Plan your summer road trip, the most dangerous season for drivers, with safety in mind

July 10, 2019 | 11:33 am


Even with the new gas tax in California, one of the most cost efficient ways to get your family from point A to point B this summer is on the road. Especially in Kern County and the Central Valley, many popular destinations are just a few hours away by car.

But summer is also one of the deadliest seasons for drivers across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more people die in drunk driving crashes in July than any other month. That means each time you hit the freeway, you are putting your family at risk of potential danger.

So, this month more than any other month is the time to recognize and prepare for any event that may take place while on the roadway. Here are some summer safety tips for you to be prepared on your next road trip:

 

Carry an emergency kit

Never leave home without an emergency kit. Top of the list is a cell phone because you can call for help in case of an emergency. It’s also suggested to pack the following:

  • Cell phone charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Tools to jump a car, check tire pressure, and change tires
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape
  • Water
  • Nonperishable food and medicines
  • Maps
  • Emergency blankets and towels

 

Never leave children or pets unattended in cars

The law in California states that no children under 12 may be left unattended in a car. The fact is there is no safe amount of time to leave children alone in the car. Did you know that children’s bodies heat up 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body? That’s according to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Even if the weather is at a cool 60 degrees, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees. Cracking a window does not allow for enough air flow through the vehicle. Every hot car death is preventable.

If you bring pets on your road trip, have a plan beforehand. Check to see if the restaurant you’re planning on going to is pet-friendly or if another passenger can watch the pet if you have to run into a store.

Also remember to pull your canned sodas out of the car before you hit the beach or they might explode in high temperatures. This also applies to aerosol products such as hairspray and canned deodorant.

 

Stay alert behind the wheel

Drowsy driving accounted for 91,000 motor vehicle crashes in 2017, according to NHTSA. The National Sleep Foundation states that driving while drowsy is dangerous because it has similar effects on your body as if you were to drive drunk. Being awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive as if you have a blood alcohol level of .05, and being awake for 24 hours straight brings it to a blood alcohol level of .10. The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get 7-8 hours of sleep the night before your road trip.  Signs to watch out for include:

  • trouble focusing
  • heavy eyelids
  • inability to remember the last stretch of road you drove
  • constant yawning
  • bobbing head
  • drifting from your lane

Drinking coffee and energy drinks are not always enough for tired drivers because the effects do not last long. Switching drivers throughout a road trip is a great way to improve alertness in each individual’s portion of the drive. If switching drivers is not possible, one way to increase alertness is to drink one to two cups of coffee and pull over and take a 20 minute nap.

 

Have a designated driver

As always, it is important to have a designated driver if any drivers in your party consume alcohol. Deaths caused by drunk driving are preventable. It is important to check and make sure any medication you are taking will not worsen the effects of alcohol. Common allergy medications, such as Clarinex, should not be mixed with alcohol. For a full list of medications to avoid taking while consuming alcohol click here.

 

And, as always, share the road with pedestrian, scooter riders, bicyclists and motorcyclists, and always wear a seat belt. For more driving safety tips, go to bloggingforjustice.com.

— Alexa Esparza contributed to this report.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Kids still playing on the monkey bars? Prevent emergency room visits with these playground injury prevention tips

April 24, 2019 | 12:00 pm


Every 2-1/2 minutes, a child in a United States visits an emergency room for a playground-related injury, according to playgroundsafety.org. And a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year.

We all want our children to play, and we all want them to be safe. With playground season in full season, it’s important we all take steps to make sure no one ends their day at the playground with a trip to the emergency room.

Playground injuries can be decreased or avoided if we all take the time to make ourselves aware of the potential hazards. Take time to focus on the outdoor environments where our children play. If we are all active in identifying and addressing unsafe playgrounds or equipment, our children will be that much safer.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the risks of playground equipment and these injury prevention strategies, courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Bakersfield’s accident and injury law firm:

 

Inspect Your Playground

Playgrounds require regular inspection for necessary maintenance and repairs. Help your local playground by inspecting and reporting any unsafe equipment. A few tips:

  • Check the surfaces under the play structures. They should provide a cushion for where your child jumps or falls.
  • Check playground equipment for hazards such as loose bolts, wood splinters, or sharp edges. Pick up any trash or animal waste that might make your playground unsafe or unsightly.
  • Identify old, unsafe play equipment. Monkey bars account for many injuries, and are being removed from playgrounds.

 

Practice Safe Play

Most playground injuries are caused by falls, but you can also prevent injuries by making sure children are practicing safe play. Here’s how to do that:

  • Dress appropriately. Do not let your children wear clothing which can get caught in the playground equipment. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings.
  • Wear the right shoes. Do not let them wear boots, sandals, or flip-flops, which make their footing less secure on the playground equipment.
  • Play nice. Teach your children to share, take turns on the equipment, and to get along with others. Pushing and shoving cannot be tolerated.
  • Supervise. Children must always be supervised by an adult. Make sure they are playing safe and playing nice. Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment that children won’t be hit by a moving swing. Little kids can play differently than big kids.

 

Take Action

Take further actions to bring awareness to playground safety. Here’s how:

  • If you see unsafe playground equipment, report it to someone who can address the issue such as the park authority or owner.
  • Help your school survey the children and parents to identify what playground equipment they like and don’t like, which equipment they feel is safe and unsafe.
  • Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
  • Enlist the help of your elected officials to show their support for safe environments and playgrounds for children.
  • Invite a local newscaster or other local celebrity to come to a few parks or schools to talk about the importance of safe play.
  • Write to your local newspaper to praise safe parks and to identify those which aren’t safe.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a playground accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Dog Bite Prevention: Safe interaction, education, responsible pet ownership are key

April 11, 2018 | 11:39 am


Each year about 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs and 800,000-plus receive medical attention for dog bites, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Many of the dog bite victims are children, the elderly and postal carriers.

The good news is that many dog bites can be prevented with safe and appropriate interaction with canines, education, and responsible pet ownership.

The motto for this year’s Dog Bite Prevention Week, observed from April 8-14, is “70 million nice dogs … but any dog can bite.” Here are a few tips to help keep us all safe from dog bites, courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States and American Veterinary Medical Association.

Socialization

Socializing your pet helps it feel at ease in different situations. By introducing your dog to people and other animals while it’s a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older. It’s also important to use a leash in public to make sure that you are able to control your dog.

Responsible pet ownership

Basics of responsible dog ownership that can help reduce the risk of dog bites include carefully selecting the dog that’s right for your family, proper training, regular exercise, and neutering or spaying your pet.

Education

Educate yourself and your children about how, or whether, to approach a dog.

Avoid risky situations

It’s important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and to understand when you should and should not interact with dogs. You should avoid petting a dog in these scenarios:

  • If the dog is not with its owner
  • If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog
  • If the dog is on the other side of a fence – don’t reach through or over a fence to pet a dog
  • If a dog is sleeping or eating
  • If a dog is sick or injured
  • If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence
  • If a dog is playing with a toy
  • If a dog is growling or barking
  • If a dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone

Pay attention to the dog’s body language

Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals, indicating that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:

  • Tensed body
  • Stiff tail
  • Pulled back head and/or ears
  • Furrowed brow
  • Eyes rolled so the whites are visible
  • Yawning
  • Flicking tongue
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away

When putting space between yourself and a dog that might bite, never turn your back on them and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you.

Safety tips for children

You can help protect your child from dog bites by discussing with him or her the appropriate way to behave around dogs.

  • Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for puppies. Animals are more likely to bite if they’re startled, frightened or caring for young.
  • Children should never approach a barking, growling or scared dog.
  • Children should not pet unfamiliar dogs without asking permission from the dog’s guardian first. If the guardian says it is okay, the child should first let the dog sniff his closed hand. Then taking care to avoid petting the dog on the top of the head, he can pet the dog’s shoulders or chest.
  • Children should not try to pet dogs that are behind a fence or in a car. Dogs often protect their home or space.
  • If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, he should not approach the dog and should tell an adult immediately.
  • If a loose dog comes near a child, he should not run or scream. Instead, he should avoid eye contact with the dog and stand very still, like a tree, until the animal moves away. Once the dog loses interest, the child can slowly back away.
  • If a child falls down or is knocked to the ground by a dog, he should curl up in a ball with his knees tucked into his stomach, and fingers interlocked behind his neck to protect his neck and ears. If a child stays still and quiet like this, the dog will most likely just sniff him and then go away.
  • Children should never try to outrun a dog. If a dog does attack a child, the child should “feed” the dog his jacket, bag, bicycle—or anything that he has for the dog to grab onto or anything he can put between himself and the dog.

What to do if you think a dog may attack

If you are approached by a dog that may attack you, follow these steps:

  • Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until they are out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” them your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.

What to do if you’re bitten by a dog

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including their owner’s name and the address where they live. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw them, whether you’ve seen them before and in which direction they went.

Lastly, contact a personal injury lawyer if you think you have a case.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles resolved a lawsuit in 2016 on behalf of a Bakersfield woman for $2 million in what is the largest award for a dog bite case against a public entity in California. Learn more about that case here.

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If you or someone you know it attacked or bitten by a dog, contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000 to schedule a free consultation, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsors back-to-school shopping spree for local disadvantaged youth

August 3, 2016 | 6:00 am


The 2016-17 school year is nearly here, which means many parents and children are preparing to go back-to-school shopping.

Unfortunately, that may not be the case for many underprivileged children in Kern County whose families are not be able to afford new clothes and supplies for the upcoming school year. But more than 200 of these local students and families won’t have to worry this year thanks to the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club‘s annual “Childspree” back-to-school shopping program.

And Chain | Cohn | Stiles, for the third year, is partnering with the nonprofit in the annual program as a sponsor.

The event takes dozens of youth shopping at Kohl’s department stores in Bakersfield, and this year will be held on Saturday, Aug. 6. Each child is given a backpack filled with school supplies along with a $100 Kohl’s gift card for clothes. Volunteers, including several attorneys and employees at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, help the children pick out their clothes.

“To see the children smile from ear to ear when they realize they will have a new pair of shoes for the school year, or new jeans, is amazing,” said David Cohn, managing partner of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We’re just happy to be able to help some of our local families in need.”

Along with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield, other participating groups include CASA of Kern County, Community Connection for Child Care, California Youth Connection Kern County, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.

The event is truly helpful for many underprivileged families, and one that children and volunteers alike look forward to, said Brain Dean, former president of the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, in last year’s coverage of the event by The Bakersfield Californian.

“I feel it is important to help children in need so we can provide them some great experiences while growing up, as well as help them become successful, confident members of society,” Dean said.

Some past volunteers include the law firm’s very own worker’s compensation* lawyer James Yoro and wife Rev Yoro, as well as personal injury attorneys Neil Gehlawat and Matt Clark. Click here to view photos from past year’s event.

Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield was founded in 1928, and hosts several events each year to benefit local children’s charities. For more information on “Childspree” and other Active 20-30 Club events, visit www.active2030.org. And to see more of Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ community involvement, please visit our Community web page by clicking here.

— By Evelyn Andrade for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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*Notice:  Making a false or fraudulent worker’s compensation claim is a felony subject to up to five (5) years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000.00 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.