Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Safety First in Choosing Great Gifts

Picking the perfect gift for the little ones on your holiday list is never as simple as pulling the first toy off the shelf that catches your eye. You end up weighing many factors, like whether or not a toy is in line with the child’s interests, if the toy is interactive, if it is cute, and so on. While you make a number of considerations in this decision, what may be lost in the shuffle is the most important factor of all: whether or not a toy is safe for the child and other young ones in the home.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asks toy shoppers to think about the safety of each potential gift before hitting the register this holiday season.

“Make a habit of checking the safety labels on toy packaging and use that information to determine whether the product is appropriate for the home,” said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Any warnings given about the inclusion of small parts, magnets, chemicals or other risks should be taken into consideration.”

The safety of a product is not necessarily dictated by its popularity, the brand’s reputation, or the businesses that sell the item. This October, for example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled around 3.6 million childrens’ plates and bowls that were made by a major manufacturer and sold at “big box” retailers nationwide. The thin plastic layer on the surface of the items was found to bubble, peel and detach, creating a choking hazard.

When shopping for toys, look for these labels on packaging or associated warnings on product webpages:

  • General warning labels listing small parts, magnets, suffocation hazards, etc.
  • Age grading: use the manufacturer’s suggested age range as a foundation for whether a toy is appropriate for the physical development of a child.
  • All toys: “ASTM F963” – this label indicates that a toy meets the latest toy safety standards. All toys sold in the U.S. must meet this standard. ASTM F963 includes guidelines and test methods to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges and other potential hazards.
  • Art materials: “ASTM D4236” – this label indicates that art materials have been reviewed by a toxicologist and are labeled with cautionary information, if necessary.
  • Toys with fabrics: “Flame resistant” – this label means that a material will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from an ignition source.

Some additional things to think about when shopping for gifts for children:

  • Pick up any safety items that go along with a toy such as a helmet for a bike or scooter.
  • For homes with younger children, avoid toys with small parts, magnets, cords or strings.
  • Choose gifts that are both age and skill appropriate for the child.
  • Check for recalled toys at the CPSC website:
  • Watch out for “button batteries,” coin-sized (or smaller) batteries that are used in some toys, remote controls, flashlights, hearing aids and more. Never let a child play with these batteries as they pose a choking hazard and can cause serious internal chemical burns in as little as two hours. Make sure that any toys that use these batteries have a screw to secure the battery compartment.
  • Watch out for gifts containing high-powered magnets. These small “rare earth” magnets can easily be swallowed by children and can attract one another in the intestinal tract, requiring surgical removal.
  • Avoid no-name products. A manufacturer’s name and address is not a guarantee of safety, but it means you can track down a legitimate company to remedy problems.
  • Look for hidden dangers such as sharp points, loud noises or projectiles.
  • If you are purchasing wooden toys, look for splinters or sharp edges.
  • If you are purchasing used toys, skip ones with chipped paint in order to avoid possible exposure to lead.

Safety concerns don’t end at the register. Be mindful of younger children and keep small or pointed toys and accessories out of their reach. Make sure to read any battery charging instructions that come with toys as chargers and adapters can overheat and pose burn hazards to young children**. Continue to keep an eye on the CPSC website for new recalls and consider signing up for DATCP’s Keep Your Kids Safe e-newsletter in order to receive a monthly summary of the children’s products recalled by the CPSC.

News Around the World

Stove Top Creates Gut Buster Dinner Pants For Thanksgiving

For those who like seconds and thirds on Thanksgiving, Stove Top Stuffing has come out with designer pants that let it all hang out. The company has designed fashionable “gut buster” unisex pants with an elastic waistband. An image of the stuffing is placed high and fits right above the stomach. Stove Top says it wants people to “Enjoy more of Thanksgiving in comfort and style.” The pants cost about 20-dollars while supplies last. Stove Top is donating ten-thousand dollars of the proceeds to the Feeding America Charity.

News Around the World

Pope Gets Lamborghini, Plans To Auction It To Help Others

Pope Francis is not planning to burn rubber with his new ride. Instead, the holy father is going to auction off a Lamborghini presented to him Wednesday. The Catholic Church says the pontiff will have Sotheby’s sell the car with the proceeds going to charity. The base price for a Lamborghini Huracan is 217-thousand dollars. But this specially built model is expected to bring much more. It’s a sleek white car with papal yellow-gold detailing. The Vatican announced that some of the proceeds from selling the car will help rebuild homes, churches and buildings destroyed by years of war in Iraq.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Tree Pruning with a Purpose

Fall is a great time to be outside admiring the trees in our landscapes. We take stock of which trees are looking good and which seem to need a little help. If we discover trees that look like they’ve seen better days, we instantly want to solve the problem. It is natural to want to do something to help a plant – prune it, fertilize it, polish it – we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

One basic housekeeping chore that might help a struggling tree would be pruning. Pruning is an oft-needed maintenance treatment for good tree health and safety, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline. In the fall, limit the amount of live tissue being removed and focus mainly on removing dead or broken branches.

In fact, industry tree pruning standards (ANSI A300) say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single growing season. If the tree is of a species that cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed.

When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, a qualified arborist may consider if the tree:

  • is healthy
  • is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth
  • had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past
  • suffers from disease
  • is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to evaluate a tree to plan future pruning that may be needed to meet certain tree health goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association.

A qualified arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

  • reduce risk of damage to people or property
  • manage tree health and direction of growth
  • provide clearance for vehicles or roadways
  • improve tree structure
  • increase or improve aesthetics
  • restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with the pruning of shade and ornamental trees. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree-pruning goals. Make sure to ask for tree pruning to be done according to ANSI A300 standards, the generally accepted industry standards for tree care practices.

News Around the World

Surfer Punches Shark to Escape Attack

Amateur surfer Charlie Frye is lucky to be alive after punching a shark in the face using a maneuver he once saw a surf champion use, he said.

“I feel like there was a hand grabbing me, shaking me. I feel like I was going to be eaten alive, like I generally thought I was going to die, like I was eaten by a shark,” Frye, a 25-year-old British doctor living in Australia, told 9News in Australia.

Frye and three of his doctor friends were surfing Monday off Avoca Beach, which is 90 miles north of Sydney.

“I thought it was a friend goofing around,” Frye, who was bitten on the shoulder, said. “I turned and I saw this shark come out of the water and breach its head.”

In the life-or-death moment, the amateur surfer thought of Australian pro surfer Mick “White Lightning” Fanning, who famously fought off a shark attack at a 2015 surfing championship in South Africa by punching it in the face.

“I felt something on my shoulder like a big thud,” Frye told 9News. “The shark’s head come out of the water and I just punched the shark in the face.”

At first, Frye didn’t realize his puncture wounds were bleeding. His friends then drove him to a hospital, which is where they all also worked, he said.

If he ever meets Fanning, Frye said, he “owes him a beer.”

News Around the World

Wedding Gets “Rickrolled” By Dramatic Reading

Watch it here:

Adam Lauver rickrolled his buddy’s wedding by stealing the show with a dramatic reading of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Lauver and the groom, John Conforti, perform together in a sketch comedy group, so humor is nothing new to them. But Conforti said he and his wife, Amanda Conforti, chose Lauver specifically for the reading because “his timing is just brilliant.”

“We’re all great friends. The acting for him was simple,” Conforti, 33, told ABC News. “We reached out to him and he was instantly on board.”

The groom said the idea for the hilarious reading actually originated as a joke between him and his wife. The phrase “rickrolling” stems from the famous internet meme where people prank each other with unexpected links to the hit 80s pop song.

“Without me knowing, she had decided for her wedding vows she was going to read the lyrics to that song,” he said of their Nov. 4 wedding in Lititz, Pennsylvania. “But out of the blue one day, I said, ‘We should have Adam do a dramatic reading of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’ We’re just super goofy people.”

Conforti said Amanda loved the idea of Lauver reading the lyrics “because she knew she couldn’t do it like Adam could.”

The video went viral with over 415,000 views on YouTube.

“It’s just crazy,” said the groom. “It’s like we get an extended wedding. Everyone tells you it’s over so quickly, and ours just has this life that keeps going on and on.”

News Around the World

Rats Battle It Out Over a French Fry

New York City’s subway rats can’t get enough of the delicious fast food riders discard during their daily commutes.

More than two years after “Pizza Rat” caused an internet sensation – 10 million views and climbing on YouTube — after it was seen carrying a slice more than twice its size, two rats were seen at the 14th Street L station battling it out for a single French fry.

Instagram user Seth Salcedo spotted the rats as he was waiting for the train Thursday, he told ABC News. The rats engage in a tug-of-war scuffle over the coveted fry before one of them pulls it away and runs off.

The other rat doesn’t let the victor get away too easy and chases it — in hopes of regaining the prize — before the pair disappear under the subway tracks.

In September 2015, a rat that would become an NYC legend was seen carrying a Brooklyn-style slice down a set of subway stairs at the First Avenue L train station in the East Village.

In the video, the rodent, affectionately dubbed Pizza Rat, drops the slice once it realizes it’s being watched, but continues to keep an eye on its loot.

A street sign in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood was dedicated to the infamous Pizza Rat.

In October 2015, another rat at the same station was seen carrying a slice of pizza when a second rat approached and tried to snatch the slice away.

While rats battling over carbs is a sight to behold, the real question is: Who is throwing away all of this perfectly good food?