Entries in safety (41)


Hurricane Sandy: Tips To Make Tap Water Safe for Drinking

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If water supply becomes contaminated, you can either boil water for one minute or make water safe with bleach.

Here is how:

If tap water is clear:

1. Add eight drops of household unscented liquid bleach to one gallon of water.

2. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If tap water is cloudy:

1. Add 16 drops of unscented household liquid bleach to one gallon of water.

2. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

In addition:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air when you use bleach.

For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Household Danger: Product That Spontaneously Combusts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Linseed oil, a common wood polish and sealant, can burn your house down in minutes if it’s not handled properly.

The product can spontaneously combust and mishandling it can be as simple as tossing some rags and newspapers, soaked in linseed oil, in a box, as ABC News did for an experiment.

Mike and Sherri Prentiss of Cincinnati know the dangers of linseed oil firsthand.  They left some rags in a bundle.

“I had put it sort of folded on itself in to a corner of the garage,” Sherri Prentiss told ABC News. “That was about 5 p.m., and by 9 p.m. that night our garage was on fire,” she said. “There were flames shooting 30 feet into the sky.”

In ABC's experiment, a thermal imager revealed glow-in-the-dark spots where the linseed-soaked rags had reached 110 degrees after an hour. After two hours, there was smoke curling from the newspapers and rags. And after three hours there were flames.

Linseed oil is safe for wood because you spread it out, but left wadded up on rags or paper the oil is so concentrated that it heats up as it evaporates. One of America’s biggest high-rise fires, in Philadelphia in 1991, was caused by workers who didn’t clean up linseed oil properly.  Three firefighters died.

So how can you protect yourself?

Some experts say spread linseed-oil soaked rags flat on your driveway until they are totally dry. To be even safer, you can fill a metal can with water, put the rags in, and then seal it up tightly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Parasailing Accidents Raise Questions About Safety

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- On a hot summer day five years ago, 15-year-old Amber May White and her sister, Crystal, 17, on holiday in Pompano Beach, Florida, did what millions of vacationers do. They went parasailing.

While the girls were aloft, being whirled around behind a speedboat, the weather quickly turned nasty. Ominous, dark clouds formed on the horizon to the west and came pressing in, fanned by suddenly gusty winds. Witnesses say they heard the girls yelling to be brought down but, for some reason, the boat kept going.

Then in one horrifying instant the tow line suddenly snapped, untethering the parasail. The wind whipped up, snatched the chute the girls were attached to and, as if they were in a gigantic slingshot, hurled Amber May and Crystal into the roof of a waterside hotel.

Amber May died of her injuries. Her older sister survived but suffered permanent brain damage.

"I lost my child and my other child will never be the same," said the girls' mother, Shannon Kraus. "I don't believe it was an accident. I believe it was negligence. It was pretty obvious right away they were using substandard equipment because the rope broke."

Kraus sued the parasail operator. Her lawyer says she reached an out-of-court settlement.

Last month, almost five years to the day of Kraus's daughters' accident and not far from where it occurred, there was another parasailing accident. A 28-year-old Connecticut woman was parasailing in tandem with her husband when she somehow slipped out of the harness attaching her to the chute. She fell 150 feet to the water below and was killed.

According to a group called the Parasail Safety Council, in the past three decades, 429 people have been seriously injured parasailing in the United States. Seventy-two people died, most of them drowning after landing in water and becoming entangled in the chutes and ropes. Mishaps involving someone slipping free from the harness are extremely rare, the group said.

"Actually there are more injuries in roller coasters than there are in parasailing,"said Mark McCuloh, head of the council and one of the pioneers of U.S. parasailing.

But unlike roller coasters -- and probably little known to the public -- there are no governmental regulations for safety inspections of the parasailing equipment. There are no mandatory requirements for maintenance and retirement of the tow lines, chutes or harnesses, according to the council.

"There's no mandated rule that a person has to change his rope at a certain cycle period or change a canopy at a certain cycle period or even change a harness or any of the equipment," McCuloh said.

In Florida, where roughly 240 parasailing operators are in business, Kraus and several state legislators have pressed for parasailing safety regulations. For the past four years, the proposed legislation has gone nowhere.

The Federal Aviation Administration has some jurisdiction over parasailing. Parasails are considered "heavy kites," and as such there are limits on how high they can go and how close they can be to an active airport. But the FAA does not inspect the equipment.

Shortly after the latest fatal accident, ABC News joined a parasailing outing leaving from Belmar, N.J. On the way out to sea, the boat's operator, Tom Brown, briefed the half-dozen vacationers on board about the day's venture and what to do if anything went awry.

Brown said he's been in the business 27 years and never had a mishap.

Several of the people about to parasail said they had heard of the Florida accident a few days earlier but were undetected.

"I feel it's 100-percent safe," said one teenaged boy about to parasail for the second time in his life.

A short while later, he was aloft, dangling about 100 feet above the ocean. Afterward, he pronounced his adventure great fun.

The Parasailing Safety Council estimates that there have been 137 million rides in this country in the last 30 years. Accidents are rare. Fatalities are extremely rare.

But sometimes things can wrong -- sometimes -- as in what happened to Amber May White -- tragically wrong because of what her mother insists was a failure of equipment that no safety regulator had ever laid eyes on.

"People keep dying. People keep getting injured," she said. "I'm angered."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lightning Safety 101: Tips for Protecting You and Your Family

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service, offered this advice for staying safe when there is a threat of lightning:

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, but being outdoors when a thunderstorm is in the area puts you at risk of becoming a lightning victim. Lightning can strike 10 miles from a thunderstorm and if you hear thunder, you’re likely within striking distance of the storm. If you plan to be outdoors, here are some tips that could save your life.

Before Going Out:

  • Listen to the forecast and consider canceling or postponing activities if thunderstorms are predicted.
  • Know where you’ll go for safety in case a thunderstorm develops.

While Outside:

  • Monitor weather conditions and seek shelter at the first sign of a developing or approaching storm.
  • If you hear thunder, immediately get inside a substantial building (one with wiring and plumbing) or hard-topped metal vehicle.
  • If you can’t get inside, never shelter under a tree or other tall objects that could increase your risk of being struck.

While Inside:

  • Avoid contact with anything that is plugged into the wall, such as appliances and computers.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Stay off corded phones.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder before returning outside.

If Someone Is Struck:

  • Victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need immediate medical help.
  • Call 911 for help.
  • Monitor the victim and begin CPR or use an AED if necessary.

Remember, there is no safe place outside when a thunderstorm is in the area.  When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heatstroke Prevention Products Unreliable for Saving Kids in Hot Cars

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Last year, 33 children died after being left in hot cars. But gadgets designed to prevent child deaths from being left in hot cars are not completely reliable, according to a government report released Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), the Department of Transportation and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examined 18 heatstroke devices meant to keep parents from leaving their children under 2-years-old in parked closed vehicles.  Investigators found that the devices not only worked inconsistently, but were difficult to install, often were prone to false alarms and did not account for children who let themselves into vehicles on their own.  

"About 30 percent of all the children that we lose to heatstroke left behind in hot cars is when children actually get into the car themselves, in an unlocked vehicle. …These devices would not be able to deal with that particular risk," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia chose three devices available on the market at the time for more in-depth testing and found problems with all three.

Strickland says the manufacturers are working to refine this technology, but he notes that parents shouldn't rely on them alone.  

"While we feel that these devices are very well intended, we don't think that they can be used to -- as the only counter-measure to make sure you forget -- that you don't forget your child behind in a car," he said.  

The study was commissioned as part of NHTSA's "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock" campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Extreme Parenting: To Leash or Not to Leash?

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s becoming almost a common sight – and a great debate for any modern family. Should you leash small children? For parents across the country, there is no middle ground.

Mother of four and family psychologist Kristen Howerton of New York City says she was given a safety harness as a gift.

“I felt a little funny about it. We were on vacation with my sister-in-law in Seattle. I was juggling a bunch of children and worried about someone running out, and she said ‘Why don’t you put this on your daughter?’ So I did and it just kind of made sense,” said Howerton.

But when Howerton, 37, used the harness she said she got so many looks she put it away and hasn’t used it a lot. People were glaring at her and making comments about how it’s a child and not a dog.

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There were some benefits to using the harness, however.

“It was great. My daughter was walking freely she felt like she had freedom, but I felt like she was safe. It was a great experience other than other people,” Howerton said.

Child psychologist Tina Bryson explained why she believes parents are choosing to leash their kids.

“A lot of times the parents who are using it are using it because it’s based on a child’s behavior that they’ve seen,” said Bryson.

For Howerton, whose husband was hit by a car, it’s all about safety, regardless of the criticism.

“You only use a restraint like that when it’s a safety issue. You don’t use it at the park. You don’t use it when they’re playing in the backyard. It’s a time when you’re getting from A to B and making sure everybody is safe,” said Howerton.

Some people even say it’s a restriction on a child’s natural curiosity or freedom to explore. But Howerton would argue, “In the middle of a busy street or in an airport going gate to gate is not a time for a child’s natural curiosity.”

Mother of two, Lauren Jimeson, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was leashed as a child herself, and says there is never a good excuse to restrain your child.

“I remember being embarrassed. And I promised myself I would never ever do that to my children. There’s always a way to help restrain them without putting a leash on them,” Jimeson said.

Jimeson, 28, believes giving her 2-year-old daughter more freedom actually makes her a more attentive parent than those who use leashes.

“Parents can use it as a false security, thinking that okay, my kid is attached to me. Maybe I don’t have to watch them as much as I do,” she said.

But Bryson thinks differently.

“Everybody’s child is different.  And if a parent hasn’t had an experience of having a really impulsive child, they may not really understand what it’s like,” Bryson said.

Howerton hopes parents everywhere will stop the judging and start a conversation about what works best for each family.

“I think the solution here is that parents shouldn’t judge other parents. They shouldn’t be concerned about what other people are doing unless a child is actually harmed,” said Howerton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dangerous Rip Currents Claim Lives at Florida Beaches

David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An outbreak of rip currents at beaches in Florida has claimed several lives and endangered dozens more in recent days, prompting the National Weather Service to extend its public warnings to beachgoers.

Over this past weekend, two people drowned and more than 70 had to be rescued from rip currents in a single Florida county on the Atlantic coast, officials there told ABC News.

A 14-year-old boy went missing Sunday after getting caught in a rip current while swimming with friends at New Smyrna Beach, Fla. His body was found on shore Monday morning. Volusia County Beach Patrol Capt. Tammy Marris told ABC News that the teens were swimming at an unguarded beach, over 300 yards away from the nearest lifeguard.

The same day the boy went missing, a 66-year-old man died after getting caught in a rip current just off another beach in Volusia. He was pulled in by lifeguards but fell unconscious during the rescue process and did not recover, Marris said. Authorities have not released the identities of either victim.

The deaths follow another pair of fatal incidents that took place on Florida's opposite coast along the Gulf of Mexico the previous weekend.

There, 42-year-old Sonia Westmoreland died June 9 after she was caught in a rip current while trying to rescue her daughter and her daughter's two friends. The girls were saved by their father but Westmoreland was "blue around the mouth and non-responsive" when officers arrived, according to a police report obtained by ABC News. She died several days later.

Also on June 9, a 23-year-old Mississippi man drowned while swimming at an unguarded beach in Pensacola, Fla., according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Though the weekend is over, the threat from rip currents is not, according to the National Weather Service. Other Atlantic beaches, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, faced a high risk until Monday afternoon.

What Is a Rip Current?

Rip currents are strong gushes of water that flow through a low point in a sandbar often away from beaches. The channeled force of the current can drag swimmers away from the shore at a rate of up to eight miles an hour.

"People are being pulled away from shore -- in a sense like a treadmill -- they are not able to get back in and, in most cases, due to their physical conditioning, or distance from the shore, or their swimming ability, the rip current takes a lot of out of them, and which then leads to potential fatalities," Gerry Falconer, a lieutenant with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue and president of the southeastern region of the United States Lifesaving Association, told ABC News in a 2005 20/20 special.

According to USLA statistics, which are self-reported by participating agencies, most drowning deaths blamed on rip currents occur at unguarded beaches. Last year the association counted 16 deaths due to rip currents at unguarded beaches and three at beaches where lifeguards were present.

"The most basic and important thing is to swim in front of a lifeguard tower, no matter what the conditions are," Marris said.

Falconer told ABC News that the frequency of drowning because of rip tides reveals a lack of awareness about the hazard.

"If people were out on the beach and the word 'shark' was used, they'd clear the water without a doubt, but to hear the word rip current, a lot of times, it has little effect…and it is just as deadly," he said.

The 2005 20/20 investigation highlighted the problem of drownings along the unguarded beaches of Florida's Panhandle.

Eight people drowned in one day in 2003 -- known as Black Sunday -- including retired CNN correspondent Larry LaMotte of Atlanta, Ga., and Ken Brindley of Conway, Ark., who were vacationing with their families. LaMotte had gone in the water to rescue his son who was caught in a rip current and got swept up himself. Brindley, seeing LaMotte in distress, went in to help but could not make it out.

LaMotte's wife Sandee told ABC News that the families had been completely unaware of the danger.

"Here we are, two families, two husbands, two fathers leaving behind two sets of children all because we didn't realize that were in danger playing here at the water's shore," said Sandee.

How to Escape a Rip Current

Lifeguards insist that the safest option for inexperienced ocean swimmers is to swim at a beach with lifeguards. For beachgoers who find themselves caught in a rip current, they offer these potentially life-saving tips:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don't try to swim against the current.
  • Try swimming parallel to the shoreline to get out of the current.
  • When out of the current, swim at an angle away from the current, towards the shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Laundry Detergent Pods Poisoning Children

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- To some kids, the bright colors and bite-size packaging of single-use packets of laundry detergent simply look too much like candy. Tuesday night, one-and-a-half-year-old Jeivon Williams put one in his mouth and it burst.  He was rushed to the emergency room with severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The packets are advertised as no more mess, spills or heavy jugs of detergent, but the American Association of Poison Control Centers is reporting a recent surge in calls about the packets making children violently ill.

“The children who are getting into these little pods are developing many more symptoms than we would have expected,” Bruce Ruck, director of drug information and professional education at New Jersey Poison Center, told ABC News.

The same thing that gives the packets their cute, convenient appeal is the very reason they are so incredibly dangerous. The container for Tide Pods even resembles a candy jar. Responding to the concerns, Tide told ABC News it plans to have new childproof containers out this summer.

The single-dose laundry detergent was introduced in the U.S. in February. The poison control center said it first started to link illness with the pods earlier this month. In the last 20 days, it has received close to 180 calls, almost 10 a day. Texas poison control centers report receiving 57 of those emergency calls.

Toxicologists aren’t sure exactly what in the product is making the kids sick. Other laundry detergents cause only mild stomach upset or even no symptoms at all. But the pods cause severe symptoms rapidly.

There are multiple reports of toddlers who, within minutes of swallowing or biting into one of the packets, developed vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some of them became non-responsive or had to be put on ventilators or intubated.

While a sticker on the container is supposed to remind parents to keep the product away from kids, poison control is sending out an even stronger message: keep this eye candy out of reach and out of sight.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


6-Year-Old Saves Best Friend’s Life with Heimlich Maneuver

ABC News(SACRAMENTO) -- A 6-year-old girl in Sacramento saved her best friend’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver earlier this week, something she learned from watching a Disney Channel TV show.

First graders Elspeth “Beanie” Mar, Aniyah Rigmaiden and Anthony Roy Jr. were enjoying their routine lunch together on Tuesday in Caroline Wenzel Elementary School’s cafeteria.

“I was chewing on a hard apple, and I couldn’t swallow it,” Aniyah (above right)  told ABC News. “It went down my throat and got suck.”

Anthony noticed Aniyah gasping for air and screamed for help.

“He was yelling, ‘Aniyah’s choking, Aniyah’s choking!’ He heard me coughing and my face was red,” she said.

With that, Aniyah’s best friend Beanie immediately went into action and got up to help. She performed the Heimlich and the apple flew onto the table.

“She was choking and then I helped her,” Beanie told ABC News. “I asked if I saved her life and she said, Yeah, you did.”

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Beanie quietly returned to her lunch. Principal Judy Montgomery said even though there were administrators present, no one knew what had happened until the girls returned to class.

“It was done very quietly,” Montgomery told ABC News. “The young boy sitting across noticed she was choking and said, Aniyah’s choking! Aniyah’s choking! So Beanie just got up, went over and did it, and went and sat down and finished her lunch. To us it’s incredible, to her it was the right thing to do.”

Montgomery notified both parents over the phone hours after it happened and later rewarded the three kids with certificates for their heroic acts. When Beanie’s mother, Amy Peterson-Mar, first heard the news over the phone she started crying.

“When they said she saved a kid’s life, I let out a gasp. I started crying because I couldn’t believe it,” Peterson-Mar told ABC News. “That kid is breathing now because of my child.”

When Aniyah’s mother, Crisa Triplett, heard Beanie saved her child’s life, she too was in tears.

“When she told me the news how Beanie saved her, I was just in tears. That little girl is so remarkable and she will forever hold the biggest spot in my heart,” Triplett told ABC News. “I couldn’t express to her mother how thankful I was for her daughter and raising a little girl like that.”

However, the question remains, how exactly did a 6-year-old know how to do the Heimlich?

“I saw it on A.N.T. Farm,” Beanie said. “I asked my mom, Can people really do that? And she said, Yeah.”

Montgomery said even though it’s shocking to see a first grader step up in a time of panic, we shouldn’t underestimate the capabilities of children.

“She did it because it was the right thing to do,” Montgomery told ABC News. “It’s really important we understand how resilient children are. The fact that she did it and then sat down shows she did it without expectation of notice.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How Protective Parents Imperil Kids at the Playground

Christopher Robbins/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For parents who hover, a playground can look like a very dangerous place for their kids. But medical experts warn that parental efforts to keep their young children safe often backfire -- and end up harming them instead.

Nora Abularach of New York keeps her impulses in check. On Wednesday she watched as her 2-year-old son, Sam, scurried up the ladder to a big yellow slide at a Central Park playground. Abularach remained a few feet away near the foot of the slide. Sam paused at the top for a moment, looking to his mom for reassurance. A few encouraging words later, Sam was zipping down the slide, all by himself.

The mother of two says she likes this particular playground because it is specially designed for Sam's age group. She can let him explore and tackle each new apparatus on his own.

"I try not to hover," she said. "I think it's important for him to fall once or twice; he needs to figure out his own limits."

Meanwhile, it's becoming clear that playgrounds are not what they used to be. Towns and schools across the country have been bulldozing the old metal on concrete playgrounds in exchange for softer surfaces, lower platforms and fewer moving parts. The emphasis on safe play zones for children has never been greater. But some question whether these changes are making a difference when it comes to injured kids.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 2008 saw just over 220,000 ER visits from kids injured on playgrounds. This actually reflects a small increase from their 1999 estimate of 205,000.

The most common playground injuries requiring medical attention were fractures, bruises, cuts and sprains, which made up 85 percent of all visits. Ninety-five percent of children taken to the ER after a playground injury were treated and released.

And some parents may be surprised to learn that their efforts to keep their kids safer on the playground may actually be causing more injuries than they prevent.

A 2009 study out of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., found that 14 percent of fractures to one of the lower leg bones, called the tibia, occurred on slides. Surprisingly, 100 percent of them happened in children who were riding down the slide on the lap of a parent. No children who slid alone sustained the injury.

The researcher, Dr. John T. Gaffney, chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery says he did this study after seeing children come into the ER one after another with a similar history and diagnosis.

"The parents were very frustrated and upset to learn that they had inadvertently contributed to their child's fracture when they thought they were helping," says Gaffney.

Some experts say cuts and scrapes, and even the broken bones will heal, but a playground's effect on a child's emotional development may be long-lasting. There are a number of critics of these new super-safe play areas.

Ellen Sandseter and colleagues from Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education in Trondheim, Norway, wrote about the effects of "safe" playgrounds and overly cautious parents on child development in a 2011 article in Evolutionary Psychology.

According to the article, a young child naturally fears the highest bar of the jungle gym or that extra twisty slide. These fears are adaptive, meaning they have a purpose, preventing them from being injured.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio