Monthly Archives: January 2011

Roof and Snow Safety

If not cleared snow piled on roofs can add weight and stress to structures. Flat, commercial roofs are most susceptible if they are not draining properly. In many cases, roof ice dams can form causing water build-up, leading to interior damage.

To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow:

  • Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts on your roofs.
  • If roof snow can be removed, from the ground, with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up.  Snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal ladders.
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
  • All of the mentioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults, as the snow is heavy, and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery.
  • Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.

Courtesy of: Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS)


    Other snow-related safety tips:


    Lisa Allee, MSW, LICSW, Injury Prevention Coordinator, to accept John M. Templeton, Jr., MD Injury Prevention Research Grant from the EAST Foundation

    The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) is a not for profit organization organized to furnish leadership and foster advances in the care of injured patients. EAST affords a forum for the exchange of knowledge pertaining to the care and rehabilitation of the injured patient.


    The EAST Foundation is committed to supporting the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST). Working closely with the EAST leadership and its members, the Foundation seeks to achieve a number of objectives that support the mission of EAST. These include promoting research and education to achieve advances in the care of the injured patient and in injury control and prevention; enhancing the professional growth and development of established trauma surgeons as well as prospective trauma surgeons; and promoting quality educational programs for trauma surgeons and trauma providers.


    The John M. Templeton, Jr., MD Injury Prevention Research Grant of the EAST Foundations is made possible through the generous donation of long time EAST member John (Jack) M. Templeton, Jr. Templeton’s vision is to help support a young investigator perform an interventional trial in the field of injury prevention.


    Accepting grant will be Lisa Allee, MSW, LICSW, Boston Medical Center’s Division of Trauma and Critical Care Injury Prevention Coordinator, at The 24th Annual Scientific Assembly of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Naples, Florida.


    The grant will fund a research study on older adult driving – Pilot study: Evaluating three methods to encourage mentally component older adults to assess their driving skills” – and the data will be presented at next year’s conference.

    Precautions for Extreme Cold Weather

    • Make sure you always have a well-stocked Winter Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a manual can opener.
    • Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young.  Also, consider your pets.
    • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing.  Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.  Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities.  Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
    • Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen.  Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately. 
    • Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases.  The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.  If the person’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care. 
    • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.
    • When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy; ensuring everyone knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors.
    • If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
    • Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.
    • To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past.  This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze.  Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
    • If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold.  A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.
    • Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food.
    • Make sure your car is properly winterized.  Keep the gas tank at least half-full.  Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshields scraper, shovel, sand, towrope and jumper cables.



    Source: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


    CDC Says More People Need to Buckle Up

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a Policy Impact report on seat belts stating that while seat belt us is on the rise, still more need to buckle up.

    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the first three decades of American’s lives. In 2009 alone, crashes killed over 33,000 people and injured another 2.2 million-more than 70 percent of these were in passenger vehicles and trucks. More than half of the people killed in car crashes were not restrained at the time of the crash. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash.

    In its policy impact report, CDC recommends primary enforcement laws that allow police officers to pull over drivers and issue tickets just because the drivers-or their passengers-aren’t wearing seat belts. Secondary enforcement laws only allow police officers to issue tickets for seat belt violations if drivers have been pulled over for some other offense. Rates of seat belt use are 9 percentage points higher in primary enforcement states than secondary states. CDC also recommends “enhanced enforcement” programs and increased fines for seat belt violations. View the report here.

    After a Stroke, Family Matriarch Looks toward the Future

    On December 28, 2009, Barbara Hackett woke up in her South Boston apartment near Carson Beach with the same intention she has every morning. “I woke up to put the kettle on for a cup of tea, but I found that I couldn’t get up and fell down out of bed. I don’t remember anything after that,” she said.

    Knowing her 82-year-old mother had not been feeling well for the past several days, Wendy Hosmer called Barbara at 8:30 a.m. from her home in Florida to remind her about her doctor’s appointment later that day. But when the answering machine kept picking up her call, she became very concerned.

    “I called my sister who lives nearby to see if she could go and check on her, and she called my mother’s upstairs neighbor. It was her neighbor who found her on the floor paralyzed and unable to speak,” remembered Wendy, her calm voice slightly quavering.

    The neighbor called 911, and the ambulance delivered Barbara to Boston Medical Center’s Emergency Department, where she was quickly triaged as a stroke victim. Each minute became critical for Barbara’s prognosis. Thanh Nguyen, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., director of interventional neuroradiology and interventional neurology at BMC, oversaw Barbara’s treatment.

    “Since she woke up with a stroke, we couldn’t be sure when the stroke started and we couldn’t treat her with clot-busting drugs. We immediately did MRI imaging which showed that very little brain had died, but there was a large territory of brain at risk,” said Dr. Nguyen.

    Because Barbara was suffering from severe physical impairments and scans showed much of her brain was still healthy but at risk for a larger stroke, Dr. Nguyen recommended an innovative intervention that uses a microcatheter and aspiration device to remove the blood clot causing her stroke. With Barbara’s daughters consent, Dr. Nguyen and her team immediately prepared Barbara for the procedure. They inserted a tiny catheter in her groin and delicately guided the aspiration device with the help of a fluoroscope to the clot in her brain. They suctioned out the clot and restored her blood supply. Within hours of procedure, Barbara was able to move her left arm and leg, and speak more clearly.

     “Barbara was very lucky to have such a caring and concerned family. If they had found her any later, it is possible that we would not have been able to offer intervention if the stroke was complete or non-salvageable. She made a remarkable recovery,” said Dr. Nguyen.

    Twenty-three days later, thanks to physical therapy to help her re-learn to walk, Barbara was able to leave the hospital without the use of a walker or cane.

    “Before the stroke my mother was more like an active 55-year-old, now she feels her age, she is a little shaky on her feet but nothing you would notice unless you lived day-to-day with her,” said Wendy, who has moved in with her mother to help with her care.

    Today, Barbara is once again enjoying her daily cups of tea and the love and support of her family, including her three daughters, one son and her 14 grandchildren. She welcomed her 30th great grandchild who was born this past July.

    “I owe my life to BMC, I am so grateful,” she said.


    After surviving her stroke, Barbara Hackett was able to meet her 30th great grandchild, who was born this July.

    To learn more about Boston Medical Center click here.

    How to Shovel Snow Safely

    Dr. Scott Gillman, a sports chiropractor from Natick, Mass. offers a helpful tutorial on snow shoveling in the video posted above, and here are some tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

    • Warm up your muscles by doing some light calisthenics (walking in place, squats, jumping jacks) for 10 minutes before you head outdoors. 
    • Pace yourself by taking frequent breaks. And drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
    • Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Consider buying a bent-handle shovel, like the one used in the video above, that’s designed to prevent too much stooping. Space your hands several inches apart on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
    • Push the snow instead of lifting it, as much as you can. When you do have to lift snow (which will probably be the case with this storm), take small amounts of snow at a time, and lift it with your legs, not your back muscles: Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist. Then walk to where you want to dump the snow, holding the shovelful of snow close to your body. Holding it with outstretched arms puts too much weight on your spine.
    • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side since this twisting motion can stress your back.
    • If you’re using a snowblower, never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. (Okay, that seems obvious, but some folks probably do it.)  If snow becomes too impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds before using a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off. Also, never add fuel when the engine is running or hot.


    From The Boston Globe by Deborah Kotz

    Help BMC Breast Cancer Patients – Vote Now!

    The Pepsi Refresh Project gives money to worthy causes, but only to those causes that receive the most votes from the public. They will be giving away $1,300,000 each month to fund great ideas.

    This $5000 grant will help to support breast cancer survivors who have had mastectomies (surgical removal of one or both breasts for cancer treatment) whose insurance companies won’t pay for their prosthesis (synthetic breast substitute) or mastectomy bras, or the survivor has no insurance coverage at all. The trauma of a cancer diagnosis is hard, so we would like to lessen the stress of breast cancer patients by giving them the freedom to feel natural and confident in their every day life.

    You can vote every day through January by clicking here.