What always seems to be a refreshing constant is the spirit of this season. This is the time when friends and family can share peace and love, and where the world seems to slow down. It is a time when we can all actually say, “Let's wait until next year to work on that.” We can all actually take a deep breath as we prepare to soar into the New Year with new hope and renewed energy. Here is wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Whether traveling by car or air, rule number one is to allow extra time for the journey. Plan to avoid the heaviest travel times, if at all possible. If driving in wintry conditions, carry a road emergency kit including flares, a blanket, a first aid kit, water and snacks. A small shovel is also handy to have, and kitty litter works well under the wheels to increase traction.
Sometimes we forget how international TEEX has become. My safety note early in December stressed winter driving safety. Our instructors in Abu Dhabi responded, saying they anticipate no cold weather driving problems, but sand storms and camel collisions are at an all time high. So, slow down for reduced visibility and traffic, whether it’s sand or snow, cars or camels.
If you have children under 13, the best place for them is in the back seat of the car. Everyone on board should ride upright, without leaning against the doors or dash. Never allow anyone to ride unrestrained. Defensive driving is the key. And because State Highway 6 truly does run both ways, take your time and stay in your lane.
If traveling by air, children under 40 pounds should be in an FAA-approved child safety seat. Again, give yourselves plenty of time for check-in and security screening. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring activities to keep everyone occupied during the flight. Further air-travel tips can be found at TSA’s Holiday Travel Website.
It’s also good to have health insurance information available when traveling, just in case it’s needed.
Inspect your holiday lights for frayed or bare spots in the insulation, and do not overload electrical outlets. Wires should not be warm when you touch them. Don’t leave Christmas lights illuminated and unattended.
This video is a great example of how quickly a dry Christmas Tree can burn.
Decorations should be non-combustible or flame resistant. Never use lighted candles to decorate a tree. And, place all other decorative candles where they won’t be knocked over by people or pets.
Remember to remove wrapping paper, bags, ribbons and bows from the tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can cause a fire if near an open flame. Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace as this can cause chimney fires.
If there will be small children in the home, avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable or have removable parts because they are a choking hazard. Avoid decorations that resemble candy or food.
Toys should be appropriate for the child’s age, and toys requiring access to an electrical outlet should be avoided for children under age 10. As with the decorations, avoid small toys that could pose a choking hazard, as well as deflated or broken balloons, strings and ribbons.
It’s also important to remember food safety over the holidays. On the never-ending buffet, foods requiring refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Raw foods MUST be washed and fully cooked. Be sure to keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables where they can be easily knocked over by a child or your clumsy uncle. Wash your hands frequently, and if cooking, don’t double dip!
We’re posting and tweeting safety tips as well as other TEEX news on our Facebook & Twitter Pages. You can also find Safety Links on the TEEX Website.
Travel safely, have a great holiday and we’ll see you in 2011.
Charley Todd is the associate agency director for the Texas Engineering Extension Service.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
|Center for the Intrepid|
Recently, TEEX Public Safety and Security (PS&S) received an interesting call from Wendy Foster, a vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Center for the Intrepid. Located at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, the center is a rehabilitation facility for amputees and burn victims of the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.
Wendy has helped scores of our nation’s Wounded Warriors. One of her current clients was interested in pursuing a vocation taught by our PS&S division, but his disability presented some questions.
In 2006, Army Staff Sergeant Tyler Sloan was shot by a sniper in Mosul, Iraq. Damaged nerves in his right foot required its amputation. Sloan, a tall, good-looking young man was getting along well with his prosthesis. He was considering several possible new vocations, including underwater welding and flying, as well as searching for and destroying unexploded ordnance. TEEX offers a 4-week unexploded ordnance (UXO) technician course that not only fit Sloan well, but also qualified for Veteran’s Administration funding.
There was a potential problem, though. The primary tool of unexploded ordnance technician is a metal detector, and the ferrous metals in prosthetic limbs were thought to interfere with the devices.
Training Coordinator and former Naval EOD Technician, Ed Fritz, who oversees TEEX’s UXO program, felt that Tyler might be a good subject to test the interference theory. If there was none, or if it could be mitigated, then an appropriate vocation could open up for many of our returning veterans with prostheses.
On November 18, Tyler made the short drive from San Antonio to Texas A&M University’s RELLIS Campus, home of the program. Fritz and Sloan spent some of the day together working with the metal detector on the TEEX UXO grid.
Back at the Public Safety and Security division’s headquarters, the official observer group was careful not to state an official opinion. However, everyone's mood reflected the apparently successful demonstration. Once again, TEEX brought together government and industry to help our citizens. As long as there are Wounded Warriors, hopefully, we’ll see more and more of them in the Brazos Valley.
For more information on TEEX’s Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Technician course, visit the UXO website or contact Ed Fritz at 979-862-3410.
For more information on the Center for the Intrepid and the Fallen Heroes Fund, please visit the Fallen Heroes Fund website.
Sam White is a communications specialist and blogger for theTexas Engineering Extension Service and welcomes your comments. Know of something interesting happening at TEEX? Please submit blog ideas to email@example.com.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Some years later the Valdez oil spill occurred, and guess what? We all became environmentally conscious again, going through another cycle of energy conservation and recycling. Can you see the pattern? Over the years, we have been trained to associate “green” behavior with negative events: oil embargoes, wars, oil spills, global warming, etc, etc, etc.
I think we have learned our lesson. Now is our chance to be proactive about Green energy and development. I am very excited to present our Growing Green Communities Initiative. This is about the positives associated with behaving in an environmentally friendly manner. It is about businesses being more successful and more profitable. It is about people being healthier. It is about leaving our future generations the resources they need to be healthy and happy. Through a series of conferences and workshops, people from throughout the country will be sharing ideas and best practices about how we can all benefit from thinking and behaving Green. We will learn that it is good business to be Green. We will learn that going Green is not complicated; it is simple. Plus, we will find out that it is interesting. And, dare I say it, fun.
As we travel throughout the state (our first conference is in Odessa, Texas, on Dec. 1-2), we’ll be keeping you updated on the latest ideas, techniques, and information that will help your business, your community, and your bottom line.
To stay tuned to our Growing Green Initiative, visit any of these sites, where we are updating information daily:
Growing Green Communities Website
Growing Green Communities on Facebook
Growing Green Communities on Twitter
Growing Green Communities Blog
I look forward to seeing you in Odessa!
Gary Sera is director of the Texas Engineering Extension Service and invites your comments.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Texas Engineering Extension Service's (TEEX) Knowledge Engineering division has always been the “go-to” group in Texas to help spur economic growth. They’ve helped several Texas towns and cities bring new businesses and jobs to their areas. So it was no surprise when Knowledge Engineering was chosen to provide a statewide education program on sustainable and green economic development opportunities for rural and economically distressed areas of Texas.
Named Growing Green, the program’s goal is to increase awareness of green economic development and job creation opportunities among small businesses, entrepreneurs, economic developers and local leaders.
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), TEEX and Growing Green will conduct a series of informational conferences and training sessions. The funding is part of the EDA’s Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund, which is intended to foster green development by promoting economic competitiveness while enhancing environmental quality. These events will bring the latest knowledge and technical expertise on sustainable development practices to rural Texas.
In preparation for the conferences, TEEX formed an advisory council of Texas economic advisers and industry leaders to shape the conference’s message. Through the council and other affiliations, Growing Green Communities will partner and collaborate with the business community, universities, state and federal agencies, trade associations, workforce boards, and local government and non-governmental organizations that promote green economic development.
Some of these partners/collaborators include:
- University of Texas - San Antonio Small Business Development Center and SBDC Networks
- Greater East Texas Community Development Corp.
TEEX’s Knowledge Engineering division has also established a website, GrowingGreenCommunities.com, to provide information about each conference as well as information about the program, sponsors, exhibitors and our advisory council.
The first conference is planned for the Permian Basin area on Dec. 1-2, 2010, at the MCM Grande Hotel & Fun Dome in Odessa, Texas. Growing Green attendees will hear from federal and state agencies with programs and assistance opportunities for targeted rural communities. The conference agenda, as well as hotel and speaker information, is available at the Growing Green Communities website, where you’ll also find a secure online registration system for your convenience.
Other possible conference locations through 2012 include Aransas Pass, New Braunfels and the Texas Panhandle. We’ll update Growing Green Communities as more information becomes available so that you can make plans to join us.
In addition to the website and conference series, you can keep up with Growing Green Communities through the Growing Green Communities blog. There, we’ll update you on conference details, speakers and exhibitors as the information becomes available. We’re also updating our facebook fan page, and twitter account daily, where we post the latest green economic development, energy and employment news.
Friday, September 24, 2010
- Entrapment in a collapsed wooden building that was destroyed by a tornado
- Exposure to a chemical accident or chemical attack
- Contamination by a biological weapon or dirty bomb
- Injury at the bottom of a river bank after a flood
- Entrapment and injury in a collapsed strip mall
Friday, September 10, 2010
|Tropical Storm Hermine|
September is National Preparedness Month, and right on schedule, our planet demonstrated how important it is to Have a Plan. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, just before 11 a.m., warning systems advised the College Station locations of the Texas A&M University System of a possible tornado in south College Station, and ordered everyone to seek shelter immediately. Texas A&M also activated its Code Maroon alert system, moving over 70,000 students, faculty and staff to interior stairwells and basements. I also know that throughout the area, parents began calling and texting schools, worried about their children.
I was reminded that even with the best training and planning, there can be confusion at the onset of an emergency, further emphasizing the importance of having a plan for you, your family and your workplace.
There are three important steps we can all take to be prepared for an emergency.
Make a PlanBecause your family may not be together in an emergency, it’s important to plan how you’ll contact each other, and how to get back together.
When thinking about communicating during an emergency: Have an out-of town contact. Many times long-distance communications work when local communications have failed.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows that contact number and has a cell phone, coins or a pre-paid phone card to make the call.
- Have some that are too young to remember the number? Make sure that your children’s school or daycare has your information as well. Find out what their procedure is for emergencies. Make sure that you are on their emergency list, whether it is by phone, e-mail or text, so that you are informed. Plus, find out where they will post information for early pickup--local television station? Radio? Not all schools have a plan in place about how to contact parents, so be proactive.
- Make text-messaging an important tool. Many times text messages will get through when phone calls can’t. Texting is new to many. Have your children teach you how to text.
- Identify and use your local emergency alert systems. Although many towns still have siren systems, family members should subscribe to any emergency alert system available. Public alert certified weather radios can be purchased locally or online and can be kept in your home. Texas A&M has a Code Maroon system which uses SMS to notify students, faculty and staff of emergencies affecting the flagship campus. Twitter also has become an alert system lately, with the ability to transmit alerts to mobile devices from Code Maroon, as well as police departments, fire departments, and other government organizations.
Have a Basic Emergency Supply Kit
It’s very important to have the supplies to take care of your family for a short time after an emergency event. First and foremost, the Basic Emergency Supply Kit must have the basics for human survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. With those items taken care of, we can add further supplies for communication and comfort.
Use common sense. Canned goods require a can opener, and most electronics require batteries. Cars and generators don’t run well without fuel. Assess each item to make sure you have an adequate supply of what it takes to run it, and the ancillary tools necessary to make the items functional.
Think. It’s important that everyone THINK about what’s essential for them, and incorporate those items into their emergency kit.
Purchasing the supplies for a basic kit costs about $130. You can find a link to a complete list of items for your Basic Emergency Supply Kit at TEEX’s Emergency Preparedness Webage, or read below how to enter to win a kit before this weekend’s Texas A&M - Louisiana Tech football game!
Members of Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1) will be in the Aggie Fan Zone on the north end of Kyle Field beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There, you can meet the team’s K-9 rescue dogs and check out one of the steel beams recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. See many tools of the trade, special equipment and rescue cameras. TX-TF1 will also have commemorative dog tags available for the first 3,000 visitors, and kids can pick up a collectible trading card about one of the search and rescue canines. Everyone who stops by can also enter to win an Emergency Preparedness Kit!
As part of First Responders Day, Texas A&M University has chosen this game to honor current and former members of the Task Force, as well as all first responders. Recently returned from mobilization to help local jurisdictions that were impacted by the flooding associated with Tropical Storm Hermine, TX-TF1 members will take the field before the game for an awards presentation. Following the ceremony, Task Force members and their families will sit together to enjoy some great Aggie football.
Different emergencies require different responses. For example, a fire calls for building evacuation, while a tornado may call for people to remain in the structure for shelter. It is critical to understand potential emergencies and the appropriate response.
Here is an extensive, but not all-inclusive, list of potential disasters, as well as actions you can take to stay safe. A list of most likely disasters may include:
|Influenza Pandemic||Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)|
|Nuclear Threat||Radiation Threat|
|Wildfires||Winter Storms and Extreme Cold|
Links for all of the Ready.gov information, as well as American Red Cross shelter information and other useful preparedness links can be found on TEEX’s Emergency Preparedness Webpage.
Watch for next week’s TEEXblog, where I’ll write about volunteer opportunities for citizens to assist with training emergency responders at TEEX’s Disaster City.
Sam White is a communications specialist and blogger for the Texas Engineering Extension Service and welcomes your comments. Know of something interesting happening at TEEX? Please submit blog ideas firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sam White is a communications specialist and blogger for the Texas Engineering Extension Service and welcomes your comments. Know of something interesting happening at TEEX? Please submit blog ideas to email@example.com.