We all think about tire safety in winter when the roads are snowy or slushy and we adjust our driving accordingly. But what about in the rain? Wet, slick roads with water buildup can be quite hazardous, too. Many drivers are rather cavalier about adjusting their driving in the rain and are caught short when something goes wrong, such as hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning – also sometimes called aquaplaning – is losing traction over water while driving, and actually skimming or sliding on the surface of that water. Losing contact with the road is a frightening experience because it results in loss of control of the car. The formula for hydroplaning is speed, tire tread depth and water depth. It’s important to maintain your tires and slow down when it rains. Even a light rain can be hazardous, particularly in the first few minutes as rainfall mixes with oils on the road surface.
This is a short post featuring a short, powerful video clip: Wait for it … this could save your life. We encourage you to watch it and share it – it’s just under 4 minutes. There’s a lot we could say about it, but we think it is more impactful to let the clip speak for itself.
Jacy Good, the young woman in the video who tells her story, is not an actress. Here is more about how she became a passionate safety advocate.
It’s National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. It’s good timing because July is the month with the most cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), four people have been killed by lightning so far this year. On average, 43 people died of lightning strikes each year over a 10-year period. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability. Your odds of being struck in a given year are about 1/1,222,000. Your odds of being struck in your lifetime if you live to be 80 are about 1/15,300.
From 2006 through 2019, 418 people were struck and killed by lightning in the United States.
2/3 of the deaths occurred to people engaged in outdoor leisure activities
Males accounted for 79% of all fatalities
Fishermen accounted for four times as many fatalities as golfers
Beach activities and camping each accounted for about twice as many deaths as golf
Of work-related activities, farming was most dangerous
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida are the top four states with the highest recorded number of lightning strikes
Florida ranks first in lightning strike fatalities
1/3 of all lightning related injuries occur indoors
Lightning can have a range of up to 10 miles from the thunderstorm. It’s important to go inside at first sign of an approaching storm and to say inside up to 30 minutes after a storm has passed
NWS offers these tips about what you need to know to stay safe outdoors:
NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips – If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
Never lie flat on the ground
Never shelter under an isolated tree
Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
For many years, the advice was to assume a crouch position if caught outside, but NWS stopped recommending the crouch in 2008 because it simply doesn’t provide significant protection
Indoor Lightning Safety
Some victims were struck inside homes or buildings while they were using electrical equipment or corded phones. Others were in contact with plumbing, outside doors, or window frames. Avoid contact with these electrical conductors when a thunderstorm.
Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Lightning protection systems intercept lightning strikes and provide grounding path for dangerous electricity to discharge safely, leaving occupants and homes safe from harm
Panel box surge protective devices (SPDs) serve as the first line of defense against harmful home electrical surges, limiting voltages by diverting currents at the electrical service entrance. Only qualified electricians should install SPDs
Point of use surge protectors protect electronics plugged into the device from surges, must be replaced over time or after a major surge event
Power strips do not provide surge protection
No surge device can handle a direct lightning strike. Unplug sensitive electronics well before a storm to prevent damage
The good news is that it’s Memorial Day Weekend, states are cautiously beginning to open beaches and parks, and the weather looks promising. The bad news is that the virus has not gone away so visiting your favorite coastal spots will come with many restrictions and limitations. If you are expecting a “normal” experience, you may be disappointed. You should “know before you go” and consider taking small steps to favorite outdoor activities rather than jumping in headlong … perhaps stay closer to home base to test the waters. Definitely don’t drive to another state without checking first – some states require 14-day quarantines for out-of-state visitors! But even if there is no quarantine requirement, check the status and availability of your destination, along with learning any rules and requirements that may be in place. Don’t count on lifeguards or public restrooms. Plan to bring face coverings, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and possibly your own food and beverages. Even if some restaurants are open for takeout or outdoor dining, they will likely have limited capacity.
We amassed some resources to help you plan before you go to the beach.
First, how safe are outdoor activities? The New York Times checked with experts who say that being outdoors with is probably fine and if you adhere to appropriate social distancing and think things through. They warn about lowering your guard too much and caution about outdoor dining, using locker rooms at pools, and navigating crowds in places like beaches. See What We Know About Your Chances of Catching the Virus Outdoors
They suggest that:
Ideally, people should socialize only with people who live in their homes, they say. If you decide to meet friends, you’re increasing your risk, but you can take precautions. It’s important to keep gatherings small. Don’t share food, utensils or beverages; keep your hands clean; and keep at least six feet from people who don’t live in your home.
Be cautious as you venture into public outdoor spaces … we all need to stay safe ourselves and keep our families and neighbors safe. Keep your expectations low, be flexible, and avoid crowded spots. This first weekend “free” might be too crowded, a walk or a bike ride in your local area might be the best bet. Public health officials will be keeping tabs on how things go in this first big holiday of the pandemic and it will affect how things go over the course of the summer, so let’s all be careful, safe, patient and respectful. We don’t want to undo all the good we did by staying at home over the last many weeks!
Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.
If you need to venture out on the roads, be sure to drive defensively! According to recent reports, many streets and highways have turned into a dangerous environment of deserted streets given over to drag racing and speeding competitions. With so many businesses shut down and people under a stay-at-home advisory during the coronavirus crisis, nationwide, traffic has dropped by more than 40%, according to transportation-data firm Inrix. Some large metro highways report even higher drops of between 50% to 70%. But if you think less volume makes for safer roads, think again! Unfortunately, people seem to be driving much more recklessly.
According to a report in Agency Checklists, new data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation shows that despite a 50% reduction in overall traffic on Massachusetts roads, fatalities doubled in number during April. But this troubling trend is not unique to Massachusetts. Standard Publishing talks about a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA):
“State highway safety officials across the country are reporting a sharp spike in speeding incidents. Multiple states have reported speed increases, with Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska and Utah noting a significant surge in vehicles clocked at 100 mph or more.”
The Washington Post cites both the GHSA report and law enforcement and traffic experts throughout the country, and the story is the same: speeders have taken over the roadways. In addition to drag racing and high-speed competitions, the post Post reports:
What’s more, those speeding drivers are also more distracted. A study released Thursday by the data analytics company Zendrive found motorists are braking harder and using their phones more while driving. The analysis of millions of miles of driving data based on smartphone sensors found speeding is up by 27 percent on average, while hard braking climbed 25 percent. Phone usage on the nation’s roadways steadily increased in the weeks following the stay-at-home guidelines, up by 38 percent in mid-April, according to the report.
The Post says that people may think they can get away with reckless driving because law enforcement have limited resources or have reallocated resources during the pandemic. And some psychologists think it may be for excitement to counter the boredom or as an emotional release.
Hopefully, this troubling trend is a shutdown anomaly that will ease as states begin gradually reopening. But if and when you need to be out on the roads – particularly the highways – be super alert, avoid distractions, wear your seat belt, and keep your own speed down!
Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.
It’s not yet clear when stay-at-home restrictions might be lifted – they’ll vary by state. NPR maintains a handy state-by-state list of How Each State Is Responding To COVID-19 that talks about various restrictions. But one thing is clear – until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus, we won’t be going back to life as we knew it in the foreseeable future. It’s likely that restrictions on public places will be lifted gradually and that we will still be practicing advanced hygiene, and social distancing. And more and more of us will be wearing face masks or face coverings in public places to protect ourselves and others. The CDC has recommended this practice, and many communities and states are requiring them in all or some public places.
Whether they are required or not, many health experts point to the advantages in a pandemic. We know that the people can have coronavirus for a period of time before they show symptoms; in fact, the CDC says that up to 25% of people with coronavirus may not show any symptoms at all, but they can still be shedding the virus when they cough or sneeze. A face mask protects others against this. Plus, although face coverings aren’t a replacement for other protections, they offer an additional measure of safety for the wearer, particularly in places and situations where it may be difficult to maintain 6 feet of distance.
The New York Times has a handy User’s Guide to Face Masks (They are making coronavirus-related content freely available to all). The guide has many useful tips about the various types of masks, ideas for how to make masks and where to find patterns, and a brief video of how to make an easy no-cost, no-sew reusable face mask out of an old t-shirt. They also offer tips for how to put a mask on, how take it off, and how to clean it. It pretty much covers any questions you might have and offers links to other resources.
We’ve summarized some of their best-practice mask tips as well as tips from the CDC:
Wear a mask at all times in public spaces
Unless you have a health condition requiring it, don’t use a surgical mask or PPE intended for healthcare workers
Wash your hands before putting on a face mask and after taking it off
When removing it, avoid touching the front of the mask
A mask should cover your nose and mouth, going from near the bridge of your nose to down under your chin and stretch about halfway or more toward your ears.
Avoid touching your face while you are wearing the mask
Continue maintaining 6-feet of social distancing between you and others
Wash the mask after use
Children and masks
Your young children may be afraid to see their parents, loved ones – indeed, everyone, suddenly all covering their faces. Masks could provoke fear, sadness or just general anxiety about a stressful time. The New York Times talks about children who fear masks, noting that “One reason children may find masks disconcerting is that the ability to recognize — and read — faces is much weaker in young children than it will be by adolescence.” Children start developing facial identification skills around age 6, but it’s not until about age 14 that they have fully developed this skill. The article offers ideas for how to help children acclimate to face masks by explaining how they help others. Among their suggestions are to make the association between masks and superheroes.
The CDC says that children under 2 years of age should not wear masks. Should kids above that age wear masks? While children are less likely to become seriously ill from coronavirus, they still might be infected and therefore potentially infecting others. The New York Times talks about the issue of young children wearing face makes, noting that:
Masks are most useful in public places where your child is likely to come within six feet of another person (for example in a grocery store or pharmacy) and in areas where the virus has been spreading quickly, the C.D.C. said.
They offer tips for parents about when masks are advisable and ideas for how to persuade your children to use them.
If you are one of the millions who are confined to home during the Coronavirus outbreak, we have scoured the web for some of the best advice, tips and tools to help you make the most of things .. from working at home, keeping safe, stocking up, keeping kids safe and amused and dealing with anxiety and boredom.
Working from home
8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You – “Never before have workers telecommuted on such a broad scale. Millions of people are trying to work from home — if they can, of course. NPR’s Life Kit wants to help WFH work for you, especially if you’re doing so for the first time.”
Anxiety can be a general feeling of apprehension, fear, nervousness, or worry. It can also be a sudden attack of panicky feelings, or fear of a certain situation or object. Learn more about anxiety disorders and treatment options from Medline.
Reprinted from Renaissance Alliance – no usage without permission.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID19, originated in China, and has spread to at many other countries – the New York Times has an updated coronavirus tracking map where you can follow the outbreak across the globe. As of today, there are 60 identified cases in the U.S. – check the map for state breakdowns. We don’t yet know how we will be affected in the U.S. – we can only see that it spreads rapidly and viruses don’t respect borders.
As with many emerging illnesses, there’s a lot of fear about the potential impact. There’s also quite a bit of misinformation and many myths are circulating already. Fear and over-reaction create many additional problems. In times of health emergencies, it’s important to rely on trusted and authorized sources of information. Here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has a dedicated coronavirus site with information for the public about how the illness spreads, symptoms, testing, FAQs, fact sheets and more. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, web resources from the World Health Organization (WHO), includes helpful, reputable information. Be careful about any information that you see posted on social media – make sure you know your source.
It’s important to keep perspective. From what we know now, coronavirus has high contagion but relatively low number of deaths in proportion to cases. Like influenza, it is of most concern to elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Remember, our usual flu season is still in progress, and the CDC estimates that between Oct. 1 and Feb. 15, seasonal influenza, aka “the flu.” has claimed the lives of 16,000 people.
This 10-minute video interviews two pathologists about the most common myths about the coronavirus, while presenting many facts about the disease and offering sensible advice for self protection.
CDC Coronavirus Prevention Guidance
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus, but the best way to prevent the disease includes the everyday prevention methods that help spread of respiratory diseases, influenza and other viruses. The CDC says:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.: CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Travel issues and travel insurance
One big issue that people are questioning is whether it’s safe to travel. Right now, the countries on highest alert for travel are China and South Korea. The CDC is also warning travelers to Italy, Iran, and Japan to “practice enhanced precautions.” Check the CDC travel health advisories and the State Department’s travel advisories for the current status of countries you may be planning to visit. For more information, see CDC Travel.
The next question people have is if they should reschedule travel, and whether travel insurance will cover them if they have to cancel or have travel disrupted due to coronavirus. The bad news is, not always – it depends. It’s important to know the extent of your travel coverage and understand what is and what isn’t covered. PropertyCasualty360 addresses this in their article: Will travel insurance cover coronavirus?
“Tour operators and travel insurance brokers are reporting an increasing number of requests from customers asking to change their travel plans. Meanwhile, many U.S. airlines, including United, America and Delta, have canceled several flights to China.
Consumers may be surprised to learn that in either situation, their travel policy probably wouldn’t cover them.”
Most travel insurance is designed to protect you in case you need to cancel a trip, lose belongings, or require medical attention. But for cancellations related to coronavirus, only certain reasons qualify.”
Coyotes live in every US state except Hawaii. They are very adaptable to almost any environment – including cities and suburbs. They are scavengers that will eat just about anything. Right now, we are in peak breeding season, which generally runs from January to March.
One of the problems with living close to humans is that coyotes start to lose their fear of people. Instead of hiding, they can become bolder. Many pet owners have heartbreaking stories about having small pets grabbed from their yard by a coyote – or even snatched right off a leash in front of a horrified pet owner. While coyotes tend to be nocturnal, they can also roam around during the day. They are often spotted at daylight and dusk.
Eliminate sources of water, particularly in dry climates.
Bird feeders should be positioned so that coyotes cannot get feed.
Do not discard edible garbage where coyotes can get to it.
Secure garbage containers and eliminate garbage odors.
Feed pets indoors whenever possible. Pick up any leftovers and store pet and livestock feed where it is inaccessible to wildlife.
Trim and clean, near ground level, any shrubbery that provides hiding cover for coyotes or prey
Fencing your yard could deter coyotes. The fence should be at least 6 feet high with the bottom extending at least 6 inches below ground level for best results.
Don’t leave small children unattended outside if coyotes have been frequenting the area.
Don’t allow pets to run free. Keep them safely confined and provide secure nighttime housing for them. Walk your dog on a leash and accompany your pet outside, especially at night.
Discourage coyotes from frequenting your area. If you start seeing coyotes around your home or property, chase them away by shouting, making loud noises, or throwing rocks.
This last tip is commonly referred to as “coyote hazing”. The Humane Society has great resources on this topic – see Coyote hazing: Guidelines for discouraging neighborhood coyotes that focus on steps to change coyote behavior. Hazing is method that makes use of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and deter them from backyards and play spaces. The article suggests dog-walking tools and ways to keep them out of your yard.
In the first New England snowstorm of the year a few weeks back, doctors raised the alarm about a spate of snowblower-related injuries they were seeing in local hospitals. It happens every year … the US Consumer Products Safety Commission says that more than 5,000 people visit emergency rooms each year with snow blower injuries. Most injuries involve the hands, ranging from cuts and lacerations to amputations. Experts say that with precautions, most snowblower injuries are preventable. And surprisingly, victims are not just first-time users – experience with the equipment doesn’t appear to be factor, injuries occur to highly experienced users, too. Dr. Shapiro of the Cleveland Clinic says:
Most times, injuries happen when people let their guard down. So even if a person has been using a snow blower for years, Dr. Shapiro says it’s important to follow the rules every single time to avoid a devastating injury.
“It’s very important to follow the rules — they’re there for a reason and they do make a difference,” he says. “It’s not typically the novice snow blower user who gets injured. It’s the person who’s been using it for five or 10 years, has considerable experience with it and may think that he or she can get away with something that they didn’t think they could get away with when they first got the machine.”
Great work by #Lawrence firefighters & first responders in helping the injured man and even shoveling his driveway!
“When the snow is thick and has a heavy water content, it can jam the snow blower,” Partridge said. “Many people don’t realize that even after you turn the snow blower off, there’s some torque that remains in the impeller. If it’s off and you reach in and unblock it, it still has one last rotation to go.”
“Manufacturers will tell you never to put your hand in a snow blower, even when it’s off,” Partridge said. “If there’s a blockage, people should shut the machine off and use a wooden stick to clear it. Some snow blowers even come with a stick for that purpose.”
He also offers the following advice:
“People shouldn’t wear scarves or other loose clothing when operating a snow blower,” he said. “Make sure young children are well out of the way. Make sure the walks and driveway are clear of newspapers and stones or anything else that can get caught in the snow blower. And never let a child operate a snow blower.”
The article also discusses other common snow blower-relate injuries, including shoveling injuries and hypothermia.
Never wear loose pants, jackets, or scarves, which can get tangled in a snow blower’s moving parts and pull you in with them.
Wear earplugs or other hearing protection, especially with a gas-powered model, which typically runs above the 85 decibels at which hearing damage can occur.
Before the snow gets too deep, remove doormats, sleds, boards, wires, newspapers, and anything else from the area you’ll clear to avoid clogs and damage to the machine.
Don’t let children operate a snow blower. And keep people and pets far away from the vicinity of where you’re clearing.
Protect yourself from carbon-monoxide poisoning by starting and running a gas-powered snow blower outside, never in a garage, shed, or other enclosed area—-even if the door is open.
For an electric model, use an outdoor extension cord rated for your model, connected to an outlet with ground-fault-circuit-interrupting (GFCI) protection. Then be sure to keep the cord safely away from the spinning auger while working.
Turn off the engine of a gas snow blower or unplug the cord of an electric model before clearing a clog at the auger or discharge chute. And use a clearing tool or a broom handle to clear the clog—never your hands or feet, even if you’re wearing gloves: A stationary auger and impeller are often under enough belt tension to harm hands and feet, even with the engine or electric motor off.
Wait until a gas model’s engine is cool before refueling to avoid igniting the gasoline.