Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Industrious Hygienist Holiday Safety Tip #1: Dogs do not mix well with fireworks.

This is Shadow, my 3.5-year old Alaskan Malamute. 

Shadow at 6 months.
Just kidding, this is Shadow. I just wanted to show a picture of him as a puppy. He's ginormous now. 

Shadow on a walk in Prescott Valley - controlled burn in the background.
Shadow is not a fan of New Year's Eve. He hates fireworks. New Year's Eve and Independence Day rank as his least favorite holidays. Some tips for a pet-friendly New Year's party here.  

My end of year cartoon (doubled as a holiday card for clients, colleagues, friends, and family):

The Industrious Hygienist and Shadow enjoy New Year's Eve together. 

We'll be spending New Year's Eve cuddled up in bed, with Shadow alternating between spastic races around the house and cowering next to us in the bedroom. Fun times in the Bliss household!

Wishing all my loyal readers a safe and fulfilling 2014. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

My (Late) Grown-Up Christmas List

I've been planning this blog post for about a month now, but (of course) couldn't get to it until today. One of my favorite Christmas songs is Amy Grant's rendition of "My Grown-Up Christmas List." (Ignore the fire safety issues in the video if you watch it.) It seemed especially poignant this year, so I decided to make my own list of things I am hoping will occur in the future.

I re-wrote the song to fit my wishes. Yay for creative license! Sort of an open letter to the OSHA and NIOSH Santa or other wish-granting djinn. Since it's by the Industrious Hygienist, there's a slight element of sarcasm mixed with my true wish for all workers to come home safely to their families.

"Grown-Up Christmas List"

Do you remember me 
I worked for you, you see 
I wrote to you on disability

Well I'm all healed-up now 
But still need help somehow 
I'm unemployed
But still so full of dreams

So here's my working wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives thrown away
That workers have a say
And speak up for their rights
Everyone would be well-trained
And want to do their best
And keep each other safe
This is my grown-up Christmas list

As children we believed
That parents would come home
To happy families
Without injury

Insurance surely sees
That claims and penalties
Can never heal a hurting human soul


What are these concepts called
Prevention and respect
Maybe if we work together now
We’ll learn who we should protect


So that's it...my wishes. Education, training, respect, and proactive approaches to health and safety for every worker. By the way, rhyming with safety terms is surprisingly difficult.

Look for the annual Industrious Hygienist end-of-year cartoon tomorrow!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Industrious Hygienist's Favorite Holiday Safety Tips: FEMA and USFA

So far we've covered general holiday safety from CDC/NIOSH and holiday stress management from CDC and Mayo Clinic. Now let's get down to the exciting stuff - fire safety.

FEMA and the NFPA have partnered this year to create the following infographic for their "Put a Freeze on Winter Holiday Fires" campaign:

NFPA and FEMA infographic for the "Put a Freeze on Winter Holiday Fires" campaign.
The Industrious Hygienist would also like to share the following HolidayFire Safety video from FEMA (although I'm still learning how to embed videos, so click the hyperlink if you want to watch it). 

The Industrious Hygienist decided to take the NFPA "Put a Freeze on Winter Fires Quiz" and test her knowledge of winter fire safety.


Fail. Eeek!
So I feel I should defend myself on some of the wrongly answered questions. See below.

Lit candles should be extinguished when you leave the room.
The place where the Industrious Hygienist currently lives (we don't feel it is right to call it a house) has a "great room" that consists of the entry, family/living room, dining area, and kitchen all encompassed, with a hallway leading down to the bedroom. So if we light a candle, it is usually in the "great room" and therefore extinguished before we walk out the door and leave the home. Semantics. But probably useful information if you have a larger space to live in and lots of candles.

The leading cause of home fires is failure to clean heating equipment and chimneys before use.
I've lived in Phoenix, AZ or Orange County, CA for most of her life and only recently moved to Prescott in beautiful Northern Arizona. So my exposure to cold weather has been limited - I've never lived anywhere with a chimney and never used a space heater before. Now I know that if I happen to move somewhere with a chimney, I should have preventative maintenance done on it. We never used our heater in Phoenix. I did have the furnace checked here in Prescott before it was turned on. Yay for me!

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside each sleeping space.
Again, with the size of the place we live, we just have one CO monitor in a central location, equidistant from the gas-fired kitchen appliances, laundry room, and bedroom. This whole idea of a multi-level home is intriguing - I should try it sometime. :) Makes sense to have to CO monitor outside the bedrooms, since you'd want to know what the CO concentration is before it is in your sleeping space and you are susceptible to it. 

Just this week, a family in Breckenridge was exposed to high levels of CO and some of the family members were hospitalized. See news story here

Before placing a real cut tree ion the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk.
I've never had a real Christmas tree before, we always had an artificial one. Since we got our Alaskan Malamute (Shadow), we haven't bothered to put up a tree the last three years. He likes to try and eat the ornaments. So I'll keep this in mind if I decide to ever use a real cut tree (not likely) for the holidays.

Keep your eyes peeled (that's a weird/gross phrase I should never use again) for the Industrious Hygienist Holiday Card and end of year blog post!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Industrious Hygienist's Favorite Holiday Safety Tips: Mayo Clinic and CDC

The Industrious Hygienist's post yesterday shared holiday safety tips from CDC/NIOSH.

Today, let's discuss stress

Taking part in last-minute holiday shopping blitzes is sort of par for the course for many Americans. The Industrious Hygienist and spouse will be braving a few key merchandisers today to wrap up the holiday shopping. Planning the gift-buying extravaganza can be very stressful. Traveling to and from various family engagements, work functions, and parties with friends can lead to even more heightened stress levels. Finding out how to manage your schedule, pets, family, and work commitments within a ridiculously short time frame is, well, bonkers.

Luckily, with the advent of Spore Consulting, the Industrious Hygienist is able to manage her own schedule and take time off as needed, but few people have that luxury. We gave ourselves memberships to Massage Envy and Lumosity for Christmas and our anniversary in June.

The CDC discussed managing stress in the "12 Ways to Health Holiday Song" and provided the following general recommendations for managing stress
  • "Avoid drugs and alcohol. They may seem to be a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run they can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of take it away.
  • Find support. Seek help from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or clergyperson. Having a sympathetic, listening ear and sharing about your problems and stress really can lighten the burden.
  • Connect socially. After a stressful event, it is easy isolate yourself. Make sure that you are spending time with loved ones. Consider planning fun activities with your partner, children, or friends.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, give yourself a break, and maintain a normal routine.
  • Stay active. You can take your mind off your problems by giving—helping a neighbor, volunteering in the community, even taking the dog on a long walk. These can be positive ways to channel your feelings."
Ways this goes horribly wrong in holiday events? See below.
  • Avoid alcohol? Although many workplaces have "no alcohol" policies at holiday parties, there's plenty of ways to imbibe at after-parties, impromptu gatherings, industry events, etc. Things get said that shouldn't be discussed in polite company, behavior is sometimes less than professional, and you end up spending more money than you have on expensive drinks. Try to rein yourself in and remember that somebody always has a camera.
  • Find support? Everyone's going through the same thing as you. If you reach out to someone, they're likely to talk your ear off about the problems they are having rather than listening. Sometimes this is helpful because you realize your problems are paltry compared to those around you. Be the listener, be the friend and support person. It will make you feel better than just venting to everyone around you.
  • Connect socially? No, they're not talking about sharing your entire life on social media. They're talking about in-person socialization. Put down your phone, stop texting and tweeting, and really listen and connect with someone. Watch their face and learn their personality quirks. Try to remember all the conversations you've had with them. Spouse and I use the drive between family/social events to decompress and vent and listen to music (never Christmas music though).
  • Take care of yourself? Ha. If your family is anything like mine, eating healthy during the holidays is super tricky. My father makes handmade chocolate truffles and fudge, and my grandma sends me a box full of handmade cookies and treats every year. There is no normal routine during the holidays.
  • Stay active? Thanks to the Industrious Hygienist's parents, this is pretty easy. Rather than a gift, they want an act of service (photos and documentation required) for their Christmas gift. Could be a donation to a charity, could be a volunteer event, could be anything that requires us to go out and serve our fellow humans.
This year's act of service was with our local ASSE Arizona Chapter, preparing a community garden at a local elementary school through the USGBC Green Apple Day of Service.


Spouse and the Industrious Hygienist weeding the playground with ASSE Arizona Chapter during the Green Apple Day of Service on 9-28-2013.

We even brought Shadow (nope, that's not our kid), who was tantalized by the little girl's water bottle and watched us work.
The Mayo Clinic also has holiday-specific tips for stress management. The Industrious Hygienist has a few favorites:
  • "Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
  • Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  • Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time."
Wish us luck in our last-minute shopping. Gaah. I'll be singing Broadway musicals in my head to drown out the holiday music. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Industrious Hygienist's Favorite Holiday Safety Tips: CDC/NIOSH

In honor of the holidays, the Industrious Hygienist would like to share her favorite holiday safety tips from recognized authorities. Today's tips are from the CDC and NIOSH.

This year, CDC/NIOSH has posted a "Wishes for Workers" campaign where you can post your wishes for occupational health and safety improvements. The Industrious Hygienist will think on this and post something thought-provoking. Or at least interesting.

The Industrious Hygienist's favorite wish from a CDC representative:

  • "All of our nation’s emergency response workers are prepared and trained to respond effectively and safely to any disaster."
    • CDR Lisa Delaney MS, CIH, Associate Director, NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Office

CDC/NIOSH also developed a "12 Ways to Health Holiday Song" which can be sung to the tune of, you guessed it, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Download the audio podcast of the song here

The Industrious Hygienist's favorite pieces of the song are:

  • The fifth way to health, said the CDC to me
    BE SMOKE-FREE, don't drink and drive, manage stress, bundle up for warmth, and wash hands to be safe and healthy.
  • The tenth way to health, said the CDC to mePractice fire safety, monitor the children, get your vaccinations, get exams and screenings, fasten belts while driving, BE SMOKE-FREE, don't drink and drive, manage stress, bundle up for warmth, and wash hands to be safe and healthy.

In 2011 the Industrious Hygienist wrote a three-part comic of the "12 Days of Christmas: Preparation for the Holidays Industrious Hygienist (IH) Style!" If you want to read it again, part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here

Last year's CDC/NIOSH blog post about safety for Santa was probably my favorite post from CDC/NIOSH so far. Highlights below.

No worries, the Industrious Hygienist is working on her holiday/New Year card that will be posted before the end of the year. Look for more tips from FEMA, NFPA, NSC, and others in the days to come.