Storm aftermath: Mosquitoes could spell trouble for Quad-Cities

Way too much water.

It has poured rain where I live – as in torrential downpours, with high winds and spectacular lightning – for 10 hours straight.

For the moment, it has stopped. I have power.

It was knocked out about 7:30 p.m. last night as I was filming the storm out the back door. I caught the transformation explosion (you can see the lightning bolt and hear the electrifying pop) on tape!

It came back on shortly after midnight, and has gone on and off several times since then.

But we have bigger problems. I want to talk a bit about mosquitoes

Crickets, locusts, lullaby me to sleep

But before I forget, a shout out to MidAmerican Energy. I don’t know how they restore power so fast. There must be some new technology. Or just an impressive amount of manpower.

I have to say that until it got stuffy, it was sort of cool with all the power out. The neighborhood was totally silent minus the sound of a chainsaw off in the distance. Presumably, they were working to clear a downed line.

This neighborhood is filled with crickets and locust and critters and such that LOVE weather like this. They were playing a symphony that took me right back to 1975, when my parents did not turn the air on come hell or high water.

Mosquitoes see stagnant, warm puddles as bath houses

Speaking of high water…where has all this water gone? Where will it go?

Finally, I don’t want to be alarmist, but there was a tiny blurb in the Argus last week about West Nile virus mosquitoes confirmed in Rock Island County.

Stagnant puddles of water – which are EVERYWHERE in the Quad-Cities and will be for days to come – are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It’s where they lay their eggs.

So try to remove any standing water around your house.

West Nile virus causes fever, vomiting, headache, and body aches. In some people, it can result in death. Older people and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

What is Zika and who is most at risk?

I’ll be honest. I can take a hunch and with the proper Google search terms confirm it or not. Look what I just found.

This January 2016 Mother Jones story asks whether El Nino is to blame for Zika. It talks about flooding in South America, and how it fueled a Zika outbreak.

Check out my portfolio of paid work on matters of public health

Said Laurie Garrett, a global health expert: “It will definitely make its way to the United States.”

For the record, the Illinois Department of Public Health says Zika likely won’t come here because our mosquitoes don’t carry the virus.

If I were a pregnant woman in Illinois, I would just pretend like it’s here anyway and be careful. West Nile can’t be good if you’re pregnant either.

But I am not a doctor and that is just what I would do.

Mosquito advice from Martha Garcia

My super-duper smart friend Martha Garcia wrote this story about staying safe from mosquitoes. She’s funny and tells it like it is. Like me, she’s out to inform.

Love my Martha Garcia.

Obamacare: Poster child for government bloat, incompetence and inefficiency

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(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

I wonder how many people who are marching in the streets in favor of keeping Obamacare have purchased insurance off the Marketplace.

I have. For the past three years, in fact. And the year before that, I had coverage under the Medicaid expansion, which is the only part of Obamacare that I think is worth fighting to keep. It’s a matter of public health.

My Congresswoman, Cheri Bustos, recently said on the floor that repealing Obamacare won’t “make America great again,” it will “make America sick again.”

She’s great at sound bites. Cheri spent a decade as our local regional health system’s PR queen. She even offered me a job there once as corporate writer.

I’m not going to get into the scare tactics Cheri used in that minute-long speech I linked to above. It makes me sad that our local politicians think we Quad-Citians are fools that just gobble up their spoon-fed gobbledygook.

But I will tell you what my experience with Obamacare has been, speaking both as a health journalist and as one of the “hardworking Americans” Cheri represents in the 17th Congressional District (the one bordering scandal-plagued Aaron Schock’s district).

In 2014, I greatly benefited from Obamacare under the Medicaid expansion. I was working, but had just gotten back into the workplace after taking time off to care for my elderly father. I was being paid $75 per story for Healthline News. It took a while to build a name for myself as a health reporter and attract new, better-paying clients. The Medicaid expansion was a great thing, because it allows working people, with a modest income, to have affordable (free) healthcare.

I had to also apply for food stamps to get it (which I did not want or need, but that was part of “the rules”). One could argue the $12 per month in food stamps that came along with my Obamacare was inconsequential, but $12 per month times 12 months in a year times how many Americans (?) adds up fast. Why force acceptance of a benefit that someone doesn’t even want or believe that they need? That makes no sense and is a waste of money.

My first Marketplace plan offered little more than a monthly bill

The second year, 2015, I was making a little more money, and I purchased a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan off the exchange. Technically, I could have stayed on the Medicaid expansion, and the food stamps, once business write-offs were figured into my 2015 income. But I was proud to be off public assistance (although grateful that I got it when I needed it, and I don’t think anybody should be stigmatized for taking food stamps or Medicaid).

In 2014, I survived what I believe was an attempted homicide (it’s on the books as an assault) that left me with a PTSD diagnosis. The diagnosis was made almost exactly one year to the date of the assault, when I had a flashback of the incident. I immediately reported all I remembered to police, along with some other pertinent information. It’s not unusual for people with PTSD to have memories suppressed for a year or even longer, and it’s also not unusual to recall them around anniversary dates.

The flashback itself led to another horrifying experience – being stripped naked and thrown in the Rock Island County Jail on no charges at all, for two days. Congresswoman Cheri’s husband is our sheriff (he was appointed to the elected position after the previous sheriff was forced to resign in disgrace; it’s widely believed the previous sheriff was framed, allegedly for harassing a woman).

You can read about how and why I ended up in jail here. I’m still waiting for a public apology from the County of Rock Island.

Read more: Officeholders of elected positions in Rock Island County routinely not elected

The hospital system Cheri worked for, by the way, recently opposed construction of a psychiatric hospital in nearby Bettendorf. A board that grants “certificates of need” declined Strategic Behavioral Health’s request after both hospitals claimed we had enough beds with more on the way. This, despite testimony from the Scott County sheriff (on the other side of the river, who said he’s supposed to be running a jail, not a mental hospital), and numerous mental health advocates. Everyone here who is honest who works in mental health knows that our system on both sides of the river are a disgrace that are costing lives, even if they won’t admit it out of fear of losing their jobs. Those who claim otherwise are simply fooling themselves.

No, instead we just throw scared people with PTSD in jail around here and hold them there two days on no charges. Naked. In solitary. And taunt them in ways that will make a great book someday. I’m excited to get started on it!

Is this Rock Island County, or Soviet Russia? I’m still not sure sometimes.

The board that denied the “certificate of need” for the psychiatric hospital includes a retired employee of the hospital system Cheri worked for. His name is Bob Lundin. I always thought he was a nice guy when I did business with him as a reporter for the Quad-City Times. But talk about a conflict of interest. Most news reports never even mentioned he was retired from UnityPoint Trinity, which opposed construction of the hospital along with Davenport’s Genesis Medical System. You can read all about that outrageousness by clicking here. The board is comprised of several people with strong ties to both hospital systems that monopolize our community.

Outrageous.

At any rate, my first year on my own with Obamacare cost me, gosh, about $150 per month I guess. My premium is about double that now. Not much more or less than what people who have coverage through their employer pay, I imagine. I’m just one person, of course. No dependents.

So that first year that I had Obamacare off the exchange, BCBS paid for two psychotherapy visits related to my PTSD diagnosis. I paid the rest, at a cost of $280 per month. You hear about how Obamacare has expanded mental health and addiction treatment access. That’s true to some degree, but it’s a charade in many ways, too. Just look at my situation. President Trump vowed last night to expand access to addiction treatment services. I hope he keeps that promise.

It goes without saying that I did not want Blue Cross Blue Shield for 2016 (although I have them now and so far it’s a great plan). But check out this piece I wrote in October 2015 – Blue Cross Blue Shield tried to enroll me again for 2016 even before open enrollment began. The buck-passing and jacked-up-edness (I just made that word up) involved in that incident was nothing short of hilarious.

Gross incompetence: Marketplace can’t find records of my insurance

The third year I had Obamacare, I purchased United Healthcare Silver Compass, considered a top tier plan, off the marketplace. UHC was a disaster from day one (although UHC was not always directly to blame…the state and federal bureaucracies created screw-ups, too). My pharmacy benefit got screwed up at the state level, but was rectified after I wrote about it. Click here to read that piece. Sadly, not everyone has a platform like I do. I wonder how many people have lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars due to ACA screw-ups, regardless of whether they were performed at the state or federal level.

Now, as I file my taxes for 2016, the exchange is claiming I did not have insurance for October, November or December and will have to pay a penalty. IN FACT, I got an email from the exchange in September (see below) telling me that if I was on target to make more, or less, than I thought I was going to make when I applied for my 2016 Marketplace insurance, that I needed to let them know.

aca1

Because I am honest (to a fault…at least that’s what my brother always said…”David, you tell on yourself”) I called the exchange and told them I was indeed having a better year than I expected. They assured me that I would continue to have the exact same UHC Silver Compass insurance, but that my subsidy would drop considerably. You can make up to $52,000 annually and still qualify for a subsidy.

Well, that’s not exactly what happened. They canceled Silver Compass and gave me a different UHC plan (that was substandard to Silver Compass and nothing but problems…co-pays went up, etc.). And yes, my subsidy plunged. Which was fine. My income was higher than I previously thought.

Let me tell you something else. All those jokes about “the death panels” that never happened? My psychologist had to have regular telephone conferences with the UBH (United Behavioral Health) psychologist to discuss the details of my case, as they felt my twice-weekly cognitive behavioral therapy sessions for my PTSD were unnecessary.

I am involved (as a victim) in two very serious criminal investigations (which I am certain involve all the same villains). I did not like my insurance company knowing my business. To me, this is somewhat akin to the death panels. Whatever happened to HIPAA? Actually, a personal injury lawyer here in Rock Island told me once that “HIPAA is a myth” and, in fact, doesn’t mean a darned thing. I can hear all the hospital employees launching rotten tomatoes at me now…I’m just saying what he said! And he has been known to get people lots of money!

So today the Marketplace told me they have no evidence of me being insured October through December. Therefore, my 1095 statement (which shows your subsidy and proof of insurance, and is required with your tax return) only will show the Silver Compass insurance of January through September. So in theory, I will have to pay a penalty.

Below, you will see the email welcoming me to my new plan in October. All my premiums were paid, each of the 12 months of 2016, and never was I uninsured.

aca2

Yes, Obamacare created jobs. Bureaucracies. More AFSCME employees. More layers of nonsense.

I wonder how many rainforests have been destroyed with all the paperwork associated with Obamacare. UHC pulled out of the 2017 exchange, and now I have BCBS again (and this time, so far, an AWESOME plan, paying 100 percent of my twice-weekly CBT sessions at the psychologist and $0 co-pay on my blood pressure and other meds).

But even though UHC pulled out of the exchange, I recently received a five pound, “Welcome to United Healthcare 2017!” book in the mail.

I could go on and on about the mailings, which never make any sense at all. And I’m a writer. It’s like they’re written in Chinese. Plus, they email you, too. Keeps people employed I guess, on your taxpayer dollar! Inefficient, “job-creating” bloat.

Two parties, two beauties representing 17th, 18th Congressional Districts

Lastly, let me talk to you about the 17th Congressional District. We are a polite people. A simple people. Hard-working people. We don’t talk much about politics. We generally believe what our politicians do simply has to be honest and what they tell us all true (though that confidence is fast, fast eroding around here).

The Quad-Cities is mired in corruption, as you can read here. And here. And here.

The Congressional District right next door to us (the 18th Congressional District) once belonged to Aaron Schock. But the dashing young GOP Congressman now is facing criminal charges for using taxpayer money to decorate his office like Downton Abbey, among other things.

Peoria (the 18th Congressional District) is much like us simple folk in the Quad-Cities and Rockford – hard-working, mannerly, trusting. Too trusting.

Like Shock, our Congresswoman is a beauty – voted 8th most beautiful person on Capitol Hill, in fact! Yes, it’s true! You can read about it by clicking here.

It’s fine to not talk politics out of politeness. But please pay attention to your politicians and what they’re doing. Don’t blindly vote for one politician or another. And hold their feet to the fire. Always. Participate in the process. Dig beneath official news reports, because most of that comes from press release rewrites from the politicians themselves. Local media outlets have been slashed to the bone and don’t do the type of old-fashioned watchdog reporting anymore that is so essential to keeping our corrupt politicians honest.

Please. Ask questions. Call their offices when things upset you. Let them know you’re watching their every move as it pertains to honesty, ethics and being lawful.

I sure do.

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PBS Special: No Help Caring For Your Elderly Parents Until They’re Broke

broke-parents

This piece originally was published April 26, 2015, on Healthline Contributors. That site no longer is live. Reprinted here with permission.

By David Heitz

Think your elderly parent won’t end up going completely broke before they die? Think again. It’s the reality facing a growing number of American families.

Maybe people finally will listen when Meryl Streep narrates “Caring for Mom & Dad” (#CaringForMomAndDad) airing May 7 on PBS. I just finished screening the documentary. Before sitting down to write this, I wiped away some tears – indeed, tears of affirmation – and took a long walk to work off some suppressed anger. Writing about these things never is easy.

You know what appears to be even harder? Hearing the blunt truth from someone like myself who is going (and hopefully growing) through it.

It’s really quite simple. Modern science has made it possible for people to live longer than ever before. While doctors can seemingly work miracles these days to keep a person’s body going, there isn’t much they can do for the mind when it starts to go.

And nobody is going to help you or your parent financially when your parent becomes unable to care for himself until he is broke. As in zero dollars. There is no help until the point your parent becomes penniless and qualifies for Medicaid.

Heaven forbid you find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to go about caring for your parent, but if it happens, I suggest not sharing too much on social media. People will give you advice that they pull right out of their behinds. Everyone’s an expert, and most people have no idea at all what they’re talking about. There are scams galore. There is no easy fix to this. You or your parent either pay for your parent’s care until they are totally broke, or you do it yourself along with the generous help of others. And good luck with that.

This is why you need to watch “Caring for Mom & Dad” May 7 on PBS. Check your local listings. If this trailer doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will – until you get that first bill from mom or dad’s facility. There also are wonderful tips and resources on the “Caring for Mom & Dad” site.

My Caregiving Story And the Path I Chose

I moved back to Illinois from Southern California in 2002. My brother already had placed my father (then 63) in a facility. Since I returned ravaged by crystal meth, it was easy to talk about what a mess David was and how the real reason he came home was to get help. From day one nobody really believed I came back to help my dad as well as myself. And that’s fine. At this point the proof is in the pudding.

When I came home, my brother took dad out of the facility and I assumed the caregiving role. Dad paid me $12 per day and also paid my $400 per month rent for many years. In exchange, I checked on him a few times a day and ran occasional errands. The role escalated through the years to me eventually being a live-in caregiver for one year.

I immediately was hired by a local newspaper when I moved back. It didn’t work out. It ended with a separation agreement. I cried at work a lot and they didn’t like it I guess.

I was unemployed for a couple of years, and during that time I spent quite a bit of time with my dad. I really grew to love the man I once despised. Dad seemed to improve after my first job ended and I began to spend more time with him. But my first go-round at freelancing wasn’t as lucrative as it is now, and after a few years, I yearned to go back to work.

So I went to work for another local newspaper a couple of years later. It was OK for maybe two or three years. But as my attention turned from dad, he got worse. He would call work confused. I would go to his apartment on my lunch hour and he wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. I would go back to work really stressed out most days. I’d bolt to the tavern from work every day at 4 p.m. when the tavern opened.

To make a long story short, work got tired of hearing about how stressed out I was caring for dad. I got tired of what I felt was a lack of understanding on their part. Substance abuse problem and all, I quit in November 2011. (I am one year sober in two weeks.)

 Reality Check: Caring for Dad Means No Career for You

“Caring for Mom & Dad” offers a glimpse into the lives of people like myself. People who tried to care for their parent so they could live independently as long as possible. Nobody wants to put their parent into a facility. The $4,000 to $8,000 per month is no fun for anyone either.

In the documentary, journalist Jane Gross explains how she and her brother pondered how mom had blown through $500,000 – her entire life savings – in four years. They didn’t even know their mom had $500,000 to spend. They joked she must have robbed a bank and they never knew about it.

The documentary also tells the story of two siblings who fought tooth and nail before finally seeking help. The sibling that controlled mom’s money would tell the one doing the hands-on caregiving (and by no means am I minimizing the role of managing finances) that she didn’t need any of her mom’s money for her own bills. He felt she needed to care for her mom out of a sense of duty.

But that sibling, like myself, wondered how she could support herself. What if this goes on forever? Will she not work during the prime of her career, during her prime earning years?

Many do make that sacrifice. I chose not to. Not only because I want a life, a future and to rebuild my career, but because I am not qualified to care for my dad. I don’t believe that any one person outside of a controlled facility would be in my dad’s case. It takes more than one person. You can learn about my dad’s frontotemporal dementia by clicking here.

Ignore the Misinformation on Social Media from Non-Experts

You will hear over and over, “You can get paid from the government to care for your parent!” Yes, if they are penniless and qualify for Medicaid. So don’t even listen to those people or any of the other bad advice that is out there, unless indeed your parent is totally broke. Most of our parents aren’t totally broke going into this. Don’t try to explain it to people who think they know everything. The know-it-alls have a rude awakening coming.

And don’t expect corporate America to be understanding while you care for mom or dad. Target is one exception. You can find out more about that in the movie.

While many managers in corporate America post delightful notes such as: “So and so is home caring for sick baby … we wish her all the best!” on online office schedules when staffers call in for that reason (although I realize it’s even rare these days that employees get cut a break for that), when you tell them you were late because you had to clean up dad’s poo?

“David, we need you here,” I was repeatedly told by both employers with a stern frown, even after lots and lots of “family first” lip service. That doesn’t last long and it’s not real.

There are ways this can be fixed. For example, in one southern Ohio county, voters approved a tax levy that funds services for the elderly so they can stay in their homes a little longer. But I’m skeptical. In my Illinois county, voters won’t even approve levies so that children can learn in modern schools. If they don’t care about their kids, I don’t think they’re going to care about the elderly.

Wake up, folks. You can watch this documentary or not. Meryl and I have both warned you of what’s coming.

Check out David Heitz’s news stories about caregiving such as “Caregivers are the New Working Moms,” “Millions of Caregivers Offer Billions in Support” and more at Healthline News.

 

Even when you’re ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ smoking isn’t sexy. How Mark Ballas quit

 

hl-ballas

Originally published Aug. 25, 2015, on Healthline Contributors, which no longer is live. Reprinted with permission.

By David Heitz

Even when you’re one of Hollywood’s hottest performers, smoking just ain’t sexy.

That may be why so many celebrities are closet smokers. That, and by now everyone should know better. Celebrities know that, too.

“A lot of people in Hollywood who use their voice and their body smoke,” said Mark Ballas of “Dancing with the Stars” fame in a telephone interview with me on Monday. “But I think that when you’re a smoker, subconsciously you know that what you’re doing is wrong. At some point I said, ‘I really need to stop now. This is getting ridiculous.’”

It wasn’t image that compelled Ballas to finally quit – it was his health. “It got to where

I was knocking out 20 (cigarettes) a day,” he said. “One day, I was in class, and I was running out of steam. It was affecting my breathing. That was a wake-up call, because

I need my body, being a performer, dancing and singing and doing what I do. I’m on stage all the time, and I need to feel good.”\

When I quit in February 2013, I had a similar epiphany. I had become completely disgusted with myself.

Related News: Are e-cigarettes a healthy way to quit smoking?

 Lighting up and fitting in as a U.K. teen

Ballas said he started lighting up at 16. “Cigarettes are super accessible (in Great Britain). My friends smoked, and so I picked up the habit at a young age. You think, ‘I’m invincible. It’s not going to affect me.’”

He said he tried to quit many times once he knew he had had enough, beginning at about the age of 25 or 26. But nothing worked. “I would smoke a little less, but I always came back to it.”

Finally, he tried NicoDerm CQ, and it worked for him. “I liked the patch because I’m dancing all day, and I didn’t want to think about it.”

Ballas said he declined to even consider being a spokesman for NicoDerm until he knew for sure that the product worked. “And it did work for me, so I decided I wanted to be an advocate and help other people.”

Also joining the telephone conversation Monday was Mark’s mom Shirley. Shirley is a dancing legend in her own right, who smoked for four decades. Ballas was raised by his mother and grandmother, and smoke was everywhere.

Related News: My interview with “WKRP in Cincinnati” bombshell Loni Anderson, caregiver for her parents with COPD

“I’ve had a special relationship with Mark for many years, and I saw him trying, so I said, ‘Let’s do it together,’” Shirley explained. She chose Nicorette to quit. “I tried the gum, because it keeps your breath fresh and I like the taste of it. It worked for me.”

 Quit in September: It’s all about you

Mark and Shirley are encouraging everyone to participate in what they’re calling SELFtember. What is SELFtember all about? “We’re coming out of vacation mode, coming out of summer. It’s time to get back to the gym, time to start work and school. It’s time to snap back to reality,” Mark Ballas said.

“We want people to be inspired to live a healthier lifestyle,” he continued. “In the summer, maybe you were smoking more than usual because you had more free time. Let SELFtember be a catalyst to quit, a catalyst for living a healthier lifestyle.”

Shirley also plugged an idea she calls “What’s Your Why?” The What’s Your Why? ™ campaign asks smokers to share their motivational reasons for wanting to quit smoking. It helps a smoker envision what the future could hold when he or she succeeds. It puts the quitter’s goals front and center, whether they’re big dreams or little victories.

Related News: Does switching to e-cigarettes make your body any healthier?

Mark and being around to spend time with her grandchildren are Shirley’s whys, she said. You can learn more about a day-long event being held at Santa Monica Pier in Southern California, where smoking cessation aids will be handed out free.

Save your cigarette money, buy a house in Beverly Hills

Being smoke-free is being good to Mark, who hopes to have a career as successful as Jared Leto’s. He admires Leto, an actor, singer, song writer and director best known for his role as Jordan Catalano on the television hit “My So-Called Life.”

“Jared Leto has had an amazing acting career, he’s had his band … back in the day, artists like Michael Jackson did more than just one thing,” Mark Ballas said. ”It’s OK to do more than one thing. I don’t like people to get pigeon-holed.”

Ballas also has a band, has written songs, has starred on Broadway and now has a new business venture. Ballas just opened his first dance studio, Mark Ballas Dance and Performing Arts, in North Carolina and hopes to open nine more by year’s end. His debut single, “Get My Name,” rose to No. 24 on the iTunes Pop Chart. A whopping 20 million viewers a week tune in to watch him on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Has being smoke-free added to his amazing success?

“I feel like quitting has been a big help to my focus and my mental capacity and for targeting goals and reaching them,” Ballas said. “It’s great not to be wheezing and coughing. I feel way better. I do feel a huge difference, plus I was burning money with a terrible habit.”

That saved cigarette money adds up. He made headlines earlier this week for his purchase of a $2.52 million “fixer-upper” in L.A.’s esteemed Beverly Crest neighborhood.

He says if he can quit smoking, anyone can. “It’s OK to be outside your comfort zone. If I can do it, anyone can do it. You’ve got to have the balls to do it.”

Learn More: More tips for coping with nicotine withdrawal

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Scientific analysis of Tweets quantifies Pokémon Go! dangers

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Reports of Pokémon Go! being hazardous for those who don’t pay attention have a definite “duh” factor.

But despite that, some people continue to put their lives and the lives of others in danger at times while playing the mobile virtual reality game. As the old saying goes, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed.”

A fascinating report breaking in JAMA Internal Medicine this morning reveals that 18 percent of people tweeting about Pokémon Go! from July 10 to 20 indicated they were playing and driving. Another 11 percent said they were playing the game while riding in a car with someone else behind the wheel (but barking out rapid-fire orders to the driver) and 4 percent indicated they encountered risk of injury simply by playing the game while walking.

Read more: Where to hunt for Pokémon in the Quad-Cities

The public health experts analyzed a random sample of 4,000 Tweets out of a whopping 345,433 Tweets about Pokémon Go! during the 10-day period. That number only includes Pokémon Go! Tweets including “Pokémon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive” or “car.”

Further analyses categorized phrases such as “omg I’m catching a Pokémon and driving,” “just made sis drive me around to find Pokémon” and “almost got hit by a car playing Pokémon Go!”

“Our findings can help develop strategies for game developers, legislators, and the public to limit the potential dangers of Pokémon Go! and other augmented reality games,” the researchers reported. “For instance, passengers using mobile devices are typically not considered a driving risk, but given its augmented reality feature, gaming passengers may implore drivers to take risks to aid their play.”

Read more: Pokémon Go! maps of the Quad-Cities

Scientists recommend game restrictions

The authors recommend:

Changing the game’s software to restrict play at any driving speed. Currently, the game stops working at speeds over 10 mph.

Disabling the game near roadways in parking lots to protect pedestrians.

The authors admit the game theoretically has a health benefit by getting a younger generation made less active by technology to move again. But they say those benefits are negated by the hazards of the game.

Read more: Where to find rare Pokémon in the Quad-Cities

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds, whom the game targets,” they reported. “Moreover, according to the American Automobile Association, 59 percent of all crashes among young drivers involve distractions within six seconds of the accident.”

I wrote a few stories about Pokémon Go! for MapQuest that have been among my best performing MapQuest stories (and I’ve sprinkled them throughout this piece). I have friends who enjoy playing the game safely with their children.

However, none of us can deny the distractions. I have a terrible tendency to want to Facebook while driving. I know it’s dangerous and I try to stop myself.

And as someone who didn’t have a car for two years, I also know all too well about walking and Smart phoning, and have suffered a ton of bumps, bruises and scrapes to prove it.

Be careful out there, and “catch ‘em all!”

Read more: Top 5 Pokémon gyms in the Quad-Cities