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.”

3D and Vision Health

3D TV

While 3D technology has been around for over a decade,  it’s only made its way into the home fairly recently. Along with it comes concern over vision health, especially for young viewers. But is that concern justifiable?

Consumer Reports says no evidence currently supports the concern that prolonged or frequent viewing of 3D content could cause eye problems for most users. But, there are cautions involving specific groups of individuals.

Who Should be Cautious When Viewing 3D?

  • Individuals using handheld 3D devices. In a Consumer Reports article, the American Optometric Association says that “due to closer viewing distance, handheld 3D devices actually place higher demands on the eyes than do movies, so more frequent breaks are recommended.”
  • Young children. Nintendo 3D warns against use for children under 6 because of possibly causing vision damage in developing eyes, but experts say children over the age of 3 can view 3D safely.
  • The elderly. Aging eyes naturally become increasingly sensitive to glare and require higher contrast than younger eyes.
  • Children & adults with a family history of epilepsy.  “What are the Dangers of 3D Glassesexplains that these individuals may be at risk of a seizure or stroke due to the bright, flashing light portrayed in a 3D environment.

While no research exists supporting permanent damage specifically from viewing 3D, keep in mind that 3D glasses do manipulate eyes to see images on the screen as 3D, and this can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, disorientation and nausea.

Eye Strain NOT a Problem Unique to 3D Viewing

In fact, HealthGuidance says that “watching any TV can cause some problems with eye strain and the reason for this is that eyes have to constantly adjust to changes in brightness and contrast.”

Prolonged 3D viewing as well as increased strain during the “training period” eyes go through when you first begin watching 3D on a regular basis DO cause eye strain, so be sure to use the following guidelines to ease that strain.

Note that many of these tips also apply to prolonged viewing any other type of screen (computer, regular television, etc.) as well.

  • Consider watching 3D at the theater when possible. Viewing theater 3D is not as bad for your eyes probably because of the fixed position of the audience along with the larger screen size.
  • Know what you’re watching. HealthGuidance says, “Things converted from 2D to 3D are often worse because they were never designed to be viewed in 3D and so have the biggest changes in depth.”
  • Take regular breaks. Allow eyes time to relax, especially when first start watching 3D to allow your eyes to be “trained” to view 3D.
  • Make adjustments. Lower the contrast & brightness on ALL TVs, so the TV won’t affect the brightness of the entire room, which means eyes have less adapting to do.
  • Use good habits for reducing eye strain in general. Understand the importance of Preventing & Reducing Eye Strain as well as Managing Electronic Display Eye Strain.
  • Consider viewing distance. 3D University.net says to, “Remember that viewing distance should be 3x or more the height of the screen.”
  • Sit with eyes level with the screen.
  • Have overall soft lighting in the room when watching 3D TV.
  • Turn off fluorescent lighting.
  • Block sources of direct sunlight before watching in 3D mode.
  • Rest eyes by looking away occasionally during your 3D viewing time.
  • Consider placement of your TV set for optimal lighting conditions.

Also, remember that watery eyes or any visual discomfort on a long-term basis while watching 3D or at any other time should be addressed with your physician since people who have problems with 3D viewing may have underlying issues caused by an undiagnosed eye problem. Again, no evidence suggests 3D viewing causes these long-term problems.

The key for 3D viewing – and really for ANY screen viewing – is moderation. To find out more about 3D viewing and eye health, check out the 3D Vision and Eye Health FAQ provided by the American Optometric Association.