Letters and Commentary

March 23, 2012
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Be Safe On Vacation

To The Editor:

AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging spring break vacationers to heed the advice of a State Department Travel Warning for Mexico while remembering basic safe travel practices, regardless of their destination. Spring Break is a great time to emerge from the winter months with a carefree attitude and enjoy the warmth of a tropical destination; however, travelers are reminded to always adhere to common sense guidelines to ensure their safety. Those headed to Mexico need to pay special attention to safety warnings.

The State Department Alert for Mexico, which was updated on February 8, 2012 states, “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.”

AAA notes that Mexico remains a great tropical destination with lots of fabulous and luxurious resorts, as long as travelers take the advice of experts. Carefree vacation attitudes are great, but only after security concerns have been addressed. Tourists should stay on main roads during daylight hours, stay in well-known tourist areas, avoid traveling alone, and not flaunt their wealth by flashing cash or wearing expensive jewelry.

For the younger college age students, for whom spring break travel is extremely popular, AAA offers even firmer warnings. Teenagers and young college-age students are generally inexperienced travelers, often naïve, and more likely to take risks, making them a vulnerable group, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.

AAA offers the following advice for those headed out for a Spring Break vacation:

· • Visit www.travel.state.gov (State Department) and pull the Consular Information Sheet on your chosen destination. This sheet will provide invaluable information about a variety of topics including safety and security.

· • Heed all travel warnings and advice.

· • Don’t go anywhere alone, travel in numbers.

· • Don’t let your guard down; always be aware of your surroundings.

· • Keep your hotel rooms locked at all times and make sure you know who is at the door before opening it; don’t open the door if you are unsure.

· • Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol or gather with those who do and never accept rides or drinks from strangers. While it is rare, young women can be drugged through a seemingly kind offer of a drink. In these rare cases, the women have been reportedly sexually assaulted.

· • Only travel in clearly marked taxis or hotel shuttle busses.

· • Don’t pack prescription medication, car keys, travel documents, passports, visas or critical items, or documents in checked luggage, and keep them in the safe in your hotel room upon arrival.

· • Leave a copy of your passport, travel itinerary and any other important documents with a reliable person at home who can be contacted in the event that your documents are lost or stolen. In a separate bag, carry an extra copy with an extra set of passport photos.

· • Fill out the emergency information page in your passport so that authorities are better able to help you in the event of an emergency.

· • Don’t leave bags unattended at any time, even on the beach.

· • Don’t wear expensive jewelry, and don’t carry excessive amounts of cash or credit cards.

· • Participate in water sports from reputable vendors. Be sufficiently trained on the use of equipment and inquire about the operators who carry medical and liability insurance.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, serves nearly 4 million members in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and throughout Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and is on the Web at aaa.com/community.

Tracy Noble
AAA Mid-Atlantic

EarthShare Announces Environmental Awards

To The Editor:

EarthShare New Jersey recently announced the recipients of their annual environmental awards.
Tom Gilmore, the outgoing President of New Jersey Audubon, and Prudential Financial are being honored for their activities in support of New Jersey’s natural world.
They will be recognized at the EarthShare Celebrates New Jersey event on March 30 at Laurita Winery in New Egypt.
The EarthShare Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated effective environmental leadership in New Jersey. Tom Gilmore’s years at the helm of New Jersey Audubon made him the unanimous choice of the selection committee. Tom’s career-long commitment to land preservation, biodiversity protection, environmental education and quality nature experiences for all has had a measurable impact on the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.
Tom Gilmore’s legacy as leader of New Jersey Audubon is one that will benefit generations of New Jersey residents. We are thrilled to recognize his incredible contribution.
Prudential Financial, Inc is the recipient of the EarthShare Environmental Leadership Award. This annual award is presented to a New Jersey business that epitomizes environmental leadership in its policies and practices, programs for employees and customers and their philanthropic endeavors. Prudential is a leader in environmental stewardship and has implemented environmental practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Their employees are actively involved with many environmental organizations throughout the state as board members, donors and volunteers. Additionally, Prudential has publicly supported environmental organizations with gifts through their foundation for many years. Prudential Financial was the first company in New Jersey to establish a relationship with EarthShare New Jersey in 1995.
The awards will be presented during EarthShare Celebrates New Jersey, a fun evening celebrating the bounty and beauty of New Jersey through art, wine and food. This celebration takes place at the Laurita Winery in New Egypt at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 30. Guests are invited to enjoy the sounds of Stringzville and participate in the eco friendly chance and silent auctions featuring exclusive environmental experiences, event tickets, and items from businesses across the state.
Tickets may be purchased online in advance at www.earthsharenj.org for $45 or for $50 at the door. Hosts for the evening include Garden State Sponsor Phillips-Van Heusen and Founding Sponsor New Jersey Natural Gas. Other sponsors for the evening include PSEG, New Jersey American Water and Wegman’s of Princeton.
For more information or to order tickets visit EarthShare New Jersey’s website at http://www.earthsharenj.org/wordpress/ or call (609) 989-1160.
EarthShare New Jersey raises funds and awareness for leading environmental
organizations with public and private employers across New Jersey. The members of EarthShare New Jersey address human health, water, land, air and wildlife issues here in New Jersey and around the world. Some of our statewide members include Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, NJ Conservation Foundation, Clean Ocean Action, Hackensack Riverkeeper, NJ Audubon Society, Clean Water Fund, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and The Wetlands Institute.

Paula Aldarelli
Executive Director
Earthshare New Jersey

Fire Safety Tips For Homeowners

To The Editor:

When you were in school, the fire department probably came to your school to teach you what to do if you should ever experience a fire. However, if you’ve been fortunate enough to never have to use these skills, chances are you have forgotten or have never considered their implementation.
HTK Insurance of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, knows that fire safety is vital for every home, business and school. Schools use fire drills, businesses have evacuation plans. What do you have prepared for your home? Using social media and their website, HTK is helping to spread fire safety tips to the community.

Smoke Alarms can Save your Family’s Life

· Smoke alarms should be placed outside of every sleeping area on every level of a home.
· Check all smoke alarms monthly and whether the alarm alerts you to a dying battery or not, batteries should be every year.
· Replace smoke detectors every ten years.
· Dust your smoke alarms as build up can decrease sensitivity.
Have an Escape Route
· Purchase escape ladders for the bedrooms on the second and third floors and make sure every person in the home knows where they are and how to use them.
· Determine two different ways to escape from the house in case one of the exits you choose is blocked.
· Practice – Just like your child’s school practices fire drills, you should practice at home. It might feel silly, but it can save your family’s life.
How to Exit
· If you see smoke or fire at your first escape route, head to the second.
· If you have to go through any closed door, feel the door before opening. If the door is hot, use your alternate route.
· If the smoke is filling with smoke get down low to move through the house.
· If smoke or flames are blocking your exit completely, stay in the room with the door shut and find something bright to hang out of the window. If there is a phone in the room call the fire department immediately and let them know where you are in the home.
· Once you make it out of the house if the fire department has not been called go to a neighbor’s house to call the fire department or use your cell phone if you have it on you (do not go back in to the home to use the phone.)

HTK Insurance
Tinton Falls

Drop The Charges
To The Editor,
Having suffered from multiple sclerosis for the last 16 years and knowing first hand the benefits of medical marijuana, I am appalled at the way the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is handling the case of patient Eric Hafner.
Eric Hafner is a 20 year old PTSD patient from Fair Haven, now residing in California. He was arrested back in November in Middletown Twp. for possession of about a joint’s worth of medical marijuana and his pipe. He recently had to return to New Jersey for court.
Mr. Hafner’s doctor has prescribed him medical marijuana and he is recognized by the state of California as a legal patient. One would think that would be the end of the case as it is painfully obvious that Mr. Hafner is a patient and should be left alone.
Not so in Monmouth County. Despite the fact that our neighboring state of Delaware explicitly recognizes PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, the New Jersey authorities want patients to wait two-years before even being able to file a petition to have PTSD listed as a qualifying condition under New Jersey’s already overly restrictive medical marijuana program.
The prosecutor seems to be sticking his head in the sand on this issue. They have tried to push a so-called deal on Mr. Hafner – offering him a program designed for drug addicts known as the, “Conditional Discharge” and over $2,000 in fines. Mr. Hafner is not a “drug addict,” he is a patient using a legal medicine prescribed by his doctor.
I urge all who support medical marijuana to call Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw at (732) 431-7160 ext. 7522 and tell him to drop the charges against Eric Hafner in Middletown Municipal Court because Mr. Hafner is a patient, not a criminal.

Charles Kwiatkowski

This Is Not Religious Freedom

To The Editor:

Those of us who care deeply about women’s health care issues can take comfort in the efforts of our two senators, Menendez and Lautenberg, who are always consistent in their support.
Both senators voted against the Blunt amendment, an outrageous amendment which would have enabled any employer or company to deny any health care service for religious reasons. The obvious target is contraceptive services.
This is not the religious freedom guaranteed to our citizens. This is inflicting one’s own beliefs to the detriment of others.

Linda Lees
Monmouth Beach

Poisoning is a Major Cause of Death

To The Editor:

In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, EPA urges parents and caregivers to secure chemicals and pesticides in locked cabinets out of children’s reach. According to recently published poison-center data, annually more than 150,000 calls to poison centers involved pesticides and disinfectants.
More than half of pesticide exposures involved children five years or younger. Additionally, the top five most-common exposures to children include cosmetics and personal care products, pain medication, cleaning products,
foreign objects, and creams.
The development of child-resistant packaging on medicines and household chemicals and the banning of lead-based paint have had a significant impact in preventing poisonings and making homes safer. In addition, new EPA packaging
requirements ensure that children and pets cannot access certain pesticides. For example, manufacturers of rodenticides now must enclose the products in plastic
bait stations so that only the target pests are affected.
Even though progress has been made there is need for increased awareness about existing hazards posed from pest control products, prescription medicine abuse and household chemicals.
At the front line of the effort to reduce poisonings are the activities of the National Poison Prevention Week Council, which is marking its 50th anniversary
this year. The council’s key goal is to create national awareness about the risk of injury or death due to poisoning.
The best defense is preparation. Here’s what people can do to reduce exposure to poisons:

• Post the Poison Control Centers’ national helpline number, 1-800-222-1222, near your phone. Program the number into your phone’s “address book” or redial feature.

• Read the product label first and follow the directions to the letter.

• Use the safest possible cleaning products. Look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on products.

• Never leave products unattended when you are using them.

• Re-close products if interrupted during application (e.g., phone call,doorbell, etc.).

• Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after

• Never transfer pesticides to other containers; children may associate certain containers with food or drink.

• Remove children, pets, and toys before applying pesticides (inside or outside the home). Follow label directions to determine when children and pets can
re-enter the area that has been treated.

• Never use illegal pesticides (such as Tres Pasitos or unregistered Insecticidal Chalk). These products have not been reviewed by EPA and their use may pose a danger to public health. Always look for an EPA Registration ID
number on the label. (Example: EPA Reg. No. 500-123456)

For more information about poisoning prevention in your home visit our website at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/poisonprevention.htm

Environmental Protection Agency
New York, N.Y.

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