New Years Safety Tips

New Year’s Safety Tips

Next week we close the book on 2014. Every year, around this time, before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s almost certain that many around the globe have decided to do something different in the next year of their life. Sometimes it’s a commitment to lose weight, while others decide to spend more time at the gym or volunteering and for some to make more memories with friends and family. While New Year’s resolutions aren’t always easy, it is all up to you to make the resolutions a reality. When you make your New Year’s resolutions this year, will personal safety considerations play a role? The New Year is always about beginnings and endings. The double entendre of “resolution” sums it all up rather nicely: wrapping up and putting to rest the old while planning for and committing to the new: both what was and what will be. And who is to say what the New Year will bring us.

While our cities, communities and workplaces are protected by dedicated police and security officers, ultimately, we are all responsible for our own personal safety. Even the simplest activities can reduce our personal safety risk…

1. Deter and Detect Identity Theft

Theft — As identity theft continues to increase, proactive steps are needed to protect ourselves and our personal information.

  • Review your credit report regularly. (Free at
  • Shred documents containing personal information.
  • Keep your Social Security number and any debit card or pin numbers confidential.
  • Opt out of unnecessary mailing lists.
  1. Food Safety- Every party host is used to planning an attractive display of their party’s food and beverage. In addition to creating an inviting food spread, the hostess of a New Year’s Eve party owes it to their guests to be sure that the food they serve is safe. According to WebMD, over 250 different diseases can cause food poisoning. Their “Food Poisoning and Safe food Handling – Prevention” section outlines food safety guidelines. To avoid illness, they recommend:
  • Wash hands before, during and after food prep
  • Don’t handle or pet animals during cooking
  • Cook meats and eggs thoroughly to avoid E-coli and salmonella
  • Thoroughly clean utensils and cutting boards after cutting raw meats before using again
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before serving.
  • Keep hot foods hot [140F or above] and cold foods cold [40F or below].


Other common sense food safety tactics include those flying corks. Champagne Corks can cause serious eye injuries. If you follow the advice of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and remember the number 45. That is, you should chill your champagne to at least 45°F, as this will make the cork less likely to pop out unexpectedly, and you should hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, pointing it away from yourself and others. Then, after removing the wire hood, place a towel over the top of the bottle and grasp the cork. With the bottle in one hand, slowly twist the cork, applying gentle upward pressure. When you feel the cork about to pop out, reverse pressure to a slight downward tilt. If all goes well, you’ll have a cork in one hand, a full bottle in the other, and no eye injuries in sight.

  1. Be Smart When You Park — In our hurried lives, we often forget about potential dangers that can occur in dark or parking areas. Be sure to:
  • Park in well-lit, heavily trafficked areas.
  • Walk briskly, with your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Have your keys in hand and look into your vehicle before entering.
  • Lock all doors as soon as you are in your vehicle.
  • When alone at night, ask for a security escort to your vehicle and be extra careful during any backing out of parking spots for rear end collisions or people walking behind your vehicle and always watch for playing children.
  1. Drive for Life — Driving can be a safety risk all on its own and there are many other factors that can influence our safety. To ensure a safer driving experience:
  • Be extra cautious while driving at night and in hazardous conditions. Stay alert and attentive, careless or driving too fast accounts for over 66% of all accidents
  • Carry emergency supplies including flares or reflectors. Something very high visibility.
  • Take valuables with you or store them out of view of any potential thieves.
  • Do not give rides to strangers.
  • Always buckle up; Seat belts are the most effective means of reducing fatalities and serious injuries in traffic crashes. They reduce your chance of being a fatality by 50 %.
  • Never drink and drive, alcohol related or impaired fatalities accounted for over 33 % of all traffic accidents.
  • Weatherize your car and always adjust your driving to weather conditions Over 450,000 injury crashes occur annually in adverse weather conditions or on wet or slick pavement.


  1. Beware of Telemarketers and Scams — Phone scams often catch us off guard as we would never expect to become a victim within the safety of our own homes. But it does happen.
  • Generally, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • If you are considering making a purchase by phone, and you did not initiate the call, ask for a catalog or information to be mailed to you first.
  • Never reveal your checking account, credit card or Social Security numbers to a caller regardless of whom they say they are.


  1. Travel Safe Not Sorry — use extra caution to protect your personal safety while traveling. Watch out on the roadway not only for the drunk drivers but also the drowsy drivers during the late night festivities.
  • Carry minimal cash and keep tickets secure in an inside pocket.
  • Do not leave luggage unattended and report abandoned baggage.
  • Only use taxis with official markings and at official pick-up areas.
  • If you are traveling by car, be sure your vehicle is serviced and route planned. Tell loved ones or friends of your plans for your new year’s celebration.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers and keep your vehicle locked.
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery, and hide empty trash cans
  1. Be Smart About Flames and Fireworks-


Flames and alcohol are dangerous. When planning for a party, consider the fact that after a few hours, a portion of their guests will be feeling invincible, full of alcohol-inspired energy, and moving clumsily. Plan accordingly by:

  • Nixing the real candles. Instead of burning real candles at a New Year’s Eve party, use battery operated candles for safe, ambient lighting. With NO Fire Hazards.
  • Keeping fireplace, heaters and fire pit flames under control. Use safety screens at all times and make sure seating is at a safe distance from the flame or potential sparks.
  • If fireworks are part of the plan, ensuring that the individuals shooting off the fireworks are sober and observe safe handling. As well, make sure the inebriated guests aren’t too close to the show. It’s recommend to always check with the local authority regarding the prevailing laws before using fireworks. Have a fire extinguisher on hand and ready to use if the fireworks should start a fire.

Information provided by NSC, FDA, CDC and NM Dept. of Health


Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald , CHSO, STS  ,  EHS Supervisor ,   DFA-Portales NM


Protecting Your Deliveries from Theft

Just had a co-worker tell me about a relative whose package was just stolen right off her porch last night. She heard a noise and looked out just in time to see a hooded man grab a package from her porch and run away into the darkness. She called the company that was scheduled to deliver the package and found out that the delivery man had only just dropped the package off. Chances are the thief was following the delivery truck waiting for the driver to deliver packages.


It seems to happen every year about this time. With more and more people shopping online and more and more presents being delivered through the mail, packages that are left on the porch become easy pickings for unscrupulous thieves.

Here are a few things to keep this from happening to you:

1. Whenever possible, have the package delivered to your place of business rather than your home.

2. You can also have the package delivered to an address where you know someone will be home. Track delivery and let them know when the package is expected so they can be on the look out for it.

3. Opting for “signature required” will also insure that your package won’t just be left on the doorstep. If you aren’t there to sign for the package the carrier will leave a note letting you know that the package will be at the post office for you to come pick up and sign for.

4. Finally, opt for in-store pick up rather than delivery. You can still shop online and not have to deal with the crowds but by going to the store to pick it up when you have the time instead of having it mailed to your home, you not only get the piece of mind of knowing that you package won’t get stolen, you’ll also save the shipping cost.

Wishing you a theft-free holiday season!

Health and Safety Alert-Chickenpox can be serious

Chickenpox Can Be Serious


Chickenpox is a very contagious disease. You or your child may be at risk if you have never had chickenpox or have never gotten the vaccine. Chickenpox causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. This can make you feel sick and very uncomfortable and cause you to miss 5 to 7 days of school or work.

First the Rash, Then the Blisters

Anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine can get the disease. Chickenpox most commonly causes an illness that lasts about 5-10 days. The classic symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs. The rash may first show up on the face, chest, and back then spread to the rest of the body, including inside the mouth, eyelids, or genital area. It usually takes about one week for all the blisters to become scabs.


Other typical symptoms that may begin to appear 1-2 days before rash include:

· high fever

· tiredness

· loss of appetite

· headache

Children usually miss 5 to 6 days of school or childcare due to their chickenpox.

Vaccinated Persons

Some people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. About 25% to 30% of vaccinated people who get chickenpox will develop illness as serious as chickenpox in unvaccinated persons.

Chickenpox used to be very common in this country. About 4 million people would get it each year. Also, 10,500 to 13,000 people were hospitalized and 100 to 150 people died because of chickenpox each year. Most people who had severe chickenpox were healthy beforehand. Read a mother’s story about her 13-month old child who had severe chickenpox [PDF – 380KB].

Thankfully, chickenpox vaccine has changed all that.

Chickenpox Vaccine: Your Best Protection

Chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect you and your child from chickenpox. Also, when you get vaccinated, you protect others in your community. This is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.

New CDC Podcast: Chickenpox – What You Need to Know

CDC researcher Jessica Leung provides the basics on chickenpox, its symptoms, how it spreads, and how to protect you and your family from getting it. Listen to the Podcast [04:26 minutes]

Children should get the first dose of chickenpox vaccine when they are 12 through 15 months old and the second dose at age 4 through 6 years. People 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox should get two doses at least 28 days apart. If you or your child only got one dose in the past, check with your doctor about getting a second dose.

Two doses of chickenpox vaccine are very effective at preventing severe disease, complications, and death. You can still get chickenpox if you have been vaccinated. But, it is usually milder with fewer blisters and little or no fever.

Some people should wait to get vaccinated or should not get vaccinated at all, including pregnant women and those with severe weakened immune systems. Chickenpox vaccine is safer than getting the disease. Make sure you and your children are protected.

Chickenpox Can Be Severe

Chickenpox can be severe for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. It can cause—

· dehydration

· pneumonia

· bleeding problems

· brain infection or inflammation

· bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues in children including Group A streptococcal infections

· blood stream infections (sepsis)

· toxic shock syndrome

· bone infections

· joint infections

· death

If you have any questions about chickenpox or the vaccine, talk with your doctor.

Paying for Chickenpox Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But, you may want to check with your insurance provider first. If you don’t have insurance, or if your plan does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps children who are eligible get the vaccines they need. The vaccines are provided at no cost to doctors who serve children who are eligible.

To learn more about chickenpox and vaccination, visit

· CDC Chickenpox Website

· Chickenpox Fact Sheet for Parents [PDF – 412KB]

· Chickenpox Vaccination

· Varicella (Chickenpox): Unprotected Story [PDF – 380KB] – a mother’s story about her 13-month-old child who had severe chickenpox

· Chickenpox Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS)

· Measles/Mumps/Rubella & Varicella (MMRV) Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS)

· Two Options for Protecting Your Child Against Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella

· Chickenpox-related Information for Travelers


Today’s Post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald , CHSO, STS , EHS Supervisor , DFA-Portales NM