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Residential Building Fires (2010–2012)

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Residential Building Fires (2010–2012) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Residential fires are of great national importance, as they account for the vast majority of civilian casualties. National estimates for 2010-2012 show that 82 percent of all fire deaths and 78 percent of all fire injuries occurred in residential buildings. In addition, residential building fires accounted for over half (57 percent) of the total dollar loss from all fires.

Report findings:

  • An estimated 366,900 residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 2,465 deaths, 13,400 injuries and $7 billion in property loss.
  • Cooking, at 47 percent, was the leading reported cause of residential building fires.
  • Residential building fire incidence was higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
  • Residential building fires occurred most frequently in the early evening hours, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • The leading reported factor contributing to ignition category was misuse of material or product (38 percent).
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Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Exergy and the City: The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)
Source: Journal of Urban Technology

Blackouts—the total loss of electrical power—serve as a reminder of how dependent the modern world and particularly urban areas have become on electricity and the appliances it powers. To understand them we consider the critical nature of electrical infrastructure. In order to provide general patterns from specific cases, a large number of blackouts have been analyzed. Irrespective of cause, they display similar effects. These include measurable economic losses and less easily quantified social costs. We discuss financial damage, food safety, crime, transport, and problems caused by diesel generators. This is more than just a record of past failures; blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future in which they will appear with greater frequency and severity. While energy cannot be destroyed, exergy—the available energy within a system—can be. Exergy is concerned with energy within an “environment;” in this case a city. The bottom line is simple: no matter how “smart” a city may be, it becomes “dumb” when the power goes out.

ASTHO Announces Release of 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™

December 15, 2014 Comments off

ASTHO Announces Release of 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™
Source: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and CDC

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more than 35 development partners, released today the 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index™ (NHSPI™), which measures and advances the nation’s readiness to protect people during a health emergency or disaster. The 2014 Index includes updated data and new content, especially in the areas of healthcare delivery and environmental health.

The 2014 national result,7.4 on a scale of 10, suggests that substantial health security preparedness capability exists across the nation with progress to sustain and build upon. It also suggests significant work still needs to be done. As with 2013 findings, 2014 areas of relative strength include Countermeasure Management, Incident & Information Management, and Health Security Surveillance. Areas suggesting need for greater development include the new domain of Environmental & Occupational Health, and Healthcare Delivery (previously Surge Management) and Community Planning & Engagement.

Driver Assistance Systems and the Transition to Automated Vehicles: A Path to Increase Older Adult Safety and Mobility?

December 12, 2014 Comments off

Driver Assistance Systems and the Transition to Automated Vehicles: A Path to Increase Older Adult Safety and Mobility?
Source: Public Policy & Aging Report

Transitions in driving roles occur throughout one’s life-time. As medical conditions accrue, they can sporadically or permanently limit driving (Owsley, 2004). Women frequently cease driving earlier than men, and often while still fit to drive (Alsnih & Hensher, 2003; Siren, Hakamies-Blomqvist, & Lindeman, 2004). Widowhood can increase older women’s need to drive (Braitman & Williams, 2011) at a time when this is particularly challenging. On the other hand, even as adults age, they are becoming increasingly economically able to purchase new vehicles (Coughlin, 2009). As a consequence of both the increased numbers and economic independence of older adults, innovations in personal mobility that mitigate the burdens of age will grow in value over the coming decades. A move toward new urbanism, including improved public transit systems and walkable streets and sidewalks, is an admirable vision that would help meet the growing needs of many older adults. However, it will require, at considerable cost, rebuilding or retrofitting the existing infrastructure at a rate that is not likely to meet the needs of today’s aging boomers.

Fully automated or driverless cars, by contrast, represent a path that promises to enhance the mobility options of older adults within the existing infrastructure. However, many consumers do not clearly understand that while the basic building blocks of these systems are available today in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), fully automated or driverless vehicles are still on the distant horizon. For the foreseeable future, automated vehicle technologies, including ADAS, will continue to rely on a “responsible” driver to oversee the technology, capable of resuming control and having the foresight to make many (yet to be defined) strategic operational decisions. But because of their transformative promise and heavy news coverage, the prospect of automated cars has become a source of great hope for many. Some believe that fully automated cars, capable of navigating the roadways while the “operator” reads a paper or takes a nap, will be available within a few years. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead, there is work to be done to increase the awareness and education necessary to spur the purchasing of ADAS available today, which will support many older drivers’ mobility and safety needs.

Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

For almost 30 years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to an estimated 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

See also: Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries: Calendar Year 2014 (PDF; Consumer Product Safety Commission, November 2014)

AU — Work-Related Injuries, Australia, JUL 2013 TO JUN 2014

December 4, 2014 Comments off

Work-Related Injuries, Australia, JUL 2013 TO JUN 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Of the 12.5 million persons who had worked at some time in the last 12 months, 4.3% first experienced their most recent work-related injury or illness during that same period1. The majority (85%) of the 531,800 persons who experienced a work-related injury or illness continued to work in the job where their injury or illness occurred. Approximately 7% had changed jobs and the remaining 8% were not employed in the reference week .

More than half the persons who experienced a work-related injury or illness were males (61%). In 2013-14, 4.9% of males who worked in the last 12 months experienced a work-related injury or illness, down from 5.5% in 2009-10. The proportion of females who experienced a work-related injury or illness in the last 12 months was 3.6%, down from 5.1% in 2009-10.

The occupation groups with the highest rates of people who experienced a work-related injury or illness were ‘Machinery operators and drivers’ (88 per 1,000 employed persons), ‘Community and personal service workers’ (73 per 1,000 employed persons), ‘Technicians and trades workers’ (72 per 1,000 employed persons) and ‘Labourers’ (66 per 1000 employed persons)

FDA issues final rule on changes to pregnancy and lactation labeling information for prescription drug and biological products

December 4, 2014 Comments off

FDA issues final rule on changes to pregnancy and lactation labeling information for prescription drug and biological products
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a final rule today that sets standards for how information about using medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding is presented in the labeling of prescription drugs and biological products. The new content and formatting requirements will provide a more consistent way to include relevant information about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs and biological products used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The final rule replaces the current product letter categories – A, B, C, D and X – used to classify the risks of using prescription drugs during pregnancy with three detailed subsections that describe risks within the real-world context of caring for pregnant women who may need medication.

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