Health and Safety

Winter Safety 

Winter is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest and the change in weather brings continuous rain and the potential for fog, snow, and ice. The overcast, dark days and wintery conditions can create dangerous working and driving situations. Safety Solution Specialists at Bongarde have put together tips for working and driving safely in winter.

  • When working outdoors, wear a hard hat to protect your head against falling snow or ice and in case you slip on icy surfaces.
  • Equip your car with good snow tires with plenty of tread. Slow down and maintain a greater distance between your vehicle and traffic ahead.
  • Learn the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite. In cold weather conditions, consider the wind chill factor, dress in layers, and take frequent warm-up breaks.
  • Wear a reflective vest and carry a flashlight when working in the field or around trucks, heavy duty equipment, or forklifts.
  • Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle and include a fully charged cell phone, blankets, matches, a distress sign, flares, snacks, water, shovel, sand, and first aid supplies.
  • Post warning signs and place a door mat at each entrance, and keep floors clean and dry to prevent a slip hazard from melted snow and ice.
  • Never operate a gasoline-powered generator or fuel-burning heater indoors. Keep areas well ventilated if operating machinery with internal combustion engines.
  • Keep outdoor walkways clear and sprinkled with sand. Wear slip-resistant footwear, take shorter steps, and slow down when walking over slippery surfaces.

Cold Season

The common cold is caused by a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract (i.e., the nose and throat). Exposure to many people increases the likelihood of exposure to the virus that causes a cold. Generally a cold lasts approximately one week to 10 days in healthy adults and can occur two to three times a year. The virus can spread in the air, by hand-to-hand contact, or by sharing contaminated objects including utensils, towels, toys, or telephones. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends preventative measures be taken along with common-sense precautions to slow the spread of the common cold. First and foremost, wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water. If soap and water are not available then use a hand sanitizer. Infectious germs from the common cold can spread, so be sure to clean and disinfect the home environment including kitchen and bathroom countertops, household handles and doorknobs, and children's toys. Be sure to use tissues when coughing or sneezing, discard tissues right away, and then thoroughly wash hands.  When tissues are not available then cough or sneeze into the bend of the elbow to eliminate the use of hands. Eliminating the use of hands when coughing or sneezing can reduce the spread of germs. There is not a vaccine or antibiotic for the common cold, but home remedies can help relieve the symptoms.  Try to stay as comfortable as possible by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, adjusting  the room's temperature and humidity, soothing the throat, and clearing nasal passages.

Lastly, be sure to take care of yourself to prevent getting the common cold. Boost the immune system. Eat well, drink plenty of water, get enough exercise and sleep, and manage/reduce stress levels to keep colds away.  

Flood Safety

Floods are a year-round concern from coast to coast. On the West Coast, floods usually occur during the rainy season (November to April). Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, and destroy roads and buildings.  Floods are usually caused by intense rainfall, but can also happen if a levee is breached. If potential flooding is developing slowly, forecasters can anticipate when and where flooding will occur.  There are four levels of flood notifications:

  • Flood Advisory - flooding is not expected to be severe enough to issue a flood warning,
  • Flood Watch - conditions are favorable for flooding,
  • Flood Warning - flooding is imminent or occurring, and
  • Flash Flood Warning - flash flood is imminent or occurring

During a flood, the Red Cross recommends listening to local radio and television stations and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service. This information will help you be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area.

Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, turn around and go another way. As little as six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way.  If you are caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising water, then get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground because cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger. Be aware that standard homeowner's insurance doesn't cover flooding; therefore it is important to have protection from floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rains.