Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Compost Sites

Is your city having trouble with your compost sites? Are people dumping items that shouldn’t be there?

To prevent this from happening, there are a few different things your City can do:

·         Have the compost site fenced and have a lock/code/key for residents to access the site
·         Have the compost site only open during hours that would be staffed  
·         Have security cameras at the compost site
·         Have signs that include what is okay and not okay to drop at the compost site

Your City should have a policy/procedure for your composting sites. The policy/procedures should include:

·         Who is allowed to use the compost site?
o   Residents
o   Are non-residents allowed to?
o   Are commercial users allowed to? If so, is there a fee?
·         When is the compost site open/close?
o   Only for staffed hours or
o   24/7, need a key?
o   Certain days that it is closed?
·         What are acceptable items at the compost site?
o   Grass clippings
o   Leaves
o   Brush/Logs
o   Christmas tress
·         If the City’s compost site is only open during staffed hours, are there requirements to enter the compost site?
o   Registering with the staff
o   Driver’s License
o   Permit
·         Is there a cost to use the compost site?
·         What other rules should users be aware of?
o   No plastic bags left on site
o   No yard waste left outside facility
o   No chain saws or wood splitters
o   No stumps


Submitted by: Kate Connell, Loss Control Consultant

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

DNR Outdoor Recreation Grant Program

The DNR is offering to provide matching grants for up to 50% of the cost of acquisition, development and/or redevelopment of local parks and recreation areas. The maximum grant award it $250,000. Just recently, the City of Byron was awarded a grant of $100,000 for an adaptive playground.

Eligible applicants are cities, counties, and townships.

Eligible projects include:
  • Park acquisition and/or development/redevelopment including:
    • Internal Park Trails
    • Picnic Shelters
    • Playgrounds
    • Athletic Facilities
    • Boat Accesses
    • Fishing Piers
    • Swimming Beaches
    • Campgrounds

Project proposals must include at least one of the eligible primary outdoor recreation facilities in the Program Manual (linked on website) and have a total cost project of at least $20,000.

The next application cycle information and materials will be posted in November 2019 with an expected application deadline of March 2020.

Please visit for more information regarding the grant.

Submitted by: Kate Connell, Loss Control Representative

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Warm Weather and Tick Reminders

The warmer weather is coming upon us. We want to remind you of what to be aware of when outside during the warmer weather.

What are Ticks? Ticks are small around the size of an apple seed, black or red in color, have four pairs of legs, and have flat, oval bodies. Being small, they are hard to spot. Ticks usually live in wooded areas, tall grasses, weeds, and leaf litter.
What can Ticks cause? Ticks spread diseases by passing along bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Common diseases of ticks include Lyme Disease, along with Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Tularemia. These all can result in negative health effects.
Symptoms of being bit by a Tick: Usually most of these illnesses will give you the typical flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever, headache and muscle aches. Also, muscle stiffness/soreness, fatigue or lethargy.
How to prevent a tick bite?
>>  Dress Properly by tucking in your pant legs to not expose the skin on your ankle/legs. If you are exposing the skin around your ankles/legs, be sure to check thoroughly for ticks upon returning inside. Wearing light colored clothing can help with spotting a tick more easily.  More and more companies are manufacturing tick repellent clothing which could also be another option to consider.
>>  Use Repellent especially on your feet and ankles and any exposed skin.
>>  Be aware of your surroundings. Try to stay on more busy trails. If you do venture in wooded areas or tall grasses, immediately check your body for ticks.
>>  Check your body thoroughly. Pay special attention to under the arms, in/around the ears, belly button, in/around hair, between the legs, and around the waist.
What if a tick bites me? If you have been bitten you may see a “bullseye” or solid red patch around the site of the bite.  Pay attention to any of the symptoms listed above. These symptoms typically occur within 30 days following a tick bite.

How to remove a tick?  The most common method is to use a fine-tipped tweezers, pull upward with steady even pressure, and after removing the tick make sure to wash the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
Other methods that may be helpful to remove ticks could include, liquid soap, petroleum jelly or rubbing alcohol. The petroleum jelly and the rubbing alcohol methods, while effective may be dangerous, as they may irritate the tick and make it release its toxins.  The liquid soap method if the best alternative option of these listed.
Common heat related disorders include:
  • Heat exhaustion: symptoms include faint or dizziness, excessive sweating, cool/pale/clammy skin, nausea/vomiting, rapid/weak pulse, and muscle cramps.
  • Heat stroke: symptoms include throbbing headache, no sweating, body temperature above 103, red/hot/dry skin, nausea/vomiting, rapid/strong pulse, and may lose consciousness. 
  • Heat cramps: symptoms include muscle pain or spasms in the abdomen, arm or legs.  
  • Heat rash: symptoms include small blisters or red cluster of pimples.
Reminders when outside in the hot weather:
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, 5 to 7 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Also, avoid dehydrating liquids such as alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated drink.
  • Wear protective clothing and sunscreen: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light colored clothing. Also, wear a hat when working outside.
  • Pace yourself: know your limits and stop if you are feeling any symptoms.  
  • Take breaks: take time for rest and water breaks in a shaded area.

Helpful links:

By: Kate Connell, Loss Control Representative



Posting turf after spraying can prevent headaches!

With increased citizen awareness and concern for chemicals in the environment, informing the public after chemically treating turf can help reduce complaints and increase safety. A sign indicating this message should be posted for 48 hours, unless the manufacturer has differing criteria.

In addition, cities in Minnesota may enact ordinances requiring Minnesota Department of Agriculture licensed commercial and noncommercial applicators to post a warning sign on the turf areas treated with pesticides (including herbicides). The city is responsible to enforce such an ordinance. The Minnesota Pesticide Control law states the following as requirements for the signs. The law states warning signs must:
1. Project at least 18 inches above the top of the grass line:
2. Must be made of a material that is rain-resistant for at least a 48-hour period; and
3. Must remain in place up to 48 hours from the time of initial application.
4. The law further states that information must be printed on the warning sign in contrasting colors and in capitalized letters at least one-half inch. The following information must also be printed on the signs:
  •  name of the business organization or person applying the pesticide,
  •  "this are chemically treated. Keep children and pets off until __________ (date of safe entry)", or a universally accepted symbol and text approved by the Commissioner that is recognized as having the same meaning or intent as specified in this paragraph. The warning sign may include the name of the pesticide used.
5. The warning sign must be posted on a lawn or yard between two feet and five feet from the sidewalk or street. For parks, golf course, athletic fields, playgrounds or other similar recreational property where pesticides have been applied and are or near the entrances to the property.

By: Joe Ingebrand, Senior Loss Control Consultant

Monday, March 25, 2019

After the Flood -- Now What?

Hopefully you are one of the lucky ones who have not been impacted by any flooding.  For those of you who were not as fortunate you are left to deal with the emotional trauma and a variety of cleanup issues.   

When the flood waters start decreasing, there are many dangers left behind. Many homes, buildings, possessions, and roadways are destroyed. Flood waters often become contaminated with many things that could be detrimental to your safety and health. The following are helpful tips on what to do after a flood occurs.  If you have been following previous blogs some of this may sound familiar and are worth repeating. 

Stay informed. Listen to your local news to keep up to date on conditions. If your area was evacuated, do not return until authorities have said it is safe to do so.

Avoid flood waters, as they may be contaminated by toxic chemicals, debris, sharp objects, power lines, sewage and other substances.

Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the local electrical company.

Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or power lines that went down.

Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded. Pay attention to the road closure and cautionary signs. Roadways may be collapsed underneath the flood waters.

Ensure buildings are structurally safe before entering. Look for warping, loosened or cracked foundation elements, cracks, holes, and damage to the walls and floors. Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by flood waters.

Record details of flood damage. Before removing any water or making repairs, make sure to document the damage for your insurer by taking photos or videos.

Report damage to your insurance. Notify your insurer as soon as possible after the flood. They will need to know the state of your home and any repairs you intend to do right away.

Maintain good hygiene during flood cleanup. Use proper personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves, masks, heavy boots and protective clothing. Wash your hands with soap and water if you come into contact with any remaining flood water or materials which have been potentially contaminated by flood water.   

Practice safe cleaning. Remove and throw out anything that was contaminated with flood water or sewage, such as drywall and insulation. Throw away items that cannot be washed or cleaned with bleach, such as mattresses, pillows and carpet. 

Avoid drinking water and eating contaminated food. Do not drink the water until authorities declare water is safe. Drink bottled water if it was not contaminated by flood water. Throw away any food that did or may have come into contact with flood waters.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Volunteers, Communications, Liability and Insurance Coverage with Flooding

Spring in Minnesota typically means flooding. With our record-breaking snowfall this year, water levels are expected to be especially high. Cities may seek the assistance of volunteers to manage flooding issues, so it is important to be aware of any liability and insurance concerns.  

County Emergency Management
City’s should contact their County Emergency Management Manager. The County EM should be able to give them some guidance on what to do, when to do it, and information on equipment and resources.

MnWARN - Utilities Helping Utilities 
Mission: To promote and support a statewide response to utility emergencies and disasters through mutual assistance for water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities in Minnesota.

MnWARN's Informational Video
LMCIT: Coverage, Volunteers, and Communication
Minn. Stat. § 12.22, subd. 2a, provides as follows:
Subd. 2a. Volunteer protections. (a) Individuals who volunteer to assist a local political subdivision during an emergency or disaster, who register with that subdivision, and who are under the direction and control of that subdivision are considered an employee of that subdivision for purposes of workers' compensation and tort claim defense and indemnification.

It is likely volunteers assisting the city with flood protection would be covered by the abovementioned statute. Accordingly, a flood volunteer would also be covered by the city's LMCIT liability and workers' compensation coverage. Cities should understand they are liable if their flood volunteers are negligent or if they are injured while assisting the city.

The abovementioned law also provides that a city volunteer assisting a city in a disaster or emergency is considered a city employee, if the volunteer is registered with and working under the direction and control of the city. Therefore, cities should likely have some type of sign-in process to meet this registration requirement and maintain a record of the individuals volunteering. Cities should also provide some direction and control over volunteers.

Liability coverage for volunteers is discussed beginning on page 47 of our LMCIT Liability Coverage Guide

For more information, please see page 3 of our Providing Assistance in Emergencies: Coverage and Liability Issues information memo:

Chapter 12 of the League's Handbook for Minnesota Cities, Public Safety and Emergency Management, also includes a model proclamation declaring a local emergency on the left side of page 5: 

For more information on communicating to your residents and other stakeholders during a city crisis, please see our Guide for Communication During a City Crisis:  

 By: Joe Ingebrand, Sr. Loss Control Consultant

Monday, March 18, 2019

Floodwater Risk -- Protect Yourself!

  • Floodwaters can cause serious harm to your health and safety. The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water.
  • Exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause wound infections, skin rashes, gastrointestinal illness, tetanus and many other injuries and illnesses.
  • If you come in to contact with floodwater, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wash any clothes contaminated in hot water with detergent before wearing them again.

Health and Safety Risks when Dealing with Floodwater

Sharp Debris
Exposure: Cuts from nails, screws, glass, and/or metal pieces. This will not only cause injury, but also exposure to infections through the open wound.
Protection: Wear heavy duty long clothing and thick shoes if you must go through water. Otherwise stay away.

Structural Damage

Exposure: Serious injuries from the collapsing of buildings and homes.
Protection: Stay away from any homes or buildings with severe structural damage.

Electrical Damage

Exposure: Electrical shock from fallen power lines.
Protection: If you see power lines down, be sure to report them to local electric company. If for any reason you must enter water, make sure all power in area has been shut off.

Open wounds

Exposure: Open wounds exposed to harmful substances in the water.
Protection: If you must enter the water ensure wounds are properly protected before entering. Otherwise avoid going into the water. Seek medical attention if there is a foreign object embedded in the wound.

Toxic Chemicals and Substance

Exposure: Exposure to gas, oil, pesticides and other chemicals and substances.
Symptoms that could occur if affected: muscle twitches, difficulty breathing, headaches, diarrhea, skin rashes, and/or disorientation.
Protection: Avoid areas that you know, or suspect are contaminated with chemicals. Practice good personal hygiene practices.

Fecal Matter Contamination

Exposure: Exposed to sewage waste, organic waste, and animal feces.
Symptoms that could occur if affected: Vomiting, Nausea, Diarrhea, and Gastroenteritis. Protection: Wear protective gear. If you know certain areas are affected by sewage, stay out of the flood water. Seek medical attention if a wound becomes contaminated with feces to determine if you need a tetanus booster.

Insects and Animals
to bugs that carry harmful diseases and wild animals such as snakes, alligators, or raccoons that pose a threat to personal safety.
Protection: Look out for animals and do your best to stay away. 
If you do end up working in flood water, here are some safety hygiene tips from the CDC: 

By: Kate Connell, Loss Control Representative