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Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Summer

SUMMER SAFETY

I’d like to share some of my thoughts on making for a very safe summer for everyone.

  • Sunscreen – Almost everyone who spends time out in the sun must wear sunscreen to block the harmful, damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on our sensitive skin.  Use a sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF rating of at least 30. Apply it liberally and often (at least every two hours) especially when sweating or swimming.  Parents, protect your kid’s precious skin.
  • Insects – Beware of the many summer bugs lurking out there.  For mosquito protection use a repellant that contains DEET which when used as directed is safe for adults and children over 2 months of age. Regarding the stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps and honeybees, avoid them if they are in your vicinity. If you do get stung by a honey bee (which is the only one of the stinging insects that leaves a stinger behind in your skin), remove it as quickly as possible by any means possible.  It is now OK to just pull it out with your fingers and not waste time finding something with which to scrape it off.  Immediately apply ice to the sting. When out in a woody or grassy area always check your entire body for ticks when you get home. If you find one, remove it as soon as possible by getting a pair of tweezers, grabbing the tick  close to the skin and pulling it straight out.
  • Poison oak – The best protection is to recognize it and avoid it. If you come into contact with poison oak with your skin, clothing (including shoes and shoe laces), or garden tools, wash off immediately with soap and water.  Poison oak oil must be washed off of your skin with in a few minutes in order to avoid the dreaded rash. Remember, all parts of the poison oak plant contain the nasty oil, including the leaves, branches and roots.
  • Heat – Heat exhaustion is manifested by extreme sweating, fatigue and cramps. Heat stroke (a life threatening condition) is manifested by lack of sweating, red hot skin,  and a very high body temperature.  Both conditions can usually be prevented by drinking plenty of liquids and avoiding direct sun as much as possible especially between the hours of 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  • Water safety – 4,000 Americans drown every year, mostly men by a factor of 4 times more than women.  Alcohol is frequently involved.  Make sure the kids are supervised in the water every single minute. Watch out for rapid currents, rip tides, rocks, and always be aware of your surroundings.  Boat injuries claim another 700 American lives a year.  Drive your boat sensibly, have enough life preservers on board and do not drink alcohol and drive.
  • Bicycling – WEAR A HELMET!  No matter how obvious this bit of advice is, I still see people riding without a helmet and I really cringe when I see children without this life saving protection. Head injuries are often very serious, if not deadly, and are inexcusable for lack of a helmet. Be aware of your surroundings and be in control of your bike at all times.  Don’t take foolish chances.
  • Eating – Summer picnics can be a common source of food poisoning manifested by vomiting and/or diarrhea..  Food left out too long is the usual culprit. Handling uncooked chicken or eating undercooked chicken is also a common source of this illness.
  • Driving – We all drive more during the summer.  The cheapest form of life insurance while you are in a car is the good old seal belt.  WEAR IT!  Make sure your children are in proper age appropriate car seats.  Hand held cell phone use while driving your car can be deadly and is now illegal. Don’t break the law.

Have a very enjoyable safe summer.

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Kids

I’d like to talk about several common activities involving our children, how to ensure safety and to avoid unnecessary injury.

Playground injuries, mostly from falls, account for over 200,000 emergency room visits per year. The highest risk group is five to nine years of age. Young children need close adult supervision.

Make sure that underneath the equipment there is an adequate shock-absorbing material, such as chipped wood or any type of rubber product. Also, one needs to inspect the equipment to ensure that it is in good repair.

Bicycling (300,000 emergency visits a year) and skateboarding (30,000 visits) are the leading cause of head injury accidents in children. Proper safety for these activities includes adult supervision of younger children, routine bicycle maintenance, and mandatory use of head-protective helmets. These helmets must be proper to the activity and they must fit appropriately, but most importantly they must be worn!

Swimming accidents leading to drowning, and are the second leading cause of injury death among children 14 years and younger. All pools must be adequately fenced in and have properly functioning gates. Injury can be avoided by not running around the pool, not jumping onto floating objects, and proper use of a diving board. Again, adult supervision is paramount in preventing swim-related activities.

In 1971, trampoline injuries led to the NCAA eliminating the trampoline from sports competitions. I’m sure it’s also why we don’t see this event in the Olympics.

Trampoline injuries cause 80,000 emergency visits per year, for children age five and younger. If you own a trampoline, do not allow a smaller child to be on a trampoline with a larger child, as the smaller one is 14 times more likely to be injured.

In fact, one should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and not allow more than one person on a trampoline at a time. Safety netting around the trampoline is essential to protect a child but is not foolproof to prevent injuries.

As with all the above activities, adult supervision is mandatory.

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HolidayChild

With the holidays upon us, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about holiday safety — especially for our children. I will discuss just a few of the many recommended safety precautions.

Poisoning: Contrary to popular thought, the poinsettia plant is not poisonous, but could make a little one quite sick if ingested. Mistletoe and holly are considered poisonous. Be careful with these plants.

Choking: Children have a natural tendency to put things in their mouths. The following are items to keep away from little children: small toys or larger toys that can be broken down into smaller pieces, small batteries, small decorations and ornaments, coins, and food such as peanuts, popcorn, and small hard candy.

Clean up carefully after opening presents as little ones can choke on scrap pieces of tape, wrapping paper, and ribbons. Look carefully around your living environment and be aware of children’s exposure to anything that will fit in their mouths.

Burns: Place candles in a safe location far from the reach of a young child as well as away from flammable objects such as curtains, decorations, and the good old Christmas tree.

Keep matches and cigarette lighters out of a child’s sight and reach. Do not leave burning candles unattended and especially remember to extinguish them before going to bed. Have a fireguard in front of the fireplace.

Do not burn wrapping paper in fireplaces and be sure that the area around the fireplace is free of combustible material. Look around closely for potential fire hazards. Keep hot drinks and food out of a child’s reach.

Injuries: Check new and existing furniture, TVs, and equipment, to be sure they cannot be tipped over easily. Ensure that outdoor play equipment is assembled properly and has a soft surface underneath.

I can’t stress enough the importance of children wearing a helmet when riding bikes, scooters, etc. Too many children are seriously injured or killed from a head injury which could have easily been prevented by wearing a helmet.

Tree safety: Make sure at time of purchase that an artificial tree is labeled “fire resistant.”

When purchasing a live tree, be sure it is as fresh as possible. This can be done by shaking the tree to see if an over abundant number of needles fall off.

Place the tree in a secure stand with water as soon as possible to keep it from further drying. Do not position it close to heat sources such as fireplaces, heating vents, and radiators.

Use only flame resistant or non-flammable decorations to adorn the tree.

And now, a word to adults.

Christmas is a fun and social season, when a fair amount of alcohol and salty food can be consumed.

A bit of overindulgence can cause “holiday heart” syndrome which is due to an abnormal heart rhythm manifested by a fast and irregular heart beat.

People with a history of atrial fibrillation are more susceptible to this condition, which although serious, is usually not life-threatening. If it lasts more than a few hours, or if you feel short of breath, have chest pain, or feel faint, go to the emergency room.

And please, if you decide to enjoy alcoholic beverages, do not drive. Have a designated driver. Being in an accident or arrested for drunk driving is just not worth it.

Have a very happy and healthy holiday season.

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Bicycle Safety

I did it again. I had another fall.  No, not from a ladder this time, (I think I learned my lesson), but from my bicycle. Thankful to be alive. Saved again from my own carelessness. How many times is it going to take to figure this out?

Anyhow, not long ago I was out for my routine bike ride going up in the Mount Hermon Conference grounds. The pavement was unusually wet due to a light rain during the night. As I got close to the top, I suddenly realized that I had misjudged my timing and had to get back home, so I quickly turned around and headed back in just a little more of a hurry. I came to a sharp curve in the road and as I made the turn I saw a car in the opposite lane. Although there may have been no problem with this, my reaction was to hit the brakes which locked up on the wet pavement and down I went. I ended up on my back partially on top of my bicycle. And yes, I was wearing my helmet.

I was able to pedal back home feeling just a little achy and decided not to tell my wife about what had just happened, since I don’t think she’s ever gotten over my ladder accident several years ago when, once again, I almost killed myself. When I arrived home and got off my bike I realized that my right hip was hurting and I was limping a little. I couldn’t hide that from my wife so I fessed up. She actually took it in stride. However, within a few hours my hip hurt so, that I couldn’t walk on it.

An x ray of my hip thankfully showed no evidence of a fracture but it took several weeks on crutches to recover.

The reason I’m telling this story is to remind my fellow weekend warriors and risk takers that accidents happen in a split second and are usually caused by a momentary act of carelessness such as my ladder and bike accidents. Hopefully even at my age I’m beginning to learn to take it just a little more cautiously and carefully with my activities. Coincidentally, both of my accidents occurred in unusually wet environments which should have made me even more careful.

I find that, for myself and the thousands of patients whom I have treated over the years for a wide variety of injuries, doing any activity in even just a little more of a hurry than usual or trying to take even a little short cut, or not being fully aware of our surroundings, are the common denominators for causing injuries. Almost every patient I treat for an injury, including myself, uses the word “stupid” when describing how their injury occurred.

Do yourselves a favor and exercise just a little more caution and patience in all your activities. Take it from someone who’s learning it the hard way.

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Last year, my daughter complained to me about back pain. I wasn’t sure what was causing her discomfort until one day when I had to lift her school backpack out of my car. I almost threw my own back out.

I couldn’t believe how heavy it was. It weighed 20 pounds, and my daughter weighed 80 pounds.

Carrying a heavy backpack can be a source of low-level trauma leading to shoulder, neck and back pain in children. This is especially true for those school kids in middle and high school who have neither lockers nor desks to store their books in during the school day.

Experts recommend that children carry backpacks that weigh 10 percent or less of their body weight and no more than 15 percent.

The way a backpack is carried may contribute to the problem. Some kids wear their packs over only one shoulder, often because it’s “cool” or just plain easier. That causes them to walk unbalanced, causing abnormal stresses on their young developing spines.

A heavy backpack may make a bicycle rider top-heavy and less stable on the bike, potentially leading to accidental injuries.

A good backpack should have the following features:

– Lightweight construction

– Two wide, padded shoulder straps

– A padded back, for comfort and injury protection

– A waist belt and multiple compartments to distribute weight more evenly

We as parents need to be aware of this potential problem and be proactive in helping our children make best use of their backpacks.

Children should be taught to pick up their bags properly, by bending at the knees before lifting and using both hands.

Keeping straps tight will help with proper fit.

Remind children to use all of the backpack’s compartments, putting the heaviest items — such as textbooks — near the center of the back. They should not to carry around unnecessary personal items.

Also, take advantage of using available online books that don’t have to be carried around.

If your child continues to have back pain even after making the above adjustments, or has numbness, weakness or tingling in the arms or legs, consult with your doctor.

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Hot Tub Safety Tips

Hot tubs, also known as spas, Jacuzzis and soaking tubs, have long been enjoyed by people seeking relaxation, stress reduction and a way to soothe aching muscles.

In my research for this column, I could find no scientific studies relating to the safe use of hot tubs. Most literature I reviewed states that if you have health questions relating to safe use of your hot tub, you should consult your physician.

Well, folks, because of the lack of medical research data, this physician — and most of my colleagues with whom I have spoken — can’t give any scientifically proven guidelines for the safe use of hot tubs. What advice we can give falls along the lines of experience and common sense.

With that being said, here are my guidelines for the safe use of hot tubs:

Shower with soap and water before and after use of a hot tub.

Do not heat your tub hotter than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and use an accurate thermometer to determine the temperature. Even if you’re in good health, do not soak longer than 20 minutes at a time.

A temperature of 100 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes is safer for those with heart disease or chronic medical problems and during pregnancy. It would be best not to use a hot tub during the first three months of pregnancy.

Children should be at least 5 years old and soak no longer than 10 to 15 minutes — and always under adult supervision — in a tub no hotter than 100 degrees.

Avoid hot tub use if under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as tranquilizers, antidepressants or sleeping pills.

Slowly exit the tub after soaking. Sit on the edge for a few minutes before standing upright. This should prevent the possibility of passing out because of the tub lowering your blood pressure.

Keep the tub clean and well maintained.

One way to prevent overheating is to not submerge your entire body in the hot tub water. Keeping your arms and shoulders out of the water is a good way to avoid getting too hot.

If someone with heart disease has been cleared by a doctor as well enough to exercise, they are probably at no risk when using a hot tub according to the above guidelines. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no evidence for increased risk of a heart attack while relaxing in a hot tub.

Hot tub folliculitis is a common pimple-like rash that will afflict some people after the use of a tub with a low chlorine level. It can be avoided by properly maintaining the tub and by showering after tub use. Unless severe, this rash will usually heal itself without the need to seek treatment from a doctor.

Enjoy your hot tub — that’s what it’s for.

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Halloween will be here in a few days, and many kids will be out trick-or-treating. It’s an exciting night for all of the costumed children. To help ensure safety, I’ll share some tips from the American Society of Pediatrics, as well as some of my own thoughts.

All dressed up

– Costumes should fit properly and be bright, reflective and flame-resistant.

– Facial makeup and hats are worth considering as an alternative to a face mask that can block vision.

– If a sword, cane or stick is part of a costume, it should not be too sharp or too long.

On the trick-or-treat trail

– A parent or responsible adult must accompany young children on their rounds in the neighborhood.

– Trick-or-treaters should only go to well-lit homes and should not enter any houses.

– Groups should remain on well-lit streets and use sidewalks or the far edge of the road, facing traffic.

– Each group should carry a flashlight and a cell phone.

– Walkers should cross the street at crosswalks and never cross between parked cars.

– Older children and teens going out without an adult should let parents know where they are going, have a curfew to return and stay in a group.

Home safe home

– Clear a path to your door to avoid tripping a child.

– Keep the pathway and the doorway well lit.

– Restrain pets that might cause harm to a child.

Carving a niche

– Adults, not children, should handle pumpkin-carving knives. Children can scoop out the insides and draw a face on the pumpkin for an adult to cut out.

– A battery-powered light is safer than a candle to give jack-o’-lanterns their eerie glow. It’s best to avoid using an open flame in any decoration.

A healthy Halloween

– Youngsters should have a good meal before they collect all their sweet goodies.

– When they return home, a responsible adult should inspect the treats and discard anything that is spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious.

– Rationing candy means it may be enjoyed for many days following Halloween.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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I’d like to talk about several common activities involving children and how to ensure safety and avoid unnecessary injury.
Playgrounds

Playground injuries, mostly from falls, account for more than 200,000 emergency room visits each year. The highest-risk group is 5 to 9 years of age. Young children need close adult supervision. Make sure that underneath the equipment, there is an adequate shock-absorbing material, such as chipped wood or any type of rubber product. Also, one ought to inspect the equipment to ensure that it appears to be in good repair.

Wheels

Bicycling (300,000 emergency visits a year) and skateboarding (30,000 visits) are the leading causes of head-injury accidents in children. Proper safety for these activities includes adult supervision of younger children, routine bicycle maintenance and mandatory use of head-protective helmets. Helmets must be proper to the activity, and they must fit appropriately. But, most importantly, they must be worn!

Swimming

Swimming accidents ending in drowning are the second leading cause of injury death among children age 14 and younger. All pools must be adequately fenced in and have properly functioning gates. Injury can be avoided by not running around the pool, not jumping onto floating objects and using a diving board only as it’s meant to be used. Again, adult supervision is paramount in preventing swim-related activities.

Trampolines

In 1971, trampoline injuries led to the NCAA eliminating the trampoline from sports competition. I’m sure it’s also why we don’t see this event in the Olympics. Trampoline injuries cause 80,000 emergency visits per year for children age 5 and younger. If you own a trampoline, do not allow a smaller child to be on a trampoline with a larger child, as the smaller one is 14 times more likely to be injured. In fact, one should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and not allow more than one person on a trampoline at a time. Safety netting around the trampoline is essential to protect jumpers from injury. As with all the above activities, adult supervision is mandatory.

I hope you and your children have a fun, but safe, spring and summer.

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Over the years of my emergency and urgent-care career, I’ve dealt with many injuries and illnesses seen commonly during the summer. I’d like to share some of my thoughts on making this a safe season for everyone.

**Sunscreen: Almost everyone who spends time out in the sun must wear sunscreen to block the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on our sensitive skin. Use a sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF rating of at least 30. Apply it liberally and often — at least every two hours. Parents, protect your children’s precious skin.


**Insects: Beware of the many summer bugs lurking out there. For mosquito protection, use a repellent that contains DEET, which, when used as directed, is safe for adults and children older than 2 months.

Regarding stinging insects such as yellowjackets, wasps and honeybees, avoid them if they are nearby. If you are stung by a honey bee, which is the only stinging insect that leaves a stinger behind in the skin, remove it as quickly as possible, by any means possible. It is now deemed OK to pull it out with your fingers and not waste time finding something with which to scrape it off. Immediately apply ice to the sting.

When out in a wooded or grassy area, always check your entire body for ticks when you get home. If you find one, remove it as soon as possible by getting a pair of tweezers, grabbing the tick close to the skin and pulling it straight out.

**Poison oak: The best protection is to recognize it and avoid it. If you touch poison oak with your skin, clothing (including shoes and shoe laces) or garden tools, wash them immediately with soap and water. Poison oak oil must be washed off the skin within a few minutes to avoid the dreaded rash. Remember, all parts of the poison oak plant contain the nasty oil, including the leaves, branches and roots.

**Heat: Heat exhaustion is evidenced by extreme sweating, fatigue and cramps. Heat stroke (a life-threatening condition) is characterized by lack of sweating; red, hot skin; and a very high body temperature. Both conditions can usually be prevented by drinking plenty of liquids and avoiding direct sun as much as possible, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

**Water safety: About 4,000 Americans drown every year — and men are four times more likely to drown than women. Alcohol is frequently involved. Make sure children are supervised in the water every single minute. Watch out for rapid currents, riptides and rocks, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Boat injuries claim another 700 lives a year. Drive your boat sensibly, have enough life preservers on board, and do not drink alcohol and drive.

**Bicycling: Wear a helmet! No matter how obvious this bit of advice is, I still see people riding without a helmet, and I cringe when I see children without this life-saving protection. Head injuries are often very serious, if not deadly, and are inexcusable for lack of a helmet. Be aware of your surroundings, and be in control of your bike at all times. Don’t take foolish chances.

**Eating: Summer picnics can be a common source of food poisoning, manifested by vomiting or diarrhea. Food left out too long is the usual culprit. Handling uncooked chicken or eating undercooked chicken is also a common source of illness.

**Driving: We all drive more during the summer. The cheapest form of life insurance while you are in a car is the good old seat belt. Wear it! Also, make sure children are in proper, age-appropriate car seats. Hand-held cell phone use while driving your car is a significant cause of accidents and is now illegal.

Have a very enjoyable — and very safe — summer.

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Careful on That Ladder

It finally caught up with me. After 40-plus years of climbing ladders (mostly to get onto my roof), I recently fell off of one and injured myself.

On Dec. 13, in the middle of a relaxing afternoon, I decided to climb my extension ladder and get up on my roof to reposition a plastic tarp. Now, you must understand that in the past 37 years, I have treated hundreds of patients (mostly men) for injuries from falling off a ladder. Therefore, I have always promoted ladder safety, and I thought I had been very cautious when getting up and down on a ladder.

On this particular occasion, I climbed the ladder on my back deck to my one-story flat roof. I did what I set out to accomplish and then started back down the ladder.

I ever-so-cautiously placed my first foot on the top rung of the ladder. I started to put my other foot on the rung and, suddenly, I knew something bad was about to happen — I was going down.

In a split-second, with absolutely no chance of saving myself, I fell.

The ladder base had slipped away from the house, and I fell straight backward, landing 10 feet below, flat on my back, on top of the ladder.

I felt as if I had broken my back, it hurt so much. I lay there on top of my ladder for a few minutes — no one else was at home (another critical mistake). I realized I could move my legs and arms, so at least I knew I wasn’t paralyzed.

After a while, I managed to get up and hobble into the house. I felt like passing out from the pain and shock to my body.

My injuries turned out to include a broken right ankle, a cracked rib below my shoulder blade and a severely bruised and swollen lower back. The next day, I ended up with a cast on my leg, with instructions to not place any weight on that leg for four to five weeks. So I’m now hobbling around on crutches — not a pleasant experience — dealing with a pretty painful back. But I am slowly improving.

More than 2 million people suffered ladder injuries from 1990 to 2005. That equals about 135,000 injuries a year, and I’m sure there are many more that are not reported. The majority of ladder injuries happen at home, and mostly to men older than 40.

Injuries include but are not limited to:

• Death

• Permanent disability, from paralysis, pain or head, neck or back injuries

• Temporary disability, usually from a broken arm or a leg

• Painful arthritis in later years as a result of those injuries

• Loss of income

• Loss of recreational activities

• Loss of intimacy

My ladder safety recommendations:

• When you think about climbing a ladder, consider whether doing so is worth the risk of possible serious injury or disability.

• Never climb a ladder when no one else is at home.

• Always have another responsible person to work with you, to secure the base of the ladder and to be your conscience when you try to do something stupid (come on — we all do it) while up on the ladder.

• Check out ladder safety Web sites for information on proper ladder placement and safety.

To you ladder climbers out there, please read and think long and hard about what I have written. Women, show this article to your men. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Don’t kid yourself.

I thank God I’m alive after my accident. I see how easily, in a split second, I could have died or become permanently disabled. That just wouldn’t have been fair to my wife, my children or anyone who cares about me.

Ladders are not casual tools. They are as dangerous as a loaded gun — respect them accordingly.

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