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.

Keeping safe at work in Kern County’s summer sun and adverse air quality

June 19, 2019 | 10:23 am


The month of June is National Safety Month, and in Bakersfield, we know June as the start of triple digit weather forecasts and stocking up on sunscreen.

For those working outdoors in Kern County, June and the summer months are also a time protection from the California sun, and adverse air quality. In fact, more injuries occur during the summer months in workplaces than at other times of the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The industry sector experiencing the largest number of preventable fatal injuries is construction, followed by transportation and warehousing. Agriculture, forestry, transportation and warehousing sectors experience the highest fatality rates per 100,000 workers, according to the bureau. Taking preventative action can spare workers needless pain and suffering. For example, high temperatures can be dangerous to people at work and can lead to injuries, illnesses, and even death, the majority of which are preventable.

Read ahead to learn more about common threats to workers in the summer months, and how to prevent injuries.

 

Working in the heat

Every year, many workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some are fatally injured. These illnesses and fatalities are preventable.

Many people are exposed to heat on the job, in both indoor and outdoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Indoor workplaces with hot conditions may include iron and steel foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, commercial kitchens, laundries, chemical plants, material handling and distribution warehouses, and many other environments. Outdoor workplaces with work in hot weather and direct sun, such as farm work, construction, oil and gas well operations, landscaping, emergency response operations, and hazardous waste site activities, also increase the risk of heat-related illness in exposed workers.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature through sweating. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. If the person is not cooled down, fainting and even death could result.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention. Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include air conditioning and ventilation and work practices such as work-rest cycles, and staying hydrated. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do because acting quickly can save lives.

 

Air Quality & Valley Fever

Although not all workers who deal with the summer heat work outdoors, those who work outdoors are susceptible to many factors contributed to by bad air quality.  The workers in the fields have to be especially mindful of the side effects of the air they are breathing, but anyone outside could get unlucky.

Some illness or infections from breathing in bacteria and pollution are:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • valley fever
  • respiratory disease

Valley Fever and respiratory diseases have taken many lives in Kern County.  Those at a greater risk of getting valley fever and respiratory disease are workers in the fields. At any given month, workers have to contend with dust storms and breathing in soil ridden amounts of air.

What is valley fever? According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, valley fever — scientifically called coccidioidomycosis — is a fungal infection in the lungs from breathing in spores in the air.  The spores are microscopic fungi found in soil and it cannot be passed from person to person. The initial state of coccidioidomycosis can cause these symptoms that make it hard to diagnose:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Rash on upper body or legs

According to the Kern County Public Health Services Department, 2937 cases of Valley Fever were reported last year. However, it unknown how many cases go unreported because the symptoms are similar to the common cold. It is advised to be aware of these symptoms because this initial state could worsen into acute and chronic coccidioidomycosis. These stages can then lead to missing months of work or death.

The Environmental Health News stated that 23,634 deaths occurred between 2013-2016 in Kern Country from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD).  Included in these diseases are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension.  There are no cures for these diseases, but treatment can prevent them from worsening.

Workers have to be careful and knowing of these illnesses in order to recognize the symptoms and seek immediate medical care if the symptoms listed above persist.

 

Lastly, workers can take a safety pledge to never compromise their own safety or the safety of co-workers to get the job done, actively look for hazards, promptly report them, and take appropriate action to warn others.

— Alexa Esparza contributed to this report. 

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If you or someone you know is injured at work or becomes ill due to work condition, please contact the personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com

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*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 value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

‘100 Deadliest Days’: Summer period especially dangerous time for young drivers

May 29, 2019 | 5:04 pm


Did you know that the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” in the United States?

During this time span, which largely includes the summertime, our country’s roadways see a sharp increase in automobile fatalities, many involving teen drivers, according to AAA.

For example, in 2016 during this time period more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. That’s an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to the AAA.

What are the reasons for the sharp increase?

It’s not that more teens are driving for longer periods in the summer with school out. In fact, driving behavior greatly increases the risk of a crash, AAA states. Distracted driving, inexperience, driving under the influence, not using safety belts, and driving in adverse conditions are the primary reasons.

Bakersfield’s 23ABC News reporter Lezly Gooden examined this annual issue, and discussed what we can do to decrease the numbers. The report also featured Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury Matt Clark, representing MADD Kern County as a board member regarding the alarming DUI-rates in Kern County, which sees more than 4,000 DUI arrests per year. Additionally, Kern County’s rate of DUI-related fatal crashes is the second highest in the country, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

“The statistics are frankly embarrassing for our county,” said Matt Clark in the 23ABC News report. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with MADD Kern County efforts to raise awareness of the local DUI epidemic, and ways to combat the crimes. “It’s embarrassing that we live in a county in California where you are likely to die in a drunk driving accident than almost any other county in the country.”

Additionally, research shows that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increased 51 percent. Speed and nighttime driving are also factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

Here are a few tips for parents of teens and young adult drivers:

  • Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
  • Get informed. Graduated driver licensing, driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice driving are all part of today’s licensing process. And the state of California sets parameters throughout a multi-stage licensing process for young drivers, such as times of day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
  • Start talking now. Share any insight that could save your child from having to learn things the hard way. Talk about what it takes to be a safe driver, the rules and responsibilities once they start driving.
  • Focus on passenger safety. Talk to your teen about always buckling up, not riding with a teen driver without your advance permission, and being a safe passenger with teen and adult drivers.
  • Be involved. When you’re behind the wheel, talk about what you see (road signs, pedestrians, other vehicles) that could result in the need to change speed, direction or both. Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving. California requires that parents and their teens conduct 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including 10 hours at night.
  • Be a good role model. Make changes in your driving to prevent any poor driving habits from being passed on. Show you take driving seriously by always wearing your seat belt, obeying traffic laws, not using a cell phone while driving, watching your speed, not tailgating, using your turn signals, and not driving when angry or tired.
  • Responsible drivers never drive under the influence. As a parent, you can reinforce that message and help steer clear of dangers, including being a passenger of friends who have been drinking. Preventing underage drinking also helps avoid exposure to violence, risky sexual behavior, alcoholism and other serious concerns.

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

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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.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Staying safe in the hot summer and how to prevent, ID, and treat heat exhaustion

July 11, 2018 | 10:22 am


Lots of regions throughout California are experiencing heat waves this summer, including in Kern County and record temperatures hitting Southern California in particular. In these cases, it’s important to be extra careful to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses occur when the ability to sweat fails and body temperature rises quickly, and can lead to delirium, organ damage and even death. The reason is scary: the brain and vital organs are effectively cooked as body temperatures rise to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes.

In fact, nearly 250 people died in the United States from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts 2017, a report produced by the National Safety Council. Thousands of others are affected.

There are several heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Those most at risk include infants and young children, elderly people, pets, people with long-term illnesses, athletes and people who work outdoors.

For this article, and since Chain | Cohn | Stiles focuses on accident and injury law, including work injuries and workers’ compensation, we’ll focus on what you can do to prevent heat illnesses while working outdoors, how to identify symptoms, and what to do if you or someone you know suffers a heat-related illness.

 

PREVENTION

The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days. Let air conditioning be your friend. But, if you must work outdoors, here are some important tips:

  • Drink more liquid than you think you need and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing, a long-sleeve shirt, and a hat.
  • Replace salt lost from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks.
  • Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, typically from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and re-apply every two hours; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Use buddy system to watch for symptoms

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health – also known as Cal/OSHA – has led the charge on developing stringent regulations to protect employees working outdoors in the heat. Overall, these regulations require California employers with outdoor workers to provide more than adequate water, shade, rest breaks and training. This rule applies when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Additional requirements go into effect when outdoor temperatures top 95 degrees. You can find all of the regulations under Title 8 Section 3395 – Heat Illness Prevention.

 

WARNING SINGS

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature, according to the CHIPS study by UC Davis.

Specifically, take note of these 10 symptoms to ID heat illness:

  1. Extremely high body temperature.
  2. Hot, dry, skin. An inability to cool the body through perspiration may cause the skin to feel dry.
  3. Increased heart and respiration rates as blood pressure drops and the heart attempts to maintain adequate circulation.
  4. Throbbing headache, nausea or vomiting due to dehydration.
  5. Weakness, fainting, or dizziness – especially in standing up quickly – due to low blood pressure from dehydration.
  6. Muscle cramps.
  7. Dark-colored urine – a sign of dehydration
  8. Confused, hostile, or seemingly intoxicated behavior
  9. Pale or bluish skin color in advanced cases due to constricted blood vessels
  10. Seizures or unconsciousness

 

WHAT TO DO

Ridding the body of excess heat is crucial for survival. Here’s what you can do if you or someone you know is experiencing a heat-related illness, courtesy of the California Department of Industrial Relations.

  • Move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade or air-conditioned area, or fan and spray with cool water. If humidity is below 75 percent, spray the victim with water and fan them vigorously; if humidity is above 75 percent, apply ice to neck, armpits or groin, or having them take a cool shower.
  • Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen.
  • Loosen or remove unnecessary clothing.
  • Give them water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages, or a sports drink.
  • Stretch affected muscles.
  • Call for emergency medical help immediately if symptoms are more severe.

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If you or someone you know has suffered an injury while at work, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

Summer, sunshine, and safety. Keeping your loved ones safe during National Safety Month

June 27, 2018 | 9:43 am


The month of June brings summer days, sunshine, travel, vacations, and other activities. In the summer months, we should all think “safety” as well.

Dangerous situations can present themselves often during the summer. It’s important for each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones as safe as possible.

Observed each June, “National Safety Month” focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. In fact, accidental injury has become the No. 3 cause of death for the first time in U.S. history, according to the National Safety Council.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of the National Safety Council, would like to pass along some safety tips to keep in mind this summer to remain safe, and injury-free.

Be Prepared

Emergency situations can happen at any time, making it a priority to be prepared for the unexpected before it happens:

  • Research and prepare for natural disasters that may occur, like an earthquake.
  • Create an emergency kit for both your home and car.
  • Create a home emergency plan with your family and learn how to shut off your utilities.
  • Be a good participant in emergency drills at work and school by following instructions and paying attention to lessons learned.
  • Store important phone numbers, including those of family members, with other important documents in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Learn first aid and CPR for children and adults.
  • Stock your emergency kits.

Safe at Home

Slipping at home or tripping on the sidewalk is a serious risk, and they can be deadly. In fact, falls are the third leading cause of unintentional-injury-related deaths for all ages and the No. 1 cause of death for those 65 and older, according to the National Safety Council.

Take these simple steps to prevent falls both at home and in your community:

  • Remove clutter, including electrical cords and other tripping hazards, from walkways, stairs and doorways.
  • Install nightlights in the bathroom, hallways and other areas to prevent tripping and falls at night.
  • Always wear proper footwear and clean up spills immediately.
  • Place non-slip adhesive strips on stairs and non-skid mats in the shower and bathroom.
  • For older adults, install grab bars near showers and toilets, and install rails on both sides of stairs. Older adults can also take balance classes, get their vision and hearing checked each year and talk with their doctors and pharmacist about fall risks from medication

Driving Dangers

Summer is a busy travel season. And considering up to 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes involve human error, it’s important to follow safety measures to help stay safe on the roads.

  • Prevent injuries on the road by keeping your focus on the driving task.
  • Avoid impaired driving, whether by alcohol, lack of sleep or drugs, including over the counter and prescription medication.
  • Avoid cell phone distracted driving, including hands-free.
  • Practice with your teen drivers and teach them to avoid distraction.
  • Make sure all occupants are properly secured in age-appropriate restraints.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car and always keep your car locked when not in use.
  • If you drive for work, talk with your employer about safe habits – do not take calls while behind the wheel.
  • Regularly check your vehicle for recalls at CheckToProtect.org and stay up to date on the safety features in your car by visiting MyCarDoesWhat.org.
  • Make sure you understand your vehicle safety features before using them – not all vehicle safety features operate the same way.
  • Pay attention to vehicle alerts and warnings.
  • Educate teens and all inexperienced drivers about the safety features present in the vehicle and how they work.

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If you or someone you know is injured due to the fault of another, contact the personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (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.

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.

Cool down safely: Kern River, water safety advice

June 20, 2014 | 9:32 am


Earlier this week, Kern County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team were called out to the Kern River to assist with four people who became stranded.

Two adult women and two children, ages 4 and 5, were rafting down the Kern River on rafts that were tied together. The children were knocked off their rafts by the dangerous Kern River current and the group lost their rafts, media reported according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

Luckily, the children wore life vests, and the group made it to shore of the river, but they became stranded in an area where they could not get safely out of the river with the small children. That’s when the group called the attention of a worker nearby, who called rescue officials, who brought all four back to safety. Most importantly, none of them required medical attention.

The news related to the Kern River isn’t always as positive. In fact, the search is currently ongoing for a 19-year-old who was last seen swimming in the Kern River, Bakersfield and Kern Valley media reported. (Update on this case below)

Recently, Kern County Search and Rescue held a ceremony to change the number on the sign at the mouth of the Kern Canyon to represent two lives lost last year on the river. Total fatalities lost from the Kern River since 1968 is now at 269.

It’s important to keep this number and other safety measures in mind when visiting the Kern River during the summer — which officially begins June 21 this year — as well as when enjoying the cool water at home, or around Bakersfield and Kern County.

Safety officials recommend you stay out of the river, but if you do decide to go in and around the Kern River, here are safety tips to consider:

  • The Kern River may seem cool, calm and inviting, but underneath the water can lie a bed of traps that could suck you in.
  • Always wear a life vest every time you get in the river.
  • Don’t drink alcohol while in the river, as it can hinder judgment and can cause you to become disoriented or lethargic.
  • Do not use flotation devices, like inner tubes, because they can pop or slip away.
  • If you are swept away by the water, do not cling onto anything or try to fight the current because you will likely get tired and you will drown.
  • If you do get swept by the water, keep your feet above water and flatten your body to float. And resist trying to touch the bottom of the river with your feet.

Many of the safety measures applied to the Kern River can be considered for water safety around town, and around the house, too. Here are a few water safety tips courtesy of the Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

  • Supervision is the key word when it comes to pool safety. Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. Don’t be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversation. If you must leave the pool area, take the children with you, making sure the pool gate latches securely when it closes.
  • Always keep your eyes on the children. Designate a child watcher, whether you or someone else, when you attend a party or have friends or family over.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not let your child use air-filled “swimming aids” because they are not a substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous.
  • Children under the age of 3 and children who cannot swim must wear a life jacket or personal floatation device.
  • Anyone watching young children around a pool should learn CPR and be able to rescue a child if needed. Stay within an arm’s length of your child.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children are not tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.
  • Send children to swimming and water safety lessons.
  • Talk with babysitters about pool safety, supervision and drowning prevention.
  • Post rules such as “no running,” “no pushing,”, “no dunking,” and “never swim alone”. Enforce the rules.
  • Don’t assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn’t happen to you or your family.
  • Empty wading pools immediately after use and turn them over.
  • Remember, teaching your child how to swim does not mean your child is safe in water.

And throughout Kern County, cooling centers are open and available to help local residents cope with the punishing heat wave. Young children and the elderly are encouraged to take advantage of the center, as they are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat, according Kern County Department of Public Health.

The cooling centers are open from 1 to 8 p.m. when the temperature is forecast by the National Weather Service to reach the following temperatures:

  • 105 degrees in the San Joaquin and Kern River valleys
  • 95 degrees in Frazier Park
  • 108 degrees in desert locations

The centers are scattered across various areas of the county, including two in Bakersfield. Residents of greater Bakersfield who need transportation to a cooling center should contact Get-a-Lift at 869-6363. Those in outlying areas can contact Kern Regional Transit Network at 800-560-1733. Residents of California City should call Dial A Ride at 760-373-8665.

For more information, including cooling center opening times and days, go to www.co.kern.ca.us.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles wishes everyone a fun and safe summer, and a happy Fourth of July. For more water and summer safety tips, go to chainlaw.com, or read our summer safety tips at bloggingforjustice.com.

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UPDATE: The body of Roberto Dominguez III was recovered on Thursday, June 26, after a more than four-hour effort by volunteers, media reported. His body was stuck in rocks near a waterfall in what the Kern County Sheriff’s Office described as a dangerous portion of the river. A family member had initially seen the body on Wednesday.

Kern County safety tips to remember this summer

June 2, 2014 | 8:46 am


School is out, and the weather is hot. It can only mean one thing — summertime is here.

And with summer comes summertime recreation: swimming and other outdoor fun. It’s important to take proper safety precautions  more than ever during this time of year.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has released a series of water-safety tips, warning people to be safe during summertime recreation. Kern County had 11 accidental drownings last year, something the sheriff’s office says it hopes to avoid if people adhere to this advice.

Swimming pools

  • Avoid swimming alone.
  • Designate adults to watch children when having a swimming party.
  • Never leave children alone or unattended near a swimming pool, even for a second.
  • When supervising a child who is swimming, adults need to always maintain “touch supervision swimming,” meaning the adult can reach out and touch or assist that child at any moment if needed.
  • When supervising a child who is swimming, an adult should never be distracted or engaged in any other activity.
  • Install a fence around your pool, and lock the gate to the pool when not in use.
  • Remove all toys from the swimming pool when not in use. Toys attract children.
  • Consider installing a pool alarm, which will sound if a person enters the pool area.
  • Teach children to swim at an early age.
  • Take the time to learn CPR.
  • Install a phone outside near the pool.
  • If you have an above-ground pool, remove the ladder when not in use.
  • If a child is missing, always check the pool first. The majority of children who survive non-fatal submersions are discovered within two minutes.

Around the House

  • Do not leave water standing in buckets.
  • Never leave water standing in the bathtub.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub, and always maintain touch supervision with a child in the bath.
  • Always close the lid to the toilet. Consider installing safety locks on toilet lids.
  • Empty wading pools immediately after use.
  • Outdoor spas should have protective barriers, such as fencing or covers.
  • Cover outdoor ponds with a fixed grill.

Outdoors

  • Use the buddy system when swimming in lakes or rivers.
  • Adults need to maintain touch supervision with children near water or in campground areas with access to water.
  • Never swim in a lake or river after you have been drinking alcohol.
  • When around recreational water or water sports, everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest.
  • Make sure all life vests are fitted properly.
  • Do not make the assumption that because water looks calm or inviting a life vest is not needed. The Kern River can look deceivingly calm on the surface, yet dangerous underwater currents and debris can cause even a strong adult swimmer to be pulled under.
  • Never operate a boat after drinking alcohol or under the influence of drugs, and do not allow passengers on the boat if they are under the influence.
  • Learn to recognize when a person is in trouble in the water. People often do not yell for help, and it may appear as if they are splashing or waving when they are actually trying to keep their head above water.

To the point of staying safe in the Kern River, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office also recently updated the sign at the mouth of the Kern River Canyon to reflect the current number of lives lost in the Kern River since 1968. The sign is updated each year during the month of May to include the number of lives lost in the Kern River during the previous twelve months. This year the sign was updated from 267 lives lost to 269 lives lost.

The Bakersfield personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles wish everyone a fun and safe summer. For more water safety tips, go to chainlaw.com.