Warm Weather Safety
Environmental Health & Safety wants you to safely enjoy your barbeque. Please call us at 208-885-6524 before your event for assistance in planning a safe location and meeting other university requirements listed below. At a minimum, we need to know a barbecue is taking place on campus. We receive many calls regarding billowing smoke from concerned members of the Vandal community. Bonfires and open burning on campus is prohibited.
The following requirements must be met for every barbecue event on campus:
- Grills are allowed only when used a minimum of 10 feet from buildings, flammable landscaping or other readily ignitable fuel sources.
- Grills must be placed on a hard, noncombustible surface (concrete, asphalt, etc.).
- Grills must always be attended when lit.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher handy. Loaners are available from EHS.
- A metal drip pan is required to be used under the barbecue to catch grease.
- Grills are limited to propane, pellet or charcoal fuels, no deep frying allowed.
- Ensure charcoal remains (for charcoal grills) are completely extinguished when finished.
- Do not dispose of charcoal in university dumpsters, trash containers or on the landscaping.
- Do not dispose of spent fuel canisters in dumpsters or other trash containers.
- Do not bring grills into buildings until cooled.
- Propane tanks are not allowed in university buildings.
- Lighter fluid must be properly stored as a flammable liquid.
Outdoor grilling on campus is restricted to university-affiliated departments and recognized student groups. Individuals and unauthorized groups may not conduct grilling on campus, except for tailgating during football games in designated parking lots. If you live on campus, University Housing has guidelines related to university apartments and residence halls; please contact them directly for this information.
Spring is in the air! The snow is disappearing and bicycles are increasing in numbers again. But before you hop on and start to pedal, take a few moments to review how to safely travel by bicycle here in Idaho. Even if you don't ride a bike, motorists and pedestrians should also be aware of rules that pertain to cyclists to better predict their movements - some of these are listed below.
First, start with some routine maintenance for your bike and ensure you have the proper safety equipment. Check the chain, tighten loose bolts and check your tires for wear and proper inflation. Check the bicycle for reflectors, headlamp and other reflective gear, and invest in reflective clothing to increase your visibility on the road. Don't forget your head - all cyclists should have an approved, properly fitting helmet to wear every time they get on their bicycle. Your bicycle should also be a proper fit - think size, type and height.
Other tips to keep in mind: carry items in a backpack or properly strapped to the back of the bike and tie your shoes and tuck in loose pant legs so that they don't get caught in your bike chain. Think about where you are going and how you will get there. Consider routes with less traffic or slower speeds and routes that have bike lanes or paths.
Now think about the rules of the road. These rules are for your safety and the safety of the motorists on the road with you.
- Ride with the flow of traffic to the right side of the lane or within the bike lanes, when present.
- Use designated turn lanes or occupy the lane nearest the direction you plan to turn when there is no designated lane.
- Signal your turns; use proper hand signals for turning and stopping in a timely manner.
- Obey all traffic control devices (yielding at stop signs and stopping at red lights in accordance with state law and city ordinances).
- Always have at least one hand in control of the bike.
- Be predictable! Drive where you are expected to be seen and maintain a steady line of travel.
- Stay alert, scan ahead for potential hazards, such as car doors opening, potholes and pedestrians and use the center of the lane when there are safety concerns.
- Don't rely eye contact alone; use your best judgment with motorists.
- If riding on a sidewalk, watch for pedestrians and slow down; always yield to the pedestrians.
- Don't use headphones or cell phones when riding; they are a hazardous distraction.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 675 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2020. Many can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the established rules of the road, take some simple safety precautions and watch out for each other. Courtesy, respect and awareness can save lives.
"My bike is gone!"
Does that sound like something you have said? If you are a college student or live in a college town, it's very likely you use a bicycle to get around on the convenient pathways, trails and walkways where you live. Keeping in mind that the APM 35.35 prohibits bringing bikes into university buildings, what can you do to make it more difficult for a thief to take your property? Here are smart, affordable steps you can use to protect what is yours.
- Always lock up your bike, even at home.
- Make sure you lock it to a fixed object.
- Invest in two locking mechanisms, such as a U-bolt and chain lock, each greater than 6mm in thickness.
- When using a U-bolt or chain, use up as much of the space inside the bolt or chain as possible.
- Lock up your bike in a well-lit, high-traffic area.
- Don’t lock it up in the same location every time. Shake it up a bit!
- Register your bike through your local police department or a national registry.
The National Bike Registry website is convenient and makes it easy to register your bike. When you register your bike, you will be sent a tamper-resistant label to put on your bike and a certificate containing pertinent information. Registering allows local police to check if your bike has turned up anywhere else, and pawn shops will be able to easily report it as stolen property. In addition to the steps above, there is a lot of new technology available that is cost-effective, such as GPS trackers, Bluetooth-enabled chains with phone apps and more.
It is up to you, the owner, to take common-sense practical steps to protect what is yours. How much or how little you need is up to you!
Most Vandals are familiar with the campus walkway/pedestrian mall that extends throughout much of the center of campus. It is important to keep in mind that this well-marked series of streets is a multi-use area. That means that while vehicles are restricted, those with valid walkway access permits do share the streets in the campus core. All vehicles (motorized vehicles, skateboards, bicycles, etc.) using the campus walkway must travel no faster than walk speed, or about three (3) miles per hour. Managed parking for a variety of types of spaces, including disability, Vandal Reserved, service, delivery and other special use spaces, are clustered in the campus walkway. Walkway users should remain alert for intermittent motorized vehicles, including SMART Transit buses, that share this important multi-use space.
Colder weather and more layers of clothes can mean hats pulled down low on faces and scarves wrapped warmly around, and both can partly obscure vision. Pedestrians in darker colored clothing, shorter days, less sunshine and fogged or icy car windows can all increase the challenge of seeing pedestrians and giving them the right of way - and can make it harder for pedestrians to use their full peripheral vision to watch for moving traffic.
Wet or frozen streets and sidewalks increase the need for caution from all users. Allow extra time when walking, biking or driving. Remember that getting safely to the next warm place requires extra awareness from the whole Vandal community. Help #KeepCampusMoving by traveling cautiously on foot, by bike or in a motorized vehicle as temperatures drop and cold weather creates additional hazards. Visit our seasonal safety information for more tips on navigating campus in winter.
It seems everywhere you turn on campus, there’s another construction zone. With traffic revisions due to road closures, the impacts of this work can be felt far from the actual work zone. The university is very good at posting construction areas, so pay attention to email alerts and signage at the doors of buildings or on sandwich boards so you know when and where the construction is going to take place.
As a pedestrian, bicyclist or skateboarder it is important, now more than ever, to pay attention to what is going on around you. Here are some basic tips to follow:
- Always use walkways or designated alternate routes
- Do not enter an area that has signs, caution tape, cones or fencing
- Do not move barriers that are "in your way"; this puts you, construction workers and others that may follow at unnecessary risk of injury
- Comply with posted restrictions both inside buildings and around construction sites
- If you must use the street to bypass construction areas, face oncoming traffic so you can make eye contact with drivers
- Wear bright colored clothing to increase visibility to those around you
- Carry a flashlight/use lights during the hours of darkness
- Pay attention to large trucks and mobile equipment; you will see them before they see you
- Make eye contact with drivers of the trucks and mobile equipment operators before proceeding
Construction work is dangerous, and workers need to be able to focus on their own safety. Following their directions will help them, and you, be safe during these activities. Note: Please report stealing of safety cones to campus security or EHS. The unauthorized relocation of these cones presents a real danger to our personnel and students.
You can follow upcoming and ongoing construction projects by checking the Facilities website.
We're all familiar with the warnings against feeding animals in our state and national parks. While we don't typically find bears on the Moscow campus, the same constraints apply to the feeding of other animals. Faculty, staff and students are guided by U of I policy (APM 40.22) which notes "Feeding of natural and feral wildlife is prohibited because of ongoing safety and health issues, vermin population increases around campus buildings and damage to landscape plant materials from increased and non-sustainable animal populations."
The science and evidence behind this policy clearly shows this practice is harmful to wildlife populations in the long run. A quick web search on this topic provides numerous informational articles as to why this practice is a bad deal for our wildlife populations here on campus, and in our parks, campgrounds and forests:
- Wildlife fed by humans often become dependent on this unnatural and sporadic food source, and depending on what is being offered to them, it may cause wildlife to suffer nutritionally as well.
- Feeding wildlife also decreases an animal's natural fear of humans and can lead to more aggressive behavior towards humans because of population increases or a reduction in these non-sustainable food sources.
- Feeding of birds and feral cats is especially problematic on our campus because of the increase in other wildlife and rodent populations that eat the same foods as these animals and can lead to increased infestations of mice, rats and insects in buildings and increased amounts of fecal matter and other unsanitary litter around buildings. Also, without regular and thorough cleaning of feeders and food bowls, there is an increased potential of causing a disease outbreak amongst the various wildlife.
- Currently U of I spends thousands of dollars annually in the mitigation of building pests. Supplying these creatures with a food source near buildings negates mitigation efforts and exacerbates this problem.
- Lastly, a specific issue affecting the U of I campus is the current overpopulation of squirrels is having a damaging effect on our iconic Camperdown elms due to the chewing damage they do to these historic trees throughout the year. Twenty years ago, this wasn't much of an issue, but in the last ten years, it has become significant.
The campus landscape plantings provide an ample food supply of nuts, seeds and fruits for our campus wildlife population. Upsetting this balance only causes long term problems for the wildlife and the campus community. Please support a long term sustainable wildlife population on our campus by not feeding them.
Thank You, the Landscape Staff
Working in the heat stresses the body and can lead to illness and even death. Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of other injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged glasses, dizziness and burns from hot surfaces. Every year thousands of workers become sick from heat exposure and many workers die. Most heat-related health problems are preventable, or the risk of developing them can be reduced.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed a Heat Safety smartphone app in both English and Spanish. The app provides reminders about protective measures that should be taken at the indicated risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness; for example, reminders about drinking enough water, recognizing signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency.
If you or a coworker are experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness, move to a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area; drink water if conscious; apply cold compresses and use caution when standing.
Symptoms to watch for:
- Headache, dizziness or fainting
- Profuse sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Shallow breathing
- Pale, cool, clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
Call 911 and cool the victim by any means when symptoms include:
- Absence of sweating
- Pulsating headache
- Hot, red, dry skin
- High body temperature (above 103F)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Loss of consciousness
Risk factors for developing a heat-related illness are a combination of weather/working conditions and personal factors/physical demands. The risk of heat stress is relative to temperature, humidity, sunlight and wind speed. High temperature and humidity, direct sunlight and low wind speed make the worst combination. Working indoors in areas where heat is generated and/or is not easily dissipated can also increase risk. Personal factors and physical demands contribute to a person's risk: a physically demanding job increases body temperature; working such a job in an environment that is hot with high humidity greatly increases risk. Older workers, obese workers and persons taking certain types of medication, such as antihistamines, have a greater risk as well.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk:
- Scheduling. Whenever possible, schedule heavy work during cooler times of day.
- Acclimation. Gradually increasing exposure time and work load will increase heat tolerance. New employees and workers returning from an absence of a week or more should take care to re-acclimate to the conditions.
- Appropriate Clothing. Wear light, loose, breathable clothing and a hat that doesn't interfere with your work safety. In some cases, personal cooling devices (such as water circulating cooling vests) may be advisable.
- Hydration. Pre-hydrate the body by drinking 8 - 16 ounces of water before working in the heat. Keep water or an electrolyte drink within easy reach and consume about 8 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes, not just during rest breaks. Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea or soda, which act as diuretics and further dehydrate the body. Monitor your urine output - small volumes and/or dark urine may be indicators of dehydration.
- Adequate Rest Periods. Avoid overexertion and work at a steady pace. Heed the body's signals. Take plenty of breaks in shaded or cooler areas.
- Job Rotation. When possible, rotate difficult work tasks in hot conditions between two or more employees.
Remember, heat-induced illnesses should not be taken lightly. Keep an eye on yourself and co-workers for any symptoms that might indicate heat stress and take action if they appear. For more information, contact Environmental Health and Safety at 208-885-6524 or email@example.com.
Every time you start your mower, you are dealing with a dangerous and potentially deadly piece of equipment, for yourself and others in the area. The leading cause of lawn mower injury is debris, such as rocks and branches, being propelled at high speed from mower blades, as reported in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.
OSHA and other lawn maintenance organizations recommend a thorough sweeping of a work area, removing debris and temporary fixtures, such as metal stakes, before performing any landscaping tasks. Specific important precautions include the following:
- Clear the work area before you begin.
- Pick up sticks, bottles, rocks, wires and other debris before you begin.
- Flag or mark objects that cannot be removed so they are more visible.
- Keep children and bystanders away from the area.
- Wear long pants to protect your legs from debris.
- Wear safety glasses at all times unless you are inside an enclosed cab.
- Workers in the area should wear safety glasses and a face shield when operating string and brush trimmers.
- Shut off equipment when crossing a sidewalk, driveway or road.
Unfortunately, these simple precautions are often not taken; precautions that may have prevented accidents like these:
- A 30-year-old lawn care worker was killed as a result of being struck by a metal projectile kicked up by a coworker’s lawn mower. The projectile was a piece of a pet tie-out stake that was sheared off and thrown by the lawn mower.
- An 11-year-old lost her foot when the mower she was riding on “just for fun” tipped over with the blade running.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, the most common cause of major limb loss is lawn mowers.
Keep in mind these safety tips and take actions to protect yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors!
Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs), also known as Specialty OHVs (SOHVs), are increasingly used for work and play because of the growing availability and versatility of these vehicles. SOHVs include golf carts, utility vehicles, 4-wheelers, ATVs, carts, gators, mules and other low speed vehicles, and the widespread use has increased the number of accidents and fatalities caused by misuse. According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, there are more than 100,000 injuries and 700 deaths annually involving ATVs.
While the university is currently working on a policy specific to operating SOHVs, state/federal laws and UI/Departmental vehicle use agreements still apply. When driving these vehicles on campus, additional rules apply such as operating at pedestrian speeds and following the vehicle use policy. Be aware of your surroundings when you park your SOHV as well; these vehicles can become quite hot underneath and ignite dry grasses below them. Yes, this actually has happened on campus! Some additional safety tips are below.
- Get hands on training: Many deaths and injuries occur when an inexperienced driver loses control of an ATV, is thrown from an ATV, overturns the vehicle or collides with a fixed object or a motor vehicle. Hands-on training can give experienced and first-time riders the skills to handle multiple riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions. Check in your area for classes in safe operation of your ATV or motorbike. If purchasing a new toy, ask the dealer for recommendations and be sure to get a thorough orientation to your equipment before taking it out to play. Rental facilities should also provide orientation to the machine before use.
- Don't overload the vehicle: Allowing more people or gear on the vehicle than it was designed to carry can shift the balance causing it to overturn, affect braking and impede the driver's ability to control the vehicle.
- Ensure age appropriateness: The vehicle should be designed for the age, size and weight of the operator. Many injuries and fatalities occur when a vehicle is operated by a person who does not have the motor skills for safe operation. Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes or ATVs that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
- Always wear helmets and other protective gear: CPSC and the ATV Safety Institute recommend U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) certified helmets. Riders should also wear goggles, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and over-the-ankle boots.
As when using any motorized vehicle, separate your driving from use of alcohol or recreational drugs. More information and tips are available through OSHA's website on ATV hazards.
Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) is pleased to offer Pit Crew services to help keep vehicles moving on campus. In over 11 years, PTS staff have helped more than 1,300 drivers on campus with Pit Crew service calls. How exactly do we help? Pit Crew offers:
- Jump starts
- Vehicle unlocks (For some vehicle makes/models, cold temperatures may prevent us from being able to unlock your vehicle)
- Assistance with flat tires
- Gas cans for loan
- A shovel and sand in the winter so you can get out of snowy parking situations.
Pit Crew Services are provided on U of I-managed property on the Moscow campus for FREE from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need assistance outside of these times, leave us a voicemail at 208-885-6424 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll reach out to you as soon as possible when our office opens.
PTS staff report that new Vandals and their families are always pleased to learn about Pit Crew services. "We love sharing information about Pit Crew when we talk to incoming students and their families," states Rebecca Couch, Director of PTS. "During UIdaho Bound events this year, we see the relief on parents' faces, especially, when they learn we can help out when their students will be far from home."
Learn more about Parking and Transportation Services and stay current with parking updates and closures, find parking maps, learn about alternative transportation options, parking permits and more when you visit them online, call them for information at 208-885-6424 or email them at email@example.com.
Whether you are a college student going home for the summer, or a faculty or staff member heading out on vacation, pre-planning for your trip is always a good idea. For a trip to a familiar location, this may be as simple as making sure your vehicle is in good condition and checking the weather, while trips to new areas may require more planning and research.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide numerous tips for travel; this is only a summary of their tips to keep in mind when traveling for personal reasons. If you are traveling for the university, please also refer to our policies on driving and other travel, which may differ from some of these tips.
If you are driving back home for the summer, you are likely to be at least somewhat familiar with the route you plan to travel, how long it might take and what you will need along the way. But if you are driving to a new location or taking a new route, it pays to do your homework – learn your route and identify places to rest or take breaks. Don't travel more than nine or ten hours in a day, or approximately 600 miles (U of I policy limits employees to 8 hours per day when driving for the university and recommends 15 minute breaks every two hours). With longer distances or time on the road, you become a risk to yourself and others. Keep your own limits in mind as well, you may need stop for the day after only 5 hours or so.
International travel requires much more planning – if you are traveling for the U of I, you'll need to register through the International Programs Office (IPO) Travel Registry. You should be directed to the registry when submitting a travel authorization. Questions or requests for assistance regarding this registration may be sent to the Education Abroad unit within IPO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Department of State has information you may need for traveling abroad, including any warnings for political unrest, places to avoid, natural disasters and rules and laws of which to be aware. Learn where your nearest embassy or consulate office is and how to contact them. Be sure that family or friends in the U.S. know where you are and what your travel plans will be. Schedule regular check-ins with them, leave a copy of your passport with family, and a list of all your medical conditions and medications. Finally, register your travel plans with the U.S. Department of State. This ensures that they know you are in the country, and they are better prepared to assist if needed.
When packing, review your list of everything you think you need, and all the "just in case" items. Depending on your destination, that list may include prescription medications, medical supplies, over the counter medications, hand sanitizer, insect repellents, sun screen and first aid kit essentials. Also be sure that you have copies of your passport, travel itinerary, list of prescriptions and dosing frequency, health insurance documents and a list of emergency contacts within your belongings.
Travel can be hard on the body, so prepare with proper diet, updated vaccinations and by procuring over-the-counter medications such as antacids, diarrhea medicine, antihistamines, decongestants, motion sickness medicine and pain and fever medicine. Also be sure to take breaks at least every 4 hours – stand up and walk around, this helps maintain proper circulation in your legs and prevent swelling. To recover from extended travel, avoid large meals and overindulgence of caffeine or alcohol, drink plenty of water and sleep when you can. Try to stay on a regular meal schedule, get out in the sun and work on getting on the local time zone schedule.
Most importantly, have fun! We want everyone back safely for the next semester.
The University of Idaho is blessed with a pastoral campus landscape and thousands of mature trees which provide an aesthetically appealing place to work, learn and enjoy. Ongoing maintenance and care is required to keep them safe and healthy so that they can provide our students, faculty and staff with decades of enjoyment, shade and clean air.
The Landscape Arboriculture team works year-round providing this service to keep the U of I campus safe and beautiful. Doing so requires pedestrian and vehicle safeguards be implemented whenever tree work is happening. The Fall Zone area is cordoned off with ribbon, cones or fencing to provide protection for you. Signage may be installed directing pedestrians and/or vehicles to use a different route. One or two ground persons in safety vests, hearing protection and helmets are there to deal with felled branches and logs and monitor the Fall Zone to make sure it remains clear of objects and people that could be damaged or injured.
As a pedestrian or vehicle driver it is imperative that you also make safety your priority by following all signage or verbal instructions when tree work is happening along your chosen route. When you see orange safety signs, vests and helmets in an area, pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid distractions like cell phones or conversations and follow the safety guidelines put in place to protect you.
Never cross into the Fall Zone unless specifically allowed to by an authorized ground person. This is a time when your convenience is not a priority — your safety is. Paying attention to this work and following directions will allow you to safely reach your destination.
The Report a Safety Concern form provides users a quick and easy way to submit non-emergency safety concerns on campus. With three required questions: what the safety concern/issue is, location and date observed; it only takes a moment to complete the mobile-friendly form. You also have the option to include a picture of the hazard if applicable. The form may be submitted anonymously if desired, keeping in mind it may be harder to resolve the situation if further information is required.
Submitted forms are directed to the appropriate department/unit for review and consideration.
Thank you for taking the time to report a safety issue or concern right away. For questions, please contact EHS at 208-885-6524 or email@example.com.
University of Idaho Campus Security wants to remind the Vandal Community about a free, 24/7 service it offers year-round called Safe Walk. This service is available to all students, faculty, staff and U of I visitors.
A quick call to Campus Security is all that is needed to request the Safe Walk service - no questions asked. A security officer will meet a caller any place on the Moscow campus and walk that person(s) to their destination on campus. Campus Security encourages the campus community to use Safe Walk when needed.
Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of serious injury to the university’s faculty, staff and students every year. In the 2016-2017 academic year, it was the number one cause of injuries, accounting for over 31% of all incurred injuries. And, about half of those incidents did not involve snow or ice.
Practice prevention by reading the 6 Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls, and taking a short, online training to learn more about how to avoid this from happening to you.
While the risk from wasps, including yellow jackets and hornets, can be a year-round threat, their activity is peaking now as the worker wasps are trying to find new food sources. With the queen moving from egg production and into hibernation, the workers lose a primary source of food, a special secretion that the wasp larvae produce, and are forced to find an alternative. Often this comes in the form of fruit, which may be rotting and fermenting. Fermenting fruit consumed by an insect that is already prone to stinging results in a "mean drunk" -- a critter no one likes to be around.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to give these wasps their space and don't do things that can increase their aggressiveness, like swatting at them. The control of nuisance insects is a task that falls to Facilities, who remind us that "at this time of year, when the evenings/nights get cool, the yellow jackets/wasps (cold-blooded animals) need to warm up during the day - they often hang around hot metal objects (sign posts, building signs, the metal base of aggregate street/sidewalk lights, etc.). They are also quite agitated late in the year and become aggressive. Their nests could be anywhere - across the street, across the parking lot, on the building's roof - anywhere. We do not spray signs/metal objects to keep the insects away. That's a waste of insecticide, an unnecessary toxin applied to the environment, and an ineffective control measure. Please endure a bit longer, the nuisance insects will die off soon." Nests that may directly impact human activity (e.g., close to a walkway or building entry) however, should be reported to Facilities.
If you do get stung, the first thing to do is to move away from the area calmly. Some insects release pheromones after stinging that can attract more stinging insects, creating a vicious feedback loop. If you are highly allergic to insect stings and bites, it may be necessary to go to a hospital for treatment. However, most people will be able to treat a sting at home.
Next, determine whether the stinger was left behind. If so, it must be removed from the wound before additional treatment steps can be taken. This can be done by scraping a hard, flat object such as a fingernail or credit card across the sting. The stingers of wasps are typically smooth, which means they are capable of repeated stings without leaving the stinger behind. Once a stinger is no longer evident in the wound, wash the area with plenty of soap and water, and then put ice on the site of the wound to reduce swelling. An antihistamine can also be taken to reduce swelling further and help alleviate itching that can accompany insect bites and stings.
If you are allergic to insect stings, it is a good idea to let your co-workers know about your allergy and if you carry an epi-pen for this type of emergency. This can help them assist you if you do get stung.
The risk from bees, wasps and other stinging insects can be a year-round threat. Their activity often peaks in late summer, a prime time for getting stung while on the job or off the clock, doing yard work or having fun.
A well-known aggressive stinging insect is the yellowjacket, a yellow and black wasp resembling a bee, but with a narrower body and no fuzz. Because they often build their nests underground it can be easy to accidentally stumble over their homes, causing them to become agitated. These can be more aggressive than bees and may even sting without being provoked. It is usually a good idea to give yellowjackets plenty of space and try not to leave out food such as sweet liquids that might attract them.
Bees are a more docile stinging insect. These creatures can be identified by their substantial yellow and black bodies, which are covered in fine hairs. While foraging for nectar and pollen, bees are rarely aggressive and usually only sting when provoked. If you leave them alone, they will often return the favor. However, this does not mean that they are completely safe to be around. Bees can become aggressive in defense of their colonies, which may be found in enclosed areas such as crevices around buildings or inside walls or trees.
If you get stung, this first thing to do is to move away from the area calmly. Some insects release pheromones after stinging that can attract more stinging insects, creating a vicious feedback loop. If you are highly allergic to insect stings and bites, it may be necessary to go to a hospital for treatment. However, most people will be able to treat a sting from a bee or wasp at home.
First, it is important to determine whether the stinger is left behind. A honeybee stinger is highly barbed and must be removed from the wound before additional treatment steps can be taken. This can be done by scraping a hard, flat object such as a fingernail or credit card across the sting. In contrast, the stingers of bumblebees and wasps are smoother and these insects are capable of repeated stings without leaving the stinger behind. Once a stinger is no longer evident in the wound, the procedure for treating these stings is the same. Wash the area with plenty of soap and water, then put ice on the site of the wound to reduce swelling. An antihistamine can also be taken to reduce swelling further and help alleviate itching that can accompany insect bites and stings.
If you are allergic to insect stings, it is a good idea to let your co-workers know, especially if you work outdoors and if you carry an epi-pen for this type of emergency. This can help them help you if you do get stung.
Fall and Winter Break are rapidly approaching, and many in the Vandal family will be traveling around the state of Idaho to enjoy some time away from the daily routine. Regardless of where you are heading or what you will be doing, keep safety in mind. Take the time to complete all safety checks before using any equipment for your chosen activity. A few extra minutes ahead of time may save a lot of hours later if something goes wrong.
Winter is just getting started, so if you are traveling by car, be familiar with the winter driving hazards you may encounter. Check out the Safety Tip on Winter Driving Hazards for things to keep in mind before you go. The tip on Winter Conditions offers additional reminders for driving in low light and dark conditions.
If you aren't so sure you and your vehicle are ready for icy, snowy roads, a travel option for students is the Vandal Break Bus, a joint program of Parking and Transportation Services and the Dean of Students. The National Safety Council statistics show that in 2020 (the most recent year for their published statistics), the fatality rate in passenger vehicles was over ten times higher than that in buses. If the Vandal Break Bus is not convenient for you, check out the PTS website for alternative options. PTS also has information on the specific enforcement regulations that will be in place during the break. If you are leaving a car behind be sure to review those, too. Did you know that overnight on-street parking is prohibited during breaks?
Questions? PTS is a great resource for information about local and regional transportation. Use the links above or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-885-6424.
Over the next few weeks, it is likely that the U of I community will experience intermittent smoke outdoors due to wildfires in the region. This outdoor air contaminant can have negative effects on personal health and may trigger restrictions of outdoor activities.
When smoke is on the horizon, an Air Quality Index (AQI) helps to identify potential health risks, who may be impacted and at what point specific actions should be taken. Keep in mind that indoor air quality is not part of the AQI, but wildfire smoke can have an impact on indoor air quality.
What is an AQI?
The Air Quality Index is a measure of multiple contaminants in the air outside. It can be forecast over a few days and generally fluctuates based on temperature and wind direction. The AQI is a combination of ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, like smoke or smog. Because the index is a combination of air contaminants, a spike in one or more specific contaminants can drive the overall index upward.
The AQI is represented as a single number on a scale of 0-500. The scale provides different levels at which specific health hazards and symptoms can be expected. In some cases restrictions on outdoor activities is advised. For Moscow, readings are obtained from a weather station on Highway 8. Additional information on these levels and the AQI scale can be found at the links below:
- Idaho DEQ Real-Time Interactive Map
- AirNow Air Quality Index Basics
- EPA Historical Air Quality Index Report
How to Use the AQI
Understanding the AQI can help you decide what precautions to take while outdoors. When smoke is the known contaminant that is driving the AQI upward, you can take measures to protect yourself from particulate matter or strenuous activity outdoors. Sensitive groups should take extra precautions and be mindful of how the change in outdoor air quality might impact personal health. These groups include:
- People with heart or lung diseases
- People with asthma
- The elderly
- Young children
- People who to perform strenuous work, exercise or training outdoors
For more information, see the Wildfire Smoke FAQ page on the Environmental Health and Safety website. Additional resources can be used for planning and prevention at the EPA Wildfires and Indoor Air Quality page, the Idaho DEQ Air Quality Index, and AirNow.gov. A comprehensive downloadable guide to the Air Quality Index is available from the EPA here: Air Quality Index - A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health.