Why you shouldn’t take a shower during a lightning storm

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Most people know that the best place that they can be in case of a thunderstorm is inside the house but many do not realize that you can still get struck by lightning inside if you don’t take a few precautions.

Taking a shower or bath is probably almost as dangerous as standing outside. The reason? The pipes that run through  your house can provide a conduit for electricity if the house is struck. Standing in water if and when that electricity comes down the pipes makes you even more vulnerable.

Your phone lines can provide a conduit for lightning as well so make sure you stay off corded phones. If you must talk on the phone use a cordless or a cell phone.

Finally, your electric wiring can provide a conduit as well so if you have to work on your laptop make sure it isn’t plugged in. Stay away from appliances too.

 



Bee and Wasp Safety

wasp_hugeThe extended summer here in WA has resulted in an increase of wasps and bees. As soon as the temperatures drop, the males will die and the hive will go dormant for the winter but until then, we seem to have a constant buzzing around our heads whenever we are outside, especially if there is food present.

Bees collect pollen so any flowery scent or perfume is going to attract them. If working outside try to avoid scents that might attract them. Stay away from flowers where they might be numerous if possible. Avoid wearing bright colors as they are drawn to them.

Wasps, on the other hand, are scavengers, looking for food so they will zero in on your picnic, soda or fruit juice. Keep food covered and protected. Be especially careful with soda cans where wasps might crawl inside only to sting the inside of your or your child’s’ mouth when you or they go to take a swig. Wasps may also be drawn to the smell of sweat.

Do no swat or crush them as both bees and wasps excrete a substance that calls other bees and wasps to attack when they sting.

If you are camping or having a picnic outdoors, your best bet is to build a wasp trap to keep the wasp away from your food. There are several tutorials available on the web (Wasp trap 1, Wasp trap 2, Wasp trap 3).

If you know that you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, make sure you always carry an EpiPen with you and let others know how to use it it in the event that you are unable to do so. Job sites, church groups, etc… should always include an EpiPen in the first aid kit just in case.

If stung, do not pull the stinger out with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. Putting pressure on the stinger will inject more of the venom. Instead, use your fingernail, a piece of gauze or a credit card to scrape or snag the stinger to remove it.

Wash the area with soap and water and use ice to keep the swelling down. Never leave someone who’s been stung alone. Have someone stay with them for an hour or so to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction.

 


July is UV Awareness Month

July is UV Awareness Month

Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. UV is also being used now in Gel Manicures to get the nails to harden for those that like to have their nails done at a nail salon. UV has been linked directly to causing Skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. About 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daylight savings time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) are the most hazardous for UV exposure in the continental United States. UV rays are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can penetrate and change skin cells.

The three types of UV rays are ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC)—

  • UVA is the most common kind of sunlight at the earth’s surface, and reaches beyond the top layer of human skin. Scientists believe that UVA rays can damage connective tissue and increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.
  • Most UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, so they are less common at the earth’s surface than UVA rays. UVB rays don’t reach as far into the skin as UVA rays, but they can still be damaging.
  • UVC rays are very dangerous, but they are absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the ground.

Too much exposure to UV rays can change skin texture, cause the skin to age prematurely, and can lead to skin cancer. UV rays also have been linked to eye conditions such as cataracts.

What are the facts and is this a threat to me?

  • Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.
  • Over 2 million people are diagnosed annually
  • Many people die of skin cancer every year
  • Sunburns are a high risk factor of skin cancer

“I don’t think I’m at risk, so I don’t need to protect myself…”
The following people are at an even greater risk of getting skin damage or skin cancer: African Americans, Asians, and fair skinned people with moles or freckles. People with blue eyes, blonde or red hair have the greatest risk. BUT don’t be fooled everyone has risks!

BE SUN AWARE

How do I protect myself in this hot sun?
The UV Index for New Mexico and West Texas ranges from a 7-13 on any given summer day. This means that the risk of UV exposure is in the ‘very high’ to ‘extreme’ range.

Shade

You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade.

Clothing

Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection from the sun’s UV rays. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one. Darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.

If wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical, at least try to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. Keep in mind that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.

Hats

For the most protection, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.

If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.

Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.

Sunscreen

The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Put on sunscreen before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back.

How sunscreen works. Most sun protection products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor.

SPF. Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.

Expiration date. Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.

Cosmetics. Some make-up and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

The National Weather Service and EPA advise people to regularly check the UV Index, which they developed as a way to predict the next day’s UV radiation levels on a 1-11+ scale, helping people determine appropriate sun-protective behaviors. EPA will issue a UV Alert when the level of solar UV radiation is predicted to be unusually high and the risk of overexposure is consequently greater.

Also at the EPA site (www.epa.gov), you can check the UV Index forecast map, which shows

contour lines of predicted UV Index values during the solar noon hour. The map is created daily

from National Weather Service forecast data. Here are the recommended Sun Protective measures for each exposure category.

Exposure
Category
Index Number Sun Protection Messages
LOW <2 You can safely enjoy being outside. Wear sunglasses on bright days. If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen SPF 15+.In winter, reflections off snow can nearly double UV strength.
MODERATE 3-5 Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen SPF 15+. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.
HIGH 6-7 Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 15+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.
VERY HIGH 8-10 Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.
EXTREME 11+ Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

Regardless of the UV Index, the following sun safety measures are encouraged:· Do Not Burn.· Generously Apply Sunscreen to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

· Wear Protective Clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.

· Seek Shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

· Use Extra Caution near Water, Snow and Sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.

· Watch for the UV Index (See chart above).

· Get Vitamin D Safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements.

Early detection of melanoma can save your life. Carefully examine ALL of your skin once a month. A new or changing mole should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Have fun in the sun this summer, but remember to use all the UV protection possible.

Sign up and contact me to find out more about UV safety and skin cancer with our Wednesday Wellness class July 10 with Dr. Mac of the Clovis Cancer Center.

Information provided by EPA, NOAA and American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com



Heat Stress and Heat Stroke Awareness

Heat Wave: A Major Summer Killer

A National Problem

With forecasted hot temperatures this weekend and continue to heat up and daily temps hover at or above 90°F every day the possibility of heat related emergencies increases. Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its own cooling abilities. In a normal year, more than 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat. North American summers are hot; most summers see heat waves in one section or another of the United States. They tend to combine both high temperature and high humidity although some of the worst have been catastrophically dry. Dealing with outside elements are critical to our proper health and wellness.

National Weather Service Heat Index Program

Considering this tragic death toll, the National Weather Service (NWS) has stepped up its efforts to alert more effectively the general public and appropriate authorities to the hazards of heat waves-those prolonged excessive heat/humidity episodes.

Based on the latest research findings, the NWS has devised the “Heat Index” (HI), (sometimes referred to as the “apparent temperature”). The HI, given in degrees F, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.

To find the HI, look at the Heat Index Chart (Below). As an example, if the air temperature is 96°F (found on the top side of the table) and the RH is 55% (found at the left of the table), the HI-or how hot it really feels-is 112°F. This is at the intersection of the 96° row and the 55% column. Listed as a Danger condition.

IMPORTANT: Since HI values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, EXPOSURE TO FULL SUNSHINE CAN INCREASE HI VALUES BY UP TO 15°F. Also, STRONG WINDS, PARTICULARLY WITH VERY HOT, DRY AIR, CAN BE EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS. Yes, We do have plenty of wind in our Plateau coverage areas.

Heat Index/Heat Disorders: Possible heat disorders for people in higher risk groups.

Heat Index of 130° OR Higher: HEATSTROKE/SUNSTROKE HIGHLY HIGHER LIKELY WITH CONTINUED EXPOSURE,

Heat Index of 105°- 130°: SUNSTROKE, HEAT CRAMPS OR HEAT EXHAUSTION LIKELY, AND HEATSTROKE POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.

Heat Index of 90°- 105°: SUNSTROKE, HEAT CRAMPS AND HEAT EXHAUSTION POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.

Heat Index of 80° – 90°: FATIGUE POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Note on the HI chart the shaded zone above 105°F. This corresponds to a level of HI that may cause increasingly severe heat disorders with continued exposure and/or physical activity.

Heat Index Table

HEAT INDEX affects on the human body
130 or above heat stroke highly likely with continued exposure
105 to 130 heat stroke likely with prolonged exposure
80 to 105 heat stroke possible with prolonged exposure

Summary of NWS’s Alert Procedures

The NWS will initiate alert procedures when the HI is expected to exceed 105°- 1 10°F (depending on local climate) for at least two consecutive days. The procedures are:

  • Include HI values in zone and city forecasts.
  • Issue Special Weather Statements and/or Public Information Statements presenting a detailed discussion of
    • Extent of the hazard including HI values
    • Who is most at risk
    • Safety rules for reducing the risk.
  • Assist state/local health officials in preparing Civil Emergency Messages in severe heat waves. Meteorological information from Special Weather Statements will be included as well as more detailed medical information, advice, and names and telephone numbers of health officials.
  • Release to the media and over NOAA‘s own Weather Radio all of the above information.

How Heat Affects the Body Human

Human bodies dissipate heat by varying the rate and depth of blood circulation, by losing water through the skin and sweat glands, and-as the last extremity is reached-by panting, when blood is heated above 98.6 degrees. The heart begins to pump more blood, blood vessels dilate to accommodate the increased flow, and the bundles of tiny capillaries threading through the upper layers of skin are put into operation. The body’s blood is circulated closer to the skin’s surface, and excess heat drains off into the cooler atmosphere. At the same time, water diffuses through the skin as perspiration. The skin handles about 90 percent of the body’s heat dissipating function.

Sweating, by itself, does nothing to cool the body, unless the water is removed by evaporation, and high relative humidity retards evaporation. The evaporation process itself works this way: the heat energy required to evaporate the sweat is extracted from the body, thereby cooling it. Under conditions of high temperature (above 90 degrees) and high relative humidity, the body is doing everything it can to maintain 98.6 degrees inside. The heart is pumping a torrent of blood through dilated circulatory vessels; the sweat glands are pouring liquid-including essential dissolved chemicals, like sodium and chloride onto the surface of the skin.

Too Much Heat

Heat disorders generally have to do with a reduction or collapse of the body’s ability to shed heat by circulatory changes and sweating, or a chemical (salt) imbalance caused by too much sweating. When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, or when the body cannot compensate for fluids and salt lost through perspiration, the temperature of the body’s inner core begins to rise and heat-related illness may develop.

Ranging in severity, heat disorders share one common feature: the individual has overexposed or over exercised for his age and physical condition in the existing thermal environment.

Sunburn, with its ultraviolet radiation burns, can significantly retard the skin’s ability to shed excess heat. Studies indicate that, other things being equal, the severity of heat disorders tend to increase with age-heat cramps in a 17-year-old may be heat exhaustion in someone 40 and heat stroke in a person over 60.

Acclimatization has to do with adjusting sweat-salt concentrations, among other things. The idea is to lose enough water to regulate body temperature, with the least possible chemical disturbance.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Elderly persons, small children, chronic invalids, those on certain medications or drugs (especially tranquilizers) and persons with weight and alcohol problems are particularly susceptible to heat reactions, especially during heat waves in areas where a moderate climate usually prevails.

Heat Wave Safety Tips

Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.

Dress for summer. Lightweight light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.

Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.

Drink plenty of water or other non-alcohol fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who (1) have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, (2) are on fluid restrictive diets or (3) have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids

.

Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.

(If possible)Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment affords some protection.

Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation for our bodies that much more difficult

Know These Heat Disorder Symptoms

SUNBURN: Redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches. First Aid: Ointments for mild cases if blisters appear and do not break. If breaking occurs, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive cases should be seen by physician.

HEAT CRAMPS: Painful spasms usually in muscles of legs and abdomen possible. Heavy sweating. First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use.

HEAT EXHAUSTION: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Pulse rapid. Normal temperature possible. Fainting and vomiting. First Aid: Get victim out of sun. Lie down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air conditioned room. Sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue use. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

HEAT STROKE (or sunstroke): High body temperature (103° F. or higher). Hot dry skin. Rapid and strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. First Aid: HEAT STROKE IS A SEVERE MEDICAL EMERGENCY. SUMMON EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE OR GET THE VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY. DELAY CAN BE FATAL. Move the victim to a cooler environment Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids. Persons on salt restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com


Walking on Snow and Ice

Most slips and falls occur the following days after a winter storm. Below are tips for walking on the snow and ice. Take care and have a safe day.

Walking Safely on Snow and Ice

Walking to and from parking lots or between buildings at work during the winter requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Slips and falls are some of the most frequent types of injuries that the Safety Department sees especially during the winter months.

No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, pedestrians will still encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It is important for everyone to be constantly aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces.

Reminders

§ Wear appropriate shoes.

§ Walk in designated walkways.

§ Watch where you are walking.

§ Walk slowly and don’t rush!

§ Plan ahead and give yourself enough time.

It is recommended to keep these important safety tips in mind:

Choosing Appropriate Clothing

  • During bad weather, avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels, such as plastic and leather soles. Instead, wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice; boots made of non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles are best.
  • Wear a heavy, bulky coat that will cushion you if you should fall.
  • Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • During the day, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it hard for you to hear traffic.

Walking Over Ice

Walk like a penguin

  • In cold temperatures, approach with caution and assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk or driveway, especially if on a hill, may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
  • Taking shortcuts through areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous. Try to avoid straying from the beaten path.

Point your feet out slightly like a penguin! Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.

  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Beware if you are carrying a heavy backpack or other loadyour sense of balance will be off.
    • If you must carry a load, try not to carry too much; leave your hands and arms free to balance yourself.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets. Hands in your pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
  • Watch where you are stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y !! This will help your reaction time to changes in traction.
  • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support.
  • Take short steps or shuffle for stability. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.

Dealing with Traffic

Another hazard of walking on icy ground is dealing with poor road conditions. Keep these safety tips in mind if you’re going to be crossing the street:

  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure all cars and trucks have come to a complete stop. Motorists sometimes underestimate the time it takes to stop, often unintentionally sliding into the crosswalk.
  • Due to poor road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop or slow down for pedestrians. Avoid crossing in areas where driver visibility is lowthe cross traffic may not be able to stop in time.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles sliding in your direction.
  • Vehicles should yield to snow removal equipment in streets and parking lots.

Indoor Safety

Walking over slippery floor can be just as dangerous as walking over ice! Keep these tips in mind if you are entering a building:

  • Remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can. Water from melting ice on the floor can lead to slippery conditions.
  • Notice that floors and stairs may be wet and slipperywalk carefully especially by outer doors.

If You Should Fall

  • Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body, such as your side. Wearing thick clothing can help prevent injury to the bony parts of your body.
  • Try to relax your muscles if you fall. You’ll injure yourself less if you are relaxed.

If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head won’t hit the ground with full force.

Safety First, Safety Always!

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald@plateautel.com


This is why you should wear sunscreen

I came across this photo on the New England Journal of Medicine website the other day:

This is a 69-year old man who drove a truck 28 years. You can clearly see the difference between the left side which was exposed to the sunlight and the right side which was inside the cab. “The physical examination showed hyperkeratosis with accentuated ridging, multiple open comedones, and areas of nodular elastosis. Histopathological analysis showed an accumulation of elastolytic material in the dermis and the formation of milia within the vellus hair follicles. Findings were consistent with the FavreRacouchot syndrome of photodamaged skin, known as dermatoheliosis. “

One additional note, pay attention to the expiration date on your sunscreen. Old sunscreen does not protect properly. A friend of mine found this out the hard way when she and her children got sunburned in spite of having put on sunscreen because the sunscreen she used was several of years old (we live in WA state where a bottle of sunscreen goes a long way). Most sunscreens have a 3-year shelf life but there are many factors that could possibly shorten that so if in doubt, get a new bottle… your skin and health is worth it.