By Jenni Bergal
Dawn Prescott doesn’t recall all the details of when the school bus she was riding on more than 15 years ago careened off a bridge in Omaha, Nebraska, plunged nearly 50 feet into a creek bed, and landed on its side.
She was a chaperone for the high school band, which was returning from a competition in October 2001. Her son Benjamin, 14, was sitting a few rows up, behind the driver.
“I remember that I grabbed the luggage rack and was hanging from it,” Prescott, 55, recalled. “Kids were screaming and hurt and in tangled heaps that I stepped over. All I could think of was that I had to get to my son. But when I finally did, I found he was unconscious.”
Benjamin, along with two other students and a parent, died as a result of the crash. Twenty-six passengers were injured. So was the driver, the only one on the bus who was wearing a seat belt. Seat belts weren’t required on school buses, and the bus didn’t have any for passengers.
Since then, Prescott, a middle school teacher, has been urging Nebraska lawmakers to require what she says are lifesaving seat belts on new school buses. So far, they haven’t. [Read more…] about More states requiring seat belts on school buses
By Jenni Bergal
By 2030, more than 60 million older adults could be driving on the nation’s roadways. But don’t expect many more states to put added restrictions on their ability to get behind the wheel.
Legislatures have become increasingly reluctant to restrict driver’s licenses for seniors or impose extra requirements — such as vision or road tests — for getting them renewed based solely on their advancing age.
That’s partly because older people are generally considered safe drivers, more programs exist to improve their driving skills, and recent studies have shown that many of the restrictions aren’t as effective as once thought in preventing traffic fatalities.
It’s also because a politically powerful group of advocates for seniors and motorists, such as AARP and AAA, argue that age shouldn’t be used as the sole measure of an older person’s fitness to handle a car.
“We believe that driving is about the ability and health of the driver, not their age,” said AARP spokeswoman Kristin S. Palmer. “We can’t stereotype older drivers.” [Read more…] about Should older drivers face special restrictions?
New website offers quick tips to keep you safe and healthy this winter
Get Frosty’s wardrobe ready because snowflakes are in the forecast. The Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, and Medical Reserve Corps have teamed up to provide one place for weather-related preparedness information.
The newly launched site www.snohd.org/weather provides information on cold weather shelters around the county, as well as other resources for flooding, power outages, and emergency preparedness.
To help you and your loved ones get ready for the winter weather ahead, here are a few tips to get you started:
Create an emergency kit and a plan.
- Have adequate clothing and extra blankets to keep you warm, and work to increase your emergency supplies to include 10-14 days of non-perishable food and water per person.
- Know where fire extinguishers are located, and be sure everyone in your family understands how to use one.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
- Design a plan that includes what to do in case of an emergency, how to contact family members and get back together if separated during an emergency. You can find an emergency plan checklist at www.snohomishcountywa.gov/180/Emergency-Management
Winterize your car.
- Check your antifreeze, oil and brake fluid levels, windshield wipers, lights and flashing hazard lights, as well as your heater and defroster to be sure they are all working properly.
- Examine your tires and be sure that chains or snow tires are accessible if needed.
- Have your exhaust system inspected to ensure there are no leaks to keep you safe from carbon monoxide.
- Have emergency supplies in your car like a first aid kit, blankets, water and roadside flares.
Winterize your home.
- Check pipes during freezing temperatures, insulate if necessary, and learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts
- Be sure to include ice melting products and sand to improve traction, and have a snow shovel or other removal equipment handy.
- Store a supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Have your chimney or heating equipment cleaned and inspected.
- Insulate your home by checking the caulking and weather-stripping around doors, installing storm windows, or cover windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
- If you are able, clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and trim tree branches.
Stay safe during snowstorms and extreme cold.
- Stay indoors during storms, and use care walking on snowy, icy walkways afterward.
- Be sure to change your wet clothes frequently, and learn what frostbite and hypothermia signs to look for at www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/index.html.
- If you have to drive during winter weather, keep others informed of your schedule, stay on main roads, and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are the highest during colder months. Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues, or portable or propane heaters for indoor heating.
Don’t forget pets.
- Bring your pets and companion animals inside during winter weather. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
- Give your pets plenty of food and water.
- Try to protect paws from salt when taking dogs on walks.
- Make sure other animals and livestock have sheltered areas with access to non-frozen drinking water.
By taking proper precautions, you won’t be caught off-guard when the weather outside is frightful. As a reminder, there are a number of cold weather shelters that typically open up around Snohomish County when the temperature nears freezing. For the current list of shelters and their contact information, visit www.snohd.org/weather. For more information on personal preparedness, please visit www.snohomishcountywa.gov/719/Personal-Preparedness.
By Jenni Bergal
At retirement communities from California to Florida, golf carts have become a way of life. They’re energy-efficient, cheaper to buy and maintain than regular cars, and, seniors say, fun to drive. For many, they’re the main way to get from doctor’s appointments and dance classes to restaurants and shopping centers.
But as the bare-bones buggies move from the back nine to the blacktop, safety experts and advocates for seniors say they’re worried about them sharing the road with larger, faster cars and trucks.
“People in these vehicles are at as much risk as someone on a bicycle,” said Jana Lynott, a senior policy adviser at AARP who specializes in transportation. “There’s very little protection. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to throw them onto roads where traffic is 45, or even 35, miles an hour.” [Read more…] about What happens when golf carts hit the streets?