public community safety

National Public Health Awareness Week: Get Involved in Your Community

If you live in a small, quiet, and low-crime community, you may take your safety for granted. Millions of homes and neighborhoods across the U.S. are deemed dangerous, putting the health, safety, and overall well-being of residents at risk for personal injuries and even death. You may live a healthy lifestyle and reside in a safe home, but if your community is unsafe and unhealthy it can directly impact you.


The first week of April is National Public Health Awareness Week in which the American Public Health Association (APHA) raises awareness, educates and encourages communities to strive to live more safely and healthy. The APHA strives in making the United States the healthiest nation by the year 2030. While the goal is a challenge, it is attainable if everyone made small changes in their daily lives.

What Makes a Community Safe?


Focusing on community safety is much more than reducing the rate of crime. A safer community should have low rates of unintentional injuries, the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. An unintentional injury, such as a fall or injury in a fire, can happen anywhere in a community and with proper prevention, the rate of incidence can be significantly decreased.


Hazardous Homes: While the home should be one of the safest places in a person’s life, a place of residence is often filled with hazards that lead to injury in death.


For instance, many Americans rent homes and entrust that the property they live in is safe. Unfortunately, in many homes the property is not maintained or up-to-date with safety regulations. According to Mike Sawaya, Denver personal injury attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm, property owners are responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, or at least giving adequate warning of any danger. When a home is not properly maintained, the rates of unintentional injuries can increase.


The Solution: Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is safe (regardless of the age of the property or the income level of the renters). While some landlords fail to regard safety, tenants (and potential tenants) should choose the property carefully and avoid renting any places that may have health hazards such as radon, lead paint, tripping/falling hazards, or any indication of fire hazards.


Unsafe Neighborhoods: Gun violence is a problem of epidemic proportions in neighborhoods across the United States and it takes about as many lives each year as vehicle crashes. According to the Gun Violence Archives, there were 53,037 incidents involving a gun, resulting in 13,384 deaths and 26,973 injuries. Although a majority of gun use is intentional (with 2,335 incidents due to home invasion and 1,286 due to defensive use), 1,954 gun incidences were a result of an accidental shooting.


The Solution: If you want to make your community or neighborhood safer from gun violence, there are some things you can do. First, don’t own a gun, but if you do, make sure you know how to use it safely, store it responsibly, and keep it away from others (especially children). Write to Congress and ask them to vote for safety measures to prevent gun violence. Contact the National Crime Prevention Council and find out how you can get involved in or start a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood.


If you become an active member in your community or neighborhood, you can help to reduce rate of preventable accidents and your participation can help make your community a safer and healthier place to live.


Easter in a Retirement Home

It’s Spring and Easter is just around the corner! The Easter season is a festive time for many families across America. Families participate in fun outdoor activities like Easter egg hunting, outdoor picnics, and even arts and crafts to add to the enjoyment of the holiday season. For some the holiday can be difficult, especially if loved ones are far from home. Many families may have a senior in a retirement home, which can be difficult and even lonely for some. Making their Easter season positive can make for a more enjoyable time for them. Let’s explore options on how to make Easter exciting for the senior in your life!


Easter Fun And Creative Activities


Retirement homes can provide fun activities that promote positivity and enjoyment during the Easter season. Holding special activities during the Easter season can add variety and fun to the lives of residents. The goal is to make the residents feel at home. The following are some ideas that can make a the Easter holiday a positive one for seniors:


  • Have music time. We never outgrow our love for music. Music sets the mood for every occasion. Have a band visit the nursing home and provide entertainment. Make sure that it’s a band that is versatile and knows a variety of music that seniors will enjoy. If dancing is involved, make sure that the resident has someone to assist them in case they have a medical or physical condition that limits them.


  • Hold an ice-cream social. Ice cream socials provide a positive and fun time for seniors as they get to enjoy good food and a moment to reminisce on childhood memories. It is important to be mindful of any health issues that may limit some seniors from participating. If a senior for instance cannot eat sugar because of diabetes, make sure to offer options so that they’re not left out of the festivities.


  • Play Bingo! Seniors love a game of Bingo since it involves good community time and learning. Award the winner with a fun prize in form a of an Easter basket. It’s a perfect time for family members to join in and participate.


  • Have the Easter bunny visit the residents. No matter how old we get, a good time filled with laughter provides medicine to the soul. Seniors can grow tired with health and physical concerns that limit their daily lives. Having their picture taken with the Easter bunny might just brighten their day!


  • Host a story-time. Studies show that keeping the mind active actually helps fight dementia. Have a director or even the senior under your care read a story about Easter. This not only involves the community, but allows seniors to feel valued and heard.


Safety Is Important

Unfortunately there have been incidents of nursing home abuse, so make sure that you are well-informed about the overall care of the senior in your life. It is important to have coverage in the case of neck or back injuries to a senior or worker during activities. The retirement home should be aware of any physical or emotional limitations a resident is experiencing. Senior citizens need special attention and care. Help make Easter bright and special for the senior in your life!


Make sure that your loved one is well cared for and in safe hands. Be an active participant in their care and well-being!

DUI and Prescription Drugs

You don’t have to be drunk or on illegal drugs to be charged with a DUI. Believe it or not, driving under the influence of perfectly legal drugs is still driving under the influence of drugs. When it comes to substances, the dose makes the poison, no matter what substance is involved.

When taken in great quantities, legal drugs become illegal. And driving under the influence of painkillers, cough medicine, or other medicines is just as illegal as driving under the influence of any narcotic you’d care to name. If you take over-the-counter medications, you need to be aware of those medications’ effects on your mind. Do not drive your car if you are under the influence of any kind of drug.

Driving Under the Influence of Legal Drugs is Dangerous

When you drive under the influence of drugs—prescription, over the counter, or otherwise—you threaten the lives of everyone on the road: your life, your passengers’ lives, and the lives of every other driver and passenger on the road. This behavior is reckless, selfish, embarrassing, and deranged. You are placing your base pleasures above the lives of hundreds of innocent people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18% of motor vehicle deaths involve drugs other than alcohol. This statistic does not make a distinction between legal and illegal drugs. That’s because there is no distinction between legal and illegal drugs when the legal drugs are used in excess.

When you’re drugged, your mind is incapacitated. Drugs warp your perception of reality, and reality includes the road. If you can’t interpret traffic properly, you can’t drive.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that excessive use of cough syrup “acts on the same cell receptors as dissociative hallucinogenic drugs like PCP or ketamine.” You wouldn’t drive on PCP, would you? Don’t drive under the influence of cough syrup.

DUI of Legal Drugs is Still Illegal

If the danger of driving under of influence of legal drugs isn’t enough to keep you from hitting the roads, maybe the legal repercussions will.

The police have a duty to protect the public and keep the roads safe. As part of this duty, the police will arrest you if they catch you driving under the influence of any kind of drugs, legal or not. There’s a basic DUI law in the same way that there is a basic speed law; if you are too doped up to drive safely, you’re breaking the law. It’s not a matter of specific levels of chemicals in your blood.

According to Andrade Law Offices, “anyone who drives a vehicle while impaired by any substance can be arrested and charged with a DUI.” They also point out that the law does not discriminate for social class. A doctor who heads out to the highway doped up on prescription medications is no better than the street tough who amps himself up on methamphetamines and hurls his truck into a restaurant patio. Reckless driving as the result of chemical abuse is reckless driving as the result of chemical abuse. No one has an excuse.    

Marijuana Contributing to Increase of Highway Deaths?

Without a doubt, marijuana use is controversial and with more states legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, it’s important to continue to be aware of any potential dangers on our roadways. In states, where marijuana use is legal, there’s a greater chance that more drivers will be under the influence. Even more controversial is whether or not marijuana use contributes to the increase of car accidents and roadway deaths.


It’s illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol in all states. Marijuana, whether legal or not, is treated like any other drug and drivers can be faced with DUI offenses. Although DUI charges are usually given to drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, it is an offense that can be given to any driver who is under the influence of any drug, including but not limited to prescription drugs, legal and illicit drugs.

Drivers Testing Positive for Marijuana Use


There’s a significant increase in the number of drugged drivers on our roads, particularly with the increase of prescription painkillers dispensed and the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Despite the possible positive effects these various drugs are having on people’s health and wellbeing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drugged driving is on the incline while drunk driving is on the decline; though both, particularly together, are still very risky and potentially fatal.


Recent studies show that 40% of fatally-injured drivers tested positive for drugs, which is about the same as the number of fatally-injured drivers who tested positive for alcohol. It is important to note, however, that drivers who test positive for THC (found in marijuana) may not be “high” at the time of the crash, unlike alcohol related crashes where drivers have a more accurate BAC. THC can stay in one’s system for hours, days, and even weeks.

Should Marijuana and Alcohol Be Treated Differently?


Many people feel strongly about how marijuana use should be charged, others are on the fence. Given that marijuana and alcohol have the ability to impair one’s ability to drive it is important to come up with appropriate offenses, but since both can affect drivers so differently they shouldn’t necessarily have the same testing or offenses. The statistics surrounding drivers who test positive for marijuana, drug use, and alcohol aren’t completely clear, some of them are lumped together, making data less accurate.


Here are some recommendations how each state, whether a legal marijuana state or not, can make decisions about how to treat drugged driving or how to teach drivers of all ages about driving under the influence.


  • Planning: Current data should be assessed to understand what is happening now. Older data can be helpful, but it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what is happening if the data is not relevant.



  • Laws: Every law needs to be revisited and reexamined from time to time. For example, if a state that has recently legalized marijuana for medicinal use, that state will want to revisit their drugged driving laws and make sure it’s up to date (how they will incorporate medical marijuana).



  • Training and Testing: Law enforcement, particularly those responsible for patrolling the roads and pulling people over, should be trained in what drug impairment looks like and even smells like. Focusing on the differences between alcohol impairment and marijuana impairment. Additionally, all fatally-injured drivers should be tested for the presence of drugs and the crash data should be tracked separately from alcohol.


The Inequality of Safety Factors in the Workplace

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 3 million people were injured and 4,405 were killed on the job in 2013. While the numbers are high, they don’t tell the whole story, because there are some industries that have a significantly higher ratio of injuries and deaths than others. For example, almost 2.1 million of the on-the-job injuries occurred in service industries, which employ more than 82 percent of the United States workforce. The term ‘service industry’ is fairly broad, so here are two specific industries that have the highest number of reported injuries and fatalities, and two that have some of the lowest.

Trade, Transportation and Utilities

A natural inclination for many is to believe that police officers and firefighters must suffer the most injuries and fatalities. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,153 deaths reported in the trade, transportation and utilities sectors in 2013. That figure represents more than one quarter of all fatalities. Transportation incidents accounted for 665 of those deaths. There were also 3.8 injuries reported for every 100 full-time employees.


Just as with the trade, transportation and utilities industries, there were 3.8 injuries reported for every 100 full-time employees in the construction sector. Also, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 20.3%, or 1 in 5, of all work-related fatalities happened on construction sites in 2013. Falls, electrocution, becoming caught in or between objects, and blunt force trauma from object impact were the leading causes of those deaths. Of those reasons, falls were responsible for 294 of the 796 construction deaths. It is estimated that, if those “Fatal Four” factors were eliminated, an average of 468 lives would be saved every year.


Careers in publishing, broadcasting and motion pictures proved to be among the safest in 2013. The BLS recorded 39 fatalities in all, with 17 of them being transportation related and 10 being attributed to falls. Injuries were reported at a rate of 1.5 for every 100 full-time employees in the information industry.


The finance insurance industry, which includes banking, insurance and real estate, accounted for 84 on-the-job fatalities in 2013, making it one of the safest areas of employment in the country. A total of 36 people were killed as a result of injuries sustained by an animal or person, and there were 23 transportation related fatalities. The number of injuries reported totaled 1.3 out of every 100 full-time employees.

Comparing the Numbers

When comparing injuries and fatalities between industries, it is clear that the nature of some work makes it more hazardous than others. For example, the environment in which construction and warehouse workers must navigate is infinitely more dangerous than that of those who work in an office building. They must contend with heights, heavy and dangerous equipment, and the inherent danger of road travel. In contrast, those who work in office environments generally do not have to worry about any of those hazards, with the exception of traveling between locations. In fact, 1,740 people died as a result of a work-related transportation accident in 2013, making it the number one cause of on-the-job deaths.

Regardless of the industry, for the millions of people who are injured on the job every year, there is a fear that they will no longer be able to support themselves and their families. That is especially true if the employee suffers an injury or illness that prevents him from returning to work. Fortunately, Social Security Disability (SSD) is available for those who qualify. Most people would prefer to continue working, but whether it’s a low risk or a high risk job, it is comforting to know there is relief available when a debilitating injury prevents you from continuing in your profession.

One year after Newtown

One Year After Newtown: Guns & Children

One year after Newtown

Letting Go

In the days and weeks immediately after the December 14, 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook  Elementary School when 20 elementary school children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman, cries for stiffer gun control laws reached a fever pitch.  The screams to leave gun laws alone or even to relax them were just as loud.  Seemingly everyone had an opinion from the President, to politicians on both sides of the aisle, to gun lobby groups, to gun control advocacy groups, to parents of Sandy Hook victims, to other moms and dads.  Even children weighed in on the issue.  It is now a little over a year since the shooting.  Sandy Hook is no longer regularly making national headlines.  Sound bites from the National Rifle Association no longer top the evening news.  It seems as if little has changed in the last 12 months.  Or has it?

Changes in State Law

While Congress did not make any changes to gun control laws, state legislatures did.  In the year since Sandy Hook, over 114 measures were passed that affected state gun laws.

Strengthening Gun Control

Eleven states, plus the District of Columbia passed laws that strengthened gun control.  Two states made it harder to carry guns in public.  Eighteen states and the District of Columbia passed laws that made it easier for the government to track guns.  For example, Maryland and New York now require that lost or stolen firearms be reported, and Rhode Island makes it illegal to tamper with identification marks on firearms.  Fifteen states strengthened mental health restrictions related to gun ownership.   California, for example, now requires psychotherapists whose patients threaten violence to report the threats, and Colorado requires that mental health records be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Weakening Gun Control

Twenty-nine states passed laws that made it easier for people to own guns and carry them in public places such as schools, bars, and casinos.  Twenty-six states added laws that strengthened the ability to carry concealed firearms in public.   Seven states now allow guns to be carried in schools.  For example, Alabama now allows school security personnel and resource officers to carry firearms, and Oklahoma allows handguns in private schools and on private school buses.  Alabama, Alaska, Kansas and Missouri all passed laws that prohibited state officials from enforcing certain aspects of federal gun control laws or nullified federal gun control laws.

A Kansas city personal injury attorney remarks that clearly most people believe that the gun violence in the United States needs to stop.  No one wants even one more child injury from gun violence.  No one wants a repeat of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, or the Tucson, Arizona Safeway.  However, people disagree on the most effective way to stop the gun violence.  Some believe that fewer guns in society will result in fewer shootings.  Others believe that more guns in the hands of lawful citizens will result in fewer gun deaths by criminals.  What types of policies do you believe will have a meaningful affect on gun violence in the United States?