National Night Out 2018

August 6, 2018 in Current News

The following post is from: Safety & Security

One of the best ways to fight back against crime and make your neighborhood safer is by getting to know your neighbors and the officers who patrol the neighborhood.  National Night Out is a nationwide event that aims to do just that—and Forest Park Southeast will be having our very own neighborhood event on August 7th!  The Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association, Park Central Development, and the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation have partnered to put this event together for the neighborhood, and we hope to see all of you there, even if you can only stop by for a little while!

Marketing - FPSE National Night Out - Final

Event Details

When: August 7, 2018, 6:00 p.m. til dusk

Where: Chouteau Park (click here for a map)

What: Food, beverages, neighborhood patrol officers, St. Louis Fire Department, kickball, and giveaways!

 

About National Night Out

From the NNO website:

“National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.”

Our event in Chouteau Park will be our neighborhood’s official national night out event.  Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and come join us in promoting a safer FPSE community!

 

 

Transit Safety and Security

July 31, 2018 in Current News

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Today marks another day of progress for the St. Louis Metrolink system, as the Cortex station opened to the public for the first time this morning.  This new station will increase access to the Cortex district, an area that has been growing rapidly in recent years as companies open up offices and add new jobs.  As a transit user and enthusiast myself, I am more than excited today, and I feel like this is a great opportunity to address transit safety.

While the Cortex station technically isn’t in Forest Park Southeast (we actually don’t have any Metrolink stations in FPSE), our neighborhood is served by several Metro bus lines.  I’ll be writing about safety on both the train and bus, however, since it’s likely that many people who use the bus in FPSE also use the train from time to time.

Bus Safety

Here are some tips for staying safe on and around Metro buses:

  1. Never run alongside a moving bus after it has left a stop.  Just wait for the next bus.
  2. If you’re using the bike rack on the front of the bus, always approach from the curb.  Also alert the driver as you get off the bus that you need to grab your bike off the front.
  3. Never assume a bus driver sees you just because you can see them.  Light posts, parked cars, and other obstacles can prevent a driver from noticing you.
  4. Never cross the street in front of a bus, unless it is stopped at a traffic light.  Even when a bus is stopped at a light, practice good caution and look both ways before crossing, as vehicles in other lanes may be moving.
  5. Don’t cross the street between parked cars.  Bus drivers may not see you until you have already walked into the street.
  6. Wait for the bus on the sidewalk away from the curb, and use dedicated bus shelters if available.
  7. Make sure a bus has completely stopped before you approach it.
  8. Never let children play around buses, and always hold your child’s hand as a bus approaches.
Metrolink Train Safety

Before we get into the details, check out this fun video from Metro transit in Melboure, Australia about train safety.

Awareness is the key to safety around trains.  Read below for tips on awareness and general train safety.

Safety near Metrolink stations:

  1. NEVER try to beat a train through a crossing.  It takes the length of two football fields for a train to stop!
  2. Always WAIT for trains!  They will pass by within a few seconds, and your life is not worth the risk of potentially tripping in front of a train just to save a few seconds of time.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!
  4. Use audio and visual cues: trains always sound their horn when crossing streets, and drivers always ring the bell as they approach and depart each station.  The front and back of light rail trains look identical—red tail lights indicate the train is moving away from you.
  5. Stay away from the high voltage power lines that provide electricity to the trains.

Safety on the platforms:

  1. Turn down your music or remove headphones altogether so you can hear when trains are coming.
  2. Always stand behind the yellow line while waiting for a train, and stay behind the line until the train is fully stopped.
  3. Pay close attention to your children when on the platform.
  4. Cross tracks ONLY at designated crossings.
  5. NEVER skateboard, roller blade, bike, or use any other devices with wheels on the platform.  Also avoid running on the platform, as you could trip and fall onto the tracks.
  6. Let other passengers exit before you board the train.
  7. Never stick hands or feet into doors to prevent them from closing.  You could seriously injure yourself, so just wait for the next train.

Safety on the train:

  1. Always give up your seat to elderly or disabled passengers if needed.
  2. It’s safest to say seated while the train is in motion.  If you must stand, always hold onto handrails.
  3. Keep your children near you while riding the train.
  4. If you have luggage, keep it out of the aisle.
  5. If you’re taking a bike on the train, board in the designated locations only.  These areas of the train have space for bikes.
Personal Security on Metro Trains and Buses

It’s no secret that crimes can occur on public transit.  This shouldn’t discourage you from using the train or bus, however, as there are several security measures in place should you find your personal safety at risk.

The first security measure is Metro Public Safety.  This is a network of multiple layers of security for riders.  All Metro public safety officers are sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and responding to incidents and suspicious activity on the Metro system.  Metro contracts with local law enforcement agencies from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County (IL) to provide security.  Undercover police officers are also used on both trains and buses.  In addition to police, Metro contracts with a private security firm for additional security guards and fare inspectors.

The second security measure Metro now offers is the Noonlight app (formerly called SafeTrek).  This app is available for Android and Apple phones and will notify law enforcement if you are in an unsafe situation on a train or bus, at a stop/station, or walking to a stop/station.  All you have to do is press and hold a button in the app if you feel unsafe, and law enforcement will be notified and dispatched to your location.

A third security measure in place is 24/7 monitoring.  Video dispatchers monitor metro trains, buses, and other property constantly and will dispatch security officers when needed.  Passenger assist telephones are also located at each train station and Metro parking areas.  These phones ring directly to Metro Public Safety.  Security officers can also be reached by calling 314-289-6873 for Metro Public Safety or 911 for police.

Lead Exposure in St. Louis and FPSE

July 19, 2018 in Current News

The following post is from: Safety & Security

“Flint still doesn’t have clean water!”

We’ve probably all heard this phrase before, and it continues to ring true today.  In 2014, the City of Flint, MI, found itself in an unenviable crisis—its water had become poisoned with lead after the city switched its water source and political leaders failed to heed warnings from experts that the new water source would corrode the city’s lead pipes unless the water was treated with anti-corrosion chemicals.  Flint still has not fully recovered from this event, and as a result the city has become somewhat of a poster child for socioeconomic inequality in America (Flint is a majority black post-industrial city with low average incomes, and many people believe the water crisis would have been solved years ago had it happened in a city with whiter and wealthier demographics).  Flint also brought the topic of lead poisoning to the forefront of the national conversation for a long time, and for good reason.  Lead poisoning is one of the largest environmental health and safety concerns, and unfortunately the threat of lead poisoning extends far beyond Flint, MI.

St. Louis’ Quiet Lead Crisis

Like Flint, St. Louis is an old, formerly industrial city, and much of our infrastructure and housing stock dates from a time when lead was commonly used.  To be clear, the City of St. Louis currently does not have a problem with lead-contaminated drinking water.  Our water source is not corrosive, and the water is also treated out of precaution to prevent any possibility of corrosion.  Here in STL, the main problem is lead-based paint in housing stock built before 1978.  Most of us don’t ever think about the paint in our homes and how it can cause health problems, but paint contributes significantly to lead poisoning in St. Louis.  In 2014, the same year as the start of the Flint water crisis, 9.2% of children tested showed elevated blood-lead levels (BLLs), defined as being higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood, and an additional 17.9% had levels between 3 and 5 micrograms per deciliter, which is still high enough to cause irreversible health problems.  In some neighborhoods of the city, more than 20% of children tested had elevated BLLs.  Compare these statistics to Flint, where elevated BLLs in children peaked at 5%, and it is clear that lead exposure is a huge problem in St. Louis.  Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, St. Louis’ black children are more than twice as likely to be affected by lead poisoning than white children.  The graphic below explains this more:

lead in stl

Lead Risks in Forest Park Southeast

A couple years ago, Vox published an article with an analysis of lead exposure risks in every census tract nationwide.  They also made a neat interactive map that allows you to search your address to find the lead exposure risk where you live.  Unfortunately, the data does not offer good news for FPSE.  Census tracts 1181 and 1186, which encompass virtually all of FPSE, both have a lead exposure risk of 10 (the highest possible).  This is almost certainly due to the age of housing stock and other buildings in the area.  FPSE is home to many historic buildings, and while we are certainly proud to have such beautiful architecture, some may be silently harming us.

If your home was built before 1978 (when lead paint was banned), you and your family may be at risk for lead exposure from the paint on your walls.  Over time, paint chips and dust particles inevitably fall off onto surfaces and get into the air, creating a risk for lead exposure, especially in children.  Adults can also be affected by lead exposure as well, although the risk is more urgent in young children.  Simply repainting the walls with new lead-free paint does not fully eliminate the risk.  The best way to eliminate lead exposure risks in your home is to get it inspected and remediated, if needed.

Lead Inspection and Remediation Resources

So what can you do about possible lead exposure?  There are a number of resources in St. Louis that can be used.  Here is a list of good options with links:

  1. City of St. Louis Lead Inspection and Hazard Control Division
    • This city department offers inspections for lead in residential properties.
    • Inspections are free of charge in households where children under six and/or pregnant women reside.
    • If a lead hazard is found, building owners can apply for financial assistance.
  2. Child Lead Testing Services
    • The city will test children under the age of 6 for lead, free of charge.
    • To qualify for free testing, parents must be residents of St. Louis City.
  3. EPA Certified Lead Abatement Contractor Search
    • The EPA has a tool that allows you to search for contractors that are certified for both lead testing and lead hazard elimination.
  4. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services—List of certified contractors
    • List of companies certified by the state, includes services offered by each company and contact info
  5. Buy a home lead testing kit
    • The link above will take you to lead testing kits available on Amazon, but home testing kits can also be found at stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Menards, and other home improvement stores (just do a Google search and you’ll find plenty of options).
    • Home testing kits can cost as little as $10
  6. Ask your landlord
    • If you rent housing built before 1978, your landlord is required by federal law to disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling.  This should have been disclosed before you moved in (possibly in your lease contract), but your landlord should be able to provide this information upon request if you are unsure.
Don’t Put This Off!

Lead presents a hazard no matter how old you are or how healthy you think you are.  Young children and pregnant women are of especially high concern when it comes to lead exposure.  It’s best to find out if your household is at risk for lead exposure and take action quickly if possible, since lead poisoning can cause severe, irreversible brain damage and development problems if not addressed quickly.  There is also a possible link between lead exposure and violent crime based on some studies, although the research is not fully conclusive on this.  Nonetheless, lead is widely known to be a toxic substance, and exposure should be taken seriously.

Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

July 17, 2018 in Current News

The following post is from: Safety & Security

If there’s one thing consistently on the minds of every St. Louis resident right now, it has to be this summer heat!  Here in St. Louis, we are truly *blessed* to be at the meteorological crossroads of scorching Midwestern temperatures and muggy southeastern humidity.

heat image.png

^We’ve probably all been in a conversation like this at some point.

Our climate here in St. Louis makes for some pretty unbearable weather in the summer months, and it’s important to make sure you, your loved ones, and your community stay safe during the hot weather.  Here are some tips to combat the danger of extreme heat:

  1. Stay Cool!
    • Seek out air conditioning (especially if your home does not have AC)
    • Avoid direct sunlight
    • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing if you need to go outside
    • Take cool showers or baths
    • Go for a swim (Click here for a list of city pools.)
    • Limit your time outdoors, or take frequent breaks in an air conditioned space if you must be outside
    • If you can help it, don’t rely on a fan as your primary cooling device!
  2. Stay hydrated!
    • Drink more water than you normally would
    • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink more liquids
    • Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks
    • Make sure others are drinking enough water, too!
  3. Stay informed!
    • Check local news or set alerts on your phone’s weather app for excessive heat watches and warnings (I personally use The Weather Channel’s app, but there are many other options available)
    • Learn how to recognize signs of heat related illnesses (see the graphic below).

Did you know extreme heat causes more deaths every year than hurricanes, lightning, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes combined?  These deaths are 100% preventable, so it’s a good idea to recognize the warning signs of heat illness and how to treat them.  Pay especially close attention to friends, family, and neighbors who are under age 4, over age 65, have existing medical problems such as heart disease, and/or do not have access to air conditioning in their home!  These groups are at higher risk for heat related illnesses than the general population

heat illnesses

If you have questions or concerns about heat related illnesses, always contact a medical professional for the best advice.  

 

 

 

Bike Safety

May 25, 2018 in Current News

The following post is from: Safety & Security

St. Louis now has not one, but two bike shares! Bike riding is becoming more convenient and more popular in the city. This is great because bikes are more affordable than cars, better for the environment than cars, and help get people moving! But unfortunately bike safety is something that is often overlooked. Many people assume that because bikes do not move as fast as cars that they’re safer or that it’s not worth the effort to follow bike safety. However, we know that most bike accidents do not occur when a car hits a bike. We also know that children are more likely to suffer an injury on a bike because they aren’t following safety rules. So, here’s some quick safety tips for riding a bike. You can find more information about bike injuries and safety on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Website.

 

Bicycle Safety