Safety Tips: Catch them all, but be careful while playing Pokémon Go

September 7, 2016 | 6:00 am


By now, you’ve likely heard of the game Pokemon Go, which has taken the country by storm and has been a huge hit for gamers of all ages. And if you have heard of the game, then you’ve probably heard of various incidents of people getting injured while playing. 

The Bakersfield injury, accident and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles remind all gamers to practice safety while playing Pokémon Go, and read the tips below for an injury-free experience.

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, click here to learn all about the game. In short, it’s a location-based reality game in which players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. And it’s free!

There are 150 different types of Pokémon to be caught, but to catch them you have to find them first, and the game requires you to walk around to find Pokemon. “Poke stops” are everywhere, including at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Visit the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to find it full of kids, teens, and adults walking around catching Pokemon on their phones.

And while the game has players out and about being active, it’s also led to injuries and other incidents caused by distracted playing. In the last few weeks, Pokemon Go has been connected to the following incidents in the United States:

  • A 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl was struck by a car while playing (WPXI)
  • A 28-year-old driver in Auburn crashed into a tree while playing (Auburnpub.com)
  • Two men fell off cliffs in Encinitas while playing. (San Diego Tribune)
  • A man crashed into a parked police cruiser while playing the game. (Huffington Post)

The problem lies in distracted playing, as players focus on the phone in front of them instead of their surroundings. Please follow these tips to stay safe while catching Pokemon:

  • Do not go out alone to play Pokemon Go.
  • Always check your surroundings while playing.
  • Be alert at all times while playing.
  • Do not trespass onto private property.
  • Let someone know where you are going to be when venturing out.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, catch Pokemon while driving.
  • Do not go into unsafe or suspicious areas to catch a Pokemon.

Just recently, Pokemon Go updated the game to include safety warnings such as “remember to be alert at all times,” “stay aware of your surroundings,” “Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go,” “Do not play Pokémon Go while driving,” and “Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go.”

And most recently, The California State Assembly introduced a measure that would expand the ban on texting while driving to include other distracting operations of smartphones, including searching for “Pokemon Go” characters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Playing Pokemon Go is a great way to get active and explore areas around you, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises you to not put yours or others’ lives at risk to catch a Pokemon.

— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Working outside? How to stay safe in the summer heat, and identify heat illness

July 27, 2016 | 6:00 am


It’s summer time in Kern County and the temperatures aren’t going down anytime soon.

Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind everyone enjoying the outdoors to take proper precautions to beat the heat, especially those working in the outdoors. Each year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some even die. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job, according to U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

These illnesses and deaths are preventable. Please take note of these safety measures for staying safe in the summer heat:

 

Protect Yourself

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which causes premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and skin cancer. Here’s how to block those harmful rays while working:

  • Dress appropriately for the heat: Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover as much skin as possible in order to prevent sunburn.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Wear UV-absorbent sunglasses.
  • Limit exposure: UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

 

Hydrate 

It is important to drink plenty of water. The National Institute of Medicine recommends men drink approximately 3 liters of water, and women to drink 2 liters of water per day.

If working in the outdoor heat, drink a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you are not thirsty. During prolonged sweating lasting several hours, drink sports drinks containing balanced electrolytes. Avoid alcohol and drinks with high caffeine or sugar.

 

Rest

Rest in the shade to cool down, and keep an eye on fellow workers. Employers should ensure and encourage workers to take appropriate rest breaks to cool down and hydrate.

Shorten work periods and increase rest periods as temperature, humidity, and sunshine increase, when there is no air movement, if protective clothing or equipment is worn, or for heavier work.

 

Learn the Signs

It’s important to know and be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness. There are different types of heat-related illnesses, ranging from those that cause temporary discomfort to the generally fatal condition known as heat stroke.

  • Heat Stroke: A serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses its ability to control its temperature. In heat stroke, a person develops a fever that rapidly rises to dangerous levels within minutes. A person with heat stroke usually has a body temperature above 104 degrees, but the temperature may rise even higher. Other symptoms and signs of heat stroke may include confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, feeling faint, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry flushed skin, and lack of sweating. Delirium or coma can also result from heat stroke.
  • Heat exhaustion: A warning that the body is getting too hot. Those most prone to heat exhaustion include elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment. A person with heat exhaustion may be thirsty, giddy, weak, uncoordinated, nauseous, and sweating profusely. As with heat syncope and heat cramps, the body temperature is usually normal in heat exhaustion. The heart rate (pulse rate) is normal or elevated. The skin is usually cold and clammy.
  • Heat cramps: A person who has been exercising or participating in other types of strenuous activity in the heat may develop painful muscle spasms in the arms, legs, or abdomen referred to as heat cramps. The body temperature is usually normal, and the skin will feel moist and cool, but sweaty.
  • Heat syncope: Someone who experiences heat syncope (fainting) will experience the sudden onset of dizziness or fainting after exposure to high temperatures, particularly after exercising in the heat. As with heat cramps, the skin is pale and sweaty but remains cool. The pulse may be weakened, and the heart rate is usually rapid. Body temperature is normal.
  • Dehydration: There are three stages of dehydration. Symptoms may include dry mouth, dry skin, and headache. Severe dehydration symptoms include extreme thirst, irritability and confusion.
  • Sunburn: Sunburns can cause the skin to become red and swollen. Sunburns can be a risk factor for skin cancer and sun damage. Heat rash, on the other hand, is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness, do the following:

  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Seek shelter from the sun.
  • Apply water on the person.
  • Apply ice on the person’s neck or areas where large blood vessels are near the surface.
  • Remove any heavy clothing.

 

Employer Responsibilities 

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.

— By Evelyn Andrade for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know if injured at work, please call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com. Workers’ compensation lawyers James Yoro and Beatriz Trejo can help.

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Safety tips for all during National Bike Month and beyond

May 25, 2016 | 10:23 am


Each May, the League of American Bicyclist reminds us all during National Bike Month of the many, many benefits of bicycling, and encourage more of us to give biking a try.

National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride,” according to the organization founded way back in 1880.

And whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community, safety is always of the utmost importance.

Kern County in recent years has seen far too many bicycle related accidents resulting in severe injuries and even death.

In 2013, the most recent statistics available, Bakersfield saw nearly 100 victims killed or injured on a bicycle, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Pedestrians accounted for another 140 injuries and fatalities, and motorcyclist numbered 60.

With this year’s annual observation coming to a close, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind all — pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists — to share the roadways with each other every day and all year. For bicyclists, in particular, here are a few quick safety tips to keep in mind before hoping on those wheels.

A-B-C

Before getting on your bicycle, remember A, B, C.

  • A is for Air: Inflate tires to the pressure listed on the side of the tire. Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure Check for damage on tired and replace if damaged
  • B is for Brakes: Inspect pads for wear. Replace if there is less than 14-inch of pad left. Check pad adjustment. Make sure they do not rub the tire. Look to see that you can fit your thumb between the brake lever handlebar when the brakes are squeezed all the way
  • C is for cranks and chain: Pull your cranks away from the bike – if they are loose, tighten the bolt. Check your that your chain is free of rust and gunk.

BE A ‘ROLL MODEL’

Being a “roll model” means:

  • Riding and driving focused: Never distracted.
  • Riding and driving prepared: Always expect the unexpected.
  • Putting safety first: We never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age. Always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seat belt when in a car.
  • Following the rules of the road: A bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic. Expect law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
  • Share the road: Both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Teenage driving is as dangerous as ever. What you can do to make sure they’re safe

April 20, 2016 | 8:53 am


Over the years, cars have gotten safer and so have our roadways. In fact, they’re the safest they’ve ever been in the history of automobiles. It’s no wonder that the number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in the United States has continued to decline since 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But for teenage drivers in the United States, driving is as dangerous as ever.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers — more so than suicide, cancer and other types of accidents, according to The New York Times. On average, six teenagers died each day from injuries related to auto accidents in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are some notes to keep in mind that could help make sure your teenager gets from point A to point B safe and sound (courtesy of the New York Times):

  • Friends: Adding one non-family passenger to a car with a teenage driver increases the rate of accidents by 44 percent. Add a second non-family passenger, and that rate doubles, and add three or more passengers and it quadruples. As the NY Times, states: “Your cellphone isn’t encouraging your teen to go 80 in a 50, or 100 in a 70.”
  • Alcohol, Night Driving: Nearly a third of teenagers killed in car accidents had been drinking, according to U.S. Department of Transportation. Late-night driving significantly increased the risk, too.
  • Smartphones: It’s no secret that texting and phone usage can be a big distraction for teenagers at any time, but using smartphone while driving can be deadly. Even with hands-free equipment that is readily available in new cars, having your eyes on the road while your mind is elsewhere can negatively impact driver awareness. (FYI: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month).
  • Safety Technology: New car safety technology tools are no-doubt helping save lives. Features including forward-collision warnings, lane-keeping assist, and automatic braking have all led to declines in teenage driving deaths and injuries in recent years. It may be worth the extra payment to get the best safety features in a new car.
  • Parents: Parents are not doing enough to supervise their children, and chances are teenage drivers are not driving as safely as parents may think. The more a parent is involved when a teenager is learning to drive, the lower their chances are for a crash.

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If you or someone you know is involved and injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles right away (661-323-4000). And remember to take the following 3 steps if you have been involved in an automobile accident:

  • 1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
  • 2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
  • 3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

SAFETY TIPS: A spooky time of year for pedestrians, motorists

October 28, 2015 | 3:21 pm


With Halloween here, it’s a spooky time of year. For an enjoyable and safe Halloween, it’s important to be aware of all the dangers surrounding the holiday. And perhaps the No. 1 safety concern for trick-or-treaters is traffic.

It’s difficult for drivers to see children in dark costumes, and young ghouls and goblins can also have their own vision obscured by masks.

Plus, drinking and increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween night has historically been a dangerous combination, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For example, on Halloween night in 2012, 54 people were killed and nearly half of those deaths involved a crash with a drunk driver. That compares to about one-third on an average day. And about 28 of Halloween crash fatalities were pedestrians, compared to 14 percent on an average day. In a five-year span to 2012, 21 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.

In all cases, it’s important for children and adults to be extra cautious while out and about on Halloween night. Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds you to stay safe, and be sure to follow the following tips:

MOTORISTS

  • Use caution while behind the wheel:
    • Slow down and be alert in residential areas.
    • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
    • And eliminate distractions so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive sober or get pulled over:
    • Always designate a sober driver and plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night if you plan on celebrating Halloween with alcohol. Use your community’s sober ride program or take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
    • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. And if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.

PEDESTRIANS

  • Make sure everyone in your foot traffic party is walking safely and using sidewalks whenever possible. Look both ways to cross the street, and be extra aware of cars parking on the street or backing out of driveways.
  • Walking impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
  • Help keep kids safe:
    • Children out at night should have adult supervision.
    • Kids should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
    • Choose face paint when possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
    • Decorate costumes with reflective tape and have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights.
    • And always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a pedestrian or car accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the law firm’s website at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign in bike safety event for kids

August 25, 2015 | 11:21 am


With school back in session for students throughout Kern County, the roads are busy with buses picking up and dropping off kids at school, parents dropping off their children, and students walking to campuses. Many students also ride their bikes to school.

With so much activity on Bakersfield and Kern County roadways, it’s important for everyone to share the road and be cautious of others.

In an effort to keep the roadways as safe as possible for students who happen to cycle to school, the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with local nonprofits Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign to host a “Kidical Mass” event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Williams Elementary School, 1201 Williams St. in east Bakersfield.

The event will feature bike repairs, safety demonstrations, a group bike ride and a barbecue lunch. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has also donated 100 safety helmets for students and bike riders who may be in need of the safety equipment.

Many of the students who attend Williams Elementary and area Bakersfield City School District schools in east Bakersfield come from low-income households, and may not be able to purchase proper safety equipment, including helmets, said Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“There are too many accidents in our community that involve bicycles,” Barrientos said. “Hopefully this event with help raise awareness to help better protect our students, and keep them safe.”

KBAK-KBFX Eyewitness News previewed the event during its morning shows recently, which included representatives from Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign and attorney Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To see the complete coverage of the news preview, including photos and videos of the segment, click on the Little John Photo blog here.

Kidical Mass, first held in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, is a safe and fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation, decided to host its very own Kidical Mass to help improve the biking experience in our local communities, said Bike Bakersfield executive director Jason Cater. This year’s Kidical Mass is also focused on teaching children safe riding habits while having fun on their bikes.

Also joining Bike Bakersfield is the Children First Campaign, which aims to ensure all children live in healthy, safe, and nurturing neighborhoods that promote academic achievement and success, and to counter the negative influences of drugs, crime, violence and poverty.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ attorneys, along with Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign representatives, will be on the Williams Elementary campus teaching students proper safety rules and protocols. The event is free and open to the public. Students in need of bike tune-ups, safety equipment and safety lessons are encouraged to attend.

For more bike and school safety tips and information, please read previous bloggingforjustice.com blog posts below:

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles gave out 100 bike helmets to children in east Bakersfield on Aug. 29. Each child was fitted properly for his and her helmet, and given a safety lesson on the rules of the road. To see photos and news videos of the event, click the links below.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Anxious about the start of the school year? Follow these tips for a stress-free back-to-school

August 12, 2015 | 9:11 am


School starts on Aug. 19 this year for many Bakersfield and Kern County students, and along with it comes the usual back-to-school shopping — and the danger of fraud.

Parents will use credit cards and other means of payment that contain their personal information, which may expose them to fraud. But it’s not just the parents who are at risk. Each year, nearly 500,000 children under the age of 18 fall victim to identity theft, according to credit.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of KERO Channel 23 and credit.com, has provided safety tips below to help protect you and your children from becoming victims of fraud.

And if the thought of being taken advantage of financially leaves you anxious, in addition to the usual back-to-school jitters for students and parents, be sure to read the tips below on how to prevent and cope with anxiety.

Protect Against Fraud

The start of school and back-to-school shopping go hand-in-hand. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently sponsored underprivileged children in the annual “Childspree” back-to-school shopping program.

Follow these tips below to make sure your shopping experience is a joyous one.

  • Do not give out a social security number and/or birth date without knowledge on how it is going to be used or disposed of.
  • Know who is going to see the information once it’s collected. Many organizations perform meticulous background checks on staff and volunteers. Others don’t. If in doubt, write, “information to come.”
  • Some doctor’s offices still ask for patient’s’ Social Security numbers. Unless it’s needed to bill insurance, skip it.
  • Students ages 18 to 24 face the highest risk of identity theft. They often live in dorms or share apartments where others can access their belongings. Before they head back to campus, equip your college students with the right tools and habits.
  • Shred pre-approved credit offers. Dumpster-diving is an epidemic on campuses because thieves know most students throw these offers away unopened.
  • Lock up important papers like student loan and enrollment documents so they won’t be left lying around where anyone could see them.
  • Use strong alphanumeric passwords with combinations of special characters and capitalization and update security software.
  • If your phone is lost, contact your provider immediately.

Back-to-School Anxiety

Starting a new school year can be exciting. It can also make students anxious.

Being a little anxious is normal at the start of a new school year; however, for some students, it can slowly grow over the course of a school year and can discourage students from attending and performing well in school.

Some students may shut down and withdraw socially, or keep asking for assurance. KERO Channel 23 has provided the following steps that parents can take to help their children become less anxious about going to school and starting a new school year.

  • Attend open house or orientation activities that allow children to see their classroom and meet their teachers. That removes some of the unknowns.
  • Establish a routine and stick to it. A predictable routine at home can be calming.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of going back to school, like seeing friends again and extracurricular activities.
  • Talk about your own experiences with anxiety and how you cope. Praise children when they face their fears and acknowledge those positive aspects.

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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Safety is of most importance to the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. If you or someone you know has been injured due to the fault of another, contact the law firm at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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OTHER MEDIA

Cool safety tips for a successful summer road trip

June 24, 2015 | 10:32 am


Summer officially kicked off June 21, which means it’s time to enjoy sunshine and vacations. Summer is one of the highest travel periods in the United States, and it can also be one of the most dangerous times on our roadways.

Before heading out on the highway, it’s important to plan ahead and take all safety measures into account. Prevention and planning may take a little time, but will spare you from dealing with the consequences of a breakdown, or worse, a highway crash.

Read the summer travel safety tips below, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For a full list of summer travel safety tips, download a comprehensive PDF by clicking here.

Before You Go

Regular maintenance of your vehicle goes a long way toward preventing breakdowns. Schedule a preventive maintenance checkup before hitting the road. Also, check for recalls on your vehicle by looking it up on this website — you’ll need your car’s VIN number.

Here are some quick and easy safety checks you can do before a road trip:

  • Change the oil
  • Check the brakes, battery and belts
  • Replace the windshield wipers
  • Checking your cooling system and levels, as well as other fluid levels (brake, transmission and power steering)
  • Assess tire tread and pressure
  • Check the spare tire for proper pressure
  • Make sure headlights, brake lights, turn signals, interior lights and emergency flashers are in working order.
  • Subscribe to a roadside assistance program

Protect Children

Make sure car and booster seats are properly installed. All children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat. And all passengers in your vehicle should be buckled up.

Visit this website for child safety recommendation, including how to select the right car seat for your child.

  • Buckle up: All passengers must wear their seat belts
  • Summer heat: One of the biggest dangers related to vehicle in the summertime is heatstroke. Never leave children alone in the car. Vehicles heat up quickly and can reach deadly levels in just a few minutes.
  • Lock up: Lock your vehicle’s doors at all times when it’s not in use. Put the keys somewhere that children can’t get access to them.
  • Stay alert: Long trips can be difficult for children, drivers and other passengers. Plan time to stop along the trip. Change drivers if they’re feeling tired or drowsy.

On the Road

A driver’s responsibilities include keeping eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and focusing only driving. Plus, it’s important to share the road with motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, who all have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as every motorist.

  • Leave more distance between you and a motorcycle.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians: Keep your eyes open for distracted pedestrians. Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it’s not marked.
  • Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.

Avoid Bad Driving Behavior

  • Avoid distracted driving: The most obvious forms of distraction are cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.
  • Impaired driving: Every 52 minutes (or 28 times a day), someone in the United States dies in an alcohol impaired-driving crash, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Crashes caused by impaired driving are preventable. Simply, never drive after you have a drink or use drugs.

Emergency Roadside Kit

Put together an emergency roadside kit to take with you. Suggested emergency roadside kit contents include:

  • Cell phone and car charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jack for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak!)
  • Water and paper towels for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps
  • Emergency blankets, towels and coats

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If you or someone you know is in a car accident due to the fault of another, contact the Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, or visiting the website chainlaw.com.

Turkey time: Get to know the dangers of using fryers for the holidays

November 20, 2014 | 10:06 am


Around the holidays in 2002, Richard Hernandez was heating the oil in his Brinkmann turkey fryer he bought from Walmart when it combusted, shooting bright red flames three feet into the air.

“The best way I can explain it is, it was an eruption like out of a volcano,” Hernandez told The Bakersfield Californian in 2004. “It just shot straight up in the air.”

Hernandez then sprayed the fire with an extinguisher, but it only fed the flames. He decided to carry the flaming pot away from the house, but the pot started to implode. The flaming hot oil burned Hernandez’s arms, legs and face.

A year after Hernandez’ incident, Steven Pendergrass, a Kern County Fire Department engineer and former paramedic was frying a turkey using a Brinkmann fryer on Christmas Day. When moisture in the turkey caused oil to boil out of the pot and catch fire, Pendergrass tried to push the pot away from his house, it tipped, spilling oil onto the ground. Pendergrass slipped and fell onto the oil, burning his arms, ankles, back and face.

Both men, represented by Bakersfield personal injury and burn injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles faced several surgeries to repair damaged skin, and dealt with unbearable pain and suffering. Attorney David Cohn helped settle Hernandez’ case against Brinkmann Corp. and Walmart for $2.15 million, while Cohn settled Pendergrass’ case for more than $2 million.

The lawsuits led companies to make changes in the design of the turkey fryers, including adding more legs to make them steadier and prevent tipping, adding automatic turn-off valves if the oil becomes too hot, and other safety fixes.

Still, burn injuries continue all too often with propane-fueled turkey fryers. In fact, more than 4,000 fires occur annually around Thanksgiving alone as people deep fry turkeys, bake pies and cook other foods, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

With the holidays around the corner, the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, are reminding people about the dangers of turkey fryers, with tips provided by the Bakersfield and Kern County Fire Departments.

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors at a safe distance from structures.
  • Never use fryers under patio covers, on wooden decks or in garages.
  • Use fryers on flat surfaces to reduce the possibility of accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  • Do not overfill the fryer. This may result in a “spill-over” of hot oil.
  • Safety goggles and potholders or oven mitts should be used when utilizing the fryer.
  • Turkey must be completely thawed to avoid oil splattering and “boil-over.”
  • Turkey should be free of loose ice and water to avoid oil splattering and “boil-over.”
  • Choose a smaller turkey (10 to 12 pounds) to fry to reduce the potential for accidents.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire; use an all-purpose fire extinguisher.

And if you are injured or burned throughout the holidays, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com for more information on the following:

Trick or Treat? No matter the choice, practice safety this Halloween

October 30, 2014 | 6:55 am


Trick or treat?!

No matter which one you and your family chooses this Halloween, make sure you take proper safety precautions. Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office reminds children and adults to keep the Halloween tradition fun by remembering to be safe.

“There is no real trick to making Halloween a treat for the whole family, but following safety tips and using common sense can help you make the most of your Halloween season,” the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The most common dangers on Halloween are falls and vehicle-pedestrian collisions and crashes. Another major concern is identifying candy that has been tampered with, which children are given.

Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, with twice as many deaths as on a typical day, USA Today reported, according to State Farm. Most at risk are kids ages 12 to 18.

Drunken drivers, too, are another hazard for everyone walking the streets. The share of fatal crashes involving drunken drivers rises from the usual 30 percent to nearly 50 on Halloween, USA Today highlighted. About 20 percent of pedestrian deaths on Halloween involve a drunken driver.

Here are several tips provided by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and Chain | Cohn | Stiles to help make Halloween safe and fun:

Parents

  • Know the route your children will be taking if you aren’t going with them.
  • Make sure you set a time for them to be home. Have your children eat a good dinner before going out.
  • Make sure your children are properly supervised while out.
  • Make sure they trick or treat in a group if you are not with them.
  • Children 12 years and younger should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Tell your children to never go into a stranger’s house.
  • Tell your children to stay out of the street while walking.
  • Choose a costume that is brightly colored and easy to see in the dark.
  • Carefully inspect all food and candy before letting your child eat it (when in doubt, throw it out).

 Trick or Treaters

  • Carry a flashlight.
  • Stay on sidewalks.
  • Cross the street at intersections, never run out from behind a parked car.
  • Stay in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Make sure your costume fits you well.
  • Only approach houses that are well lit.
  • Walk from house to house, don’t run.
  • Never take shortcuts, such as alleyways or empty fields.
  • Don’t eat anything until your parents have had a chance to inspect it.

Children should also know the basics, such as their phone number and address in case of an emergency, and how to react if a stranger tries to approach them. If your child is late returning home or you cannot locate your child, immediately call 9-1-1 and report it to local law enforcement.

Pets 

Calls to animal poison control centers go up at Halloween, according to USA Today. Chocolate contains a compound that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures and death in dogs. Raisins and the artificial sweeteners can also sicken dogs.

  • It’s best to keep all sorts of human treats stashed away.
  • Don’t feel the need to dress up pets in costumes. Pet costumes can cause stress in some pets, and some dogs might try to chew the unwanted costumes off their backs.

Adults

If you are planning on attending a Halloween party, consider the following:

  • In 2012, 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween involved a drunk driver.
  • In 2012, 48 percent of all traffic fatalities on Halloween resulted from a DUI-related accident.
  • Children are two times as likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle while walking on Halloween.
  • Drinking violations for criminal offenders increase by about 25 percent when Halloween is on a Friday.

And if you or a loved one are involved in an accident during Halloween, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are experts in pedestrian and car accident cases. Reach them 24 hours a day at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com.