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Sexual Assault Awareness Month
3 Things You Need to Know
By Jennifer Cassetta
3 Things to Know About Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and it is a great time to raise awareness and help put an end to sexual assault. We no longer need to act like sexual assault is a taboo subject, not to be spoken about. For this month, at least, we can talk, share and support survivors of sexual assault.
Here are 3 things everyone should know about sexual assault and how to join the cause to help change the culture and prevent sexual assault from happening:
1. What is it and who is at risk?
No group of society is safe from sexual assault, although the majority of survivors are women. About one in five women (18.3%) and one in 71 men (1.4%) in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives. *
On college campuses specifically, the statistics are even worse. One in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault and one in 16 men will also.
2. What is rape culture and how do we combat it?
Rape culture is a term that is used to describe an environment in which rape is normalized in a society. There are many examples of rape culture prevalent in our society but in general it is recognized when women’s bodies are objectified, misogynistic language is used and when sexual violence (mostly against women) is glamorized in the media.
To combat rape culture, we can take a stand against people who use misogynistic language. We can stand up to people who dismiss sexual assault as the victim’s fault. We can stop watching or buying media that glamorizes sexual violence against women and certainly not allow our children to consume it either.
For the future, we can teach our younger generation the importance of respectful, healthy relationships and the definition of consent in hopes they will grow up to practice these values.
3. How can we help support survivors?
Being a survivor of sexual assault effects people on a deep emotional and psychological level. Survivors need support from others and professional counseling can be extremely helpful.
Checking in with survivors to make sure they feel supported is important. Also critical is to believe survivors when they share stories and assure them that it is not their fault. Sexual assault happens when assaulters choose to assault and rapists choose to rape, not due to any fault of the survivor. Never question a survivor on why it happened to him or her.
If you are a college student, member of a fraternity or sorority, or a faculty member, you can head to the NSVRC website for campaign ideas and organize an SAAM event this month.
Lastly, if a survivor confides in you, and you are not sure how to support them, you can contact RAINN (www.rainn.org) for advice. RAINN even offers free counseling to survivors.
*All statistics found on the NSVRC.org website.
Springtime is finally here. It’s time to take our exercise outdoors and enjoy some fresh air while appreciating what nature provides for us. Studies have shown that exercising in natural environments versus indoors enhances mental well-being. Whether you like to walk, run, hike or bike, be sure to take the following five things with you for your next outdoor adventure.
Having your wits about you while outdoors is paramount to personal safety. It simply means keeping your guard up and remaining alert no matter what. It can be tough to stay alert at all times while exercising because it is common to zone out. This especially happens if you exercise alone and listen to music.
In the past six months, there have been quite a few brutal attacks on women runners that have made the news. No good comes from these horrible events, but we do have the opportunity to remind ourselves about our safety while running or training outdoors.
Exercising with a buddy or group is much safer than being alone. If you are alone, be extra alert and please leave your music and headphones at home. Or, at the very least, if you must listen to music, leave one ear bud out and keep your music low so you can hear the outside world around you.
Don’t rely on getting water from fountains or machines— an out of service sign may derail your route. When our muscles are hydrated, they work harder and for longer periods of time. Exercising outdoors without water can be a big mistake if you are outdoors longer than you planned, if the weather was hotter than you thought or if your body was dehydrated to begin with.
Be sure you have more water than you think you need, just in case you get lost on a hike or wind up injured and without water. Plan according to the duration and intensity of your exercise—the more you sweat, the more you should be drinking. The hotter and drier the climate, the more water you will need.
If you are running or hiking for more than two hours, I suggest wearing a hydration vest that carries at least two liters of water.
It’s always good to have a snack on hand when heading out to exercise. If you tend to experience bouts of low blood sugar, this will be especially important. When blood sugar gets too low and you are still training, your body can shut down and you may feel shaky, start to sweat profusely or even pass out. A protein bar, banana or some trail mix are a few portable snack ideas that can sustain you until you get home.
Sometimes, even when we are being alert we can find ourselves in a dangerous situation where we have to defend ourselves—just like the woman who fought off her attacker in a park bathroom in Seattle. Carrying the Mace Brand Pepper Spray Jogger can not only help you defend yourself ever attacked, it can also help keep your mind alert. The act of holding the pepper spray in your hand signals your mind to keep alert. Knowing some basic self defense moves will also increase your chances of survival.
It’s so important to carry some form of identification with you any time you head out to exercise. If you were in a bad accident and knocked unconscious someone must be able to identify you. Many of us rely on our smartphones, but in an emergency a stranger should be able to get your name quickly without playing a guessing game from your phone.
For those of you that train outdoors and would rather wear your identification on your wrist, ankle or around your neck, I love this company who created the Road ID Bracelet. Your name and emergency contact info will be engraved on your choice of jewelry and you can also include any medical issues you have on the ID. Brilliant.
I’m sure many people would agree that your 20-something years are some of the most fun and exciting times of your life. I know for me it was. I had graduated college and was living with my best girls in a three (match-book-sized) bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a fifth-floor walkup building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I worked two jobs, went out with friends and life seemed somewhat simple.
My roommates and I kept tabs on each other so we always knew each other’s whereabouts and when we would be home. If one of us were gone a bit too long, we would check in on each other. We had a mutual yet unwritten safety system. After a couple of years, however, we all went our separate ways and got our own studio apartments so we could live on our own.
That’s when it became blatantly obvious that personal safety needed to be a high priority and a part of my everyday routine. Commuting alone, entering an empty home alone, and sleeping in an apartment by myself was new and sometimes a little scary. Luckily, around the same time I was training in martial arts, which gave me a better awareness of my personal safety. As I practiced this newfound awareness I began to feel more confident and safe which was very empowering.
If you are in your twenties, and living on your own for the first time in your life, you don’t have the comfort of knowing there are campus security cameras on your walk home, or campus police a panic button away.
Whether you are living with roommates or completely by yourself, here are my top tips for living safe and empowered in your twenties.
Commute like a boss:
Whether on public transportation or in your car, heading to and from work should be an alert and empowering experience. Too many of us like to zone out with headphones on, absorbed in our smartphones or tuned into our to-do lists. Yet, this is exactly when we should be paying attention to the road or the subway platform, holding our purses/bags tightly and walking with intent to our destination. Keep your phone in your bag and leave the headphones at home so all of your senses are awake.
If possible, take different routes home, so your commute doesn’t become predictable to potential stalkers.
Make home a safe space:
Your home should be your sanctuary: a place you retreat to after working hard all day. You shouldn’t have to worry about your safety once inside your home. If you haven’t yet, make sure all windows and doors are secure. They all should have working locks that you use every day, especially when you are sleeping. For extra protection, use Mace Brand Door & Window Guards to scare off any intruders with piercing alarms during any forced entry.
Keep your blinds or curtains closed in the evenings when it’s easy to see inside your home. You never know who may be watching.
Also, try and get to know your neighbors. It’s important to know who’s living beside you and who you can count on in the case of an emergency.
Have a check in buddy:
A check in buddy is someone you check in with on a daily basis. This can be your roommate, bestie or a relative. Someone should know your whereabouts at all times. It’s also empowering to play that role for someone else (so reach out to a friend and make the promise to always check in).
Not into sharing your whereabouts with someone all the time? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are many free apps for that nowadays. The following three apps all allow you to set up a network of guardians who can follow your whereabouts if you let them. If you’re someone who likes their alone time [hiking, biking, running, wandering or shopping] I highly recommend you use one of the following:
The more aware we are of our personal safety, the more confident we will become. The more confident we become, the more empowered we feel.
Heart Health Month is celebrated throughout the whole month of February to bring awareness to the importance reducing the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. for both men and women. The good news is that we can help prevent heart disease by starting healthier habits now and continuing them all year long.
We all know that healthy habits for heart health include exercise and a heart-healthy diet. However, high levels of stress can be as dangerous to our heart health as a junk food diet and couch potato lifestyle. Here are three ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your stress levels.
- Start a meditation practice.
It’s easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and busy calendars and finding work-life balance can be challenging. However, slowing down and developing a meditation practice can help you feel less stress, more productive and even happier.
A meditation practice can take on many forms. If you are into physical activity than something like yoga may be to your liking. You’re moving your body with awareness and tuning everything else in your life out for that time period. If you are more of the reflective type, perhaps journaling is more your speed. Journaling you’re your daily thoughts can help us reflect on the things we are grateful for in our lives as well as give us perspective on our challenges. A sitting meditation is a practice that anyone can take up to help lower stress and gain mind-body awareness. There are many ways to practice a sitting meditation, but the easiest one is to simply focus on your breath. By doing that, the body starts to relax which sends high blood pressure down and signals the brain to lower adrenaline and other stress hormones.
2. Spend time with seniors.
Being around children and babies can be joyful and send your body lots of happy chemicals. However, it can also be exhausting and even stressful if you have your hands full. I’ve always found that spending time with senior citizens forces us to slow down our pace and can offer us perspective.
If you don’t have many seniors in your life, you can head over to a senior citizen center in your community and volunteer for a few hours. Read a book, share a meal or lend your ear to someone who may not have any visitors. Volunteering is a great way for you to feel good about your contribution but also for the recipients to benefit as well.
In addition, if you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents or your parents in your life who are seniors than you can reach out to them more often. A handwritten card is always special at any age, a phone call, or a video message from you and the kids will be sure to brighten up a relative’s day. If you have someone in your life that you worry about, gift them safety through Mace Alert 911. If your loved one is home bound or still active, this product that is the size of a Tic-Tac box can save their life if they are in a medical emergency. It will call 911 by pushing a button anywhere there is cellular service. It can be worn and therefore, more easily accessible than a phone. Again, this can help lower your anxiety and stress levels and rest easy knowing they are a call away from help during an emergency.
3. Visit an animal shelter.
Animals need love too! If you are an animal lover it can be the most heart-warming and heart-busting thing you can do. You don’t have to be in the market for adopting a pet to grab a bag of treats and go visit some cats and dogs that are locked up in cages. If you are in between pets or have room for an extra but not sure about adopting, there are plenty of rescue organizations that are desperate for foster homes.
Not only do animals give you unconditional love, according to a study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute, owning a cat can lower your odds by 30% of suffering from a heart attack! The researchers assume that dog owners would most likely give you the same benefit. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317329/)
Save an animal and save yourself from a lifestyle-related disease by lowering blood pressure and stress.
When used properly, pepper spray can deter a would-be attacker by causing the eyes to close, difficulty breathing and pain. If you aren’t familiar with the proper use of your spray, the wind might blow it back on you, or you might miss the target.
Here are three tips for safely testing your pepper spray so that you are prepared for an emergency.
- Buy a practice canister. Practice canisters are typically filled with water, and have the same shape and feel as the real thing, allowing you to become familiar with how to use it without putting yourself or others at risk. Practice arming or aiming the canister so that you can react quickly in an emergency. Using your thumb to release the spray allows you to maintain a secure grip on the canister with your other fingers. Keep your arm slightly bent. If you stick your arm straight out, it gives an attacker the chance to knock the pepper spray out of your hand.
- Use a target. Practice aiming for the eyes. Hitting the eyes will allow you to temporarily blind an attacker so you can escape. Spray back and forth instead of aiming in just one place. This covers a greater area and helps ensure you are making contact, even if the attacker is moving. When practicing, place the unit where you intend to carry it. Being able to quickly access it without fumbling around in a bag could be the difference between success and failure in preventing an attack.
- Practice your escape. Backing away from an attacker makes it easier for him to lunge at you, even if he can’t see. Moving to the side increases your odds of escape.
The stress of a dangerous situation can make it difficult to find your pepper spray and aim it. That’s why it’s critical to be familiar with it before you ever need to use it. Pepper spray is an excellent self-defense tool, but it’s important to be comfortable with it, and as they say, practice makes perfect.
Doug Melzig is sales director, law enforcement and international accounts, Mace Security International Inc.
During the summer and fall months hiking is an activity that many joyfully participate in. It is a wonderful way to spend time outdoors. Even though this activity is enjoyable and beneficial there are potential problems that may occur while on the trail. Here are some tips to help stay safe while hiking.
Firstly, it is important to let others know where you are going. It is crucial for someone outside your group to know where you are and when you plan to return. It is also important to know where you yourself are going. Taking a map and compass or a GPS can go a long way. Also, make sure to take a look at the maps posted nearby if there are any. This will help provide more knowledge of the surrounding area. It is also important to be properly dressed. Hiking boots are very helpful for long distance hikes, and trail shoes are helpful for shorter hikes. It is also prudent to bring rain gear and extra clothing.
Another important aspect of hiking safety is the gear that is brought with you and your group. It is very important to have extra food and water in case you find yourself on the trail longer than anticipated. Bringing a first aid kit is helpful in case any accidents occur and use of one is needed. It's also a good idea to bring tools such as knives and bear spray if you are in area in which bears inhabit. Bringing a knife is useful for a range of things and is invaluable when on the trail. Bear spray, such as the Mace® Bear Pepper Spray, can help provide defense against these animals from a safe distance.
While hiking can be a wonderful way to enjoy the weather and get exercise along with it there are certain dangers that can potentially present themselves. Using these tips will help to ensure your safety while out on the trail.
Summer is officially in full swing and people are taking a step back from the responsibility of daily life for some much needed relaxation. While it may seem as if you hit the pause button on life the reality is that it continues to move and problems can arise for you at home or on vacation. Though not all of these things are preventable there are measures you can take to be safe on vacation and confident that your home is secure from any potential threats.
Safety Measures for the Home
The simplest steps to take can easily be left off the checklist of things to do before heading out. Here are some easy things to remember before your departure.
- Notify any family members and any trusted neighbors
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances
- Do not post about your vacation on social media until you return
- Notify the police of your absence
This is an easy thing to do but can be one of the most important. Having someone around who can notify the police if anything irregular occurs at your home while you are gone is a good way to prevent a successful break in.
This tip is a simple way to protect your appliances from power surges and the possibility of an electrical fire. It also helps to lower energy costs while you are away because some devices continually use power even while plugged in.
According to the FBI crime statistics approximately 1.7 million burglaries occurred in 2014, and July and August are the biggest months for these crimes. It is important not to broadcast that you will be away for an extended period of time because this can be viewed as an open invitation to criminals. (www.FBI.gov)
This may not be an option for those living in larger areas. However, for those in small towns you can request that the police make an extra patrol and check up on your home while you are away.
Safety Measures Away from Home
Once you get out of the house and to your destination there are still very real dangers in the world today. Simple things such as staying close by someone you know and trust as well as being aware of your surroundings can go a long way in making sure you are safe.
However, these tips may not be enough and you still may feel uncomfortable. If this is the case it is important to know that there are easy and affordable safety measures you can take. Mace® Brand offers a wide variety of personal safety products that can be very useful in warding off a potential attacker.
These products include several keychain pepper spray models such as the KeyGuard Mini Spray. These are easy to carry and easy to use products that are great for personal defense while vacationing. Mace also offers a wide range of LED gear for exercising late at night. These help you to remain visible no matter the time or the place you decide to exercise.
Overall ensuring personal safety and home security can be a stressful task. However, with these tips it can be a quick and simple process. Though not every potentially dangerous situation is preventable these tips can ensure that you, your family, and your home are safer during your vacation.
Summary of "Ready, set, spray: testing pepper spray" by 12KRVS
Mace® Brand Pepper Spray was recently tested against competing pepper spray products in a video for KFVS12 News and Weather. Mace® Brand Pepper Spray’s simple, yet durable and safe, design fared the best choice. The goal of the video was to provide the audience with knowledge and advice on the best pepper spray to carry for self-protection. Anchor Amanda Hanson led the tests of the different pepper sprays, including: The Mace Hot Pink Pepper Spray, The Mace® Brand Pepper Spray Gun, The Sabre Red Concealable Lipstick Pepper Spray, The Little Viper Pepper Spray Bracelet, and the Police OC-17 Magnum. She received help from Lawrence Fleming, a self defense trainer. He gave his opinion on the safety and durability of these products. Here is a look at the tests and results:
Hanson and Fleming started with the testing of The Little Viper Pepper Spray Bracelet. This bracelet claims to spray 3 feet and is known for its light weight. During the test, they saw little spray coming out of the bracelet and noticed that it did not make it close to spraying 3 feet. They agreed that this product was not worth the $20 in cost to purchase. More importantly, they both felt that it would not give much protection in the time of danger or being attacked.
When looking at The Sabre Red Concealable Lipstick Pepper Spray, Hanson found some interesting results and conclusions. The product is very appealing for women because of its lipstick tube design to mask the standard looking pepper spray. The spray performed well and sprayed at the target. However, Fleming expressed his concerns for possible problems during the delivery when having to take off the lid. He seemed confident that it would work, but expressed that it wouldn’t be his personal first pick when it comes to the variety of pepper sprays. Hanson agreed with this statement, highlighting the potential problem of it going off in a purse due to the cheap lid.
Moving onto another unique looking pepper spray, Hanson tested The Police OC-17 Magnum. The design of this product makes the pepper spray look like a pen, giving it that disguised look similar to that of the Lipstick model by Sabre Red. From the beginning of this test there were problems. When Hanson took off the lid the spray button came off the valve stem. This was very concerning for Hanson because if she were to be attacked and needed help, the dysfunction of the pepper spray button breaking could cause her to be “out of luck,” as she puts it. The spray also underperformed when it came to the target test. It failed to spray far compared to the other products produced by Mace and Sabre Red.
Finally, Hanson and Fleming tested the Mace® Brand products. The first pepper spray model to be tested was The Mace® Brand Hot Pink Pepper Spray. Fleming discussed the great design of Mace® Brand Pepper Spray and how safety is a major factor. He states, “It was designed to just slide your finger in and now it’s ready to use. But, if it was out of use it won’t accidentally discharge. When I worked in law enforcement, I carried a model very similar to that.” This was Fleming’s pick for which pepper spray to purchase. During the spray test, Mace® Brand Pepper Spray hit the target right between the eyes and Hanson agreed with Fleming by stating it was the best pepper spray so far. She highlights the impressive low price of $9 for a great performance as a “win win.”
The final pepper spray Hanson and Fleming tested was for The Mace® Brand Pepper Spray Gun. Before testing, Hanson stated how impressive the pepper spray design looked. She joked about the need for a holster to be able to carry it around, which foreshadowed a point she makes about the practicality of the product. She found the Mace® Brand Pepper Spray Gun to be the easiest to spray and the most on target, but on the flip side, not very practical and more expensive compared to the other products. She mentions that the usage of this model of pepper spray was not very realistic in everyday life because it could not be carried in a purse or pocket, which is what she was looking for. Overall, The Mace® Brand Hot Pink Pepper spray was their pick for the best choice of pepper sprays. To close the video, Hanson gave Fleming’s advice to practice with the pepper spray and to regularly check the expiration date.
Online shopping is not only a great convenience of which many people take advantage, but it has also become a logical way to both purchase and sell goods from the privacy of one’s own home. This convenience, however, comes at times at a cost due to the number of phishing attacks and malware problems have arisen with the rise of online shopping. Here are a number of ways that PC Magazine suggests you can prevent yourself from being a victim:
1. Use trusted websites rather than search engines. Search engine results may often lead potential customers astray as they are rigged with links that can lead you to discovering more rip-offs than actual results. While the sales on these sites may appear to offer a bargain hard to pass up, therein lies the very problem. By sticking to more familiar websites, you can ensure a safer Internet purchase.
2. Be aware of whether or not a site has a lock in the URL bar. PCMag says, “Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed – at the very least.” You can tell this by checking whether the URL reads “HTTP:// - which indicates no lock, or HTTPS:// - which indicates the lock is present. PCMag also reminds that it is never safe to send credit card information via email.
3. Be weary of what personal information you share with online shopping sites. No online shopping store needs your social security number or birthday to complete a transaction. If you were to offer this private and highly sensitive information and online thieves were to get ahold of it in combination with your credit card information, however, much damage could be done. As a rule of thumb, attempt to provide as little sensitive personal information as possible when shopping online.
4. Check statements regularly rather than just at the end of the month to be sure you do not have any fraudulent charges. If you happen to catch something off, act quickly to prevent further damage to your accounts and only pay the bill once you know all of the charges are accurate. While you might still be liable for the unfortunate inaccurate charges anyways, you do have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of fraudulent charges.
5. PCMag lastly recommends inoculating your PC to protect against malware with programs like Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus or Ad-Aware Internet Security 9.0.
As previously stated, the rise of online shopping occurs unfortunately has led to the rise of online theft. C|Net.com has a few more suggestions on how to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of online theft or fraud.
1. Check for physical addresses and contact details from vendors before making a purchase and always be sure to logout of your account after making a safe online purchase.
2. Regularly update your PC, Mac, or mobile device to ensure that your operating system, apps, and browsers are running in the latest version. Similarly stay up to date with antivirus and malware scans on your device for early detection of scams and frauds.
3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and public devices when online shipping and if you must make a purchase while you are out, turn on cellular data on your mobile device to avoid using public Wi-Fi. A VPN network is another great option for adding an additional level of security to your device.
4. Research your retailer if it is a name you have not heard before. This practice includes reading reviews of the site and its service and reviewing the site itself. Often times promotions are offered to those who write positive reviews or rate the site with 5 stars. Be cautious when you encounter too many positive indications and little to no negatives ones for a particular retailer.
5. Use a payment method with buyer protection by using a credit card, PayPal, or a virtual wallet to offer you more flexibility when seeking a refund should fraudulent activity become a problem with a particular site.
When ordering from sites that connect buyers and sellers to personally distribute and collect products such as Craigslist, bring your Mace Brand pepper spray with you for your own protection should your encounter with fraud actually be in person rather than online.
Many people often wonder how they can help their elderly family members live safely at home. There are a number of ways to both protect the independence of the elderly person and ensure their safety at the same time. Here are some suggestions for summer safety tips:
1. Stay hydrated! According to Dr. William Greenough of Johns Hopkins Geriatric Center, seniors have a decreased ability to conserve water, to detect their thirst, and are in need of salt and potassium supplements to replace what they lose in sweat.
2. Talk with you doctor! Be sure to check that higher summer temperatures will not affect the efficacy of any medications taken.
3. Know whom to call! Prepare a list of emergency numbers and keep it in an easily accessible area in the event that heat causes or aggravates a reaction.
4. Protect your eyes! Vision loss is all too common amongst the elderly and therefore it is even that much more important to wear proper eye gear in the sun to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.
5. Know the risks of hyperthermia! It is extremely important to be cautious of abnormally high body temperatures. Heat stroke, for example, is an advanced form of hyperthermia and can be life threatening if not treated with medical attention immediately. Due to the fact that elderly people have more difficulty regulating their temperatures it is vital that they have access to cool places, a spot to lie down, and ice packs in the event that they experiences any of the following symptoms:
- Body temperature over 104
- Change in behavior
- Flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid pulse and/or heavy breathing
- Not sweating in the heat
6. Apply bug spray! Dr. Factora notes that elderly persons are particularly prone to West Nile Virus and Encephalitis and benefit greatly from mosquito repellant.
7. Exercise smart! Make sure to keep track of the amount of time spent outside on outdoor activities. Do not stay out for long periods and be sure to hydrate more than usual. Lastly, avoid the sun at its peak. Exercise in the morning or later in the evening to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and less powerful sunlight.
One of the best solutions Mace has to offer is Mace Alert 911. The product is a cellular-based 911 communications device that allows one-touch, two-way connections with emergency assistance. With Mace Alert 911, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is available in any emergency situation. With just the touch of a button, you will be connected to a local “911” Emergency Dispatcher. Among the features are:
- -One Touch Direction Connection to 911
- -No monthly fee
- -Use anywhere in the US
- -One year battery life
- -Batteries included
As compared with other brands such as a Life Alert, Mace Alert 911 outperforms as it works without a cellular contract and spares you any monthly service fee or installation fees. If you are concerned about your elderly relative, Mace Alert 911 is the perfect safety tool both in the summer heat and year round.
Information provided by www.care.com/a/12-summer-safety-tips-for-the-elderly-1404231319