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Bracing for the Cold, Unread Emails and School Shootings: What We’re Reading This Week

Jan. 19, 2024
A look at some news of note for safety professionals.

It’s Friday, y’all! Finally! I don’t know about you, but it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve lost track of time and feel as though I’ve barely gotten anything done. I guess you could say I’ve started some things, moved them along and done deep thinking—which is all great—but I haven’t crossed enough things off my to-do list.

I did manage to do my weekly shopping ahead of a major snowstorm. Funny thing: A lot of people go to the grocery store ahead of a major storm.

I tried to stick to my list, but then I feared I didn’t have enough onions and lunchmeat at home, so I bought more. There was a sale on pierogis, and things quickly spiraled from there. Grocery shopping while hungry and hours before a snowstorm is a strange experience.

Well, on the bright side we can make a dozen kinds of soup this weekend. And we might have to have a friend dinner next week to help us eat some of the food I panic purchased so it doesn’t go to waste.

And, in those small marvels that make you smile, my neighbor gave me a branch of a houseplant that needed pruned. It looked a little crumpled from its 30-second journey outside from her place to mine, but I'm going to try and revive this beautiful plant.

I posted a picture to my local Facebook plant group asking for help with plant identification and propagation. Several kind strangers came to my assistance. After following their expert advice, I’m happy to share that my lemon lime prayer plant leaves are uncurled and looking great!

I hope you are finding small things to make you smile, allow you count your many blessings and help you endure whatever hardships come your way. And for the next few days, I hope you can stay warm, fed and safe from this wintry weather.

Until next time, take good care of yourself.

Electric Vehicle Owners Brace for the Cold

You know the advice about charging your phone, computer and other batteries before the storm. Well, there’s another battery for some folks to consider these days: electric vehicle batteries.  

I am the least expert person when it comes to cars, but I do understand that the cold weather makes it difficult for everyone—and everything—to function. The New York Times profiled EVs and their owners in Chicago, which saw sub-zero temperatures this week. These people shared how disruptive the cold weather was. People couldn’t keep a charge long enough for their daily commute, waited in long super charging lines and needed a tow.  

The cold is tough enough on traditional internal combustion batteries. In fact, I stopped at the gas station last night after grocery shopping because my grandpa told me to always have a full tank when the weather gets bad.  

I imagine engineers and other smart people will find ways to help, but for now, I hope those drivers are able to find workarounds so they don’t get stranded on the highway and make roads even more dangerous to travel.

Read more about how the weather may impact EV adoption here.

Stop Dreading Your Inbox

A few years ago, inbox zero was all the rage. I don’t know whether it still is or not, but either way, I just have one question for people who maintain that: How?

Email seems to be the preferred way of communicating for office workers these days, and those notes can really add up. Especially those replay-all chains. And don’t even get me started on how some companies evade my repeated requests to unsubscribe.

So, when I stumbled upon the article “How to get rid of notifications for unread emails and texts,” I was intrigued. I appreciated this article because I realized 1) I’m not alone and 2) I’m far from the worst offender.

Above all, I appreciated this sentiment: “By now we all know there’s no prize for reading everything, and that tackling every piece of digital information thrown our way isn’t doable, let alone desirable. Life is too short to waste on unwanted bids for our attention, especially from corporations.”

Having a bunch of notifications seems to trigger me, but I’m trying to periodically close tabs or applications so I can focus rather than allow myself to constantly be distracted. That said, I also like to carve out some time each week to spend in my inbox, if only to make sure that things aren’t falling through the cracks. (Side note: If I owe you a response, I’m working on it!)

Read Heather Kelly’s suggestions for drowning out the notifications here.

Preventing School Shootings

Yesterday, the Department of Justice released a 500-plus page report detailing failures in law enforcement’s response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Nearly two years later, it is incredibly frustrating and difficult for me to think about police standing outside the classroom where children were trapped with a gunman for over an hour.

That’s why I clung to hope when I saw a story about a study from the American Association of Pediatrics that found hotlines for students to anonymously report their peers has helped prevent numerous instances of suicide, school violence and planned attacks.

Researchers noted nearly 10% of tips submitted from 2019 to 2023 in one southeastern state were related to firearms, which are now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.

Educator Dr. Robert Taylor told CNN that anonymous tip lines work. “We see students are afraid to come forward and tell teachers and administrators what they know is happening in the school, [but] when you have something like the Say Something Anonymous System, it allows them to report at any time – 24 hours a day – danger they may see,” Taylor said.

I remember active shooter drills and having my bookbag and purse being manually searched some days when I entered school because someone threatened violence in a bathroom stall. I found it annoying back then because they were always false alarms. But reflecting back as an adult, I’m glad my school took so many measures to try and help keep me safe. I’m also sad that safety and gun violence featured so prominently in my education even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

If you’re a parent or feeling hopeless, I wish this article and study gives you some reason to be hopeful.

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