Ergonomics: Important to your Work Day & Every day!

According to the US Department of Labor, musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs account for about one-third of all injury and illness costs of U.S. businesses. MSDs are health issues that affect our movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.) In recent years, research has focused on establishing the links between physical activity and health, largely overlooking the important distinction between sitting and physical activity. The opportunities for long term sitting in modern times, such as sitting in a car or sitting at a desk, are unavoidable. Statistics prove the average adult spends 50–70% of their day in seated positions.
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Here are some valuable tips to incorporate ergonomics into your workday:

  • Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will suffer
  • Manage your head position by keeping the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
  • Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and use good posture while seated to balance your body weight evenly. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching.
  • Your computer monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top edge of the screen at your eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck. Because lap top computers do not allow to arrange the keyboard and monitor this way, try to avoid using a lap top for an extended period. Also, be sure to rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking away from computer screens to view objects at a distance.
  • Do not crunch a phone between your neck and shoulder! Try to use a headset or speaker phone if need your hands free for other activities while on a call. Repeating the abnormal position of tilting your head toward your should can do permanent damage to your neck as well as creating other uncomfortable issues.
  • Your feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower your chair.
  • Stay hydrated and active throughout the day by drinking the daily allowance for your weight in water and taking breaks form long term sitting (and repetitive activities) by doing some ergonomic stretching activities.getty_rf_photo_of_office_workers_doing_stretches_at_night.jpgRemember to stay healthy outside of the office as well by staying active on your time off with continued stretching activities, staying hydrated and enjoying your free time.  Apply more ergonomic tips to your household chores and other activities to keep your body fit!

 

Safeguarding Your Summer: Backyard Bash Safety 🏡 🎉

With summertime upon us, many are considering yard parties.  Fun in the sun, grilling, outdoor sports, and swimming all sound grand this time of year and that’s because it is grand!

Most outdoor parties come and go without a hitch, but unfortunately accidents do happen.  With that in mind, here are some simple ways to avoid accidents and host a worry free backyard bash:

  • outdoor-entertaining.jpgThoroughly inspect your yard for any things that could be a danger such as wasp nests, standing water (mosquito breeding grounds),anthills, holes, trip hazards, rotting trees or limbs that could fall, rusting equipment, low hanging electrical wires, or anything you can see as a danger – particularly to small children or adults who may be under the influence. (It’s a party, there will be alcohol!) Remove the hazards, cover them or flag them with reflective materials.
  • Be sure moving vehicles are away from your guests.  If possible, have a pedestrian entry to your party distanced from the parking.
  • Be prepared to accommodate children if your party is family friendly.  There’s more to this than just saying it’s ok to bring your children because once they are there if they are not occupied they will be underfoot and more likely to have or cause accidents.  Consider the age ranges and have play areas set up for little ones and some outdoor sports for the teens.  Be sure there are no choking hazards with any of the toys you provide.  Perhaps, ask guests in advance, what they recommend for their children or suggest their children bring their own entertainment to share.
  • Food safety is key to avoiding a party gone wrong! If your outdoor fun includes grilling hamburgers, play it safe by handling raw ground beef carefully. First, be sure you keep the meat cold (40 degrees F or less) until it is cooked. Second, cook ground beef to a safe temperature of 160 degrees F so that bacteria such as E. coli are killed. Poultry products, including ground poultry, should always be cooked to at least 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking. When preparing food, never use the same dish for raw meats and foods that will not be cooked. Don’t let perishable food sit out while swimming or during other activities. If the temperature is above 90 degrees F, food is not safe to sit out longer than one hour! Keep hands and all utensils clean when preparing food.  To learn more about grilling safely, check out our previous blog about Backyard Grilling Tips.
  • Be responsible with alcoholic beverages.  Adult beverages go hand in hand with adults partying and there’s nothing wrong with that, but as a host there are certain precautions you should take to prevent any incidents caused by alcohol.  First and foremost you want to make sure none of your guests get behind the wheel after heavy drinking. Of course, it’s best to prevent heavy drinking if you are able.  Some easy ways to do that are;
    Make food more easily available than alcohol.  When your guests have a full tummy it slows the effects of alcohol and when alcohol isn’t right at the forefront of the party guests will likely drink less.
    Have a bartender or someone in charge of serving the drinks so that guests won’t be able to overpour the alcohol or consume it at a faster rate.
    To learn more about hosting a party with alcohol as well as being a guest who likes to consume alcohol, check out our Holiday Party Safety Blog!
  • If you have a swimming pool on your property, be aware of the dangers and kids-at-swimming-pool.jpghow you can prevent accidents. Prior to your party, make sure you have adequate anti-entrapment drain covers for your pool.  During your party, have a designated adult who knows how to swim watching over swimming pool activity at all times. Do not allow people who have consumed a lot of alcohol in or close to the pool.  If at all possible, have someone at your party who has been CPR/First Aid trained.  Learn more about swimming pool safety not just for your party, but for year round safety on the pool safety website.
  • Is your pet ready to party? Pet safety at parties is easy to overlook. Of course you want to include your pet in the festivities, but it’s important to honestly assess your pet before adding him or her to the guest list. If your pet is aggressive in any way, overly excitable, or very shy, he or she may not be a good guest at the party and may be better off at the sitters for the day.  Also, consider if any of your guests have allergies to pet dander.  And, lastly, consider if your beloved pet can avoid eating the wrong things at a party.  With so many guests and so many plates of food surrounding, your pet may snatch a bite of something you would never give him/her under normal circumstances or your guests may think it’s fun to give him/her some of the food available.  Some food that we humans enjoy is toxic to our furry friends, so be sure that if your pet is wandering around your party someone is 51dhlAusXTL._SL500_.jpgwatching over him/her carefully to be sure no dangerous food is gobbled up.
  • A first aid kit is always important to have on hand in any household, but most especially when the number of people on your property is larger than usual. To learn how to build a first aid kit for you home (as well as your for your vehicle) and for other helpful first aid information visit the Healthy Essentials Website.
  • Earthquakes happen! Obviously your party would be the worst time for one, but it’s always best to be prepared! If you and your quests should be outdoors in the event of an earthquake, remember to Move away from buildings, structures and utility wires. Once in the open, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Stay there until the shaking stops. When the shaking stops, look around. If there is a clear path to safety, leave and go to an open space away from damaged areas. If you are trapped, do not move around just call out for help so others at the party can locate you and assist.  Be prepared to “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” in the likely event of aftershocks.  Once safe, monitor local news reports for emergency information and instructions.  To learn more about earthquake safety and preparedness, please be sure to check out our earthquake safety blog for insightful information about preparedness and safety before, during an after an earthquake.

189f930fba5525b43a8a6d61fe82d65dThe best way to enjoy a party is safely.  Being prepared for emergencies and using preventative tactics is the easiest way to ensure a safe but great time for you and your guests.

Close Range Safety Training Academy shares helpful blogs about your safety and health regularly and we’d love for you to follow our blog! We look forward to you having a safe, healthy and happy celebration and life!

 

⚠️⛑⚒ WORKPLACE SAFETY: Tips for Employees, Managers, & Owners


Recent statistics by OSHA report that 4690 workers were killed on the job in 2010 alone!
18% of those deaths occurred in the construction trades, with OSHA predicting that 437 of the 774 deaths in construction that year could have been prevented by keeping workplace safety tips in mind on the job.

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No Matter What Industry You Work In, Applying Safety Tips Can Prevent Accidents:

  1. Always follow the correct procedures.
  2. Never take shortcuts.
  3. Take responsibility and clean up if you made a mess.
  4. Clean and organize your workspace.
  5. Ensure a clear and easy route to emergency exits and equipment.
  6. Be alert and awake on the job.
  7. Be attentive at all times to your work surroundings.
  8. When in doubt, contact your supervisor or manager for instruction, guidance, or training.
  9. Never take risks when it comes to safety.
  10. Obey safety signs, stickers, and tags.
  11. Take short breaks when you keep up a repetitive motion for a long period of time, and sit, stand, or walk with good posture.
  12. Report serious injuries immediately to a supervisor and get emergency assistance.
  13. Keep things in perspective. Hazards may be limitless, so focus on the most likely risks first.
  14. Keep Correct Posture To Protect Your Back: If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back problems. If you’re picking things up, use correct form so your back doesn’t get hurt. Avoid stooping and twisting. If possible, always use ergonomic designed furniture and safety equipment so everything you need is within easy reach.
  15. Use Tools And Machines Properly: Take the proper precautions when using tools, and never take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts is one of the leading cause of workplace injury. It’s a huge safety risk to use scaffolding as a ladder or one tool in place of another for a specific job. Using tools the right way greatly reduces the chance of workplace injury.
  16. Keep Emergency Exits Easily Accessible: In case of an emergency, you’ll need quick, easy access to the exits. It’s also recommended to keep clear access to equipment shutoffs in case you need to quickly stop them from functioning.

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Remember: Teamwork Matters

Always keep the communication lines open with your co-workers, employers, or employees in order to promote and maintain a safe environment.

  1. Immediately notify others of any (new or old) hazards that you perceive.
  2. Be alert to hazards that could affect anyone— not just yourself; in this respect, maintain a team mentality at all times.
  3. Report a hazardous condition immediately to your manager, supervisor, or owner.
  4. Be conscious as to what others are doing around you, and do your best to ensure you don’t pose a hazard to them (and vice versa).

Tips for Managers & Employers

If you’re an employer, invite and involve your employees in safety planning; obtain their insight, give and take suggestions, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

It’s up to facility managers and business owners to get their employees onboard with workplace safety efforts, encouraging them to become active members in the process. Share with them the workplace injury statistics and the inherent risks their job presents to them on a daily basis. Provide incentives that reward them for exemplifying great workplace safety behavior. These simple initiatives really do make all of the difference.

For more information about workplace safety for employees and employers, please visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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Skirting a Stalker – Do’s & Don’ts

Stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as legal terminology in the act of a criminal offense.  Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention sometimes leading to threatening or dangerous situations as well as discomfort for the victim.  Unlike other crimes which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period usually consisting of an accumulation of actions which in themselves can be legal, such as phone calls, sending gifts, or sending emails, showing up in public places at the same time as the victim and the like. 

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While most people view stalking as a problem only celebrities encounter, it is actually more common among civilians who have a jilted ex-partner, an envious co-worker or ex-friend, and sometimes even strangers who seem to grow an unhealthy interest in their victim (perhaps a customer at the victim’s place of employment, the ex of someone the victim is newly connected with or even someone they discovered on social media and became obsessed with).

In modern times, stalking has become more prominent due to social media and political conceptions. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, group stalking is becoming more commonplace.  Group stalking is when 3 or more people driven by the same feelings unite with a goal of harassing their victim.  Cyber stalking has turned into a household word and, due it the simplicity of cyber stalking, it has also grown to be the most common type of stalking today.

Here are some Do’s & Don’ts if you feel you are being stalked:

  • Don’t call, write to, speak or respond to your stalker in person if you can avoid it. Stalkers often feel as though they are in a relationship with their victims and any contact the victim makes with them is perceived as validation of their relationship (which is nonexistent). Remember, even being overtly rude or yelling at your stalker can be misconstrued as communication of affection or interest.
  • Do hide your personal information. If a stalker does not have personal information about you they can retrieve it by searching on the internet, listening to your conversations, or picking up items you discard in public places.  If possible, provide a secondary phone contact number whenever able and use a P.O. Box for your address.
  • Don’t rely on arming yourself as a deterrent.  Without proper training, you or a loved one could get hurt.  Also, should you physically harm or kill a stalker, you could be held criminally liable resulting in life altering penalties.  It is always best to know self defense techniques, but when using weapons (such as guns) it becomes a slippery slope where, as a victim, you could become a offender.
  • Do inform others about your issue. Although many stalking victims are reluctant to tell others what they are going through, it is important that those around you know what is happening. This includes family, friends, co-habitants, work colleagues and even neighbors. Sharing helps reduce the possibility of others unintentionally providing info to the stalker that could provide access to you, makes them aware of any significant things they observe and helps you with evidence and witnesses should you have to bring your stalker to court.
  • Don’t ignore red flags or your instincts.  Often times we think a stalker will give up and go away or that we will not be taken seriously if we tell others we feel suspicious about someone.  Depending on the level of threat a stalking incident is, do not let even the mildest incidents extend beyond 3 occurrences without noting details, saving any evidence and beginning to inform others you may have a problem on your hands.
  • Do collect all forms of evidence. Try to journal all incidents, organize copies of any correspondence and save any recorded messages, and photograph any evidence or incidents whenever you are able to do so safely.  If an item is delivered to you, contact the delivery service to determine who placed the order, when, and how it was paid for (cash or credit card) and try to obtain a description of the person who placed the order. Handle all items received from your stalker carefully to avoid smudging fingerprints (for instance; hold items by the corners using tweezers. Keep the item in separate plastic bag.
  • Don’t leave a hidden key outside or avoid changing locks if your stalker once had access to your residence.  This should be obvious, but often times we forget these safety measures in the daily shuffle and more especially when we are already stressed.  It’s always wise to change your locks after a roommate (of any nature) moves out.
  • Do make your home as safe and secure as possible. A monitored security alarm system is always best, but not always affordable.  If you can’t afford to purchase such a system, there are also alarms that do not report to a monitoring company but still make startling alert sounds that can deter offenders.  Other smart ways to secure your home are listed in our Tips for Protecting your Home as well as our Burglar Prevention Blog.

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Remember your local police  are there to protect and serve YOU! You can drop by a police station and discuss your issues or seek advice, but in busier cities it is not always as easy to do.  If you feel you need advice or assistance from the police or even just want to put a statement on record, consider calling to schedule an appointment to meet with an officer to do so.  If you’ve reached a place where a restraining order is your best option, you can approach it the same way as you would seek advice from the police but it is important that you remember the following; often times restraining orders infuriate stalkers and conditions worsen before they improve, a restraining order does not replace any of the aforementioned safety measures and any failure to strictly enforce a restraining order may send a message to the stalker that the victim is not being protected.  If you decide police intervention is best, be sure to provide them any evidence you have collected.

When stalking behaviors persist for more than a few days, there is a serious probability that they will continue indefinitely and it is a good idea to learn how to manage the situation. To learn more about the risks of being stalked, check out these websites and articles: stalkingriskprofile.com, How to Deal with a Stalker and Safety Tips for Stalking Victims.

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.