Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Optimism

Feb. 2019

TO SUPPORT AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK AND HELP YOUR HEART....TRY THIS!

  • Use "I can't" less and "I'll try" more often. Rather than avoiding problems, look for solutions and plan a course of action.
  • Don't dwell on the negative. When things go wrong (and they will), consider what you can learn from the experience.
  • Appreciate what you have. At the end of the day, think about the good things that happened and the things you are grateful for. Share them with family and friends or write them in a journal.
  • Smile more often. This can change the way you feel and have a positive effect on those around you.

When you look at a glass as half full rather than half empty, your optimistic attitude is helping your heart!

Research supports the connection between optimism and heart health. A recent Johns Hopkins study involving people with a family history of heart disease found that those with a positive attitude reduced their likelihood of a heart attack or other cardiovascular event. A separate study, from researchers at Duke and Columbia universities, found that people with chronic angina (chest pain and pressure) who had higher expectations for recovery were less likely to be hospitalized for the condition or need surgery to restore blood flow. 

While it's possible that those who have a sunnier view of their future are in better health to begin with (and are more optimistic about their recovery), Duke and Columbia researchers also theorized that those who are optimistic may behave in a way that helps them recover. They may, for example, exercise or not smoke. The Johns Hopkins researchers also surmised that people who have a positive outlook may have more natural protection from the damaging effects of stress. Prolonged stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. (See December's blog) 

What is clear from research is that it's healthy to have a positive attitude. Even if this isn't something that comes naturally, your heart will benefit when your world view improves.  

Safe At Home Plate (painting by Greg Paprocki)

March 2019

The batter approaches home plate and stands at the ready. The pitcher focuses his gaze at the catchers mitt. He winds up and releases his fast ball. The batter swings and connects with a loud "crack". As he watches the ball arc over the outfield, he prepares to round first base, waiting to make a decision to stop or continue his momentum. The outfielder hits the fence at the same time as the ball, and they both drop to the dirt. The batter now runner speeds up as he approaches second base. He can only see the third base coach motioning him to run faster as the outfielder attempts a throw to second. The second baseman rushes to meet the ball in the air. Landing off balance, he throws in the general direction of the catcher. The runner approaches home plate and prepares for impact. The ball, catcher and runner all attempt to occupy the same space at the same time directly in front of the watchful eye of the umpire. There is a cloud of dust and with arms outstretched, the umpire shouts "SAFE!" 


If you're on the team that just scored a home run, this is a great story. One hero, celebrating with his team. But if you're on the other team, this story is a series of failures and the entire team feels it. Life is like that. We all want to get home "SAFE", but there are many forces trying to stop us and throw us out. This baseball story would end very differently if any one thing changed. What if the outfielder caught the ball? What if the runner didn't do his best? We take many risks in life. Sometimes the risk is worth the chance...sometimes it's not. Just remember, everything must go 100% in your favor in order for you to get home safe at the end of each day. Everyday. It only takes one thing going wrong to stop you in your tracks. It takes effort to survive. Choose wisely. Choose to be safe. And the team will celebrate with you.

Life is Risk

April 2019

What does it mean to be "safe"? Is it even possible to be "safe"? A loose definition of safety is "A condition where there is an absence of risk." Does such a condition exist? Every aspect of life has some level of risk. Some jobs are inherently dangerous. Some lifestyles invite risk as part of the experience. Plus there are many types of risk...emotional, financial, physical, etc.. Life is certainly not safe. It's much easier to say "Life is risk." Therefore, can we ever truly be safe? 

We put valuable items in a safe to protect them. That safe has one job, to protect whatever is inside from harm. The safe may be fireproof and unbreakable. It will be heavy and difficult to open. There may be multiple mechanisms in place to keep whatever is inside safe. You are extremely valuable, but you can't live your life locked in a safe. You can't be productive and happy, and be totally safe. To live, we must be exposed to risk. So what can we do? Well, just like a physical safe, we have one job, to live, think and be safe. When performing a risky task, we put protections in place. We wear protective equipment. We put guards in place. We enforce policies and procedures. We make safe choices. Being safe isn't always fun, sometimes it's even heavy and burdensome. Risk may be more exciting, but being safe while doing it will let you live to risk another day.   

Basic Hand Tool Safety

May 2019

 An old proverb in the building trade states that “A craftsman is only as good as his tools.” This is true. Every competent tradesman, regardless of his field, must possess an extensive hand tool collection. Hand tools in disrepair are a hazard to the person using them and to others nearby. A workman’s hand tools must be maintained in good repair in order to ensure safety for the user and to assure the quality of the work. OSHA regulations state that Employers shall not issue or permit the use of unsafe hand tools.


Do not use a hammer if your hands are oily, greasy, or wet. Never strike another hardened steel tool or surface, such as a cold chisel, with a claw hammer.  Avoid striking nails or other objects with the “cheek” of the hammer. Do not strike one hammer against another hammer. Never use a hammer as a wedge or a pry bar. 


When using a hand saw, hold the work piece firmly against the work table. Do not use an adjustable blade saw, such as a hack saw or a coping saw, if the blade is not taut. Avoid using any saw with a dull blade; always keep blades clean and sharp. Keep hands and fingers away from the point of cut when using any saw. Never carry a hand saw by the blade.


Do not use a screwdriver if your hands are wet, oily, or greasy. Always match the size and type of screwdriver blade to fit the head of the screw. Never hold the work piece against your body while using a screwdriver. Avoid putting your fingers near the blade of the screwdriver when tightening a screw. Use a drill, nail, or an awl to make a starting or pilot hole for screws. Do not force a screwdriver by using a hammer or pliers on it. Never use a screwdriver as a punch, chisel, pry bar, or nail puller. When performing electrical work, ensure the screwdriver has a properly insulated handle. 


Discard any wrench that has spread, nicked, or battered jaws, or if the handle is loose, broken, or bent. Do not use a shim to make a wrench fit the fastener. Do not use pliers that are cracked, broken, or sprung. Never use pliers as a wrench or a hammer. Do not attempt to force pliers by using a hammer on them. When you are performing electrical work, use pliers that have properly insulated handles. When using diagonal cutting pliers, shield the loose pieces of cut material from flying into the air.

Basic Power Tool Safety

June 2019

Power tools can cause serious injuries. The following are safety guidelines for all workers that use power tools on the job: Always read, understand, and follow the manual that comes with a power tool. Use the right tool for the job. Do not force a tool to work beyond its ability to perform. Inspect the tool for cracks or damage. All guards must be in place and operational. Do not remove or alter the guard that is on the tool. Never remove any safety devices. Remember, no matter how long you have been using a power tool, overconfidence can lead to injuries. Do not rush or take short cuts. Make sure all bits, blades, and cutters are properly tightened before operations begin. All fittings and adjustments must be locked in place.


Work only with double-insulated or properly grounded tools. Before plugging in a tool, make sure the power switch is in the off position. Remove adjusting keys and wrenches. Make sure all cords and outlets are grounded. The outlet must have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). When there is a power leakage, a GFCI will stop the power immediately. This stops any potential for a fatal electrical shock. Extension cords should be rated to handle more current than required by the tool. Keep the cord away from cutting edges. Never use the cord to carry tools. Always pull the cord out of the plug by the plug, not the cord. Replace any frayed or damaged cord. Make sure the electrical circuit is the one rated for the tool. Test-run the tool before applying it to the job at hand. Never leave a power tool running while unattended. Keep tools unplugged when not in use.


 Remember, know where your hands are at all times. Keep them away from moving parts, blades, and cutters. Always use clamps when possible. This will allow your hands to control the tool. Keep all cutting tools sharp. Control is the greatest when the tool is working at its best. Less effort is exerted. Do not over reach. You may lose your balance and control of the tool. Never draw a sharp edged tool toward you unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not reach over a blade. Keep the work area free of trip hazards. Remove obstacles in the immediate area. Always unplug the tool before making adjustments, or changing parts or blades. Let the tool cool down before working on it. Turn off the tool immediately when there are any unusual noises or vibrations. 


Make sure the work area is well lighted. Poor lighting and shadows can cause fatigue. Never stand on a wet surface while operating a power tool. Do not allow an extension cord to sit in water. Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher (rated A-B-C) in your vehicle or nearby. Check the pressure gauge monthly. Recharge or replace when needed. Read the material safety data sheets (MSDS) where chemicals are present. Use a shop vac to eliminate dust hazards that build up over time. Dusts can create the potential for an explosive atmosphere. 


Always make sure that the working area is properly ventilated. Safety glasses are for eye protection. Safety goggles are enclosed on the sides giving you better eye protection. Safety goggles can be worn over prescription glasses. A face shield provides full protection. Hearing can be damaged by long term exposure to loud noise. Wear ear plugs (moderate) or ear muffs for loud noise levels. Wear a NIOSH approved dust mask, or respirator with exchangeable cartridges, when exposed to dusts, toxic fumes, and vapors. Changeable color coded cartridges enable you to filter out specific dusts and fumes. Wear safety shoes or boots with non-slip soles. Some jobs require toe protection. Wear the proper gloves when necessary. Do not wear loose fitting clothing. Roll long sleeves up. Keep long hair tied back and under a hat. Remove all loose jewelry. Moving parts can pull in clothes, hair, and loose objects, causing severe injuries to the operator. Keep a first-aid kit nearby. Make sure it contains all the proper supplies, an eye wash solution, and an up-to-date listing of emergency medical phone numbers.

HOT, HOT, HOT!

July 2019

Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when the body overheats.

Heat exhaustion is caused by the failure of the body's cooling mechanism to maintain a normal core temperature.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include

weakness,

muscle cramping,

heavy sweating,

a headache,

dizziness,

fainting,

nausea and/or vomiting,

a rapid pulse,

thirst, and

clammy skin.

Heat exhaustion is diagnosed based on the patient's history of heat exposure, physical exam, symptoms and a body core temperature that is elevated.

Treatment for heat exhaustion includes removing the individual from the hot environment, cooling the body, and rehydration.

Complications of heat exhaustion include progression to heat stroke, a medical emergency that can lead to permanent organ damage and death. In pregnant women, it may harm the fetus.

Heat exhaustion can be prevented by adequate fluid intake and decreasing strenuous activity in hot environments. Pregnant women develop more heat intolerance as their pregnancy advances.

Animals (dogs and cats, for example) can develop heat exhaustion, and treatment and prevention are similar to that of humans.

Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Diet AND Exercise

Jan. 2019

Weight loss depends on burning more calories than are consumed, so it stands to reason that diet AND exercise are involved in the process. Focusing on one or the other isn't the best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight. To lose a pound a week, a person needs to burn 3,500 more calories than are taken in. To accomplish this, a person may: Change eating habits to take in 500 fewer calories each day -or- burn 500 additional calories each day through activity -or- cut 500 calories each day through a mixture of activity AND healthier eating habits.


A typical cheeseburger is almost 600 calories. That doesn't include fries and drink.

Running for 1 hour burns almost 600 calories. That's running at 5 mph.

If you're overweight, running at all might not be a viable option. So skipping the cheeseburger and choosing a healthier meal will be much easier. Eating foods high in fiber and water will make you feel full but will not be high in calories. Try walking for an hour. If you can't spare the time or your joints ache if you walk too much, try walking for 15 minutes, 4 times a day. A brisk 1 hour walk will burn almost 500 calories. Slowly build up your stamina while reducing your calorie intake. 


Remember, snacks and sugary drinks add lots of empty calories to your daily intake. Check the labels and look at the serving size calorie count. Just for fun, write down everything you eat in a typical day and add up the calories. To maintain your existing weight, an adult woman needs to eat up to 2400 calories a day. An adult man needs to eat up to 3000 calories a day. To lose weight, we need to reduce the calorie intake AND burn calories through some sort of exercise. You'll be surprised at how quickly the pounds fall off.  A little bit each day will make a difference!

Health & Safety Blog

Stress Relief

Take A Breath

Dec. 2018

We're breathing every minute of every day and that means we have easy access to a free stress relieving tool. When we're under stress, breathing quickens, our heart rate goes up, and blood pressure rises. Deep breathing signals the brain that it's time to relax. Both heart rate and blood pressure fall, as do stress hormones. Deep breathing can feel odd at first, as we're often tempted to keep stomach muscles tight. However, with practice, breathing from the diaphragm to fill your lungs with air can be a benefit to your emotional health.

Try to observe each breath, focusing on the rise and fall of your chest and your breath flowing in and out. If you want, visualize that the air you're breathing in is filled with peacefulness while the air you're exhaling is filled with tension. Because you'll get better with repetition, aim to practice focused breathing at a set time each day. Incorporate calming thoughts, meditation or prayer. You'll enjoy some calm moments while you're practicing, and if a tense situation arises you'll have an easily accessible stress-reliever at your disposal.

4 Ways Stress Can Be Good For You!

Dec. 2018

Prolonged stress wears a body down, but some short-term stress can be beneficial. That's good news, as there's little chance of living a completely stress-free life.

A 2014 study, "The Burden of Stress in America," from NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health, found that 67% of those who said they experienced "a great deal of stress in the past month" believed that, at some point, stress had a positive effect.

Here's a look at how you benefit from short-term stress:

1. Motivation. Good stress can stimulate a person to complete a task by a deadline. It brings a mental state called "flow" in which awareness is heightened and one becomes absorbed in a task. The key to keeping stress at a healthful level is viewing the situation as a challenge that can be met rather than an insurmountable roadblock.

2. Resiliency. Learning to repeatedly handle short-term stressful situations develops a sense of control, so a person doesn't shut down when faced with more stressful events. A 2013 University of California San Francisco study found that moderate levels of perceived daily stress seemed to protect against damage from stress.

3. Increased immunity. A 2012 Stanford University study found that subjecting lab rats to mild stress mobilized several types of immune cells in their bloodstreams.

4. Increased intelligence. University of California Berkeley studies suggest the body's response to stress can temporarily boost memory and learning scores. Low-level stress stimulates the production of chemicals in the brain which strengthen the connections between neurons. If you've ever come out of a test wondering how you came up with the answers, you've experienced this stress benefit.