Tag: safety

Safety First With DIY Electrical Work

Home improvement projects can help homeowners transform their homes. Such projects are costly, but many homeowners save money by doing some, if not all, of the work themselves.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety, recommends that homeowners leave electrical work to the professionals. Licensed electricians are well-trained, whereas homeowners may not be skilled enough to avoid accidents or injuries, which can prove fatal when working with electricity.

Homeowners who take the do-it-yourself route with electrical work should consider these safety tips, courtesy of the ESFI, before beginning a home electrical project.

Learn your home electrical system. Home electrical systems may include power lines, electric meters, service panels, subpanels, wiring, and more. These systems are complex, and homeowners who intend to do some DIY electrical work should familiarize themselves with their home electrical systems prior to beginning any work. The ESFI notes that knowledge of their home electrical systems can help homeowners more safely navigate them and make maintenance easier.

Honestly assess your skills. An honest assessment of skills is absolutely necessary prior to working on an electrical system. According to the National Safety Council, injuries relating to electrical incidents typically fall into one of four categories: electrical shock, electrocution, falls, and burns. Each of these injuries is significant. For example, electric shock, which occurs when electrical current passes over or through a person’s body, involves burns, abnormal heart rhythm and unconsciousness. Given the potential for serious injury, the ESFI urges homeowners to make an honest assessment of their skills before they begin working on their home’s electrical systems. Little or no experience working with electrical systems should be considered a significant hurdle to any DIY project.

Turn the power off. It’s essential that the power to the circuit that will be worked on be turned off prior to starting any work. This can be accomplished by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel. Similarly, when working on appliances or lamps, make sure the products are unplugged prior to working on them.

Do not touch plumbing or gas pipes when doing electrical work. The experts at the Indiana Electric Cooperative note that the risk for electrocution is significant when water comes in contact with electricity. It’s imperative that homeowners do not touch plumbing and gas pipes when performing a DIY electrical project. Professionals know how to work around such pipes while minimizing their risk for electric shock or worse, and homeowners must familiarize themselves with the techniques professionals rely on to stay safe if they intend to begin DIY electrical projects.

Homeowners are best served by leaving electrical work to the professionals. However, those who insist on doing such work themselves should do their homework and get to know their systems and safety protocols prior to beginning a project.

Cyber Safety Is Important for Every Grade

People rely on the internet every day. In recent months, reliance on digital technology was pushed even further as social distancing measures had the world going online for school and work and to maintain relationships with friends and family.

A 2018 report from Pew Research Center indicated that nearly 25 percent of young adults in America reported being online almost constantly. Common Sense Media says teens spend an average of nine hours a day online, compared to roughly six hours for those between the ages eight and 12 and 50 minutes for kids younger than eight.

Students must exercise caution when spending time online. Connectivity can be empowering, but it also puts students at risk from others and even their own, sometimes irresponsible behaviors. Staying safe online should remain a priority for students who must spend more time on the internet and using digital education tools. These are some tips for maintaining cyber safety.

• Exercise caution when sharing information like your name, address, phone number, and other personal data online. Check with a trusted parent or teacher before sharing private data.

• Report any online activity that makes you feel uncomfortable, scared or confused, whether it is directed at you or a classmate.

• Think carefully before you post comments online. Data remains online indefinitely, and your words and actions today can greatly affect your future.

• Respect others online by refraining from demeaning or bullying comments.

• Do not try to get around firewalls and blocked websites set up by school administrators. These limitations are there for your protection.

• Stick to school-sanctioned assignments and internet browsing when using school-issued devices. Administrators may have the right to monitor student activity without students’ knowledge and you can easily get yourself in trouble.

• It is easy to hide or fake one’s identity on the internet, so never take someone you meet or speak with online at face value. Never meet up with someone you do not know or only met online.

• Talk to your parents or educators about extortion and ransomware that tries to trick you into providing payment in some shape or form to prevent a perpetrator from releasing private information about you, advises the Readiness and Emergency for Schools Technical Assistance Center.

Various steps can be taken to promote cyber safety among students, parents and administrators.

The Differences Between Weather Warnings and Watches

Weather is hard to predict. Meteorologists have many tools at their disposal to help forecast storms and other phenomena, but it is impossible to predict the weather with 100 percent accuracy.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, the National Weather Service may issue certain notices to prepare the public. Understanding the level of threat a notice carries can help people take appropriate action and avoid serious consequences.

The NWS uses a four-tier system to alert the public of hazards. Here’s a closer look at what each tier constitutes.

Outlook

This is the least serious weather alert. It usually means that hazardous weather may approach in the next three to seven days. The public should monitor the situation and stay tuned for further updates.

Advisory

With an advisory, weather conditions are not overly serious but could prove inconvenient. Individuals should be cautious and prudent when preparing supplies or traveling.

Watch

During a weather watch, there is an increased risk of a hazardous weather occurrence, though the timing or location is still uncertain. This is when it is essential to practice an evacuation or preparedness plan and stock up on any last-minute supplies.

Warning

The most serious of the weather impact notifications, a warning constitutes an imminent or likely event. The weather may cause a threat to property or life. Immediate action to stay safe is necessary.

While these alerts are based on the severity of impending weather, it is important to note that the NWS will not necessarily follow the same timeline with issuing alerts. That depends on how fast a weather situation develops. If there is time, an advisory, then a watch and then a warning may be issued. However, if a storm moves in rapidly, only a warning may be issued. People always should pay attention to weather notices so they can be prepared should severe weather be in the forecast.

The Importance of Safety When Swimming in Backyard Pools

Backyard pools provide families with ample opportunities for recreation. It’s easy to be distracted by all the fun when swimming in a backyard pool, but it is crucial that homeowners take steps to ensure everyone is safe when spending time in the pool.

Establish a barrier

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children between the ages of one and four in the United States. Pools attract curious children, so maintaining a barrier between the home and the pool is essential. Many municipalities require some sort of fencing around pools or ladders that self-latch or can be closed off to climbing.

Locks and alarms on windows and doors that face or provide access to the backyard also can serve as barriers.

Keep play under control

Children and even adults may be swept up in the fun and engage in potentially dangerous behaviors. Pool users should not be allowed to run around the perimeter of an inground pool, as the cement can get slippery when wet and lead to falls that can cause injuries.

Exercise caution when using diving boards or diving into pools. It’s easy for divers to hit their heads when diving off a board into a pool due to close proximity of the transition wall in the deep end of the pool or by diving into shallow water. The Red Cross recommends a water depth of 11.5 feet for safe diving and the transition wall should be at least 16.5 feet from the tip of the diving board. However, the standard depth for many pools is 7.5 feet of water and a slope beginning seven feet from the board.

Exercise caution with inflatables

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute found that inflatable pool toys are especially dangerous. Such toys can flip easily, putting children at risk for injury (from striking the sides of the pool) or drowning (especially if the children were ejected into deep water). Inflatables also can prevent access to the surface of the water for submerged swimmers.

Choose a backyard lifeguard

At least one person should be designated as backyard lifeguard when the pool is in use. This person should always direct his or her focus on the pool, counting swimmers and keeping track of who enters and leaves the pool. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests rotating water watchers every 15 minutes.

Pools are fun places to spend summer afternoons, especially when every step is taken to ensure the safety of swimmers.

5 Ways to Make Homes Safer

Injuries that occur around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and tens of thousands of fatalities each year. Falls account for the largest percentage of home accidents, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that around 30,000 fall-related fatalities occur each year in the United States.

Many home accidents are entirely preventable when proper caution is exercised. As homeowners prepare for home-improvement projects, improving safety inside and outside the home should be a priority.

1. Improve lighting

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of falls is to improve lighting around the home. The National Institutes of Health state that adequate lighting is important at entrances to the home, stairways, hallways, and other frequently traversed areas. Make sure lighting fixtures are using the highest wattage light bulb allowed. Artificial lighting sources become even more vital in fall and autumn, when natural light is less abundant in a home. In addition, install lighting outdoors by the front door, over the garage and where garbage pails are stored to facilitate safe passage.

2. Eliminate slick surfaces

Improving traction around the house also can minimize falls. Throw rugs and runners can be made more secure with nonslip rubber backings. Bath rugs can reduce slipping on wet surfaces in the bathroom. Also, nonslip mats can be used inside of showers and bathtubs.

Use shoe trays to reduce puddling from melting snow or rain runoff in entryways. Mop up spills quickly, and consider the use of matte- or textured-finished flooring to improve stability underfoot. Promptly remove snow and ice from driveways and walkways. For those who live in cold climates, heated concrete can help melt precipitation before it accumulates.

3. Make needed repairs

Repair loose floorboards and pull carpet taut if it has started to stretch out. Address cracks outdoors and ensure that patio stones, bricks and pavers are secure and level to reduce tripping hazards. Fix areas of the landscape where water may pool and freeze, creating potential hazards.

4. Declutter all spaces

Remove unnecessary items and furniture from rooms to free up more space to get around. Be sure there are no obstructions in walkways, entryways and near doors. Keep staircases clear at all times. 5. Invest in assistive devices Handrails, grab bars, nonslip stair treads, and many other devices can make homes safer for people of all ages and abilities. Outfit cabinets and closets with organizers that put frequently used items within easy reach. A sturdy step stool can reduce the risk of injury while reaching for items stored on high shelves.

Taking measures to reduce the risk of falling around the home is a worthwhile home improvement project.

Potential Hazards In and Out of the Water

In warm weather, many people seek cooling relief in ponds, rivers, oceans, pools, and other sources of water. Swimming is a popular warm-weather activity, but it can quickly turn deadly if swimmers are not careful in the water.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that, between the years of 2005 and 2014, an average of 10 deaths per day in the United States were attributed to unintentional drownings unrelated to boating. About one in five people who die from drowning are children age 14 and younger.

The World Health Organizations says drowning is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Drowning is a concern when in the water, but it’s not the only potential hazard.

Harmful Algae Blooms

Algae are plant-like species that are found all over the planet. Algae inhabit different bodies of water and can be important food sources for marine life. The CDC notes that, in certain circumstances, an overgrowth of algae may overpower water sources. Not all algae are harmful, but some blooms will produce toxins that can be dangerous to people and animals. Such algae may lower levels of oxygen in the water, killing plants and animals. Individuals are urged to avoid areas with harmful algae blooms and restrict fishing for food consumption during times of blooms.

Shorebreak

The National Ocean Services says a shorebreak is an ocean condition in which waves break directly on the shore. The power of these waves can cause injuries to the body, potentially hurting the spines of people who dive headfirst into the break. Others may be knocked over by waves and suffer injuries as a result. Swimmers should observe waves and ask a lifeguard about conditions before going into the water.

Jellyfish

Sharks elicit fear among many ocean swimmers, but smaller animals can be dangerous as well. Most jellyfish can sting, but not all have venom that hurts humans, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Around 70 species of jellies can harm or occasionally kill people. Ocean swimmers should take note of jellyfish postings at the beach and examine the sand as well. Wet tentacles can still sting, even on washed-up jellyfish.

Unsupervised Activity

It’s essential that swimmers exercise caution around any body of water. Because water can be unpredictable, it’s always best to swim with a friend and stick to areas protected by lifeguards. The Red Cross suggests preventing unsupervised access to water structures and maintain constant supervision whenever kids are around the water — even if lifeguards are present. Adults should avoid distractions and alcohol when supervising kids. Summer is a season to enjoy the water. Awareness, preparation and supervision can keep water-lovers safe.

Safety Tips for Parents of Young Farmers

People who live in cities, exurbs or suburbs may not come across farms very frequently. But millions of people, including children, still live on farms. In fact, in 2009 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that more than one million children under the age of 20 lived, worked or had a regular presence on farms in the United States.

Protecting children from injury on farms, especially those who perform work on farms, is of paramount importance. The American Society of Safety Engineers offers the following safety tips to parents of children who will be spending time on farms.

• Know and obey the laws. Various state and federal laws are in place to protect young children from farm-related accidents and injuries. Age requirements dictate which jobs children can perform on a farm, and parents should adhere to those requirements. Asking children to do more than they’re physically capable of can lead to accident, injury or even death.

• Review equipment operation instructions. Before assigning children a task on the farm, parents should review the equipment operation instructions. Doing so can help parents reacquaint themselves with tools and equipment they may not have used in awhile, and that can make it easier for them to teach kids how to use such equipment. In addition, reviewing equipment instructions may provide insight to parents unsure if their children are old enough to use certain tools.

• Inspect equipment. Before children perform any tasks on the farm, parents should inspect the equipment their children are likely to use to make sure each tool is safe. Make sure tools are in proper working order, as broken or poorly working equipment increases the risk of accident or injury.

• Enroll children in farm safety camps. The ASSE recommends that parents contact their local Cooperative Extension and Farm Bureau offices to enroll children in farm safety camps. Such camps can teach kids safe farming techniques and the proper ways to use age-appropriate tools.

• Set a positive example. Another way for parents to protect their children on the farm is to set a positive example. Parents can do so in various ways. Using equipment properly, removing tractor keys from ignitions when tractors are not in use and exercising caution when using hazardous materials shows kids the importance of caution when working on farms.

Hundreds of thousands of children perform jobs on farms across the country. Parents who want to teach their kids to farm should always do so with safety in mind.

Safety Tips for Grilling Season

People have been cooking meals over open flames since the discovery of fire. Even today, when there are so many ways to cook a meal, many still insist there’s nothing better than the taste of food cooked on the grill.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, which tracks industry trends, points out that one-third of consumers plan to use their grill or smoker more often this year. Even though grilling is widely associated with summer, a growing number of people are embracing year-round grilling. HPBA’s CEO Jack Goldman has said, “Barbecuing is no longer just a pastime, but an integral part of the North American lifestyle.”

Seven in 10 adults in the United States and eight out of 10 in Canada own a grill or smoker. With so many people firing up their grills, it’s important to recognize the importance of grilling safety. Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns, advises the National Fire Protection Association. Here’s how to stay safe.

• Only grill outside. Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors. Grills should be placed well away from the home. Keep grills away from deck railings, eaves, overhangs, and tree branches.

• Keep the grill clean. Thoroughly clean the grill prior to first use, and keep it tidy all year long. Grease or fat buildup can ignite and cause a fire.

• Always attend the grill. Grill distraction-free and keep an eye on the food being cooked. Simply stepping away for a few moments can lead to a fire or accident. • Start fires safely. Charcoal grills and gas grills may be lit using electronic starters that do not require fire. If using starter fluid, only do so on charcoal, and do not add more fluid or other flammable liquids after the fire has ignited.

• Check for gas leaks. Whether the gas grill is hooked up to a propane tank or the natural gas supply of a home, ensure that the hoses or tanks are not leaking. Apply a light soap-and-water solution to hoses to see if they bubble from leaking gas.

• Keep baking soda nearby. Baking soda can control grease fires, but it’s also helpful to have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand on hand for other types of fires.

• Watch children and pets. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from grilling areas.

• Wait for the grill and coals to cool. Practice safety around the grill until all coals are cool and the grill is no longer hot to the touch. Only then should the grill be moved or relocated.

Grilling is a passion that is enjoyed throughout much of the year. Safely cook outdoors by heeding safety guidelines.

Creating Kid Friendly Spaces At Home

Maintaining a home that is welcoming and kid-friendly can be challenging. Kids are full of energy and oftentimes put fun ahead of tidiness. But no matter how energetic their youngsters are, parents can still employ several strategies to ensure their homes are both sophisticated and child-friendly.

Consider an open floor plan.

Rooms that flow into one another make it easier to keep tabs on children. Such rooms also allow residents and guests to mingle in separate rooms but not be too far away from one another.

Choose washable fabrics.

Upholstery will need to stand up to the abuse kids can dish out. Sofas and chairs with slipcovers can be advantageous because many slipcovers can be easily removed and laundered. Patterned fabrics will hide some stains, while treated fabrics may resist liquid spills for easier cleanup.

Create a catch-all spot.

Special bins or other organizational tools in the entryway can help to cull clutter when children come in the house from school or play. Be sure the keep cubbies, containers and coat hooks at a child-friendly height.

Look for high-traffic rugs.

Rugs designed for high-traffic areas will be more forgiving when children march across them several times per day. There are no rules that say you can’t bring an outdoor rug inside, and these rugs tend to be easier to clean. • Ensure there is plenty of seating. Sectionals give children ample room to spread out. And ample seating ensures there is enough room for kids to invite their friends over to hang out.

Think outside pink and blue.

For children’s rooms, make sure they’re colorful, but consider other hues to give the rooms some personality. Focus on a hobby or activity and borrow the color scheme from the accessories used for decorating. • Hang whimsical artwork. Employ framing and lighting to make kids’ artwork look like professional pieces. Routinely change the pictures when a new look is desired.

Designate a place for play.

Devote an entire room or a nook in a house for imaginative play. Store toys here so these items will not create clutter in individual bedrooms. Creating child-friendly spaces while ensuring a home maintains a sophisticated feel is easier than parents might think.

Safety Renovations for Seniors’ Homes

Feeling safe and secure at home is a priority for any homeowner. But safety is of particular concern for aging men and women who are at greater risk of being involved in accidents at home than younger men and women.

Harvard Health Publishing says that accidents at home are among the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. The chances for fatalities increases as one ages, and by age 75 and older, men and women are almost four times as likely to die in a home accident as people a decade younger.

As people age, their balance, eyesight and general physical abilities can begin to diminish. Furthermore, a fall or incident that may only bruise a younger individual can cause more serious breaks or damage for seniors, resulting in potentially lengthy recovery times.

The Home Care Assistance organization says that one million elderly people are admitted to the emergency room for injuries every year. People concerned about the safety of their homes or the homes of their aging loved ones can retrofit such properties to make them safer.

Falls

According to The Senior Social Club, which offers care and community services to seniors, falls are the most common accidents affecting seniors. One out of every three seniors aged 65 and older falls at least once a year.

In addition to working with doctors to improve mobility and modify medications that may cause unsteadiness, changes around the home can help. Grab bars placed in bathrooms and high-traffic areas can help seniors get stay more stable when changing from sitting to standing positions.

Potential tripping hazards should be assessed. Area rugs without nonskid backings, clutter on floors, extension cords that extend into walking areas, and uneven flooring pose tripping hazards. Anti-slip coatings can be added to floors to reduce the risk of tripping.

Poorly lit staircases and entryways also can contribute to falls. Consider the installation of motion-activated lighting so that dim areas can be automatically brightened when necessary. A nightlight or LED lights placed near molding can help guide seniors to the bathroom during midnight visits.

Physical limitations

Arthritis can impede seniors’ ability to turn on and off appliances, water faucets or handle certain kitchen tools. Kitchen and bathroom modifications can include the installation of ergonomic and user-friendly handles and spigots.

Task lighting can make it easier to prepare meals, and appliances that automatically turn off after a certain period of time can be a safety feature for forgetful individuals. Reorganize kitchen cabinets to make commonly used items as accessible as possible.

Smart Homes

Friends or family members can have greater control over seniors’ homes by installing smart home systems. This way they can remotely adjust thermostats, control lights, view cameras, engage locks or alarm systems, and much more without having to be at the home. This can seniors allow seniors to maintain their independence while offering peace of mind to their loved ones.

Certain home modifications can reduce seniors’ injury risk.