At Stambaugh Law, P.C., we are committed to keeping our community safe. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we have seen all kinds of risks that can be avoided. As part of our relationship with you, we will share information here that may help you stay safe and protect the ones you love.
This is a time of year when Riders return to the open road. While we have all heard the mantra: Watch for Motorcycles, here are some specifics to keep in mind to safely share the road with motorcyclists:
- Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or letting off the throttle. These actions obviously do not activate the brake light. Allow more following and braking distance behind a motorcycle and anticipate that a motorcyclist may slow down without a visual warning.
- Because its size and silhouette are different than most of the vehicles we are used to observing on the road, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. For the same reasons, it may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When you see a motorcycle, presume that it is closer than it appears.
- Due to its narrower profile, motorcycles are often never seen by drivers who are turning left or pulling out from a crossing street, driveway or parking lot. Take a few extra seconds to look for a motorcycle when pulling out into or crossing traffic as opposed to simply looking for a car or truck.
- Similarly, a motorcycle’s narrower profile is also easily hidden in a vehicle’s blind spots. Take a few extra seconds to look for motorcycles when you are changing lanes.
- Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily or to avoid the effects of external factors like road debris, passing vehicles and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for safety reasons.
- When you see a motorcycle in motion, also see the person on the bike who is somebody’s friend, neighbor, and relative; maybe even yours.
- Most importantly, do not use your cell phone while you are driving. Distracted drivers are fast becoming everyone’s biggest threat.
Flood Safety Tips
As we enjoy the warmth of Spring, it is easy to forget that this is the primary time our homes and loved ones can be threatened by flood waters. The key to safety is preparation.
Before a flood
To prepare for a flood, you should consider the following:
- Practice a family emergency plan, including flood evacuation routes from home, work and school that are located on higher ground;
- Assemble or check your emergency kit;
- Get flood insurance. Flood damage is not typically covered by homeowners insurance; and
- Elevate the furnace, water heater, electric panel, and other vulnerable electronics or appliances in your home if you live in an area that faces a high flood risk.
During a flood
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should consider the following:
- Secure your home. Move essential items to the highest possible floor;
- Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water;
- Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box.. This enables you to decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on;
- Be aware of the risks of floodwaters. Six inches of moving water can cause you to lose your balance. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Two feet of moving water can wash away most cars so avoid driving in flooded areas; and
- Be on the lookout for secondary dangers. If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department. Be on the lookout for downed or loose power lines.
Winter Automobile Safety
This time of year presents a number of risks as we operate vehicles in wintry conditions. Consider the following to help keep you and those around you safe as we await Spring:
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Make certain your tires, including any spares, are properly inflated.
- Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
- Pack a safety kit. A safety kit can be helpful in an emergency. It should contain at least flares, blankets, heavy coats or clothing, a flash light, abrasive material such as cat litter or sand in case you get stuck in the snow, and jumper cables.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freezeup.
- Increase your following distance between your vehicle and vehicle in front of you. During good driving conditions, we often use the threesecond following distance rule. During winter conditions, increase your distance by at least one second.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- If you find yourself in a skid, ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This steering maneuver may requireadditional countersteering before you can regain full control of the vehicle. Continue to stay off the gas and brake pedals until you are able to regain control of your vehicle.
Holiday Season Safety
The cold weather of this time of year can really strain your heating system. To make sure your home is ready for a safe and festive “winter wonderland” you may want to consider some of these steps:
- Inspect your fireplace for safe functioning. Use a screen or glass front. Never leave your fireplace unattended.
- Check your furnace. It should be cleaned and checked regularly by professionals.
- Check your chimney pipes and flues. They should be clean with no loose mortar.
Those beautiful Christmas lights, the envy of the neighborhood, can also be a fire hazard! To safely express your holiday cheer, remember the following:
- Check cords and plugs for frayed insulation, cracks, and loose connections. Remember that cords can also be a hazard to children and pets.
- Only use lights labeled and approved for outdoor use when using them outdoors.
- Place cords away from traffic areas and heat sources. Do not place cords under rugs.
- Make sure that your circuits are not overloaded.
Halloween is a fun event for our children but there are many risks associated with this special time of year that have nothing to do with ghouls or goblins. Parents need to take certain precautions BEFORE trick-or-treating to keep children safe, such as:
- Selecting a safe, reflective and fire retardant costume
- Providing appropriate instructions on crossing the street
- Organizing a large group to stick with
- Providing appropriate instructions on encountering strangers
It is also a good idea to check with your local hospital as they will often offer free x-rays of your child’s candy to make certain it is safe.
This is also an important time for all motorists to be especially aware of what is going on around you as there are an unusually large number of young and inexperienced pedestrians out and about in our community.