Category Archives: Safety

Assisted Living Not Always Safe

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Taking Care of Mom and Dad

Advertising for assisted living paints a glorious picture for seniors: “Enjoy your golden years in bright, polished, independent communities while licensed medical professionals monitor your every need.”

Reality can be a different story. As the baby boomer generation ages, assisted living has become a big business – and for too many residents and their families, a big problem. Uneven regulation has created a dangerous situation where some facilities are not properly equipped or staffed to care for an increasingly ill population. Before you check in your loved one, you should know how to find quality assisted living.

Start Your Search Here. >>>

There are 750,000 Americans living in assisted-living facilities. And as baby boomers age, that number is expected to grow.

Source: A Starter Guide for Assisted Living, Next Avenue

Per Month
The average cost for a private, one-bedroom apartment in an assisted-living residence averaged $3,450 per month in 2013 – nearly 5 percent more than in 2012.

Source: 2013 Cost of Care Survey, Genworth

Years Old
The minimum age for assisted-living caregivers in some states is just 16. Facility administrators aren’t required to have a high school diploma in 14 states.

Source: Elderly, At Risk and Haphazardly Protected, ProPublica


Resources for Residents, Families, Caregivers

Search for quality assisted living in your community with links and resources from the Administration for Community Living.

ProPublica and PBS Frontline Fight for Rights of Seniors

ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” have teamed up to investigate and highlight the loose regulations and increased risks to seniors in assisted living.

Service Rates Assisted-Living Facilities in All 50 States

Personalized help finding the right assisted-living facility is available through Compare costs, learn about ratings and read reviews of different facilities in your state.

Safer bike helmets

Bicycling magazine recently ran an article discussing new cycling helmets and standards that provide better protection against concussions and TBI.  Here is a link to an on-line version:

Tips for Pool, Bike, Playground Safety

Injuries Spike During Summer

Summertime fun shouldn’t be derailed by a trip to the hospital. But unfortunately, more than 3 million kids in America under 14 will be rushed to the emergency room with serious injuries this summer, and 2,000 will die. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that the children in your life enjoy their favorite summertime activities safely:

Secure the Pool

1) Install a four-sided fence: Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between one and four years of age, and many of those tragedies occur when children wander away from parental supervision. Install a four-sided fence around your pool instead of a three-sided fence with the house forming the fourth side. Also note that pool covers are often hard to see through and can conceal a drowning child.

2) Stock rescue equipment: Keep a shepherd’s crook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preservers by the pool at all times. An important note: Water floaties are NOT a suitable alternative to life jackets or life preservers. Instead, use life jackets and exercise arm’s-length parental supervision. In addition, designate a “water watcher” during any pool event at home. Download a water watcher card and other teaching resources from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

3) Encourage swimming lessons: Studies have shown that swimming lessons for children one to four years of age drastically reduces the risk of drowning — by up to 88 percent.

Click here for more tips on water safety at home.

Follow the Two-Wheeled Rules of the Road

1) Properly fit helmets: Wearing a helmet is a no-brainer, but many children don’t properly adjust theirs. See this guide from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration on how to properly fit and adjust a bike helmet for kids.

2) Adjust bike seats: There are obvious dangers involved in riding a bike, like traffic or potholes, but crashes often happen because of a poorly maintained bike. Adjust a child’s bike seat so it’s two to four inches above the top bar. This guarantees that the child’s legs never fully straighten out and lock in the down-pedal motion. Also check the tires and brakes before sending a child out on a ride.

3) Brush up on traffic laws: In most states, bikes are expected to follow the same basic traffic laws as automobiles. Educate your kids on the basics of bike traffic laws.

Click here for more tips on bike safety for kids.

Limit the Risk of Monkey Bar Mayhem

1) Use age-appropriate equipment: Some equipment is only meant for older kids, but most playgrounds don’t differentiate between separate play areas for tots and tweens. Supervise children to make sure they are using equipment appropriate to their age group.

2) Look for soft ground: It can be hazardous when soft playground turf deteriorates and isn’t replaced promptly. A fresh layer of wood chips, rubber, sand or other shock-absorbing material can dramatically decrease the risk of injury due to a fall from the equipment.

3) Find a certified playground inspector: The National Recreation and Park Association has launched a major initiative to train local citizens on playground equipment inspection and standards. To find a trained certified playground safety inspector in your area, search the CPSI registry.

Click here for a complete summer safety checklist for playgrounds.

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Keyless car hack

Hackers learn how to get into your keyless entry car….

Besides the criminal implications, the civil law will have to adapt to this new problem, as  there is no sign of forced entry, so can the insurance company deny a theft claim by saying you failed to lock your car ?

And, leaving your garage door opener in the car will make getting into your house even easier.

State’s medical marijuana regs

Information on the recently issued state regulations on medical marijuana, courtesy of an email from Rep. Denise Garlick -

Subject: Final Medical Marijuana regs approved

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the Public Health Council of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health unanimously approved final regulations to implement the commonwealth’s voter approved medical marijuana law, which will take effect on May 24, 2013. These regulations are the result of an unprecedented and in depth process of soliciting input, collecting data and information from other medical marijuana states, and undergoing research to understand and implement best practices in filling out the framework that was established through the voter initiative. Doctors, patients, caretakers, law enforcement officials, lawmakers, parents, substance abuse councilors, entrepreneurs and others offered comments, testimony and information to DPH and each issue that arose was considered and addressed to the best of the Department’s ability. After draft regulations were released, the public was offered yet another opportunity to comment and recommend changes, and the final regulations were subject to the scrutiny of the Public Health Council.

This effort has not been taken lightly by DPH and as a result we can expect a program in place that can serve as a model to the rest of the country as more and more states look to legalize medical marijuana. While the voter initiative created the framework for the law, the regulations crafted by DPH filled out the program in a way consistent with the will of the voters, who entrusted the agency to address the missing components. These comprehensive regulations balance the very real need of many patients in our state suffering from debilitating conditions and the safety and protection of the general public, including our young people.

Among the many issues of concern addressed through these regulations are:

  • ·         Ensuring legitimacy of patient certification and registration through a bona-fide relationship between patient and MA licensed physician
  • ·         Continuing education requirements for certifying physicians
  • ·         Ongoing monitoring and treatment of any medical marijuana patient by recommending doctor
  • ·         Laboratory testing of medical marijuana products
  • ·         Limiting access to patients under 18 years of age to those with life limiting illnesses, parental consent, and recommendation from 2 physicians (one of which is a pediatrician)
  • ·         Stringent rules and restrictions around advertising and marketing of medical marijuana
  • ·         Further clarification regarding the definition of a qualifying “debilitating condition” while preserving the rights of doctors and their patients to determine appropriate use
  • ·         An appropriate and reasonable limit of allowable possession by patients
  • ·         A limited number of highly secured and monitored dispensaries across the state, subject to inspection and “seed to sale” monitoring of product
  • ·         Tight restrictions, qualifying criteria and alternative options for low income and disabled patients to drastically limit the allowance of hardship cultivation
  • ·         A comprehensive application process for dispensaries, including provisions to require non-profit documentation, adequate resources to operate, no criminal background of dispensary agents, an analysis of projected patient population, plans for operation and security and an emphasis on local engagement from within proposed community

In addition, the new law does not:

  • ·         Supersede Massachusetts laws prohibiting possession, cultivation, transport, distribution or sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes
  • ·         Allow the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana
  • ·         Require a health care profession to recommend, or an insurer to cover, the use of medical marijuana
  • ·         Require accommodation of medical marijuana use in schools, workplaces, or correctional facilities
  • ·         Require the smoking of marijuana in any public place
  • ·         Supersede the existing rights of landlords

The final regulations will be posted for review by the end of the day at I have been actively engaged with DPH throughout this process, and I am happy to remain a resource to you and your constituents as the program moves forward.  


Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Congressional protection for asbestos companies

This from the American Association for Justice -

In honor of National Asbestos Awareness Week, help protect asbestos victims’ rights by urging Congress to oppose legislation that threatens to delay and deny justice until asbestos victims die.  Your action will make a difference!

The asbestos-disease epidemic is one of the longest-running public health epidemics.  Asbestos is still legal in the United States and kills at least 10,000 Americans every year.  It is estimated that asbestos will have killed 432,465 Americans by 2029.  Asbestos was known to be deadly by 1900.  Asbestos corporate executives callously covered up this fact.  Millions have been exposed and are at risk.

Act Now!  Justice for asbestos victims is under attack by legislation being rushed through Congress that would help asbestos corporations evade accountability.  H.R. 982, the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013,” grants a corporate handout to an industry that knowingly exposed millions of Americans to this deadly product and covered up the dangers for profit.

Tell your Representative today to oppose H.R. 982.  Any time spent on this bill is a waste of Congressional (and taxpayer) resources, and the ultimate insult to families whose loved ones have died or are dying from asbestos-related diseases.

Congress should focus on keeping Americans safe from dangerous products like asbestos and not protecting corporations that knowingly place workers and consumers in danger. Contact Your Representative Today!


The Take Justice Back Campaign Staff
(Formerly, People Over Profits)

NYT distracted driving test

The New York Times has a test to show us how much texting while driving distracts us.


Medfield Cares About Prevention (MCAP)’s grant application to the Federal government seeking $625,000 funding over five years has been submitted for the second straight year.  Dawn Alcott, Director of Medfield Youth Outreach, and Dr. Susan Andersen-Navalta of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, a Medfield resident, took the lead to prepare the grant application again this year.

MCAP is a coalition formed to eliminate substance abuse amongst young people in Medfield.  MCAP has been holding monthly meetings for almost two years.

Needham and Natick have both already received the grants.  Medfield resident Carol Read is the grant funded staff person in the Needham program, and have been hugely helpful to MCAP by sharing how the Needham effort has progressed and what they have done that has been successful.

Friday Blizzard

I just finished a conference call arranged by MEMA for municipal officials with the National Weather Service.  The NWS is reporting that there will be a substantial blizzard with 18″ – 24″ of snow expected, starting with light snow Friday morning, with the heavier snow coming Friday afternoon, and the high winds starting in the evening.

They expect at least three hours of blizzard conditions with snow coming down at 2 – 4″ of snow per hour.

They expect high winds from 8 PM Friday to 10 AM Saturday, which will cause wide spread power outages.  Line repairs cannot be started until the winds subside, as bucket trucks cannot operate in high winds.

There could even be thunderstorms, which can cause 5″ – 6″ of snow per hour in spots.

Some computer models see up to 3″ of liquid from this storm, which could result in even more amounts of snow, as the relationship of water to snow is generally about 10 – 1, depending upon the density and wetness of the snow.

Dealing with children about trauma

Good advice in two articles from our local community mental health agency and my former entity, Riverside Community Care, as circulated this morning by Blake Middle School -


Riverside Trauma Center 255 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA 02494 (Tel) 781-433-0672
24 hour trauma response line: 888-851-2451 (this is not a suicide prevention hotline)
Rev: 3/11
Riverside Trauma Center


Children respond to traumatic violence in a variety of ways; however there are several typical responses. These responses vary, depending on numerous factors, some of which are: the child‟s age, whether the child knew the individuals involved, and how „graphic‟ the violence was.  Some common responses to trauma include:
 Concerns about fearing that the person (people) suffered
 Repeatedly visualizing the crime/incident in their minds
 Constant attempts to tell and retell the story of the crime/incident
 Need to reenact the crime/incident through play
 A desire to seek revenge (for those who knew the victim(s))
 Feelings of guilt for not having intervened or prevented the crime

For some children, particularly those who knew the victim(s), signals of grief after a violent crime/incident include:
 Fear of death
 Fear of being left alone or sleeping alone
 A need to be with people who have been through the same experience
 Difficulty concentrating
 Drop in grades (during the school year)
 Physical complaints (headaches/stomachaches)
 Bed-wetting
 Nightmares
 Fear of sleep
 Clingy behavior (wanting to be with and around parents more often)

What you can do to help children who have witnessed violence:
 Allow your child to talk about what he/she experienced or heard about
 Know that younger children may prefer to “draw” about their experiences
 Ask them what they saw and heard and what they think about the experience. Help them to label feelings, and normalize their reactions (“that must have been pretty scary. It wouldn‟t surprise me if you keep thinking about it.”)
 Spend some extra time with your child: have dinner together, make sure to keep bedtime routines.
 Remind your child of things he/she likes to do to help feel better when upset (playing, reading, etc.).
 Keep routines as much the same as possible in the aftermath of an unpleasant event. Children count on routines and structure.

If you have concerns that your child may be having serious responses to trauma, you should speak to a counselor.

24 hour Critical Incident Line: 888-851-2451



Talking with your Children About Traumatic Events

Here are some tips for talking with your children when they have witnessed or heard about traumatic events:

Listen to your children: Ask what have they heard about the traumatic event. What do they think happened? Let them tell you in their own words and answer their questions. Don’t assume you know what they are feeling or what their questions will be. The easiest way to have this conversation might be while they are engaged in an activity: drawing, sitting on a swing, or driving with you in the car. Details that may be obvious to adults may not be to children. For example a child may see a school shooting on television and assume it happened in his or her neighborhood not hundreds of miles away. Be truthful but don’t tell them more information than they can handle for their age.

Focus on their safety: Once you understand their perception of the traumatic event, be clear that you will keep them safe and let them know adults (school, police, etc.) are working hard to make sure they will stay safe. School age children may be assured to know the shooter or persons responsible for this tragedy are dead or have been arrested and do not present a danger to your child or his or her school.

Pay attention to your reactions: Your children will be watching you carefully and taking their cues from you. If you can manage your anxiety about the traumatic event your children will be more easily reassured.

Monitor your child’s access to media: It will help if young children do not watch news reports or see the front page of the newspaper. Young children who watch a traumatic event on the TV news may think the event is still ongoing or happening again.

Watch for behavior changes: Your children may show you through their behavior they are still struggling with what they have heard or seen. They may have physical complaints or regressive behaviors often including nightmares, insomnia or bed wetting. They may feel guilty that they are responsible for the event, and need to be reassured that they are not responsible.

Maintain your routines: Sticking to your daily structure of activities: mealtimes, bedtime rituals, etc. reduces anxiety and helps children feel more in control.

Keep the door open: Encourage your children to come to you with any questions or concerns and do not assume the questions will stop after a few days or even a few weeks. Let them know their fears and questions are normal and you will always make time for them.  Remind them all questions are welcome.

Consider this a teachable moment: For older children this traumatic event may lead to a discussion about ways they can help others who have experienced a tragedy. You can also ask them if they know how to keep themselves safe when they are away from home. Traumatic events make us feel like we have lost control so any constructive activities we engage in make us feel less vulnerable.