Break Point!

Volume 3, Issue 5 View the Archives May, 2000
Injury Prevention's Busiest Month
The Truth About Trunk Entrapment
Life Jackets Float…You Don't
Booze and Boating a Deadly Cocktail
Safety Tips For Older Drivers
The Leader of the Pack
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention's Busiest Month

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

We have all been waiting for the warmer weather to arrive. People are getting busy now with graduations, barbeques and beginning the walking routine they have been planning for months.  The harbors in Lake Michigan are beginning to fill with anxious boaters ready to make their vessels sea worthy.

That is probably why May is one of the busiest months in injury prevention. More people are out doing more things now than they did during the winter season. This month is filled with injury prevention health observances. National SAFE KIDS week starts the month off (5/6-5/13), National Emergency Medical Services Week (5/15-5/21), EMSC day (5/17), National Safe Boating Week (5/20-5/26) and the month ends with Buckle Up, America! Week (5/22-5/29). May is also National Bike Month and National Motorcycle Month.

This busy month gets us to think about safety and make changes in our lifestyles before the summer holidays begin. Take a vow to keep this spring and summer season safe for you and your family.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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The Truth About Trunk Entrapment

Each year we hear of children who make their way into a car trunk and are trapped. Often these children do not make it out of the trunk alive. Between 35 and 40% of all victims 14 and under do not survive trunk entrapment.

Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures of 130 to 175 degrees even after only 15 minutes in the sun. Death can occur within minutes when children are left in interior of the car when the heat reaches 100 degrees or more inside the car. The combination of the heat, humidity, and poor ventilation all contribute to the extreme danger of car trunks.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a standard on trunk releases. It will be mandatory for all new vehicles in the U.S. to be equipped with a trunk release inside the trunk by January 2001.

Some car companies are ahead of the NHTSA standard and have made trunk releases an option for the 2000 line of cars. These trunk releases are made to hinder the closure of the trunk unless the lever is reset to proper position. There is also a dimly lit release inside the trunk to release the trunk from the inside of the vehicle.

Whether or not your car is equipped with a trunk release it is important to remember to:

  • Teach children that automobiles are not toys. Do not let your children play inside or around the car.
  • Always lock car door and trunks. Keep the car keys out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Supervise young children closely when they are around cars. Be especially careful when loading or unloading the trunk.
  • Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car.

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Life Jackets Float…You Don't

The theme for this year's National Boating Safety Month is " Boat Smart From the Start. Wear Your Life Jacket." Many boaters do not realize the need for life jackets until it's too late. Life preservers and jackets are required by many states and must be present on all boats traveling on bodies of water supervised by the U.S. Coast Guard.

It is estimated that 85 % of boating-related drownings could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). In 1998, less than one-fourth of the children ages 14 and under who drowned in boating-related incidents were wearing PFD's (National SAFE KIDS Campaign).

The law regarding PFD's is that recreational boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard -approved PFD in good condition and the correct size for each person aboard the vessel. A properly sized PFD must be available, easy to use and accessible.

There are 4 types of PFD's to choose from. No matter which one you choose they must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

  • Type 1-This is the PFD that floats the best. It is designed to turn most people who are unconscious in the water from the facedown position to an upright position. It is used in open and deep waters.
  • Type 2- this jacket can turn a person upright and slightly backwards but not as efficiently as the Type 1 jacket. This is the best kind of life jacket to wear if you are boating, fishing and doing other water activities.
  • Type 3 this jacket is designed so the person can obtain an upright position. It is comfortable and is often used for water sports and should be used only when it is expected that there will be a quick rescue.
  • Type 4-This life preserver is a cushion or ring and is not worn. It is designed to be used for grasping or as a tow device.
Always remember:
  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
  • Teach your child how to put on his or her own life jacket.
  • Do not substitute blow-up water wings, toys rafts and air mattresses for life preservers or life jackets. They are not safe.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Children learn by example. Wear your PFD each time you are on your boat.

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Booze and Boating a Deadly Cocktail

Unfortunately some boaters think the emergency equipment on a boat is the filled cooler or believe that waterways are the last frontier where they can drink and drive a vehicle. Research shows just four hours of exposure to sun, glare wind, noise and rocky waves fatigues boat operators and slows their reaction time almost as much as if they were legally intoxicated. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study, it takes only a third as much alcohol to impair a boater's balance, judgment and coordination in comparison to drivers of vehicles on land. Having two beers on the water can impair your abilities as much as drinking a six-pack at a backyard barbecue.

Fifty-one percent of the people who died in boating crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 % or more. A blood alcohol of .10% or more was found in 30 % of the fatalities.

Intoxicated passengers are also a threat in boats. Drunken passengers can lurch and shift suddenly in the boat, push people overboard, fall overboard, throw things or otherwise distract the driver. One in four drowning deaths are caused from people falling out of the boat.

Boaters who drive under the influence of alcohol should be aware that Illinois laws are very strict. Illinois statutes set the legal limit of BAC at .08%. As of January 1, 2000, boaters who cause death from their actions on the waterway face a reckless homicide charge and the penalties that accompany that charge.

Before you take your boat out of dry dock, remember that safe boating starts before you first set out on the water. Do not wait until a crash to educate yourself and your passengers on the rules of safe boating. Alcohol use isn't the sport. Boating is the sport and should be enjoyed safely.

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Safety Tips For Older Drivers

The American population is getting older. The Census Bureau predicts the population over the age of 65 will increase by 60 percent in the next 20 years. The "graying of America" is a concern of the nation.

Drivers over 60 years of age are showing increased fatality rates; suffer more serious injuries in crashes than do younger drivers. Older drivers are more likely to die in a crash partly because they are more fragile and tend to have less range of motion.

There are many changes that happen to our bodies as we age such as vision changes, less muscle strength, slower reaction times, loss of hearing and medications can have an impact on the ability to maneuver a car.

As the mature driver ages, they become uncomfortable with certain challenges they face on the road and make the changes they need to feel safe. Some older drivers begin to limit their driving to daytime hours or avoid driving in inclement weather or avoid driving on expressways.

Many older drivers received their licenses without any formal training; long before driver's education programs were introduced into the schools. Many drivers, including those under 50, have developed bad driving habits over the years and don't realize there are safer ways to drive. Driver's education classes for the older driver helps them become aware of the changes their bodies are going through and the ways they need to adapt their driving without forfeiting their driving privileges.

Here are some driving tips that all drivers should know:

  • Keep current on the rules of the road and follow them. Take a defensive driving course for the mature driver.
  • Be a defensive and courteous driver.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Drivers that are rushed make unsafe decisions while driving. Older drivers that are less rushed are more comfortable with the increased stimulation of heavier traffic.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you. Use the standard "2 second rule" when judging distance between you and the car ahead of you. Older drivers may want to increase the time to 3 seconds to allow more reaction time.
  • Older drivers should decrease their driving in bad weather, avoid dimly lit roadways and limit their driving during peak traffic times.

Burn and Shock Trauma Institute's Injury Prevention Program is sponsoring the AARP 55ALIVE Defensive Driving Course on May 24 and 25 from 10:00 am. until 2:30 pm. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Participants who complete the course could receive up to 10% off of their automobile insurance rates.

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The Leader of the Pack

The popularity of motorcycle transportation is attributed to their low initial cost, use as a pleasure vehicle and, for some models, the high fuel efficiency.

Motorcycle fatalities represent approximately five percent of all highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent just two percent of all registered vehicles in the United States. One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash. For example, approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent.

The first thing you need to do before you start your motorcycle is to have the proper equipment to ride. Here is a list of the proper gear you will need:

  • The helmet is the most important piece of equipment you need. Make sure you have a snug fit and that the helmet is comfortable. Look for the DOT label on the helmet to show it meets federal standards.
  • Choose a quality pair of goggles with safety lenses or a helmet equipped with a face shield.
  • Arms and legs should be adequately protected. Jackets with long sleeves should be worn and pants should cover the entire leg. Leather materials are recommended. Pants should not be baggy or flared the bottom to prevent entanglement with the chain, kickstand or the foot pegs.
  • Durable gloves are recommended. Gloves should be made of non-slip material. Leather gloves are an excellent choice.
  • Wear bright colors to increase your visibility. Retro-reflective materials are a good choice especially if you drive at night.
Once you have geared up there are precautions that need to be taken on the road:
  • Take a motorcycle-training course to safely and skillfully operate a motorcycle.
  • Take extra caution at intersections. This is where the most motorcycle-vehicle collisions take place.
  • Remain visible to other motorists. Don't ride in the drivers "blind spot".
  • Ride defensively.
  • Avoid driving in bad weather.
  • Never drink and ride. Alcohol slows reflexes and greatly limits your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. Approximately 50% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve alcohol.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Fireworks Safety Month.
  • National Safety Month.
  • National Safe Boating Week (5/20-5/26).
  • National Prevention of Eye Injury Awareness Week (6/28-7/5).

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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