Hoverboards are prone to catching fire and are, therefore, “unsafe,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Commission. The agency made the declaration in a letter released Feb. 18, which urged self-balancing scooter manufacturers to gain UL certification before selling more hoverboard products in Washington and nationwide.

According to the CPSC, there were 52 reports of hoverboards igniting in 24 states between Dec. 1, 2015 and Feb. 17, 2016. The resulting fires causedmore than $2 million in property damage and led to the destruction of two houses and a car. The acting director of the agency said that most of the fires could have been avoided if the hoverboards had been constructed to meet the voluntary UL safety standards.

The CPSC letter said that if agency employees find imported hoverboards that do not meet safety standards, they may seize them. The agency also indicated that it may seek a U.S. recall of non-compliant hoverboards, which are considered to be “defective.” The letter urges hoverboard manufacturers to ensure their future products meet the electrical standards outlined in UL 2272, which is aimed at self-balancing scooters. They are also encouraged to make sure all lithium ion batteries within the hoverboards meet the requirements under UN/DOT 38.3, which addresses dangerous goods for lithium ion batteries and metal.

Many residents of Washington like to include organic foods and supplements in their diets to avoid potentially unhealthy chemicals, but one organic supplier has had to issue a recall due to contamination from a living source. Products in Garden of Life’s Raw Meal powdered shake and meal replacement powder line have been connected with cases of Salmonella virchow infection in several states.

The product recall started on Jan. 29 and was expanded to include over two dozen additional products on Feb. 12. According to Garden of Life, organic moringa leaf powder from a specific supplier was the likely source of the contamination, and the company plans to reformulate all Raw Meal recipes to omit the leaf.

Health officials in Minnesota advised against consumption of any powders bought on or after Nov. 1 of last year, and they also cautioned not to use any powders with best-used-by dates of September 2017. The officials specified that all of the infected consumers at the time of the report had either used a vanilla or chocolate variety of a Raw Meal product.

Honda owners in Washington may have received notice of an expanded recall of cars that have defective Takata air bags. Since 2008, more than 6 million vehicles have been recalled due to faulty inflators on Takata air bags. There have been nine U.S. deaths connected with the inflators, and eight of them were in Hondas. The latest round of recalls is on late-model cars including the 2016 Acura ILX.

Honda issued the letter to dealers on Jan. 30 saying that it planned to recall as many as 2 million Acura and Honda vehicles. However, on Feb. 2, two U.S. senators said that all 24 million cars with Takata inflators should be recalled.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that its investigation into the recalls and the faulty inflators is still ongoing. NHTSA recalled about 19 million vehicles with Takata inflators through the end of 2015, and in January, Takata said that it planned to recall more than 5 million inflators located on the driver’s side.

While a reckless driver on a Washington highway might be able to wreak havoc by causing a deadly crash in even the safest of vehicles, Volvo is hoping to increase safety features to the point at which concerned drivers will be well-protected from deadly incidents. Some of the company’s current safety technologies would continue to be used, being expanded to address even more areas of vulnerability on the roads. Additional technologies could complement those that now exist to minimize driving risks.

Autonomous technologies are being used by various manufacturers. These include Volvo options such as adaptive cruise control. This feature makes it possible to set a maximum speed that the vehicle can reduce as needed to ensure that a safe following distance is maintained. Collision avoidance could be incorporated into this technology to implement braking when a driver does not respond to a warning of impending impact. Volvo also expects to use camera features to facilitate lane alerts and corrections when drivers drift or doze. Cameras might also be used to identify road features such as speed limit signs.

Volvo has stated that its death-proof vehicles will be in place by 2020. Like some other companies, it is also working on the development of automobiles that will be completely autonomous. The public may be skeptical about the claims of a death-proof vehicle, especially in light of computer issues that have affected some manufacturers in recent years. However, improved safety standards could prove advantageous as lives and money are saved over time.

Some Washington motorists may own a vehicle that was among the more than 51 million that were recalled in 2015. This set a new record, and there was a total of nearly 900 separate recalls. Most of the recalls related to air bags made by Takata Corp. that have so far been responsible for the death of eight people and injuries to more than 100 others. The faulty inflators meant the air bags were prone to explosion, and about 19 million vehicles were recalled in connection with the inflators.

Recalls were up because Takata Corp., along with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, faced significant fines for being slow to report problems with vehicles. In response, auto makers have stepped up their recalls in an effort to fix defects as quickly as possible.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official says that fixing these problems is crucial. While most defects are fixed within 18 months, 25 percent still are not. The agency is calling for public opinion on an expansion of approaches to notifying consumers of recalls such as email or text messages.

Washington parents need to be aware that Perrigo, a manufacturer of children’s cough syrup sold at various retailers recently recalled five batches of children’s cough syrup. The problem with the syrup is that the dosing cups that were included have wrong markings, leading to concerns about possible overdoses.

The cough syrup is sold under a variety of different brand names and contains 100 mg of guaifenesin and 5mg of dextromethorphan. The company stated that it has notified the Food and Drug Administration and is issuing a voluntary recall to protect consumers. The company also stated that it was not the one that manufactured the dosing cups.

When taken in too high of a dose, dextromethorphan can cause serious side effects. Perrigo reported that potential side effects include coma, death, seizures, hallucinations, respiratory depression, tachycardia and others. The company has advised parents to not try to guess at the correct dose and to throw away the dosing cups. A medical professor said parents who notice any of the side effects occurring should immediately seek medical care for their children.

Many Washington residents may think that a simple bump on the head is not a serious matter, but in some cases, such an accident can result in a subdural hematoma. Older people are particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries. If left untreated, a subdural hematoma can in some cases behave like a brain tumor and lead to impaired functioning and even death.

A subdural hematoma occurs when an injury causes blood to begin pooling around the brain over a period of days and weeks. In most cases, they heal themselves. The brain absorbs the blood and the injured person is never aware of that hematoma. However, this is not always the case. As a person ages, the brain may shrink and pull away from the membrane covering the brain in a way that leaves veins more exposed. A bump can cause those veins to tear.

Subdural hematomas often occur in injuries so minor that people do not initially remember bumping their heads. For example, in one case, a man hit his head in the attic. Weeks later, due to neurological symptoms such as trouble walking and confused thinking, he visited the doctor and ended up in emergency surgery. Another man’s hematoma was discovered after he had headaches and trouble driving.

Washington women who have sustained head injuries may be interested to learn that they could be at increased risk for serious outcomes like concussions. Some reports indicate that even though men’s brain injuries receive heightened attention due to the concussion risks associated with typically-male sports like football, women often suffer these kinds of injuries at greater rates.

Medical experts say that the combination of women’s large brains and relatively smaller necks places them in increased danger of experiencing whiplash, and the ill effects of such brain trauma may last longer than they would in men. One analysis revealed that although a group of male concussion sufferers regained normal brain function in about six weeks after getting hurt, women continued to suffer cognitive issues after the same time frame had passed.

According to researchers, girls who play sports in high school sustain concussions at twice the rate of male athletes at the same level. Potentially further compounding the issue may be the fact that women’s higher estrogen levels can induce heightened neural susceptibility to injury. The director of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center also admits that science is behind when it comes to studying the impacts of concussions in women.

Washington patients who suffered concussions should be aware that a report published on Dec. 21 showed that conventional imaging methods detected brain scars in soldiers who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries. The results ultimately showed that those who suffered brain injuries that were considered to be mild could still lead to long-term damages.

The brain scans were taken at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Researchers discovered that half the participants had white matter, the part of the brain that sends signals to different areas of the body, that showed brain abnormalities. According to a neuroradiologist at the medical center, the results undermined the conventional medical thought that those who suffered a traumatic brain injury would have brain scans that do not show abnormalities.

Researchers used an advanced MRI to detect the abnormalities as CT scans and regular MRIs often do not show scarring. Although the abnormalities have been detected, the researchers were not sure of the medical significance. Essentially, the scans show that the brain suffered damage in that particular area and the scar was left after the body attempted to repair the damage.

People in Washington may be interested to learn about a new study that exposes a serious flaw in driverless cars. According to the study, the cars, touted as providing safety from accidents, have twice the accident rate as do other vehicles on the road.

According to researchers, the problem appears to lie in the fact that driverless cars are programmed to never violate the traffic laws. While this may seem desirable, other drivers on the road around the cars do not obey traffic laws. Issues have arisen when the driverless cars stop suddenly due to sensing such things as pedestrians on sidewalks nearby. When they do so in situations a human driver would normally not, many vehicles behind the cars tend to run into the back of the driverless cars.

Another issue causing accidents is the fact that driverless cars always follow the speed limits. When heavy traffic is moving at a faster rate, the driverless car will not. Similarly, problems occur when a driverless car attempts to merge onto a highway, especially if the car must cross several lanes in order to get into the needed one. The cars around the driverless one may not allow them into traffic, and the driverless cars do not have the human reactions necessary to avoid accidents.

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