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Bike helmets spare lives!

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 783 bicyclists were killed in 2017, with the majority of accidents occurring in larger cities and towns, as opposed to more rural areas.  A large percentage of these accidents involved motor vehicles. Simple, common-sense measures can ensure that you are able to enjoy cycling without becoming involved in an accident.  

Cycling is an enjoyable activity either alone, or with friends and family.  Some folks compete in races, while some enjoying cycling because it can be easier on joints while still providing all of the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.  Many enjoy cycling with friends and/or family as a way to spend time together while staying active. Regardless of which category you fall into or where you choose to cycle, (on the road, bike path, sidewalks in your city or town, or just around your neighborhood) it is important to remain vigilant, take appropriate safety measures and maintain equipment to prevent accidents from occurring.

The single most important measure you can take is to always wear a properly fitted helmet.  Middle-age bicyclers encompass the largest number of cyclists to be injured or killed. Wearing a helmet is the best way to prevent a head injury, should an accident occur.  In the United States, all helmets must meet the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The National Highway Traffic Administration offers the following information when shopping for a properly fitted helmet:

  • First, measure your head and try several helmets on until you find one that feels comfortable.  Place the helmet level on top of your head and adjust until snug. The helmet should be level on your head, low on your forehead and allow space for one to two fingers to be placed between your eyebrows and the helmet;
  • Next, adjust the side straps.  If the helmet has a lock option, lock the slider in that position;  
  • Buckles should be centered on the chin and are adjusted from the back of the helmet.  The chin strap should be snug, with no more than one or two fingers able to fit under the strap; and
  • Finally, it is imperative to replace a helmet if you have been in an accident.

Adequate preparation is another element of bicycle safety.  Check your equipment to make sure that it is functional, i.e. – adequate amount of air in the tires and checking that the brakes work.  Ensure that shoelaces are secured so as to not become entangled in the bicycle’s wheel spokes or chain and never biking while wearing sandals/flip flops.  When possible, planning a route that typically has less traffic and slower speed limits is a good idea. Of course, there is always the option of cycling on a designated bike path, which obviates the danger associated with motor vehicles.

Once out on the road, it is imperative to follow the rules of the road, which include:

  • Keep both hands on the handlebars with the exception of signaling to turn or stop your bicycle; 
  • Cycle with the flow of traffic, meaning riding in the same direction as the vehicles on the road;
  • As a bicyclist sharing the roadway, you must obey all traffic signs, signals and road markings;
  • Use hand signals to indicate a change in direction or that you will be stopping your bicycle.  When signaling, it is good practice to look over your shoulder to identify any impediment to your changing lanes;
  • Make sure to look left and right when crossing the street or intersection.  Be cautious of motorists who may be pulling in or out of parking spaces and/or driveways or parking garages.  ALWAYS assume that other drivers do not see you and act/react accordingly;
  • NEVER wear headphones, text message on your cell phone, or utilize anything that may distract your attention from your surroundings;
  • Consistently scan the area ahead and around you for potential hazards that may cause you to fall such as pebbles, cracks in the roadway, potholes, grates and train tracks; 
  • Should you choose to cycle in a group, always ride in a single file, straight line; and
  • When cycling at night, early in the morning, or in low visibility conditions, ensure that you wear bright colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing or taping at night.  A front light and rear reflectors should be affixed to the bicycle, itself. An even better safety measure is to purchase a flashing light for the rear of the bicycle.

For those who choose to cycle on a sidewalk or bike path rather than on the roadway, the same tips regarding the rules of the road apply, but there are some additional safety tips which are specific to cycling on a sidewalk or bike path:

  • Be vigilant for pedestrians and always pass with caution while announcing your presence, which is as simple as stating, “Passing on your left.”
  • When crossing a street, look both ways for oncoming traffic before proceeding through an intersection; and
  • Again, as with cycling on the roadway, be vigilant for vehicles that may be backing out of driveways or turning.

The above safety measures may appear to be catered specifically to adults, however, they remain applicable to children.  When purchasing a bicycle for your child, it is important to bring your child along so as to ensure that the bicycle is the right fit, including the child being able to touch the ground while sitting on the bicycle seat.  Most sporting goods stores have professionals who can assist you in selecting the proper bicycle fit for your child.

Riding with your child until they are comfortable enough to ride on their own and riding on sidewalks whenever possible are two important safety measures.  Studies shown that most children are not able to judge speed and distance appropriately enough to safely cycle on their own until age 10. Of course, every child is unique and you shouldn’t allow your child to cycle on their own until you feel comfortable that they are able to make safe judgments and decisions while cycling.  Again, ensuring proper maintenance of the bicycle is of utmost importance. Teach your child to inspect the tires, as well as the brakes on the bicycle.

Once again, a helmet should be worn at all times.  According to the organization Safe Kids Worldwide, wearing a bicycle helmet may reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45%.  Unfortunately, studies have shown that less than half of children 14 and under regularly wear bike helmets.

Finding the right size helmet is hands-down the most important component of bicycle safety, as discussed.  Once again, make certain that the helmet conforms to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards.  The helmet should be in a level position on top of the head and should not be able to move forward, backward, or side to side.  Make sure that your child understands the importance of always buckling the helmet strap. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the following:

  • EYES check: Position the helmet on the head. Look up: the bottom rim of the helmet should be visible. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows;
  • EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under the ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable; and
  • MOUTH check: Open the mouth as wide as you can. Does the helmet “hug” your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against the skin.

Finally, as well all know, children learn from the behavior of adults.  Make sure that you consistently practice bicycle safety and your children will follow suit.

Cycling can be a fun, enjoyable, heart-healthy activity both individually or as a group, including friends and family.  However, safety measures must be taken to guard against accidents and serious injury. Utilizing the above tips is a good start on the way to becoming a safe and informed cyclist.  Your local sports stores and specialty bike shops should be able to help you in purchasing the correct bicycle for your needs as well as fit you for a helmet. In addition, there are many resources which provide more in-depth detailed information, including:

 

Why we partner with the American Red Cross

The Bruen Rescue Squad is proud to partner with the American Red Cross and be a part of all they do for our community, our country and around the world.

Our blood drive is important to patients in need, but the collection and distribution of blood is just a small part of all the Red Cross does.

The enormity of what the Red Cross accomplishes every day is astounding and this is one of the reasons we chose them as one of our core community outreach partners.

  • Every 60 seconds, 44 people in America are assisted by the American Red Cross.
  • 15,500 people every day receive lifesaving Red Cross health and safety training.
  • 1,000 times a day the Red Cross provides services to military members, their families and veterans.
  • 190 times a day Red Cross workers help families affected by a home fire or disaster.

From a blood supply standpoint:

  • The Red Cross must collect 14,000 units of blood each day.
  • The blood collected by the Red Cross helps millions of patients in over 2,400 hospitals across the country.
  • 80 percent of blood donations are given at blood drives are hosted by generous sponsoring organizations like ours.

At the Bruen Rescue Squad, we are proud to hold blood drives in partnership with the Red Cross, giving us all an opportunity to make a difference.

Our next drive is coming up on Saturday August 10. We still 8am – 12pm open appointment slots to fill.

There are many ways you can help, but most importantly we hope you come out to donate. If you can’t donate, please consider joining volunteer team or help spread the work by promoting our drive on social media.

Thank you for making the Bruen Rescue Squad such a success. Let’s make an impact on Saturday and add it to our list of great accomplishments.

Schedule an appointment today by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To book an appointment online, visit this page and type in your zip code or sponsor code BRUEN.

Donors can save up to 15 minutes by using RapidPass® to complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online.

For more information, visit RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass.

 

You can also share our facebook event page with your friends and family.

Firework Safety on Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a time for friends and family to get together for barbecues, cooling off by the ocean, lake, or pool and watching your local firework displays.  Unfortunately, there will always be folks who prefer to purchase their own devicesand create their own shows at home.  Laws vary according to state and individual counties regarding purchasing and utilizing fireworks for individual purposes.  Should you desire to purchase your own fireworks for home use, be sure to first check with your local town or municipality to ascertain what your local laws are regarding the purchase and possession of fireworks.  

The best practice when it comes to firework safety is simply to leave the fireworks displays up to the professionals.  Fireworks are explosives and must be treated with caution.  The National Safety Council advises that the majority of fireworks accidents and/or deaths are the result of untrained individuals using professional-grade and/or homemade fireworks.  

While the majority of accidents are the result of the use of professional-grade fireworks, the use of perfectly legal devices by children and young adults come in at a close second.  Children and young adults should never be allowed unattended around fireworks, sparklers, bottle rockets, poppers, or any type of device which may ignite and cause burns or bodily injury.  

After consulting your state and local laws, if you wish to possess and utilize your own fireworks, be sure to review any safety instructions and follow all instructions carefully and with due diligence.  Never allow pets around devices.  Do not discharge devices in small areas, near brush or foliage, near propane or oxygen tanks, or any other objects which may explode when exposed to heat or flame.  Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher and/or water (or whatever liquid or material the device instructions indicate based on the composition of the individual device) on hand to mitigate any situations in which devices discharge early, inappropriately, or too close to flammable objects.  

More information on fireworks safety can be found on the National Safety Council’s website by visiting https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/fireworks and by contacting your local authorities to get information regarding individual applicable laws.  

With the right information and by following simple, common-sense measures, your Fourth of July can be a fun, enjoyable and most of all, safe, celebration for all.  

Check out this great infographic from VFIS:

 

Water Safety This Summer

Summer has finally arrived!  Warm weather and sunshine are synonymous with long afternoons spent by the pool.  Whether you frequent a community pool or just have to walk out the door to your backyard, there are a few tips you should keep in mind in order to keep everyone safe and able to enjoy a break from the heat.

  • Never leave children unattended near the water and if needed, designate one adult who is in charge of monitoring swimmers.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your children how to swim. Our local YMCA may be able to assist you in enrolling you or your child in lessons.  You can visit our East Greenbush YMCA’s website for more information.
  • Practice basic water safety including walking when in the pool area, never diving into shallow water head- first, making sure long hair is secured, never swimming near drains or intake valves and never swimming whenever thunder and lightning are present.
  • Learn CPR for children as well as adults. For more information on enrolling in a course near you, visit redcross.org.
  • Many pool-goers like to use water wings or pool noodles to aid in floatation. These items are toys and not meant to be used as personal flotation devices.  NEVER rely on these toys to keep yourself or your child safe.  If you or your child cannot swim, make sure that you have a properly sized personal flotation device before entering the water.  Your local sporting equipment store should have personnel on staff who can assist you in the proper sizing for PFDs.
  • If you are lucky enough to own your own pool, ensure that there is fence surrounding the pool with self-closing door latches and alarms connected to them. This will prevent both children and adults from entering the area without supervision.  Many towns and municipalities have strict rules which pool owners must follow in order to be in compliance with code.  Make sure to check with local officials or code enforcement officer to ensure that your pool area is not only compliant, but safe and secure for your family, friends and neighbors.

Following the above simple safety tips can help you to enjoy your summer while keeping yourself, your family, friends and neighbors safe.

Know Your Numbers

May is national stroke month and it's important to realize the link between your blood pressure and reducing the risks of a stroke. There are many benefits of taking your blood pressure regularly.  If you already have high blood pressure, you can track your readings from day to day and monitor diet and exercise, both of which aid in maintaining a healthy pressure.  If you do not have high blood pressure, monitoring your pressure regularly will help you detect any changes that may indicate the need to see your doctor.

It is extremely important to keep your blood pressure within normal limits.  The American Heart Association defines hypertension as any blood pressure greater than 120 systolic (the top number) and 80 diastolic (the bottom number).  Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in the blood vessels caused by your heart beating and hypertension indicates that your heart is working harder than it should. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important to help you avoid serious health problems including heart attack and stroke. (Signs of a stroke)

There are modifiable and non-modifiable factors that can affect your blood pressure.  Non-modifiable factors include genetics, which unfortunately we can’t do much to change. Modifiable factors refer to diet and exercise and learning ways to change the modifiable factors can help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Exercise is perhaps the most important component in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.  The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week can be beneficial to health and wellness.  This means that you should aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day of the week. Exercise like a 30-minute brisk walk every day can have a positive effect on your heart health and overall wellness. Many people feel that they just don’t have the time to achieve the 30-minute goal, but there are many ways that you can sneak physical activity into your daily routine, such as:

  • shorter bursts of activity throughout the day
  • breaking up a workout into three 10-minute sessions
  • taking a short, brisk walk each hour 

Finding an activity that you like to do such as walking with friends, or taking a bike ride can make exercising more enjoyable and therefore making you more likely do it. Something as simple as a regular brisk walking can achieve the same benefits as other forms of exercise.  The greater the duration, length and intensity of walking, the more benefit. So, remember, to reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, talk with your Doctor and:

  • Monitor your blood pressure regularly
  • Exercise with 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day
  • Know your modifiable and non-modifiable factors

Heart.org resources
Intermountain Healthcare graphic 

Cycling Safety This Spring

Spring has sprung!

And that means it’s time to hit the road…

Whether you’re a runner, a cyclist, or both, as you’re lacing up your sneakers to go for a run or hit the road on your bicycle, remember some important safety tips that can keep you out of harm’s way and allow you to enjoy your outdoor activities.

If you’re heading out for an early morning (or twilight) run, a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t wear headphones! Headphones can interfere with your awareness of your surroundings and can prevent you from recognizing potential safety hazards;
  • Run against traffic – it allows you to see on-coming traffic and can give you ample time to move out of the way if a motorist does not see you;
  • Look both ways before crossing the road;
  • Carry identification on your person in the event of an emergency;
  • Carry a cell phone whenever possible;
  • Run with a friend or your dog;
  • Tell someone the route you are planning to take;
  • Avoid unpopulated areas and areas that you are unfamiliar with; and
  • Wear reflective material so that vehicles can see you as they approach.

For those who prefer cycling, some rules to keep you safe:

  • Learn traffic laws – cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists;
  • Ride single-file in the direction of traffic and be vigilant for hazards;
  • Use hand signals when turning or maneuvering through intersections;
  • When approaching intersections, stop and look both ways as well as over your shoulder;
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective material at night so motorists can easily identify you;
  • Equip your bicycle with reflectors on the front and rear as well as the pedals and spokes; and last but not least,
  • Wear a helmet!!!

Whatever activity you choose this spring, use common-sense, take safety measures and be cautious to ensure that you stay safe in your pursuit of health and wellness.

 

How to Recognize a Stroke

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, that's once every 40 seconds! Stroke is the #2 cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. 

Read the Books - info poster, brochure cover template layout with flat design icons, other infographic elements and filler text

Learn to B.E. F.A.S.T.

You can help spot the signs of a stroke. Remember, time is brain! The sooner you can recognize that something is wrong and call 911, the better chance of survival is.  Science is making great strides, however there's a limited window for treatment with certain clot-busting drugs.

Reduce your risk factors...

High blood pressurehigh cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes are all leading causes of stroke. 1 in 3 adults have at least one of these preventable risk factors that are linked to causing stroke and heart disease. Sedentary lifestyles can also increase the risks.

Have you heard the phrase, "Sitting is the new smoking?" For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as a brisk walk, each week. Learn more about healthy living with these resources.

Having a Heart Healthy Holiday

Having a Heart Healthy Holiday

During winter months, negative or close to zero temperatures can lead to health risks including worsening of possible cardiovascular risks. The cold weather places additional stress on the body such as increasing heart rate to manage strong temperature fluctuations, specifically preventing the body from cooling.  These strong temperature fluctuations are unfavorable for hearth health.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid going outside without dressing properly, since the cold can trigger the aforementioned symptoms. It is important to choose appropriate clothing for both the climate and the activities.
  • Wear waterproof boots.
  • If at all possible, stay home on days of extreme cold or wind.
  • Despite common misconceptions, alcohol does not increase body temperature.
  • A little known fact is that the nicotine contained in tobacco facilitates cardiac spasms.
  • Vaccinate against the flu.
  • Follow a proper diet, regardless of whether a pathology such as hypertension or diabetes is currently present and even if cardiovascular disease is not present.

Cardiovascular disease has many contributing factors and if you have multiple risk factors it can enhance the detrimental effects on the body when compared to only having one risk factor. Good nutrition can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing as many risk factors as possible. Lifestyle changes in nutrition choices have a very significant impact on reducing cardiovascular risk factors.

Tips for taking care of your heart in winter

  • Cover well, paying special attention to the extremities and the head (especially bald men who have an increased risk of heart attack) to avoid vasoconstrictor phenomena.
  • Avoid intense efforts without first warming up.
  • In winter, the least physical activity requires a major effort to the heart, so walking in the cold would be equivalent to running 100 meters.
  • Limit activities in the event of peak pollution associated with very low temperatures: micro particles and Nitric Oxide increase the risk of infarction.
  • Pay attention to the slightest symptom including a feeling of tightness in the chest, palpitation, shortness of breath or chest pain on exertion and vertigo. If you feel uncomfortable, consult without delay.

The most vulnerable people

Those most vulnerable are those who suffer from a cardio-cerebrovascular pathology such as arterial hypertension , heart failure, a history of myocardial infarction, stroke, angina pectoris, revascularization coronary or arterial (stent, bypass), or heart valve disease. Those who suffer from heart rhythm disorders are also at higher risk. People over the age of 70 must be supervised because after a certain age, the body’s ability to adapt to temperature variations decreases. This applies to both negative temperatures and day-to-day temperature variations. You should also know that the wind increases the feeling of cold and its harmful effects on health.

We recommend consulting with your primary care physician or cardiologist at the onset of any symptom or sensation that someone with known cardiovascular disease may perceive as out of the ordinary.

When in doubt, call 911 – That’s what we’re here for.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Winter driving can be challenging, especially for new drivers or those not familiar with our lovely Northeast winters. Around 30% of hospitalizations and injuries from accidents and injuries occur due to adverse winter driving conditions, rain and fog.

It is essential that during the winter season we have the vehicle ready for any unforeseen event that may occur. The following are essential tips for driving safely this winter:

  • Extra time: Allow for extra travel time and unanticipated traffic delays. It’s better to plan on your trip taking longer and arriving safely.
  • Inspect the vehicle: Before embarking on a trip be sure that your car is in the right condition to travel, consider the potential for unexpected storms. Check the coolant, antifreeze, top off the windshield wiper fluid, oil, steering fluid and check that the tire treads are appropriate. Consider a set of all seasons or winter tires for the heavy snow. Proper tires offer a stable and optimum pattern for grip on poorly adherent surfaces.
  • Use of the safety belt: It’s the law and it makes good common sense for all passengers to be belted while the vehicle is moving; Rear seat passengers are not exempt from injury.
  • Driving smoothly: Adapt the speed of the vehicle to the weather conditions. To operate safely, make sure to avoid sudden changes in direction or swerving. Making gentle turns will decrease the odds of losing control of your vehicle. If it is necessary to make a sharp or fast steering wheel turn, the will vehicle start to understeer, and you should always correct the direction by making harmonic movements from one side to the other until the vehicle stops, steering INTO the skid.
  • Maintain safety distance: It is important to drive with a proper driving safety distance and increase that distance during adverse weather conditions, since the time it takes to stop the vehicle on snow or ice is much greater than when it is dry. Remember speed limits are for optimal driving conditions and should be reduced for adverse weather.
  • Equipment: We recommend keeping the following in your vehicle in case of emergencies: a flashlight, warm blankets, reflective vest, spare change of clothing and a scraper or brush to remove snow and ice. Remember, snow must be removed from the car before driving otherwise it becomes a hazard to others.
  • Other recommendations: Check the condition of the roads before the trip, keep your tank at least half full and when parking, leave the windshield wipers raised to make it easier for snow removal and lessen the likelihood of freezing them to your windshield.

Driving according to the type of adverse weather

  • With snow and ice: It is likely that in the winter season the snow and ice are abundant, so it is advisable to move slowly. We must take special care with brakes, since they do not usually work properly on icy roads. Drive with great caution, increase your following distance between vehicles and drive slowly.
  • With wind: When the wind blows excessively strong, we must slow down the vehicle and firmly hold the steering wheel, especially if you are passing a large vehicle.