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Queens Chronicle

Avoid Becoming Another Summer ER Statistic

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002 12:00 am

Summer, peak time for energy demands, ice cream and outdoor activities, is also peak season for visits to the emergency room. More than 3.7 million consumers went to hospital emergency rooms with product-related injuries in June, July and August of last year, about 836,000 more than in January, February and March, reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To help you enjoy summer activities without becoming a 2002 statistic, the Medical Society of the State of New York advises following these important safety tips from the CPSC.

Summer Safety Tips

• Wear a helmet and other safety gear when biking, skating and skateboarding, and when riding scooters, all-terrain vehicles and horses. Studies have shown that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.

• Use multiple means of protection to prevent a swimming pool tragedy. This includes placing barriers completely around the pool to prevent access, using door and pool alarms, closely supervising children, and being prepared for an emergency.

• Never cook on charcoal grills indoors because burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide, which is deadly if trapped indoors.

• When cooking outdoors with a gas grill, check the air tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders or food grease. Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing. If you ever detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas at the tank, and do not attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed. Newer grills and propane tanks have improved safety devices to prevent gas leaks.

• Make sure your home playground is safe. Falls cause 60 percent of playground injuries; so having a safe surface is critical. Concrete, asphalt and packed dirt surfaces are too hard. Use at least nine inches of wood chips or mulch.

• To reduce baseball-related injuries to children, use softer-than-standard baseballs, safety-release bases and batting helmets with face guards.

• If you are a soccer mom or dad, beware that movable soccer goals can fall over and kill children. Make sure the goal is anchored securely at all times, and never allow anyone to climb on the net or goal framework or hang from the cross bar. Remove nets when the goals are not in use.

• To prevent serious injuries while using a trampoline, allow only one person on at a time, and do not allow somersaults. Use a shock-absorbing pad that completely covers the springs, and place the trampoline away from structures and other play areas. Children under six years old should not use full-size trampolines.

• Childproof old appliances and warn children not to play inside them. The CPSC has received reports of numerous suffocation deaths involving children who crawled inside old cedar chests, latch-type freezers, and refrigerators, iceboxes in campers, clothes dryers and picnic coolers.

• If summer plans include camping and you want heat inside your tent or camper, use one of the new portable heaters that is equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). If oxygen levels start to fall inside your tent or camper, the ODS automatically shuts down the heater before it can produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide. Do not attempt to use alternative sources of heat or power to warm a tent or camper. Traditional camping heaters, charcoal grills, camping lanterns and gas generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Install window guards to prevent children from falling out of open windows. Guards should be installed in children's bedrooms, parents' bedrooms and other rooms where young children spend time. Or, install window stops that permit windows to open no more than four inches. Whenever possible, open windows from the top, not the bottom. To discourage children from climbing near windows, keep furniture away from windows.

• Summer also means yard work. When mowing, keep small children out of the yard, and turn the mower off if children enter the area. If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with the walk-behind rotary mower, never up and down. With a riding mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it. Never carry children on a riding mower.

For additional information about hazardous consumer products and how to prevent product-related injuries, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or visit its Web site at www.cpsc.gov.

Vitamin Deficiency Is Common In The Elderly

Elderly people, vegans (vegetarians who eliminate all animal protein from the diet), alcohol-dependent individuals, and those who have trouble absorbing nutrients are at a higher risk of vitamin deficiency and suboptimal vitamin status, according to a scientific review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers reviewed articles, published between 1966 and January 11, 2002, about vitamins in relation to chronic diseases.

The researchers focused on 9 vitamins they claim are especially central in the preventive care of adults: folate, the provitamin A carotenoids, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K.

“Although clinical syndromes of vitamin deficiencies are unusual in Western societies, suboptimal vitamin status is not,” the researchers report.

“Inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.”

The authors note that at least 30 percent of U.S. residents use vitamin supplements regularly and, despite the report’s emphasis on deficiency, also caution that vitamin excess is possible with supplementation, particularly with the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

This information is provided by the Medical Society of the State of New York.

For more health-related information and referrals to physicians in your community, contact your local county medical society.

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