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NEWS | March 16, 2011

Warmer weather is here - put safety first

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

As winter's frost begins to melt and the chilled wind begins to calm, flowers bloom and a world comes out of hibernation making everything seem new again as people head outside for walks in the park, trips to the beach, grilling outdoors and summer sports.

Unfortunately, while planning these fun-filled events, safety is often left on a back-burner - leaving room for error or an unplanned trip to the emergency room.

"Nobody wants to spend their summer in a hospital," said Darnell Edmonds, 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office confined space/hazard abatement program manager at Joint Base Charleston-Air Base. "Unfortunately, many Americans wind up visiting the ER because they didn't put safety first."

"Nothing says spring and summer better than firing up a grill and sitting back to enjoy the aromas of a summertime barbeque," said Rick Dangerfield, JB CHS - Weapons Station safety manager. "However, grilling is one of the leading causes of accidents this time of year so we encourage people to follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using either charcoal or gas grills."

"The most important thing to remember when using a grill is to never bring it inside your home or garage," he continued. "This is both a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning hazard."

Mr. Dangerfield recommends placing grills at least 10 feet away from flammable objects, including the house. Keep a fire extinguisher available and keep children and pets away from grills during and after cooking.

The warmer temperatures also attract unwanted visitors. Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pests re-appear and with them West Nile virus, Lyme disease and other illnesses.
Prime time for mosquitoes is usually from dusk to dawn so an appropriate insect repellent is a must for outdoor activities, especially at night.

Lowcountry residents can help reduce sources that attract mosquitoes. Picking up and hauling away trash piles, eliminating open water containers, getting rid of standing water, keeping roof gutters clean and avoiding the accumulation of decaying material can help reduce the amount of mosquitoes in an area.

Spring is also when yard work moves to the top of the 'to-do list' for many Americans and while it may be relaxing for many, wearing the proper safety gear when handling equipment is essential in protecting yourself and loved ones.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 400,000 people each year are treated in the hospital for injuries from lawn and gardening tools. Safety personnel at JB CHS advise people not to take 'short-cuts' to finish a job and to follow proper guidelines to avoid mishaps.

According to Mr. Dangerfield, "Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that might get caught in the moving parts of gardening equipment and to use proper eye protection.

"Police your lawn and pick up any rocks, sticks, glass or metal that could become a projectile if it's caught inside motorized lawn equipment," Mr. Dangerfield said. "Check all equipment to ensure it's functional and don't use frayed or damaged electrical cords."

"Keep small children and pets away from moving equipment," said Mr. Dangerfield. "Children and pets move fast making it hard to react while operating a heavy piece of equipment."

One of the most important safety factors to consider while working outdoors in the Lowcountry is to stay hydrated.

"Don't overexert yourself while doing yard work," said Mr. Dangerfield. "Stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Although energy drinks sound and taste good, the best fluid you can drink is plain water."

"Safety is more than just wearing the proper safety gear," said Mr. Edmonds. "It needs to become a part of your everyday life and should take into consideration your entire family, including the family pets.

"Taking the proper safety measures may take a little bit more planning on an individual's part, but when done correctly, it can save you and your loved ones from an unfortunate accident."