Group discourages use of trampolines for play

Most kids love to play on trampolines. Bouncing up and down on a backyard trampoline looks like a lot of fun, but one expert says use of the popular piece of equipment should be strongly discouraged.

Michele LaBotz, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement on trampoline safety, says that even safety features such as netting enclosures and padding do not significantly decrease the risk of injury. The new policy was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The new statement also admits that trampolines do have an acceptable role when used as part of a structured athletic training program that includes appropriate coaching, supervision and safety measures.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that 98,000 trampoline-related injuries resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations were reported in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That is down from 3,300 hospitalizations and 112,000 injuries reported in 2004.

Other groups – The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, The Canadian Pediatric Society and the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine – have also issued similar statements discouraging recreational and playground use of trampolines.

According to LaBotz:

–          About three-fourths of trampoline injuries happen when more than one person is jumping

–          Kids 5 and younger are at greater risk for serious injury

–          Fractures and dislocations make up 48 percent of injuries

–          Falls from a trampoline account for 27 to 39 percent of injuries

–          Head and neck injuries make up 10 percent to 17 percent of trampoline injuries

Jumping on a trampoline can be a great way for kids or adults to get a vigorous workout. Parents, if you want to let your kids use a trampoline, at least make an informed decision. Know the risks and take every step possible to make it a safe experience for your children, including supervising your children and making sure only one person at a time is on the trampoline.

To find out more about the personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk, visit our website today.


Drivers who use cell phones are high-risk drivers, even without devices

By now, we all are aware of the dangers of texting or using other electronic devices while you are behind the wheel. In 2010, more than 1.2 million accidents involved drivers who were talking on their phones or texting. In response, many states have enacted laws banning the use of cell phones by drivers. Last month, Ohio became the 39th state to ban texting while driving.

However, a recent study shows that banning the use of cell phones while driving may not necessarily have the expected effect. That’s because researchers found that people who use cell phones while driving are more likely to be high-risk drivers, even when you remove cell phones from the equation.

The study, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s New England University Transportation Center, looked at the behavior of 108 Greater Boston drivers. About half of the drivers admitted frequent phone use when driving and the rest said they rarely used their phones behind the wheel.

For each person, the researchers compared answers on a questionnaire with data collected from on-board sensors during a 40-minute test drive.

The frequent callers tended to:

–          Drive faster

–          Change lanes more often

–          Spend more time in the far-left lane

–          Accelerate rapidly

–          Slam on their brakes

The results suggest that the driver’s personality may be the real risk. “They are subtle clues indicative of more aggressive driving,” said study leader Bryan Reimer, a human factors engineer at MIT.

“Legislating the technology alone is not going to solve the problem,” Reimer said. “We need to look more at the behavior of the individual.”

This may explain why cell phone bans have not resulted in lower accident numbers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, two separate studies found no reduction in crashes due to hand-held cell phone or texting bans, based on insurance claim rates in states with and without the laws.

Whether or not the bans are showing a definitive reduction in crashes, legislators need to continue looking at ways to adapt laws to keep up with technology and keep all drivers safe on the roads. As Massachusetts Sen. Mark Motigny said, “You can’t really legislate against irresponsibility or stupidity, but you can at least take away one of the distractions.”

As always, the ultimate responsibility lies with each individual driver. Slowing down and driving defensively are always the best ways to reduce accidents and save lives.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Ohio auto accident attorneys of Elk & Elk today. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online evaluation form.


FDA warns OTC muscle pain relievers can cause chemical burns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting the public that certain muscle pain relievers designed to be rubbed into the skin – like Bengay and Icy Hot – can in rare cases cause  serious chemical burns.

The over-the-counter products are applied to the skin for relief of mild muscle and joint pains. Most of these products contain menthol, methyl salicylate or capsaicin. When applied to the skin, the products create a local sensation of warmth or coolness. They shouldn’t cause pain or skin damage.

But FDA regulators say they have received reports of skin injuries ranging from first- to third-degree chemical burns caused by the products. Some of burns have required hospitalization, according to a notice posted on the FDA’s website.

Based on the FDA’s analysis of reported cases, the majority of second- and third-degree burns occurred with the use of products containing menthol as the single active ingredient, and products containing both menthol and methyl salicylate with a concentration of ingredients that was greater than 3 percent menthol and 10 percent methyl salicylate.

Present FDA guidelines do not require these products to have warnings on their labels about burns to the skin.

The FDA is asking consumers to discontinue use of these pain relief products if any sign of skin injury, including pain, swelling or blistering, appears and requests that physicians instruct patients on the appropriate use of the cream, ointment, patch or gel pain relievers that contain any of the aforementioned ingredients.

When using OTC topical muscle and joint pain relievers, the FDA recommends that you not bandage the area tightly and that you not apply local heat (heating pads, lamps, hot water in bags or bottles) to the area because doing so can increase the risk of serious burns.

The FDA also says you should not apply these pain relievers to wounds or damaged, broken or irritated skin.

The drug recall attorneys of Elk & Elk have almost 50 years’ experience helping clients who have been injured by defective drugs or medical devices. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form to see how we can help you.


Telemarketing company accused of misleading donors

Akron-based InfoCision, a telemarketing company that solicits donations for charities such as the American Cancer Society, is accused of keeping most of the money raised and lying to the public about it.

An article in the October issue of Bloomberg Markets Magazine details the allegations against the company. According to the article, InfoCision instructs its employees to say that at least 70 percent of the money they raise for the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association will go toward charity. But these charities, which approved the telemarketing scripts, in actuality had already agreed to give InfoCision more than half of the money raised.

But the truth is even worse than that, the article claims. InfoCision kept all the donation money that it raised on behalf of the American Cancer Society in 2010, according to Bloomberg Markets. The article reports that in fiscal 2010, InfoCision raised $5.3 million for the ACS. None of that money went to cancer research or to help cancer patients, according to the society’s filings with the IRS and the State of Maine.

InfoCision also kept 78 percent of the donation money that it collected last year in its nationwide neighbor-to-neighbor program on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.

This is not the first time the company has faced close scrutiny. In April, InfoCision agreed to pay $75,000 and change its calling practices to ward off action by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine said the company failed to make required disclosures to consumers when it made solicitation calls on behalf of its nonprofit clients.

DeWine’s office concluded InfoCision violated state law on “multiple occasions” in four ways:

  • Failing to identify InfoCision as a paid solicitor when it called consumers to seek donations for its clients
  • Misleading consumers who asked about how much of the funds raised would go to the charity it represented
  • Misleading consumers that callers were volunteers or employees of a charity
  • Failing to file timely financial reports to the state about the results of its fundraising drives.

The attorneys of Elk & Elk are investigating a potential claim against telemarketing companies who misrepresent that they are working for charities. Or, who misrepresent the percentage of your donation which actually goes to the charity.

If you were contacted by a telemarketer and gave to a charity, please call us now at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online evaluation form.

Button batteries a danger to small children

Tiny, button-sized batteries are a danger parents with small children may or not be aware of. In response to increasing reports of small children swallowing such batteries and getting seriously injured, Energizer and other battery makers are taking steps to prevent such incidents.

The popular lithium batteries are used in everything from watches and hearing aids to remote controls and toys.

According to a recent report from the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40,000 kids were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to swallowing batteries between 1997 and 2010. The coin-size, button batteries can cause choking, internal burns and, sometimes, death. Continue reading “Button batteries a danger to small children”

Euclid focus of insurance company’s motorcycle safety efforts

One Cleveland suburb has become part of a nationwide effort to increase motorcycle safety. Allstate Insurance has posted signs reading “Watch for Motorcycles” at one intersection in Euclid as part of the company’s ONE (Once is Never Enough) program.

The Ohio personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk believe that motorcycle safety is an important issue. To read more about the signs and Allstate’s program, click here.


Many drivers welcome new safety features in vehicles

If you’ve spent much time at all on Ohio’s roads, you know there are plenty of drivers who most of us would not consider “good” drivers. You know the ones I mean. The texters. The speeders. The aggressive drivers. The exhausted drivers. The newspaper readers. Unfortunately, our roads are full of drivers whose actions put the rest of us at risk. So how do you explain a recent survey funded by Ford that showed 99 percent of respondents considered themselves good drivers?

The survey of more than 2,000 drivers conducted in May found that all but 1 percent of respondents thought they were good drivers, even though a majority of them also admitted to taking part in activities that distract them from driving.

According to the study released last month:

  • 76 percent of Americans admitted to snacking or drinking beverages while driving.
  • 55 percent said that they drive at excessive speeds.
  • 53 percent used their cell phone while driving.
  • 37 percent operated a vehicle when they were too drowsy to drive.
  • 25 percent of Americans in the survey found nothing wrong with picking up the phone to look for contact numbers, while driving.

Most people do these other activities while driving because they feel too rushed and need to multitask.

Not surprisingly, all these dangerous activities have led to drivers finding themselves in dangerous situations. The survey found that 57 percent have had an accident or close call with someone in their blind spot, 48 percent hit or almost hit something backing out of a parking lot and 38 percent avoid parallel parking like the plague.

Most of those surveyed said they would be somewhat or very interested in technology that could help them operate their vehicles more safely. Nearly nine out of 10 of the survey respondents expressed interest in technology that could assist in slowing their car if it determines there is a potential collision ahead. Two-thirds of the drivers who participated in the survey indicated they would be interested in systems that can help them see around other vehicles while backing out of a parking space and detect other vehicles that might be in a blind spot over their shoulders. Eighty percent expressed interest in a lane-keeping system for added safety when driving fatigued.

However, most drivers are not ready for self-driving cars. Only 39 percent of those surveyed said they would be comfortable driving an autonomous vehicle.

Many of these safety features are already available in high-end models from most carmakers. However, companies need to find a way to work them into more models. But even if car companies added top-of-the-line safety features to every car coming off assembly lines, it still is up to drivers to not let themselves be distracted while they are behind the wheel. Trying to eat or send a text or drive when you are exhausted are not things drivers should be doing, no matter how busy and time-stressed they may be. When you are behind the wheel, put down your cell phone and watch the road around you.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact the Ohio auto accident lawyers of Elk & Elk at 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online contact form.



Protect your family from the West Nile Virus

If you watch the news at all, you probably have heard about all the West Nile cases popping up this summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is on track for 2012 to be the worst year on record for cases of the West Nile Virus.

Dr. Lyle Peterson, director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control, told reporters, “We don’t really know why it’s worse this year than in previous years.” However he noted that the unseasonably hot weather from the mild winter and early spring and summer may play a role.

In order to protect yourself and your family, it is important that you be informed about West Nile Virus and what experts say you can do to keep your family safe.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. The CDC believes the virus first made its way to the U.S. in 1999.

How Can I get WNV?

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit West Nile virus to humans and animals while biting to take blood. The virus is located in the mosquito’s salivary glands. During blood feeding, the virus may be injected into the animal or human, where it may multiply, possibly causing illness.

What Are the Symptoms of WNV?

Most people infected with West Nile Virus will never show any symptoms. For those who do, the symptoms usually start to surface anywhere from 3 to 15 days after infection.

  • Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. People older than 50 are the most likely to develop severe illness.
  • Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people can become sick for several weeks.
  • No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

How can you prevent West Nile Virus?

According to the CDC, prevention measures consist of community-based mosquito control programs that are able to reduce populations and personal protection measures to reduce the likelihood of being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

The easiest and best way to stop the spread of West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Here are some ways you can do that.

  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

These tips and this information will help keep your family safe as summer winds down. So be safe and enjoy the rest of your summer.