Back To School Bullying Reminder

New and resumed interactions that accompany the start of a new school year create new bullying risks.

The federal government and many states have laws and other rules that make bullying illegal or civilly actionable in schools and other locations in the number of circumstances. See e.g Texas Anti-Bullying Laws. While these laws may help deter or partially redress the effects of some bullying under some circumstances, victims of bullying and family, friends, school, business, community and government leaders trying to prevent an address it know it the law rarely provides an adequate tool to stop all bullying, much less provide quick or reliable protection or relief for those targeted by bullies.

Help protect your child and others by educating yourself, your child and family, your teachers and school leaders, and friends that bullying is wrong, how to recognize it and what to do to prevent and remedy it.

STOPBULLYING.gov is one of many free websites that provides valuable resources about bullying, why it’s wrong and harmful, laws and other rules that help to prohibit and regress it and a host of other helpful resources to prevent and help people cope with bullying problems.

The best way to prevent or stop bullying is for everyone to step up and fight it. Step up to stomp out bullying. Teach and require your children and others to treat others with respect and to expect and require those around them to do the same. When someone is being bullied, use the tools from these resources to defend yourself or the other victims in a constructive way. Uniform zero intolerance is the best and most reliable redress and cure for bad behavior.

Practice Pool Safety

Summertime means pool time.  

Splashing around in the water provides a wonderful opportunity to stay cool and have fun … as long as everyone stays safe.

News reports of an Ohio lifeguard saving a toddler the first day on the job is a timely  reminder of the importance of knowing and constantly practicing pool safety when you or someone near you is in or near a pool or other water.

Downing & Near Drowning Very Common

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows the importance of water safety and vigilance:

  • Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
  • 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day on average.
  • Children are particularly African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites. are children 14 and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries).
  • Near drownings are a leading cause of permanent brain injury.  These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

While anyone in or around the water may get into trouble under the right circumstances, the victims overwhelmingly tend to be young children and are mostly males.  According to the CDC:

  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, one-third died from drowning, most of which occur in home swimming pools.
  • Male and minorities have a higher likelihood of becoming victims.  CDC statistics show:
    • Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male; and
    • African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

Factors Influencing Drowning Risk

CDC data also reveals the main factors that affect drowning risk:

  • Lack of swimming ability,
  • Lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access,
  • Lack of close supervision while swimming,
  • Location,
  • Failure to wear life jackets,
  • Alcohol use, and
  • Seizure disorders.

Preventing Drowning Injuries

CDC data also provides helpful tips about steps people can take to reduce the risk of drowning or near drowning deaths and injuries including the following key safety measures:

  • Close supervision and vigilance is critical whether or not an individual can swim. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards.
  • Swimming lessons are a key tool to reduce the risk of drowning in young children.  The CDC reports participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years.
  • Barriers, such as pool fencing, prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

CDC demonstrates that age or location may increase the need for added diligence and supervision.  The data shows that people of different ages drown in different locations.

  • Most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools.
  • The percentage of drownings in natural water settings, including lakes, rivers and oceans, increases with age.
  • More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older (57% and 57% respectively) occurred in natural water settings.
  • In 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 4,604 boating incidents; 3,153 boaters were reported injured, and 672 died. Most (72%) boating deaths that occurred during 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.
  • For persons with seizure disorders, bathtub drowning is not uncommon.  Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death, with the bathtub as the site of highest drowning risk.

The data also makes clear drinking and water sports are a dangerous cocktail.   According to the CDC, among adolescents and adults:

  • Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation;
  • Nearly 1/4 of emergency room visits for drowning; and
  • About 1/5 of reported boating deaths.

Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat. Of course alcohol consumption by others around a swimmer who has been drinking undermine the awareness of those that would be available to rescue and impaired swimmer too.
The bottom line:  Alcohol and water don’t mix.

Water Safety To-Do List

In light of the known risks, Americans, and their employers, health plans, health care providers, and communities should take steps to keep themselves and others safe while enjoying pools, lakes and other rivers this Summer.

Practice water safety and urge others to do the same by taking the following common sense steps:

  • Supervise When in or Around Water 

Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all people swimming or playing in or around water.

Supervisors of preschool and other young children should  be close enough to reach the child at all times (@touch supervision”).

Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, supervising adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as drinking, reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.

Parents considering authorizing swimming field trips led by childcare providers or allowing their children to swim under the supervision of others should investigate the adequacy and training of staff to meet these guidelines.

  • Use the Buddy System. 

Always swim with a buddy. 

  • Lifeguards

Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.  When hosting a social or workplace event near or involving swimming or other water activities, consider hiring one or more lifeguards to monitor the activity and be prepared to respond in case of an emergency.

  • Seizure Disorder Safety

If you, a worker or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.

  • Learn to Swim & Make Sure Others In Or Near The Water Can Swim

Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.

  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive,  CPR skills could save someone’s life. Many free or low-cost options for learning CPR are readily available from the American Red Cross and others.  If you host people around your pool or other water related event, consider hosting a CPR training at one of your upcoming gatherings.

  • Use Life Jackets, Not Air-Filled or Foam Toys.

Provide an wear Coast Guard approved life jackets in good condition as needed.

Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

  • Don’t Mix Water & Alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing.  Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.  Do not serve or control the consumption of alcohol by guests when hosting events involving boating, swimming or other water sports.

  • Guard Against “Hypoxic Blackout”

Teach your children and don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “hypoxic blackout” or “shallow water blackout”) and drown.

  • Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses

Learn how to and act to prevent recreational water illnesses by following the CDC’s recommended 12 Steps for Prevention of Recreational Water Illnesses.

  • Watch For Hazardous Weather And Conditions

Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.

  • Practice and Maintain Home Pool Safety

If you have a swimming pool at home, consider the following special safeguards:

  • Install a four-sided pool fence at least four feet high with that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches out of reach of children. Also consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
  • Stay vigilant at all times.  Supervise your family and guests.  Require adult guests to provide touch supervision for their children in the pool.   Hire a lifeguard during parties or at other times when your ability to provide touch supervision isn’t sufficient.
  • Don’t swim or allow others to swim after or while consuming alcohol.

Keep in mind that a drowning or near drowning of a family member or guest in your pool presents both a substantial legal exposure as well as risks an irreversible personally devastating experience for all involved.  Don’t let fun get ahead of common sense or safety.

  • Practice Natural Water Safety

If you are in and around natural water settings:

  • Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat, or the swimming ability of boaters.
  • Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. .
  • Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents such as water that is  discolored  choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.

Also plan ahead and take some common sense steps to prepare for the possible need for a timely rescue before pushing off the boat from the shore or entering the water. Among other things:

  • Let at least a couple people not participating know where you are, where you are going, what you plan to do and when you should be back or checkin;
  • Confirm that at least one cellphone has service and keep it with you and working;
  • Consider using the share my location or other feature on your cellphone or other device to help emergency or other rescue personnel find you in the event of an emergency;
  • Discuss safety rules with all participants before getting started;and
  • Enforce safety throughout the activity.

Remember and remind guests that a drowning or near drowning isn’t worth the risk.

  • Be Prepared: Know CPR & Plan Ahead

Since seconds matter when a drowning or near drowning happens, be prepared for a possible emergency before anyone gets in the water.  At minimum:

  • Know CPR and encourage others to do the same;
  • Prominently your address and keep a telephone available in your pool area; Drop a locator pin on your cell phone or otherwise take note of your location if you were on natural water.

Cooling off in the pool or lake can be a fun way to stay comfortable in the summer. Plan ahead and practice water safety as you and your friends enjoy the fun.

When A Loved One Needs Assistance With Daily Living

While living in a well-run assisted-living or other support of residential living arrangement can provide many positive social, safety and healthcare benefit for patients with declining physical or cognitive abilities, most elderly and disabled individuals dread and resist moving from their home to an assisted living or other supportive care living environment.

When transitioning a patient to an assisted living or other care environment, caregivers often must override and understand what preference by the patient to live independently in order to provide support to patient needs to be safe.

Like the surrender of driving privileges, the loss of choice that results from compulsory relocation to a new living environment for an elderly or disabled person forces the patient concurrently to confront his declining functionality and his declining self-determination.

Recognizing this, caregivers should seek to involve the patient as much as possible in making the new living arrangements.

Talking about the possibility of a future need her assisted living care well in advance at the onset of disabling condition can help.

Planning ahead can help patients and their families to be prepared to pick up a facility where the patient may already have friends for siding will be familiar with the staff or the facility reputation.

Many assisted-living providers also sponsor social or other community out reach events for members of the community living independently.  Others offer daycare or other intermittent care opportunities.  Still others may offer temporary assisted-living or stay arrangements following episodes of chemotherapy or other intensive inpatient care.  Participation in these opportunities for involvement gives a patient an opportunity to try out the facility in their services before the patient actually needs to relocate as well as gives the family and the patient the opportunity to check out the facility before making a choice.

When relocating the patient to an assisted living or other facility, careful planning can help ensure that the patient’s room and other living quarters are as home like as possible.  To the extent that space allows, try to bring to the facility some furniture, photographs and other special possessions that will make the new living space feel more like home.

It often also helps if family members participate in the daily flow of activities such as going to lunch or dinner or participating in social gatherings often on for the first few weeks to help encourage the patient to participate in acclimatize them to the new opportunities and friendships.

The best way to head off problems is to detect issues early and intervene.  Even after the patient as well settled family members and friends should drop by often and at varying times to check on the patient’s physical and emotional status, keep the patient engaged and to check up on the care and service that the patient is receiving.

Family members and friends should learn and watch for signs of abuse or neglect.  Many excellent sources of education and resources are available through state Agency responsible for oversight in care of the aging and disabled like this list of elder neglect warning signs  published by the State of Idaho.

To help safeguard your loved one, make sure you and others with a close relationship to the patient check in on the patient regularly.  Set aside time to check in on the patient as well as to talk to the patient to detect signs of abuse, neglect, deterioration in the patient’s physical, cognitive or emotional status or other signs of possible concern.  Even something so seemingly minor as a recurrent failure at the facility staff timely to assist the patient to make her bed or with other schedule services should be monitored and addressed.  Beyond the actual assistance with the performance of the designated chores, the interactions scheduled with staff to perform these chores are critical monitoring activities for the facility.  Failing to timely perform the services means the facility is not keeping on top of their monitoring and other care duties for the patient and should be addressed.

Be A Healthcare Hero: Join Project COPE

Follow, like and share our articles and resources in this ProjectCOPE.blog, and follow, like, share your comments and ideas, and participate in our Facebook @ProjectCOPECOALITION or on LinkedIn to:

  • Learn tips, tools and other information on how you and your family can manage your health and wellness needs?
  • Get ideas on how to understand, shape and use your healthcare and coverage?
  • Share your ideas and input about health and health coverage issues and policies with elected leaders and regulators?
  • Monitor health, wellness and other developments?
  • Help your providers, family, friends and community cope with health care, disability, aging and wellness challenges?

Despite an endless stream of well-meaning market and governmental reforms over the past 25 years, the U.S. health care system is in crisis. American patients, their families and other caregivers, their employers, their health benefit programs, their health care providers, the communities and even our federal health care budget increasingly are burdened and overwhelmed by the mounting obstacles to caring for our ill, disabled, and aging citizens within our health care system and the extraordinary expense of maintaining and using that system.

As Congress takes up reform again, it is critical that Americans act to protect their own and their families’ health care and control the financial burdens of health care by getting informed, providing clear and consistent direction to Congress and other reformers and taking other actions to empower and care for themselves and their loved ones within our evolving health care system.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish licensed to Solutions Law Press, Inc. For information about republication of this or other materials and programs of the author, email the author here.   All rights reserved.

Protect Your Loved One From Abuse

Millions of elderly and disabled Americans live in nursing, assisted living and other care facilities. 

While patients and their families admit patients to these facility rightly expect these care providers to appropriately and safely care for their patients, unfortunately and too many instances the care that their family member receives not only is disappointing, but actually harmful.

And alarmingly long list of negligence and other liability judgments as well as oversight and enforcement work by the Department of Health and Human Services, States’ department of aging, watchdog agencies, nursing home litigators reveal commonly recurring problems account for many of these tragedies   Problems range from overmedicating residents, or patient abuse or neglect. 

Patients and their families need to recognize the need to carefully select and oversee the care of their family member in these facilities   Many resources are available to help educate family members and friends search as this YouTube video about nursing home abuse recently shared by the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Careful investigation and credentialing at the facilities your love will stay in before and during their stay is an important part of the process.  No matter how good the facility looks in this credentialing, families and caregivers and patient must keep in mind that even the best facilities can experience problems of neglect, unawareness, miscommunication, miss perception and even abuse.  For this reason, families should keep in mind that frequent visits from family members and other visitors familiar with and loyal to the patient at different times can make a huge difference in helping the patient to get the best care possible, identifying potential issues services or quality and detecting more quickly service disruptions or deficiencies, changes in their family members conditions that need attention, signs of abuse or neglect and other concerns.

To learn more about what you and your family can do to be more effective participants in your healthcare and help improve health care for others, follow, share input and resources and get involved in our Project COPE initiative by following and sharing our updates in this ProjectCOPE.blog, on Facebook @ProjectCOPECOALITION or on LinkedIn.

Call To Action: Become a Project COPE Healthcare Hero

Despite an endless stream of well-meaning market and governmental reforms over the past 25 years, the U.S. health care system is in crisis. American patients, their families and other caregivers, their employers, their health benefit programs, their health care providers, the communities and even our federal health care budget increasingly are burdened and overwhelmed by the mounting obstacles to caring for our ill, disabled, and aging citizens within our health care system and the extraordinary expense of maintaining and using that system. 

 As Congress takes up reform again, it is critical that Americans act to protect their own and their families’ health care and control the financial burdens of health care by getting informed, providing clear and consistent direction to Congress and other reformers and taking other actions to empower and care for themselves and their loved ones within our evolving health care system.
©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish licensed to Solutions Law Press, Inc. For information about republication of this or other materials and programs of the author, email the author here. All rights reserved.