Workplace Violence: Understanding, Preventing & Responding

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates 2 million employees per year are victims of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other dangerously disruptive behavior that occurs at a place of business. It can affect employees, clients, and/or customers. Workplace violence is a complex and widespread issue, steadily gaining attention from the public, mental health experts, and law enforcement professionals.

Several types of workplace violence events have emerged over the past few years including: incidents involving offenders who have no relationship with the victims or the establishment, those where the offenders currently receive services from the establishment, episodes involving current or former employees acting out toward their present or past place of employment, or when domestic disputes between an employee and the perpetrator spill over into the workplace.prevent-workplace-violence.jpg

Proper training and preparedness is the first step to preventing workplace violence in your place of business. Many corporations throughout the United States have instituted programs to help prevent violence in the workplace. These efforts can go a long way toward minimizing the threat at your place of business.

Business owners and managers should incorporate the following items in their workplace to create a safer environment for their staff and those who come to their place of business:

  • Teach staff what is considered unacceptable conduct from co-workers and visitors to the business.
  • Teach staff what actions to take if they witness or are subjected to workplace violence including the early warning signs of potentially violent situations.
  • Create effective steps to follow in response to a workplace violence incident the same way you would teach staff to respond to fires, natural disasters and the like
  • Encourage staff to report all incidents that appear to be workplace violence
  • Build a crisis procedure for responding to workplace violence and practice with drills on a regular basis the same way you practice fire drills, earthquake drills and such
  • Pre-screen potential employees thoroughly (including background checks)
  • Enforce workplace rules and review regularly with staff
  • Offer an employee assistance program that includes mental health care
  • Require that all visitors and vendors who come to the establishment are registered by photo copying their ID before being allowed access
  • Use bright, effective lighting
  • Have an adequate amount of staff on site at all times
  • Establish clear internal and/or external lines of communication to avert and respond effectively to a crisis
  • Change business routines – criminals and ex-employees study or are already aware of the daily routines of your business – which enables them to know when best to strike. Changing routines on a regular basis will make this harder for someone to plan an attack.
  • Provide drop safes when large amounts of cash are exchanged throughout the day and train staff to use the safe continuously leaving only a minimal amount of cash accessible and apply signage indicating that staff on duty does not have access to safe
  • Immediately file a restraining order against any person(s) who have posed a threat to persons or property at your place of business – even if it was just a verbal threat
  • Some additional items to consider if possible are; hiring security staff, adding security cameras and/or alarms, installing panic buttons in discrete (but easily accessible) locations, and entries protected by codes, cards or keys only
  • If your staff does delivery work, running any type of errands or visits to clients/customers’ homes you should also implement the following; Instruct your employees not to enter any situation they feel is unsafe, equip your employees with cell phones or radios to be able to contact you or seek help if necessary, allow at least 2 staff members to travel together whenever possible, and to carry minimum money.WPV Shot.jpg

To make Workplace Violence Prevention effective in your place of business; learn the key elements to prevention in your particular field of business and thoroughly investigate your business’ weaknesses and strengths in regards to any possible threats.  Understand that if  an employee/coworker begins acting differently;  determining the frequency, duration, and intensity of the new behavior can be helpful.

Specific behaviors of concern that should increase awareness include depression, threats, menacing or erratic behavior, aggressive outbursts, references to weaponry, verbal abuse, hypersensitivity, diminished work performance and offensive commentary or jokes referring to violence.

Not surprisingly, relationship or personal problems can carry over from home to the workplace. Certain signs that may help determine if an employee/coworker is experiencing such difficulties include disruptive phone calls or texts, anxiety, poor concentration, unexplained bruises or injuries, frequent absences and tardiness, and disruptive visits from current or former partners.

Given that human behavior is not always predictable, no absolute way exists to gauge where an individual may be on the pathway toward violence. If the individuals display potentially threatening behaviors of concern, vigilant employees should report these directly to a supervisor or vigilant supervisors should take notice.  Employees generally do not want to be viewed as undermining their peers and, therefore, wait until they are certain that a situation is serious before reporting it. Unfortunately, at this point, it may be too late. This stresses the importance of awareness on the part of employees. Staff must be trained so that when behaviors of concern occur, a “red flag” is raised and appropriate action is taken. Creating a climate of trust is the key element of employers and business owners to preventing workplace violence.

Understanding Mudslides & Staying Safe

Mudslides are a fast-moving landslides caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope. They can happen after heavy rains, droughts and earthquakes.

With the most powerful storm of the season thrashing the Los Angeles area over the next few days, people are fearing dangerous conditions, property damage and for their safety.

Following a five year drought, Californians are now facing challenges with severe storms plaguing the state. It will take years for the state’s overburdened groundwater reserves to recharge but the surface is another issue. California’s blessing and curse right now is the torrential recurring downpours. Atmospheric rivers are picking up moisture over the Pacific Ocean and carrying it north, dumping copious amounts along the way. Usually, in a good year, there’s one atmospheric river. This year, they are coming back to back to back. Though the recent rains have caused serious problems throughout Northern California, the threat grows for Southern California as well. 

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Mudslides generally develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground resulting in a surge of water-saturated rock, earth, and debris. Mudflows occur most in mountainous places where a long dry season is followed by heavy rains.

On steep hillsides, debris flows begin as shallow landslides that liquefy and accelerate. A typical landslide travels at 10 miler per hour, but can exceed 35 miles per hour. Slides can occur in all 50 states, but regions like the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coastal Ranges have “severe landslide problems,” according to the USGS. The agency lists California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii as especially prone.

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What areas are at risk?

  • Areas where wildfires or construction have destroyed vegetation.
  • Areas where landslides have occurred before.
  • Steep slopes and areas at the bottom of slopes or canyons.
  • Slopes that have been altered for construction of buildings and roads.
  • Channels along a stream or river.
  • Areas where surface runoff is directed.

How to prepare:

  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for your family and business.
  • If you live in an area vulnerable to landslides, consider evacuation. Contact local authorities about emergency and evacuation plans.
  • Have a fully stocked first aid kit, alternative lighting (avoid flammable lighting such as candles or lanterns), a portable radio with extra batteries, and a strong food and water supply if you intend to stay in a dangerous area.
  • Be sure family, friends and co-workers are aware of your intent to stay and your exact location in advance of threatening weather (in the event you are in danger and unable to contact anyone later).
  • Listen to the radio or watch TV for warnings about intense rainfall or for information and instructions from local officials.

What to do during intense storms:

  • Continue to following reports on the radio or TV for updates or for information and instructions from local officials.
  • Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudslide.
  • Be alert when driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If you see a landslide or mudslide starting, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of a mudslide is your best protection. Move to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for the nearest shelter and take cover under a desk, table or other piece of sturdy furniture. (We recommend the same actions as if you were in an earthquake as described in our Earthquake Safety Blog.)

What should you do following a landslide:

  • Stay away from the site. (Flooding or additional slides may occur after a landslide or mudslide.)
  • Continue to listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
  • Consult a geotechnical expert for advice on reducing additional landslide problems and risks. Local authorities should be able to tell you how to contact a geotechnical expert.
  • Again, we recommend you use the same precautions following a landslide that you would after an earthquake.

IF YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS WAS IN OR NEAR A LANDSLIDE

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  • Please remember that even if the structure may appear safe but shifted, it is NOT safe.
  • Have a professional contractor or engineer inspect the structure for; electrical system damage, damage to gas lines or leaking gas and damage to water or sewer lines.
  • Remember, even if your structure is not visibly damaged but their was a landslide in the immediate area, there are still concerns such as contaminated water or a weakened foundation.

With the threat of mudslides growing during these unusually heavy and repetitious downpours, we hope that you can stay safe.  Please also remember, when driving in severe rain storms to practice safe driving procedures for inclement weather.

 

 

What is Situational Awareness and Why Should I Practice it?

Situational Awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you.

You may think the elements around you are not critical, but at any moment they could become meaningful to the situation at hand if things turn in a negative direction.  As a comparison, think about driving and how quickly accidents occur – which is why defensive driving is so important. Situational Awareness is much like defensive driving but applied to your everyday life.

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None of us want to think about the possibility of a hostage situation when we go to the bank to cash our check or a gunman opening fire at the grocery store, but these things happen and practicing situational awareness is a key element to keeping you safe in dangerous situations.

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Here are 5 Steps to practicing situational awareness in your day to day life:

OBSERVE – What we view is what we typically think of when we think of observation yet what our mind sees may not always be accurate.  Our vision does not work in the way a camera does when a photo captures every element.  Our vision, instead, only sees what is of interest or in action.  For example, if you are at a baseball game you are only viewing the players in action even though the people around you are all doing things as well.  2 rows in front of you a guy may pick – pocket the gentlemen in front of him right before your eyes but at the same time as a historic home run that you were focused on. For this reason, true observation takes practice! 

Put yourself in a position for optimal observation. So whenever you enter an environment, put yourself in a position that will allow you to see as much as you can without obstructions. Locate all exit possibilities.  Take a mental note of the people around you to the best of your ability.  Try to memorize their sex, race, attire, build, and behaviors as well as the quantity of people (the brunette in the pink dress is busy on her phone, the bald guy third in line in a black hoodie looks antsy, there were about 10 people in line with me). Take a mental note in the parking lot to the best of your ability, for example: the parking lot was about 50% full, the car parked to my left was a black van with a NV license plate and to my right was a red hatchback with a CA license plate and there was a yellow truck parked at the loading dock running without a driver.  The take away point in observing is to try to absorb as much as possible that could be relevant to your situation – people, vehicles, exits, signs, issues, etc.

LISTEN – Our hearing is attuned to our surroundings and functions as our brain’s first response system by notifying us of things to pay attention to and fundamentally shaping our perception of what’s happening around us. The quickness and sharpness of our hearing evolved from its survival advantage. (Think about when you are in darkness, what senses do you rely on first: Hearing, feeling and smelling) But just like with sight, your ears can be listening to tons of sounds without your brain really registering them.  You can tune into more sounds than you usually hear by concentrating and trying to distinguish and pull out noises you’re usually “ear-blind” to.

Practice training your hearing by closing your eyes to isolate your senses to sounds and play an active video you are not familiar with.  Make a mental note of the sounds you heard while listening.  Open your eyes and note all of the sounds you heard and try to note what you believe was happening then watch the video to determine how well you did.  Keep practicing until you realize you have picked up all of the sounds. When you learn to isolate your senses, your senses become more in tune.

SMELL – In comparison to our senses, smell doesn’t get much attention but when you think of wild animals this sense is usually the key to their survival.  Granted we do not rely on smell to survive the way animals in the wild do, we have likely all encountered moments that our sense of smell may have saved us from danger – think of smelling smoke or a gas leak for example. As you know, your sense of smell has a memory.  You automatically recognize the scents of your favorite meals as well as fire.  These key memories can aid you in times of trouble.  When you smell something that alerts you, trust that instinct! 

TOUCH – This is the last sense required for situational awareness and truly only useful after you’ve observed and are suddenly in the dark or find yourself in the dark. So, when you are observing take note of textures and surfaces – particularly ones that could lead you to the exit.  For instance, if the floor changes from tile to carpet before the exit or if there is a glass top table near the exit.  Use these memories to aid you in feeling your way around should you find yourself in the same location but in darkness at any point. 

RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS – Once you’ve followed the first 4 steps it’s time to ask yourself some questions; What is going on? What is the general atmosphere or mood surrounding me? Does everything seem to be the natural activity and scenery for this place? Are people conducting themselves normally or is someone standing out?  

Some key behavioral signs to recognize are:

  • Most people are walking with purpose, have keys in their hands, are carrying items to and from somewhere. When none of that is going on, question the person’s presence and actions.
  • Look for people shifting their vision around the room or area. They could be determining target value, looking for police or anyone who might intervene, CCTV cameras and where their escape route is.
  • Watch for unnatural movements such as hidden hands or quick motions that appear unusual such as reaching behind one’s back, into their book, into their waist band etc.
  • Recognize predatory movements or actions used to gain a dominant position. For instance, if two people approach you apparently to ask you where something is and one steps to your side that’s a predatory move. If someone hovers at your 4-8 o’clock relative to you, question it. Be sensitive to any positioning that makes you feel vulnerable. If you’re walking and someone impedes your movement, take a quick step back to keep the person in sight and check your surroundings.

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Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully harvest. The goal is to reach the point that it’s a natural behavior. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly. Starting today, remind yourself to look for entry/exit points whenever you enter a new building. Begin observing people and settings in public places and asking yourself the important questions for recognizing what stands out. Also, start creating action plans on what you would do if you see a possible threat. Don’t be paranoid, just conscious.

Practicing situational awareness goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like or becoming an easy target. So, pay attention, stay alert and be prepared!

To learn more about Situational Awareness, check out professional situational awareness trainer Patrick Van Horne’s blog here: http://www.cp-journal.com/blog/ 

⛈Driving in the Driving Rain⛈ Tips for Safe Commuting

As the song says, “It never rains in Southern California, but don’t they warn you? It pours, man it pours.

After one of our worst droughts in history, Southern California has been getting drenched lately with heavy rainfall and strong winds. Many of us aren’t used to this kind of weather so we wanted to share some very important safety tips about driving in these dangerous and unfamiliar conditions.

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  • Check your tires before driving in severe rain. Tire tread is what allows your tires to ALIGNEMNT.jpgadhere to the road, which is why it’s so dangerous to drive with bald tires. Without the right traction, you can skid, slide, and hydroplane easily in wet conditions. (Click here for a simple way to check your tires at home.) Also, be sure your tires are
    inflated properly. Under-inflated tires have more difficulty maintaining good traction with the road. They can also deflect inwards, which makes the tire center higher and traps water easier.(Consult your owner’s manual to find out exactly how your tires should be inflated.)
  • Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from
    hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.
  • Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.Anticipate gusts by taking special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.
  • Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you, even in broad daylight. Be sure to check your lights regularly to make sure none of your lights have burnt out, and replace dead lights immediately. This includes headlights, brake lights, turn signals, tail lights, and running lights. Be sure your headlights are pointing in the right direction to make it easier to see and prevent you from blinding other drivers.
  • Use and maintain your windshield wipers. You can improve your visibility in wet conditions by ensuring that your wipers are up to the job, and by using the right washer fluid. Replace poorly or not working windshield wipers immediately and maintain them annually to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or not sealing properly when you need them most. Also, try a hydrophobic washer fluid that will cause water to bead up and drip off your windshield, rather than sticking to it and blocking your view.
  • Keep your windows clean and clear. Being able to see properly is key to driving safely any time, especially when visibility is already reduced because of rain. To improve your visibility. Clean the inside and outside of the windows and if your windows get foggy turn on the air conditioning or cold air in the car and aim the vents at the windows. Turn on the rear defroster, and open the windows if necessary to increase the airflow.
  • Give other vehicles more space. Practice 5 seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic. Rear-end collisions occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you. Determining the 5 second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes for you to pass the same spot and adjust accordingly.  Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can cause you to slide forward, and you won’t be able to control the car. Hitting the brakes too hard can also force water into your brakes, making them less effective.
  • Approach turns slowly. Turning too quickly on a wet road can cause your tires to hydroplane, and this means you won’t be able to control the car, and could skid out. Whenever you have a turn coming up, signal early and start slowing down sooner than you would in normal conditions.
  • DO NOT use cruise control. Cruise control is another factor that can lead to hydroplaning. The weight of the car shifts slightly when you ease on or off the accelerator, and this helps the tires maintain traction with the road. But with cruise control, because the speed of the car is constant, there is no weight shift, and the car can lose traction.
  • Do not drive through deep standing water, deep flowing water or puddles that you are unclear of their depth. Driving through deep or moving water can be hazardous for a number of reasons, including that you could get stuck, stall out, damage the car or the electrical components, or be swept away. If you encounter these types of road flooding, turn around and find another route. In a case where the only route is blocked, pull over and wait out the flooding.
  • Be prepared if you start to skid or hydroplaneSkidding on a wet road can be particularly frightening, but the key is to remain calm, look where you want to go, ease your foot off the accelerator, and gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Avoid braking and never slam on the brakes. Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles (56 km) per hour, and when it happens your car may not react when you turn the steering wheel, and your back end may feel loose. (Check out this useful link with tips on managing hydroplanes and skids.)
  • Stay focused! When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to always pay attention to the road, other cars, and pedestrians. This is especially true in the rain, when you cannot see as well, and your ability to stop may be hindered by the slickness of the road. Stay focused by keeping your eyes on the road, ignoring your cellphone or radio or conversations in the vehicle and do not eat, smoke, read or apply make up while driving. (For more tips about distracted driving, read our blog on this topic here ).
  • Never be afraid to pull over to the side of the road if you don’t feel comfortable driving. If you can’t see the sides of the road, the cars in front of you, or your surroundings at a safe distance, pull over. You should also pull over if there’s too much water on the road, the road is too slick, or you simply don’t feel safe. To pull over safely: turn on your signal, check your mirror and blind spots, pull over as far as possible to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights.

We know that SoCal traffic is bad enough in good weather and most of us are in a hurry to get to work on time.  Driving in traffic is stressful and when it’s slowing you down it’s easy to get frustrated.  Please keep an eye on the weather reports and plan ahead to avoid the frustration or pressures of feeling like you need to drive faster than you should in inclement weather.  It’s always best to leave 15-30 minutes earlier than you do under normal conditions because your safety is more important than sleeping in or being slightly put out.

Stay safe, SoCal, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for regular safety tips and articles to keep you well and happy in the New Year.

 

Is Your Home Safe for Small Children?

When we hear the term “child proof” it seems to exclude babies.  Once your little one is able to crawl, it’s time to be sure your home is 100% baby and child proof.

According to KidsHealth.org an average of 35% of children’s deaths and injuries in the U.S. occur at home for children 3 years old and under.

Current statistics reveal suffocation as the leading cause of death for small children while drowning is very close as the second leading cause. These are just two of many preventable deaths and injuries that account for these statistics.child-proof.jpg

It is always best to be armed with knowledge in the event of any health emergency, so we begin by recommending you receive First Aid, CPR and AED training to assist infants as well as adults.  (You can learn more about available training here). But we’d also like to offer some simple safety tips you can begin immediately in your home to eliminate any unsafe circumstances:

  • Do not leave standing water in your bathtub or sink.  News reports have shown us, infants have incredible climbing abilities and can easily get to these places before you have a chance to notice. (Never leave a child in a bath without an adult present.)
  • Never leave a child unattended near a swimming pool.  This means pay close attention and do not be distracted by your cell phone, chatting with a friend or anything that has you looking away from your child longer than 5 seconds.
  • Cover your hot tub at all times when it is not in use.  Otherwise, treat it as you would the items listed above because any standing water – even the smallest amount – is enough to drown a person of any age under ce circumstances.
  • Toxic substances should be completely inaccessible to anyone who is not and adult.  They can be a catch all phrase for anything from cleaning supplies to medicines to cooking supplies.  In fact, some things that aren’t toxic to adults can be toxic to small children (and pets). The best way to block easy access is, of course, cabinet locks.  Though there are many cabinet locks available on the market, studies have shown not all have been reliable.  For a list of the top rated Child Proof Cabinet Locks of 2016 click here.
  • Keep your purse, brief case, or any baggage you use out of reach.  Your baggage is generally filled with chocking hazards, toxic items, sharp items and much more.  The cap of an ink pen can easily be swallowed while an ink pen itself can result in the loss of an eye.
  • Always use electrical outlet covers. Electrical outlets are well known to be appealing to small children.  They want toScreen-Shot-2016-06-25-at-1.44.32-PM-492x323.png touch them or stick items inside of them which can leak to shock, electrocution or even a house fire. Electrical outlet covers are cheap and easy to find and install.  You can find them at just about any department store, hardware store or online.
  • Keep your tool chest and tool shed locked any time it is not in use and when in use, do not allow children to be present.  Children are curious and relate to touch and actions.  Your tools will appear as enticing as toys to them but are obviously extremely dangerous in the hands of children.
  • Prevent trip and fall hazards by keeping all electrical cords against baseboards, under carpets or inside walls.  Make sure all rugs are completely flat and not curling up at any edges. Block staircases with child and baby gates.  (The top 5 gates available are listed here.) Make sure open windows have screen protection and open doors are blocked by gates as well.
  •  ANY item small enough for a child to grab and put into his/her mouth is a choke hazard. Choking hazards are pretty much any item a baby can grab and put into his/her mouth.  This can range from coins, or rings, or candy, or pen caps and so on.  Also, sometimes things that aren’t on the loose can be choke hazards – for instance, plastic eyes on a stuffed animal can be ripped off and swallowed or buttons on coat.  It’s a lot to consider, but you have to be constantly mindful to prevent exposure of these things to a small child or baby.
  • Consider serious dangers such as heavy items on shelves or tables that can be pulled down by a child.  For instance, one of the largest causes of children’s injuries is the child pulling a television cord or stand causing the television to topple over on top of him/her.
  • Be mindful of sharp furniture corners that can also cause injuries to roaming babies who are trying to maneuver around the home.  They may grab hold of a table to lift themselves, only to catch their eye on a sharp corner resulting in injury. Furniture edge corner guards are sold at most department stores, home furnishing stores and online.
  • Cordless window covers prevent strangulation.  Both pets and small children have accidentally gotten caught in the hanging cords of blinds before resulting in death.  If you currently have cords hanging from your window treatments or blinds, tie them up high and out of reach of children (and pets).
  • Be aware of burn hazards. Burns happen faster that you realize.  A child can easily approach the stove, oven or BBQ Grill while you’re busy handling the food.  Even if the item is not currently in use, it is likely still hot from when you had it turned on.  As a parent, you may be juggling many things trying to cook and manage your child at the same time. While you’re cooking, however, it is one of the most dangerous times to juggle.  A child can crawl under you while you’re holding a pot of boiling water, for example.  If at all possible, keep children away from cooking areas but in view while you cook or have someone assist you with attending to both at the same time.
  • Cover your knobs!! This means door knobs, oven controller knobs, and any knobs youchild-dishwasher_blog.jpg can to prevent your child escaping, going where he/she shouldn’t, or turning on a dangerous appliance.  Knob covers are another item that’s easily available to you via shopping at any hardware store, baby supplies store or online.
  • If you own a firearms, keep it locked away! Even the smallest of children can accidentally get a hold of and shoot a gun. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a child accidentally shooting him/herself or a sibling.  Please read our previous blog about gun safety at home to learn how to prevent such a tragedy.

There are several tips to prevent your child from suffocating while sleeping and the safest ways to put your child to bed.  Specialists advise it is safer to sleep without your baby in the bed with you, even though it seems like the best way to protect your child for many reasons it is not. However, if you follow these guidelines it will help your baby to remain safe.  For more tips on cribs that prevent injury and how to put your child safely to be without hazards, click here.

While this seems like a lot of reading, the truth is we’ve only scratched the surface.  Being a parent is a very detailed but rewarding responsibility.  It can be challenging at times, especially if you are a first time parent.  We hope this information is helpful to you but we also urge you to learn more about what you can do to protect your child on the National Safety Council’s Website here.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for safety tips that can help you and your family and remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

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Safeguard Your Home with These Organizational Tips for a Secure 2017

Among all the resolutions we make for a new year, keeping a safe home for our loved ones and ourselves should be a priority. These simple tips will help prevent accidents that occur every day in homes across America.  

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Many of us tend to forget recommended seasonal responsibilities, but often want to start fresh and more organized in the new year. It’s easy to overlook basic household items so reminders are always a great way to refresh your memory. We recommend you print this list of tips and refer to it every three months to keep your home safe and happy in the new year.

  • Verify that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have new batteries.
  • Change any outside lights that have burned out.
  • Look around for anything broken — and fix it or get rid of it!
  • Review all medications and discard anything that is out of date.
  • Verify that your fire extinguisher(s) is up to date and working; replace if necessary.
  • Prevent fires by removing any empty air fresheners that are used in electrical sockets.
  • Review your Family Escape Plan with all family members (including the furry ones)— might be a good idea to practice it too.  Include at least 2 ways to escape from each room and define a specific meeting place outside.
  • Update your first aid kit with any missing items.  Be sure to have bandages, gloves, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic treatment, a cold pack, disposable bags, and a first aid manual.
  • Are there any trip hazards in your home? Move cables, electrical cords and similar items out of the way by placing them inside your walls, against your baseboards or under your carpet.
  • Check your home for mold (in and around your bathtubs, underneath your faucets, and your attic and basement) – if you locate mold, contact a professional service to have it removed.
  • Check your home for rodents or droppings (in cabinets, closets, attics and basements).  Not only are rodents a burden, but their droppings can be toxic to the air you breathe.
  • Your air quality also depends on your furnace and air conditioning filters as well as the ducts that circulate the air throughout your home – be sure to check the condition of these important items and make necessary replacements.
  • Verify that all your computers have up-to-date anti-virus and identity theft protection software active.
  • If there are small children in your household, make sure all dangerous items (such as chemical cleaning supplies) are in child proof/locked cabinets.
  • Make sure windows are locked when not opened and when opened be sure a screen is in place to protect you from outdoor rodents from entering your home and to protect small children and animals from escaping
  • Also, if you use blinds on your windows did you know the cords can cause strangulation in small children and pets? Be sure the cords are tied and placed out of reach.

The National Safety Council reminds us to be certain you update your safety plan and make sure all of your safety equipment is functioning seasonally. 


Be sure to follow us for more safety tips and information throughout the year! 

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⛔ Don’t Invite a Burglar into Your Home for the Holidays! ⛔

 

Are you unknowingly enticing potential thieves to damage your property or break into your home?

While you want your home to be a welcoming environment for family and friends, you might be surprised how common habits might be inviting to criminals, too.

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Whether you are going away for the Holiday Season or simply going to work, you can deter burglars from choosing your home with these tips:

Make It a Point to Keep Everything Locked Up

While you probably lock your vehicle and the main points of entry into your home, you may overlook locking your windows, fence gates, garage or garden shed from time to time. An unlocked gate allows a thief access to your backyard, away from the view of your neighbors. Once inside your yard, a thief has more freedom to peer through windows and patio doors. Access to garages and garden sheds also gives a thief more tools to use to break into your home. For example, a ladder in your backyard could make it much easier for a criminal to enter your home from the second story—where windows are more likely to be unlocked. Tools such as drills, hammers, and crowbars are also kept in many sheds and garages and can be used to break windows and open doors. Even if a thief is unable to get into your home, your backyard likely has valuable items such as a barbeque grill or bicycle.

Maintain Your Landscape

The way in which your home is landscaped and maintained affects your risk for theft. For example, large, untrimmed shrubs and bushes can give criminals a place to hide—especially at night. Be sure to keep hedges and bushes cut back so that the majority of your yard can be easily seen from a number of vantage points. On the other hand, shrubs and bushes can deter theft as well. Thieves are less likely to attempt to break into windows with landscaping underneath. Small bushes can provide an obstruction to otherwise easily accessible windows.

Light Up Your Property

Hiding under the cloak of darkness makes sneaking around someone’s home much easier. Keep your home’s exterior well illuminated with motion sensor lighting. This type of lighting can be easily found in hardware stores or ordered online. Because the lights are activated by movement, you don’t have to worry about lights staying on night and day. If you choose to install motion sensor lights, make sure they illuminate your backyard, the sides of your property, and driveways or pathways. When installing this type of lighting, the higher the light is mounted the better, so that criminals cannot reach them to damage them.

Consider Using a Security Alarm

Security systems come with a variety of features to suit almost any budget. From basic systems that sound off loud alerts when an armed point of entry or window is breached to high-tech systems that allow for surveillance from a tablet or smart phone, there is likely a system that offers the best features for your needs. Not only is the loud sound of a security alarm a major deterrent, many systems alert your local police department that your security has been compromised in some way. Furthermore, signage such as picket signs and window or door decals from your security system company can deter criminals as well. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies offer discounts for homes armed with security systems.

Be Mindful of Your Trash

Even what you throw away for curbside pickup can make you a target for theft. Perhaps you took advantage of Black Friday deals after Thanksgiving and scored a great price on a large  flat-screen television. After unpacking a television, gaming console, or computer, many people leave the boxes at the curb for recycling or trash pickup. Unfortunately, most packaging for expensive electronics shows pictures, brand names and specifications of the products in plain view. Placing boxes at the curb makes your home a target for thieves looking for electronics to steal. When unpacking electronics, break down the boxes and packaging instead and place them in black trash bags.

Make your home look occupied

When you will be away for a long time, set timers on lights in your house to turn off/on at the normal times you would use them when you are home. Timers are sold at hardware stores or online for usually under $20 each. Also, be sure to have someone collect your mail, news papers, packages or any items that are normally delivered to your home. A pile of items at your front door or in your mailbox indicates you are away.

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Other Precautions

  • Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places — burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
  • Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Mark your valuables with your driver’s license number, phone number, or birthdate with an engraver. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch Group and work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.

We wish you safe travels this season and a very Happy Holiday!

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