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Fire Prevention Week 2017: Prevention and Planning for Fires

Wildfire engulfing fence and grass at night.

October 8th – 14th marks the 92nd annual Fire Prevention Week in the United States. During Fire Prevention Week, Americans are reminded of the dangers of fires and the importance of practicing fire prevention and planning every day.

Every year in the United States, thousands of people are affected by fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 365,500 house fires required assistance from a fire department. Of these home structure fires, more than 2,560 people died and more than 11,000 people were injured. Burn injuries can be catastrophic in nature, resulting in extensive scarring and years of surgical procedures.

In many cases, house fires and loss of life could be prevented. The NFPA urges Americans to take time this week to ensure that proper fire safety measures are being taken in their home and that an escape plan is in place if a fire does occur.

How to Prevent Fires in Your Home

Cooking equipment, heating equipment, and smoking materials are three of the top culprits in causing house fire-related injuries and deaths. Half of all deaths caused by home fires occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., despite only one out of five home fires reported during these hours.

Here are some tips to avoid fires from cooking equipment, heating equipment, and smoking materials:

  • Never leave a stove or oven unattended when in use. Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case a fire occurs.
  • Space heaters are the most common cause of heating-related fire injuries and deaths. Be sure to keep flammable materials such as furniture, clothes, and paper away from the heater at all times.
  • Most injuries and deaths caused by smoking materials in the home occur in the living room, family room, or bedroom. Choose to smoke outside and keep smoking materials (lighters, matches, cigarettes) out of the reach of children.

Although they cannot prevent a fire from occurring, smoke alarms are essential to alert you and your family in the event of a fire inside your home. The NFPA says that working smoke alarms in the home cut the risk of dying in house fires by 50 percent. In addition, three out of five home fire deaths between 2010 and 2014 occurred in houses without working smoke alarms.

Remember, it’s not enough to simply have smoke alarms in your home: they must be working! Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace the battery once a year.

Creating an Escape Plan for Your Family

In the unfortunate event of a fire in your home, a fire escape plan can help get you and your family out safely. The NFPA’s theme for Fire Prevention Week in 2017 is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”

According to the NFPA, here are some safety tips on how to devise and execute an escape plan if a fire breaks out inside your home:

  • With your family, draw a map of your house and mark two exits from each room and a path outside from each exit.
  • Practice a fire drill with your family twice a year, conducting one drill at night and one during the day. Walk through your escape plan using different ways out of the house.
  • Make sure that exits are not blocked by pieces of furniture.
  • Show your children how to escape on their own in case you aren’t there to help them.
  • Pick a meeting spot outside of your house, and a safe distance away, to meet with your family after escaping.
  • Never return inside a burning building! There is no item inside that is worth more than your life.

According to NFPA, only one-third of all Americans have developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Oftentimes, there is less than 6 minutes before a house fire becomes life-threatening. Devising and walking through an escape plan with your family can help you evacuate quickly and increase your chances of avoiding serious injury and death.

Have you or a loved one suffered a severe burn injury due to someone else’s negligence? Learn more about your legal options in our blog post: Who can be sued in a burn case?

What You Should and Shouldn’t Do While Driving During a Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, the first solar eclipse in the United States since 1979 will occur. The full eclipse will be visible for a large portion of the United States, and it’s possible that there will be drivers on the road as it happens. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has provided the following tips on what you should and should not do to keep yourself safe if you’re in a vehicle during the eclipse.

What You Should Do While Driving During an Eclipse

  • Make sure you’re being especially aware of your surroundings while you’re driving. Many drivers might become distracted once the sky suddenly becomes darker during the eclipse, and they may not pay as much attention to the cars around them.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. A lot of people may try to find an open space to watch the eclipse near roadways, and if they aren’t careful they may get too close to oncoming cars.
  • If you can, pull off of the road and find a safe place to park your car as the eclipse occurs. This way you can safely watch the eclipse and avoid potential accidents.

What You Should NOT Do While Driving During an Eclipse

  • Don’t wear specialized solar eclipse glasses while you’re driving. Once the eclipse reaches totality, it will get dark out and the darkened lenses of the glasses lessen the visibility of other cars on the road.
  • In no way should you try to take pictures of the eclipse while you’re driving. This would be distracted driving and quite dangerous for yourself and those around you.
  • Avoid watching the eclipse while you’re driving. Looking away from the road at any point while you’re driving can be very dangerous and lead to serious accidents and injuries.

Picking Proper Safety Equipment for the Coming Solar Eclipse

There’s a lot of excitement across the country for the coming solar eclipse that will take place on August 21st, but there has also been a lot of deceptive and false advertising for eclipse glasses, which may injure some viewers.

Problematic Glasses Advertising

As people have been gearing up for the eclipse, so have companies that are selling “eclipse glasses” with a seal of approval from the International Organization for Standardization,  which sets standards for safety products. The problem, however, is that many brands are saying that their products have been approved by this organization when in fact they have not.

This has caused concern for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), and they have revised previous advice they had sent out about eclipse glasses because of this false advertising by many companies.

AAS spokesperson Rick Fienberg told the Tribune-Review that the problem is mostly with online vendors of glasses that don’t protect against things such as UV rays that can be harmful.

Suggested Consumer Action

The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force has created a list of reputable glasses vendors as to make sure that people stay safe and don’t damage their eyesight while viewing the coming solar eclipse.

Viewers are always advised to check their glasses before looking at an eclipse to make sure that there aren’t any scratches or other defects. Doing so ensures that no harmful rays penetrate your eyes and cause vision issues.

How To Safely View the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

On August 21st of this year, there will be a total eclipse of the sun that will be visible in the United States. While solar eclipses are amazing, rare occurrences that many wish to see, they can also be extremely dangerous. During an eclipse, most of the face of the sun is blocked by the moon aligning perfectly with it, but people may stare at the partially eclipsed sun for too long and suffer from eye damage or even blindness. NASA has provided the following safety tips for viewers of the solar eclipse.

1. Wear Specialized Eclipse Glasses

There have been many cases of people getting eye damage by looking at the sun without protection or while wearing regular sunglasses. Most eyewear is nowhere near as strong as they need to be to prevent eye damage. Instead, viewers should be wearing specialized glasses called solar filters, which make it safe for people to view eclipses without the high risk for damaging their eyes.

2. Supervise Children

You should be constantly supervising children during solar eclipses as they may not understand the strength of the solar rays that they may be staring at. Keep them near and make sure that they wear their solar filters at all times during the eclipse.

3. Don’t Look At The Eclipse Through Unfiltered Lenses

Many people may be tempted to take off their solar filters in order to take a picture or look at the sun with binoculars. This, however, can prove to be extremely dangerous for your eyesight. Some unfiltered lenses may concentrate the amount of light that you are looking at through the lenses and can potentially damage your eyes even if you’re wearing solar filters. There are, though, some filters made for camera lenses which can allow photographers to take pictures, and which are advised should one choose to photograph the event.

4. Remove Solar Filters Only During Totality

There will be an extremely short period of time during the full solar eclipse when people may take off their filters without the risk of damaging their eyesight. This moment is called totality, which is when the moon is perfectly aligned with the sun and blocks a large amount of light. The moment when the moon moves and more sunlight is visible is when you should immediately put your solar filters back on.

Back To School Safety Tips For Students

As we approach the new school year, it’s a great time for parents to discuss safety with their children. Anything can happen once your children leave the house to go to school, so making sure they’re prepared for any incidents will keep them safe. The Red Cross has provided the following safety tips for students:

  1. Make Sure Students Are Boarding the Right Bus

Tell your child that they should check the bus they’re boarding to make sure they’re riding the correct one. They should look for signs or indicators that are usually on school buses, and then write the indicator down somewhere to verify it until they’ve memorized what bus they ride. They should also try to avoid walking too close to the bus behind it or in front of it, due to the fact that bus drivers may not be able to see them and drive forward or reverse, resulting in the injury of a child.

  1. Be Careful Walking Across the Road

Children don’t always pay attention to people or objects around them, so it’s very easy for them to get distracted and walk into a crosswalk. Teach your child to look left, then right, then left again before they cross the road to ensure their safety. They also need to be careful around parked cars right after school, as they may pull out of their parking spots quickly and not see children since they’re shorter than the rear window of a vehicle.

  1. Tell Teens To Drive Safely

When teenagers first learn to drive, they may do things that don’t seem very dangerous, but may lead to a deadly accidents. Tell teenagers that are starting to drive to always wear a seatbelt, keep their phone in a bag away from them so they won’t be tempted to text, and avoid eating breakfast or snacks while they’re driving to or from school.

  1. Keep Young Children Safe

If you are a parent of a young child you should make sure that your child knows the route to school. It’s best to walk your child to school every day for the first week so they don’t get lost and have time to adjust to their surroundings. It’s also a good idea to try to find another student that lives nearby to walk with your child, since this would make them feel less anxious about getting to school.

  1. Drive Safely To Protect Pedestrians

Adults are partially responsible for the safety of children in their communities. You should always keep your distance from a school bus when it’s dropping students off at stops. Also, if you see flashing red lights, drivers must stop on both sides of the road so that children may descend from the bus and cross the road safely.

School Zone Safety Tips

It’s the time of year when children are getting ready to go back to school. While this is an exciting time, it can also be dangerous for kids if drivers aren’t being careful. CBS reports that in the past decade, about a third of young pedestrian deaths occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., which is around the time when children leave school. You can do your part by following the safety tips below to keep the children in your community safe.

  1. Drive at a Safe Speed

It’s important to follow the speed limit signs that are posted in school zones. Even a reduction in speed of 10 mph can make the difference between a deadly and a survivable crash. Children may also run out into the road unexpectedly if they aren’t being watched, so remain vigilant anytime you’re near a school.

  1. Be Careful When Reversing

It can be difficult to spot children while reversing sometimes due to how small they are. You should double-check blind spots and look around your car a few times before attempting to back up out of a parking space.

  1. Watch For Children on Bikes or Skateboards

Many children and teens ride bicycles, skateboards, or scooters to and from school. Due to lack of experience, children may lack stability when riding bikes or skateboards and can fall over onto the road. If you see a child on a bike or skateboard, slow down and leave a bit of distance between your vehicle and the child.

  1. Come to a Complete Stop

It’s been shown in various studies that around one third of drivers don’t come to a complete stop when they get to stop signs in neighborhoods or school zones. It’s important to always come to a complete stop and check crosswalks before continuing to drive.

  1. Talk to your Children About Safety

As your children grow up and enter their teen years, it’s important to discuss road safety with them as they learn to drive. Statistics show that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, so you should make sure that your teenagers know the rules of the road and always drive safely near schools.

Top 5 Summer Cooking Safety Tips  

Cooking with friends and family over the summer is a fun activity for everyone. It’s important to know how to prepare everything you’re eating in a way that’ll keep it safe to eat. Below are some tips to help you make sure that your food doesn’t cause any sort of illness at a get-together.

  1. Monitor Food Temperature

While most people check the color of their food to see how well it’s cooked, a much better way to check is by using a thermometer. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell how much you should cook a piece of meat before it’s safe to eat, but using a thermometer takes all of the guess work out cooking.

  1. Don’t Leave Food Out For Long Periods of Time

If you’re having a cookout and you’re grilling meat products or you have other perishable goods out, make sure you’re keeping them out no longer than 2 hours. If the temperature outside is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, then food should be left out for only about an hour. As the outdoor temperature increases, so does the risk of bacteria growing in foods like meat, dairy products, and shellfish, so it’s best to keep track of how long food stay out.

  1. Rinse Produce

Many types of produce may have bacteria on the outside of them that they can spread to the other foods you in your fridge. Make sure you rinse all of your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before preparing them for meals or storing them in a refrigerator.

  1. Maintain Cleanliness

If you’re cooking with raw meat, always wash your hands and counters after handling it. You should be washing your hands whenever you touch raw meat, eggs, or fish. Remember to use warm water and antibacterial soap so that you don’t spread any bacteria around when you’re touching the other food you’re preparing for a meal.

  1. Separate Cooking Tools for Raw and Cooked Meats

When preparing raw meats on the grill, be sure to switch out plates and tools that have touched raw meats when you’re working with cooked meats. If you’ve used a spatula to transfer raw meat to the grill, wash it with dish soap or switch it out for a different one when you go back to flip it.

Bike Safety Tips for Kids

Summer is a great time to go biking with your children around the neighborhood. However, it can also be a dangerous activity if you aren’t smart about how you’re biking. Here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on how to stay safe while biking with your family.

  1. Double-Check Your Equipment

It’s important to make sure that all of your bike equipment is in working order before you go for a ride. Check to see if your bike tires are filled with air and there aren’t any issues with your tire chain. Also, test your brakes while riding at a slow speed before you ride at high speeds or on hills to ensure that they work. Most importantly, make sure that everyone in your family is wearing a helmet so there’s no risk for brain injuries.

  1. Stay Visible

Depending on what you’re wearing, you may not be visible to drivers when you’re biking near a road. Cyclists should wear vests with reflective tape on it so that they’re more noticeable to drivers if you’re biking when there isn’t a lot of sunlight.

  1. Watch The Roads

If you decide to ride your bike on the road, you must be very aware of your surroundings. You need to look around for broken glass, potholes, and vehicles that are driving too close. If you’re turning while riding in the road, put out either your left arm or your right arm to signal to the vehicles behind you that you’re turning. Make sure that you don’t make any sudden movements, and that drivers will be able to anticipate your next move.

  1. Don’t Ride at Night

If you’re with your kids, it’s best to make sure that they can always see and be seen while they’re riding their bikes. Parents should avoid biking with their kids at night, and they should also set a curfew for their children if they go out with friends around sunset.

  1. Stick to Riding On Sidewalks

Some experienced adult bicyclists are fine riding bikes on the road. However, kids should stay away from riding on the road. Children are more likely to fall or not pay attention to what’s going on around them while they’re riding bikes. It’s best if they stay on the sidewalks where they can fall and not be at risk for being hit by a vehicle.

 

How To Stay Safe While Driving in Work Zones

Driving in work zones can prove to be extremely hazardous to drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that, over the past 5 years, 4,400 people have died and around 200,000 more were injured in work zone crashes. They also reported that drivers are most frequently killed in work zone crashes.

In order to be prepared for avoiding accidents in work zones, here are some quick tips to keep you safe on the road.

  1. Be Alert While Driving

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re on a long road trip and you slowly become less aware of what’s going on around you. You may enter a work zone quickly and all of a sudden the speed limit and traffic patterns have changed completely.

When you’re driving, make sure that you’re always paying close attention to the road and the other cars around you in case you quickly approach a work zone.

  1. Don’t Drive While Distracted

People make small movements to change the radio station or look for something in their car while driving. While this may not seem like a big deal, just a second or two of being distracted by something in your car can lead you to having an accident.

Don’t look away from the road while changing radio stations while you’re driving, and avoid trying to find various objects in your car. Also, most importantly, never text and drive. A two-word text message isn’t worth the grief that will be felt by your loved ones after a distracted driving accident.

  1. Obey the Speed Limit

It’s common for people to want to go a little faster than the speed limit while driving since it’s fairly common on highways. However, you should always drive at the speed limit because they have been put in place to show the safest speed at which you should drive. On top of that, if you speed in a work zone, you may be fined heavily.

When you drive by a speed limit sign on the highway, just take a quick glance at your speedometer to make sure that you’re driving at a safe speed.

  1. Be Careful When Merging

There can be a lot of close calls with other vehicles when you’re merging into another lane. Blind spots in your rearview mirrors can put you in a dangerous situation if you don’t double-check if there are cars around you while you merge.

To avoid any accidents, be very aware of the cars around you when you’re merging. Traffic patterns can change daily, and sometimes merge signs come up sooner than you think, so always check the signs around you while you’re driving. Also make sure that you’re that you’re merging when the paving markings show that you’re allowed to do so.

  1. Expect Anything

Workers and vehicles might move around unexpectedly in a work zone, and you need to always be on the lookout for any possible hazards. Vehicles might block off lanes on the highway, or they may start putting cones in a lane that will force you to merge into another lane. This is common in work zones, so you should always expect something about traffic to be different when you’re entering one.

What to Consider When Buying a Crib

A crib is one of the largest and most important purchases you will make when preparing for your child’s birth. Solidifying the fact that your baby is well on its way, many soon-to-be mothers and fathers spend hours reviewing potential cribs for the perfect match to their child’s nursery.

However, while you are stressing over the right size, right style, and right color don’t forget to consider your child’s safety.

  1. Proper Spacing Between Slats

Wide slats can pose an entrapment hazard to your little one. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says cribs should have no more than 2 3/8 inches between slats and corer posts. Don’t be afraid to bring a ruler with you when crib shopping.

  1. Corner Posts Should Not Be Higher than End Panels

Corner posts should be no more than 1/16 of an inch higher than end panels. Raised corner posts can catch on your babies clothing, possibly posing a choking or entrapment hazard.

  1. Check for Splits and Cracks

Upon unboxing your baby’s crib, check thoroughly for splits, cracks, chips, and splinter. Stray pieces of wood can result in scratches, punctures, spinsters, eye injuries, and even choking hazards when detached from the rest of the crib.

  1. Make Sure the Mattress Fits Snugly in the Crib

When checking how a mattress fits, use the two finger test. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, the mattress is not a good fit and can pose an entrapment hazard.

  1. Bare is Best

Do not put plush toys, soft bedding, or blankets in the crib. Medical professionals and organizations agree that a mattress with a tight, fitted sheet is all that needed. Anything else can pose a suffocation hazard.

  1. Avoid Bumper Pads

While bumper pads may seem like a reasonable safety product, the American Academy of Pediatrics have determined that they increase the risk of SIDS and crib-related death.

  1. Check for Sharp Edges or Hardware

Thoroughly examine your crib for any sharp corners or protruding nuts and bolts. A safe crib with have hardware that fits flush against the wood, at least in areas that are within the child’s vicinity.