Articles Posted in Safety Tips

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It’s easy to get lulled into believing that the toys you buy for your children are safe. After all, it’s 2016, and surely if toys get through testing and get placed on the market, they must be safe, right? According to a number of organizations committed to keeping children safe, this is false.

Last month, W.A.T.C.H., the World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., put out its list of the 2016 most dangerous toys. According to W.A.T.C.H., this year’s list includes toys that pose risks of strangulation, choking and suffocation.

Here’s the complete list:

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602535_seatbelt.jpgOn I-495 near the US Route 1 interchange in Plainville, a 1996 Toyota Avalon went off the road and crashed into a tree last Saturday, according to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle. The 18 year old driver was not wearing a seatbelt. She was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she died. The 21 year old passenger was wearing a seatbelt. She was treated for minor injuries at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro. Seatbelts save lives — but only when they are worn.

Massachusetts has a law requiring that all drivers and passengers over 11 years of age must wear a seatbelt when riding in a car. But not everyone obeys this law. A recent Massachusetts study found that on average more than one out of four front seat drivers and passengers were not wearing their seat belt. There were some interesting but predictable variations on the rate of seatbelt use among different groups.

The rate of seatbelt usage among women was 79%; among men it was 68%. The rate for people over 65 was 82%; for other adults it was 73%; for teens it was 67%. People driving commercial vehicles buckled up only 50% of the time, and pickup truck drivers only 61%. Those figures are depressing and somewhat scary. We have worked hard to make manufacturers put out safer cars by forcing them to pay for the injuries they could have prevented by providing airbags and seatbelts. But we have to do our part and use these safety features, too.
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1131636_no_cells.jpgOn September 30, 2010, the new, highly publicised Massachusetts law banning texting while driving takes effect. The same law bans any cell phone use while driving for those under 18 except for certain emergency calls, generally 9-1-1 calls for police or medical assistance.

Everyone agrees that texting while driving is dangerous. If you look at your phone for three seconds to read or compose a text message while you are driving on the highway at 65 mph, you travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Of course the same is true for checking out who is calling you on the cell phone or scrolling through your contacts list to make a call, or entering a phone number to call, none of which seem to be prohibited by this new law.

The Governor’s press release makes it seem like we can expect much safer roads now. “Without question, this new law will save lives on our roadways,” the Governor is quoted as saying. On the other hand, a new study released today by the insurance industry shows that such bans have no effect on crash statistics, and seem to have no effect on how much people text behind the wheel. The Boston Globe reports that texters may be causing more accidents by holding the phone down near the seat to avoid detection, and that police departments are talking about getting SUVs so they can ride higher and look down into potential suspects’ cars. Of course if it’s the police car driver who is doing the looking, that is pretty unsafe, too.

Some have suggested that parents have to set an example and stop using cell phones — texting or talking — if they expect their children to obey the law, and that they have to talk to their children about the dangers of distracted driving. Maybe the “shotgun texter,” a friend in the passenger seat who will text for the driver, will become as popular as the “designated driver,” who stays sober and drives his drinking friends where they need to go. It seems that education may be the best way to fight texting while driving, and that the new law may be more important as an expression of what is the right way to behave than as a means to prosecute violators.
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1018822_firefighters.jpgSome 800 guests were forced to evacuate Boston’s Intercontinental Hotel this morning after a 2:00 a.m. electrical fire was reported in the electrical room of the hotel garage. According to the Boston Herald, guests were forced to stay outside of the hotel for hours, while workers shut down the power in the hotel to deal with the fire. No one was hurt.

Outside of the city in Malden, two teenage girls were injured this morning when their house caught on fire. The Boston Herald reported that when police responded to the 911 call, they found that flames surrounded the house. The officers rushed into the burning house and were able to rescue a teenage girl on the first floor while another teenage girl, who was on the second floor, jumped from the burning building. Both girls were taken the Massachusetts General Hospital, and one of the police officers was taken to Melrose Wakefield Hospital.

Residential and building fires account for only 25% of fires nationwide according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), yet these fires account for 83% of deaths and 77% of injuries from fires across the nation. Cooking, heating and smoking are common causes of residential and building fires.

NFPA recommends that you check your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they are working and develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
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1286629_happy_kid_2.jpgThe Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and Department of Public Health want to remind you that summertime carries special dangers for children. In a press release, they highlight three areas: windows, water, and cars.

In the summertime, we open our windows up, and children fall from open windows, sometimes to their death. A window screen creates a visual barrier that makes us feel like the window is safe, but a window screen is not strong enough to keep a child, even a toddler or a crawling baby from falling out. There are window guards you or your landlord can install, or you can open windows from the top, not the bottom.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children in Massachusetts and nationwide. Kids can drown in shallow water as well as deep, in bathtubs, swimming pools, lakes and ponds, or the ocean. You must have your eye on small children in or near the water at all times, and even larger children should be supervised. If you have a swimming pool on your property, make sure there is a fence at least four feet high around it, with self-latching gates that are above the reach of children.

Cars are always dangerous, and you should always make sure children are not around moving vehicles or left unsupervised in cars that are running or have the keys in them. But summertime poses a special risk: overheated vehicles. Children should never be left alone in a car in the summertime. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that a car with the windows down 2″ in 80 degree weather can reach deadly heat levels in ten minutes.

We hope these tips will help you to do what you can to protect your children from harm. At KJC Law Firm, we are dedicated to making your life safer. By holding landlords, property owners, drivers or manufacturers responsible for the injuries they cause, we give them good reasons to act more responsibly and safely. And if you or your children are injured, we will help you to get proper compensation.
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