How to Have a Safe Grilling Season

grillingWith summer finally here, now is the perfect time to look at one of the most frequent summertime activities… grilling outside. Unfortunately, this popular activity, according to the National Fire Protection Association, is also the source of about 8,600 home fires annually.

Since the peak season for grilling activity still lies ahead with the month of July, let’s look at how to prevent a summertime icon from becoming a horrible memory.

For starters, be sure your grill is in good working condition before using it and that you follow basic Grilling Safety tips. In addition, be sure to read the safety instructions that come with the grill. (Note: You can probably find them online at the grill’s manufacturer web site if you can’t find the original instructions.)

10 Tips for Safe Grilling

After deeming your grill safe for use and yourself knowledgeable enough to use it safely, employ the following tips during the actual grilling process itself.

  1. Make sure you can see what you’re doing. Keep the grilling area well-lit during evening hours, and consider wearing safety glasses with built-in LED lights when it’s not.
  2. Designate a fire marshal. In other words, always make sure someone keeps an eye on the grill. The NFPA says that of the over 8,000 cooking-related home fires yearly, unattended cooking areas were by far the leading contributing factor.
  3. Stay out of the smoke. While the smoke sometimes smells good, the smoke is never good for you. In fact, The Effects of a Gas Grill Smoke on Health can involve carbon monoxide poisoning as well as cancer from the carcinogens.
  4. Wear eye protection. Grease and smoke both can easily get into your eyes while grilling. For this reason, consider wearing a good pair of safety goggles or sunglasses. Not only will they keep eyes safe while grilling, they’re handy for slew of other activities around the home too.
  5. Put away the lighter fluid. For those using charcoal grills, never add lighter fluid to already lit coals. After dousing coals initially, put the fluid safely away before lighting the coals. This reduces the temptation to add fuel to the fire at any point as well as keeps additional fuel at a safe distance should a fire mishap occur.
  6. Dress appropriately. Loose clothing, like hanging shirttails and apron strings, can easily catch fire. In fact, 16% of cooking deaths are caused by clothing that caught fire.
  7. Use proper utensils. There are utensils made specifically for grilling for a reason. Namely, they can withstand the flame, and they have long handles to protect the grillmaster from being burned by the flame.
  8. Limit activity near the grill. This means anyone not grilling should keep a safe distance both during grilling and afterward while the grill cools after being turned off.
  9. Practice proper food safety. First, avoid charred food since experts believe blackened meat increases cancer risk. Second, don’t forget about other menu items, which may need to stay cool before, during and after the main dish is cooking.
  10. Be prepared for fires. Keep baking soda on hand for small grease fires and the fire hose and a fire extinguisher nearby for slightly larger fires. However, call the fire department if fires can’t be put out immediately since 3 out of 5 (57%) of cooking fire injuries occur when victims try to fight the fire themselves.

Precautions taken before, during and after grilling go a long way in preventing out-of-control fires, careless burn injuries and sickness from eating tainted food. Proper grill care along with making good cookout choices can keep this popular summer pastime enjoyable while providing a terrific way to build long-lasting memories free from mishap or tragedy.

Considering The Possibility of Smart Contacts

Smart ContactsThe article Mission Impossible Now Possible with Google Glass describes a scene from the movie Mission Impossible 2 and talks about how the smart sunglasses shown in the movie represents technology actually within reach for the average person.

Let’s take a look at another technology featured in this movie series, specifically in Mission ImpossibleGhost Protocol where viewers are introduced to contact lenses that print whatever the agent looks at when he blinks twice.

Can contact lenses really be that smart?

As we step out of fiction and back into reality, we once again see that the two aren’t so far apart. In fact, smart contacts and related technology involving the eyes may not take pictures or help you remember someone’s name (yet), but they could help save your vision and even your life.

Consider the following smart contact technology currently being developed…

  • Triggerfish by Sensimed – a wirelessly powered contact lens built to continuously measure the curvature of the eye in patients with glaucoma.
  • Daniel Kohanes lens – designed to treat disease by slowly releasing drugs into the eye.
  • Googles smart contacts – house a sensor that measures the glucose levels in tears.
  • EyeSense – developing products that embed sensors in the eye to measure glucose levels.
  • Freedom Meditech – exploring measuring glucose levels through the eye by using light.

Concerns over this technology includes the impact of the technology itself on eye health, the security of the data collected, and the potentially fatal consequences of wrong amounts of medication being dispersed. All of these challenges must be satisfactorily resolved before the technology is made accessible for everyday use.

But the potential is mind blowing. No more remembering to put in eye drops. No more painful finger pricking for diabetics. Wearable technology holds the potential for making life a lot easier and significantly less painful for the nearly 385 million people worldwide with diabetes and the 20.5 million with cataracts.

And helping these individuals is just a start. Researchers would like to see smart contacts and/or related technology that also tests blood alcohol levels and cholesterol too, among other goals.

Who knows, maybe they’ll also make it possible to take pictures and do even more with your contacts. Turns out that technology is currently a reality too! (See Google Patents Contact Lens Camera, Will Help the Blind and Create Superhumans)

For additional information on this developing technology, check out the articles “Smart Contactsand “Googles smart contact lense: What it does and how it works.”

13 Ways to Suffer a Preventable Sports Injury


Sports injuriesApril is Sports Injury Prevention Month. In April 2013, we talked about “Promoting Youth Sports Safety by giving 10 suggestions to help in that effort. In April 2012, we encouraged you to “Make Eye Safety Your Goal During Sports Injury Prevention Month.” Certainly, you’re well equipped with the information to keep sports safe and enjoyable.

This year, let’s look at the flip side of preventing sports injuries by telling you 13 ways to suffer a preventative sports injury and then explain why doing so isn’t the best choice.Raquetball_Player

  1. Leave eyes unprotected. Only 35% of those surveyed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology said they always wear protective eyewear when doing yard work or playing sports. Of the 40,000 eye injuries each year during these activities, more than 90% can be prevented with protective eyewear.
  2. Never warm-up or stretch. While the best method for warming up and stretching varies by individual and by sport, the need to do so exists for every athlete.
  3. Maintain a weak core. Every sport requires the use of core muscles, so it makes sense to strengthen those in order to improve in your sport. Maintaining weak core muscles also limits an athlete’s success.
  4. Ignore proper form. Most basketball injuries occur from players landing improperly on their feet. This is just one example of how learning proper form can help prevent common injuries.
  5. Let kids be kids. Sports injuries actually occur most frequently in children ages 5-14, and most of those injuries involve collisions. Perhaps forcing safety habits on kids isn’t such a bad idea.
  6. Only consider safety during games. Since there are more practices than games, it seems logical that more injuries happen during practices than during games. For this reason, always remember to practice safety so you can play safely.
  7. Skip skill levels. While challenging yourself is a good idea, going too far beyond your skill level isn’t. Know your abilities and challenge yourself sensibly.
  8. Ignore the rules. Rules bring organization to sports. They also serve to protect players. Ignoring the rules only brings chaos and injury.
  9. Refuse to wear safety gear. While preventing every sports injury is impossible, About.com says research suggests a reduction in injuries by 25% simply by taking preventative measures. These measures include wearing safety gear that is appropriate for your sport.
  10. Over-train & neglect recovery time. Athletes with the most injuries are also those with the most consecutive days of training without rest. Rest is as important to any athlete’s success as talent and performance.
  11. Play through pain & fatigue. Pain means there’s a problem. Fatigue leads to poor judgment. Both usually result in longer recovery from an injury or overuse than had you stopped and rested at the first sign of pain and fatigue.
  12. Be a weekend warrior. Neglecting regular workouts and then hitting your sport hard on weekends too often leads to injury and fatigue that puts you out of commission indefinitely. Instead, exercise consistently during the week and still enjoy weekend activities.
  13. Stick with just the ICE method for recovery. Instead, convert to the PRICE method for recovery. This method begins with protection from further injury along with restricting activity before moving on to applying ice, applying compression, and elevating.

The best way to continue enjoying your sport on the field rather than just on the sidelines involves employing habits to prevent injury. You’ll also find more success and longevity as an athlete when you make safety, prevention and common sense a part of your training program.