Since September 8, 2008, there has been an outbreak of persons becoming ill from Salmonella.  The last report we found was there had been 7 deaths and almost 500 persons sickened.  A news release January 23 reported that the sole source of the bacteria is from Peanut Corporation of America, in Blakely, Georgia.  PCA distributes peanut butter and paste in bulk to manufacturers for cakes, candies, crackers, cookies, and ice cream.  Employees of the company have been laid off while the Food and Drug Administration conducts a complete investigation.  Three managers of the company have remained to assist the investigators.  It is unknown if all employees will return once the investigation is done.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after eating contaminated food.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people recover without treatment.  However, elderly persons, infants, and those with improper immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness.  Salmonella may spread from intestines to bloodstream, then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Dr. Stephen Sundlof is the Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.  He states that it is not the consumer’s responsibility to ensure the products they purchase are safe; the food industry is the responsible party for ensuring the safety of the products.

It is reported that the ready-to-eat type products are the ones causing concern.  Even some pet foods are affected.  If you are unsure of the contents of your jar of peanut butter, call the toll-free number on the label.  You may check the USFDA website, and many others, for a complete list of products that have been recalled.  Recalled products can be found by searching by brand name, UPC Code, description, or any combination of these.


There are millions of teenagers that have after school jobs or full time jobs in the summer months.  Safety concerns need to be addressed regarding this workforce of youngsters, anxious to prove themselves.  Most of them are so eager to please their employers and make a good impression, they don’t realize their well-being is endangered if they don’t work safely.  They may lack the maturity to recognize hazardous situations.
Child labor laws exist that prohibit youngsters under certain ages from operating equipment, motor vehicles, cooking in restaurants, etc.  According to the National Institute of Safety and Health, one of the most dangerous industries for young workers is agriculture.  From 1992-2000, one-half of the young victims of farm fatalities were under 15.  For ages 15-17, the risk is four times greater than other workplaces.   Workers must be age 18 to qualify for certain agriculture-related jobs.
Retail trades came in second in the above statistics.  Working in retail stores during early or late hours is less safe for workers of all ages, and there are laws that restrict teenagers from working certain hours.  Restaurants, such as fast food establishments, employ a huge number of young workers. Again, those under 16 are not allowed to cook or perform certain other tasks that present risks.  The other two industries that involve hazards for teenage workers are transportation and construction.  Child labor laws prohibit those under 18 from operating certain types of machinery or equipment, and in the construction field, workers age 14-15 may work only in the office, away from a construction site.
Suggestions for employers of teens:

  • Furnish proper training.  Video training of hazardous or dangerous situations may get their attention better than regular class-type sessions.
  • Pair a more experienced worker with your new worker.  Let them be a safety mentor for the first week or so.  That way your older employees feel that they have a responsibility to meet as well.
  • Make the teens more visible by providing brightly colored i.d. tags, so everyone on the job knows they may need a little more help.
  • Leaders should set a good example when it comes to safety by making rounds often to let them know they are being observed.
  • Send a letter to the parents, including your safety policies, and solicit their support.
  • Let the new “kids on the block” know that you expect them to ask questions, as that’s the only way they can learn.

Looking out for the safety of our young workers is of the utmost importance.  We are looking out for their future.  That first job will be one they will remember the rest of their lives.  It is up to parents, employers, and coworkers to make it a great experience, but we must be sure that they understand the consequences of carelessness.  Someday, they will be protecting someone else’s child who is new on the job.


Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday, we were celebrating a new year, with a new administration, and other events that create a brand new start.  We’ve only a few days left before the first month of 2009 will be history.  We’ve dug up some facts about the shortest month of the year, February, and hope you will enjoy them, as well as take them to heart:

  • February is American Heart Month.
  • The first week of February, Burn Awareness Week is sponsored by the Shriners Burn Hospitals.  Consumer Protection Week, School Counselors Week, and Womens’ Heart Week are also spotlighted.
  • The second week of February is Cardiac Rehab Week, as well as Celebration of Love Week, Flirting Week, and more importantly, Child Passenger Safety Week and Hospital Veterans National Salute Week.
  • Engineers Week, Friendship Week, Love Your Pet Week, and Random Acts of Kindness Week are observed during the third week of February. (See how many ways you can be nice!)
  • Featured during the last week, are oddly enough, Eating Disorders Week, and Pancake Week!

February 1st is National Freedom Day.  President Lincoln signed the 13th amendment on February 1, 1865, following the Senate’s approval of the bill in April, 1864, and House passage, January, 1865, abolishing slavery.

This year, Super Bowl Sunday falls on February 1st!  The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers will face off.  Congratulations to both teams and their fans.  You might even see a few team hardhats in the stands!

In Pennsylvania on February 2, Punxsutawney Phil, our country’s only true groundhog weather forecaster, will determine if we will have six more weeks of winter if he sees his shadow, or an early spring, if he doesn’t.  It’s fun for us to anxiously await Groundhog Day.

Guys, if you want to stay safe this month, you won’t forget Valentines’ Day is February 14th!

President’s Day is observed the third Monday of the month.  President Washington’s birthday is February 22, and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12; however, some number of years ago, it was decided to change observance of their separate birthdays.
According to our sources, this particular holiday was not set to celebrate those two presidents exclusively.

Other important topics featured in the month of February are Library Lovers Month, National Cherry Month, National Childrens’ Dental Health Month, and Wild Bird Feeding Month.

We hope you have enjoyed this trivia, but more importantly, we want you to think about those you love, and remember, not only during National Heart Month, but all year, to take good care of themselves.  One of the nicest gifts you can give someone you care about or yourself is a gift membership to a wellness center.  Exercise is one of the key elements in having good heart health.
After you finish the Valentine candy, make up your mind to get out there and start walking, exercising, and staying fit!

Cruise Control, Wet Roads!

Lately, driving in the rain hasn’t been a problem for most of us Texans, as we have had a pretty long dry spell in many areas!  Below is an email that has circulated for a while; however, following other research on this topic, we hope to convey to you just how dangerous using cruise control during inclement weather can be:

A 36 year-old female had an accident, totaling her car.   A resident of Kilgore, Texas, she was traveling between Gladewater & Kilgore. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydroplane and literally flew through the air. She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence! When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know – NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON. She thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain.   But the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on when your car begins to hydroplane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car accelerates to a higher rate of speed, making you take off like an airplane.

According to an article by the Utah State Highway Patrol, the rate of speed can be 10-15 mph faster than the set speed.

This advice from a South Dakota State Trooper: “Your cruise control does not know the difference in road surface types.  This makes having it activated is dangerous on slippery roads.  Unless the driver turns it off or taps the brake pedal, the vehicle will not slow down during a skid.   There is no state law that addresses this issue.  Like much of life, this is a decision that you must make, on your own, when you think it is necessary.  There are a lot of people who do not have the understanding of the mechanics of cruise control and do not know of its dangerous consequences.    So, as a law enforcement officer and a concerned citizen, I urge you to turn off the cruise control in bad weather, and take control of your vehicle.”We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed – another valuable lesson is to tell them to use the cruise control only when the pavement is dry.

Think Safety on Purpose

Below is a testimonial from a friend who, like most of us, did not consider the dangers of doing even normal household and maintenance chores without protection.  I know I’ve trimmed trees and hedges dozens of times without using protection.  I think now I will reconsider!

Several years ago I stuck a mulberry branch stob into my right eye.  I had laser surgery and was not wearing glasses, the first form of eye protection.  My accident caused me to endure two additional surgeries and an extra year of treatment.  Since then, and due to my unfortunate experience, I wear safety goggles during all my tree trimming yard work.  They are not an inconvenience, and are much easier to deal with than almost blinding yourself.

Bill La Barr

United Methodist Church


Gifts can be for special occasions or given as a random act of kindness to surprise someone you know.  But what if your gift could save their life?  FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends showing how much you really care by giving emergency preparedness items as gifts.  In other articles on our website, we have discussed “Being Prepared”, and “Protect Your Pet”, for times of disasters.  Many of the items listed in these articles are mentioned again, but what a unique idea it would be to give one of the following as a gift:

  • Appropriate fire extinguishers
  • Foldable ladders for second-story escape routes
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • NOAA Weather radios, with extra batteries
  • Enrollment in a CPR or First Aid Class
  • Flashlights, batteries
  • Highway Safety Kit

Consider purchasing a sturdy container that these staples can be stored in, and note that the contents should be checked every 6 months:

  • Manual can opener
  • 3-Day Supply of water (1 gallon per person, per day)
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Canned foods with water
  • Pet Supplies

Note:  Emergency supply kits should be prepared for home, work, and even the car.

If there are elderly persons living alone in your neighborhood, it would be great if you could be sure that they are also prepared.  If they do not own a cell phone, a group could purchase a basic cell phone that would give them a feeling of security.

Keeping family, friends and neighbors safe is a very important part of every day life.


Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, odorless gas that can cause illness or death in minutes, because people are unaware that they are breathing it.  The poisonous fumes come from improperly operated generators, gas stoves, lanterns, charcoal grills, and other gasoline- powered tools.

  • Generators should be operated at least ten feet away from the house/building in a well-ventilated area.
  • Never use gas ranges or gas ovens to heat your home.
  • Cars should never be run with the garage door closed.
  • Use caution with all CO producing devices.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide detector in your home; check the batteries annually.
  • Be sure all heating systems in your home/building operate correctly.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are drowsiness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.  If someone has these symptoms, move them to a well-ventilated area outdoors and get immediate medical attention.  Providing them with 100 per cent oxygen through an oxygen mask is the first priority.

It is vital to public health to educate people on the proper installment and safe operation of heaters, appliances, fireplaces, and other tools operated by gasoline.  Being aware of the dangers of this type of poisoning is of the utmost importance.

Texas DSHS


A risk we don’t often think about is having the temperature in your home water heater set too high.  The ideal safe temperature setting is 120°F, or just below the medium setting.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 3,800 injuries and 34 deaths occur in the home due to scalding from excessively hot tap water each year.  The majority of these injuries are to children and older adults.

Water temperatures of  150°F (66°C) can cause a burn in 2 seconds; 140°F (60°C) can cause a burn in only 6 seconds; 125°F (52°C) can cause a burn in 2 minutes; and 120°F (49°C) takes only 10 minutes to cause a burn.

Edward Christophersen, Ph.D. writes: “The best way to measure the temperature of your heater is to do it in the morning, before anyone in your home has used any hot water. Turn on the hot water at the kitchen sink and let it run for 2 minutes. Then, using either an outdoor thermometer or a candy thermometer, hold the thermometer in the stream of the water until the reading stops going up. If your water-heater setting is at a safe level (between 120°F and 125°F, or 49°C to 52°C), you don’t have to do anything. There is no advantage to setting the thermostat below 120°F (49°C).”

If your hot water setting is too high, and you are unable to reset it, call your electric, gas, or fuel supplier to adjust the temperature.  Never take hot water for granted.  Domestic hot water poses dangers of burns and scalds, so always be aware of this fact.

Because many burns happen to small children and infants, here are some rules to follow for safely bathing them:

1.    Hand-test water before placing child in the water.  Spread your fingers and completely go through water, checking for hot spots.
2.    DO NOT place child in tub while water is still running.  Their skin is especially sensitive, and it could only take seconds for a burn to occur.
3.    NEVER leave child unattended.  Besides the risk of drowning, children could turn the hot water on while you leave to answer the phone or door.

Remember:  The most painful burn is the one you could have prevented!


“It seems that when hard economic times hit, comprehensive training and other safety initiatives are the first to go”, according to North Carolina Labor Department spokesperson, Delores Quesenberry.  This statement was included in a report that workplace deaths in North Carolina rose from 45 in 2007 to 59 in 2008, with 6 North Carolina workers deaths’ happening on the job in December.  Reports such as these are not uncommon in other states as well.

During hard times, there are some safety related testing and purchases that can be deferred for a while, but other purchases should still be made, such as employee personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e., hardhats, respirators, safety glasses, gloves, which are important to safe operations.  Proper training of employees in the care of PPE is important, as well.  Workers need to pay attention to safety training and how to properly care for the PPE that is furnished to them.  There also should be a system to keep up with safety glasses, reusable earplugs, and other equipment, making it more cost effective.

Employees may be carrying extra workloads, such as additional hours, or doing tasks that are not as familiar to them, due to cutbacks.  Therefore, safety training is imperative.  The most successful companies have the strongest safety performances.   Ineffective safety planning can result in expensive lawsuits when workers are injured or killed, due to not following safety precautions.

The American Society of Safety Engineers is the oldest and largest professional safety organization, (founded in October, 1911), with more than 31,000 members who consult, manage, or supervise on occupational safety and health issues in government, insurance, education and industry.  The President of A.S.S.E., Warren K. Brown, cautions employers about cutting back on workplace safety in times of economic difficulty.

Everyone looks for ways to cut expenses.  Sadly, safety seems to top the list.  But even in tough times, regulation plays an important role.  A lack of internal and external safety regulation usually results in preventable accidents.  Companies need to never stop doing the things that made them successful in the first place.

Safety is good business; it keeps the company reputation intact, their employees remain safe and healthy, which reduces health care, workers comp, turnover and training costs, as well as keeping customers, vendors, the communities, and employees happy.


Unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere for the past several months, you know that we are at a very critical time…….surviving a massive amount of lost jobs.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the following report:  For 2008, there was a loss of 2.6 million jobs, with 1.9 million occurring in the past four months.  The unemployment rate is 7.2%, which is the highest since January 1, 1993.

For anyone who has experienced losing their job, whether because of downsizing, or being handed a pink slip, losing ones job ranks among the highest in stress-causing situations.  Typical feelings are: being overwhelmed, tense, resentful, guilty, angry, worried, trapped, and in a panic, just to name a few!

It’s hard to advise a person unless you have been through this, but for those of us who have, here’s some helpful hints:

  • Give yourself a little time to plan for the future.
  • If you have health insurance at your place of employment, there is a law that was passed several years ago, (COBRA), that allows you to continue your health insurance coverage for a certain period of time.  Be sure that this offer is made to you.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to apply for Unemployment Compensation.  Your employer has paid into that system, and you are entitled to it.  There are job postings at the unemployment offices that might be of interest while you are seeking another job.
  • It might be a good time to think about trying something new.  You know what your job skills are, and you might consider taking some courses to polish up on them.
  • Stay connected with family and friends.  They will be there for you, just as you have been there during times that they needed support.
  • Get out of the house and be around people.  Don’t sit in front of the computer all day, looking for a job.  Get dressed, go out there, and make connections with others.  You may find some of them have been in the same boat as you at one time or another.
  • Most of all, and probably the hardest, try to relax.  Find ways that help your body deal with stress, like doing deep breathing exercises and counting to ten.  There are many websites that help you deal with the emotions you are going through, and people to counsel you.

Take care of your health and well-being, and know that the next job may be the one that was waiting for you all along!  If you are among the fortunate to keep your job, or find a new career, do your job to the best of your ability and keep safety a #1 priority on and off the job!