Summer safety: Preventing tick-related illnesses


happy kids running in the woods

Sorry to put a damper on your summer, but we’re in prime tick season right now. If you like spending time in the great outdoors, there are some steps you should take to stay safe from tick-related illnesses, which can be very serious.

Disease carrying ticks are found in all 50 states. In northern and New England states with a high deer population, black-legged ticks — also known as deer ticks — are a great menace because they can transmit Lyme disease.  But don’t be fooled into thinking that the risk of Lyme Disease is confined to the North – deer ticks can be found in all states and as weather patterns shift, tick populations are shifting, too. In the south, dog ticks and Gulf Coast ticks that carry Rocky Mountain Spotted fever and Lone Star ticks that cause meat allergies are more common. (see Ticks and Diseases in Florida)

Wherever you live, some of the most important steps in preventing tick-related diseases are knowing where and when tick encounters are most likely to happen, knowing how to dress to prevent ticks and checking yourself, your kids and your pets after outdoor activities to remove any ticks. What type of activities? Gardening, hiking, golfing, camping, walking the dog, playing in the yard … any outdoor activities, particularly those that occur in or near wooded areas.

One resource for tips on preventing tick related problems is from the University of Rhode Island. Check out the site called the TickEncounter Resource Center, with lots of great information on tick identification and removal, as well as tips for your protection, for treating your yard, and protecting your pets. It has a lot of information about the various types of ticks and diseases that they carry.

One of their primary recommendations for preventing ticks is dressing appropriately. They offer this reminder:

“What you wear when working or playing could reduce your chances of tick bites. Remember: Ticks start LOW and crawl UP; ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees, they are down on the ground and crawl up until they find a good spot to attach. Tucking pant legs into socks is a good way to keep ticks on the outside where they may be seen or get brushed off.”

Another important thing is to make sure that after outdoor activities, you do a thorough tick check –if you can catch a tick and remove it early you can prevent disease because according to the CDC, it generally takes 36-48 hours of attachment before disease is spread.  The CDC suggests using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Ticks are great at hiding, they like warm, moist areas of the body such as the scalp, armpits and groin. Their bit is painless. The CDC says to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks.

illustration on what body parts to check for ticks

 

Also, be sure to check your pets and your clothes and gear. The CDC says:

Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

 

The Center by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers more tick resources, including prevention, information on tick removal information and more as well as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever resources.

For local alerts on ticks and other season health issues, check your state health department. Many states have created specific tick-related resources such as the ones we cite above from Florida and Rhode Island. These can be found by simply entering “ticks + your state” name in Google.

 

 

Pokemon Go zombies: Police say to take care


PokemonGO-June15-Seadra

Image via pokemongo.com

PokemonGO-June15-Seadra-on-map

Image via pokemongo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can be forgiven if you think there is a zombie apocalypse going on. In almost any given public space, crowds of people are wandering around in a transfixed state. Don’t be alarmed, they are just playing Pokemon Go, the new augemented reality phone game craze that’s sweeping the nation. Check out this brief but amusing video clip of Pokemon Go players at Central Park!

On the upside, Pokemon is an unexpected source of health: many people are gaming their way to fitness.

Pokemon are little Japanese monsters that you are supposed to catch – made popular in video games by Nintendo. Now, there’s a new augmented reality version that you can download and play on your phone.
Instead of simply chasing down the monsters on a video screen, you must go out to find and capture the collection of 100+ monsters in a real-world scavenger hunt. In the short time since the game’s release on July 6, it’s taken the world by storm… and it’s having an unintended side effect for many … it is increasing their exercise. It may be the biggest game-related exercise motivator since the introduction of the Wii and the Wiifit .

On the downside, public safety officials, police and gamers themselves are reporting some problems:

  • Distracted walking & running
  • Distracted Driving
  • Other unsafe behaviors and lapses in common sense
  • Criminals may use the game to lure you in

It appears some of the main problems are injuries from falls, sprains and strains from players not looking where they were going, walking into objects, tripping or the like. Other gamers complain of sunburns from being outside all day. People are sharing reports of their Pokemon Go injuries all over social media

This news story lists other problems, too. There have also been a few police reports of robberies where criminals have set up fake PokeSpots to target players. And bizarrely, instead of finding a Pokemon monster, one poor user chanced upon a dead body!

Safety officials say keep your common sense about you. Don’t drive while playing – that’s just stupid and would be illegal in most states. Don’t play while riding on bikes or skateboarding, either. Don’t go out walking around alone at night if you wouldn’t normally do so. Be careful about going to neighborhoods or places that you are unfamiliar with. Be careful about intruding on private property. Stay alert for urban an natural hazards in your path. Authorities say to use caution when alerting strangers of your future location.

So like many other popular things, it’s fun but be careful!

Learn more at the Pokemon Go official site  or check out this article with Your biggest Pokémon Go questions, answered.

Consumer groups issue dangerous toy alerts


Santa probably already knows these things, but if you have children on your holiday shopping list, you should take a few minutes to review the year’s most dangerous toys, as identified by two consumer watchdog groups.

Trouble in Toyland highlights 24 potentially hazardous toys and includes tips for keeping children safe from the toys you already own. They note that these toys are only examples and that other hazards may exist. This report is issued annually by US PIRG – see the full Trouble in Toyland report.

PIRG

10 toys to avoid this holiday season – The World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) unveiled its 42nd annual list of nominees for the 10 Worst Toys of 2014 for this holiday season (also see video clip below)

Staying Safe – Tips & Resources
U.S. PIRG issues the following safety tips for avoiding dangerous toys

CPCS offer a good Toy Safety Tip Sheet – also in Spanish

Learn more about toy recalls and see recent product recalls

Sign up to get toy and other consumer product recalls

Research the chemical content of toys

Prior related post: Two common household items that are very dangerous to your kids

Driving in rain can be tricky: How to avoid hydroplaning


Storm Driving

When there’s snow or ice on the road, drivers are cautious, but rain is such a frequent occurrence that drivers are sometimes over-confident. That’s a mistake that could be costly or even deadly. According to the Federal Highway Administration:

“Most weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement and during rainfall. Each year, 75 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on wet pavement and 47 percent happen during rainfall. Nearly 5,700 people are killed and more than 544,700 people are injured in crashes on wet pavement annually. Every year, over 3,400 people are killed and over 357,300 people are injured in crashes during rainfall.”

Edmunds offers a good refresher on best practice Tips and Techniques for Driving in Rain. But one condition that you should know about and prevent is hydroplaning or aquaplaning. According to SafeMotorist.com:

The term hydroplaning is commonly used to refer to the skidding or sliding of a cars tires across a wet surface. Hydroplaning occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter. Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water and loses traction. The result is loss of steering, braking and power control.

Rubber tires have tread (grooves) that are designed to channel water from beneath the tire. This creates higher friction with the road surface and can help prevent or minimize instances of hydroplaning.

Learn more at Hydroplaning Basics: Why it Occurs and How You Can Avoid it

This video from Defensive Driving offers a great overview of hydroplaning, how to avoid it and what to do if it happens.

Ice and cars don’t mix


Many New Englanders are waking up to icy driving conditions today. In light of this, we bring you this noteworthy video clip shot during a January 2007 ice storm in Portland Oregon. One resident awoke to a racket outside his window and captured footage of an unplanned ice-top demolition derby involving at least 15 separate accidents in a span of a just a few minutes.

With experience, an abundance of caution, and good tires, snowy conditions can generally be navigated – but ice is another matter. It’s generally best to wait until the sanders and plows have treated the roads before venturing out in ice storms.

Safe winter driving actually starts before a storm and before you even get in your vehicle. Check your tires and your tire pressure, keep your antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and gas tank topped off, and store shovels, scrapers and an emergency kit in the trunk of your car – include a bag of sand or kitty litter to give your car traction if you get stuck. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you and any drivers in your family review safe winter driving tips.