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


Hail Safety


Hail is one of the most common and costly weather hazards in the United States, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to buildings, vehicles, and crops every year. Help guard against the damaging effect of a hailstorm by following the steps below.

Make A Plan

A hailstorm can disrupt electrical service and is often accompanied by other severe weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Prepare your family for the hazards and inconveniences of a hailstorm by creating a disaster preparedness plan, including a disaster survival kit and an emergency evacuation plan.

Stay Informed

Hail often occurs during severe weather patterns, such as strong thunderstorms. When severe weather threatens, tune in to a battery-powered radio for updates. A severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are right for thunderstorms to become severe. A severe thunderstorm warning means that a storm poses an immediate threat to the people and property in its path. This warning may be accompanied by a siren or other community alert system.

How does hail form?

  • Inside of a thunderstorm are strong updrafts of warm air and downdrafts of cold air.
  • If a water droplet is picked up by the updrafts…it can be carried well above the freezing level. With temperatures below 32F…our water droplet freezes.
  • As the frozen droplet begins to fall…carried by cold downdrafts…it may thaw as it moves into warmer air toward the bottom of the thunderstorm
  • But…our little half-frozen droplet may also get picked up again by another updraft…carrying it back into very cold air and re-freezing it. With each trip above and below the freezing level our frozen droplet adds another layer of ice.
  • Finally…our frozen water droplet…with many layers of ice – much like the rings in a tree…falls to the ground – as hail!

What to do if you are caught in a hail storm while in an automobile:

  • Most importantly, stop driving. If you see a safe place close-by (like inside a garage, under a highway overpass or under a service station awning), drive to it as soon as you can. Make sure you pull completely off the highway.
  • Do NOT leave the vehicle until it stops hailing. Your car might get dented, but unlike you, the car won’t get a concussion.
  • Stay away from car windows. Cover your eyes with something, like a piece of clothing. If possible, get onto the floor faced down or lay down on the seat with your back to the windows.
  • Put very small children under you and cover their eyes.

What to do if you are caught in a hail storm while in a building:

  • Stay inside until the hail stops.
  • Stay away from windows, especially those being struck by hail.
  • Account for all family members, building occupants, pets, etc.
  • Do not go outside for any reason. Large hail can cause serious or even fatal injuries.
  • To avoid the danger of electrocution from lightning, avoid using phones and electrical appliances during a severe storm

What to do if you are caught in a hail storm while outdoors:

  • Seek shelter immediately. If you can’t find something to protect your entire body, find something to protect your head.
  • Stay out of culverts and lowland areas that may suddenly fill with water.
  • Seeking shelter under trees should be a last resort. It is common during severe storms for trees to lose branches. Also, large isolated trees attract lightning.

Facts about Hail

  • The hail season varies around the United States. Generally, it runs March through October, with the majority of hail storms occurring May through August.
  • Hail is primarily an afternoon or evening phenomenon. Most severe hailstorms occur between 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M.
  • Hailstorms rarely last more than 15 minutes. The median duration is 6 minutes.
  • The most common size for damaging hail is 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The most common size for hail in New Mexico is 1/4 inches.
Is there a way to estimate hail size…or do I have to go outside and measure it?

  • It’s often difficult to get an accurate measurement of hail diameter – especially when it’s falling
  • The table to the right helps observers estimate the size of hail based on average diameters of common items
  • When in doubt – play it safe and wait until the thunderstorm has moved away before going outside to measure the size of hail
Estimating Hail Size

  • Pea = 1/4 inch diameter
  • Marble/mothball = 1/2 inch diameter
  • Dime/Penny = 3/4 inch diameter – hail penny size or larger is considered severe
  • Nickel = 7/8 inch
  • Quarter = 1 inch
  • Ping-Pong Ball = 1 1/2 inch
  • Golf Ball = 1 3/4 inches
  • Tennis Ball = 2 1/2 inches
  • Baseball = 2 3/4 inches
  • Tea cup = 3 inches
  • Grapefruit = 4 inches
  • Softball = 4 1/2 inches

Hail indicators and Tornados. The presence of large hail certainly indicates a very strong, rotating updraft coincident with a strong downdraft within a super cell thunderstorm. These are classic indicators of increased tornadic potential as very large/giant hail is often observed immediately north of a tornado track. However, the presence of large hail doesn’t always mean a tornado. Conversely, the absence of large hail doesn’t always mean there isn’t a risk of tornadoes.:

Dime size hail 5-10 % chance of a tornado forming in this storm

Quarter size hail 20-25% chance of a tornado forming in this storm

Golf ball size hail 40-50% chance of a tornado forming in this storm (RED FLAG You should start watching for any rotation with these storms)

Baseball or larger size hail 80-90% chance of a tornado forming in this storm (EXTREME CAUTION tornados are VERY PROBABLE with these storms)

Move Inside, Stay Inside

Hailstones vary greatly in size, but even small ones – driven by gravity and strong winds – pose a danger to anything or anyone caught in a storm. As a storm approaches, put vehicles in the garage and bring pets inside. If you are outdoors, go indoors immediately.

Once you’re indoors, close all drapes, blinds, or shades to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home. If possible, move to a basement, cellar, or other level of the building not directly below the roof. Stay indoors until the storm has passed.

If you’re on the road during a hailstorm, stay in your vehicle and slow down or stop, as roads may become slippery. Once you have pulled over safely, turn your back to windows or cover yourself with a blanket to protect yourself from broken glass.

Hail Storms Safety Tips:

  • Tune in to your radio to stay informed of approaching storms.
  • If you see a tornado or hear a tornado warning, don’t try to outrun it.
  • Turn on your headlights (low beams) and slow down. Many states require the use of headlights during rain.
  • Allow extra distance for braking.
  • Do not drive unless necessary.
  • Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.
  • If at all possible, pull into a sturdy garage, parking garage, or under a shelter to minimize hail damage.
  • Stay in the car and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rains subside.
  • Avoid downed power lines.
  • Approach intersections with caution
  • Treat traffic lights at intersections as stop signs
  • After the storm, thoroughly evaluate your vehicle for damage.
  • If you find glass damage, carefully remove any glass from the interior of your vehicle, and cover the damaged area to prevent further water damage to your interior.

Treat Hail storms in much the same way you would handle a thunderstorm or tornado. Safety First, Safety Always!

Information from NOAA, Weather.Com, NWS Kerry Jones and KVII Channel 7 Amarillo Steve Kersh

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of

Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees

If you think the title of today’s post isn’t very pc you’re right but then again PC wasn’t even an expression anyone understood back in 1943 when the article was written. It is purported to have been written in a newsletter for a major transportation company of the day and I came across it on the Snopes website where rumors and such are debunked or validated. In this case it was validated (Check it out for yourself at Here are the 11 tips:

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees

There’s no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient women available and how to use them to the best advantage. Here are eleven helpful tips on the subject from western properties:

1. If you can get them, pick young married women. They have these advantages, according to the reports of western companies: they usually have more of a sense of responsibility than do their unmarried sisters; they’re less likely to be flirtatious; as a rule, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it — maybe a sick husband or one who’s in the army; they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Most transportation companies have found that older women who have never contacted the public, have a hard time adapting themselves, are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It’s always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. While there are exceptions, of course, to this rule, general experience indicates that “husky” girls — those who are just a little on the heavy side — are likely to be more even-tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination — one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit but also reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job. Transit companies that follow this practice report a surprising number of women turned down for nervous disorders.

5. In breaking in women who haven’t previously done outside work, stress at the outset the importance of time — the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

6. Give the female employe in garage or office a definite day-long schedule of duties so that she’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employe change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be nervous and they’re happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. Companies that are already using large numbers of women stress the fact that you have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and consequently is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful in issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way that men do. Never ridicule a woman — it breaks her spirit and cuts her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl’s husband or father may swear vociferously, she’ll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operator uniforms that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too strongly as a means of keeping women happy, according to western properties.

Winter Safety Tips (Part 3)

On Monday of this week we looked at general winter safety tips for children, on Tuesday we looked at skiing and snowboarding safety tips and today we want to look at part three of the winter safety tips which includes sledding and snowmobiling safety tips.

1. As with skiing and snowboarding, make sure that children are wearing the appropriate gear for the activity. These include a ski helmet with side vents so that their hearing isn’t impaired.

2. Always check your equipment before you use it and repair or replace torn, bent or broken pieces.

3. If possible, sled only in areas designated for this activity. If no area is designated, look for areas that are completely free of obstacles. Check the area thoroughly for hidden rocks, boulders and tree stumps. Make sure that the sledding area is clear of car traffic as well as snowmobiling traffic.

4. Contrary to the winter wonderland images on our Christmas cards, sledders should never lay down on the sled, they should always sit or kneel to reduce the risk of head and spine injuries.

5. Children under the age of 5 should never ride on a snowmobile, even with an adult. They should never ride on a sled alone except if they are being pulled slowly. Children under the age of 16 should not ride snowmobile alone.

Tomorrow we’ll close out this series by looking at fun in the snow (making snow forts, snow ball fights, etc…)

Winter Safety Tips (Part 1)

Well, for better or for worse, winter is here and with winter come a number of dangers that don’t exist the rest of the year. This week we’re going to look at some winter safety tips for every and any winter activity you might be involved in.

Today we’ll look at some general safety tips relating to cold, frostbite, clothing, etc….

1. When sending your children outside to play, make sure that they are always in pairs or in groups. This tip is, of course, one that is good practice no matter what the weather is like but it is especially important when temperatures drop and/or if there is snow on the ground. Snow drifts and cold temperatures can make for dangerous conditions for a child playing alone.

2. Make sure that children are staying warm and dry. Check on them often and have them come in regularly to warm up. This is especially crucial for very small children who don’t have as much body mass and fat to protect them from the cold. Smaller children’s body temperature can drop rapidly and, because they might not be as aware as older children about when to come inside, they are in greater danger of hypothermia and frostbite.

3. Teach children to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Make sure they understand the snowplows and snow blowers can be extremely dangerous because of the amount of snow that they move. A small child can very easily and quickly be completely buried by either if the operator does not see them.

4. Never send children outside to play when temperatures fall below zero Fahrenheit.

5. Make sure that children are aware of the dangers that metal, especially metal poles pose. Any body part with moisture can freeze to metal objects (We’ve all seen the movie “The Christmas Story” and while it may make for good comedy, all to often kids do actually stick their tongues on metal poles and it’s not a lot of fun getting them loose).

6. Make sure that children understand that they need to come inside to change and warm up if they get wet, especially in their boots because of the dangers of frostbite.

7. Think “Layers” when going outside in winter weather. Layers provide pockets of air between the layers which provide better insulation. They also allow for the removal of one layer at a time if the child is too hot.

Tomorrow… Skiing and snowboarding winter safety.