What to Keep In Our Cars for Emergencies

After the recent chaos in Birmingham and Atlanta, we have really been thinking differently about what we keep in our cars for emergencies.  The following is a list of items you should keep handy, just in case:

1.  Jumper cables (preferably with the knowledge to use them safely)
2.   Spare tire, tire iron, and car jack (and/or fix-a-flat)
3.   Blanket or sleeping bag:  This is one we never think about, but many of the people that spent the night in their vehicles on Birmingham highways would have loved to have had one.
4.   Drinking water and/or energy bars
5.   Phone charger
6.   Emergency lighting:  Road flares and reflectors make you visible if broken down or stranded at night.  A flashlight could prove useful as well.


Common Sense Rules for Winter Driving

Yesterday Birmingham had a snow storm with an accumulation of approximately 1-2 inches of snow.  The city shut down, the roads were piled with cars, the roads closed, people abandoned their vehicles and walked home, and others stayed with their vehicles and slept in them over night.

While it is true the south doesn’t experience snow very often, there are standard rules for winter driving that everyone can follow to ensure a safe passage home.  Rule 1: Slow down – have respect for the snow and ice – drive for the conditions by slowing down.  Rule 2: Keep more than a safe distance between you and the car in front of you – this allows you time to stop without a collision and time to maneuver should the car in front of you begin to slide or go off road into the ditch.  Rule 3: Do Not Slam On Your Brakes – always apply slow even pressure to brakes in wintery conditions to help prevent an out of control skid situation.

The Proper Use of Temporary Spare Tires

As more and more vehicles come with equipped with temporary tires instead of spare tires, it’s time to talk safety.  The other day I drove passed a car on the side of the road with a blown out temporary tire.  It was obvious the temporary tired had been used for more than temporary purposes.  The horrible part in this instance, is when the temporary tire blew it took out a good part of the front bumper on this particular vehicle.

The temporary tire is made to be just as it is named, temporary.  It’s sole purpose is to get you off the side of the road and to the nearest tire center.  The temporary tire is not made for extended use or excess mileage.  It is meant for very short trips to be changed out with a proper tire and stored back in the trunk for the next emergency.

Think safety first and remember to only use the temporary tire for a temporary purposes and remind your friends and family as well.



Safe Toys for Christmas

We can always count on children to remind us of the true joy associated with the holiday season. So it’s up to us – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and family – to keep that spirit alive by selecting safe toys for the kids in our lives.

Unfortunately, making a list and checking it twice for safety is not always easy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not test all toys, and not all toys in stores or online meet CPSC standards.Trouble in Toyland, the definitive annual survey from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, identified numerous toys out there right now that are toxic, create choking or strangulation hazards, are too loud or present other dangers.

While supervision is still the best bet to prevent childhood injuries, our hope is that being an informed shopper will help ensure a festive holiday for you and yours. Unwrap our six tips here.

Just In Time For Christmas-Safety Recalls

The following is a list of a few items which have been listed on SafeKids.Org as Product Safety Recalls for the month of November, 2013.

o Movement and Sound Baby Monitors – Voluntary Recall due to strangulation hazard
o Baja Motorsports Mini Bikes – Due to front fork separation from the wheel
o Tailwind Racks for Trailercycles because the aluminum piece that connects the bikes can break, causing the bikes to disconnect
o Little Willy’s Hooded Sweatshirts due to drawstrings through the hood and neck pose a strangulation hazard
o American Boy & Girl girl’s Susan Sandals due to choking hazard
o The Bailey Boys boy’s loungewear paints due to flammability standards
o ElliptiGO outdoor elliptical cycles due to front fork and drive arm axles detaching

Visit SafeKids.Org for more information on the above recalls and a list of other recalls.

What is a Safe Stopping Distance?

Have you ever wondered how far behind the car in front of you should stop?  A good rule of thumb is one car length.  In visual terms when you stop behind another vehicle you should see both of their back tires on the pavement and a little bit of the pavement in front of those tires.

How many times have you heard that someone was rear-ended causing them to rear-end the car in front them?  Probably quite a few.  The reason for this is that most people stop approximately three to four feet behind the car in front of them.  If they get rear-ended that lack of space causes them to rear-end the car in front of them.

If you leave that one car length space between you and the car in front of you that space is approximately fourteen feet.  This eliminates the chance of you rear-ending the vehicle in front you.  The benefit is two-fold, because having this fourteen feet between you and the car in front of you also gives you the ability to go around the car in front of you should that vehicle suddenly have a problem.  This way you won’t be stuck in traffic.

Space Heater Safety Tips

The cold weather has finally started to arrive, which means people will be plugging in their space heaters to keep warm in the office and at home.  While space heaters can be a great way to warm a small area, they are also extremely dangerous fire hazards if the proper safety precautions are not taken.  Space heaters are a common cause for house fires and often result in entire houses being burned to the ground.  So please exercise precaution and follow these simple safety tips to help you survive the low temperatures without harming your property or loved ones.

  1. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from combustible objects such as paper products, curtains, trash cans, and wood products.
  2. Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Check the space heater’s cord periodically to make sure it is not frayed or damaged.  Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord because a fire could start from the damaged portion of the cord.
  4. Keep your space heater on a flat, level surface.  If a space heater falls, it could easily be put into a position where it starts a fire.
  5. Unless, your space heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use your space heater in damp, wet areas.  This can cause a shorting of your unit and lead to disastrous results.
  6. Periodically check your plug and outlet fit.  If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced.  This could be a sign of a potential home wiring issue.
  7. Remember, a space heater is not designed to replace your home’s heating system.  It is only designed to be a supplementary source of heat.
  8. Make sure your space heater is turned off and unplugged when you leave your home.

Follow these safe tips and you can have a safe, warm holiday season! If you’re still feeling cold at home with your space heater running, we suggest a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate!

Report Details Safety Hazards That Cause Car and Truck Accidents

A report released in June by the American Association for Justice uncovers a number of preventable safety hazards that contribute to truck accidents. According to the report the problems are driven by an economic model that is fundamentally unsound. “Truck drivers – compensated by miles driven, not hours worked – are pushed to ignore safety measures, delay repairs and drive in a fatigued state,” it said.

In addition, the report notes that artificially low insurance limits prevent unsafe trucking carriers from ever being held accountable for the damages they cause. While a fatal truck crash today can result in approximately $4.3 million in damages, the insurance minimum for cargo trucks has remained frozen at $750,000 since 1980. U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania recently introduced the Safe Haul Act (H.R. 2730) to raise the required insurance minimum for motor carriers. (Rep. Cartwright discusses the issue here.)

Tips for Avoiding Car-Truck Accidents

  • Know that large trucks maneuver differently from cars and be extra-cautious as you approach.
  • One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars involve blind spots. If you can’t see a truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.
  • Do not pass a truck on the right while the truck is turning right. The rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels, so trucks must swing wide to the left to safely negotiate right turns.
  • Large vehicles require a much longer distance to stop than cars. Cutting in front of a truck or bus could result in a serious or fatal accident.
  • To properly pass a large truck or bus on the highway, accelerate slightly and maintain a consistent speed. Wait until you can see the entire cab in your rearview mirror before you signal and pull in.
  • If a truck appears to be starting a left turn, check which way the driver is signaling before passing on the right.
  • Give trucks at least four to six seconds of space in wet conditions and at highway speeds.
  • If you witness unsafe driving, report it to the authorities

Find more here, including tips for truck drivers.

Which car seat is right for my child?

Infant Car Seat

Infant car seats generally face the rear of the car and are only for babies up to 22-35 lbs (depending on manufacturer’s specifications) and 29-32 inches tall.  If your child is above the maximum weight or height limit for your infant car seat, it is time for you to move to the convertible car seat.

Convertible Car Seat

Convertible car seats still face the rear of the car at first, but then can be made to face forward as the child gets bigger.  The maximum weight limits for these types of car seats ranges from 40-80 lbs depending on the manufacturer’s specifications and up to 50 inches.  Another type of convertible car seat is the “3-in-1” or “All-in-One” car seat.  This seat is a combination of the convertible car seat with the booster seat.  This type of car seat can be economical because you are only buying one car seat instead of two or three, but bear in mind that most 3-in-1 car seats are not designed for infants.

Booster Seat

As your child continues to get older, your child will graduate from the car seat and be ready for the Booster Seat.  A booster seat is forward facing and its main purpose is to ensure that the seat belt properly protects your child.  Generally children are not large enough for the general seat belt to protect them properly in the result of a wreck.  The booster seat essentially raises your child’s seat and places them in a position where the seatbelt properly protects them by laying across their shoulder as intended.  In a crash, children who use a booster seat rather than the regular seat lessen their chance of injury by 45%.