend, a family member or companion. A caregiver, family member or Power of Attorney may have control of the person’s finances, and still the needs of the elder person are not being met. Financial abuse also occurs when the person has signed away property, money, or assets but is unable to comprehend what the transaction means. »» Neglect warning signs include lack of basic hygiene, appropriate clothing, food, and/or medical care. The elder person may be unkempt, have an odor, bedsores, sudden unexplained weight loss or dehydration. The person may also be left unattended or in bed without proper care. Their home or environment may be dirty, cluttered, in disrepair, lack heating, water, electricity and appropriate appliances. With any type of abuse there are also some warning signs not directly related to the person being abused. These warning signs may include actions of the caregiver such as isolating the person, being verbally or physically aggressive, or frequenting financial institutions.

What You Can Do If you suspect an elder person is being abused you should report your suspicions. You do not need to have proof or be able to prove the abuse is taking place in order to make a report. If the person is in immediate danger, you should call your local police or 911. If you do not feel they are in a life-threatening situation, you should contact your local Adult Protective Service agencies. If you need assistance in locating your local agency, you can call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. You cannot be identified to the abuser or the alleged victim. If you are the victim of abuse you should tell your doctor, family, trusted friend or call your local Adult Protective Service agency.


Beat the Winter Blues this Season by Bryan Silver efore you think that the winter blues are more likely to be imagined than an actual illness, consider that the term is actually a colloquial reference to a rather common condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Recognized by the National Institute for Mental Health and classified as a type of seasonal depression, SAD can be experienced anytime the seasons change—although winter is the most frequently experienced time of year, followed by summer. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can vary, but an individual must experience a certain number of the most typical side effects for a period of at least two years before they can be clinically diagnosed as suffering from SAD. These include tiredness, low energy, irritability, oversleeping and weight gain. Similar to other forms of depression, most sufferers experience a feeling of helplessness as if there’s nothing they can do to combat such physical and mental maladies—yet there’s nothing further from the truth, as there are steps individuals can take to lessen the effect if not squelch many of the side effects altogether. First, it’s important to understand the underlying causes of SAD. While each person is different as to why seasonal changes might bring about feelings of depression, there are a few usual suspects. Many people point to issues with your biological clock or circadian rhythm. As winter approaches, the reduction in sunlight can disrupt this sensitive internal clock and create feelings of depression. For others, it’s more a question of chemistry. In some people, the waning sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin—the chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that affects mood. Others find that the seasonal shift can affect their body’s level of melatonin, a hormone



that is connected with sleep and mood. So regardless of the cause, there are things you can do to help.

How to Lessen the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder »» First, you need to lighten up. No matter what the underlying cause of SAD in a particular individual, the condition is always triggered by a decrease in daylight. The solution? Supplement natural light with time spent under a light box. Specially designed artificial lights, light boxes are effective for many people with as little as 30 minutes of exposure a day. »» No sunlight? Reach for a snack. It is believed that certain foods can affect how you feel. For example, chocolate is believed to enhance mood and relieve anxiety. Carbohydrates and sweets are said to provide feelings of euphoria, but beware that the result is temporary and overindulgence could even increase depression. »» Move it to lose it. Exercise can provide a powerful defense against the winter blues, according to some recent studies. In 2005, Harvard University researchers found that walking as little as 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week could help alleviate the symptoms of even moderate depression. »» Embrace time outside. They don’t call them the great outdoors for nothing—there are indications that just getting outside can help with SAD symptoms. Experts say that stepping out of the house for some fresh air can start to improve focus and lower stress levels, while combining that with some simple exercise can help even more.

How to Negotiate a Raise by Simon Smith here are a lot of reasons to ask for a raise. Maybe you’ve worked at your present position for a number of years without a pay increase. Possibly you’ve been given more responsibilities or experienced changes in your role within the company. Sometimes the decision to ask for a higher salary is the fact that you know your hard work and continued efforts have directly resulted in financial rewards for your company and you want to reap some of the benefits. No matter what the reasons for asking for more money, you have them and it’s nothing to feel awkward about. There’s no reason you should feel sheepish about the subject, but know that you should be prepared to walk your boss through all aspects of your current performance, as well as your future aspirations. Companies aren’t in the business of simply handing out cash to whoever asks, but they are willing to keep good employees happy and reward productivity with a positive tip of the pay scale. For those willing to accept that it’s possible—and most likely a raise is always in the cards if you play them right—the real challenge is in succinctly making your case to those who make the decisions in your organization. The following are several things to keep in mind when making your move toward a more fruitful future. While success is never a given, these tips are guaranteed to put you on the right path.


First, Know the Facts Do you know your employer’s policies when it comes to pay raises? For instance, your company might typically only award salary increases after an employee receives his or her yearly review. If this is the case, it’s not going to go well asking for a raise any other time of the year. Of course, don’t let that dissuade you from building your case over time. If you’ve been going 26 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 8 ED 4

above and beyond as of late, it doesn’t hurt to point that out now with your boss—that way you can simply remind him or her of the conversation when it comes time for that annual review. Research the current market in regards to average salaries. Consider yourself a commodity when it comes to striking a successful deal; it’s important to know what other employers are paying for similar positions in your area. Discovering such details is now easier than ever with the Internet, but beware of anything that sounds too good to be true. Often online salary calculators are off the mark and can leave you looking foolish at the negotiating table—remember that these rarely take into account all relevant factors. Certain things such as the number of available jobs in your area, the size and experience level of your local workforce, even your current pay; these are crucial points that can affect what would be a realistic request and an overall smart move on your part.

Plan, Prepare, Then Make Your Pitch Focus on past accomplishments. The best way to sway someone over to your way of thinking is to give them reasons that support your argument—and, no, simply saying you want or deserve the bump in pay is not a reason, at least not in the eyes of your boss. Try explaining the value you provide to both the company and your fellow workers. You’ll also want to back up any claim with concrete examples. Whether you’ve been saving the company money or continually taking the lead on projects, these are the actions that merit a pay increase. The more details you dole out the better, so include dates and even coworkers names who can confirm your performance. Keep in mind that your pay is supposed to be compensation for your contribution to the company. It has nothing

to do with what you want or need, so forgo any mention of car payments, rent increases or unexpected bills. Know what’s negotiable. When you’re wanting to take things to the next level, it might not always involve pumping up your paycheck. Many people will bring other aspects of employment into the negotiations such as vacation time, stock options or the amount of your 401k match. Other negotiating points to consider include telecommuting or flexible work hours, tuition reimbursement for an advanced degree or even a bigger office or workspace. Don’t be afraid to ask about adjustments to other benefits that would ultimately put more money in your pocket. A prime example is health insurance; whether it’s the portion you pay toward the premium or company contributions to a health savings account, any financial assistance can impact your bottom line. Just make sure you have a good idea of what you ideally want, as well as what might also be up for discussion before sitting down with your boss. Timing is everything. Most likely originating as an aphorism for athletes, this old adage holds true in many situations—including this one. If your boss is feeling pressure on a project from his or her supervisor, now might not be the week you want to push your agenda. Instead, try pitching in and helping your boss in whatever way possible. Then, when things get back to normal, you’ll have even more reason to support your request for a

raise. Also, be cognizant of your company’s current position of profitability. Immediately following the fall out of a big merger or during a time when your employer is considering trimming back on staff, even when it would not directly affect your department—these are generally considered to be bad times for you to state your case.

Remember, Sore Losers Never Win There’s lots of information out there on how to negotiate a raise; ranging from any number of simple steps to tried and true negotiating techniques. Yet, even with seemingly unending sources for how to move forward, there are remarkably few (sources) that discuss how to handle the potential for derailment of your plans. In other words, how should you handle a rejection of your proposal as you will continue to work under this manager, and there’s every probability that you will want to broach the subject again at some point—so how do you react to rejection without putting future propositions at risk? The answer is to just keep it professional. That means no pouting, sulking or selfdeprecating behavior. You reached for the brass ring and missed, but don’t think the opportunity won’t come back around at a later time. Most people understand that such requests are a part of doing business, but realize that your employer expects you to be focused on the business at hand, not the bulk of your wallet. Rest assured that, in due time, the rewards will come as long as you always take care of your responsibilities.


Why It’s Good for Your Mental Health

to Like Your Coworkers by Florence Murray

very job causes stress. Even people who love what they do and who they do it with can experience job-related pressure. The pressure is often self-inflicted by those who are driven to succeed. Whether the stress comes from meeting difficult deadlines, pleasing a particular person, or simply striving to achieve the best possible outcome for a client, even the most dedicated and skilled employees can experience significant job related stress. Job stress can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. People have a tendency to keep stress and frustration bottled up inside, especially when it relates to the workplace. You internalize negative feelings to the point where it begins to take a toll on your physical and mental health. The effects may come out in small ways at first, such as an irritable attitude or quick-temper, but eventually they can take a harsher toll that is not evident from the outside. Fortunately, liking your coworkers can help to improve your health in subtle ways you may not realize. Coworkers are often familiar with the responsibilities and expectations of your job in ways that friends and family are not. Coworkers are working towards the same goal and feel the same desire to succeed. They understand your job-related frustrations



and stresses and are often facing the same challenges. Having a friend at work that you can safely vent your frustrations to can help lessen your stress and keep you from bringing it home and inflicting it on your unsuspecting family. Often, simply verbalizing your feelings to someone who can relate helps to ease the tension. When experiencing stress, it is often suggested that you take a few moments to step away from a situation to relax, breathe and disengage from the stressor. Having a friend at work that you can chat with over lunch or breaks can improve your mental health, simply by taking your mind off of your job for short periods of time. Finding something in common with your coworkers, completely unrelated to your job, gives you something to talk about when you need to step away for a few moments. Talking about the latest movie or sporting event that you share an interest in can improve your mood and take you out of a stressful situation long enough to relieve the stress. These breaks help you to refocus on the job at hand when you get back to work. You are more inclined to help people that you like. It’s a simple fact. Coworkers who get along and genuinely like each other are more willing to help each other out when needed.

When a coworker whom you like asks for help, you trust that they are actually in need of assistance and are not looking to pawn their work off on you. When possible, you are willing to reprioritize your own responsibilities in order to help a friend meet an important deadline or complete an important project. Likewise, coworkers who like each other are more inclined to feel comfortable asking each other for help when they need it instead of taking on more than they can handle. Liking your coworkers helps to build a team environment where you are working towards a common goal.

In addition, some of the mental health benefits of positive relationships with coworkers include: 1

Lower blood pressure


Improved mood


Decreased absenteeism from work


Lower risk of burnout


Increased motivation


Increased productivity


Increased creativity


Decreased anxiety


Decreased depression


Decreased insomnia

Liking your coworkers promotes positive feelings towards your job in general. Knowing that you have friends that you connect with at work makes your place of employment a positive place to go every day. You associate the positive feelings that you have for your friends with the place that you see them. Try to improve your situation by finding common ground with coworkers. Liking your coworkers can improve your mental health and have a positive impact on your attitude towards work. And if you cannot find any coworkers with whom you can get along, then it may be time for a change for your sake. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 29

Need a New Hobby? 5 Ways to Help You Find the Right Fit by Jon Lewis

hat is a hobby? Merriam-Webster defines “hobby” as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” For those in high stress occupations, hobbies are ways to relax, release stress and spend time with friends or family. Obviously, there are many types of hobbies: painting, collecting coins, playing an instrument, joining a sports league, etc. If you don’t have a hobby, here are five suggestions to help find the right hobby for you.



Take stock of your history. What did you do before you entered your career? When you were a child, did you play sports or collect coins? Take an hour out of your day and think about your life starting as a child and continuing through high school, college and before your current job. Write down what you enjoyed doing during those times and concentrate on how thinking about those things made you feel. If you miss it, maybe there is something that will correlate to a hobby you can practice today. For example, did you play in the woods as a kid? Maybe you would like to start hiking. Do you miss your bicycle? Maybe you would like to take up road cycling or mountain biking.


Do your family or friends have hobbies that you think look fun? What could be better than taking up a hobby that your family and friends are passionate about? If your spouse regularly participates in an activity, ask him/her if you can tag along. If your friend is an avid kayaker, see if she might show you how to join in. Think of a hobby that you and your kids can do together. What could be better than spending quality time with family doing something you all love to do without stress?




What do you dream about?



When you are sitting in your office daydreaming, what do you dream? Do you dream of being outside on water? Do you think about hunting or fishing? As your mind wanders, be intentional and write down where it’s wandering. That might lead to a hobby you love. If you are constantly saying to yourself, “I’d really like to learn to play guitar, but I just don’t have the time,” make the time. Put it on your calendar so that it becomes part of your day. Once it becomes a habit, you have your hobby. We dream about what makes us smile and what we are passionate about. Listen to yourself, take a self-assessment and follow those dreams.

Do you say to yourself that you need to exercise more or lose weight? These are the perfect reasons to find a hobby. If you find the right hobby, your mind will be on the activity and not eating or sitting around doing nothing. Running, cycling, swimming, tennis, softball, etc. are all sports, but they are also hobbies unless you are a professional. Not only will they allow you to get away from your job, but they can also help you reach your fitness goals. Find one you like and lose that weight.

In this day and age, research is the easiest of the five. There are books galore on the subject, and the Internet can provide you with hundreds of options. Get online and search for hobbies. Pick one that sounds interesting and go for it. If you don’t like that one, try another.

Once you find a hobby you like, it will change your life. You will have something to look forward to. You will be more relaxed and energized at work. And, you might even make a few friends in the process. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 31



HOW TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FINANCES IN THE WAKE OF A DISASTER by JR Whaley and Thomas Young For Jay Reynolds—a 56-year-old employee of the Methanex plant near Baton Rouge, La.—the August floods brought a pain he was not expecting. “If your home burns down to the ground, you have nothing left. With a flood, it’s so much more cruel…you can see every picture of your family and children smeared and ruined.” Reynolds’ house was just one of the more than 60,000 homes damaged by rising waters in Louisiana this past summer—a catastrophe that killed 13 people and caused an estimated 8.7 billion in damage. At the time, Brad Kieserman—the vice president of disaster services operations and logistics for the Red Cross—called the flooding the worst disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane

Sandy ravaged the northeast in 2012. Unfortunately, that was before Hurricane Matthew raked the U.S. coastline on a 36-hour run in early October and caused widespread damage across five states that some have estimated at $10 billion or more. Now that the winds have died down and the floodwaters receded, many are returning to their homes and businesses— looking to assess the damage and hoping to rebuild and recover. Unfortunately, what some are only now beginning to realize, the most difficult struggles still lay ahead as they must contend with insurance companies, cleanup crews and contractors before their lives can even begin to resemble what existed before tragedy turned everything upside down.


TOP 10 FLOOD INSURANCE FACTS 1 Homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

2 Flood policies are issued under the National Flood Insurance Program.

3 T he NFIP typically covers up to $250,000 for

FIRST THINGS FIRST: CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY Once the danger has passed and your family is safe, you’ll want to apprise your insurance agent of the situation. It’s best to do so as soon as possible—even before trying to do any repair or clean up of your property—because your agent might have instructions or requests that could affect how you proceed. It is likely that they will want you to document your losses first, and it’s important here that you record any and all damages for which you might seek a reimbursement. The easiest way to do so in many cases is to take lots and lots of pictures. Again, this is why you want to do this first—before cleaning up. A single picture can often tell your story better than the write-up on an adjuster’s form, so don’t be shy about snapping as many shots as possible. You’ll also probably want to have your own damage estimate done, independent of your insurance company. If you need this to justify your claim or for leverage in a legal dispute, it will be well worth the small amount you pay up front. It’s important to note that you should make sure the estimate includes the value of the structure and the structure’s contents. This category includes anything not attached to the structure itself, so not only does it refer to personal belongings such as a sofa, but also items such as refrigerators. Most importantly, you will want to closely follow all deadlines that are set forth by your insurance provider. The NFIP has outlined how to file a flood claim on their website (www. and you can find more helpful information at, the website for Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you’re unclear as to the timing of a claim or your responsibilities in the matter, you will want to verify expectations with one of these organizations as there is little flexibility in the process.

the structure of the home and $100,000 for personal possessions.

omeowners must file a Proof of Loss form within 4 H 60 days of a flood unless that deadline is extended by FEMA.

5 F ile all claims by contacting the NFIP Claims Call Center at 800-621-3362.

FIP policies have a 30-day grace period after the expiration 6 N of the policy.

insurance covers a home’s foundation that has been 7 Flood weakened by heavy rain or flooding.

you have taken mitigating steps to protect your home or property, 8 If you may be eligible for reimbursement.

p to $1,000 may be reimbursed for things like storage space, 9 U buying sandbags and renting pumps with accompanying receipts. F ederal disaster assistance does not compensate for flood losses, but does provide low interest loans for rebuilding if a state of disaster has been declared.


DEADLINES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS Like so many things in life, success is often a question of timing. Recovery after a disaster is no different, as certain steps must occur by prescribed deadlines or one’s window of opportunity to collect payment will forever close. Below are some of the more significant deadlines that deserve your attention.

First, “prompt written notice” of loss must be given to FEMA. An insured should submit the appropriate Notice of Loss form immediately after he or she suffers flood damage. Forms can be found at

Within 60 days of the loss, you must file a Proof of Loss form. Your statement of the amount you are claiming under the policy. The Proof of Loss form must be signed and notarized. The insurance company’s adjuster may provide forms for your use. However, that adjuster is under no duty to do so and your Proof of Loss must be submitted within 60 days regardless of what is provided to you. Sometimes FEMA extends the deadline.

If you wish to dispute your settlement, you have one year to file suit. In the event that your claim is not adjusted fairly, you have one year from the date of written denial (see Kroll v. Johnson) of any portion of your claim to pursue legal action. Importantly, your right to file suit is lost unless you adhere to all of your obligations under the policy.

So, you’ve made your claim, but that doesn’t mean the hardest part of the process is behind you. Sometimes, arriving at a fair settlement with your insurance company after any substantial loss can require you to walk a narrow path—especially following a major disaster, where the road to recovery can be a treacherous trail at best. Often the biggest hurdle for people who have found themselves in harm’s way is the dealings with their

insurance company. There’s one thing you should always remember: an insurance settlement is a negotiation. Many forget that these entities do not exist to simply pay out on claims, rather they are in the business of increasing their bottom line. Many insurance companies will use a number of negotiation practices to make sure their interests are satisfied—often at the expense of the individuals who have suffered a loss.



Here are some tips for negotiating with

FEW ARE FULLY COVERED WHEN IT COMES TO FLOODING It’s becoming apparent in the aftermath that many of the victims in Louisiana, Florida and the Carolinas never actually possessed flood insurance. With reasons running the gamut from lack of policy knowledge to confusing classifications in regards to flood zones, the most common justification for passing on this allimportant coverage is cost. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),

even homeowners who live in high-risk flood zones where flood insurance is mandated often pass on the protection. In fact, the settlement you feel is fair. 2015 data from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) shows that only 53% of homeowners in high-risk flood Understand the Process: It’s important to understand areas where flood insurance is required by mortgage how events are expected to unfold so that you can be lenders actually have the necessary coverage. prepared—from letters of communication to claim adjustments, The NFIP also points out that, within the more you know the better. designated high-risk areas, there is at least a Persistence Pays Off: Once you begin the process, it’s important to be 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the typical 30-year term of home mortgage—not organized and adhere to your schedule—delays usually only benefit the good odds when you’re talking insurance company, so be proactive with your adjuster. about protecting your most Keep It Professional: Your efforts should never transgress from persistent to valuable possessions. impolite. Antagonizing your adjuster will rarely provide the results you’re For those who want to carry flood after—remember, like most people, your adjuster will respond best insurance, what are the options? Well, it’s when he or she is treated with respect. important to understand that homeowner’s insurance typically DOES NOT cover flood Be Ready with Paperwork: Thorough records can make all damage. In fact, most major insurance carriers the difference in detailing your claim with your insurance don’t even offer flood insurance, but there is a federal company. This includes receipts, repair estimates and program designed to help. Established in 1968, the NFIP value appraisals. was specifically created to improve floodplain management, develop maps of flood hazard zones and to provide affordable Know Your Options: Sometimes a settlement flood insurance to home and business owners. cannot be reached simply by working It’s also important to note that the Obama Administration with an adjuster. You could resort to signed several acts into law that have made flood insurance mediation or arbitration in certain a feasible option for many homeowners. Specifically, the situations, or it’s possible you Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 made might need to consult with a a number of changes to the NFIP that allowed for lower rates lawyer and file a lawsuit. on some policies and prevented future increases. The act also repealed certain past increases, allowing affected policyholders to receive a refund. To obtain flood insurance through the NFIP, you must first live in a community that participates in the program, then you simply need to contact an agent who is licensed to sell NFIP policies. your insurance adjuster that can help you get


THE FUTURE OF FLOOD PROTECTION AND THE NFIP More than a few have cited 2016 as a critical time

er rates due to the more competitive environment.

fers have been severely curtailed by record flood-

sued an executive order meant to proactively avoid

across five states in the wake of Matthew. While the

eral Flood Risk Management Standard, the decree

for our federal flood insurance program, as its cof-

ing in Louisiana and a massive number of payouts National Flood Insurance Program has been a part

of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

(FEMA) for almost 50 years, the organization has been hit extremely hard over the past 10 years due

in part to landmark disasters that include Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

These single events, in conjunction with a de-

Looking forward, President Obama has also is-

widespread damages in the future. Called the Fed-

dictates that federally owned or federally funded buildings—as well as infrastructure such as roads

and bridges—must meet a specified construction standard that should withstand multiple and often

more severe storms and flooding than such buildings have weathered in the past.

Future avoidance of catastrophic flooding also

cade of historical flooding along the Mississippi

means better risk assessment, including everything

ther into debt—now over $23 billion and growing.

ogy to updated flood maps that take into account

River basin, have pushed the NFIP further and fur-

Industry analysts and lawmakers alike agree that,

without reform the program is unsustainable and could collapse.

In 2016, Congress took a positive step forward

by passing Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act. Intended to help bolster the mar-

from more accurate predictions via modern technolthe ever-changing landscape of flood-prone areas.

Such measures, in conjunction with other proactive

steps, could help communities better prepare for the next storm and to better deal with the aftermath when one strikes.

It is through all these efforts that we might start

ketplace by allowing private flood insurers to meet

to see the new face of flood relief take form. Law-

mously passed by the House of Representatives in

old can continue to serve their purpose, especially

current purchase requirements, the act was unanithe spring and awaits Senate approval this fall. It

is believed that the additional options will not only provide more custom solutions, but potentially low-

makers must not assume that policies a half-century as extreme weather is even more of a threat and

higher risk areas continue to become built up and more populated.

SCAMMERS: ADDING INSULT TO INJURY All too often, following a major disaster that has wreaked havoc with people’s lives and personal property, we see a dramatic increase in consumer scams as unscrupulous individuals seek to cash in by preying on the weary and the weak that find themselves with numerous problems and few options. From fake charities to price gouging, those recovering from a storm or flooding must always been on the lookout for those who are less than honest.

“We often hear stories of how adverse circumstances can bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, it is also true that these same conditions can tend to bring out the worst in others,” says Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Service scams all have the same target: your wallet.” The following are some helpful tips that can ensure you don’t fall for the latest scams.



Most importantly, you should always take your time. Scammers frequently will try to rush you—it’s a tactic that not only keeps you off-balance, but it also allows them to get what they’re after and move on before anyone becomes suspicious. The first sign of a possible scam is anyone who stops by your house unannounced. They often tell you what you want to hear, that they can repair your damages quickly, but you need to make the decision right away—and they’ll probably need some form of down payment to get started.

While everyone would like to see things returned to normal as soon as possible, people like this are to be avoided as you might not see them again once you’ve put cash in their hands. Another trick of predatory scammers is to masquerade as FEMA officials, again stopping by unsolicited and often generating a substantial list of things needing to be done—projects that coincidentally can be quickly taken care by the individual’s partner who shows up soon after. Your best bet in such situations is to investigate. Ask for

identification, call the company or organization in question and verify the information you’ve been given, even check with the Better Business Bureau or your state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to evaluate the reputation of anyone offering repairs or clean up services. Above all, don’t provide any personal information or details as to when you will or won’t be on site—they might claim they need to return for one reason or another, but it might really be to scout for valuables in your less-thansecure property.

Finally, make sure to get everything in writing. This is a smart move even when the contractors or servicemen are legitimate, as it will be far easier to justify your position if there are issues over timing, the budget or quality of work. It is also best to get more than one estimate. Multiple bids allow you to interact with several contractors, ultimately leading to the choice that’s best for your situation. Don’t assume that the lowest bid is your best bet, either—if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not the best way to go. Be careful.


OVERCHARGING AND ONLINE DECEPTION One unfortunate byproduct of an entire community in need of similar services is the practice of price gouging. Considered to be exploitative and unethical, price gouging is when a provider charges a price well beyond what is considered reasonable due to high demand. Most states have consumer protection laws against this and you are better off reporting such companies or individuals rather than trying to bargain with them. Lest we not forget, we now live in a digital age— a point not lost on those who wish to separate you from your money. Cybercrimes following a disaster are on the rise, including everything from installing ransomware on your laptop to faking charitable websites. H. Art Taylor of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance notes that tragedies inspire many people to give, and others to take under false pretenses: "After every natural disaster, we see an

outpouring of generosity...along with the inevitable scams and frauds.” The organization’s CEO is referring to the incredible number of fake charitable websites that often pop up online, sometimes mere hours after tragedy has struck. For example, 1,000+ new websites with keywords such as “Sandy” and “relief” were registered before the category 3 hurricane even made landfall in 2012, most by scammers. As always, it pays to investigate any charity you’re unfamiliar with before you make a donation. Remember that such scammers aren’t only after your contribution, most all involve online transactions that ultimately give them access to your banking or credit card information. If you have any suspicion, a good idea is to request an address for making a donation by mail. Checks are easier to trace and most scammers won’t even go that far, as the U.S. Postal Service does not take mail fraud lightly.


PUTTING IT ALL BEHIND YOU Disasters by their very nature are...disastrous. So many are put through so much pain, only to find their life in shambles, literally, with yet a long and arduous journey still ahead of them. As a victim, you just want to regain your home, help heal your community and put your life back on track—yet it can seem as if, rather than steps in a process, each task is an obstacle that’s almost insurmountable. Instead of lifting you up incrementally toward your goal, each stage is another circumstance that can beat you down if you’re not careful. Know that recovery can be a slow process with priorities that shift over time. During the disaster and in the immediate aftermath, it’s obviously the safety of those involved that takes precedent. Then there’s an

emphasis on regaining a sense of normalcy—a stage that can often be very stressful, resulting in concern over the mental and physical well-being of many victims. Finally, rebuilding is the final stage, but it can often be the longest lasting phase, leaving those involved dispirited and discouraged. It’s important throughout all of these phases of recovery that we rely on assistance whenever possible. Aid can come from government and charitable organizations, from friends and family, even from total strangers. A lot can be accomplished when you have help, and support is never far if you know where to look. Always remember that, together, we can not only get through such adversity, but we can rise above it.



8 Breakfasts

that Could Have You Off to a Bad Start by Bryan Silver


e’ve always been told that breakfast is an important part of our day; it’s literally the fuel that gets our morning going. Whether it’s mentally processing information or completing physical tasks, the things we all do on a daily basis require energy, and that means eating the right foods—or, better put, avoiding the wrong foods.

Oh sure, we all know the evils of glazed donuts or a rasher of bacon. No one questions that empty calories and high levels of cholesterol-inducing breakfast meats are taboo in this age of health consciousness, but there are some items that many of us see as an ideal morning meal which couldn’t be further from the truth. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 41

Avoid These Eight Foods in the Morning: Low Fiber Cereal First off, it’s not just about avoiding the boxes with colorful cartoon characters and far too much added sugar. Nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet, is quick to point out that most all cereals are high in carbohydrates—combine that with low fiber and you’re inviting a serious spike in blood sugar, followed by a quick drop. This can result in the quick return of hunger and food cravings, not to mention the potential for moodiness and a drop in energy. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s best to ensure that whatever flakes or clusters you pour into your morning bowl contain at least three grams of protein per serving. Even better, try adding fiber-rich ingredients such as wheat germ or sliced almonds.

Non-Fat Yogurt It’s important to note that all yogurts are not created equal, especially when it comes to those that would have you believe they’re a healthy choice. Whether the package calls it “non-fat” or “light,” many of these yogurts remove fat and sugar content only to replace them with artificial sweeteners, flavorings and other chemicals to try and appease your taste buds. You’re always better off opting for a plain low-fat yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, and adding your own berries, nuts or wheat germ—the result is a satisfying meal that will have you feeling full through added protein rather than setting up for a drastic fall in energy levels as excessive sugar tends to do.

Juice Before you reach for a tall glass of Florida’s finest, consider that fruit juices were never meant to be a meal replacement. While the obvious issue is an overabundance of fructose and possibly other added sugars, that’s not the only problem with this breakfast staple that’s been around for decades. There’s also a total lack of protein and other nutrients. And it’s not just juices such as orange or grapefruit, those who reach for socalled healthy green juices are in for a similar shock. Janet Helm, RD, a blogger at Nutrition Unplugged, says “These often don’t have enough protein, which will accelerate your hunger by midmorning.” The answer might be to pass on a liquid breakfast and elect for something with more fiber and protein.

Muffins My, oh my… who doesn’t love a delicious muffin in the morning? While no one is making the broad claim that foods which taste good are rarely good for you, muffins are definitely a category that requires careful scrutiny. The use of misleading terms like bran, berry or low-fat can have you thinking the muffin in your hand is healthy, when the reality is that it might only be contributing to an expanding waistline and your own muffin top. Nutrition blogger Janet Helm, RD puts most muffins into the following perspective, “...they tend to be cake in disguise. It’s hard to get much whole grain or fiber.” From now on, you might want to pass on baked items and bet on a sure winner that has more protein and fiber. 42 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 8 ED 4

Bagels Not too many years ago, bagels were viewed as a low-fat, filling food to be served up daily at breakfast time—something svelte New Yorkers had sworn by for decades. In retrospect, one might wonder if the physical fitness of the Big Apple’s inhabitants has less to do with what they put into their mouths each morning and more to do with all the time they spend getting around town on foot. But before we race off in the wrong direction, let’s get back to bagels—are they really bad for you? As with so many other traditional breakfasts, bagels are extremely heavy on the carb count. In fact, most bagels equal the same number of carbohydrates as four slices of white bread. Your best bet? Only eat half a whole-grain bagel and top it with something rich in protein such as goat cheese, hummus or peanut butter.

Breakfast Bars When you’re running low on energy and out of time in the morning, few things promise a quicker boost than a store-bought breakfast bar. But before you tear open that wrapper, wrap your head around this—most aren’t any better than a candy bar, as they’re often packed with lots of sugar and little protein. Don’t think that the secret ingredient is granola, either. High in carbohydrates, granola is usually a concoction of rolled oats, honey and sometimes puffed rice—again a recipe for mid-morning crashes and cravings with little nutritional value. There is often an exception to every rule though, and some bars do tout low levels of sugar combined with significant amounts of protein and beneficial fats. Just make sure you read the label first.

Bananas Trust us, bananas aren’t something you want to monkey around with in the morning. To be clear, this isn’t a bad fruit—but it’s certainly not your friend when you consume them with an empty stomach. The problem is that bananas are one of the most sugar-filled fruits you might pick up at your local grocer. While we’re talking about natural sugars, they can cause insulin levels to spike as your stomach tries to break down the fiber and carbohydrates that come along with each and every bite. The result is that sugar in the presence of high levels of insulin can be turned directly into fat rather than fuel—a situation that has little ap”peel” for most of us.

Takeout Breakfast Sandwiches Starting your day at the drive-thru might seem like an acceptable idea for those of us who are always on the go, but you need to stop at the thought and really think about your choice. It might seem like a good idea to go with a relatively small breakfast sandwich that combines carbs, protein and fat, but you might not be considering all the grease, butter and total lack of fiber. Add in the very real possibility that anything in a paper wrapper also contains processed foods and overly refined grains, and the overall picture is not pretty. If your daily commute has already commenced, consider stopping at a convenience store or quick mart, many now carry somewhat healthy options that include yogurt, fruit and oatmeal.

How to Boost Your Endurance Through Nutrition by Ben Dampf roper nutrition is crucial for endurance athletes. Fueling up the right way enhances race day performance and those training sessions leading up to it. World-class athletes pay considerable attention to what they eat and when they eat it—in many cases tracking that information down to the calorie and minute. In a perfect world, we could all be so focused. Weekend warriors, while recognizing the correlation between conditioning and good nutrition, do not always have the time to be so precise. There are a few guidelines, though, to help the rest of us better use nutrition to boost our conditioning and performance. Bob Seebohar, a board-certified specialist in sport dietetics, suggests athletes “should have some nutrition approximately one to three hours before a training session.” The duration and intensity of the activity are key considerations. Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates before exercising, commonly referred to as “carbo-loading,” should be reserved for longer events—those sessions lasting approx. 90 minutes or


more. Rice, pasta, oatmeal, bagels and juice are good choices that are easy for most people to digest. Butter, oils, cheese and other foods with high fat contents should be avoided. For shorter sessions, carbo-loading is not necessary because your muscles typically have enough glycogen already. However, the consensus is that a lighter snack before a shorter workout—a piece of fruit or a handful of granola—will still aid in your performance. Lastly, hydrating before exercise is essential to preventing muscle fatigue and decreased energy levels. How much should you drink? Unfortunately, individual sweat rates and hydration levels can vary drastically which means bright-line rules are hard to come by. If you need to keep a general rule in mind, drink 1520 ounces of water two to three hours before and another 8-12 ounces 15 minutes before you start. The best time to eat or drink before a long workout often comes down to individual preference and trial and error. Experiment during training sessions to find out what works for you and stick with it. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 43

Teaching Your Tweens and Teens How to Handle

Peer Pressure by Simon Smith


ome subjects, by their very nature, can be difficult to teach your child. Take peer pressure for example—how cool (or uncool) is it for you as a parent to try and teach your children about keeping their cool when it comes to acting cool around other kids? Before you try and say that 10 times really fast, realize what you’re dealing with; in order to fit in, your child is wanting to follow along, and it’s other kids who are calling the shots, not you. Most experts will agree that it’s important to teach your teens and tweens that their personal preferences, views and beliefs are what’s important—be true to yourself and friendships will follow. As a parent, you can help reinforce this with your child, but you need to tread lightly. This is a rebellious time for most kids, and finding their own path to follow often involves parting ways from the positive direction you’ve tried so hard to point them toward. Some estimates say that the average teenager spends anywhere from 20 to 25 hours per week interacting with friends outside of school—a number that rivals or even surpasses time spent with you and other family members.


“Adolescents define themselves more by their peer group than their family group,” says Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D., child-education psychologist, associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, and author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety Into Joy and Success. It’s this desire to fit in with certain social circles that pushes kids to make poor choices in regards to material possessions, friendships, substance abuse and other behaviors. There are many who would tell you to coach your child on how to avoid peer pressure, but this rarely works. It is inevitable that teens, and now even tweens, deal with such stress on a daily basis that circumvention isn’t a practical plan. Instead, a better way to go about things is to neutralize the effect of peer pressure by preparing your child. “Tell your child peer pressure is a normal part of adolescence,” says Donna Londino, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital. Convey how your child may be influenced to make decisions he or she wouldn’t normally make, and it’s always okay to say no. You should communicate to them that


you’re available to help if their “no” puts them in a precarious predicament—otherwise, you should let them navigate these social waters alone. Because you want to encourage your child to make their own decisions, it’s important not to fall into lecture mode. In their eyes, being told what to do by you is not much different than being told what to do by friends. A more proactive and shareable experience is that of role playing. With you playing the part of the pressuring peer, see how your teen or tween tackles tough subjects like being offered drugs or alcohol. Give them the chance to react how they see fit and judge their performance. Rather than trying to set them straight, offer some suggestions as to how they might better react—but ultimately leave them in control of the situation. Above all, you’re going to want to empower your teens and tweens to deal with their own issues—one such way to do that is to reaffirm their ability to do so without interference. “Remember what it’s like to be a teen,” says Londino. It’s important to talk and listen, as kids today deal with different difficulties compared to past generations. The more you process about the particulars your child is facing, the better you can help them cope with the stresses that are unique to their situation. Above all, you want to boost their confidence when it comes to handling peer pressure, not badger them for making mistakes. Also, you should understand why kids make the decisions they do when interacting within their social sphere. “There are two main features that seem to distinguish teenagers from adults in their decision making,” says Laurence Steinberg, a researcher at Temple University in Philadelphia. “During early adolescence

in particular, teenagers are drawn to the immediate rewards of a potential choice and are less attentive to the possible risks. Second, teenagers in general are still learning to control their impulses, to think ahead, and to resist pressure from others.” In other words, cut them a little slack. You don’t want your kids to make a big blunder, but mistakes they are going to make. The skills necessary to make such judgement calls develop gradually, as the ability to control their behavior gets better throughout adolescence. Another great tool in helping kids deal with such issues is the old adage, “turn a negative into a positive.” In other words, not all peer pressure is bad and you should encourage your child to find a group of friends that rely on positive peer pressure. Those in psychological circles might call this positive reinforcement, but when it comes from the child’s own social circle, it can be very powerful. Examples of positive peer pressure can often involve extracurricular activities like sports or band, situations where peers encourage each other to do their best or engage in friendly competitions that teach teens and tweens to go after goals. Ultimately, the interaction is helpful not hurtful, and it can establish a behavioral model for their teen years and beyond. Regardless of the approach you take with your children, the important thing is that you work through it together. While peer pressure has a strong influence at this time in their young lives, it by no means is the only time they will encounter it. We all must deal with certain group dynamics throughout our lives that inherently carry certain pressures and responsibilities, from work environments to family interactions, and it’s best that kids learn positive ways to deal with such decisions now as they search for ways to assert themselves as an individual and an adult.


Setting Social Media Boundaries

for Babysitters by Matthew Casey

ou are looking forward to a much-needed date night with your spouse. You make plans for a fun evening and line up a babysitter. Upon the sitter’s arrival to your house, you go over the standard instructions: important phone numbers, approved snacks, amount of screen time on electronics and appropriate bedtimes. But one thing many parents fail to address with the sitter is how much screen time the sitter is allowed and how much social media sharing the sitter is allowed while he or she is supposed to be watching your kids. This is a subject many parents have not even considered addressing, but it’s definitely an issue and—if not addressed—it could lead to some dangerous or awkward situations. The majority of teenagers have cellphones and oversharing information via posts, texts, tweets, Snapchat and Instagram is ingrained into the fabric of their culture. But that doesn’t mean they should be sharing a post about their babysitting gig or posting a picture of your kid on social media. First and foremost, the sitter has been hired by you to watch your kids. The safety of your kids should be their top priority. You don’t want the sitter distracted by chatting, texting or reading social media updates. You know yourself, it only takes a few moments of inattention for kids to get into mischief or a potentially dangerous situation.



So, you have every right to tell the sitter to restrict her social media usage to nap time or after bedtime. With regard to oversharing information, for safety issues, you may be in the habit of not sharing pictures of your kids or using their real names on your social media pages. This is especially true if your kids are adopted, foster children or if you have an ongoing custody dispute with an ex-spouse. If this is true, then you definitely don’t want the sitter oversharing information on their social media pages. And, for security reasons, you don’t want the sitter announcing to the world she is home alone with your kids. Posts like this get especially tricky when the phone and the photos have the geolocation and geotags turned on—so now everyone knows the location of your house and that you aren’t home. Again, you have every right to ask the sitter that she doesn’t announce her babysitting job through social media. Additionally, you can tell her that you don’t mind if she photographs your kids, as long as she only shares the pictures with you. Whatever limits you decide to set with the sitter, just be clear and consistent about your phone and social media usage rules. And, remember you are dealing with a teenager—so occasional reminders about your policy will also go a long way in keeping your kids and the sitter safe while you are away.


The Most Difficult Job in Youth Sports: Coaching Your Own Kid by Rob Roe


magine a group of kids who not only choose to go to class two to three times per week, but actually look forward to class. Imagine they are there to listen and learn. Imagine that they look up to you as their teacher and are hoping you will teach them something new every time they see you. Imagine you can teach them intellectual and leadership skills that will help them through life. You just imagined the awesomeness of coaching youth sports. It is one of the most rewarding volunteer jobs you will ever encounter. I coach youth basketball. I love it. I’ve coached 18 teams. I’ve coached girls and boys. I’ve coached championship teams. I’ve coached teams where the kids tie their shoes more often in a game than they score baskets. Winning or losing, I’ve loved every single minute. Now take that wonderful scene of sports tranquility and throw in one kid who won’t listen. Just one. One kid who thinks he knows more than you. One kid who has an attitude toward you. One kid who you don’t have patience for. It messes up the entire dynamic of the perfect scene we imagined above. If you are a parent coach, then more likely than not, that one bad apple is your son or daughter. Most parent coaches never master the most difficult job in youth sports: coaching your own kid. Youth sports coaches are usually parent volunteers who are coaching their own kids. The benefits are endless. You get to hang out with your kid and his friends. You get to impart your athletic knowledge, be physically active, and teach kids about life through competitive sports. There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when coaching your own kid. I won’t address playing time (accusations of too much from other parents OR the coach plays his own kid less in an effort to appear fair). Playing time issues are best resolved through communication. Without communication, the issues will fester and grow worse. The most common pitfall I see is the curse of high expectations. Most parent coaches expect their kid to set the standard on the team for behavior, leadership and sportsmanship. Parent coaches want their own kids to listen astutely, learn quickly and to perform to their maximum potential. Rarely does that happen. Usually, the coach’s kid behaves like most of the other players on the team: like a kid. The coach’s kid shouldn’t have the burden of being the best at listening, learning, hustling, and winning. If the coach’s kid feels the pressure from the top to be the best, then he will also bear the greatest burden for the team’s failures or losses. In a team sport, the team shares the glory of the win and the team shares the despair of defeat. So, what is the secret to coaching your own kid? Park your parenting at the entrance to the gym. This is easier said than done, but it is imperative for you, your child, and your team. Do not bring

any issues from home to the court. Do not bring any issues from the court to your car after practice or home after a game. Let your kid have fun with his teammates. Understand that he won’t be listening 100% of the time while you are his coach (just like he probably doesn’t when you are in the role of parent). Understand that he is proud to have you there and that he is already trying to do his best to please you. Giving him some space to be his own person will allow him to develop a thousand times faster than if you micromanage his every action. I encourage all parents to find a way to coach youth sports (or music, or math, or anything involving your kids and their friends). You will have a blast. Your kids will be proud of you. You will be proud of your kids. You will both learn lessons in interpersonal relationships, sportsmanship, and leadership.


Study: Cellphones, Screens Keeping Kids Up at Night by Lily Grace hildren and teens’ increased access to and use of mobile digital devices at bedtime is a “major public health concern,” according to a newly published meta-analysis by British researchers. In a review of 20 recent studies covering four continents and more than 125,000 children, the team found a “strong and consistent association between bedtime media device use and inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.” Similar negative effects were found for children who had access to such devices, even if they did not use them before bedtime. The researchers expressed particular concern about the impact on children’s sleep of schools’ increasing shift to digital technology: Given the evolving technological landscape and the replacement of textbooks with media devices in schools, screen-based media device access and use are likely to rise. It is imperative that teachers, health care professionals, parents, and children are educated about the damaging influence of device use on sleep. Sleep disturbances in childhood have been associated with other problems such as poor diet, sedentary behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, and substance abuse. Previous studies have linked TVs, gaming consoles, and desktop computers to negative sleep outcomes. A major focus has been the impact of “blue-light” emissions, which can negatively affect humans’ natural sleep patterns.


The Study Showed... 1

Children who used portable media devices at bedtime were about twice as likely to not sleep enough, compared to children who did not have access to a device.


Children who used a portable media device at bedtime were more than 40 percent more likely to report poor sleep quality than children who did not have access to a device.


There were also significantly increased odds of inadequate sleep quantity and poor sleep quality for children who had access to a media device near bedtime, even if they did not use it.


Children who had access to or used a portable media device at bedtime were more than twice as likely to demonstrate excessive daytime sleepiness than children without access to a device. Source: JAMA Pediatrics


The new meta-analysis zeroes in on studies of “portable mobile and media devices,” such as smartphones. The researchers say they’ve found evidence that such devices present a new challenge to healthy sleep because of the way they facilitate real-time, continuous psychological and physiological arousal and stimulation. Nearly three-fourths of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their sleep environment, with most of them used near bedtime, according to the paper, titled Association Between Portable Screen-Based Media Device Access or Use and Sleep Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. It was published by the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The study defines inadequate sleep quantity as less than 10 hours daily for children and less than nine hours daily for adolescents. Sleep quality is based on difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as not being refreshed by sleep. “Excessive daytime sleepiness” is defined as “poor daytime functioning as a result of both sleep quantity and quality.” The findings “support current clinical opinion that media device access and use result in poor sleep outcomes,” the researchers concluded. “We support age-specific guidance for media device access and use and parent-led initiatives to reduce device access and use in collaboration with teachers and health care professionals.”

TV Ads Linked to Higher Levels of Youth Drinking by Jim Edward

ccording to a new study, the more brand-specific alcohol advertising that young drinkers are exposed to, the higher their consumption of those brands, according to a new study led by researchers from the School of Public Health. The study, in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found an association between past-year exposure to advertising, measured in what the researchers called “adstock” units, and consumption of the brands advertised. Every 100 adstock-unit increase in exposure was associated with an increase of six drinks consumed during the past 30 days, while exposures of 300 or more adstock units were associated with an increase of 55.7 drinks. The study examined links between exposure to brand-specific TV advertising and drinking among a national sample of more than 1,000 youths, ages 13 to 20, who reported drinking in the past 30 days. Participants were surveyed about their past-month viewership of the 20 most popular non-sports shows that contained alcohol ads. They also were asked about their past-month

plenty of alcohol ads, the authors said. “Although previous studies have shown that exposure to advertising is related to which brands underage youths drink, few studies have assessed whether the quantity of exposure is associated with the total quantity of alcohol consumed by these youths,” said lead author Timothy Naimi, associate professor of community health sciences and of medicine at the School of Medicine, and a physician at Boston Medical Center. Michael Siegel, the study’s co-principal investigator and professor of community health sciences, said the study suggests that advertising influences “how much kids drink, not just what they drink. “This has important implications because we know that the amount of alcohol consumption is associated with increased risks of harm, including motor vehicle fatalities, suicide and violence. We believe these findings should prompt a reevaluation of the industry’s self-regulatory framework, in order to reduce advertising exposure among underage youth,” he said.

consumption of the 61 brands in those advertisements. The study estimated that the advertised brands accounted for almost 47 percent of all alcohol consumed by the young drinkers, and that there was a “dose-response” relationship between exposure to ads and drinking levels. “The exposure-consumption relationship was particularly strong among those with 300 or more adstock units of exposure,” the researchers said. “There were fewer youth with these higher Genitalia: levels of advertising exposure, but they consumed a disproportionately large amount of the alcohol consumed by the entire youth sample.” The research team noted that while alcohol advertising has been linked with youths’ brand choices in past studies, alcohol marketing remains self-regulated by the industry. Manufacturers have guidelines saying that ads should be limited to media that have a mostly adult audience. But alcohol companies don’t always follow their own guidelines, and there is no penalty for violations. The current study confirms that under-21 audiences are seeing

Among study participants, the median number of drinks consumed in the past 30 days was five. The average number of drinks consumed increased from 14 to 33 per month as advertising exposure increased from zero to 300 adstock units. For participants exposed to 300 or more adstock units, per-person consumption skyrocketed from 33 drinks to more than 200 drinks consumed in the past 30 days. The authors said they hoped the study would prompt research that further examines the exposure-consumption relationship, especially among youths who have high exposure to ads on TV and in other media. Naimi said that, for parents, the findings offer extra motivation to curb kids’ time in front of the TV, particularly for programming with alcohol advertising. In general, experts recommend that children and teenagers spend a limited amount of time each day in front of a “screen”—whether a TV, computer, or phone. “This could be yet another reason to limit screen time,” Naimi said.



It’s Real:

Why Teens Need More Sleep by Tim O’Keeffe

leep is vital to everyone’s well-being—just as important as oxygen, food and water. Teenagers need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night to function best, yet one study found that only 15 percent report sleeping 8½ hours on school nights. There are several biological reasons why teens more sleep, including:


Irregular Sleep Patterns Teens also need to have regular sleep patterns during the week, and they tend to stay up late and sleep in on weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and diminish the quality of their sleep. The use of caffeine or nicotine also makes it hard for a teen to get the rest they need.

Sleep Phase Delay The internal body clock controls the circadian rhythms in the body, which make people feel sleepy or alert at regular times each day. During puberty, teens experience a change in their circadian rhythms known as “sleep phase delay,” which causes their need to sleep to be delayed about two hours, from 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. Despite the fact that they begin going to sleep later, teenagers still require an average of nine hours of sleep per night and because they have to wake up early for school, they will be sleep deprived if they don’t get to bed on time. 50 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 8 ED 4

Sleep Disorders Many teens suffer from undiagnosed yet treatable sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea. The huge swings in emotions and moods that are common among teens can also result in major sleep issues. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents who exhibit signs of depression on a frequent or even daily basis are more likely to have sleep problems.



Is A ‘Smart’ Home Any Safer? by Mark Bello In 1962, The Jetsons promised a future that's almost technolog-

more appliances and gadgets are making it easier than ever for

ically unimaginable today. In fact, many of the ideas were nearly

us to monitor, protect, and automate our homes, privacy and

laughable. There were no personal computers, no cell phones,

safety are sometimes overlooked. It is no secret that hackers can

no smartwatches, and no Internet. Though we may not be flying

breach defenses and exploit weaknesses in computer systems

around in cars which fit into our briefcase and the table doesn’t

and networks. Yet, many consumers are unaware of the risks or

set itself, many predictions are now a part of our everyday use.

simply ignore them, leaving their home devices particularly sus-

Home automation is “The Internet of Things”—the way that

ceptible to attack. Without the proper security measures in place,

all of our devices and appliances will be networked together to

criminals can infiltrate your network, steal your information, learn

provide us with a seamless control over all aspects of our home

about your habits, know when you aren’t home, and find flaws in

and more.

your security system. The more smart devices in your home, the

Although it has been around for many decades in terms of lighting and simple appliance control, only recently has interconnected technology caught up, allowing full control of your home from anywhere, at any time. With home automation, you

more opportunity for a security breach. Therefore, it is important that consumers remain vigilant and take the appropriate steps to protect their digital lives. Here are some mostly simple steps to ensure your smart home

dictate how a device should react, when it should react, and why

is a safe home:

it should react. Everything is automated and based off of your

»» Hire a professional to install your system to ensure the safest

personal preferences thus providing convenience, control, money

possible set-up. Protecting your home from a virtual invasion

savings, and an overall smarter home.

takes knowledge, skill and the right hardware.

Did you forget to turn off the lights or the coffee pot? Home automation allows you to shut them off with just the touch of a finger on your mobile app. Do you want to know if your home has a water leak while you are away on vacation? Customizable alerts on your mobile phone or computer can notify you if something happens at home, including an intruder or a frozen pipe that explodes. Did you forget to set the security system before leaving for work? No problem.

»» All home and mobile devices, including your Wi-Fi network, should be password protected. »» Make secure passwords. Passwords that are unique to each device, account or online service go a long way in terms of security measures. »» Avoid connecting devices to unreliable networks, and restrict access of unauthorized devices.

With home automation, you can set it from afar through your

»» Some cybersecurity experts recommend multiple networks in

smartphone or an Internet-connected PC. Smart locks can send

a home with multiple “smart” devices, so that you can separate

you an alert each time the door is unlocked or opened. They can

computers and phones from an alarm or entertainment system.

be checked remotely and locked if you forgot to do so when you left for work. If you are home alone and hear a noise outside, you can quickly lock all the doors without having to run around the house checking each door individually. Cameras can track your home's exterior. Basically, any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. They can even be connected to communicate with each other. At any time, you can change the settings simply by pushing a button on your smartphone or computer. This ability to control home safety from near or far creates a sense of security that is hard to come by. But, while more and

»» Use only sites with an 'https' at the beginning of its URL, which indicates that the site is using encryption to protect your information. »» Mobile devices are the weakest link. Pin protect your phone and install security software just as you would on your main computer. While smart homes open up a whole new world of convenience in our hectic lives, taking such preventative measures can help mitigate the risks of both physical burglaries and virtual theft and ensure that the your home is truly a safe haven. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 53

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Home is Preventable by Bret Hanna he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 500 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning from a source inside their home, while another 8,000 to 15,000 people are treated each year for carbon monoxide poisoning not resulting in death. Carbon monoxide is produced by incomplete combustion of fuels, and it kills people because carbon monoxide molecules displace oxygen molecules in the body. Everyone is at risk. The young, the elderly, those with respiratory system deficits, anemia and chronic heart disease are more vulnerable, but all oxygen breathers are at risk. That includes pets. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is odorless, colorless and does not have a taste. As such, people cannot detect its presence with their senses. Also, symptoms of early exposure to increasing levels of carbon monoxide mimic those of the flu, often leading people to overlook the possibility that they are being poisoned by it. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, weakness, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, lightheadedness and confusion. Carbon monoxide is naturally present inside and outside the home. That said, typical levels should not exceed the federal standard of 9 parts per million for outside air. If indoor levels of carbon monoxide exceed outdoor levels to any notable degree, there is a source of carbon monoxide inside the home that must be investigated. While high-level carbon monoxide exposure is very dangerous, it is also easily preventable. Properly maintaining fuel burning appliances in the home, including those in utility rooms and basements,



garages and attached sheds, is a very effective way to avoid exposure. Never use portable combustible fuel appliances outside the home within 20 feet of doors, windows or vents. Gas ranges and ovens, furnaces, water heaters, gas and wood burning fireplaces, wood stoves and gas clothes dryers inside the home (including basements) must be periodically checked for proper operation and be maintained in good working order. In garages and attached sheds, power tools, lawn mowers and generators must be used with ample, constant ventilation. Vehicles should never be left running in garages or enclosed carports. If the desire is to warm a vehicle up, move the car out of the garage or carport into an open area to do so. Also, have chimneys cleaned annually and appliance vents checked annually for leaks. Prevention is key, but detection is as well. Investing in carbon monoxide detectors for the home is imperative for proper protection against poisoning. Although they can be expensive, they are very effective at detecting elevated levels of carbon monoxide that can endanger home occupants. Detectors should be placed near sleeping areas, but located where they will wake-up occupants of the house. Detectors should also be placed near gas burning appliances in the home, such as near fireplaces and utility rooms. The best detectors plug into outlets and have a battery back-up. Replace the batteries in each detector when clocks are changed in the spring and fall. Some detectors also have digital readouts, which can track levels of carbon monoxide in the home in addition to alarming when levels exceed those that are safe. These can help identify developing problems. Finally, replace detectors every five years.


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Dos and Don’ts

Directly After a Storm Hits ­­­by Brittany Monbarren



Continue to monitor local weather conditions and emergency radio.

Return home if it is not safe!

Avoid using candles (for fire safety reasons) and try to use flashlights to get around if you’re without power.

Wait to report any damage.

Check with authorities that it's safe to return home before going back if you were evacuated.

Attempt to repair loose or dangling electrical wires.

Inspect your home and take note of any damage.

Drink water from tap until water supply has been deemed safe by local authorities.

Throw out any spoiled food that may have been in your fridge or freezer while you were without power.

Drive unless necessary because of potentially hazardous roadways.

Put yourself, your family members and safety first!

Attempt to perform water removal, mold remediation, gas, or smoke and fire damage repair yourself.


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