Friday, March 29, 2013

National Severe Weather Awareness Week

National Severe Weather Awareness Week comes to an end - Did you know - 
  1. Tornadoes cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries in the U.S. each year.
  2. Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms within the funnel. The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  3. Straight-line winds are responsible for most thunderstorm wind damage.
  4. Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms; each year lightning strikes the United States 25 million times.
  5. Most lightning fatalities and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  6. The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000°F--hotter than the surface of the sun!
  7. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet; a depth of two feet will cause most vehicles to float.
  8. Most flash flood fatalities occur at night and most victims are people who become trapped in automobiles.
  9. Hail causes more than $1 billion in damage to property and crops each year.
  10. Large hail stones fall at speeds faster than 100 mph.

Finally, according the the US Department of Transportation, on average, there are over 6,301,000 vehicle crashes each year.
  • 24% of these crashes—approximately 1,511,000—are weather-related. Weather-related crashes are defined as those crashes that occur in adverse weather (i.e., rain, sleet, snow, and/or fog) or on slick pavement (i.e., wet pavement, snowy/slushy pavement, or icy pavement). 
  • On average, 7,130 people are killed and over 629,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year.
    (Source: Fourteen-year averages from 1995 to 2008 analyzed by Noblis, based on NHTSA data)
 The vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall:
  • 75% on wet pavement
  • 47% and forty-seven during rainfall 
A much smaller percentage of weather-related crashes occur during winter conditions:
  • 15 % of crashes happen during snow or sleet
  • 13% occur on icy pavement 
  • 11% of weather-related crashes take place on snowy or slushy pavement
  • 3% happen in the presence of fog
    (Source: Fourteen-year averages from 1995 to 2008 analyzed by Noblis, based on NHTSA data).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Statewide Tornado Drill

With springtime soon upon the region, it is never too early to start preparing for the severe weather season.  As long as no severe weather is occurring or expected, the statewide tornado drill will be conducted by the National Weather Service today - Wednesday, March 27 between 10:00 and 11:00 am CDT.

The purpose of the drill is to ensure that Nebraskans can adequately receive a tornado watch and warning, and to practice any actions which would be taken to protect your life in the event of a real tornado.  The test will be sent through all communication channels which are normally used for severe weather dissemination. 

This tornado drill presents an excellent opportunity for everyone at work, school, or home to practice their safety measures, and we hope all will participate.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Severe Weather Awareness Week

The calendar says it is Spring...which means it is time to start preparing for the severe weather season.

Are you prepared for severe weather to strike?
Do you now the difference between a severe weather watch and warning?
Do you know where to take shelter in the event of a tornado warning?

Severe Weather Awareness week, provides the opportunity to review our severe weather plan, brush upon severe weather terms and actually participate in the statewide Tornado Warning drill on Wednesday, March 27.

According to the National Weather Service, even with the drought like conditions in 2012, 44 tornadoes were reported, which is only 9 less than the 30 - year average of 53. Hail the size of softballs (Hastings - May 2 and Coleridge - May 27). Wind gusts over 80 mph (Blair - May 19) and even flash flooding were just some of the severe weather reports across the state in 2012.

No one knows for sure what kind of weather 2013 will bring, but if we don’t take this opportunity to prepare, even for just a few minutes, it could cost us all in the end.

Friday, March 15, 2013

National Poison Prevention Week

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of death among adults.

The U.S. Congress established National Poison Prevention Week on September 16, 1961 (P.L. 87-319). Shortly thereafter, the Poison Prevention Week Council was organized to coordinate this annual event and promote poison prevention. 

National Poison Prevention Week, the third week in March each year, is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. However, every day people can and do prevent poisonings. We invite you to review the information on this site and become actively involved in helping ensure the safety of children and adults in your home and your community. 

For more information go to Poison

Spring Break - Traveling Abroad

Heading out of the US to a warmer climate?

You want your trip abroad to be a well-deserved vacation, not a vacation nightmare.

Check out the US Department of State's  Travel web-site.

Students traveling abroad can access the students Abroad website for information specific to students interested in traveling abroad.

Safety tips including how to Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with our embassies abroad:
And remember - ALL persons - including U.S. citizens - traveling by air from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, must have a passport to enter the United States, Even if the foreign country visited does not require a passport for entry.

Information about how to obtain a U.S. passport, and about traveling abroad, is available on the Department of State's website at  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Break - Snow Safety

Heading to a snowy destination for Spring Break?

Sledding, Ice Skating, Snowboarding, Skiing and Snowmobiling - fun activities, if you don't get hurt.

Sledding is a great way to play in the snow. Make sure you know about the hill where they will be playing. Is it steep or covered with trees? If so, it's not a good location for sledding. Also, watch out for hills with rocks or those near busy roads.Sledding injuries can be very serious, resulting in broken bones and trauma to the abdomen, head, and neck. So it's wise to supervise your kids when they go sledding. Experts also suggest having kids wear helmets to help prevent head injuries.

Ice skating, a great cold-weather activities, but require safety smarts, too. Make sure you avoid injuries by wearing properly fitted skates whenever on the ice. Ice skaters should also consider wearing helmets. Rinks are always safer than ponds for skating. If you only have access to a pond, check the thickness of the ice to prevent falls through it and supervise your kids while they skate.

Before they hit the slopes with a snowboard or ski, make sure your kids are wearing helmets and protective goggles. Skiers' safety bindings (the attachment that secures the ski boot to the ski) should be checked yearly, and snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. All equipment should fit well.

Snowmobiling is more popular than ever, and the machines also go faster than ever. When snowmobiling, follow these safety steps:
  • Everyone should wear goggles and a helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles.
  • Kids younger than 16 should not operate snowmobiles, and those younger than 6 should not ride on them.
  • Travel in groups and make sure someone knows where the snowmobiles are going.
  • Know your machine and its capabilities.
  • Respect other snowmobiles and yield to those who have the right of way.
  • If it's necessary to snowmobile on frozen bodies of water, do so with extra caution.
  • When crossing a roadway, make sure the way is clear in both directions.
  • Operate at a reasonable and prudent speed for trail conditions.
And remember that alcohol and winter activities do not mix!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Break - Beach Safety Tips

It is beginning to feel like spring.  For those of us in Nebraska -Spring break is right around the corner..

It is a great time to get away from the cold, dark days of winter and have some fun in the sun. Keep yourself and your family safe on the beach with the the following tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Sun Safety for the Family
  • The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.
  • The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
  • Most of the sun’s rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
  • When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words "broad-spectrum" on the label - it means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
  • Zinc oxide, a very effective sunblock, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and on the shoulders.
  • Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
  • Put on sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors - it needs time to work on the skin.
  • Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.

 Beach Tips *
  • Drink plenty of water, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Stay within the designated swimming area and ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard
  • Never swim alone.
  • Be aware of rip currents. If you should get caught in one, don’t try to swim against it. Swim parallel to shore until clear of the current.
  • Seek shelter in case of storm. Get out of the water. Get off the beach in case of lightning.
  • Watch out for traffic – some beaches allow cars.

    ©American Academy of Pediatrics 2/12
    *used with permission from Florida Travel and Tourism Bureau 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time: ruining our sleep schedules since 1918. Yes, it’s that dreary time of year again; the time we all lose an hour of sleep. Daylight Savings Time kicks in this weekend on Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. So, despite “spring forward” sounding cheery, start preparing now for grumpy co-workers, bitter they’re stuck feeling fatigued. There’s nothing we love more than turning our clocks forward one full hour.

And believe it or not, the ancient tradition of day light savings time is actually dangerous. For those of you unfamiliar, during daylight saving time we move our clocks an hour ahead. As a result, the effects of daylight saving time is that we sleep an hour less. Researchers at the Sleep Program at Loyola University Health System said on average people sleep about 40 minutes less than normal. Other research shows there's a higher risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries on the first Monday of Daylight Saving Time.

Driving to work in the dark - You are now driving to work an hour earlier. Guess what? The earlier you drive, the darker it is outside. Drowsy driving in the morning is only exacerbated by a darker outside. Those of you who have gotten used to a brighter setting and commute need to be warned to be more alert on the road as you might find yourself fighting harder than usual to stay awake on your morning commute.

Caffeine-When you "spring Forward", do not drink any caffeine in excess of your morning cup. Caffeine is a stimulant many of us need to get through the day, however overuse can prevent you from following your sleep schedule. In addition, there’s a common misconception out there that alcohol helps you fall asleep. Now it may come off that way, but alcohol actually messes up your sleep-wave and leads to a lower quality of sleeping; therefore, you’re not going to be nearly as alert in the morning.

Finally, to get quality sleep all the time - "unplug" and hour to two hours before you go to sleep. Turn of the computer, the television, put your phone on the vibrate or turn the ringer low in you still have a land line. Unplug from the internet, dim the lights in your house and go to a quiet place, prepare yourself for sleep.

Other helpful tips for the Loyola researchers offer tips for helping make the time change:
  • In the days before the time change, go to bed and wake up 10 or 15 minutes earlier each day.
  • Don't nap on the Saturday before the time change.
  • To help reset your internal body clock, expose yourself to sunlight in the morning as early as you can.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Some Sleep Drugs Can Impair Driving

Many people take sedatives to help them sleep. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reminding consumers that some drugs to treat insomnia could make them less able the next morning to perform activities for which they must be fully alert, including driving a car.

People with insomnia have trouble falling or staying asleep. Zolpidem, which belongs to a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics, is a common ingredient in widely prescribed sleep medications. Some sleep drugs contain an extended-release form of zolpidem that stays in the body longer than the regular form.

FDA is particularly concerned about extended-release forms of zolpidem. They are sold as generic drugs and under the brand name Ambien CR. New data show that the morning after use, many people who take products containing extended-release zolpidem have drug levels that are high enough to impair driving and other activities. FDA says that women are especially vulnerable because zolpidem is cleared from the body more slowly in women than in men.

FDA also found that some medicines containing the immediate-release form of zolpidem can impair driving and other activities the next morning. They are marketed as generic drugs and under the following brand names:
  • Ambien (oral tablet) 
  • Edluar (tablet placed under the tongue)
  • Zolpimist (oral spray)
Drowsiness is already listed as a side effect in the drug labels of insomnia drugs, along with warnings that patients may still feel drowsy the day after taking these products. However, people with high levels of zolpidem in their blood can be impaired even if they feel wide awake. "All insomnia drugs are potent medications, and they must be used carefully," says Russell Katz, M.D., director of FDA’s Division of Neurology Products.

The entire article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Monday, March 4, 2013

​National Sleep Awareness Week

Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Yet millions of us are not getting enough sleep or are suffering from other sleep problems.

March 3-10 is the National Sleep Foundation’s annual week-long campaign to celebrate the health benefits of sleep.

National Sleep Foundation

Friday, March 1, 2013

Save Your Vision Month

March is Save Your Vision Month

The eyes are wonderful sensory organs. They help people learn about the world in which they live. Eyes see all sorts of things - big or small, near or far, smooth or textured, colors and dimensions. The eyes have many parts - all of which must function in order to see properly.

People who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time often encounter a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Headaches, neck strain, backaches and wrist pain are common, but, sadly, the most prevalent symptoms of prolonged computer use-eye strain, blurred vision and dry eye-are often overlooked. In fact, eye and vision problems are the most frequently reported health care problems among computer users.

For more information visit the American Optometric Association web site.