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: CPSC.gov.
  • 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.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Pledge to Be Safe in 2017

Beginning with the celebration of the new year, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services offers these tips to help you be safe if you drink alcohol any day of the year:

  • Wait until age 21. The youth and young adult brain, heart, and liver aren’t developed enough to appropriately process the alcohol in beer, wine, and spirits.
  • Don’t be a party to teenage drinking. Adults should neither buy alcohol for underage family and friends nor serve them alcohol at parties.
  • Avoid alcohol while pregnant.  There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and drugs. The combination can be deadly.
  • Sip, don’t chug. The ability to make healthy decisions is quickly impaired when drinking too much, too fast.
  • Never drive after drinking. Plan to get home safely before you have the first drink – designate a sober driver, schedule a taxi ride, know the bus routes.

If your drinking habits impact school, work, and relationships, help is available. The Department of Health Services supports many prevention, treatment, and recovery programs across Wisconsin.

Learn more about preventing the misuse of alcohol.

Lakeshore News

Take Online Safety Into Your Own Hands

For the past 13 years, the National Cyber Security Awareness Month campaign has put a spotlight on October as the time to take stock of your online practices.  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) urges consumers and businesses alike to take this opportunity to evaluate their online safety practices and to strengthen the protections around their web-enabled devices.

“Taking actions to protect your digital life may seem daunting, but significant protection can come from taking even some small, simple steps,” said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.  “With that in mind, we encourage Wisconsinites to use this annual reminder to consider the different elements of their online lives and make use of a couple of tips to beef up security on their accounts and devices.”

While we rely on the organizations that build the products and websites we use to provide us with a baseline of protection, we, too, are responsible for the security of our own devices and for the information we share online.  Throughout this Cyber Security Awareness Month, protect your safety online by challenging yourself to follow some of these best practices:

Things to do:

  • Change your passwords. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.  For the best protection, do this on a regular basis and keep a different password for your email.
  • Run a computer check. The National Cyber Security Alliance offers a listing of free, trusted security check services at https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/free-security-check-ups/
  • Update your operating system and antivirus software. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system updates in place is your best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.

Things to know:

  • Keep personal information personal. Never give out personal or banking information on an unsolicited call or in response to an unsolicited email or text message.  Period.
  • Share carefully on social media. Adjust the privacy settings for your accounts to block your content from strangers.  Remember that sensitive information such as names, birth dates and Social Security numbers posted to social media accounts can be used by scammers to steal your identity.
  • Check the website address bar for “https.” Before you enter personal or banking information into a website, make sure the URL starts with “https” rather than “http.” The “s” stands for secure.

Things to consider:

  • Protect your email account.  Many websites send password update and account access emails to consumers, so getting a hold of these emails could give a hacker access to all of your online accounts.  Your email password should be your toughest password to decode.
  • Two-factor authentication.  Two-factor authentication is a security process in which you provide two means of identification in order to log into a system – something you have and something you know. Something you have is typically a physical token, such as a fob, fingerprint or a code sent to your smartphone. Something you know is something memorized, such as a personal identification number (PIN) or a password.
  • Backup your data.  At any given time, you are one hard drive crash, accidental delete, device theft or malware attack away from losing your sensitive documents and valuable photos, music and video files.  To protect yourself from this calamity, regularly backup your data on physical drives and/or cloud-based storage.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov.

Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer.

Wisconsin Emergency Management’s ReadyWisconsin campaign hosts a number of additional resources on its “Live Cyber Savvy” page:  http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/cyber/default.asp

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Lakeshore News

State and Local Agencies Encourage Residents to Seek Relief from Dangerous Heat

The Department of Health Services (DHS), local health departments, and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) encourage residents to seek relief from the extreme heat at air conditioned locations in their community. Excessive Heat Warnings are in effect, and the dangerously hot weather we are experiencing is expected to extend over the next few days.

A list of locations where people can cool off will be posted online at the Department of Health Services. Not all counties are represented on this list, so residents seeking to get out of the heat should consider going to places such as malls, libraries, or senior centers, or consider staying with family, friends, or neighbors with air conditioning. State residents can also call 211 for heat-related health and safety information.

During this heat wave, please remember to check on family, friends, and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning and who may be at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses, including older adults, very young children, and people with chronic physical or mental health conditions.

Dangerously high temperatures can lead to illness and sometimes death. Seek help if you experience dizziness, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, nausea or vomiting. Call 911 for anyone who has symptoms that include hot, dry skin, confusion, chest pains, shortness of breath, or loss of consciousness.

Other tips to keep safe in hot weather include:

  • Never leave individuals, especially children or any pets, in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes.
  • Keep your living space cool. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.
  • Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool, and don’t forget sunscreen. Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.
  • To cool down quickly, take a cool shower or bath. Applying cold wet towels to the neck, head and limbs also cools down the body quickly.

For more tips on how to stay cool and safe during a heat wave, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/climate/weather/heat.htm.

Additional health and safety tips can be found at: http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/

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Community Events, Lakeshore News

4th of July & Water Safety Tips

Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach.

 

“Millions of people will visit the beach, pool and watch fireworks shows over the 4th of July weekend and there are steps they can take to have a safe holiday,” said Patty Flowers, Chief Executive Officer. “They can also download our First Aid and Swim Apps to have important safety information at their fingertips.”

 

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many cities and states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye and ear protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

 

WATER SAFETY If holiday plans include visiting the beach or pool, please learn how to swim. Swim only with a lifeguard present, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Other safety steps include:

  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • If in a watercraft, always wear a life jacket and do not drink and drive.

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Lakeshore News

Power Outage & Cold Weather Safety Tips

1. Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts with insulating foam. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy.

2. Place an insulating dome or other covering on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of the water in your pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.

3. Drip faucets to reduce the build-up of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, you have released the pressure from the water system reducing the likelihood of a rupture. If you are going out of town, and suspect that temperatures will drop or a power outage will occur, turn off the water to your home and open all of the taps to drain the water system. This way you won’t return to a frozen, soggy mess.

4. Check for air leaks around windows and doors using a lit incense stick. If the smoke is sucked out of an opening, seal the leak with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.
Keep Your Family Safe & Warm

5. Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.

6. After the power goes out, make sure to turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.

7. Resist the temptation to call 911 for information during power outages. Instead use your battery-powered radio for information.

8. Keep your car fuel tank at least half full as gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps and may not have back-up power.

9. Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from ATMs or banks.

10. Be a volunteer snow angel. Volunteer to check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.

11. Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.

12. If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.

13. Arrange ahead of time with family, friends, or neighbors for a place to go if you have an extended outage. If you have nowhere to go, head to a designated public shelter. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)
Food

14. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food on hand, and have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.

15. Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.
Generators

16. Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.

17. Follow manufacturer’s instructions such as only connect individual appliances to portable generators.

18. Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.

19. Consider purchasing and installing a permanent home generator with an automatic on switch.
When Power Returns

20. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace. Be sure to install a system of surge protection that consists of point-of-use devices and whole house surge protection.

21. When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate potential problems caused from sharp increases in demand.

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