Considering Child Safety Concerns

It is one of our most important duties as adults to make sure our young ones are carefully cared for, educated, and protected. Without properly protecting their health and wellbeing, nothing else matters! Today, we will talk about some of the primary safety concerns facing young children and explore some ways we can address them.

For Babies, Products Matter

When it comes to the safety of newborns, the product you purchase really will matter. There are specific safety standards which any crib, playpen, high chair, or changing table must meet. For example, when shopping for a crib, you need to make sure that they do not have any more than 2.4 inches of space in between each slat. Playpens such meet similar requirements. When using a playpen, only place soft, non-choking hazard toys inside. High chairs must have safety straps if they are to be considered safe.

Drowning Danger

Drowning claims the lives of many children each and every year. The danger is particularly high here in the Southwest, where home pools are common. It is commonly said that children can drown in less than two inches of water. Never leave your young one unsupervised around any amount of water. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, make sure it is fenced in on all four sides.

Finally, Focus on Safe Eating

Focusing on safe eating means increasing your awareness of both choking hazards and potentially dangerous or toxic foods. Children will try to put almost anything in their mouths. This may include prescription medications or cleaning products. Always store these items somewhere out of reach or under lock and key. Teach children that they need to completely chew food before swallowing to avoid choking. If you are ever concerned about something your child may have consumed, contact a healthcare professional without hesitation.

The Best ways to avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls

Here at Hastings and Hastings, we see a large number of personal injury cases involving slips, trips, and falls come through our doors each and every year. Through the hundreds of these cases we have dealt, we have learned a lot about how and why slips, trips, and falls occur. We have also learned a number of steps that can be taken to help avoid these accidents and reduce the frequency in which they occur.

Knowing your Danger Areas

The first step in reducing your risk of experience a slip, trip, or fall, is learning where these accident take place most of the time. We call this “knowing your danger areas.” The kitchen and the bathroom are the two most dangerous rooms in the home in terms of your likelihood to slip of fall. Additionally, you should be awareacutely aware of fall risks in particularly dangerous areas, such as around stairs, balconies, and near large second story windows.

Reducing Risk in Danger Areas

Now that you know where the danger areas are, you need consider steps you can take to reduce the risk associated with these areas. The bathroom, one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, almost seems as if it was designed as a place for slips and falls to occur. The tile floor of the bathroom, and the smooth surface of the shower become untenably slick when they get wet. Install non-slip shower mats and put down towels to soak up moisture. There is no indignity in using shower hand railings as well. The best way to prevent slips and falls in the kitchen is to maintain a clean, uncluttered environment. Experiencing a slip or fall is here particularly dangerous because you could hit your head or neck on the hard, unyielding countertops.

Considering Vehicle Anti-Theft Devices

In our previous blog we discussed some simple steps you could take to prevent a carjacking. Briefly at the end we touched on anti-theft devices. Considering modern technological advances, these may be your most powerful tool in terms of combating car theft. Today we will look at options you may have when installing an anti-theft device.

Kills Switches and Electronic Immobilizers

Electronic immobilizers are almost a standard anti-theft devices for most modern vehicles. They come with a key fob that communicates with the car via a transponder and microchip. The fuel-pump and ignitions systems must receive a signal from the key fob before they will activate. Simply having a car with an electronic immobilizer may be enough to deter some car thieves. Kill switches are used to deactivate an engine’s electrical system. Some cars already have these built in, others can have them added after market. This may affect your car’s warranty condition however, so always check first.

Vehicle Tracking Systems

Vehicle tracking systems may allow you to get your car back even it if has been stolen. A chip is installed inside the vehicle which can be tracked via GPS. There is nowhere in the world a thief can hide your car where you will not be able to find it. Popular vehicle tracking systems are produced by LoJack and OnStar. LoJack coordinates directly with law enforcement officials to facilitate the recovery of the vehicle.

Analog Anti-Theft

Of course, for the technologically adverse, or for the cost conscious car owner, there are analog anti-theft devices which are available. A steering-wheel lock is a timeless and effective way to prevent car theft. Mid-range steering-wheel locks will cost just about $25. In terms of value, it is hard to go wrong with that. Gear-shift locks and tire locks are also available.

Don’t make it Easy: 4 Steps for Avoiding Car Theft

You love your car. You depend on your car. Without your car, well, life would just start falling apart. We are right there with you. We rely on our car for everything. If we were to suddenly lose it, we don’t know what we would do. Unfortunately, car thefts do. Today we will look at 4 easy steps you can take to avoid a car theft.

1) Lock and be Mindful

Always keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while you are driving. A certain percentage of car thefts actually occur while the owner of the car is still in the vehicle! Never leave your keys in the car for any reason, even if you are just running inside the house for a few seconds. It isn’t worth the risk. A bold car thief could drive away with your vehicle in the blink of an eye.

2) Hide and stow valuables

Your car is already a tempting target all on its own. Don’t make it any more tempting than you have to. Do no leave valuable items in your vehicle anywhere they might be visible. Dot not leave the title to your car inside the vehicle either. We also recommend hiding the vehicle registration somewhere other than the glove box. If a car thief is pulled over, it could give them trouble when they are asked to produce the vehicle registration.

3) Consider where you park

Only park in locations that are well lit and widely visible. Thieves rarely commit crimes in the open. This also makes it safer for you enter and exit your car if you are walking somewhere at night.

4) Install an anti-theft device

You might just think car alarms are annoying, but they are effective at preventing thefts. It will take a bold carjacker to continue with a theft while the loud call of a car alarm sounds out.


What to do if you are bitten by a Dog

According to statistics gathered by the CDC in 2014, approximately, 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the United States. A majority of these 4.7 million bites are extremely minor and require little to no medical attention. Of these 4.7 million, some 800,000 seek medical attention by visiting the emergency room or their family physician. Today we will discuss steps you should take if you are bitten by a dog.

Prevention is worth a pound of cure

The best way to treat a dog bite, is to avoid it entirely. Learn how to behave around strange dogs. If you own a dog, make sure it is trained how to behave around other people. Learn steps to take if you are confronted by an aggressive or angry dog.

For minor dog bites

Most minor dog bites can be treated with a simple home first-aid kit. However, if you have any questions or concerns, you should contact a healthcare professional. As a first step in treatment, always clean the wound by running under warm water. Don’t be afraid of bleeding, this is your body’s way of preventing bacteria from entering the wound. Apply a disinfectant and cover with a bandage.

For more severe bites

If bleeding is profuse the bite is beyond your ability to treat with a home first-aid kit. You may need sutures or stiches to close the wound. Further, you should seek medical attention if the wound becomes more painful during healing, or if it swells, or leaks fluid or pus. Likewise, if you develop a temperature after receiving a dog bite, this may be a sign of infection. A physician will likely prescribe you antibiotics if they believe there is a risk of infection following a dog bite.


4 Tips for Safely Approaching a Strange Dog

We have all been there before, we see an unbearably cute dog walking on the street, and we just have to go up and say hi. Who can turn down a stocky little corgi waddling down the sidewalk? They need to be greeted. And Pet. There are rules to doing this though! You should never walk up to a stranger’s dog to greet it without first receiving permission. Following are our 4 tips for safely approaching a strange dog.

1) Ask Permission

The most obvious and important detail, always ask for permission before approaching a strange dog. The dog may look friendly, but you cannot make assumptions. Just because you love all dogs, does not mean that all dogs will love you.

2) Approach with caution

You may be full of enthusiasm and excitement, but the dog might not feel the same. It may be a little more apprehensive. Especially if you run right up to it. Imagine how you would feel if someone did the same thing to you? You would feel a little surprised and spooked probably. Treat a dog the way you would like to be treated. Be polite and friendly.

3) Let the dog initiate

So, you have received permission from the owner to approach, and you have done so carefully. The next step is to let the dog initiate contact with you. Extend your hand to let them become familiar with you and your smell. Avoid making direct, extended eye contact. Some breeds of dogs will read this as a direct confrontation or threat, and may respond accordingly.

4) Pet appropriately

You may think you know everything there is to know about petting a dog, but we are willing to be you could still use a lesson or two. Avoid petting a dog on the top of head or around the neck. Pet gently. Do not thump the dog roughly on the sides as you do not know how the dog will respond.

Guide to Accident Scene Photography

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to personal injury lawsuits and getting to the bottom of an accident, a few pictures can be worth much more than that. Pictures can be worth thousands of dollars. As always, your primary concern at the scene of an accident should be your health. Only attempt to take photographs of the accident if your health permits you to.

1) Photograph the scene

Start off by creating a clear picture of the scene of the accident. This means take wide shots. Don’t focus on the details yet. If your accident occurred in an intersection, take 20-30 steps back to get pictures which capture the entire intersection

2) Document the damage

Take clear picture of all the damage that occurred in the accident, not just the vehicle. If one car hit a light post, document the damage to the light post as well. This pictures not only clearly establish the consequences of the accident, they can also help show exactly how the accident occurred.

3) Show relevant traffic signs

Take pictures of any relevant traffic signs. Don’t forget to include context. If one of the drivers ran a stop sign, photograph the stop sign itself and show how it relates to the intersection. Include other traffic signs such as yield signs or speed limit signs.

4) Look for associated details

Photograph anything else that may be linked to the accident. Take pictures of any puddles, patches of ice, or other extremal weather conditions which may have contributed to the accident. Likewise, take pictures of skid marks if they have been left behind. The length and breadth of skid marks can actually be used to determine the speed a car was moving, and establish when the car started breaking.

Basic Dog Park Etiquette (Part Two)

You might be thinking to yourself, “we need two blogs to cover dog part etiquette?! What is this, a fancy dinner party?!” Well, a visit to the dog park is a few degrees less formal, but involves even more chaos and moving parts. Keeping things under control requires rules, both formal and informal. By following proper dog park etiquette, everyone can stay safe, have fun, and head home happy and satisfied.

4) Teach your dog proper greeting skills

Greetings between dogs are just as important as greetings between humans. Remember, you only have one chance at a first impression. Do not allow your dog to charge other dogs and greet them overly enthusiastically. This could put the new dog on edge almost immediately. Energy like that has a way of spreading quickly from dog to dog, affecting the entire dog park. Also, do not let your dog perform dominance displays on other dogs.

5) Follow leashing rules

Depending on the dog park, there may be areas specifically marked for leashed and off-leash activities.Follow these rules closely. Never bring a leashed dog into an off-leash area. When everyone is running around having fun, it is easy to get tangled up in a leash. In worst-case scenarios, this could cause broken legs or choking! Retractable leashes are particularly dangerous in off-leash areas. If your dog isn’t trained to behave off-leash, then he may not be ready to play in these areas.

6) Never bring a pregnant female or a female in heat

This one should come as common sense, but unfortunately, we have seen this rule violated more than a few times. Remember, dogs are animals. They depend largely on instinct. Exposure to a pregnant female or a female in heat taps right into this instinct side and sends them wild.

Basic Dog Park Etiquette (Part One)

If you have ever taken your dog to the dog park, you know what a wild and crazy place it can be. Humans and animals alike circle and play in a maelstrom of fur and fun. Unfortunately, sometimes things can get out of hand. Dog bites do occur at the dog park. Often, it may not even be the dog’s fault. And that isn’t all! Conflicts with grumpy humans are not uncommon as well. To keep yourself out of trouble with both man and beast, follow our dog park etiquette guide.

1) Make sure they are ready

Don’t bring your dog to the dog park if they are not ready. Generally, 4-6 months of age is the absolute earliest they should be visiting. This is for a number of reasons. First off, younger puppies may not have all of their vaccinations yet. Young dogs do not have fully developed immune systems either. This means that they could carry and spread infections that adult dogs would not have to worry about. Consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s overall health and readiness before bringing them to the dog park.

2) Keep the park clean

This one is primarily to help you get along with the people at the dog park. It is also just a common curtesy as a dog owner. Always scoop up after your dog after they do their business. Not only is it gross, it is also unsanitary. You might think your little doggy is adorable doing their business, but they are leaving behind a stinky pile of diseases and parasites. Bring plastic baggies and scoop it up. Keep the park clean.

3) Exercise your dog beforehand

You might be wondering, but isn’t the entire point of going to the dog park to give my dog some exercise? It shouldn’t be. The dog park should be a supplemental part of your dog’s exercise. If visiting the park is the only exercise they receive, then your dog may have the tendency to become overly excited and out of control.

The Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

We have made it through the holiday season. Barley. It was exhausting that is for sure. Now it is time to recover. You have earned some rest and relaxation. Did you know that in the few weeks following the holiday season, from January 2-14, we actually see a small spike in accident frequency? A number of factors could be contributing to this rise in accidents, including drowsy driving. Don’t let holiday exhaustion get the best of you. Today, we will discuss the warning signs of drowsy driving.

The Subtle Signs

Drowsy driving has an insidious way of sneaking up on you. We have a nearly endless ability to trick ourselves into thinking we are less tired than we really are. We deny the reality of our exhaustion. We ignore the fact that we have only slept 5 hours a night for the last several days. Don’t let this delusion get the best of you! Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous.

Restlessness and irritability are two of the more subtle signs of drowsy driving. Yawning is a classic signifier of sleepiness. The problem is, sometimes people don’t even realize they are yawning! If you are having difficulty focusing, find yourself frequently blinking, or feel as if your eyelids are unbearably heavy, you may be progressing to a sleepier state. These are all signs that you should get off the road as soon as possible.

The Major Warning Signs

In the previous section we discuss the subtle, more minor signs of drowsy driving. These signal that you should get off the road within the next 20-40 minutes. The major signs are much more powerful. Should you experience any of the major warning signs, you should get off the road and switch drivers immediately. The major signs include trouble remembering the last few miles driven, missing traffic signs, difficulty keeping your head up, and disconnected thoughts.