Follow these tips for safe holiday road trips

By Jessie Strait, BWC Communications Department College Intern

 Many of us travel for the holidays in that not-so-jolly holiday traffic, and more cars on the road means more accidents.

According to the National Safety Council, traveling by car during the holidays has the highest fatality rate of any other form of transportation. This is due to heavy traffic, distracted driving, alcohol impairment, and poor weather conditions.

To prevent accidents and injuries on the road, follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car that includes a first aid kit, a tool kit, cat litter, and nonperishable food items.
  • Avoid drowsy driving.
  • Plan for traffic and leave early.
  • Make sure everyone in the car wears their seatbelt.
  • Put away your cellphone. Do NOT text and drive!
  • Be a defensive driver.
  • Drive sober or have a designated driver.

Also, make sure you pay attention to the forecast. Don’t drive in a snowstorm if you can help it. If you are caught driving in white-out conditions, here are some tips from AAA to help you avoid a crash.

  • Drive slowly. Accelerate slowly and decelerate slowly.
  • Increase the distance you leave between cars, which should be about 8-10 seconds.
  • Use the threshold braking technique: Put your heel on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Avoid coming to a full stop. Keep rolling until the light changes, if you can.
  • If you lose traction, steer in the same direction of the skid.

Read more tips on driving in poor weather conditions here.

Personal safety tips for work, home, and transit

At BWC we believe it’s vital for our employees to feel safe coming to and leaving work, but we know that can be a challenge with fewer daylight hours this time of year.

We urge all employees to be mindful of their surroundings, safety and security at all times. Our security team has put together these tips for our employees and would like to share so others can do the same.

  • On the street, be aware. Don’t stare at your phone or listen to loud music on headphones. Pay attention to your surroundings so you can react quickly if something goes wrong. Trust your instincts.
  • On public transit, tell the driver if someone seems suspicious. While you’re waiting for transit to arrive, stand with other people in a well-lit place. When you exit transit, pay attention to who’s leaving with you and seek help in the nearest building if you feel like someone’s following you.
  • In your vehicle, never leave your keys in the ignition, and park in well-lit areas. Always lock your vehicle and roll up your windows when you leave. Make sure nothing of value is visible in your parked vehicle.
  • At home, lock your doors with deadbolts when you come and go. Don’t leave spare keys outside, no matter how well you hide them. Don’t let strangers into your apartment hallways or lobbies, and always report suspicious people. When you’re on vacation, never leave a message on your voicemail or social media saying you’re not home.

Download these tips to remind your employees to stay safe. Please remember, if you see something or someone that looks odd or suspicious at work, report it to your manager or security office.

When it comes to parking lots, it’s not always merry or bright

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With Cyber Monday behind us and time ticking away to finish all our holiday shopping, many of us will turn to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores down the final stretch. This also means dealing with parking lot mayhem.

Too few parking spaces and too many shoppers can turn even the calmest among us into stressed-out maniacs and parking lots into a free-for-all. Remember the following tips to make your next trip to the mall safer and happier.

  • Be aware, and scan in all direc­tions as you travel.
  • Drive slowly and watch for cars that might be cutting diagonally across the lot.
  • Use turn signals and yield the right of way to cars travelling along aisles.
  • If you can find one, park in a spot where you can pull through and face out to prevent the need for backing out.

Don’t be the person who parks over the line, diagonal, or not far enough into a space. Doing so may not give other drivers enough room to park their cars without harming yours. Also, it’s just rude.

Don’t forget to practice personal security in park­ing areas, especially when shopping during the holidays.

  • Park in well-lit areas, and scan the parking lot for threats while leaving or arriving at your vehicle.
  • Avoid shopping alone whenever possible.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
  • Have your keys ready – to help you enter and exit your vehicle quickly.
  • Don’t let would-be thieves do any window shopping. Put bags and packages in the trunk.
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags. Doing so makes you an easy target, and can make it easier to slip and fall on ice or snow.
  • Above all – stay alert and aware of your surroundings always.

Once you’re parked, remember to slow down and focus on walking when there is snow and ice (Putting your phone away helps.). Check the weather forecast, and plan your footwear accordingly. Snow boots are better than three-inch heels when an ice storm is in the forecast. Finally, walk with your feet turned outward and in small shuffling steps when pos­sible.

This safety council meeting was a life-saver – literally

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With Thanksgiving just days away, Don Croy has a lot to be thankful for – most of all that he’s still here to celebrate it.

Don Croy (right) with his life-saving instructor Crystal Plumpe after his recovery.

The 63-year-old business owner, father, and grandfather from Ottawa, Ohio, says going to a local safety council meeting in late February literally saved his life.

“I wouldn’t be talking with you today if I hadn’t gone to the meeting that day,” Croy said in a recent interview with BWC. “Without a doubt, it saved my life.”

On Feb. 27, Croy attended the monthly meeting hosted by the Safety Council of Putnam County. The guest speaker – local firefighter/paramedic Crystal Plumpe – gave a presentation about heart attacks in the workplace. After the meeting, Croy went about his workday as president of his landscaping business, Croy’s Mowing Ltd.

Timing is everything

Later that day, Croy, who serves as a trustee for Ottawa Township, was at home before the trustees’ meeting that night and felt like he had a case of heartburn, which was unusual for him.

With Plumpe’s presentation still fresh in his mind, he told his wife, Teresa, the symptoms weren’t going away and he might need to see a doctor. She took him to an emergency room a mile from their home.

While there, he suffered a full-blown heart attack, was placed in an ambulance and rushed to Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima.

“In the ambulance I was fighting for every breath. I was trying to keep my eyes open,” he recalled. “I closed my eyes briefly and when I opened them, one of the medics was standing over me with shock paddles.”

Upon arrival at the hospital, he was taken immediately to surgery and received a heart stent. After a few days of recovery, he returned to the office and began easing himself back into running his business.

Lesson learned

“When you go to a seminar, you’ll always learn at least one thing,” said Croy. “That morning I learned if you think you’re having a heart attack, don’t wait to get help. Eleven hours later, that knowledge is what kept me from dying. Who would have known?”

Plumpe said she’s just glad Croy took what he had just learned and realized not to downplay his symptoms.

“He told me that before my class, he would have told himself to ‘man up’ and ignore his signs and symptoms,” she recalled. “Based on what he told me happened that evening after my class, he probably wouldn’t be alive today if he would have ignored what his body was telling him.”

Amy Sealts, director of economic development for Putnam County and the safety council’s coordinator, vividly remembers the conversation she had with Croy after his heart attack and recovery.

“He was emotional when I talked to him the day after the heart attack,” Sealts recalled. “I remember him saying, ‘That lady saved my life.’ I still get goosebumps when I think about it.”

Thankful to still be here

A week and a half after his ordeal, Croy made an emotional visit to the Bath Township Fire Department, where Plumpe works as a platoon chief, to thank her for saving his life.

“In the fire and EMS profession, we rarely get to meet those that we impact in a positive way, after the fact,” said Plumpe. “The few times that we do, we treasure. To see Don face to face and hear him say that I saved his life was pretty amazing.”

Months later, Croy still thinks about his brush with death and how fortunate he is to be alive.

“It really hits me when I see my sons and my grandkids,” he explained. “I’ve always appreciated my life, but I appreciate it more now. I’ve always looked at the roses, but now I take the time to smell them, too.”

Related resources
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack (American Heart Association)
– More info about Ohio safety councils

Make Halloween safe, not scary

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Halloween is an annual favorite for kids, right up there with Christmas. Unfortunately, it is also one of the deadliest.

Fading daylight, dark costumes, and excited kids darting into the street make children twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year.* Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists must be extra careful.

Follow these Halloween driving safety tips.

  • Avoid distractions, so you can stay alert. Put your cell phone away and don’t reach for things until you’re safely stopped.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Scan your surroundings and be extra alert. Kids may not be paying attention to traffic and will cross the street mid-block or between parked cars and in dark costumes. At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be picking up or dropping off children, so wait several seconds before attempting to pass, and only if you see there are no people near the car.
  • Exit driveways and pull onto streets with extreme caution. Children have a harder time judging how a driver will react and are more likely to think they have the okay to go ahead.

Follow these tips when sending kids out trick-or-treating.

  • Don’t send young children out unsupervised. A responsible adult should accompany younger children on the neighborhood rounds.
  • Make them easier to see. Have children wear reflective tape, use glowsticks, or carry a flashlight.
  • Make safe choices. Remain on well-lit streets, always use the sidewalk, cross the street in crosswalks and intersections.
  • Have a plan. If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route acceptable to you. Agree on a time for them to be back home.

Visit the National Safety Council’s website for more Halloween safety tips. *Statistic provided by Safe Kids Worldwide.

My experience in BWC’s Safety Leaders Fellowship Program

By Kennedy Gardner, BWC Occupational Safety & Hygiene Fellow

Like many recent college graduates, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to pursue after graduating. I knew I wanted a good job where I could make a difference, continue to learn new skills, and start a rewarding career.

I found all of this when BWC offered me a position with its Safety Leaders Fellowship Program within the Division of Safety and Hygiene (DSH). The fellowship is not an internship; it is a full-time, two-year term position with benefits where I work alongside other professionals in the safety and health field.

I spend about 25% of my time as a fellow learning about the consultative services we offer by shadowing our safety consultants out in the field. I observe and assist the consultants on visits ranging from safety assessments to helping employers apply for a safety grant. Assisting employers with their safety and health programs is the most rewarding part of the fellowship for me, because I feel like I am making a difference in the real world of safety for everyday employees right here in Ohio.

In addition to shadowing the consultants, I’ve also had the chance to learn more about safety by completing training (in class and online) as part of the fellowship program. I have always loved learning, and I think it is awesome BWC supports continued education for its employees.

I have taken more than 25 training classes on occupational safety and health topics so far in my time here. These are the same training classes we offer to Ohio’s employers. The classes, available through the safety courses page on our website, range in topics from hazard communication to OSHA recordkeeping. They have provided a great foundation in occupational health and safety for me to build upon in the future.

As part of the fellowship, we work on different projects with various DSH program areas to advance BWC’s mission. For example, I have taken the lead with developing our new safety bulletins. These bulletins are meant to provide safety tips and resources about urgent safety topics affecting Ohio’s workers. We email them to targeted employers and post them on our website, so the information is available to everyone.

The first safety bulletin on power lawn mower safety is already available and another bulletin on trenching safety is in the works. Just knowing that the safety bulletins have the potential to help protect Ohio workers and that I was involved in the process was an awesome experience!

Getting the chance to learn from seasoned safety professionals, continue my education, and be a part of meaningful projects here at BWC are building the foundation to a rewarding career. I am thankful for the opportunity and excited about my future!