Working in Cold Weather-OSHA Youtube Video

“Baby it’s cold outside!” may be the line in one of our favorite Christmas songs, but it’s also a reality that has to be dealt with properly to make sure that workers are properly protected during the winter months.
If you’ve got workers who have to work outside in the winter sit them down and show this 15 minute OSHA video on cold weather safety.

(Click on the image to go to youtube to watch it or go to

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.





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

Severe Weather Awareness – Flooding Dangers

Flash Floods and Flood Safety tips

Turn Around Dont Drown

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drowning, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don’t Drown. You will not know the depth of the water nor will you know the condition of the road under the water.

Floods and flash floods are the number one cause of deaths associated with thunderstorms in the United States, averaging 106 deaths per year.

Flooding can occur anytime and anywhere. Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet. A depth of two feet will float most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles. While most floods cannot be prevented…there are simple steps you can take to protect your life and property.

If flooding occurs…

  • Move to higher ground immediately and stay away from flood prone areas.
  • Do not allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers often lie beneath the water.
  • Flooded roads can have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive on a flooded road.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or washes… particularly when threatening weather conditions exist.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Other Safety Tips for Flooding hazards conditions: Image is example of what people faced with flooding in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina flooding.

Typical questions about flooding:

Q: How do I know how severe a flood will be?

Once a river reaches flood stage, the flood severity categories used by the NWS include minor flooding, moderate flooding, and major flooding. Each category has a definition based on property damage and public threat.

  • Minor Flooding – minimal or no property damage, but possibly some public threat or inconvenience
  • Moderate Flooding – some inundation of structures and roads near streams. Some evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations are necessary.
  • Major Flooding – extensive inundation of structures and roads. Significant evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.

The impacts of a floods vary locally. For each NWS river forecast location, flood stage and the stage associated with each of the NWS flood severity categories are established in cooperation with local public officials. Increasing river levels above flood stage constitute minor, moderate, and major flooding. Impacts vary from one river location to another because a certain river stage (height) in one location may have an entirely different impact than the same level above flood stage at another location.

Q: What’s the difference between a flood and flash flood?

A flood occurs when prolonged rainfall over several days, intense rainfall over a short period of time, or an ice or debris jam causes a river or stream to overflow and flood the surrounding area. Melting snow can combine with rain in the winter and early spring; severe thunderstorms can bring heavy rain in the spring and summer; or tropical cyclones can bring intense rainfall to the coastal and inland states in the summer and fall.

A flash floods occur within six hours of a rain event, or after a dam or levee failure, or following a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam, and flash floods can catch people unprepared. You will not always have a warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. So, if you live in areas prone to flash floods, plan now to protect your family and property. The use of the word flash here is synonymous with urgent.

Follow these safety rules:

  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don’t Drown
  • Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don’t Drown If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

Most flash floods are caused by slow moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that move repeatedly over the same area or heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes.

These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions and ground cover.

Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Furthermore, flash flood-producing rains can also trigger catastrophic mud slides.

Occasionally, floating debris or ice can accumulate at a natural or man-made obstruction and restrict the flow of water. Water held back by the ice jam or debris dam can cause flooding upstream. Subsequent flash flooding can occur downstream if the obstruction should suddenly release.

Flash Floods Can Take Only a Few Minutes to a Few Hours to Develop

  • A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.

Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

  • Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing . . .

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn them back on.)
  • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places . . . a friend’s home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.

When a Flood WATCH Is Issued . . .

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.

When a Flood WARNING Is Issued . . .

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.

When a Flash Flood WATCH Is Issued . . .

  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice.

When a Flash Flood WARNING Is Issued . . .

  • Or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades . . . they are there for your safety.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

MOST IMPORTANTLY if you come to a flooded roadway of any kind remember Saving your life and your car is as simple as choosing a different route when you see water across a roadway. So day or night, when there’s water on the road and Turn Around Dont Drown!

Information provided by National Weather Service Kerry Jones and Amarillo KVII Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh and the CDC

Severe Weather Awareness – Lightning Dangers

Lightning Safety

Lightning is the MOST UNDERRATED weather hazard. On average, only floods kill more people. Lightning makes every single thunderstorm a potential killer, whether the storm produces one single bolt or ten thousand bolts.

In the United States, lightning routinely kills more people each year than tornadoes and hurricanes COMBINED. Tornadoes, hail, and wind gusts get the most attention, but only lightning can strike well outside the storm itself. Lightning is usually the first thunderstorm hazard to arrive and the last to leave.

Lightning is an unpredictable characteristic of a thunderstorm – no one can guarantee an individual or group absolute protection from lightning. However, knowing and following proven lightning safety guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of injury or death. Remember, YOU are ultimately responsible for your personal safety, and should take appropriate action when threatened by lightning.

Lightning hits the earth an estimated 100 times per second, or 8.6 million times a day. It is estimated that the U.S. alone receives as many as 20 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year from approximately 100,000

thunderstorms. Lightning kills or injures hundreds of people every year, mainly because the victims are not aware of the danger they face.

Lightning has fascinated and excited humans for as long as they have watched the skies. Meteorologists know the cloud conditions necessary to produce lightning, but cannot forecast the location or time of the next stroke of lightning from a storm. At any moment, there are as many as 1800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on the Earth, and each is producing deadly lightning.

As the thunderstorm forms, it produces ice in the upper cloud. The formation of ice in a cloud is an important element in the development of lightning. Those storms that fail to produce large numbers of ice crystals may also fail to produce lightning. Strong rising and sinking motions within the cloud are important too, as they enhance collisions among cloud particles causing a separation of electrical charges. Positively charged ice crystals rise to the top of the thunderstorm and negatively charged ice particles and hailstones drop to the middle and lower parts of the storm.

As the differences in charges continue to increase, positive charges rise up taller objects such as trees, houses, and telephone poles. The charge can also move up you, causing your hair to stand on end! This is natures way final way of warning you that lightning can strike very soon near you.

The negatively charged area in the storm sends out a charge toward the ground called a step leader. It is invisible to the human eye and moves in steps towards the ground. It takes less than a second for lightning to get close to the ground, and when it does it is attracted by all of the positively charged objects causing a channel to develop. You see the electrical transfer in this channel as lightning. There may be several repeated transfers of electricity within the channel. These are observed as flickering lightning.

35 Years of Lightning Deaths & Injuries
Fatalities, injuries, and damage were compiled and published by NOAA for the years 1959-1994.

Lightning Facts

1. Location of Incident:
40% Unreported
27% Open fields & recreation areas (not golf)
14 % Under trees (not golf)
8% Water-related (boating, fishing, swimming…)
5% Golf / golf under trees

3% Heavy equipment and machinery related
2.4% Telephone related
0.7% Radio, transmitter & antenna related

2. Gender of victims:84% male; 16% female
3. Months of most incidents: June (21%), July (30%), Aug (22%)
4. Days of week of most incidents: Sun. / Wed. / Sat.
5. Time of day of most incidents: 2pm to 6pm
6. Number of victims: One (91%), two or more (9%)
7. Deaths by State, Top Five: FL, MI, TX, NY, TN
8. Injuries by State, Top Five: FL, MI, PA, NC, NY

Before Lightning Strikes…

Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder. If Thunder is heard… The Lightning is… 5 seconds after a Flash = 1 mile away 10 seconds after a Flash = 2 miles away 15 seconds after a Flash = 3 miles away 20 seconds after a Flash = 4 miles away 25 seconds after a Flash = 5 miles away 30 seconds after a Flash = 6 miles away

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately!
  • Don’t use metal objects like fishing rods, aluminum bats and golf clubs. Golfers and Softball players are particularly good lightning rods.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.

The 30/30 rule

Any lightning safety plan should incorporate the 30/30 Rule. The 30/30 Rule states that people should seek shelter if the “Flash-To-Bang” delay (length of time in seconds between a lightning flash and its subsequent thunder), is 30 seconds or less, and that they remain under cover until 30 minutes after the final clap of thunder.

A 30 second lead time is necessary prior to a storm’s arrival because of the possibility of distant strikes. A 30 minute wait after the last thunder is heard is necessary because the trailing storm clouds still carry a lingering charge. This charge can and does occasionally produce lightning on the back edge of a storm, several minutes after the rain has ended.

Studies have shown most people struck by lightning are struck not at the height of a thunderstorm, but before and after the storm has peaked. This shows many people are unaware of how far lightning can strike from its parent thunderstorm. DO NOT wait for the rain to start before seeking shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended.

When a Storm Approaches…

  • Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job!
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

Be a Very Small Target!

If you feel your hair standing on end, and/or hear “crackling noises,” you are in lightning’s electric field. If caught outside during close-in lightning, immediately remove metal objects (including baseball cap), place your feet together, duck your head, and crouch down low in baseball catcher’s stance with hands on knees

  • Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.
  • Do not lie flat on the ground — this will make you a larger target!

If you feel your hair stand on end in a storm, drop into the tuck position described above immediately. This sensation means electric charges are already rushing up your body from the ground toward an electrically charged cloud. Minimize your contact with the ground to minimize your injury.

Being outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. The National Weather Service advises that when you hear thunder or see lightning to quickly move indoors or into a hard topped vehicle and remain there until well after the storm has passed.

Any location is dangerous during a lightning storm; however some areas are more dangerous than others. Some of the riskiest locations include:

  • Anywhere near the water:
    • Boating
    • Fishing
    • Swimming
    • Activities on the Beach
  • Areas near tall trees:
    • The Golf Course
    • Picnic Areas
    • Hiking Trails
    • Isolated tall trees pose the greatest danger!
  • High terrains such as hill tops and ridges
  • High places such as house roofs during construction
  • Open areas like fields

Dangerous situations can arise when big groups of people come together outdoors during a lightning storm. This includes baseball, football, soccer, and tennis games, as well as community fairs and outdoor festivals.

It is important that everyone know some outdoor and indoor safety rules.

Outdoor Safety Rules

Knowing outdoor safety rules can help save your life or that of loved ones.

When lightning approaches, get inside a completely enclosed building. Carports, open garages, storage sheds, metal sheds, and covered patios are not safe shelters.

If no enclosed building is available, get inside a hard-topped, all metal vehicle.

Get out of the water! Get off the beach and out of small boats and canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots. Thunderstorm winds create large waves and turbulent water, so please wear a life jacket!

If you cannot reach shelter, avoid being the tallest object in the area. Do not take shelter under an isolated tree or the tallest trees in the area. If you are in the woods, find shelter under the shorter trees.

If only isolated trees are nearby, crouch on the balls of your feet. A rule of thumb to follow is to stay twice as far away from a tree as it is tall. Don’t lie on the ground.

Avoid caves or overhangs. The ground current from lightning is very strong and can jump the Gap.

Avoid leaning against vehicles and get off bicycles and motorcycles.

Indoor Safety Rules

When lightning strikes a building, house or other structure, it follows metal conductors such an electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines from the structure to the ground. When this process occurs, it usually leaves the inhabitants unharmed.

Once lightning enters the home it can surge through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. It can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring as well as windows and doors. It is important to avoid these conductors during an electrical storm.

Phone use is the leading cause of lightning injuries within the home. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wiring, especially in rural areas where other conductors are limited.

Basements should be used with caution during thunderstorms because they usually contain conductors. Avoid contact with washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems, but also have an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent. Concrete floors should also be avoided as they usually contain some form of reinforcement which can easily become electrified by a nearby lightning strike. Avoid bathing during a lightning storm as the household plumbing can carry a deadly current.

Lightning Safety Tips for Inside your Home

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a particular structure, it is more important to consider what happens if the structure gets struck by lightning, rather than whether the structure will be hit by lightning. For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground. These mechanisms may be on the outside of the structure, may be contained within the walls of the structure, or may be a combination of the two. On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or may follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside a structure, lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.

Avoid Unsafe Shelters!

Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small structures do little, if anything, to protect occupants from lightning. Many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

How Lightning Enters a House or Building

There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: (1) a direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and (3) through the ground. Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Stay Safe While Inside

Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas. Stay away from windows and doors as these can provide the path for a direct strike to enter a home. Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh. In general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms. However, there are some things to keep in mind. Avoid contact with concrete walls which may contain metal reinforcing bars. Avoid washers and dryers since they not only have contacts with the plumbing and electrical systems, but also contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent.

Remember Your Pets

You may want to consider the safety of your family pets during thunderstorms. Dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained to trees or chained to wire runners can easily fall victim to a lightning strike.

Protect Your Personal Property

Lightning also causes significant damage to personal property each year. In addition to direct strikes, lightning generates electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will NOT protect equipment from a lightning strike. To the extent possible, unplug any appliances or electronic equipment from all conductors well before a thunderstorm threatens. This includes not only the electrical system, but also the reception system. If you plan to be away from your home when thunderstorms are possible, be sure to unplug unneeded equipment before you leave.

Summary of Lightning Safety Tips for Inside the Home

· Avoid contact with corded phones

· Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.

· Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.

· Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

· Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.

If someone is struck by lightning…

  • People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.

Learn First Aid and CPR

  • Take a first aid and CPR course. Next class is schedule for April 22 in the Learning Center!

Information provided by the National Weather Service Kerry Jones, KVII Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh and American Red Cross.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week- Dust Storms

Severe Weather Awareness Week

March 3-9


With high winds yesterday throughout our area and still drought conditions make it ideal for blowing sand and dirt. The visibility is also drastically reduced with the blowing dust. Sand Storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena. High winds lift dirt particles or, in the case of sandstorms, sand, into the air, unleashing a turbulent, suffocating cloud of particulates and reducing visibility to almost nothing in a matter of seconds. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage, injuries, and deaths, and while they are most commonly associated with the Sahara and Gobi desert regions, they can occur in any arid or semi-arid climate. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of sand racing toward you.

Dust storms often occur with strong outflow from thunderstorms. The strong outflow is produced when a thunderstorm downburst, which occurs when the core of a thunderstorm collapses, suddenly forces air and water toward the ground. The fast-moving air has nowhere to go, but spread out in all directions.


A dust storm usually arrives suddenly in the form of an advancing wall of dust and debris which may be miles long and several thousand feet high. They strike with little warning, making driving conditions hazardous. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups. Dust storms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a motorist takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life.


  • If dense dust is observed blowing across or approaching a roadway, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated.
  • Don’t enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.
  • If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
  • Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.


In the past, motorists driving in dust storms have pulled off the roadway, leaving lights on. Vehicles approaching from the rear and using the advance car’s lights as a guide have inadvertently left the roadway and in some instances collided with the parked vehicle. Make sure all of your lights are off when you park off the roadway.


During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or television or NOAA Weather Radio for Dust Storm Warnings. A Dust Storm (or Sand Storm) Warning means: Visibility of 1/2 mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.

Heed dust storm warnings. Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days under certain atmospheric conditions, so meteorologists can frequently predict the possibility of these storms. Tune in to local TV or radio broadcasts before traveling in hot, dry conditions, and consider rerouting or delaying your trip if dust storms are predicted. Roadside signs may also be available to warn you of dust storm danger.

Be prepared. If you are in a storm-prone area, carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, and bring airtight goggles to protect your eyes. It’s also wise to carry a supply of water in case you are stuck in a storm. Dust storms are usually accompanied by high temperatures, and you can quickly become dehydrated in the dry heat and high winds. Wear or carry clothing that covers your body to protect you from the sandblasting, and to keep you warm in case of the frigid winds of a winter dust storm, which can quickly lead to hypothermia.

Outrun the storm. If you see a dust storm from some distance, and you are in a vehicle or have access to one, you may be able to outrun it or detour around it. Some dust storms can travel at more than 75 miles per hour, but they frequently travel much slower. Trying to outrun a storm, however, is not advisable if you have to put yourself at risk by traveling at high speeds. If the storm is catching up with you, it’s best to stop and prepare for it. Once consumed by the storm, your visibility can potentially be reduced to zero in a matter of seconds.

Pull over. If you’re in transit and visibility drops to less than 300 feet, pull off the road (exit the freeway if possible), set your parking brake, turn off your headlights, and make sure brake lights and turn signals are also off. In many cases, if your exterior lights are on, other drivers will use the taillights of the person in front of them as a guide to help navigate the road ahead of them. If you are pulled off the road and are sitting there with your lights on, unbelievably, someone might think they can follow you and run right off the road or even collide with you! Turning your headlights off while stationed off the road, will reduce the possibility of a rear-end collision. If you are unable to safely pull off the road, keep your headlights on, turn on your hazard lights, slow down, and proceed with caution, sounding your horn periodically. Use the highway’s centerline to guide you if you can’t see in front of you. Pull over at the nearest safe spot.

Take cover and stay put. Do not attempt to move about in a blinding storm, as you will not be able to see potential hazards in your path.

If you’re in a house or sturdy structure, stay inside. If you can quickly reach such shelter before a dust storm reaches you, get there as quickly as possible. Close all windows and doors, and wait out the storm.

If you’re in a vehicle, roll up the windows and turn off vents that bring outside air in.

If you are stuck outside, seek out a large rock or other landform to protect you at least partially.

Get to high ground, since the densest concentration of sand is bouncing close to the ground, but only if (1) you can find a safe, solid, high point, (2) the storm is not accompanied by lightning and (3) there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.

Do not lie in a ditch, as flash flooding may occur even if no rain is falling where you are. In the actual dust cloud, rain generally dries up before it reaches the ground, but it may be raining nearby, and ditches, arroyos, and other low-lying areas can quickly flood.

If you have a camel, have it sit down and press yourself against its leeward side. Camels are well adapted to surviving in dust storms.

If you’re in sand dunes, do not seek shelter right on the leeward side of the dune. The high winds can pick up huge amounts of sand very quickly, and you could find yourself being buried in sand.

Wear a mask. If you have a respirator or mask designed to filter out small particulates, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, wrap a bandanna or some other piece of cloth around your nose and mouth. Moisten it a bit if you have enough water. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of your nostrils to prevent drying of your mucous membranes.

Protect your eyes. Eyeglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but airtight goggles are better. If you don’t have goggles, wrap a piece of cloth tightly around your head to protect your eyes and ears.

Shield yourself from flying objects. Cover as much of your body as possible to protect yourself from flying sand. In addition, while wind-propelled sand can hurt, a dust storm’s high winds can also carry heavier (and hence more dangerous) objects. If you find yourself without shelter, try to stay low to the ground and protect your head with your arms, a backpack, or a pillow.

Safety Tips: Driving In A Dust Storm

Dust storms are common in our area and usually occur between May and September. The most intense storms occur during the late summer months known as monsoon.

Dust storms can create dangerous, sometimes even deadly driving conditions and sometimes reduce visibility to zero. The area between Tucson and Phoenix is noted for being the only place in the United States to experience the “haboob,” a raging dust storm that travels across the desert at 50 to 60 mph.

AAA says drivers need to be especially careful when they get behind the wheel of a car and practice safe driving habits so they don’t find themselves “at one” with a large tree or worse, another vehicle.

If you run into a severe dust storm, reduce the speed of your vehicle immediately and drive carefully off the highway. After you are off the paved portion of the roadway, turn off your vehicle’s lights to ensure other cars do not follow you off the road and hit your vehicle. Wait until the dust storm had passed before getting back on the highway. If you are walking or riding your bike, get inside quickly or seek shelter.

If a dust storm strikes, use the same rules you would for driving in fog. Do not stop on the road, because cars coming behind you will not see you in time to stop. Instead, slow down and pull to the side of the road, turn off all lights and wait until it’s safe to resume driving. If traffic prevents you from pulling off the road, look down at the white lines on the pavement to keep the car pointing in the right direction, and drive very slowly, until the dust passes, which should only take a few minutes

Here are some other tips to help drivers safely maneuver through the Valley during a monsoon storm:

· Reduce speed and turn on driving lights

· Pull off the roadway

After you are completely off the traveled portion of the roadway:

· Turn off driving lights

· Keep your car radio on

· If you are on the freeway, leave the freeway at an exit ramp, if possible.

· Wait until visibility is at least 300 feet before re-entering the roadway.

· Heavy rain may follow the dust storm.


Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Cold Weather Safety Tips

Brrrrrrrace Yourself for the Coooold!!

With it officially winter today(Dec 21st) cold arctic fronts will be headed our directions this winter and the temperatures and wild chills could drop to dangerously cold levels. These very cold temperatures can be hazardouseven deadlyto your health. Of course, no matter the temperature, the work must still get done. Workers can be exposed to hazards from cold indoors as well as outside. It’s very cold, for instance, in food storage areas. However, since its nearly January, it makes sense to be aware on working in frigid conditions outside.

As with all potential hazards, prevention is the best method for staying safe in the cold. To prevent cold problems by taking these precautions:

· Limit exposure to cold, especially if it’s windy or humid if possible.

· Be especially careful if you’re older, overweight, or have allergies or poor circulation.

· Know that problems can arise in above-freezing temperatures.

· Know that problems can arise from touching a subfreezing object.

· Be especially careful if you smoke, drink, or take medications.

· Don’t bathe, smoke, or drink alcohol before going into the cold.

When workers must spend time in the cold, wear layers of loose dry clothing with cotton or wool under layers and a waterproof top layer. In addition, workers also need to:

· Cover head, hands, feet, and face.

· Dry or change wet clothing immediately.

· Keep moving when they’re in the cold.

· Take regular breaks in warm areas.

· Move to a warm area if they feel very cold or numb.

· Drink a warm, nonalcoholic, decaffeinated beverage.

According to OSHA, cold stress can occur when the body is unable to warm itself. This can lead to tissue damage and possibly death.

Four factors contribute to cold stress:

· Cold air temperatures

· High wind

· Dampness of the air

· Contact with cold water or cold surfaces

A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature. Cold air, water, and snow all draw heat from the body.

OSHA also points out that while below-freezing conditions and inadequate protection can bring about cold stress, problems can also occur with much higher temperatures, even in the 50s, when coupled with rain and wind.

What happens in the cold? Energy is used to warm the body’s internal temperature. Over time, the body will begin to shift blood from the extremities and outer skin to the core (the chest and abdomen). This allows exposed skin and the extremities to cool rapidly, increasing the risk of problems.

The most common cold-induced problems are hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

Hypothermia occurs when body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced. When the core body temperature drops from the normal 98.6F to around 95F, symptoms generally begin, including uncontrollable shivering, weakness, confusion, drowsiness, and pale, cold skin.

There are three stages of hypothermia.

· Impending hypothermia

· Mild hypothermia

· Severe hypothermia

Impending hypothermiaoccurs when the body’s core temperature drops to 95°F (35°C). The skin may become pale, numb and waxy. Muscles become tense. Fatigue and weakness begin to show.

The treatment for impending hypothermia includes removal from the cold, wet environment, providing external heat (fire, blankets) and providing hot drink (no alcohol, tea or coffee).

Mild hypothermiaoccurs when the body’s core temperature drops to 93.2°F (34°C). Uncontrolled shivering begins. The individual is still alert, but movement becomes less coordinated and some pain and discomfort exists.

The treatment for mild hypothermia includes removal from the cold environment, keeping the head and neck covered to prevent further heat loss and providing warm, sweetened drink (no alcohol, tea or coffee) and high-energy food.

Severe hypothermiaoccurs when the body core temperature drops below 87.8°F (31°C). The skin becomes cold and may be bluish in color. The individual is weak, and uncoordinated. Speech is slurred, and the victim appears exhausted, denies problem and may resist help. Gradually there is a loss of consciousness with little or no breathing occurring. The individual may be rigid and appear dead.

The treatment for severe hypothermia includes immediate external warming. One method may be by placing the victim in a warmed sleeping bag with two other people. Keep the miner awake and apply mild heat to stop loss of heat, not to re-warm.

Check for pulse and breathing. If neither is present, begin CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation. Continue until medical help arrives.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and seeking immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim’s head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position.

Frostbite occurs when the skin actually freezes and loses water. In severe cases, amputation of the frostbitten area may be required. Frostbite usually affects the extremities. The affected body part will be cold, tingling, stinging, or aching, followed by numbness. The skin turns red in color, then purple, then white, and is cold to the touch. In severe cases, there may be blisters.

When are you at Risk of Frostbite?
Typically frostbite happens during periods of prolonged exposure to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can happen in a matter of minutes in extremely cold conditions (like below zero). Cold winds increase the likelihood of frostbite, as the air circulates body heat away from the skin more quickly. Other factors that can lower the bodys defenses include hunger, dehydration, and exhaustion. Frostbite most commonly affects the toes, fingers, ears, chin, cheeks, and nose — body parts that are often left uncovered.

Three Stages of Frostbite

The first stage is frostnip, characterized by a feeling of pins and needles and your skin turning very white and soft. If you catch frostbite at this stage, you won’t suffer any permanent damage. It can be treated by soaking in warm water or breathing your warm breath on the affected area.

Superficial frostbite is the next stage. Your skin now feels numb, waxy and frozen to the touch. Blistering may occur and ice crystals may form in your skin cells, which permanently changes the cell structure.

The last stage is deep frostbite, the most serious stage, which can lead to permanent damage, blood clots, gangrene, even loss of your affected limb. All tissues, including blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and bone may be frozen. You won’t be able to feel a thing. It is critical to seek medical attention as quickly as possible to minimize the damage.

Frostbite First Aid
In the absence of professional medical attention, here are a few first-aid tips for frostbite:

· Bring the person into a warm room as quickly as possible and rest the injured areas

· If feet are frostbitten, avoid walking and elevate them

· Remove any wet or restrictive clothing that could hinder circulation

· Warm the area by soaking it in warm (not hot) water for at least 35 to 45 minutes, or until the affected area feels warm and sensation returns

· Do not rub

· During the warming process, the patient may complain of severe pain and the frostbitten area may swell; this is normal

· Afterward, cover the area with a clean bandage or cloth

· Do not begin the warming process if the person will be exposed to the cold again

· Do not use dry heat, such as a heating pad, fire, radiator, or heater to warm the area; because the skin is numb, it will not feel the heat and could get burned

Trench foot, or immersion foot, is caused when the feet are immersed in cold water at temperatures above freezing for long periods of time. It is similar to frostbite, but considered less severe. Symptoms include tingling, itching, or a burning sensation.

Recognizing the symptoms of cold injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia. Use this table as a handout:

Feeling uncomfortably cold Feeling cold
Feeling numb Pain in extremities
Feeling tingling, aching, or brief pain Shivering
Skin going from white to grayish yellow to reddish violet to black Numbness and/or stiffness
Skin blisters Poor coordination
Unconsciousness Drowsiness
Slow or irregular breathing or heart rate
Slurred speech
Cool skin
Puffy face

What actions to take if they have these symptoms. Use this table:

Dont rub body part or apply heat lamp or hot water bottles. Call for medical help.
Dont go near a hot stove. Give artificial respiration if needed.
Dont break blisters. Move into warm area.
Warm frozen body part quickly with sheets or blankets or warmnot hotwater. Get out of frozen, wet, or tight clothes.
Exercise warmed body partbut don’t walk on feet. Bundle in warm clothes or blankets.
Get medical attention if needed. Drink something warmbut no caffeine or alcohol.
Elevate frozen body part and cover with sterile cloths before moving. Cover with warm blankets if possible use a survival blanket.

Coping with the Cold

Here are some cold weather safety recommendations for employees exposed to the elements on the job during the winter. Most apply equally to employees who engage in recreational or other outdoor activities on their own time.

· Wear at least three layers of clothingan outer layer, such as Gortex, to break the wind; a middle layer of down or wool to absorb sweat and provide insulation; and an inner layer of cotton or synthetic weave to allow ventilation.

· Wear a hat. Considerable heat escapes the body from the head.

· Have a change of dry clothing available in case work clothes become wet.

· Wear loose rather than tight clothing for better ventilation.

· Follow safe work practices when exposed to cold, including drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, working during the warmer parts of the day when possible, taking breaks out of the cold, working in pairs, and consuming warm, high-calorie food.

· Use engineering controls such as radiant heaters, shielding work areas from drafts or wind, and insulating material on equipment handles.

· Be able to identify symptoms of cold-related problems.

In addition to cold stress and job hazard identification, your workers have other safety responsibilities. Here are my “Top Ten”:

1. Know and follow safe work procedures.

2. Avoid obvious unsafe acts, such as running through the work area or tossing tools.

3. Keep the work area clean and uncluttered. Keep aisles and stairways clear, clean up spills, properly dispose of flammable scrap, and take other steps to eliminate items or conditions that could create a hazard.

4. Report accidents, injuries, illnesses, exposures to hazardous substances, and near-misses immediately.

5. Report situations that don’t seem right even if you’re unsure they’re hazards. This is especially important if you’re working with hazardous chemicals; where symptoms that appear to be minor, like a headache or red skin, may be the first indicator of overexposure.

6. Cooperate with internal inspections and job hazard analyses.

7. Follow company safety rules. They combine government laws and regulations with the experience of many people in this company and this industry.

8. Look for ways to make the job safer. Do your part to improve safety by voicing your observations and making suggestions.

9. Participate in safety training. Apply what you learn and help co-workers when they’re unsure of what to do.

10. Treat safety as one of your most important job responsibilities. Your job is not only to perform particular tasks and get particular results: It’s to do those things safely.

WINTER WEATHER TERMS -The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives us the following definitions:

Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.

Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.

Winter Storm Outlook : Issued prior to a Winter Storm Watch. The Outlook is given when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible and are usually issued 3 to 5 days in advance of a winter storm.

Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below ¼ mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.

Lake Effect Snow Warning: Issued when heavy lake effect snow is imminent or occurring.

Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Issued when accumulation of lake effect snow will cause significant inconvenience.

Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.

Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure, and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.

Winter Weather Advisories: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.

Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to ¼ mile or less over a widespread area.

Snow Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.

Snow Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.

Snow Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes region.

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 picked up by the wind.

Sleet: 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 motorists.

Freezing Rain: 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 It Matters

· OSHA reports that there is a danger of freezing to exposed flesh within 1 hour at temperatures of 10° Fahrenheit (F) (-12.2° Celsius) and above.

· There’s danger of freezing to exposed flesh within 1 minute at temperatures between -20°F and 10°F.

· There’s danger of freezing to exposed flesh within 1 second at temperatures below -20°F.

· Wind speeds raise the temperatures at which freezing dangers occur; visit (OSHA Cold Card) for more details.


Before you Drive

Driving in winter weather falling leaves, snow, ice, wet and cold – creates a great challenge for vehicles and drivers. Keeping yourself and your vehicle in good technical repair reduces your overall chances of any mishap or disaster while driving in winter weather. Even if your vehicle has permanent four-wheel drive, remember that not every one else on the road does.

To prepare your vehicle for winter driving give it a complete check-up – electrical system (battery, ignition and lights); brakes; tires; exhaust; wipers; fluids, radiator/antifreeze and heating/cooling system. Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out.

It is particularly important to check your tires are in good order, and have plenty of tread depth. Well-maintained tires can have a major effect on stopping distances on wet and slippery roads. Weekly checks, or when refueling, are recommended.

In really extreme weather, prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things that cater for the unexpected – what would you need if you found yourself stranded miles from help during a snowstorm? Include things like warm clothing, boots, gloves or mittens, flashlight with fresh batteries, snow shovel, blankets, and fresh first-aid supplies.

During bad weather let people know where you are going, your route of travel, and when you expect to arrive. Plan your driving and likely arrival time in advance. Never drive if fatigued or under the influence of alcohol. Allow for extra traveling time or even consider delaying a trip if the weather is poor. Is an alternative method of travel possible? Listen to weather forecasts, and if weather and visibility are hazardous, ask yourself is this trip really necessary?

On the Road

Drive according to current road and weather conditions. Whenever driving conditions are less than ideal, it pays to be cautious. Make sure that all windows (front, side and rear) and mirrors are clear and that wipers and defrosters are in good working condition.

Drive slowly with low beam headlights on if visibility is poor, test your brakes frequently, leave a bigger gap and never tailgate. Posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front is the best precautionary measures against any misfortune while driving on slippery roads. Lengthen your following distance behind the vehicle ahead of you – stopping distances double on slippery roads.

Deer are more active in the fall and early winter, meaning more animals will be out on the road. Always remember to drive at a speed that you know you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear.

Remember Winter Safety First, Winter Safety Always!

Information from OSHA, National Safety Council and American Red Cross

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

Cold Stress and Hot Air

Got this white paper from Ergodyne. Haven’t been able to locate it on their website but I’ve uploaded it to our website and here’s the link for you to download it as a pdf.

© 2009 Tenacious Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All Wrongs Reversed. 2 3/1/20092
When we’re young we take in a lot of tall tales—otherwise known as misinformation. One of them is the idea that cold air causes the common cold. Even though the common term for being sick (having a “cold”) comes from the belief that weather can cause illness, we’re eventually smart enough to know that these are infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
Still, cold air can present a serious threat to the body’s vital organs and systems.
The body uses a few different means to protect itself from cold, the first lines of defense being the nose, mucus system, and lungs.
The nose is built to help protect the lungs. Adding and extracting moisture and temperature, the nose adjusts the air heading to the lungs to a relative humidity of about 75% and a comfortable 98.6 degrees. When a person is exposed to cold temperatures, the tissue lining the nose swells as the capillaries open. This brings warm blood to the nose to heat the cold air. In fact, often it’s too much blood in the nose (not increased mucus) which results in nasal congestion.
The body’s next defense is mucus. The respiratory system is covered by a thin layer of this stuff – the “mucus blanket” – which acts as a filter, protecting the lungs from dangerous particles and organisms (including bacteria that can cause colds and infections). Mucus, like other substances, becomes thicker in cold temperatures. When this happens, the system might not work as effectively to remove inhaled viruses and bacteria.
Further, if cold air does reach the lungs despite nose and mucus defenses, lungs react with histamine – a natural chemical often released by the body during allergic reactions. In people with sensitive airways or asthma this causes wheezing.
On average, a human breathes 1,100 times per hour, with each breath measuring about one liter in volume. When this inhaled air is cold, the body works to heat the air to 98 degrees. This extra work represents a significant heat loss to the body that is preventable. So while catching a respiratory infection requires exposure to bacteria or organism, it still is more likely that an individual will become sick if he or she has been breathing cold air than if they were not.
There are countless other affects that cold can have on the body aside from the respiratory system. Unfortunately, the effects of cold on the body (i.e. cold stress) often go unnoticed until conditions have created a life or death situation. And while these sneak attacks can be deadly, cold stress is actually quite preventable if the proper precautions are taken.

Extreme cold temperatures can affect the body in a number of ways. These include dehydration, numbness, shivering, frostbite, immersion foot (trench foot), and hypothermia. As the list shows, effects can be both local and systemic.
Shivering is the first and most common symptom. It’s also the most often ignored. When the body drops below 98.6 degrees, blood begins to flow away from extremities and towards the core. This results in the immediate cooling of exposed skin and extremities and increases the risk of cold stress, specifically hypothermia. If body temps continue to fall, dexterity decreases and speech may be slurred. At 85 degrees Fahrenheit, severe hypothermia sets in which can result in unconsciousness. And at 78 degrees or below, the body is at maximum risk for brain damage and even death if not treated immediately.

According to the CDC, early signs and symptoms of heat loss include:

  • Shivering (first, most common symptom)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion and disorientation

Late symptoms of heat loss include

  • No shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

If enough heat loss occurs, signs and symptoms of the resulting hypothermia include:

  • Cool skin
  • Slower, irregular breathing
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Severe shaking
  • Rigid muscles
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory lapses

While workers in the construction, agriculture, maritime, and commercial fishing industries are often exposed to the most extreme risks, cold stress is not exclusive to outdoor workers.
People who work in cold storage or food processing, as well as those in facilities without heat or insulation, are also at risk. If workers do not have proper protection, the body is unable to warm itself, and, this can lead to serious cold-related illnesses, permanent tissue damage, or even death.
While risks are of course highest in colder regions, in areas where the seasons change less drastically, workers are often less prepared, and it can only take near freezing temperatures to trigger the onset of cold stress.
Individuals who are more prone to cold stress than others include those who are:

  • Not physically fit
  • Living with an underlying condition or illness (those with asthma or other respiratory ailments are particularly at risk)
  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription)
  • Working in wet or damp conditions
  • Exposed to vibration from tools
  • Working without proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Not acclimated to the cold


  • Employers can help protect workers from cold stress through several means. They should Provide training
  • Control the work environment with heaters and windbreaks
  • Establish worker rotations
  • Schedule work during the warmer hours of the day and times of the year
  • Remind workers to pace themselves
  • And keep emergency supplies on hand

Equally important, workers in cold conditions should themselves take necessary precautions to protect themselves from the cold, including wearing proper PPE and being aware of cold stress warning signs.
The CDC recommends the following safety tips for employers and workers:

  • Train employees for the cold and changing weather
  • Use a buddy system
  • Adjust work schedules to the cold or changing weather
  • Eat and drink hot or warm foods and liquids
  • Layer clothing (water vapor permeability is important)
  • Wear proper PPE

To prevent the loss of body heat from breathing cold air, mountaineers and other extreme sport participants have used heat exchange facemasks and balaclavas for many decades. Similar to the value provided by putting warm food and liquids into the body, a heat exchanger provides warmth from the inside out. Heat exchangers capture the warmth and humidity from exhaled breath, store it temporarily, and warm and humidify inhaled air. Now, with the recent introduction of this technology to the workplace, workers have an additional opportunity to protect themselves on the job when temperatures are most extreme.
With a proper heat exchanger, condensation produced from exhaled breath stays on the mask – not on your face or your fleece – and most of it is evaporated and returned to your body. Heat exchangers also help workers maintain full lung capacity, which is especially important for individuals with underlying heart or respiratory problems. In fact, heat exchangers are so effective that workers often find that less PPE clothing is required while using one.
Cold stress is just as dangerous as heat stress – but with its sneaky symptoms, it often goes undetected until it’s too late. Awareness is key. Being informed about the dangers of cold stress and the importance of breathing warm air can help save lives and keeps workers warm, comfortable, and productive.


Benefits of Breathing War Air, Lee Bagby, President, QXtec, Inc

Talus Outdoor Technologies

PSolar Outdoor Performance Gear

Don’t Leave Safety Out in the Cold, EHS Today

State Compensation Insurance Fund

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

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30 years

10 years

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10 years

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30 years

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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

Weather Related Safety

We have talked extensively about hot weather and heat related issues as they relate to safety.

Hot weather, however, isn’t the only weather that needs to be considered with regards to working or operating outside.

Rain and high winds are other weather related safety issues that should be considered.


  • Wear the appropriate non-slip footwear. This means boots with the proper sole for channeling rainwater away from the treads so that they make good contact with the ground.
  • Wear the proper raingear. Consider the temperature and protect against the rain while making sure you are either warm enough or not overheating and sweating, depending on the conditions.
  • Do not continue working outside in lightning. Seek shelter and wait it out.
  • Protect equipment from water damage.
  • Electricity and rain DO NOT MIX. Do not use power equipment in the rain.
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings and anticipate potential problems. Drainage ditches, gullies, sharp inclines, etc… can very quickly become a torrent that is inescapable. Flash floods, especially after prolonged times without rain, can cause flood conditions within seconds.


Pay attention to the wind conditions. Even moderate winds can become dangerous depending on the job. If working on the roof, for example, it doesn’t take much wind to cause you to lose your balance. If you are carrying a sheet of plywood, even a small amount of wind can become dangerous because of the amount of force exerted on the overall surface of the plywood, acting like the sail of a ship.