Article written for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in October 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – Halloween Safety

October 7, 2017 Scotch Plains, NJ – Witches, ghosts, and goblins, oh my! Halloween is a time for make-believe and fun. Let’s make sure our kids stay safe and get to enjoy all those trick and treats.

Many people are aware of the importance of checking candy before letting kids eat them, but there are other dangers out there as well. For example, according to the organization Safe Kids USA, “children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night than at any other time of the year.”

If you can, go out early with your kids so there is still some daylight left. If this isn’t possible, make sure there is reflective tape on their costumes and bags, or have kids carry glow sticks. Stay on sidewalks at all times. If there aren’t sidewalks, walk facing traffic and stay as close to the side of the road as possible. Make sure costumes fit well so kids don’t trip, and instead of masks, try to use face paint. This a much better option, but if kids are wearing masks, make sure they don’t block their vision. Regarding costumes, also make sure they are flame-resistant.

For older kids, stress the importance of putting down their phones and paying attention to where they are going. Tell them to make sure driver’s see them when crossing the street or walking past driveways. Also, it is better to go in groups than all alone, and to stay in neighborhoods they’re familiar with.

Drivers, remember that on Halloween there are more kids out running around than usual, and take precautions. Some will be wearing dark costumes which will make them hard to see, and because of their excitement, they may dart out into the street or between cars unexpectedly. So, on this day, drive a little slower than usual through neighborhoods and be extra vigilant. Turn down the music, stay off the phone, and make sure your headlights are on, even if it’s not dark yet. We want our little princesses and super heroes to get home safely.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

http://www.nj.com/suburbannews/index.ssf/2017/10/scotch_plains_rescue_squad_on.html

 

 

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My latest articles published in The Showcase Magazine – September 2017

LOCAL TALENT
Artist Ralph Garafola

By Susan Baldani

When people think about where to find great art and artists, places like New York City, Philadelphia, and of course the grand cities of Europe quickly come to mind. However, many highly talented artists live right here in our surrounding communities. One of these LOCAL artists is Ralph Garafola, who has been practicing his craft for most of his life. Ralph’s paintings have graced the cover of The Showcase Magazine several times in the past years.

Ralph is originally from New York, and has been residing in Warren, NJ, for 40 years. He started out as a draftsman and became an illustrator, and in the evenings studied drawing at The Alliance Art School (Educational Alliance) in lower Manhattan. Soon after, though, he was drafted into the Korea War.

While stationed in Korea, he was an Army Combat Photographer MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and a draftsman. From there, he went on to graduate from the Photography School at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Then, once back in NY, he studied at the Art Students League of New York under Frank J. Reilly, who was also the Commissioner of Art for New York City. To broaden his education, Ralph also traveled to the southern United States, Italy, England and France to study the works of the Old Masters and find new inspiration for his future paintings.

When many of us look at a painting, we often don’t think of the hard work and training that went into creating it. We just enjoy it for its beauty. However, successful artists devote a lot of time learning and improving their technique, and never stop striving to make it better. Ralph is one of these artists. He works in both oil and watercolor, and considers his style one of contemporary realism. He paints portraits, landscapes, seascapes, still life and animals, wild and domestic. As he states, “All my paintings are portraits. Whether my subject is a person, landscape, seascape, still life or pet, my approach is to realistically portray my subject in its natural environment. It puts the viewer inside the painting.”

He has also authored two books. The first one, Frank J. Reilly – The Elements of Painting, explains what he was taught by his mentor, and what every painter needs to know. His second book, Frank J. Reilly – Outdoor Painting, is due out this year.

Ralph had also designed and directed the construction of the 911 memorial in front of the Warren Town Municipal Building. He belongs to many art associations and has garnered many awards, too numerous to mention here. There are multiple galleries, exhibits, and online sites where you can view his paintings.

Not one to slow down, Ralph started teaching in his 70s at the duCret School of Art, Plainfield, New Jersey, and because he spends winters in Florida, at the Florida at the Sarasota Art Center, Longboat Key – Ringling College of Art and Design, the Art Center Manatee and Art Expressions by the Bay in Sarasota. In addition, he also tutors private students.

To find out more about Ralph Garafola, or to see some of his extraordinary art work, commission a painting, or sign up for classes, please go to http://ralphgarafola.com/bio.html.

Susan Baldani has a MA in Education and a BA in Psychology. She enjoys writing and in addition to writing articles on small town life, is currently working on her second book. You can contact her at suebaldani@yahoo.com or at http://www.mywritingwall.com.

http://theshowcasemagazine.net/showcasemagazine/warren_edition/articles/localtalent

RG painting 3RG painting 2RG painting 1
Links to my other September articles:

http://www.mypivotalmedia.com/ezine/Warren/ShowcaseMagazine_Sept2017/index.html#?page=16

http://theshowcasemagazine.net/showcasemagazine/warren_edition/articles/FallFunFestivals

 

Article written for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in August 2017

The Dangers of Too Much Caffeine

In today’s society, it seems like our to-do lists are always getting longer while our opportunities for sleep are getting shorter. How often do you hear, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my cup of coffee?” Caffeine has become a necessity to many, and possibly an addiction for others.

In small doses, caffeine shouldn’t cause too much trouble, although it seems like every other week there’s a different opinion on that. However, all studies agree that too much caffeine can lead to problems. Sometimes symptoms can be minor, such as restlessness, upset stomach, tremors, irritability and insomnia. Other times, more serious problems can occur. Younger people especially need to be made aware of these dangers.

As reported by NBC in May 2017, a teenager in South Carolina died from a caffeine overdose. Apparently, within the two hours prior to his death, he had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonalds and also some type of energy drink, which together caused a heart arrhythmia. Earlier this year, according to the article, “researchers reported that energy drinks can cause dangerous changes in heart function and blood pressure above and beyond caffeine alone. Another team found similar dangers in 2015.”

As recommended by the Mayo Clinic, consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. (One energy drink can have as much as 242 mg.) Of course, people with underlying health issues and/or taking certain medications or herbal supplements, pregnant women, and young children have to follow their doctor’s guidelines about what amount is safe. When cutting back on caffeine, do it slowly, if possible, to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. And remember, caffeine can be found in a large number of things, such as chocolate, tea, soda, pain relievers, and certain alcoholic drinks.

So check the labels on what you’re ingesting, and keep your caffeine levels reasonable. You can still have that cup of coffee with dinner, just switch to decaf.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

https://patch.com/new-jersey/scotchplains/scotch-plains-rescue-squad-tip-month-0

Article written for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in July 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – Avoid Food Poisoning

This is the season for barbecues and outside parties. It’s a great time to get together with friends and share stories and good food while enjoying the great outdoors. However, according to the CDC, approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets sick and 128,000 are hospitalized every year from foodborne illnesses.
Hamburgers are a common menu item in the summertime. To avoid E. coli, be sure to cook ground beef to a minimum 160 degrees, which will kill this bacteria. For pork, steaks, and fish, the temperature should be at 145°. Barbecued chicken is another favorite. To help kill salmonella, another dangerous bacterium and one of the most frequent causes of food poisonings, cook it to at least 165°. Deviled eggs are another popular addition, and they can also make you sick if left out in the heat for too long. Make sure they’re kept on ice so bacteria cannot grow. Other salads, such as potato, macaroni and coleslaw, should be kept on ice at all times as well. The basic rule is: keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. The Mayo Clinic advises us to, “Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly — within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the temperature is above 90° F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.” Even fruits and vegetables can be troublesome. If not washed properly, the Listeria bacteria can survive, so rinse thoroughly before serving and eating. And of course, always wash your hands before and after preparing food.
If you do experience symptoms of food poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and/or stomach cramps, which can last for several hours to several days, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids such as water or electrolyte-enhanced drinks such as Gatorade. For young children, Pedialyte is often helpful.
Food poisoning can often be managed at home. However, if you experience more extreme symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than three days, a temperature higher than 101.5°, dehydration, blurry vision, or muscle weakness, it’s time to see a doctor. He or she may prescribe antibiotics or admit you to a hospital, depending on the bacteria and severity of symptoms, and other risk factors including age and underlying illnesses.
With a few precautions, picnics and barbecues can be a big part of a fun and relaxing summer. Enjoy!
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/scotch-plains-slash-fanwood/columns/scotch-plains-rescue-squad-1/articles

 

Getting noticed

In an ocean of writers, it’s hard being a small fish.  Over the last few years I’ve enjoyed some success, for which I am very thankful.  I’ve had many articles and a short story published, but I want more.  Much more.

I’m happy that I have a wide repertoire of things to write about.  Want a story about zombies? I’m on it.  Or want to know what people should do in an emergency medical situation? No problem. What about steering customers to your local shop?  Leave it to me.  Once I get an idea in my head, the words seem to flow.

However, there are a lot of people out there who can write well.  How do I get noticed?  Yes, I have a website; yes, I post to Facebook; yes, I’m on Linked In.  I guess I can expand to Twitter and Instagram, but I do have a day job.  I wish writing was my full-time job, but it isn’t yet.

So I guess I’ll just keep writing and submitting, and maybe one day the right person will read my book, or one of my articles, and think “this is the person I’ve been looking for.”  And instead of a herring swimming in the middle of the ocean, I’ll be a large fish in a small pond.

Article written for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in June 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – Handling a seizure

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — Seizures can be very scary to witness.  The person may be violently shaking, unconscious and rigid, or just staring into space.  This may be happening because he or she has a seizure disorder, or because of an illness or injury.

Epilepsy, or seizure disorder, is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system.  People can be diagnosed at any age, and according to the Epilepsy Foundation, three million people in the U.S. have epilepsy and 1 in 26 people will develop it in their lifetime.  The good news is, with proper care, 6 out of 10 will be able to live seizure free.

Besides epilepsy, seizures can occur for other reasons.  Various illnesses, such as infections, tumors, and high fevers can also cause seizures, as can medications, drugs and alcohol use and withdrawal.  Of course, any head trauma such as those that may occur in car accidents, falls and sports activities can bring on full-blown seizures.  These types of seizures are much more dangerous since they are a clear sign of brain injury.

If you do see someone experiencing a seizure, there are things you should and should not do.  Some people have an aura, or a sign that they are about to have a seizure.  They often will sit or lie down to prevent falling and injuring themselves.  If someone tells you they are about to have a seizure, help them lie down in a safe area and move anything sharp or potentially dangerous out of the way.  Many times a person will wear a medic alert bracelet alerting bystanders to their condition.  If possible, try to time how long the seizure lasts.  It’s very important to stay with the person and keep calm.  Most seizures only last a few minutes; during this time, protect their head from hitting anything and turn it to the side to keep their airway clear.  Do not put anything into the person’s mouth, and do not try to hold them down.

Afterwards, they may be somewhat confused, so talk softly and let them know what just happened.  If the person is an epileptic, he or she may not want an ambulance called since they know how to handle the aftermath and understand that they are not in any danger.  However, if they do not suffer from epilepsy, and the seizure occurred for some other reason, they will need immediate medical attention.  Also, if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, or stops and then continues, or if the person shows any sign of respiratory distress, call 911.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

 

In 2017, The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad marks its 80th year of all volunteer emergency medical services to the community of Scotch Plains and surrounding communities, a distinction that very few rescue squads in the state have reached.

 

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/scotch-plains-slash-fanwood/columns/scotch-plains-rescue-squad-1/articles/scotch-plains-rescue-squad-tip-of-the-month-han

 

The Showcase Magazine – June 2017 edition

Shop Local and Shop Smart

By:  Susan Baldani

Sure, you can get some good deals in large department stores, but what about the customer service? Do you find yourself wandering the aisles trying to get some help with a product?

Well, that won’t happen in a locally owned business where customer service is their number one priority. Looking for something special for your mother’s birthday or a graduating senior? Just ask and the advice you will receive will be topnotch. The salesperson is often the owner, and he or she wants your business not only today, but in the future as well. They genuinely care about their customers and reputation, and know their products well since they put the time and effort into finding unique and quality items. Instead of buying something that’s mass-produced and can be found anywhere, the merchandise one finds in a small neighborhood store may even be one-of-akind pieces made by local artists.

When you patronize a local business, you’re not only supporting them, but the community as well. Money spent locally is much more likely to stay local. These store owners often live and shop in the same towns that their businesses are in; they are our neighbors and friends. Many also contribute towards local causes that help the community. In addition, when we support these merchants, it encourages even more businesses to open which ultimately leads to positive growth in towns and even more variety to choose from. It’s a win-win situation!

Whatever your needs are, you can almost always find a small local business that offers it. And when it comes to large expenses such as renovating your home and garden, good advice is invaluable.

Local businesses will focus on what you want, and not just what they want to sell. They will take the time to get to know you and ensure that you’re satisfied with the finished product. Same for getting your car repaired, or finding someone who can do your taxes. Small business owners rely on word of mouth and repeat business, so they want you to have a positive experience. It’s not just a job to them; it’s a passion and their way of life.

The same holds true for independent restaurants, delis, butchers and specialty food stores versus chains. Many of you know how good it feels when you walk into your local pizzeria, deli or restaurant and are greeted by name. Having someone know what you like and ask if you want ‘the usual” makes you feel appreciated and cared for. You’re not just another strange face in a line, where you are assisted by different people each time, depending on the chain’s turnover rate.

Small business owners know that to survive they must be better than the competition that often surrounds them. Since they carefully choose their merchandise and keep a smaller inventory, they often can’t offer the cut-rate prices that some bigger chain stores can.

However, they more than make up for this in customer service and quality of the items. Plus, let’s face it; some of these small stores have a charm and personality that cannot be matched.

So, next time you think of heading to one of those large impersonal box stores, head into town instead to check out what you can find. You will be pleasantly surprised and I’m sure go back again and again. After all, you can’t beat the convenience of shopping close to home, and strolling around downtown can be much more pleasant than fighting the crowds at the mall.

When you do patronize these businesses, and find yourself pleased with the service, make sure to tell others in person and on social media. These local shop owners rely not only on the advertising they do or community participation, but their reputation is always at the forefront of their success! So, spread the word, and make your downtown a bustling and successful part of your community.

http://theshowcasemagazine.net/showcasemag/warren_edition/articles/shoplocal

 

 

 

 

Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in May 2017

May is Rescue Squad Month

It’s rescue squad month, and the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is proud to say that after 80 years, we are still serving the residents of Scotch Plains with an all-volunteer membership. Over the years, many rescue squads have either closed down or have been taken over by a paid service. But thanks to the generous contributions of our community, we continue to carry on the same as we have since 1937.

Even though our members aren’t paid salaries, it takes quite a bit of money to support the high-level of service that we provide year after year. Monetary donations not only allow us to pay for necessities like bandages, oxygen tanks, and defibrillators, but they also mean we can regularly update and buy the latest and most reliable equipment and ambulances. This year, we are purchasing a new ambulance as well as the newly mandated communication devices. Just these two things will total over $225,000. Thankfully, through our annual fund drive, we have had the finances to cover these large expenses.

Besides big ticket items, we also have many other everyday expenses such as maintenance of our building and the cost of utilities. There are also insurance premiums, uniforms, gasoline for the ambulances and fire rehab vehicle, and many other expenses that arise throughout the year.

We hope to continue to provide the best service, even though we have received many fewer donations and much less money over the last few years. Therefore, when you receive our fundraising letter, please consider giving whatever you can to this worthwhile organization.

Besides our monetary needs, we must also have volunteers to staff our ambulances to ensure we can respond in a timely manner. The rescue squad provides all necessary training and uniforms, so there is no cost to the member. Besides answering over 1,300 calls a year, we also stand by at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. In addition, we provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.

Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician not only benefits our town, but these skills can be used wherever you are in a multitude of emergency situations. Instead of just being a bystander calling 911, you can actually save someone’s life. There’s no better feeling than that.

Please feel free to contact us regarding donating or volunteering at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

Submitted by Sue Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.