Safety/Education Services Coordinator,
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Surviving life’s disasters
If the Boy Scouts can do it, so can you — be prepared
Everyday you hear about being prepared. The Boy Scout’s motto is “Be Prepared.” The weatherman talks about being prepared for tornados and other storms. Your co-op warns you to be prepared for outages. Are you prepared in mind and body for whatever challenges lie ahead of you?
Businesses, schools, governments all have contingency plans, emergency work plans, evacuation plans. What about you? Where do you start? The American Red Cross gives these three basic steps to preparedness: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
Life presents many challenges and too often people rely on others to be prepared. They rely on others to take care of them in emergencies. Or they take things too lightly and think bad things will never happen to them. Many of us tend to be more reactive than proactive. In a disaster your survival will depend on what you do, not what others do for you.
A tragedy often leads to better knowledge on how to prepare for the future, but do you want to learn the hard way? Be informed and learn from others.
We preach safety to our linemen and other employees at our cooperatives. They have a dangerous job and with all the proper precautions, their lives and those of their loved ones could change dramatically. They must to be briefed about their activities for the day (make a plan), have the proper tools and personal protective equipment (have a kit), and follow precise procedures (be informed).
Their health and safety also depends on each other. We need to follow those same examples in our everyday lives.
Even if you’ve prepared you may not be able to avoid mishaps or emergencies. But you will certainly have the upper hand in managing them. You’ll also be ready to help others.
Summer is upon us and many activities require safety preparedness — boating, picnics, swimming, sunbathing and hiking. Make sure you have proper flotation devices. Prepare and pack food properly to prevent food borne illnesses. Wear sunscreen and/or insect repellent when necessary. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids (decaffeinated, non-alcoholic) when temperatures rise and you are participating in activities outdoors.
Read instructions and labels when using chemicals or operating machinery. I know “real men” don’t read instructions or ask for directions. Maybe that’s one reason they don’t live as long as women. Read the instructions!
Before taking medications read the information provided by the pharmacy. Be aware of drug interactions with other drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbal products. Make a list of any prescription, over-the counter drugs you take and keep one at home and one in your wallet.
Test your smoke alarms at least twice a year and check your fire extinguishers regularly.
Summer storm season is upon us. Make sure you are ready for electrical outages and have a proper shelter area should you need one along with supplies you may need. Pay attention to watches and warnings and stay indoors if the weather becomes threatening. If you are traveling to areas that have other types of weather emergencies, become familiar with emergency procedures and evacuation routes.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death. Remember to buckle up and make sure your passengers are as well. Children under the age of 16 are required to be buckled. Children less than 8 years of age need to be in the appropriate car seats or booster seats. A child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat is not equipped with a lap and shoulder belt. Make sure you have emergency supplies in your vehicle, that your tires and spare are properly inflated, and your windshield wipers are in good condition.
Cell phones are forbidden in school and work zones. The new law prohibiting texting and driving went into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Become familiar with the rules of the road for your teenage drivers and make sure you enforce them.
Hopefully, you will never be tested on whether or not you are prepared, but it is better to be prepared!
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Mary Zitek is the Safety/Education Services Coordinator for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives.