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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.

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.

Safety Tip: Freeway Driving

Some states call them freeways, while other states refer to them as expressways. Those with tolls are sometimes called turnpikes. But regardless of what you call them, these high-speed, controlled-access highways require a driver’s undivided attention and quick decision making.

Here are seven tips on freeway driving, provided by AAA:

  • Try to look ahead at least 12 seconds to make sure you are alert to changing traffic and road conditions such as roadwork, congestion, heavy traffic, slow traffic, or stop-and-go traffic.
  • Always signal at least five seconds before changing lanes. Look carefully and check your mirrors — both inside and outside rear view mirrors. And, look over your shoulder in the direction of the lane change.
  • Avoid any sudden moves. Sudden moves are usually not well planned or checked, and do not give other drivers adequate time to react.
  • Help other drivers enter and exit the freeway or change lanes. Adjust your speed or move to the next lane if it is clear.
  • Drive in the lane that is best suited to the traffic conditions. On a two-lane freeway, use the right lane for cruising and the left lane for passing. When there are three or more lanes, use the right lane if you are traveling at a slower speed than traffic, the left lane for passing, and the center lane for cruising.
  • Do not be distracted or slow down excessively to look at incidents in or near the roadway. This adds to congestion and increases the potential for additional incidents.
  • Choose a legal speed that matches the flow of traffic. Speeds that are too slow or too fast will increase the risk of incidents.

Travel Tips for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is undoubtedly the busiest travel time of the year with notorious transportation delays, traffic and travel snags all meeting travelers at nearly every turn. But with a bit of foresight and some Thanksgiving travel planning, you may ease some travel headaches whether you’re heading home for the holidays or escaping for a drama-free adventure.

Regardless of your plans, you’ll be thankful for these Thanksgiving travel tips:

Plan ahead. Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Download the latest GPS data or obtain a new map. Check for construction detours, and consult the weatherman.

Don’t post news that you’re out of town, particularly not online on social networks which are open to the public.

Lower the volume on your telephone ringer; no need to imply you’re away with the chiming of repeated rings.

Leave your keys and responsibilities with a trusted neighbor or friend; have them pick up mail and deliveries, and occasionally move your parked car around. Don’t hide your keys outside; burglars will enjoy hunting for them.

Secure doors and windows; eliminate ladders or house-hugging tree limbs to make sure there’s no easy access to upstairs windows.

Operate lights with a timer, so you’ve always got something lit at night.

Invest in a security alarm system—which is a fantastic idea anyway!

Safety Tips For Driving During This Season

safety

Areas where there are deer and other large animals pose an extra hazard when driving, especially this time of year. The Insurance Information Institute reports that over 1 .6 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year and these accidents cause vehicle damage, injuries, and even fatalities at a cost in the neighborhood of $4.6 billion. Many of these accidents occur during the breeding season, also called “the rut”. This season usually lasts from late October to as long as early January. During this time, deer are more active and on the move. Outside of direct collisions with deer, other accidents occur due to vehicles swerving to miss a deer as well as the deer distracting drivers from their attention on the road.

Deer Season Driving Tips

  1. Always wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts are proven to save lives in a crash.
  2. Slow down in areas where you know deer are usually present. Deer are often animals of habit and can be found in the same areas at the same time of day. Deer are often found near roadways during the early morning hours and at dusk.
  3. Apply your brakes as early as possible if a deer is near or on the road. Even if the deer passes the roadway well in front of your vehicle slow down. Deer are herd animals and where one is found there is most likely another.
  4. Do not swerve to miss striking a deer. An accident involving another motorist or a fixed object will have larger consequences than if you were to hit the deer.
  5. Never get out in an attempt to help a wounded deer. If the deer is still alive, you can be injured. Contact the proper authorities to handle the deer, so it is not a hazard to other motorists.

These safe driving principals can also be applied for areas where other animals exist. Animals such as elk and moose pose some of the same hazards as deer do to motorists.

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