Happy Birthday, America!

On July 4, our nation will commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence some 241 years ago. We look forward to time off from work, parades, cook-outs, baseball games, concerts, Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating contest and fireworks as we celebrate the birth of our great country.

From the very beginning, the celebrations of Independence Day included fireworks. Some think that John Adams started it all in a letter he wrote to his wife. In the letter, he stated that the occasion should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

As far back as 1777, Philadelphia put together a full day of festivities that included a parade, dinner, music, musket salutes and fireworks.

Fireworks are magical; explosions of bright colors, shapes and sounds lighting up the night sky as young and old alike watch in awe. They are the grand finale for the day’s celebrations. Fireworks are also dangerous.  Think about it. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2016. And according to the National Fire Protection Agency, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, resulting in numerous injuries and an average of $43 million in direct property damage. This doesn’t even include the adverse effect they have on pets. If you are a pet owner, you know what I am talking about. 

Remember, it’s only fun until someone gets hurt. Leave things to the professionals. Be smart, be responsible and be safe.

And, amidst all the festivities, please take a few minutes to remember the real reason we celebrate this day – our freedom and all of those who fought and still fight to preserve it.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Posted by MJ Thomas

Things are heating up

According to the calendar, Wednesday, June 21 was the first day of summer; the warmest season of the year. The other tell-tale sign that summer is here is the need to adjust the office air conditioning daily. As unpredictable as the weather has been, it’s hard to tell how high temperatures will rise; but one thing is for sure – it will get hot. That’s great for fun days at the beach, cook-outs, swimming and other summer leisure activities. Heat in the workplace – whether indoors or outdoors – is another story. Every year, thousands of workers get sick from occupational heat exposure, some even die. The good news is that these illnesses and fatalities can be prevented.

Basically, heat illness is the body’s inability to cool itself. The body’s natural reaction to a rise in temperature is to sweat; it’s how the body cools itself. However, there comes a point, where that no longer works. That’s when heat-related illness can develop in one of the three degrees of heat stress – heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

The best way to prevent heat illness is to be proactive; practice heat safety. If you are an employer, make sure employees are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness; implement a heat acclimatization program; allow for work/rest schedules; make sure hydrating fluids are readily available; monitor employees for signs of heat illness and be ready to provide prompt medical attention if needed.

Workers need to take responsibility too. Stay hydrated, take breaks when needed, wear breathable clothing, monitor co-workers for signs of heat illness and practice common sense. Don’t fall victim to heat illness – anywhere. Be safe and enjoy what summer has to offer.

On a lighter note, I leave you today with a quote from Steven Wright – “If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?”

Posted by MJ Thomas

“Keep Each Other Safe”

June is National Safety Month; an annual observance that focuses on reducing the leading causes of injury at work, in our homes, on the road and in our communities. “Keep Each Other Safe” is this year’s theme; four words that together send a powerful message.

Safety – at work, at home or at play – really is everyone’s responsibility. Face it. It’s a jungle out there and it’s important to keep safety in the forefront as we tackle our daily challenges. Now before you roll your eyes and tell me you already have enough to think about every day, remember, it only takes a minute for the status quo to change, sometimes dramatically. All it takes is a little common sense and a keen awareness of our surroundings to make things safer for everyone.

See that cart sitting in the middle of the aisle? Move it. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Notice that spill on the floor? Clean it up or at least report it. How about those boxes stacked too high and off-center on that racking system? How about that torn piece of carpeting? Don’t wait until someone trips on it and gets hurt. Take action. Do you know where the first aid and emergency equipment are located? Do you know the procedure in that situation? You get the drift. It’s why safety training is so important; why each of us needs to take it seriously.

National Safety Month is a great opportunity to be a safety ambassador; spread the word; get involved in reducing the risks of injuries. Make a difference.

Be safe out there.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Do you believe?

When the Cleveland Cavaliers take home court tonight, the odds are clearly stacked against them. Down three games in the NBA Championships, game four represents “go big or go home.” That’s okay; they’ve been here before. They didn’t give up then and they won’t give up now.

Speculation on the outcome of tonight’s game is running rampant; from one extreme to the other; from and odds defying victory to sure defeat. Everyone’s an expert – fans, media, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker – all have something to say.

And guess what? None of it matters. It’s just a bunch of noise that in no way will have any bearing on the final score. The Cavaliers can’t let it matter. They need to believe. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

That’s the way it goes on life too. Even when the odds are stacked against you and everyone tells you that you can’t do it; never give up. Understand and accept that there will be obstacles along the way, you will be challenged, you may stumble and you may even fail the first few times. Keep going; don’t give up. Believe. Nobody said it would be easy. Keep the dream alive.

So, what’s your dream? Are you willing to put it all on the line to achieve that dream? Are you ready to accept rejection, stumble a few times and still keep going? Do you believe? Then, go for it! That’s what the Cavaliers will be doing tonight.

This is Believeland. Go Cavs!

Posted by MJ Thomas

What difference does it make? A lot!

We all have different learning styles. Some of us are visual; some hands-on; some are auditory; and some are reading/writing learners. Personally, I am a combination of styles; visual and hands-on. I learn best with charts and graphs and pictures and colors (visual); taking things apart and putting them back together (hands-on).

Auditory learners need to hear the information and often like to say it out loud to help them remember it. Reading/writing learners do best when reading and writing. Go figure.

So, what difference does it make? Let’s just suppose you have important information to convey to an audience – customers, employees, family, friends – and you want to make sure they “get” it. How do you present the information in a way that achieves your goal? Understand that not everyone in your “audience” learns the same way. Learning is not a “one size fits all” proposition.

My point? At any given time, each type of learner will be in your audience and the way you deliver your message better include something for each learner type. At Sentry, we are in the business of safety. Any messages we send out – whether it’s product information, safety tips, or general safety information – needs to hit the target. That means the message needs to contain something for everyone. What can you do to engage people in your message? Before you speak, listen. Yep, that’s right. Listen; not just hear but listen. Too often we listen to reply, not to understand. Know your audience, whether it’s one-on-one or a large group. Effective communication is about removing obstacles and taking the other person(s) into consideration. Know what they need and find ways to solve their issues. Make it all about them.

Have a great weekend.

Posted by MJ Thomas