Safety moments – spring and summer

Texting while Driving

  • The likelihood of crashing increases four times when using a wireless device while driving.
  • The risk is raised irrespective of whether or not a hands-free device was used.
  • According to a study by AAA, nearly 46% of teens text while driving.
  • Talk to your teens about texting while driving!

Grilling safety tips

  • Only turn the propane tank valve a half turn before starting the grill.
  • When lighting a gas grill, always keep open the lid to prevent a flash off from gas build-up.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.
  • Keep grills at least 10 feet away from any building.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and trays below the grill.
  • Check the gas tank for leaks using a soap and water solution.
  • Always store LP cylinders upright and in areas where the temperature won’t exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check for tank, hose & fitting leaks with soapy water (pre season and after every tank change out).
  • Select location to avoid risk of fire, gas build up and accidental contact: Grill outdoors and only in well ventilated areas, 10 feet from buildings and combustibles, away from play areas, 3 foot exclusion zone for children and pets.
  • Avoid unwanted flames:  Keep grill clean (racks, grease traps, tubes) and in good condition (tubes, burners, connections), trim fatty meats.
  • Starting charcoal:  only use charcoal lighting fluid, move fluid away from grill and wait one minute after soaking to start, never add to briquettes that have already been started.
  • Prevent operator burns: Avoid loose clothing, use long handled tools and flame retardant mitts.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Swimming pool safety

It is that time of year when we start hearing stories in the news of infants and toddlers drowning in swimming pools. These are tragic and preventable accidents. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 88 percent of young drowning victims were under some form of supervision at the time they drowned – and in 46 percent of cases, the child who drowned was under the supervision of both parents.

Lessons learned or what we can do:
Code compliance is not enough. Pools are dangerous and require that special precautions be taken to prevent accidents and drowning.

Every year about 43,000 people are injured in and around swimming pools and more than 600 people drown in home or public pools. Half of the pool fatalities occur in the yards of single-family homes.

A swimming pool in the yard can be very dangerous for children. If possible, do not put a swimming pool in your yard until your children are older than 5 years. If you already have a pool, protect your children from drowning by doing the following: Building and zoning codes vary from state to state and town to town. Compliance with regulations alone is not enough to protect against accidental drowning.

Prevent electrocutions

  • Stay out of the pool during rain or lightning storms.
  • Keep CD players, radios and other electrical devices away from pools or nearby wet surfaces.
  • All pools, pool pumps, lighting and other electrical devices must be installed in accordance with the National Electric Code and local regulations.  All such equipment must be grounded.
  • All outdoor electrical outlets must be protected by Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI’s). These devices cut off power the moment current is lost to ground.

Prevent slips, falls and other injuries

  • Don’t allow anyone who has been drinking alcohol to use the pool.
  • Check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards.
  • Keep clear of the area near a diving board.
  • Anyone watching young children around a pool should learn CPR and be able to rescue a child if needed. Stay within an arm’s length of your child.

Prevent drowning

  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most regulations require that the property be fenced in and allow the house to be one side of the barrier. The problem is that most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.
  • Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach. When held open no more than 6” and released the gate must close and latch.
  • Children can often climb fences. All fences should be installed so that supports and cross braces are on the inside and they should have nothing protruding on the outside that can be used to climb on. Children can also climb chain link fences so they should be avoided if possible – especially those with larger openings in the webbing.
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) adds to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not let your child use air-filled “swimming aids” because they are not a substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use and put them away or remove them from the pool area so children aren’t tempted to reach for them. Pool items left on a deck may be blown back into the pool and attract the attention of young children.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.
  • For above ground and shallow pools, make sure that signs are posted around the pool to warn against diving. Do not allow anyone to dive into pools that are not at the appropriate depths and designed for diving. Many injuries and deaths occur as a result of a person diving into a pool and striking their head on the bottom of the pool.
  • If you have small children or have company over that may have small children, keep all back doors locked and install door alarms that will sound when a back door is opened.
  • Install a pool alarm that sounds when someone falls into the pool. These alarms sound both at the pool and in the house. Remember to turn them back on as soon as everyone is out of the pool, even if you expect the pool to be used later.
  • It is a good idea to turn pool pumps off when small children are using it as the suction force may injure them or prevent them from surfacing.
  • Don’t swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
  • Don’t swim if you’re tired or have just finished eating.
  • Remember, teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is safe in water.
  • Be clear who is watching your child and avoid distractions when children are in or around the pool.
  • Put down cell phones, magazines and books if children are near. In addition, save important conversations for later.
  • Take toys out of the pool when not in use.
  • Colorful pool floats are targets for children, who may lean over the edge of your pool and fall in.
  • Ensure that your fences and gates are in good condition. Ensure that your gate latches work properly and won’t come unlatched on their own, and that children cannot clip between broken fence boards.

Heat stress

Just as extreme cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, hot weather can lead to heat-related illnesses, especially for the elderly, young children and those with chronic illnesses. The following are serious signs that heat stress might become a threat to health:

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing Headache
  • Dry Skin (no sweating)
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest Pain
  • Overwhelming Weakness
  • Breathing Problems
  • Cramps

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should call a doctor at once and seek medical help.

There are a number of simple things you can do to avoid the dangers of heat stress:

  • Stay in a cool place. If your home does not have air conditioning, spend as much time as possible in a public air-conditioned place such as a shopping mall, library, church, movie theater or senior center.
  • Take cool baths or showers. Taking a cool bath or shower, and allowing the air to dry you, can provide amazing relief from the heat.
  • Use a fan. Fans can draw cool air into your home at night and provide air circulation during the day. Keep drapes closed when windows are in direct sunlight. Install window locks so that your windows can be left open for ventilation but kept secure against intruders.
  • Dress for coolness. Cotton clothing that is lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored will be most comfortable. If you have to be in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella.
  • Take it easy. Avoid prolonged, strenuous outdoor activity such as gardening, lawn mowing, exercise or recreational activities when temperatures and humidity are high.
  • Eat well. Despite the heat, eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid hot and heavy meals. Do any cooking during the cooler hours of the day.
  • Drink liquids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages and drinks that contain caffeine and salt. If you have a medical problem with body water balance, check with your doctor.
  • Be careful with salt. Check with your doctor before adding salt to your diet or taking salt tablets.
  • Keep in touch. Call a friend or family member regularly and have them call you each day. If you should develop a heat-related problem, they can help you get assistance.

How to avoid ticks

Now that the warmer months are underway, tick season has also started. Ticks can attack when you are mowing your lawn or working in wooded areas. Pets can also harbor them and bring them inside your home or workplace. The more you know about ticks, the better your defense will be to prevent tick bites and associated disease.

Ticks are members of the spider family and there are many species found all over the world. They are blood-sucking creatures that attack humans, dogs, cats, and other animals. They can be found in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas, and can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease.

Ticks are reddish brown to dark brown in color, and range in size from 1/16″ to 1/8″. They are flat in shape, but when engorged with blood, they become round and increase in size up to 1/2″ in diameter. They can live for up to 18 months without food or water, and when they do find a suitable host, some remain attached for up to 15 days.

Deer ticks in the East and Black-Legged Ticks in the West both transmit Lyme disease, which is caused by a microorganism inside the tick. The nymph stage in its life cycle is the most likely stage at which they carry the spirochete. Research indicates that to transmit the disease, the tick needs to feed on you for at least 24 hours.

So, it’s important to find the tick and remove it promptly. Unfortunately, adult deer ticks are tiny. They are about the size of a sesame seed, and the nymphs are even smaller, about the size of a poppy seed. You’ll have to look carefully for them.

Prevention is the best way to avoid ticks. Here is a list of precautions you can follow to avoid becoming bitten by a tick while you’re in a possible tick environment:

  • Be aware that ticks are most active from mid-April through September.
  • Because ticks become less active in winter, consider saving some outdoor chores for that season. For instance, cut wood in late fall and early winter.
  • Clean up brush and woodpiles. These places harbor rodents, which are the major source of meals for larval and nymphal ticks.
  • Keep your lawn mowed, and be aware of areas with high brush. Don’t go out barefoot or in open sandals.
  • In tick-infested areas, expose as little skin as possible. Wear light-colored clothing (you’ll be able to spot ticks better), long sleeves and pants, and tuck shirts into pants and pant legs into boots or socks.
  • Conduct a bodily inspection for ticks at least once a day. Especially check hidden or hairy areas like the armpits and scalp. Tick checks are best done when one person looks over another.
  • Apply an insect repellent to your clothing and shoes.
  • Buy a tick collar or another form of repellent for your dog or cat. Not only will it protect your pet, but it will also help prevent your pet from bringing ticks indoors where they can become established.

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