- Posted September 14, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
- DrugFreeAZ.org Announces Five New Community Alliance Members
- Phoenix’s Premier Amphitheatre Renamed Ak-Chin Pavilion
- North Central Resident Susan Brichler Trujillo Re-Appointed to Community Legal Services Board of Directors
- Resolute Commercial Services Announces Nicole Manos as Senior Managing Director
- Thatcher Subway Earns Statewide “Store of the Month” Honor
The Wild West’s dangerously wacky weather - Safety Tips from ADOSH for National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month, and considering that an average adult spends the majority of their waking life working, chances are good that you will be at your place of employment during an emergency. Whether it's the weather, some of our infamous critters or dry and prickly flora, Arizona features don't disappear just because you are on the clock. Each throughout the month of September, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health is providing tips on being prepared in the workplace.
If haboobs have taught us anything, it is that Arizona has some seriously wacky weather. While we are grateful for our lack of tornados, major earthquakes and tsunamis, we have our fair share of dangerous forecasts. Many natural disasters can happen with little to no warning so it is important to be prepared no matter where you are – home, on the job, or out and about.
1. Haboobs –
If you spend your afternoons out of the office or on a job site, it’s a good idea to carry a filter mask to go around your nose and mouth and some sort of eye protection like sunglasses or safety goggles. According to research from the University of Arizona’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Arizona’s haboobs, or giant dust storms, can last as long as two hours and reach sizes of 8,000 feet high and 100 miles wide during which 40,000 tons of dirt and dust is flying through the air. By covering your eyes, nose and mouth, you greatly reduce the chance of inhaling any dangerous pollutants, fungi or air-born chemicals that can be harmful to your health. .
Perhaps the most danger a haboob presents is reduced visibility. If driving, pull over to the side of the road and put your hazard lights on. It is not uncommon to have zero visibility during a haboob, and with wind speeds reaching 60 mph, large pieces of debris could be blocking the road.
2. Flash Floods –
Living in a Valley means any precipitation is going to collect and run towards our city. For this reason washes have been created to guide the excess water. Sometimes these washes intersect with roads. NEVER drive, walk or try to swim through a street filled with water, even if it is slow or barely moving. Not only will you be swept away, Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law makes sure you are footing the bill. Seek higher ground and alternative routes to avoid flooded roads.
3. Extreme heat –
The most obvious of Arizona’s dangerous weather, extreme heat, causes more deaths on average than any other weather fatality. Make sure to drink at least 8 oz. of water – NOT soda, caffeinated drinks or alcohol - every 15 minutes in extreme heat. If you know you are going to be outside, wear light-colored baggy clothes and a hat. Be sure to rest regularly in the shade.
Being able to recognize the symptoms of heat illness may save you or the life of a coworker. Immediately notify your supervisor if you or a coworker experience headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, chills or mental confusion. Rest, water and shade are the three most important preventative measures.
4. Thunderstorms –
Sometimes it starts with a haboob and turns into a flash flood. Arizona has some seriously powerful thunderstorms. Being hit by lightning is a one-in-a-million chance, but that doesn’t stop it from striking all over the state, causing house fires and power outages. If an electrical storm is approaching, get inside as soon as possible. If no shelter is immediately available, avoid open spaces, trees and metal structures like flag poles. Large commercial buildings should be equipped with a lightning rod that intercepts and grounds the electrical charge.
5. Bright sun –
Although the source of the summer’s extreme heat, the sun is hazardous to our health all year round. Our close proximity to the equator makes the sun much harsher here than in other, more northern states. Wear a sunscreen with minimum SPF of 30 every single day with multiple applications if you work outside. Try to minimize your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the suns’ UV rays are the harshest. According to Dr. Scott Tannehill of Arizona Center for Cancer Care, skin cancer is a serious problem in Arizona. If found early, most forms are treatable, yet Arizona still leads the US in the number of new cases each year.