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Driving Safely in Snow

Winter in the South is pretty unpredictable. Will we South and North Carolinians get a season of ice? Rain? Maybe a little snow? We never can be too sure, although we usually get at least one good snow in the South. For this reason, it’s important that a solid technique for driving safely in snow be well within your wheelhouse. But what steps can you take, besides staying home, to keep yourself safe when outside looks more like a winter wonderland than normal? 

Driving Safely in Snow: Tips for Winter Trips 

Look Further Ahead 

When it’s cold and wet and frosty, you might find yourself focusing solely on the road ahead of you. After all, there are immediate dangers to account for. But, force yourself to take turns between looking closely and looking further ahead. You might see brake lights, patches of black ice, a car accident, wet spots, or another unexpected roadway obstruction. For these reasons, driving safely in the snow starts with thinking clearly, being on high alert, and looking at the road conditions around you. They can change rapidly. 

Be prepared to skid and slide 

No matter how dedicated you are to driving safely in the snow, a little bit of skidding and sliding is very common in this type of weather. Prepare for this possibility and understand the best ways to combat the problem. Drive slowly, don’t slam on the breaks, turn your hazards on, and remain calm. Review your front and rear wheel skidding techniques. Being from the South, we don’t experience this type of weather all that often so it can be scary. If you’re not prepared to deal with it, there’s no shame in staying home, asking for a ride, or walking to your destination if it’s close by!

Don’t fall for false senses of security, such as four wheel drive 

Lastly, and most importantly, don’t put your faith into one function, feature, or item more than you put into your own ability to drive safely in show. Four-wheel drive, snow tires, or snow chains are fantastic tools for increasing safety. But don’t expect them to do the work for you. You have to remain focused, attentive, and cautious when driving— even if you have some mechanisms in place to make that trip just a bit safer. You never know when these safety features might fail you. 

How-to Practice Early Voting Safety During COVID-19

In what is being described as a ‘record avalanche’ of early votes, the polls have been seemingly busier than usual during this season of early voting. Here in Charlotte, voting stations are available city wide. Bank of America Stadium is acting as a polling station so you can social distance and cast your early vote. But, with numbers on rise both in terms of voters and COVID-19, how do you practice early voting safety in this time that requires special consideration? The good news is that by going early, you’re already taking the first step. 

How-to Practice Early Voting Safety during COVID-19: Safety in Numbers

Wear a mask 

There are a few different things that you need to do in order to both follow CDC guidelines and to practice early voting safety. The first step we encourage is wearing a mask. While many public spaces currently enforce this mandate— you might find that you can sometimes slip through the cracks. Even in those instances, we encourage you to wear your mask. As we mention above, the number of early voters is at a record high. This means that even on a slow day or during an hour you might think to be slow, you might still find yourself in quite a long line or big crowd. Wear a mask, be aware, and keep your distance even if there is no one close by telling you to do so. 

Hand Sanitizer is essential 

Many polling places are skipping stickers this year and instead opting for pens with a stylus. Exercising the pen versus sticker option keeps you from having to touch as many different things. While this is absolutely a helpful and mindful step for North Carolina to take, it doesn’t fully eliminate the sanitation issue. So, keep hand sanitizer in your pocket or bag. Use sanitizer after every step of the process and hope others do the same. Early voting safety starts the same way as any other situation does— by keeping your hands and spaces clean and sanitary. 

Consider mailing in your ballot 

If you want to avoid the polling places altogether, consider choosing the mail-in ballot option. Mail-in ballot locations are located all over the city. All you have to do is drop your ballot in the box and go on with your day— easy as that! Many people feel wary of this option for any number of reasons. But, if you feel confident in doing so, mail-in voting a great way to practice early voting safety. Just make sure you are aware of the deadlines and that you have filled your ballot out properly. 

Don’t let COVID-19 deter you from casting your vote! 

I hope that through this article we have proven to your that early voting safety is possible! Whether it’s by mail, at a location in the coming weeks, or on election day. No matter how you vote, it is absolutely possible to protect yourself and others to the best of your ability. Vote safe, sanitize, find the best method for you, and practice your civic duty. We wish you a safe and healthy holiday season in this difficult time

Operating Heavy Machinery: Practice Workplace Safety

There are workplace hazards that come with operating heavy machinery. Some examples of this type of equipment are cranes, front-end loaders, skid loaders, bulldozers, forklifts and tractors. Due to the size and weight of these pieces of equipment, they can be very dangerous. In fact, according to OSHA, about 404 people in America die each year in heavy equipment accidents. They also say the failure or misuse of heavy equipment is one of the top 10 causes of workplace fatalities. If you operate heavy machinery, it is important to know what to do and not do to best keep you safe.

Operating Heavy Machinery: Things to Know

Training

The first step to safely operating heavy machinery is to be properly trained. This may be a long, involved process, but it is essential for safety. Each person using this equipment should be trained and certified on using the equipment. Even if it is just on how to do a simple task, training is so important due to the nature of the machines. Regular refresher training is good to do every few weeks.

Take it Slow

Another thing to consider when operating heavy machinery is to take it slow and safe. If you are on a tight deadline to finish a project, you may feel the need to go fast. Do not fall into a trap where you skip safety steps and rush. This could lead to you making mistakes. Employers should not try and rush workers while they are using these heavy machines. Errors when using big, heavy equipment could turn into life threatening mistakes. Rushing is not worth the risk of hurting yourself or someone else.

Communication

When operating heavy machinery, it is so important to communicate on the job site. For example, make sure that all workers in the area know when a vehicle is occupied and in use. Have others keep an eye out and keep any dangerous areas around the vehicle clear. Communication also applies to creating clear guidelines for operating procedures. This way everyone is on the same page.

Remove Distractions

Distractions bring in another dangerous element when operating heavy machinery. Phones and headphones should not be used or allowed while using these heavy machines. Construction sites can be dangerous on their own. There are many hazards, including people moving around. A distracted machinery operator may not pay attention or notice people around them, or other hazards.

By following these guidelines, you will be safer while operating heavy machinery. They are not hard steps to follow, but can make a huge difference in workplace safety.

Types of Roads: Highways, Roads, and Interstates

When you are driving, you will notice there are so many different types of roads out there. From roads and streets to highways and freeways, you may wonder why they all have different names. It may seem very random as to how they assign names to the roads. Believe it or not, there is actually a method to how they assign road types as parts of names.

Types of Roads: What They Are

Large Roads

There is a category for the larger, higher capacity roads. There are many types of roads in this grouping. First, there is a highway, which is a major public road that usually connects multiple cities. Next, there are interstates. These are a large, federally funded network of roads that are part of a highway system. They may go between states, but don’t have to. Then, there is a turnpike, which is a part of a highway, and usually a toll road. Another part of the highway system is freeways. They are a large road with two or more lanes on each side. In addition, parkways are a large, decorated public road. A causeway is a raised road that passes across low or swampy ground or water. Additionally, a beltway is a highway that surrounds a city. As you can see, there are many different types of roads.

Smaller Roads

There are also smaller, lower capacity roads. This is also made up of many types of roads. The most common type is a road. It is a way that connects two points. Another type of road is a street. These are a public way with buildings on both sides. Often, they are perpendicular to an avenue. Avenues are very similar to a streets, and are common when driving in cities.

A lane is a narrow road that is often found in a rural area. Drives are often winding, and potentially long, roads that hug mountains or lakes. A way is a small street off a road. Ending in a circle or a loop, courts do not provide a throughway. Lastly, an ally is a small pathway between buildings. These may or may not be drivable. 

As you can tell, there are many different types of roads. This list is not all inclusive, so there are many more. Now you know how they assign road types. When you see road names in the future, the designation will hopefully make more sense.

How-to Avoid Hydroplaning: Driver Safety

Rain and slick roads can cause your car to hydroplane. This can be very scary if you are not prepared, as you have very little control over your car. Hydroplaning happens when your vehicle loses control in wet conditions. This is because your tires don’t have enough traction on the road since the water is not thoroughly pushed away from your tires. It can happen in an instant, so it is very important to know what to do if you find yourself hydroplaning.

How-to Avoid Hydroplaning: Taking Action

How to React 

If you notice your car hydroplaning, stay calm. First, ease your foot off of the gas. Also, hold firmly onto the wheel, but do not slam your foot on the brakes or turn suddenly. In the event that your car starts to skid, make sure to turn your steering wheel in the same direction that you are sliding. The reason that you do this is to align your tires in the same way that your car is going in order to regain control.

Vehicles with anti-lock brakes and traction control are less likely to spin under hard braking. Brake gently with a pumping action if you don’t have anti-lock brakes. As you slow down, keep adjusting your steering wheel to be going the same direction your car is moving. Typically, you will regain control within a few seconds. However, during a scary situation, a few seconds can feel like forever. Whenever you regain control, stay alert and drive defensively. Then, you may want to find a safe spot to pull over and catch your breath.

How to Avoid It

It is possible to end up hydroplaning on any wet surface. However, there are ways to help avoid hydroplaning. First, watch your speed and drive carefully on wet roads. If you need to brake, do so with smooth, light touches. Also, turn off cruise control so that you can react more easily. Try and stay away from standing water or piddles of water. Remember that intersections can be especially dangerous since this is the most likely chance for engine oil to be on the road as well.

Prepare Your Car

If you prepare and maintain your car correctly, you will be less likely to end up hydroplaning. Your tires should have at least 2/23 inches of tread remaining. Check your tire tread regularly. When they get close to wearing out, it is time to replace them. Make sure to check your tire pressure around once a month, especially if your car does not have a built in tire pressure monitor. Properly working brakes are very important for being able to stop, so make sure your brakes are in good condition too. 

Hydroplaning may be scary, you can make it through safely by staying calm and reacting appropriately. A properly maintained car will help reduce the risks of driving in wet, slippery conditions. Keep these tips in mind so that you are better prepared if you find yourself in this situation.

Repetitive Strain Injury: Workplace Injuries

A repetitive strain injury is an injury that occurs from doing the same motion over and over again. Examples of these include carpal tunnel, bursitis, and tennis elbow. This type of injury can occur from tasks at work. However, there are ways you can prevent or minimize the chance for this type of injury. 

Repetitive Strain Injuries: What Are They

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. This repetitive strain injury is caused by repetitive motions. These include motions like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over again. For example, people who work in dentistry have a high risk of carpal tunnel due to repetitive wrist movements while working. Also, you increase your risk when your hands are lower than your wrists while doing the movement.

The typical symptoms of carpal tunnel are not pleasant. For example, burning, tingling, or itching numbness in your palm and thumb or your index and middle fingers are symptoms. Other symptoms are weakness in your hand and trouble holding things, shock-like feelings that move into your fingers, and tingling that moves up into your arm. Proper ergonomics can help reduce the risk of this injury, but wrist braces are a good early treatment. 

Bursitis

Bursitis is inflammation or irritation of a bursa sac. These are fluid filled sacs that are all over your body. Bursitis is common around major joints like your shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee. This repetitive strain injury can be caused from workplace activities including carpentry, painting, and scrubbing. 

Common places for bursitis to happen are your elbow, shoulder, hip, thigh, buttocks, knee, achilles tendon or heel. This injury can cause pain, and you may notice your joint is red, stiff or swollen. Take breaks often when you’re making the same motions over and over again, and use good posture. If you start to have pain, stop, and see your doctor. 

Tennis Elbow

Another repetitive strain injury is tennis elbow. This is a painful condition that usually comes from repetitive use of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and the elbow joint. Surprisingly, only 5% of tennis elbow injuries come from tennis. 

Some workplace activities that could lead to tennis elbow include painting, working on cars or on an assembly line or playing a musical instrument. Other examples include kitchen work, such as cutting with a knife, or cutting trees with a chainsaw. This may cause your elbow to be sore. Treatment usually includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. However, if the problem gets really bad, surgery may be needed.