Safety Officer

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By Safety Officer Joseph Ponzo/Safety First

Joseph Ponzo is the safety officer for the Stoneham Police

 Ponzo: Tips for safeguarding your pets

Did you know that some of the household products most toxic to pets do not carry warning labels? Did you also know that in 2009 almost 46,000 pets licked spilled pills from the floor and snatched vials of painkillers, anti-depressants, cold medications and dietary supplements from nightstands. In 2009 almost 8,000 pets suffered from chewing or swallowing plants, which were considered toxic to pets. More than 2,300 pets suffered from insecticides and fertilizers, the latter causing severe gastrointestinal obstruction. After reading these numbers, I have researched several dangerous items and their problems associated with them and decided to share them. 

For instance, many non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are particularly toxic to cats, which cause perforation of the stomach or intestines, as well as renal failure. Many owners of pets apply permethrin insecticides, which are typical flea and tick medicines for dogs, onto their cats. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 2003 and 2008 there were 1,600 pet deaths related to these such treatments. Excessive amounts, especially of baking chocolate and cocoa powder, can cause tremors and seizures. Less than two ounces of milk chocolate per kilogram of canine body weight can be lethal. Within 6-12 hours of eating chocolate, bloating, tremors, hypothermia and even coma can ensue, leading to cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory failure and ultimately death. Some people food is toxic to a gamut of pets; avocado, for instance, is toxic to dogs, cats, ferrets and birds alike. 

Spring flowers are surprisingly toxic to pets; even tiny amounts of Easter and other lilies caused severe kidney damage. Other spring flowers such as tulip and Narcissus bulbs have been known to cause tremors, cardiac abnormalities and convulsions. The rhododendron, the large flowered bush commonly seen in front of homes, has 1,000 species and causes central nervous system depression in pets when ingested. Azaleas, can cause coma and death as well.

These are just a few common dangerous items that can be harmful for your pet, but no matter what the cause, many of the signs of poisonings begin with the same symptoms: drooling, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness and convulsions. Any combination of these symptoms is reason to call the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435, one of several poison hotlines. No matter what the pet, though, the ASPCA advises to call at any time. Please keep this number handy, for one can never know.

Remember Safety First!

All You Need To Know About Ma. Inspection Stickers!

Keeping your vehicle in safe working condition is not only important for the safety of you and other drivers, but also safe for the environment.  Whether it is a safety violation or an emissions violation, your vehicle may not meet the safety requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  On October 1, 2008, Massachusetts introduced it’s "next generation" vehicle emissions testing and safety inspection program.  Vehicles 1996 and newer according to the Ma. Registry of Motor Vehicles, will be tested for emissions every year along with the annual safety inspection.  Motorists will be able to choose which authorized inspection station they use as long as it is licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The cost of the test is among the lowest in the nation for this type of program at only $29.00. 

I have received several questions regarding inspection stickers,  so I’m hoping to answer as many as I have received.  First of all, inspection stickers are required every year and are color coded with the month of expiration written in the center in black numbers.  Each year there is a different color so law enforcement can tell if a vehicle is actively inspected or not.  The vehicle is tested for proper windshields, wipers, headlights, headlight arms, turn signals, 4-way flashers, tail lamps, brake lights, back-up lights rear view mirrors, horn, exhaust system, tires, body panels, fuel tanks, frame, service brakes, parking and emergency brake, seat belts, air bag operation, ball joints, steering, suspension visible smoke, emissions and emissions components ( if applicable).  If you fail any of these you will be issued a rejection sticker.  The purpose of this rejection sticker is to ensure public safety, which includes YOU!  If the problem is a safety related issue (ie brakes, horn, tires etc.) you must fix the problem immediately and a red "R" for rejection will be placed on your vehicle.  You are not allowed to operate the vehicle with a "Safety Rejection" sticker until the problem is fixed.  If you failed an emissions related problem, the inspector is required to provide you with an Emissions Failure Brochure free of charge and a Black "R" will be placed on your windshield giving you about 60 days to rectify the problem. 

If you are issued red registration plates than you are required to have two plates on your vehicle and they must be legible.  If you don’t have two plates or they are not legible, than you must get new plates at the R.M.V. for a fee of $10.00 per plate, unless a one green plate was issued to you years ago.  You may drive into other states with a valid Ma. Inspection sticker; however, it must be valid.  Studded tires are illegal unless they are in season (November 1st thru April 30th). 

All aftermarket lighting is illegal when operated on a public way and aftermarket tint is illegal on all windows if a tint meter reads 34% light or less.  You may tint your windows to 35% or greater provided you have two side mirrors.  Many companies and auto parts stores sell products which legally cannot be applied to your motor vehicle.  This is because many states have different laws and requirements and vehicles can apply these products to their cars for purposes of private parking lot car shows or events.  Check with your local law enforcement or go online to check the laws in the particular state. 

If you purchase a car, the dealer is responsible for providing you with an inspection sticker, but they do have 7 days to issue this sticker.  So there is a 7 day grace period if you transfer plates or purchase a new or used motor vehicle.  You must keep your bill of sale in the vehicle to prove you are within the grace period.  You also must replace any inspection stickers that are valid on a new or used car within the 7 days that you have purchased, because the sticker will not match the registration plates on that vehicle.  The registration plate is printed on the back of the sticker and the police also know by running that particular registration plate if a sticker has been issued to that registration plate.

Any violation of the law regarding expired, operating with a rejection sticker outside the required time period, operating with a safety rejection sticker, or simply not having any sticker whatsoever, is subject up to a $50.00 fine which is surchargeable.  If you alter or manufacture or deface such an inspection sticker you could be facing felony criminal charges as well. 

Keeping our vehicle’s safe is not only our responsibility to keep ourselves safe but also to keep other’s traveling on the same road safe. 

Remember Safety First!

Understanding the Texting Law

On Thursday September 30, 2010, the Use of a Mobile Phone or Mobile Electronic Device by a Junior Operator/ Unsafe Operation/ Sending/Reading Text Messages and Negligent Operation and Injury from Mobile Phone Use laws went into effect.  I will explain each of the law as simply as I can for everyone to understand.

The first law; the Use of a Mobile Phone or Mobile Electronic Device by a Junior Operator MGL Ch. 90 Section 8M is a $100.00 fine with a 60 day license suspension and attitudinal course to be attended.  This includes but is not limited to cell phones, laptops video games etc.  These don’t include mobile electronic devices such as permanently mounted or temporary mounted navigation systems.  Junior operators are not allowed to use any cell phones or mobile electronic devices at all. 

The second law, is Unsafe Operation MGL Ch. 90 Section 13 which is a civil offense with a fine of $35.  This law includes the improper use of a mobile telephone by operators 18 and over.  One hand must remain on the steering wheel at all times and no use of the device can interfere with driving.  This pertains to driving with your knees!!!

The third law is Sending/Reading Text Messages MGL Ch. 90 Section 13B which is a civil offense with a $100.00 fine.  .  Operators cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the internet to write, send or read an electronic message including text messages, emails and instant messages or to access the internet while operating a vehicle. This law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.

Besides these few new laws, there are some additional suspensions that the registry of motor vehicle’s have imposed.  The new law repeals the current suspension for 5-surchargeable incidents in a 3-year period and replaces it with a new suspension for 3-surchargeable incidents in 2-years.

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How to Stop Your Child From Using Their Cell Phone While Driving

With Massachusetts now one of several states to ban texting while driving and also banning junior operators from using their cell phones while driving altogether, I have decided to research ways in which we as parents, can eliminate our children from using their phones while driving to help prevent unnecessary accidents.  With new technology emerging everyday to profit from the new change in laws, companies have developed software and applications for cell phones for parents who want to eliminate any chance that their child will use their phone while driving.  Some software applications block the use of your phone while driving.  Others let you keep right on texting, by reading the messages out loud and some even let you reply by talking rather than typing.

There is a blocker app for the BlackBerry phones called LifeSaver, which according to the Boston Globe is priced around $9.99 and available through the BlackBerry App Store.  The LifeSaver app uses the phone’s Global Positioning chip to detect motion.  If you move faster than walking speed, it flashes a message urging you to leave that phone alone.  You can keep texting or talking unless you activate LifeSaver’s blocking feature.  Then the phone is totally locked up until the car comes to a stop.  Parents can program a "hard lock" into their kids phones, while being more lenient with themselves.  The LifeSaver program has lots of other safety features, like an alarm to warn when the car exceeds a preset speed, this warning could be by a text to their phone or even an e-mail to a preset e-mail address.  Obviously with this program, the phone can be located by the global positioning to find out where your child is at any time.  This software is password protected and cannot be eliminated from the phone unless you eliminate it! 

Another program I found was the SAFECELLapp.  It’s an $11.99 a year iPhone blocking app from a Houston, TX. Firm called W2W LLC that treats users like adults.  Unlike LifeSaver, SAFECELLapp doesn’t automatically start up when you’re driving.  You must turn it on yourself, whereupon it locks down the phone.  Probably thinking why would anyone want to do that, but according to the company, when the phone is locked and you are traveling driving speed the company will actually pay you to not use your phone.  For every 500 miles, you’re eligible to receive a gift card worth $5 to most major retailers.  According to the chief information officer Mr. Scott Taylor of SAFECELLapp, retailers sign up to sponsor this program and that is how the application pays out to people.  Not bad if you receive a check every once in a while.

There are also products that read incoming messages aloud, like the Motorola H11txt Blutooth hands-free headset, priced at $80 at  If you have the Android or BlackBerry, there’s Motospeak, a free Motorola app that will automatically read all incoming texts, in a lifelike voice.  This program will read the first 25 words for free then you will need a software upgrade for as much as $13.95 a year for longer text conversations.

I also found the BlueAnt Q2 headset priced at $95.00 which uses a Cambridge based software program for the text-to-speech program.  This program can also read incoming e-mails to you as well.

With all this new technology emerging, we should try and take advantage to keep everyone safe while on the road.

Remember Safety First!