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Summer Safety

Need I say it? Do not, not, NOT talk on the phone or text while you are driving. Ever.

Other no no’s? Don’t drive when you are tired. If you are planning on hitting the beer, don’t even think about hitting the road unless you have a designated driver.

If you will be spending time in rural areas, be on the lookout for deer. While they are beautiful to see, trust me when I tell you they are far less beautiful when they collide with your vehicle. Deer tend to travel in groups, single file, so when you see one deer crossing the road, keep an eye out for several of its little deer friends sure to be following right behind. Particularly if you are in the Catskills, where bungalow colonies and camps line the roads, be extra vigilant for small children darting out into the road unexpectedly.

Realize that the roads in rural areas are nothing like roads you may be accustomed to driving and treat them with proper respect.

“There are a lot of winding roads here and people from the city are not familiar with them,” said Joel Gold, chaplain for the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department in upstate New York. “There are kids walking on the roads and most of the tragedies that occur here are because of these roads.”

Catskills Hatzalah was quick to mention an important safety initiative that, over the years, has yielded tremendous benefits.

“The most important thing to remember is that young drivers should not be driving in the mountains,” cautioned a member of the Torah Safety Commission, an educational safety arm with Catskills Hatzalah. “After many of the camps adopted a policy of not letting drivers under the age of twenty-one drive in the mountains, even we were surprised at the drop in the number of tragedies that occurred annually.”

Pedestrian safety, particularly in rural areas where walkers and motorist share the road, is crucial. Walk facing traffic and always pay attention, avoiding distractions like texting or listening to loud music. For those who prefer to walk during the cooler night time hours, reflectors are a must, both for you and your stroller, should you be pushing one, and consider making yourself more visible by carrying a flashlight as well. Remember that pedestrians are prohibited on all interstates, parkways and expressways.

Whether in your backyard or at the playground, inspect flooring surfaces carefully, as falls cause almost seventy percent of playground injuries. Look for a minimum of nine inches of wood chips or mulch, sand, pea gravel or poured-in-place plastic rubber mats or tiles and avoid concrete, asphalt, grass, packed dirt or blacktop flooring. Make sure children have no strings on their clothing that could become entangled on playground equipment. Always supervise children at play, making sure that play areas are age appropriate, with equipment in good working order, anchored safely in the ground, with all s-hooks properly closed and no protruding bolts or exposed footings.

No matter how alluring they look, trampolines can be dangerous. An estimated 98,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for trampoline injuries in 2009 and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that parents not allow their children to use home trampolines. Should you decide to purchase one anyway, be sure to get a net enclosure and place your trampoline in a level area, away from structures or play areas. Never let more than one person on a trampoline at a time and always jump in the center of the trampoline. Make sure that there are shock absorbing pads covering the springs, hooks and frame of the trampoline, inspecting regularly for tears, detached springs or pads and rust and always supervise children on a trampoline. Finally, check your insurance policy to find out if there are any trampoline exclusions to your homeowner’s policy.

Lastly, neither you nor your child should go biking, skating, skateboarding, scootering, atv-ing or horseback riding unless you are wearing an approved helmet. According to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as eighty five percent when used properly and are required by law in twenty-two states. While there are mandated standards for bicycle helmets, improper fitting renders them much less effective and one study found that ninety six percent of children aged four through eighteen wore helmets that were improperly fitted. The Snell Memorial foundation, a worldwide leader in helmet safety, recommends replacing helmets every five years or sooner if recommended by the manufacturer. For increased safety always ride single file, in the same direction as traffic, and be sure to put reflectors on your bicycle if you ride at night.

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