Prevent brain injuries this football season and beyond

The effects of concussions have been getting a lot of press as reports of serious brain injuries in retired football players continue to pile up. Leagues from Pop Warner to the NFL have increased the quality of safety procedures in place for treating concussions. However, many signs are still being overlooked or ignored, which can prove to be a fatal mistake.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, sports concussions have reached an epidemic level – an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million occur in the United States every year.

While studies have shown that football players are the athletes most at risk, concussions can be caused by any fall or blow to the head, in a contact sport such as hockey or soccer; a car accident; while biking, skiing, or snowboarding; or in other situations. Children also have an increased risk because they are more prone to accidents.

Regardless of the cause, the best course of action after any head injury is to seek medical attention immediately. Watch for the following symptoms, both immediately after the injury and throughout the next week.

    •  Confusion, nausea, or vomiting
    •  Headaches, dizziness, and/or nausea
    •  Blurred vision or sensitivity to light
    •  Memory loss or trouble concentrating
    •  Slurred speech
    •  Continued ringing in the ears
    •  Changes in sleep habits
    •  Unusual behavior or changes in mood

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Return-to-work program benefits employees and their company

What a wonderful world it would be if we could prevent all workplace injuries. But the fact is accidents happen and people get hurt. It’s what employers do after an injury that determines whether workers recover quickly or are kept out of work for an extended period. And that all starts with a plan.

The first step is having a program in place for reporting injuries. Early reporting is paramount, and this is where features such as SECURA’s Nurse Hotline can have a huge positive impact. Registered Nurses advise employees on the best treatment for an injury, which is often self-treatment, allowing them to return to work sooner.

However, if the injury results in medical treatment and a claim, a return-to-work program is both the employer’s and employee’s best friend. Here are some tips to consider in creating a program:

   •  Assess your readiness. A positive collaborative work environment is key. Meet with employees,
      union representatives, and managers to discuss goals and the impact it will have on the bottom line.

   •  Develop a proposal. Include role definitions for all stakeholders involved in the program.

   •  Identify possible transitional duties. The ideal transitional duty assignment is meaningful, easy
      to learn, requires minimal training, and has flexible hours. Create a written assignment for
      documenting a bona fide employment offer in the event of future disability litigation.

   •  Evaluate your program. Periodically evaluate your program to determine the long-term impact it is
      having on your organization. Have desired outcomes been achieved? Identify barriers to reaching
      your goals and address them.

For additional return-to-work tips and resources, contact your SECURA Commercial Lines agent or send an email to

Don’t let stinging insects prevent you from enjoying the rest of summer

Late summer is a time when a lot of us are outside, enjoying the last warm weather before fall moves in. Unfortunately, it’s also when bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets are the most active.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), stinging insect species are usually preparing their queen for the upcoming winter and are more aggressive than earlier in the season.

Avoid the annoying insects and their painful stingers by following these tips:
  •  Wear light-colored clothing.  Bright colors
     attract bees.

  •  Wear closed shoes. Some wasps make their nests in the ground and will sting you if stepped on.
  •  Avoid leaving sweet beverages and open garbage outside. Insects are attracted to
     sugary substances. Remember to look in your beverage before taking a drink.

  •  Avoid swatting at stinging insects. They sting primarily when threatened — try to stay still and calm.

If an insect nest is housed on your property, it’s best to hire a professional exterminator. Remember these safety tips if you attempt to destroy the nest yourself:
  •  Do not stand directly under an overhead nest.
  •  Use insect control sprays that allow you to shoot from a safe distance.
  •  Never burn or flood a nest — this can agitate the insects.
  •  Spray hives shortly after nightfall when the insects are least active.

The NPMA says more than 500,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year due to insect stings. Use caution when around bees, and know how to react to symptoms if you do get stung.
  •  Mild reactions are the most common, including itching, redness, swelling, and irritation. No medical
     care is needed, but apply self-treatment if desired. You can use an ice pack for 20 minutes, take an
     antihistamine to relieve itching, or take ibuprofen for pain relief.

  •  Severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, are sometimes fatal — often in the first half hour. It’s important
     to seek emergency medical assistance immediately if you have life-threatening symptoms such as labored
     breathing, facial/neck swelling, confusion, hives, or a rapid heartbeat.