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Fill ’er up

‘Hydration stations’ promote heat safety

Jessica Cabrera De Mejia, a city carrier assistant, fills up at the Vallejo, CA, Post Office’s hydration station recently.

It’s only July, but California has already been hit by at least three heat waves.

As temperatures rise, Pacific Area — which includes the Golden State — is conducting stand-up talks and taking other measures to educate employees on the importance of protecting themselves from heat-related illnesses.

To further raise awareness, Pacific also encouraged Post Offices and other facilities to participate in a recent “hydration station challenge.”

The goal: to promote the stations, central locations inside facilities where employees can obtain cooling supplies, information about heat-related illnesses, local weather updates and more.

“We asked districts to be creative and involve all employees in designing their hydration stations,” said Pacific Area Safety Manager Mary Valdez.

Safety engagement leaders in each of the area’s eight districts helped drive the initiative, which quickly caught on. More than 500 Pacific Area postal facilities entered the competition.

Vallejo, CA, Post Office employees offered several design ideas, including making their station mobile and adding various fruits, non-caffeine beverages and frozen treats.

“Once employees got engaged, they start making suggestions. It was incredible,” said Vallejo Postmaster Manuel Hinojosa.

Vallejo was one of the three winners of the competition, which has established the stations as important reminders to stay hydrated.

“The hydration station looks good. Carriers see it right away and remember, ‘I have to get some water.’ So it’s a good way to start the day,” said Mike Wilkinson, a letter carrier who serves as the Vallejo office’s safety captain.

Another Vallejo letter carrier, Royce Quilala, said the hydration stations are particularly useful this summer because many businesses that sell or provided water remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“So it’s even more important to have water,” he said.

Valdez, who helped spearhead the challenge, hopes to have a similar competition next year.

“It will continue to evolve with the assistance of our employees and will help prevent heat-related illnesses,” she said.

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