AuthorThomas Lewis

Staying Safe at the Beach

Few things shout “summer” more than soaking up some rays with the scent of saltwater in the air and sand between your toes. According to the EPA, Americans take over two billion trips to the beach every year.

The beach can be a fun and exciting getaway but it’s important to remain safe while you’re there.

Sorry, but it’s not all about fun in the sun. A relaxing beach weekend can turn bad with just one rogue wave or one angry sea creature. While many bad beach days end with little more than a sunburn in need of a good soak in some aloe vera gel, serious injuries are more common than you’d want to believe. Here are some tips to help you keep your beach trips as safe as possible.

Have an Action Plan

Before hitting the waves, there are some things to keep in mind. Even if you’re heading to the lake or a pool instead of the ocean, many of the tips below apply to hanging out near any body of water. Regardless of where you’re going, these tips will help you stay safe at the shore.

  • Watch for warning flags and learn what they mean
  • Different beaches and states have different colored flags and assigned meanings; be sure to ask the lifeguard if you’re unsure what the flags mean.
  • Generally, red flags suggest strong surf and currents (i.e., “Be Cautious”). At some beaches, red means the beach is closed. Therefore, be sure to check before going into the water. Yellow flags signify moderate surf and currents. The water might be rough but not dangerous.
  • Exercise caution and stay close to the lifeguards. Green flags mean the ocean is calm or clear.  Blue or purple flags usually indicate that potentially dangerous marine life (sharks or jellyfish) are in the area or have been spotted nearby. Use extreme caution. Also remember: Not all beaches are right for swimming, so know the rules before you set foot on the sand.

Car Seat Laws (Part II)

Infants & Toddlers—Rear-Facing Seats

Car seats like this one can be used both front-facing and rear-facing.

The AAP advises that all infants ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers must ride in a rear-facing seat, as long as possible, until they get to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Many convertible seats have limits that will let children ride rear-facing for two years or more. When infants outgrow their rear-facing–only seat, a convertible seat installed rear-facing is required.

Rear-Facing Seats Types:

Three types of rear-facing seats are available: 3-in-1, rear-facing–only, and convertible. When children get to the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their rear-facing–only seat, they have to continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible or 3-in-1 seat.

Rear-facing–only seats:

  • Used for infants up to 22 to 35 pounds, based on the model.
  • They are little and have carrying handles.
  • Usually, have a base that can be left in the car. The seat clicks into and out of the base so you don’t have to install it every time you use it. Parents can purchase more than one base for additional vehicles.
  • It should be used only for travel (not feeding, sleeping, or any other use outside the vehicle).

Convertible seats (used rear-facing)

  • It can be used rear-facing and, later, “converted” to forward-facing for bigger children when they outgrow either the weight limit or the length limit, for rear-facing. This means your child can get more usage out of the seat.
  • They are bulkier than infant seats, though, they don’t come with carrying handles or separate bases and are designed to stay in the car.
  • Many have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them perfect for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • Have a 5-point harness that connects at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs.
  • It should be used only for travel (not feeding, sleeping or any other use outside the vehicle).

 

Car Seat Laws (Part I)

In the U.S., the federal government has allowed every state to create its own laws regarding child car seats. The result is different regulations, which puts the onus on anyone driving with a child as a passenger to understand car seat laws in the states in which they reside or will be traveling in.

Car seat laws are important to make sure your child is safe at all times.

This can be complex, particularly for folks who live in one state and always travel into a bordering state. Also, it adds extra research for those taking a vacation that necessitates traveling through numerous U.S. states.

To help take the guesswork out of car seat laws in every state, here is the info you must know when traveling with children throughout the U.S.

It should be noted that car seat laws in some states are not as harsh as recommendations issued by safety experts and pediatricians.

Every year, hundreds of young children are killed or injured in car accidents. Correct use of car seats helps keep children alive and safe. But with numerous seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming. If you are expectant parents, give yourselves enough time to learn how to accurately install the car seat in your vehicle before your baby is born to guarantee a safe ride home from the hospital.

Installation Information: Seat Belts & Latch

LATCH is an attachment system for car seats. Lower anchors can be used in place of the seat belt to install the seat, and many parents find them easier to use in some cars.

The top tether enhances safety offered by the seat and is critical to use for all forward-facing seats, even those installed using the vehicle seat belt. Although the seat belt and LATCH systems are both safe, some might prefer one system instead of the other.

Do Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Reduce Auto Accidents Fatalities?

Each year, thousands of people die due to alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle accidents. To combat the problem of auto accident fatalities, some cities and towns have set up several substance abuse treatment programs. The question is: does establishing a substance abuse program really help in the fight against auto accidents?

There is debate over whether substance abuse clinics have the potential to lower the number of accidents caused by DUI’s.

Studies show that cities and towns where substance abuse programs were established, the number of automobile accidents was reduced from anywhere from 8 to 13 percent. This is positive since, each year, there are over 30,000 motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S. with over 30% being alcohol or drug-related. Several hindrances have been put into place in the past to discourage people from driving while high or intoxicated. For example, alcohol taxes, not selling liquor on Sundays, revoking driver licenses, and raising the legal drinking age are just a few.

Every year, over two million people are treated in a substance abuse facility for alcohol and drug addiction. For those that are seriously addicted, the number of those that are successful at recovering is huge. One very positive result of drivers being treated in a substance abuse program instead of jail or prison is how much less it costs the city and state.

Patients attending a substance abuse program either go on an in-house treatment or an outpatient treatment basis. There are a couple of reasons why a person will choose one over the other. Sometimes, it is voluntary and the person realizes they have a serious problem. Other times, the person is court-ordered and can include the threat of jail or prison time and the removal of children to foster care.

Some counties are known to be “dry” counties, prohibiting the sale of alcohol. However, some motorists bypass this by going to the next town or city and purchasing liquor and drugs. Still, research shows that being a “dry” county does typically reduce the number of automobile accidents every year.

 

The Meaning of a Strategic Default

As the economy is still in a bad state, more homeowners are choosing to walk away from their homes, leaving not only their residence but the mortgage payments as well. This new trend is what is now being referred to as a strategic default.  This is when a borrower has the money to pay the mortgage but decides not to.

Many homeowners are choosing to walk away from their mortgage payments.

The reason might be that while those, such as banks, government, and big corporations, frown on homeowners that make a decision to go this route and not take responsibility, they do not hold themselves to the same “high” standards. In recent years, there have been several corporations that have been discovered to have stolen pensions from workers that have been there for years, leaving them with no savings. How are these people supposed to afford a mortgage payment every month with no money, after working at a company for 30 or 40 years?

Banks have also been known to “release” businesses from paying their mortgages or lend money to companies with little or no equity. This is not to even mention the help they receive from the government when they supposedly have no money to pay salaries.

Yet, they show up at these meetings, as they did in recent years In Washington, D.C., in limos and private jets. Some banks have also been known to buy defaulted loans or credit cards from other companies. The results are they can’t collect on the debts as well and end up destroying their own creditworthiness.

Another fact that is told to borrowers that choose to strategically default on their mortgage loan is that it will bring down property worth of the neighborhood. While this might be true when you have mounds of debt, do you really care about the property value? A neighbor’s property really isn’t really a concern of another neighbor. This is especially true in a market where if you look up and down any block in America, you are guaranteed to see at least two or three homes in foreclosure.

What is vehicular manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter, also known as vehicular homicide, is the negligence operation of a vehicle that results in an unintentional death. The death is also a direct result from you committing an unlawful act, such as driving while intoxicated. It is important to know that it not only involves you hitting a person, but also the death of a passenger in your car, including an unborn child. Vehicular manslaughter can also be referred to as felony vehicular manslaughter.

Besides being intoxicated, there are contributing factors to being charged with vehicular manslaughter. For example, if you get behind the wheel drunk, you will probably be speeding and driving recklessly as well. Those charges will be included in your conviction.

If you are arrested for vehicular manslaughter, what can you be charged with?

If you are arrested for vehicular manslaughter, and you were drunk when you caused the accident, you will most likely be looking at mandatory prison time. Other charges can be included including: driving under the influence of alcohol, destruction of property, and speeding. The minimum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is from three to nine years. It is also possible that you will be charged with homicide depending on how reckless your behavior was.

Several factors will determine the severity of your sentence. Prior DUI convictions, being on parole at the time of the accident, or previous prison time for vehicular manslaughter, will most likely result in a more serious and stiffer sentence. Other factors that can have a profound effect on your sentence are: if children were involved, any media coverage of your case and the community’s reaction to what has happened. Besides serving time, if you are convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you could lose your license, be put on parole or probation, and pay some huge fines.

Being convicted of vehicular manslaughter is a serious crime, especially if you have a previous DUI charge. A vehicular manslaughter attorney knows that sometimes people make a bad decision, such as getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, that can result in horrible consequences. Speak with a defense attorney specializing in DUI and/or vehicular manslaughter immediately.

Can I remove a 2nd mortgage from my home through bankruptcy?

If you have a second mortgage on your home, filing bankruptcy can help to alleviate some of your financial burden and assist in helping you in trying to reduce your debt.

When you file bankruptcy, such as Chapter 13, your debts will be consolidated into a repayment plan. You can possibly have some debt eliminated. It all depends on what type of debt you owe and which type of bankruptcy you file. Usually, second mortgages are lower in amount than the first mortgage. Therefore, they are most likely not as high of a priority in terms of repayment to a lender.

Usually, most homeowners file Chapter 13 bankruptcy because the terms are typically better and more accommodating. Even if you do file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is important to know that you are still responsible for your second mortgage debt. However, since your first mortgage is based on the value of your home and if the bankruptcy court determines that you do not have the equity or assets to pay off your second mortgage; it is possible for it to be declared an unsecured debt. This allows the second mortgage to be regarded as not a high priority in terms of which debt needs to be paid off, and in some cases, it can be removed all together.

Under Chapter 13, a repayment plan will be decided by you, your creditors, and the bankruptcy court that is agreeable and accommodating to your financial situation. The plan typically is set up for three to five years. After this period of time, any unsecured debt, such as a second mortgage, will be eliminated.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is another option; it typically cancels all secured debt owed due to your home mortgage. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually best for homeowners that want to sell their home. It allows for you to spend time in your home while your bankruptcy case is taking place. However, it does not stop foreclosure proceedings on your home or relieve you from a tax lien or liability against your property.

Tire Defects and Auto Accidents: What You Need to Know

Auto accidents from tire defects are more common than most people realize. Every year, more than 15,000 vehicle accidents are due to blowouts of defective tires. Sometimes, it is the car owner’s fault for not taking care of the tires. Hitting the curb, not putting air in them when needed, or getting new a set of new ones are just a few of the reasons. However, there are times when the tire or vehicle manufacturer didn’t construct them properly or used cheap material.

Tread damage on a tire

Typically when tires blowout, it is due to the shredding of the tread layers. When investigations are done on car accidents that are believed to be due to tire defects, the main thing that is looked for is if the metal bond banded with the rubber. If it did not, the tread bonding process failed. It is the responsibility of the tire and vehicle manufacturer to make sure that the processing is done accurately.

Another issue that can cause tires to be defective is if the material use to create them is contaminated with objects like sawdust, candy wrappers, and cigarette butts. If the size of the material does not match the size of the tire or if air is found between the layers of the tire, a blowout will result as well.

Businesses are under the gun to put up big numbers when it comes to profit. What usually happens is that the need to make quality merchandise becomes less important. In recent years, there have been several lawsuits in which tire manufacturers have been found guilty of producing defective tires. As a result, tires will blowout causing rollovers, accidents, and even fatalities.

Along with tire manufacturers, car makers are liable as well. It is their duty to make sure that every part of the car works well and effectively. This is even if they claim that the car has been inspected and is in good condition. When proving an auto accident case due to defective tires, the negligence of manufacturer needs to be established as well along with the defective tire evidence.

Bankruptcy and student loan obligations

Finding a way to pay back student loans is a priority for a lot of people. With the economy in the shape that it is in, it is difficult to budget the monthly payment and continue to have money for living expenses.

When you factor in children and the cost to care for them, it can become too much. This is especially true if you have bill collectors calling and sending letters constantly. In addition, you don’t want your student loans to go into default.

Some people have considered filing for bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy laws have changed and it is not as easy as it used to be to get your student loans discharged. Student loans are usually considered a non-dischargeable debt, which means that even after bankruptcy, you must pay the student loans. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy and want to include your student loans, it is important to know the facts.

The truth is that student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy, but getting them discharged can be a difficult task. If you decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the only way you can get your student loans discharged is by proving that paying them is an undue hardship. An undue hardship is when you file a motion with the bankruptcy court that paying your student loans will be a hardship on the expenses of you and your family. You have to prove three things in order to even be considered for an undue hardship.

Another choice is to file your student loans as part of your Chapter 13. This way you can put collection calls and default status on halt. When you file Chapter 13, you will have three to five years to pay back your debts, including your student loans. Even better, as part of your Chapter 13, you might be able to get your monthly student loan payments reduced.

To file a Chapter 13, you will need to have a stable job and disposable income, which means having money left over after paying basic living expenses such as mortgage, utilities, and food. It is important to know that although you will paying your student loan as part of your Chapter 13, you are still responsible for the balance left over after your bankruptcy payment is over.

New Auto Safety Features Designed to Reduce Auto Accidents

Recent studies have shown that the number of car accidents across the U.S. have dramatically reduced in over the last 40 years. This is surprising since the number of vehicles on the roads have increased as well as the size of most cars and SUVs. The reason for the change is believed to be due to the increase in safety features on most

Side airbag in a car door

cars designed to reduce motor vehicle accidents.

Side Airbags

Since the law required that car manufacturers put air bags on the driver and passenger side, most have taken it a step further and put in side airbags. This helps to protect the driver and passenger from head injury due to a side impact car accident or rollover. In addition, there are side airbags that are attached to the roof that will deploy downward and cover the windows.

Anti-Lock Braking Systems

This feature is important because even the most experienced driver can panic when they are about to become a victim of an accident. Anti-Lock helps the brakes from locking up when they are pumped over and over again. Even so, the driver can still hit the brakes quickly and control the steering wheel to prevent their car from hitting another car or pedestrian if necessary.

Sleep Detection Systems

While most safety features are designed for the car, there are some new ones that are geared for the driver. These features emit a sound, voice, or alarm when the driver’s vitals change and the driver is becoming drowsy or sleepy. Also known as “anti-yawn technology,” it can reduce the number of accidents since it lets the driver know before they fall asleep behind the wheel; to either stop, take a nap, or get a cup of coffee.

Lane Departure Warning System

In correlation with the sleep detection system, this feature warns the driver when their vehicle is drifting into another lane.

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