Category Archives: Safety Tip of the Week

Keeping Warm This Winter

When I woke up this morning it was 29 degrees outside my front door. A bit too cold to snow, thank goodness, but darn cold nonetheless. Despite my intense dislike of winter, it’s here to stay for a few months.  While, I’m desperately hoping otherwise, I fully expect to get slammed with a snow storm or two in the coming months.

With recent occurrence of Sandy, I started wondering about my preparedness for other types of inclement weather, in particular snow storms. To that end I found myself on Ready.gov, a FEMA website that gives you information about dealing with all manner of extreme weather.  Here’s just a little bit of what I found about being ready to deal winter storms and extreme cold.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

  • Before winter approaches,put together emergency kits for both your car and house. You can visit Ready.gov for details on what to include in both kits.
  • Make a Communication Plan. If your family isn’t together at the time of the storm make sure you all know how to contact on another and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen check your  local news channels forl information from the National Weather Service. Stay up to date on changing weather conditions.
  • Travel only if necessary and  keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. (They may have fur coats but they need warmth just like us please bring them inside during the winter months.)
  • If you must go outside during a storm, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
    • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
    • Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat.
    • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Should you get stranded in your car in a storm:

  • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a  window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
  • Leave the car and proceed on foot – if necessary – once the blizzard passes.

Stay safe and warm out there this winter.

~Rayna

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Posturing

When in a confrontation, a cobra makes itself larger by rising up and spreading its hood to intimidate its prey and prepare for a swift attack. A mongoose rises up and makes its fur stand on end to appear larger to intimidate its opponent. Both animals show their fangs/teeth and make noise.

Many animals posture instinctively. People need to train for it.

Posturing is making yourself appear confident, strong and intimidating to your attacker so they lose their will to fight before the confrontation even begins. It is both a fighting position and attitude.

Perhaps you’ve seen someone about to get into a fight stand a little taller, puff out his chest, stick out his chin, shout, swear or flat out take a fighting guard. This is posturing. And it could help you defend yourself.

Sensei Advincula tells a story about a two hour self-defense class he gave in which he taught a woman what to do if grabbed: “Jump back, scream and get into a position and act like you know what you’re doing. Give them your meanest look.” In other words, posture. The next day in an airport a man grabbed this woman. She jumped back, screamed and postured. The man ran away. Why? Because an attacker is looking for a victim not an opponent.

Remember an attacker fears two things: getting hurt and getting caught.

A fighting stance and attitude may be all it takes to avoid an attack – for your characters or for you.

~K.M. Fawcett

Grill Safely This Summer

Fourth of July is past (I hope everyone had a great holiday), but there is still plenty of summer left.  That means plenty of opportunity for backyard  barbecues.  In my house, once it’s even remotely warm enough the stove goes on vacation and grill takes over the cooking. If you’re like me where grilling is a main stay or if you just do the occasional party in the yard, I want share a few tips to make sure you stay safe when using your grill this summer.

    • Read the owner’s manual.
      Always read the owner’s manual before using your grill and follow specific usage, assembly, and safety procedures. Contact the grill manufacturer if you have specific questions. (Be sure to locate your model number and the manufacturer’s consumer inquiry phone number and write them on the front page of your manual.)
    • Grills are for outside, only.
      Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use, only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area because carbon monoxide may accumulate and kill you.
    • Use in well-ventilated area.
      Set up your grill in an open area that is away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves, or brush. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and always barbecue in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of wind-blown sparks.
    • Keep grill stable.
      When using a barbecue grill, be sure that all parts of the unit are firmly in place and that the grill is stable (can’t be tipped over).
    • Use long-handled utensils.
      Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.
    • Wear safe clothing.
      Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.
    • Keep fire under control.
      To put out flare-ups, either raise the grid that the food is on, spread the coals out evenly, or adjust the controls to lower the temperature. If you must douse the flames with a light spritz of water, first remove the food from the grill.
    • Be ready to extinguish flames.
      Use baking soda to control a grease fire and have a fire extinguisher handy. A bucket of sand or a garden hose should be near if you don’t have a commercial extinguisher.
    • Never leave a grill unattended once lit.
    • Keep everyone a safe distance from a hot.
      Don’t allow anyone to conduct activity near the grill when in use or immediately following its use. The grill body remains hot up to an hour after being used.
    • Don’t move a hot grill.
      Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burns could result.

These tips are courtesy of The Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association

Hop everyone have a great summer. Happy Grilling!

Cooking Safety

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I’m sure everyone is already busy getting ready to visit with  family or already in the kitchen beginning prep for today’s meal. I hope your travels are safe and your day full of joy. Since today is a particularly big cooking and baking day I thought I’d share a few cooking safety tips to keep this holiday happy and accident free. Today’s tips are courtesy of the USFA Cooking Fire Safety Webpage.

Watch What You Heat

  • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.

Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart

  • Keep anything that can catch fire – potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains – away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

If Your Clothes Catch Fire

If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll. Stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover face with hands. Roll over and over or back and forth to put out the fire. Immediately cool the burn with cool water for 3 to 5 minutes and then seek emergency medical care.

Prevent Scalds and Burns

  • To prevent spills due to overturn of appliances containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible and/or turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge. All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns.
  • Replace old or worn oven mitts.
  • Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove.
  • Keep young children at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from any place where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
  • When young children are present, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Teach children that hot things burn.
  • When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely. Supervise them closely.
  • Treat a burn right away, putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for 3 to 5 minutes. If the burn is bigger than your fist or if you have any questions about how to treat it, seek medical attention right away.

How and When to Fight Cooking Fires

  • When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
  • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

 

Safe and Happy Thanksgiving to All!

~Rayna

 

Play it Safe Online

In light of Monday’s post about video games, I thought I’d do a refresher on internet safety tips. Video games aren’t just contained to a single unit anymore not with the advent of things like XBox Live and MMORPGs (Massively Multiplay Online Role Playing Games), such as World of Warcraft.  As friendly as you may be with the people in your alliance or clan or whatever online social group you may be a part of you still need to protect yourself and your family.  Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Ask questions of your children before they start surfing. Know things such as what sites they are visiting, what they do while there and how much time they spend on the site.
  • Take advantage of the parental controls offered by your ISP, web browsers, and/or the websites your child visits.
  • Never share account login and password information.
  • Use generic screen names. Don’t include items such as birthday, hobbies, or hometowns as part of your screen name.
  • If you’re using social networking sites such as Facebook, change your privacy settings so as not to reveal private information such as personal contact information, your birthday and hometown.
  • Children should avoid opening emails from unknown senders. Adults should be cautious as well. Don’t open attachments unless you are expecting them.  The same is true of following weblinks included in an email.
  • When following a weblink to what you many think is a trusted website always check the URL in the address bar. Some identity thieves will create websites that look like reputable sites in order to gain your trust and thus harvest your personal info.
  • If you receive a threatening communication do not respond, however do keep a copy of the email or chat log. You want to make sure you have any incidents or altercations documented should something ever come of it.
  • Nothing on the web is ever truly private so always be careful what you write.
  • For kids – never make plans to meet an online friend in person. For adults – always have a communication plan in place if you are going to be meeting an online acquaintance. Make sure someone knows who, what, where, and when you’re meeting this individual. You may also want to set up check in times with a friend or family member.

The web can be an educational and entertaining place to visit. Play it safe and smart and you can have great time online.

Travel Safety Refresher

It’s vacation season, the perfect time to get away and explore new places. Plus, with RWA’s National Conference coming up next week and so many people traveling in for the event, I thought it an appropriate time to offer a safety refresher.  Whether your summer adventures take you a short distance from home or oceans away, here are a few tips to help you enjoy your travels safely.

  • If possible travel with at least one travel companion.
  • When traveling out of the country do your research and be aware of local customs, laws, etc.
  • Do not pack valuables in your suitcase.  Bags must be unlocked or locked with approved padlocks. If they are locked with an unapproved lock, screeners will break the lock to gain access.
  • Be mindful of your luggage at all times and do not pack so much that you will be lugging excessively heavy bags.
  • Pack medicines and extra eyeglasses in your hand luggage so they will be available in case your checked luggage is lost.
  • Learn important fact about your destination that could affect your health (high altitude or pollution, types of medical facilities, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, etc.). Key health information can be found at the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
  • Carry your money and personal objects in a bag or purse that you can hide under your clothes.
  • Use a business card as your luggage tag. Try not to use your home address.
  • Never tell anyone that you are traveling alone. If someone persistently asks, don’t hesitate to lie.
  • If attending a conference do not wear your name badge when you leave the event hotel.
  • If you are going to take a taxi, which you probably will while at RWA, being friendly and sharing a little light conversation with the driver is fine, but keep personal information to yourself. Don’t give out too much information about your plans or yourself. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or threatened have the driver let you out of the cab in a busy, familiar, or popular place.
  • Avoid going out alone at night and as always TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!!

Please don’t hesitate to add any other tips you have for staying safe on your travels this summer. If you are going to RWA National we hope to see you there, and if you’re free stop in and see us Thursday, at 2:00 pm for our Kick Butt Heroes: Using Martial Arts in Your Action Scenes workshop!

Using Public Transportation Safely

Many people rely on trains and buses for transportation.  Unfortunately,  predators of all sorts troll these areas as well.   The following tips can help make your trip a safe one.

When riding on a bus or train, have your ticket or change ready so you do not have to get your wallet out.  Always wait in a well-lit area for your bus or train and wait near other people.  If possible, meet a friend there to wait with you, or even better, travel together.  A lone traveler is always more of a target than a group.  There’s safety in numbers.  If you do end up on the bus or train alone, sit close to the driver.   Don’t fall asleep.  Stay awake and alert at all times.  Don’t get so caught up in texting a friend or reading a book that you fail to notice who gets on and off.  You don’t need to stare to know who is around you and what they are doing.  Sit in an aisle seat so you won’t be blocked in. Keep your belongings on your person, with your purse strap over your shoulder and larger bags between your feet.

When you reach your destination, pay attention to who gets off at your stop.  If you think you are being followed, use the go-to-people principal.  Let the person know you see him and know where he is at all times.  If possible, have someone waiting for you, especially if your stop is isolated or dark.   If you’re going out with friends, make a pact that you will all leave together and make sure no one gets left behind.

Hotel Safety

In light of the approaching vacation season, here’s a repost of these great tips on hotel safety from Kathleen Kuck, who guest blogged for Attacking the Page in September.  I would never have thought of some of these tips.  Thanks, Cass!

Read Kathleen’s post on Handguns and Your Character.

  • Look at user type of reviews on line to see if this hotel is in a good neighborhood.  Most reviews include some of the safety of the area and what they saw as problems.
  • Ask someone in the area you might know for recommendations for a safe hotel.
  • Ask if the room will have a peep hole and a deadbolt lock. Bar lock is a plus also.
  • If you are a female traveling alone book your room under MR. and MRS. or just 1st initial.
  • Tell the check in clerk to write room number down and to not announce it to the lobby.
  • Try not to be on the ground floor with windows that open to the outside.
  • Try to get a room that faces interior hallways or courtyard not the parking lot.
  • Don’t use any public area computers for personal or secure internet things.  Many business center computers are vulnerable to keyloggers and pose a great risk.
  • Don’t leave your laptop in your room unless you must and then only with a cable lock. Set a password for your computer prior to leaving it if you don’t have one set. If a crook can get access to your computer he can get all the info off of it quickly. Cable lock computer and then put it in the computer bag and lock the bag.
  • Most WI-FI’s at the hotels are not real secure and nothing should be sent that is secret.
  • Never open up your door to any stranger and use all the locks on the door while in room.
  • Don’t open the door just because someone says security or maintenance.  Get the employee’s name and call the front desk to confirm before opening the door.
  • Avoid giving out your room number to anyone you meet in the bar or the trip.
  • Avoid leaving jewelry or credit cards in the room.
  • Crooks only need to write down your credit card number and your security code.
  • Employees do have a way to open the safe in the room.
  • Some offer safety deposit boxes at the counter. Employees might have access still.
  • Lock your baggage if possible. (Airline locks are fine)
  • Avoid the scam this is the front desk calling please update your credit card information.
  • Never leave the plastic keys when you checkout. They can contain personal information.
  • If possible request a room closest to the elevators, more foot traffic, less secluded, more opportunity for crook to be seen
  • Try to avoid a room above the 10th floor; fire equipment usually does not reach that high.

Stay Safe this Memorial Day

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. It is a day to remember and honor those that have given their lives in service of our nation. It is also a day for friends and family to get together and kick off the start of summer. One of the more popular activities for this holiday is a backyard barbecue. Here are just a few suggestions to keep you and your family safe on this holiday weekend.

    • Place your grill at least 10 feet away from other objects including your house, shed , trees, and bushes.
    • Always stay by the grill when cooking.
    • Before starting your grill check for gas leaks. You can do this by using a basting brush to spread very soapy water over all of the hoses and connections while valve on your gas tank in the on position. The formation of bubbles will indicate a leakage point.
    • Do not light a match,  smoke,  or have any other form of open flame near the grill until you’ve determined that there are no gas leaks.
    • Never bring your grill inside the house or into the garage.  It’s both a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.
    • When you’re finished cooking be sure to keep kids and pets away from the grill until it is fully cooled.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend! So tell me what does everyone have planned to do over the long weekend?
~Rayna

Valet Parking Safety

Valet parking can be a safe alternative to wandering alone in a parking garage.  Here are some tips to maximize your security.

1. Don’t leave the engine running while you wait for an attendant.  Cars get stolen by people waiting to hop in the second you step away.  When you get out of your car, turn off the engine, remove the key and hand it to the valet.

2. Be alert for the same ploy when your car is brought around at pickup.  Be ready.

3. Use your valet key and remember to lock the glove box.  If you don’t have a valet key,  make sure to give the attendant the vehicle key only and double check to make sure there aren’t any personal documents in the unlocked glove compartment.

4. Remove all valuables from the vehicle, this includes golf clubs, electronics, expensive sunglasses, and anything else that looks interesting.  Thieves will break into a car for anything that looks like it may be of value.

5. Don’t leave personal documents in the vehicle. Today’s criminals are well-versed in identity theft.

6. Never leave an animal in a parked car.

7. Don’t get run over.

Anybody else have other safety tips for valet parking?