Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades, and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. They may be legal, but they are not safe.

In 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. Over two-thirds (67%) of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires.

Fireworks Safety Tips: If You Choose to Use Legal Fireworks

If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow the following safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire

Better yet, grab a blanket and a patch of lawn, kick back and let the experts handle the fireworks show.

Sparklers Are Dangerous

Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think.

Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries.

Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.

In 1996, the National Safety Council (NSC) established June as National Safety Month in the United States. The goal of National Safety Month is to increase public awareness of the leading safety and health risks that are increased in the summer months in an attempt to decrease the number of injuries and deaths at homes and workplaces.

Anyone can be at risk for a heat-related illness. The following are summer safety tips to keep you and your family safe and out of the emergency room!

5 Summer Safety Tips

  1. Stay hydrated. Dehydration is another safety concern during the summer months. Be sure to drink enough liquids throughout the day, as our bodies can lose a lot of water through perspiration when it gets hot out.
  2. Protect your skin. Use a sunscreen 30 minutes before going out. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Stay in the shade whenever possible.
  3. Keep an eye on children. Remember to always have adult supervision for children. Whether they’re in the pool or playing in the sand at the seashore, having someone who can help them — should an emergency arise — is essential.
  4. Wear sunglasses. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light can harm the eyes. Wear sunglasses year-round whenever you are out in the sun. Choose shades that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light.
  5. Excercise safely. Not only can injuries happen, but heat exhaustion and dehydration can happen more often in the summer months. It helps to be conditioned to the activities in which we’re preparing to engage. Warm up, stretch, gear up, go with a buddy, and remember to cool down and stretch afterwards.

There are several heat-related illnesses to look out for.

Heat Stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the ability to sweat fails and body temperature rises to a dangerous level quickly. It’s often fatal or results in organ damage. Someone experiencing heatstroke will have very hot skin and an altered mental state. Seizures can result. Ridding the body of excess heat is crucial.

Heat Exhaustion. When the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, heat exhaustion sets in. People who work outdoors and athletes are very susceptible. Symptoms are similar to the flu, and include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes, diarrhea. They may also have clammy or pale skin, dizziness, or rapid pulse.

Heat Cramps. Heat cramps are muscle spasms usually impacting the legs or abdominals, often after physical activity. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body, resulting in heat cramps.

Persons with pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs should not return to work for a few hours.

Please consider all these precautions and tips for the summer months ahead. Enjoy the weather!

Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roads. While drivers texting behind the wheel tops the list of distractions, other risky actions include talking — whether it be on the phone or to others in the car, setting your navigation, adjusting what you’re listening to, drinking coffee, applying makeup, and more. By driving distracted, you’re robbing yourself of seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or deadly crash.

In 2020, distracted driving killed 3,142 people. Young drivers seem more prone to using their phones while driving. According to NHTSA research from 2017, drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007. But make no mistake: It isn’t just young people who are driving distracted, since drivers in other age groups don’t lag far behind. 

Drive Responsibly

April, which is national Distracted Driving Awareness Month, is a good time to regroup and take responsibility for the choices we make when we’re on the road. Follow these safety tips for a safe ride every time: 

  • Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location. Only then is it safe to send or read a text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not scroll through apps, including social media, while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

The Consequences

During a portion of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, from April 4 – 11, you may see increased law enforcement on the roadways as part of the national paid media campaign U Drive. U Text. U Pay. This campaign reminds drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences – including fines – of texting behind the wheel. On April 7, state highway safety offices and law enforcement agencies across the country will take part in “Connect to Disconnect,” a 4-hour national distracted driving enforcement and awareness initiative. The goal is to demonstrate a nationwide commitment to enforcing texting laws in a fair and equitable way, and to reduce traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers, ultimately preventing injuries and deaths associated with cell phone use and texting while driving.

Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers; and 25 states and territories prohibit drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.

Almost every home in the United States has one, and chances are you have used one either at work or your home. From changing a lightbulb to getting on top of a roof, ladders are a common piece of equipment used in almost every home or building and appear to be harmless — and yet according to Injury Facts, thousands of people are killed due to falls from a ladder or scaffolding work. In fact, falls are the second leading cause of death next to highway crashes.

Understanding the different types of ladders, as well as safe ladder practices, are key to preventing falls and other potential injuries.

Helpful Ladder Tips

  • Avoid electrical hazards!
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it.
  • Always maintain 3-points of contact on the ladder when climbing.
  • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps, or feet.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single, or extension ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder.

According to National Ladder Safety Month, every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. While some of these dos and don’ts may seem obvious, it’s important to keep things in perspective.

The human memory can be an amazing thing, but it is also very flawed. While there are people that can remember small details about an event decades later, others cannot remember where they set their wallet down.

Recognizing a hazard and just making a mental note of it is not a mitigation action. Memory should never be relied on as the sole safeguard against a hazard. If this is the case, the hazard is not mitigated.

Short Term Memory Facts

While many things we learn make it into our long-term memory, many details we face on a day-to-day basis may only hit our short-term memory. Relying on short-term memory as a safeguard is extremely dangerous because of how limited it can be.

SimplyPsychology.com states that short-term memory has three key aspects:

  1. Limited capacity – Only about seven items can be stored at one time.
  2. Limited duration – Storage is very fragile and information can be lost with distraction or passage of time.
  3. Encoding – Primarily acoustic, even translating visual information into sounds.

Looking at these three aspects, it is easy to see why short-term memory is not a reliable way to protect ourselves from the hazards of our work.

Memory and Hazards

There are many hazards that can be found on a worksite that should be eliminated instead of relying on memory. Some examples of these types of hazards:

  • Pinch points or moving parts of machinery. Wherever possible, pinch points or any place where someone can have their hands or body parts injured should always be guarded. Relying on memory to keep your body parts out of these areas or hoping that PPE will protect you if you are in the line of fire is unrealistic.
  • Fixed objects. Objects that are in a work area where they can be struck or create trip hazards should also be protected or removed. Safeguards such as using a spotter, physical barriers, orange fencing, a bright marker like a flag, or removing the object all together are some ways to prevent a struck-by incident of a fixed object.
  • Incorrect job steps.  When individuals rely on memory to ensure all job steps including the necessary safety measures are taken, errors can be made resulting in injury or loss of production. Safeguards such as proper training, job safety analyses, labels, standard operating procedures, step-by-step guides, operating manuals, verification processes, etc. are some ways to help mitigate memory error.


The human memory can be amazing as well as very unreliable. It is important to look at the different work tasks you complete throughout the day and look to eliminate hazards whenever possible. Secondly, look at other safeguards to try to protect yourself and others from these hazards instead of relying on your memory. Your memory is not a safeguard, and it is bound to fail over time.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poses a serious threat to individuals both at home and on the job. According to the CDC, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 people are hospitalized.

CO poisoning is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely.


Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness/Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or others around you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to get them and yourself out of the area. Being exposed to CO for an extended amount of time can cause irreversible brain damage, stress on your heart muscles, and eventually death.


General Safety Tips

  • Never burn charcoal indoors
  • Never leave your car running in a garage or any poorly ventilated area near a building or structure.
  • Never heat your house with your stove – this can lead to a buildup of CO in your house
  • Never use a generator inside your house or garage.
  • Inspect your chimneys and exhaust vents around your home to make sure they are not blocked by foreign materials.


Illness Prevention

Do your best to avoid the situations mentioned above. Have gas-burning appliances and heaters regularly inspected by a professional to ensure there are no issues with using them in the home. Install carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of a building or home, especially near bedrooms. Test the alarms at least once a month and replace them according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

People who are asleep or are intoxicated are very susceptible to CO poisoning and alarms are the only chance to alert them to danger before it is too late.

Remind your family and friends about this important topic – their life may depend on it!


ALCIVIA is dedicated to a ‘Safety First’ culture across our entire organization. The safety of our members, customers, and employees is our top priority. We’ve implemented rigorous safety policies and practices at all our locations, curtailing workplace injuries and at-risk behavior, including mandatory personal protective equipment including eyewear, hard hats, safety boots and high visibility apparel in all operational areas.

On Farm Safety

Our members and customers can commit to safety and implement their own safety policies and practices. The following are a few key highlights that could help protect you, a family member, or employees:

  • Replace all missing power take-off and rotating equipment shields. Shut off power to equipment before leaving the operator’s station.
  • Check that lights, flashers and reflectors on machines work properly. Always use them when traveling on roadways.
  • Replace “slow moving vehicle” emblems that aren’t clean and bright.
  • Inspect and repair farm machinery before the busy season. A well-maintained machine will operate more efficiently and reduce the chance of an injury.
  • Use proper equipment and procedures when hitching and unhitching implements.
  • Never enter a manure pit, grain bin or silo without following confined space entry procedures. The gases and materials in these structures kill farmers every year.
  • Ensure that all workers receive specific instructions on their tasks and the machines they are operating. Be sure they read and understand all operational procedures in the owner’s manual.
  • Take time to learn basic first aid, CPR and emergency response.

This episode of ALCIVIA Co-op Talk with Pam Jahnke and Bob Bosold discusses the importance of environmental safety to ALCIVIA with Environmental and Regulatory Specialist Tom Overby.

Time again this morning for a very important conversation on our ALCIVIA cooperative talk program. We’ve talked with sales, we’ve talked energy, we’ve talked grain, agronomy all kinds of things. Today an area that a lot of people probably don’t realize is part of the cooperative: environmental and regulatory specialists.

Tom Overby is with us and Tom this is not something you can pull somebody off the street to do, you’ve got a background in understanding our land, the environment, and keeping it safe, clean, and healthy right?

Yes, I’ve got 30-plus years working in the agronomy department for co-ops and so I do have you know pretty good background.

Let’s talk about the environmental side of things. What does that mean being the environmental specialist? What falls under that purview?

Well, anything that deals with the environment, you got the land, you got water, you got the air, you know we’ve got the regulations and whatnot that we have with federal and state agencies that we have to abide by. But then we have land that if we’re going to repurpose it we have to test it, make sure there’s no contamination. If there is, we have to remediate and remove contaminated soil and replace it with clean soil.

So, you’re kind of like well a middleman if somebody is going to do what you just suggested, repurpose that land or whatever, they can get you in there and help make sure that we can go forward legally under the environmental laws of this country and the state.

Correct, correct, and you know we all want to be good stewards of land that we live on so we have to abide by the rules and meet or exceed them.

How busy are you in that area? Most of our farmers are such good stewards of the land but you know accidents can happen

Yes, yes if there’s any type of spills that happen, which you know they are going to happen at some point, they have to deal with those, and you’ll get the cleanups and help coordinate with our environmental consultants and the regulatory agencies that gap and DNR you know they all get involved with it, so it gets to be a coordinated effort.

Tom Overby is with us, the environmental and regulatory specialist with ALCIVIA cooperative on our ALCIVIA cooperative talk program. Regulations, a term that no farmer likes we, just have too many regulations you know, that as well as I do in a farmer’s mind.

But, thus far as a regulatory specialist, does that mean you can kind of act as a middle man for the farmers that have to make some changes on their land and they’ve got to go through all kinds of regulatory procedures be it CAFO’s or nr51 and all those sorts of things.

Yeah, we can help them out with that, you know we’re not you know the the specialist or the expert on it but we can help you find somebody to get your questions answered you know. We’re familiar with the rules and regulations and know how to comply with those and we’re here to assist and that means of course we’ve got to have documents signed sealed and delivered.

Can you walk them through that and get them to the right people be it yourself or whoever to make sure these documents are filled out to the satisfaction of the higher powers so to speak?

Yes, yes, we can help out any way that we can assist them because you know if it is not documented it didn’t happen.

You’re in the Hammond office in western Wisconsin, as far as your area, environmental and regulatory for ALCIVIA cooperative do we have specialists located throughout the ALCIVIA network?

Well, the environmental and regulatory specialists, I cover all the territories both north and south so I cover from Luck down to Racine, and we have a couple of facilities in Illinois as well so I cover quite a territory.

He puts on some miles, but he knows what he’s doing and that’s Tom Overby who is the environmental and regulatory specialist at ALCIVIA so, if you have some challenges, concerns in those areas Tom is the man to contact and is headquartered at the Hammond facility with ALCIVIA cooperative.

This morning was with Tom on our ALCIVIA cooperative talk program.

The complexity of production agriculture today dictates paying attention. John Schoenfeld, Safety Director for ALCIVIA, explains the different areas of emphasis they focus on the make sure employees go home safely everyday.

From animal feed and crop inputs, to energy and grain marketing – ALCIVIA places a premium on operating safely.

Risk management means many different things in production agribusiness. Dean Danielson, Vice President of Risk Management, explains that ALCIVIA will be putting increased emphasis on risk management within their facilities involving staff, as they transition into 2022.