Nearly 13,900 PG&E customers in Santa Cruz County woke up today to a dark Monday morning, as the utility shut-off power to over 350k customers in 36 counties beginning Sunday night.This is a preventive/safety measure to reduce the chances of utility equipment sparking a wildfire as the State of CA is experiencing unprecedented strong winds and low humidity levels.
The next time you experience a power disruption, take these steps to protect your home, valuables and family.
Call the power company. Report the outage and any downed lines, and sign up (online) to receive alerts when the power returns.
Check the circuit breakers. Be sure they’re turned to the “on” position so the power will automatically turn on when it’s restored.
Never touch downed lines. They’re deadly.
Use battery-operated flashlights or lanterns. Candles or oil lamps can be fire hazards, so rely on battery-operated light sources.
Stay warm during winter power outages. Bundle in layers, gather your family and pets in one room and shut the doors. You can also use your wood stove as a heat source if it’s clean and functions properly.
Stay cool during summer outages. Dress in lightweight clothing and hang out in the basement. You’ll also want to stay hydrated. If the power outage lasts for an extended time, drive to a mall, movie theater or other cool location.
Preserve food. In general, food will stay safe in the refrigerator for up to four hours and in the freezer for up to 48 hours, but try to avoid opening these appliances. Wrapping these appliances with blankets might provide further insulation and food protection during short outages.
Fill your water jugs if possible. Grab your spare containers and fill them with water to sustain you during the outage.
Turn on the water. Let your spigots drip to prevent freezing water pipes during winter outages.
Unplug major appliances. Your appliances could be damaged by the surge that sometimes occurs when the power comes back on, so unplug all your appliances and electronics except your fridge or freezer. Consider keeping a single lamp or other electric device plugged in so you know when the power is restored.
Use your generator with caution. Only turn on your generator if it’s installed outdoors, properly connected to your home and fueled properly.
Don’t grill indoors. The carbon monoxide could kill you.
Check on your neighbors. Verify that your neighbors are safe, especially if they’re elderly or disabled, and share any water or food with them.
Stock an emergency supply. After the power returns, prepare for the next outage. Stock non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, and pet and baby supplies, if necessary.
Review your homeowners insurance coverage. Your policy may cover food losses, power surge damages, burst pipes, and even hotel expenses that you incur because of a power outage. Contact your insurance agent for more details.
A power outage can occur at any time, so be prepared. These steps help you protect your home and your family.
Whether you are outdoors — on the job or at play this summer — or working indoors in a hot environment, you need to know how to cope with hot and humid conditions that can pose serious dangers to yourhealth that the heat brings.
The human “cooling system” uses perspiration and blood vessels to regulate body temperature. However, when someone is working hard in the heat, especially when it’s also humid, this system can break down, raising the person’s temperature and heart rate. Although people who are past middle age or have health problems are especially vulnerable, the young and healthy can also suffer from heat-related conditions.
Overheating also affects the brain. A temperature hike as little as 2 degrees can impair mental functioning, which makes heat an underlying cause of job accidents, as diminished ability can lead workers to overlook hazards and make mistakes.
In order of seriousness, heat hazards — and their remedies — include:
- Heat rash — Can be irritating: Take a shower and use a little talcum powder.
- Heat stress — Symptoms include thirst, vision problems and/or feeling woozy or tired: Drink a cool, non-alcoholic beverage in a shady place.
- Heat cramp — Involves pain from twitching muscles caused by losing salt from perspiration: Get into the shade and take cool fluids.
- Heat exhaustion — Look for heavy perspiration, fatigue, queasy stomach, and chilly, clammy skin: Put the person in the shade, with their feet slightly elevated, provide a cooling beverage (unless the victim is nauseated), and be prepared to seek medical assistance.
- Heatstroke — Can be a fatal condition, characterized by a lack of sweating, a temperature elevated by up to five degrees, hot skin, mental confusion, and loss of coordination: Call paramedics immediately — and then get the victim to a shaded spot and keep him or her cooling down with cold water sponges or ice packs until help arrives.
To help keep your workers protected from the heat, we’d recommend that you advise them to: (1) Wear sunglasses for protection against exposure to UV rays; (2) Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to minimize the risk of cancer or sunburn: (3) Keep hydrated with plenty of cool — not cold — water and beverages free of alcohol or caffeine; (4) Minimize exposure to the sun by going indoors or staying in the shade during the heat of the day; and (5) Eat light meals with small servings of fruits and vegetables (which are rich in fluids).
For valuable information on dealing with heat-related issues, check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web page, Heat: A Major Killer.
A rise in temperatures this month can signal spring fever in your office. Your human resources department staff can improve focus and keep everyone on task in several ways.
1. Provide New Challenges
Your employees may feel distracted in part because they’re bored, so provide challenges. Ask them to work in a different department for a day, take on a special project or work with a high school intern. The challenge can provide a welcome distraction and jump-start focus and concentration.
2. Offer a Class
Give employees the opportunity to learn a new skill. You can poll your staff for suggestions or offer foreign language, management or coding classes. While learning something new, your employees will focus on something other than the nice weather.
3. Promote Exercise
Physical activity improves focus, an excellent reason to host a fitness class over lunch, offer discounts to the local gym or encourage employees to bike or walk to work. As your staff members add more exercise into their daily routines, they also focus better on their work-related tasks.
4. Encourage Breaks
Remind employees that breaks can improve their mental health, productivity and focus. Set a timer for hourly stretch breaks, and share the value of regular lunch breaks away from the desk.
5. Change the Scenery
Hang colorful artwork around the office or commission a floral mural in the break room. You can also allow employees to meet at a local coffee shop, play disc golf during lunch or hold walking meetings outdoors. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the warm weather, and the change of scenery boosts creativity, productivity and motivation.
6. Stock Healthy Snacks and Beverages
Fill your break room with healthy food and beverage options, including fruit, veggies, whole grains and water. These snack options boost mood and creativity and improve your employees’ overall health.
7. Play a Game
Challenge employees to participate in a March Madness basketball bracket, host a chili cook-off or reward teams who reach productivity goals. Games keep employees entertained and as a bonus, you’ll see a stronger spirit of cooperation.
8. Bring the Outdoors Inside
Plants can purify the air and improve mood. Arrange plants around the office as you bring a bit of the outdoors inside your office.
9. Adjust Work Hours
If your employees can arrive early and leave work early, they get to enjoy the warm, sunny afternoon weather. Adjust work hours, if possible, and allow employees to indulge their spring fever while completing their work.
Spring fever might try to curtail productivity in your office, but you can improve focus with these steps. Everyone will be happier and work smarter thanks to your efforts.
Closer relationships among co-workers boost collaboration, teamwork, morale, productivity, job satisfaction, and wellness. As you observe Relationship Wellness Month in February, encourage better work relationships with these suggestions.
Do a Good Job
Employees who consistently do a poor job force their co-workers to do more work. Resentment grows, and your company may miss deadlines and lose customers.
Give employees a clear job description and set expectations for performance. Then celebrate employees who do a good job and meet their goals.
While it’s tempting for employees with similar interests to congregate together and avoid others who are different, greater acceptance improves relationships and personal well-being.
For this reason, provide opportunities for diverse employees to work together and find common ground. Plan team-building activities, too, as you celebrate and accept differences.
Share Less Personal Information
Your employees are human and will bring personal problems to work. However, distracted employees can make mistakes or cause accidents. Sharing too much information also causes discomfort and conflict between co-workers.
Remind employees to be professional at work. Also, promote the mental health benefits of your employer-sponsored health insurance or provide counseling services for employees.
Juicy tidbits of information about co-workers may seem entertaining, but gossip breaks down morale and can cause projects to suffer. It also reduces trust and respect.
Spread awareness about the dangers of gossip. You can also remind employees to change the subject or walk away from such conversations.
Disagreements and conflicts are normal, but these situations create tension and inhibit collaboration.
Create a straightforward conflict resolution process, and maintain an open door policy. With these conflict resolution strategies, co-workers address issues, resolve challenges and restore relationships.
Meeting a deadline or managing a big project can strain busy employees and increase stress.
Promote helpfulness and collaboration as you ease strain, stress and pressure. Everyone on the team can and should work together to get the job done right and on time.
Sometimes, bad things happen. Employees may make mistakes, struggle to adapt to change or feel unappreciated. Negative and bad moods are contagious, though, and affect everyone.
Instead of allowing negativity, implement a complaint procedure. Then lead by example as you promote positivity.
In the midst of busy workdays, your employees may not have time to socialize and truly get to know their co-workers.
Schedule an outing, activity or another fun event at least once a month. Give employees time to unwind, relax and get to know each other better.
To observe Relationship Wellness Month, look for ways to improve rapport at work. These tips help you build better relationships among co-workers and increase employee and company success.
Agricultural workers are at a serious risk of injury or death when installing, climbing into, fumigating, entering, filling or emptying a silo. Because of the nature of the conditions present, workers may be exposed to hazards such as a lack of oxygen, toxic gases and grain entrapment.
To reduce worker risk of injury, properly train workers and remind them frequently of the following safety recommendations:
- Avoid entering a silo unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Complete tasks outside of the silo whenever possible.
- Have a coworker close by in case of an emergency.
- Never smoke or cause sparks near a silo, especially if the air humidity is low.
- Wear respiratory protection when appropriate.
- Stand at a safe distance when filling or emptying a silo.
- Use an approved fall restraint system and harness when climbing a silo.
- Ventilate a fumigating silo before entering.
- Conduct regular safety inspections of silos.
For more farm and ranch safety tips, contact Scurich Insurance today.
Each year, thousands of businesses, schools and other establishments are mailed suspicious items (e.g., unmarked packages) or are the target of bomb threats. These threats can be made via phone calls, letters, social media channels, emails or other similar means.
Bomb threats and suspicious items are often used to cause alarm, panic, disruption or, in extreme cases, direct harm. However these threats are made, organizations of all kinds need to take them seriously and know how to respond appropriately.
What to Do If You Receive a Bomb Threat
Businesses often wrongly assume they aren’t at risk of a bomb threat. However, the truth is that no organization is 100 percent safe from malicious attacks or threats, making proper preparation all the more important. In the event that your organization receives a bomb threat – whether it be over the phone, via email or another means – follow these procedures.
Threats Made Over the Phone
- Remain calm. Keep the caller on the line for as long as possible, and don’t hang up even if the caller does.
- Signal or pass a note to another staff member, instructing them to notify the authorities. If this isn’t possible, call 911 from another phone after the caller hangs up.
- Document as much information about the call as possible. Details related to a caller ID number, the wording of the threat, the time of the call, background noises on the caller’s end, and the tone and inflection of the caller can all aid investigators. If possible, ask questions to infer specific details about the threat itself, including:
- Who is making the threat and where they are calling from
- The type of device and when it might go off
- What the device looks like
- Where the device is located
- Who the target is
- Record the call if possible.
- Be available for interviews.
- Follow any instructions from facility supervisors and local authorities. These individuals will also provide specific guidance related to facility lockdowns, searches or evacuations.
Threats Made Via Email, Online Platforms, the Mail or Other Source
- Call 911.
- Preserve the threat. If the threat is made online, take a screenshot. If the threat is made through the mail, store it in a safe place and handle it as minimally as possible.
- Note where the threat was found, who found it and when they found it.
- Wait for further instructions from the proper authorities.
In the event of a threat, staff members should avoid using two-way radios, cellular phones or any other electronics, as signals from these devices could potentially detonate a bomb. In addition, you should avoid activating alarms or evacuating the building until the proper authorities evaluate the threat. Law enforcement officials will direct the evacuation if one is necessary.
What to Do If You Find or Receive a Suspicious Item
In general, a suspicious item is any item – like a bag or package – that is believed to contain explosives, improvised explosive devices or hazardous materials. When it comes to identifying these items, you should watch out for unexplainable or unusual wires, electronics, sounds, vapors, mists or odors.
It is not uncommon for establishments to find or receive suspicious items and, while they may end up being harmless, it’s good practice to be overly cautious. As a good rule of thumb, any item that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious and not Typical (HOT) should be deemed suspicious.
In the event that your organization finds or receives a suspicious item, you should:
- Remain calm.
- Avoid touching, tampering or moving the item.
- Notify the proper authorities and your facility supervisor. Follow any and all of their instructions carefully.
Plan Ahead and Stay Safe
When it comes to bomb threats and suspicious items, every situation is unique. Typically, facility supervisors and law enforcement officials will be in the best position assess the situation, determine if a real risk is present and provide instruction on how to respond.
For even more protection, businesses should review guidance provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Doing so can help you better prepare for potential threats. For more workplace safety advice and risk mitigation tips, contact Scurich Insurance today.