Ever since the BP well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, the entire country is watching and waiting to see what happens each day, especially those persons whose very livelihood is threatened by oil and gas that is floating closer to their home states.  The story of what happened will keep unfolding until we know the cause of this disaster, and more about the eleven persons who are missing.

Residents of Cordova, Alaska, are watching and waiting, as well, and their hearts are especially heavy because they understand what’s going on.  They know that the residents of Louisiana and possibly other states affected will watch their way of life change for years to come, if the spill is not contained.  Louisiana officials want to have the federal government and the state in control of preventative measures.  Volunteers are already doing what they can, but it is up to BP to furnish booms, which are becoming harder to find.  Each parish in the state is drawing up it’s own plan for defending its coastline, but is required to get final approval from BP and the Coast Guard.  In Lafourche Parish, a floating decontamination area is being built at Port Fourchon to clean oil off incoming vessels.  Port Fourchon handles 18% of the shipping traffic of domestic oil produced in the United States.  In some cases, ships travel 50 miles up the Bayou Lafourche to Lockport, Louisiana, and the inland waterways must not be contaminated.

Louisiana authorities also want to start dredging up walls of sand to protect delicate inland estuaries from the oil spill.  The U.S. Army National Guard has been placing sandbags dropped from helicopters along the coastline to protect marshes.  You will notice, as with any cleanup measures, that volunteers and other personnel must wear gloves, coveralls, boots, hats, and sunscreen.  This form of personal protective equipment is required to safeguard workers from chemicals in the water.  It’s a shame that there’s no way to protect the wild birds, fish and creatures of the sea, but with a disaster such as this one, their future existence is threatened.  Many professional societies are manned and ready to do what they can to clean oily birds, in hopes they will survive.

Alaskans learned some hard lessons from the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.  The town of Cordova was one of the hardest hit, and families suffered such stress that it led to many cases of bankruptcy, divorce, suicide, and alcoholism.  They know that when big companies commit to compensate for the loss of livelihood and cleanup of the area, it takes several years and many court appeals before it is finally settled.  Their advice is to be prepared. They have plans to have response apparatus ready, with a flotilla of fishermen on call at all times to deploy booms and sandbags, in the event of another oil spill.

As we watch and wait and hope for the best, there are many obstacles to overcome: high winds, rough waves, and not knowing what the results of the chemical dispersants that have been sprayed on the water will bring.  If this mess should get into the warm water current of the Gulf of Mexico, and next into the Gulf Stream, it could possibly flow around Florida and the eastern seaboard.  We must hope that the next method that is tried to stop the flow of oil from a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico will work.  Our hearts are with the people involved in this struggle.


Because the month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we want to talk about how important it is to take care of our bodies by being active.  President Dwight Eisenhower started the Presidents Council on Youth Fitness back in 1956, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that our youngsters were as physically fit as their European counterparts.  Through the years, different Presidents have given the project various titles, always emphasizing fitness of young people, followed later by promoting physical fitness of all ages.

According to findings by the following: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of the Surgeon General, Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, we want to highlight some valuable information.

  • The ideal requirement for adults (18 or older) is 30 minutes of physical activity for 5 or more days per week, and children and teens should get 60 minutes of activity every day for their health.  Thirty to sixty minutes of activity may be broken into smaller segments of 10 or 15 minutes throughout the day to count toward your total exercise time.
  • Physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among U.S. men and women.
  • Inactivity and poor diet can lead to overweight/obesity.  This increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder, respiratory, diabetes, and other serious health problems.  Nearly 60 million Americans are obese.  Sixteen per cent of children and teens aged 6 to 19 are now 3 times more overweight in 2002, than in 1980.  The number of overweight children ages 2 to 5 has doubled since 1980.
  • Not all high school students participate in regular school physical education.  It is important that schools emphasize the need for physical education.
  • A study done by the National Association of Sports and Physical Education (NASPE,) shows that infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.
  • One-fourth of U.S. children spend 4 hours or more watching television daily.

In the old days, we would play outside with neighborhood kids until our parents called us in for supper (dinner).  We rode our bikes, roller-skated, played hopscotch, and did all kinds of activities, simply having fun, not knowing it would possibly have health benefits in later years.

Not all kids are into sports, but parents can do things with them, like taking them bowling, playing miniature golf, or doing other fun things that keep them moving.  It’s good for mom and dad, too!  By showing them there’s more to life than playing video games for hours, texting on a cell phone all day, or sitting in front of the television or computer, they will develop healthy habits for the rest of their lives.

It’s never too late for us grownups to locate a fitness center.  Just taking thirty or forty minutes out of your day to work out, or take a daily walk (cost is free), will be worth the effort.  Many companies and schools provide places for employees and students to exercise.  You don’t have to be a professional athlete, just get out those jogging shoes or barbells and see if you don’t feel better!  Last, but not least, choose healthy foods.


Back in 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted, giving the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to issue vehicle safety standards.  They also have the right to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet Federal safety standards.  Since that time, more than 390 million cars, buses, recreational vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, and mopeds have been recalled to correct safety defects.  Also, 42 million child safety seats, 46 million tires, and 66 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment have been subject to recall as well.

You probably remember back in 2000, when Ford Explorers were prone to rollovers if a tire blew out on them.  There was much dispute between Ford and Firestone.  Firestone tires were put on new Ford Explorers at the factory.   Firestone had to recall 14 million tires that year.  Now, there is the dilemma of Toyota, which has resulted in being fined the largest civil penalty the government can assess – 16.4 million dollars. The penalty was given for failure to warn NHTSA of a dangerous pedal defect for almost four months.  Approximately 2.3 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled.  Toyota feels they did not deceive the public; however, they will be facing lawsuits from individuals affected by accidents as a result of the malfunction.

Approximately 42,000 lives are lost annually on America’s roads.  Traffic crashes are the primary cause of debilitating injuries and the #1 killer of U.S. citizens under the age of 34.  We must get unsafe vehicles off the roads in order to improve safety and save lives.  Registered vehicle owners receive a notice when a manufacturer issues a recall.  After the manufacturer discovers post-production safety concerns, efforts are made to locate every affected vehicle to correct the problem, at no cost to the owner.  Most of these recalls are voluntary; however, others may be influenced by NHTSA investigations or ordered by NHTSA via the courts.

If you receive a recall on your vehicle, tires, or child safety seats, don’t ignore it.  The safest and smartest thing to do is follow up on it, to ensure you and yours stay safe on the roads.  Some minor adjustment may need to be made and can be done quickly.  It is unknown exactly how many vehicles are on the highways today that have been recalled for some reason.  Many times, they are sold to other owners, who have no idea there was a recall on that particular vehicle; some people simply throw the card in the trash.  Used car purchasers would be wise to ask the person or business where they are buying the car if it has been subject to a recall.

Let’s keep America safe by paying attention to recalls or other warnings we may receive.  For more information, some good resources on the subject are at and
Drive friendly, and stay safe!


The month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, so we want to take this opportunity to warn you about the consequences of skin cancer.  If you work outdoors, there are steps you can take to protect your skin.  If you are deliberately working on a tan, please consider that this can be risky.

Too many Americans don’t protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays, according to the Center for Disease Control, even though they are aware that the burns from the sun increase their risk of skin cancer.  Many people who have been diagnosed with basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer or melanoma, have been told by their dermatologists that sunburn during their childhood is likely a major factor that may have caused their problem as adults, so it is of the utmost importance that children’s skin is protected from the sun.

The American Academy of Dermatology has established the Shadow Rule: No Shadow – SEEK SHADE.  If your shade is shorter than you are, the sun is at its highest intensity.

For those who must work or play outdoors, wear wide brim hats, hardhats w/sunshields, ultra-violet absorbing eyewear, (safety glasses), long sleeves, and use sunscreen that has a minimum of 15 SPF.  Apply sunscreen hourly.  Reflective surfaces such as water and sand can add to the burning effects of the sun.  So play it safe, stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Most Americans believe they can start their summer tan a little faster by going to tanning beds, however, they don’t realize that without proper protection, those tanning beds can cause serious burns not only to the skin, but to the eyes.  On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.  First exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 per cent. Research shows that UV radiation levels of a tanning bed are 100 times that of the natural sun.  The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires tanning facilities to furnish clean, UV-blocking goggles to all consumers.  Without these protective eye goggles, the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians warns that using a tanning bed without protective goggles is the “equivalent to staring at the sun.”

The number of melanomas is rising faster than any of the seven most common cancers.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 68,720 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with almost 8,650 resulting in death.  We hope this helps you understand the significance of the damage UV rays cause.  We have mentioned the many ways you can protect yourself; if you suspect you may have some type of skin cancer, be sure to see your physician as soon as possible.  Do not ignore places that change color or don’t heal.  Many times treatment by a dermatologist can take care of the problem before it gets serious.

Source: Prevent Blindness America
Skin Cancer Foundation


Our beloved “Music City”, Nashville, has become a devastated area, following heavy thunderstorms and flash flooding, which caused the Cumberland River to rise almost 12’ above flood level last weekend.  At least 30 deaths in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi have been blamed on the recent storms.  The Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland Hotel, and Opry Mills have been inundated with water.  The field of the Tennessee Titans was flooded, as well.  Ironically, this is “National Music Week,” stressing the role music plays in our lives.  Several country music stars lost valuable equipment in storage, as well as damage to their homes.  They, along with entertainers across America, have been performing to raise money to help residents who have lost everything.
Here are some helpful tips for those who are trying to retrieve whatever they can from their flooded property:

  • Extreme caution should be used because of possible chemical and electric hazards.
  • Also wear rubber or plastic gloves, boots, and other protective clothing to guard from contact with floodwater.
  • Be sure tetanus shot is current (within 10 years).
  • Hazardous waste and chemical containers may be moved or buried by floodwaters far from their regular storage places, which are risky for those who come in contact with them.  The fire department or police should handle these circumstances.
  • Maintain good hygiene during cleanup operations, wash hands with soap and running water as often as possible during the day.
  • Do not allow children to play in floodwaters, or with toys that have been in floodwaters.
  • Wear eyewear and head protection.  Sunscreen needs to be worn, as well.
  • Take precaution from insect and mosquito bites.
  • Get medical attention for all animal bites immediately.

It will take time to rebuild the attractions that draw tourists to Nashville and the surrounding area, but with the determination their citizens have shown, it will happen.  We can’t stop the music; it will always be what keeps us all going!

Sources:  OSHA Natural Disaster Recovery: Flood Cleanup
EPA-Homeland Security


According to statistics, Oklahoma, some southern parts of Kansas and Missouri, experienced 39 tornadoes in a 3-day period last week, from May 10th through May 12th.  Meteorologists hit the nail on the head when they predicted that conditions were right for activity from tornadoes.  The governor of Oklahoma has designated a state of emergency for 56 counties in that state.  More than 800 volunteers were helping victims of the tornadoes clean up debris and look for any traces of valuables that were left.  There were more than 100 people injured, two deaths, and millions of dollars worth of damage caused by the twisters.

The National Weather Center has stated that it will take time to gather all the data from the tornadoes last week.  There was also very large hail in some areas, some as large as softballs.

Two of the tornadoes were classified as EF-4, and four were EF-3’s.  According to the NOAA Satellite and Information Systems, here are the classifications of wind speeds:

  • EF-1 =   86-110 mph
  • EF-2 =  111-135 mph
  • EF-3 =  136-165 mph
  • EF-4 =  166-200 mph
  • EF-5 =  over 200 mph

It is hard to imagine how anything was left standing in winds that strong. According to experts, there’s no wind on earth stronger than winds inside a tornado.  It’s amazing that more people escaped injury; they had advance notice that allowed them to be better prepared, due to correct weather warnings.  This serves as a reminder to all of us to do the following:

1.    Know the hazards of dangerous weather.

2.    Pay attention to forecasts.

3.    Have a plan to stay safe.  Think about what you will do in case of a natural disaster and be prepared.

After the terrible week that Oklahomans had, let’s hope the rest of the season will be mild.  The residents are grateful to all the volunteers who are helping with the clean up.  It’s times like this when everyone steps up to the plate.


It’s comforting to know that the above statement is true, when it comes to Emergency Medical Services.  May 16th through May 22nd, is National EMS Week, set aside to honor EMS Professionals, as well as afford them the opportunity to publicize safety and connect with the public that they serve.  EMS Week is sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians, who depend on the expertise offered by first responders, paramedics, EMT’s, firefighters, and police: those who serve on the “front line” of prehospital treatment.

In many communities this week, these providers will be giving tours of ambulances, and holding several projects that promote safety. From toddlers to senior citizens, it is helpful for potential patients to see just what is involved in being transported by ambulance.  Many cities and communities will be featuring those who furnish emergency services by explaining about their equipment and vehicles such as ambulances, firetrucks, and medical helicopters.

May 19th is set aside as EMS Day for Children, focusing on safety and preventing injury.  Because children react differently to illness and injury, and have a different set of emotional and physical needs, activities planned exclusively for them is very important.  What child wouldn’t enjoy getting to see an ambulance, fire truck, or police car up-close?

Anytime, anywhere, they are there!  At sporting events, you will see an EMS staff standing by, just in case of an injury.  They are present at schools and businesses, teaching CPR classes.  They’re even on a Facebook Page (National E.M.S.) and Twitter, where they share stories and recognize heroes.

EMS teams consist of EMT’s, those who have been certified in Basic Life Support (BLS), and Paramedics, (the highest level of prehospital medical training), and who have been trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS).  When you call with a medical emergency, it is comforting to know that they will come to your door.  People who live in rural areas depend on their rapid response.  It eases our minds to know that they will transfer our loved one to a different facility, whether it is due to a critical care need, a rehab center, or nursing home if necessary.

In times of tragedy, you will always see these unsung heroes doing all they can to save lives. Whether it’s natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or accidents – the one thing we can count on is they are there…anytime, anywhere!


Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA’s role has been to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.  OSHA has the authority to enforce standards developed under the Act, assist and encourage States in their efforts to carry out such conditions.  Working under the Department of Labor, OSHA provides research, information, education and training, focusing on keeping America’s workers safe.

Through the years, the role of OSHA has been diverse, but here are some of the changes in industrial safety standards brought about in past years:

  • Making sure there are guards on moving parts of machinery.
  • Permissible exposure limits to hazardous chemicals.
  • Confined space regulations.
  • Lockout/Tagout procedures.
  • Workers’ exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
  • Safety restrictions when involved with excavations and trenches.
  • Asbestos exposure standards.
  • Using Personal Protective Equipment, as required.

According to Hilda Solis, current United States Secretary of Labor, “We are strengthening our efforts to be vigilant in protecting the rights and safety of workers by hiring additional enforcement personnel, and revising and improving our regulatory efforts.”  Employers would be wise to take note of the following current considerations being addressed by OSHA:

  • If the Protected American Workers Act (now pending before Congress) passes, there will be enhanced civil and criminal penalties, changes in abatement requirements, expansion of victims’ rights, and revision to whistleblower structure. This may result in significant repercussions for American employers.
  • The national employer record program was announced by OSHA on October 1, 2009, requiring more scrutiny of the company’s ability to properly prepare OSHA logs, reporting workplace incidents, injuries and illnesses.
  • Another mandate from OSHA is requiring uniformity in the language of ALL settlement agreements- language that uses the settlement process as a way to get employers to agree to undertake more obligations.
  • OSHA issued a final rule allowing citations be given employers on a “per employee basis” for failure to wear/use required Personal Protective Equipment.
  • On April 29, 2009, OSHA announced it would initiate rulemaking on combustible dust hazards.
  • The issue of ergonomic hazards will be revisited by the Obama administration.
  • OSHA is seeking to align its Hazardous Communication Standard with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized Standard of Classifying and Labeling of Chemicals.

While employers face many challenges in their daily operations, the safety and well-being of their employees should come first.  Organized safety meetings, planning, hazard assessments, risk management, and ensuring compliance are just part of the steps to be taken to create a safe work environment.   In the event of a company mishap, OSHA will be knocking on the door to make sure that all safety policies and procedures were followed.


On March 24, 1989, an oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, hit the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and things have never been the same for this pristine area.  Alaskans are watching the cleanup process that is beginning on the shores of Louisiana, and Alabama.  Florida and Mississippi’s shorelines are also threatened.  The oil that leaked from the Exxon Valdez is still ranked #1 in environmental damages; however, it has been dropped from the top fifty international oil spills.  The damage to the fishing industry in Alaska, as well as tourism and other resources suffered immensely.  On the outside, it is vastly improved; but on the inside, Alaskans who were involved are scarred.

According to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the accident and determined that the probable causes of the grounding were:

1.    The failure of the third mate to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue and excessive workload;

2.    The failure of the master to provide a proper navigation watch, possibly due to impairment from alcohol;

3.    The failure of Exxon Shipping Company to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez;

4.    The failure of the U.S. Coast Guard to provide an effective vessel traffic system

5.    The lack of effective pilot and escort services.

The ship’s captain had received permission to use the inbound lane rather than the outbound lane, due to the presence of icebergs.  However, once the ship passed the icebergs, it didn’t get back into the correct passage and became grounded on the reef.

Four summers were spent cleaning up the shores. More than 1,000 boats and 100 airplanes and helicopters were involved, as well as  more than 11,000 Alaska residents and some Exxon employees working together to restore the area.  Imagine 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of oil; that is equal to the amount of oil that leaked from the tanker.  Some of the wildlife and sea creatures of Alaska have come back; the herring have not.

Even though residents received monetary compensation, which took years in some cases, due to appeals, they feel they were not repaid for years that they were unable to make a living, most of them by fishing.

It’s unclear what will happen on the Gulf Coast, but massive efforts are being made to protect the wildlife and do what can be done to prevent the same devastation of livelihoods in that area as happened in Alaska.  After a thorough investigation, time will allow us to know what caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, taking the lives of eleven persons, as well as injuring several others.  Until that time, our thoughts are with those who are trying to stop the oil spill, in addition to those who are struggling to protect the Gulf shores.


The eyes of the United States and other countries are focused on what is going to happen to the coastlines of possibly Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, following the terrible oil spill created by an explosion that occurred on Transocean Ltd.’s  Deepwater Horizon platform on April 20th.  There were approximately 126 persons on the rig at the time of the explosion.  Several were injured and eleven persons are still missing and presumed dead.

British Petroleum, the lease operator of the Macondo/Mississippi Canyon #252 oil well, is fervently trying to control the oil that is spreading through the Gulf of Mexico.  On Sunday, May 2, BP began drilling a relief well to intercept and isolate the oil well.  On Saturday, May 8th, a 40’ x 24’ x 14’ containment dome was lowered into the seabed around the leaking well, and was to be connected to a specialist vessel on the surface to receive as much of the oil as possible.  This method had been used in shallow water; however, when tried in the more than mile deep water, it failed.  The United States Coast Guard has performed controlled burns and deployed booms along the coast.  Department of Defense aircraft has also sprayed chemicals to treat the oil in the water.  Some 260 ships, such as barges, skimmers and recovery vessels are being used to collect oil from the sea surface.

BP is working with government agencies and relief organizations to ask for and train volunteers to help with the clean up on the coastlines.  A contractor from Louisiana began preparing volunteers in all aspects of the clean up.  There will be three levels of training, from one 45-minute session to 4 hours.  Volunteers are classified as unpaid volunteers, paid volunteers, and specialized personnel.  This is becoming an economic and environmental disaster.  According to Everyday Wildlife Champions, only trained experts should touch oiled wildlife.  The International Bird Rescue Research Center is taking part in the rescue of sea birds.

Residents of Alaska are re-living memories of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated the fishing industry and economy in the Prince William Sound area of the state.  Almost one-fifth of the 54 million-gallons of oil cargo that the Exxon Valdez was carrying spilled into the water, when the ship hit Alaska’s Bligh Reef.  In the coming days, we will share more information on the recovery efforts that were made, and the long-lasting effects of that tragedy.

If you want to help, get in touch with one of the leaders in a community you live near.  It is important that you have the proper safety gear to protect yourself if you are working in or near polluted water.  Be sure you have on hand: sunscreen, gloves, protective clothing, safety glasses or goggles, and respirators.

For those who don’t live in these areas, there are many other ways to help, by donating to organizations that will assist these residents and the wildlife that will surely be affected.