Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

Safety Alerts

All direct support professionals and clinicians involved in the support of individuals with PWS should be trained on PWS and the specific strategies to be implemented in the person’s care and support. Staff (including new, transferred, part-time, per diem) should not be assigned responsibility for the care or support of any individual(s) with PWS until it is assured that they have been trained and understand the individualized supports to be implemented. Also, staff should not be assigned to residences, day settings, or other programs where one or more persons with PWS are served until it is...
Winter weather can include a variety of conditions including ice, snow, wind and severe cold. In order to be ready for winter weather, it is critical to prepare in advance. The health and safety of direct support professionals and the individuals we serve depends on each agency and program being prepared for winter weather and the hazards it can bring.  
The safety of people receiving OPWDD services is of utmost importance and all measures possible must be taken to ensure they are free from harm. In this age of technology, staff must respect and protect the privacy and confidentiality of individuals receiving supports, especially when using cell phones, computers, mobile devices and social media.
Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to cool down properly, especially in high temperatures and high humidity. While all are at risk, the threat is increased for people with cognitive impairments, those taking certain medications and/or with acute/chronic illness, and the elderly and very young. Agencies should activate heat-related plans of action when external temperatures reach 80°, and continue with implementation as temperatures rise. Individualized plans may also be needed for people at greater risk.
Aspiration is defined as the inhalation of food, fluid, saliva, medication or other foreign material into the tracheaand/or lungs. This can occur during swallowing choking, or if stomach contents are refluxed back into the throat.Although aspiration can occur with anyone, attentiveness to the following information will help identify risk factors,symptoms and interventions important to consider for persons we support.
Bathing is a routine activity for which we provide supports daily. What should be a pleasant experience can also pose risks for drowning, falls, and scalding. Continued attentiveness to appropriate bath time preparation, supervision and assistance is necessary to ensure the safety of the people we support.
January 20, 2012Pica is the unusual sounding name for what is a common safety concern within our system-the ingestion of non-food substances (latex gloves, cigarette butts, cleaning liquids, coins, etc.). Ingestion of non-food items can cause airway obstruction, dental injury, poisoning, and other severe internal injuries. It has also been known in some instances to lead to invasive surgery and/or death.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas known as the “silent killer.” Sources of CO can include any solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel-fired appliance including generators, fireplaces, and motor vehicles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths nationwide, with more than 400 deaths and 20,000 hospital visits every year. People are often unaware they are experiencing CO poisoning until it causes physical symptoms...
Choking occurs when a person’s airway becomes blocked by food or other objects, or when liquid enters the airway during swallowing. It is very important that people remain aware of choking hazards, and know how to prevent choking, as well as how to respond in an emergency.  
On May 1, 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of thermostats. This involves about 740,000 units sold in the United States. Please see the attached alert for details.Hazard:  The alkaline batteries used in the thermostat can leak onto the circuit board posing a fire hazard.
There have been several recent cooking related fire events and nuisance alarms caused by cooking have greatly increased. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about half of all home fires start in the kitchen. The most common causes of these fires are:Unattended cookingCareless placement of combustible items near cooking equipmentGrease buildupAccidental spillage of cooking oils on stove tops and ovens.
Circuit Breakers are switches made to protect your electric circuits from being damaged by electrical overloads or short circuiting. It’s important to understand that the circuit breaker is a safety device. Switching the circuit back on without investigating what caused it to trip can become costly in the long run; and in many cases, extremely dangerous. For this reason, if a breaker has tripped, contact your Maintenance Department. The circuit breaker is tripping for a reason, and needs to be checked and tested before it is turned back on.
December 29, 2011 According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires in the home often start in the kitchen because of unattended cooking, careless placement of combustible items near cooking equipment, grease buildup, or accidental spillage of cooking oils on stove tops and ovens. Two out of every five fire events stem from cooking, and one out of every six home fire deaths are the result of cooking fires.
The 2012-2013 influenza season started early and the flu activity level in New York State is categorized as widespread. Influenza is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, lungs, and other parts of the body.
In an effort to enhance safety in our residential settings, OPWDD Office of Facilities Management, Fire Safety and Emergency Services is sharing this important product recall on dehumidifiers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Please check all dehumidifiers and immediately remove any that have been recalled from service.
Barbeque grills must only be used outdoors. The heat created by a grill, and the process of burning any fuel poses both fire and the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
As the warmer days of summer give way to outdoor cooking, it is time to remember how to safely use and maintain your barbeque grill.  To ensure that your summer cookouts go off without an injury, or unexpected fire event, please follow the tips in the 2015 Grill Safety Alert.
December 10, 2012 The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes decorations, additional cooking, and an increased number of visitors. With everything going on, it is critical that all employees keep an eye out for potential safety hazards. To help, OPWDD’s Office of Physical Plant and Safety Services compiled this holiday season alert that will help make the season fun and safe for all:
November 14, 2011 OPWDD regulations require that each individual have a care plan that is suited to his or her unique physical, medical, behavioral, and social needs. Part of assessing a person’s needs includes determining adequate safeguards and oversight.
The timely identification and remediation of issues related to the physical plant is an important step to maintain overall safety in the home. The list below serves as a guide for things to look for in the home that relate to safety. If you find a problem in one of these areas, report it promptly to your maintenance department, and follow up to ensure that it is fixed.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a voluntary recall of certain Legrand Wiremold power strips due to an electric shock hazard. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. 
March, 2012 Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas known as the “silent killer.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths nationwide, with more than 400 deaths and 20,000 hospital visits every year.
January 30, 2012More than 15,600 fires occur annually because of clothes dryers. They are also one of the leading causes of fires in OPWDD-certified residences. Common causes for dryer fires include unclean lint collection units and unsafe ventilation systems. As with all health and safety alerts, we ask everyone to remain diligent and aware of hazards that need correction-nearly all of the fires caused by clothes dryers can be prevented.
Individuals with a developmental disability can be at greater risk of falling and injury than the general population. What’s more, a fall –even one that does not result in injury– can lead to a fear of falling, which could cause individuals to limit their activities. The following are some factors that can increase the risk of falling, and tips to decrease that risk.
March is National Nutrition Month, and the most recent national core indicators state that 68 percent of adults with developmental disabilities are overweight or obese. Given that many individuals have limited mobility, healthy living and eating takes on an even more important role in their daily lives.
May, 2012Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to cool down properly, especially in high temperatures and high humidity. People at greatest risk for heat-related illness are the elderly, the very young, people with acute/chronic illness, those with cognitive impairments, and people taking certain medications.
A severe weather watch alerts people that severe weather is expected or that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather.
November 28, 2011 OPWDD has standardized fire safety measures for all state and nonprofit homes, including providing clear expectations for smoking. Along with state homes, all providers should have a clearly articulated smoking policy and a designated smoking area for each site. Smoking policies apply to everyone who may be at the program site, including staff, individuals, and visitors. This policy should be easily accessible and enforced by staff.
There has been a drastic increase in nuisance alarms related to unclean cooking appliances across the state. Nuisance alarms are a major disruption in the lives of those we serve and are often easily avoided. Some of these incidents have resulted in fire events. Cooking should never be left unattended.
The long days of summer bring hot and humid weather to many parts of the state. Higher temperatures increase the need for cooling indoors all day long, and increased electrical use during the summer elevates the risk of fire in homes involving overloaded and/or damaged electrical systems.
While we are all enjoying the sun and summer fun, below are a few reminders to help keep everyone safe and healthy:
While we are all enjoying the sun and summer fun, below are a few reminders to help keep everyone safe and healthy:Guarde Against TOO MUCH SUN,    Protect Aganst Summertime INSECTS,    Practice WATER SAFETY,   Practice TRANSPORTATION SAFETY,   Guard Against FOOD POISINING,   Guard Against HEAT RELATED ILLNESS.
The celebration of Memorial Day is the perfect time to remind people that the unofficial beginning of summer must also include attention to protections and precautions.   To guarantee a full season of fun and safe summer activities, please follow the tips included in the Summer Safety Alert-2015.
May, 2012Every year, thousands of fires are caused by surge protectors, power strips, and electrical cords.
Breakdown in communication and delays in seeking medical care can result in worsening illness and even death. In recognition that timely and accurate communication is critical especially in health emergencies, the Central Mortality Review Committee, in collaboration with the Division of Quality Improvement, is issuing a Safe Practice Advisory outlining the basic elements of effective telephone triage procedures. The OPWDD Administrative Directive 2003-01 requires that a Registered Professional Nurse (RN) be either onsite or available by telephone at all times that nursing tasks and...
Winter weather can include a variety of conditions including ice, snow, wind and severe cold. In order to be ready for winter weather, it is critical to prepare in advance. The health and safety of direct support professionals and the individuals we serve depends on each agency and program being prepared for winter weather and the hazards it can bring.
Winter weather brings a variety of hazards including treacherous driving conditions, extreme cold, and snow accumulation and drifting. The build-up of snow or ice around buildings can interfere with safe passage from a home, as well as compromise the function of mechanical equipment.