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Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Bicycle Safety is No Accident

Maybe its the warm weather. Maybe its the time of day. But, some days drivers on the road are more erratic than normal. Today was one of those days. In the dark, early calm morning. With my handy dandy rear view mirror, I can tell when a driver spots me on my bike and speeds up to pass me before we come to a narrow area where there is definitely not enough room for a bicycle rider and a car, like a tight corner. I can also tell when a driver slows down to let me pass the situation (like today it was the garbage truck stopped in the oncoming lane).

I always think about close calls on my bike because I read about motorcycle crashes and bicyclists who were killed every day in the paper. Another grim reminder of the tragedy of biking, is the white ghost bike that was installed on my routes deadliest turn off 56th Street & Harney last week. I've always told my DH that if I get killed on my bike its going to be at that fork in the road. Drivers are speeding along and there are no signs to yield or slow or stop, just pick a direction right or left. I need to go right, crossing the left road in front of potentially left going vehicles.

Today the driver that tried to kill me was in a little red Kia or Corolla. I could tell they were going above the 25 mph speed limit and as I approached the downhill corner, I knew we both could not be there at the same time. So, I moved to the middle of the lane to capture my space so they didn't expect me to stay in the gutter to the right. That meant for them to pass me they went to the far left and then cut back in front of me, forcing me to the right into the gutter. Being the prudent biker, I moved aside rather than die.

Riding a bike to commute is not for everyone. Cars speeding 55 mph inches away from me, can be a little unsettling. It is a safe and healthy activity, made dangerous because of the drivers. I'm a driver too, sometimes. I know its a hassle to stop for a biker or walker. But it matters.

Here are some of the little things I do to help me stay safe on the road biking alongside traffic.
  • Be Seen - wear hi vis yellow or orange shirts or a safety vest. I wear a vest with reflective stripes when it is dark too.
  • Use Lights and MORE lights - I have a small Knog bike light that is super bright. It has a small rubber strap that clips on my front handlebar. It charges the battery with a regular USB plugin.
  • A super bright back red light. Its important to keep the batteries fresh on this one or the light is not quite so bright.
  • A lumos Helmet that has flashing front and back lights, and turn signals. I charge it once a week on my USB port of my laptop. 
  • A rear view mirror is critical to see whats coming up behind you, in the event you need to swerve into the lane of traffic to avoid a hazard such as dead animals, broken glass, piles of gravel, lumber debris or any other number of things that will impede your safe travels.
If you use all these safety features, you'll be seen by drivers and hopefully they will be the courteous ones who share the road.

Safe Backyard Fire Tips

It was 72F this morning, a bit chilly on the bike ride but I'm not complaining. We've been waiting six months for some cool mornings and evenings to give us some relief from all this sunshine in FL. One of my favorite things about cool Autumn weather is having fires in our chiminea in the evening. The rich, woodsy aroma of a campfire brings back wonderful memories of being outdoors. One of the attractions of having a backyard fire pit is the adventurous, risky behavior we get to enjoy - right in our own yard! And I'm not kidding, backyard fire pits can be hazardous if you don't follow a few simple safety precautions:
  • Location, Location, Location - choose your placement of your fire pit, chiminea or grill carefully. Be sure it is not too close to house siding, wood deck railings, patio umbrellas, awnings or overhead lines. It's also important to place it somewhere out of the normal traffic pattern of the household so when things start to get wild and crazy, the fire is not in the way of people running with scissors.
  • Weather - before you decide to have a fire, check the weather to be sure there are not bans on burning in drought areas, or that those 20 mph winds won't blow sparks all over the dead leaf pile you just raked up.
  • Kid Zone - if children will be around your fire be sure to take a minute to warn them of the safe zone of about 3 ft around the fire pit. No playing with airborne objects or throwing balls near the fire.
  • Tools - be sure to use long tools to manage your fire or any food preparation. When you are not using that poker, store it safely out of the traffic path. If you are cooking marshmallows use a fresh stick that won't burn up and frighten a young child into hurling that burning chunk of sugar into your mom's lap.
  • Dress for Success - keep those warm blankets a safe distance from the fire, and avoid loose fitting flyaway clothing. I always make sure my jacket or over shirt is not nylon which will melt if a sparks flies on it. Cotton is best to wear around the fire.
  • Burning Materials - we always build our fire starting with crumbled up newspaper balls, then some dried leaves that flame nice, a layer of tinder or small branches, then some splints of wood tipped up like a tee pee, with a couple smaller logs placed up around the edge. Pine and Cedar are wonderfully aromatic woods - but they tend to pop and spark more than Oak. Usually we empty most of the ashes from a previous fire but leave some for no reason that I know. Anyway, some people burn scrap lumber but this may give off fumes from chemicals used on the wood. My sister always starts hers with a duraflame log and then a few oak logs make a tee pee over the chemical log - no kindling or tinder or paper. It works great, but could be expensive if you want a frugal fire.
  • Emergency Preparedness - of course no one would ever have a fire without safety measures in place, would they? We keep a 5 gal pail of wood bark nearby that we could dump out in an emergency, and then fill with water from the nearby pool. If you don't have a pool, be sure to locate your household fire extinguisher and have it handy. If you haven't a fire extinguisher (shame on you - get one now!), at least unwind the hose and have it nearby in you need it.
Now, you're ready-  Light that fire!

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