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When talking about grilling safety, I usually think about food safety – cooking foods to safe temperatures to prevent food borne illness, proper handling before and after cooking, etc.  However, two weeks ago, I stepped out onto my patio when I noticed a large cloud of smoke in the sky. As I looked around, I watched as a home in my neighborhood went up in flames. The quickness and intensity of the fire was overwhelming.  

Luckily, no one was hurt, but the brand new home that the family had only lived in two months, was a total loss.

The cause of this fire?  Grilling in the garage!  I’ve seen people pull their grill into the garage to avoid rain drops but I don’t think anyone in our neighborhood will ever do that again. This gave a new meaning to me for the term grilling safety.

How can you protect your family from this type of loss?

The National Fire Prevention Association provides a great fact sheet with safety tips when grilling. 

Tips from them and others include: 

·         All BBQ grills should be used only outdoors.

·         The grill should not be placed near any part of the home, deck railings. Place it at least 10 feet from any structure.

·         Never grill inside a garage or carport.

·         Keep it clear of eaves and overhanging branches from nearby trees.

·         Keep the grill clean – remove grease buildup from the grills and trays below the grills.

·         Never leave your grill unattended.

·         Do not attempt to move a hot grill.  

There are also safety tips specific to the type of grill you are using. 

·         For a gas grill, check the gas tank for leaks before using it for the first time each year.

·         Always make sure the lid is open before lighting it.

·         For charcoal grills, use care when starting the coals. If using starter fluid, use only one made specifically for lighting charcoal.

·         Keep the lighter fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

·         When you finish grilling, cool the coals completely before safely disposing of them in a metal container. 

In addition to these tips, it is a good idea to keep a spray bottle of water close and also a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it! A fire can grow quickly and you won’t have time to read instructions if that happens.  

I really enjoy grilling out  in the summer with family and friends. I know that I will not forget these safety tips and hope that you keep them in mind the next time you fire up your grill. 

Sources: 

Grilling Safety, National Fire Prevention Association. (2016) https://www.nfpa.org//-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/Grilling_safety_Tips.ashx 

AgriLife Extension experts offer tips on grilling, food safety (July 2016), https://today.agrilife.org/2016/07/25/agrilife-extension-experts-offer-tips-on-grilling-food-safety/ 

Tips for summer grilling safety, (2015) http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/news/2015/tips-for-summer-grilling-safety 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu 

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I was about 4 weeks from my due date when I stepped out our back door and noticed that the bricks supporting the step were loose. As time was flying by, I knew that in the blink of an eye, our baby would be born and then crawling and mobile before we knew it, and that the step needed to be fixed before that time came.

Safety hazards like these are usually easy to spot. When you have small children, however, there are some less-obvious things to evaluate in the home to ensure a safe environment and minimize the risk of an accident.Untitled

Thankfully, there are handy checklists available from trusted sources like WebMD and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. There are also entire sections on ‘baby proofing’ in baby stores that will equip you with supplies for creating a safer home.

Beyond implementing the standard recommendations, it is important for parents to take a common-sense approach based on what could potentially be hazardous in their home. Do you have a loose step that could cause a fall, or a window with a broken closing device that could slam on a tiny finger? Be sure to fix those sooner than later. Are there small items, trinkets or pet toys that could present a choking or ingestion hazard? Put those away in a secure place that a child cannot access (do this for anything that is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll). Do your window blinds have long pull ropes that could cause strangulation? Is there a staircase that does not have a door or other barrier?

Use the checklists to begin, but don’t forget to also do a thorough walk around your home and consider the things that may not be listed. Remember to keep an eye out for poisonous substances that a child could access. Finally, get down on the ground level – where your baby will spend lots of time – and see what might need to be picked up, moved, or placed out of reach.

It may seem odd to baby proof before your baby is even mobile, but many babies progress quickly through milestones, and can go from just rolling over to crawling in a short time. Don’t let it become too late to start making a safer home!

Speaking of baby safety, be sure to read our blog post about safe sleep for infants. Safe sleep environments are critical for a baby-safe home.

Writer: Joanna Fifner Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.
Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.
Sources
American Association of Poison Control Centers (2018) Emergency. Information.Prevention. http://www.aapcc.org/
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2013) Poison Control Home Safety Checklist http://www.chop.edu/health-resources/poison-control-home-safety-checklist
WebMD (2016) Slideshow:Baby Proofing Essentials https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-proofing-essentials

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Just about everyone I’ve talked to lately says how tired they are of our cold weather and that they are ready for spring.  We all look forward to the days of sunshine, warm breezes and fresh air.

We need to remember, though, that the spring season also brings the possibilities of severe weather and take some time to plan ahead to keep ourselves and our families safe.  This is Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week – March 18-24, 2018 and a perfect time to remind ourselves how to keep safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds us that severe thunder storms and tornadoes are much more prevalent at this time of the year and it is important to have a safety plan in place.  Some of their suggestions include:

  • If you are inside your house or other building:
    • Identify shelter locations well before the storm hits.
    • Seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from doors, windows, and outside walls.
    • Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris.
    • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs.
  • If you are outside:
    • Try to seek shelter in a nearby building if you can.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in your car.
    • If there is a low lying area such as a ditch nearby, you can lie down in that area and cover your head with your arms.
  • If you are in your workplace
    • It is a good idea to have a plan that everyone in the building has practiced.
    • Know who is in the office so that everyone can be accounted for before and after the storm.
  • Have an emergency contact plan for your family or coworkers. Designate one number that everyone should call to connect.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has created documents that can help us all better prepare for these severe weather occurrences.  They provide definitions to explain the difference between watches and warnings and appropriate measures to take with each level of warning.

Take the time to make a plan for your family and co-workers as we enter this time of the year when severe weather can strike at a moment’s notice.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Natural Disasters and Severe Weather. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/prepared.HTML

Federal Emergency Management Agency. How to Prepare for a Tornado. (https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409003506195-52740fd2983079a211d041f7aea6b85d/how_to_prepare_tornado_033014_508.PDF

The American Red Cross . Be Red Cross Ready.

http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240190_Be_Red_Cross_Ready.pdf

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Are you part of the over 90 million people who are hitting the roads in their cars to travel over the upcoming holiday? A little planning can help you to make this trip safe and even enjoyable for your family.

Before you go:

  • Have your car maintained – check or change oil, tires, wipers, and fluids.
  • Carry a disaster supply kit – flash light, extra medications, bottled water or juices, cereal bars, blankets, first aid kit, and a fully charged portable cell charger are must haves!
  • Check the weather on your route and let other people know the travel route you plan to travel.
  • Pack healthier for you snacks to avoid drive-thru stops. Try cheese sticks, pretzels, nuts, fresh or dried fruit, veggie sticks, whole grain crackers, squeezable applesauce pouches, yogurt tubes that are pre-frozen, and bottled water or ice tea (not the southern-style variety).

As you roll out:

  • Make sure everyone is properly buckled in car seats or seat belts.
  • Don’t drive distracted, put cell phones away. If you are using it as a navigator – have a helper or pull over if you need to make changes or check routes.
  • Keep fuel tanks at least 25 to 30% full – you never know when weather will turn bad or you will get stuck in a traffic jam. (I admit to having a day when I thought I would fill up on my way back from Columbus instead of before I left, and then I got stuck in traffic. I watched the “Miles left sensor” tick down to less than 10 miles and then I quickly exited as soon as I could! Never again will I do that, it caused me great stress.)
  • Take breaks to change drivers and to keep everyone alert.
  • When you make stops, park in well-lit areas and try to keep valuables out of sight if possible.

Now that you are safely on your travel way – think about how you spend that time in the car. (The average long distance traveler goes 275 miles at Christmas.) I know there are many electronics available to keep everyone entertained – but why not use part of that travel time maintaining your family relationships by talking, singing, or playing travel games. Here are a few ideas that are free:

  • Play the license plate game, “I Spy with My Little Eye”, or the popular “I’m going on a trip and taking (then list items adding them in alphabetical order – apples, boots, change, doll – each person adds a new item and everyone must remember the whole list).
  • As your family ages – change the games to see who can name the most states and capitals, songs by a certain artist, books by an author, soccer/baseball/Olympic athletes on a team or in the Hall of Fame. My family of three includes a college-aged daughter, we often challenge each other to come up with the most songs by an artist, movies with a certain performer in them, or knowing what sports teams our favorite players used to be with.

While admitting that I love to use part of my travel time to read my latest book, spending a portion of trip talking with my family keeps the lines of communication open and strengthens our ties. I realize that electronic devices can keep families from fighting about what they are going to listen to, but those families also miss out on all those fun times we have enjoyed and that captive audience time to just talk about what is going on in your community/school/or with friends. I can’t wait to hear what your favorite travel game is – be creative and comment below!

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

 

Sources:

American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/highway-safety#Prepare-for-Driving

University of Delaware Extension: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/building-strong-family-relationships/

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tired-hikers-249683_1280During the summer months, it can be difficult to stay calm, cool, and collected as the temperature and humidity rise. It is important to be aware of the ways to keep ourselves safe in the heat. By following safety tips and being proactive, we can avoid serious illness such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hyperthermia.

  • Plan ahead. Whether you are swimming, having a cook-out, going the zoo or amusement park, canoeing, hiking, camping, going to the beach, or simply lying in a hammock in your backyard, it is important to be prepared as you are planning for the sun-filled days of summer.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Not a water fan?  Add some fruit (fresh or frozen) to your bottle and enjoy the refreshing taste.  Did you know that at most public places (including restaurants, zoos, and theme parks) where fountain beverages are sold, you can usually get a free cup of water?
  • Avoid alcoholic and carbonated beveragesAlcoholic and carbonated beverages will actually dehydrate you, rather than hydrate you.
  • Pack a cooler.  By bringing healthier foods with you and taking time to sit and eat or snack, you are more likely to stop, rest, and refuel your body. Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in water content and will help you stay hydrated. A bonus is that you will help stay within your budget by not purchasing higher priced foods and beverages.
  • Choose your clothing wisely. Loose fitting clothes that are lighter in color will help to keep you cool.
  • Exercise early in the morning or later in the evening. Avoid strenuous activities during the midday hours (10 a.m.- 4 p.m.) when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Stay Sun Safe.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sun screen that is at least SPF 15.  Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Seek shade.  Taking time to find the shady spot or by sitting under a sport or pop-up tent can help to lower your body temperature.

Move to a cool location, sit or lie down, apply cold wet cloths to your body, and sip water if you notice any of the following signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness,
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Changes in pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting (please contact a health professional if vomiting does not stop)
  • Fainting

Enjoy your summer.  Stay cool and safe!

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ross County.

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html

Summer Stress, Safe Tactics for Ag Today, July 2015 Andy Bauer, Ohio AgrAbility Educational Program Coordinator, https://agsafety.osu.edu/newsletter/ag-safety-stat/july-2015/injury-prevention/summer-stress

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/matte/pdf/CDCSummerSafety.pdf

National Institutes of Health, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/hyperthermia.

Healthy Beverage Guidelines, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks-full-story/

Photo Credits: https://pixabay.com/en/tired-hikers-resting-place-rest-249683/

 

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thunder stormDo you know what to do in a tornado, thunderstorm, fire or flood?  How about your children?  What if you are not home?  Do you have an emergency plan?  These are some difficult questions.  Now is a good time to start teaching your children how to be prepared.

The first step in developing a severe weather safety plan for your family is to determine the potential weather risks for your area. Once the potential hazards are identified, you can begin your plan. This should include:

  • Where to meet. Select a place in your home and practice with the children before a storm comes. If your family is forced from your home, determine an alternate meeting place, such as a school, community center or fire station. Share this information with caregivers as well.
  • Put together a safety and survival kit. You will want to include such things as water, nonperishable food, battery operated radio, flashlight, batteries, and blankets. The National Weather Service provides a detailed list of items you need.
  • Make a “safe place bag” with some items that can console a worried child. Things such as a toy or two, coloring books, a favorite stuffed animal, a couple books, and a battery operated radio/CD player.
  • Determine how you receive weather warnings and track the storm. Purchasing a battery operated weather radio will allow you to monitor the storm.
  • Establish some form of communication. While cell phones are the most likely way to reach loved ones, you also need to consider what to do if cell phone towers are damaged and not functioning.

Research tells us children that come from secure homes and families will be more prepared to tolerate any stressors, including severe weather.  Knowledge and understanding reduces fear, so empowering your children with a plan to react will help help them in a stressful time.  Begin at an early age to talk to children about weather.  Educate them about storms, dispel myths, and discuss reasonable safety measures.  Develop a family weather plan.  It will help them feel more in control and less helpless.

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

 

 

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When I was a young mother, the message that we received about keeping our babies safe as they slept was to have them sleep on their stomach. We also used crib bumper pads, small pillows, stuffed animals, and of course soft, fluffy blankets.

All of these recommendations have changed in the last few years. The message on safe sleep for a baby is as simple as ABC.baby in crib

A – ALONE! You should never share a bed with a baby nor take a nap on the couch or chair with the baby because you could roll too close or onto your baby, babies can get stuck between the mattress and the wall, headboard, footboard or other furniture or fall off of the bed. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your room (within arm’s reach), but not in your bed.

B – BACK! Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to choke than those who sleep on their stomachs. Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. It’s safer for your baby to wake up during the night on his back. If he or she is sleeping on their tummy and needs to take a deep breath they might not be able to move their head and the baby’s mouth or nose could be blocked and they could suffocate.

C – CRIB! Place your baby to sleep in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Sleep clothing like fitted, appropriate-sized sleepers and sleep sacks are safer for a baby than blankets. Many parents think their baby won’t be safe and warm without bumper pads, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals, but these items can be deadly. Babies can suffocate on any extra item in the crib.

Some other general guidelines for a happy healthy baby:

  • Don’t smoke or allow others to smoke around your baby.
  • Try using a pacifier at nap and bed time.
  • Give your baby some “tummy time” when he is awake and someone is watching. This helps avoid flat spots on baby’s head and helps develop neck muscles.
  • Infants should receive all recommended immunizations.

While much of this information is shared with new mothers and fathers, often a grandma or baby sitter hasn’t heard the new safety recommendations. Be sure and share these guidelines with anyone caring for your baby.

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Science Educator, OSU Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Wood County,  zies.1@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.odh.ohio.gov/~/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/infant%20safe%20sleep/SafeSleep_Brochure-TriFold-Print_5-6-14.ashx

http://columbus.gov/publichealth/programs/Safe-Sleep-for-Infants/Infant-Safe-Sleep/

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/Pages/default.aspx

 

 

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