Thursday, December 29, 2005
Prepare now for cold winter travel

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

One of the things that I learned in the Air Force is that safety should never be taken for granted. We also emphasized the fact that the best way to avoid taking it for granted is to repeat the message over and over. Therefore, I like to provide the same winter safety message every year. So once again here are my thoughts about winter travel. The first one deals with travel. Many of us will soon visit our relatives. We should prepare for cold weather traveling. Cars can break down. When that happens in the winter, we need to be ready. You should check your wintertime car accessories. The first thing that you should ensure is warmth. A car that is stuck in the cold may lose its heater. You should have the appropriate amount of warm clothes and blankets available until help arrives. People sometimes do not bring a coat with them. They figure they are going straight from the house to the car so they do not need a coat. They do not expect to get stranded somewhere in the cold. You should dress appropriate for the weather. The second requirement is to have the right emergency equipment. Some of this takes the form of car accessories. This may be a window scraper, snow tires or proper coolant in the radiator. The rest is in the form of items for breakdowns. Flashlights are important. Warning flares or reflectors are useful. A shovel for snow is a good idea. Most people forget this one. A shovel that can also dig up dirt to put under the tires is even more useful. Whenever you travel, you should think about what you would need if you broke down. Once you do that, make sure you stock your car accordingly. In the current day and age, everyone has cellphones. These are useful for an emergency call. However, do not use your cell phone and drive. The accident rate is the same as if you drink and drive. That is true even if you use a hands free phone. It remains true for five minutes after you conclude the conversation. It appears that the distraction of the thoughts involved is as important as the action of talking on the phone. Another auto related item is drinking and driving. Alcohol related car accidents increase significantly during the holiday season. If you are driving, don't drink. If you are drinking, don't drive. You also should remember to drive defensively. The other guy may not listen to these rules. If someone is driving like an idiot, he probably is drunk. Do not try to challenge him. Some of our relatives live at great distances. We may drive too far. This could make us tired. Do not drive when you are tired. Make sure you are well rested when you drive. Pull over if you become tired. One rule to follow is that you should not spend more than 12 hours per day driving. If you are going farther than that, you should allow more time. A lot of us have a tendency to speed. This is especially true on long trips. Speeding increases our risk for accidents. An important question to ask yourself is what does speeding actually accomplish. I drive home on River Road. I frequently have people pass me. There is only about a mile to the Woodland Ferry. The road ends there. If I am doing 40 mph, It will take me 90 seconds to get there. If they do 60 mph, they get there in 60 seconds. I wonder what they do with the extra 30 seconds they save. Even if I was traveling for 3 hours, it would make little difference. Someone going 10 mph faster than I would get there 30 minutes sooner. I wonder how productive that extra 30 minutes would be when he/she arrives. Whatever it is will not be worth the risk they have of getting in an accident from speeding. These are only a few items to remember. However, remembering them may be important to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe when it comes time for winter driving.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Prescription help will be available at CHEER
A representative from the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program will be at the CHEER Community Center on Sand Hill Road, Georgetown, to offer education and outreach support to those needing assistance in understanding the new prescription drug program on Tuesday, Jan. 10 and 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information call 854-9500.

Program planned at Cancer Care Center
Linda K. Clarke, MS, RN, CORLN will offer an overview of recent advances in the treatment of head and neck cancer on Monday, Jan. 9, from 3-5 p.m. to be held at Nanticoke Memorial Cancer Care Center, second floor, Seaford. This presentation is sponsored by The Wellness Community-Delaware. Clarke will discuss surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy as treatment approaches and a question and answer period is included. This educational opportunity is free of charge to people whose lives are affected by cancer. To register or for further information, call 227-1155.