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Water Safety 101: Keeping Everyone Safe During Water Activities

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Enjoying fun in the warmer months often involves water activities such as swimming. This can be indoors or outdoors and in a variety of settings such as pools, lakes, oceans, and spas. Although no one intends for a tragedy to occur when spending a day with family (especially when children are involved), unfortunately, when experiencing the fun of water activities, accidents happen, which are often fatal or life-altering.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2005 – 2014, there were approximately 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States. This equates to about ten deaths per day. These statistics do not include the 332 people who died each year due to drowning associated with boating accidents.

As summer is upon us, we all must take the necessary precautions to engage in water fun safely. It is especially vital to equip children with the skills and tools they need to enjoy the water carefully.

Facts About Drowning Accidents

  • One in five persons who die from drowning are 14 and younger
  • More than 50% of drowning victims suffer non-fatal drowning injuries that result in severe brain damage, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.
  • Children aged one to four have the highest drowning rates. Most drownings in this age group occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is the cause of more deaths in this age group than any other reason besides congenital birth defects.
  • Almost 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
  • The death rate due to drowning is significantly higher for African Americans as compared to whites.

Risk Factors

Below are common risk factors associated with drowning accidents – most if not all, can be eliminated, or precautions can be taken to minimize the occurrence of injury.

  • Not knowing how to swim – Being unable to swim can present an obvious problem when going in the water. But many people report that they do not know how to swim. Taking swimming lessons can decrease one's risk of drowning.
  • Not having barriers around a pool – Not having a fence that completely encloses the perimeter of the pool makes it easier for children to access a pool without a caregiver's knowledge.
  • Failure to supervise children when swimming – When there is no adult specifically responsible for watching a child at all times, drowning can occur because it often happens quickly and quietly.
  • Setting – Younger children have a higher probability of drowning in a home pool setting, whereas the risk in natural environments such as lakes and beaches increases for older youth.
  • Not wearing life jackets – Most people who die in boating accidents are due to drowning. An overwhelming majority of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
  • Using alcohol – Alcohol usage affects one's decision-making ability, balance, and coordination.
  • Seizure disorders – The most common cause of unintentional injury death for persons who have seizure disorders is drowning.

Prevention

As mentioned above, many of the risk factors can be eliminated by taking the proper precautions and maintaining vigilant about water safety.

  • Take swimming lessons if you or your child do not know how to swim.
  • Ensure your home swimming pool has a fence on all four sides that encompasses the pool.
  • Always supervise children when they are in the water.
  • Be mindful of providing one-on-one supervision to those in the water who have seizure disorders.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Use only appropriate water safety devices such as a life vest, not toy noodles or inner tubes.

Getting Help When an Accident Occurs

Sometimes things happen even when we are trying to be safe. Or other times, another person may have caused an accident due to unsafe practices. When someone is injured or dies because of a drowning accident, the grief is life-changing no matter who may be at fault. In these situations, however, an experienced lawyer can sort through the details and ensure that the law is enforced.

If you need a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, please contact Freeman & Freeman. We welcome the opportunity to help you with your situation.

4 Safety Tips for Runners

Friday, August 14, 2020

Running is a great form of exercise, and many people find it to be a great way to rejuvenate their minds. Yet, if you are running on the street or along the side of the road, you also put yourself at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle or otherwise getting injured. Luckily, there are at least four ways you can be a safer runner.

Avoid Unsafe Roads

If you enjoy running along the road, it is important to be aware of any potential dangers along your running route. To help you better understand if your potential route is safe for a runner, take a drive yourself down your planned running route. Look for blind corners, busy intersections, or other areas where drivers may not notice you when you are running. You may also want to pay attention to areas where the road narrows or where there may otherwise not be enough room for a runner to safely run along the road. As a runner, you may not notice these as much as you will while driving the path.

Run With a Partner

Whenever possible, run with a partner. A partner increases your chances of seeing a potential danger and decreases your chances of becoming the victim of an assault. Along with that, if you have a running partner, the other person can go for help or help you to a safe location if you are injured.

If you are unable to run with someone else, it is important to let a friend or family member know your running route as well as how long you anticipate your run taking. Avoid deviating from your anticipated route without letting someone know. If something should happen to you, your friend or family member will know when and where to look for you.

Pay Attention

As a runner, it is your responsibility to pay attention to your surroundings. While it might be relaxing or enjoyable to run while listening to music, you are less likely to hear a car coming or hear another danger if you are focused on your music rather than what's happening around you. Ditch the earbuds and instead pay attention to your surroundings.

Once you've gotten rid of your earbuds, you can likely pay attention to your surroundings. To better see traffic and to make yourself more visible, you will generally want to run against the flow of traffic. Instead of having cars coming at you from behind, you will see them coming toward you and be able to react sooner. You may need to switch sides of the road for a short time if you are on a blind corner or otherwise feel that running on the opposite side of the road is safer.

Make Yourself Visible

It is especially important to make yourself visible to drivers if you are running at night or during bad weather when a driver's visibly might be reduced. If you plan to run when it's dark or in low visibility, be sure to invest in bright, reflective clothing as well as a headlamp. This will make it easier for drivers to see you and make it easier for you to see the ground.

Part of making yourself visible is also making sure that drivers see you before you cross the street or otherwise move to another location on the road. If you are running along a street with parked cars, avoid weaving between vehicles. Before crossing the street, make eye contact with any drivers, and make sure that they are aware of you and your intentions. Don't assume that just because you see the driver, the person sees you.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, even safe runners sometimes get injured by drivers who were not paying attention. If you were hit and injured by an inattentive driver while running, contact us.

Do Rideshare Companies Screen Drivers?

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Using a rideshare service is now more convenient than hailing a taxi. Companies like Uber and Lyft allow users to reserve rides online, designate drop-off/pickup times, and choose their preferred vehicle type. However, neither app allows you to choose a driver. 

 

Riding with an unsafe driver could lead to an accident. Does Uber or Lyft perform background checks on their drivers?

 

The Screening Process

 

Both Lyft and Uber screen their employees using background check services. Lyft uses a company called Sterling Solutions, while Uber uses Checkr. Every potential driver's criminal and driving history is thoroughly reviewed. The background check will also determine if the driver is on the National Sex Offender Registry.

 

According to Uber, drivers can't have more than three recent minor violations and absolutely no recent DUI charges. Lyft also performs a background check annually on all its contractors. However, it's entirely up to the company who will become a driver, regardless of what the background check says.

 

Background Checks May Not Always Work

 

Even supposedly vetted drivers can be dangerous. In 2017, an Uzbekistan driver who passed Uber's background check was charged for the murder of eight cyclists. Upon investigation, he was found to be a terrorist working with ISIS.

 

The man did not commit this crime while on the job. Still, Uber's background check apparently didn't find any evidence that this man was a terrorist. A study performed by CNN also found that over 100 drivers in the past four years had been accused of sexually assaulting their passengers.

 

Requirements May Vary

 

Another problem with background checks is inconsistent requirements. For example, New York City requires potential drivers to be fingerprinted, but many states do not. Many states also do not require government checks to be performed on drivers.

 

A federal background check can delve deeper into the driver's history, as well as pull up information about the driver's personal character. A government check is also more thorough and can find convictions that Checkr or Sterling Solutions may have missed.

 

How to Protect Yourself 

 

Many Uber and Lyft drivers are cleared as professional and trustworthy. Still, it never hurts to be prepared. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe during your ride.

 

Check Your Car and Driver

 

When your driver arrives at the pickup location, verify the license plate with the one listed on your app. When you select your ride in the app, you'll also be able to see the driver's profile photo. Make sure that person is the one behind the wheel. If you're unsure, ask the driver to identify you by name.

 

Avoid Riding Alone

 

An ill-intentioned driver likely won't harm a group of people. Always try to ride with at least one other friend or family member. If this isn't possible, install a trip sharing or tracking app on your phone.

 

Let the driver know that someone is expecting you at your destination. Call a family member in the car and let them know when you'll arrive.

 

Choose the Right Seat

 

Never ride in the passenger seat next to your driver. If a driver is insistent on you sitting next to them, that could be a red flag. Uber recommends that all their passengers sit in the back seat of the car.

 

Try to avoid sitting directly behind the driver. From this seat, it's hard to see what the driver is doing. Always sit where you have a clear view of both the driver and the road ahead.



Even the most careful planning can't always prevent an accident. If you've suffered personal injury while using a rideshare service, our law firm is always here to help.


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