June is National Safety Month. Developed in 1996 by the National Safety Council (NSC), the annual observance is designed to help eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, as well as on the road, through leadership, research, education and advocacy. While safety is paramount in every aspect of life, the NSC focuses their efforts on these core safety areas: work, road and home. So, in the interest of brevity, we will do the same. Although, I would like to have seen “doghouse safety” included in the list. Continue reading “Happy National Safety Month”
(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Americans drive 3.2 trillion miles per year. That’s a lot of miles!Over that same time period, U.S. consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages. That’s a lot of texts!The problem is that many people combine the mutually exclusive activities. The result is as deadly as it is dangerous. Dogs can’t text or drive because we lack opposable thumbs. In our ongoing efforts to promote and share safety-related content, we began a two-part series about the dangers of distracted driving in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The series discusses the risks associated with this dangerous yet popular habit and offers tips to discourage the behavior. Click here to read part one. Continue reading “10 Tips For Distraction-Free Driving”
Americans drive 3.2 trillion miles per year. Over that same time period, U.S. consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages. The problem is that many people combine the mutually exclusive activities. The result is as deadly as it is dangerous. In fact, distracted driving led to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries last year. Most dogs I know prefer to focus on one task at a time – preferably eating. Continue reading “Arrive Alive (Distraction-Free Driving)”
Part 1 in a 3-Part Series
As we close the book on summer 2017, teachers and administrators across the country welcome students to a school year that’s rife with opportunity and promise. To make sure your student starts 2017-2018 off right, follow these simple safety steps, which are important whether your child is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but my son, J.R. is the top of his class in puppy kindergarten. This week, our post focuses on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. Check back, for part two in the series, when we provide tips for being safe from bullying. Our final post will focus on safety before, during and after natural and manmade disasters.
Continue reading “School Transportation Safety”
Record-breaking cold temperatures across the country have wreaked havoc on streets from coast to coast. They have also wreaked havoc on our doghouse. Enough with the rain! The severe weather has led to an alarming number of weather-related car accidents, flash flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines across the United States. Another unfortunate yet common side effect of the storms is water-logged land that has given way to hundreds of large sinkholes.
A few examples of the serious sinkholes reported in the U. S. within the past 12 months:
- In Suffolk, Virginia, a sinkhole measured 15 feet deep x 20 feet across.
- Giant sinkholes in Wink, Texas posed serious hazards.
- A recent sinkhole in Studio City, California swallowed two vehicles.
- A massive sinkhole appeared just as a roadway collapsed into a sewage line in the Northern California city of Madera.
- A growing sinkhole in Tarpon Springs, Florida (which measured 100 feet wide and 16 feet deep at one point) forced the evacuation of local residents.
- A large sinkhole opened between two homes in Glenside, Pennsylvania at the beginning of the year.
- Just last month, the largest sinkhole on record for the area happened in Harbor, Oregon.
What exactly is a sink hole?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “A sinkhole can be defined as: an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. When it rains, water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than one foot to more than 100 feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers, whereas others have vertical walls. Some hold water, forming natural ponds.”
The three types of sinkholes include dissolution, cover-subsidence, and cover-collapse. Whatever the type, most occur so slowly that changes to the landscape are not immediately evident. So, while it looks like they appear out of thin air, most require time to deteriorate into a full-blown collapse. Collapses most significantly impact structures and people when they happen in urban settings. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, we wanted to devote this blog post to providing subscribers and friends with tips for spotting and safely reacting to sinkholes.
Conditions that foster sinkholes:
- Active wells
- Abandoned drywells, cesspools and septic tanks
- Buried swimming pools
- Old dumps that were later built-over
- Buried, abandoned building foundations
- Cracks, gaps, ravines opened by earthquakes
- Steep-sloped or otherwise unstable areas
- Moisture-soaked earth
- Streets and structures not retrofitted for safety
It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole would swallow a modern high-rise building. However, you could potentially encounter such an event while you are driving to or from work or school or while traveling to an area with relaxed building inspection protocols. If this happens, remain calm. Try to quickly drive or walk around the hazardous area. Finally, call 911 for help.
Remember that safety on the road is a priority for everyone across the country, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
On the heels of celebrating National Building Safety Month in May, we feel it equally essential to note that June marks a more general but no less important annual observance – National Safety Month. Organized by the National Safety Council (NSC) and observed by thousands of organizations across the country, the campaign is designed to raise awareness about what it takes to stay #SafeForLife. National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, as well as in private homes and communities. Each week in June, the NSC will provide free downloadable resources highlighting a specific safety topic. Many of the items are available in English and Spanish.
Week 1 (Through June 12)
Stand Ready to Respond
When seconds count, preparation is key. This is true in both natural and man-made disasters. To prepare, keep a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle. Be sure to include supplies such as food, water, necessary medications, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and a first aid kit. And, just as you participate in emergency drills at work, run regular drills with your family. Also, when collecting items for your emergency kit, don’t forget about Fido. Disasters affect us, too.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: When Seconds Matter, Will You Be Ready?
- Tip Sheet: Preparing today can make a difference tomorrow – Englishand Spanish
- Bonus Fact Sheet: Protect Children Around Water – All the Time (I am a big advocate of the doggie paddle.)
- Related articles: Common Items for first aid kits, AEDs in the workplace
Week 2 (June 13 – 19)
Each day, decisions we make directly impact our health. So do your best to make smart food choices and exercise regularly. When an injury occurs, strive to work with your doctor to safeguard your health by making informed decisions about what types of medications to take. Keep young children safe around medications by properly storing medicines out of a child’s reach.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Safeguard Your Health
- Tip Sheet: Reach for safer medicines – Englishand Spanish
- Related articles: Diabetes and worker safety, Exploring shift worker health
Week 3 (June 20-26)
Watch Out for Dangers
Although, in a recent RJWestmore Training System blog post, we covered the importance of situational awareness, the topic is important enough to bear repeating. Even in familiar surroundings, constantly survey your surroundings for potential danger. My canine companions and I are pretty good at doing this. Noses in the air at all times. Keeping an eye out for hazards can help you identify and avoid them before an injury or attack might occur. Looking at the world through this safety lens can help protect you and loved ones.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Watch Out for Dangers
- Tip Sheet: Being safe means being alert – all the time – English and Spanish
- Related articles: 11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping, Stop-work authority
Week 4 (June 27-30)
Share Roads Safely
Vehicles traveling or disabled along our nation’s roadways are constantly at risk. Since it’s impossible to control the choices everyone makes while on the road, practice defensive driving. Getting behind the wheel is a time for patience and focus, qualities that can help you avoid a collision even if someone else makes a bad decision. And, let’s face it; there are a lot of horrible drivers on the road. I have noticed this and I don’t even have a driver’s license.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Make Good Choices While Driving
- Tip Sheet: The roads belong to us all. Let’s make safe choices –English and Spanish
- Related articles: Patience pays off in work zones, Drowsy driving and worker safety
Be sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during the month of June. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are probably aware of the huge air bag recall. Until recently, it was easy to take safety recalls lightly. After all, nearly every television newscast makes mention of one, affecting everything from lettuce to toys. But our outlook on recalls will forever be changed thanks to Takata air bags, which were installed in tens of millions of vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2015. Subject to the largest and most complex recall in U.S. history, the bags’ internal inflators explode and expel bits of sharp metal shards, leading to serious injuries or death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined the root cause of the problem: airbags that use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. Environmental moisture, high temperatures, and age are associated with the defect. To date, 10 people have died from air-bag related injuries and more than 100 have been injured in the U.S.
Millions of cars are included in the recall, so you probably either own an affected vehicle or know someone who does. In cases like this, I am glad I don’t know how to drive! Click here for a complete list of affected vehicles and contact your dealer for the appropriate repair and potential loaner.
Managing Auto Recalls
The problem with most recall notices is that they resemble sales pamphlets, so they are often discarded. This is dangerous. Also, while car manufacturers keep track of original owner information, they may lose track of cars sold to third parties. So we wanted to call attention to the importance of being aware of recall information. The NHTSA campaign motto is similar to our own: “Safe cars save lives.” That’s pretty close to our own motto: “Training Saves Lives.”
Here are several tips for staying informed about vehicle recalls:
- Regularly check out Recalls.Gov , which allows you to check by make, model or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
- Ask your dealer. When you drop your car off at the dealer for an oil change or other routine maintenance, ask about recalls.
- Check websites such as Edmunds, CarFax, and Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com).
- Visit your vehicle manufacturer’s website.
- Don’t throw away things without reading them.
Comprehensive Government Resource Multi-Industry Recalls
Autos are hardly the only consumer products subject to recall. Recalls.gov provides updated information about recalls in several categories including consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics, pet items and environmental products. A quick check on the “Food” section, for example, brings visitors to the FDA recall site where an April 28 press release recall announces: “Bakery Express of Southern California Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanut in 7-Eleven Fresh-To-Go Cookies.” I’ve also heard about recalls on pet food. Why not just play it safe and feed the dog human foods like steak, pork chops and bacon?
Staying on top of recalls does not mean conducting online reviews before buying a bag of chips or spinach. However, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes each month investigating recall sites, and keeping your eyes out for news stories about the latest problems.
Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just relative to items on recall. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
This summer, whether you plan to enjoy a stay-cation or leave your house for a short or extended period of time, there are several safety-related things to consider. In our ongoing three-week series about summer safety, we will cover safety at home, while traveling, and around water. To read part one of our series, click here. In this part two post, we will focus on ways to ensure personal safety relative to summer travel, whether you are going by plane, train or automobile. Check back next week to read about water safety.
Pack well. In addition to making sure you have all of the clothing and personal care items you need, remember to pack with safety in mind. Leave sharp objects at home. For carry-ons, invest in airline-approved travel containers so you won’t get stopped by security. And bring bacon if you are traveling with your dog. Dogs love to eat bacon while traveling (…and while standing still. We pretty much always love to eat bacon.)
Never agree to watch a stranger’s bag. If you notice unattended baggage, immediately report it to airport security. Leave that to TSA or the police.
Once you have boarded, place your luggage in the overhead compartment directly across the aisle from you so, that you can keep an eye on it to make sure it remains untouched throughout the flight.
Most airplane accidents occur during take-off and landing. So booking a nonstop flight won’t just save you time. It may reduce your risk of an in-air incident. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use my own four paws to get around.
Even on domestic flights, bring your passport with you. During a crisis, U.S. flights could be diverted to Mexican or Canadian airports. If this occurs, you will be glad you have your passport at border crossings.
Did you know that someone is hit by a train once every three hours? Since trains can come from either direction at virtually any time, be careful when you are near train tracks or in stations.
Pay attention to painted or raised markings at the platform edge. And remain at least three feet from the train whenever it is coming in or out of the station.
Listen carefully to directions from the train operator or conductor. This is good advice no matter how you are traveling. Pay attention to the people who are in charge!
Be careful getting on and off the train, as there may be a gap between the train and platform or steps.
Follow directional signs so you will be sure to cross tracks only when it is safe to do so. Crossing anywhere else is dangerous as well as illegal.
For more train safety tips, check out OperationLifeSaver.org.
Plan, map and estimate the duration of your drive ahead of time. Then, let family and friends know about your plans. And, if you plan to travel with a pet, schedule lots of pit stops, because we need to stretch our legs.
As you plan, remember to expect the unexpected—for instance, you may run into roadwork, road closures, slow traffic or crowded highways. So try to allow enough wiggle room in your schedule so you won’t be tempted to speed to make time.
Before you leave, check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated and have plenty of meat on them. I know what you’re thinking. But this kind of meat means tread on tires, not the kind I crave!
Hire a mechanic or inspect the car yourself. Evaluate the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels, and check the A/C.
Test the vehicle’s interior and exterior lights, wipers and washer fluid.
Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has some great recommendations about what to include in your kit.
Check back next week, when we will wrap up our series with our final summer safety post, about water safety. We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.
National Distracted Driving Month — Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free
While drivers are finally starting to agree that hazards are associated with texting while driving, an even larger problem looms, relative to cell phone use while driving a car. To date, most Americans remain unaware of the hazards associated with using cell phones while driving at all…even with a hands-free unit. I am almost glad I don’t have opposable thumbs, which make it impossible for me to drive or use a cellphone.
According to the National Safety Council, more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, which underscores the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit altogether. I suggest dropping phones in the toilet and using the money to invest in bacon. In response to the danger In response to the danger, the council is using Distracted Driving Month 2015 to launch a new national campaign—Calls Kill, to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk-free, and that no call is worth a life.
“For far too long, we have prioritized convenience over safety,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO, National Safety Council, “When we get behind the wheel, we have an obligation to keep one another safe. Drivers who justify cell phone use with the hands-free myth are disregarding that obligation. It’s time to reconcile the cost of being constantly connected with the consequences of risky behavior behind the wheel.”
Studies have shown that drivers who are talking on cell phones—even hands-free—are cognitively distracted by the conversation so they are unable to adequately focus on the important task of driving. Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing simultaneously, the brain is unable to do either task well. For example, it is nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, doing two things at once often results in crashes due to delayed reaction and braking times and failure to see and process traffic signals. So does sniffing while walking around the neighborhood.
Although we know that cell phone-related car crashes are a problem, to date, we are unable to accurately measure the degree because, unfortunately, no breathalyzer-like test exists for cell phone use behind the wheel. And drivers who are involved in crashes are reluctant to admit use. So this results in a huge gap in the data. Nevertheless, research shows:
- Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences, per theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- No fewer than 1.3 million documented cases of cell phone use have contributed to automobile accidents since 2011.
- The minimum amount of time it takes to shift attention from a device to the road is five seconds. While driving at a speed of 55 mph, a person travels the length of a football field in this short amount of time. I’ll bet the actual number is much higher, though that’s a scary thought.The minimum amount of time it takes to eat a slice of bacon is not measurable with existing technology.
- The risk of crash increases by 23% while text-messaging.
- Dialing increases risk of collision by 2.8 times.
- Talking or listening increases risk by 1.3 times.
- Reaching for a device increases risk by 1.4 times.
- 13 percent of drivers, ages 18-20, involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.
- 10 percent of teens who text while driving spend a considerable amount of time outside their own lanes of traffic.
- 48 percent of kids ages 12-17 have been in the car while someone who was driving was texting.
- One in five drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving. Drivers who surf while driving justify their behavior by saying that it is safer to read a text than it is to compose or send one, they hold the phone near the windshield for “better visibility,” they increase the following distance, or they text “only” at stop signs or red lights.
As part of the Calls Kill campaign, the Council urges drivers to pledge to drive cell free. Drivers who take the pledge will not only increase their safety behind the wheel, but also will be entered into weekly drawings to win prizes including an NSC First Aid, CPR & AED Online course, safety items for kids, and a stuffed animal donated by KidsAndCars.Org.
We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to avoid cell phone use so that you can drive safely. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.