Over the holiday weekend, 11 tornadoes swept the Dallas area, prompting Gov. Gregg Abbott to declare a state of emergency across much of North Texas. State and federal agencies are working alongside volunteers to assess and reverse the damage. If your business participates in recovery efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration encourages you to educate your employees about the hazards they might encounter and teach them how to protect themselves.
For tips on weathering tornadoes and the hazards that often accompany them, visit Texas Mutual’s blog post titled “Lessons from the Field: Tornadoes Carve Path of Destruction Across North Texas.”
For information on preparing your home and your business for an emergency, leverage these free tools:
WOW, family life, work life, food choices, stress, this fast-paced world and still thinking of ourselves as losers, we just can’t live up to everyone’s expectations. Time, time, and more time is what the demand is today. In the 1920’s and 1930’s society was overworked so employees took action and the government reduced and made regulations to help give us personal and/or relaxation time. Today, we are reliving history by being connected to our work environment and the emergency response processes 24/7. Face it, let’s put it on the table, we are overweight, getting older, and exercise and proper eating becomes quite difficult as a worker and a community driven individual. It is TIME to take time for YOURSELF. However, can we even live up to our own expectations? The BIGGEST LOSER campus in Niagara Falls, NY last spring taught me how and I wish to share an experience that can benefit you.
The biggest and most important lesson was spend time with those whom matter most, YOU being first on the list, because without you there is no need to worry about the rest. Most expert suggest picking the time of day you can focus on you. For example, I start my day around 4 a.m. each morning, having a cup of coffee, no cream and sugar. Is it good for you if you enjoy it? Let’s face reality, most everything we consume is not good for us in one way or another. Those of you that have to have that morning soda, keep in mind the ingredients are full of bad stuff, visit “Hunger for Change” on the internet to learn more. If you have to have a soda do something to counter the reactions. For example, if you drink all the bad stuff, exercise.
Exercise comes in many forms and programs, again our focus was “giving us choices”. On the average BIGGEST LOSER made us workout 5 ½ hours a day for a week. While this is not realistic, they were giving us choices in our workout plans. One workout day at BIGGEST LOSER was equivalent to one workout week back at home. You need to do the type of exercise you enjoy involving some kind of cardio and muscle strengthening. I have been very confused with this because I like running. As I get older it becomes more difficult, but trying is the key. Please don’t listen to others as they try to discourage you from doing what you like, most likely they really wish they could do it and they could if they make it a priority. We are not telling you to run, the best form of exercise is doing some type of outdoor activity you enjoy, anything from working in the yard to riding a bike 150 miles. Three very important rules, even I have a problem maintaining are: stretching your body before you take on the activity, drinking 100 ounces of water a day or ½ your body weight in ounces of water a day, and take small steps toward your goals. Stretching, has been echoed from the experts throughout my life. Looking back at my injuries during my career in the emergency services, if I would have stretched in the morning it would have prevented most of those injuries. At the BIGGEST LOSER we had a choice to get up early or sleep in, we took an hour of stretching to soft music every morning, remember this is a form of exercise. A recommended app is SWorkit. This app shows you how to stretch and gives you choices on what to stretch and has a timer, with music to relax you. Small steps toward your goals can be rewarding because you see the results and before you know it you will be setting bigger goals. Listen to your body, if something is hurting or not feeling right during the exercise STOP. Take time to examine the problem. Don’t confuse this with regular workout pain, our body is aging and undergoing a change so there will be some discomfort.
At BIGGEST LOSER we ate healthy and felt full all day long and I still lost 10 pounds during that week. Throw away the scale, you are trying to loss body fat, not regular scale weight; this is the term I use. One goal was to lose 1 pound of body fat a month. Yes it becomes difficult but it is one that sticks in our mind. If we are exercising and eating right you could actually gain weight not lose it because you are building muscle mass. BIGGEST LOSER encourages you to eat 45 minutes after you wake up or 45 minutes after your morning exercise, I prefer after morning exercises. They also recommend no food consumption 2 hours before bedtime.
Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) also helps you understand yourself. The BMR is the minimum number of calories your body needs to function when completely at rest, these calories are what you need to survive the day. Are you eating over this rate? If so, counter balance with more physical activity. Equally as important is if you become more active and exercising more during the day then your calorie intake may have to increase. BIGGEST LOSER recommends you should consume half of your BMR for the day after you have eaten lunch. People will approach you and ask what type of diet you are on. If you are on a diet you could be depriving the body of nutrients to help your physical condition. Eat small portions, about five times a day. Another app I would suggest is Fooducate. This app recommends alternative healthy products to what you may already like.
Lastly, BIGGEST LOSER was the best medical treatment I have ever received. The experience will never be forgotten, relaxing, peaceful, and getting to know yourself. I will return. Take the TIME and go, call them first and they will be glad to help you through the process. Become that loser of weight, gain time for yourself, and maintain a happy life style.
By Roy Mercer, VFIS of Texas Director of Safety, Training & Education
Recently the State Fire Marshals’ Office had a conference in Hurst Texas to bring in some well-known speakers from across the nation to address the subject of Line of Duty Deaths. The conference was a successful learning experience to assist fire departments with changing some strategies and tactics to lower the risk of having a serious injury or death in your fire department.
The conference addressed multiple subjects that need to be touched upon in order to attack the problem of firefighter injuries and deaths. Topics such as SOGs, Maydays, Firefighter Health, Accountability, and multi-firefighter death incidents were all covered to give attendees a starting point to be able to do something within their department to lower the risk.
Every time there is an LODD in Texas, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is required by law to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death and provide recommendations, policies and national standards that might help a fire department to avoid an LODD. At the end of each fiscal year, the SFMO is also responsible for putting a summary of all the LODDs for that year along with the common recommendations and policies that fire departments should make sure they are following.
If you don’t read any of the individual LODD reports, PLEASE read the summary of all the LODD’s for the year which can be found at www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/fmloddannuals.
Since 2001, the reports have been done by SFMO, have they made a difference? I believe so! If you look at how many LODDs Texas was having on an annual basis compared with how many we see now on an annual basis I think you will see a general downward trend of LODDs over the last several years. Of course there are several incidents within this time period in which one incident accounted for multiple LODDs, however, if you factor those incidents out the general trend has been down.
While it is extremely important to recognize and continue to work with all of the Texas fire service stakeholders, agencies, and fire departments to identify the trends in LODDs and injuries, we must also recognize that as a profession in Texas, we have been doing a better job training, learning from the recommendations from the LODD reports, and being safer while on the fire ground. Good Job! Let’s continue to put out our best effort in making sure we utilize the tools and information out there to keep our firefighters safe!
By Chris Barron, Fire Chief Manchaca Fire Department
2014 IAFC Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year
2016 HB 3667 Grant: Workers' Compensation, Death, and/or Disability coverage - The 77th Texas Legislature (HB3667) created the Rural VFD Insurance Program and is funded by a 2% sales tax on the sale of fireworks. The program provides reimbursement grants for Texas firefighters to obtain workers compensation, death and disability insurance from private insurance companies. Each year more than 400 fire departments and 11,000 firefighters take advantage of the grant offering.
Who is eligible?
Any chartered, non-profit volunteer or part-paid/volunteer fire department is eligible, provided the number of paid members is 20 or less. All qualified departments must participate in a firefighter certification program administered under Section 419.071 of the Texas Government Code (Texas Commission on Fire Protection), or by the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas (SFFMA), or by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).
What is eligible?
Any combination of compensation insurance for firefighters (workers' compensation, death, and/or disability insurance) is eligible. The insurance coverage must include a workers' compensation or similar benefit, and a death benefit. Departments may enter into agreements with cities or counties in order to qualify for coverage and/or special premiums.
How much will it pay...
The program will reimburse 100% of the actual cost of eligible insurance coverage, up to a maximum of $125.00 per fire department member covered in the calendar year 2016.
How to apply...
It's easy, simply read the Application Procedure, complete the following forms and submit via fax, email or mail. Please submit these forms only once during the enrollment period of Dec. 1, 2015 thru Aug. 31, 2016.
Fax: (979) 845-6160
Call: (979) 458-6505
Texas A&M Forest Service
Capacity Building Department
200 Technology Way, Suite 1162
College Station, TX 77845-3424
ESO WC GROUP
VFIS of Texas