9 Tips for a Safe Hunting Season

Fall. The time of year that leaves change colors, jackets are dusted off, football is on TV, and HUNTING SEASON begins. Hunting is a large part of the culture in North Dakota, and I was fortunate enough to learn at a very young age how to do it, both respectfully and safely. I owe that to my dad who took the time to go through the hunter’s safety course with me, as well as took me into the field to practice what I had learned. Hunting is most often a fun and enjoyable experience, however, when the proper procedures are not followed, the consequences can be devastating.

The North Dakota Safety Council offers the following safety tips for all hunters this hunting season:

  • Treat every firearm with the same respect as a loaded firearm
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
  • Be sure barrel and action are clear of obstructions
  • Unload firearms when not in use
  • Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm
  • Store firearms and ammunition separately
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting
  • When field dressing your game, keep meat clean and cool to avoid spoiling
  • Always wear bright or reflective clothing

Stay safe and happy hunting!

Peter Pomonis
Home & Community/Training Coordinator
North Dakota Safety Council

Tips gathered from: http://www.gf.nd.gov/wildlife/fish-wildlife/wildlife-diseases/safety-tips and http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/hunt_ten_commandments.htm


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NDSC Urges Students, Drivers to be Safe this Back-to-School Season

With the new school year upon us, you are going to notice a lot of extra traffic before and after school hours. That means, if you’re walking or driving during those times, you need to take extra precautions.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S. for children ages 5 to 19. The North Dakota Safety Council offers these simple tips to both drivers and pedestrians this back-to-school season:

  • Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Teach kids at an early age to put down their devices and then look left, right and left again when crossing a street.
  • Children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars until age 10.
  • Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers, or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly. SLOW DOWN.
  • NEVER pass a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading students. It is required by law for both sides of the street to stop when the bus’ red lights are flashing and/or stop sign is deployed.

Please, share these tips with your children, whether they are walking or driving to school. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Staying Safe During One of the Busiest Travel Weekends of the Year

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and one of the most dangerous. The National Safety Council estimates 395 people will be killed and an additional 42,300 will be injured in car crashes this weekend. Those are some pretty scary statistics if you ask me!

But on a positive note, they also estimated 144 lives may be saved by doing one simple thing: BUCKLING UP.

Please, before you get on the road this weekend, take one second to buckle your seatbelt. Then, make sure everyone else in the vehicle buckles up, too. It’s the most basic step you can take to increase your chance of survival in a crash.

Here are some more simple tips to help keep you safe on the road this weekend:

  • Refrain from using cell phones – handheld or hands-free – because there is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving
  • Do not manipulate in-vehicle infotainment systems or electronic devices, including GPS systems, while the vehicle is in motion
  • Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed
  • Drive defensively and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather
  • Designate a non-drinking driver or plan for alternative transportation, such as a taxi

If you want to learn more about defensive driving techniques, there are classes all over the state that can help. Learn more about the NDSC’s Defensive Driving courses here. We have classes in all major cities (and they qualify for a point reduction and insurance discount!).

Have fun this weekend and safe travels!

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10 Tips for a Safe Summer Road Trip

Summer is a time when a lot of us like to hit the road. Whether we’re heading to the lake for some sun or going across state lines to see family, the roads are going to be busy. This is a good time to remind ourselves about key safety tips to keep us, and our loved ones, safe while we drive.

Here are some simple tips to remember during your summer travels:

  1. Avoid distracted driving by refraining from cell phone use while behind the wheel.
  2. Set passenger restrictions for your teen drivers.
    Having even one passenger can increase a new driver’s crash risk by 48%.
  3. Always wear a seat belt – every trip, every time.
    Drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% more likely to survive a car crash, and 50% more likely to avoid serious injury. (NHTSA)
  4. Make sure children are using restraints appropriate for their age, size and maturity.
    Click here for best practices from the ND Department of Health.
  5. Avoid fatigued driving.
  6. If you plan on drinking, designate a driver.
  7. Stay focused and be aware of other drivers on the road.
    Try to avoid other driver’s blind spots and be cautious at intersections.
  8. Keep your distance. Refrain from tailgating, and if someone is tailgating you, let them pass.
  9. Pay attention to weather alerts – it’s best to stay off the roads if there is a threat of flooding or severe thunderstorms.
  10. Be prepared. Keep a first aid kit and roadside safety kit in your car.

If you want to learn more defensive driving techniques, the NDSC offers Defensive Driving courses for both new and experienced drivers. Courses qualify for an insurance discount and point reduction.

Click here to learn more or call Terry Weaver at (800) 932-8890.


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Fourth of July: the great debate between safety and fun. Do we have to choose?

For more than a month, my family and I have been trying to make plans for the 4th of July. After failing at every attempt to book a camping site (apparently you need to book a camping site 6 months in advance around here), we accepted the fact we were “stuck” celebrating at my family farm. Usually our 4th of July celebrations include a trip to Lake Sakakawea or camping in Medora – both of which have relatively close access to a professional fireworks show. A few nights ago, my husband asked if my family does our own fireworks show. He figured, since we’d be out on the farm, we could all go together to buy enough fireworks to do our own show.

Instantly, I began a debate with myself. Every year since I began working for the NDSC, I have posted web stories and shared safety tips around the 4th of July – ALL of them urging the public to leave the fireworks displays to the professionals. So, do I uphold my title of Mrs. Safety and “practice what I preach”? Or should I be the fun wife/daughter/sister who says yes to buying hundreds of dollars of fireworks to shoot off?

Well, when it comes to my family, I pick my battles carefully. They don’t know it, but I am compromising with them (or maybe I had no choice in the matter). Either way, I took it upon myself to set a few rules for the family fireworks show:

    Sorry- I’m not going to letting my beautiful son, niece or nephew get burned by a 1,200 degree sparkler.
  2. NO ILLEGAL fireworks.
    Not that my family would EVER do anything illegal. :)
    The kids will be kept far away from wherever the fireworks are being lit.
    There will only be water to DRINK before the show, and lots of water nearby while lighting the fireworks.
  5. And last, but not least, DON’T BURN DOWN THE HOUSE.
    I love my parent’s house, so all fireworks will face away from the house and toward the reservoir.

As in years past, I still urge you to leave the fireworks to the professionals. This is the easiest way to stay safe AND have fun. But if you just can’t resist, or you find yourself in the middle of your own family fireworks show, please be sure to take precautions. Each year, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Don’t let your night end with a trip to the emergency room.

Stay safe and happy Independence Day!


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Child Heatstroke Deaths in Vehicles – when bad things happen to good people. 5 simple tips to protect your child.

Every summer, sometimes multiple times per week, my heart is broken.

It’s not a heartbreak for any personal loss, but a pain I feel for parents around the country who have lost a child to vehicular heatstroke. Last summer, this hit a little close to home for North Dakotans when a child, just across the border in Moorhead, Minnesota, died from being overcome by heat in a car. I didn’t follow the news story to learn if any parent or caregiver was at fault. Frankly, I wish the media wouldn’t even address who’s at fault, because that gives the false impression to the rest of the world that this could only happen if a person purposely left their child in the car to die. What I wish the media would focus on is the reality of the story – any one of us could accidentally let our children succumb to vehicular heatstroke.

A lot of us believe that we could NEVER accidentally leave our child alone in the car. It’s UNTHINKABLE. But, let me ask you this: Have you ever left your vehicle unlocked in the driveway or garage? If you locked your car, where did you leave your keys? Were they within reach of your child? Have you ever told your child your vehicle isn’t a playground? That they should never get in the car without your permission?

There are multiple ways children in this country are dying from vehicular heatstroke. Some have been forgotten in cars by a loving parent. Others became trapped when they climbed into an unlocked car and were too young – incapable of figuring out how to open the door or truck of the car.

So far this summer, 13 children have died. And, unfortunately, that number is going to keep going up. Is there even the slightest possibility the next death could be your child?

I urge you – please don’t think you are exempt from making mistakes as a parent. It doesn’t matter what your gender, race, religion, or class in society is. We are all susceptible to mistakes. And our children could suffer from them.

It just takes a few simple precautions to protect your child from the unthinkable.
Please take the time to read and share these life-saving tips:

1. Always check the backseat before you leave your car.
To ensure you HAVE to check the backseat, put your cell phone, purse or another important item next to the carseat.

2. Have a backup plan.
Establish a plan with your daycare provider to call you if your child isn’t dropped off within a normal time. If you are switching who drops off your child at daycare, set a reminder on your phone or computer to call the other person to make sure they did it.

3. Talk to your children.
Make sure they know it’s NEVER okay to play in a vehicle.

4. Ensure a child can’t gain access to your car.
Always lock your car and keep your keys out of your child’s sight and reach.

5. Check the car first.
If your child goes missing, check the car, trunk and pool before anywhere else.

Please help the NDSC spread the word about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke. Share this blog or visit www.safekids.org/heatstroke to download and share more information.


Preparing our High School Grads for College: 5 tips to keep them safe

graduateJune is National Safety Month and this week’s theme is “Be Aware of Your Surroundings.” From a workplace perspective, they are referring to unintentional injuries like slips, trips and falls, and injury by contact with object (a fancy phrase for being hit on the head with something). But for me, “Be Aware of Your Surroundings” means protecting myself from intentional injury.

With the recent crop of high school graduates, I think this is an important topic to revisit. If these high school graduates are anything like I was at 18, there’s good reason to remind them of the dangers of stalkers and predators. I grew up in a sleepy town of 250 people where the most we thought about kidnapping was the year of the Dru Sjodin case. But we never thought something like that could happen in our town. So when my class of nine girls and two boys went off to college, we were ill-prepared, to put it lightly.

If you have a son or daughter heading off to college, remind them about the importance of being aware of their surroundings. Whether they’re coming from a small, rural town, or have just grown up as a typical sheltered North Dakotan, we need to remind them they are crossing over to a whole new world. A world where mom and dad aren’t waiting for them to get home. A world where they are surrounded by strangers with histories unknown to them. A world where they might be at the library (we hope!) until midnight and walking home alone.

We live in a world where, whether we want to accept it or not, there are bad people that may want to harm us. Don’t let your child be unprepared. Give them the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe. Start by sharing these simple tips:

1. Eliminate Distractions.
Stay off your phone and cut the music when you’re exercising outside or walking through parking lots. You need to pay attention to your surroundings so you can recognize and avoid predators.

2. Be Prepared.
Have your keys in your hand BEFORE you leave the building to walk to your car.

3. Be Smart.
Don’t go out at night alone if you don’t have to. And avoid isolated parking lots, alleyways and buildings if you can.

4. Trust Your Gut.
If you feel like someone is falling you, immediately walk or drive to an area with a lot of people. Do not go home!

5. Communicate.
Let someone know where you are going, what route you’re taking, and when you plan to be back.

If you want to take the next step in teaching your kids how to protect themselves, have them attend a predator awareness or self-defense course. You can find these courses all over North Dakota. The NDSC’s course, Self Protection & Predator Awareness, not only teaches students how to recognize and avoid predators, but it also teaches them simple techniques to escape an attacker. Techniques that could save their life one day.

To learn more, visit our website or call Peter at (701) 223-6372.

Summer Safety: How to NOT Get Hit By a Car

Summer is here, and participation in outdoor activities is ramping up. A lot of us are dusting off our bikes and going for a spin. But, since it was a very long winter in North Dakota, some riders may be a little rusty in their bicycle safety. So we did some research and compiled a list of safety tips we’d like to share with you.

One site we found during our research, www.Bicyclesafe.com, summed up the goal of this post with their headline: How to NOT Get Hit by a Car. We think that’s a great goal for ALL riders this summer and we hope you’ll read and share these tips with the bicyclists in your life.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

  1. According to the NDDOT, state law requires bicyclists to drive like other vehicles. That means they must follow these rules:
    1. Obey the traffic signs and signals just like other vehicles.
    2. NEVER ride against traffic. Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists on the wrong side of the road.
    3. Don’t pass on the right. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
    4. Use hand signals to tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do.
    5. Use a light at night. Law requires a white headline and a rear reflector or taillight at night.
  2. Ride in the middle of the lane. This makes you more visible at intersections and less likely to be hit by a car.
  3. Make eye contact with drivers. Assume drivers don’t see you. If you can’t make eye contact with them, wave your arms until they look at you.
  4. ALWAYS wear a properly fitted helmet. Watch this Safe Kids video to learn more or download this Helmet Fit Test.
  5. Ride as if you are invisible.
    An example from bicyclesafe.com: It’s a good idea to signal a left turn, but it’s an even better idea to make your left turn at a time or place where there aren’t cars behind you that could hit you.

And, we can’t forget about the DRVERS!
When you’re driving this summer, take these safety tips into consideration:

  1. Change lanes when passing a biker. Treat it just like you are passing any other vehicle.
  2. Keep an eye out for bikes when changing lanes or passing through an intersection. Take bicycle lanes into consideration as well as regular lanes of traffic.
  3. Make eye contact with the bicyclist so they know you see them.
  4. Avoid distractions. When you’re texting or talking on the phone, your reaction time is significantly hampered. Dedicate your full attention to the task at hand – driving!

Sources: ND Department of Transportation, bicyclesafe.com, Safe Kids Worldwide

Safer Summer Roads: teach your teen to share the road with workers and cyclists

Here’s a great read from the National Safety Council’s DriveitHOME blog. If you have a new driver in your family – check it out!

Are you teaching your teen to drive but not quite sure where to begin? DriveitHOME can help! We’ve developed practice tips and lessons for each week of the year so your teen’s learning process can be as smooth as possible. The lessons are a simple click away and, just like that, you’re on track to teaching your teen to drive – the right way.

Today we’re featuring lessons on how to handle road construction and motorcyclists – both common during the summer months.

Work Zones
Road construction is a necessary nuisance. How else can our roads be maintained or potholes be repaired? A work zone presents unique dangers. Following the rules associated with work zones is the first big step toward being safe.

  • Slow to the posted speed limit. Slow down even more if you see workers, especially flaggers who might direct you to stop if there is a hazard ahead.
  • Tell your teen to keep his or her eyes moving so it’s easy to notice workers, slow moving equipment, gear that might be sticking out into traffic lanes, dirt and debris on the road, clouds of dust kicked up by earth movers and temporary signs.
  • Also, explain to your teen the importance of being patient. Because of the special hazards and risks in work zones, most states step up enforcement by increasing fines and police patrols.
  • Put those scanning the road habits to use and watch for debris and workers. This will be a real test of your teen’s skills!

Sharing the Road with Two-Wheel Vehicles
Your teen will be sharing the road with motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and bicycles. Their size makes these vehicles particularly vulnerable, so your teen needs to pay special attention.

When you go driving with your teen this week, see if you can spot any two-wheel vehicles. Discuss these safety tips with your teen:

  • Check carefully for these vehicles before making a right turn. The drivers of two-wheel vehicles sometimes try to squeeze between your right side and the curb.
  • Check mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Then turn your head quickly to check your blind spot. These small vehicles can be easily hidden in blind spots.
  • Leave more following distance – 5 or 6 seconds rather than three. Two-wheel vehicles are lighter and can stop faster than cars. An extra margin of safety lets you stop before crashing into one!
  • Be careful when parked and opening a door – particularly if you are parked on the right side of a road and are sitting in the driver seat. It is sometimes difficult to see two-wheel vehicles and you wouldn’t want to have them smash into your door if you open it right in front of them.

Visit DriveitHOME.org for more tips on how to help your teens become the best drivers they can be.

The Most Dangerous Years
The most dangerous time in your child’s life will be the first few years they drive. The North Dakota Safety Council offers Alive at 25, a defensive driving course for teen drivers, that will help prepare them for challenges they’ll face behind the wheel. From peer pressure to distractions, law enforcement professionals will guide your teens to making SAFE decisions behind the wheel. Learn more and see a statewide course schedule at www.ndsc.org/aliveat25

My Journey from Sedentary to Stepping It Up

About a month ago, a wellness committee was formed at our office and they initiated a walking challenge. Being the competitive spirit that I am, I signed up right away! After all, I’m a young professional, mom of a toddler, and wife. I put in MANY steps in a day – or so I thought.

To help motivate and educate our staff, the committee emailed out some statistics. One infographic in particular caught my attention. It included the following stats:
  • People with sitting jobs have 2x the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs.
    HOLY CRAP! I already have a strong history of heart problems in my family!
  • As soon as you sit:
    • Electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts off.
      No wonder my leg muscles are weak!
    • Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute.
      At this point, I put down my latte.
    • Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%.
      Was that latte non-fat?
  • After 2 hours of sitting good cholesterol drops 20%.
    Oh no! I sit for 4 hours at a time at work…

Needless to say, this got me thinking. I know I have a family history of health problems, and, I guess I do SIT a lot at work. So, I figured I could stand to make a few changes.

Then, the wellness committee handed out pedometers. We were supposed to track our steps on a daily basis and record them. To help us understand what our counts meant, they shared this:

  • Less than 5,000 steps/day = SEDENTARY
  • 5,000-7,499 = Low Active
  • 7,500-9,999= Somewhat Active
  • 10,000-12,499= Active
  • 12,500+ = Highly Active

And so, we all began tracking our steps. On Monday morning, with much enthusiasm, I slipped my pedometer on my waist and began my typical daily routine: get ready, get toddler ready, get toddler to daycare, go to work. At about 10:30 a.m., I peeked at my pedometer.

TWO HUNDRED STEPS. What?! That can’t be right!

After work, I continued my routine: pick up toddler from daycare, cook supper, scrub floor where toddler ate, do dishes, chase toddler, give toddler bath, dress toddler, bedtime stories, relax with hubby, bedtime. By the end of the day, at just 800 steps, I was CONVINCED my pedometer wasn’t working. But, day two showed the same results. And so did day three. And day four. I began to think it wasn’t my PEDOMETER that was doing something wrong….

I quickly realized change wasn’t optional, it was NECESSARY. So, I began analyzing my day to figure out where I could fit in my steps WITHOUT decreasing my productivity at work. It wasn’t an easy task. I could think of just about every excuse in the world NOT to walk – no long hallways to walk at my office; it’s winter and the roads are icy so I can’t walk outside; my lunch hour isn’t long enough to cook a good meal AND walk; I have too much to do at work to take 15 minutes to do lunges, squats or jumping jacks. The excuses just kept coming.

Eventually, I sucked it up and started increasing my steps. It was as simple as pacing my office while on a phone call, taking my dog out at lunch, and doing a little cleaning each night at home. The first week of the contest, I increased my steps by 42%. Week 2, I increased my steps from my base week by 57%, and by week 3, I increase by 61%! By the end of the challenge, I had figured out easy ways to increase my steps AND I lost 3 pounds. It even led to me making healthier meal, snack and beverage choices throughout each day. Plus, I was given the Overall Improvement Award and a $10 Starbucks giftcard from the wellness committee.

Thanks to our wellness committee, I have set a new goal for myself to start exercising 3-4 nights a week. Hopefully this will bump me to the 10,000+ steps/day category!

Business owners – if you’re looking for a simple way to incorporate worksite wellness into your plan, give this a try!

Employees – don’t underestimate the influence you can have on those around you. Taking the lead on a project like this really could make a difference in someone’s life. I know it did in mine!

Serena Schmit
Marketing Coordinator, Mom, Wife & Daughter