Choosing a Sunscreen 2013

It can be overwhelming to walk into a store and choose a sunscreen. There are so many brands, options, and abbreviations. Who has time to stop and read ALL the labels for the important information? Well, here are some guidelines to follow the next time you arrive at the “Summer Aisle” at Wal-Mart, and have some difficulty picking out a sunscreen.

SPF means Sun Protection Factor. The SPF means if you use the sunscreen, your skin will not burn as fast as if you were not using it. For example, if you use an SPF 20, you can stay in the sun 20 minutes longer than if you were not wearing the sunscreen with SPF 20.

Just because the SPF is higher does not mean you are getting better protection. Because 100 is twice as much as 50, sunbathers are often misled into thinking that SPF 100 is twice as protective as SPF 50. That is not the case. SPF 100 is only about 1% more effective than SPF 50. SPF 50 protects 98% of rays, but SPF 100 protects 99%.

Find a sunblock that deflects UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the main culprit of wrinkling and aging. UVA rays are absorbed into the skin, but most sunscreens block these rays. UVB rays are the rays that produce sunburns, and are the main culprit that causes skin cancer. Sunscreens will chemically absorb the UV rays. Sunblocks will deflect the UV rays. It is important to find a screen or block that advertises a ‘Broad Spectrum’ of protection. These products will protect against UV rays.

Don’t use a spray sunscreen or a powder sunscreen. There is a growing risk that these products may pose an inhalation risk. It is also difficult to cover all of the skin when using a spray, which leaves some parts of the skin exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Also, using a sunscreen and insect repellent combination can be harmful. Sunscreen in this combination can lead to the skin’s absorption of toxic insect repellent ingredients.

Tanning oils offer very little protection against the sun’s rays. Sunbathers want to avoid any products with low SPF’s, as they don’t protect well against the sun’s UV rays. Using products with an SPF of lower than 15 comes with an increased risk of developing skin cancer, as well as wrinkling and leathering of the skin.

If you are looking for a safe and effective sunscreen or sunblock, I encourage you to look at the website listed below, the Environmental Working Group. Most of the sunscreens on the market in the United States are listed on this website, and each have a number “grade” from 1 to 9 (one is the best, nine the worst). These grades are based on the toxic ingredients found in sunscreen, as well as their effectiveness. It might surprise you to find out what grade your current sunscreen has earned. The website also has more information regarding the use of sunscreens and sunblocks.

Thanks for reading today’s article! Be safe out there.


Skin Care in the Hot Weather

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 82,770 NEW cases of skin cancer this year (this figure excludes basal and squamous types of cancer). Melanoma only accounts for less than 5% of all the skin cancer cases, but does count for the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. However, there is a 91% chance of surviving melanoma of the skin, if it’s caught early. Because we are focusing on safety in the heat, this article is designed to give you a few tips on the recognition of unusual skin growths, and what you can do to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Symptoms of melanoma include changes in size, shape or color of a mole or skin lesion, or a new growth on the skin. Changes that happen over a month or more, should be seen by a physician.

Early detection is key. Remember the ABCD rule:

  • A is for Asymmetry. One 1/2 of the mole doesn’t match the other half.
  • B is for Border. The edges of the mole are ragged or blurred.
  • C is for Color. The color of the mole is not the same. The shades can be tan, brown, or black.
  • D is for Diameter larger than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser).

Other types of melanoma may not have these exact signs, so make sure you are watching for new or changing skin growths.

People with a family history of melanoma, or a large number of moles, are at a higher risk for melanoma. Also, people that are sensitive to the sun, have light colored hair such as blonde or red, or excessive sun exposure (which can include sunburns, indoor tanning beds, or those who work outside) are at a higher risk for skin cancer.

In order to protect your skin from the damaging sun exposure, follow these tips:

  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher daily. Make sure to cover your face, neck (front and back), ears, and any other part of your skin that is not covered with fabric.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim if you are going to be out in the sun.
  • Seek out shade, especially in the hottest part of the day.
  • Avoid sunbathing outside or indoor tanning. Indoor tanning exposes the body to additional UV radiation, which is associated with a risk of developing cancer.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the area around your eyes.
  • Wear clothing that protects against UVA  and UVB rays.

Working in the sun can be tough. Make sure you are protecting yourself and your skin. Be safe out there!

This article, in no way, can replace the diagnosis of a trained medical physician, and it is not designed to do so. If you have questions regarding your health, it is essential to seek a professional medical evaluation.

Distracted Driving

You are 23x more likely to be involved in an automobile accident if you text while driving.

Caution Sign

According to a study done at Carnegie Mellon, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.

Distracted driving is anything that diverts the driver’s attention from driving safely. These can include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating / drinking
  • Talking to other people in the vehicle
  • Putting on make-up or shaving while driving
  • Reading (both maps AND book type materials)
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting the radio, iPod, etc.

In 2010, 416,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving. Nearly 1/5 of all accidents in 2010 were because of a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over 800,000 vehicles are being operated / driven by someone using a hand held cell phone.
Night Lights

Here are the laws in Texas regarding cell phones while driving. It’s a good idea to check your local municipality for other laws that are not are listed here.

  • No cell phones or texting for bus drivers or Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators while driving
  • No cell phones or texting while driving for novice drivers
  • No handheld cell phone usage or texting in school zones

Many companies, both private and public, including Torqued-Up Energy Services, have safety policies regarding cell phone usage and text messaging while operating a company vehicle, or personal vehicle for company business. Even President Obama singed an Executive Order that bans the use of cell phones and texting while on government business.

If you need to talk on the phone while operating a vehicle, use a hands free device, or better yet, pull over to make the call. Don’t text and drive.

Safety: Children in Vehicles

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children, ages 1 to 14 years old. In 2009, that number was 1,314. Additionally, more than 66% of those children killed were killed because the person that was driving was drunk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2009, over 618,000 children under the age of 12 rode in a vehicle without a safety seat or seat belt at least some of the time. Parents and care givers should always use a seatbelt when driving or riding in the car, regardless of how short the drive will be. This sets a good example for the children in your car. You can read more about the CDC’s report here:

Car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants, and 54% for children ages 1-4. As a general rule, anyone under the age of 12 should ride in the backseat of a vehicle because airbags can seriously injury or kill a small child in an accident that would have otherwise been survivable. Also, the Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention found that the middle seat in the back is the safest place in the vehicle.

Babies (under one year of age) should ride a rear facing car seat in the backseat of a vehicle. You should NEVER put a rear facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle. Should you get into an accident with a rear facing child seat in the front seat, it could cause a serious injury to the baby in the seat.

Toddlers (1-3 years of age): Check the height and weight limit on your car seat. Children should be kept in a rear facing car seat as long as possible. Once they get large enough, it’s time to upgrade the rear facing car seat to a forward facing car seat with a harness.

Children (4-7 years of age): Keep your children in a forward facing car seat with a harness. The seat still needs to remain in the back seat, because that is the safest place for children to ride.

Older Children (8-12 years of age): Once your child outgrows the forward facing car seat, you can buy the last car seat you’ll need for that child – a booster seat. Children in this age group are still too small to ride in the front seat. The seatbelts in vehicles are not designed for children. They are designed and tested for adult protection. Because children are so much smaller, they can be injured by the seatbelts in both the front and back seats. This is why the NHTSA recommends a booster seat in the back. The booster seat gives the older child a little more height while riding in the back seat of the vehicle. The booster seat will help position the seatbelt to fit properly over the child. The seatbelt should fit across the upper thighs and fit snugly across the shoulder and chest – NOT across the stomach or the neck.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA found that nearly 72% of 3,500 car seats and booster seats were misused, and could increase the risk of injury to a child during a motor vehicle crash. Fire stations and hospitals can help you install your child seats properly. You can also visit: to find a Child Seat Inspection Site near your home, or manufacturer’s car seat recalls.

You can find more information regarding child seats at:

Car Care in the Heat

Hot weather can take a toll on everything – vehicles included. Here are some tips to help keep your car functioning and running well during the hot summer months.

  • Check your battery
    • Have your battery tested by a trained technician since the heat can drain your battery quickly.
    • Make sure your battery is mounted properly to avoid too much vibration.

Keep your engine cool

  • Check your owner’s manual as to how often the fluids should be checked and changed (most newer vehicles recommend flushing around 50,000 miles).
  • Make sure the coolant is filled to the correct level by topping off the fluid reservoir.
  • Inspect rubber hoses and belts for wear and tear. Worn parts are more susceptible to damage and breaking in the hot weather.


  • Keep tires inflated at the proper PSI.
  • Underinflated tires can affect braking, overheat tires, and increase the chance of a blowout.
  • When filling tires, check the treads on the tire. Treads should be in good condition.


  • Create a comfortable temperature inside the car. Hot weather creates a feeling of tiredness and fatigue.
  • Check filters and replace them regularly to keep the A/C functioning well.
  • Park in the shade to reduce the temperature inside the car.
  • Use sunshades or tint the windows to keep out the sun’s rays.

Kids, Pets, and other living things

  • Never leave these in the car – even if it’s only for a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can rise to unsafe levels in two minutes on an 80°F day.
  • Children’s body temperature take 3-5x longer to regulate, so being inside a car on a hot day (even with the windows down) can be deadly.
  • 32 children died in 2012 from hyperthermia.
    • 52% of caretakers said they just forgot the child was in the car.

Emergency Car Kit: In extreme weather conditions, it’s always a good idea to have a small kit in your car for emergency situations. Our DOT Coordinator in Kilgore, Kenneth Nolley, has some good suggestions for items that should be in a vehicle emergency kit :

  • Water
  • Nonperishable snacks like granola bars
  • First Aid Kit with a one-time use ice pack
  • All the equipment to change a tire
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket or large pad so that you can lay on it if you need to get under your vehicle
  • Jumper cables or box


If you do get stuck somewhere, you can call the Texas Roadside Assistance phone number that is on the back of your driver’s license or the phone number listed on the back of your vehicle’s Texas Inspection sticker. This number will call the Department of Public Safety in Austin and they will send a State Trooper to your aide. Even if you aren’t in Texas, the DPS in Austin will transfer your call to the right place so you can get help.



For more information, you can visit (AAA / Roadside assistance website).

Motorcycles on the Road

The National Highway Transportation Administration has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness month! Now that the weather is warming up, you’ll be sure to see more and more motorcyclists on the road. It’s important to be cognizant of these riders when driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, in the first nine months of 2012, Texas had the most fatalities from motorcycle vehicle accidents – 358. Although this number was down from 2011, it is still incredibly high.  Motorcycle deaths more than doubled from 1997-2008, and they are continuing to rise.

There are several reasons for the increase in fatalities. First, weather plays a huge role in the ability to even use a motorcycle. When the weather is warmer, as it was in 2012, motorcyclists are able to get out and ride. 34 states west of the Rocky Mountains had a warmer than average spring. Mild weather means more cyclists on the road.

Second, a better economy creates more discretionary income. People are able to buy motorcycles, or repair the ones they already have. Next, gasoline prices can affect the number of motorcyclists on the road. When gas prices are higher, commuters tend to be creative to save some money. Since motorcycles have great gas mileage, more and more commuters use their motorcycles to get to work.

Lastly, there were more motorcycle registrations and endorsements in 2012 than in previous years. With more drivers and motorcyclists on the road, fatalities are bound to increase. The Governors Highway Safety Association has some recommendations for preventing motorcyclist crashes and fatalities.

Helmets: The number one, most effective way to reduce fatalities is for riders to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators.

Speeding: Speed plays a part in the fatalities. In 2010, 35% of riders involved in motorcycle fatalities were speeding.

Alcohol: 29% of the motorcycle fatalities in 2010 had drivers with alcohol limits above the legal limit of 0.08.

Training: If you are unsure of how to operate a motorcycle, or are new at it, consider taking a motorcycle operator’s course. All states have training courses. Additionally, 22% of motorcyclists that died in 2010 did not have a valid motorcycle license. Having the proper training, and licensure, could reduce the number of fatalities.

With the warmer weather approaching, make sure you are looking twice for motorcyclists. Remember, “Share the Road.”

Heat Related Illnesses

Summer is here – especially in Texas, where the temperatures will be in the 90’s and higher for the next few months. Our employees work outside, so taking care of themselves in hazardous climates is important. This will be the first in a series on taking care of your health in hot weather conditions.

Heat Cramps

It isn’t known what causes heat cramps; however, it is thought to be related to an electrolyte and mineral imbalance. Heat cramps will generally happen to muscles that are tired or fatigued by heavy work. People most at risk for heat cramps will work in a hot environment or people that sweat a lot. In order to prevent heat cramps, make sure you are staying hydrated, and keep cool.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can occur if you have been in the heat for days, and become dehydrated. Heat exhaustion can be from water depletion or salt depletion.

Water depletion symptoms can include thirst, weakness, headache, or loss of consciousness.

Salt depletion symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, regular muscle cramps, and dizziness.

People most at risk for heat exhaustion are children under the age of 4, and adults over the age of 65. It takes longer for these two demographics to adjust to the heat than other people. People with certain health conditions (such as diabetes, heart, lung, or kidney disease, or high blood pressure) may be at a higher risk for heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that if not treated by a physician, can turn into heat stroke.

First Aid for Heat Exhaustion

  • Drink plenty of fluid (avoid alcoholic beverages or drinks with caffeine)
  • Remove tight or unnecessary clothing
  • Take a cool shower, or bath
  • Use fans or ice towels to cool the body temperature

If symptoms don’t improve in 30 minutes, contact a doctor immediately.

Heat Stroke

According the CDC, about 440 people die each year from heat stroke. This is the most serious form of heat injury. Call 911 immediately if you think someone has heat stroke. It can progress from lesser heat related illnesses, such as heat cramps, but can still occur if there were no warning signs or symptoms.

It occurs from exposure to high temperatures and dehydration. This causes the body to be unable to regulate its temperature.

Symptoms include:

  • Extremely high body temperature
  • Throbbing headache
  •  Muscle cramps
  • Lack of sweat, regardless of the heat
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart beat (strong or weak pulse)
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Confusion / Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness

First Aid for Heat Stroke

  • Call 911 immediately if you suspect someone has had a heat stroke
  • Move the person to an air conditioned room, or to a shady area
  • Remove any unnecessary clothing
  • Fan air over the patient while wetting the skin with water from a sponge or hose
  • Apply ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck, and back
  • Immerse the person in cool water or shower


Heat related illness can be serious, and, even life threatening. It’s important to stay hydrated and cool when working outdoors, or in the heat. If you feel like you are suffering from heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, notify someone immediately, and take a break! Be safe out there!


This article, in no way, can replace the diagnosis of a trained medical physician, and it is not designed to do so. If you have questions regarding your health, it is essential to seek a professional medical evaluation.