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Fall Into Talking About These Off-the-Job Safety Topics in October

Emergency planning at home

In autumn the days get colder and shorter, with nighttime arriving earlier. The leaves change color and before you know it, it’s the beginning of Spooky Season—when people start to get ready for Halloween. And all the changes in fall also bring about a heightened need to attend to specific safety issues.

Our 6 Toolbox Topic Ideas Perfect for October outlines National Protect Your Hearing Month, National Crime Prevention Month, National School Bus Safety Week, National Teen Driver Safety Week, National Fire Prevention Week and Home Fire Drill Day. As part of the fire prevention theme, you should create toolbox talks focused specifically on off-the-job safety, and expand on your fire prevention and home fire drill topics to focus on your emergency planning for the home.

Home Emergency Planning

By talking about home emergency planning in the workplace, you can ensure that employees are getting the information they need to stay safe 24/7. The Easy Way to Have a Home Emergency Plan provides the information required to deliver a toolbox talk on implementing a home emergency plan but it does not address the need for creating an “Out of Bounds” plan for your home.

An “Out of Bounds” plan is formed after doing a risk assessment in your home.  Every year there are news reports of children dying from playing a game like hide and seek and getting trapped inside or stuck behind an appliance. An “Out of Bounds” plan considers these risks and makes areas that pose danger off-limits to children.

In the same way that an emergency evacuation plan needs to be practiced to know all of the exits in the house in the event of an emergency, an “Out of Bounds” plan needs to be reinforced to ensure that children don’t go into certain rooms when playing games. It’s a good idea to mark the “Out of Bounds” areas outside as well (pools, streams, ponds, etc.).  Clearly mark the areas on the emergency plan that are out of bounds. Any room that has appliances, trunks, and shelving should be considered an “Out of Bounds” room. Rooms like the laundry room, the garage, or the furnace room are often rooms that children do not need to enter.

By making these rooms out of bounds, children will not think to go into them to play as they know they’re off-limits. It’s also important to talk to children about why they are off-limits regularly so that the risks are well known. Emergency planning is not only about escaping the house but it’s also about preventing emergencies within the home.

Another part of emergency planning within the home is maintaining all of the alarms (smoke detector, carbon monoxide, home security). Most people use the daylight saving time change as a reminder to replace batteries twice per year. This is also a good time to check the expiration date on the smoke and CO2 alarms (typically 10 years) and ensure they are free of dust by using your vacuum’s brush attachment. Additionally, you should push the test button on all alarms (especially those that are hardwired) at least once per month.

Pedestrian Safety Month

Given that days grow shorter and it gets darker earlier in the fall, it’s not hard to see why October is National Pedestrian Safety Month. Especially when things are so troubling to begin with, where “on average, a pedestrian was killed every 71 minutes and injured every 9 minutes in traffic crashes in 2021.”

When you’re focused on getting to your destination, it can be easy to forget about the surrounding pedestrians while driving. Practicing different driving habits can help when complacency creeps in. For example, a good habit to master is doing an L-C-R scan at all intersections. This practice helps the driver be aware of anything approaching the intersection, and anticipate the error of someone proceeding through the intersection (vehicle or pedestrian) even when it’s not their right of way. You can take this a step further and do street scans—if there are parked cars then drivers should be continually scanning to ensure someone or something doesn’t come into the roadway from between the cars or on roads with open fields for animals.

Notably, there is a significant increase in pedestrian traffic on Halloween. We’ve compiled notes for a toolbox talk to use SafeStart teachings for a safe Halloween to help your employees stay safe as pedestrians. However, drivers also need to make conscious changes to how they drive on Halloween. Extra time will be required if you’re driving on Halloween night to account for the increased pedestrian traffic, including the large groups of people that will be crossing into the roadway.  As much as pedestrians are responsible for following the rules for their own safety, drivers must take on the responsibility to anticipate their errors and proceed with extra caution. Have a safe Halloween—and watch out for those extra little pedestrians!

Home Eye Safety Month

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 50 percent of eye injuries occur at home. One less surprising fact is that more than 78% of people were not wearing protective eyewear at the time of injury.

Some examples of work done at home without eye protection include:

  • Yard maintenance — any work that involves lawnmowers, trimmers, shovels, fertilizer, branches and thorns requires safety glasses. Eye protection should have UV protection and side shield protection for maximum safety protection.    
  • DIY/Home repairs/Home improvement — any work done with power tools requires eye protection. Nails, screws, wood chips, dirt and debris can all become airborne and find their way into your eye if they’re not protected.
  • Cleaning — this is probably one of the most common chores that happen without eye protection. Using chemical cleaning products (e.g., bleach) causes a great number of eye injuries each year. Cleaning can also stir up airborne particles like dust that can find its way into the eye.

October is not only Home Eye Safety Month but it’s also Contact Lens Safety Month. The purpose of Contact Lens Safety Month is to reduce preventable blindness by educating lens wearers on the proper ways to use and care for their contact lenses. And they should note that contact lenses only provide better vision—safety glasses are still required for protection for contact lens wearers when conducting activities like those listed above. Learn more about the best way to promote Contact Lens Safety Month here.

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