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Chaney Law Firm donates life jackets during Summer Safety program at Perritt Primary School

Perritt Primary School invites members of the community to speak to students about safety during the last week of school. As part of this year's safety week, the Chaney Law Firm spoke to two groups of pre-K, kindergarten, and first graders about water safety. Together with Wal-Mart, the firm gave away 20 life jackets to kids in the school.

First-grader River Chaney led off the program by introducing the members of the firm. Nathan asked the kids who was excited about summer vacation, and we still don't know who waved their hands harder — the students of the teachers. Nathan asked the kids to tell their summer plans, and there were a wide range of responses: visit the lake, beach, river, or water park; travel to Costa Rica, Sea World, and Magic Springs; and stay in a hotel. All these things involve water, so Nathan spent a few minutes telling the students about his own experiences with water safety. Nathan told of getting fishhooks in his head not once, but twice, as a youngster. The kids suggested he wear a hat and sunglasses while fishing. He also told of getting a bad case of poison ivy on the banks of the river, and how to identify poison ivy.

Hilary went next, and had River tell the kids about a few pictures:

L to R: The Chaney family; River and Sue E. in the family boat; and River and Nathan blowing bubbles across the water.

Hilary discussed the importance of wearing sunscreen, and told the kids to look for SPF 30 or higher. She asked the kids if they knew about the buddy system, and why it was important to have a friend around when you swim. The kids responded that a friend can tell an adult or lifeguard if you get in trouble in the water. Hilary let the kids know swimming lessons are available this summer at the Arkadelphia Aquatic Park and Henderson State University. Finally, Hilary explained that kids should never swim after dark, since you can't see how deep the water is.

Terri "Manners" Chaney spoke next about keeping safe in the sun. She put on three hats, and asked the kids to tell her which one was best to wear outside. First came an elf hat, which the kids knew wasn't good because it didn't have a bill. Next came a baseball cap, which was a little better. Finally, she donned a wide-brimmed hat, and the kids all could see that was the best choice for the sun. Terri also talked about the importance of drinking plenty of water, and how to identify heat sickness. She also talked about not diving headfirst into water except from a diving board.

Uncle Taylor served as the surprise guest, and came out in dressed for the part. He went through several steps of getting ready to go out on the water. The kids told him he shouldn't wear long clothes on the water because they might get heavy if he fell in. They also told him to wear his life jacket and to make sure it was cinched tight. They told him to apply sunscreen, which Terri did (because in primary school, your mom needs to rub the sunscreen in). With his hat and glasses, the kids helped Taylor get fully ready for a day on the water. I think he might've left the office early today...

Don "Granddaddy" Chaney went next, and he explained the legal reason why kids need to wear life jackets: because water safety is important, parents can be ticketed if kids aren't wearing life jackets around the water:

The next segment of the program was a joint effort between the Chaney Law Firm and the local Wal-Mart. Together, we donated 20 life jackets and held a drawing to see which children won. River passed out all the life jackets to the winners.

We had a great time presenting to the kids at Perritt Primary, and wish everyone a safe and fun summer vacation!  

Halloween safety tips

Lego Movie jack'o'lantern

Lego Movie jack'o'lantern

It's that time of year again! Many of you will probably be trick-or-treating with loved ones over the next few days.

The most comprehensive list of Halloween safety tips is here. It includes tips on costume safety, food safety, protecting your children, pet safety, instructions for motorists, and general holiday safety tips.

Here are some more tips from the CDC:

  • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
  • Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  • Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
  • Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
  • Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult.
  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack-o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  • Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.

Happy Halloween from the Chaney Law Firm!

Keep safe on the water with these boating safety tips

As a long Independence Day weekend quickly approaches, many of us will be heading to lakes and rivers to relax. Unfortunately, these summer holidays usually see an uptick in tragic, avoidable incidents. The Arkansas Game & Commission has a website dedicated to boating safety, which we hope you'll visit. You can also download a free PDF of the Arkansas Boating Handbook. Some of the high points include:

  • Boat operators born in 1986 or later must have an AGFC-approved operator's card in their possession. The course and exam cost $24.50 and is available online. There is no minimum age to take the exam.
  • Make sure your liability insurance policy is current on your boat (for jet skis and boats 50 hp or more).
  • Let a relative know where you're going in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure to pack sun block. No one likes looking like a lobster at work after a holiday weekend.
  • If you're going to be out at night, make sure all lights on the boat are operational.
  • Don't overload your boat — most boats have a yellow and white capacity plate. I once saw a party barge with 20+ people on it plow the front end under the surface of the water. It threw many of the passengers to the floor of the boat. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • Wear life jackets, especially when under power. Be prepared to throw a flotation device to anyone falling overboard. Make sure life jackets for kids are weight-appropriate.
  • Keep a good lookout, and maintain a safe speed and distance from other boats. 
  • Don't operate any boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Patrol boats can and will pull you over, and patrols increase on holidays.
  • Don't litter, and avoid glass containers. There's nothing like a sliced foot to ruin a perfectly good weekend.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, and be safe out there! Peace!

The importance of the civil justice system

In a recent episode, CNN's Michael Smerconish discusses the importance of the civil justice system. He observes that sometimes government oversight doesn't work correctly, or even at all. In those situations, our civil justice system is what keeps our communities safe. That is, civil lawyers identify problems with products, then file lawsuits bringing those problems to light and forcing companies to correct them.

See for yourself — watch Smerconish talk about the GM ignition switch scandal below: