Cotton swabs and ER visits

cotton swabsThe Dangers of Cotton Swabs

Do you clean your ears or your children’s ears out with cotton swabs? If so, you should stop immediately. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics found that from 1990 to 2010, 263,000 children in the U.S. had to be treated in the ER for ear injuries related to cotton-tip applicators. That’s approximately 34 visits per day! Almost 75% of those involved ear cleaning, and most of the patients were under the age of eight.

According Kris Jatana, the lead author of the study and a physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, ears are ucotton swab warningsually self-cleaning. Not only that, but using a cotton tip applicator to clean the ear canal will push the wax closer to the ear drum. Cotton swab manufacturers even include warning labels against using the product in the ear.

Common injuries

Common injuries involving cotton swabs include ruptured ear drums, and presence of a foreign body. Most these injuries occurred when children tried to clean their own ears. However, parents, guardians and siblings also contribute to the wounds.

ear cleaning

Many patients were treated and released. Delaying treatment could result in more injuries including dizziness, balance problems, hearing loss and facial nerve paralysis.

Next time you think you need to clean yours or your child’s ears, don’t. Ear wax is normal and beneficial to the ears. It cleans, protects and lubricates the ear canal. If you have excessive ear wax, and it’s causing hearing loss, a feeling of fullness or ear pain talk to your doctor. There are safe remedies to irrigate ear wax.

 Semi-trucks: Driver and Pedestrian Safety

Semi-truck drivers have a bad rap for being bullies of the highway. They pull in occupied lanes, hug the lines, and semi-truckdon’t let allow merging. This may appear as bullying, but more than likely, it’s a “No Zone” issue.

Semi-trucks have huge blind spots –  in front, on both sides, and behind their trailer. If another vehicle or even a pedestrian is in one of those blind spots, they may be out of the truck driver’s range of vision. Staying out of a large truck’s “No Zone” will reduce the odds of a semi-truck vs vehicle or pedestrian accident.

The “No Zone” includes:
  • 20 feet in front;
  • One lane to the driver’s side;
  • Two lanes on the passenger side and;
  • 30 feet behind.

Basically, if you can’t see the trucker in their side mirrors, they probably can’t see you either.

Here is a graphic from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) illustrating the “No Zone.”

There are other ways to stay safe when driving around semi-trucks as well.
    1. Again, ensure you can see the driver in the mirror before passing. Signal, then move into the left lane (never pass them in the right lane if you can avoid it) and accelerate so that you can get past the truck safely, but quickly.
    2. Make sure the truck is visible in your rearview mirror before you pull in front. As a precaution, give extra space.
    3. Avoid passing a truck on a downgrade when they tend to pick up speed.
    4. If a truck is passing you, slow down slightly and give the driver plenty of space.
  1. Cutting it close.
    1. Don’t cut in front of a big rig or wait until the last minute to brake if driving in front of one. It takes them up to 40% longer to stop than cars and pickup trucks.
    2. Trucks have air brakes. If the driver brakes and uses up the air before it can recharge, then he has no brakes for a second stop.  This will increase his stopping distance and will result in you getting rear ended.
    1. If driving behind a big rig, you are more than likely in one of their blind spots, plus, your ability to see other traffic will be diminished.
    2. If you rear-end a big truck, you can probably kiss your vehicle goodbye. can not only be injurious, but deadly. That’s a 80,000 pound truck vs a 5000 pound car collision.
    3. Rear ending a semi-truck can not only be injurious, but deadly. If the car drives under and gets stuck, those in the front seat can be instantly killed. Though commercial trucks are required to have a safety device called under ride guards, they’re not effective enough to always stop cars from driving under the trailer.
  2. Space to turn.
    1. Trucks require extra turning room. They swing wide, and sometimes may need to take a right turn from the middle lane as opposed to the far right lane.
    2. If a truck has signaled for a right turn, don’t pull along their right side.
    3. When you stop at an intersection, stay behind the stopping line or crosswalk. A semi-truck will require that space to make a left or right turn, depending on which direction they are heading.
Pedestrian safety around semi-trucks.

Pedestrians are not always visible to drivers. This goes double for the drivers of large trucks. It’s important to be cautious while out walking, especially at intersections and while crossing the street. Just last week a mom and her two children, an infant and three year-old were struck as they crossed the street in front of a semi that was pulling out into traffic. They were in one of his blind spots. The mom was uninjured, but the two children were admitted to Mary Bridge Hospital for evaluation.

The FMCSA offers the following tips to keep pedestrians safe when around large trucks:
  • Watch your walk ways. Walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Pay attention to walk safety around semi truckssignals and keep a safe distance when standing on street corners. Trucks make wide right turns and occasionally run up onto the corner of the sidewalk. It is important for you to be alert and to move back. Mostly likely, the truck driver will not see you or may be distracted and you could be seriously injured or killed if hit.
  • Know your no-zones. Be careful of the blind spots, or No-Zones, when walking near or around trucks. Always assume the driver does not know that you are there. Make eye contact with the driver before walking in front of a truck that appears to be parked. If a truck is running, ensure there is plenty of room between you and the truck. Never walk behind a truck when it is backing up; truck drivers cannot see directly behind the truck and could seriously injure you.
  • Stopping distances. Use caution when crossing intersections and streets. You may think vehicles will stop for you, but they may not see you or even be able to stop. Remember, trucks take longer to stop than other vehicles and need much more space. Never take a chance with a truck, even if the driver sees you he may not be able to stop.
  • Make yourself visible. Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking at night. Dressing to be seen will make it safer for you and drivers. Professional drivers do a lot of driving at night, and there’s a good chance a truck driver will not see you if you don’t make yourself visible. Carrying a flashlight is your safest bet for being seen at night.
  • Watch out for wide loads. Trucks with wide loads have very limited visibility as well as difficulty maneuvering. Wide loads are much heavier and take up lots of room on the road. You need to be aware when walking near a truck with a wide load, because the driver may not see you. Trucks with wide loads make even wider right turns, require more space, and take even longer to stop than other trucks on the road. Remember to keep your distance when walking around these large trucks.

Always err on the side of caution when driving or walking near a semi-truck. A collision with a large truck can be deadly. Safety does not lie solely on the shoulders of the truck driver. It’s up to all drivers and pedestrians to ensure their own safety on the streets.

The Construction Industry’s”Fatal Four”

 

According to a report released in December of 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,379 private industry worker fatalities occurred in the 2015 calendar year.  These industries include jobs in industries such as transportation, farming, fishing, forestry, and truck drivers, among others. Of those injuries, 21.4% were in construction. That’s one in five workers!

The Fatal Four

The “fatal four” in the construction injury represents the four leading causes of fatalities. They are responsible for more than half of the construction worker deaths in 2015. They include:

  1. Falls (38.8%);
  2. Struck by an object (9.6%);
  3. Electrocution (8.6%);
  4. Caught in/between (7.2%) (This includes fatalities due to being caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material).

Injuries and fatalities to contract workers are on the rise. Why?

  • Because many contract workers are thrown into dangerous jobs without the health and safety training that a regular employee would get.
  • They may not be fully or properly trained in the use of machinery and equipment.
  • Being unable to identify unsafe or improperly maintained workstations, buildings, or equipment can create risks for those unfamiliar with related hazards.

Other reasons for construction site injuries include:

  • Rush jobs. There may be pressure to finish a job quickly, which may result in forgoing safety protocol in favor of completing the work.
  • Most work accidents occur after lunch indicating that concentration levels are better earlier in the day. It would then make sense to switch to lower risk tasks when brains and bodies are tiring.
  • Unsafe behavior by the worker. Misusing or improperly using equipment, or not wearing appropriate safety gear for example, can lead to injuries.
Top Ten Citations

OSHA sets the standard to which employers and workers need to comply. Sadly, protocol is often ignored. The top ten OSHA standards included in citations are:

  • Scaffolding
  • Fall protection (scope, application, definitions)
  • Excavations (general requirements)
  • Ladders
  • Head protection
  • Excavations (requirements for protective systems)
  • Hazard communication
  • Fall protection (training requirements)
  • Construction (general safety and health provisions)
  • Electrical (wiring methods, design and protection)
Injury Prevention

It’s obvious that the disregard of OSHA standards directly impacts construction workers’ “fatal four” injuries. OSHA has specific advice for preventing construction accidents, but here’s also a few universal safety measures that can also be implemented.

  • Mandatory Daily Safety Meetings. Keep management and workers on the same page where safety is concerned.
  • Safety Gear. Every employee should be trained about safety gear usage – which gear for which task. Safety gear should be a requirement, not a choice. Gear should also be examined routinely to check for damage and wear.
  • High Visibility Clothing. Wearing something like orange vests with reflective material will reduce chances getting hit by vehicles and other machinery.
  • Regular Breaks. Taking breaks will help reduce accidents due to exhaustion.

 

Construction site injuries can be prevented. Be safe while you’re on the job, whether you’re in a management or labor position. It’s also good to know how you’re covered, if at all. This especially applies to contract workers. You don’t want to get injured on the job, only to discover you have no means to cover medical bills and lost wages.

If you are injured on the job and need advice, give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss your rights with you.

Move Over Laws Protect Emergency Responders

paramedic

On Sunday, a driver hit a State Patrol trooper’s car on I-5 in Tacoma as the trooper investigated an earlier crash. Luckily no one was hurt, but northbound lanes were shut down for several hours.  This is a good reminder that moving over or slowing down to keep law enforcement officers and emergencies responders free from harm is not only a great safety precaution, but the law.

“Move Over” laws were created by a South Carolina paramedic who was struck and injured at an accident scene in 1994.  South Carolina passed the first Move Over law in 1996. In 2000, a series of similar events sparked the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to address the need for improved standards in Emergency Scene Safety and protection for emergency workers. With the further assistance of public interest groups such as the Emergency Responder Safety Institute Move Over laws became standard across the US and Canada.

In our state, Move Over laws passed in 2007. In 2010 legislation added “Emergency Zone” laws. Emergency Zone is defined as the adjacent lanes of the roadway 200 feet (10 car lengths) before and after a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights. These vehicles include tow trucks, emergency assistance vehicles, or any police vehicle using emergency lights. Fines double for vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit in an Emergency Zone.

In Washington, If the highway has four or more lanes, two of which traffic is heading the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution, and if reasonable and safe, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary responding vehicle. If the highway has less than four lanes, proceed with caution, reduce speed, and if safe and under the rules, yield the right-of-way by passing to the left at a safe distance while also yielding the right-of-way to vehicles traveling in the proper direction.  If changing lanes or moving away would be unsafe or unreasonable, proceed with caution and reduce speed.

To find information on the Move Over law in your state, visit Move Over America.

Avoiding Spring Cleaning Injuries

Warmer weather is right around the corner (we hope). It’s time to climb out of hibernation and get to spring cleaninglawn mower and tidying up our yards. This time of year also sees an increase in visits to the ER due to all of this cleaning and tidying. Most spring cleaning injuries include shoulder, neck and back problems, and general exhaustion and aches and pains. Understandably, many are gung ho to get their projects started. That is part of the problem. We tend to lead more sedentary lives during winter, and should ease into our spring cleaning and gardening rather than jumping in full force. Here are some ways to stay healthy while spring cleaning and working in the yard.

Warm Up

Get your muscles ready for the hard work in which you’re about to engage. Walk or stretch to get prepare your body for the cleaning work out.

Lawn Mowers

Sure, your lawn mower turns your overgrown mess into a well maintained yard, but it also has the potential to injury and maim.

  1. After sitting around idle for a few months, your mower will need a little maintenance. Tuning it up to get it back in working order will lower the risk of injury.
  2. Never reach under the mower deck. While this may seem obvious, it’s the very reason for many ER visits. Hands and feet can be severely injured after encountering a spinning mower blade. If needing to dislodge clogged grass, turn off the mower first.
  3. Keep children away from lawn powers. It’s not a toy. One little slip can cause severe injury or death. This is especially true with riding mowers
  4. When mowing wet grass, be cautious. People and mowers can slip on wet grass. Be extra cautious if mowing wet grass on a hill.
  5. Watch for objects that can become projectiles. Rocks, branches, toys can all be sent flying at great speed if hit by a mower blade. Risks include injuries to eyes and skin.
  6. Wear protection. Mowing presents a number of risks to the eyes. Also, it’s best to wear long sleeves and pants to protect as much skin as possible.

 

Falls

Ladders are used frequently during spring cleaning and yard maintenance. We need to reach those high spots to clean gutters, trim trees, dust door jambs and paint. Stay safe while using it.

  1. A ladder should be secured on a firm surface and against a solid wall. Falls can easily occur from ladders shifting or sinking from its original position.
  2. It’s best to have another person secure the ladder while you climb. Focus is crucial for the person spotting you on the ladder. Have them put phones and other distractions away while helping.
  3. Don’t reach too far when on a ladder. This can cause it to slip or fall. Keep your body vertical and in line with the ladder.
  4. If needed, dry the ladder and the bottom of your shoes to avoid slipping. If you’re using your ladder in wet weather, have a towel handy and continuing drying when needed.
  5. Clear or avoid potential hazards if possible. Railings, bushes, rocks and sidewalks are all probable dangers. It’s much softer landing on grass or dirt than a fence.

Tools

Many people, men especially, love using power tools for projects and yard maintenance. More power, right? Unfortunately, a variety of tools also mean a variety and array of potential injuries.

  1. Like with the mower, make sure your tools are in good working order. With electric tools, make sure the cord is intact and has no frays, exposed wires, or breaks.
  2. Know how to use the tool. Inexperience with tools is a common source of injuries.
  3. Do NOT remove or bypass safety features. They are there for a reason – your welfare.
  4. Never let children use power equipment or sharp tools.

Burning Brush

If you burn your brush, make sure to follow this advice to keep your small fire to turning into an inferno.

  1. Keep your burn pile away from other flammable objects such as hanging limbs of trees, bushes, or porches.
  2. Heed the burn ban. Ensure burning is safe by contacting your public works or fire department. They should know if it’s too dry or windy to have an outdoor fire.
  3. Poison ivy/oak/sumac are poisonous, and inhaling them can be very dangerous. Keep them out of your burn pile.
  4. Always have a plan to put the fire out just in case it gets out of control. Keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby. Also keep a phone handy in the case it DOES get out of control and you need to phone 911.
  5. Never use an accelerant like lighter fluid or gasoline. Oxygen plus accelerant can lead to a disastrous and volatile situation.

Back Injuries

Hard manual labor can be demanding on your back. Be mindful to pain and take the following advice.

  1. Use proper lifting techniques. Improper lifting techniques are a common cause of back pain and injury. Learn how to lift the right way.
    1. Bend at the knees, rather than the waist
    2. Keep your back straight.
    3. Use your legs to do the lifting work, rather than your back.
    4. Hold heavy items close to your body, and avoid twisting while holding a heavy item.
    5. If you need to place an object to the side, turn your whole body to the side.
    6. If you need to lift a very large, heavy item or move furniture, have someone help you; do not attempt to move these items on your own.
  2. Avoid bending and reaching whenever possible. Try to do as much as you can while standing upright. For spring cleaningexample, mop as much as you can rather than scrubbing on hands and knees. Use a mop or a similar device to clean the tub and shower. If you need to reach high-up areas, use a step stool or ladder; do not strain to reach it. Limiting the amount of bending and reaching you do will reduce the risk of straining back muscles.
  3. Keep the items you need nearby. When items are within arm’s reach you avoid having to bend or reach to grab them. The less you need to twist, reach, bend, or strain your back, the better.
  4. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Do the work in chunks, room to room, focusing on a couple areas per day. Take breaks and stay hydrated.

Stay unscathed while doing your spring cleaning this year. Many trips to the ER are preventable. Take your time and make the effort to keep your cleaning and yard work as safe as possible.

The Perils of Spring Break

Some college student’s spring breaks have come and gone. For some, it’s just around the corner. The safety of spring break drinkingchildren during a spring break trip is a concern for many parents. Spring breakers are basking in the freedom of vacation away from parents and there seems to be a never-ending flow of alcohol. This combination can be injurious and deadly. With four college aged grandchildren, I share that concern. Being injured in a strange place, away from home and the comfort and care of parents can be frightening for a young adult. Here is some information I found regarding spring break safety that you can pass on to your children.

Over-service of alcohol: This is a huge. When college aged students go on a spring break trip, you know alcohol will more than likely be consumed – and a lot of it. Most states have dram shop laws, which allow licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

Social host liability: Similar to dram shop laws, if an adult hosts a parties and alcohol is consumed by minors and as a result, injury or death occur, the host of the party may be held responsible. Injuries in the case of social host and dram shop laws don’t have to be traffic related. This also includes acts of violence.

Traffic accidents: Between the last week of February and the first week of April, a considerably higher number of traffic fatalities occur in popular spring break destinations compared to other locations in the same states and at other times of the year. Sometimes, it’s as dangerous to walk home. With an elevated amount of negligent driving this time of year, there is also risk of getting struck by a car as a pedestrian. It’s best to leave the car behind, stay off your feet and hail a cab or use Uber or Lyft for a safe ride back to the hotel.

Alcohol related injuries: Binge drinking can come with a price. We’ve all read stories about young adults dying from alcohol poisoning. Drinking too much can also turn any normal activity into a dangerous one, such as a boating, swimming, sitting in a hot tub or standing on a balcony.  Also, binge drinking has also resulted in a number of sexual assaults.

What is the best way to protect your child? If your child is going on a spring break trip, make sure you educate them on the dangers of binge drinking. Tell them to stay in groups with people they know and never leave a party or bar with strangers. Ensure they understand the risks of drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone intoxicated. Perhaps even give them access to your Uber account for a free ride back to their hotel. The best course of action is to keep them from going on a spring break vacation. Of course, that is easier said than done.

Why we need Black History Month

Also called African American History Month, I wrote about this last year, and I will write about it again. As I see it, this will be a long-standing debate Black History between races, on our end, a debate of the ignorant. This time of year, without fail, someone on Facebook will post, “Why do we need Black History Month?” The formation of what would eventually be known as Black History Month began way back in 1915, a creation of minister Jesse E. Moorland and historian Carter G. Woodson. It’s a way of promoting the accomplishments of African Americans.

Back to the “why?” Have you ever heard of Claudette Colvin? Lewis Latimer? Daniel Hale Williams?  Frederick McKinley Jones? No? This is why we need Black History Month.

Claudette Colvin: Black History Claudette ColvinAt the age of 15, Colvin refused to move to the back of the bus, nine months before Rosa Parks did the same. The young activist studied the Jim Crow Laws and black leaders such as Harriet Tubma
n in school, which prompted her actions. The bus incident landed the teenager in jail. Colvin, along with Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, three other women discriminated against as a result of the segregation policy of the Montgomery bus system, went to court to challenge the law. That case, Browder v. Gayle, eventually ended up in the United States Supreme Court which ordered the state of Alabama (and Montgomery) to desegregate its buses.Black History Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer: Latimer was an inventor and engineer. After an honorable discharge from the navy, he took a job at a patent law firm as an office boy. By observing the draftsmen at work, he taught himself mechanical drawing and drafting. His bosses noticed his talents and promoted him to draftsman. He designed a number of inventions, and eventually found himself working with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Latimer drafted the patent for the telephone, and ended up inventing a light bulb that outlasted Edison’s original.

Black History Daniel Hale WilliamsDaniel Hale Williams: Williams, or as he was called, Dr. Dan, was a surgeon in Chicago. Though he himself found success, he realized the lack of medical training for black doctors and nurses and deficiency in medical care for blacks. At the time, blacks were barred from being admitted to hospitals and black doctors were refused staff positions. In 1891, Dr. Dan founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the first interracial hospital and medical training facility. In 1893, Williams also performed one of the first successful open heart surgeries.

Frederick McKinley Jones: On his own from age 11, Jones did odd jobs to survive. He became adept at mechanics, and while working at a garage, continued to read up on the subject to improve his craft. Eventually his skills landed him a job on a farm where he taught himself about electronics. He began inventing machines when doctors needed a way to make house calls in the snow. He attached skis to the undercarriage of an old airplane body and a propeller to a motor.  His “Snow Machine” easily got doctors to their destinations. He continued to invent, including a portable x-ray machine, a radio transmitter, and a device to combine sound with motion pictures. He patented more than 60 inventions, most of them were in refrigeration. Jones was responsible for advances in truck refrigeration, enabling the long-haul transportation of perishable goods. This helped greatly during World War II for the preservation and transportation of blood, medicines, and food to the battlefield and hospitals.

Want another? Read my blog about Bessie Coleman. This is just a handful of the profusion of great, but little known, African Americans that have made history.

Have you learned something? American history classes somehow seemed to omit the accomplishments of great African Americans – those who made advances in science, the creators and innovators, the artists and musicians, the ones who championed for civil rights, those whose contributions helped shape our American culture. Theirs is a history that should be learned and integrated with the rest of American history, as it is prolific with stories of possibility, aspiration, adversity, success, and inspiration.

The relevance of Bessie Coleman

 

In these times in which women march for their freedoms, fear for their rights, and fight against a tyrannical regime, it’s good to remember those that came before. So many women have made great strides toward equality and have inspired not just women, but all who have faced oppression, to chase their goals and dreams. Once such woman was Bessie Coleman, whose 125th birthday is today.

If you don’t know who Bessie Coleman was, you are missing out. She was the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. The daughter of impoverished sharecroppers, she was one of 13 children. She grew up during a time when lynching was commonplace, blacks were barred from voting, and segregation was a way of life.

Her first school was a one room shack that often couldn’t even afford paper or pencils. At 12 years old, Coleman attended the Missionary Baptist Church in Texas. After graduating, she spent one year at a college in Oklahoma, then eventually ended up in Chicago living with her brothers and working as a manicurist.

Wild stories of flying exploits from returning World War I pilots captivated Coleman and inspired her to become an aviator. Taunting from her brother about how French women were better than black women because they could fly spurred her on even more. She saved her money and applied for flight school. However, every school she submitted to turned her down. She had two strikes against her – her race and her gender. There were very few female pilots at the time, and those were primarily white and wealthy.

bessie colemanUnder the advice and with backing of Robert Abbott a lawyer, newspaper publisher, and one of the first African American millionaires, Coleman learned French and moved to France to attend the Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation. She had her international pilot’s license within seven months.

One of Coleman’s goals upon returning to the US was to start a flight school for African Americans. Instead, she became a daring stunt pilot, specializing in aerial tricks and parachuting. She became a popular performer to crowds of thousands, with many reporters and dignitaries in attendance. While she didn’t open a flight school, she used her celebrity status to encourage other African Americans to fly and also refused to perform at locales that denied admission to members of her race.

On April 30th, 1926, at the age of 34, Bessie Coleman took her last flight. While flying with another pilot in preparation for an airshow, a wrench became lodged in the control gears causing the plane to plummet toward the ground. Coleman was thrown from the plane and fell to her death.

Coleman’s funeral was attended by approximately 10,000 including many prominent African Americans. Suffragist, feminist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells presided over the service.

The plight of Bessie Coleman is still relevant. Female and African American pilots are still rare, not only in the United States, but worldwide. 90% of pilots are white and just above 5% are female.

An inspiration still to this day, Coleman defied gender and racial barriers, becoming a symbol of equal rights for all. Coleman is proof, that as an African American and a woman, dreams are attainable.

“Because of Bessie Coleman, we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.” ~ American engineer, soldier, civil aviator and author William J. Powell

Cold related injuries

Most individuals have the luxury of working in an office or some other type of edifice, so cold related injuries wouldcold rarely, if ever, be a concern. However, there are organizations and industries in which people work outside on a frequent or regular basis. Parks employees, road workers, construction, military, for example, have duties that involve braving the elements to earn a paycheck. While working outdoors, especially during winter weather, it’s important to take precautions to avoid injuries related to the cold.

Though apathy and lack of awareness may contribute to risk, there are other contributing factors to cold related injuries.

  • Inadequate or wet clothing
  • Consuming substances that inhibit the body’s response to cold, or that impair judgment.
  • Poor physical fitness
  • Illness, such as a cold or the flu
  • Becoming fatigued, restrained, injured, lost or entrapped out in the elements
  • Also, men have a notable higher rate of cold related injury than do women.

Damage can occur through the following conditions:

Cold stress: When the body struggles to maintain its normal temperature, the body will begin to shift blood flow from the extremities and outer skin to the chest and abdomen. Exposed skin and the extremities will cool more rapidly and increase the risk of more serious cold related injuries, such as frostbite and hypothermia. First indication is shivering.

Rewarm an individual suffering from cold stress by wrapping their body in blankets, finding shelter, and providing a radiant heat source. Encourage him or her to stay in motion to generate body heat.

Hypothermia: When the body is unable to replace heat lost to the elements, body temperature will become abnormally low.

Symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation

More advanced indicators may involve:

  • The lack of shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

In the late stages, the victim might feel so hot they may want to remove clothing. If left untreated hypothermia can result in unconsciousness and eventually death.

Helping someone with hypothermia:

  • Request immediate medical assistance.
  • Move the person to a warm, dry room or shelter
  • Remove wet clothing, including shoes and socks
  • Keep the person in a horizontal position.
  • Cover him or her with layers of blankets or towels and a vapor barrier for example a tarp or garbage bag.
  • Cover the head and neck but not the face
  • If alert, offer a warm, sweetened, nonalcoholic beverage.
  • Place warm bottles or hot packs in armpits, the groin area and along sides of the chest.
  • Ask emergency technicians for additional rewarming instructions.

 

A person in late stage hypothermia and unconscious is in a lethal situation. Wrap him or her in blankets and quickly transport them to where they can receive medical attention. Do not attempt to rewarm them.  If they stop breathing or don’t have a pulse for the period of one minute, CPR should be started. However, don’t apply chest compressions without the direction of an emergency medical technician (EMT).

Immersion Hypothermia: This condition is when exposure to cold water results in hypothermia. Damage occurs more quickly when a person is wet as water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Don’t let warmer water fool you. Immersion hypothermia can occur in water temperatures below 70°F.

Helping someone with this type of hypothermia is similar to nonimmersion hypothermia.

 Frostnip and Frostbite:  Frostnip is a mild freezing of the top layers of skin tissue and is reversible. Frostbite is irreversible and occurs when the skin freezes, causing ice crystals to form between cells. Toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the nose are particularly prone to frostbite. In serious cases, tissue, muscle and bone may be affected and amputation may be required.

Symptoms of Frostbite:

  • Numbness, tingling, stinging or aching,
  • Bluish or pale, waxy skin.

If caught early, recovery from frostbite is possible.  If there is no danger of freezing, mildly frozen tissue may be rewarmed and insulated until medical attention is received.

In case of frostbite:

  • Get indoors immediately.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could impair circulation.
  • Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling

Immediate care recommendations for deep frostbite:

  • Follow guidelines for the treatment of hypothermia.
  • Do not rub or massage the affected area to warm it.
  • Do not apply snow or water, or break blisters.
  • Loosely cover and protect the area from contact.
  • Do not try to rewarm the frostbitten area without professional medical assistance. For example, do not place in warm water. Rewarmed tissue sustains further damage if it refreezes.
  • Warm with radiant heat. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator. Numb extremities can be easily burned.

Trench/Immersion Foot:  This happens when the body, to reduce heat loss, constricts blood vessels to cut down circulation in the feet. Without circulation, the skin tissue will die. This can occur in temperatures as high as 60°F if the feet are constantly wet.

Symptoms include:

  • Numbness, a tingling and/or itching sensation accompanied by,
  • Redness, swelling, leg cramps, blisters or ulcers, and bleeding under the skin.
  • In some cases, gangrene may turn feet dark purple, blue or gray.

 For immediate care:

  • Avoid walking
  • Remove footwear and socks, and dry the feet.
  • Moving to a warm, dry area and using rewarming techniques is usually only minimally effective.
  • Seek medical treatment.

Chilblains: These are damaged capillary beds (groups of small blood vessels) in the skin. They are caused by repeated exposure to temperatures just above freezing and up to as high as 60°F. Damage is permanent.

Symptoms:

  • Redness and itching—usually on cheeks, ears, fingers and toes
  • Blistering, inflammation and, in severe cases, ulceration.

Caring of chilblains:

  • Avoid scratching.
  • Slowly warm the skin.
  • Use corticosteroid creams to relieve itching and swelling.working outdoors
  • Keep blisters and ulcers clean and covered.
  • Seek medical advice.

 How to prevent these cold related injuries:

  • Use your head:
    • Check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.
    • If working on ice, be sure it’s thick enough to safely support applied weight.
    • Take extra precautions if you are unaccustomed to the cold or exerting yourself at higher elevations.
  • Clothing:
    • Wear layers of cold weather clothing retain body heat and repel water.
    • Wool, silk and most synthetics retain their insulating properties when they are wet.
    • Pack extra clothing in case you get wet.
    • Wear goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes and sunscreen to protect your skin, even when it’s overcast.
    • The Army Medical Department website states to remember the acronym COLD.
      • C: Keep it Clean; O: Avoid Overheating; L: Wear clothing Loose and in layers; D: Keep clothing Dry
    • Follow the rules:
      • Stay on paths and trails and out of restricted areas.
      • Use your phones for emergencies and do not use it while engaging in a work or recreation activity.
    • Avoid fatigue:
      • Staying fit year-round is one of the best ways to manage fatigue and prevent serious injuries.
      • Follow an exercise regimen that helps build strength, stamina and flexibility.
      • Always stretch before and after your activity.
      • Take a break in a warm place if you are in pain or feel exhausted.
      • Keep your body fueled and well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious meals and carry snacks to boost your energy.
      • Cold-weather workers who wear heavy, protective clothing require 10-15 percent more calories a day compared to those working in temperate climates.

Much of this advice is common sense. Don’t put yourself in peril by not being prepared for being in cold weather. This information isn’t only for those who work in the cold, but those who play in it as well – skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, etc. Whether at work or play, use your head, wear appropriate clothing and bring extra, and stay out of restricted areas and you should be able to avoid cold related injuries.

9 little known facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of us enjoyed the day off Martin Luther King Jryesterday in honor of, Martin Luther King Jr. We know about his March on
Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech, but here are a few other things you may not know about this great civil rights leader.

  1. His birth name was Michael. When his father, who was a pastor, traveled to Germany, he was inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. He decided to change his own name and that of his son.
  2. King was so gifted that he skipped two grades and entered Morehouse College as a freshman at age 15.
  3. Before entering Morehouse, he had no intention of following the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather to become a minister. Theologian Benjamin E. Mays urged him otherwise and King was ordained before he graduated college.
  4. King’s civil rights actions led to his arrest 29 times. His arrests included acts of civil disobedience, but also Martin Luther King Jr Arrestfalse charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.
  5. Martin Luther King Jr. survived an earlier assassination attempt. While at a book signing in Harlem Izola Ware Curry plunged a seven inch letter opening into his chest. He had to endure hours of emergency surgery to repair the damage.
  6. Alberta Williams King, Martin’s mother, was also killed by a bullet. As she played the organ at a Sunday service, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and fired shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King. She died steps from where her son used to preach.
  7. In 1993, then president Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created the national holiday in honor of King. George Washington is the only other American whose birthday is observed as a national holiday.
  8. In 1963, he was the first African American to be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. IN fact, he is one of only two African Americans to receive the honor. The other is Barack Obama, who was named twice.