You’d never know it by the weather lately, but it is now boating season. This week, May 18-24, is National Safe Boating Week. To help you and your family get in the mood for a summer of floating fun, check out these safety tips from Sea Tow, a network of U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains who provide on-water assistance to boaters in need.
Safety Starts Before you Leave the Dock
Check Your Safety Equipment. Inspect the boating safety gear that the U.S. Coast Guard requires you to have on board your boat. Make sure it’s all there, is working properly, and hasn’t passed its expiration date. Once you’ve checked off every item on the Boater’s Safety Equipment Check List posted on our website in the “Captain’s Classroom,” you’ll be good to go!
Choose the Right Life Jacket. It has often been said that the best life jacket is the one that a person will wear. A life jacket needs to fit properly and be suited to the wearer’s typical activities on the water in order to be the most effective. Life jackets come in five different types based on U.S. Coast Guard approvals. (For more information, visit the Sea Tow Foundation website.) Each of these types has been thoroughly tested and rated for safety. Yet, with all these options, boaters can easily get confused. The Sea Tow Foundation has provided some quick tips to help you choose the correct life jacket for your body type and boating activity.
File a Float Plan. Before heading out with the family for a day of fun on the water, it’s important to file a float plan and leave it with a responsible person. That way, if you should wind up being overdue on your return, someone ashore will know to alert the authorities. Filling out the float plan with your kids can be a fun and educational way to start your boating adventure. For a blank form, click here.
Safety When Boating with Children. Boating is one of the best ways to bond with your children, teach them about nature and create memories that will last a lifetime. Taking a few basic precautions before you head out onto the water can ensure the experience is safer and more enjoyable for the whole family. Here are five tips from the Sea Tow Foundation:
For more tips on boating with kids, visit Sea Tow’s Captain’s Classroom at www.seatow.com/boating-safety/captains-classroom.
The voluntary recall is limited to frozen pizzas with these specific production codes, which were distributed nationwide. No other production codes/dates, sizes or varieties of CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN or DIGIORNO pizzas are affected by this recall. The reason for the recall is that the pizza may contain fragments of clear plastic. Nestlé USA is taking this action after a small number of consumers reported that they had found small fragments of plastic on the CPK Crispy Thin Crust White pizza. According to Nestle, this is directly related to a particular lot of spinach they received from one of their suppliers. Although no complaints have been received to date on the other three varieties that used this spinach, they are recalling these additional varieties in an abundance of caution.
Pizzas are already being removed from grocers’ freezers.
Nestlé USA also is reaching out to consumers to ask that they examine their freezer inventory for the specific packages of DIGIORNO and CPK varieties affected by this recall.
To locate the production codes for these specific pizzas, the consumer simply needs to look for a blue or pink rectangular box on one of the side panels of the pizza box. The production code is on the second line of the printed code and is the first ten digits of the number. Consumers should look for the following production codes:
Consumers who may have purchased the recalled CPK and DIGIORNO pizzas with the identified production codes should not consume the pizza, but instead should contact Nestlé USA Consumer Services at 800-456-4394 or email@example.com for further instructions. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., E.T. and this Saturday, May 4th from 12 noon – 8 p.m. E.T.. Nestlé will provide a replacement coupon to reporting consumers and also may make arrangements to retrieve the pizza for further examination.
Nestlé USA is dedicated to food quality, and the health and safety of its consumers. For these reasons, the company initiated this recall. They say: ”We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret any inconvenience created by this voluntary product recall.”
We frequently write blogs about concussion, but Dr. Robert Cantu, neurologist and medical director of the Nation Center for Catastrophic Sports and Injury Research in Boston, has a new set of recommendations for parents and sports coaches.
Because a child’s brain isn’t fully developed, any trauma has the potential to be more damaging than trauma to an adult brain. In addition, Dr. Cantu says children tend to lack the neck strength to reduce the acceleration forces the brain will receive. As a result, he said, children who play youth sports may be at more risk than adults realize.
According to an article from U-T San Diego, Dr. Cantu’s recommends are:
• No heading in soccer until age 14.
• Require chin straps in baseball; ban the headfirst slide.
• No bodychecking in youth hockey before 14.
• No full-contact football until age 14.
• Eliminate head-to-head hitting in Pop Warner (youth football).
• Reduce the contact allowed in football practice.
• Have children perform exercises to strengthen neck muscles.
• Require helmets in field hockey and girls lacrosse.
These guidelines may change the way youth sports are played, but that’s better than having to watch the outcomes of concussions.
For more information about concussions and other traumatic brain injury, visit our dedicated web page at lawmed.com/braininjury/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
Today starts National Playground Safety Week (runs from April 22-26, 2013). It is a time to focus on the safety of children’s outdoor play environments, and to thank all the adults who work tirelessly to maintain playgrounds.
Tell me what you remember about playgrounds in your childhood, and chances are I can tell your age. Metal “monkeybars,” 10-foot slide, and steel jungle gyms were the norm until the 1970s. (Sometime, those torture devices were actually set up on blacktop or gravel–yikes!) From the 1970s to the 1990s, safety became more of a concern. Plastic was used more often than steel, and the playgrounds were built on softer surfaces, such as wood mulch, plastic mulch, or foam blocks. Since the late 1990s, playgrounds incorporate more natural materials–plants, dirt, hills, streams, pathways, and trees.
The evolution of playgrounds has focused on two main goals: 1) helping children to be active and play creatively, and 2) keeping children safe.
“Playing on the playgrounds is one of the simplest, safest and most meaningful ways for kids to improve not only their physical health, but their emotional, social and cognitive skills as well,” said Randy Watermiller, [president of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA)]. “This week we recognize the many critical advancements that have been made in making playground equipment and surfacing safer and encourage families to prioritize spending time on the playground together.” [Wall Street Journal Online, April 22, 2013.]
Top Playground Safety Tips
The child safety organization SafeKids.org has provided tips for keeping children safe on playgrounds:
Supervise Kids Using Playground Equipment
Choose the Right Play Area Based on Your Child’s Age
Ensure Safe Surfacing Beneath and Surrounding Playground Equipment
Check That Playgrounds Are Inspected and Maintained by Qualified Personnel
Meet me at the swing set?
For more information about health and safety, please visit our website at lawmed.com. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers!
Despite jokes and sitcom story lines, hearing loss is not inevitable. It is common, however, affecting one in three adults over age 65, and about half of people over age 70. While some people are genetically prone to develop problems with hearing, others face increased risk because of loud noises they experience throughout their lives–on the job (such as farming, construction, or factory work) or recreationally (such as exposure to noise from firearms, fireworks, snowmobiling, motorcycle riding, or listening to high-volume music). Plus, some medications–such as the antibiotic gentamicin, some chemotherapy drugs, pain relievers, and antimalaria drugs–can damage the inner ear.
Many times, people with hearing loss are the last to know. Their loved ones and friends usually recognize problems first–they are the ones who continually have to repeat themselves and raise their voices to be heard. You don’t know what you can’t hear if you don’t hear it, so those with hearing loss often think they hear “just fine.”
There are signs that your hearing may be going. According to an article from the Cleveland Clinic, people with hearing loss may:
But even with all the symptoms, older adults often believe that they hear perfectly well, even while others recognize the hearing loss. How can that be? According to the Cleveland Clinic:
It is harder for older adults to hear high-pitched consonant sounds (such as d, t, sh, s, f, th) than low-pitched vowel sounds (such as o, a, ah, i, e). The high-pitched sounds carry the meaning of words, so they help us understand speech. In normal conversation, high-pitched sounds are softer than low-pitched vowel sounds. As a result, speech may sound loud but not clear. For example, “Do you have the time?” may sound like “Do you have a dime?”
The confusion and embarrassment of hearing loss may also lead to denial. Plus, if you admit having a problem, the obvious next step is to get help…and that often means getting a hearing aid.
The Other Effects of Hearing Loss
So what if you can’t hear everything, no one died from a little hearing loss, right?
Because the ear plays a role in balance, hearing loss can lead to falls. “Even mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falling,” said Dr. [Frank Lin, assistant professor of otolaryngology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University], citing his own research as well as a study of Finnish twins.
And then there is the mysterious link to dementia. Some studies have suggested that mild hearing loss is linked to a doubling of dementia risk, and that moderate hearing loss can triple it. With severe hearing loss, the risk can be five times as high, according to Dr. Lin’s 2011 study in Archives of Neurology and a report last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
It is possible that hearing loss leads to social isolation, itself a risk factor for dementia, said Dr. Lin.
In addition, few people realize that delayed treatment may make hearing loss worse. “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” said Dr. Remensnyder. “I have a retired nurse, age 90, who has lived alone with no auditory stimulation for years. She doesn’t understand 50 percent of the words, and I can’t reverse that now.”
Add to all that the specific dangers of hearing loss: Not being able to respond to a crying child…not hearing a car coming at you as you walk down a street…not hearing the warning sound of a smoke detector…and many other situations. So if you have hearing loss, getting a hearing aid is the most logical decision. Unfortunately, logic isn’t the only factor in play when it comes to hearing aids.
Getting a Hearing Aid…Or Not
According to The New York Times:
Even among the enlightened, hearing aids still carry a stigma. “Men think, ‘It’s a sign of weakness,’ and women think, ‘It’s showing my age,’ ” said Dr. [Eric Hagberg, an audiologist in Youngstown, Ohio, and president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology].
Vanity also plays a part, so people will avoid getting hearing aids the same way they avoid getting glasses.
And then there is the question of money. There’s no denying that hearing aids are expensive–not just pricey, but “luxury” expensive. In general, hearing aids run from $1,800 to $6,800+ per pair…and the cost is not covered by Medicare or most insurance. The most expensive options don’t necessarily work better than cheaper models (although they may, depending on the models), but they generally will be more aesthetically pleasing.
There are some less expensive options, however. In an article titled “The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing,” The New York Times provides several low-cost, good-quality alternatives… including hearing aids now available at Costco.
Hearing loss can be frustrating, depressing, and dangerous, so it’s worth checking out hearing aids. Start by getting an appointment with a physician to rule out other potential causes of hearing loss. Before your appointment, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
Then, if you discover you need a hearing aid, do your research. Check out all available options, and make sure you understand the return policies–the contract should be as clear as you want your hearing to be.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about temporary tattoos, also known as “henna” tattoos. There have been reports of severe skin reactions, sometimes leading to permanent scarring.
“Just because a tattoo is temporary it doesn’t mean that it is risk free,” says Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. Temporary tattoos typically last from three days to several weeks, depending on the product used for coloring and the condition of the skin. Unlike permanent tattoos, which are injected into the skin, temporary tattoos marketed as “henna” are applied to the skin’s surface.
Some consumers report reactions that may be severe and long outlast the temporary tattoos themselves. Reported problems include redness, blisters, raised red weeping lesions, loss of pigmentation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and even permanent scarring. Some reactions have led people to seek medical care, including visits to hospital emergency rooms. Reactions may occur immediately after a person gets a temporary tattoo, or even up to two or three weeks later.
The worst problems seem to occur after getting a temporary tattoo with the so-called “black henna.” Inks marketed as black henna may be a mix of henna with other ingredients, or may really be hair dye alone. The reason for adding other ingredients is to create a tattoo that is darker and longer lasting, but use of black henna is potentially harmful.
That’s because the extra ingredient used to blacken henna is often a coal-tar hair dye containing p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient that can cause dangerous skin reactions in some people. Sometimes, the artist may use a PPD-containing hair dye alone. Either way, there’s no telling who will be affected. By law, PPD is not permitted in cosmetics intended to be applied to the skin.
Some examples of problems reported to the FDA include:
If you have a reaction to or concern about a temporary tattoo or any other cosmetic, in addition to recommending that you contact your health care professional, FDA asks you to contact MedWatch, the agency’s problem-reporting program. You can also call 1-800-FDA-1088 to report by telephone.
(photos from the FDA)
According to WRAL.com, more than 24 tornadoes touched down dozens of times in 33 counties on April 16, 2011, killing 24 people and damaging and destroying thousands of homes. Five hit in the early-morning hours on Nov. 15, 2008, killing several people in Wilson and Johnston counties. An F-4 tornado struck Raleigh in 1988, killing four people.
Last year, the National Weather Service issued 60 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 21 tornadoes that injured 22 people. Combined, the tornadoes caused more than $19 million in damages.
In addition, the National Weather Service issued more than 1,050 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded more than 1,200 incidents of severe thunderstorms with either damaging winds or large hail or both. The severe storms killed six people and injured 46 others.
This means that everyone needs to be aware of these dangers, and take preparedness action.
North Carolina Emergency Management recommends the following safety tips.
Last year, we told you about wells in Wake Forest, NC, that were contaminated with a carcinogenic chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE). Now, a new neighborhood faces a different threat to their drinking water.
According to an article in the News & Observer, half of the wells in an East Raleigh neighborhood contain excessive levels of pesticides.
Federal, state and local agencies tested water from 30 homes near Bond Street and Trawick Road after a homeowner voiced concerns to Wake County Environmental Services in December that the water was contaminated. Sixteen wells shows high levels of dieldrin and chlordane – two types of pesticides commonly used until the 1980s to control termites around building foundations and to keep insects away from farms and gardens.
An investigation has begun to determine the source of the contamination. While officials believe that residents shouldn’t suffer severe symptoms from the toxic water, affected families are being told to stop drinking the water.
The lesson of all these contaminations is that while many people believe that well water is generally more pure than city water, that’s not always the case. People who rely on well water should have their water tested periodically to make sure that the water that comes out of your tap is crystal clear, clean, and contaminant-free.
While many people are dreaming of summer sun and sand, North Carolinians are about to have a cold wake-up in the form of snow and ice tonight. Here are a few tips for how to stay safe in this type of extreme (for us) weather.
Dress in Layers
Five days ago, it was 75 degrees outside. Tonight, 2 to 4 inches of snow. How can you not love North Carolina weather? Dressing properly is not only about staying comfortable, it is also about helping your body maintain a proper body temperature.
So, how should you dress to play outside in the snow? According to KidsHealth.org, here’s what you (and your kids) should wear:
Okay, when you have finished laughing, note that the key point in this list is that you should dress in layers. Wearing two lighter-weight shirts is better than one heavier shirt because the air that is trapped between the two light-weight shirts acts as insulation to keep you warmer. Plus, as you get warmer or the temperature rises, you can start to remove some of the layers so you don’t sweat to death inside your clothes.
Drive Only If Necessary
Once snow starts falling or the road surfaces become slick, stay home unless you absolutely, positively have to be somewhere.
In the Northeast, where snow is a common event from October through March, people grow up learning how to drive in snow. Not so in North Carolina. Even a small amount of snow can lead to hazardous driving conditions, for many reasons. When cars drive over snow, the snow may compact into a slick surface, or the snow can melt and refreeze into a layer of ice. And as they say, just because you have 4–wheel-drive doesn’t mean you have 4-wheel-stop. No car or truck can properly steer or stop on ice.
Even if you grew up someplace snowy and understand the physics of driving in snow, the people around you may not be so experienced. You may be able to safely drive to the mall, but others around you may drive directly into the side of your car.
If you must leave your home, practice greater defensive driving. Drive slow enough for the road conditions AND for the skill levels of the other drivers. If you see someone slipping and sliding on the road in front of you, slow down and let them pull even farther ahead–you don’t want them sliding into you.
Also, remember to scrape all the snow and ice off ALL the windows of your vehicle–not just the front windshield. You need to be able to see what’s coming at you from all directions.
Remember Where You Live
If you live in Maine and a single snow could leave you stranded for a week, you’re right to go and stock up on groceries. But here in North Carolina, the snow rarely lasts 24 hours–most of the time it melts before my second cup of coffee.
There’s a joke around here that snow must make North Carolinians crave French toast because grocery stores are cleaned out of bread, milk, and eggs. Unless you have small children or a very special diet, there is really no reason to make a panicked trip to the supermarket. If you don’t buy the food before the snow, wait a day and the snow will be gone.
The Ice You See…
The greatest danger in a snow storm isn’t the snow, it’s the ice. And ice is not all created equal. The ice you see is less dangerous than the ice you can’t see.
If you look down at the road and see snow or a thick layer of snowy ice, you know to walk carefully. But some ice–known as “black ice”–is virtually invisible. This layer of ice is so transparent and thin that a paved road doesn’t really look much different than it usually does–the road surface still looks black, not white and snowy. But thin ice is just as slick as thick ice. Black ice is responsible for many, many motor vehicle wrecks and slip-and-fall accidents each year. My friend lost his father a few years ago when he walked out of his house and slipped on the thin layer of ice on the steps outside his front door. He hit his head and died a few weeks later.
After a snow or ice storm, take precautions when walking…even short distances. Look at the ground and see if it seems shinier than usual, and when you take a step, make sure you have secure footing before continuing on.
If you are driving, remember that bridges and overpasses freeze before other road surfaces do, and are more likely to be coated with black ice.
Take a Moment to Enjoy
Snow is such a rare occurrence in our part of North Carolina that we still get a child-like thrill at seeing the flakes fall. If you love snow, try to get out and play! And if you hate the cold, remember that the snow will pass very quickly and we’ll be back to 100-degree days before you know it.
Safe Snow Day, Everyone!
The 2012-2013 flu season is turning out to be one of the worst and most dangerous in years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, as of this week, most of the country is experiencing high levels of influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI). Nationwide, 47 states report widespread geographic flu activity.
Since October 1, 2012, more than 3700 people have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated illness. At least 20 children have died from the flu or its complications. These numbers indicate that this year’s flu is now officially an epidemic.
This especially bad news for people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Of course, there are the risks associated with flu: About 90% of flu-related deaths occur in people age 65 and older, mainly because immune defenses become weaker with age.
But there are two other reasons why flu season is tough on nursing home residents. First, visitors are limited, and in some cases, banned entirely. Hospitals and care facilities across the country are working to protect the sick and elderly by limiting their exposure to possible sources of the flu virus–mainly, visitors who unwittingly carry the bug.
Second, and more concerning, is that caregiving in general suffers. According to an article published in The New York Times, nurses and health aides fall ill and can’t tend to the patients in their care… departments may need to be shut down due to understaffing as more service providers call in sick… social activities are halted… and the elderly become more isolated than usual, which can be confusing and distressing. Some of the elderly may refuse to eat or take their medications when their usual routine is disrupted, or when their trusted caregiver isn’t available.
In Collinsville, Ill., a city of about 42,000 that is 23 miles east of St. Louis, 20 percent of the staff at Home Instead Senior Care have called in sick, either struck by the flu themselves or at home taking care of a sick child.
“We’ve never seen it as bad as it is this year,” said Skip Brown, the agency’s owner. In previous years, about 5 percent of the staff have taken ill during flu season.
What to Do
Doctors and facility administration are asking anyone with symptoms of flu or upper respiratory illness–caregivers, family members, and visitors–to stay away from hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes of older people to reduce the risk of passing on an infection.
But, it is a good idea to call in regularly to check on the health status of your older relative or friend. Ask specifically about potentially dangerous symptoms, including unusual lethargy, breathing problems, fatigue, or uncontrollable or painful cough.
If residents in nursing home do get sick, they will be encouraged to stay in their rooms as much as possible to keep the illness from spreading to other residents. If they do leave their rooms, they will be encouraged to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer.
Washing hands frequently is a great idea for everyone during flu season, and if you are out in public, never touch your face without first washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. You can pick up germs on your hands when you use a communal pen at the grocery store or push open a door that has been touched by someone sick…then, if you put your hand to your mouth, nose, or eyes, the virus can enter your system.
To learn more about the flu from the CDC, click here: Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: As Flu Rages, Caregiving Suffers