Avoid Outdoor Electrical Hazards At Work and Home

power-line-fb-safety-shutterstock_168256007Warmer weather brings an increase in outdoor work in many parts of the country, both on the job and at home. Increasing electrical safety awareness can help ensure those activities do not result in injuries and deaths, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). ESFI notes that following safety rules can reduce electrical deaths and injuries:

  • Ladders—even those made of wood—that contact a power line can prove fatal.
  • Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.
  • Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing and repair or replace damaged items.
  • Water does not mix with electricity. Avoid damp

POWER LINE SAFETY

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reminds those on the job to look up, look down, and look out for electrical safety hazards.

On average, 325 people die and 4,400 are injured each year because of electrical hazards, according to data published by the National Safety Council. Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational fatalities. The leading cause of fatal electrical incidents while on the job is contact with power lines, both above and below ground.

ESFI reminds workers using ladders or scaffolds, and those carrying aluminum siding, poles, fencing and even lumber, to be aware and stay clear of power lines. Such contacts caused approximately 22 percent of the work related fatalities over a seven-year period, according to research (“Occupational Electrical Injuries in the US, 1992-1998,” published in the Journal of Safety Research ).

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article,”Electrical Safety.” For more information, please visit ccd.fnal.gov.

What is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) ?

Use of tools and technology can also make our reliance on electrical power less hazardous.

gfciInstalling a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in every home and workplace could prevent nearly 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year. GFCIs are especially useful for cord-connected appliances and equipment used outdoors or near water.

GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A GFCI can be an electrical receptacle, circuit breaker, or portable device. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted.

An Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) survey found that nearly one-half of U.S. families never test the GFCIs in their homes. More that 25 percent do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Even among those who routinely tested their GFCIs, none said that they tested their units as recommended — at least once a month and after storms.

GFCIs are subject to wear and possible damage from power surges during an electrical storm. Industry studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of GFCIs in use may be damaged. ESFI recommends performing a simple monthly test to determine if GFCIs are functioning properly.

  • Among the estimated millions of GFCIs installed nationwide, many are the standard wall or receptacletype GFCIs. To test your GFCIs, follow this simple procedure:
  • Push the “Reset” button of the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
  • Plug a light into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be ON. n Push the “Test” button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
  • Push the “Reset” button again. The light should again turn ON.

The light should go out when the test button is pushed. If the light does not go out, then the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. If the “Reset” button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly wired. In this case, the GFCI may have been damaged and does not offer shock protection. Contact a qualified electrician to check the GFCI and correct the problem.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article,”Electrical Safety.” For more information, please visit ccd.fnal.gov.

Key Electrical Safety Facts and Top Hazards

electrical_safety_2 Essential Facts about Electricity and Injury:

The most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that on average, there are over 400 electrocutions in the United States each year. Of these, approximately 180 are related to consumer products. Large appliances were responsible for the largest proportion of the electrocutions —10 percent.

  • Electrocutions from wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring together totaled approximately 20 percent.
  • Ladders contacting power lines caused 9 percent of electrocutions; in another 5 percent of deaths, victims contacted high voltage power lines.
  • Power tools were responsible for another 9 percent of deaths.
  • Landscaping, gardening and farming equipment cause 7 percent of electrocutions each year. In the work place, data from the National Safety Council indicate that electrical hazards cause nearly one workplace fatality every day.
  • Annually, electrical hazards are listed as the cause of approximately 4,000 injuries.
  • Electrical incidents, while only a small portion of those that occur on-the-job, are far more likely to be fatal.
  • Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational injury in the United States.
  • Before the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), which de-energize a circuit when they detect a ground fault, nearly 800 people died annually from household electrocutions. Currently, fewer than 200 people die annually from household electrocutions.
  • 25 percent of U.S. consumers don’t understand the purpose of their GFCIs.
  • Over 25 percent of consumers do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution.
  • Nearly one-half of U.S. families never test their GFCIs.
  • Among those who routinely test their GFCIs, none do so according to safety recommendations — at least once a month and after storms.

Electrocutions do not tell the entire story. Electricity is the cause of over 140,000 fires each year, resulting in 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries and $1.6 billion in property damage.

Total economic losses due to electrical hazards are estimated to exceed $4 billion annually.

What causes the top electrical hazards?

Many are the result of the growing use of electrical power, combined with electrical systems that are over 20 years old. Wiring hazards are both a major cause of electrocutions and home fires, killing hundreds and injuring thousands each year. Misuse of surge suppressors, power strips and extension cords is also a cause of electrocutions and fires. Contact with power lines and major appliances contribute to hundreds of deaths annually, both at home and in the workplace. Eliminating these electrical hazards will help reduce deaths and injuries.

According to data, top electrical safety hazards include:

  • Electrical fires caused by aging wiring;
  • Misuse of surge suppressors and extension cords; and
  • Electrocutions from power lines, wiring systems and large appliances.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article,”Electrical Safety.” For more information, please visit ccd.fnal.gov.

May is National Electrical Safety Month

May is National Electrical Safety Month and a good time review electrical safety practices. Increasing electrical safety awareness, following electrical safety guidelines, and using tools and technology designed to address electrical hazards are all components of a safety program.

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ESFI has issued electrical safety tips to help avoid tragic and costly injuries:

  • Use appliances and equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center.
  • Make sure power strips, cords and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads for their intended use. Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when working where water is near electricity to protect against electric shock.
  • Make certain that all products and equipment are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).
  • Add protection by installing a new electrical safety device—an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)—to detect and stop electrical arcs that can cause fires. Arcs are not detected by most breakers and fuses.
  • Avoid contact with power lines by being aware of the location of power lines and keeping a distance of at least 10 feet between you and power lines to avoid arcs.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article,”Electrical Safety.” For more information, please visit ccd.fnal.gov.

Avoid Pests at Your Picnic

Follow these tips to help keep your next picnic pest free!

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  • Carry picnic food in a cooler with a cold pack. Remember, a full cooler stays cool longer than a half empty one.
  • Always take along some foods that don’t require refrigeration.
  • A cooler will stay colder if it is kept inside the car and not in the trunk.
  • Keep coolers in the shade with the lid closed.
  • Bring along alcohol-based sanitizers or disposable wipes to keep hands clean.
  • When applying insect repellant, spray it away from food areas.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water and when applicable, remove outer leaves or skin.
  • Always assume that lake, pond, stream and river waters are not safe to drink. Take bottled water to drink.
  • Place all trash in nearby receptacles or bring it home with you for disposal.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article,”Camping Health and Safety Tips and Packing Checklist.” For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov.

Red Light Running Trends

More than 3.5 million drivers in 20 states ran a red light in 2013, according to the second biannual Safer Roads Report 2014: Trends in Red-Light Running from the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR).

The report, released one year ago today, examines red-light running trends across 20 states and is designed to help raise driver awareness of the dangers of red-light running. The risks of red-light running are clear: intersection-related vehicle accidents caused more than 8,500 causalities in 2011 – the most recent year for which data is available – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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NCSR’s report analyzed red-light running data collected from 2,216 red-light safety cameras across 202 areas in 20 states.

Report Highlights:

  • Memorial Day weekend was the highest ranked holiday travel period, with 39,021 red-light running violations in 2013
  • Halloween had the lowest number of red-light running violations in 2013, with 28,902 total
  • Friday proved to be the worst day for intersection safety in 2013 — safety cameras caught 570,151 total red-light running violations — while Sunday saw the fewest violations, with 439,323 total
  • Drivers most frequently ran red lights in the afternoon, with 30.07 percent (1,070,572) of all red-light running violations in 2013 occurring from 1 p.m.– 5 p.m.

“By highlighting the data and trends around red-light running, we hope to educate the public on the dangers of running red lights,” said David Kelly, Executive Director, NCSR, and Former Acting Administrator of NHTSA. “The information in the report reveals when we are most vulnerable on the road and reminds everyone to stay alert and safe near intersections.”

“Personally and as president of NCSR, I have witnessed the pain and trauma that running a red light can cause,” said NCSR President Melissa Wandall. “My hope is that this report will arm drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians with the knowledge they need to stay safe on our roads and keep others from having to feel the heartache I experienced when my husband was killed by a careless driver.” Melissa Wandall’s husband was killed by a red-light runner in 2003.

For more information on Safer Roads Report 2012: Trends in Red-Light Running, please visit http://www.NCSRsafety.org/. Also view the associated infographic.

The National Coalition for Safer Roads helps save lives and protect communities by demonstrating how red-light safety cameras can improve driver behavior. NCSR brings together policymakers, community leaders and concerned citizens in support of red-light safety cameras, advocating for their use in cities and communities across the country. The National Coalition for Safer Roads is a 501 (c)(6) industry trade association. To learn more, please visit www.NCSRsafety.org follow @SaferRoadsUSA on Twitter and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaferRoadsUSA.

SOURCE National Coalition for Safer Roads

Myth: You Don’t Need Business Auto Insurance Because You Drive Your Personal Car

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Many personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for commercial (a.k.a. business) use. That means if you get into an accident while running to an office supply store or the airport for your business, you might run into difficulties with your insurance provider.

The insurance needs for your car will depend on how it is primarily used. In other words, if you use it most often for business purposes (but sometimes for personal uses), it will likely require commercial coverage. If you use it most often for personal purposes (with the occasional business errand thrown in), it will likely require only personal coverage.

An insurance agent can explain this to you in more detail.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Myths Small Business Owners Believe About Their Insurance.” For more information, please visit www.smallbiztrends.com.

Spring for Food Safety

Ahh, Spring! This week, a new season is getting a nice kick-off with Passover and Easter holidays. These celebrations are filled with traditional meals that have unique food safety considerations that may or may not be included in the family recipe book. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has some food safety tips and steps here that, if added to your favorite recipes, can reduce the risk of food poisoning.  As with any food preparation, always remember to Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

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clean-foodBefore preparing any meal, wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, and clean surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water before and after handling raw food. Perishable food should not be left out for more than two hours at room temperature, so check the time at your gathering and make sure either to get food back in the refrigerator or to discard it. Refrigerated leftovers for all foods in this blog should be used within four days.

Beef Brisket: One reason that it’s an excellent choice for entertaining is that it can be prepared in advance. In fact, you must prepare it in advance and cook it slowly to make it tender. Also, because it can be cooked ahead of time and it reheats well, brisket is a great cut of meat to serve to large groups.  Follow these food safety tips for cooking and serving brisket:

  • Be sure to allow plenty of time to thaw a frozen brisket. Thawing in the refrigerator can take about 24 hours for a trimmed, first-cut brisket. A whole brisket weighing about 10 pounds can take several days.
  • Keep raw meat refrigerated at 40 ˚F or below until ready to cook. Place the meat on a plate or container to hold the juices that can drip on other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Bake the brisket, fat side up in a baking dish, in an oven set no lower than 325 ˚F. The brisket is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F and is allowed to rest at that temperature for three minutes. Use a food thermometer to be sure. For personal preferences, consumers may choose to cook the brisket longer for tenderness.
  • If reheating brisket before serving, remember to reheat to 165 °F.To serve brisket cold, keep it at 40 °F or below by nesting dishes in beds of ice, or use small servings platters and replace them often.

Ham: There are many kinds of hams on the market, but your family likely is purchasing a fully cooked ham. Here are tips for storing and serving a fully cooked ham:

  • When buying a ham, look for the USDA or State Mark of Inspection.
  • Refrigerate the ham at 40 ˚F or below immediately after arriving home.
  • cookThese hams are best served cold. However, if you want to reheat them, set the ove
    n at 325 ˚F and heat to an internal temperature of 140 °F as measured with a food thermometer. If the ham was repackaged at your butcher shop or grocer, reheat it to 165 °F. Individual slices may also be warmed in a skillet or microwave.

chill-foodDeviled Eggs: Follow these food safety tips below for making an egg dish such as deviled eggs. Remember, eggs are perishable just like raw meat, poultry, and fish, and could contain pathogens.

  • Our virtual food safety expert, Ask Karen, has helpful instructions on how to boil eggs.
  • After cooking the eggs, it is a good idea to keep the whites refrigerated while preparing the filling.
  • Keep deviled eggs chilled until you are ready to serve. Eggs should not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Use a cooler with ice when transporting to another location.

For additional questions visit Ask Karen, our virtual food safety expert available 24/7, at AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov via smartphone. The Meat and Poultry Hotline can also be reached at 1-888-MPHotline from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Spring for Food Safety.” For more information, please visit www.foodsafety.gov.

UV Index: How to use it!

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UV Index: How to use it!

The UV Index is a forecast of the probable intensity of skin damaging ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface during the solar noon hour (11:30-12:30 local standard time or 12:30-13:30 local daylight time). The greater the UV Index is the greater the amount of skin damaging UV radiation. How much UV radiation is needed to actually damage one’s skin is dependant on several factors. But in general the darker one’s skin is, (that is the more melanin one has in his/her skin) the longer (or the more UV radiation) it takes to cause erythema (skin reddening). The char below shows can be used to check his/her propensity to burn versus the UV Index. For those who always burn and never tan the times to burn are relatively short compared to those who almost always tan.

The EPA has devised general guidelines as far as what to do to protect oneself from overexposure to UV radiation. These are shown in the table below.

Exposure Category UV Index Protective Actions
Minimal 0, 1, 2 Apply skin protection factor (SPF) 15 sun screen.
Low 3, 4 SPF 15 & protective clothing (hat)
Moderate 5, 6 SPF 15, protective clothing, and UV-A&B sun glasses.
High 7, 8, 9 SPF 15, protective clothing, sun glasses and make attempts to avoid the sun between 10am to 4pm.
Very High 10+ SPF 15, protective clothing, sun glasses and avoid being in the sun between 10am to 4pm.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “UV Index Information.” For more information, please visit www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.

My Emergency Preparedness Stockpile Checklist

Pack the following items in a clearly labeled, easy-to-carry, sealable container and store them in a place that is easy to access. Check your stockpile once or twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to check your stockpile when you change your clocks for daylight saving time. Replace any supplies that are missing or have expired or have been damaged.

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Emergency supplies
• Flashlight and batteries
• Manual can opener
• Battery-operated radio (and batteries) or hand-cranked radio
• Matches in waterproof container
• Utility knife
• Paper and pencil
• Cash, traveler’s checks and coins
• Paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, paper towels
• Garbage bags
• Pet food
• Whistle
• Small, canister ABC-type fire extinguisher
• Needles, thread
• Plastic sheeting
• Duct tape, scissors
• Extra set of keys and IDs
• Local maps
• Small tent, compass and shovel
• Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper
When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, this can be used as a disinfectant. In an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use bleach with added cleaners or bleach that is scented.

Food and water
• Three days worth of drinking water, with one gallon of water per person per day. Do not stockpile soda.
• Three-day supply per person of non-perishable foods.
• Take into consideration special dietary needs. Avoid salty foods that make you thirsty and include canned foods with high liquid content.
• First aid manual
• Bandages, including gauze and bandage tape
• Germicidal hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Antiseptic wipes
• Non-latex gloves
• Antibacterial ointment
• Scissors (small, personal)
• Tweezers
• CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
• Prescription medications (such as heart and blood pressure medications or asthma inhalers) and medical supplies, such as insulin and blood-pressure monitoring equipment, if applicable
• Non-prescription medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacids and laxatives
• First-aid and emergency medical kit

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Personal items
• Extra prescription eyeglasses, if applicable
• Denture and contact lens supplies, if applicable
• Hearing aid batteries, if applicable
• Diapers and infant supplies, if applicable
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
• Complete change of clothing for each person, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. If you live in a cold climate, add jacket or coat, hat, mittens and scarf.
• Moist towelettes, feminine hygiene supplies, latex gloves and other items for personal sanitation

Important documents: Store in waterproof, portable container
• Birth, marriage and death certificates
• Insurance policies and will
• Contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
• Passports, Social Security cards
• Immunization records
• Bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and company contact information
• Prescription information
• Inventory of valuable household goods
• Veterinary records for pets, as well as pet photos

The above is an excerpt from the article, “My emergency preparedness stockpile checklist.” For more information, please visit www.getreadyforflu.org.