Public Hazards: Beware!

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Contaminated Needles on Theater Seats

When you go to movie houses, or to any restaurant and public places for that matter, be forewarned of the potential danger of sitting on a contaminated needle or sharp object. There are stories going around that some people with warped mind (probably addicts) are planting AIDS-contaminated needles on seats of movie theaters and other places. Swiping the seat with your hand, especially in the dark, is obviously dangerous. To wipe the seat use a thick cloth material. If you happen to be a victim of this kind of sick joke, which is really a serious crime because AIDS kills, be sure to file an on-the-spot report with the manager of the establishment and also with the Police. This is one way of getting these criminals off the streets. And, of course, seek immediate medical attention.

"Fake" Filtered (Bottled) Water

Most people drink filtered water nowadays, especially tourists from other countries whose stomach cannot tolerate tap water, and generally for health concerns. Even Filipinos who have been away for years could develop abdominal cramps and even diarrhea from drinking our tap water, although our tap water is chlorinated and potable for the local residents. When buying filtered water, choose the bottled ones with seal on them. And make sure the seal is not broken. Request the waiter or vendor not to break the seal, so you can inspect it and break the seal yourself. We heard of some unscrupulous enterprising people who refill empty bottles with tap water. Others are "more careful" by boiling the water before using it as a refill. The safe bottled water to drink is the one which has undergone reverse osmosis and UV light exposure, or distilled. Boiling water before drinking is also tolerated by many people, including some tourists and balikbayans. When you do this, make sure the sediment at the bottom of the kettle or pot (white crystal that look like powdered salt, which are actually inorganic minerals) is discarded. To clean the kettle or pot that have mineral deposits on them because they have been frequently used for boiling water, soak them in regular kitchen vinegar (diluted acetic acid) for about an hour once a week, and scrub them as you rinse them using tap water till they are clean and devoid of the vinegar smell.

False sense of security

Some restaurants require their food handlers to wear mask and gloves, which is an excellent idea. But those who wear their mask improperly are in essence giving the public a false sense of security. The proper way to wear a mask, the way doctors and nurses do, is to cover both the nose and the mouth. But again, gloves should be used properly. If the gloved food handler touches a dirty plate, or plate lying on a dirty table, or any unclean object, like the table or a knife that has fallen to the ground, or scratches himself/herself, those gloves are considered contaminated. The gloved hands should touch only the food items, and should be changed with clean ones when they get contaminated. Food handlers should also wash their hands thoroughly, with soap, before handling food, even if they intend to wear gloves. In some countries, it is the law.

Hiding Traffic Enforcers

Quite frequently, we see Traffic Police officers hiding in corners, obviously waiting for drivers to violate traffic laws. This practice poses a potential danger to other cars, passengers and pedestrians. Instead of hiding, why don't these law enforcers expose themselves to discourage traffic violations and prevent accidents, instead of allowing drivers to violate the laws and cause potential accident, and then ticketing the violators after the traffic offense? Prevention is the key, especially in vehicular accidents, which could cause disability or cost lives. And would the enforcers and the city not be liable and culpable for any injuries or deaths resulting from such stupid and irresponsible traffic law enforcement strategy? Is this a standard police operating procedure? I doubt it.

Purveyors of Street Drugs

Drug dealing is nothing new but there seems to be an increase in drug addiction among young people today. Shabu is one substance that is very popular among teenagers and adults. It appears that some schoolchildren save their lunch money or other allowances to buy drugs. This habit is hard to break and adversely affects their attendance and scholastic performance. Drug addiction destroys their life. It behooves all of us, parents and guardians, to be more vigilant and sensitive to our children's needs and behavior.

Expired Medications

The law prohibits drug stores from selling expired medications. Occasionally, through oversight, expired drugs may be inadvertently sold. Or, residual medications from the past that are expired may have been saved at home or office for future use. The prudent thing to do is to always check the expiration or expiry date on the medication label, or on the plastic bubble wrap or on the sachet itself. If in doubt, ask the pharmacist to give you the one with expiration date printed on the label or packaging.

Dangerous chemicals

If you look around your own home, you will be surprised to find more than a dozen of poisons lying around, and which your household is using practically everyday. They are sodium hypochlorite (chlorox) and other (organic phosphate) detergents for laundry, the kitchen and bathroom, carbon tertrachloride cleaning fluids, liquid Sosa to unplug your sink drain, Muriatic Acid for cleaning floors, nail polish remover, rat and roach poison, tetramethrin with petroleum distillate for insect spray and other pesticides and herbicides, etc. Exposure to these agents (by skin contact or inhalation of fumes) should be minimized, especially among young children, who should also be protected from accidentally ingesting them. The lesser chemicals we use at home, and by all the peoples in the whole world for that matter, the cleaner our global environment will be and the fresher the air we will breathe in, the purer the water we will drink, the safer the food we will eat, and the healthier we shall all be, devoid of the many ill-effects and diseases caused by our self-inflicted, self-induced, air and water pollution, which is rapidly destroying our natural resources and the earth we live in.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.