2007-07-20 / Columnists

Cross Currents

Safety For School, Sun And Seniors
Commentary By Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

JOAN A.FOLEY JOAN A.FOLEY August is the final month of summer. While still sunny, hot and humid, it also is the time for crowded checkout lines for school supplies and new clothes.

I know Rockaway kids are a bit upset that summer already is half over but yet I think many of them are looking forward with excitement as they prepare to meet a new teacher and new classmates in September. If you drive, this is a perfect time to remember to do so carefully and watch out for school buses and our young students as they begin to travel through Rockaway streets.

BACK TO SCHOOL SAFETY

Some young students may need to become acquainted with a new route to walk or a new means of transportation in getting to and from class. Talk to them about commuting safely. Here are some simple tips that make a big difference in safety in a child's daily commute.

• At the bus stop: Line up facing the bus. Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus. Never reach under the school bus for any reason. Never play behind the school bus.

• When exiting the school bus: Wait for the signal from the bus driver before crossing the street. Walk at least 10 steps in front of the bus when crossing. Move onto the sidewalk after exiting the school bus.

• Walkers or bike riders: Don't go it alone. Always bring a buddy.

Pay attention to traffic signals at all times. Wear a helmet. Avoid clothing that could get caught in the spokes of a bicycle. Remember to walk your bicycle through intersections.

• Teenagers driving themselves and friends: Always wear a

seatbelt and follow the speed limit. Don't talk on a cell phone while driving. Avoid distractions inside the vehicle, such as loud music.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN

July was Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month, but August still is filled with heat waves and the sun's rays. So, don't forget your sun protection.

Apply sun block 30 minutes before going outside, because it takes that amount of time for the block to begin working.

Be sure to apply a thick layer over your exposed skin, including ears and hands. Wear lip balm, too, and reapply block and balm every few hours when spending time in the sun.

The sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Keep children under the age of 6 months out of the sun as much as possible. Water and sand reflect the sun, so the shade of an umbrella or tree does not prevent sunburn. Wear sunglasses with UV protection to prevent sun damage to your eyes.

UPCOMING CLASSES

Brush up on your safety and first aid skills this month. Take a look at the classes offered during August at the American Red Cross in Greater New York - Queens at 138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood. The dates and times are subject to change. If you have any questions, or if would like more information on these and other classes, call 718-558-0053, or visit our website www. nyredcross.org

• Saturday, August 11, CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) - Adult - 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

• Thursday, August 16, CPR/AED - for the professional rescuer - 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

• Monday, August 20, standard first aid - 6 - 10 p.m.

• Friday, August 24, CPR/AED - Adult - 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

SAFETY FOR SENIORS

Preparing for disasters and staying safe is for all age groups, including seniors. As we age, our bodies don't respond as quickly as they once did and planning is important when evacuating your home. The tips below are a great way to plan and accomplish a successful safety plan.

• Disaster Safety: Create an emergency kit with enough food and medication to last for a few days. Prepare a medical information sheet that includes names of medications and the times and

size of each dose.

• Fire safety: Plan all possible escape routes. Test your smoke detectors regularly. In the case of a fire, feel all door knobs for heat before opening them, as the fire could be behind each door you open.

• If you use a wheelchair or scooter: Have an extra charged battery handy. Keep an emergency supplies kit for your wheelchair or scooter.

• If you use life support systems, including oxygen tanks: Secure life support systems to prevent damage from falling. If applicable, use a generator during outages. Avoid areas where you may be susceptible to gas leaks such as open flames. Post "oxygen in use" signs in and around your home to alert officials.

• If you are visually impaired: make a plan for your escape during an emergency. If you have some vision, place security lights along your exit path. Purchase high- powered flashlights and store them in convenient places (next to your bead and couch).

• If you have hearing loss: contact NYC agencies to learn about initiatives to notify the hearing impaired during emergencies. If a government plan does not exist, develop a plan with neighbors. Always have a pad and pen handy to communicate with neighbors and emergency officials.

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