Watch: New Year’s Safety Tips

Keep these tips in mind to be safe this New Year’s:

Winter Driving Safety

Below are some tips that will go a long way toward ensuring that you reach your destination safely this winter.

Before you drive:

  • windshield-scrape-shutterstock_162726929Get your vehicle tuned up prior to the winter season.
  • Make sure windshield wipers, batteries, tires and defrosters are working and in good condition.
  • Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
  • Ensure your car has basic winter driving equipment such as a scraper and brush, small shovel, jumper cables, road flares, tow chain and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, including blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, flashlight with batteries, and any needed medication.
  • Warm up your vehicle in accordance with operating instructions, and remove all ice and snow from windows and vehicle surfaces (including the roof) before starting your trip.
  • Plan your trips carefully, listen to the local weather reports, and the National Weather Service for weather conditions predicted along your travel route.

While you drive:

  • Always buckle your seat belt and require your passengers do the same.
  • Reduce speeds. Remember that the posted speed limit is for ideal travel conditions.
  • Allow for extra travel time or consider delaying trips if the weather is inclement.
  • Don’t use your hand-held cell phone while driving, as mandated by law.
  • safe_winter_driving-shutterstock_91827941Use your headlights, as required by law.
  • Be alert and allow more distance between your vehicle and others.
  • Use your brakes carefully.  Brake early and carefully as it takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Don’t use “cruise control” in wintry conditions.
  • Be courteous to other drivers.
  • Keep to the right except to pass, using turn signals to alert other drivers of your intentions.

Driving near or behind a snow plow:

  • If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it’s safe to pass.  Remember, a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision.  Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.
  • Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow.  Plows will typically travel under 35 miles per hour and there is always a temptation to pass them.
  • Allow plenty of room when passing a snowplow.  Do not cut back into the lane ahead of the truck too quickly since the plow extends several feet ahead of the truck.  Some snowplows are equipped with a “wing plow,” extending off the side of the truck.

In case of an emergency:

  • Do not stop within travel lanes.  If the vehicle can be driven, motorists should travel to the nearest exit or safe location.  If the vehicle is inoperable, motorists should activate four-way flashers, and stay inside the vehicle until authorized personnel arrive to provide assistance.
  • Never walk along the roadway.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Winter Safety.” For more information, please visit www.thruway.ny.gov/.

Are Wearables The New Risk To The Workplace?

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Apple Watch® (Apple Watch) is scheduled for release in early 2015. It has the proficiency to monitor health and fitness with built-in sensors and to send the user’s data to Apple’s Health app. The new wearable can sync data using Bluetooth and is compatible with iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus.

Several other Apple apps will be available on the Apple Watch, including Siri, Messages, and Maps. Maps will provide walking directions, buzzing your wrist for each turn. In addition, the new smart watch can pull information from calendars, email and other iPhone apps. Hundreds of third-party apps, including Twitter and Facebook, also are available.

Apple Watch charges with a wireless pad that magnetically links to its back and comes furnished with a sapphire glass touchscreen that vibrates with alerts.

The announcement of Apple Watch spurred increased interest in wearable devices. Wearables are technological devices that are worn by the consumer and include, for example, jewelry, helmets, clothing and glasses. Wearables have been on the market for several years, but sales are expected to skyrocket beginning in 2015.

According to Jeffrey Burtt’s recent article in eweek.com, “Apple Watch to Fuel Wearable Device Market, Gartner Says,” Gartner, Inc., claims nine of the top 10 smartphone makers are moving into the wearables market. International Data Corporation recently said that more than 19 million wearable devices will ship just in this year.

IHS Electronics & Media predicts nearly 50 million shipments for performance monitors in 2015. Revenue is forecasted to reach $2.3 billion in 2017 for sports and fitness monitors alone.

Like cellular and smart phones and mobile devices in general, wearables, no doubt, will find a way to impact the workplace—for good and bad.

The health care and wellness application alone will likely have a profound impact on the workplace. Glucose monitors, heart rate and activity monitors, and sleep sensors are just a few examples of wearables that can help improve worker health, but they also put private medical data at risk.

Wearables will not be without some risk. Here are just a few:

  • Smaller devices make it more difficult to keep employer confidential data safe from theft;
  • Employee health information that can lead to GINA and ADA claims;
  • Smaller cameras create child and data safety issues; and
  • Constant information flow means continual interruptions that can hurt productivity.

Employers need to keep up with the technology and a good place to start is with policies that restrict what data personal devices in the workplace, including wearables, can access.

The following article is provided courtesy of The McCalmon Group.

Driving Tips for Commercial Drivers

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Driving too fast for conditions is defined as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were traveling too fast for conditions.

Adjust your speed to safely match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic. Excessive driving speed is a major cause of fatal crashes,  and higher speeds may cause more severe crashes. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) recently reported that 25 percent of speeding-related large-truck fatalities occurred during adverse weather conditions.

Did You Know? You should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 or more on snow packed roads (i.e., if you would normally be traveling at a speed of 60 mph on dry pavement, then on a wet road you should reduce your speed to 40 mph, and on a snow-packed road you should reduce your speed to 30 mph). When you come upon slick, icy roads you should drive slowly and cautiously and pull off the road if you can no longer safely control the vehicle.

Did You Know? When it first starts to rain, water mixes with oil on the road making it particularly slippery.

Did You Know? Manufacturers generally advise drivers not to use a retarder [also called a “Jake” brake] on wet or slippery roadway conditions. In fact, a Safety Board Investigation of a motor coach crash that occurred in Canon City, Colorado, in December 1999, revealed that an enabled retarder most likely triggered the loss of control and eventual crash of the motor coach on a snow-covered and mountainous roadway.

An example of a driver traveling too fast for conditions is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip. 

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling on a multi-lane highway on wet pavement at night. Traffic is heavy and moving slowly. The driver is inattentive and traveling too fast for conditions. Traffic slows as the driver passes an emergency vehicle on the side of the road and the driver has to brake quickly to avoid hitting the lead vehicle.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

    • Did the driver adjust his vehicle’s speed considering the traffic, road, and weather conditions?
    • What caused the driver to brake excessively?
    • What could the driver have done differently?
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Too Fast for Conditions.” For more information, please visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

How to Dispose Your Mobile Device

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How to Remove Personal Information

Your mobile device probably holds sensitive information like addresses and phone numbers, passwords, account numbers, email, voicemail, and text message logs. When getting rid of your old device, it’s important to take steps to help ensure this information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

First, try to use the factory reset. Many devices allow you to “wipe” your device and clear nearly all the information in its memory. Sometimes, this is called a “hard reset,” or “factory reset.” You may be able to save or transfer the information to your new device before you delete it from your old one. For detailed instructions on how to “wipe” your device, read your owner’s manual or check the website of your mobile provider or the device manufacturer.

Second, remove or erase SIM and SD cards. Many mobile devices store information on a SIM card or an external SD card as well as in the device’s internal memory. If you’re keeping your phone number, ask your mobile provider about transferring your SIM card to your new device. SD cards often contain photos and other sensitive information. Even when you “wipe” your device, your SIM card or SD cards may retain information about you. Remove them from your device or delete the data that’s stored on them.

Checking Twice

After you’ve deleted your personal information, it’s good to double-check to make sure it’s gone. Check your:

  • phone book
  • logs for both dialed and received calls
  • voicemails
  • sent and received emails and text messages
  • downloads and other folders
  • search histories
  • personal photos

If you stored apps on your device, remove them and the data associated with them.

Discarding with Care

Once you have a “clean” phone, it’s up to you to decide what to do next.

Recycling it is one option. Many mobile device manufacturers, wireless service providers, and other groups have programs to refurbish mobile devices or recycle their components, including accessories like chargers. For more information, check the websites of:

Another option is to donate your device. Many organizations collect used mobile devices for charitable purposes. You also might decide to trade in your device for a credit toward a new one; resell it to a person or an organization; or just dispose of it altogether. If that’s your choice, keep the environment in mind. The EPA recommends that you check with your local health and sanitation agencies for their preferred way to dispose of electronics..

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Disposing Your Mobile Device.” For more information, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov.

Green Gift Guide Pointers: Gift Bags and Wrapping

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recycle_gift_shutterstock_58355134Think “green” while shopping holiday and birthday sales. Try to buy items with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content. Check product labels to determine an item’s recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials.

Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases. Use reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones for trick-or-treating.

Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Holidays and Parties.” For more information, please visit www.epa.gov.

Snowmobiling Safety

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More than 2.5 million snowmobiles will hit the open country of North America this winter. (1.5 million in the United States and 2 million in Canada). Commission staff have found that the majority of snowmobile accidents involved collisions with fixed or moving objects such as fence posts, barbed wire, trees, cars, and other snowmobiles. Last year, the National Safety Council recorded about 156 deaths associated with snowmobiles.

Fatalities have resulted from riding on thin ice, freezing when stranded after a breakdown, and decapitation by running through a barbed wire fence.

Contributing factors in accidents examined included excessive speed, product failure due to design or deterioration, darkness, bad weather, and the derring-do of some drivers.

According to the Commission’s Bureau of Epidemiology, injuries associated with snowmobiles are relatively severe and drivers make up the majority of those injured.

The Commission makes the following recommendations to snowmobilers:

  1. Follow local regulations and operation instructions.
  2. Become familiar with the particular model of snowmobile before driving. A number of accidents involved veteran drivers accustomed to a different make or model.
  3. Wear goggles, helmets with chin straps, and protective clothing.
  4. Inspect the entire machine, brakes, throttle control, lights, and emergency shut-off switch before departing. Never start without a full tank of gas.
  5. Take extra spark plugs, tools, a first aid kit, and other repair and survival supplies such as flares and matches.
  6. Know the terrain. Know where fences, gullies, and rocks may be hidden. Beware of open bodies of water and thin ice.
  7. Avoid driving at night and in bad weather. A single strand of barbed wire is hard to see.
  8. Remember that the loud noise generated by the snowmobile may prevent hearing approaching trains and cars. Be alert.
  9. On long trips, travel in groups. In case of emergencies, someone can go for help.
  10. Never drink intoxicating beverages and drive at the same time.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “CPSC Issures Safety Tips On Winter Sports.” For more information, please visit www.cspc.gov.

Think Green When Gift Giving

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In the United States, we throw away 25% more garbage during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than during the rest of the year. That adds up to one million tons of extra garbage every week.

Here are some great suggestions to keep your gift-giving green!

Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money. Look for items that embody the concept of reuse. For example: swings made from used tires, wooden toys made from scrap wood, craft kits that take advantage of used goods and discards, and drawing boards that can be erased and reused.

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Donate the older toys that your children no longer use to charities. Also check with local libraries. A number of public libraries have extended their children’s section to include a lending collection of toys, games, puzzles, musical instruments, and such.

batteries_shutterstock_122776555About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger aswell. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run.

When giving flowers as gifts, consider buying long-lasting silk flowers, potted plants, or live bushes, shrubs, or trees that can be planted in the spring as gifts.

Bake cookies or other goodies for your friends and love ones and package them in reusable and/or recyclable containers as gifts. Homemade goodies show how much you care and help you avoid packaging waste.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Holidays and Parties.” For more information, please visit www.epa.gov.

Safety Tips For Skiers

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Proper and well-fitting equipment, physical conditioning, common sense, and good sportsmanship could eliminate some accidents. Injury data compiled by the Commission reveal major hazard patterns associated with various winter sports and indicate suggestions about how other accidents also might be avoided.

skiis-shutterstock_3257898Skiing. Investigations of skiing accidents show that injuries occurred when bindings did not release and when the skier was going too fast, lost control, or hit a mogul. A number of accidents happened when the skier was tired.

Commission recommendations to skiers include:

  1. Take lessons from an expert. Studies show that beginners are hurt more frequently, so advancement is desirable.
  2. Use good quality equipment that fits well.
  3. Be sure that equipment is clean–no dirt or salt between boots, bindings, and binding mechanism.
  4. Proper adjustment of bindings could lessen the likelihood of leg injuries. Beginners might test abilities to get out of bindings with muscle power by standing in the skis and twisting and pulling to release the toe and heel pieces.
  5. Approach tow lifts with caution. Beware of long scarves that could become entangled in the tow rope.
  6. Never tackle a slope that is obviously beyond personal skiing abilities. Ski marked trails and observe ski trail signs.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “CPSC Issures Safety Tips On Winter Sports.” For more information, please visit www.cspc.gov.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

christmas-tree-close-fb-shutterstock_234841786Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.

Picking the tree

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Christmas Tree Safety Tips.” For more information, please visit www.nfpa.org.