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Fall 2010 / VOL 2 ED 1


STAYING SAFE THIS HALLOWEEN An Exciting Holiday for Children

WHICH SMOKE ALARM CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE? Plan Now for Fire Prevention Week

ALSO DROWNING DOESN’T LOOK LIKE DROWNING Lessons From a Former Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer

TIRE SAFETY – IT’S UP TO YOU Be Mindful of Tire Expiration Dates



a message from the editor» Recipients of The Safety Report continue to provide me with excellent feedback on the magazine. From what I can tell, The Safety Report is becoming the go-to publication for the latest information on safety and injury prevention. That’s something I’m very proud of. Recipients also want to know more and more about The Injury Board, so I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you a little about the organization. The Injury Board is a membership-based consulting and marketing organization helping trial attorneys grow their practices by building stronger relationships. In a professional landscape dominated by a few firms spending millions of dollars annually on advertising, we believe talented attorneys can spend less and achieve more by effectively demonstrating their earned reputations. Injury Board members build their reputations on legal knowledge and expertise, their dedication to personal rights and public safety, visibility in their communities, and leadership in charitable initiatives. Membership in The Injury Board means much more than access to proven products and services. Membership connects attorneys with a nationwide network of personal injury law firms committed to ethically marketing their practices and to advocating for the public. The Injury Board enhances members’ hard-earned reputations through publications like The Safety Report, provides resources and practical knowledge and offers the opportunity to work together for a greater impact than any individual firm could accomplish alone. As The Injury Board turns its eyes to fall, I want to wish everyone a safe season. We have put together another informative magazine full of important safety tips for you and your loved ones, so please share this edition with family and friends.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Patrick Mickler ADVERTISING INFORMATION Director of Advertising Angus Hinson

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mark Bello / Mike Bryant Sonja Butler / Linda Chalat William Eadie / Brett A. Emison Michael A. Ferrara, Jr. / Brenda S. Fulmer Jamie G. Goldstein / Jessica Grigsby Bret Hanna / Tom Hastings Beth Janicek / Craig L. Kelley Clinton L. Kelly / Christina L. Koch, ACP

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Kristina Labanauskas / Jon Lewis Wendi L. Lewis / Pete Mackey Shelley McKown / Christopher T. Nace

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Paul J. Napoli / Will Parker Robert L. Parks / Wayne Parsons Alan Perkins / Carmen S. Scott Jennifer Smith / Pete Strom Jerry H. Trachtman / Mario Vittone Tom Young The Injury Board Co-Founder

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The SAFeTy RepoRT onlIne

table of



CONTENTS fall 2010 FA L L S A F E T Y







Football Season Is Almost Here

Finding Charlie Morecraft: A Burn Survivor’s True Story


Taking The Journey Back To School



Fall Colors: Raise Driving Safety and Maintenance Issues


Which Smoke Alarm Can Save Your Life?


Is Your College Bound Student Campus Safe?


Hallowen Safety Tips


Space Heater Safety Tips






Ironic Medicine


FDA Warns Parents Of Vitamin D Dangers


Vehicles’ Bigger Blind Zones Are Trouble For Little Ones


Teen Athletes & Overuse Injuries


Tire Safety


Minimizing The Risks Of General Anesthesia In Surgery


Bedsores: Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones


Staph & MRSA Infections


Sexual Abuse In Nursing Homes




Autumn In New York: Safety Tips

Drowning Does Not Look Like Drowning

00. 26

Bicycle Basics



Ironic Medicine


Burn Pits A H A Z A R D T O U.S.TROOPS

By Will Parker

Most civilians have not likely heard about “burn pits,” a threat to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan so dangerous and widespread it has been compared to Agent Orange, a herbicide used extensively during the Vietnam War now linked to the illnesses or deaths of thousands of veterans. These burn pits are literally huge pits which are, according to Newsweek, filled with burning items such as Humvees, batteries, gas cans, mattresses, rocket pods and plastic and medical waste (including body parts). In an article on U.S. News and World Report’s web site, Anthony Roles, a medically-retired Air Force soldier who suffers from Thrombocythemia, a rare condition often associated with exposure to toxins, spoke about the burn pits stating, “I saw some pretty disturbing stuff,” which included “arms and feet and legs and hands from amputees.” “The prevailing air currents,” he added, acted “like Saran Wrap that didn’t allow anything to rise above it.” The fumes resulting from these burn pits are extremely dangerous and, according to several reports, contain

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chemicals such as Freon, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen Cyanide, and Sulfuric Acid, to name a few. These fumes may lead to numerous health problems, including various forms

Fumes may lead to numerous health problems, including various forms of cancer, chronic migraines, nosebleeds, asthma, strokes and heart problems. of cancer, chronic migraines, nosebleeds, asthma, strokes and heart problems. A 25-page training letter issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges the environmental hazards of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, outlines the specific dangers and health risks and directs that benefits be allotted to veterans who develop associated health problems after exposure to the

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burn pits. This letter can be found in its entirety on, which reports that the letter marks the first time the VA has issued a letter, without a government mandate to do so, addressing potential hazards while troops are still on the ground in battle. Lawsuits have been initiated across the country alleging private contractors, such as KBR, Inc., used open burn pits rather than clean-burning incinerators at many U.S. Military facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to increase profits. While many burn pits are being replaced with incinerators, if you have a family member or friend serving in the Middle East, please help spread the word that burn pit fumes are extremely dangerous. Breathing the fumes can result in physical injuries, mental anguish and the need for continuous monitoring and testing for health problems that may arise at a later time. — Will Parker is an attorney with the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, office of the Mike Kelly Law Group.

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By Carmen S. Scott

Dawn Rashid was an avid walker, religiously maintaining her thirty-minute daily routine. She knew it was important to take measures to protect her health, which is why she began taking Fosamax in 1996 when she was diagnosed with Osteopenia. In early 2008, Dawn began having pain in both of her upper thighs, bringing her exercise regimen to a halt. She sought medical attention, and because she had suffered no trauma to the areas, her physicians suspected Rheumatoid Arthritis. After x-rays, an MRI and a full bone scan were all negative, referral to a specialist revealed stress fractures in both femurs. Unfortunately, Dawn’s story is not unusual. Every year, approximately 22 million prescriptions of bisphosphonates are written for treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Some of the common name brands of these drugs are Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva. While these drugs are designed to promote bone strength, new studies show that long-term use may actually promote bone loss. Bone is constantly being remade. Some doctors believe that biphosphonate use longer than five years can lessen women’s ability to regenerate their skeleton, creating brittle bones. The femur is the longest and one of the strongest bones in the body, so recent reported cases of spontaneous femur fractures like Dawn’s are creating doubts about the benefits of longterm use of these drugs. The underlying question of the multiple studies conducted is whether bisphosphonates provide any clinical benefit after five or more years of use. Researchers at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC studied patients with subtrochanteric (the mid to lower part of the femur) or diaphyseal (shaft of the bone) femur fractures for a period of seven years. They found atypical fractures - low-im-

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pact or spontaneous injuries without any associated trauma - among users. The subjects reported thigh pain, vague discomfort or subjective weakness prior to the fracture. Although the study was small (five fractures studied), the writers concluded that physicians should consider that low-impact femoral fractures may be related to prolonged bisphosphonate use. It is important to note that these same doctors believe that the drugs do have the benefit of making bones stronger and denser in the first five years of use. In contrast, the New England Journal of Medicine published an international analysis of bisphosphonates and femur fractures in a May 13, 2010 article. While the authors, who received grants, travel reimbursement, and consulting fees from Merck, Novartis and other bisphosphonate makers, concluded there was no significant increase in risk in bisphosphonate users, they also admitted the study “was underpowered for definitive conclusions.” For now, the FDA has taken a somewhat neutral stance on the issue, recommending that users talk to doctors upon development of new hip or thigh pain. The FDA also urges healthcare professionals to “be aware of the possible risk of atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures in patients taking oral bisphosphonates.” The controversy over long-term use of bisphosphonates persists as the science of bisphosphonate-related injuries continues to evolve. Until studies definitively determine the value of long-term use of these drugs, users should be cautious about the potential risks of long-term health effects and discuss these concerns with their physicians. — Carmen S. Scott is an attorney with the Charleston, South Carolina, office of Motley Rice.

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By Jamie G. Goldstein


Warns Parents

goal safety

OF VITAMIN D DANGERS By Kristina Labanauskas

With the World Cup ending this summer, soccer is on many kids’ and adults’ minds as we move into the fall months. As soccer has gained considerable interest in the United States in the past several years, there are necessary precautions adults should take to make sure their children are safe. Most parents are familiar with common soccer gear such as shin guards to protect from unwanted kicks to the shins, but many parents are not aware of another potential risk on the field, the soccer goal. Every year, children are injured or killed as a result of improperly an-

and teenagers. Many of these injuries did not occur during the game, but as a result of climbing on the goals when a game was not in progress. The most common occurrence of a goal tipping over resulting in death was when a child or young adult climbed onto the goal and hung from the crossbar. There have also been instances where the goal has been blown over from a gust of wind because of improper anchoring. The goals that usually are part of these incidents are mobile goals used by schools, park districts, playgrounds and recreation centers.

It takes a mere 22 pounds of force to bring down a 400 pound soccer goal. chored soccer goals. It takes a mere twenty-two pounds of force to bring down a 400 pound soccer goal. From 1979 to 2009, thirty-five deaths and fifty-six injuries were reported throughout the United States by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The injured ranged from three years old to thirty-three years old with the majority being school-aged children

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following guidelines to prevent injuries from soccer goals: • Secure anchor or counter-weight movable goals at all times. • Never climb on the net or goal framework. • Remove nets when goals are not in use. • Anchor or chain goals to nearby

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fence posts, dugouts or any other similar sturdy fixture when not in use. • Check all connecting hardware before every use. Replace damaged or missing fasteners immediately. • Ensure safety labels are clearly visible. • Fully disassemble goals for seasonal storage. • Always use extreme caution when moving goals. • Always instruct players on safe handling of and potential dangers associated with movable soccer goals. • Use movable soccer goals only on level (flat) fields. Parents and coaches should review these guidelines with children and players to help reduce potential injuries. They should also take steps to inspect goals before each practice and game to ensure proper anchoring of goals. Parents and coaches can learn more about anchoring goals and safety guidelines to follow for minimizing soccer goal injuries at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website, http://www., or at the Anchored for Safety website — Jamie G. Goldstein is an attorney with Gary D. McCallister & Associates, LLC, in Chicago, Illinois.

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ccording to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the risk of parents giving infants more than the daily recommended amount of vitamin D is heightened by supplements increasingly being sold

with droppers that hold higher amounts of the vitamin. The FDA has advised manufacturers to mark dropper units more clearly and to make droppers that hold only the daily recommended amount. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and plays a key role in the development of strong bones. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive no more than 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Supplementation of Vitamin D is recommended for some infants, particularly breast-fed infants, to prevent deficiency which can lead to bone problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive no more than 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Unfortunately, overdoses can harm infants and, according to the FDA, cause such ailments as “nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, frequent urination, constipation, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, muscle and joint aches, confusion and fatigue, and even more serious consequences such as kidney damage.” If you are unable to detect the dosage, do not guess. Contact your child’s pediatrician or a pharmacist. — Kristina Labanauskas is an attorney with the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. in Chicago, Illinois.

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tHesAFetyreport.CoM / 09



the Federal government is in the process of developing and implementing a rear visibility standard for all motor vehicles. But safety does not have to come at a price. Janette Fennell offers the following safety tips to prevent backovers and frontovers: sAFety tips to prevent BACKovers And Frontovers:



very week, fifty children are backed over by motor vehicles in the United States. Forty-eight children end up in emergency rooms and two die as a result of these tragedies, which are referred to as backovers. More than seventy percent of those children are struck by a driver who is related to them, often a parent. That equates to 41% of the non-traffic vehicular deaths for kids aged fourteen and younger. It’s preventable. And with the pervasiveness of larger vehicles, it is essential people understand the hazards and enact measures to prevent this growing phenomenon. There are two major contributing factors: young children, who have virtually no concept of danger, and vehicle blind zones. Fortunately, there are numerous precautions that can be taken to prevent these accidents. Children are at risk for a number of reasons, including their height and inability to comprehend the dangers vehicles present. Toddlers 12-23 months-old represent 70% of the victims. They don’t anticipate the movement of the car and are not cognizant of pseudo-boundaries like sidewalks, steps, and blind zones. Kids, especially toddlers, are often impulsive and victim of what Janette Fennell, founder safety advocacy group, calls the “bye-bye syndrome.” She notes, “Children often don’t want to be left behind when a beloved relative is leaving; they sneak out and put themselves in a dangerous position behind the vehicle where they can’t be seen.” All vehicles have blind zones in the front, back, sides and corners. These areas are not visible to drivers, even with the proper use of their mirrors and when they turn around to look. As vehicles have grown longer, higher and larger, the blind zones have grown as well, but drivers underestimate the size of these zones. Most vehicles have a blind zone behind them seven to eight feet wide, and 20-30 feet long; but a pickup’s blind zone can be up to 50’ behind

it. And the shorter the driver is, the larger the blind zone. Steep inclines also extend blind zones. In front of a vehicle, the average blind zone is smaller, but unexpectedly dangerous, typically extending six to eight feet. From 2004 to 2008, frontovers represented 22.5% of non-traffic vehicular fatalities for children younger than 14 years-old, and over the past two years, frontovers have increased dramatically. Astonishingly, as of July, backovers and frontovers are taking place at an equal pace so far in 2010. Backovers are preventable accidents. Vehicles can be purchased or retrofit with backup warning devices to reduce or eliminate their blind zones. Rear sensor systems can alert drivers to obstacles or people in their blind zones with an audio warning. Rear view camera systems show drivers what’s behind them via an in-car monitor. As a result of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act,


• Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it. • Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car, and ensure that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle. • teach children that parked vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle, but the driver might not be able to see them. • Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, a rear-view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device. • Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. • Be aware that steep inclines and large sUv’s, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle. • Consider retrofitting your vehicle(s) with rear sensor system safety technology if you do not have it. there are cost-effective and simple-to-install kits available. When you purchase a new car, be sure to ask for rear sensor system safety technology. • Always set the emergency brake, and teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle. • Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway. • Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveways. pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway. • never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute. • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway. • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children. • Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked, and be sure to hold children’s hands when leaving the vehicle. • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. • Advise children of the 10’ blind zone around bus perimeters and that they should not play or push in line at the bus stop especially as a bus approaches. they should never retrieve an article dropped in front of a bus without getting a signal from the driver that it is okay to do so. • For more information, visit


transportation some surprising statistics By Sonja Butler

nearly 50 million students headed off to approximately 99,000 public elementary and secondary schools for the fall term according to ies national Center for education statistics. though children are also transported via car, train and bike, the national Highway traffic and safety Administration reports that every year, approximately 475,000 public school buses travel about 4.3 billion miles to transport 25 million children to and from school and school-related activities. Among many adults, the perception is that children are safer traveling to and from school in the family car, primarily because they can use seat belts. But statistics disprove that theory. According to the national safety Council, the national school bus accident rate is 0.01 per 100 million miles traveled, compared to 0.04 for trains, 0.06 for commercial aviation and 0.96 for other passenger vehicles. therefore, the federal government considers school buses to be about nine times safer that other passenger vehicles during the normal school commute. Among bus-related child fatalities, frontovers are the number one cause of death. vehicle and bus safety discussions typically focus on car seats and the need for seat belts on buses. But it’s a fact that more children are being killed outside of a bus than killed inside a bus because the large danger zones around buses which make it impossible for the driver to see small children. Children mistakenly believe that if they can see the bus, the bus driver can see them. However, there is approximately a 10’ blind zone in front of school buses that most children and parents may not be aware of. And drivers don’t realize that the blind zones around their larger passenger vehicles can be as large as the danger zones associated with buses. Bus stops, designated drop-off locations at schools, and school parking lots are the most dangerous areas where children and parents need to be extra vigilant in regards to frontovers and backovers. Loading and unloading areas are a danger zone for children whether they are being transported by a bus, passenger vehicle, biking or even walking.

— Sonja Butler is vice-president of


5’1” driver 5’8” driver




Length of Blind Zone in feet


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teen ATHLETES: By Christopher T. Nace

Overuse Injuries and the Risks of “Specialization”


hen I was in high school--and it wasn’t that long ago--I remember an article running in a local paper about the vanishing three-sport superstar. The article pro-

filed an upperclassman at my school who was one of the few kids who excelled at three sports: football, basketball and baseball. Johnny D. set school records in these three sports, was all-league in these three sports and had a blast playing these three sports. He also went on to have a successful college baseball career. I also was fortunate enough to have a classmate and friend who was an extraordinary three-sport star: Kevin D., who played the

This focus on specialization, in part,

ning and “cutting” and injuries to the

Do they have headaches? Are they

has resulted in a near-epidemic of

ulnar collateral ligament, which occur

more winded than usual? All of these

overuse injuries in children. This has

in overhead actions, such as throwing

can be signs that something isn’t right.

prompted several high profile athletes

a baseball. But what is most troubling

Sports can be an avenue to a healthy

and doctors, including John Smoltz, Sam

is that many of these injuries could be

lifestyle for kids. But the glamour and

Bradford and orthopedic guru James

avoided. In fact, the American College

high profile of professional athlet-

Andrews, M.D. to establish the STOP

of Sports Medicine suggests that half

ics can shift the focus from health to

Sports Injuries campaign. You can read

of these overuse injuries, or 500,000

wealth. Competition is important,

about these efforts at www.stopsport-

injuries in high school kids each year,

but children need time to properly, which provides a wealth of

are preventable.[1]

develop, and overuse of a particular

information for parents of athletes.

Identifying overuse injuries can be

body part can be damaging and have

The STOP campaign is to be com-

tricky. Unlike an acute injury--a broken

long term consequences. It is impor-

mended and has gone to great lengths

leg, for instance--overuse injuries occur

tant to talk with children and listen to

to provide information to help keep

over time and usually start out with

what their bodies are telling us. Let’s

children safe while enjoying athlet-

mild or dull aches and pain. But de-

keep the focus on having fun and

ics. As pointed out on the website,

spite minor initial symptoms, overuse

being healthy. Take a minute to read

while competition, improvement and

injuries can be just as serious, and even

a bit about the STOP campaign at

the love of the game are important

more so, as acute injuries.

their website. Encourage kids to play

same three sports and broke many of Johnny’s records. He also went on to have a successful college baseball career. For both Johnny and Kevin, it was always clear that neither was going to play in the NFL or the NBA--baseball was the sport in which they had the best chance of excelling. So we often talked about why not quit playing football and basketball and focus exclusively on baseball? For these two guys, it was a

Competition is important, but children need time to properly develop, and overuse of a particular body part can be damaging and have long term consequences.

simple answer: they loved playing football and basketball and just wanted to have fun. They worked their tails off, but they loved the games and the teams and the sports and didn’t want to give up the time and opportunities they had to play. Today, there is more of an emphasis than ever on specialization in sport. Kids are encouraged to pick a sport and stick with it. Kids play baseball deep into the summer and then pick it up with fall ball. After fall ball, many are encouraged to meet with personal hitting or pitching coaches over the winter so they are ready for the spring season. Football players often spend the off-season running through drills and lifting weights. Basketball play-

to young athletes, sport should be a

As with many tricks to parenting,

many sports and leave the specializa-

means to a healthy life, not a recipe for

one of the keys is simply communicat-

tion for later in life. The reality is that

creating injury. Sometime the love of

ing with your student-athlete. Parents

very few kids are going to play in the

the game and competition can blur the

should be aware of the lengths of

big leagues. That’s okay. But keeping

line between healthy and dangerous.

practices, the types of drills that are

that in mind, we should strive to make

According to the American College

done, the number of pitches thrown,

sports a means to a healthy lifestyle,

of Orthopedic Surgeons, 3.5 mil-

the number of sprints run, etc. It is also

not a dangerous lifestyle. Besides,

lion sports injuries occur each year in

important that parents listen to their

being remembered as a three-sport

children. The CDC suggests that high

children, specifically if they begin to

superstar--and having had fun building

school athletes sustain about 2 million

shy away from practices or particular

that reputation--isn’t such a bad thing.

injuries each year and that about half

parts of a sport, such as pitching. You

of these injuries are overuse injuries.

can also watch the body language of a

The most common injuries include

child: do they favor a particular body

ACL injuries brought about by run-

part? Are they having trouble sleeping?

— Christopher T. Nace is an attorney with Paulson & Nace, PLLC, in Washington, DC. [1] Bradford looks to STOP sports injuries, Stephania Bell, April 27, 2010,

ers can be found in the gym shooting three pointers in bunches of one hundred shots.

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his time of year, most middle school and high school students are facing the challenges of re-entering the social fabric of school life. While many students do so with only the occasional bout of angst, some succumb to peer pressure and make poor decisions which may have lasting consequences. One particularly concerning behavior is that of “sexting” - the sharing of nude photos, usually by cellphone. But “sexting” may also be sent on any media-sharing device or technology including email and the Web. For many youngsters, the practice is a private act with no serious ramifications, but teens need to understand that there may be serious legal and psychological consequences. Common scenarios are students responding to pressure in the form


of being identified in sexually suggestive pictures that have appeared on the Internet. But even more disturbing is the threat of criminal prosecution. Laws vary from state to state. Each jurisdiction enforces the law differently and the applicable laws were written before sexting was even possible. With sexting, the same minor can be both perpetrator and victim when producing and sending photos of him or herself – a situation which leads to wide differences in prosecution. The message to youngsters should be a clear one: do not take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you do, even if the photos are of you or you pass along a photo taken by someone else, you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep the photos on your phone or




BE IGNORED By Linda Chalat

of cyberbullying or coaxing from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes it is simply impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. Research conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy last year revealed that 20 percent of teens in the United States admit that they have sent or posted online lewd photos or video of themselves. According to the national study, most teenagers were sending the explicit messages to friends. There have been reports of students losing jobs or college scholarships as a result

computer, you could be charged with possession. If they go to someone in another state, a very easy step with internet access, it is a federal felony. And the threat is not an idle one. Two Florida teenagers were prosecuted for taking sexually explicit photos of themselves and distributing them in violation of child pornography laws. And earlier this year, a Florida state appeals court ruled 2-1 to uphold their conviction. The two took more than 100 digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified sexual behavior. The female was 16 and the

male 17 at the time of the photography sessions. The two sent the photos from a computer at her house to his personal email address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else. Yet they were both charged with “producing, directing or promoting” child pornography, and he was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography. The case establishes that in Florida it is legal for two minors to have sex, but “they’re criminals if they document it.” These children are now viewed as criminals, in spite of the the appeals court’s opinion that “children ... [are] not mature enough to make rational decisions concerning all the possible negative implications of producing these videos.” The appeals court reasoned that Florida law requires the state to prevent the production and distribution of photos like these as a form of child exploitation, regardless of

whether their producers were minors or adults. Last year, six high-school students in Pennsylvania were arrested on child pornography charges. Three were girls who allegedly took pictures of themselves and were charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography. The other three were boys from the same school who were found with the explicit photos on their mobile phones by police and were charged with possession of child pornography. However, the American Civil Liberties Union brought suit in federal court against the Pennsylvania district attorney who threatened to charge the three girls, and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said the prosecutor could not charge the girls merely

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for appearing in a photograph without evidence that they had engaged in distributing it. In 2008, an Ohio cheerleading coach, age 19, was convicted of indecency charges after taking a topless photo of herself with a 15 year-old girl. And in Texas, a 13 year-old boy was arrested on child pornography charges after receiving a nude photo of a fellow student on his mobile phone. In 2007, girls at Castle Rock Middle School in Colorado took naked pictures of themselves on their cellphones and then sent them to their boyfriends. The boys then forwarded the pictures to their friends. Dozens of students at the school, which includes seventh and eighth graders, received the photos. The Internet Crimes Against Children

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team of Castle Rock police investigated the incident, but no charges were reported. Cases have also been prosecuted in Connecticut and Virginia in 2005 and in Indiana and New York in 2004. What can parents do? Talk to your child before a problem develops. Emphasize that the internet is not a private place for four concrete reasons: • Searchability – anyone can search and probably find any image once it goes online. • Persistence – anything that is placed on the internet essentially never disappears, Webpages are copied and cached, so ask your teen, “is this really an image you want your grandchildren to come across?” • Replicability - once you distribute it, someone will share it - in emails, IMs, profiles, on file-sharing networks, etc. • Invisible audience - you don’t know who you’re sharing it with; even if your page is private, you don’t know what “friends” will do with it. If your children have sent any nude pictures of themselves, stop the conduct immediately. Explain that they are at risk of being charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If they have received a nude photo, make sure they delete it and do not send it to anyone else. Some experts advise that “sexting” should be reported to your local police, but consider that, while intending to protect your child, you could incriminate another, and possibly your own child. A better approach may be to talk to a lawyer after discussing the matter first with the youngsters and other parents. If malice or criminal intent is involved, you may wish to seek legal advice as to whether criminal charges are likely, and how best to proceed when contacting the police or other authorities in your jurisdiction. — Linda Chalat is an attorney with Chalat Hatten & Koupal PC in Denver, Colorado.

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a little-known



By Robert L. Parks

In 2007, a 21 year-old woman was vacationing at a resort in the Bahamas when she decided to ride on a Jet Ski, the most widely-used personal watercraft. Unfortunately, she slipped off the back of the watercraft and was eviscerated by the highpressure stream of water that powers the vehicle. She suffered serious permanent injuries to the vagina, anus and rectum. Through the years, a number of men and women have suffered similar injuries to the groin and abdominal area – one of the least publicized dangers in the recreational boating industry. During the 1980s, a 16 year-old male riding as a passenger in France fell behind the jet nozzle while the watercraft was jumping a wave. He suffered a severe rectal injury that resulted in death. In 1990, the jet stream from a personal watercraft ripped open the vagina of a 17 year-old woman who was riding as a passenger. She survived after receiving prompt medical attention to stop the bleeding. Because these types of abdominal accidents have received little atten-

tion from the media, most owners and operators of personal watercraft are unaware of the risk of death or permanent injury. Certainly, the danger of falling backwards directly into the jet stream never seems to be mentioned when vacationers rent a watercraft at a U.S. or international resort. Instead, the water sports rental company will typically recommend wearing a flotation device, a wet suit or protective clothing – an unlikely option in warm-weather vacation destinations. Then, the rental agent will caution the operator to drive safely and avoid high speeds, tight turns and wave-jumping maneuvers. Shortly thereafter, the operator usually races away from the dock and starts maneuvering the craft without the benefit of training or supervision. Without question, personal watercraft are highly dangerous vehicles, even for a trained professional. In a 2008 report, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,789 boating accidents involving 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and $54 million in property damage. Personal watercraft accidents accounted for 23 percent of the total, resulting in

45 deaths and 920 injuries in the prior year. The study noted that the top causes of accidents were operator related: carelessness, inattention, no proper lookout, inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use. Those types of operator errors can be deadly, because personal watercraft are designed to achieve speeds of more than 60 mph, with resulting loss of stability and increased risk of flipping over. Another design issue is that personal watercraft do not have a braking mechanism. Instead, the operator must keep the throttle down and actually accelerate to turn quickly and avoid hazards in the water. However, the natural tendency of most operators is to slow down when facing a hazard. Because this reduces the thrust from the jet nozzle, the operator often cannot turn the craft in time, resulting in a collision with another boat, a dock, a swimmer or the shoreline. Judging by the high number of personal watercraft accidents resulting in serious injuries – from head trauma to abdominal evisceration – manufacturers must pay far more attention to safety for both drivers and passengers. One feature would be a reverse thruster that would act as a “brake,” slowing the craft when approaching a hazard. Several manufacturers have begun working on this concept, although

“off-throttle steering” remains a problem in the industry. Another safety improvement would be the installation of a protective seatback that would prevent the driver or passenger from falling directly behind the jet-propelled watercraft. In the event of a tight turn, an unexpected wave or other mishap, the person riding the craft would fall to the side – an unpleasant, but much safer outcome. To avoid the needless loss of life and serious injuries, personal watercraft must be redesigned to include far more safety features. It took a public outcry in the 1960s and 1970s for the U.S. automotive industry to add seat belts and air bags. Now, it is time for marine manufacturers to make safety their top priority in designing a new generation of personal watercraft. — Robert L. Parks is an attorney at the Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L. in Coral Gables, Florida.

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ATV’s & Kids: A Dangerous Mix From 1982-2008 nearly ONE-THIRD of the 9,633 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) related deaths were children under 16. Over one hundred children are seriously injured EVERYDAY and approximately one dies EVERY OTHER day from an ATV related crash. Injuries to children from ATV accidents cost society OVER 2 BILLION DOLLARS annually in medical and economic costs.

PLEASE KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE. Don’t allow children under the age of 16 to ride ATV’s Concerned Families for ATV Safety

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FOOD SAFETY By J. Gregory Webb




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The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released a June study which revealed that the agency strongly believes that the FDA’s current role in enforcing food safety standards is inadequate and needs to be expanded. A committee of experts that drew conclusions from the study believe “the FDA should‌have authority to issue mandatory recalls, create and enforce performance standards, to ban imports from countries with sub-par food safety systems, and to increase the frequency of plant inspectionâ€? which currently only occurs once every five to ten years, according to an article from The study reflects on recent incidents of bacterial contamination leading to foodborne illness, including peppers contaminated with Salmonella and spinach tainted with E. coli. Experts state that such incidents could have been prevented if the FDA followed a more risk-based approach. The article explains that while the FDA does have some risk management policies, the agency is more reactive in nature. In addition to increasing preventative measures, researchers also concluded that a more streamlined process would be an improvement. Currently, the “FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCO), [and] the U.S. Department of Agriculture‌all have a hand in food safety. A centralized food-only data agency could eliminate redundancy and put necessary data in one spot.â€? The committee has made recommendations to Congress on how to appropriately update the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which was enacted in 1938 and has seen little change since, despite drastic changes in the industry. The main hindrance to the FDA is that, while the agency can inspect facilities, it does not have the power to mandate a recall of food products or shut down an unsafe facility.

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Let’s hope that our lawmakers seriously consider the importance of ensuring that the food we nourish our bodies with is safe. It seems clear that an update to the FDCA is in order. Thanks to the committee of experts for their well-informed suggestions for improvement! — J. Gregory Webb is an attorney with MichieHamlett in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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18 / THe SAfeTy y RePoRT / fA f ll 2010


id you know that three out of four child safety seats are not used correctly? Safety experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are helping parents keep their children from joining the thousands of children who are injured or killed each year because they were not properly secured in their child seats. As a new parent, I spent hours researching an appropriate safety seat for my daughter. I read literature, reviewed crash tests, and talked to safety experts. It is critical that parents choose an appropriate seat for their child and install it correctly.

How To SelecT A cHIld SAfeTy SeAT The proper safety seat for your child depends first on your child’s size,

tHesaFetYrePort.C ort om / 19 ort.C

an angle of approximately 45 degrees. Safer infant car seats are now equipped with angle indicators and built-in adjusters.

PRoS & coNS fRom coNSumeR RePoRTS: PRoS: Safety data suggests that keeping your child in a rear-facing seat offers the best protection. with its removable carrier and swing-up handle, an infant seat lets you move your baby in and out of the car without disturbing him. many infant seats may be used as a “travel system” allowing you move a sleeping baby from the car to a stroller without waking the child. coNS: once your infant grows too tall for a rear-facing seat, you’ll have to switch to a larger-capacity seat or a convertible seat. you should verify the construction and materials used in your

which may be less convenient for parents.

different vehicles. Cons: Booster seats may tempt parents to stop using a forward-facing toddler seat with a harness too early. safety research shows that it is best

PRoS & coNS fRom coNSumeR RePoRTS: PRoS: convertible models eliminate the need to switch seats when your infant becomes a toddler. Additionally, convertible seats often have higher weight capacities, which enable parents to keep even larger babies in the safer rear-facing configuration for a longer time. coNS: convertible seats do not offer the convenience of a separate carrier and are not compatible with “travel system” strollers.

to keep children in a full harness as long as possible before switching your child to a booster seat.

Do you know how to select a


typically estimated by his or her age. There are four basic types of child restraint systems that are used at various stages of your child’s growth.

removable carrier seat. Some manufacturers use flimsy plastic materials to anchor the carrier/seat to the base, which may not withstand collision forces.


coNveRTIble SeATS

Infants from birth to the age of one and up to twenty pounds should be secured in a rear-facing seat. These seats provide support for your child’s young body with safety features that surround the child. Avoid seats with potential barriers that could collide with your child during a crash. Such barriers include handles, hanging toys and head rests. while such features may seem convenient, they can be dangerous during a collision. According to, it is important that your infant’s seat has

A convertible seat may be used as a rear-facing infant car seat until your child is one year old and weighs twenty-two pounds. The convertible seat may then be turned around and used as a forward-facing seat until your child reaches the height and weight limits of the seat. These seats have the advantage of offering a dual purpose seat, which helps avoid purchasing an additional seat when your child outgrows her rear-facing infant seat. However, convertible seats cannot be used as carriers or packaged with strollers,

foRwARd fAcINg SeATS Toddlers from age one to four and between twenty and forty pounds can be secured using a front-facing safety seat. make sure to read your seat’s instruction manual to determine the height and weight limits of your seat. Again, take extra precaution to avoid seats with trays or handles that could impact your child during a collision.

PRoS & coNS fRom coNSumeR RePoRTS: PRoS: forward-facing toddler seats accommodate a wide range of sizes and weights, which increases the seats’ useful life. coNS: Some high-backed models may interfere with vehicle head restraints.

Booster seats after age four and approximately forty pounds, your child will outgrow her front-facing seat. at this point, you should secure your child in a booster seat. Booster seats are typically appropriate for children age four to at least age eight or taller than 4’9”. For maximum safety, choose a booster seat with belt-positioning guides that accommodate installation in a greater number of vehicles and properly align the belt on your child’s body.

Pros & Cons From Consumer rePorts: Pros: these seats are relatively inexpensive. Booster seats with belt-positioning guides offer the best protection and can be used to accommodate the difference in belt position among

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seat Belts When your child outgrows his booster seat - typically at age eight or taller than 4’9” - he can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, so long as it fits properly with the lap belt snug across his waist and hips and the shoulder belt snug across his chest and shoulder without rubbing or crossing at his neck. not all child seats are created equally. the Federal motor Vehicle safety standards (FmVss) provide only minimum standards for child seat safety. the safety seat you select for your child should exceed the bare minimum requirements under the FmVss. Parents should look for quality in their child’s safety seat. often the safest seats will be more expensive than other seats, but a few dollars is a small

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price to pay to ensure that your child is protected in a collision. a few guides to help you select the right seat include the following: • NHTSA’s ease of use ratings: • NHTSA’s Listing of Child Restraint Recalls: • Consumer Reports Car Seat Buying Advice: In addition to reading literature about car seats, parents should also physically inspect the seats they are considering. unfortunately, some car seat manufacturers do not manufacture their seats using robust materials. some seats are made from flimsy plastics that will easily break during a collision. Carrier-system car seats in which the seat is anchored to a “base” in the vehicle, but can then be removed and used with strollers and other devices are particularly vulnerable. the anchor system must be made of robust materials, such as metal. Parents should not rely on plastic anchorages to secure the seat. Did you know that not every child seat will fit in every vehicle? Parents should have a car seat specialist ensure that their selected seat will fit properly in their vehicle. many child seat retailers have trained selection and installation specialists on staff. You can also find a child safety seat inspection station near your location (http://bit. ly/seatinspection). remember, your child is your most precious cargo. Choosing the proper car seat is an important decision, and correctly installing the child safety seat is critical to protecting your child in a collision. — Brett A. Emison is an attorney with Langdon & Emison in Lexington, Missouri.

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he new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!” How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us), then you should make sure that you know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life. The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this: 1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs. 2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the sur-

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face of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water. 3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe. 4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment. 5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.[1} This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing

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isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc. Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water: • Head low in the water, mouth at water level • Head tilted back with mouth open • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus • Eyes closed • Hair over forehead or eyes • Not using legs – Vertical • Hyperventilating or gasping • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway • Trying to roll over on the back • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water. So if something happens and everything looks OK – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents – children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why. — Marrio Vittone is an expert in water safety and a marine safety specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard. Learn more about Marrio at The views and opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Coast Guard. [1] On Scene magazine: Fall 2006, p. 14

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A Burn Survivor’s

TRUE STORY By Shelley McKown

As third-degree burned skin heals, it develops a thick, scabbed surface called eschar. Around third-degree burns are usually first- and second-degree burns where several large blisters develop and then rupture as they heal. Meanwhile, a significant risk of infection sets in. Doctors often use a procedure called an escharotomy to cut through the charred skin and blisters so the healthy tissue underneath can receive the blood flow it needs. Normally, there’s significant bleeding during this process. For third-degree burn victims first entering the hospital, if their main arteries are at risk of losing blood flow because of their burns, doctors are often forced to perform this procedure to save the patient’s life; and there’s not always time for enough pain medicine prior. Then again, burn victims will tell you that it doesn’t matter how much morphine is injected. They say the pain is so excruciating, that they have difficulty even finding the words to describe it. Burn pain can be one of the most intense and prolonged types of pain and is difficult to control because of its unique characteristic and changing patterns.


Hydrotherapy is another method used to treat burn victims. Known to many burn unit patients, “the tub room” or “the tanking room” can be described as a sterile room with lowering cranes above several stainless steel bathtubs filled with 200 gallons of Clorox, antibiotics and water. This room is where the cleaning and debridement of skin takes place. For third-degree burns to become healthy skin again, this skin scrubbing doesn’t happen just once, it happens every day for continuous months. One burn patient describes it as “surreal amounts of pain, almost awe, as if they were taking ladies’ stockings off of my arms and legs, only, it was my own skin.” After awhile, everyone lying in the hospital rooms beyond come to fear this room. Morphine is kept in a locked chest nearby, in dozens of cold vials, and medical staff refill the chest every week. Emotional distress on burn victims is significant. For many third-degree burn victims, their lives are dramatically altered after they “go up,” and trying to return to a normal life is very difficult. Then you find the diamond in the rough…a third-degree burn victim who has taken burn prevention and safety advocacy to a new level. Although you may not remember his name 15 years from now, you’ll never forget his story. During one of his presentations, a man stood up from the audience and said, “Charlie - I heard you speak fifteen years ago and you have been keeping me safe ever since.” Allow me to introduce you to Charlie Morecraft. Charlie worked in an Exxon oil refinery for twenty-seven years. He was an operator who refined raw products into gasoline. In the eyes of his management, Charlie was a good worker. He worked hard, met his marks, and often agreed to work overtime shifts if

needed. Although they had daily safety meetings, Charlie never worried about safety procedures because they usually countered the efficiency in getting the job done. As a good worker, he wanted to always finish his tasks on time or early. “For fifteen of the twenty-seven years that I worked at Exxon, I thought, ‘Accidents don’t happen to me, they happen to the other guy,’” Charlie said. Unfortunately, this is a common perception in many workplaces. It was a hot, humid day in August 1980, and Charlie was working his last shift before leaving for his family beach vacation with his wife and two daughters. He received a call on his radio asking him to drive out to one of the refinery’s manifolds and change out a hammer blank. In layman terms, they were asking him to relieve the excess chemical from an area where pipelines come together and remove a plank. “It was a job that I had done 1,000 times before,” Charlie said. He expected the valves to leak, since they were old, and he knew he’d probably never see the day where Exxon replaced them with new valves that wouldn’t leak. Exxon had established a procedure to turn off the valves safely, even while leaking, but this would take Charlie twice the amount of time. Like most workers, he chose to do it the way he always had and ignore the new safety procedure. As he continued to turn the valves, there was significant leaking. When many chemicals leak, there are vapors surrounding the liquid, and not always ones that you can see. Now Charlie was covered in both. When he pulled the blank out of place, he heard a burst, and a surge of chemical splashed up into his eyes. He was temporarily blinded as he stood there trying to remember where the safety

shower was. Charlie never wore safety goggles. They weren’t attractive and never fit right. He remembered the safety shower was a few blocks away so he started moving in that direction. One of Exxon’s standard safety policies is to never leave a vehicle running at a job site because it’s considered an ignition source. As Charlie continued

For fifteen of the twentyseven years that I worked at Exxon, I thought, ‘Accidents don’t happen to me, they happen to the other guy.’ toward the safety shower and gained some of his vision back, he suddenly remembered he had left his truck running. He remembered this because he had just run past it. “I could see it coming. I could feel it coming,” he said. The fumes from his chemical soaked clothes traveled to his truck, and before he knew it the truck exploded, the refinery was on fire, and so was he. Charlie was covered head to toe in flames. He put himself out in a nearby water puddle and, unbelievably, he went right back to work trying to shut off valves as half the refinery was on fire



and explosions were all around him. Emergency crews eventually arrived, and Charlie remembers wondering why they were all so emotional and concerned when they saw him. They say burn victims go into shock at first.

protocol. I remember when I burned ONE of my fingers on a skillet, just a first degree burn, and I couldn’t focus on anything until the pain stopped. I can’t even imagine the agony Charlie endured. Charlie survived “the tanking

It wasn’t until he was inside the ambulance when he looked at his arms. They were charcoal black with bubbling skin. Then the pain set in. He began praying to God to just let him die. Over 50% of Charlie’s body was covered in third-degree burns. Where his clothing had burned off, the burns were to his bones. I believe Charlie is the one of the most effective occupational and personal safety presenters in the world. His DVD’s are mandatory in hundreds of safety training programs and orientations as well as OSHA required training. He has done thousands of speeches across the world on safety best practices. You can hear a pin drop no matter how large the audience is as Charlie describes for you his extensive injuries from taking short cuts on the job and not following proper safety

room” every morning for three months and says he doesn’t remember what was worse: the hour countdown until his next debridement or the screams of the other burn unit patients as they went through their own. Of the twelve burn unit patients he was with, nine of them died. With over fifty surgeries, both orthopaedic and plastic, Charlie has survived years of excruciating medical treatments plus the drastic effect it had on his family. “I lived. If I can leave anything else with you -- it is that you have that same opportunity,” he said. For more information, you can contact Charlie through his website According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: • Burn accident statistics show that at least 50% of all burn accidents can be prevented

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• Fire and burn injuries represent $7.5 billion in costs each year • Deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States According to the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation, burns are one of the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat. For example, a burn of 30% total body area can cost as much as $200,000 in initial hospitalization costs. For extensive burns, there are additional costs for repeat admission, reconstruction and rehabilitation to repair the permanent disfigurement. In the United States, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported per year. Between 8,000 and 12,000 of patients with burns die, and approximately one million will sustain substantial disabilities resulting from their burn injuries. Thank you, Charlie, for allowing me to tell your story. For the readers, if you need more of a reason to always wear safety goggles or follow safety protocol at work or at home, I’d suggest you Google “third degree burns” and just one photo image should do the job. — Shelley McKown oversees the EHS Compliance Division for ICertainty INC and is a safety advocate who promotes her cause at

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Elderly Drivers


By Jessica Grigsby

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are more than 20 million drivers age seventy and older on the roads today. What does that mean to you? In Illinois alone, more than 796,000 residents over seventy have valid drivers’ licenses, including one 106 year-old man. As scary as that sounds, the national figure is expected to triple by 2030 as motorists sixty-five and older will account for 57 million individuals in the population. While our parents and grandparents deserve to be treated with respect, the fact is that their determination to live an independent lifestyle can put others in danger. With slower reflexes, poor vision, and diminished awareness of their surroundings, elderly drivers can place other drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way. Every so often, we hear about horrific accidents where an elderly driver kills innocent bystanders by veering across a lane, driving into a busy area, or pushing the wrong pedal. It is easy to assume that all elderly drivers are a hazard to the public and should not be allowed to drive. However, despite growing numbers, fewer seniors were involved in fatal collisions from 1997 to 2006 than in years past, according to an insurance institute study conducted in 2008. Russ Rader, a spokesman for the insurance institute, believes elderly drivers have been improving their driving skills over the past decade. The insurance institute attributes this change to the dramatically improved health of seniors as well as to seniors becoming self-regulating in their driving habits and avoiding rush hour and night driving. Some experts believe that overall health is more critical to driving skill than age. Perhaps surprisingly, the National Highway

Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety indicate that the safest drivers are in the age group between sixty-four and sixty-nine years-old. Senior drivers have higher crash rates per mile driven, especially fatal crashes. However, this statistic may be misleading, since seniors tend to drive fewer miles. In fact, the rate of fatalities per capita among seniors has decreased 40% since 1975 and is now at its lowest level. While elderly drivers may pose a threat, statistically, teenagers account for more crashes and fatalities on the road. With varying skill and mental and physical capabilities, elderly drivers should be allowed to take to the road so long as they can do so safely and responsibly. To keep the roads safe, it is important that all drivers, regardless of age, are educated, experienced, and exercise good judgment. Since age is not always an accurate measure of one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, how do you think we should address the issue of elderly drivers? In other words, how old is too old? — Jessica Grigsby is an attorney with Demas and Rosenthal, LLP in Sacramento, California.

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ohn Forester, author and developer of the Effective Cycling education program once said, “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.� Many cyclists believe that the first rule of bicycle safety is to wear a helmet; however, a helmet will not prevent you from getting into a bicycle accident. Therefore, the first rule of bicycle safety should be to avoid the accident in the first place. Avoiding that accident requires knowing when, where and how those accidents happen. It also entails the use and maintenance of the correct biking equipment and gear, proper fit for your equipment and gear, and recognizing and adhering to the rules of the road. The dangers you will be exposed to largely depend on where and when you bike. You will face different hazards on a highway or road than you will while mountain biking. The first thing you should focus on is having the correct type of bike for the biking you wish to do. If you will be biking on smooth pavement and covering long distances, you are probably looking for a road bike. If you will be mountain biking, look for wider tires, stronger frames and flatter handlebars. A hybrid, or comfort, bike is most useful for riding on bike trails. Once you have chosen the right type of bike, you will need to be fitted properly for the size of bike you will need to

By Craig L. Kelley and Christina L. Koch, ACP

purchase. This is very important because even if you have the correct type of bicycle, if the seat is not placed correctly, or the handlebars are too far away or too close, you have put yourself at a greater risk of a bicycle accident. Most bicycle shops will help you determine your correct fit based on the type of biking you want to participate in and your body size and type. Once you have been fit for your bicycle, you will need the correct gear. Although a helmet will not protect you from having an accident, it will protect you from greater injuries if you are involved in one. Choose a bicycle helmet from one of the three main styles of sport, road and mountain bike helmets. Just as your bike must fit you, so should your helmet. A good way to fit a helmet is to measure your forehead about one inch above your eyebrows. Size ranges are generally

road. You should wear bright if not reflective clothing to increase your visibility to others and wear good comfortable shoes that fit snugly and have no loose pieces that could get caught in the bike structure or spokes. You should also wear bicycling gloves to protect your hands and sunglasses to protect yourself from glare on the road. Before you ride, be sure to check your tire pressure and brakes. You may also want to purchase a mirror for your bike to see approaching cyclists or motorists from behind. Many

turns with hand signs and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and animals, as indicated by the applicable rules of the road. Just as if you were operating a motor vehicle, you need to be in control of your bicycle at all times. This means slowing down for blind corners, being familiar with the trails you ride and watching for hazards on the roadway or trail, including weather-related hazards. Never ride on ice, and remember that rain does make the road more slick, just as it does if you are in a motor vehicle. Additional hazards can be in the form of people, animals or even the construction of the trail or road. Alert others in your path of your pres-

always signal every turn. Watch for parked vehicles along the way which may open vehicle doors unexpectedly or could pull into traffic suddenly. If you are riding on a road with motor vehicles, remember to ride with traffic and to be careful of crosswalks, as many bicycle accidents happen as cars attempt right turns at intersections. These types of turns are difficult for motorists because of the visibility issues associated with those types of turns. Never ride on the sidewalk. Never attempt to pass on the right and be aware of vehicles around you. When you ride behind a vehicle, make sure you actually are behind the vehicle, not to the right of it, as vehicles

Although a helmet will not protect you from having an accident, it will protect you from greater injuries if you are involved in one. listed on the helmets and most helmets also include a sizing ring. Typical sizes are small, medium and large. The helmet should fit snugly and stay level on your head, not tilted up or down. Never use a helmet after it has been involved in an accident, and be sure to replace your helmet at least once every five years. At this point, the energy-absorbing foam has broken down and will provide insufficient protection during the next collision. You will also want front and rear lights. The lights help you to be visible to others, while providing additional lighting for you to view potential hazards along the

bike specialty shops have custom mirrors that will fit on your helmet or handlebars. Practice checking your blind spots so you do not end up moving your bike from side to side as you check for traffic. You are now ready to ride, aware of the external risks you will face. Prior to operating a bicycle, review the rules of the road for motorists, as these same rules will apply to you. One of the biggest mistakes bicyclists make is assuming they always have the right-of-way. You will need to stop for red lights, make complete stops, obey all traffic signals and signs, signal your

ence with a friendly greeting or bell. Be respectful of other bikers and pedestrians by slowing, warning them of your presence, and passing safely. Be aware if you will be traveling in an area where animals could run out in front of your bicycle, and anticipate dangerous movements. Never startle an animal, and make sure they are aware of your presence, always giving them the rightof-way. If you are riding on an unpaved roadway, watch for large rocks or holes. Potholes can also be a problem on paved roads, so always be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious around deep ditches or waterways. Make sure to use hand signals properly and

have blind spots that will prevent them from being able to see you. Make sure you look behind you before you make a right hand turn to make sure your path is clear of other bicycles or pedestrians. Never, ever move to the left without looking behind you first. The parking lane is reserved for parked cars, so be sure to keep clear of that lane. Weaving in and out of traffic is dangerous and puts you at risk of being hit by a car that cannot anticipate this movement. Likewise, hugging the curb leaves you no exit route should a car come too close to you. Familiarizing yourself with the gears on your bicycle and learning how and when to use them will help you avoid uncertain



It’s not in your

distraction, and the inherent dangers of cell phone use while driving, could prolong change of our behavior on the road. Countless lives have been lost as a result of cell phone distracted driving, and the after effects ripple throughout our society- no one is safe until we remember it is not what is in our hands but what is in our heads. FocusDriven – Advocates for Cell-Free Driving encourages businesses, communities and individuals to get involved today by implementing and supporting: • Corporate cell phone bans • Distracted-driving legislation banning both hands-free and handheld cell phones • Law enforcement • Safe driving technology • Widespread education


it’s in your head

By Jennifer Smith

On Sept. 3, 2008, Linda Doyle was driving through an intersection when a young man ran a red light and T-boned her car at 45-50 mph. A couple of hours later, Linda died from blunt force trauma to the head, neck and chest. The young man who hit her was a sober, church going 20-year-old who was driving while using his cell phone for less than a minute.


speeds. If you change gears on your bike, change to a low number when going uphill and a higher number when traveling down a hill. Remember that the higher the gear number, the more tension in your bicycle. Always stay hydrated and carry snacks with you to avoid low blood sugar and “bonking,” or cycling fatigue. An excellent snack is a high protein bar or trail mix. Do not attempt to eat while riding. Do not use your cell phone while riding your bike nor ride after drinking alcohol. Be cautious and remember that you must obey all traffic laws just as if you were operating a motor vehicle, including making complete stops at stop signs. Safe bicycling is a wonderful exercise regimen and a great way to spend an afternoon with family or friends. As a bicyclist, your focus should extend past simply wearing a helmet. Proper equipment, gear, fit and the correct safety measures can protect you and your family from a major bicycle accident. As a defensive rider, knowing and adhering to the same rules of the road as motorists will be crucial to your safety and the safety of others around you. — Craig L. Kelley is an attorney, and Christina L. Koch is a litigation paralegal, at Inserra and Kelley in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Linda’s story is becoming too common. Distractions from cell phone use while driving are now among alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. A University of Utah driving simulator study found drivers using cell phones had slower reaction times than drivers impaired by alcohol at a .08 blood alcohol concentration, the legal intoxication limit.[1] Estimates indicate that drivers using cell phones look but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment.[2] Braking time is also delayed for drivers talking on handsfree and handheld phones. The National Safety council estimates 1 out of every 4 motor vehicle crashes involves cell phone use at the time of a crash. At least 28 percent of all traffic crashes – or 1.6 million crashes – each year involve drivers talking and texting on hands-free and handheld cell phones. Drivers using cell phones are also four times as likely to crash and potentially injure or kill others. These are 100% preventable incidents that are taking away loved ones. Today there are more than 280 million wireless subscribers in the United States, according to cTIA–The Wireless Association. Many of these subscribers admit to using a cell phone while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 11 percent of all drivers at any given time are using cell phones. This creates a sea of distracted drivers on our roadways who mistakenly believe that texting, hands-free or hand-held devices are harmless and manageable while driving on the road.

MULTI-EFFEcT Many drivers mistakenly believe hands-free cell phones (speakerphones, wireless headsets, etc.) are safer than handheld. However, both types of phones enable cognitive distraction to occur. Hands-free cell phones do not eliminate cognitive distraction, as the driver still focuses on the conversation instead of the road. Driving while talking on cell phones – handheld and hands-free – in-

FOCUSDRIVEN’S GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT FocusDriven – Advocates for CellFree Driving is a nonprofit advocacy organization that supports victims of cell phone distracted driving and the families of victims. Its mission and focus is to increases public awareness of the dangers of cell phone distracted driving by putting a human face on the disastrous impact of this behavior, in order to promote corresponding public policies, programs and personal responsibility. You can join the FocusDriven RippleEffect movement by visiting focusdriven. org today and learning how YOU can help make our roadways safer. What drivers not using a hands-free cell phone see when compared to drivers using a handsfree cell phone. Drivers using a cell phone are more likely to miss relevant objects or visual cues.

creases risk of injury and property damage crashes fourfold.[3, 4] Research shows that human brains are unable to effectively perform two tasks, such as driving and talking on a cell phone, at the same time. In fact, just listening to sentences on a cell phone decreases activity in the brain’s parietal lobe by 37 percent, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study. Drivers on hands-free cell phones

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not only display slower reaction times and difficulty staying in their lane; they also are less likely to see: • High and low relevant objects • Visual cues • Exits, red lights and stop signs • Navigational signage • Content of objects

AFTER EFFECT The lack of awareness about cognitive

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— Jennifer Smith is president and founding director of FocusDriven. [1] Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., & Crouch, D. J. (2006). “A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver,” Human Factors, 48 (2), 381-391. [2] Strayer, D. L. (2007, February 28). Presentation at Cell Phones and Driver Distraction. Traffic Safety Coalition, Washington DC. [3] Redelmeier, D.,A., & Tibshirani, R. J. (1997). “Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions,” New England Journal of Medicine , 336 (7), 453-458. [4] McEvoy, S. P., Stevenson, M. R., McCartt, A. T., Woodward, M., Haworth, C., Palamara, P., & Cercarelli, R. “Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study” (2005). British Medical Journal, 331 (7514), 428.

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In the fall in the South, football is THE sport. Sure, NASCAR is big and soccer is catching on, but football is huge – think Chuck Norris huge. Parents all over the Southeast envision little Johnny[1] playing at their favorite SEC school. My home abuts a city park and it will soon be filled with kids ranging from kindergarten through the seventh grade blocking and tackling. I sometimes watch practice through our kitchen window when I get home from work. Though fun to watch, they look so small … and so vulnerable. And they are. According to the National Institute of Health, well more than two million kids in that age range were injured playing a youth sport between 1997 and 1999. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of those injuries were minor. A significant number, however, were not. Of those serious injuries, many had permanent implications. Children at this age are still growing and their bones are not fully developed. Injuries at growth plate areas are of particular concern. Because of the lack of muscle development, kids in this age range are susceptible to back and neck injuries. A friend of mine who is an orthopedic surgeon and a good athlete himself, is of the opinion that thirteen or fourteen, depending on the individual child’s development, is the minimum starting age for football. But if your son is determined to get on the field, and so are you, please consider the following: 1) Make sure that he is healthy enough to play. Most leagues require a preseason physical examination of some

type. My recommendation is that this be done by your child’s pediatrician. That doctor knows your son better than any other doctor. 2) Pads and helmets have a very specific purpose – to prevent injury. Equipment that does not fit or is broken defeats the purpose. Look at what they want to put on your child. Does the helmet fit snugly when strapped on? A lot of kids will opt for a larger helmet than they need because it is easier to get on and off. An ill fitting helmet is a recipe for disaster. If the thigh pad actually protects your son’s knee, his thigh is not protected. 3) Make sure that the folks coaching your kids are on the same wavelength as you are when it comes to safety. If the coach’s attitude is that you have to play through pain at this age, the chance of your son getting injured is increased exponentially. Besides, what kid wants to play for a coach who has a Vince Lombardi complex? If everyone on the team knows that cheap shots are not cool and that not snapping your chin snap will land him on the bench, everyone is safer. 4) Also make sure that these same coaches know what they are doing.

Improper tackling technique can lead to serious neck and spine injuries, or worse. Does the league your son plays in provide any training for the coaches? If you do not know much about football, find someone who does.

It does not take long to see whether a coach understands the game and how to safely play it. Even if the coach gets it, who is doing the instructing – the coach or a high school or college kid helping out? 5) When the coach understands that you have questions that need answers, do you get understanding or hostility? There is no need to elaborate here. 6) While my evidence for this proposition is purely anecdotal, I believe that kids who are enjoying what they are doing are less prone to injury. I believe this to be the case for several reasons. First, kids who are having fun play without hesitation or tension. Next, if your son is having fun, that means that his coach is having fun and understands where winning fits on the youth football priority list. Winning and safety generally can not co-exist as top priorities. 7) At younger ages, kids should compete against kids their own size. Some leagues have weight limits. Others go further, while some do nothing. Do not think that it is okay for your 80 pound third grader to play on your 120 pound sixth grader’s team so that you have only one practice at which to drop off and pick up. 8) So everything fits and works and the coaching staff checks out. How is the field that he is playing on? Someone needs to check it periodically for all of the things that can cause injury – holes, broken glass, etc. You would be amazed … 9) Heat can be a real killer in preseason training – literally. My high school basketball coach would stand at the water fountain and limit the number of gulps. We certainly know better now. A watered-down sports drink will help replace electrolytes and trace minerals without upsetting the stomach. 10) Do not let your child blow off injuries. If he’s limping after prac-

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tice, there is a reason. Do not blindly accept “it’s nothing.” He wants to play Saturday morning and feels bullet proof, anyway. You ought not run to the doctor with every scrape, but lingering or obvious problems deserve medical attention. 11) As puberty hits, so does the urge to lift weights and develop a massive set of “guns.” Proper strength training at this age is worth an article by itself. Suffice it to say that strength training for early teens generally does not include weight lifting. Body weight exercises like push ups and crunches are a good place to start. Plyometric exercises like explosive jumping and sprint exercises involving forward, backward and lateral movement are also good at this age. This type of training promotes safety by strengthening joints and bones and increasing endurance. When weights become part of the program, supervision by a trained strength coach is clearly in order. Youth football is not just tackling and running … it is cheerleading, as well. A lot of the same safety considerations listed above apply to cheerleading. One distinction worth noting is acrobatics. Youth cheerleaders are not ready

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for acrobatics. Tumbling, flips and the like should be done only in a controlled environment and with properly trained coaches. The key here, as with football, is proper supervision. The following web sites are worth a visit: - - safety.asp - - football - - - -, I am a big fan of youth sports. I coached year round when my kids were younger and would not have traded those years for anything. I learned that injuries are a part of sports and the best that one can do is to make sure that proper preventive measures are taken. Have fun – but be safe. — Pete Mackey is an attorney with Burns, Cunningham and Mackey in Mobile, Alabama.

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Autumn in New York


s the heat of summer fades away to cooler days and crisp nights in New York, there is an abundance of activities celebrating the season as well as preparations for the coming winter to fill the shorter days. Trips to New York apple orchards to pick apples are a favorite. Fall hunting season is also popular. Of course, there are all the activities for Halloween such as pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an autumn New York tradition. Autumn is also traditionally the season of putting away everything from summer toys to vegetables and preparing the home for winter. While doing all these autumn activities, make safety your priority.

AuTuMN is FAir & CArNivAl seAsON Millions of people attend fairs and carnivals each year in New York for the exhibits, concerts, competitions and of course, the amusement rides. in 2004, the u.s. Consumer Product safety Commission (CPsC) estimated there were about 2,500 injuries on mobile amusement rides that moved from event to event. The agency estimates about 4,900 more injuries occurred on inflatable rides such as slides or bounce houses. in July of this year, a fair ride in California called the “Wacky Worm” malfunctioned and injured five children and two adults. As you head out to local carnivals, fairs or the New York state Fair in syracuse August 26 - september 6, remem-

By Paul J. Napoli

ber safety guidelines from the New York state Department of labor, the agency responsible for inspecting and issuing permits for amusement rides: • You know your child best. While your child may be tall enough to ride an amusement ride, it still may not be appropriate for him or her. • Before you put your child on a ride, watch first. That way, your child will know what to expect. read any warning signs aloud with your child, point out the ride operator and the exit and entrance locations. • Obey minimum height, age, weight and health restrictions. • Do not put children on rides of which they are afraid. Make sure your child knows not to try to get off the ride, even if he or she becomes frightened. if your child gets scared,

ask the operator to stop the ride. • Keep small children away from open sides. Always seat them on the inside. • Always use the ride’s safety equipment, seatbelts, lap bars, etc., but be aware of their limitations. A lap bar, for instance, may still leave room for a small child to slide around and would not provide adequate protection to keep the child safe during operation of the ride. • Tell your children to keep their heads, hands, feet and arms inside the ride, and not to try to get off the ride before it comes to a complete stop. • Do not assume a ride is safe for children if you hold onto them. If you hold onto your child, you cannot look after yourself, and you may put both of you at risk. • Teach children what to do if they

become separated from you. Point out uniformed park employees who can help them and designate a meeting place.

Those BeAuTIful leAves CAn CreATe A hAzArD one of the most beautiful features of fall in new York is the beautiful change of leaf color. falling leaves can also create a hazard. Accumulations of leaves on the ground can hide trip and fall hazards such as sidewalks in disrepair, curbs or uneven pavement and ground. Be careful when walking or running, and be alert for any fall hazards lurking beneath the leaves. Property owners should rake or blow leaves away from areas frequented by pedestrians.

Heating systems, including local fixed heaters, portable heaters, central heating systems, and fireplaces and chimneys, were associated with an average of 32,900 fires and 200 fire deaths per year from 2004-2006.

leaves can also block culverts, ditches and storm drains, causing flooding. Property owners must keep ditches and culverts on their property clear and not dump grass clippings, debris or leaves where they will deter drainage. local government in charge of municipal drain systems must keep them free of obstruction. Citizens should notify their local government if they notice a drainage obstruction near their property or slow draining water that might be an indication of an obstruction somewhere in the system. leaves in house gutters and downspouts inhibit the drainage of rain or melting snow from rooftops. however, attempting to remove leaves from gutters and downspouts yourself presents its own hazards. According to the CPsC, there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the u.s. each year relating to ladders. new York homeowners who use ladders to clean home gutters each autumn should remember these tips: • Inspect the ladder to make sure it is in good working condition and that the Duty rating of the ladder is greater that the total weight of the climber, tools, supplies and other objects placed upon the ladder. • never use ladders in windy conditions. • ensure the ladder feet are on firm, level ground or use a large flat wooden

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board on uneven or soft ground to maintain stability. • Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle, avoiding slippery or unstable surfaces for the upper contact point. • Use a ladder that is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. • Never stand on the top three ladder rungs or steps. • Wear clean, slip-resistant shoes with rubber, not leather, soles. • Only one person should be on a ladder at one time, and if possible, have another person hold the ladder bottom. • Ensure all ladder extension locks are properly engaged. • Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder near power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let your body or a ladder of any material contact live electric wires. • Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working. • Never leave a raised ladder unattended. • To reduce the likelihood of a fall, recommends the use of a Three Point-of-Contact climb and descent when using a ladder. Of two hands and two feet, the user should always maintain three of the four appendages in contact with the ladder at all times. The user must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. As autumn is also a favorite time for decorating the home exterior for the holidays and often involves the use of a ladder, those installing or removing decorations should also remember these ladder safety tips.

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GET A HOME HEATiNG CHECK-UP As cooler weather returns and heating systems are turned on, the CPSC urges consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters and space heaters, to detect fire hazards and potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks. Heating systems, including local fixed heaters, portable heaters, central heating systems, and fireplaces and chimneys, were associated with an average of 32,900 fires and 200 fire deaths per year from 2004-2006. in addition to a professional inspection, the CPSC also urges consumers to follow these home heating safety tips to prevent fires: • Place heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface such as a ceramic tile floor, not on rugs or carpets. Keep the heater at least three feet from flammable materials, out of the flow of foot traffic, and keep children and pets away from heaters. • Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container and cover it with a lid. Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles. Dispose of ashes carefully, keeping them away from combustibles, dry leaves or trash. • install, maintain and test smoke detectors monthly on every level of the home and outside bedroom doors. There were 181 unintentional non-fire deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products each year from 2004-2006. Heating equipment and portable generators are among

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the top contributors to CO deaths. All appliances that burn fuels such as kerosene, oil, coal, both natural and liquefied petroleum gas and wood can leak deadly CO. CO is a colorless, odorless toxic gas produced when fuel burns that because of its “invisible” qualities can go easily undetected. CO can escape from faulty furnaces or room heaters or through rusty or cracked vents. Blocked chimney flues can trap CO in the home. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to symptoms of the flu and include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting and confusion. At high levels, CO poisoning causes loss of consciousness and death. in addition to a professional inspection, the CPSC urges consumers to do the following to prevent CO poisoning tragedies from occurring: • install, maintain and monthly test carbon monoxide alarms. • NEVER operate a portable gasolinepowered generator in an enclosed, inadequately ventilated space such as a garage, shed or crawlspace, or in the home. • Keep portable generators as far away from the home as possible -- away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home. • Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. Not intended for that purpose, they could pose a CO or fire hazard. • When using a fireplace, open the damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent buildup of poisonous gases inside the home. Enjoy the beautiful autumn season in New York, and always make your and your family’s safety a priority. — Paul J. Napoli is an attorney with Napoli, Bern, Ripka in New York, New York.

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fall colors

Raise DRiving saFeTy anD MainTenance issues

By Bret Hanna

Everyone pays attention to and prepares for the winter driving season, but the fall season brings perils for drivers as well. The changing of the season from summer to fall brings the stunning colors of changing leaves and those changes can present driving challenges. After leaves hit the ground, they can turn into slip and slides for cars and, even more so, motorcycles. Not only are wet leaves slippery, they can obscure yellow center lines, white border lines and other safety markings on the pavement. Wet leaves can also hinder visibility if they get stuck to windows or caught under wiper blades. Avoid wet leaves when possible, and if they cannot be avoided, slow down and drive with caution. Dry leaves can also pose a problem; don’t park on accumulations of dry leaves because fires can be set by catalytic converters. Fall days are shorter days which means less hours of light. Adjust your schedule to allow for these changes if night driving is a challenge for you. Also, be extra aware of children who may be walking to school in the darkness of the early morning. Later sunrises and changing sun angles can bring periods of increased glare and sun blindness, so be prepared with sunglasses, and pull over immediately and completely if you lose your driving vision. The cooler temperatures of fall also bring frost and snow to windows and windshields. Make sure you have all fields of vision completely clear before leaving a parking space. Don’t try to “make do” with a small cleared area that allows for some direct driver vision. Take the time and do it right. Cooler temperatures can also mean frost and black ice on roadways. Pay particular attention to bridge surfaces that cool off more quickly than roads, as well as warnings for potential black ice

conditions in areas that you travel. In addition to being an important time to focus on different safety issues, fall is an excellent time to do vehicle maintenance after the busy summer driving season. Follow this basic maintenance checklist and you should be good to go at least until the weather warms up again.

Tires • Replace when needed • Rotate on a regular basis • Maintain proper pressure • Use studded or snow tires in appropriate areas.


• Annual basic tune up including spark plugs and checking all fluid levels.

Cooling System • Check for leaks and proper fluid levels • Flush and replace fluid according to the schedule set in your owner’s manual • Use proper mix of antifreeze and distilled water during cold months.

Oil • Use synthetic oil to reduce engine stress caused by lower temperatures. Fall weather does not typically focus people’s attention on the perils of bad weather driving in the same way that the approach of winter does, but the potential problems are real and should be taken into account as the colors turn. — Bret Hanna is an attorney with the Salt Lake City, Utah, office of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough PC.

Changing sun angles can bring periods of increased glare and sun blindness, so be prepared with sunglasses, and pull over immediately and completely if you lose your driving vision.

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protecting themselves at school.

GettinG to School

taking the journey

BACK TO SCHOOL By Brenda S. Fulmer

As children savor their last days of summer, parents anticipate the first day of school with eagerness. . . and some trepidation. The start of another school year promises new friends, new activities, and new opportunities for our children. It is a chance to broaden horizons beyond the safety of our homes. The excitement of these new experiences, however, are diminished somewhat by the challenges that we face as parents in protecting our children from harm and making certain that they return

home safely each day. Sadly, most would agree that school, and the world, is a very different place today than what parents experienced not so long ago. Being safe is mostly about common sense. The basic lessons that we learned in kindergarten years ago are equally applicable to our children: look both ways before you cross the street, don’t talk to strangers, ask your teacher for help, and treat others as you wish to be treated. As a parent, however, the trick is to achieve the delicate balance between creating unwarranted fears and equipping our children with effective tools for

Just getting children to school can be a daunting task - whether they walk, ride a bicycle, take the school bus, or are dropped off by a parent. Picture the veritable circus at any school shortly before the bell: rush-hour traffic snarled in school zones; harried, distracted parents dodging in and out; SUVs lined up at the curb; bus drivers discharging passengers; and children running in all directions. here are some basic safety tips to help avoid some of the chaos: » if your children walk to school, teach them the basic rules about walking on sidewalks, crossing only at crosswalks, and so on. then do a dry run, reminding of the rules along the way. And, most importantly, follow the rules yourself, since those young eyes are always watching and modeling your behavior. it is important to not only instill caution, but also to alleviate fears and boost self-confidence. » Bikers must make sure that they wear helmets and, when possible, ride with an adult or older child. teach bike riders to ride in the same direction as cars, to obey traffic signs, to use hand signals when stopping or turning, and to yield to pedestrians. if you are unable to afford a bike helmet, many charitable organizations will provide them for free. » For a school bus rider, point out exactly where the bus comes, how to line up, and how to get on and off in an orderly and safe manner. Also discuss proper behavior while on the bus: staying seated; being quiet; avoiding distractions; refraining from eating, drinking or gum chewing; following the bus driver’s directions; and being courteous to fellow passengers and the bus driver. » if you are driving to school, children should be in the back seat and, in most states, if they are younger than 8 years of age, they must be in booster seats.

Make sure that everyone buckles up. Before school starts, find out where the “kiss-and-drop zone” is and what procedures have been established. “car rider” lines in most elementary schools are run with military precision, replete with bull horns and personnel to open doors, and there is little compassion

The basic lessons that we learned in kindergarten years ago are equally applicable to our children: look both ways before you cross the street, don’t talk to strangers, ask your teacher for help, and treat others as you wish to be treated. for parents who don’t follow the rules. Use of a cell phone is often prohibited in driveways leading up to schools. even if cell phone use while driving is not forbidden by law, distracted driving endangers all of us.

DeAlinG with BUllieS the age-old problem of school bullying is receiving increased atten-

tion from parents, school authorities, and the media in the wake of extreme situations that have resulted in tragic deaths and serious injuries. Bullying at school used to happen in the school yard, bathrooms, and cafeteria where there was less adult supervision, but it has now moved into a new age with the advent of pervasive use of electronic devices and the internet. Parents need to understand the technology that their children are now using, ensure that adequate parental controls are in place, and monitor them closely. As a parent, listen to your children and speak regularly with them about their school experiences. Also, it is important that you get involved – develop relationships with school administrators and your children’s teachers; volunteer to help in the classroom; chaperone a field trip; join the Parent teacher organization; and get to know your child’s classmates and their parents. Many schools have zero-tolerance policies for aggressive behavior. Peer mediation is also used in many schools, and very effective in teaching students to solve problems themselves. Most importantly, model good behavior for your child, including appropriate resolution of conflicts; treating others with respect; building your child’s self-confidence; discouraging inappropriate comments regarding those who are different; and quickly and decisively dealing with bullying behavior (whether your child is the victim or the instigator) before it is permitted to escalate. it is always a good strategy to engage your children in conversation about people and situations they find frightening. if they feel they are being bullied or see others being victimized, it is important to provide children with some strategies: » Avoid children who are bullies or mean. » walk away and avoid confrontation and escalation.

» notify an adult immediately if you or

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someone else is being bullied. » Use good judgment in selecting friends who do not bully other children. » Join groups who have similar interests to forge positive bonds.

» Another option would be to use a door snake. For the

A FeW energY & sAFetY tiPs

ElEctrIcAl OutlEts AnD swItchEs

PREPARATION: By Brandon West

Avoiding PredAtors every parent’s nightmare is that his or her child will be confronted by a stranger, molested, or abducted. even in a state which has strong child protection laws, parents must teach their children ways to protect themselves from sexual predators. As with bullying situations, the first step is to encourage a child to talk openly about his or her concerns and fears. then, without exacerbating fears or creating new anxieties, it is critical to lay down some basic rules: » When home alone, keep the door locked, and, if you answer the phone, don’t tell callers you are alone. » on the way to and from school, follow the route that your parents have designated as safe. » stay away from strangers – do not talk with them or accept a ride, and scream loudly if you are in trouble. » educate your child that the predator is just as likely to be someone who looks “friendly” and “normal” who offers candy or asks for help in locating a lost pet, and not necessarily a sinister-looking “bad guy.” » stay near friends and adults you know. if you become isolated, consider where you could run and who could help. » Create a code word for your child that would be used by anyone that you have authorized to pick him or her up from school. » if you see anyone suspicious lurking around the school, report this immediately and describe the person and car. Unfortunately, we cannot protect our children from all harm or at all times. We must, however, make certain that we are doing everything that we can to avoid safety issues. More importantly, it is our responsibility to give children the tools necessary to boost their confidence and help them develop self-reliance, for it is ultimately these skills that will protect their safety in the long-term. — Brenda S. Fulmer is an attorney with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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Winter Home

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As the summer fades and the changing of the seasons comes upon us, preparation for the cold of winter is a task that is admittedly not the most enjoyable part of the fall season. For those in especially cold climates, proper winterization can prevent needless energy waste and save a significant amount in heating costs. not all winterization preparations need be expensive – the following are things that can be done with a few trips to the local hardware store.

Controlling Air FloW: Fixing little leAks = reAl sAvings Controlling unwanted airflow through your house is a relatively easy way to cut down on heat loss. A number of little leaks can add up quickly – below are some quick and simple fixes that will save on your energy bill this winter.


» Check for holes or gaps around the window frames. Fill any holes or gaps with caulk. » if sliding windows use any type of rubber insulation, check for tears, poor fit or other type of damage. if the seal around the window needs replacing, your local hardware store can help you select the correct replacement for your window type. » Cover windows with drapes, blinds, or a clear plastic film on the glass.


» shut the door, turn off any lights in the room and have someone go around the door frame with a flashlight. if you can see light, air can seep through those spaces. » thin vinyl or foam weather stripping can be used to seal around the door jamb. » if there is a gap under the door, a simple solution is to install a door sweep to the back of the door. A door shoe is more labor intensive, but more efficient.

creative types, there are numerous DIY project websites for custom door snake ideas.

» It is not uncommon for air leaks to occur around outlet and switch covers. count up how many of these you have in your home and the potential for heat loss could be rather high. » A simple solution is to get foam gaskets from your local hardware store designed for outlets and switches. these will fill in the gaps between the drywall, outlet boxes and switch covers.

ducts can waste large amounts of heat and contribute to high energy costs. If your home was built before 1976, there is a chance that the original insulation could contain asbestos. Preformed, wet-applied and block asbestos insulation was banned in 1975 under the asbestos nEshAP (national Emission standards for hazardous Air Pollutants) regulations. Because asbestos is a known carcinogen, testing the insulation for asbestos is an important safety consideration and should be done before replacing, modifying, or disturbing insulation on pipes and ducts.

InsulAtIng wAtEr PIPEs

» For general insulation, pipe sleeves made of polyethylene or neoprene foam are simple to install.

cEIlIng FAn(s)

» Proper use of a ceiling fan can have a big impact on heat management during the winter. changing the rotation of the fan blades will push rising heat down. » Most ceiling fans have a rotation switch on the main fan body. with the fan off and the blades not turning, locate the switch and set it to reverse (usually counter clockwise). » when in doubt, refer to the owner’s manual or see the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.


» when a fireplace is not in use, closing the damper is a simple way to keep heat from escaping out the chimney.

BEYOnD thE BAsIcs – A lIttlE InsulAtIOn gOEs A lOng wAY Often forgotten, an equally important part of winterization occurs outside of the home’s living space. cold temperatures can freeze exposed water pipes and improperly insulated hot water lines can suffer rapid heat loss. Improperly fitted and uninsulated hVAc

» Match the diameter of the pipe to the inner diameter of the insulation. secure the insulation every 1-2 feet using acrylic tape, cable ties or wire. » For gas water heaters, if water pipes are within 8 inches of the flue, make sure to use insulation that has the appropriate heat resistance. A plumbing professional should be used if you have questions about your specific situation. » Keeping hot water 2-4 degrees warmer will allow you to lower your water heater temperature and hot water will reach the faucet or showerhead quicker – saving water. » Keeping cold water pipes insulated will reduce the chance of freezing and reduce the risk of old pipes bursting.

hEAtEr Ducts

» Improperly insulated or leaking heater ducts can be a large source of wasted heat and energy. commonly used fiberglass insulation can deteriorate over time – requiring complete removal and replacement. Adding second layers of insulation can cause condensation/mold problems and limit the effectiveness of the insulation if crushed.

sMAll chAngEs, BIg sAVIngs Making small improvements around the house can add up to reduced energy consumption and big savings on your winter energy bill. As with all home projects, safety is the key to success – if you are unsure how to complete a task, ask a local professional for help. For more energy conservation ideas, visit yourhome.htm. — Brandon West is Web Marketer Coordinator for Brayton Purcell, LLP in Novato, California.

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fall | SAFE T Y


smoke alarm WHICH

By Fire Marshal Alan Perkins

can save your life? The kind of smoke alarm you have in your home may not provide adequate warning during a fire. That’s right, if you have the kind of detection that most U.S. homes have, an ionization-type, you are at risk of dying in your own home without the alarm ever sounding. This doesn’t seem possible, does it? After all, if there is a fresh battery in your detector and you have tested it to ensure that it is in working order, you and your family members should be safe, right? Maybe not! There is compelling research-based

evidence that demonstrates that ionization-type detectors are ineffective in smoldering type fires, the most common cause of fatalities in home fires. In fact, tests have shown that ionization type smoke alarms don’t sound, even after the level of carbon monoxide and smoke reaches deadly concentrations. An alarming amount of documented residential fire deaths have occurred with only the installed ionization type detectors. Had there been a properly installed photoelectric detector in these situations, an alarm would have sounded to warn

occupants of the life-threatening situation. A 1994 study at Texas A&M concluded that the probability of a photoelectric detector failing to detect a smoldering fire is four percent, while the ionization detector provided close to 56% probability of failure in the same fire condition. One of the reasons for the differences in the performance of these two detector types is in the way they are activated. Ionization smoke alarms contain a small amount of radioactive material and establish a

small electric current between two metal plates. When the current is disrupted by smoke, the alarm sounds. This older type of technology is typically more responsive to a flaming fire, such as a kitchen pan fire, but it’s also more susceptible to nuisance alarms from bathroom humidity or cooking vapors when placed within 20 feet of a kitchen. Photoelectric smoke alarms contain a light source and a light-sensitive electric cell. Smoke entering the detector deflects light onto the light-sensitive electric cell, triggering the alarm. These alarms are more sensitive to large particles given off during smoldering fires, such as an electrical fire-the kind of fires that usually occur at night when people are asleep. For many years, authorities have urged homeowners to install smoke alarms without consideration to the type of potential fire ignition or the quality of smoke detection. This was based on the urgency to equip all homes with smoke detection with what was readily available on the market. It is no surprise, then, that more than 90% of homes in the United States have only the ionization detection technology, leaving those occupants vulnerable to the most common and deadly type of fire. To ensure your family gets the early warning they need to survive the toxic gases of a smoldering fire, install photoelectric smoke alarms immediately in and outside sleeping areas. They cost a bit more than the ionization type, but are now readily available at local hardware and home improvement stores. Don’t forget to test your smoke alarms monthly and change alkaline batteries at least once every year, or as instructed. You can use a date you already know, like your birthday or when you change your clocks, as a reminder.

Along with properly installing and maintaining new and existing smoke alarms, develop and practice an escape plan that includes two ways out of every room, so that everyone in the home knows what to do if the smoke alarms sounds. Home occupants who practice an escape plan reduce their time to escape in every type of fire. If you have questions concerning the proper installation of photoelectric smoke alarms, contact the Washington Township (OH) Fire Department at (614) 652-3920, or email the Live Safe Foundation at If you would like more information about this important issue, watch the Stop the Children Burning series on youtube. com. A very informative news report from Indiana’s Channel 13 called UL-approved smoke alarms may give false sense of security is also on It details the studies done at Texas A&M. Take a few minutes to review these videos. Then get photoelectric smoke alarms for your home! — Fire Marshal Alan Perkins is a 32-year veteran of the fire service. A Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS), Perkins is working with the Ohio Fire Officials Association for a state law mandating photoelectric or equivalent smoke detection technology in new residential construction. He is also a board member of Live Safe Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to making fire and life safety education, awareness initiatives and life saving tools available on a broad basis. Learn more at

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fall | safe T Y


is your college-bound student

campus safe?

By mark Bello


oon-to-be college students are shopping for their dorm essentials (e.g., comforter, duffel bag, desk lamp, etc.) as they prepare for their first extended periods away from home. College brings a sense of independence for most students. With so much anticipation and excitement, personal safety can be easily overlooked. Students may believe they are protected because they are surrounded by their peers and feel relatively insulated in their own “community” – the college campus. Unfortunately, crime is just as high, sometimes higher, on campus as it is off campus. With that said, safety awareness on college campuses has never been more important. For the first time, your children will be totally responsible for their own personal safety. Are they prepared in case an emergency occurs? Will they feel safe and secure? Here are a several campus safety tips to help students stay safe while away at school. Practicing these safety fundamentals can help eliminate many of the risks they could poten-

tially face. Be aware of your surroundings. This is the single most important tip to ensure your personal safety. Know all of the routes around campus. Be confident. Walk with your head up, look around and notice everything. Look into a stranger’s face and take note of distinguishing features. Notice when a vehicle slows down suspiciously and pay attention to the license plate. Be aware of anyone loitering or hanging around campus, your dorm, vehicle, etc. Lock all doors and windows. When leaving your dorm or apartment, make sure that all doors and windows are locked - including the main building entry and exits. Never prop doors open. Do not loan your keys to anyone. Plan ahead. Be safe when going out alone. Whether your plans are a social event or studying at the campus library, map out a safety plan in advance. Mention your plans to a friend and let someone know if your plans change. Arm yourself with mace or pepper spray, or carry a personal alarm on your key chain.

Avoid going out alone at night. Try to stay in a group. Let at least one person know where you are going and who you will be with. If you do go out alone, avoid potentially unsafe shortcuts. Travel on well-lit and well-traveled streets. Carry emergency cab fare. Equip your cell phone. Program important phone numbers (campus security, police, etc.) in your cell for emergencies. Put the word “ICE” in your cell phone with a parent or guardian number programmed. The authorities know to look for this code in case an emergency occurs and they need to get in touch with a relative. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before going out. Always trust your instincts. If something seems “off,” it probably is. Trust your intuition. Call the police or campus security if something doesn’t seem “right.” Don’t carry too much money or wear expensive jewelry. Credit cards, a driver’s license, and keys should be concealed in a zippered pocket, security belt or stash pouch.

For the first time, your children will be totally responsible for their own personal safety. Are they prepared in case an emergency occurs? Will they feel safe and secure?


Safety Weeks

By Mike Bryant

Make copies of important papers, credit cards, your driver’s license, and insurance cards. Keep the copies in a safe place in case you need to report a lost or stolen document or credit card. Do not go to the ATM at night. Watch your drink. Do not accept drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) from others. Remember that alcohol is the #1 date rape drug. When dating, meet at a populated location. Choose a restaurant or other public location. Never meet in a dorm room or apartment. Check around your vehicle as you approach it. If there is a van parked on one side of your car, get in on the other side. Check under your vehicle and others around you. Consider a wireless alarm system for your apartment or dorm. It is easy to set up, and you can take it with you when you move. Practice Internet safety. Use caution when posting personal information on social networking sites such as Facebook. Avoid becoming friends with people you don’t know. Don’t succumb to having your photo or personal information published for the campus community. It is not uncommon for upperclassmen and fraternities to use this information to “target” naïve freshmen on campus. Call home once a week. Let your parents know what you plan for the week, dates, social events, etc. It is just another safety measure to give them peace of mind. Colleges are generally safe places for our children. Because of this, students tend to let their guard down. Being armed with basic safety awareness can significantly reduce their vulnerability. Bottom line – help prepare your college-bound children to be responsible for their own safety while away at college. They will go confidently and ready for one of the most exciting ventures of their lives. Remember – book smart is something you can learn anytime; street smart is something you have to know and practice every day of your life.

Nationally, October 17-23 has been designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. The focus is centered on the use of seat belts. Maybe each state should also dedicate a week to the topic. On a single weekend in April of 2010, seven Minnesota teens were killed on highways. In many of the cases, the lack of seat belts played a role in the young people being thrown from the vehicles. Hopefully, teens across the country can learn from these horrific losses. Many law enforcement agencies and schools have programs to help educate teens on the dangers of certain behaviors on the roads. According to AAA and the Minnesota Safety Council, the top six driving risk factors for teens are the following: • Failing to wear a seat belt - each year, 75 percent of teens killed in vehicles are not buckled up. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by approximately 50 percent. • Distraction - text messaging, cell phones, eating, grooming and talking with other passengers increases the risk of being involved in a crash. • Excessive speed - illegal/unsafe speed is the most common contributing factor in single vehicle crashes for drivers. Teens in particular have difficulty adjusting speed to driving conditions. • Fatigue - a person who has been awake for 24 hours experiences impairment nearly equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. Teens often don’t get enough sleep. • Driving at night - mile for mile, 16 and 17 year-olds are about three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash at night than during the day. • Driving with other teens - the presence of teen passengers dramatically increases the risk of crashing. Experts say a parent, not a police officer, lecturer or driving instructor, will have the most influence on a young driver’s safe driving habits. Together, we can work to prevent a future weekend like the one in April on Minnesota highways.

— Mark Bello is an attorney and director of Lawsuit Financial Corporation in Southfield, Michigan.

— Mike Bryant is an attorney with Bradshaw and Bryant in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

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fall | SAFE T Y

44 / the sAFety report / FAll 2010

thEsAFEtYREPORt.COM t t.COM / 45

avoiding the college

HANGOVER By Pete Strom

of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex. • 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol. Importantly, alcohol abuse directly affects academic performance, leading as many as 25 percent of college students to report that they have cut class, fallen behind, done poorly on exams or papers and, as a result, received a lower grade overall due to drinking. Alcohol abuse not only affects academic performance, it can also result in disciplinary action by the University, resulting in the loss of academic scholarships, probation, academic suspension and even expulsion. Even worse, given that underage

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s the summer winds down to a close, our thoughts turn to cooler weather. For many of us, fall brings the milestone of dropping a loved one off at college. While college presents an opportunity for new experiences, new friendships and academic success, a college campus also brings a host of new dangers. Discussing the obvious and not so obvious dangers that lurk with your child can reduce the likelihood of accident, injury, or assault and go a long way towards preventing long-lasting personal and professional consequences.

Alcohol Abuse & binge Drinking For most college campuses, the primary concern is alcohol abuse. underage drinking and binge drinking are a huge problem on college

campuses across the nation. According to the national institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (niAAA), mere enrollment in college can lead to alcohol abuse, as young adults aged 18-22 who are enrolled full-time in college are more likely than their peers not enrolled full-time to binge drink, to drink heavily and to have used alcohol in the past month. if you think your model student is not drinking, you may be kidding yourself; niAAA statistics confirm that as many as four out of every five students drink. While you cannot change the exposure to alcohol or even the initial rebellion your child may feel with his or her new-found freedom, it’s important to be aware of the statistics and understand the effects of college drinking can be debilitating and have

drinking, minor possession of alcohol and driving under the influence are against the law, if your child is arrested and convicted, he or she potentially faces the loss of academic scholarships, the loss of any financial aid, loss of his/ her license, as well as possible fines or jail time. A criminal conviction can have lasting consequences and in some cases can interfere with your child’s ability to obtain employment or acquire a professional license such as a law degree.

BEAtIng thE Odds having a discussion and educating your child about what is at stake and how drinking can directly impact his or her college experience is critical. Even after dropping your college student off, be sure to: • Watch for signs of alcohol abuse. typical signs include being silent, angry,

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withdrawing from friends, failing to communicate, a change in physical appearance, alcohol-related legal problems and continuing to drink even when alcohol creates relationship problems. • Call your child frequently during the first few weeks to see how the initial adjustment is going. • Visit your child on campus. Even if an unexpected drop in is not your style, commit to attending parents’ weekend and college football games and get to know your child’s friends and roommates. • Most importantly, while you remain a parent, take time and be sure you are there to lend support as your child adjusts to his or her new environment. For more information visit — Pete Strom is an attorney with Strom Law Firm in Columbia, South Carolina.

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it’s not in your hands it’s in your head

life-altering consequences beyond the obvious. even if your child chooses not to drink, he or she can be directly affected by underage drinking.

AccorDing to stAtistics recently compileD by the niAA, eAch yeAr: • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcoholrelated unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. • 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol. • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. • 400,000 students between the ages

Be a part of the

RippleEffect Movement and help make our roads safer. For more information:

fall | SAFE T Y

46 / THe SAFeTY RePoRT / FALL 2010

THESAfETYrEPorT.coM / 47




ith fall comes one of children’s favorite times: Halloween. Whether for the candy, the costumes, or the dusk-time romps, it’s great fun. Parents, babysitters, and guardians can do a lot to make sure Halloween is a safe time too by taking a few steps to make sure children are easily visible, costumes are safe and secure, and candy-nabbing follows a predictably safe routine. The fact is, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are more likely to get hurt from a fall, a car, or their costume than the “razor-in-the-apple” urban legend. So what to do? Follow these tips to help make the season a fun one for all!

CoSTumeS The uS Consumer Product Safety Commission has some great advice to anyone helping kids select (or make) their costumes, and the point

is to make sure the costume helps your child be more safe, not more vulnerable. Color, reflectiveness, fitted-versus-baggy, flame-resistance: there’s a lot to think about! First, look for the words “FLAme ReSISTANT” on all costumes and accessories, especially masks, beards, and wigs. Remember,

By William Eadie

all those jack-o-lanterns have burning candles, meaning your child is exposed to a lot of open flames! Flame-resistant does not mean they can’t burn, but it does mean the object should be easy to extinguish, hopefully long before your child has suffered a burn. Next, choose bright, visible costumes. While Dracula was a man-inblack, he was also immortal, unlike the average tyke darting about on a quickly-darkening fall evening. Some basis tips include: • Decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores. • To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights. • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling. • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. mother’s high heels are not a good idea for safe walking. • Hats and scarves should be tied secure-

ly to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes. • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision. • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material. To this I’d add: consider dropping the sword/knife-type paraphernalia altogether, at least after the photographs. If they have to carry it, they will drop it, or want to drop it, and what seemed like a great prop quickly becomes a nuisance! If they won’t let it go, find something light and foam. Even a dull-seeming piece of plastic can easily hurt an eye. Also, glow sticks are a great way to keep kids illuminated. Unlike a flashlight, kids will want to have glow sticks around, and they can even be a part of their costumes.

Do not obstruct vision; tie hat or scarfs securely. Costumes, wigs and beards should be flame resistant.

Decorate costumes with reflective tape for better visibility.

Carry flashlight to see and be seen.

Examine all treats before eating.

Well-fitting costumes and shoes prevent falling.

TrIck or TrEATIng needless to say, an older, responsible person, preferably a group of parents, should accompany all children. I’ve always thought a group of adults have more fun keeping watch than the lone adult trying to keep track of 5+ kids camouflaged by costumes, and it can be a great way to meet or stay connected with the parents of your children’s friends. But how should your child go about grabbing their candy loot? Walking is the name of the game. kids will be excited, so talk with them before and during the trick-or-treating, making

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Use cosmetics or wear properly fitted mask.

sure they know to: • WALk, not run from house to house; • Use paths and sidewalks, noT the lawn! Sure, this is good neighbor behavior (for the sake of the grass), but more importantly, there are plenty of hazards. Hoses, forgotten rakes, decorative stones or Halloween decorations, and lawn ornaments can be hard to see and even harder on a child’s noggin. • nEVEr walk in the street. • remember to talk to your children about the danger zone between two parked cars: darting out from them can be deadly! only cross at the (safe) corners. Also, know how to spot the safer houses: you either know the residents or the porch light is on. one option is to have the kids come back to the supervisors after each house, so that you can decide together which house will be next. Make a game of it: who can guess which house will have fun people in costumes and great candy based on their decorations and light-levels and then avoid the bad ones.

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YoUr HoME: PUT oUT THE (SAfE) WELcoME MAT You can also help your home be safe and welcoming for trick-or-treaters by removing potential obstacles from your porch, steps, and yard. Jack-o-lanterns should be placed a safe distance from the doorway, so a gaggle of children aren’t forced to stand over an open flame. Better yet, consider replacing the tea lights with a non-flame light source, like a glow-stick. Halloween should be a safe and fun time for everyone, and keeping these tips in mind should go a long way to making sure your children stay safe. And, while candy might not be the biggest danger, do check all candy for tampering before the kids eat it. The wait makes it taste that much better when they finally get it! — William Eadie is an attorney with Spangenberg, Shibley and Liber, LLP, in Cleveland, Ohio.

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fall | SAFE T Y



In the fall and winter, the residential use of space heaters increases as the temperature decreases. A significant percentage of house fires that occur during cold weather are caused by or related to space heaters. Although they can be efficient, many come with hazards. Some run off electricity, while others run off of fuels like oil or kerosene. They may be convection or radiant. Convection heaters can heat large areas and are installed with a blower or fan. Radiant heaters are generally used in smaller areas and even under desks. House fires can be caused by misuse of space heaters or by design

TIPS or manufacturing defects. In order to protect your family and your home, follow the recommendations set forth below. 1. DO NOT USE SPACE HEATERS AS THE ONLY MEANS TO HEAT YOUR HOME - Space heaters are not intended to be used as a substitute for your furnace, whether your furnace is a natural gas, oil or electric furnace. The proper use of an electric space heater is to add heat to a room in which adult residents are present. 2. DO NOT ALLOW SMALL CHILDREN TO GO NEAR A SPACE HEATER - Babies and toddlers tend to crawl and walk toward space heaters because they are attracted to be glowing elements. Due to the tenderness of their skin, small children

are more likely than adults to sustain second and third degree burns to their face. 3. DO NOT LEAVE A SPACE HEATER UNATTENDED WHILE IT IS TURNED ON OR PLUGGED IN - Many house fires caused by space heaters occur after the person who plugged it in and turned it on leaves the room for an extended period of time or falls asleep. 4. DO NOT PLACE THE SPACE HEATER CLOSE TO FLAMMABLE MATERIAL - Space heater fires often occur when items such as rugs, curtains, blankets and clothes are too close to the space heater. Most space heaters should not be within 3 feet of anything that can burn. The directions included with the space

heater should give specific instructions on how and where to properly place the space heater. 5. AVOID USING EXTENSION CORDS - Most electric space heaters have warning labels instructing the user not to use extension cords. If an extension cord is needed, it must be relatively new, in good condition and be rated by the Underwriters Laboratory at 16gauge wire or thicker. Many house fires resulting from the use of a space heater occur when the extension cord ignites carpet, rugs or wood flooring. 6. DO NOT USE KEROSENE OR OILBASED SPACE HEATERS INSIDE YOUR HOME - Every year, deaths and catastrophic injuries result from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by

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kerosene or oil-based heaters that are placed inside homes, garages and other enclosed structures. Over the years, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled dozens of heaters, both electric and oilfilled. One heater recall was as recent as July of this year. Due to these tough economic times, there are many people having difficulty paying their heating bills. When their natural gas is disconnected or they run out of fuel oil, residents often use electric space heaters as the sole source for heating their home. BECAUSE THE RISK IS EXTREME, financially strained residents should contact the utility company before the source of their heating is disconnected. Most communities

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have local and state agencies, as well as charitable organizations, that can provide assistance. In Indiana, state law prohibits electric or gas utilities from terminating residential service from December 1st through March 15th for persons who qualify for the State Heating Assistance Program. Many states have similar statutes to protect their citizens. Unfortunately, many indigent people are unaware that assistance programs are available. To avoid the potentially tragic events that may occur with the use or misuse of space heaters, please share this information with your family, friends and neighbors. — Tom Hastings is an attorney with the Hastings Law Firm in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Professional & Executive

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Tire Safety IT’S UP TO YOU By Wendi L. Lewis

Tire failures, blowouts and de-treads are foreseeable and preventable events. Manufacturers know that tire treads will wear with proper use and at some point, tires will fail if not serviced properly and replaced after their intended period of use has expired. However, until very recently, consumers were provided little or no information about tire expiration. Even now, many people are unaware that this is a critical part of tire safety. When researching the issue of tire safety, it is easy to find information about such issues as tire pressure, how to check for tread wear, when to balance and rotate tires, and even information about appropriate tire size for various vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) even publishes a helpful brochure about tire safety, titled “Tire Safety: Everything Rides on It.” This publication includes a “tire safety checklist,” but makes no mention of the safe shelf-life of a tire or when to replace them. Most new tires made today are estimated to last between 60,000 and 80,000 miles. But more important than mileage is the actual age of the tire. The NHTSA recommends tires be replaced every six years, regardless of mileage or use. All tires are printed with information about their manufacture date. But for many years, it was difficult to locate, printed on the inner sidewall. A consumer would have to crawl under the car to look for it. Today, the num-

ber is usually printed on the outside sidewall, close to the rim / hubcap. The number is preceded by the letters “DOT,” which stands for U.S. Department of Transportation and indicates that the tire meets all federal standards. This is followed by two numbers or letters that are a code for where the tire was manufactured. Following the manufacturer ID numbers or letters is the code that provides information about the tire’s age. Since the year 2000 the date code has four digits. The first two digits indicate the week the tire was made (01 = first week of the year); the third and fourth digits are the year (04 = 2004). So if the date code reads 0806, the tire was manufactured in the eighth week of 2006. [Note: For tires manufactured prior to 2000, the date code only includes three digits. The first two still indicate the week of the year the tire was made, and the third digit indicates the year in which the tire was made. So 087 indicates the tire was made in the eighth week of 1997 but 0807 is the eighth week of 2007.] As tires age, the rubber can become more brittle and more prone to a blowout or detread event. Generally, the degradation process is the result of chemical reactions within the rubber components of the tire. Heat and sunlight can accelerate that process, so consumers should be aware that their tire may “age” faster in warmer climates. Despite the actual age of the tire, the rubber in warmer

climates may break 08 | Week tire was made down faster. 10 | Year tire was made (2010) The actual tire age DOT | Tire meets DOT safety standards also is important when M6 | DOT’s tire plant code considering vehicles 3H | Tire size code not used very often, like BHDR | Manufacturer symbol recreational vehicles or identifying tire brand motorcycles driven only every so often or on a trailer pulled behind a vehicle. In these cases, tires may be dangerously degraded even if there is plenty of tread left on the tire. Another area where consumers need to be vigilant about tire age is under-inflated tires. The NHTSA adviswhen purchasing new tires. es motorists check their tires monthly, Most tire and auto manufacturers proas well as prior to a long trip, to make vide recommendations for “shelf life” sure they have adequate tread, that of new tires ranging from six to 10 years the tread does not demonstrate any – four years past the NHTSA’s recomvisible cracks or other defects, and that mended safety limit. A tire retailer or tires are properly inflated. Add to that auto dealership also may keep a tire list to check for tire age. in inventory for several years before Don’t leave your safety up to someinstalling it on a car. As a result, the conone else! sumer will not receive a “brand new” tire at the beginning of its shelf life. For this reason, it is important to check the manufacture date to calculate how long the tire should be safe to drive and to ensure that tires past their expiration date are not installed on your vehicle. Don’t forget the spare! One tire that is often overlooked is the spare. Most people don’t think about it until they need it. In other cases, if it is a full-size tire and not an “emergency” tire, a dealer or service center may pull the spare and put it in rotation with the vehicle’s other tires. If the spare has been hidden away in the trunk for several years, it may be out of date. With no dependable system in place to ensure tire safety, it falls to the consumer to be vigilant. A recent NHTSA report revealed that 9 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with at least one bald tire. Additionally, the NHTSA says 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially

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» A tire is considered bald if it has 1/16th of an inch or less of tread depth. Most tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let a motorist know when they should be replaced. The indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear even with the outside of the tread, it’s time for new tires. » For years, consumers were advised to do the “penny test” to check tread wear. According to the instructions, just place the penny upside down within the tread, with Lincoln’s head facing downward. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, this indicates the tread is worn to 1/16th of an inch and the tires need to be replaced. However, more recently, safety experts are advising that doing this test with a quarter is more effective. The quarter test will show when a tire has worn

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down to 1/8th of an inch of tread. Safety experts say that tiny bit of tread makes a significant difference, providing greater protection and stopping capability. They say motorists should replace tires when they have worn past this point, rather than waiting until the tire is considered “bald.” » Bald tires are also between 1.5 and 1.8 times more likely to be under-inflated than tires with deeper tread. Make sure you are using an accurate gauge to test tire inflation. » The NHTSA found that almost 20 percent of gas station tire-pressure gauges over-report the pressure by at least 4 psi or more. It’s better to keep and use your own gauge, which has been tested and certified as accurate. » Do not rely on a visual inspection to determine whether a tire is properly inflated. Always use a reliable gauge. proper tire inflation guidelines can be found in your automobile’s owner’s manual or on a placard in the glove compartment or driver’s doorjamb. » If your tires are more than six years old, you may want to consider replacing them. As tires age, the rubber can become more brittle and more prone to a blowout. — Wendi L. Lewis is Communications Director for Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., in Montgomery, Alabama.

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At leAst children Are eb bA Acked over by Ac vehicles every week. 48 are treated in hospital emergency rooms. 2 die.

Take Caution DECKS CAN COLLAPSE By Jon Lewis

Love them, protect them













On July 4, 2010 in Hoover, Alabama, an apartment deck collapsed and killed a 25 year-old man. Six others standing on the deck were injured. The deck was on the third floor of the apartment complex and was approximately 6â&#x20AC;&#x2122; x 10â&#x20AC;&#x2122; in size. The Hoover Fire Department investigated, and the ownerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s insurance company is also investigating. This brings to light the issue of decks across the country and the prevalence of this problem. According to Frank Woeste, a professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University and a consultant in wood construction and engineering, deck collapses have been a problem for years. Woeste maintains that properly constructed decks cannot be overloaded with too many people. However, many times, decks collapse as a result of faulty construction. There are numerous contractors who will build decks for homes. We see them advertised all the time, and a quick Google Search will show numerous deck contractors. When you are looking to add a deck to your home, how can you protect yourself? â&#x20AC;˘ Make sure the person or company you hire is licensed and bonded. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just ask and take their word for it. â&#x20AC;˘ Make them show you the paperwork. â&#x20AC;˘ Obtain a list of references, and ACTUALLY contact them. â&#x20AC;˘ Ask them for their qualifications.

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â&#x20AC;˘ Check with governmental authorities, such as the Licensure Boards, to make sure they are qualified. â&#x20AC;˘ Call the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them; and â&#x20AC;˘ Use social media sites such as facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to see if anyone has heard of them. Additionally, individuals need to look at their own decks and make sure they meet proper construction standards. One way to do that efficiently is to go to the various resources to determine if your deck has problems: â&#x20AC;˘ North American Deck and Railing Association â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘ Deck Magazine â&#x20AC;˘ American Wood Council These are just a few of the resources. Make sure you check your deck to secure its safety and help prevent further injuries or death. In the commercial setting, i.e.: apartments, condominiums and other similar structures, owners and managers need to protect their residents. Residents need to be informed about the dangers of having too many people on their decks, and appropriate contractors and inspectors should be notified to correct any deficiencies. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Jon Lewis is an attorney with Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama.

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& RULES By Wayne Parsons


ost attorneys and consumer advocates believe in injury prevention and use their collective experiences to promote safety in their communities. They hope to have a positive effect throughout the country. The goal is fewer injuries, fewer deaths, fewer ruined lives, fewer insurance claims and fewer lawsuits. In the news and on TV these days, all we ever hear about is money. The BP oil disaster is often framed in terms of how much it will cost. Money is important, don’t get me wrong, but when you see a friend in a wheelchair, you don’t ask, “how much are your medical bills and lost wages?” but instead you ask, “what happened and how do you feel?” Safety prevents injuries. But what is safety and where do we get more of it? Responsibility is where I would like to start. You read and hear a lot about “holding BP responsible for the harm they’ve done,” but I ask how we can get the CEO’s and CFO’s and decision-makers in a company like BP to be more responsible before the disaster happens. If BP executives had thought more about prevention, the current disaster would not have happened to such a devastating degree. We now all know about the many decisions that BP employees and managers could have made to prevent the oil spill. How do

we change the way big companies make decisions that put us all at risk? Look at the Wall Street financial disaster. How do we as a society get those financial wizards, who make millions of dollars each year and live in castles, refrain from risking the hard-earned savings and retirement incomes of most Americans? How we get them to make decisions that put greed aside and promote prudent investment and financial deals? Being responsible for your own actions, decisions and behavior is the simple answer - and the only answer. When you drive your car, please don’t text message anyone. Be responsible and lock the phone in the glove box. If in a hurry and running late for something, don’t try to unload a car, carry a whole bunch of heavy objects and run with them in your arms through a crowd. Be responsible up front and do it in two or three loads.

If you are an attorney and you are tired and late for dinner, don’t skip carefully reading the latest cases to make sure your brief is correct. Double check the facts that you got from your client. Careful is a good word and it stems from “I care.” Be responsible. If you are a doctor examining a patient with a closed head injury who doesn’t remember being unconscious, but his or her spouse describes a blank stare and unresponsiveness for a couple of minutes, don’t just send the patient home with instructions. Order a CT scan. He or she may have an internal bleed in the brain that may lead to death. The CT scan will show that bleed. He or she could have suffered what doctors call a lucid interval. If you manufacture cars and you have some engineering data that shows that your cars may rapidly accelerate without the driver doing anything, investigate it and fix the problem before anyone gets hurt. Be responsible up front and the world will be a better place. That applies to children and parents and doctors and lawyers and oil executives and financial wizards. We probably can’t stop the criminals, but we can save millions of lives and prevent millions of injuries by being responsible. In doing so, we will prevent injury and death, and we will promote safety.

We all are fairly careful about what we do, and almost everyone - every doctor and every lawyer and every oil company executive - thinks of himself as being responsible. It is in the moments of stress and pressure and distraction that it all falls apart, and that is why we have rules. The rules may be laws or they may be some regulation, or they may be something our mothers and fathers taught us that we follow because we know the rule is a good rule - like “look both ways before you cross the street.” As an attorney, I see that when people “break the rules,” bad things often happen. Speed kills. Drunk drivers react slowly and often also make high risk decisions. Don’t drive if you drink. A doctor may be tired and rushed and miss a sign, and the patient suffers. The BP executives and managers were so intent upon profits that they forgot to spend the money to follow good engineering practices. The same thing happened with the financial meltdown on Wall Street. Each of us has a duty, a legal duty, a duty recognized in the law: the “duty of due care.” This means we always are supposed to be careful, in a reasonable way, so that we don’t do harm to others. That duty applies to you and me

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and oil companies and attorneys and doctors and hospitals. If we are careful, in a reasonable way, then we comply with the law, or said another way, we fulfill our duty of due care. And that is what “being responsible” means. A judge will read the duty of due care to a citizen jury in the trial of an injury claim. Following the rules and being responsible in decisions and in conducting daily affairs - whether a corporation or individual - promotes and delivers safety and is the cornerstone of injury prevention. That applies to all of us and to the government and to every business. When BP was given the privilege of drilling in the ocean near our southern coastline, they had the obligation to protect the public trust – a very high duty. They let us all down. No one can undo that harm. Lawsuits and governmental penalties will help but will fall far short of undoing the harm to people and the environment. As an attorney, I see the injury and death that are results of individuals not following the rules and not being responsible in their conduct and decisions. I get involved after the injury and sometimes I describe what I do as “holding wrongdoers responsible from their wrongful acts and omissions.” And I am usually able to make

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the wrongdoer pay for the harm they caused. But that use of the word “responsible” bothers me in that, after the “irresponsible” wrongdoer has injured someone, paying money to the innocent victim will never completely repair the damage done. Making big oil companies or Wall Street executives or text messaging college kids pay for the harm they cause may make them more responsible going forward, but it leaves harm in people’s lives that can never be undone. I want everyone to improve in being “responsible” before causing harm, by following the rules and being careful and thinking about that ancient legal duty to “first, do no harm” before an injury occurs. I hope that all who read this will look at themselves and be more aware of the chances they take with other people’s lives and property. Keep an eye out for pedestrians, don’t speed, don’t drive if you drink and make sure that you take all reasonable precautions before you “drill baby drill.” Maybe that will put me out of business as a personal injury attorney. I’d like that. — Wayne Parsons is an attorney with the Wayne Parsons Law Offices in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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ccording to a study reported in Anesthesiology (April, 2009), the journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, between 1999 and 2005 there were 2,211 anesthesia-related deaths in the United States. Of those deaths, almost half (47%) were the result of general anesthesia overdose. On May 18, 2010, CNN published the story of a woman who woke up in the middle of major surgery. The first thing she heard was “Cut deeper, pull harder.” Although the general anes-

thesia she had received was insufficient to keep her unconscious, it kept her from screaming or even moving a finger. According to a study reported by the Mayo Clinic, about 1 or 2 people in every 1000 may wake up while under general anesthesia, which is known as “anesthesia awareness”. Although in most cases the person does not feel pain, some people do experience excruciating pain and develop long-term psychological problems. Clearly, anyone who is about to undergo a surgical procedure under

By Jerry H. Trachtman

general anesthesia has good reason to question the anesthesiologist in advance of surgery, and to ask how the appropriate drug and its dosage will be determined in order to assure good quality anesthesia without the risk of an overdose. Too much anesthetic can result in death, temporary mental impairment, or permanent brain damage, and too little can result in anesthesia awareness. Unfortunately for us, the administering of general anesthesia appears to be as much an imprecise art as it is a science.

The word “anesthesia” can be defined as “loss of sensation or awareness”. Every day, thousands of people undergo surgery with the safe, effective use of anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs a small part of the body, usually by injections or ointments. Regional anesthesia is the use of a local anesthetic to numb a larger part of the body by injecting the local anesthetic drugs near the nerve bundle affecting the desired area, with the effect of interrupting the signals between that area and the brain. Sometimes referred to as “blocks,” the most common regional anesthetics are epidural and spinal. General anesthesia is the inducing of a state of controlled unconsciousness accompanied by the absence of pain, the paralysis of the entire body, and loss of memory. During general anesthesia, drugs are injected into a vein or gases may be breathed into the lungs. Interestingly, the precise mechanism of general anesthesia is not yet fully understood, and research to understand it is ongoing. General anesthesia is more than simply putting the patient to sleep. The loss of consciousness experienced in sleep, compared to the loss of consciousness induced by general anesthesia, is significantly different. When we fall asleep, our consciousness fades and we enter sleep cycles. These cycles are classified as either REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when remembered dreams occur, or non-REM sleep, during which the sleeper may be drowsy and lose consciousness, or may even be in deep sleep, but dreams are more like short flashes and are usually not remembered. The sleeper passes

through several stages during a typical sleep and several transitions between REM and non-REM sleep occur. When we sleep, our brain is in its most active state, organizing knowledge and memories. On the operating table, the brain uses less oxygen and is less active. The general anesthesia applied before surgery needs to guarantee not only the loss of consciousness, but also sedation, immobility, the loss of memory, and the absence of pain. Since general anesthesia inhibits the parts of the brain which are required for REM sleep, anesthetized subjects do not have REM sleep and usually do not remember dreams. While sleep can be reversed by shaking or loud noises, general anesthesia is reversed only by eliminating the anesthetic drugs. Traditionally, anesthesiologists are trained to monitor vital signs -- the patient’s oxygenation (concentration of oxygen in the blood and inspired gas), ventilation (breathing), circulation (EKG, blood pressure, and heart rate) and temperature – in order to assess the depth and effectiveness of general anesthesia. By continu-

ously monitoring the patient’s vital signs, together with the anesthesiologist’s clinical experience and judgment, the anesthesiologist determines if a correct amount of anesthetic is being administered to safely keep the patient unconscious. According to Barry L. Friedberg, MD, a Board Certified anesthesiologist who has been quoted in medical journals and anesthesia textbooks, and who has lectured on

the subject to surgeons and anesthesiologists in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Israel and Venezuela, anesthesiologists would be able to determine a more exact general anesthesia dosage if they would use a device known as a brain function monitor to more accurately monitor consciousness. “The brain is the target for anesthesia. It’s critical for the brain to be measured with a brain activity monitor; however, most anesthesiologists are not doing this”, says Dr. Friedberg. “Brain monitoring doesn’t replace vital signs monitoring, but vital signs monitoring can’t give you the information that the brain monitor does,” he says. “Anesthesiologists were trained like I was years ago to believe that heart rate and blood pressure changes are a clue to what goes on inside the brain, but to make sure you give enough you always have to overmedicate by 20 to 30 percent. Using a brain monitor, of course, this type of practice becomes superfluous because it turns out that heart rate and blood pressure changes have almost nothing to do whatsoever with what’s going on in your brain. It’s a [$25.00 disposable] sensor that sits on the forehead and plugs into a computer and the computer generates a number from 0 to 100 that allows you to measure the individual response of each patient, so instead of a one size fits most you get a this size is your size for your operation today. Without a brain monitor, anesthesiology is not an exact science. With a brain monitor, each patient becomes an open book test instead of a mystery to be solved.” Dr. Friedberg emphasizes he does not make money by spreading this message, he does not have a financial interest in the monitor manufacturers, and he does not have an axe



BEDSORES Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

to grind with the drug companies. “We should focus on caring for patients, and understanding the long term risks of overmedicating patients while in surgery. We should be using every tool available to keep them healthy and reduce unnecessary risks through the entire treatment process. Nobody should have general anesthesia without a brain monitor. Most people don’t realize that if they don’t ask specifically, the anesthesiologist is not going to use it.” Currently there are brain monitors available in almost half the operating rooms in the United States. Brain function monitoring technology is widely studied and widely accepted, and is supported by more than 3,300 published studies. The technology has been used on more than 34 million patients around the world, and is utilized in more than 80% of the top- ranked US hospitals (according to US News and World Report ranking). However, there is controversy about the effectiveness of the use of brain function monitors. Some studies claim there is no benefit in using brain function monitoring to prevent anesthesia awareness. Other studies suggest that the decision to use a brain function monitor should be made on a case-by-case basis by the anesthesiologist for selected patients, such as patients undergoing trauma surgery or cesarean section who cannot tolerate a deep anesthetic. Providing a lighter than normal anesthetic to at-risk patients may be a necessary step taken by the anesthesiologist. Advocates like Dr. Friedberg say brain monitoring is essential to ensure the patient achieves the appropriate level of anesthesia. Nevertheless, the American Society of Anesthesiologists foresees brain activity monitoring as a standard of care in the administration of general anesthesia.

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In 2010 there is simply no excuse for anyone to get a bedsore. It is usually a preventable event, and healthcare workers should not allow bedsores to occur. Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, almost never happen when patients are properly cared for. In fact, Medicare has classified bedsores as “never events.” This means they should never happen, and if they do, Medicare will refuse to pay the nursing home or hospital where the bedsore happened.

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— Jerry H. Trachtman is an attorney with the Law Offices of Jerry H. Trachtman, P.A., in Melbourne, Florida.

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By Michael A. Ferrara

The LiveSafe Foundation in partnership with NIFAST is dedicated to sounding an urgent alarm for fire safety awareness to prevent loss of life and property. We provide tools that empower people to protect themselves.

BEdSORES ARE CLASSIFIEd BY STAgES According to the National Pressure Ulcer Staging System: STAGE I ulcers are Intact skin with nonblanchable redness of a localized area, usually over a bony prominence. STAGE II involve partial thickness loss of dermis presenting as a shallow open ulcer with a red, pink wound bed without slough. May also present as an intact or open/ruptured serum-filled blister. STAGE III ulcers are full thickness tissue loss. Subcutaneous fat may be visible, but bone, tendon, or muscle are not exposed. Slough may be present but does not obscure the depth of tissue loss. May include undermining and tunneling. STAGE IV include full thickness tissue loss with exposed bone, tendon, or muscle. Slough or eschar may be present on some parts of the wound bed. Often includes undermining and tunneling. Various state and federal regulations exist to protect patients from bed sores. For example, the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, or OBRA ’87, created a minimum set of national standards of care and rights for people living in certified nursing facilities. OBRA states that a resident who enters a facility without pressure sores cannot and should not develop pressure sores unless the individual’s clinical condition demonstrates that they were unavoidable. In addition any resident who does have a bedsore should receive the necessary treatment “to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new sores from developing.” Bedsores happen when healthcare workers break the rules that exist to protect patients. If you know of anyone who suffers a bedsore, you must report it. You can find state hotline and helpline contact information from the home page of the National Center on Elder Abuse (http://www.ncea.aoa. gov) or by calling 1-800-677-1116. Hopefully, the facility will change the way they do business to make patient safety and health their number one priority. — Michael A. Ferrara, Jr. is an attorney with The Ferrara Law Firm

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By Clinton L. Kelly

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as “staph,” is a type of bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the noses of healthy people. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections. The number of staph infections is rising in the United States, particularly in hospitals. Fortunately, most staph infections are minor (such as pustules and


not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as community-associated MRSA infections (“CA MRSA”). Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections that look like pimples or boils and occur in otherwise healthy people. There is also a concern for exposure to MRSA in the workplace. MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin

cuts or abrasions), Contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of Cleanliness. Locations where the 5 C’s are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers. If you have MRSA, can you go to work? Unless directed by a healthcare provider, workers with MRSA infections should not be routinely excluded from going to work. Exclusion from work should be reserved for those

Staph & MRSA Infections SAFETY TIPS IN VARIOUS SETTINGS boils) and can be treated without antibiotics. However, staph bacteria also can cause serious, life-threatening infections. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) refers to types of staph that are resistant to the antibiotic methicillin. MRSA is often resistant to other antibiotics. While 25% to 30% of the population is colonized with staph (meaning that bacteria are present, but not causing an infection with staph), approximately 1% is colonized with MRSA. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems. These healthcare-associated staph infections include surgical wound infections, urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia. Staph and MRSA can also cause illness in persons outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities. MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have

contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection at work (e.g., towels, used bandages). MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere. However, some settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted. These factors, referred to as the 5 C’s, are as follows: Crowding, frequent skin-toskin Contact, Compromised skin (i.e.,

with wound drainage (“pus”) that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good hygiene. Workers with active infections should be excluded from activities where skin-toskin contact with the affected skin area is likely to occur until their infections are healed. See your healthcare provider immediately and follow his or her advice about returning to work. MRSA infections occur most often in hospital patients, nursing home residents, or dialysis patients. They usually have weakened immune systems, chronic diseases, or have indwelling devices such as IV lines or tracheotomies. This type of MRSA infection is caused by healthcare associated MRSA (HA MRSA), which usually causes surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia. Community Associated MRSA (CA MRSA) infections involve strains of MRSA that can cause infections in healthy persons who have not been patients in health care

facilities. CA MRSA usually causes skin infections such as pimples and boils but occasionally causes more serious infections. Some patients may think they have spider bites in the early phase of these infections. Anyone can acquire CA MRSA infections, but many cases have been found in athletes, military recruits, prisoners, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives, and children. Factors that seem to increase the chances of acquiring an infection with CA MRSA are close skin-to-skin contact, cuts, cracks, or abrasions in the skin, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene. Treatment of CA MRSA infections depends on the severity of the infection. Many skin infections can be cured with simple drainage of abscesses or pimples without the need for antibiotics. More

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serious infections may need oral, or rarely, intravenous antibiotic treatment. Your health care provider will be able to determine the best course of treatment for your condition. It is very important to follow the instructions from your health care provider. Your cooperation in treating the infection will help you to get healthy as quickly as possible. If you have MRSA, how contagious are you? It depends on whether you are simply colonized or have an active infection. Being colonized with MRSA means you carry it in your nose or on your skin but you are not sick with a MRSA infection. If you have signs and symptoms of a MRSA infection (boil, abscess, pain, swelling), you are much more likely to spread MRSA because the infected area contains many MRSA germs. That is why it is important to

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keep the area of the wound covered and to wash your hands after touching the wound. In the age of cost cuts in health care and increased patient admissions to the hospital as “ObamaCare” becomes law, the infection rate is expected to grow even more. This is why greater attention to cleanliness and washing hands before eating is now mandatory, not discretionary. Vigilance and prevention are the safeguards against staph and MRSA infections. Be wary of your environment. Visit your health care provider immediately if you suspect an infection. Always take this infection seriously at home and at work. It could make the difference between life and death. — Clinton L. Kelly is an attorney with Kelly, Kelly & Allman in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

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62 / the safety report / fall 2010 / 63

Sexual Abuse By Beth Janicek

in Nursing Homes We all worry about having our loved ones in a nursing home. We worry about neglect, bed sores and other injuries but hate to even consider sexual assault. Unfortunately, sexual assaults do occur, and we need to be aware so we can protect our loved ones and others in the nursing home.

What is elder sexUal abUse? elder sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual sexual contact with an elderly person, and includes any sexual contact with an elderly person who is unable to give consent. sexual abuse in nursing homes can include forced nudity, unwanted sexual acts, and pornographic picture taking. the sexual abuse can be by a staff member or visitor, but most commonly it is by other residents.

Why does sexUal abUse happen in nUrsing homes? abuse often occurs as a result of improper staff training and when facilities are insufficiently staffed. to add to the problem, nursing homes across the country are taking in convicted sex offenders and violent criminals. aging sex offenders are sometimes even transferred from prisons into nursing homes. in order to protect the vulnerable elderly residents, a background check should be required upon admittance to the facility, and the families of the residents should be made aware of the situation.

What to look for… sexual abuse in nursing homes often goes unreported. physical and mental disabilities can make it difficult for elderly residents to defend themselves against an attack and

make it difficult to report sexual abuse. it is important that everyone is aware of the signs of elder sexual abuse and knows what to do if abuse is suspected. Wes bledsoe, founder and president of a perfect Cause, suggests tips to evaluate whether your loved one is receiving appropriate care and to determine if there has been abuse or neglect: • ask questions and listen to what they tell you. • don’t discount what they say just because of your loved one’s condition. • physically check the resident once a week and look for changes. bruising around the breasts and inner thighs, genital infections and bleeding, venereal disease, and difficulty standing are some signs of sexual abuse. • also, look for emotional signs of abuse such as changes in their behavior. are they withdrawn, timid, or fearful of people when they come in the room? has their personality suddenly changed? do they make odd comments about sexual behavior?

is there really an injUry? We all assume when someone is sexually assaulted that there is some harm caused. surprisingly, some nursing home staff takes the position that there is no injury because the person is unable to relay the attack or express their injury. sadly, there is the perception that it is not as serious, and that people who have dementia and alzheimer’s cannot be damaged because they cannot remember the attack. experienced health care providers who treat the elderly

need to evaluate the person to ensure the person receives treatment for the injury. Simply ignoring the claim and not seeking medical attention allows the harm to continue.

Are elder SexuAl AbuSe clAimS tAken SeriouSly? Filing a complaint with the state agency charged with investigating nursing home abuse allegations should be the first response for addressing problems raised by residents, their families, and nursing homes staff. However, according to the department of Human and Health Services - office of inspector General’s nursing Home complaint investigation, in recent years various governmental reports have documented vulnerabilities in nursing home complaint investigations. in order for elder sexual abuse to stop, nursing homes, state regulators, and the police need to do a better job of investigating these claims. every state has an agency in charge of investigating nursing home abuse and neglect claims. However, the nursing Home complaint investigation reports that state investigators did not investigate seven percent of complaints alleging immediate jeopardy in the required 2-day time frame and 27% of complaints alleging actual harm within the required 10-day time frame. State agencies claim that staff shortages and insufficient training limit their ability to investigate complaints within the time

frame required. in addition, police officers are not adequately trained to investigate elder abuse allegations. there needs to be a set protocol or a special unit that deals with elder abuse in order to ensure that abuse allegations are properly investigated. the commissioner of the department of Aging and disability Services told a Senate committee that, “officers need to have a clear picture of what agency officials do in responding to complaints of abuse and neglect, and training in how to work together in those investigations.” often the local police and state nursing home investigators do not fairly evaluate an elderly person’s claim of sexual assault. in some cases, criminal prosecution would help protect others, but better trained nursing staff and improved staffing levels would best protect these vulnerable people before the harm occurs. — Beth Janicek is an attorney with The Law offices of Beth S. Janicek in San Antonio, Texas.

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