Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

By: The Travelers Indemnity Company

When the driveway and walkways are coated in a thick blanket of snow, it is time to get a shovel out for what some consider to be a dreaded chore. But before you tackle the first snowfall of the season, take some time to read these safety snow shoveling tips to help avoid any potential injuries.

Snow shoveling can lead to a number of health risks for many people, from back injuries to heart attacks. The mix of cold temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart,¹ which may increase the risk of a heart attack for some. According to the American Heart Association, even walking through heavy, wet snow can place strain on your heart.

The following tips can help keep you safer when you set out to shovel:

  • Warm up. Warm your muscles before heading out to shovel by doing some light movements, such as bending side to side or walking in place.
  • Push rather than lift. Pushing the snow with the shovel instead of lifting can help reduce the strain on your body. When lifting snow, bend your knees and use your legs when possible.
  • Choose your shovel wisely. Ergonomically-designed shovels can help reduce the amount of bending you have to do.
  • Lighten your load. Consider using a lighter-weight plastic shovel instead of a metal one to help decrease the weight being lifted.
  • Hit the pause button. Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet.
  • Consider multiple trips. Consider shoveling periodically throughout the storm to avoid having to move large amounts of snow at once.
  • Keep up with snowfall. Try to shovel snow shortly after it falls, when it is lighter and fluffier. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move.
  • Wear layers. Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling.

A national study² found that the most common shoveling-related injuries were to the lower back. Cardiac-related injuries account for only 7% of all injuries, but they were the most serious in nature. If you do not exercise on a regular basis, are middle-aged or older, or have any health conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, you should check with your doctor before doing any strenuous shoveling. Consider using a snow blower or snow removal service as an alternative means of snow removal.

Snow and Ice Removal Requirements

Snow and ice not only pose a potential risk to you but also to others. As a property owner, you are responsible for making a reasonable effort to keep public walking areas around your property clear of snow and ice. Pre-treating your walkways and other paved surfaces with an anti-icing product can help make snow and ice removal easier. (Some Martin Bros. Contracting, Inc. clients have opted to have radiant heat installed under their walks and driveways.)  

Consider stocking up on ice melt in advance, as it sometimes sells out during long winters. You can store unused ice melt in an airtight container, out of reach from children and pets. Be aware that rock salt can damage brick, stone, asphalt and concrete walkways.

Be sure to check your local codes and ordinances regarding snow and ice removal requirements.

Sources:
¹ American Heart Association, 
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Shoveling-Snow-Health-Hazards_UCM_426562_Article.jsp
² Nationwide Children’s, 
http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/news-room-articles/new-national-study-finds-11500-emergency-department-visits-nearly-100-deaths-related-to-snow-shoveling-each-year?contentid=86424

 

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Jobsite fire extinguishers used by Martin Bros. Contracting, Inc., Goshen, IN

Fire Extinguishers In Your Home

Martin Bros. Contracting, Inc. had our fire extinguishers inspected this week by Koorsen. We keep a fire extinguisher in all Martin Bros. Contracting, Inc. owned vehicles, on our jobsites and of course in all of the Martin Brothers buildings.  Fire safety is an important part of our safety program. Keeping our jobsites safe is a priority. Well run, safe jobsites are important factor to consider, when determining which builder to hire for your project.

Today we would like to share with you an article written by Kidde, about choosing a fire extinguisher for your home. We thought it was a timely article, since we had our commercial fire extinguishers inspected this week.

Choosing a Fire Extinguisher for Your Home

At home, place the power to put out small fires in your hands and within your reach. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), someone in the United States dies in a house fire every three hours, averaging approximately 3,000 deaths each year. Arm yourself with the right equipment to help prevent a small self-contained fire from spreading out of control.

Kidde is world-renowned for our expertise in manufacturing reliable, high-quality fire safety products, including fire extinguishers. In fact, with a history spanning nearly 100 years, we’ve been making them for longer than any other company. Here we’ll give you some tips on how to choose them – and how to use them.

Choosing a fire extinguisher

Below are minimum recommendations for the home from the National Fire Protection Association.

  • Step 1: Choose primary extinguishers for your home. These include solutions for your living area and garage or workshop, and they’re pieces of equipment that you absolutely must have according to the NFPA.
  • Living area – For your main home protection, install a 2-A: 10-B: C rated living area unit on every level of your home. No more than 40 feet apart. Class A-B-C
  • Garage/Workshop – Due to volumes of flammable liquids in the garage, you should install a higher rated unit such as the 3-A: 40B-C Garage/Workshop unit. Class A-B-C
  • Step 2: Choose supplementary extinguishers for your kitchen and areas with a higher likelihood of electrical equipment fires. These are not required, but are highly recommended.
  • Kitchen – The kitchen is the likeliest place you will have a fire. Protect your home with a 711A extinguisher in the kitchen area.
  • Electrical – Ideal for tackling fires involving energized electrical equipment with a rating of 1-A: 10-B:C. Class B-C

(Rule of thumb is that you should have a fire extinguisher for every 2,500 square feet, Martin Brothers recommends that a home of over 10,000 sq. ft. be equipped with a fire suppression system.)

How to use fire extinguishers

Stand 5 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure recommended by the National Fire Protection Association:

  • P – Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
  • A – Aim low at the base of the fire.
  • S – Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. (When the agent first hits the fire, the fire may briefly flare up. This should be expected.
  • S – Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.

When to use fire extinguishers

It’s important to remember that fire extinguishers are only one element of a complete fire survival plan. Only use your extinguisher after making sure:

  • All residents of the home have been evacuated to safety
  • The fire department has been notified (call 911)
  • There is a clear exit behind the person using the extinguisher

Use your extinguisher only to keep a small self-contained fire from growing, only when the room is not filled with smoke, or to create a safe pathway out of the home. Be sure to read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher’s parts and operation before a fire breaks out.

Continue reading “Fire Extinguishers In Your Home”

Tornado Safety Tips

The severe weather season is upon Michiana. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms — all spell danger. They can leave death and horrendous property damage in their wake. We offer this advice from the American Red Cross.

Tornado

tornado damageTornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, tornadoes have been reported in every state.

Know the Difference

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

How to Prepare for a Tornado

  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornadoes, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site.
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

Watch for tornado danger signs:

  • Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
  • Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
  • Cloud of debris
  • Large hail
  • Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
  • Roaring noise

What to Do During a Tornado

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
  • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
  • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
  • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
  • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.

For what to do after the tornado, click on the link to see the entire article from the American Red Cross.