Safety Tip of the Week: How important is a good night’s rest?

Male dressed in work attire sleeping on his open computer laptop

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about the health benefits of getting a good night’s rest.

How important is a good night’s rest?

When we think of all the things we find important in our daily lives that takes up the most amount of time in our days, things that come to mind might be family, activities or work, but one thing that should take up about one-third of our time is getting the right amount of sleep to reap the benefits of greater health. Getting less than six to seven hours of sleep each night results in a greater risk of developing disease.

Sleep requirements change with our age, but getting enough sleep is critical to how we function throughout the day. Some people are chronically sleep deprived.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Sleepiness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Difficulty concentrating and impaired performance.
  • Memory loss.
  • Disorientation, hallucinations and paranoia.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the following ages are recommended to get the appropriate amount of sleep for optimum health:

Chart showing numbers of hours per day is the recommended amount of sleep for different ages, ranging from infant to adult.

Benefits of getting enough sleep:

  • Fights off depression.
  • Increases memory.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Increases health (Stronger immunity).

Getting enough sleep is as important as having a good diet and getting enough exercise in the day.

Take these steps each day to improve your sleep:

  • Have a set bedtime and wake up time.
  • Reduce caffeine intake before bed.
  • Take time to relax prior to bed — turn off the TV and put away the phone.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Have a comfortable pillow and mattress.

During this hectic time of the year, it is easy to stay up late trying to get things done. Remember, losing sleep can catch up to you and increase those holiday blues.

Safety Tip of the Week: Recycling during the holidays

Reuse Reduce Recycle message in green lettering

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about recycling during the holidays. 

During the holidays people toss away more material than at any other time of the year.

Newspapers get thicker due to robust printed advertising and numerous inserts. Mailboxes become stuffed with flyers, catalogs, offers and greeting cards. Package delivery services are busy dropping off boxes all over town. The results are more waste and more recyclables.

Ways to Reduce the Amount of Trash You Create


Cut down on the amount of non-recyclable materials you throw out to help the planet.
What’s a good way to do this?

1. Try to reduce the amount of packaging you purchase by buying products in bulk.

2. Have any paper statements that are normally mailed to you – such as bills, financial statements, newsletters, holiday catalogs etc. emailed to you instead.

  • To eliminate credit card promotional mailings, call 1-888- 567-8688 (that’s 888-5OPT- OUT) or visit
  • Remove your name from mailing lists at It can
    take up to 90 days for the flow to stop since many mailings are already in
    print or production.
  • More options to cut down on unwanted material is available here:

3. Buy products that are packaged in cardboard or paper board instead of Styrofoam.

4. Try to avoid disposable items such as paper plates, cups, and utensils.

5. When wrapping presents, opt for reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper – or maybe even reuse wrapping paper.

Composting is another way to reduce trash

Composting is the simple step of setting aside your fruit peals and pits along with other
food waste that does not contain oils or meat and then putting it into a compost pile. This will not only create a much cleaner smelling kitchen but also produce great nutrients for your garden.


One of the most effective ways to help us to bring your own reusable bag to purchase
groceries. If you forget, insist on paper, and pack as many goods in one bag as possible, without double bagging.

Donate old toys and clothing to a thrift store before you buy more. Even if the clothes can no longer be worn, thrift stores will generally sell them to textile recyclers.

Consider gift bags or baskets or a reusable bag, all of which can be used year after year, instead of wrapping paper.

Rechargeable batteries are a gift that keeps those holiday toys and gadgets running. They greatly reduce the number of batteries thrown into the landfill.


Food for thought: Thirteen percent of landfill waste is food and an estimated 36 million tons of food waste went to U.S. landfills in 2015. This holiday season, buy only what you need, share extra food and plan to use leftovers.

Responsibly e-cycle your old technology. Many nonprofits will accept working cell phones and computers.

Visit available at Thurston County Public Works solid waste programs for more details.

Safety Tip of the Week: Use extra care when displaying seasonal decorations

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about exercising caution when displaying seasonal decorations.

Seasonal decoration safety

Decorating our workspaces and classrooms happens during many different times of the year for many different seasons. Decorations can increase student and staff enthusiasm and seasonal and holiday themes can harness excitement. Decorations must always be set up safe and not create a hazard.

Potential decorating hazards

Even well-intentioned decorations can pose a risk to students, staff and property if used incorrectly. The following potential hazards include:

  • Fires: Too much clutter on classroom or hallway walls and ceilings can spread fires more quickly.
  • Poisoning: Some decorations may be made with toxic substances and could be hazardous if young students were to unwittingly taste them.
  • Falls: Items that are improperly secured may fall and injure students.
  • Trips: A classroom cluttered with decorations has more trip hazards.
  • Cuts: Paper cuts are common from foil and paper decorations, while glass items could break into hazardous shards.

School decoration safety tips

To minimize the risks of classroom decorations but still enjoy a fun, colorful atmosphere, decorations should be put up carefully and safely.

Tips applicable to all types of decorations include:

  • Only use decorations in their intended fashion and read all display instructions before use.
  • Do not block fire alarms, emergency signs or exits with decorations.
  • Confine decorations to suitable spaces such as bulletin boards. Covering windows and ceilings with additional decorations increases the amount of combustible material in the classroom or office and increases fire risks.
  • Never hang decorations from light fixtures, sprinkler heads, or vents.
  • Choose decorations with flame resistant coatings.
  • Fasten flags, posters, papers and other decorations flat to the wall to minimize exposed edges that could cause cuts or increase fire risks.
  • Fasten all items securely for their weight to reduce the risk that they may loosen and fall.
  • When removing decorations, be sure to remove all strings, staples and other materials used to hold the decorations.
  • Store decorations safely and out of reach of students.
  • Do not allow students to climb on desks or other unsafe surfaces to help decorate.

Safety Tip of the Week: Winter Safety

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about winter safety.

The time to devise a winter safety plan is long before the cold weather hits. Frequently, when people think of winter safety, they only think of snow and ice. In the Pacific Northwest, severe wind and rain storms can often be as debilitating. Flooding, mud slides, and downed trees frequently affect our ability to perform our jobs and pose the threat of accidents and injury.

Throughout this newsletter there is information to heighten your winter safety awareness and help you prepare for the dark winter months ahead. You’ll find things like: driving tips, an emergency supply checklist, and some slip, trip and fall reminders.

The most important things to keep in mind about Winter Safety is to stay informed and keep us informed.

Stay Informed:  Make sure you have access to accurate information about weather conditions before you leave your home. Our district Communications staff contacts the Public Schools Emergency System to alert all media outlets in the event of any closures or late starts as soon as we are aware of a change to school schedule. Check the OSD website, northwest TV stations and local radio stations (KGY, KXXO/MIXX) for the latest information.

Keep us Informed:  We depend on you to notify your supervisor, custodian or maintenance personnel if you see a winter hazard so we can make corrections as quickly as possible.

Winter’s cold grip is here. We all need to think about preventing weather related slips, trips and fall hazards in a proactive manner. Slippery surfaces, unrecognizable ice and frost can cause a loss of traction that can send you to the ground in a hurry and ruin more than your day.

Tips for getting to and from activities on walkways and in parking lots:

  • Wear the proper shoes and socks; perhaps hiking boots with proper tread. If you need to wear dress shoes pack them in a bag.
  • Another layer of insurance for your feet is a set of tire chains or ice cleats for your shoes and boots. Retailers sell single pairs of snow and ice spike shoe/boot covers starting at $7.
  • Whether it’s navigating your way around a bus in the dark at the transportation facility or crossing a parking lot to get to a building, slow down to observe your surroundings.
  • Minimize how much you carry. It is harder to navigate ice when you cannot see over things in your arms… and it’s harder to balance with a heavy load.
  • Park strategically. Look for an area with no incline. Evaluate your walk to the building. Follow the path made by custodians or look for the least slippery route.
  • Avoid snow pile run-off that has frozen overnight. Melting snow may look like water, but it can be an icy hazard.
  • Make sure to use the building wipe-off mats to get water and snow from your boots as you enter a building.

Be Safe!

Safety Tip of the Week: Preventing back pain and injury at work

Woman sitting at computer desk with hands holding waistline as if having pain in back

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about preventing back pain and injury at work.

Heavy lifting, repetitive motion and sitting at a desk all day can cause back pain. Get the facts about back pain and how to prevent it.

Whether it’s dull and achy or sharp and stabbing, back pain can make it hard to concentrate. Many different occupations can place demands on your back. Including routine office work can cause or worsen back pain. It’s important to understand what may cause back pain at work and what you can do to prevent it.

Common causes of back pain at work according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
  • Repeating certain movements, especially those that involve twisting or rotating your spine, can injure your back.
  • An inactive job or a desk job can contribute to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in a chair with inadequate back support.

Back pain and lifestyle factors

Of course, factors such as aging, obesity and poor physical condition also can contribute to back pain.

Start by making a healthy eating plan. Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes your bones to become weak and brittle and may lead to back pain.

Combine aerobic exercise, such as swimming or walking, with exercises that strengthen and stretch your back muscles and abdomen. Exercises that increase your balance and strength can also decrease your risk of falling and injuring your back. Consider tai chi, yoga and weight-bearing exercises that challenge your balance.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week — and strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Preventing back pain

You can take steps to avoid and prevent back pain. For example the Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Pay attention to posture.When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
  • Lift properly.When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you.
  • Modify repetitive tasks.Use lifting devices, when available, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are positioned properly. If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses and bags. Consider using a rolling suitcase.
  • Listen to your body.If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.

Back pain can make everyday tasks difficult. Taking some simple steps to take care of your back will make your days more enjoyable.

Safety Tip of the Week: Seat belts save lives

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about how seat belts save lives.

Do you snap in your seat belt as soon as you get in a vehicle?

It’s been proven time and again that a seat belt can and will save a life in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 15,000 lives are saved each year in the United States because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in accidents.

Seat Belt Safety: 5-Way Protection

  • Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside. People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.
  • Restrains the strongest parts of the body. Restraints are designed to contact your body at the strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders.
  • Spreads out force from the collision. Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body putting less stress on any one single area.  A shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile if you stop suddenly or on impact.
  • Helps the body slow down. The quick change in speed is what causes injury and seat belts help extend the time it takes for your body to slow down.
  • Protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas.

Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up Correctly

  1. Adjusting your seat belt properly is important: The strap that goes across your lap should fit snugly over your hips and upper thigh area.
  2. Shoulder belts should rest securely across your chest and shoulders. Don’t let the strap fall across your neck or face and never place the strap under your arms or behind your back as this may cause serious injury.

Wearing a seat belt when you are driving a district vehicle is important not only for your personal safety. If a driver is in a van with students and everyone including the students are wearing their seat belts, in the event of an accident there is a reduced liability to the district. Wearing a seat belt is a critical preventative measure.

Safety Tip of the Week: Flu Season Safety

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about flu season safety.

Road sign stating "Flu Season Ahead" against backdrop of dark gray storm clouds

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It is important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from the flu. In addition, it can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu
can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-
related complications if they get sick. According to the CDC this includes people 65
years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as
asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.

What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine as soon after the vaccines become
available or by the end of October if possible. They still encourage getting a vaccine in
January or later since the flu season typically peaks in January or later and it takes
about 2 weeks for the antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection. Therefore,
getting the vaccine early helps with prevention.

Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick by following some simple preventative actions:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information about seasonal flu, visit the CDC website.