Break Point!

Volume 3, Issue 6 View the Archives June, 2000
What's Hot For Summertime Safety
Do You Need a Vacation From Your Vacation?
Vacation Safety Checklist
Avoiding Gas Grill Dangers
Don't Let The Train Catch You This Summer
Injuries Can Happen In A Flash
Safety Concerns A Mile High
Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web
Next Month in Injury Prevention

What's Hot For Summertime Safety

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

Early summer means "school's out!" Kids of all ages will be out of school and spending more time on the sidewalks, streets, parks and playgrounds in our communities. For everyone, summer fun often means being out and about from morning until night: biking, walking, jogging, motorcycling, in-line skating, and skateboarding as well as driving.

June starts the vacation season, which means people will be traveling by several modes of transportation, sometimes all in the same week.

With so many people on the move in so many ways, we all need to be alert, careful and respectful of others, no matter how they are traveling.

Breakpoint will provide tips on getting to your destination safely. A vacation is a time to relax and enjoy your time off but getting there and arriving home safely should be a priority.

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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Do You Need a Vacation From Your Vacation?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of Americans have sleep-related problems at some time in their life and 23 percent have actually fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that approximately 1,550 people are killed and 40,000 people are injured in crashes related to, if not primarily caused by, drowsy driving.

When it comes to driving vacations, we tend to push ourselves too much, and fatigue can be a significant problem. Even a regular night's sleep can be disrupted by strange surroundings and unusual noises, an uncomfortable or unfamiliar mattress, poor diet, and lack of physical exercise during the day.

Here are some tips to get you to and from your destination safely:

  • Have everything ready to go ahead of time so you are not up late packing. Get a good nights sleep before starting out.
  • Plan your activities with some rest periods. Schedule reasonable itineraries; don't try to pack a weeks worth of vacation into a day.
  • Rotate driving shifts if more than one driver is available.
  • Do little or no night driving (midnight to 6am. Is the riskiest time for crashes).
  • Schedule adequate sleep time at night.
  • Take regular breaks while driving. A rest stop every 2 hours is a good interval for breaks. Give yourself plenty of time to get out and walk around during each break
  • Get some physical exercise during the day and maintain a good diet. Caffeine use may contribute to sleep loss at night and fatigue the next day.
  • If you feel sleepy pull over and take a rest. Rolling the windows down or listening to loud music won't help keep you from falling asleep.

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Vacation Safety Checklist

A driving vacation can be a lot of fun, but don't leave safety and common sense behind. Here are some basics for a safe vacation.

  • Check your car or have it serviced before any long trip (battery, tires, brakes, belts and fluids).
  • Have a qualified technician check the air conditioner.
  • Check your oil. If you will be towing a trailer or boat, or driving in the desert, switch to a motor oil with higher viscosity.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes water, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight, equipment to change a tire and a first aid kit.
  • Make sure your child safety seats and booster seats are properly installed.
On the Road
  • Require all occupants to buckle up, with children under 12 in the back seat.
  • Obey speed limits and all roadway signs.
  • Drive calmly and avoid entanglements with aggressive drivers.
  • Pack non-perishable snacks and plenty of juice or water.
  • Take frequent breaks- at least every two hours- and avoid driving when tired.
  • Be especially careful around railroad crossings.
  • Avoid driving in the "No Zone" around trucks. If you can't see the truck driver in the truck's mirror, the truck driver can't see you.
  • Slow down in work zones, obey all signs and flaggers and pay attention to the vehicle in front of you (most work zone crashes are rear-end collisions due to an inattentive driver.
Touring your destination
  • Never leave children alone in the car with the windows rolled up even for a few minutes!
  • A sunshade can help keep the car from becoming dangerously hot.
  • Cover up seat belts and child safety seats with a towel or blanket while the car is parked (on a hot day, the plastic and metal parts can get hot enough to burn.
  • Be sure to pack your bike helmets if you plan to bring or rent bikes.
  • Review safe pedestrian practices with children.
  • Have a planned meeting site in case someone gets lost.

Have a great trip!

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Avoiding Gas Grill Dangers

Before you plan your first barbeque it is important to give your gas grill a "tune up" to make sure it is in proper working order.

Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills is highly flammable. Each year more than 500 fires occur when people use gas grills and about 20 people are injured as a result of gas grill fires and explosions. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container.

To reduce risks it is important to:

  • Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.
  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
  • When transporting an LP cylinder to and from your exchange location, make sure the cylinder is secured upright in a well-ventilated area of your vehicle. Go directly to and from your exchange location.
  • Always store your cylinder upright in an area that won't exceed 125 degrees.
  • Never store a spare cylinder beneath a grill.
  • Always turn control knobs to OFF position when not in use.
  • Check for gas leaks every time you connect the cylinder to the grill. Simply apply liquid soap and water solution to the area where the two connect. Turn the cylinder ON. If you see bubbles, turn OFF the cylinder and reconnect. Never use a flame to check for leaks.
  • Be sure to have your propane tank refilled by a reputable propane dealer and that it has a correct test date. An incorrectly filled or an over filled propane tank can be dangerous.

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Don't Let The Train Catch You This Summer

At one time in our lives we will encounter a train. We will either ride as a passenger or wait for what seems like hours at a rail-grade crossing. For others, their encounter with a train will potentially result in death or injury.

Railroad incidents involving trespassers and trains accounted for 474 deaths nationwide last year with Illinois leading the nation in railroad trespass deaths!

While collisions at railroad crossings have been declining in the past decade, trespass deaths have been increasing over the past 10 years. Recently railway trespass deaths have surpassed railroad-crossing deaths.

A trespasser is anyone whose presence on the railroad, property-track, bridges, equipment and yards, is not authorized by the railroad. Unfortunately, many people continue to jog, ride bikes, fish and walk near or over tracks daily, needlessly endangering their lives and the lives of train crews. Many of these people believe they will hear the train coming or that the train will be able to stop in time. The fact is, it takes a train traveling 50mph, a mile and a half to stop.

Injuries sustained in the spring and summer months (April through September) surpass those occurring in fall and winter months by a rate of 2:1.

Here are a few tips to help keep tragedy off of the tracks:

  • Never trespass on railroad property. Railroad tracks, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.
  • Do not walk on or fish off of railroad bridges. There aren't any sidewalks on the bridges. You have two choices: get hit by the train or jump off of the bridge. The same is true for railway tunnels. The clearance between the train and the tunnel wall is generally only a few inches. There is never enough room for a person and a train.
  • Do not ride motorcycles or off-road vehicles down or alongside the tracks. The noise of the vehicle engine may keep the driver from hearing oncoming trains.
  • Never play on the tracks or in the railroad yards. Railroad cars can move suddenly and unexpectedly injuring tresspassers.
  • Never get into a railroad car. While "hoboing" looks pretty good in the movies, boxcars do not have inside door handles. Once you are in and the door slides closed, you must wait until someone from the outside finds you and lets you out. Sometimes boxcars sit for weeks or even months without anyone ever coming near them.
  • Never " hop off" a train while it is moving. Trains move about 75mph. Jumping from a moving train will result in death or serious injury.
  • Never throw anything at the train. Severe injuries and even deaths have occurred resulting from objects thrown at trains. In addition to injuring people on the train there is also the danger that things thrown will bounce off and come flying back injuring the thrower or an innocent bystander.
  • Always expect a train! Trains do not run on set schedules and do appear out of nowhere.

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Injuries Can Happen In A Flash

Well before July fourth the sound of fireworks is a common occurrence. The large "Fireworks for Sale" signs appear along the roads. Some people are beginning to gather fireworks for their July fourth parties. Fireworks can be beautiful, however, they cause serious injuries if used improperly.

It is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. Items such as M-80s or M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks, they are federally banned explosives. They can cause serious injury or even death.

Consumption of fireworks in the United States has almost doubled in the past decade. Injuries form fireworks have remained fairly consistent over the past decade with a slight decline over the past ten years. Firecrackers account for over 32% of fireworks injuries and sparklers and skyrockets account for another 25% of all fireworks injuries.

Fireworks are not toys. Fireworks, even those fireworks that are considered legal, are dangerous. They burn at approximately the same temperature as a household match. Sparkers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt gold! Fireworks can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.

Here are some tips to help keep safe and fun during the July fourth holiday:

  • Never use any type of fireworks. If you choose to use legal fireworks, read and follow the directions on the packages carefully!
  • Help your children plan safe activities on Independence Day. Give them glow -in -the -dark wands and noisemakers as substitutes for sparklers and firecrackers.
  • Teach your children about the dangers of fireworks and other explosives. Discourage children from trying them out even once. Set a good example by never using fireworks yourself.
  • If you find firecrackers or other explosive substances around your home, call the local fire department's non-emergency line for disposal guidelines. Do not dispose of them or explode them yourself. Too many unknowns like age, moisture levels, and amount of explosive material make these substances and devices dangerous and unpredictable.
  • Never underestimate the inventiveness of children who sometimes try to concoct homemade devices. Keep potentially hazardous materials like lighter fluid, charcoal lighter and gasoline out of their reach.
  • Never approach a firework after it has been lit, even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely to still be excessively hot and it may explode unexpectedly.
  • Consider safe alternatives for celebration. Attend a community fireworks display handled by professionals, or hold a celebration at home where you can supervise your children's holiday festivities.
  • If an injury occurs, call 911 or the local emergency phone number in your area. Get immediate medical attention from experts who specialize in treating burns and other traumatic injuries.

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Safety Concerns A Mile High

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that "Turbulence Happens" and when it does; adults and children who are not buckled up can be seriously injured.

Turbulence is air movement that usually can't be seen or predicted. It can be created by a number of different conditions.

Children weighing less than 40 pounds are safest when sitting in a certified child restraint system (CRS) all other travelers should remain buckled up for the duration of the flight, not just for take-off and landing.

In non-fatal incidents, in-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and flight attendants. Each year, approximately 58 airline passengers are injured by turbulence while not wearing their seat belts.

Proper use of a child restraint system (CRS) on an aircraft enhances child safety in the event of turbulence or a crash. The FAA strongly recommends that all children who fly, regardless of their age, use the appropriate restraint based on their height and weight.

  • Before you fly remember to check your safety seat for FAA approval.
  • Check the width of your CRS. The safety seat should be no wider than 16 inches. If it is wider it is unlikely to fit properly into the frame of the aircraft seat.
  • A CRS must be placed in a window seat so it will not block the escape path in an emergency. A child safety seat may not be placed in an exit row.
  • Arrange for assistance from your airline prior to your trip if you will have a child in a safety seat. If you need to change planes to make a connecting flight, it can be very challenging to transport a CRS, a child and luggage through a busy airport. Most airlines will assist you with the connection if arrangements have been made in advance.
  • The FAA recommends that a child weighing less than 20 pounds and less than one year should be in a rear facing safety seat. Children over one year and are between 20-40 pounds should be in a forward facing child restraint.
  • Harnesses and booster seats are not allowed, as older children are better protected by the plane's seat belts. The design of the plane's reclining seat backs and tray tables and the lack of shoulder belts make it dangerous to use harnesses and booster seats.

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Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web

This article is a new addition to Break Point! and will run each month. Surf's Up will provide interesting places to go on the web that are injury prevention related.

This month Surf's Up will focus on websites that have children in mind. Each of these sites are kid friendly. Children can learn about safety and have fun at the same time.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Safety City

This page is strictly for children. There are many fun places for children to travel. Larry's Art Gallery., The Research Laboratory and Safety School to name a few.

This site has easy to read pages with colorful pictures children will enjoy. The activities in this site are all traffic safety related.

Otto The Auto

This web site is sponsored by the AAA motor club. Be patient. The site takes several (10 minutes or longer) to download but is well worth the wait. Children will love this site with the fun, colorful activities and the likable characters.

Some of the activities include: Dressing for safety, Car Safety at the beltway, Bicycle safety in the helmet hangout and pedestrian safety. This website is traffic safety related and is a nice spot for young children.

Kids Health

This site has a wealth of information for the entire family. There are three doors to open, the first is for parents, the second is for kids and the third is for teens. This site is very easy to navigate and the articles written are geared to the different age levels.

This site not only provides information on safety but other areas of interest from emotions to healthy eating. You can even sign up to receive the Kids Health e-zine via email.

Bike Helmet Safety-Information and Children's Games on Safe Cycling

McDonald's and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have put this site together promoting the importance of bicycle safety and helmet use to reduce bike riding related injuries. You will find video games and activities that emphasize bike helmet "coolness".

The graphics take a few minutes to download but the games are fun and it is worth the time.

*It is important to note that children who have access to the Internet should get permission from their parents first. Parents should observe their children while they use the Internet to help them avoid dangerous situations while they surf.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Impaired Driving enforcement Weekend (July 1-4).
  • National Sobriety Checkpoint Week (June 25-July 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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