Regardless of your plans for this last long week-end holiday, which marks the end of summer, beginning of school and football season, make plans to take extra precautions to have a safe three-day weekend.  Yesterday, we issued some great tips from the American Trucking Association for travelers.  Who should know better than the ones who are on our Nation’s highways more than anyone else? 

Labor Day began in 1882 in New York City.  In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected to celebrate “a workingmen’s holiday.”  I’ve got news for history:  there’s a lot of working women who need to be honored alongside them!  Canada observes the same day to honor its workers; many other countries have a Labor Day celebration at different times of the year.  

One thing that will be different about the traditional Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon: Jerry Lewis, age 85, will not be hosting this annual money-raising project this year.  He has hosted the telethon that is held during the Labor Day Weekend for the past 45 years, and it is dear to his heart.   We need to continue this worthwhile cause in helping those who suffer from this debilitating disease and be grateful for what Jerry Lewis has done for the telethon. 

You’ll probably hear your fair share of political speeches, or attend your local annual fair or picnic that volunteers work hard to make successful.  Some folks will go to the lake for that last outing, or participate  in other water sports, such as fishing, boating,  swimming, or hike their favorite lookout spot.   Whatever you decide to do, please keep safety in mind: water safety, camping safety, food safety, and take along that first aid kit, just in case. 

Last, but not least, a friendly reminder from our nation’s law enforcement agencies.  Texas is participating in a nationwide impaired driving crackdown coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that combines high-visibility law enforcement with a public information and education campaign.  Between August 19th (you may have already noticed more of them,) and September 5th, thousands of law enforcement officers will be working overtime to stop and arrest impaired drivers on Texas roads and highways.  TxDOT is reminding Texans: if you’re caught drinking and driving, you are going to jail.  And, as we said, this is a nationwide crackdown.  

Do not get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. (This applies to driving boats, as well.)  Designate a driver, call a cab, catch a bus, or get someone you trust to pick you up, or spend the night where you are.  A DWI arrest and conviction in Texas can cost up to $17,000 or more: fees include car towing, impoundment, bail, attorney fees, court costs, hearing and fees to regain and retain driver’s license, DWI fine, probation costs, fees for extended proof of insurance, plus insurance rate hikes.   The 2011 theme for Labor Day is: DRINK. DRIVE. GO TO JAIL.

Now that you are properly warned,  get out there and have a great Labor Day!  (We know that not everyone needs that warning.)  You have worked hard and deserve a day of rest and relaxation.  Just please stay safe – whatever you choose to do.


As of this writing, Saturday, August 27th, the Northeast coast of the U.S. is ready and waiting to see what Hurrican Irene does.  Many precautions have been taken, and people seem to be paying attention to the warnings that the authorities have given them to evacuate.  As early as Friday, New York City hospitals were transferring patients to other hospitals or home, if they were able to go,  as long as they are out of harm’s way.

The United States has seen its share of weather abnormalties this year – excessive rain in some parts, and extreme drought in the Southern and Midwestern states.  There’s too much rain in places, and too little in others.  As they say, “feast or famine.”  Last spring, there were tornadoes that devastated communities, and residents are just now beginning to rebuild.  Flooding occurred as a result of heavy snows melting from the mountains.  Another unusual type of disaster – the wildfires that ravaged thousands of acres in Texas and California.  Then, what about the “dust bowl” in Arizona?  Believe me, if you’ve ever lived in a desert area, you know what those dust storms are all about.   So, Mother Nature, what goes?

These are seasonal storms that make their way out of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico and leave paths of destruction.  TODAY: MONDAY, AUGUST 29TH:  Irene has passed by the Northeastern coast, leaving approximately 21 dead;  and damage estimated at $7 billion.  Irene turned into a tropical storm late Sunday, leaving flooding behindd and possible spawning of tornadoes.  New Yorkers were relieved that it was not like the nightmare authorities feared.  According to today’s Ft Worth Star-Telegram, causes of deaths included water, falling trees, and electricity.  There will be many homes and businesses that must be repaired or rebuilt, but another big challenge is restoring power to the 4.5 million homes and businesses without power.  Travelers have been inconvenienced by delayed flights and other means of transportation.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that most of those involved in this area paid attention to the weather warnings and heeded their advice.

As the news and weather personnel instruct everyone, be prepared.  They are doing their job to warn us in the event of a natural occurrence.  We must do our part to be ready.  As advised, have a plan for your family, where you can go to escape the threat, and have your emergency supplies packed and ready.

  • A 3-day supply of fresh water.
  • Non-perishable food.
  • Important papers.
  • Cell phone and battery charger.
  • Flashlight, and candles in case of power outage.
  • Arrangements for your pets. Take them with you if possible.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Keep your car filled up with gas during threatening weather.

Here we go, complaining (naturally) about the terrible weather conditions that our nation has gone through this past spring and summer.  Then, I think about what our young men and women are going through, wearing all that heavy gear, as they fight their way in hot, dusty, dirty countries.  I feel sure they would love to be in the good old U.S.A., regardless of the threat of storms.  The kind of storm they battle every day is more fierce  than anything we can imagine.

This also brings to mind the horrible earthquake in Japan, and the struggle their citizens are coping with to rebuild parts of their country.  Haiti, another country that had a devastating earthquake, is still coping with the disaster that hit their land.  Again, what is going on with Mother Nature? How about giving Mother Earth a break?


About 80% of  U.S. adults will experience lower back injuries or back pain over their lifetimes.  These injuries can be caused by improper lifting techniques and overuse.  If you use proper lifting techniques, and stretch and strengthen your back muscles, the risk of back injury can possibly  be averted.  When we have back pain, it is hard to think about your work or anything else.   There are many occupations, such as nursing, factory and construction work, or standing all day in a store or bank, that puts significant demands on your back.  I used to sit at a desk 8 hours a day, which can cause or worsen back pain.  My posture didn’t help; I am sure I slumped at my desk, rather than sitting up straight.  If you understand what causes your back pain and what you can do to prevent it, you should feel much better.

Here are some examples of the pressure put on our backs (literally):

Posture: Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves, which leads to muscle fatigue and injury.

Stress: Pressure at work and/or home can increase your stress level and lead to muscle tension and tightness, which adds to back pain.

Repetition: Repeating certain movements can lead to muscle fatigue or injury, particularly if you’re stretching to the limit of your range of motion or using awkward body positioning.

Force: Exerting too much force on your back – such as lifting or moving heavy objects – can cause injury.  If possible, find a “work buddy.”  It is less costly on the company to have two people lifting objects safely than paying for one person’s back injury.  You may be “macho” when you are young and strong, but you will learn with age, that some of that lifting you did while you were stronger, comes back to haunt you later.

Safe lifting poster

If you work in manufacturing or another industry where your day will be comprised of lifting or handling heavy objects, be sure to stretch before beginning your day.  Make this type of exercise a regular part of your work routine.  Taking a few minutes to do a few stretching or strengthening exercises can make all the difference in the rest of your day.  Improper lifting of heavy objects causes many back injuries.  It is best to use techniques that can support your back and prevent injury.  The diagonal lift gives you a wide base of support, with more stability, energy and power.  Bend your knees and squat down; keep your back arched and head up while lifting.  This allows more power to come from the larger muscles of the legs, keeping the weight off your back.  Keep the objects close to your body.  Bad habits such as jerking, rushing, twisting or bending while lifting can cause serious injury.

Slips, trips, and falls are hazards that we all face, even at home, if we aren’t careful to keep clutter out of our paths.  Wear the correct type of shoes to fit your job.  If you are on your feet all day, you need good support, with non-slip soles if possible.  Even women who thought they had to wear high heels in the office all day seem to be changing to lower, more comfortable shoes.  Do pay attention to your posture.  Just by changing positions often, and taking time to walk around and stretch, can make you feel better and help your back.

After reviewing scientific studies on the value of back support belts in preventing lower back injury, OSHA came to the conclusion that they had no conclusion.  Therefore, they have not made wearing back belts mandatory.  The use of back support belts and braces is optional, and many companies choose to supply them to their employees.  If it is a matter of personal preference, and if it makes you feel more secure, try it.  It certainly won’t hurt anything.  Studies show that newer back supports are working.  Employees have fewer back injuries and problems.  These products also help employees retain proper posture and movement, two habits that have been shown to reduce back strain on the job.

Always listen to your body; it is usually a good warning system telling you to slow down.  Take the time to examine your work environment and find ways to help you avoid risks that could be harmful.  Talk to your supervisor if you feel the load is too much; there may be other options that will help not only you but your co-workers.


Most persons who have tattoos are proud of their them.  So proud, they have them all over their arms and other body parts.  There’s a lot to consider before trying it out, if you haven’t done so already.  As the Food and Drug Administration says, “Think Before You Ink.”  When trying to think of the pro’s and con’s, it is hard to come up with a balanced list.  Actually, there’s really not much to say about the positive side, except that some people feel that it expresses their personalities.  However, there are many concerns on the con side, so here goes: 

  • Infection.  When you go into a tattoo artist’s shop, ask to see the autoclave (a medical pressure cooker primarily used for sterilizing medical instruments.) This autoclave must maintain a temperature of at least 246 degrees for 30 minutes to fully sterilize the equipment.
  • Spread of disease. The artist should wear some type of medical latex gloves that fit properly.  A pinhole could run the risk of cross-contamination.  Ask the artist if he/she has had their Hepatitis B vaccination.  You might be a little suspicious if he doesn’t remember, as the vaccination involves receiving 3 shots over a 4-month time frame.  You may want to consider getting the vaccination yourself,  just to be on the safe side.
  • Allergies.  Allergies to various ink pigments in both permanent and temporary tattoos have been reported, and can cause problems.
  • Granulomas.  Small knots or bumps that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.
  • Scarring.  Unwanted scar tissue may form when getting or removing a tattoo.
  • MRI complications.  People may have swelling or burning in the tattoo when they have an MRI.  This happens rarely and doesn’t last long.  Do not fail to have an MRI if needed. Just inform the technician so they can take appropriate precautions. 

Other concerns:

  • The FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin. This applies to tattoos such as glow-in-the dark.
  • The use of henna in temporary tattoos has not been approved by the FDA; henna is approved only for use as a hair dye.
  • An increased variety of pigments and diluents are being used in more than 50 different pigments and shades.  These are approved for cosmetic use only, not injected into the skin.  Many pigments used in tattoo inks are not approved for skin contact at all.  Some are industrial-grade colors that are suitable for printers’ ink, and automobile paint.
  • Professional disposal of needles is also an indication of whether you want to get a tattoo in the salon.  They should be placed in a sharps container that you can see.  Also the needles used should be new.
  • Tattoos are permanent.  If you decide you need to have one removed, find a doctor that is experienced in tattoo removal.  The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery can help you find the right physician. 

The FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas is investigating the chemical composition of the inks and how they break down (metabolize) in the body; the short-term and long-term safety of pigments used in tattoo inks; and how the body responds to the interaction of light with the inks.  Whether the migration of tattoo ink has health consequences or not is still unknown.  NCTR is doing further research to answer many questions about the safety of tattoo inks. 

Do your own research while considering a tattoo; don’t do it on a whim.  It’s going to be with you the rest of your life.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the safety of the instruments and experience of the person placing a permanent message on your body for display.


Today’s article is from Guest Author, Allen Wright, with Home Alarm Monitoring Services.  If you don’t have a fire escape plan for your family, here are some helpful suggestions from Allen.

We all know, if we let ourselves think about it, that a fire in our home is possible and can be deadly, but what have we done to prepare for it? Here are 10 elements that are essential, when it comes to getting your family out of your home safely in the event of a home fire.

  1. Smoke Alarms. There should be a smoke alarm in each sleeping area of your home, and one in the area just outside the sleeping rooms, as well as having smoke alarms on each level of the home. There should also be smoke alarms in the stairways between levels, and one in any room that is regularly closed off while being used, such as an office or media room. Smoke alarms should be tested once per month to assure that their batteries are good. Direct-wired alarms are not recommended, as an electrical fire can render them useless.
  2. Floor Plan. Take the time to create a floor plan, map, or grid of your home. Study it together as a family, so that everyone knows escape routes from each room in case a fire separates family members.
  3. Clear Escape Routes. Make sure that all escape routes to windows and doors are free of blockages at all times.
  4. Alternate Route Plans. Your escape plan should include two routes out of each room, in order to assure that no one is trapped if a fire blocks a primary exit.
  5. Outside Meeting Place. Designate a meeting place outside the home, for everyone to gather after escaping the home.
  6. Practice. Assemble your family once per month to practice your escape plan. Keeping the practices short, and assuming the fire starts in a different room for each practice, on a rotating basis from month to month, is a good idea.
  7. Hot Doors. The plan should stress that a hot door should never be opened during a fire event. Hot doors mean fire is on the other side.
  8. Once Out, Stay Out. Once you or a family member has escaped the home, it should never be re-entered. Gather in your outside meeting place, and if anyone is missing, one member can run around the outside of the house, pounding on walls and shouting to get the attention of anyone left inside.
  9. No Elevators. If you live in a multi-story building, never use elevators in order to escape during a fire event. Elevators are a trap if the power is lost.
  10. Sleepovers. If your child asks to stay overnight at a friend’s house, always speak to the parents of the friend, to assure yourself that they also have smoke alarms and an escape plan, before giving answer. Also, the parents should be willing to include your child in an escape practice before the sleepover proceeds. The same, of course, should be done when your child has a friend in your home for an overnight stay.

These 10 essentials make a good guideline in order to assure the safety of your family and others during a home fire event. In creating your plan, you will likely find others that are essential to the peculiarities of your home. Be prepared and be safe.   

Thanks again, Allen, and there’s much more good information on Home Alarm Monitoring Services serves as your guide to reputible home alarm systems.   We are fortunate to have many friends who want to share information on ways to keep us all safe.


Every fall, as parents send their youngsters off to college, it is the most natural thing in the world to be concerned for their safety.  We want to share tips that we have either written about in the past, to serve as reminders that the world we live in has its share of dangers.  College freshmen are ready to “try their wings,” and that may mean doing some things that they haven’t done while living at home.  They feel they must show their independence, although Mom and Dad are probably footing all the bills! 

Party time is just around the corner!  I’m not saying they all will do it, but some young people are ready to learn, not just about education, but also about “partying.”  Here are some “sobering facts” that we want to discuss with you first.  Think for a moment about how many missing young college students or other girls are being searched for right now.  They may have been out for a jog, or they may have been with a group and left with some stranger.  Warn your kids that their safety is foremost, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times.  Other unpleasant factors to consider are:

  • Date Rape” – An unfortunate statistic is that 90 per cent of rapes occur between people who already knew each other and that approximately half of rapes happen on dates.  The Journal of Studies on Alcohol reports that more than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have been victims of alcohol-related sexual assault.  An illegal drug in the U.S. is Rohypnol, the “date rape drug” that can be slipped into a drink.  It causes drowsiness, loss of coordination, dizziness and memory loss.  Never take drinks from other people, and don’t leave your drink unattended!  Don’t take the chance.  Be sure when you go out to tell someone you trust the name of your date, destination, and planned time of return.  Take your cell phone and money for a cab just in case.
  • Stay with a group. – You are responsible for your own safety.  Get acquainted with people you trust and feel comfortable with.  If something doesn’t seem quite right with a new date, remove yourself from the situation.  Usually your instincts tell you that you are taking a chance.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol.  You can have a good time without drinking so much that it alters your personality.  You will like yourself tomorrow much better if you don’t overdo it the night before.
  • Take a self-defense class. – Chances are you will have to take a gym class, so ask if there are self-defense classes.  It could be the smartest thing you ever do.  Think about carrying self-defense devices such as pepper sprays, tasers (if legal), or personal alarms.  Know how to use these types of devices and be committed to using them should a dangerous situation occur.  Through preparation and awareness you will enjoy increased “peace of mind” and confidence knowing you are protected.
  • Be aware of internet predators. – Practice computer safety, either at home or away at college.    Never give out your personal information to someone online that you don’t know, and be cautious about what you say to a stranger.
  • Use the “buddy system” anytime you can.  – Whether crossing campus, shopping in a mall, going out to eat, or going to a bar, don’t go alone, if possible.  There is power in numbers, so make that your policy.
  • Never go to an ATM at night, or alone.
  • Pay attention to everything around you. – A fun idea is to give yourself and a friend a test walk past someone to see how well you could describe him or her if something happened.  It may surprise you how much you don’t remember, or the different way you and your friend describe him/her. 
  • Make copies of important papers.- Your credit cards, health ID cards, etc., should be stored  in a safe place.  Leave a copy with Mom and Dad. 
  • Last but not least on our list, don’t drink and drive or text and drive! 

Speaking of Mom and Dad, call them at least once a week, to let them know how things are going, your plans for the coming week, and generally, just to touch base.  It is always a comfort to parents to hear from their kids and know they are alright.  There are many other suggestions we could make, and you have probably already heard  these from your parents.  Believe me, as you get older, you will realize just how smart Mom and Dad are.  They have learned from experience, and while they want you to have the college experience, they want your safety, foremost.  Just use common sense.   We wish for you a safe and happy college life.


It’s hard to believe another school year is rolling around!  Parents are busy buying supplies and new clothes, ready to take that “first day of school” picture of their little students!  This is an important time for students, parents, and teachers to get the year started off with a bang.  It’s up to everyone to see that these kids are safe while they are on a school bus, crossing the street, or being carpooled. 

Drivers must pay special attention as they approach crosswalks and are in neighborhoods where kids are walking to school.  They may be busy talking to each other and forget to be as careful as they should.  That’s when we all must do our part to ensure their safety.  When you are backing out of your driveway, take it a little slower, just in case there are some small pedestrians in your drive.  Be watchful for children on and near the road in the morning and after school.  Take extra time to watch for children on medians, curbs, and at intersections.  Slow down and be alert.  Turn your cell phone off and concentrate on the road while you are driving in school zones. 

Until a child is 10 years old, they should cross the street with an adult.  If they walk to school, help find another child they can walk with.  Caution them to cross only at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks, or obey the crosswalk guard.  Kids should know never to run into the streets or cross in between parked cars. 

School bus safety is very important.  Tell your child to wait for the bus to stop before stepping off the curb.  They should stay seated while on the bus, and use lap or shoulder straps if the bus has them.  Children should always get on and off the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or school building.  They should always remain in the driver’s view. 

If they ride a bike to school, make sure they always wear a helmet.  They should ride on the right side of the road, with the direction of auto traffic.  Teach them to use the correct hand signals.  Wearing brightly colored clothing will increase visibility; also, there are high visibility stickers that could be placed on the bike or backpack to help be noticed. 

In several states, record-high temperatures continue to be recorded.  Consideration should be given about food safety, for children who take their lunch.  It’s been noted that foods that should be refrigerated spoil during the time they stay in lunchboxes.  Choose what you send carefully;  non-perishables would be best, or ask the teacher is if there is a small refrigerator in the room that your child’s lunchbox or sack lunch could be kept until lunchtime. 

Backpacks should have wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.  Heavier items should be packed closer to the center of the backpack.  It should never weigh more than 10 to 20 per cent of the weight of your child.  Rolling backpacks are a good choice for students with a heavy load of books, etc.  Just be sure the school allows this type of backpack, and that it won’t have to be lugged up stairs. 

There are so many things to express about school safety.  We wish every child from Pre-K to 12 a very happy school year!  Good luck to the parents, too!


While working with a flood cleanup crew in Minot, North Dakota, a quality assessment representative for the town was watching a private business owner and contractor assemble a group of workers to enter a grain storage bin.  Noting that there was no safety equipment present, and knowing the hazards involved,  the representative from Minot called an OSHA inspector in the area, who quickly arrived on the scene.  There was no retrieval gear for the workers, the atmosphere had not been tested, and no training in grain bin entry had been given to the workers.  Due to this intervention, a potential tragedy was prevented. 

Unfortunately, a terrible accident in Colorado in 2009, did not have the same results.  A 17-year-old worker lost his life in a grain bin.  The company pled guilty to violating OSHA regulations that resulted in the death of this young man.  There was a lack of safety and rescue equipment on site; however,  three teenagers entered the bins without the benefit of personal protective equipment, such as a body harness and lanyard.  The only instructions given to the crew were to watch out for one another and be careful.  Cody, the victim, was allowed to enter the bin despite knowing that the bucket elevator was not locked out and grain was flowing from the bin.  While inside the bin, he was engulfed by the flowing grain and sucked under, where his chest was crushed and he died of asphyxiation.  Despite the efforts of Cody’s co-workers, they were unable to locate and rescue him.  

The facts of the investigation revealed  that it was common practice for this company to hire high school-age teenagers from the local area.  These teens were assigned various hazardous tasks, which included bin entry, “Walking the Grain”, working in and around unguarded mechanical equipment, unsafe electrical devices, confined spaces, and exposure to explosive grain dust.  Employees regularly entered the bins to “walk down grain”, the practice of walking around the edge of a bin to dislodge clumps of grain while it was flowing from the bin, without the appropriate safety harness with lanyard.  A center-grain-unloading auger draws grain from the top center and the grain forms a cone as the bin is emptied. 

There are many deadly hazards of engulfment and suffocation while working inside grain storage bins.  Grain bins are used to store bulk raw agricultural commodities such as wheat, corn, and oats.  If workers stand on moving or flowing grain, it can be like “quicksand” and pull them under.  If they stand on or below “bridged” grain, it can collapse and bury workers.  Also, if they try to loosen grain, it can cave in on them.  OSHA’s Hazard Alert warns how workers can become engulfed in these bins, and lists precautions that employers must take to protect workers.  These include:

  • Disconnecting equipment that presents a danger;
  • Prohibiting workers from walking on the grain to make it flow;
  • Providing workers with personal protective and rescue equipment;
  • Requiring an observer outside the bin who is trained on how to perform rescue operations. 

In the case of the teenager who lost his life, the company paid $500,000 to his family, as well as fines to OSHA.  OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels stated, “This is a terrible tragedy that should never have happened.  Money won’t bring back this young man’s life, but we can make every effort to ensure that these tragedies don’t happen again.”  The company involved is required to implement safety provisions that include providing safety training and refresher training to its employees, and develop a procedure that includes harnesses and lanyards or similar safety equipment in anticipation of bin entry at any of its grain elevators.  If they violate any of these terms of probabion, they could be potentially liable for up to another $500,000 fine.

Parents: don’t hesitate to find out what kind of job your teenager is going to be asked to do.  It’s not worth taking a chance.  Companies should never gamble with their employees’ lives, especially when they put them in hazardous situations that are entirely preventable. 

Source: OSHA


Yesterday, we took an imaginary tour of our homes to find if there are certain hazards that could cause injury to individuals, especially senior citizens.  We  continue today with more safety tips.  Please think about keeping your home safe for all who live there, regardless of their ages, and when older visitors come, pay close attention to the tips we have already mentioned.  Here are more safety ideas: 

Although we are all getting older with each day, exercise is very important.  The earlier you begin an exercise program, the better.  Always ask your doctor about the type of exercise you can do safely, if you have health problems.  Your health may be hurt more by inactivity than by exercise, because with age,  we lose ground in four areas: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.  Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay dementia, according to the National Institute of Health.  Fitness experts can work out a customized plan for individuals to exercise safely.

 Now, let’s talk about keeping medications either in clearly marked containers or in a medication organizer with individually sealed slots for every day of the week.   Those who have poor vision or other health problems could ask a family member to help with this.  

Have important phone numbers programmed in your home phone and/or cell phone.  If you go for a walk, take your cell phone, just in case of emergency, such as a fall.   Take along a cane or walking stick of some type just in case a “friendly” dog comes along; this will help with balance, as well as letting him know he needs to move on.  Dogs can jump up on those who are unsteady, causing them to fall.  Cats can easily trip someone.   I’ve known this to happen, and in both instances, broken hips were the result.  One lady died from complications following the hip surgery.

Place deadbolts and peepholes on the doors to your home, and keep the doors locked.  Don’t let strangers in without verifiable identification, don’t reveal you are alone, and always have your neighbors contact info.  Many persons choose to install a home security system.  Schemes abound for all of us – old, young, and inbetween.  When you are out shopping, keep purses close to you, and, guys, don’t keep a wallet in your back pocket.  Tell a family member or friend where you are going, avoid traveling alone, stay away from dimly lit  surroundings, and carry a whistle or other alarm.  Don’t sit in your parked car, counting money, or talking on a cell phone without locking the door first, and be sure you are in a safe area.  If you need handicapped parking accessibility, it’s there for you if you have a placard on your car or license plate.  If you don’t, please leave that space for someone who does qualify.  A caregiver or handicapped person will thank you for doing that.    When driving, don’t talk on the cell phone.  If you have taken medication, and are feeling drowsy, ask someone else to drive you where you need to go.  

Be aware of internet or phone fraud.  According to AARP, many senior citizens are victims of fraud.  Here’s some reminders about this subject:

  • Never give out information such as your social security number or other personal information on the phone or internet.
  • Stay informed of current schemes.
  • Don’t freely give large amounts of cash. 
  • Research a home-repair company’s credentials.  Use reputable local contractors for repairs. 
  • Don’t fall for the “You’ve won the jackpot!” ploy.  This is probably a scam.
  •  If you receive a call saying it is from your internet provider and you have a virus, and they can fix it for you from their office, don’t believe it.  Call them to verify the call.  It’s probably another “phishing” scam.

Last, but not least, consider a security alert button if you are at risk for falling, or have a chronic illness that may require urgent medical attention.  A  monitoring system similar to Life Alert will sound for help if you have fallen, or unable to talk due to a head injury or stroke.  Most systems are portable and can be worn as a necklace or bracelet.  Once the button is pressed, emergency personnel or the primary caregiver is immediately notified and contact is made with the client.  Others such as wearable health monitoring systems  alert medical personnel of any changes in the body via sensors.  A new senior cell phone option is an emergency cell phone that provides wide emergency response coverage, unlike most medical alarms that work only within or near your home.  It has an SOS button that will activate automatic dialing, which contacts up to five pre-programmed numbers to call for help.  It can also power up a loud alarm to call attention of nearby people that someone needs help.

Aren’t we lucky to live in an age where we can get assistance in many instances by merely pressing a button?  Never hesitate to ask for help when you need it.  You have a family member, neighbor, or friend who is there simply for the asking.  Don’t take chances with your safety – you are too important!