Safety Concerns with Online Market Stay & Homestay Networks

Online marketplace and homestay networks are extremely popular right now, as they allow travelers to rent great residential places in which they can feel at home wherever they go.  These residential properties have been known to be very reasonable pricewise when compared with hotel stays, as well as very comfortable and convenient.  While the renter is benefited by this new phenomenon in travel, so is the individual residential property owner wanting to list or rent out their residential properties for some extra income.   More companies are branching out into this industry, including the giant, Airbnb, as well as Expedia’s Home Away, with its newly acquired VRBO.  With their overwhelming popularity and the availability of residence rentals to benefit owners and travelers, there also comes concerns with problems, that include safety and scams.  Right now, an issue rearing its ugly head is that while Expedia’s HomeAway is trying to go head to head with Airbnb with its acquisition of VRBO, the company is being accused of rolling over its loyal property owners in its quest.  New service fees, matching algorithms, and guarantees are causing property owners to cry foul.  Many feel the company is going back on its original intent and trying to put its success over the rental and guest relationship.  Operations are being switched up to the point that property owners feel like they are working for the homestay network company rather than the network working for the owners and renters.  A class action suit is even in the works with Expedia’s HomeAway being accused of “bait and switch tactics which have materially damaged Plaintiff and hundreds of thousands of other vacation home owners and managers.”   When property owners are taken advantage of, and losing income, this unfortunately gets passed on to the renter as well and damages owner and renter relationships greatly.  It is important to add that, while owners might feel things are at a disadvantage to them in changes like those of Expedia’s HomeAway, matching features, guarantees and the like can also be protective and security measures for both the property owners and especially renters.  

In addition to the above business issues arising for property owners and renters working with the big online homestay networking companies, there is of course safety and security issues that can cause injury and even death.  With each property rented through the online marketplace network being unique, rather than the cookie cutter accommodations of the hotel industry, comes the challenge of each property having unique safety and security issues that are less than predictable.  The online marketplace homestay networks do not do much in the way of guaranteeing safety other than stating safety is of utmost importance and then giving disclaimers of their liability or responsibility for safety issues.  The industry is not regulated like the hotel industry with health and safety rules or inspections.  The safety and security risks range from sexual or physical assaults to physical injuries, with no guarantees that renters or property owners will not suffer harm.  One example of safety going awry is the story of a man killed in 2013 by a fall he took when he tried to sit on a charming rope swing an Airbnb network rental offered.   Unfortunately, the tree trunk was rotten, so it broke and came down on the man, causing massive brain injuries that were fatal.  Yet another horror story involves a story of a 19-year-old male being locked into a room he rented through the Airbnb network in Madrid to be sexually assaulted by the property host.  Although the young man desperately tried to get help by texting his mother over and over, Airbnb would not give the mother any information about the property due to privacy issue concerns.  Now, at least, Airbnb added a spot for individuals to list an emergency contact while booking properties.  Yet another sad story is that of a Canadian woman dying of carbon monoxide poisoning in Taiwan in 2013 due to improper ventilation and a water heater with a leak.  Safety and security are certainly volatile issues in an industry in which properties and renters are global and very different.  In addition to the above tragedies, there are also many reports of rental properties being completely damaged and trashed, used for highly illegal purposes (such as temporary sites for brothels, parties, violence, or drug use), as well as property owners being accused by neighbors of their renters disturbing the peace or ruining the neighborhood.

If this litany of problems with the online homestay networking industry has brought vows to never utilize it, take heart, as there are things property owners and renters can do to be proactive in safety and security.  When traveling and utilizing Airbnb, VRBO, or other homestay rentals, it is important to alert others about details relating to one’s stays, with emergency contacts and services at the ready.  It is wise to also research the area where the rental is located and make decision on whether it might be better to stay in a hotel with 24-hour on-site management.   It is also wise to look for reviews or testimonials and to look through the online FAQ section that describes safety and security issues, as well as being willing to be part of an online community in which members give real life recommendations and bad experiences. Renters should not be afraid to be picky when narrowing down possible rentals, looking for properties willing to cite safety and security factors, and also messaging with the hosts of properties to ask thorough questions about things like the property, safety, security, rules, and cancellation policies.  At the same time, owners should not be afraid to check out possible renters and ask their own questions.  Other protective measures against being taken in by fraud can be simple things like checking listed phone numbers to assure they are valid and know that it is recommended to confirm things with property owners by phone before paying.  Watch out for property owners, or renters, who want to do everything through e-mails like Gmail, yahoo e-mail, or Hotmail. Property owners that take payment methods that are reversible, such as PayPal or credit cards, are preferable and immediately seen as more professional and secure for both parties.   

It is important to know that thousands and thousands of stays occur using online homestay networks without a hitch.  However, even a handful of bad experiences and tragedies are too many.  The main safety advocate in one’s life has to be one’s self, so it is important to do the homework and research, as well as ask all the questions, before committing to rent one’s property to others or rent a home-style experience from a property owner.  The young man who was assaulted in Madrid wanted people to know about his experience so that others might be saved from something similar and stated it is important that individuals listen to their own instincts and intuitions when situations seem off.  One should understand that often the individual has to be one’s own best advocate.  Doing so could assure enjoyable, safe travels, and literally save one’s life.       

Danger: Household Products That Should Never Be Mixed

Green is a word that is used daily in our current world.  Companies are geniusly employing green methods to their marketing and practices, labeling their businesses or methods as green or green or ecofriendly.  The word green has come to mean life, renewal, natural, pure, clean, good earth, and other such adjectives to people, so using anything labeled “green” tends to be immensely popular.  Consumers decide that their entire lives, bodies and environment, be natural, healthy, and pure, so green cleaning products are often the product of choice, versus the mainstream products containing chemicals that could possibly be more harmful than helpful.  It is tempting to think that one cannot get too much of something labeled green and that there could be no harmful ingredients contained in such products.  However, there are green cleaning products that should never, ever be mixed, and that should remain in the original containers in which they are purchased, so the original labels are accessible and studied carefully for instructions and warnings concerning each product.  When using green cleaning products, ingredients contained within are often advertised or touted as non-toxic, pure, natural, and biodegradable, but are subject to very little regulation.  Therefore, the green cleaning product consumer should seek education and professional expertise when making decisions on what products are safest and what products should not be mixed under any circumstances.

Vinegar is known as a natural product that has hundreds of uses.  However, what people often fail to understand is that it is a very acidic product that should not be mixed with many other products.  Vinegar should never be mixed with baking soda, with vinegar being very acidic and baking soda being basic.  The effect of each of these products actually becomes neutralized when the two products are combined, and a dangerous explosion can also occur.  Mixing the two in a closed-up container will make an explosion every more likely.          

Vinegar should also never be mixed with hydrogen peroxide, as these two products will create something called peracetic acid.  This acid, in very concentrated forms, can be dangerous to the lungs, throat, nose, and eyes, and can cause skin damage.  Additionally, vinegar should not be mixed with Castile soap, with the vinegar again being acidic and the Castile soap basic like baking soda.  The combination of the acidic vinegar and the Castile soap will just make a muck that is white and curdled, but each ingredient on its own is useful on its own.  The Castile soap is best used alone for the wash cycle, and vinegar by itself in the rinse cycle.  Finally, vinegar does not mix well with bleach unless a toxic, dangerous gas is the goal.  Such a damaging gas could injure the lungs or eyes, and since bleach is not a chemical found in nature, and produces toxic byproducts, the green cleaning consumer should avoid bleach as a rule for the good of people and the environment.

Bleach, again not a natural product found in nature, should not be mixed with rubbing alcohol or ammonia either.  Mixing rubbing alcohol and bleach will create hydrochloric acid and chloroform, which could cause the user to pass out, while being toxic.  Ammonia with bleach will cause a toxic gas called chloramine, which could bring the user problems with breathing and with chest pain.  

Disinfectants and detergents, green or not, can create dangerous fumes and acidic reactions, and chlorine gas can be the result of mixing drain cleaners from different brand names and bottles.  The valuable lesson from all this information is that mixing green products with green products, or green products with any products, can net harmful results.  In fact, the mixture of certain products can cause unwanted symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, eye watering or damage, skin irritation, eye irritation/burning, throat irritation, a runny nose, shortness of breath, and nausea or vomiting.  Such effects, chemical reactions, explosions, and/or damage can injury or prove fatal to a user who started with the intention of using natural, eco-friendly cleaning products for the good of their home and world.  Sticking to a green product’s intended use is the safest, most environmentally and health conscious thing to do for the green consumer, always paying close attention to the ingredient list and product labels.  

Diabetes Drug Invokana and Amputation Risk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson in May, 2017 that they must put new warning labels on diabetes drug, Invokana (generic, canagliflozin), and its variations, Invokamet and Invokamet XR.  The new warning is to alert the consumer to the clinical study findings that taking the diabetes drug can put them at double the risk of amputation of the leg and/or foot.   The clinical studies,  CANVAS and CANVAS-R were studies done by Johnson & Johnson that the manufacturer was counting on to show that Invokana was safe.  The opposite was true and the drug had already had a past reputation for its side effects of diabetic ketoacidosis, bone fractures, heart attacks, strokes, in addition to the increased risk of amputations.  For consumers taking Invokana, the FDA warns to look out for pain/tenderness, sores, ulcers, or infections in the leg and feet that are new since taking the drug.  These conditions bring a much more significant chance of partial or total amputation and must be monitored carefully. 

If you or a loved one has been negatively impacted by Invokana, Invokamet, or Invokamet XR (or the generic form, canagliflozin), or other medical device, drug, or products, consult your medical provider and do not hesitate to contact  Inserra Kelley Sewell, Personal Injury Attorneys, to discuss your possible claim and entitlement to compensation for your damages.   

To learn more, visit: When it Comes to Invokana Diabetic Drug Lawsuits, We’re Fighting for Nebraskan’s Rights 

There Could be Lead in Your Baby’s Food

A report recently conducted by the  Environmental Defense Fund, a not for profit, nonpartisan advocacy group, shows that twenty percent of baby food samples taken in their studies were positive for lead that is higher than the incidence of lead being in regular food.  A vegetable and beef baby food was found to be the highest in lead, but it is unfortunate that the study did not name names for the brands of baby food.  The study showed that fruit juices, root vegetables, and cookies were the baby foods containing lead most often. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies are very slow in responding to science that shows no amounts of lead are safe in baby food, so lead positive baby foods currently meet current government standards.   While the FDA is said to be working with baby food manufacturers to see what might work to limit the amount of lead found in foods frequently given to children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated way back in 2012 that there are no safe levels of lead for children.  The food manufacturers are working to play this down and point fingers to lead being “naturally” in soil and water all over the world.  Researchers counter this argument by stating that lead in soil is often not “naturally” occurring and instead from pesticides, leaded gasoline, industrial sources, and processing in food handling equipment. The Environmental Defense Fund is aware that perhaps lead cannot be limited altogether, but they are working to push food manufacturers to test more during processing and voluntarily set a 1 ppb of lead in baby food limit.

Why should consumers be concerned about lead in their child’s food?  Research has found that children with higher lead in their blood are more likely to suffer from lower IQ’s that are associated with difficulties in school and learning, as well as cognitive and speech problems.  While the fight continues with advocacy groups trying to get the government to tighten food/lead standards, and push the food manufacturers themselves, parents must ask themselves what to do about their own baby’s diet.  Fortunately, in this age of health consciousness many parents have gone to making their own baby food out of organic ingredients to better now what is going into their baby’s nutrition.  All parents must weigh out the pros and cons of using manufactured baby foods, versus homemade foods and make decisions for what will be safest for their family.        

Inserra Kelley Sewell, Personal Injury Attorneys, strives to keep its readership aware of potential dangers to themselves and their loved ones in a world full of product dangers and recalls.  If you or one of your loved one has been ill-impacted by a product do not hesitate to contact the firm to inquire as to whether you might have a claim.

Mibelas Nationwide Birth Control Recall

Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has voluntarily recalled some of its birth control pills, called Mibelas 24 Fe (Lot L600518, Expiration Date 05/18).  A packaging error occurred, in at least one market reported complaint, in which the blister pack the pills are housed in was rotated 180 degrees so that the weekly tablet schedule was reversed and the wrong pills were taken at the wrong time.  The first four days taken by the consumer were the placebos rather than the active pills.  The result of such a mistake in manufacturing can be pregnancy.   In addition to causing an unwanted pregnancy by such an error, the stakes could go even higher if an individual should become pregnant when pregnancy is contraindicated and even life threatening. 

Customers with possible lot number of L600518 birth control pills, in a wallet of 28 tablets or carton of 3 wallets, are supposed to receive a recall letter.  If in doubt, check the lot number on prescribed Mibelas pills to be safe.  If you do find you have the affected lot, contact your personal doctor and take the pack back to your pharmacy immediately.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a MedWatch program to which adverse events from such a product can be reported.  The online version can be obtained at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm, and the version to be downloaded can be obtained at www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm.   

If you or a loved one has already been adversely affected by Lupin’s Mibelas, or any medical device, drug, or other product, consult your medical provider immediately, and do not hesitate to contact Inserra Kelley Sewell, Personal Injury Attorneys, to discuss your possible claim and entitlement to compensation for your damages.     

Fidget Spinner Choking Hazards

2017 has netted a new, perhaps somewhat controversial, product fad in the fidget spinner.  This toy was at first looked to by parents as a possible aid to kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorders.  The popularity then spread like wildfire to the mainstream masses, perhaps looked to by harried parents to occupy their kids for a little while.  The fidget spinner, in addition to not being as loved by teachers in the classroom as parents might think, now is found to be a choking hazard.  A firefighter’s young daughter reportedly came close to choking on a metal piece that came flying off the spinner and into her mouth.  The firefighter, schooled in rescues, reported performing five minutes’ worth of back blows to get the metal piece out of his own little one’s esophagus.  The metal piece, unfortunately, then went into the girl’s stomach so she had to be hospitalized.  This young girl’s story turned out okay in the end, but this girl is not the only story and the fidget spinners pose future risks for other users.  A girl in Texas also had a part from her fidget spinner lodge in her throat and after the mother could not get it to dislodge by Heimlich maneuver, surgeons had to remove it endoscopically.   

If you or a loved one has already been injured by a fidget spinner, or another product, do not hesitate to contact Inserra | Kelley | Sewell  for compassionate expertise concerning whether there may be a claim to compensation. 

25,000 Graco Convertible Child Car Seats Recalled

The big news of the day for parents of infants and young children is that the popular brand, Graco Children’s Products, has had to recall 25,494 of its convertible child car seats.  The Graco My Ride 65 model poses the risk of injury, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advising that occupants of the car seats may not be restrained properly by the seat webbing.  Because of the problems, Graco will be giving their customers a free replacement harness for the seats.

There are specific models of the Graco My Ride 65 affected, including models 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015, and 1794334.  These modes were made from May 16, 2014 to August 1, 2014.  The number that consumers may contact to get their free replacement harness is 1-800-345-4109.   

If you or a loved one owns one of the subject Graco car seats and a child has been injured due to the faulty seat harness, do not hesitate to contact Inserra | Kelley | Sewell  for compassionate expertise concerning whether you may be entitled to compensation for injuries. 

Fiat Chrysler Pickup Recall

The latest in automobile recalls just announced is out from Fiat Chrysler.  The auto giant has put out the word it is recalling  a million North American pickup trucks with a problem in the software that is keeping the side air bags and seat belts from deploying in rollover motor vehicle incidents.  So far, Fiat Chrysler knows that one person has been killed and two people injured because of this glitch in its Dodge Ram Pickups. 

The recall includes 2013 to 2016 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickup trucks, as well as 2014 to 2016 Ram 3500 pickup trucks.  In Canada, there are around 216,007 pickups affected; in Mexico, there are about 21,668 pickups affected; and in regions outside the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) region, there are about 21,530 pickups affected. 

The software glitches occur with underbody damage/impact, so that the side air bags and seat belt pretensioner are disabled temporarily.  The vehicles can be turned off, then back on, and the restraints work again.  If you own one of these pickup trucks, fortunately Fiat Chrysler will be reprogramming your truck’s software at no charge to you.  Call your local Fiat Chrysler servicer, go to Fiat Chrysler’s website, or check with any recall letter you have received for more information on the logistics of getting your vehicle fixed.   

We urge vehicle owners who may possibly own any of the subject Fiat Chrysler pickup trucks to immediately take steps to get the matter remedied, as not doing so could prove fatal or life-changing to you and/or your loved ones. If you or a loved one has already been injured or worse due to an auto defect, do not hesitate to contact the professionals at Inserra | Kelley | Sewell Law Offices to see if you may be entitled to compensation. 

Johnson & Johnson Will Pay Millions for Talc – Ovarian Cancer Verdicts

This firm has given the information and updates on talcum powder and its realized link to deadly ovarian cancer in women.  The latest news in the world of verdicts against talcum powder makers involves a verdict against Johnson & Johnson by a by a jury in the great state of Missouri to pay $110 million to a woman from Virginia who used Johnson & Johnson talc-based products for decades of her life and then was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  There are lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson in about 2,400 lawsuits, but this Missouri verdict was the largest one to come down the pike yet.  Johnson & Johnson did not properly warn customers of its talc-based products that there were cancer risks with their use for feminine hygiene.  The lady from Virginia, Lois Slemp, is unfortunately having to undergo chemotherapy treatment at the time of this giant verdict, because the cancer has spread from her ovaries to her liver.  She began using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson Shower to Shower Powder more than forty years prior to her 2012 ovarian cancer diagnosis.   

As we have stated in the past, research has found a startling connection between the use of talcum powder by women as intimate personal hygiene and a 24% higher chance of being stricken with ovarian cancer (Deadly female cancer), according to research doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.   Others have made claims in lawsuits that the risk is even higher at 33% (Suit against talcum powder maker Johnson & Johnson).  Experts warn that particles from the powder can enter a woman’s body and leading to inflammation.  Areas of inflammation are welcome homes for cancer cells to thrive.

As also stated in the past, it is recommended that the use of talc-based powders by reconsidered by females of all ages.  Be a well-informed consumer and ask your doctor about these specific findings if you are concerned your health could be affected.  If you or a loved one has already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer possibly linked to use of talc-based powder, do not hesitate to bring questions regarding your personal situation and possible claim to the caring legal experts at Inserra Kelley Sewell, where your health and safety is priority one. 

Contaminated Devices by LivaNova (fka Sorin) Dangerous for Heart Surgery Patients

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have put out warnings about contaminated devices used in open heart surgery made with LivaNova PLC (formerly Sorin Group Deutschland GmbH).  The device is a the 3T heater-cooler devices that are used during open heart surgeries for keeping the blood circulating and the organs at set temperatures while the patient is undergoing cardiothoracic surgery.  The devices have been found to cause infections that can be dangerous and even deadly, so patients who have undergone open heart surgery are warned to look for symptoms of infection.  These include symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscular aching, weight loss, and night sweats. 

It is vital for patients to be evaluated immediately if they fit the categories of cardiothoracic surgery patients and have experienced any of the above symptoms.  Medical providers should be contacted so that evaluation and necessary interventions can begin right away.  The CDC and FDA both made initial announcements regarding the 3T heater-coolers back in 2015 and since then have been able to make matches to bacteria from the devices to bacteria found in actual patients.  The bacteria are Mycobacterium chimaera, which come from the nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) species found in soil and water at times.  When it is contacted in the environment, it does not often cause sickness in humans, but when the bacterium is introduced in the surgical environment, it can cause infections that can be missed or difficult to treat.  The bacterium grow very slowly, so cultures are required and it can be months before an infection is confirmed or ruled out.  Therefore, it is important to reiterate that the medical provider should be contacted at the first hints or signs of infection, since the old adage is often true that it is better to be safe than sorry. 

If you or a loved one has experienced problems with an infection from a 3T heater-cooler device being used during cardiothoracic surgery, or any medical device, drug, or other product, consult your medical provider and please contact  Inserra Kelley Sewell, Personal Injury Attorneys to discuss your possible claim and entitlement to compensation for your damages.