5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - May 4

 by TWIW StaffMay 4, 2021

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today’s edition – Tuesday, May 4 - the Worcester Bravehearts release their own "parking plan," the Downtown Worcester BID received a tourism recovery grant, May is Electrical Safety Month, gas prices are up again this week and we have tips on how to stay clear from poison ivy during your spring yard clean-ups.


Worcester Bravehearts Release "Parking Plan"

In response to the Worcester Red Sox' recent release of its Polar Park parking plan, the Worcester Bravehearts released a parking plan of their own (in jest, of course).

The Bravehearts parking plan includes walking distances from 23 to 56 seconds from their free parking lot next to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.


Tourism Grant to Support 'Experience Downtown Worcester Like Never Before'

The Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District [BID] announced a tourism recovery grant totaling $75,674 through the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism [MOTT].

The grant to BID is in partnership with The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts and the City of Worcester.

The Marketing Travel & Tourism Recovery Grants will support 59 business organizations, tourism organizations, and municipalities statewide as part of the “My Local MA” campaign to enhance resident tourism.

Funds will support the “Experience Downtown Worcester Like Never Before” marketing campaign. The experiences will complement the outdoor performances of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar taking place on the Worcester Common throughout the month of August.

Performances will be free and open to the public. Local businesses will offer deals and curated experiences for anyone seeking a unique night Downtown.


May is Electrical Safety Month

From 2015 to 2019, Massachusetts fire departments reported 2,751 home fires caused by electrical problems. These fires caused 27 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, 72 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $38.5 million.

During May, fire officials are urging residents to take the time to ensure safe electrical practices during Electrical Safety Month.

President of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts Michael C. Newbury, said, “There’s no great mystery to preventing electrical fires. Don’t overload circuits or power strips; know the warning signs; and have an electrician check out your system every ten years.”

Knowing the warning signs is critical to avoiding disaster: arcs, sparks, short circuits or hearing buzzing sound or smelling a vague odor of something burning.

Call a professional electrician if you have any of these warning signs:

  • Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers
  • Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too fast
  • Overheated plugs, cords or switches
  • Shock or mild tingle – more than normal static electricity
  • Loose outlets or unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches
  • Permanently using power strips or extension cords
  • Defeating the ground plug on appliances so they fit into a 2-prong outlet.

Gas Prices Up Three Cents This Week in MA

AAA Northeast reports changes in gas prices across the region on a weekly basis.

Massachusetts’s average gas price is up three cents from last week [$2.77], averaging $2.80 per gallon. That price is the 6 cents higher than a month ago ($2.74), and 69 cents higher than May 3, 2020 ($1.93).

Massachusetts’s average gas price is two cents lower than the national average.

AAA Northeast’s April 5 survey of fuel prices found the current national average to be two cents higher than last week, averaging $2.88 a gallon. Today’s national average price is three cents higher than a month ago ($2.87), and $1.12 higher than this day last year ($1.78).

Comparison to neighboring states, according to AAA Northeast:

Region Current Price One Week Ago One Month Ago One Year Ago
Massachusetts $2.80 $2.77 $2.74 $1.93
Rhode Island $2.83 $2.80 $2.77 $1.92
Connecticut $2.94 $2.91 $2.89 $1.91


Advice During Poison Ivy Season This Spring

Springtime outdoor cleanups are underway with many gardening and landscaping, exposure to poison ivy in rising.

The rash that occurs is an allergic reaction to the oily resin—called urushiol—found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Most people are allergic to urushiol.

Symptoms from contact with the plant typically emerge between 12 and 72 hours after contact, starting with itchiness, then a red rash followed by blisters.

Dr. Vincent Meoli, Regional Medical Director of American Family Care, a non-emergency room urgent care clinic at 117A Stafford St. in Worcester, offers some insight into what to look for and when to seek medical attention.

“There are over-the-counter products that can provide some relief for minor reactions, including anti-itch cream and Benadryl,” he said. “In severe cases, the blisters can grow quite large and painful. If you can’t find relief with home treatment, see a doctor for something stronger like an oral steroid, like prednisone.”

Rashes typically clear up within a few weeks, but people should seek medical attention when:

  • The rash affects their mouth, eyes or genitals; it covers more than a quarter of their skin; or it hasn’t cleared up within a few weeks
  • Skin continues to swell or blisters ooze pus
  • They have a fever above 100º F (37.8º C)
  • They inhaled the smoke of burning plants and are having trouble breathing

Dr. Meoli also offered these prevention tips:

  • Learn to identify and avoid poisonous plants. Safely remove them, but don’t burn them.
  • Urushiol can remain on a surface for years, so immediately clean contaminated objects like clothing, outdoor gear and shoes.
  • Wash all areas that have come in contact with the plant or its oils, including the fur of any contaminated pet.
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