Severe Thunderstorms; How To Prepare And Stay Safe

severe thunderstorms

severe thunderstormsSevere thunderstorms produce lightning, which is extremely dangerous. Though lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2014, there were 26 fatalities from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of severe thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities—more than 140 every year—than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

Before a Thunderstorm and Lighting

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment before the storm arrives.

Facts about Thunderstorms

  • They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.
  • A single thunderstorm affecting one location for an extended time can be more severe than other storms.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  • About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe; these storms generally produce hail at least an inch or larger in diameter and have winds of 58 miles per hour or higher. They can also produce tornadoes.

Facts about Lightning

  • Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000, but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
  • Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning

If thunderstorms and lightning are occurring in your area, you should do the following:

  • Use a battery-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged into electrical outlets for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach and boats on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal, such as tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Lightning Safety When Outdoors

If you are: Then:
In a forest Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike) Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

After a Thunderstorm or Lighting Strike

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 911 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse – if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.

After the storm passes, remember the following:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Water can damage your vehicle and poses a drowning hazard.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

In addition to insuring your home, Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. Severe thunderstorms are a regular occurrence in Ohio and everyone should be prepared. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us today.

The Key To Preventing Slips And Falls

Sips and falls

slips and fallsSlips and falls are usually complete accidents, however most are preventable. A janitorial employee was scrubbing the steps and floors with water and a cleaning agent. An observant worker realized that soon, dozens of employees would be going down these steps for their lunch break. This person then took the proper action to avert this potentially dangerous situation and set up a wet floor sign.

Do Your Safety Part

Slips and falls account for millions of work-related injuries every year, and an unguarded wet floor is just one of the many possible causes. It is important to spot unsafe conditions that could lead to slips and falls, and do what you can to prevent them.    

There are various ways to suffer slips and falls while working. You can slip and lose your balance, you can trip over objects left improperly in your walkway, or you can simply fall from an elevated position to the ground. To avoid slips and falls, be on the lookout for foreign substances on the floor, such as:

  • Deposits of water
  • Food
  • Grease or oil
  • Sawdust
  • Soap
  • Other manufacturing debris

Even small quantities are enough to make you fall.

Good Housekeeping Counts

When entering a building from outside or from debris areas, clean your footwear thoroughly. Snowy and rainy weather requires a doormat at each entrance to allow for complete wiping of shoes. Avoid running, walk safely and do not change directions too sharply. 

Beware of tripping hazards. Trash, unused materials or any object left in aisles designed for pedestrian traffic invites falls. Extension cords, tools, carts and other items should be removed or properly barricaded off. If equipment or supplies are left in walkways, report it so the proper personnel can remove it. Also, keep passageways clean of debris by using trash barrels and recycling bins.

Practice Prevention

Walk in designated walking areas. Short cuts through machine or other manufacturing areas can cause accidents. Concentrate on where you are going – horseplay and inattention leaves you vulnerable to unsafe conditions. Hold on to handrails when using stairs or ramps. They are there to protect you should a fall occur. If you’re carrying a heavy load that hampers your ability to properly ascend or descend stairs, use the elevator or find help.

The worst falls are from elevated positions such as ladders, and can result in serious injury or death. Learn and practice ladder safety and the proper use of scaffolding. For example, when climbing, use a ladder of proper length that is in good condition. Keep it placed on a firm surface. Do not climb a ladder placed on machinery, crates, stock or boxes. Keep the ladder’s base one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. Don’t over-reach. Always have control of your balance when working from a ladder. Never climb a ladder with your hands full, and always transport tools in their proper carrying devices.

Slips and falls occur every day. The extent of injuries and their recurrence can be minimized through proper safety knowledge, good housekeeping and practicing prevention.

Are You Prepared for Emergencies? How to build an Emergency Supply Kit

emergency supply kit

emergency supply kitEveryone should have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency or disaster occurs. This article discusses some basic items that every emergency supply kit should include; however, it is important that you also consider the unique needs of your family in order to create an emergency supply kit that will meet those needs. Ideally, you should maintain at least two emergency supply kits: one full kit at home and smaller portable kits in your vehicle or at your workplace or other places you spend time.

A basic home emergency supply kit could include the following items:

  • Water—one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food—at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cellphone with charger and inverter

Water

Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency.

How Much Water Do I Need?

You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one gallon of water daily just for drinking; however, individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

To determine your water needs, take the following into account:

  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • During warm weather, more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.

How Should I Store Water?

It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Keep the water stored in a cool, dark place.

Preparing Your Own Containers of Water

It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.

Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

If you chose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles—not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers, and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they are heavy and breakable.

Storing Water in Plastic Soda Bottles

Follow these steps for storing water in plastic soda bottles.

  • Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
  • Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
  • Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using. A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water; if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
  • Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place.
    Water can also be treated with water purification tablets that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
    Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.

First Aid Kit

Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following items can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

 

  • Two pairs of latex gloves, or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to latex
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications you take every day, such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies, such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies

Non-prescription drugs:

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid
  • Laxative

Other first aid supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

Emergency Supply Kit Items for Unique Needs

Consider the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when building your emergency supply kit.

For Baby:

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications
  • Moist towelettes
  • Diaper rash ointment

For Adults:

  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.

During cold weather, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:

  • Jacket or coat
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeved shirt

Emergency Supply Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

Home

Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days.
Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
You may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.

Work

You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food, water and other necessities, like medicines, in your kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.
Your kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.

Vehicle

In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
  • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; also canned fruit and a portable can opener
  • Water for each person and pet in your car
  • AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Also consider:

  • A fully-charged cellphone and phone charger
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

Maintaining Your Emergency Supply Kit

Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect it from pests and to extend its shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded.
  • Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies.
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
  • Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supply kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.

Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full. If you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

Rinehart, Walters & Danner is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at 419.522.9892 or https://www.rinehartinsurance.com today.

 

7 Tips For How To Stay Safe During Power Outages

power outages

power outagesYou can’t control the weather—but you can take safety measures to protect your family and home against the threat and hazards of power outages. If severe weather or intense winter chill hits unexpectedly, power outages can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. However, if you’re already in the dark, there are still steps you can take to keep everyone safe until your power is restored.

Stay Safe

Staying home and indoors is the best way to stay safe during power outages. Consider the following tips to cope during an unexpected or extended power outage.

1). Get The Essentials

In case the power outage lasts a few days, it’s important to have the following items on hand:

  • Three to seven-day supply of food and water (per person)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • First-aid supplies
  • Extra medicine

2) Conserve Power

When the storm is approaching or the lights are already out, consider unplugging or turning off electronics and small appliances.

3) Protect Your Water Supply

Some water purification systems may not function when the power goes out. Bottled, boiled or treated water is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene purposes. Check with local officials to ensure your water is safe to drink.

4) Protect Your Food Supply

Remember to keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. During a power outage, food will stay cold for about four hours in an unopened fridge and about 48 hours in a full, closed freezer—24 hours if it is half full. If necessary, fill coolers with ice to keep food from spoiling.

5) Maintain A Normal Body Temperature

  • If it’s cold outside, layer up by wearing at least three layers of tops and two layers of bottoms. Look around your home for extra blankets, sleeping bags and winter coats to help you warm up. Learn more about how to recognize and prevent hypothermia.
  • If it’s hot outside, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness, such as heat stroke and fainting. To avoid heat stress, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) heat safety tips

6) Avoid Carbon Monoxide

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators outdoors only and at least 20 feet away from your home. Additionally, do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

7) Check On Your Loved Ones

When it’s safe to do so, check in with people to make sure they’re OK or find out if they need assistance.

If you need to make a trip outside, keep it as brief as possible. Check with your local emergency authorities first to make sure it’s safe to drive or travel during severe weather.

Be Prepared For Power Outages

If you are not currently experiencing a power outage, consider the following tips to prepare for a sudden loss of electrical power:

  • Invest in a home generator. A portable backup power source can keep critical equipment like refrigerators, sump pumps and air conditioners running during a blackout.
  • Utilize surge protectors. A UL-listed surge protector can safeguard expensive electronic devices like televisions and desktop computers.
  • Develop a family emergency communications plan. It’s important to have a game plan so everyone knows what to do and when. Decide on a meeting spot, identify shelter locations and store the plan on your cellphone.
  • Assemble an emergency survival kit. Account for your pets, too. The American Red Cross recommends having the following items readily available:
    o One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
    o Nonperishable food to last each person three days
    o Flashlight and extra batteries
    o First-aid kit
    o Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    o Copies of important personal documents (e.g., medication lists, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
    o Cellphone with both wall and car chargers
    o Pet food, supplies and water
    o Emergency contact information for family and friends

For additional emergency preparedness resources, visit the CDC’s Power Outage website.

What You Need To Know About A Health Savings Account

health savings account

health savings account

If your employer offers health benefits, there is a chance they offer a Health Savings Account compatible plan. You may be familiar with those type of plans, or it may sound like a different language. Don’t fret if you don’t understand. That’s where we come in. Below is a basic breakdown of an HSA.  

What is a Health Savings Account?

Also know as a HSA, a Health Savings Account is a savings account that you can use to pay for medial related expenses. It can be funded by tax-exempt dollars by your employer, by yourself or by anyone else on your behalf. The funds in the HSA account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan. This can include copays, deductible, coinsurance and prescriptions. 

Who is eligible for a Health Savings Account?

In order to open and contribute to a HSA plan there are a few stipulations. You are eligible if you are: 

  • Covered by a high deductible health plan (HDHP)
  • Not covered under another medical plan that is not an HDHP
  • Not entitled to (eligible for AND enrolled in) Medicare benefits
  • Not eligible to be claimed on another person’s tax return

What is a HDHP?

A high deductible health plan is a plan with a minimum annual deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket limit that is set by the IRS. These limits change annually but for 2021 the limits are as follows:

    Type of Coverage         Minimum Annual Deductible       Maximum Annual Out-of-pocket 
Individual $1,400 for 2021 $6,900 for 2021
Family $2,800 for 2021 $13,800 for 2021

So how does it work?

Your high deductible health plan does not provide co-pays when you visit a Dr or pharmacy. That leaves you to pay the total expense of the visit or the prescription. Your claims will still be ran through your insurance company and most will be re-priced at the negotiated price from your insurance company. You can then use the funds in your HSA account to pay for those expenses. Most HSA accounts will offer checks or debit cards to make paying bills easy. The important thing is to make sure you are using those funds for qualified medical expenses. If you use the money for non medical expenses you will be subject to additional taxes and penalties. 

Click here to learn how your HSA works with Retirement.

HSA Contributions

You can make a contribution to your HSA each year that you are eligible. You can contribute no more than:

  • Single coverage: $3,600 for 2021
  • Family coverage: $7,200 for 2021

Individuals ages 55 and older can also make additional “catch-up” contributions of up to $1,000 annually.

A few more things.

Unlike other accounts, a HSA is not one that you have to use or loose by the end of the year. You can contribute money into this account and not touch it for years. It will just stay in the account until you need it. The IRS also puts yearly caps on how much you can contribute each year into your HSA. You can click here to learn more. 

If you have additional questions, we are are happy to help! 

6 Tips To Help Avoid Frozen Pipes

frozen pipes

frozen pipes

One of the messiest and most costly homeowner repair is fixing a burst pipe. Water from a burst pipe can cause damage to carpeting, short out electrical appliances and ruin furniture. As temperatures drop, the risk of frozen pipes increases in your home. Luckily, we have 6 tips to help you avoid frozen pipes. 

#1 Your Thermostat

Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees F. The lower the temperature of your home, the more likely your pipes will freeze. If you are away on vacation, have someone check on your home to make sure your furnace is running and that you home is at least 55 degrees F. 

#2 Insulate Pipes

Insulate exposed pipes with insulation material such as foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves.

#3 Open Cabinet Doors

Open any cabinets that contain exposed pipes to allow warm air from your home to circulate around the pipes. 

#4 Use your Faucets

Allow your faucets to drip or occasionally trickle a little water to help relieve pressure in the pipes and prevent them from bursting.

#5 Seal any Cracks

Seal any cracks in the foundation or any outside walls to prevent cold air from seeping into your home.  

#6 Shut-Off Valves

Locate all shut-off valves, so if  a pipe were to burst, you could quickly turn off water to prevent water damage. 

If you turn on a faucet and no water or only a trickle comes out, your pipes may be frozen. Turn off the main water valve and keep the faucet on. Apply heat to the pipe by using an electric heating pad, hair dryer or portable space heater, or by wrapping the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. You should apply heat until you regain water pressure. If this does not solve the problem, contact a licensed plumber to inspect your pipes.

Our friends at Encova Insurance also have some great tips on this same subject. Click Here to read what they have to say. 

8 Important Ergonomic Tips For Your At Home Workstation

at home workstation








The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly forced many people to work and learn at a location other than their normal space. If you are working or learning from home for the first time, getting the correct at home workstation setup can be challenging.

Your at home workstation might be a home office, a kitchen table or wherever you can find the necessary space. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook ergonomics in the home environment. However, by understanding basic home ergonomics and taking small steps, you can positively impact your health and well-being.

The Impact of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of fitting a workspace to an individual’s needs. It aims to increase efficiency while reducing discomfort and the likelihood of injury.

When working at a desk or workstation, poor ergonomics can not only lead to reduced productivity—but can also lead to a number of health issues that may have long-lasting effects. This includes head or neck strain, damage to muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons. If you’re sitting at your workstation for eight hours a day, it’s important for these hours to be as healthy as possible. While completing a motion that’s not ergonomic may feel safe or even natural for the short term, prolonged use of an unhealthy body movement can lead to long-term injuries and strains, leading to why it’s vital to prioritize home workstation ergonomics.

At Home Workstation Tips

There are some general ergonomics best practices. Consider these tips for components of your remote workstation setup:

  • Chair—Using a sturdy chair that supports the curvature of the spine is ideal for working. Chairs should also allow for adjustments so that your feet can rest flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to it. While typing, your arms should be parallel to the floor as well.
  • Desk—Find a work surface, such as a desk or table that has space underneath for your legs and feet without your knees banging on the bottom. If a work surface is too low, adjust the chair or work surface accordingly. Cushion your wrists from the surface edge with padding or a wrist rest.
  • Footrest—Your feet should be flat on the floor. If your chair is too high for you to rest your feet flat on the floor, consider using a footrest. If not available, you can use a household object.
  • Monitor—Arrange your laptop or monitor directly in front of you and approximately an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. Try to set up the monitor to avoid glare, as it can strain your eyes. If you wear bifocals, you can lower the monitor an additional 1-2 inches for more comfortable viewing. If necessary, tilting your screen can also help.
  • File storage—Organize files and materials so that you don’t have to frequently bend and strain to reach them.
  • Keyboard and mouse—When using a keyboard and mouse, keep them on the same surface. Ideally, a flat keyboard is better than one tilted up. Position your arms so that your wrists can be straight, with your arms at elbow level. If using a laptop, the same principles apply.
  • Phone—If you use your phone often, consider using a headset or a speakerphone to reduce the need to frequently hold up the phone or press it up against your neck.
  • Cords—Be aware of other risk factors that may be present, such as overloading electrical outlets or creating tripping hazards with power strips or extension cords running across the floor.

Working or learning from home comes with its own set of challenges. As you find yourself working or learning from home for a prolonged time, taking small steps can go a long way toward working more productively, preventing ergonomic injuries and improving your physical well-being. Keep ergonomics in mind and make your at home workstation work for you.

The CDC has some great information regarding your at home workstation – Click here to read more. 








What Is Cold Stress And Are You At Risk?

Cold Stress








Cold StressWorkers who are required to work outdoors in cold environments for an extended period of time may be at risk for cold stress. Weather extremes, such as high winds, cold temperatures, ice, snow, sleet and freezing rain, present potential hazards to workers. Specifically, cold stress can contribute to hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot. 

The Risks of Cold Stress

  • Hypothermia occurs when your body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced and your normal body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include shivering, fatigue, dilated pupils, blue skin, and a slowed pulse and breathing. If you suspect someone has hypothermia:
    • Call for emergency assistance as soon as possible.
    • Move the person to a warm, dry area. Do not leave them alone.
    • Remove any wet clothing and replace it with warm, dry clothing or wrap the person in blankets.
    • Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks (sugar water or a sports drink) if they are alert.
    • Have the person move his or her arms and legs to create muscle heat.
  • Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Symptoms include reduced blood flow to the hands and feet, numbness, aching and waxy or blistered skin. If you suspect someone has frostbite: 
    • Move the person to a warm, dry area. Do not leave him or her alone.
    • Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
    • DO NOT rub the affected skin, as this can cause damage to the skin and tissue.
    • Gently place the affected area in warm water (105° F) to slowly warm the tissue. Do not pour warm water directly on the skin because it may warm the tissue too fast and cause damage. Warming the skin generally takes about 25 to 40 minutes.
    • After the affected area has been warmed, it may become puffy and blister, accompanied by a burning sensation or numbness. When normal movement, feeling and skin color have returned, dry the affected area and keep it warm.
    • If the affected area could get cold again, do not warm the skin. Should the skin be warmed and then become cold a second time, there could be severe tissue damage.
  • Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold temperatures. Symptoms include numbness, leg cramps, swelling, blisters and ulcers.

What Can Workers Do?

To protect yourself whenever you’re working outdoors in extreme cold, consider doing the following:

  • Wear several layers of loose clothing to provide insulation.
  • Make sure to protect your ears, face, hands and feet.
  • Move into warm locations during work breaks.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outside.
  • Include a thermometer and chemical hot packs in your first-aid kit.
  • Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with your bare skin.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding cold stress safety at work, consult your supervisor.








Safety Tips For All Your Holiday Decorating Needs

holiday decorating








holiday decoratingIt’s cooling down and holiday spirit is in the air. For many, it’s time to start holiday decorating! While holiday decorating adds beauty to your home, it can also bring added risk. Trees, garlands, and lights can add extra fire hazards if not used properly. The last thing you want for Christmas is a homeowners insurance claim to deal with. But don’t worry, we have a few tips to keep your home and your family safe this holiday. 

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Keep a fresh-cut tree outdoors and cover the trunk in snow, or immerse it in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate it.
  • When you are ready to put up a live tree, cut a 1- or 2-inch diagonal off the bottom of the trunk. The new cut will help the tree to absorb water, which preserves its freshness.
  • Select a spot for the tree that is at least three feet away from a heat source.
  • Put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water.
  • Once a tree becomes dried out, do not keep it in your home or garage, as it is highly flammable.

Holiday Lighting Safety

  • Mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard, so keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors.
  • Always buy lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, such as UL, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings before using them. Throw away any that appear damaged.
  • When hanging your lights, string lights together using built-in connectors. Do not join more than 200 midget lights or 50 larger lamps through one string or cord.
  • Do not connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
  • Remember to unplug all decorations and lights, both inside and outside your home, before leaving or going to bed.
  • If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse blows again, a short circuit may be present. Throw the faulty light string or decoration away, or if it is new, return it for a refund.
  • When hanging lights outside use a ladder made of non conductive materials to reduce the risk of electrocution. 

Candle Safety

  • Place candles in stable holders and in a spot where they cannot be easily disturbed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid placing candles near flammable objects.
  • Keep burning candles out of the reach of children.

Taking extra precautions while decorating can be the difference between a relaxing holiday season or a tragic holiday season. 

If you found this information helpful, please share with others. 








Halloween Doesn’t Need To Scare Your Bank Account

Halloween








Halloween

What do you get when you mix costumes, decorations, and candy? A Happy Halloween!!
Those that have children, probably feel the sting a little more while at the check-out. But Halloween doesn’t need to break the bank.

A few tips to keep in mind to help you save money

• Buy bulk candy to get the most for your money.
• Ration out how much you will give each Trick-or-Treater.
• Buy pumpkins close to Halloween to get the best deal.
• Make your own decorations – use leaves for stuffing in outside decorations, spray paint cardboard or cereal boxes for DIY headstones, or use cotton balls as cobwebs.
• Make your own costumes or only buy what you have to.

Halloween Safety Tips

In addition to saving money, your family’s safety is extremely important. Costumes, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving are all Halloween traditions. But there are also dangers associated with each of those activities.

Costume Precautions

• Do not let children wear baggy or long costumes, as they are difficult to walk in and can be tripping hazards.
• Purchase wigs, costumes and accessories that are fire-retardant.
• Select face makeup and paint that is labeled as “FDA Approved” or “Non-toxic” to prevent allergic reactions.
• Place reflective tape on your children’s costumes and candy buckets if they are going trick-or-treating at night.

Trick-or-Treat Safety

• Remind children to walk only on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street.
• Do not allow children under 12 years old to go trick-or-treating by themselves.
• Remind children to never approach or get into a car with a stranger offering them candy.
• Once your children get home, inspect their candy.

Pumpkin Carving Tips

• Only carve pumpkins on a flat surface with good lighting, such as a kitchen table.
• Use a pumpkin-carving kit that includes tools appropriate for the task.
• Place lit jack-o’-lanterns away from flammable objects such as sheets and curtains.
Having a good time does not mean spending a lot of money. Even on a budget you can have a spooky Happy Halloween!