Have fun, but stay safe at Mardi Gras parades

 

It’s Mardi Gras season and time to laissez les bons temps rouler with parades and parties, food and fun.

It’s also one of the state’s deadliest times of year, with many injuries and fatalities due to alcohol-involved crashes.

During Louisiana’s five-day Mardi Gras holiday in 2018, there were 465 fatal and injury crashes, tying with Christmas for the most in a holiday period, according to figures from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The crashes resulted in six deaths. Alcohol was involved in 46 of the crashes and two of the deaths.

Each year, hundreds of Shreveport Police work the parades to keep revelers safe by making arrests for DWI and underage drinking.

To reduce the carnage, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, provides grants to law enforcement agencies across the state to fund DWI checkpoints and other additional enforcement activities from Feb. 17-March 28 as part of a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

A first-offense DWI arrest can cost thousands of dollars in fines plus court costs, result in suspension of driving privileges for up to a year and even result in jail time. In Louisiana, an adult is legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. The limit for drivers under 21 is .02 BAC.

While many drinkers rely on the “one-drink-per-hour” rule to keep their blood alcohol level under the .08 threshold for DWI arrest, the practice is unreliable at best. Such factors as age, gender, weight, drink strength, metabolism, food consumed and body type influence the rate of intoxication, so no two people react the same to the identical amount of alcohol.

If you plan to celebrate Mardi Gras with alcohol at parades or parties, the safest way to prevent a DWI arrest or crash is to designate a driver.

Here are more tips for those who choose to drink from Tulane Medical Center:

  • Keep track of your drinking and pace yourself.
  • Eat food (especially protein) and drink water throughout the day.
  • Know the source of your drinks. Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Sweet drinks (daiquiris, hurricanes, margaritas) can mask the taste of alcohol so you are less aware of how strong the drink is.
  • Mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases the risk of dehydration and alcohol overdose because caffeine masks the effects of alcohol.
  • Have a plan to get home. Appoint a designated driver or save the number of local cab companies in your phone. Do not ride in the car of an intoxicated driver.

Parade safety tips

Mardi Gras parades are often rowdy, but they don’t have to be reckless. Here are tips from ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex to keep your parade experience safe:

  • Stay behind lines, barricades and markings, leaving room for bands, floats and vehicles.
  • Cross streets only at crosswalks and beware of traffic.
  • Be extra careful driving and walking near parade routes.
  • Stay close to your group, especially children and parents.
  • Establish a meeting place in case you get separated.
  • Make sure your child has identification with contact information.
  • Keep beads, trinkets and plastic bags out of reach of small children.
  • Make sure costumes are age appropriate and safety conscious.
  • Respect the law.

For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to http://www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org, call 318-226-0066 or check out http://www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst.

 

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Keep safe with these 2019 resolutions

Go ahead and resolve to lose that extra 10 pounds, organize your closet and save more than you spend.

But don’t forget to include making good decisions about your personal safety in your New Year’s resolutions.

Here are 10 safety resolutions for 2019 from ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, a non-profit with the mission of preventing brain and spinal cord injuries:

  1. Always buckle up when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Wearing a seat belt reduces serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about one-half, according to http://www.cdc.gov.
  2. Never drink and drive or ride with a driver who is impaired. If you plan to drink, designate a driver before you arrive at your destination. You really don’t want to be one of the 1 million drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or, even more tragically, one of the approximately 29 people who die each day in the United States due to alcohol-impaired drivers.
  3. Avoid distracted driving, which takes the lives of nine people every day in the United States. Distracted driving includes everything from eating behind the wheel to reaching for something in the backseat to using a cell phone. But of all the distractions that can lead to motor vehicle crashes, none is more dangerous than texting. That’s because when you’re texting you’re participating in all three of the main types of distractions: manual (taking your hands off the wheel), visual (taking your eyes off the road) and cognitive (taking your mind off driving).
  4. Wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when:
  • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle.
  • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing.
  • Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard.
  • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball.
  • Riding a horse.
  • Skiing or snowboarding.
  1. Always buckle your child into an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt, depending on the child’s height, weight, and age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (under 1 year old) by 71 percent; and to toddlers (ages 1–4 years old) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. And for older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.
  2. Avoid falls in the home with these tips from http://www.cdc.gov:
  • Use a step stool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves.
  • Install handrails on stairways.
  • Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Put grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
  • Maintain a regular exercise program to improve strength, balance, and coordination.
  • See an eye doctor regularly for a vision check to help lower the risk of falling.
  1. Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe. Store ammunition in a separate secured location.
  2. Don’t dive into a pool unless it’s at least 9 feet deep, says the American Red Cross. Never dive into unknown waters.
  3. Don’t wear headphones while biking or running where there is traffic. You need all your faculties to monitor what’s going on around you.
  • Think first. Many injuries could be prevented if everyone abided by the ThinkFirst slogan: Use your mind to protect your body.

Have a happy – and safe – New Year!

For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org  or call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.

 

Car seat safety assurance

Want to be sure a child car seat is installed properly? Call ahead to one of these agencies for an inspection:

  • Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office: 318-698-7233.
  • Louisiana State Police Troop G: 318-741-7411.
  • Bossier Parish EMS: 318-741-9201.

Saddle Up for the 2018 Draw Down

The 12th Draw Down is nine weeks away.

Mark your calendars for the evening of August 2, 2018!

With the help of numerous organizations and outstanding individuals, we are able to raise over thousands of dollars each year at this event. The funds raised this night will support ThinkFirst’s continuous effort to provide injury prevention education throughout the Ark-La-Tex area.

Look forward to seeing you there!

I promise you will have a hoot and hollerin’ good time!

For more information about the Draw Down, visit: http://thinkfirstlouisiana.org/drawdown2018.html

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Draw Down 2016 was a hoot and hollerin’ good time!

Draw Down has come and gone in a blink of an eye. ThinkFirst celebrated its 11th annual Draw Down Fundraiser on August 3, 2017. With the help of numerous organizations and outstanding individuals, we were able to raise thousands of dollars. The funds raised will support ThinkFirst’s continuous effort to provide injury prevention education throughout the Ark-La-Tex area. ThinkFirst wanted to thank everyone who came, supported, and donated to the Draw Down, without your help none of this would be possible. A special thank you to our MC for the night, Brian Crawford, ThinkFirst President Karen Black, Mary and Steve Smith, Kathie Lilley and our ThinkFirst Staff. Last but not least, congratulations to our very own Donna Cavanaugh, winning this year’s Life Savers award, there is no one who deserves it more than you. Cheers on 20 + years of service with ThinkFirst and here’s too many more!

Donna DD

It’s that time of year again. Lassiez les bons temps rouler!

Here are some helpful tips to help you and your family stay safe this Mardi Gras:

Mardi Gras DO’s

  • Keep beads, small trinkets, snapping pops, and plastic bags out of children’s reach.
  • Be careful walking and driving near parades and parade traffic.
  • Make sure costumes are safe and age appropriate.
  • Establish a meeting place should you become separated.
  • Place contact information on your child.
  • Respect the law. It’s there for your safety!
  • Keep paths clear for parades and marching groups.
  • Keep children close at all times.
  • Cross ONLY at crosswalks.
  • Make sure to bring snacks and plenty of water.
  • Remove all valuables from vehicles and keep your doors locked.
  • Always have a designated driver.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Practice common sense.

Mardi Gras DON’Ts

  • Do not leave children alone.
  • Do not climb on barricades.
  • Do not assume traffic will stop.
  • Do not fight over throws. They are just plastic.
  • Do not use silly string near open flames.
  • Do not approach horses unless the rider says it is ok.
  • Do not run between floats.
  • Do not place ladders near intersections.
  • Do not reach under a float, even if it is stopped.
  • Do not approach a float or vehicle until it is completely stopped.
  • Do not put beads or throws in your mouth, you might choke.
  • Do not consume alcohol in excess.
  • Do not travel alone. Use the buddy system.
  • Never drink and drive.

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ThinkFirst: Make safety a top resolution in 2018

The most popular New Year’s resolutions are — no surprise here — losing weight, getting organized, spending less.

But ultimately the most important ones could involve your personal safety.

Here are 10 safety resolutions for 2018 from ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, a non-profit with the mission of preventing brain and spinal cord injuries:

•1. Always buckle up when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Wearing a seat belt reduces serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about one-half, according to http://www.cdc.gov.

• 2. Never drink and drive or ride with a driver who is impaired. If you plan to drink, designate a driver before you arrive at your destination. You really don’t want to be one of the approximately 30 people who die each day in the United States due to alcohol-impaired drivers.

• 3. Avoid distracted driving, which includes everything from eating behind the wheel to reaching for something in the backseat to using a cell phone. But of all the distractions that can lead to motor vehicle crashes, none is more dangerous than texting. That’s because when you’re texting you’re participating in all three of the main types of distractions: manual (taking your hands off the wheel), visual (taking your eyes off the road) and cognitive (taking your mind off driving).

•4. Wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when: riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle; playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing; using in-line skates or riding a skateboard; batting and running bases in baseball or softball; Riding a horse; skiing or snowboarding.

•5. Always buckle your child into an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt, depending on the child’s height, weight, and age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (under 1 year old) by 71 percent; and to toddlers (ages 1–4 years old) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. And for older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.

6. Avoid falls in the home with these tips from http://www.cdc.gov: using a step stool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves; installing handrails on stairways; installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around; removing tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords; using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; putting grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower; maintaining a regular exercise program to improve strength, balance, and coordination; seeing an eye doctor regularly for a vision check to help lower the risk of falling.

• 7. Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe. Store ammunition in a separate secured location.

• 8. Don’t dive into a pool unless it’s at least 9 feet deep, says the American Red Cross. Never dive into unknown waters.

• 9. Don’t wear headphones while biking or running where there is traffic. You need all your faculties to monitor what’s going on around you.

• 10. Think first. Many injuries could be prevented if everyone abided by the ThinkFirst slogan: Use your mind to protect your body.

Have a happy – and safe – New Year!

For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to http://www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org , and call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out http://www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.

Car seat safety assurance

Want to be sure a child car seat is installed properly? Call ahead to one of these agencies for an inspection:

• Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office: 318-681-0755.

• Louisiana State Police Troop G: 318-741-7411, press 8.

• Bossier Parish EMS: 318-965-9454, press 1.

 

Teens, Dont Text and Drive

Showing or telling.

Which is the more effective teaching tool?

When it comes to instilling safe driving habits in teens, the behavior parents exhibit behind the wheel is far more important than verbal rules.

That’s because parents are still teens’ No. 1 influence – even if they would deny it if asked.

As National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week approaches –  Nov. 17-23 this year– it’s a good idea for parents to take a hard look at their own driving habits, as well as stress the importance of distraction-free driving to their teens.

While any distraction is a safety hazard, texting is the most alarming, according to distraction.gov, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. In the average five seconds a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting, a car traveling 55 mph will travel the length of a football field, says a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

And it’s a growing problem.

Texting and driving has surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of teen deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking and driving claims 2,700 teen lives a year, while researchers from Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York report texting and driving eclipses that number at 3,000.

About 60 percent of American high school seniors say they have texted behind the wheel, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biennial survey of risky youth behaviors. A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving, says a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study.

Here are guidelines for drivers – no matter their age – from Stop the Texts Stop the Wrecks:

  • Out of sight, out of mind. When you’re in the car, put your phone where you can’t get it. No phone. No texting.hone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re.
  • Silence is golden. Turn notifications off. The less you hear your phone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re driving.
  • Designate a texter: Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
  • Find your app. Apps are available that can block incoming calls/texts/emails and send an automatic response or read texts and emails aloud and allow the driver to respond by voice.

Need even more motivation?

Texting and driving is illegal at any age in Louisiana. Fines for first offense are up to $175 and $500 for subsequent offenses. Do you really have something to say that’s worth that much money?

 

For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org , and call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.