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Yearly Archives: 2018

When Winter Weather Strikes

Winter weather strikes and drivers face out-of-the-ordinary challenges when they get behind the wheel. Snow, slush or icy roads are involved in nearly one in four weather-related vehicle crashes. Winter weather conditions can make it harder for drivers to see, slow down and stop—all factors that can increase the chances of an accident.

If you must travel during winter weather, preparing your car in advance, knowing the forecast and driving based on road conditions are three key ways to help you drive more safely. The following are some winter driving safety tips to help you prepare for the elements—before you face them—on the road.

Preparing Your Vehicle

As temperatures start to drop, it’s time to make sure your car is stocked with a winter driving survival kit, including an ice scraper, a snow shovel and sand or salt. This way, you’ll be prepared if winter weather arrives while you’re away from home. It’s also a good time to check your tires to determine whether it’s time to replace them or whether you need snow tires.

A few habits to adopt regularly during the winter months can also help prepare you for a wintry drive. Make it a practice to keep your gas tank at least half full so you can run your engine and stay warm if you get stuck or stranded. Keep your windshield wipers in good condition and your windshield fluid reservoir filled, so you can clear snow and ice from your windshield.

Watching the Weather

If you plan to travel when inclement weather looms, monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Do not check your phone while driving, and avoid all unnecessary distractions when you’re behind the wheel.

Driving for Winter Conditions

Before you leave the driveway or parking lot, take time to clear snow and ice off your car, including your windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk. Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility. Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.

As you get on the road, remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen. Avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions—you want as much control of your car as possible. Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy, and avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of them could be worse than the road behind.

Breaking Down or Getting Stuck

If you do venture out or are unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, if your car is safely out of harm’s way, stay in your car and wait for help. You can run the car heater to stay warm for 10 minutes every hour, but make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent any buildup.

Remember, driving in winter weather can be challenging, even for experienced drivers. Slowing down, allowing increased time to come to a stop, wearing your seatbelt, devoting your full attention to the road and being aware of changing conditions can help you drive more safely. If your travel route takes you into remote areas with limited cell phone coverage, consider informing a third party of your travel plans that include your route and when you plan to arrive. This way, if you are overdue, first responders will know where to start looking. If you’re unsure whether it is safe to drive, consider waiting until the roads improve.

End of Daylight Saving Time

DST

On the first Sunday morning in November, most people in the United States will turn their clocks back one hour for the end of Daylight Saving Time. Most of us think: “Fantastic! I get another hour of sleep”; and yes you will. However, there is a huge difference between the “society clock” and our “biological clock.” During such time changes there is statistically an increase in safety incidents.

With the end of daylight savings time comes an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak and many people make their way home from work. Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility – nor are pedestrians, who might take chances crossing roads when they shouldn’t.

Pedestrians walking around at dusk are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the days following the end of daylight saving time than just before the time change. A study of seven years of nationwide traffic fatalities was conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, calculating the risk per mile walked for pedestrians. The study found that the per-mile risk jumps 186 percent from October to November.

The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) conducted studies proving that auto accidents increase after the clocks fall back an hour. Besides the lack of visibility, the NRSF notes that commuting in the dark can also make drivers drowsier than usual. According to some health studies, changes in waking time coupled with the earlier onset of darkness throws off our internal clocks. This increases driving risks, primarily because in our 24/7 society, we have a fundamental problem of already being sleep deprived.

The end of daylight saving time can leave many people feeling fatigued, which can pose safety risks both at home and in the workplace. Some things to keep in mind when switching back to standard time are:

Fatigue—Studies suggest that it takes people who work traditional hours, several days to fully re-adjust their sleep schedule after the time change. While it may seem a welcome gift to get an extra hour of sleep as opposed to losing an hour in the spring, there is a physiological consequence to changing our clocks. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit sluggish during the first week or so of November.

Accidents—Evidence suggests that time changes increase safety problems both at work and at home. Just being aware of the increased risk of accidents in the period immediately following the time change may help you stay alert. Try to avoid building up a sleep debt in the days before the change.

Safety professionals have long used the start and end of daylight saving time as reminders for performing recurring safety tasks. Use the occasion of setting your clocks back as a cue to:

  • Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Ensure they are working properly and replace the batteries. As the cold sets in and many start up their gas-fired furnaces, fireplaces, portable unit heaters and the like for the first time, carbon monoxide poisoning risks increase dramatically during this time of year. Replace any smoke alarm unit that is older than 10 years. Replace any CO alarm unit that is older than 5 years.
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit for your automobile. Such kits can be a lifesaver if you are stuck out in bad weather while driving. They should include items such as: warm clothes, blanket, flashlight, batteries, water, non-perishable snacks, shovel, flares, reflective hazard triangle, jumper cables, cat litter or sand for traction, ski hat and gloves.
  • Check to see if your fire extinguishers need recharging. Check the small gauge at the top of the extinguisher. If the needle in that gauge is in the green, chances are, the extinguisher is okay. If it is in the red, you need to have the extinguisher recharged.

School’s Open – Drive Carefully

Every fall, over 55 million children across the United States head back to school. With 13 percent of those children typically walking or biking to their classes, AAA warns drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous – over the last decade, nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Here are several recommendations from AAA regarding ways drivers can help to keep kids safe:

  • Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
  • Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
  • Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Heat Wave Safety Tips

In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average, often combined with excessive humidity. It’s that time of year.

You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when a heat wave is predicted in your community:

Excessive Heat Watch—Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Heat Advisory—Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs = 100°-105° Fahrenheit).

Excessive Heat Warning—Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs = 105°-110° Fahrenheit).

Prepare Before The Heat Wave

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time—home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
  • Check the contents of your emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, shopping malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

What To Do During a Heat Wave

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

How to Treat Heat-Related Illnesses

During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions. Here’s how to recognize and respond to them.

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area.
  • Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.

Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.

  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1or the local emergency number.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.

  • Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible or douse or spray the person with cold water.
  • Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels.
  • Cover the person with bags of ice.
  • If you are not able to measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.

April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month”

Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects us all. The latest statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up 6% from 2015. More than 40,000 people were killed on our nation’s roadways last year, and distracted driving is a major contributor.

Each death is 100% preventable. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April is a united effort to recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving. Join us to help save lives.

Driving Safety

A guide to keeping you safe on the road, distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.

All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

There are three main types of distraction:

  1. Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  2. Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. It’s extraordinarily dangerous.

DO – Stay Safe:

  • Use a seat belt at all times – driver and passenger(s).
  • Adjust your driving for the conditions, including traffic, weather, pedestrians, rough roads and degree of light.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Use a hands-free device for phone use if you have to use the phone while driving.
  • Be well-rested before driving.
  • Avoid taking medication that makes you drowsy before driving, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Set a realistic goal for the number of miles that you can drive safely each day.

DO – Stay Focused:

  • Driving requires your full attention. Avoid distractions, such as adjusting the radio or other controls, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on the phone.
  • Continually search the roadway to be alert to situations requiring quick action.
  • Stop about every two hours for a break. Get out of the vehicle to stretch, take a walk, and get refreshed.
  • Be patient and courteous to other drivers.
  • Reduce your stress by planning your route ahead of time (bring the maps and directions), allowing plenty of travel time, and avoiding crowded roadways and busy driving times.
  • Adjust your speed and increase your following distance when carrying heavier than normal loads and when you are towing.

DON’T

DON’T drive under the influence of drugs and or alcohol.
DON’T drive aggressively.
DON’T tailgate or speed.
DON’T take other drivers’ actions personally.
DON’T text and drive.
DON’T enter data in your GPS while driving.

 

 

Spring Weather Emergency Preparation

Spring weather can be unpredictable. When severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases, so planning ahead makes sense. Prepare for storms, floods and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted 136 kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.

Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you live in a region that does not often experience thunderstorms, tornadoes or flooding. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes and floods requires specific safety precautions. Still, you can follow many of the same steps for all extreme weather events. You should have on hand:

  • A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • An emergency evacuation plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
  • A list of important personal information, including: telephone numbers of neighbors, family and friends, insurance and property information, telephone numbers of utility companies, and medical information
  • A first aid kit including: prescription medicine, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin and diarrhea medicine, bandages and dressings for injuries
  • A 3-5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • An emergency kit in your car

Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather. Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity in your home.

Unfortunately, few of us get much advance notice of a severe weather event. Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it.  But we do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family and your home? Of course, you may not have to deal with extreme weather this spring, but if thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods do occur, you’ll be ready for them.

Cold and Flu Prevention

Viruses causing the common cold and seasonal flu produce similar symptoms: sore throat, cough, congestion and sneezing, body aches, and fever. The following are tips that may help prevent, or lessen the effects of, the cold or flu:

  • Stay healthy every day. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and rest to strengthen your immune system. Compromised immune systems have a hard time fighting off illnesses.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Viruses spread when you touch surfaces, then our eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Use plenty of soap and warm water. Make sure to lather well and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use hand sanitizer if a hand-washing station is not close by.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Coughs and sneezes can propel viruses up to six feet onto surfaces, where they can live for hours. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue; if a tissue is not available, use your upper arm, never your hands. Put used tissues directly into a waste basket.
  • Prevent the spread of viruses among your family members. Don’t share eating utensils, drinking glasses, or towels. Consider using disposables of these items while a family member is sick.
  • Get a flu shot—it’s not too late! The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The flu vaccine can make your sickness milder if you do still catch the flu. Most pharmacies and family medicine providers continue to give flu shots during flu season.
  • Stay hydrated, especially if you feel like you’re getting sick. Drink electrolyte infused drinks or water to keep your body hydrated.
    • Children’s pedia-pops can hydrate the body and can help temporarily reduce a fever.
    • Diabetics should see a doctor first before using pedia-pops or drinking electrolyte drinks, as some have high levels of sugar. Most important: See a healthcare professional when illness strikes.
  • If you are sick, avoid going to work, school, or other public places. It may take longer to recover from colds or the flu if you push yourself. You also risk infecting others.
  • Keep in mind that antibiotics are for bacterial infections, not viruses such as the cold or flu.
  • When prescribed a medication, take it as prescribed and for the full course. Prescriptions are given to help your body build immunity. Just because you “feel better” does not mean that the medication has finished working.

DuPont FSRE Safety Kickoff—Contractor Safety Excellence Award

DuPont-2017-award

RAI Safety Director Jim Specht represented RAI at the 2018 DuPont FSRE Safety Kickoff meeting on January 23 where the company was presented with the 2017 Contractor Safety Excellence Award…an award they’ve received for the 8th consecutive year.

Criteria for the DuPont 2017 Contractor Safety Excellence Award:

  • Submission of the 2017 Safety Plan, including the Mid-Year and Year End Progress Reports
  • Safety meeting attendance
  • Proactive participation in safety audits
  • Incident frequency & severity
  • Zero recordable injuries

RAI was one of only 16 contractors to receive the award this year.

Cold Stress

coldstressimage

Cold stress is a condition occurring when the body can no longer maintain a normal temperature. The condition can result in very serious cold-related illnesses and injuries, permanent tissue damage or death. Those working in cold environments—with low temperatures, high wind speed, humidity, and/or contact with cold water or surfaces—are particularly susceptible to cold stress.

Types of Cold Stress Injuries

  • Hypothermia occurs when your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. A body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well.
  • Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. Frostbit causes a loss of feeling and can affect the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes.
  • Trench Foot, also known as immersion foot, is an injury of the feet resulting from prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions.

Best Practices: 

  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers.
  • Wear several layers of clothing for insulation. The first layer should fit snugly against the skin and be made of a nonabsorbent material that wicks away water and keeps skin dry. Clothing should not be too tight as this may restrict movement resulting in a hazardous situation.
  • Protect your ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold or wet weather.
  • Wear waterproof and insulated boots and clothing.
  • Wear a hat to reduce the loss of body heat from your head.
  • Have extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, and a change of clothes available in case the weather becomes much worse or your clothes become wet.
  • Use radiant heaters in break areas and limit the amount of time outside.
  • Carry or make available a thermos of hot liquid.
  • Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
  • Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
  • Maintain adequate hydration and nutritional requirements.

 

Safe Winter Walking

  • Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom. It may be a good idea to wear winter shoes into the building and bring your office shoes with you.
  • Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards.
  • Use your eyes and ears. While seeing the environment is important, you also want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.
  • Anticipate ice. Be wary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night. 
  • Walk steps slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.
  • Do not carry too many items so you can catch yourself if you slip.
  • Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination such as school, work, shopping center, etc., be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.
  • Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.
  • When exiting your car, turn your body so you can step out onto 2 feet instead of one. ALWAYS inspect that area before you step out of your vehicle.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is snow and ice on the ground. A shortcut path may be treacherous because it is likely to be located where snow and ice removal is not possible.
  • Look up. Be careful about what you walk under.  Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.
  • Make facilities manager aware of any ice and snow hazards that exist.

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