Break Point!

Volume 3, Issue 8 View the Archives August, 2000
Back to School Safety
Maneuvering Your Way Through Work Zones
Alcohol Use and the College Freshman
Let Cooler Heads Prevail
Surf's Up- A Guide To Internet Sites On The Web
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Back to School Safety

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

It is hard to believe that children will be heading back to school shortly. For many people this is a time to make that last  “get-away” before school starts and the warmer weather ends.  New college students are preparing to leave home for the first time to start school.

Whether you are traveling for pleasure or just getting to work, it is important to be aware of work zones and the difficulties they pose to the driver. They not only increase the tension on the road but not obeying the work zone signs can spell trouble for you and the workers.

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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Maneuvering Your Way Through Work Zones

A work zone is any type of roadwork that may impede traffic conditions. Many work zones involve lane closures. They may also be on the shoulder or in the median. Moving work zones such as street sweepers or movable pothole repairs are also quite common.

Each year thousands of highly skilled highway workers improve and maintain roads and bridges. Their job is difficult and exceptionally dangerous. Road workers face danger daily and want to return home safely to their families.

More than 700 people each year die in highway work zone crashes and another 37,000 suffer disabling injuries. Speeding and aggressive driving are two major reasons for work zone crashes. Most people say they slow down in work zones but sadly, almost none actually do, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through work zones:

  • Look for orange signs. They will warn you of approaching road-work.
  • Follow the posted speed limit.
  • Leave adequate space between vehicles.
  • Watch for sudden stops and prepare for the unexpected.
  • Plan ahead before a trip. Find out the roadwork sites before you leave.
  • Use alternate routes and travel in non-rush hour times when possible.
  • Observe all traffic signs.
  • Be alert. Watch for changes in the road.
  • Be aware that the fines in Illinois for speeding in work zones is $150.00
  • Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impairs your ability to drive even under the best of conditions.

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Alcohol Use and the College Freshman

College students are preparing to leave for school. There are big going away parties to celebrate their passage from teen to adulthood. There are parties when they get to school; get-to-know-each-other parties, fraternity parties, and friends just getting together to celebrate their newfound freedom.

The very first experience college students have is drinking and often drinking and driving. Some of the students make it home and some don’t. More 18 year olds died in lower BAC (between .01 and .09) alcohol-related crashes than any other age.

Over 1/3 of all deaths for people ages 15-20, result from motor vehicle crashes and over 1/3 of these motor vehicle fatalities involved alcohol.

Since 1998, all States, including the District of Columbia have set a BAC limit of .02 or lower for drivers under the age of 21 (Zero Tolerance Laws)

What are Zero Tolerance Laws? It simply means that it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages. A zero tolerance makes it illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood. The BAC levels vary throughout the States. They range from .00-.02 for drivers under 21. Illinois law is among the strictest in the States at .00 BAC. If any alcohol is detected in the blood stream the driver will be issued a traffic infraction including a fine and the revocation of their drivers license.

Reducing alcohol-related fatalities will be increasingly more difficult to achieve with a rising youth population. There are a number of things that must be done to decrease alcohol related deaths. They include reaching parents who ignore or condone drinking by underage children; increasing enforcement of Zero Tolerance Laws that have been shown to be effective in reducing fatalities; getting treatment for hard to reach young people that are alcoholics or have drinking problems; and convincing young people that underage drinking and driving, is socially unacceptable.

Here are some strategies for dealing with alcohol use on a college campus:

  • Limit access to alcohol- Have alcohol free parties so the first experience on the college campus will not be alcohol-related.
  • Have birthday lists, ID bracelets and university staff presence at events. Do not allow alcohol to be served at athletic events or tailgating parties.
  • Ban alcohol in residence halls.
  • Change perception of norms- Make underage drinking socially unacceptable. Change perceptions of binge drinking on campus.
  • Discipline- Enforce alcohol discipline system. Community service, education, assessment, treatment as part of sanctions.
  • Training on alcohol abuse/poisoning/ DUI- Promotions or education speaker series, educational articles in school newspaper and newsletters. Have the school enact a protocol for all residence life, staff and security.
  • Safe rides- Taxi vouchers (sold to parents of students), designated driver recognition

When searching for a college campus with your teen, a parent needs to be aware of more than education when choosing a school. Parents need to be concerned about issues of alcohol use. Here are some questions parents need to have answered when they visit the college campus:

  • What is the first impression of the school?
  • What messages is the school projecting to incoming freshmen regarding alcohol use on campus?
  • Is this school known for its “party life”?
  • What kind of opportunities will your child have to obtain alcohol?

College life can be challenging to the freshmen, the new responsibilities of school, being away from home, and the increased use of alcohol among their peers. Before your child sets off for school, it is important to talk to your child about alcohol use and the consequences of drinking and driving because “Zero Tolerance Means Zero Chances”.

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Let Cooler Heads Prevail

Heat related illnesses are most common in the summer but can occur in moderate conditions, depending on environmental factors. The body’s heat production is affected by several factors, which include; temperature, humidity, sun exposure, wind and clothing. The body regulates heat and cools itself as necessary but during periods of increased heat the body becomes stressed. This exceeds the body’s capacity to cool itself properly.

Most heat-related problems result from environmental conditions that can be predicted and prevented. If an athlete works out on a day that has full sunshine, high humidity, is dehydrated or has too many layers of clothing on, that athletes risk for heat related illness becomes higher.

There are several types of heat related illnesses. The symptoms range from mildly uncomfortable to fatal. The four types of heat-related illnesses are:

Heat cramps- These are painful spasms of muscles in the arms, legs or stomach. This may be a warning sign for heat exhaustion. This happens when the salt level of the body becomes low. Most athletes will be able to replace their salt levels through cravings for salty foods such as pretzels or chips.

Heat syncope- This occurs when a person becomes dizzy with prolonged standing or a sudden rise from a sitting position. Athletes experience this when they exercise without a proper cool-down period.

Heat exhaustion- Develops when a person experiences excess sweating in a hot humid environment causing severe dehydration. The body temperature reaches between 100-104 degrees.

Heat stroke- The body temperature reaches dangerously high levels (over 104.9 degrees or above). This condition can be fatal. This is a true medical emergency since the longer it takes to cool the body the higher the chance of death. Usually a symptom of heat stroke is lack of sweating but when athletes develop heat stroke they will continue to sweat. This makes diagnosing heat stroke more difficult with athletes.

Preventing heat-related illnesses is the key to keeping fit and healthy. Here are some simple tips athletes can follow to help keep cool:

  • Exercise in cooler times of the day. Either in the early morning or after the sun sets.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Keep your body well hydrated in between workouts. Don’t wait to become thirsty. You may be dehydrated even without becoming thirsty.
  • Watch the weather reports- Delay exercise on hot, humid days. It is more difficult for the body to control its temperature with the rise in humidity.
  • Wear proper clothing. Adding heavy items, such as football gear, can increase the risk for heat-related illnesses. Wear light colored, breathable clothing.
  • Increase cool-down times in warmer weather.

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Surf's Up - A Guide to Internet Sites on the Web

This issue of Surf’s up will highlight several interesting web sites that are easy to follow and provide information about traffic safety and preventing injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

This website is for both the professional and the lay- person. The site gives information on the newest developments in traffic safety ranging from recalls to child safety seats. The site has a search engine to navigate easily through the various topics. There is even an area for children that provide games with a traffic safety theme.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety covers the full range of traffic safety issues. There is information on pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, road rage and more. This site is user friendly and the articles are written so they are easy to read and understand.
Network of Employers For Traffic Safety

The NETS group’s mission is to reduce the cost of traffic crashes and the impact to the business community. It is designed to help employers begin safety programs in their workplace and help spread the traffic safety message.

There are kits that can be purchased to help spread the message to your employees and interesting articles to read in the library section of the site.
Illinois Department of Transportation

IDOT site gives information on the current construction zones in the area to help you navigate your way through the busy Illinois highways. It also gives information on free motorcycle skills program and cycle rider programs the State offers.


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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

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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