Thursday, June 05, 2008
No matter how you travel, keep safety in mind

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Now that gas prices have risen, people are looking at ways of decreasing gasoline use. One thing to remember is that all changes in habits need to be done safely. Some people have decided to do more walking to places. Many of them are not used to doing as much walking. That means they need to pay attention to safe walking. That would include walking on sidewalks when they are available. That would include walking facing oncoming traffic where there are no sidewalks. That would include paying attention to traffic lights. They are not only there for cars. Some people have decided to ride bicycles more often. Helmets are a must for any bicycle rider. Wearing easily seen clothing is important because drivers do not always notice riders. Making sure you ride on the correct side of the street is also important. Other vehicles like scooters are now being used. Even though there is no law about using a helmet on those kinds of vehicles, it is still a good idea. Some people have decided to use car pools more frequently. It is important to never have more passengers than there are seat belts in the car. It is important to make sure all passengers buckle up. They may not do it in their own car. Your family may be used to doing it all the time. Do not take for granted that passengers will automatically do so. Safe driving practices will also help save gas. Speeding uses more gas. Tailgating results in more frequent application of the brakes. Braking always wastes gas because it means that you used too much gas in the first place. Public transportation may be used more commonly. Most public buses do not have seat belts. Therefore, it is a good idea to remain seated when riding in them. The same thing is true for school buses. School will soon be out for the summer. However, some children will attend summer school. Staying seated on school buses is the right thing to do. No matter what kind of transportation you use, you should do it without excessive alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment. It also impairs the motor skills that you would need to avoid an accident. We frequently hear about drunken individuals getting hit by cars because they cannot judge the speed of the car or their ability to move quickly enough. It seems to happen once a year in Ocean City. Alcohol can be just as deadly on a bicycle or scooter. There is nothing more dangerous than drinking and driving. Accidents are preventable. Safety should be the case in whatever we do. If we decide to do new things, we should make sure we do them safely.

Division of public health warns public about rabies risk

Delaware Health and Social Services' (DHSS) Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) remind the public that rabies remains present in Delaware and outdoor activities may put residents in proximity to infected animals. Raccoons, skunks and foxes remain the most frequent carriers of the disease in Delaware, and these animals are active in areas where people live. This also brings these wild animals in close contact with pet dogs and cats, which can also become infected. Dr. Caroline Hughes, acting State Veterinarian, advises the public to protect themselves and their families by staying away from wild animals and pets and domesticated animals that are acting strangely. Dr. Martin Luta of the Division of Public Health said rabies affects different animals in different ways. Some animals become aggressive, and others are passive. "If you can approach the animal, that doesn't mean that it is not rabid," Luta said. According to Dr. Hughes, "Rabies is prevalent in all Delaware counties. Recently there have been several human exposures to rabies. The types of rabid animals were raccoons, cats, and a horse. Anyone who believes they or a loved one may have had contact with a rabid animal should call the rabies hotline number below.
Rabies prevention beats rabies treatment!
Vaccinate your pets. All dogs, cats, and ferrets over 6-months old are to be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. Stay away from wild animals and stray cats and dogs. Report stray dogs and cats to Delaware Animal Care and Control - 1-888-3KCSPCA (1-888-352-7722) Stay away from pets and/or domestic animals that are acting strangely. If your pet or farm animal is acting strangely, call your veterinarian. If you suspect that a person, pet or farm animal may have had contact with a rabid animal, call the Bureau of Rabies Prevention, Rabies Hotline: (302) 744-4545 at the Delaware Division of Public Health. Rabies proof your home:
  • Remove sources of food from buildings and yards
  • Make sure garbage cans have tight-fitting, animal-proof lids.
  • When possible, put garbage cans in garage or shed
  • Feed pets indoors or if you feed them outside, remove any uneaten food right away.
  • Safe Sitter class offered Safe Sitter classes for girls and boys ages 11 to 13 will be offered at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The 2-day course will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, June 24 and Thursday, June 26. The Safe Sitter program is a medically-accurate instructional series that teaches kids how to handle emergencies when caring for younger children. The cost is $50. Participants are to bring a bag lunch. To register your son or daughter or your child's babysitter, call 629-6611 ext. 2540. The goal of Safe Sitter is to reduce the number of accidental and preventable deaths among children being cared for by babysitters. Thousands of young adolescents across the country have been trained by Safe Sitter to handle life-threatening emergencies. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611 ext. 2540.

    Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

    Oncology symposium planned The Sixth Annual Seaside Oncology Symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach. The Tunnell Cancer Center and the Medical Society of Delaware sponsor this annual, half-day symposium to update participants on the diagnosis and management of cancer. It is designed for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The conference, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends with lunch at 1 p.m., is planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint-sponsorship of the Medical Society of Delaware and Beebe Medical Center. The Seaside Oncology Symposium is supported by unrestricted educational grants from various pharmaceutical companies and programs. Details regarding this year's topics and speakers will be available soon. Hotel reservations may be made directly with the Boardwalk Plaza at 800-332-3224.

    Nursing assistant program begins Become a member of the rapidly expanding health care field by taking the evening nurses' assistant course, offered through Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. Instruction will be given at Lifecare at Lofland Park in Seaford from June 9 to Aug. 27. Classes will meet on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. This 150-hour course teaches students to safely perform basic nursing skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Graduates will be prepared to take the Nurse Aid Competency Exam for certification. All nurses' assistants must take this exam to be certified to work in Delaware. For complete information, contact Delaware Tech's Corporate and Community Programs at 302-854-6966.

    Weight Loss Surgery Support The Western New Life WLS Support Group will be having its monthly meeting on June 19. We meet at Trinity United Methodist Church, 17249 Phillips Hill Road, Laurel. We meet each third Thursday of the month. The next meeting is June 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. Everyone who has had, or is thinking about, having weight loss surgery is welcome. Activities:
    June 19 - bring a new friend night; emotional eating issues.
    July 17 - craft night - we'll be making new bracelets for our medical IDs.
    Group Leaders: Jennifer Rosen ( and Heather O'Connor (

    Depression support group The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.