Posted in Uncategorized

Work Place Violence & Mass Shootings

In light of the recent violent events across the nation, I want to take a moment to bring up some tips to stay safe. Nothing is ever guaranteed, these are tips.

  • Situational Awareness – be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Know your co-workers – make an effort to  get to know all of your coworkers if feasible
  • Take workplace threats seriously – turn over any information to law enforcement, even if the person saying it says they are joking or something similar
  • Bring concerns to HR immediately
  • Don’t be a jerk – seriously, be polite and respectful to everyone. Bullying doesn’t stop after high school. Treating anyone badly in the workplace is inappropriate
  • Talk to your friends –  if they are having a hard time or are being bullied, encourage them to talk to HR about it
  • “See something, say something”  or hear something, most of these mass shootings, most of the gunmen discussed plans with someone or even in online forums. Someone else usually knows about it, they just may think that the person wont go through with it
  • Review the employee handbook – update as needed
  • Plan for and discuss workplace violence at a meeting. Ensure all employees know what to look for
  • Do the doors of offices lock? Is your workplace cubicles? Is there a safe place to go? These are things to consider
  • Do any employees have their backs to the door or window? Consider shifting desk position so the employee can see who is coming and going. This goes back to situational awareness
  • For windows, look into investing in some kind of cover that blocks people from looking into the windows
  • In work places that deal with emotional or dangerous clients, ensure there is a plan in place in case they come in with a weapon

These are some tips to consider. Again, this is not a for sure way to avoid workplace violence but, some of these tips may save a life. Be careful out there and pay attention to your surroundings!

Posted in Uncategorized

Harvest/Hunting Season

Good afternoon, Foster County! As you all know, we have officially welcomed fall. With fall come the responsibilities and/or hobbies.It seems like every year we hear about a farming accident or a hunting death. While these things may be unavoidable at times, we can work to reduce the occurrences.

  • Pay close attention to children in/on/around heavy machinery
  • Ensure children/adults know how to behave in and around heavy machinery
  • Keep a cell phone or radio in the vehicle. This allows for communication if something happens
  • Have an expected time to contact a family member or partner, set a reminder
    • If there is no contact, this may alert someone that something has happened & to check on them
  • Avoid touching power lines – especially with farm equipment
  • Drivers should watch for slow moving vehicles that are entering/leaving the roadway
  • DO not crowd the vehicles
  • Use extreme caution when passing slow moving vehicles
  • Early mornings may be foggy, use caution when traveling
    • Always have lights on – makes for better visibility
  • Ensure drivers of semis are trained to do so
  • Obey traffic laws
  • Watch for malfunctioning equipment – there has been a fair amount of fires across the state involving fields or combines or both
  • Ensure your phone is charged before heading out

Hunting is another cause of accidental deaths/injuries. Some tips:

  • If you aren’t sure, don’t shoot
  • Muzzle awareness – never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot
  • The first thing one should do when handling any firearms is to check if its loaded – then check the safety if firearm has one
  • Wear the orange – missing a deer is much better than being mistaken for one and shot at
  • Obey hunting rules/regulations
  • Avoid drinking and hunting – this is a good way to prevent accidental discharges as well as injuries/death
  • If you do plan on drinking, don’t over do it – alcohol can make you feel warmer but it does the opposite
    • It may be wise to put the firearm away (unloaded) if drinking is occuring
  • Avoid arguments with others if possible – tempers flare and it may be tempting to shoot the opposing party – please don’t
  • Obey the start/end times – staying out after can make it difficult for you to find your way back or others in your party to find you
  • If injured, get medical attention right away
  • Take hunter safety if offered
  • Ensure that you know how to operate any firearm you plan on using
  • Check if its loaded before cleaning – unload before putting firearm in vehicles
  • Clean your firearm after every use – this will reduce jamming or misfires
  • If you aren’t sure of your target, don’t shoot it – Yes, this is worth repeating
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back
    • If plans change, let that contact know
  • Dress appropriately and in layers – better to be safe than sorry
  • Ensure your phone is charged before heading out

I hope you all have a very productive and enjoyable harvest/hunting season!

Posted in Uncategorized

Cyber Security/family safety

Now that school is back in session, parents are celebrating (probably) and very proud of their child(ren) as they should be. I have noticed lots of posts about kids and their school in the last few days. Something to think about though. When you post photos of your child(ren) and what school they attend and age, this is open to anyone seeing it. There are features that think we are safe from strangers seeing our photos but that really isn’t the case.

Now said stranger knows what your child(ren) look like and where they are. Its similar to posting that you are in the bahamas for a week and  your house is a target for burglary. Dont panic, there are ways you can keep your child(ren) safe. Even without social media, kidnappings still happen. Some tips to keep your family safe:

  • Try not to share photos with the school name in them
  • Avoid posting specifics about the school or your child
  • Have a family “password” – if someone attempts to pick your child up from school by using the “your parents were in an accident and they asked me to pick you up”, they can verify by asking for the “password”
  • Most schools have a policy where only the identified persons can take the child(ren) out of school – check with the school and get the people with permissions on  the list if they have one. (A trusted neighbor or another family member may be a good idea to think about)
  • Put your childs name on the inside of their clothes/backpack. It would be easy for someone with malintentions to use their name to get them to come over
  • Talk to children about “stranger danger” or if someone they know makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Develop a safety plan for these situations – maybe a whistle to blow to attract attention and to let them know it is ok to get away from strangers or other uncomfortable situations. Its not rude, its potentially life saving
  • Talk to the kids about keeping a safe distance away from doors/windows of vehicles. This allows for conversation (someone asking for directions) but staying out of reach
  • situational awareness!

Quick story – when I was in elementary school, a dark colored van used to park next to the playground when it was recess and it would stay the duration. We never saw anyone get out or anything but, it would sit there, every day. Someone pointed the van out to the aides, who watched it for a while before calling the DARE officer (we didnt have any local police force, just the sheriff’s department. Town was too small for its own law enforcement) and having him talk to the driver of the van. It disappeared for a few months but eventually the same van came back. It took off when they saw adults. “see something, say something”. It could save a life. This could have been nothing more than someone had a child in the school and they just wanted to see them during recess but it could have been someone who wanted to cause harm.

This post isnt to scare anyone, just something to consider. Keeping families safe starts on the family level.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fall is approaching rapidly

Good afternoon, Foster County and company! I do apologize for the lack of activity on the blog, thank you for your patience!

Fall is approaching, most of us think of cozy sweaters, apple cider, leaves changing, and the return of football. Go Bison! Fall is a beautiful season! Some things to consider though; this is about when the kids go back to school (sighs of relief for parents, I imagine) and harvesting the fields takes place. This means additional traffic on the roads and more hazards.

Let’s talk school buses first. These are hauling precious cargo, they make frequent stops, and are out about the same time as the rest of us are either going to work or going home from work. This increases the chances for an accident. Please pay attention to the road and watch for buses.

Buses are required to stop for railroad tracks, so keep that in mind. Additionally, it is unlawful to go around a stopped school bus that has the flashing lights on and the stop sign out. It is a $50 fine and six points off your license. You could also hit a child. Both of these things are not worth not stopping for.

If you plan on passing a school bus that is in motion, make sure it is safe to do so, the road conditions are good, you are in a passing zone, and weather is not an inhibitor. Fog, snow, and heavy rain may cause visibility issues. Allow additional travel time, be patient, and keep our kids safe!

For additional information, please click:  School Bus Info from the Highway Patrol

Another thing to be on the lookout for is slow moving heavy machinery. These vehicles are usually doing under 40 and can take up most of a lane of traffic. Hills or curves may hide the hazard and it can come up fast. Slowing down and watching the road are some good tips to work to reduce accidents.

In addition, watch for trucks hauling/trucks entering signs and the trucks. Dont tailgate a semi or try to turn the same direction as it at the same time. They may not be in the turn lane because of the turning radius. Be careful when passing and only pass in passing zones. Take weather and road conditions into account. Safe travels, Foster County!

Posted in Uncategorized

Beat the heat!

Summer can be a great time to get outdoors in the warm weather, take the kids on a vacation, go camping, and spend time on the lake. Yes, summer is great!

The hazards of warm weather can include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and even death. Fortunately most of these impacts can be avoided by taking breaks if you are working outside, sitting in the shade or a cool building, drinking lots of water and eating to replace the water and electrolytes we sweat out, and recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion and getting medical attention immediately.

Below is an example of a heat waves impacts on a large scale.

Chicago, Illinois – 1995. Chicago experienced three miserable days of a heat wave – hot temperatures and high heat indices and no cool down relief at night. The temperatures reached into the high 90s and into the 100s.

Those who were affected the most were the elderly and the low income. The housing situation was part of the problem. Tall buildings hold heat, the higher up, the warmer it gets; air conditioning was limited. People did not open windows at night for fear of break ins. A majority of the elderly who perished were alone – no family/no social circle, no one to check up on them. There were power outages as well that took away the advantage of the air conditioning. Over 750 people died in this heat wave.

There is a book about it called: Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago

Long story short, those of you with elderly parents/relatives/friends – during the hot weather, it might not be a bad idea to check in on them and make sure they are hydrating and have a way to cool off. Same goes for small children, those with special needs, and pets/livestock.  Stay hydrated, stay cool, take frequent breaks, and keep an eye on each other.  Make a plan for an extended power outage and what to do if that happens.

Those of you who work with horses and other animals, make sure they are cooled off – sweat is dry, before giving them full access to water.  All animals should have free access to cool, clean water.  If the sidewalk/road is too hot for your  hand/foot, it is probably too hot for your dog. Mornings are good times to do strenuous activities.

Dressing for the weather can help with keeping you cool. Light weight fabrics in light colors reflect the sun’s rays, a lightweight hat with ventilation can keep your head cool and the sun off your face.

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer Travel Tips

If you are anything like me, you read the news everyday – to stay up to date on the ongoings of the State or even the larger cities. I have noticed a frequent accidents taking the lives of the 25 and under age group as well as the 55 and older age group. Something all these accidents have in common: seatbelt use. Sure, there are other factors; weather, alcohol/drugs, distracted drivers (on the phone, texting, composing and sending e-mails, messing around with the radio, talking to passengers or children, and falling asleep at the wheel.

Part of my job is identifying hazards to people, property, and the environment. From there, emergency managers enlist the help of subject matter experts (Law, Fire, EMS, etc.) to find ways to reduce or eliminate the impact these hazards have on people, property, and the environment. You can too. Here are some examples of both driving and destination.

1. Wear a seatbelt, every passenger every time – make sure car seats and harness are installed correctly, they fit the child, the harness is properly secured, is facing the direction best suited for the car seat, and the seat has never been in an accident – the car seat integrity has been compromised and may not withstand another accident

2. Do not drive under the influence – alcohol, drugs (prescription or otherwise), and/or if exhausted. The above can make focusing on the road difficult, slow reaction time, and may cause driver to over correct. Find a sober driver, change out drivers if driver is fatigued, and wait until your destination to take meds/drink/etc. that can impact driving abilities

3. Check travel routes before leaving for construction, closures, detours, and conditions. Slow down if conditions call for it. Stay calm and try not to escalate road rage. Make arriving at your destination safely your priority, do not pass if it is not safe to do so. If weather conditions are hindering traffic, do not attempt to pass. Pull over and wait the conditions out as needed.

4. Do not drive distracted – Pay attention to your surroundings – watch for motorcycles and other drivers. Put the phone away, have passengers deal with the radio, children, pets, etc. Do not leave kids/pets/the elderly in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Take your keys and lock the doors when you exit the vehicle.

5. When traveling with pets, keep them in a carrier – this can reduce stress and distracting behavior. Bring clean water and food for them, stop for bathroom breaks – even if it is just to stretch their legs. Do not let pets run loose – put them in a harness or collar when taking them outside.

6. If your family and/or pets are outside, check for ticks. Be thorough. When removing ticks, use tweezers to ensure the entire tick is off. If hiking, use bug spray, wear long pants and sleeves. Ticks and mosquitoes can infect humans  and animals with: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, West Nile, to name a few. For a more comprehensive list, here is a link to the CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

7. Make a plan in case your kids get separated from you, make sure they have some way to get a hold of you. A neat idea I have seen popping up is having a “password” so if someone tries to tell a child to go with them because something happened to you, they know if they should go or not. ID people (police, security, etc.) that your child should ask for help from or where to find a help desk or something similar.

8. This upcoming weekend there will be fireworks and other fun activities. Be careful when letting children light fireworks/firecrackers/sparklers, around grills, fires, etc. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Posted in Uncategorized

Disaster Planning for Businesses

Previously, we have shared some preparedness tips for individuals.  Another thing to consider is your business. Businesses can be an asset to a community when an event hits; local supplies can get a city back on its feet. It is very important to think about recovery as well. Not just for the business, but for the community as well.  Ready.gov has templates for building your own response plan. The ultimate goal is to get the business back on its feet and the more prepared a business is, the better the chance it can be up and running quickly if the damage is minimal.

Most businesses have employees. Employees keep businesses running. Why not consider developing and practicing plans for weather events such as a tornado or a blizzard to man made incidents such as an active shooter or a hacker attempting to access your data.

As mentioned earlier, there are templates available for different plans on http://www.ready.gov/ Not only is important to customize these templates to your work place, testing needs to be done and frequently. A good starting place would be to review the templates and  survey your business. Do you have a first aid kit that isn’t expired? Does your place of business have an AED – automated external defibrillator? Does anyone know CPR? Are there policies in place for severe weather? Those who commute, is there a policy in place regarding hazardous driving conditions? Does the layout of the office/building allow for situational awareness? Is there a policy in place to protect data – locking computers, even if you have to step out for a minute. Are passwords changed often? Do office doors lock? What is the policy for social media and internet not related to work?

Keep in mind, your employees may have training that could be beneficial to clients as well as personnel. Consider developing a training plan – getting a few people CPR certified, take classes/webinars/etc. for data security, develop policies to keep the business and the employees safe. Develop a tornado drill or shelter in place or an evacuation drill and practice it. The better prepared a business is, the faster the recovery may be; unless the building was completely destroyed.

Things to consider – what is most likely to impact your business. Do you need to prepare for flooding? How about Fire? A chemical spill? Active shooter? Severe storms? Consider making a list of potential incidents and develop some sort of plan to protect the employees and the business. Discuss with employees and look into training. And update that first aid kit.

Posted in Uncategorized

Road Issues & Accidents

Recently, a friend of mine was killed in a motorcycle accident. This prompted me to think about a few things:

1. The distracted drivers, aggressive drivers, and the inattentive drivers

2. Motorcycles and others on the road

3. Weather Conditions and other hazards

I bring up the recent death of my friend because it brought the accident to my world – more personal if you will and it brings up some issues that we see on the road every day.

  • Any time we get behind the wheel, we are responsible for our actions
  • Talking, texting, eating, grooming, and other activities that take our attention off the road is dangerous not only to ourselves and our passengers, but to others on the road
  • WIth the nicer weather, we see more people on alternative forms of transportation – motorcycles, golf carts, 4-wheelers, cyclists, people on roller blades, skate boarders, and people out walking or running
  • If you notice dangerous behavior behind the wheel by an elderly relative, it might be time to have a talk with them about alternate forms of transportation (bus, shuttle, etc.)
  • It is not just bad weather that can hinder driving – Bright sunlight can make objects harder to see
  • Stop signs and yield signs are not optional – check both ways before proceeding
  • Keep the reckless driving off the road – same with road rage. Report aggressive drivers
  • Pull over at a well lit place to rest, take a call, text, look up directions, or to eat that burrito that takes two hands
  • Look closely for motorcycles and other types of smaller vehicles – we all have a responsibility to know what is going on around us
  • Don’t drink and drive – have a sober driver
  • Lights on for safety
  • School is out, watch for more pedestrian activity and people/pets darting out on residential roads
  • Talk to your children about looking both ways before crossing the road
  • Invest in good sunglasses – there are now glasses that make it easier to see at night
  • Buckle up – we all know of people who have survived because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt but, that is not the norm
  • Report dangerous or inattentive drivers
  • Maintain a safe following distance

You may wonder what the above has to do with emergency management, there is a link. An accident with a truck or train hauling hazardous material can impact more than just those involved. Anhydrous trailers and other forms of fertilizer are out and about on our roads, situational awareness on all drivers may help prevent or minimize accidents with farm equipment/trailers. This keeps our emergency responders out of danger, keeps traffic moving, and may help get everyone to their destination

So, this summer, lets try to keep Foster County safe and keep your family safe when traveling. Be aware of what is around you, buckle up, and don’t text and drive.

Posted in Uncategorized

More travel tips

Many of you may wonder why I post earthquake safety tips and other tips for hazards that are not in North Dakota. I promise there is a good reason for this. Summer is a popular season to travel around the country or even the globe. Disasters can happen at any time and being away from home qualifies travels are a “vulnerable population”. Locals know what the hazards are and where to go for safety but travelers do not usually have this information. In some areas that get tsunamis, the locals know when the ocean starts doing weird things, it is time to get out and away.

Some safety tips for traveling:

  • Take the time to do a bit of research on where you are headed – even if its just a few states over – take a look at what the potential hazards are and plan accordingly
  • Ask hotel/guest services where safe places are – tornado shelters, what to do in case of an earthquake or hurricane, etc.
  • Make sure you have forms of identification with you at all times – and that children know phone numbers
  • If possible, have a charger – like the ones that can store power – in case of a large outage
  • Texts get through better than phone calls – send a text to family and save the phone lines for emergency personnel
  • Keep your gas tank above half a tank – you just never know
  • If an evacuation order is given, take it seriously

That is all for this lovely Friday. Stay safe and enjoy the weather!

Posted in Uncategorized

Storm Season

Storm season is officially upon us. June happens to be Lightning and wildfire safety month. Emergency Management is going to provide some information on lightning and general storm preparedness.

Contrary to popular belief, lightning can strike the same place twice. Multiple times, really. One has to wonder how many times the Eiffel Tower has been struck, or skyscrapers, lakes, and the list goes on.

There are different types of lightning – Cloud to ground and cloud to cloud. Cloud to ground lightning is generally the lightning that strikes to any object in its path.

Lightning can strike before and after a thunderstorm has rolled through the area. If you see lightning, seek shelter immediately and wait about 30 minutes after the storm has passed before resuming activities outdoors.

A person can survive a lightning strike, there are potential symptoms a person struck by lightning may exhibit:

  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  •  Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Other symptoms may occur in addition to or in place of the above mentioned

The age old of counting after seeing a flash of lightning has merit. A lightning flash with a five second delay is approx. a mile away. For every five increment, add a mile (i.e. Lightning flashes and you count to 15 before hearing the thunder would mean the lightning is approx. 3 miles away)

Safety Tips:

  • Seek shelter immediately during a thunderstorm
  • If out on a lake, get back to shore and seek shelter – it is possible to be hit by lightning while on a boat
  • Always check the forecast before heading out – weather does change rapidly and a storm that was not predicted may arise – be aware and be prepared
  • Stay away from metal objects and landline telephones
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a tree
  • Lightning strikes have a radius of about 60 feet or less around the point of impact
  • If camping, move tent to a lower location if possible if shelter is unavailable – be aware of rainfall and the possibility for flash flooding

More tips and facts throughout the month! Stay safe and plan ahead!