We are all familiar with the pink ribbons that promote breast cancer awareness.  The National Children’s Cancer Society asks schools and communities to recognize the month of September by wearing a gold ribbon on their lapel, to bring awareness of the battle with cancer that thousands of America’s children are fighting. 

Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15.  It causes more deaths in children than asthma, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and AIDS combined.  According to Kristie McNealy, M.D., one in 330 children will develop cancer before they are twenty years old.  Each school day, 46 children are diagnosed with some type of cancer.   There are between 30,000 and 40,000 child cancer patients undergoing treatment in the U.S.  On average, 12,500 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year.  

Cancer is an ugly word for anyone; cancer in a child is unthinkable.  But it happens.  I know of a very brave young man,  who, at age 14 has battled this disease off  and on since he was three years old.  He has had 2 other relapses, and continues to fight, following a double cord transplant this past year.  This determined youngster has gone through more than most of us will experience in a lifetime.  It is his hope that people will realize what this disease is doing to our children by donating money, volunteering for cancer fund-raisers, or getting involved in other ways. 

We have veered away today from our usual format of safety – at home, at work, or play, but many times we do focus on health issues.  This important message needs to be spread.  Money is spent on research for breast cancer, and other types of cancer; however, research funds are scarce for pediatric cancer.  In the past two decades, one new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric treatment. 

Professional athletes visit kids in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, and their presence can make all the difference in the world.  You can help, too, by giving of your time and/or money.  If you know of a family that is going through treatment for their child, consider giving them gift certificates to restaurants, to be able to pick up food when there’s no time to prepare meals between work and hospital visits.  You can do many thoughtful things just by giving your time.  Be thankful if this disease hasn’t affected your family; wear that gold ribbon and remind folks what it is all about.


Have you ever felt that you are sent out to perform a job that may be unsafe?  If so, you need to know what your rights are in the event you feel you must refuse to perform the assigned task.  When you think that conditions of work are unhealthful or unsafe, you should notify your employer.  If your employer fails to correct the hazard or disagrees with you about the extent of the hazard, you may file a complaint with OSHA.  

However, you need to take the right steps to protect yourself.  Refusing to do a job because of potentially unsafe workplace conditions is not ordinarily an employee right under the OSH Act.  (Your union contract or state law may, however, give you this right, but OSHA cannot enforce it.)  Refusing to work may result in disciplinary action by the employer.  However, employees do have the right to refuse to do a job if they believe in good faith that they are exposed to an imminent danger.  “Good faith” means that even if an imminent danger is not found to exist, the worker had reasonable grounds to believe that it did exist.  But, as a general rule, you do not have the right to walk off the job because of unsafe conditions.  If you do and your employer fires or disciplines you, OSHA may not be able to protect you.  So, stay on the job until the problem can be resolved. 

You right to refuse to do a task is protected if ALL of the following conditions are met: 

  • Where possible, you have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so; and
  • You refused to work in “good faith.”  This means that you must genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists.  Your refusal cannot be a disguised attempt to harass your employer or disrupt business; and
  • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
  • There isn’t enough time, due to the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.

 When all of these conditions are met, you take the following steps:

  • Ask your employer to correct the hazard;
  • Ask your employer for other work;
  • Tell your employer that you won’t perform the work unless and until the hazard is corrected; and
  • Remain at the worksite until ordered to leave by your employer. 

If your employer discriminates against you for refusing to perform the dangerous work, contact OSHA immediately.  Knowing the proper procedures you need to follow in order to protect yourself will ensure that you don’t have to be in danger, or risk losing your job.  Your life is worth more than any job.


Source:  OSHA


A long time ago, my husband, who owned a machine shop for a number of years, made the statement, “no one knows what being in business for themselves is like until they have actually done  it.”  Overhead, insurance, waiting to get paid, paying employees, maintenance, and many other headaches contribute to being in private business.  With that in mind, we’d like to encourage businesses everywhere to think about how safe their enterprises are. 

One of the first things is to hire good employees.  You can be a victim of internal theft, as well as external.  Do thorough background checks on all applicants.  Know whom you are allowing access to your buildings.  Be sure that keys cannot be duplicated without the master key.  There should be a locked closet that holds the master key to every door, with only certain employees having access to it.  Encourage staff to confidentially report any dishonesty by colleagues that they are aware of. 

How safe is your business equipment?  Keep an up-to-date inventory, including leased equipment that is not insured by the leasing company.  There are many types of security systems, including sensors on doors, closed-circuit cameras, and contract security companies that alert authorities when there is a problem.  Adequate lighting should be provided at all times.  Clear away any shrubs, bushes, or trees that could provide hiding places for thieves.  Installing dead bolts or coded locks may be another deterrent.  Develop safe procedures that protect every employee, from the very first person arriving to work in the morning until the last person leaves each evening. 

Building maintenance is very important.  Water leaks can cause costly damage.  Pipes, drains, and appliances should be checked often.  A crack approximately 1/8 of an inch in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water per day.  There are two types of water leak detection systems – active and passive.

  • Active systems are battery operated and can set off an alarm when moisture is detected as well as stop the water flow with some sort of shut-off valve.
  • Passive systems are battery operated and usually stand-alone units, with moisture sensors on the bottom of the apparatus, and will activate an alarm.  They are easily installed.

Roofs should also be inspected often for damage, or possibility of water leaks.  In the fall, it’s a good idea to insulate water pipes to avoid freezing later on. 

Of course, businesses should install sprinkler systems and smoke detectors, and have appropriate fire extinguishers ready for use in case of fire, depending on the types of equipment that are involved.   Individuals can plug in surge protection devices; however, the electric service meter surge protection devices must be professionally installed.  

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg; however, we hope the things that have been pointed out will help businesses be a little safer.  We salute both the small and large business owners, who make keep our communities going, by offering jobs that are so badly needed.


When raising kids, certain family milestones are times for sadness and gladness.  You are happy because they have completed high school, and excited if they are going to experience college.  You know you will miss them, and regardless of their choices, either to enroll in college, or seek a profession, they are still young, and believe me, you will worry about them.  They are your kids, and you always have concerns, even when they are older; because you love them, you want everything to go well for them. 

There are many safety factors to consider for young people.  You probably have trained them since they were youngsters, but here are some reminders: 

  • They must understand that they are responsible for their own safety.
  • They need to scope out their new surroundings, and be familiar with  the safest routes they will be using.
  •  There’s always safety in numbers; go out in groups, or at least with a “buddy.”
  •   Never walk in dark places alone.
  •   Do not go to an ATM at night.
  •   Trust their instincts.  If they are uncomfortable with what’s   going  on, don’t be afraid to leave.  Most young people are going to try their wings.  But if things get out of hand, they need to move on.
  •  Always carry cab fare.
  •  Consider taking a self-defense class.
  •  Always tell a roommate, friend, or someone else where they plan to be if they are going out at night.  If plans change, they should let that person know, just in case they don’t return when they should.
  •  Have them make copies of important papers, credit cards, health cards, etc. and leave a copy with parents, just in case they are stolen or lost.
  •  Suggest that they have a “health buddy,” someone that will get them to a doctor or emergency room if necessary.  They can do the same for that friend.
  • Warm them of alcohol hazards.  Never mix acetaminophens with alcohol, and encourage them to not overdo drinking, just because it seems to be the popular thing to do.  They need to know that drinking and driving don’t mix. (Texting and driving don’t, either.)

Here are some safety items they should have: 

  • First Aid Kit
  • Auto Safety Kit
  • Smoke, carbon monoxide detectors if the apartment or dormitory doesn’t have them.
  • Fire escape ladder
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Mace or pepper spray
  • Key Chain Alarm
  • Reflective vest for jogging or biking
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • ICE programmed on phone (in case of emergency) on cell phone; authorities know to check for this in order to notify family 

Stay in touch with your kids; have them call you at least once a week, and let you know what’s happening in their lives.  They need to know you are just a phone call (or text) away.  Give them encouragement in the important choices they make.  It’s hard to believe that that little boy or girl you sent off to kindergarten is now going off to college, the military, or a job.  We send them our best for safe, happy, and successful futures.


As we go to work every day, we never expect a disaster to happen.  In the event of a natural or manmade occurrence, are we really prepared?  Weather forecasts help us anticipate bad storms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, but there could be any type of problem within the walls of our workplace, or accidents near our location that make it imperative for us to evacuate the premises.  Have you thought about what you would do if an evacuation were necessary?  Has your company given you instructions? 

Preparing for an emergency evacuation is an on-going project.  Employers and employees together should establish a good plan and have every one on board before an unforeseen situation happens.  In a crisis, it’s hard to think logically, so planning in advance and imagining the worst-case scenarios will be beneficial.  Fire, floods, toxic gas releases, chemical spills, explosions, radiological accidents, hurricanes, tornadoes, civil disturbances, or workplace violence resulting in bodily harm and trauma could cause a serious emergency.  

When drafting an emergency plan, a responsible individual should be chosen to lead and coordinate the emergency plan and evacuation.  This person would have the authority to make critical decisions during emergencies.  All workers would then understand who that coordinator is and follow his instructions. 

Be certain that every employee knows the escape procedures and where safe  refuge areas are.  Duties of persons responsible for reporting the emergency; those who are to render first aid, employees who shut down operations are all parts of the chain of command that each employee should be familiar with.  Special consideration should be given to assisting employees with disabilities.  An assembly area for gathering after an evacuation should be designated.  Take a head count after the evacuation.  Give the names and last locations of the persons not accounted for to the official in charge. 

Personal protective equipment may be needed to evacuate during an emergency.  A workplace assessment can determine potential hazards in your particular workplace.  PPE may include the following: eye protection – goggles, safety glasses, or face shields; head protection – hardhats; body protection – gloves, hoods, boots, or chemical suits.  Respirators should be appropriate to the hazards in your workplace, meet OSHA standards and be certified by NIOSH.  In case of an emergency  evacuation, your safety consultant may feel that respiratory protection may be necessary if the employees must pass through toxic atmospheres, such as dust, mists, gases, or vapors. 

This is the general training to be addressed by your employees, as recommended by OSHA:

  •       Individual roles and responsibilities;
  •       Notification, warning, and communications procedures;
  •       Threats, hazards, and protective actions;
  •        How to locate family members in an emergency;
  •        Evacuation, shelter, and accountability procedures;
  •        Location and use of common emergency equipment;
  •        Emergency response procedures;
  •        Emergency shutdown procedures. 

Conducting fire drills often is very important.  The more often drills are done, the more familiar the employees will become with what is expected of them.  Hopefully, this will never affect you; however, being prepared instead of panicked could possibly save lives.




We have told our kids “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” and really never given it a thought.  I’ve never even seen a bed bug, so I’ve had to do a little research about these critters.  When news headlines are about the infestation of bed bugs, it’s bad, but not as bad as being taken over by aliens from outer space. 

New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Chicago are listed as the Top Five bed bug-infested cities in the United States, according to Terminix, based on volume of calls they have received throughout the country so far this year.  We have seen it on the news in our area of Texas, and read reports that these bugs are rampant all over the United States. 

How has this happened? Well, it’s actually pretty easy, on the part of the bugs.  Seems they really like to travel.  More people are traveling all over the world, and don’t realize that they may be giving the bugs a free ride back to the States, and to their own homes.  Then they also may be furnishing transportation to them to their office, church, library, or elsewhere.  Cleanliness (or lack of it) is not the cause of bed bugs.  Many people hesitate to call professional pest control because they are embarrassed.  These tiny bugs are attracted to human bodies and act as small vampires, feeding on their blood!  The bites they may leave are more harmless than mosquito bites.  Most of the time, the worst thing that could happen is infection from scratching the bite.  (You might want to keep some benadryl or antihistimine on hand in case of an allergic reaction.)

When you are traveling, don’t put your suitcases on the floor, but on a luggage rack.  Bed bugs can hide in furniture, cracks and crevices, clothing, and they love traveling by ship, plane, or rail cabins, or staying in the nicest five-star hotels.  They also live in dormitories, summer camps, apartment buildings, hospitals, and movie theaters.  Tiny little critters, bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.  When checking your bedding, you may see their droppings, which are roughly the size of a flake of black pepper.  

When you return from a trip, try to unpack your belongings in the garage and place them in a plastic bag, until you can inspect them.  Washing laundry (especially bedding) in hot water and drying it in a hot dryer will kill bed bugs.  Don’t try to eradicate them with do-it-yourself sprays, as it may just encourage them to move on to your neighbors’ house or apartment, rather than get rid of them.  You’d be getting rid of them, but at someone else’s expense.  These bugs are not interested in living in unsanitary conditions, they just want to be where we humans are.  

Keep your eye out for these invasive reddish-brown little bugs.  Seek professional pest-control help.  Then you can “sleep tight, knowing they’re not there to bite!”


Without bacteria, please.  More than one-half billion eggs distributed through the United States have been recalled recently, because of contamination of the disease salmonella.  Salmonella comes from eggs of salmonella-infected hens that carry the bacteria and pass it to eggs as they are being formed.  Other causes can be that the eggs are not cleaned properly or kept cold while being transported.  More than 1,000 persons in the U.S.  have been affected.  Symptoms are diarrhea, cramps, and/or developing fever within 72 hours of eating contaminated products.  For persons with weakened immune systems, this can be life-threatening. 

The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in foodservice kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking. If not properly handled, Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in 6 hours. 

The source of the “bad eggs” in this case is a company that sells eggs to stores throughout the country, and those eggs come in containers that hold six, twelve, and eighteen eggs.  The carton markings that include the plant number and day of the year have been posted on numerous websites, so be sure to check those numbers.  Wright County Egg is a major egg producer with plants located in Iowa.  They are a major employer in their area.  According to public records, the company has paid millions in reprimands, penalties, and complaints.  Although locals say the company has improved conditions in the past few years, the FDA will be investigating them thoroughly. 

To avoid food poisoning from eggs, the CDC recommends taking these steps:

  • Never eat recalled eggs or products containing recalled eggs.
  • Keep eggs refrigerated at least to 45 degrees F at all times.
  • Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs.  Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing should contain pasteurized eggs.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
  • Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  • Wash hands, cooking utensils and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after handling raw eggs.
  • Change your eating habits to well-done eggs, if you prefer “over-easy.” 

Along with state representatives, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are developing new national standards with the aim of reducing and eventually eliminating egg-related salmonellosis. The strategies will include a scientific, risk-based, farm-to-table plan covering production, processing, transport, storage, retail handling and delivery. The plan will also include education on the responsibilities of consumers, inspectors and food handlers at all levels. 

With this said, the safety of consumers should be taken very seriously.  Better oversight by the FDA hopefully will eliminate this problem.  We take for granted that the food we purchase will not harm us.  Not too long ago, contaminated peanut butter was the cause of widespread food-borne illness.  It is the responsibility of the producers to have regular inspections to ensure that food products are processed  in clean, safe environments to assure the public that they won’t become ill from eating their products.  Government entities owe it to the public to furnish constant oversight to places where the production of the food we eat is involved.  Then, it is up  to the consumer to keep the food at safe temperatures and prepare it in a healthy way.  Speaking from experience, you don’t want  “food poisoning,” it’s no fun at all.


Although we have addressed this subject in an earlier article, Violence in the Workplace, it is such an important issue, that we want to talk about it at a different angle.  Both articles contain information that may be helpful, should you find yourself in such a situation.  According to OSHA, violence in the workplace is the fourth leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, posing a very serious safety and health issue. 

It is critical that employers have a comprehensive workplace violence policy in place.  Hazard assessments must be done, as well as identifying risk factors.  The training program should include every employee, being sure they understand how important it is to report any incidents that could possibly cause a reaction resulting in harm to other employees.  Disruptive behavior should not be tolerated.  Yelling, profanity, waving arms and fists, verbally abusing and refusing reasonable requests from the supervisor to cease such acts are signs of being disruptive.  Threatening physical actions, short of actual contact, such as moving closer to the person, oral or written threats or comments like “you’ll be sorry”, should not be tolerated.  Violent behavior is when a person physically assaults another person, with or without weapons.  People prone to violence throw things, pound on desks, doors, destroy property, and may threaten to shoot or harm others.  (Sure hope you don’t know anyone who acts this way!) 

Managers and staff must set and enforce standards of conduct and be there to help with calming situations down if at all possible.  Suggestions are to talk to the person, but not isolate oneself.  Using a calm approach may be helpful.  Never touch the person, as that could trigger a violent reaction.  Have a signal set up to let other coworkers to know that you need help (so they can call 9-1-1.)  Waving or getting the offenders’ attention may set him off.  If you feel that your intervention is not helping, leave the room, and call the police, if it hasn’t already been done.  Get yourself and others to safety.  Leave an open line for the police if possible, so they are better informed of the confrontation. 

Once a situation is defused, hopefully without violence, those who served as witnesses, potential victims, and the families and friends of all involved will have a certain amount of trauma to deal with.  The company should have counseling and interventions for all to be able to participate. 

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with anything like this where you work.  If you witness anything that you suspect could escalate to any type of disruptive behavior, tell your supervisor.  Many times there are warning signs that we see as not serious; however, the well-being of all your coworkers may be at risk.  A better way of resolving conflict among workers could be served by managers and staff who are willing to have open communication with all employees at all times.


With the start of school, parents have to make arrangements for their childrens’ care during after school hours.  For single-parents or families where both parents work, this is an important decision.  Children have been staying home alone after school for many years.  In the early 19th century, children wore house keys on a string around their neck to school, so they could get into their homes, and were known as Latchkey Children.  The term is now self-care children. 

Experts advise not leaving kids under age 12 at home alone.  Many factors are involved in ensuring the safety of the child.  Their maturity plays a large part in deciding if they can handle the responsibility of being home alone, and taking care of themselves and maybe other siblings.  It is very important that parents prepare their child in a reassuring way that they know they can trust them to stay at home alone.  Here are some basic safety rules that parents should instruct them to do and know:

  • Know their full name, address, and phone number.
  •  Know their parents full name, where they work, and phone number.
  •  Don’t go into the house if a window is broken or door is partially open.
  • Don’t play alone on the way home.
  • Call parent or trusted neighbor to check in as soon as they arrive home.
  • What to do in case of fire.
  •  Do not open the door to strangers.  Do not let them know they are     alone.
  • Lock the door, once home.
  • Carry house key in a hidden place; do not put name and address on the key.
  •  Go to that trusted neighbor in case of emergency, or being uneasy.

 The above rules should be taught to children that have other after-school options, in case of times when the babysitter is not available, or other emergency circumstances lead to them having to stay home alone for a day or two.  A good example of this is the past H1N1 pandemic, when working parents did not have access to their day-care facilities, and had to miss work or leave their kids at home alone. 

There are an estimated five million kids between the ages of 5 and 13 that stay home alone.  That’s a frightening figure.  The neighborhoods they live in, or types of kids that hang around may not ensure a secure harbor.  Children that are home alone should be given a schedule to follow that allows them snacks, free time for television or computer, and homework.  Once the parents are home, they need to spend time with their child and let them know they are interested in what they have done while there alone.  Certain safety monitors on computers should be in place.  Too many predators exist in cyberspace. 

Parents should look into other options like after-school programs offered by churches, PTO’s, and public libraries.  They can also consider joining with other parents to pay a stay-at-home mom to keep their children.  

There are several Latchkey phone programs that are sponsored by community organizations such as the police department, sheriff’s offices, or volunteer groups.  They offer automatic phone systems that call the child at home at various times of the day the parent has chosen.  If there is no answer, or answer to repeated calls within a designated time, the system automatically calls the parent and others on the list, as well as sends out an email alert.  Programs such as this are beneficial to children at home alone, and senior citizens, as well. 

Good luck to all students and parents as this new school year begins.  Good planning for your children and staying in touch with them will assure that they have a safe year and learn responsibility.


There are so many technological advances being made by automakers, that someday, everyone will be able to drive safer cars.  After seeing a car that parks itself, it seems that they can almost run on automatic pilot!  Until these safety features become standard in all vehicles, however, we will still have to do the driving.  Consider the following innovations that have been made, such as: 

  • Blind Spot Monitoring.  This is always something that bugs me, because there just seems to be too many ways of not seeing someone in the lane you are trying to enter.  This type of monitoring uses sonar to keep tabs on the blind spots on both sides of the car.  Versions of this technology are already available on some makes of cars.
  • Lane Departure Warning.  It’s too bad all cars don’t already have this technology, as this can be very helpful when a driver becomes drowsy or otherwise distracted.  When the car reaches a certain speed, and wanders across lanes, the certified speed system activates an audible alert.
  • Bird’s Eye View Camera.  There are many backup and parking assist cameras available, but this particular type of system allows you to park safely by allowing you to have a view that virtually lets you seem to look down on the car from above the roof.
  • Smart Keys.  My car has smart keys, and they let me lock or unlock the car from pretty far away, without having to fumble around to find them.  There’s a new “smart” ignition key that allows a parent to program the key for their child.  Parents can set the maximum vehicle speed, activate a persistent seat belt reminder, and set the level for radio volume.  (By the way, this is an American-made car.) It would also be wonderful if it had a Breathalyzer, so the car couldn’t start if Junior had been drinking.  One German automaker has developed the Alco key, requiring the driver to blow into the key before driving the car.  If a Red LED light comes on, the engine will not start.
  • Another feature the same automaker has created is the Collision Warning System, which contains radar technology that performs a wide-angle search to detect objects in front and around your car, such as pedestrians or cyclists.  A red warning light displays on the windscreen.  If there is an increased risk, a panic brake is activated.  If the driver fails to brake and a collision is imminent, the brakes are activated automatically. 

The one thing I would love to see is a system that warns a person if they leave a little passenger in a car seat.  We have had too many innocent children that have lost their lives by being left in a locked car.  If cars can ding when you leave the keys in them, or you don’t have your seat belt fastened, why can’t there be some type of alarm connected to the back seatbelts that secure a car seat, or small child?  Hopefully, car manufacturers are already ahead of me on this, but please, consider this safety feature as a priority.  We have GPS systems, hands-free phone systems, stability control, air bags, and fuel efficient systems that have been developed for our safety, however, many of the new safety features that are now being built into vehicles are available only on the expensive models.  It is hoped that one day, all these sophisticated features are on every car when it leaves the manufacturer. 

And remember, even if you have all the fancy stuff, you still have to be alert behind the wheel.  Please don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive, and wait on those phone calls until you get safely to your destination.