Most of us are probably not aware of the significance of April 28th.    It is the International Day of Mourning, set aside to pay our respects to fellow workers who were injured or killed on the job.  The International Day of Mourning not only commemorates the dead, ill and injured, but raises awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety and its role in preventing needless tragedies. 

Initially launched by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984, the day was officially established as the National Day of Mourning in 1990 after the Canadian government passed the Workers’ Mourning Day Act.  In the United States, the AFL-CIO, America’s union movement, adopted April 28 as Workers’ Memorial Day.  Later, in 1996, the International Confederation of Free Trade organized the first International Day of Mourning, which prompted candle lighting ceremonies to protest unsafe work practices.  More than 85 countries worldwide recognize this important day.  

This year’s theme is “Mourn for the dead, fight for the living.”  Here are ways that you can do just that:

  • Be a safety mentor to a new worker.
  • Find the lesson to be learned from a workplace injury or fatality you’ve heard about.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil to remember workers who died.
  • Take 5 minutes to listen to Stacy Smallwood’s OHS performance poetry, a beautiful tribute to those who died on the job.
  • No matter where you are in North America, dedicate a flower to a fallen worker on the WorkSafeBC memorial website.  As you watch the flower fall, take a moment of silence to honor a friend, family member or colleague. 

There are probably very few of us who have not known someone who died on the job, as a result of either unsafe work conditions, lack of training, or carelessness on the part of the worker.  One of the ways that you can help others is to be a safety mentor to co-workers, at all times, as mentioned above.  Don’t take unnecessary chances; go to your supervisor if you feel your tasks are compromised. 

The following is an excerpt from an AFL-CIO Facts About Safety and Health Department report, dated April 18, 2011:  “This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the effective date of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  The Act – which guarantees every American worker a safe and healthful working environment – created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to set and enforce standards and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct research and investigations.  This year also marks the 42nd anniversary of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, and 34th anniversary of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.  Since 1970, workplace safety and health conditions have improved.  More than 431,000 workers can now say that their lives have been saved since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  However, many workers remain in serious danger, as demonstrated by the Massey Energy West Virginia coal mine disaster last April that killed 29 miners, the Tesoro Refinery explosion in Washington state a few days earlier that killed 7 workers, and the BP/Transocean Gulf Coast oil rig explosion that claimed 11 workers lives.” 

Approximately 1,000 Canadian workers and over 5,000 American workers die annually in work-related incidents.  Canadian workplaces average three workers dying on the job every day, with more than 900,000 workplace injuries reported every year.  An average of 16 workers in the U.S. die each day from injuries received at work, and 134 are estimated to die from work-related diseases.  Each day in America, approximately 9,000 workers are treated in emergency rooms because of occupational injuries.  These statistics indicate that we have a long way to go before we reach the safety goals that North American workers deserve. 

CCOHS, OSHA, CDC/NIOSH hope that the annual observance of this day will strengthen the resolve to establish safe conditions in the workplace for everyone.  It is as much a day to remember the dead as it is a call to protect the living.


The old saying, “March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb,” really didn’t come true this year!  It went out the same way it came in!  Just because that happened, the month of April didn’t have to carry on the “lion” tradition; however, for some reason, this month didn’t get the message!    The week of April 14th  through 16th  brought the largest single system of tornado outbreaks in United States history – 153 confirmed twisters.  These wind funnels danced through at least 14 states, killing an estimated 43 persons.  St. Louis, Missouri’s Lambert Airport was hit Sunday, April 24th,  by the most powerful tornado that had happened in their area in forty-four years.  Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt or killed, but more than 100 homes were destroyed.  News that tornadoes are continuing this week makes us even more aware that we must be prepared.  

The Weather Channel has reported the confirmation of 292 tornadoes in the United States so far this month, beating the previous April record of 267 in 1974.  Storm survey teams continue to assess the damage from this month’s storms and could change the number of confirmed tornadoes. The average for April is only 116, according to the nation’s Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Oklahoma.  With a few days left in April, one can only wonder how many more will touch down somewhere.

Last week, my husband and I decided to subscribe to a weather prediction service offered through one of  Dallas’ television stations, as tornado season seems to have hit with a vengence.    On Saturday and Sunday night, we received several phone calls from this service, warning of either severe thunderstorms in our immediate area or tornado warnings for our area.  (I believe we got our money’s worth for a year’s subscription to this service in those two nights.) Local sirens also sounded, adding to the warnings.  We were relying on these  types of warnings, as our television satellite usually fails during storms.  A NOAA battery-operated radio is also very helpful.  By checking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service website, you can obtain just about any kind of warning, forecast, or information needed for your location.  Images of tornado tracks in the United States look as though a line was drawn down the center of the U.S., making it much more colorful from the center to the eastern border.  Frankly, it would be just as well to live on the less colorful side of the line during storm season! 

Flooding is another very serious threat during this time of the year, too.  We never know when a natural disaster may happen, so we should take the warnings seriously and be prepared.  As previously suggested, disaster kits should be filled with staples and supplies that will last several days.  A first aid kit should be available at all times, both in the home and vehicle.   And keep that cell phone charged up! 

Early warnings, good timing, and common sense are credited with saving many lives.  Don’t ignore those weather watches and warnings – weather professionals are doing a good job by forecasting upcoming changes that pose threats.  Pay attention and be ready!  Taking a CPR class is a good idea, too.  You never know when you may be able to help a neighbor or family member that gets injured during storms.  Let’s hope that  May showers will bring spring flowers, and nothing else!  Both May and June are still months for thunderstorms and tornadoes, but maybe we will get a break this year.  If not, records will be set for 2011.

For those who have been affected by fires, tornadoes, or floods, we wish you a safe recovery and that things can someday soon return to normal.


Designated by the National Sexual Violence and Research Center as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, April represents a very serious subject of concern to everyone.  Serving as the nation’s principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence, the National Sexual Violence Research Center provides national leadership, technical assistance, and consultation by generating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding unique prevention campaigns that engage bystanders to get involved and to help reduce sexual assault, and the Department of Education is working to combat sexual violence at schools and universities.  Any public or private school, college or university that receive Federal funds must comply with Title IX.  Title IX of the Educational Amendment  of 1972 is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education and activities. 

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, and should not be tolerated.  It happens in the workplace, at school, in public places, and is against the law, and can lead to more violent acts.  “It’s Time….To Get Involved” is a campaign by the CDC and NSVRC that educates potential witnesses in safe and positive ways they can act to prevent or intervene when there is a risk for sexual violence.  This program teaches how to stop situations that could possibly lead to sexual assault.  Also, it gives individuals the skills to be an effective and supportive ally to survivors after an assault has taken place.  Research shows that this technique is a promising way to help prevent the widespread problem of sexual violence across campuses and other communities. 

Here are five steps toward taking action:

  1. Notice the event along a range of actions;
  2. Consider whether the situation demands your action;
  3. Decide if you have the responsibility to act;
  4. Choose what form of assistance to use;
  5. Understand how to implement the choice safely. 

One victim of sexual assault, whether it is a child or an adult, is too many.  In the case of children, parents should watch for signs that something is not quite right.  Many victims are afraid or ashamed to speak out, but they must, in order for perpetrator to be stopped before there are more who fall prey to them.  We all have an important role in changing community knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.  

Social marketing campaigns or outreach campaigns use the bystander approach to preventing dating and sexual violence.  Two such campaigns are:  Know Your Power Campaign – www.know-your-power.org and The Red Flag campaign – www.theredflagcampaign.org).

Programs that have been evaluated and found to be effective in changing attitudes or behaviors are listed:

  • Bringing in the Bystander, which teaches college students appropriate and safe ways to intervene before, during and after a sexual assault.
  • Men’s Program/1 in 4: focuses on building empathy with college men.
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP): focuses on student leaders and athletes in high school and college about men’s role in gender violence prevention, which uses sports metaphors and framework.
  • MyStrength Club: provides a multi-session club for high school boys, providing them a place where they can explore ways to help prevent sexual violence. 

We must remember that every victim of sexual assault is someone’s daughter, sister, mom, grandmother, son, nephew, or friend.   Take part in educating others about this devastating act that occurs in all realms of society.   Get involved and you may protect someone from a terrible situation. 

Source: NSVRC.org


We are just about to run out of “month” before we run out of observances!  For those of us in the safety business, injury prevention is important every day!   As OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) states,  “we are all about getting to dangerous workplaces before injuries happen that can kill or injure workers.”   Employers are expected to meet the standards that OSHA has set to prevent their workers from risking life and limb. 

According to a survey from 2000, every year 50 million people are hurt severely enough to require medical treatment.  Most injuries that require medical care are preventable.  The costs from U.S. injuries in 2000 were $406 billion, $80 billion in medical treatment and $326 billion in lost productivity.  Consider what the costs were in 2010.  Falls and vehicle crashes cause approximately two-fifths of the injuries and lost productivity costs from injuries.  

The Centers for Disease Control emphasize that we must prevent injuries from happening in the first place.  One of the effective methods of keeping teen drivers safer is the Graduated Drivers’ Licensing program.  This allows high-risk teen drivers to get initial driving experience under low-risk conditions.  Studies show that in the United States, approximately 11 teens die in car crashes every day.  

Brain concussions in youth sports in the United States are a high priority concern at this time.  The nation’s first sports concussion law, the Zackery Lystedt Law, was enacted in the state of Washington in May, 2009.  Named for a young athlete who was permanently disabled after sustaining a concussion in 2006, this law requires parents and athletes to read and sign a concussion information sheet before the beginning of each sports season.  It states further that athletes participating in school sports who show signs of a concussion be removed from practice or play, and if a player is injured and removed from the game, permission from a licensed health care provider is required before the athlete is allowed to play.  This can have a huge impact on improving the safety of young athletes. 

Violence prevention and injuries such as motor vehicle crashes, homicides, domestic violence, neglect of children and drug overdoses are part of the tragedies that we hear about every day.  Many of these events that lead to injury are predictable – therefore, they are preventable, as we said earlier.  Older adults and children are most vulnerable to sustaining injury that requires medical attention.  Injuries and violence affect us all.  Research shows that three-fourths of all deaths in young people are the result of injuries and violence.   

Whatever the reason, we should all take strides to improve our safety record by paying attention to what we are doing.  In the workplace, accidents happen, and some may be unavoidable, but most are caused by inattention, carelessness or faulty equipment.  Workers have the benefit of protecting their bodies with personal protective equipment, or PPEi safety products.  The choice of the right PPE for the particular job is made by the employer.  Then it’s up to the worker to wear it correctly.  Workers can be covered from head to toe, and many jobs require it all – from steel-toed boots, coveralls, gloves, safety glasses, earplugs, to hardhats.  PPE is the last line of defense that protects workers.

We can also choose protective products for work, at home, or in the garden.  Athletes must wear equipment that keeps their bodies safe.  The rest of it is left up to each individual.  Whether driving a vehicle, playing a game, mowing the lawn, or doing our regular daily routines, we must stay safe and avoid injury.  Being hurt is no fun at all, and we miss out on things we take for granted – like going to school or work! 

Stay safe and well.


Today, April 22, (in addition to being Good Friday), is Earth Day, a people-powered campaign that hopes to generate a billion acts of environment service and advocacy before Rio, 2012.  Hence, this year’s theme is “A Billion Acts of Green.”  The U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June, 2012.  You can become involved by pledging an act of green – you could organize an Earth Day Event in your community, or take part by attending an Earth Day celebration near you.

According to Earth Day.org, here’s a list of the other elements of the Earth Day campaign:

  • The Canopy Project: Help fight deforestation, we will plant a tree for every $1 you donate
  • Green Schools: Greening America’s Schools within a Generation
  • Women and Green Economy: Engaging women leaders in the creation and development of a global green economy
  • Athletes for the Earth:  Bringing the voices of Olympic and professional athletes to the environmental movement
  • Creating the Common Wealth: Convening 200 of the world’s entrepreneurs to solve climate change and create a new green economy, as well as:
  • Arts for the Earth: Celebrating the work of environmental artists in all media, including Arts for the Earth
  • Design
  • Music
  • Museums

We all should appreciate the beauty of the world around us.  There are many simple and easy things we can do to keep it pristine, or when it is not in good shape, each person should do their part to restore it back to the way nature intended it.  Here are some ways you can be a part of the world’s largest environmental advocacy and service project:

  •          Use safe household and personal care products;
  •          Recycle;
  •          Save energy – unplug any appliances, as they still use electricity if they are plugged in.
  •          Turn lights off when you aren’t using them.
  •          Turn your thermostat up a degree or two during the summer; use ceiling fans to circulate air.
  •          Conserve gasoline – walk, carpool, or ride a bike. 
  •          Turn off the water faucet while brushing your teeth, or lathering up in the shower.  You’d be surprised how much water runs while you aren’t    actually using it.
  •          Purchase a water filter pitcher.  Water bottles (plastics) are bad for the environment.
  •          Don’t discard electronics, sell them or give them to someone who can use them. Waste from these products causes numerous problems in the environment, including mercury contamination.

Each year, we are adding more and more “green jobs,” with the purpose of improving our environment.  Alternate ways of creating clean energy are being developed, and automobiles can run on electricity instead of gasoline.  Other sources of alternate fuels are ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, propane, and hydrogen (for fuel cell vehicles.)  These products have fewer emissions and pollutants.  Other Green jobs involve developing wind energy, green roofs, geo-thermal energy, solar energy, recycling, weather insulating/sealing, in addition to the alternate fuels mentioned before.

 Along with parents, schools can teach children to be good stewards of the planet.    By all working toward a better environment, we are making our world a safer place.  By “going green,”  you may also save some “green!”  Let’s do all we can to keep Mother Earth beautiful.











Portions of the following article are from the Centers for Disease Control website.   National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 23 through 30), is observed annually to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Since 1994, NIIW has served as a call to action for parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers to ensure that infants are fully immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.

This year’s NIIW will be held in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA). Hundreds of communities across the United States and throughout the Western Hemisphere are expected to participate in NIIW and VWA by planning community awareness, education, and media events to promote infant and child immunizations to parents, caregivers, and health care professionals.  Awareness and education events are being planned in conjunction with state and local health departments, PAHO, and the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission in sister cities sites along the U.S.-Mexican border. More than 40 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere are expected to work together on VWA to highlight the need for routine vaccinations for infants and children.

Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants and adults worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
  • In March 2005, CDC announced that rubella is no longer a major health threat to expectant mothers and their unborn children, thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, high vaccine coverage.
  • In September 2010, CDC announced that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record highs.

Yet without diligent efforts to maintain immunization programs in the United States and to strengthen them worldwide, vaccine-preventable diseases will remain a threat to children. As illustrations, it’s only necessary to consider the 2010 California outbreak of whooping cough where over 8,000 cases were reported in the state and where there were 10 infant deaths, or measles, which takes the lives of more than 100,000 children globally each year. 

We should all be thankful for the development of vaccines that protect our children from many childhood diseases.  Years ago, as kids, we all knew that when one of us caught measles, chicken pox, mumps, and other illnesses, we’d be next!  Prior to development of a vaccine for polio, most children who contacted the disease have been affected for the remainder of their lives.   Now, we have the advantage of knowing that our little ones will not have to go through several of these diseases.  That’s a good thing for both children and parents.    Don’t take a chance with your children’s health by delaying getting the required vaccinations at the proper time.  Also, encourage your friends to be diligent about having their children receive their innoculations.   Thankfully, we live in an age where we can take advantage of medical research and technology, in order to stay healthy.  Let’s start our little ones off right! 

This observance begins on Saturday, April 23, the day after Good Friday, continuing through April 30th.  We wish everyone a safe and happy Easter week-end!  

Source: Centers for Disease Control


April is designated as Women’s Eye Safety and Eye Health Month, and we’ve found out some things that will really open your eyes!   Worldwide, an estimated 37 million people are blind and one hundred twenty-four million people have low vision.  Two-thirds of both blind and visually impaired people are women!  In the United States, there are estimated to be over one million legally blind people, and over 700,000 of them are women.  Women bear a larger burden than men in the U.S. and other industrialized countries, because, on average they outlive men.  However, adding to the disproportion, is the possibility of biological (perhaps hormonal or immunological) predisposition to some eye diseases known to be more prevalent in women.   Women who live in developing countries have less access to medical care, and therefore may contact more infectious diseases that are prevalent in females.

A major epidemiological survey in 2001 revealed that, worldwide, common eye diseases, such as autoimmune disease, dry eye syndrome, and certain forms of cataract are more prevalent in women than men.  Age-related afflictions such as macular degeneration and cataract also affect women more often than men.  Vision loss can be due to chronic disease, infection, uncorrected refractive error, trauma or congenital defect.   The good news for women and men is that three-quarters of blindness and vision loss is either preventable or treatable.  By having regular eye exams and living a healthy lifestyle, you can optimize your eye health.  The risk factors for premature death due to heart disease or cancer are the same as those for blindness and vision impairment.  These factors include smoking, excess weight, improper diet, lack of exercise and exposures to UV rays.  Knowing your family health history in relation to eye health is as important as any other facet of family history. 

There are certain eye problems that must be dealt with such as dry eye, eye redness, excessive watering of eyes, and pain in the eye, (throbbing, aching, or stabbing sensation.)  Seeing your ophthalmologist can solve many of these problems.  Other options to healthy eyes are as listed:

1.      Wear sunglasses or a hat with a brim when outside in sunlight;

2.      Adopt a healthy lifestyle;

3.      Know the warning signs of eye disease;

4.      Drink alcohol in moderation;

5.      Stop smoking or never start;

6.      Maintain a healthy body weight by eating a balanced diet;

7.      Exercise regularly;

8.      Schedule regular eye exams for yourself and the entire family. 

Women should wear eye protection when working with tools, metals or chemicals at home or work, the same as men.  Everyone should avoid being around pellet guns, bb guns, bows and arrows, toys with missiles and fireworks – these can cause serious eye injury.

So, ladies, take care of those beautiful eyes, and the eyes of everyone you love.    Make the most to improve eye health by both protecting your eyes from injury and keeping your body healthy.


Do you have a plan for emergencies, such as the ones we have seen over the past few weeks – wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters?  We think we are ready, but if the time comes that you are ordered to evacuate your home, what would be the first thing you would grab?  Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle or in your home, ready to pick up? Every family, school, business and facility such as a nursing home or hospital should have an emergency plan.  Develop a plan for you and your family, just in case.  There should also be policies in place at work and school.  Frequent drills should be held.  Be familiar with the area where you live, and keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movement from weather bulletins. 

First, develop a Family Disaster Plan.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn the safest places to seek shelter, regardless of your location – at work, school, or in the car. 
  • Understand basic weather terms and danger signs related to weather conditions.
  • Practice the plan you have developed with your family often.  Find out what type of disasters could occur from your local National Weather Service, and how you should respond.
  • Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.
  • Pick two places for your family to meet – (1) a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as fire, and (2) a place away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  • Choose an “out of area”  friend as your “family check-in contact” for everyone to call in case the family gets separated. 
  • Plan what to do if you are told to evacuate.
  • Have safety features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  • Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid.
  • Teach them how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.
  • Keep your disaster supplies ready. 
  • Store important family documents in a waterproof container. 
  • Keep a smaller disaster kit  in the trunk of your car. 

A disaster kit should contain the following items:

  • One blanket or sleeping bag for each person;
  • Prescription medications;
  • A battery-powered NOAA radio;
  • Flashlight;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person;
  • Extra set of keys for your vehicle;
  • Credit card or cash;
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members;
  • Non-perishable food;
  • A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day.)
  • Food for pets;
  • Bottled water in the kit, which should be replaced every six months. 

Learn your children’s school emergency policies.  The school should be inspected and tornado shelter areas designated by a registered engineer or architect.  Basements are the best place for protection; however, if there is no basement, schools should use interior rooms and hallways on the lowest floor and away from windows.  Special provisions for disabled students and those in portable classrooms should be made.  Children should be kept at school beyond regular hours if threatening weather is expected.  They will be safer at the school than in a bus or car.  They should not be sent home early if severe weather is expected.  

Hospitals and nursing homes should have similar plans.  Patients should be moved away from windows into hallways.  Special generators should be available to take the place of electricity in case of power failure.  Schools, hospitals, and nursing homes should conduct drills frequently in order for all staff to be fully prepared. 

In case of a warning or threatening weather approaches:

  • Tune in to your weather radio for information;
  • Stay away from windows;
  • Do not open windows;
  • Get into a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement or storm cellar;
  • Get out of automobiles;
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; leave it immediately;
  • Do not remain in your mobile home; even if they are tied down, they offer little protection from tornadoes and high winds. 

We can never predict when a situation may arise that causes us to suddenly leave our homes.  Being prepared can possibly help save the lives of your family. 

Source: NOAA


The “family of tornadoes” actually began their deadly trip across the southeastern U.S. last Thursday night.  This storm system struck parts of Oklahoma that night, and eventually traveled through 13 states, leaving 45 persons dead, and several others injured.  The tragedy was compounded by the destruction of homes and businesses.  A total of 241 tornadoes were reported, with 50 tornadoes confirmed.  These twisters were various sizes, with some as wide as a football field.  Communities that were hit are now facing the reality of what has happened, beginning with the huge task of cleanup. 

Because the National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can be received by NOAA Weather Radios, it is recommended that persons who live in vulnerable parts of the country purchase one of them.  Having a battery-operated weather radio would be invaluable in the event of a dangerous thunderstorm or other natural weather occurrence.  You probably already understand these warnings, but we will review them, just in case: 

  • Tornado WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado WARNING: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
  • Severe Thunderstorm WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm WARNING: Severe thunderstorms are happening. 

Tornadoes occasionally develop in areas where a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect.  Stay alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.  Sometimes, tornadoes develop so quickly that advance warning is not possible.  Watch for signs of an approaching tornado, such as dark, often greenish sky; wall cloud; large hail; and loud roar – similar to a freight train. 

 It’s up to you!  Many people are killed or seriously injured each year by tornadoes despite advance warning.  Some did not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them.  Being prepared and having timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life if a tornado threatens your area.  You must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives.  It could be the most important decision you ever make! 

Certain citizens are more at risk than others.  This includes:

  1. Persons in automobiles;
  2. The elderly, very young, and the mentally or physically impaired;
  3. People in mobile homes;
  4. People who may not understand the warning due to a language barrier. 

In our next article, we will go over disaster plans for all scenarios: home, school, work, and other facilities, such as hospitals or nursing homes.  Start thinking of things you need purchase to build your supply kit.  It pays to be prepared!  Put the safety of you and your family first!

Source: NOAA


For several weeks, the Texas Forest Service, volunteer fire departments, and firefighters from other states have been fighting fires that have been rampant in several areas of the state.  Last week, devastating fires in far West Texas burned much of the Fort Davis area.  A fire that started north of Marfa, Texas, took only 20 minutes to reach Fort Davis, located 21 miles away.  As of today, the Texas Forest Service reports at least 800,000 acres have burned.  Several homes, businesses, property, and a church have been destroyed by fire.  A firefighter from Eastland, Texas, lost his life when he and others exited their truck; he was hit by either a vehicle or a piece of equipment.  Visibility was limited because of heavy smoke, so at this time, the Texas Department of Public Service is classifying this incident as a traffic fatality, pending further investigation.  

We live in a small rural area in North Central Texas, and wildfires have come within 30 miles of us.   A community eleven miles west of our town was evacuated on Friday as a result of nearby fires.  Because this has hit very close to home, it makes us aware of  how seriously we must prepare for the safety of our families.  We should have emergency supplies (water, flashlight, non-perishable foods, medicines, important papers, etc.) on hand, and know what we will  take with us if we have to leave quickly. 

If Mother Nature would wave her magic wand and send rain, while stopping the gusty winds for a while, both firefighters and homeowners would be very grateful.  The dry terrain and low humidity levels combine for fires just waiting to happen.  Ranchers have lost livestock ,and much wildlife is gone.   In an article in today’s (Sunday) Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, writer Bud Kennedy’s headline is “Just one cigarette is all it takes to inflict a world of damage.”  According to the Texas Forest Service, humans start 9 in 10 wildfires.  Kennedy goes on to say that any spark can burn a town, taking with it homes, dreams, and sometimes, firefighters’ lives.  In Texas, the punishment for tossing a lit cigarette is only a littering ticket.  However, Texas’ arson law includes felony punishment for anyone whose cigarette recklessly sets fire to a building or injures anyone.  Arson is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by two to 20 years in prison, but if a person is hurt or killed or if the fire involves a church, arson is a first-degree felony, and the arsonist can face up to life in prison. 

 Many firefighters are volunteers – they risk their lives every time they are called out.  They are trained to use their equipment to save lives, homes, and  properties of their neighbors.  When things become as serious as they are right now, other firefighters step in to help.  The Texas Forest Service reports that  there are around 1,250 personnel on the ground  now, including firefighters from 34 states.  Our firefighters will do the same for them when they are called.  We, as citizens, must be vigilant in preventing fires when weather conditions create dangerous situations.    We appreciate the hard work they are doing.   The next time you see a firefighter, give him or her a big THANK YOU!  (And, pray for rain!)


Sources: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Forest Service