Tag Archives: weather safety

Cruise Control, Wet Roads!

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

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

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

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

WINTER WATCH, WARNING AND ADVISORY

Do you know the difference?

During winter, we hear these terms on the weather forecast somewhere in the United States.  Do you really pay attention and understand what they mean?

If your answer is “No”, READ ON:

WATCHES:  According to weather professionals, there is a 50% chance that severe winter weather will materialize:

  • Winter Storm Watch:  Possibility of severe life-threatening winter weather conditions that include: heavy ice and/or near-blizzard conditions, or heavy snow.
  • Blizzard Watch:  Blizzard conditions may happen.
  • Lake-Effect Snow Watch:  Heavy lake effect snow likely.
  • Wind Chill Watch:  Potential of wind chills of -25°F or less, causing risk of hypothermia and rapid frostbite.

WARNINGS:

  • Winter Storm Warning:  Winter weather is expected to cause life-threatening public impact from winter hazards that include ice, near blizzard conditions, heavy snow, drifting snow and dangerous wind chills.
  • Heavy Snow Warning:  When 7 inches or more of snow is expected in 12 hours or less, or 9 inches or more is expected in 24 hours or less.
  • Ice Storm Warning:  Issued for ½ inch or more of ice accumulation, which can cause damage to trees and power lines.
  • Blizzard Warning:  When blizzard conditions are about to happen or expected in the next 12 to 24 hours.  These include frequent gusts of or above 35 mph and falling, blowing and drifting of snow, reducing visibility to ¼ mile.
  • Lake-Effect Snow Warning:  Potential of 7 inches or more of lake effect snow.
  • Wind Chill Warning: Issued when the wind chill is expected to be -25°F or less.  In less than 10 minutes, frostbite can happen.

ADVISORIES:

  • Winter Weather Advisory: Hazardous combination of ice and snow that exceeds warning criteria.  These may be significant and/or life-threatening if proper precautions are disregarded.
  • Snow Advisory: When forecasters are confident that the entire event will be snow and an average of 4-6 inches of snow is expected in 12 hours or less.
  • Freezing Rain Advisory: These advisories are issued only when there is a high probability that the whole event will be freezing rain, resulting in very slippery roads.
  • Snow and Blowing Wind Advisory:  Prediction of frequent gusts or sustained wind of 25 to 34 mph, accompanied by falling and blowing snow, which can occasionally reduce visibility to ¼ mile or less for three hours or more.
  • Wind Chill Advisory: Given for wind chills of -15°F to -24°F.

Source: NYSEMS

COLD STRESS EQUATION – PART II

When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result.  These illnesses can slowly overcome a person who has been chilled by low temperatures, brisk winds, or wet clothing.  The result can be frost bite or hypothermia; listed below is information on what happens to the body, and what should be done:

Frost Bite:  Freezing in deep layers of skin and tissue; pale, waxy-white skin color; skin becomes hard and numb; usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose.

What Should Be Done: (land temperature)

  • Do not leave the person alone; move him/her to a warm dry area.
  • DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the tissue and skin.
  • Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
  • Gently place the affected area in a warm water bath and monitor the water temperature to slowly warm the tissue.  Do not pour warm water directly on the affected area because it will warm the tissue too fast, causing tissue damage.  Warming takes about 25-40 minutes.
  • After the affected area has been warmed, it may become puffy and blister.  The affected area may have a burning feeling or numbness.  When normal feeling, movement, and skin color have returned, the affected area should be dried and wrapped to keep it warm.  Note: if there is a chance the affected area may get cold again, do not warm the skin.  If the skin is warmed and then becomes cold again, it will cause severe tissue damage.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Hypothermia: (Medical Emergency) Normal body temperature (98.6° F) drops to or below 95°F; fatigue or drowsiness; uncontrolled shivering; cool bluish skin; slurred speech, clumsy movements; irritable, irrational or confused behavior.

What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)

  • Call for emergency help
  • Do not leave person alone; move person to a warm dry area.
  • Replace wet clothing with warm, dry clothing or wrap person in blankets.
  • Have person drink warm, sweet drinks (sugar water or sports-type drinks), if they are alert.  Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Have person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat.  If they cannot do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck and head areas.  Do Not rub the person’s body or place them in warm water bath.  This may stop their heart.

What Should Be Done: (water temperatures)

  • Call for emergency help.  Body heat is lost up to 25 times faster in water.
  • Do Not remove any clothing.  Button, zip, buckle, and tighten any collars, cuffs, shoes, and hoods because the layer of trapped water closest to the body provides a layer of insulation that slows the loss of heat.  Keep the head out of the water and put on a hat and hood.
  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible or climb on anything floating.  Do Not attempt to swim unless a floating object or another person can be reached, because swimming or other physical activity uses the body’s heat and reduces survival time by about 50 per cent.
  • If getting out of the water is not possible, wait quietly and conserve body heat by folding arms across the chest, keeping thighs together, bending knees, and crossing ankles.  If another person is in the water, huddle together with chests held closely.

Hopefully, this will never happen to you or anyone you are with, but this information from OSHA is too important not to pass on.

COLD STRESS EQUATION – PART I

With winter coming up on us soon, we want to share important information regarding the dangers of working in the elements, such as extremely cold weather.  The combination of low temperatures, wind speed, and wetness can add up to injuries and illness.  Our first installment describes how to protect workers from the hazards of weather-related illnesses, and the second installment gives instructions on what should be done in cases of hypothermia and frostbite.

Protection for workers includes:

  • Understanding workplace and environmental conditions that can lead to potential cold-induced injuries and illnesses.
  • Training the workforce about such illnesses and injuries.
  • Allowing frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to let body warm up.
  • Working in pairs (buddy system).
  • Wearing layered clothing to adjust to changing temperatures.  Wearing proper clothing for cold, windy, and wet conditions, including hats and gloves.
  • Performing work during the warmest part of the day, if possible.
  • Because energy is needed to keep muscles warm, avoiding exhaustion or fatigue.
  • Eating warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.
  • Drinking sports-type drinks, sugar water, warm sweet beverages.  Drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) should be avoided, as well as alcohol.
  • Knowing the symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries; recognizing what to do to help the worker.

If workers have predisposing health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease, they are at an increased risk.  Also, if they take medications that would affect them while working in cold environments, they need to check with their doctor or pharmacists.

OSHA

Lightning – Not-So-Fun With Electricity.

One of the most fascinating things to do during a thunderstorm is watching lightning.  One never knows when it is going to happen; this brilliant illumination that dances among the clouds.  Those bolts of lightning cause an average 80 deaths and 300 injuries in the United States every year.  Persons should listen to weather warning devices such as NOAA weather radio in order to prepare for approaching thunderstorms.  If you can hear thunder, it is time to take precautions.

Places you don’t want to be if this threat occurs:

  • Open spaces, such as ball parks, golf courses
  • On the water: wading, in a boat, swimming, etc.
  • Outside, period
  • In the shower or running water
  • Talking on a corded telephone
  • In a group of people

    Lightning Strike

Do you know:

  • Lightning can travel sideways, up to ten miles?
  • Lightning can strike someone swimming or scuba diving in water and travel a great distance away from the point of contact?
  • That you are safe in a car, as long as you have the windows up and do not touch any metal?  Contrary to theory, rubber tires do not offer protection from lightning.  The car’s metal conducts the charge to the ground.
  • Lightning hits the tallest point?  Therefore, if you are outside, crouch as low as possible, and touch as little of the ground as necessary.
  • Ten per cent of lightning occurs without visible clouds?  Even if the sky is blue, you need to take cover when you hear thunder.
  • If the time delay is 30 seconds or less between lightning and thunder, you need to seek shelter immediately?

If someone is struck by lightning:

  • Call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance
  • Give First Aid
  • Check for burns.

Lightning can cause broken bones, damage to the nervous system, loss of hearing or eyesight.  You are not at risk to touch someone who has been hit by lightning; people who have been struck do not carry electric charge that can shock you.

The next time clouds gather, and thunder starts to rumble, play it safe, and stay inside!

Just How Prepared Are You?

With all the hurricanes and storms occurring, weather emergency plans are more important than ever.

Are you and your family prepared for weather emergencies, or other hazardous events?
Since we have no control over the weather, and can’t prevent disasters from happening, the best measure of protection we can have is preparedness.

We have a list of to-do tasks to help you get organized, just in case:

  1. Create a disaster supplies checklist:Storm Clouds
  • Food (non-perishable, for three days)___
  • Water (enough to last three days)___
  • Flashlights___
  • Basic Tools___
  • Personal Hygiene Supplies___
  • Battery-powered Radio___
  • Pet Needs___
  • Extra Clothes___

2.  Complete an emergency contact list for each member of the family.  List phone numbers,       out-of-town contacts, and important numbers.  Have each member keep this list in their wallet, purse or backpack.
3.   Keep photocopies of insurance and vital records in a safe place away from your home.  This would include copies of medications, insurance information, drivers license, ID’s, passports, bank and credit card information.

4.   Check radio and television for weather alerts.  Know the difference between Watch and Warning.  Watch means that dangerous weather is possible; Warning means that dangerous weather is about to happen.  Seek shelter.

Texas DSHS