The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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This blog is the sixth and final blog in a multipart series directed towards fire safety and prevention for the winter season. Within this blog, the dangers of the colorless, odorless, and toxic gas know as Carbon Monoxide. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an estimated 2,100 people die annually due to accidental Carbon Monoxide exposure.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced when fossil fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil, or methane burn incompletely. Heating and cooking appliances within the home can produce CO if damaged or used inappropriately. Everyday highway vehicles such as cars, trucks, tractors, and other gas burning motors produce CO.
Carbon Monoxide affects the human body by suffocating it. CO replaces the oxygen within the blood, which causes the body to poison itself by cutting off the oxygen that is necessary for the everyday function of organs and cells. Low-level CO poisoning results in flu-like symptoms, where more serious exposure results in dizziness, disorientation, severe headaches, fainting, and death.
Carbon Monoxide detectors work by measuring the amount of CO gas that has accumulated within a given area. CO detectors sound an alarm when the concentration of CO in the air is equal to or above the lowest level of CO poisoning, or 10% carboxyhemoglobin level in the blood. This lowest level of sensitivity can cause the alarm to sound before symptoms actually appear; therefore, all alarms should be taken seriously.
Residential Carbon Monoxide detectors could greatly reduce the number of deaths resulting from unintentional CO exposure. When purchasing a CO detector, only units that have been tested by qualified testing laboratories should be considered. The manufacturers installation instructions should be followed, and the CO detector should be tested once a month to ensure proper operation.
Following these safety tips will help to prevent CO exposure within your home:
- Do not run motors indoors; even if the garage doors are open. Also, have your vehicles checked for exhaust leaks.
- Inspect and repair chimneys, fireplaces, wood stoves, and other home heating appliances that use fossil fuels. Also, double check to make sure you home heating appliances have adequate ventilation.
- Never use gas or charcoal barbecue grills indoors or within the garage, even if the garage doors are open.
Carbon Monoxide detectors only detect CO gas; they do not prevent the existence of CO gas. Use caution and follow safety guidelines to ensure that CO poisoning is adequately prevented within your home.
This blog is the fifth in a multipart series directed towards fire safety and prevention for the winter season. In this blog, smoke alarms will be briefly discussed and will be accompanied by a list of suggestions for the proper installation and maintenance of the smoke alarms within your home.
Recently, a mother was killed and her son was seriously burned in an apartment fire. Investigators concluded that some of the smoke alarms had been deactivate why others had their batteries removed. If the alarms had not been deactivated it is likely that the woman would still be alive today. True, smoke alarms can go off at random times, but that just means that they are working.
About two-thirds of residential fire deaths occur in homes with either no smoke alarms or deactivated smoke alarms. Ninety percent of people found in a fire appear to be sleeping, this is because one cannot smell smoke while asleep. Thus, smoke detectors are essential to home safety. Statistics show that the presence of properly maintained smoke alarms within a home increases its residents' chances of survival by fifty percent.
Following these suggestions for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms could save the lives of you and the members of your family:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and follow the manufacturers instructions when installing.
- If you sleep with the bedroom door closed, a smoke alarm should be installed inside your bedroom.
- Smoke alarms should be tested once per month, and any old batteries should be replaced.
- Remind everyone in your household to leave working batteries in smoke alarms. Resist the temptation to remove them or to borrow the batteries for other purposes.
Remember: Smoke alarms will not prevent a fire, but the do increase your chances of survival should a fire occur. Again, a smoke alarm more than doubles your chances of survival.
Also, when purchasing a smoke alarm, look for one with a loud alarm-the more annoying the better it will be for waking up you and your family in the event of a fire. The fire alarm should also have a hush feature, an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) listing, a malfunction indicator, and a ten-year battery. There are also a number of models of smoke alarms available for the hearing impaired.
The sooner you are alerted to a fire, the more likely you are to get out in time and contact the fire department. Having a working fire alarm, along with a family exit drill plan, is necessary within every household. It is too late to establish a fire escape plan after a fire has already begun and the alarms have already sounded.
A fire alarm will not save your life if you have removed its battery.
This blog is the fourth in a multipart series directed towards fire safety and prevention for the winter season. Within the United States there are over 485 deaths and 2,205 injuries as a result of electrical fires. Many electrical fires are caused by electrical system failures as well as appliance defects, but even more are caused by the inappropriate use and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, overload of circuits and extension cords, and incorrectly installed wiring.
Twice as many fires are caused by home wiring as opposed to electrical appliances, and most electrical fires occur during the winter months. The primary cause of avoidable electrical fires can be traced back to the misuse of electrical cords by overloading circuits, poor maintenance, and running cords under rugs in high traffic areas.
In order to prevent an electrical fire, there are a number of precautions that should be taken:
- Routinely check both your electrical appliances and wiring for defects or wear. A frayed wire can result in a fire. All worn, old, or damaged wires should be replaced immediately.
- Practice using extension cords appropriately by not overloading them. An extension cord is overloaded when appliances plugged into the cord pull more wattage through the cord than the cord's rating allows. Additionally, when buying electrical appliances, buy products that meet the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) standards for safety and do not buy bargain brand extension cords. Remember: even high-quality extension cords cause electrical fires when misused.
- Keep electrical appliances from wet floors and counters and take extra caution when using appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Do not allow children to play with or around electrical appliances.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three prong outlet.
Because more fires result from home wiring than electrical appliances, particular attention should be paid to extension cords. A Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) bulletin in February of 1999 stated that two million power strips, extension cords, and surge protectors had been involved in as many as twenty-five product recalls, ten of which were in 1999 alone. The CPSC believes that many of these devices are still in use, and most people of unaware of their dangers.
Besides electrical wiring and appliances, Christmas trees also pose a great hazard for causing a fire. Between years 2003 and 2006 there were an average of 240 residential fires that originated with the Christmas tree, causing an average of 16 deaths, 25 injuries, and about $13 million in property damage. To reduce the likelihood of a Christmas tree fire, make sure you select the appropriate tree. When selecting a fake tree, make sure to check to ensure that the tree is labeled as flame retardant. If using a natural tree, pick one that is green and fresh; if the needles fall off when touched the tree is not fresh. Also, check the labels on your Christmas tree's lights to make sure that they have been tested by an independent laboratory; some lights are only appropriate for either indoor or outdoor use.
It is always a good idea to practice fire safety, but with record lows this winter increasing the use of additional heating appliances for the home, more caution is necessary. Following this list of precautions will reduce the likelihood of experiencing a life-threatening fire or thousands of dollars in property loss.
Now that January is approaching the halfway mark and with energy costs leading to an increase in the use of alternative home heating sources, it is never too late to re-familiarize yourself with fire safety precautions for the remaining winter months.
This blog is the first in a multipart series directed towards fire prevention for the winter season. Fires caused by residential heating sources account for more than one-third of fires in rural areas. The United States Fire Administration reports that there were 17,675 civilian injuries due to fires in 2007 out of an estimated 1.6 million fires. The year 2005 in Iowa resulted in 13.8 deaths per million people, which was higher than the national average. Each winter, more than a half million fires cause $3 billion in property loss and result in almost 2,000 deaths.
During the winter months, fires are much more prevalent due to the use of home heating sources and holiday decorations. Because fires are more common during the winter, you should take that much more care during the winter to ensure that the proper steps are taken to prevent fires. This series will discuss: when and how to use fire extinguishers; the stop, drop, and roll technique; electrical fire prevention; Christmas tree fires; home heating safety; smoke alarms; and carbon monoxide detectors.
Many of the fires that occur within a residential setting can be prevented. This blog series will address a number of invaluable fire safety resources that might end up saving your life and the lives of your family members while preventing thousands of dollars in property loss.
Most fires start small, thus they can be contained and eliminated by using the appropriate fire extinguisher within a couple minutes. All fire extinguishers list a class and rating number, which is listed and labeled by an independent testing laboratory. The higher the rating number, the more fire that unit can extinguish. It is also important to note that units with a high rating number are also larger and more cumbersome, thus portable fire extinguishers are most appropriate for extinguishing or containing small fires.
Before attempting to fight a fire, you should make certain that everyone is out of the building, and that the fire department has been contacted. If the fire begins to spread or threatens your escape path, get out of the building immediately. Additionally, you, as the extinguisher's operator, must know how to use the extinguisher quickly without using valuable time to read and understand the fire extinguisher's instructions. Finally, if there is any question as to whether you should attempt to fight the fire, don't.
The four most important steps (PASS device) to using a fire extinguisher effectively are:
Pull - Some fire extinguishers require a locking latch, which is released by pulling a pin or pressing a puncture lever.
Aim - When using a fire extinguisher, aim low by pointing the nozzle directly at the base of the fire.
Squeeze - Squeezing the handle firmly releases the extinguishing agent.
Sweep - Sweep the unit from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be extinguished. Pay close attention to the fire area in case the fire breaks out again, and repeat the use of the extinguisher if necessary.
Many portable fire extinguishers work according to these instructions. Locate the label on your fire extinguisher and familiarize yourself with its instructions for use. Again, do not wait until you need to use the extinguisher to read the instructions.For training and/or practice using a portable fire extinguisher you should contact your local fire department for information about public training sessions. Remember to plan ahead.
This blog is the third in a multipart series directed towards fire prevention for the winter season and discusses a well-known technique referred to as "stop, drop, and roll" that is commonly taught to children. Within the United States, children set about 8,000 home fires each year and account for 15-20% of all fire deaths.
Stop, drop, and roll is the title of the new album by the band The Foxboro Hot Tubs, is also a fire safety technique that originated in the 1920s. While geared primarily towards children, and although most readers will already be familiar with the technique, the technique is also taught to emergency services personnel and industrial workers as part of their health and safety training. Because fire is not selective and adults, in addition to children, can also catch on fire, it is always a good idea to review it for a more thorough understanding.
The stop, drop, and roll technique is used to extinguish a fire on a person's clothes or hair with, or without, the use of conventional fire-fighting equipment. The technique consists of three components:
Stop - First, the victim must immediately stop and completely cease all movement. Movement may cause the flames to spread or may hinder the ability of others to render assistance in extinguishing the fire.
Drop - Then, victim must immediately drop to the ground, lying down if possible.
Roll - Finally, the victim must roll on the ground in order to extinguish the fire. Rolling deprives the fire of oxygen, which is required for a fire to continue burning. Utilizing nearby items such as a rug or a fire blanket, if available, would also help deprive the fire of oxygen.
The technique can be made more effective when combined with other fire extinguishing techniques or fire equipment. For example, if a student's clothes were to catch fire, the technique would be more effective if another student douses the victim with water, uses a fire extinguisher, or attempts to beat out the fire.It is also important to not that while the stop, drop, and roll technique is an effective way to extinguish a clothes or hair fire, it also serves as a useful psychological tool which provides those in a fire situations with a routine to focus on, in order to avoid panic.