Paid Sick Days would save over 1 billion dollars a year

A new study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research concluded that paid sick days for everyone who works full time would cut medical expenses by over 1 billion dollars a year and save the public health insurance programs over $500 million.

The conclusion was reached after extensive research into how workers use their sick days.

From the free download available on their website:

  • Paid sick days are associated with better self-reported general health among workers;
  • Workers with paid sick days are less likely to delay medical care for themselves or for family members;
  • Access to paid sick days is associated with lower usage of hospital emergency departments, a finding that holds true for those workers and families with private health insurance, those with public health insurance (e.g. Medicaid or SCHIP), and those with no health insurance;

You can read the entire document for a more complete, in-depth analysis of the study and the findings.

Erionite Warning for Western States

A “naturally occurring mineral” that you might not even know exists could be a potential hazard, especially if you live in the West.

NIOSH recently released a post on their science blog entitled “Erionite: An Emerging North American Hazard” comparing Erionite to asbestos with regards to the nature of the mineral and the similar health hazards that it poses. A natural fiber that is the result of volcanic ash that has been broken down over time by ground water and the weather, the mineral can become airborne and be inhaled. The body reacts to it in much the same way as it does asbestos.

First diagnosed in 1981 in a road worker who worked outdoors in an area rich in Erionite, the mineral has slowly grown in awareness.

You can read the complete blog post on the CDC/NIOSH blog.

Check out the map to find the highest Erionite occurrences.

Space Heaters – Winter Fire Safety Tips for the Home

Fall and winter are here. The cooler temperatures are starting to show up in our service area. One of the things many people use is space heaters. Additionally, the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fire places are burning wood and manmade logs. All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.


  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
  • Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER INTRODUCE A FUEL INTO A UNIT NOT DESIGNED FOR THAT TYPE FUEL.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel, as it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
  • Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors).
  • Keep young children away from space heaters—especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.


Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. Although proper maintenance, cleaning, and care should reduce the chance of a chimney fire, it’s always smart to be prepared. To use wood stove and fireplaces safely:

  • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36″) 3 feet from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
  • Replace the batteries in your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least annually. Check your fire extinguishers on a regular basis and recharge or replace them if necessary.
  • Have the chimney inspected and cleaned annually. The Ponderosa/Pinon Pine wood found in our area can create a lot of soot, ashes and creosote that build up in the chimney. When this residue gets hot it can easily catch fire.
  • Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) listed.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER
    close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
    • Call the Fire Department by dialing 911.
    • Never try to remove burning logs from your fireplace. Use water or a fire extinguisher to put them out. Fire extinguisher is best. Be careful with putting water on the fire. On one hand, the steam created with a glass or two of water may put out the fire – or at least cool it down significantly. However, there is a possibility that the sudden cooling could crack any glass door/screen, or cause damage to mortar or other components. Ask a certified fireplace inspector. Or consult your factory stove / fireplace manual.
    • If you suspect a chimney fire, get everyone out of the house immediately and call the fire department. If you can do so safely, put out any fire in the stove or fireplace and close the damper. (Some fast-burning chimney fires produce dense smoke and flames shooting out the top of the chimney, often accompanied by a rumbling sound inside the chimney. Slow-burning chimney fires are much harder to detect but can also cause serious damage to the chimney and, possibly, to the house.)
    • If you suspect that you have had a chimney fire, do not use the fireplace again until a chimney sweep has checked it for any hidden damage.


Portable electric heaters manufactured after 1991 include many new performance requirements to enhance safety. For portable electric heaters that may present a fire hazard when tipped over, a tip-over switch will turn the heater off until it is turned upright again. New heaters also include indicator lights to let users know that the heater is plugged in or is turned on. Some manufacturers have included technically innovative safety controls such as infrared or proximity sensors, which can turn a heater off when objects come too close, or when children or pets are near. These kinds of controls may prevent burn injuries to children who might play too near a heater, or reduce the risk of ignition of combustible materials that could contact the heater.

  • Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture, since they may fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater, which could result in a fire or shock hazard.
  • Unless certified for that purpose, do not use heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage to parts in the heater may lead to a fire or shock hazard.
  • Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
  • Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. Using a light-duty, household extension cord with high-wattage appliances can start a fire. If you must use an extension cord, it must be marked #14 or #12 AWG; this tells the thickness or gauge of the wire in the cord. (The smaller the number, the greater the thickness of the wire.) For example, a cord sold as an air conditioner extension cord will have these heavy wires. Do not use a cord marked #16 or #18 AWG. Only use extension cords bearing the label of an independent testing laboratory such a U.L. or E.T.L.
  • Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Since a loose plug can overheat, have a qualified repairman replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Since heaters draw lots of power, the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. If the heater and its plug are found to be working properly, have the outlet replaced. Using a heater with a hot cord or plug could start a fire.
  • If a heater is used on an outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the GFCI trips, do not assume the GFCI is broken. Because GFCIs protect the location where currents can cause a severe shock, stop using the heater and have it checked, even it if seems to be working properly.
  • Broken heaters should be checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center. Do not attempt to repair, adjust or replace parts in the heater yourself.


  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in a proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
  • Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported; free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
  • Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.


  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use and electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.  TIP: Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
  • Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.


  • Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
  • Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
  •     Keep at least one dry-powder operative, ABC-type fire extinguisher in the home at all times.
    • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from any flammables.
      • If your clothing does catch fire, don’t run! Drop down immediately, cover face with hands, and roll to smother the flames. Teach your family how to do this. “STOP, DROP and ROLL”!!

Information provided from the National Safety Council

I’m on vacation this week so the blog posts comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Winter Weather Awareness

During the winter season, it is important to keep up with the latest forecasts and warnings.  In these pages devoted to winter weather, we review winter safety information (in English and Spanish), describe the products used to convey winter threats, discuss the various types of precipitation that occur in the cold season, and present the climatology of various snow amounts for several locations across New Mexico.

The complex terrain of New Mexico, ranging from the eastern plains, high mountains across the northern and western regions, to the Rio Grande Valley, combines to create weather regimes that change quickly over relatively short distances. Highway travelers may find themselves first in light snow or rain then suddenly in heavy snow as the highway climbs through a mountain pass. The weather may be relatively mild and sunny along the Rio Grande valley from Socorro to Albuquerque, with near blizzard conditions found across the high plains east of the central mountain chain. Winter weather can be deadly if you fail to take proper precautions. Be sure to check out the information available on our web site to become familiar with winter weather safety facts, products, and climate.

How do the various forms of winter precipitation develop when when temperatures at or above the surface dip below freezing?



Freezing Rain

  • Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
    • Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
    • Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant.
    • Blowing Snow: Wind driven-snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the
      ground that is picked up by the wind.
    • Blizzard: Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
  • Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.
  • Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

Why should I worry about winter weather?
Changes in elevation can be subtle or dramatic, but often a slight increase in elevation can mean big changes in travel and trail conditions. The weather may be tranquil in the valley areas, while motorists are being stranded in areas like Clines Corners, Tijeras Canyon, the Continental Divide, Raton Pass, or near Ruidoso. On the less traveled highways, there are numerous and often remote spots where motorists may become stranded. Use the 511 phone number and internet traveler information service provided by the New Mexico Department of Transportation for weather-related road conditions and road closures.

Photo by Paula Valentine

Who suffers most?
  • Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms, but statistics show that males and the elderly suffer death and injury most frequently, whether it is accidents related to ice and snow or exposure to the cold.
    • Sudden weather changes also threaten the unprepared hiker, hunter, or cross country skier. You might find yourself in mild and sunny weather at the start of your outdoor adventure then face falling temperatures, wind chill, and cold rain or snow as a storm front moves in quickly.

    • Tragically, alcohol is related to many winter weather deaths and injuries each year in New Mexico due to prolonged exposure to the cold.

    • Prolonged outbreaks of cold weather, especially following heavy snows and ice storms, can create risks at home if utility service is lost or conditions prevent travel for medical care and food. Alternative heat sources may become deadly without fire safeguards or proper ventilation.
hat rules or winter weather skills will help keep me safe?
  • Be prepared. Take action before the first winter storm to winterize automobiles and prepare emergency survival kits. At home, stock up on food, fuels, first-aid an medical items and other supplies such as batteries for flashlights and radios. Don’t forget to check fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

    • Keep up with the latest forecasts and statements from the National Weather Service. Always check the latest forecast before going into mountain areas and don’t leave that radio or portable TV behind which could provide weather forecast updates.

Photo by Seth Bullinton

  • If possible, avoid travel during winter storms. If you must travel immediately before or during a storm, try not to travel alone. Let someone know your travel schedule and routes. If stranded while traveling, it is best to stay with your vehicle. You can be more at risk trying to walk through the storm for help. In some instances, New Mexicans have died trying to go less than 1/2 mile for help. Make your vehicle as visible as possible for easier rescue.  You can periodically run the motor for short periods each hour, but remember to allow fresh air and ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  When hiking, hunting, skiing, or if your job takes you into mountainous areas, know the weather forecast! Take along extra clothes, food or supplies that could save your life.  If stranded overnight, learn survival techniques for shelter and fire making. A fire will provide heat and can attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat. melt snow for drinking water. Do not eat snow! It will lower the body temperature. Eat and drink sufficient amounts of water. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.

    Remember, be prepared in advanced and ready to handle sudden changes during any wintertime travel or outdoor activity.

Around the Home
  • Keep ahead of advancing winter weather by listening to NOAA Weather Radio. 

    • A powerful winter storm will take down power lines knocking out electricity. Check battery powered equipment before the storm arrives.
    • Check your food and stock an extra supply. Include food that requires no cooking in case of power failure. If there are infants or people who need special medication at home, make sure you have a supply of the proper food and medicine. Make sure pets and animals have shelter and a water supply.

Photo by Neal Pederson

  • If appropriate, check your supply of propane. Fuel carriers may not be able to reach you due to closed roads.
  • Be careful when using fireplace, stoves, or space heaters. Proper ventilation is essential to avoid a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. Don’t use charcoal inside as it gives off large amounts of carbon monoxide. Keep flammable material away from space heaters and do not overload electric circuits. Close off any unneeded rooms in the house. Stuff towels or rags under doors. Cover windows at night.

  • Dress for the conditions when outdoors. Wear several layers of light-weight, warm clothing: Layers can be removed to prevent overheating, perspiring and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, waterproof and hooded. For the hands, mittens, snub at the wrists, offer better protection than fingered gloves.

  • Don’t kill yourself shoveling snow. It is extremely hard work for anyone in less than prime physical condition. It can bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death during and after winter storms.
  • Your automobile can be your best friend or worst enemy during winter storms. Get your car winterized before winter arrives. The following items should be checked; ignition system, cooling system, fuel system, battery, lights, tires, heater, brakes, wipers, defroster, oil and exhaust. Keep water out of your fuel tank by keeping it full. 

    • If you travel often during winter, carry a winter storm kit in you car. It should include flashlight, windshield scraper, paper towels, extra clothes, matches/candles, booster cables, compass, maps, sand, chains, blankets and high calorie non-perishable food. 

    • Winter travel by car is serious business. If the storm exceeds or tests your driving ability, seek available shelter immediately. If unable to find shelter, stay in your vehicle. Run the motor ten minutes each hour to maintain warmth, but keep your windows open a little to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide. Make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. keep the car visible with brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna. Exercise periodically in your car by vigorously moving your arms, legs, toes and fingers.
  • Plan your travel. Try not to travel alone and drive in convoy when possible.

  • Drive carefully and defensively. Pump your breaks when trying to stop on snow or ice covered roads. Roads which may appear clear in the wintertime may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice, commonly called black ice. This thin layer of can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Reduce your speed if you detect black.



Photo by Brent Wachter

Winter Safety for Schools
  • Children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather. Their youthful enthusiasm often takes over when common sense should prevail.

    • School administrators and principals need to be sensitive to the dangers winter weather can pose to children and be prepared. Winter weather procedures and practices need to be established before the onset of winter cold. The following items should be considered when formulating a winter weather safety plan:

    •  All schools should have ready access to current weather information. If the school is in a county covered by NOAA Weather Radio, that would be the best source. Commercial media can also be monitored. Arrangements can also be made with local law enforcement agencies to have critical winter weather forecasts relayed to the school.

    • All schools need to have a functional plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold.
    • During the winter months, guidelines need to be established regarding outside recess. Temperatures and wind chills need to be monitored and criteria set as to when outside recess will be allowed.

    • School bus drivers should receive extra training on driving during winter weather. Snow and ice can often accumulate quickly and unexpectedly on roads creating dangerous driving conditions.

    • With many households having two working parents today, it may be necessary for some children to be brought to school early. Schools should make provisions to allow children inside school buildings as early as possible during cold weather.

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Albuquerque issues winter weather products with a “Ready-Set-Go” concept. The “Ready” stage is anywhere from 24 to 72 hours before the impending weather event. During this stage, forecasters may highlight expected adverse winter weather conditions.

Winter Storm Watch: A watch is issued to give advance notice when a significant winter storm may affect your area within 12 to 48 hours.  This would include any combination of significant snow or sleet accumulation, significant ice accretion, strong winds, extreme cold, low wind chills, or low visibilities in snow or blowing snow. A winter storm watch is issued when there is at least a 50/50 chance that warning criteria will be met.  Usually the winter storm watch will be upgraded to a warning when the nature and location of the weather event become more apparent. In any case, when a watch is issued for your area, it is time to prepare for severe winter weather.
Winter Weather Advisory: When a combination of snow, blowing snow, sleet, freezing rain or freezing drizzle is expected to cause localized disruption of travel and result in a significant inconvenience, a winter weather advisory will be issued.  A winter weather advisory can address multiple winter weather hazards.
Winter Storm Warning: When conditions that can quickly become life threatening and are more serious than an inconvenience are  imminent or already occurring, a winter storm warning will be issued.  Heavy snows, or a combination of snow, freezing rain or extreme wind chill due to strong wind, may bring widespread or lengthy road closures and hazardous travel conditions, plus threaten temporary loss of community services such as power and water. Deep snow and additional strong wind chill or frostbite may be a threat to even the well dressed individual or to even the strongest person exposed to the frigid weather for only a short period.

Photo by David Thornburg

 Other winter weather products: Blizzard Warning: The most dangerous of all winter storms is the blizzard. In New Mexico,  the northeast highlands and northeast plains are the most blizzard-prone areas where the deadly combination of fierce winds and snow can reduce visibility to near zero and create wind chills well below zero. A blizzard warning is issued when winds of 35 miles an hour will occur in combination with considerable falling and/or blowing snow for at least 3 hours. Visibilities will frequently be reduced to less than 1/4 mile and temperatures are usually 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Ice Storm Warning: A dangerous coating of ice, usually 1/4 inch or more. Ice storms are rare if not unheard of west of the Rio Grande Valley.  However, across eastern New Mexico  a mixture of freezing drizzle,  freezing rain and light snow is not uncommon whenever arctic air masses invade the plains.  In most cases, ice accumulations are less than 1/4 inch and a winter weather advisory is issued.

Photo by Ginger Brick

 Wind Chill Warning: Issued when the wind chill temperatures at or colder than minus 50 degrees F.  At this level, frostbite can occur on exposed flesh within minutes.   As the wind chill temperature drops, the frostbite time decreases, especially with higher wind speeds. Note: Strong winds, usually blowing from the northwest or north, often develop in the wake of winter storms that cross New Mexico.  This is especially true along the east slopes of the Central Mountain Chain and high plains of central and northeast New Mexico. These strong and gusty winds can persist hours after the precipitation has ended creating areas of reduced visibilities in blowing snow. Now that we’ve covered all of the details, the important thing to understand about watches, warnings, and advisories, is that:

  • a WATCH means it’s time to get ready,
  • an ADVISORY means inconvenience,
  • and a WARNING means the situation is life-threatening.

How much snow can we expect at sites in New Mexico in an average year? Frequency of Snow Events Across New Mexico


> 1 inch snow in the last:

> 2 inches snow in the last:

> 3 inches snow in the last:

> 4 inches snow in the last:


10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

10 years

20 years

30 years

ABQ Sunport













ABQ Foothills













ABQ Valley



























































































Des Moines



























Information provided by Kerry Jones from the Albq National Weather Service and

I’m on vacation this week so all blog posts this week come to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Safe Winter Driving

Safe Winter Driving

As winter weather creates poor driving conditions, improved visibility on the road is an important factor to enhance driver safety.

Poor visibility, especially at night, is a serious driving hazard. According to the National Safety Council, poor visibility is cited as a factor in an estimated 2 million accidents, 23,000 fatal crashes and 2,300 pedestrian deaths every year in the United States.

Automotive headlights are key part of safe winter driving; they provide lighting for better peripheral vision and viewing of the road ahead. Preparing your vehicle for winter is critical for safe driving throughout the season. It’s important to make sure headlights are a part of seasonal maintenance.

For drivers of any age, follow these National Safety Council recommended tips to help maintain safety and improve visibility on the road this winter:

  • Winterize your vehicle – Change the engine lubricant to synthetic oil, change to winter wiper blades, flush your cooling system with fresh coolant/antifreeze, fill the washer fluid reservoir with de-icier washer fluid and carry an emergency safety kit. See the below list for some of your vehicle preparation winter safety checks:

    Vehicle Preparation

    Winter time is the harshest season for vehicles. Prepare your vehicle for winter by scheduling a  complete maintenance check in the fall.

    Battery: Cold weather starts require a battery that is fully charged. Recharge or replace weak batteries. Have your charging system checked, too.

    Ignition system: Damaged ignition wires or a cracked distributor cap may cause a sudden breakdown.

    Lights: Regularly check that all lights are functioning properly and that headlights are properly aimed.

    Brakes: Brakes should be checked and, if needed, serviced to ensure even braking.

    Tires: The traction between the tires and the road surface determines how well your vehicle starts, turns and stops. Make certain your snow tires or all-season radials are properly inflated and in good condition. Ensure all four tires have the same tread pattern for even traction.

    Exhaust system: Have the exhaust system fully checked for leaks that could send carbon monoxide into your vehicle.

    Heating and cooling system: Check your radiator and hoses for cracks and leaks. Make sure the radiator cap, water pump and thermostat work properly. Test the strength of the anti-freeze, and test the functioning of the heater and defroster.

  • Windshield: Make sure wipers are in good condition and fill up on winter washer fluid.

  • Drive with your lights on – If daytime visibility is limited, turn on your headlights to be seen by other drivers. When traveling in snowy weather, remember to brush off your taillights, turn signals and headlamps.
  • Change headlights in pairs before they burn out – Most headlights dim up to 20 percent over time so evaluate yours every year for optimum performance. The end of daylight savings time is a perfect yearly reminder to check them.
  • Upgrade to high performance halogen lighting – Studies have shown that whiter, brighter halogen lighting can improve reaction time, increase nighttime visibility and provide better roadside viewing.
  • Clear your windows- Make sure you windows are defrosted and clear of snow and ice before you venture out on the roadways.

  • Check headlight alignment – Misaligned headlights can be distracting and dangerous. Ask your auto service technician to align them for you.
  • Clean headlight lenses regularly – Wash headlight lenses when you wash your windshield. You’ll see better at night and in poor weather conditions.
  • Make sure all vehicle lights are working – Have a friend turn on your headlights and signal lights while you walk around the outside of your vehicle.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly – Whether you park inside or outside, you will lose a pound of tire pressure for every 10 degrees of outside temperature change.
  • Adjust your speed – By decreasing your speed, you allow yourself more time to respond in bad weather.

  • Brake carefully – When roads are slippery, brake in a straight line before a curve in the road. Lift your foot from the brake before you steer into a corner. This allows you to steer and not slide through the corner. Don’t accelerate away from the corner until the steering wheel is again straight.

  • Winter Car Survival Kit items:


     Sand, salt or kitty litter

     Tow chain


     Cloth or roll of paper towels

     Warning light or road flares

     Extra clothing and footwear

     Emergency food pack

     Booster cables


     Plateau Cell phone w/battery charger

     Ice scraper and brush

     Water-proof matches or lighter(Save a small baggy of dryer lint it makes a great fire starter)

     Road maps

     A ‘survival’ candle in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light)

     Methyl hydrate (for fuel line and windshield de -icing)

    The following items should be kept in the cab of your truck or car:

     Flashlight with extra batteries

     First-aid kit

     Blanket (special ‘survival’ blankets are best)/sleeping bags

     Non-perishable, high energy foods(nuts, peanut butter, etc….)


    Prevent Your Car Skidding – How To Cope with A Skid


    Skidding is more likely to occur when there is ice, snow or water on the road. However it is important to remember that most skidding is a result of bad driving. A car will only skid if it is being driven at an inappropriate speed or if provoked to do so by aggressive steering, braking or acceleration.

    To prevent skidding you should never ask your car to do more than it can do with the grip available. As a result, in poor weather conditions you should:

    • Slow down

    • Increase your stopping distance, so if the vehicle in front stops unexpectedly you have enough space to brake to a stop without skidding.

    • Take extra care when approaching a bend.

    • Be gentle and progressive when steering, accelerating and braking.

    Your car is more likely to skid when the road is icy or covered in snow. In such conditions to avoid skidding you should slow right down. You should also steer and brake very gently. Your stopping distance should also be increased by up to ten times greater than in normal conditions.

    When driving in winter, and especially on a winters evening when the sky is clear you should look out for ice forming on the road. For early warning signs look to see if ice is forming on the windows of parked cars.

    You should be extra careful when travelling on an exposed road such as a motorway bridge. Ice will often form here first. If your car has an outside temperature meter then keep a close eye on it.

    In freezing conditions beware of rain. This can form black ice, which lies invisible on the road. Black ice isn’t actually black it is transparent. Hence it’s notoriety as a driver hazard.

    In icy conditions your steering may start to feel lighter. Tire noise may also decrease. If this happens then you are likely to be driving on ice. To prevent a dangerous skid lift your foot gently off the accelerator. This will allow your car to slow smoothly and gently. If you need to continue driving then do so slowly using a high gear. This will help you avoid hard acceleration, which could spin the wheels.

    Accelerating too hard can also cause skidding. If you accelerate too hard when moving off on a slippery road then the driven wheels will spin without propelling the car forward. In icy conditions some wheel spin may be inevitable. To minimize the spin try engaging a higher gear.

    Braking hard on a slippery road can also cause your car to skid. Your wheels can lock up and you will continue onwards with little or no braking effect. The locked wheels will also prevent you from steering. If this happens you should release the brake pedal to free the wheels then reapply the brake less harshly. If your car has ABS fitted then your wheels won’t lock. However don’t think ABS eases all problems when driving on a slippery road. It doesn’t.

    On a slippery road if you approach a corner too quickly there is a good possibility that your car will skid. This is even more likely if you also brake harshly whilst taking the corner. You turn the steering wheel to corner but there is no response and the car continues on ahead. This is a classic front wheel skid. If this happens then remove your foot from the accelerator. This throws the weight balance of the car forwards and helps the tires find grip. Do not use the brake. As the tires find grip carefully steer the car into the direction of the skid. For example if the rear of the car skids to the left, steer quickly and smoothly to the left.

    If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

If You Become Stranded…

  • Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.

  • If you are sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.

  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.

  • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.

  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

Lastly, if you do travel find out the weather conditions of the interstates and roads you will be traveling on. You can call for NM Road Conditions call 1-800-432-4269, CO Road Conditions 1-303-639-1111 or TX Road Conditions call 1-800-452-9292.

Don’t be a traffic accident, hazard, statistic or fatality this holiday season. Take a few extra minutes enjoy the drive, be defensive and arrive safely to celebrate this holiday season.

I’m on vacation this week so the blog posts this week comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Turkey Fryers Can Be Extremely Dangerous!

An established favorite in the southern United States, deep-fried turkeys have experienced a boom in popularity in recent years.

Many say that the quality is increased when you use a turkey fryer and at the proper temperature the taste is locked within the turkey, making sure every bite is succulent, juicy, and bursting with flavor. One turkey fryer advantage is that they are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. You can take a turkey fryer anywhere there is space to safely use it.

Above all, remember the cardinal rule: a turkey fryer should never be left unattended! Frying a turkey is not like baking one. You cannot simply throw it in the oven and leave it to cook. Many people turn turkey frying into a time to bond with friends and family. Turkey frying has evolved into a social event rather than a conventional cooking experience.

Though taste has been a deciding factor in whether or not to deep fry a bird, certain safety issues arise that should be considered to ensure that your turkey frying experience is a memorable one.

The majority of reported safety incidents occurred while the oil was being heated, prior to adding the turkey. For this reason, it is very important consumers monitor the temperature of the oil closely. If any smoke at all is noticed coming from a heating pot of oil, the burner should be turned off immediately because the oil is overheated!




  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out and hit the burner/flames causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Partially frozen or wet turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. Again, extensive fire. 
  • Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury. Any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
  • With no thermostat controls, the units have the potential to overheat to the point of combustion.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards
  • Rain or snow will create problems with the hot oil and may require a backup plan if precipitation is in your holiday forecast


  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and away from buildings and other material that burns.
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, porch or in or near houses, garages, or overhanging objects.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Use peanut oil it has a higher flashpoint to prevent overheating and fires! (Make sure no one has a peanut allergy that will be dining with you first!!)
  • Oil temperature should be no hotter than 350 degrees.
  • Never leave the fryer un-attended. If you don’t watch the fryer, the oil will heat until it catches fire.
  • Leave at least 2 feet between fryer and the propane tank
  • Lower and raise the item slowly in and out of the hot oil to avoid splattering or spilling oil.

  • Use the right amount of oil. To find out how much oil to use, read the fryer’s instructions, or:
    • Place the turkey in the pot.
    • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by ½ inch of water.
    • Remove the turkey and pat dry.
    • Mark the water level in the pot.
    • Dump the water, dry the pot, and fill oil to the level marked.


  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24

            hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire.   If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.
  • Lids and handles can become extremely hot. Use well-insulated pot holders or oven mitts when handling any part of the aluminum pot.


Follow the manufacturer’s directions. If not this may occur!                                                                                                       

Treating a Hot Oil Burn

The hot oil can cause a burn quickly. To treat a minor burn injury, (Remember- COOL and COVER) apply cool water immediately to the area for 3-5 minutes.


  1. If the skin is unbroken, run cool water over the area of the burn or soak it in a cool water bath (not ice water). Keep the area submerged for at least 5 minutes. A clean, cold, wet towel will also help reduce pain.
  2. Calm and reassure the person.
  3. After flushing or soaking, cover the burn with a dry, sterile bandage or clean dressing.
  4. Protect the burn from pressure and friction.
  5. Over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and swelling. Do NOT give children under 12 aspirin. Once the skin has cooled, moisturizing lotion also can help.
  6. Minor burns will usually heal without further treatment. However, if a second-degree burn covers an area more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter, or if it is located on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, treat the burn as a major burn.
  7. Make sure the person is up to date on tetanus immunization.


  1. If someone is on fire, tell the person to stop, drop, and roll. Wrap the person in thick material to smother the flames (a wool or cotton coat, rug, or blanket). Douse the person with water.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Make sure that the person is no longer in contact with smoldering materials. However, do NOT remove burned clothing that is stuck to the skin.
  4. Make sure the person is breathing. If breathing has stopped, or if the person’s airways are blocked, open the airways. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  5. Cover the burn area with a dry sterile bandage (if available) or clean cloth. A sheet will do if the burned area is large. Do NOT apply any ointments. Avoid breaking burn blisters.
  6. If fingers or toes have been burned, separate them with dry, sterile, non adhesive dressings.
  7. Elevate the body part that is burned above the level of the heart. Protect the burn area from pressure and friction.
  8. Take steps to prevent shock. Lay the person flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and covers the person with a coat or blanket. However, do NOT place the person in this shock position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected or if it makes the person uncomfortable.
  9. Continue to monitor the person’s vital signs until medical help arrives. This means pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure.


  • Do NOT apply ointment, butter, ice, medications, cream, oil spray, or any household remedy to a severe burn.
  • Do NOT breathe, blow, or cough on the burn.
  • Do NOT disturb blistered or dead skin.
  • Do NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
  • Do NOT give the person anything by mouth, if there is a severe burn.
  • Do NOT immerse a severe burn in cold water. This can cause shock.
  • Do NOT place a pillow under the person’s head if there is an airways burn. This can close the airways.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if:

  • The burn is extensive (the size of your palm or larger).
  • The burn is severe (third degree).
  • You aren’t sure how serious it is.
  • The burn is caused by chemicals or electricity.
  • The person shows signs of shock.
  • The person inhaled smoke.
  • Physical abuse is the known or suspected cause of the burn.
  • There are other symptoms associated with the burns

Call a doctor if your pain is still present after 48 hours.

Call immediately if signs of infection develop. These signs include increased pain, redness, swelling, drainage or pus from the burn, swollen lymph nodes, red streaks spreading from the burn, or fever.

Also call immediately if there are signs of dehydration: thirst, dry skin, dizziness, lightheadedness, or decreased urination. Children, elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system (for example, HIV) should be seen right away.

Follow these safety tips and you should be well on your way to enjoying a delicious, deep-fried turkey! So you can have it this way.






Information provided by the National Fire Prevention Association and Home Safety Council.


I’m on vacation this week. All blog posts are courtesy of Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau.



Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving Day is a special time of year when family and friends gather to express gratitude. Many anticipate the delicious foods traditionally served, especially the turkey. Improperly prepared and cooked turkey can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria and can cause food poisoning. Common symptoms of food poisoning include fever, headache, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Follow these tips to keep your Thanksgiving turkey safe from bacteria!

 Choosing a Turkey

  • Ensure that the packaging is intact and is free of rips and tears that could expose the bird to outside bacteria and germs.

Turkey Preparation


  • Defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or a cold water bath.
  • Allow one day of thawing for every 5 lbs of turkey.  If using a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.       
  • Keep utensils, dishes, kitchen equipment and work surfaces clean.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling a turkey.


  • Defrost a turkey on the counter at room temperature.
  • Refreeze a thawed turkey.
  • Use cutting boards and knives that have touched raw meat or other foods without washing them first.

Never thaw a turkey at room temperature because this promotes the growth of dangerous bacteria.  The safest way to thaw a turkey is to thaw it in the refrigerator.  You should do this with the turkey still in its own unopened wrapper breast facing up and placed on a tray.  The accepted rule of thumb for time is 1 day refrigerator thawing for every four to five pounds of turkey. Thawing in cold water is also acceptable.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds

4 to 12 pounds

1 to 3 days

12 to 16 pounds

3 to 4 days

16 to 20 pounds

4 to 5 days

20 to 24 pounds

5 to 6 days


In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound

4 to 12 pounds

2 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds

6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds

8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds

10 to 12 hours

More Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven and avoid those grease fires now.

Keep the kitchen off-limits to young children and adults that are not helping with food preparations to lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.

When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry.  The clothing can catch on fire and the jewelry can catch on pot handles, causing spills and burns.

Cook on the back burners when possible and turn pot handles in so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.

Never leave cooking unattended.  If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked.

Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.

Watch those knives in your silverware drawers, just don’t reach in and grab, you may get sliced.


A 2 1/2 lb. class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended.  Know how to use your fire extinguisher.


Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke detector on every level of the house, in every bedroom, and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms.  Overnight guests should be instructed on the fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your home. 


Immediately wash hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.

Other hazards at the Thanksgiving table this year could be the decorations. The comforting glow of candles around the home may invoke the warm holiday spirit, but they are a significant fire hazard. If you choose to set the mood with candles, never leave them burning unattended. Take extra care to supervise children (and pets) if candles grace your holiday table and extinguish them when you leave the room, even for a minute.

Choking is another prevalent hazard at Thanksgiving. Appetizers, including those containing relishes, raw vegetables, olives, grapes, nuts and cheese cubes, can be dangerous for young children who may not be able to chew them adequately. Keep these nibblers out of their reach, unless supervised by an adult, to prevent choking.

Children get just as excited about the Thanksgiving meal as adults do. When you stick those kids at the kiddies table, cut their food for them into small, chewable pieces, key an eye on them and remind them often to chew their food thoroughly.

Because a main cause of choking is poorly chewed food, be sure to take your time and chew every bite thoroughly. Hors d’oeuvre and other bite-sized foods pose a choking hazard for adults as well as children because they can easily be swallowed whole and become lodged in the throat.

If someone does choke, the universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn’t give the signal, look for these indications:

  • Inability to talk
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Inability to cough forcefully
  • Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
  • Loss of consciousness

If choking is occurring, the American Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:

  • First, deliver five back blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Next, perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
  • Alternate between five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.

If you’re the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 (or your local emergency number) for help. If another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else:

  • Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.
  • Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person’s navel with thumb toward the navel.
  • Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
  • Perform a total of five abdominal thrusts, if needed. If the blockage still isn’t dislodged, repeat the “five-and-five” cycle.

If you’re alone and choking, you’ll be unable to effectively deliver back blows to yourself. However, you can still perform abdominal thrusts to dislodge the item.

To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on yourself:

  • Place a fist slightly above your navel.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface — a countertop or chair will do.
  • Shove your fist inward and upward.

Clearing the airway of a pregnant woman, a person in a wheelchair or large person:

  • Position your hands a little bit higher than with a normal Heimlich maneuver, at the base of the breastbone, just above the joining of the lowest ribs.  Make sure you are above the tip of the breastbone (Xyphoid) you may cause injury if you don’t.
  • Proceed as with the Heimlich maneuver, pressing hard into the chest, with a quick thrust.
  • Repeat until the food or other blockage is dislodged or the person becomes unconscious.

Clearing the airway of a choking infant younger than age 1:

  • Assume a seated position and hold the infant face down on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh.
  • Thump the infant gently but firmly five times on the middle of the back using the heel of your hand. The combination of gravity and the back blows should release the blocking object.
  • Hold the infant face up on your forearm with the head lower than the trunk if the above doesn’t work. Using two to three fingers placed at the center of the infant’s breastbone, give five quick chest compressions.
  • Repeat the back blows and chest thrusts if breathing doesn’t resume. Call for emergency medical help or 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Begin infant CPR if one of these techniques opens the airway but the infant doesn’t resume breathing.

To prepare yourself for these situations, learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR in a certified first-aid training course.
The next CPR/First Aid training class will be held at Plateau Learning Center on Dec 20th.

Lastly, make sure you poultry or ham is thoroughly cooked. If you have questions about how long to cook your turkey or ham this holiday you can contact any of the following agencies:

USDA Poultry Hotline (1-800) 535-4555 or website

Recorded messages 24 hours a day. Home economists and registered dietitians available to answer questions 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Special Thanksgiving Day hours 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line: (1-800) 323-4848

Honey Baked Ham Consumer Hotline: (1-800) 641-8290

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Information provided by USDA, Butterball Turkey Talk line, Honey Baked Ham Consumer line and American Red Cross

I’m no vacation this week so all posts this week are courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau


OSHA v-Tools

In an effort to address the more than 800 construction worker deaths and 137,000 injuries, OSHA has put together a special “V-Tools: Construction Hazards” website.

The website consists of a virtual construction site (see below). Click around on it to launch a video that addresses the hazard that might be present based on what’s happening at that location.

The videos are intended to “show how quickly workers can be injured or killed on the job and are intended to assist those in the industry to identify, reduce, and eliminate construction-related hazards. Most of the videos are 2 to 4 minutes long, presented in clear, easily accessible vocabulary, and show common construction worksite activities. The videos may be used for employer and worker training. Each video presents:

  • A worksite incident based on true stories that resulted in worker injury or death.
  • Corrective actions for preventing these types of accidents.

Please be advised, some of the videos deal with deaths at construction sites and might be disturbing for some people.”

How to Calculate the OSHA Incident Rate

Need to calculate your company’s incident rate? Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Collect all OSHA 300 Forms from your company for the given year
  2. Add the numbers from column H (days away from work), column I (job transfers or restrictions) and column J (other recordable cases)
  3. Multiply this number by 200,000
  4. Add up the total number of man-hours worked for the whole company (all employees) for the same year
  5. Divide the number you got in step 4 by the number you got in step 3
  6. The resulting number is your company’s OSHA incident rate.

This number can be significant when compared to other companies in your same line of work with the same range of employees as yours

Don’t want to bother with all the calculations. Use the OSHA incident rate calculator provided online by safety management group. Just plug in your numbers and hit the calculate button to get your number.