On June 10, 2016 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced $1 million in grant funding for training and outreach programs to help local communities prepare for transportation incidents involving hazardous materials, including crude oil and ethanol.
This is another effort in the climb to safety awareness for communities across the country considering that the production, transportation, and use of hazardous material is a vital part of the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian economies.
Rail transportation of hazardous materials in the United States has been recognized as the safest method of moving large quantities of chemicals over long distances. For all hazardous materials, in the 12 years from 1994 through 2005, hazardous materials released in railroad accidents resulted in a total of 14 fatalities. In the same period, hazardous materials released in highway accidents resulted in a total of 116 fatalities. Continuous sponsored industry and government improvements in rail equipment, tank car and container design and construction, and inspection and maintenance methods have resulted in reducing derailments, spills, leaks, and casualties while the volume of traffic increases but there is still room for improvement.
PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez stated: “Training and education are essential to ensure that local communities have the information they need to prepare for emergencies.”
The $1 million for the Community Safety Grant was authorized by Congress in the FAST Act and is supported with funds appropriated for hazardous materials safety. The anticipated start date for this FY 2016 grant program is September 30, 2016.
Apply for this funding opportunity through www.grants.gov by July 1, 2016, 5:00 PM Eastern Time. For further information, contact the PHMSA Hazardous Materials Grants Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 366-1109.
Want to take a glimpse and see what it takes to be a part of rail response training? Check out this video https://www.aar.org/policy/rail-safety
Floods can happen anywhere and to anyone unexpectedly. Not only is heavy rainfall to blame, but natural disasters such as storm surge and a lack of drainage in urban development can cause water to rise with no place to go. Check out these 12 tips you need to know before a flood reaches your community.
- Move to higher ground
Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the US. If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
- Stay away from dirty water
Floodwater often contains infectious organisms, including intestinal bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella; Hepatitis A Virus; and agents of typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus.
- Be on the lookout for wildlife in stagnant water
Pools of standing or stagnant water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of encephalitis, West Nile Virus or other mosquito-borne diseases. The presence of wild animals in populated areas increases the risk of diseases caused by animal bites (e.g., rabies) as well as diseases carried by fleas and ticks.
- Stock up
Don’t get caught in the rush to get supplies last minute. Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit beforehand. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, plenty of water, and snacks.
- Don’t forget to unplug
Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
- Turn it off
If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.
- Save your important documents
Have all of your personal documents together (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies) and bring copies of them if you need to evacuate.
- Make a pet plan
Don’t forget your pets and livestock! Make plans with friends, family, or your vet on where your furry friends can go. Check your local government sites to get info on animal evacuations and shelters. If they’re traveling with you, build a pet emergency kit with an extra collar and leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl, and their favorite toy.
- Don’t fight the water
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Move all valuables
Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
- Turn around, don’t drown!
If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Check your insurance plan
Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S.
For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.
“Seat belts save lives – period,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Whether you’re a driver or passenger, in a personal vehicle or large truck, the simple act of wearing a safety belt significantly reduces the risk of fatality in a crash.”
Beginning August 8, 2016, passengers riding in large commercial trucks will be required to use seat belts whenever the vehicles are operated on public roads in interstate commerce.
Seat belt History
Back in 1984 when the first seat belt use laws went into effect; many drivers were angry about, what they thought, was an unnecessary burden. But let’s check out the facts. Once these laws were put in place, highway deaths dropped dramatically as seat belt usage went up by 50 percent.
However, large commercial trucks haven’t been required to abide by these seat belt safety laws. In 2014, 37 passengers traveling unrestrained in the cab of a large truck were killed in roadway crashes, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of this number, approximately one-third were ejected from the truck cab.
Solving the Problem
The final rule, released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, requires that every passenger in a property-carrying CMV use a seat belt, if one is installed. The only real cost of the final rule are the few seconds of a person’s time it takes to buckle the seat belt, which is negligible. The benefits of this rule are plain to see: a reduction in injuries and fatalities are likely to occur with just the click of a belt.
“Using a seat belt is one of the safest, easiest, and smartest choices drivers and passengers can make before starting out on any road trip,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “This rule further protects large truck occupants and will undoubtedly save more lives.”