Console & Hollawell Blog

Know Your Stroke Risk – and Why You Need to Act F.A.S.T.

By Richard Console on May 27, 2015 - Comments off

Strokes are among the leading causes of death in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported, yet too few people know the serious symptoms to watch out for, the factors that put them at risk, and the danger they can still face even after a trip to the emergency room.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. What better time to learn more about the serious medical condition that, the CDC said, kills one American every four seconds?

Did you know, for example, that strokes can happen at any age (even childhood)? Or that your race, ethnicity, and gender can make a huge difference in your personal risk?

Stroke diagramDo you know what is actually means to have a stroke? This diagram explains it simply. Photo Credit: Flickr.

The more you know about strokes, the better you can protect yourself, work toward prevention, and learn what steps to take if you or someone around you suffers a stroke.

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

First things first: let’s talk about the definition of a stroke. A stroke is an interruption of or reduction to the blood supply that travels to the brain, Mayo Clinic explained. Without continuous blood flow, the brain tissue doesn’t get enough oxygen, which can cause cells to begin dying. Brain damage can begin in a matter of minutes, and can sometimes be irreversible. That’s why it’s essential to quickly notice the symptoms of a stroke and to get help right away.

The American Stroke Association stresses a campaign called F.A.S.T. to help people detect the symptoms of a stroke in themselves or others.

F: Face drooping, which may cause numbness or an uneven smile
A: Arm weakness, which can involve numbness or one arm the drifts downward when raised
S: Speech difficulty, like slurring or the inability to correctly repeat a simple sentence
T: Time to call 9-1-1, even if these symptoms seem to go away

Face drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulties may be among the most recognizable stroke symptoms, but they’re not the only ones. Some stroke victims experience changes in vision, severe headaches, confusion, and difficulty walking.

Understanding Stroke Complications

Though strokes kill 130,000 Americans a year, they also leave survivors facing life-altering disabilities. Strokes cause brain damage, which can manifest in devastating physical and psychological consequences. Exactly how a stroke will affect a victim depends on a lot of factors, including which side of the brain suffered the stroke.

Stroke complications

Are You at Risk for a Stroke?

  • Certain lifestyle choices, medical conditions, and demographic factors can greatly increase your risk of suffering a stroke.• Smoking cigarettes increases your stroke risk substantially.
  • People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at a far greater risk than those without these medical conditions.
  • While the majority of stroke victims are older, being young doesn’t rule out the possibility of suffering a stroke. About one-third of all stroke hospitalizations involve patients under age 65, the CDC reported.
  • Though strokes affect patients of all races and ethnicities, the CDC reported that some races and ethnicities have higher stroke rates than others. Specifically, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and blacks are in the high-risk group. The “risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks than for whites,” while “Hispanics’ risk for stroke falls between that of whites and blacks,” the CDC said.

The Catastrophic Combination of Strokes and Medical Malpractice

The fact that so many people die from strokes is nothing short of tragic. The disability and loss of quality of life that survivors often experience, too, is awful. Yet one of the saddest things about strokes is that many of them could have been prevented, or at least their symptoms could have been mitigated if only the right medical provider had handled the medical emergency better.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard from patients who went to the emergency room with worrying symptoms but were sent home from the ER, only to later suffer a debilitating stroke. If they had received the right care early on, these patients may have suffered far less substantial brain damage. Those who died might have pulled through, and those who survived would be in far better health.

Research shows that patients who receive the right medical treatment for their stroke within three hours of developing their first symptom experience fewer disabilities – even three months later, when the patient has already begun rehabilitation therapy, the CDC reported. If you ever fear that you or a loved one is having a stroke and the staff at the hospital doesn’t take you seriously, insist on getting a second opinion. If a stroke is the cause of your symptoms, you can’t afford even an hour’s delay in getting treatment. Every minute counts.


Console & Hollawell Wins Courier-Post Award

By Richard Console on May 21, 2015 - Comments off

Here at Console & Hollawell, we’ve been fortunate enough over the years to receive recognition from a number of publications and organizations, nationally and regionally. This year, our firm was honored to receive the “One of the Best Attorneys” award from local newspaper The Courier-Post – and we’d like to thank the loyal clients and community members who made it possible.

Courier Post 2015 Best of South Jersey award logo

For the past 28 years, the Courier-Post has published its Best of South Jersey and One of the Best of South Jersey awards annually to honor local businesses and professionals who, in readers’ opinions, go above and beyond. This is the first time our firm has placed among the One of the Best of South Jersey award recipients, and that means one thing – that our past and present clients and our friends throughout the community made the effort to vote for us.

It’s an honor to receive any professional award, but knowing that it came from local supporters is what makes this recognition so special and so humbling. Helping our clients is the reason our firm exists. It’s been our mission for the more than 20 years we’ve been in business, and it continues to be the goal that we strive every day to achieve. It’s good to know that our clients and community contacts think our firm deserves recognition – and I hope they know that Console & Hollawell is here to help them (again) at any time.

Thank you to all who took the time to vote for our firm for the Courier-Post Best of South Jersey awards!


Your Guide to Dog Bite Prevention: Safety Tips Roundup

By Richard Console on May 20, 2015 - Comments off

With millions of Americans suffering dog bites each year, the danger is serious.

Dog Bite Prevention Week
Even a good-natured dog can turn aggressive under the wrong circumstances, such as if it is chained, poorly socialized, or abused. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

As we observe Dog Bite Prevention Week 2015, here’s a roundup of the most important things you need to know about dog bite prevention, myths, and what to do if you become a victim.

Pet Ownership

  • You may think you know which dog breeds are the most likely to bite, but many breeds commonly thought of as aggressive don’t deserve their bad reputations. Other breeds seem gentle because of their size or appearance, but are actually more dangerous. Check out our dog breed myths to learn the truth behind the misconceptions.
  • Part of preventing dog bites is preventing the circumstances that lead to aggression. From dog fighting to tethering or chaining a dog, there are actions that owners take that cause or encourage aggressive behavior. Whether that action was intentional or the owner simply didn’t know better, he or she is still legally responsible for any harm the dog causes in an attack.
  • Parents might be alarmed to learn that half of all dog bite victims are children. There are steps you can take to protect your children – just follow our tips to keep your kids safe around dogs.
  • If your neighbor is harboring a dangerous dog, it’s important that you take steps to prevent a dog bite. In the real world, unfortunately, even the best attempts at prevention may not always succeed. It’s essential that you also know the three things you must do if you’ve been bitten by a dog.
  • Dog bites result in severe injuries and even, on rare but tragic occasions, loss of life. The best way to protect yourself is to take precautions to prevent bites and know your rights in case a bite does happen.


    Summer Sunscreen Decisions Made Easy

    By Richard Console on May 18, 2015 - Comments off

    Summer Sun Care Guide

    The weather is getting warmer and the sun is staying out later, both sure signs that summer is close. Whether you spend your days by the pool, at the beach, in your garden or by the grill, using the right sun care products in the right way is a must to protect against painful sunburn and dangerous, cancer-causing skin damage.

    We put together this step-by-step summer sun care guide to make your sun care decisions easier.

    The Problems with Sun Care Products

    Sun care products are confusing, even annoying. What SPF do you need? Lotion or spray? How much should you use, and how often should you reapply? Then there’s the laborious process of application. Some sunscreen is greasy, sticky, or hard to blend in. Some products have a chemical smell and can irritate sensitive skin.

    Let us simplify the whole process, from deciding which sun care product to use to knowing how much you need and when to reapply.

    Step 1: Do You Need Sunscreen?

    The first step, and one where a surprising number of people make a mistake, is deciding when to use sunscreen in the first place.

    We all should know that if you’re going to spend hours at the beach, lying out under the sun, then sunscreen is essential. What about if you’ll only be outside briefly, or if it’s a cloudy day? What kind of sun care product, if any, do you wear when tanning at a tanning bed?

    (Click on the image to zoom in!)

    Do you need sunscreen?

    Cloudy Days

    Even on cloudy days – and, for that matter, fall and winter days – sun exposure can still damage your skin and eventually cause cancer. You might not see your skin develop sunburn, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe. There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVB rays are the ones that primarily cause sunburn, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported, but UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, cause wrinkles, and are also now thought to cause skin cancer.

    You should still use sunscreen even if you can’t actually see the sun, because clouds aren’t enough to block out the cancer-causing rays.

    Sun exposure indoors

    If you plan to spend your time indoors, you probably aren’t too worried about sun care. However, even a relatively brief walk in the sun to get to your inside destination can expose you to harmful UV rays. Windows often don’t protect against sun exposure, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported, so you can still get burnt even if you’re indoors or riding in a car.

    If you might spend even a brief amount of time outside, err on the side of caution and use sunscreen. It also never hurts to use a moisturizer with a small amount of SPF (say, 15) as part of your daily routine.

    Tanning beds and booths

    Tanning beds and booths are dangerous, and wearing sunscreen doesn’t do enough to change that. Indoor tanning exposes you to 12 times the amount of UVA rays as regular sun exposure does, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported. People who frequent tanning salons are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma. Those who undergo indoor tanning at a young age raise their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

    Don’t worry about which sun care product to use – the safer choice is to avoid indoor tanning entirely.

    Step 2: How Much (and What Kind of) Sun Protection Should You Look For in Your Sunscreen?

    This is where it gets tricky. Let’s start by talking about some sunscreen basics, as reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Sunscreen is a combination of ingredients that work together to stop UV light from reaching the skin.

    How much SPF do you need?

    SPF Explained

    SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, conveys information about how effectively a sunscreen protects you from UVB rays only – not UVA rays. For that, you need what’s called “broad spectrum” protection.

    The practical meaning of SPF isn’t always clear. The Skin Cancer Foundation raises two ways to understand SPF. First, the amount of SPF translates to how long it would theoretically take your skin to turn red while wearing the sunscreen as compared to not using any sunscreen. The average person might begin experiencing sunburn in just 20 minutes without sunscreen, but an SPF 50 sunblock will extend the time before that same person begins burning by 15 times.

    Different SPFs also explain how effective the sunblock is at filtering out UVB rays.
    SPF Percentage table

    Sunscreen Is an Imperfect Solution

    There are a couple of limitations to sunblock. First of all, no sunscreen is 100 percent effective at blocking UVB rays. SPFs over 50 exist, but they’re not proven to be any more effective than SPF 50 is. Also, while a high SPF may theoretically translate to several hours of protection, it really needs to be reapplied at least every two to three hours – perhaps more often if exposed to water.

    Finally, most people don’t use a large enough sunscreen to protect themselves, which means the amount of SPF in the sunscreen isn’t as important as you would think.

    Use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass
    Every time you apply sunscreen, you should use at least a full ounce – enough to fill a shot glass. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because you’re not using enough. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    Step 3: What Form of Sunscreen Is Right for You?

    In recent years, the number of spray sunscreens on the market has exploded. While these sprays are quick and easy to use – no more squeezing sunblock lotion into your palms and laboriously applying it to one body part at a time – they’re not the best choice for every summer sunbather.

    Lotion or spray sunscreen?

    There aren’t any actual differences in how lotion and spray sunscreens work, according to WebMD. However, it’s harder to get consistent coverage with sprays than with lotions, the University of Wisconsin Health reported.

    Most people don’t apply spray sunscreen for a long enough period of time, which means they’re not getting enough sun protection even if the spray doesn’t get carried off by a breeze. To be safe, spend at least six seconds spraying sunscreen on each region of your body. You’re not done unless you have enough sunblock on that your skin is temporarily covered in white spray.

    Beyond Sunscreens

    Sun protection goes beyond sunblock – especially since no sunscreen can filter out 100 percent of UV rays.

    • UV clothing blocks sun exposure in ways your regular clothing – much less your sunscreen – can’t. Look for clothing and swimwear marked UPF 50. Unlike sunscreen, the UV protection in your clothes doesn’t wear away, so there’s nothing to reapply.
    • UV umbrellas do more than keep you cool. They can shield you from direct sunlight. You still need additional UV protection even with a UPF 50 umbrella, though, because UV rays can reflect off of sand and pavement, the Skin Cancer Foundation
    • UV-blocking sunglasses are about more than style. Don’t choose a pair of sunglasses based solely on how they look – make sure they will actually protect your eyes from cancer-causing rays.
    • A broad-brimmed hat will keep the sun out of your face and off of your scalp. You can still get sunburned (and UV exposure) through your hair, so don’t count on it to protect you – but a hat will!

    What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

    The skin isn’t just the largest organ of the human body – it’s also the one most likely to develop cancer. Every year, 3,500,000 new cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed, the American Cancer Society reported. Despite their prevalence, these cancers are often excluded from overall cancer statistics. An additional 73,000 cases of melanoma, a deadlier type of skin cancer, will develop this year.

    There are more cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Skin cancer deaths don’t have to happen. Wearing the right protective material can shield your skin from the ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer cases. If cancer does develop, when caught early, it is treatable and even curable. Even melanoma, which kills almost 10,000 people each year, is “almost always curable when it’s found in its very early stages,” the American Cancer Society reported.

    It’s no coincidence that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The sun exposure that characterizes the summer months is also a leading cause of skin cancer. You don’t have to hide indoors all summer, but choosing the right sun care products can protect your family.


    Amtrack Derailment in Philadelphia | Over 200 Injured

    By Richard Console on May 13, 2015 - Comments off

    Update: As of Thursday afternoon, rescue workers have confirmed an eighth death and announced that all passengers onboard have now been accounted for, CNN reported. We’re keeping the families, especially those who received tragic news today, in our thoughts and prayers. We’re also sending food to the rescue workers on the scene to help them keep up their strength (and you can help).

    Update: On Wednesday, sources announced that the Amtrak train was traveling faster than 100 mph at the time of the derailment, NBC News reported. Sadly, a seventh death was also confirmed.

    Tragic news came from Philly late last night and again this morning, after a train derailment reporters and witnesses are calling “horrific,” “one of [Amtrak’s] most serious wrecks in recent years,” and “a nightmare.”

    Philadelphia Amtrak train derailment
    This type of engine unit was pulling the train at the time of the derailment. The accident left cars on their sides and roofs, “mangled” and “ripped apart.” Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    The Accident

    At 7:15 p.m. last night, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 left Union Station in Washington, D.C., bound for New York.

    The 238 passengers and five crew members on board never made it.

    Around 9 p.m., as the train passed through Port Richmond in northeast Philadelphia, it suddenly went off the rails and overturned. Passengers recalled a “jolt” that sent everything –even some fellow travelers – flying around the car, CNN reported. Within seconds, chaos erupted as seven of the train’s cars, plus the engine, overturned, according to Bloomberg.

    The Aftermath

    “The wreck turned a Philadelphia neighborhood into a search and rescue zone,” Bloomberg reported, and “bloodied passengers could be seen hobbling from the wreckage.” Those onboard with medical training themselves, and those who escaped the accident unscathed and without panicking, were quick to help others.

    Still, by late last night, at least five people had been confirmed dead in the carnage, and more than 140 injured, at least eight critically. At least 65 of the wounded went to area hospitals. This morning brought the sad news that a sixth victim had died overnight from their injuries. The final death and injury toll could be even higher. As of this writing, “officials have not accounted for everyone on board,” The New York Times reported.

    Our thoughts today are with the people who were killed or injured in this devastating derailment, and with the families who are grieving or anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones. Destruction of this magnitude is almost unthinkable.

    Investigating the Cause of the Derailment

    Experts say it’s too soon to tell what caused the deadly train derailment, but already some possible causes are under investigation.

    At the time of the wreck, the train was transitioning from a straight stretch of tracks where the speed limit was 70 mph to a curve where speeds shouldn’t top 50 mph, NBC News reported. Passengers recalled feeling the train shake as it began the turn, right before it derailed. At least one passenger thought the train was traveling “a little too fast around a curve,” CNN reported, though “it is too early to know whether the curve or speed were factors,” sources told NBC News.

    Another possible cause is “America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure,” the Washington Post reported. Infrastructure problems are thought to be behind an increasing number of train derailments in recent years.

    Even as rescue workers continue to search the site for survivors and for more of the dead, federal investigators are trying to determine why and how the wreck happened. No matter what the ultimate outcome of their investigation is, one thing is for sure: the passengers onboard deserve better.

    Help for Those Affected

    Those who are injured will need help recovering, paying for the medical treatment they need, and coping with the drastic and unexpected changes – some temporary and, unfortunately, some permanent – to their health and their lives.

    The families who lost a loved one in last night’s train accident have suffered a loss no one should have to experience. They need closure, which comes partly from holding party that caused this wreck accountable. While no amount of money can make up for the death of someone they loved, they also deserve compensation for the financial hardships that result from this catastrophic event – like the cost of their loved one’s last medical expenses and final arrangements or the sudden discontinuation of the family’s income.

    If you’re looking for someone who may have been a passenger on the ill-fated Amtrak train, call the Amtrak Hotline at 1-800-523-9101. If you’re seeking help after being hurt or losing a loved one in the accident, call 215-225-2040. We’re here for you.



    5 Summer Water Safety Tips Parents Need to Know

    By Richard Console on May 13, 2015 - Comments off

    Warm weather and water activities are a natural combination, but also a potentially dangerous one. Though swimming may be an integral part of summer fun, the same water you’re enjoying so much can lead to tragic drownings.

    In observance of National Water Safety Month, here are the top five ways you can make the most of summer water activities without putting your life – or your children’s – at risk. Following these tips will help you stay safe in any water situation, whether you’re cooling off in the pool, surfing the waves in the ocean, sailing along on a boat (big or small), kayaking or canoeing in a local lake, or tubing and sliding your way through a waterpark.

    5 Summer Water Safety Tips Parents Need to Know

    1. Know how to swim

    Swimming lessons
    Just 35 percent of Americans can swim, and only two to seven percent swim well, CNN reported. Non-swimmers of any age could benefit from lessons. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    The best way to prevent drowning isn’t to avoid water, but instead to know how to handle it. Both adults and children should know how to swim, and can take lessons to learn at any age at local pool clubs, swimming academies, community recreation centers, and YMCA facilities. Some facilities with indoor pools offer swimming lessons year-round, so you don’t have to wait until it gets warm. Begin teaching children how to swim as early as possible. While private, one-on-one swimming lessons can be pricy, lessons in a class can cost as little as a few dollars per session. The peace of mind of knowing that your child won’t be helpless in the water makes this money well spent.

    Water safety isn’t just about knowing how to swim, but also knowing the basics of safe swimming. Teach your children a swimming routine that they must follow before getting into the pool, advised BuzzFeed, citing recommendations from the U.S. Swim School Association. This process might include putting on a swimsuit (or, for the youngest swimmers, a swim diaper) and sunscreen – but most importantly, it means your child won’t impulsively jump into the pool without your knowledge or supervision.

    When your child is old enough, have him or her take the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP)’s Safe Swimmer Pledge. Talk about what safe swimming entails – things like never swimming alone and obeying pool rules – and why it matters.

    2. Know how not to swim

    Rip currentWhen stuck in a rip current, the first instinct is to try to swim back to shore. Instead, swim with the current, parallel to the shore, until you escape its pull. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    Swimming in a calm pool is different from swimming in a rough ocean with strong undertows. A dip in the shallow end is different from a dive in the deep end. Knowing how to swim is an important start toward water safety, but make sure your child also understands how to swim in different situations, like if he or she encounters a rip current in the ocean. It’s also essential that all participants in water activities – no matter how old – use the right safety equipment. On boats and in kayaks and canoes, both children and adults should wear life jackets at all times.

    Some of the don’ts of swimming might surprise you. For example, you know water wings, those flotation devices that fit on the arms of small children? Experts say you should never use these or other floatation devices when teaching children to swim, BuzzFeed reported. Rafts and other flotation devices may make for fun toys, but having them to rely on doesn’t help children learn to swim on their own – an essential skill in case they ever fall into the water accidentally.

    Likewise, don’t have your kids use goggles constantly in the water. Young swimmers need to become comfortable opening their eyes underwater so that an unintentional fall into a pool or lake won’t leave them fumbling blindly for a way out.

    3. Supervise at all times

    Supervising children in the pool
    Watching your kids in the water is good, but joining them is even better. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    It doesn’t take long to drown. In minutes, even seconds, a swimmer can inhale water and begin to experience respiratory distress. Within seconds of oxygen deprivation, organ damage begins. The single best way to prevent your child from drowning is to supervise water activities at all times. Active supervision is best – instead of sitting poolside, unprepared to hop in the water if need be, put your swimsuit on, too, and join the kids. Not only will they be safer, but it will be more fun for the whole family.

    Even if the pool, beach, or waterpark has a lifeguard on duty, don’t assume that you don’t need to watch out for your kid’s safety. Lifeguards at these popular places have a lot of people to watch over, but they still have just two eyes with which to scan the pool or ocean. Keep in mind, too, that small children wearing blue or green bathing suits can easily blend in with the water and the lining of a pool when viewed from above. Lifeguards can’t possibly watch every person at every moment – and your child needs constant supervision in the water.

    While we’re at it, adults, limit alcohol use if you or the kids will be swimming. For one thing, you need to be vigilant in watching the children and quick to react in an emergency, so alcohol impairment is less than ideal. Also, while many drowning victims are children, not all are – even adults can drown, and overindulging in alcohol can increase this risk.

    4. Prepare for the worst-case scenario

     Rescuing a drowning patient
    Accidents happen. Know what to do in case of a drowning. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Take a first aid course and get CPR certified. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use the skills you learn – but if you do, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn first aid.

    If a child goes missing during any kind of water activity, always check the water first. Any delay in helping a drowning victim – even if it’s a matter of seconds – could mean the difference between life and death. If you find an unresponsive swimmer in the water, always pull him or her out right away, Web MD advises. If other people are around, have them call 911. Check to see if the swimmer is breathing, and if not, begin rescue breathing, followed by chest compressions, right away. Keep doing this until first responders arrive. Even if you feel like panicking, try to stay calm and focus on applying the skills you learned in your first aid training.

    A drowning accident is serious. Even if you are able to resuscitate the victim on your own, it’s still important to get medical care. What might seem like just a scary close call could have serious health effects. There’s also a phenomenon known as secondary drowning, in which victims inhale water but may not experience the life-threatening respiratory distress of drowning until hours, even days, later. Don’t assume after a drowning experience that everything is fine – make sure it is by getting to a doctor immediately.

    5. Secure pool areas

    Fence in your pool
    A tall, sturdy fence with self-latching gates can prevent unauthorized pool access. No matter how good a swimmer your child is, he or she should never swim alone. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    If you personally own a pool or hot tub, take steps to prevent tragedies before they happen. Secure all pool areas by surrounding them completely with a fence – at least four to five feet high, according to the American Red Cross – with self-closing gates.

    Teach your child the importance of never swimming alone or without adult supervision. Remove temptation to enter the pool area unsupervised by putting away any floats or pool toys when you’re done using the pool for the day. Use safety covers to prevent access to the pool and pool alarms that let you know if someone is in the pool without your knowledge and permission. Remove any ladders, furniture, or other structures that kids could use to climb into the pool. Children are often drawn to pools, so do everything that you can to keep your child away from the water when you’re not there to supervise swimming.

    Bonus Tip: Recognize the unexpected, everyday drowning dangers

    Baby in a bathtub
    It doesn’t take long for an unsupervised child to drown in a bathtub – and this danger lingers year-round. To prevent drowning dangers around the home, supervision is key. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    When water is a central part of an activity, as it is in a swimming pool, the ocean, a waterpark, or on a boat, you’re aware of the inherent drowning risk. However, dozens of everyday situations that aren’t centered on water can pose a year-round danger, particularly for children. Babies can drown just one inch of water, Safe Kids Worldwide reported. This means that even something as seemingly harmless as a beach pail or an emptied kiddie pool can put a crawling baby at risk, it if happens to be left upright to collect even a miniscule amount of rainwater.

    Make your home safer all year by always emptying and putting away – somewhere out of the reach of children and, ideally, upside-down – any kind of container that could accumulate water.

    If you have young children in the home, be cautious even around bath tubs and toilets. Keep toilet lids closed when not in use, and supervise bath times carefully. More than half of bath-related drowning incidents happen when children were temporarily left with no adult supervision, either alone or with only another child as company, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found. Remember that drowning can happen in seconds. In the time it takes to send a test message or check an oven timer, you could lose your child forever.


    6 Tips for a Better BBQ

    By Richard Console on May 12, 2015 - Comments off

    If you’re planning a barbecue to celebrate Memorial Day and kick off the summer season, you’re in good company. In addition to serving as a remembrance of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day is also among the most popular grilling days of the year. It’s coming up quickly, so make this year’s cookout your best (and safest) yet with our top six tips for a better barbecue. Your guests will thank you.

    6 Tips for a Better BBQ

    1. Prep food the right way

    When preparing meat for the grill, make sure to marinate and season it to add flavor.  Photo Credit: Flickr.

    You can take steps to a better barbecue long before you light the grill. Before you even buy your main course, take some time to talk to the butcher, Yahoo! Food advised. Don’t be afraid to choose a marbled cut of meat or a package of ground beef with a little more fat for grilling – much of the fat will melt off during cooking, but it will help provide flavor to a burger and keep a steak or brisket from drying out too much.

    If you have to freeze the meat between the time you buy it and the time you cook it, make sure you thaw it the right way – for example, in the fridge over days – and not on the counter. Not only does preparing your to-be-barbecued meal the right way make for better-tasting results, but it also makes for safer eating. When you thaw food on the counter at room temperature, even for a short time, you risk the rapid growth of harmful, invisible bacteria, according to CBS News.

    One of the biggest problems backyard barbecue enthusiasts encounter is bland taste. Do your guests a favor by marinating, seasoning, and adding sauce to your meat at the right time. To truly become a barbecue master, experiment with different marinade recipes or create your own. Either olive oil or Italian salad dressing can work as a base. You can also add in liquids like Worcestershire sauce, various types of vinegar, or soy sauce for more flavoring. Choose tasty herbs and spices, like minced garlic, fresh or dried basil, or even powdered dressing mix, to add just the right zest. (Wait until late in the cooking process to add sauce, or the sugars in the sauce could begin to break down.)

    It’s possible to over-marinate meat, causing its texture to go from enjoyably tender to excessively soft. Ideally, marinate your meat for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, according to Jake’s BBQ Sauce. Always marinate meat in the fridge, never on the counter, CBS News reported.

    Make sure you avoid cross-contamination during the prep process. Never rinse raw meat – proper cooking is all that’s necessary to get rid of germs and bacteria in the meat, and all rinsing accomplishes is spreading those germs throughout your kitchen, according to Everyday Health. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat and for vegetables, Everyday Health added. Once you carry the meat out to the grill, send that platter to the sink. You’ll need a new plate that hasn’t been contaminated by raw meat to carry the finished meal to the table.

    2. Know when and how to turn up the heat

     Grill flames
    Know what kind of heat source the food you’re cooking needs, how to reliably check the food’s temperature, and how to handle grill flare-ups without getting burned. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Do you know the difference between direct and indirect heat? A surprising number of barbecuers don’t, the Chicago Tribune once found. Direct heat means cooking foods directly over the heat source and flipping it to expose both sides to the heat. Indirect heat means closing the grill cover and letting the heat reflected in the enclosed space cook the food over a longer amount of time. These are different methods of cooking, and both work better with different kinds of food, the Chicago Tribune reported. Find out the best method to cook whatever meat you want to prepare, and stick with it – covering the grill when cooking steaks, chicken, burgers, and other foods that cook best with direct heat can result in a buildup of smoke that affects the meat’s taste – and not in a good way.

    Cooking food at (and to) the right temperature is a delicate balance when grilling. Undercooking meat means that the food might still contain the harmful bacteria that could lead to food poisoning, while overcooking meat doesn’t just dry it out and harm the taste, but also creates a potential carcinogen. Of course, you also have to avoid and manage the flame ups that could lead to dangerous grease fires. Monitor grill flames and food tenderness, and never leave the grill unattended. Use a food thermometer to take the guesswork out of the “is it done yet?” game.

    3. Store food safely

    potato saladWe’ve all been to that barbecue where the potato salad looks more than a little questionable after being out in the heat all day. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

    How you handle serving and storing your cookout fare affects not just how it tastes, but also how safe it is to eat. On hot summer days, any more than an hour of sitting out is too long for dairy-based salads (potato, macaroni, etc.) and dips. Too much time out in the heat allows dangerous bacteria to grow. To keep food cool and out of the danger zone, put these dishes in a bucket of ice, Everyday Health advised – or keep the full batch in a larger container safely stored in the fridge, and put out just the amount of salad you need. If guests want seconds, you can always bring out more.

    Now, to that age-old grilling question: what should you do with the leftover marinade you don’t want to waste after you’ve already slathered it over the raw meat? Don’t reuse it as a sauce – unless you boil it first, that is. Just as you cook the meat to make it safe to eat, boiling marinade that’s come in contact with raw meat will kill the germs, CBS News reported. Now you don’t have to choose between avoiding the food poisoning risk and savoring every last drop of that smoky barbecue goodness. You can have it all.

    4. Use the right tools the right way at the right time

    Grilling tools
    By knowing which grilling tool to use for which purpose, you can avoid mistakes that could detract from the flavor of your finished meal. Photo Credit: Flickr.

    Grilling is both an art and a science. Barbecuers have the freedom to concoct mouthwatering new marinades and spice combinations, but they should also know the right tools to use and when and how to use them.

    Use tongs instead of a fork when grilling, the Chicago Tribune advised. A fork will put holes in the meat that drain out the juice and flavor, while tongs leave the juices intact. If you use a spatula, don’t press down on the meat – this, too, will allow juices to escape before the meal ever makes it to your plate. Flip the meat just one time, halfway through cooking (or at the most, twice, if you’re adding cheese that you want to melt).

    5. Don’t forget the finishing touches

     Grilled meat resting
    Ever wonder why you let meat rest? Cutting into it immediately releases the juices, but waiting even a few minutes can help keep those juices in the meat, where they belong. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    When you’ve been standing over the grill and inhaling the sweet and savory scent of meat cooking to perfection, you’re tempted to dig in the second the meal is done cooking. Instead, let the meat rest for a few minutes. Men’s Health recommends seasoning meat with a simple blend of olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper while it’s resting on the cutting board to make sure the inside has just as much flavor as the outside.

    6. Think outside the bun

    Grilled pizza
    Grill a pizza (and top it with meat, if you want!). Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    You don’t have to limit your cookout cuisine to burgers and hot dogs – or, for that matter, meat in general. Throw some side dishes on the grill. Sweet onions, made by putting some butter and brown sugar in a hollowed-out onion and wrapping in in aluminum foil, are a simple yet delicious grilled addition to steak. You can grill vegetable kebabs on skewers or corn on the cob (even wrapped in bacon). Grill stuffed peppers and roasted or wedged potatoes.

    If you want, you can even make dessert on the grill. S’mores are an ever-popular summer treat, and the toasted marshmallows taste just as good held over the grill’s flame as they do heated over a campfire.

    As summer begins, there are so many reasons to barbecue: basking in the great outdoors, enjoying the unique taste of food cooked over the open flame, avoiding a hot oven making your house even hotter. Brush up on your grilling skills for National Barbecue Month, and you’ll be making flavorful, safe-to-eat food all season long.


    Cycling Safety Roundup for Bike to Work Week

    By Richard Console on May 11, 2015 - Comments off

    If you’re taking advantage of this week’s summerlike weather to spend some more time on your bicycle, you’re not alone. It’s National Bike to Work Week, an occasion that encourages commuters across the country to leave the car at home and pedal their way to the office.

    In honor of National Bike to Work Week 2015, here’s a roundup of our favorite safety tips and all the things you need to know about safe cycling.

    Bike to work
    Every year, hundreds of cyclists die in motor vehicle crashes. Following important safety tips can reduce your risk of being one of them. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Navigate Traffic

    There are certain constants when it comes to riding a bicycle. No matter where you ride, you should make sure your bike is in good working order, your tires are properly inflated, and your bike is sporting some kind of reflector to make you visible – all of those basic safety requirements. However, there’s a difference between a leisurely ride through your neighborhood and a commute along heavily trafficked streets, especially when you find yourself in the middle of rush hour congestion. Follow our 5 ways to stay safe while biking in traffic to reach your destination accident-free.

    Make School Zones Safe Zones

    Whether you’re guiding your children or just passing through a school zone yourself, keep in mind important safety tips for safe rides to school.

    Watch Your Head

    Cycling is the leading cause of sports-related brain injuries. For parents, getting your kid a bicycle helmet is one of the top ways to protect your child from a head injury – and getting one for yourself can protect your brain, too!

    Don’t Think You’re Invincible

    Naturally, no one wants to think that they or their loved ones could be the victim of a devastating accident. You don’t have to dwell on the risks, but do be aware of them. Bicycle accidents can happen to anyone, even the most experienced cyclist, and they happen right here in South Jersey.

    Just as there are some great benefits to biking to work – such as getting more exercise, saving gas money, creating less pollution, and enjoying the great outdoors – there’s also a risk. Bicycle accidents can be especially serious, since you don’t have the protection of a few thousand pounds of metal surrounding you. Like drivers, cyclists need to navigate the roads safely – something that can be hard to do on busy roadways that don’t always have a designated bike lane, but often have less than attentive drivers.


    What You Need to Know for Youth Traffic Safety Month

    By Richard Console on May 7, 2015 - Comments off

    Every year, thousands of young people die in auto accidents, and hundreds of thousands sustain injuries. Even one avoidable child death is too many, but statistics show the problem is far more widespread than that. On average, more than a dozen children under 12 die every week in a crash – and that’s excluding teenagers, who make up the single most at-risk group for car accidents.

    May is Youth Traffic Safety Month, the perfect time to remind your kids – regardless of how old they are – of the essential safety information that could help them avoid or stay safe in an accident.

    Keep Kids Safe on Foot

    Parent and child walkingChildren under 10, in particular, have difficulty judging the speed and distance of moving cars. Walking with them can help them stay safe. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    When your children were first old enough to walk – most likely, with you holding their hands – you taught them the most basic requirement for pedestrian safety: look both ways before you cross the street.

    Yet pedestrian injuries remain a leading cause of injury-related death among young people, and teenagers – who should have years of experience looking both ways – have the highest risk of getting hurt.

    Use this monthly observance to talk to your kids about making safe moves on foot. Remind them to:

    • Walk on sidewalks and paths, not the street, whenever possible. If they must walk on the street, they should stay on the shoulder and walk facing traffic, not away from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    • Always cross at intersections and street corners instead of jaywalking. Whenever possible, use crosswalks to cross the street.
    • Be mindful of traffic signals when crossing the street. Never attempt to cross an intersection in front of traffic that has a green signal.
    • Always put down cell phones, handheld games, and other devices before looking both ways – that way, their full attention is on the road, not divided between the road and the screen. Also, pedestrians of any age should always double-check the road with an extra look left (in other words, look left, right, and left again) before stepping off the sidewalk and onto the roadway.
    • If there are cars present, always make eye contact with the drivers, even if they are in the crosswalk. A driver can’t stop for or avoid a pedestrian he or she doesn’t see, even if the driver is legally supposed to stop.
    • When walking at night, make yourself visibly by wearing bright colors or reflective material, or carrying a flashlight.

    Certain factors increase your child’s risk of being hurt in a pedestrian car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teach your kids to use special care in urban locations and at nighttime, and to avoid crossing at non-intersections and using alcohol.

    Protect Child Passengers

    Child in car seat
    Just buckling up isn’t enough to keep the youngest children safe in the car. A car seat is essential. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Small children need additional protection in case of an accident, but they also grow throughout their childhood. The result, the CDC reported, is that children will use a series of protective car seats over their first dozen or so years of life:

    • From birth through about age two – depending on how quickly the child meets height and weight requirements – that means a rear-facing car seat.
    • The next step, typically from age two to five, is the forward-facing car seat.
    • Booster seats are the car seats of choice from age five until the child reaches the appropriate height to wear a regular seat belt – usually 57 inches, which may take until age 12 or even longer.
    • Once the child is tall enough to use a seat belt without the need for a booster seat, a car seat is no longer necessary. However, children 12 and under should always sit in the back seat, not the front seat, of the vehicle. At this age, children are still small enough that an airbag deployment in case of an accident could do more harm than good – and might even be lethal.

    Many parents find that using car seats can be more complicated than it sounds. When, specifically, should they transition their child to a new seat? How do they install it correctly? As challenging as it is to manage the car seat installation and progression, it’s essential. As many as one-third of all children killed car crashes aren’t buckled up in the right safety seat, according to the CDC.

    Sometimes the quality and safe use of a car seat can mean the difference between your child walking away from an accident unscathed, and not walking ever again.

    Train Teen Drivers to Make Safety a Priority

     Teen driver with new license
    Most teens first get their driver’s licenses at age 16 or 17. Statistics show these young, inexperienced drivers are (literally) running into problems on the road. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

    Teenagers have a disproportionately high rate of collisions in general and deadly crashes in particular, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported – even though they drive less frequently than almost every other age group. In particular, teens ages 16 and 17 have double the rate of fatal crashes that 18- and 19-year-olds, with just a couple more years of driving experience, have.

    You may feel helpless the first time your teen gets behind the wheel alone, but you can help a new driver make good decisions just by talking about some basic safety practices. Remind the teen driver in your life to:

    • Never drive distracted. Cell phones, music controls, and even infotainment technology within the car itself can be distracting. Remind young drivers that no matter what, their primary focus should always be on the road in front of them. Anything else can wait.
    • Always wear a seat belt. As many as 55 percent of teens killed in car crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.
    • Never drive impaired. No amount of alcohol is legal for drivers under the age of 21. Driving while drowsy or under the influence of any other substance – even some seemingly harmless over-the-counter medications – can prove dangerous.
    • Drive defensively. All drivers should keep their eyes on the road, but scan their mirrors as well as what’s in front of them to make sure they’re fully aware of their surroundings. Defensive driving includes watching your speed and always maintaining a safe following distance. In school zones, urban centers, and residential areas, look out for pedestrians to avoid causing a tragedy.

    Parents may have more control over their teen’s driving behavior than they realize. A recent survey by the National Safety Council found that 91 percent of parents who drive distractedly do so in front of their teens – setting a potentially dangerous example.

    Every single day, children die in car accidents, whether as pedestrians, passengers, or teen drivers. Any step you can take to remind your kids of important safety information is a step in the right direction – toward fewer crashes, fewer injuries, and fewer unnecessary deaths.


    6 Tips You Must Follow to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle

    By Richard Console on May 5, 2015 - Comments off

    When you’re on your bike, enjoying the freedom of riding out in the open, you’re also completely unprotected in case of a crash. What might be a minor, injury-free fender-bender between two cars can cause serious damage when one of the vehicles involved is a motorcycle. Whether your body collides with the other vehicle or the ground, the impact can be devastating.

    BikerIt’s Motorcycle Safety Month, and that means a fresh chance for everyone on the road – whether they’re riding on two wheels or four – to review the best ways to avoid crashes. Photo Credit: Traffic Safety Marketing.

    Check out our top six safety tips for motorcyclists.

    1. Watch your speed.

    When you speed, you cut down the amount of time you have to recognize and react to a threat on the road. Excessive speed contributed to two-thirds of single-motorcycle accidents, probably because driving at unsafe speeds means that you will take longer to stop or slow down for changing road conditions (like curves in the roadway or flooding on the road’s surface), traffic signals, and unexpected obstacles. When you ride at the legal speed, you have more control over your bike – which translates to more control over your accident risk.

    2. Don’t drink and ride.

    Ride sober

    Flesh being torn from your limbs? Bones snapping like twigs? The risks of riding impaired are definitely not worth it. Photo Credit: TSM.

    We’ve all heard of biker bars, but hold off on that drink – statistics show that alcohol and motorcycles really shouldn’t mix. Overindulgence in alcohol can dramatically decrease your balance and coordination, two of the most necessary skills for motorcyclists to ride safely, according to the federal Traffic Safety Marketing site. Alcohol contributes to more than one-quarter of all fatal motorcycle collisions and 43 percent of those involving a single vehicle. On weekends, alcohol is a factor in 64 percent of single motorcycle crashes that kill the riders.

    3. Use extra care at curves and intersections.

    Not every section of the roadway is equally dangerous for bikers. Don’t take curves to sharply or too fast – there’s a reason 40 percent of single motorcycle wrecks happen on turns and corners. Be sure to watch out for other vehicles especially at intersections, where more than half of the crashes involving both motorcycles and cars take place.

    4. Know what you’re doing.

    One of the best ways to stay safe on your motorcycle is to know your bike – and how to ride it – well. About 22 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents don’t have a motorcycle endorsement on their licenses, and 90 percent of all riders involved in collisions have no formal training whatsoever. Whether it’s your first time or your thousandth time on a bike, learn how to safely operate a bike with a course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

    5. Assume you’re invisible.

    In a perfect world, motorcyclists could expect drivers of cars, trucks, and buses to actually share the road with them, like the law requires. In the real world, though, there are countless dangerously distracted drivers on the road – drivers who, unfortunately, won’t bother to “look twice and save a life.” Even though you have just as much legal right to use the roadway as anyone else, never assume that drivers will see you – if they don’t, as happens in two-thirds of motorcycle-car crashes, you could wind up permanently hurt. Practice defensive driving techniques and keep your attention on the road at all times. You can’t control the actions of the drivers around you, but at least you can put yourself in the best position to attempt to avoid someone else’s reckless behavior.

    6. Wear a helmet.

    Motorcycle helmetThe chin bar of this helmet sustained visible damage when it hit the roadway at 45 miles per hour. Without it, the rider’s face could have suffered serious injuries. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    Sometimes nothing you personally do – avoiding alcohol, slowing down, driving defensively – is enough to prevent a collision. Another driver on the roadway might make a careless maneuver that leaves you no time to get out of the way. No matter how safe a rider you are, it’s essential that you prepare for the worst-case scenario by wearing protective gear, particularly a helmet. Modern helmets result in little, if any, significant interference with riders’ ability to see and hear, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcyclists can easily make up for the small amount of vision obstructed by wearing a helmet simply by turning their heads a little farther to the side before changing lanes, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re better off without a helmet – you’re not.

    Staying safe on a motorcycle means doing everything you possibly can to prevent accidents from happening in the first place – and, of course, wearing the right protective gear just in case one does. It’s everyone’s responsibility to share the road safely. When motorcyclists and drivers make smart choices, everyone’s trip gets a little bit safer – sometimes a lot safer.


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