Air quality alert! Remember to protect your pets.

One of the ways to protect your pet when air quality is bad: Keep your windows closed.

With the poor air quality we are experiencing in our region, it is important to take steps to protect ourselves and our families—including our pets. Just as extreme temperatures and other weather or environmental conditions impact people, our pets are impacted, too. The risk is even greater for animals with respiratory or cardiovascular disease, animals with flat faces (brachycephalic), like pugs, bulldogs and Persian cats, and animals that are very old or very young. Birds (e.g., parrots, cockatiels, parakeets) are particularly susceptible.

Here are some tips to help you protect your pets:

  • Keep them inside with doors and windows closed.
  • Let dogs and cats outside only for potty breaks.
  • Avoid intense outdoor exercise—there are lots of indoor activities for dogs when they can’t go for normal walks or play time outside.
  • For homes without air conditioning, utilize other cooling methods for animals.
    • Make sure fresh water is available at all times.
    • Provide fresh fruits and vegetables for pets such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs.
    • Utilize ceiling or portable fans.
    • Offer your pet frozen treats like DIY popsicles.
    • When possible, keep animals in the cooler areas of the home.
  • If you have chickens and/or miniature goats:
    • If possible, use feed and bedding that produce less dust.
    • Make sure their water is fresh and clean at all times.
    • Be extra diligent in keeping pens and coops clean—this will help reduce dust and other irritant.s

Signs of respiratory distress include:

  • Unusual coughing, sneezing, gagging.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Unusual discharge or watering from eyes or nose.
  • Open mouthed breathing.
  • Lethargy or weakness.
  • Reduced appetite.

If you think your pet(s) may be suffering from the effects of poor air quality, they should be seen by a veterinarian right away. Take care of yourself and your pets—they count on you!

Four Ways to Stay Cool This Fourth of July

There’s nothing better than Seattle in the summertime. But with temperatures approaching 80 degrees this Fourth of July, you may be looking for ways to beat the heat. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy* on how to keep cool and conserve energy without breaking the bank! Check out this month’s issue of Light Reading for more innovative ways to conserve energy this summer from planting a tree to using your slow cooker. Click here to take a look!

Seattle City Light and Seattle Fire Department Partner to Address Network Vault Fires

Credit: K. Kennedy

 

At an event and demonstration today with the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the first-in-the-nation partnership today between Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department to more effectively fight fires in underground electrical vaults.

“Seattle has always been at the leading edge, and thanks to this innovative partnership, Seattle is now at the leading edge of fighting fires that are a danger to the public, our infrastructure, and our economy,” said Mayor Durkan during a demonstration of the new approach at City Light’s North Service Center. “This is the kind of collaboration and innovation we need as we work to deliver essential services, protect the public, and provide reliable electricity that powers Seattle. I am grateful to the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light who have made this vision for partnership a reality and who put themselves in harm’s way to limit the impact of these dangerous fires.”

The event included members of the Vault Response Team, which is comprised of specially trained Seattle Firefighters as well as executive members from both departments and other advocates of this partnership.

Last month, SFD Chief Harold Scoggins and City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs reached an agreement to solidify the partnership between the two departments and the Vault Response Team. The 48 members of the Vault Response Team will be continually trained to safely address the public safety needs resulting from network vault fire incidents. City Light will provide specialized supplies and equipment to treat these fires along with updated intel on City Light’s network maps.

Fire Chief Harold Scoggins praised the partnership for its innovation and what it means for other departments across the country.

“Vault fires create dangerous situations in confined spaces. Before this team was created, standard procedure was to keep the area clear and wait for the fire to burn itself out. This partnership, which takes an offensive approach, is a major advancement in our field and is an example that other energy providers and fire departments want to learn from. We are proud and thankful to have this vital resource here in Seattle.”

Electrical vault fires can be caused by something as simple as a cigarette butt landing on a pile of dried leaves or as critical as an arc flash created during maintenance. Their impact is costly and can be dangerous to the public and the firefighters extinguishing them. Within an instant, the pressure of a vault fire can launch a 300-pound utility cover up to three stories. To further complicate matters, these fires may cause large-scale power outages.

The fire department and City Light are deploying a new technology that can effectively and efficiently extinguish vault fires. With a financial contribution from City Light, the fire department revived an older truck that was scheduled for decommission to address these kinds of fires.

Armed with carbon dioxide canisters, Seattle firefighters can now remove the utility hole cover, insert a metal wand and inject the vault with carbon dioxide while covering the opening with a fire-resistant tarp. This removes the oxygen from the area, snuffing the fire by robbing it of oxygen. It is an offensive approach that keeps the fire from spreading throughout the entire vault system. Once the fire is out and the vault is cleared of smoke and carbon dioxide, City Light can de-energize electrical equipment, making the area safe for crews to begin repairs.

“This partnership enhances the safety of our both departments’ employees. We are exchanging information on safety practices and institutional knowledge while training together to ensure that these fires are extinguished safely and efficiently,” Baggs said. “Not only will this process reduce the amount of damage from these fires, but it can also greatly reduce the repair and outage time. This partnership is an insurance policy for our customers, the economic drivers in Seattle’s business core and for the public servants who address these fires.”

This technology reduces the potentially disastrous effect of these kinds of fires. While this method is crucial, the partnership between the fire department and City Light is the key ingredient to ensure its success. For Seattle Fire Captain Chris Greene, the technology behind extinguishing these fires is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

“There are a variety of great products available to handle high-voltage emergencies, but without a partnership, fire departments and utilities are missing a key component,” explains Greene. “CO2 and other chemical extinguishers are in fact effective, but it’s an engineered solution to a problem that can have significant impacts. The true solution is a foundational relationship with the energy provider like City Light that builds long before a fire begins.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Martha Molina

Martha Molina celebrated two-years at City Light in early June. As the Return to Work Coordinator, Martha works in the utility’s Safety division. “I act as the liaison between the Seattle Department of Human Resources and City Light’s supervisors, managers and injured workers,” Martha explained. “In my role, I help bring people back to work. Studies show that the quicker an employee returns to work following an industrial injury, the better chance they have for a 100% recovery as opposed to being away from work.”

Martha was born in Guatemala, but also lived in Los Angeles for six years before moving to Seattle. “I moved here when I was ten, so I’ve spent the greater part of my life in the Northwest,” Martha shared.  “I haven’t been to Guatemala since I was four. We have a big trip planned this summer and I can’t wait!”

Martha lives in Federal Way with her husband Mario and their two chihuahuas, Buttercup and Dixie. In this week’s (spot)Light, Martha talks about her volunteer work and how it’s applicable to her role at the utility.

A family selfie: Martha, Mario, Buttercup and Dixie

“I went to Highline College, transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in political science. I originally wanted to be a lawyer, but after working at a law firm, I realized that it wasn’t for me. The law firm where I worked specialized in worker’s compensation. From there, I went to a risk management group. Both of those experiences gave me a good foundation for the work I do now. I’m able to interpret code and laws and know how to apply them.”

“I do a lot of work with the community, specifically with young woman empowerment. I help young girls develop their skills for professional careers and, overall, build their self-esteem. I recently presented at the ‘Young Educated Ladies Leading’ (Y.E.L.L.) Summit where girls 14 – 18 years old participated in a variety of different workshops. It’s so important to develop those life skills. It’s also important to have an outlet; to learn how to speak for yourself and to be confident in who you are and how you feel. Those are themes we focus on at these Summits. My presentation was titled ‘Embracing your Inner Monsters.’ It’s fun to work with youth and teach them that no matter what challenges or obstacles you face, there is still opportunity to grow and be successful.”

“I also volunteer with Hispanic Seafair. I help with interview workshops, resume reviews, drafting cover letters…topics that align with career and vocational pursuits. Ironically enough, throughout the claims process, there is a portion that deals with vocational assessment which ties into my day-to-day work at City Light! Also, go Huskies!”

National Electrical Safety Month: Contact Voltage

For our last installment of National Electrical Safety Month, we would like to share a little bit about City Light’s own focus on safety and how it has evolved over the years. In 2010 and 2015, City Light experienced multiple safety incidents involving employees and the community. These incidents created a wake-up call within the utility, leading to actions built on innovation, agency, and listening. Last month, City Light’s dedication to improving its safety culture was the cover story in Northwest Public Power Association’s Bulletin magazine.

 

Click here to view the article. Enjoy!