What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product. It is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program. It also contains information on the use, storage, handling and emergency procedures all related to the hazards of the material. The MSDS contains much more information about the material than the label. MSDSs are prepared by the supplier or manufacturer of the material. It is intended to tell what the hazards of the product are, how to use the product safely, what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, what to do if accidents occur, how to recognize symptoms of overexposure, and what to do if such incidents occur.

National Poison Prevention Week


As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week from March 18-24, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is teaming up with product safety counterparts in Canada and Mexico to call attention to the dangers of unintentional poisoning.


CPSC, Mexico's Consumer Protection Federal Agency (Profeco), the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), and Health Canada have committed to working together to engage consumers during this week. Consumers need to know how to safely choose, use and dispose of potentially harmful products.


Unintentional poisoning is one of the leading causes of injury to children. Poisoning is a preventable injury. Yet each year thousands of children in the United States and across North America are treated in emergency departments after consuming poisonous substances.


"Fifty years of poison awareness efforts have resulted in thousands of lives saved," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "However, new and reemerging hazards, such as button cell batteries and chemicals that look like everyday drinks, have renewed CPSC's efforts to raise awareness and encourage poison prevention."


While child-resistant packaging, critical safety messaging and education efforts have contributed to a significant decline in deaths, the North American safety agencies are aiming to reduce even further the number of unintentional poisonings.


CPSC recommends that consumers layer the protection in three key steps:

1. Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.

2. Store potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child's sight and reach.

3. Keep the national Poison Help hotline number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.


Additional poison prevention steps are:

 * When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.

 * Keep items closed and in their original containers.

 * Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using the products.

 * Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine so that you can see what you are giving or taking. Check the dosage every time.

 * Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as "medicine," not "candy."

 * Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.

 * Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by children

* Do not allow children to play with button cell batteries, and keep button batteries out of your child's reach.

 * If a button cell battery is ingested, immediately seek medical attention. The National Battery Ingestion Hotline is available anytime at (202) 625-3333 (call collect if necessary), or call the Poison Help hotline at (800) 222-1222.


To see this press release on CPSC's web site, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12133.html



Spring in Minnesota means melting snow and icy roads, in addition to hazards such as rain, mist and fog. When these conditions exist, drivers must use extra caution on the roadways. The Minnesota Safety Council offers the following safety tips:


·         Slow down and increase your following distance when rain or mist begins to fall. Even a small amount of water can mix with oil and grease on the road to create slippery conditions.

·         Use your low beam headlights. High beams reflect water vapor (fog) and make it harder to see. Low beams are the law in any event if your visibility is limited to 500 feet or there is precipitation.

·         If you are driving in rain or fog that totally impairs visibility, pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your hazard lights.

·         To keep the inside of your windshield clear of moisture, turn on your fan and defroster - ­the air conditioner may work wonders as well.

·         Allow extra following distance - ­a car needs two to ten times more distance to stop on a wet road than on dry pavement.

·         Avoid driving through large puddles - the splashing water may affect your brakes, cause your car to swerve, and impair the vision of other motorists.

·         Watch the road to see if the vehicle ahead is leaving tire tracks, and if it is, follow in those tracks if you can. If it's not, reduce speed slowly to prevent hydroplaning.

·         Watch for icy conditions caused by thawing snow, spring rains or mist, especially in shaded areas, on bridges and on overpasses. Remember that these areas freeze first.

·         Keep an eye out for pedestrians who may be less alert to traffic in the rain and fog, and more difficult for you to see.


For more information about safe driving contact the Minnesota Safety Council at (651) 291-9150 or (800) 444-9150.



Make sure supply and return vents, radiators and baseboard heating units are not obstructed by furniture, appliances, paper, files or other objects and that air can flow freely to and from them. This will maximize the efficiency of your system and help distribute warm air throughout the room.  It takes as much as 25 percent more energy to pump air into the workspace if the vents are blocked.  Do this at home as well since heating and cooling accounts for over 40% of household utility bills.  Every small optimization adds up.

Extension Cord Safety


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. About half the injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords. Thirteen percent of the injuries involve children under-five years of age; electrical burns to the mouth accounted for half the injuries to young children.

CPSC also estimates that about 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. The most frequent causes of such fires are short circuits, overloading, damage, and/or misuse of extension cords.




Safety Suggestions

·         Extension cords are for temporary use only and need to be coiled up and stored away after each use. 

·         Use polarized extension cords with polarized appliances.

·         Inspect extension cords before each use and NEVER use a damaged cord.

·         Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs are exposed when the extension cord is in use.

·         When disconnecting cords, pull the plug rather than the cord itself.

·         Use only three-wire extension cords. Never remove the third (round or U-shaped) prong, which is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of shock and electrocution.

·         Check the plug and the body of the extension cord while the cord is in use. Noticeable warming of these plastic parts is expected when cords are being used at their maximum rating, however, if the cord feels hot or if there is a softening of the plastic, this is a warning that the plug wires or connections are failing and that the extension cord should be discarded and replaced.

·         Never use an extension cord while it is coiled or looped. Never cover any part of an extension cord with newspapers, clothing, rugs, or any objects while the cord is in use. Never place an extension cord where it is likely to be damaged by heavy furniture or foot traffic.  Never run an extension cord through a doorway or window.

·         Don't overload extension cords by plugging in appliances that draw a total of more watts than the rating of the cord.

·         Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord.  Extension cords should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.



CPSC Warns: As Button Battery Use Increases, So Do Battery-Related Injuries and Deaths
Toddlers and Seniors Most Often Injured in Battery-Swallowing Incidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Small, coin-sized batteries can be found in products in nearly every home in America. From the flashlight sitting on the table, to the remote control next to the TV, "button batteries" as they are commonly referred to, are in thousands of products used in and around the home. Young children and senior adults are unintentionally swallowing the button batteries and in some cases, the consequences are immediate and devastating.

A recent study conducted by Dr. Toby Litovitz of the National Capital Poison Center, found that button battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and fatality have increased sevenfold since 1985. The majority of reported incidents involve 20 mm diameter, or larger, 3 volt batteries. Occasionally, a swallowed battery will pass through the intestine. Most often, however, batteries that become lodged in the throat or intestine can generate and release hydroxide, resulting in dangerous chemical burns.

Incidents most often involve children younger than four years old and senior adults. In the majority of incidents, children gain access to batteries directly from games, toys, calculators, remote controls and other items commonly left within a child's reach. Senior adults have swallowed button batteries used in hearing aids after mistaking them for pills.

Parents often are unaware that a child has swallowed the button battery, which makes it difficult to diagnose the problem. In fact, in the recent study, more than 60 percent of reported incidents initially were misdiagnosed. Symptoms resemble ailments common in children, such as an upset stomach and fever, and in some incidents, there are no symptoms at all.

"These incidents are preventable and CPSC is working to get ahead of this emerging hazard quickly," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Our consumer awareness efforts and outreach to the electronics industry are under way."

CPSC has reached out to the electronics industry and battery manufacturers, urging them to develop warnings and industry standards to address this issue.

CPSC recommends the following steps to prevent unintentional battery ingestion:

How much do you know about button batteries? Take this quiz (pdf) to find out.


 Ergonomics - Working in static position



Whether sitting or standing, working in one posi­tion for prolonged periods can cause fatigue and sore muscles and joints. Some tasks require these positions, but there are still some things you can do to minimize related problems.

Hazards to watch for:

- Sitting in a chair or at a workstation that is the wrong size for you.

- Working in an awkward position, like being bent forward for long periods of time.

- Leaning on sharp edges of chairs and desks.

Safe procedures:

When working at a seated station:

- Make sure the chair and workstation are the right size for you. Look for 90 degree angles at the knees, hips, and elbows when seated and your feet are flat on the floor. (See SFM’s Office Ergonomics 5-Minute Solution)

- Change your position in the chair from time to time, even though there are parameters for an ideal seated position.

- Do not spend much time leaning forward in your chair, even if it initially feels comfortable. This makes your neck muscles work harder and can cause headaches.

- Take short rest breaks, such as walking around for a few minutes every 40-50 minutes.

When working at a standing station:

- Avoid extreme bending and twisting – use good body mechanics.

- Change your position frequently. Shift weight from one leg to the other every several minutes.

- Place one foot a little higher - on a bar, box, or shelf. This can relieve stress to your back. If you don’t have this in your work area, either add it to your location or find another location where you can stand that has a place to rest one foot higher than the other.

- Place insoles in your shoes to add cushion. These are available at most pharmacies for under $15. Replace insoles every 6 months to 1 year, depending on how long you stand on them.

- Take a few minutes to walk around every 40-50 minutes.

- Use an anti-fatigue mat under your work area to stand on. Mats should have beveled edges and sit very flat on the floor.

In conclusion:

If your job requires sitting or standing for the entire shift, you may feel fatigue and sore mus­cles. The key to avoiding discomfort is to change your position frequently in order to minimize stress on specific body parts. Consider taking brief, frequent breaks that include stretching or walking, throughout the day.


Information source - http://www.sfmic.com/index.cfm

Why do we recycle?

By choosing to recycle, we reduce consumption of fossil fuel, create jobs in Minnesota, conserve natural resources and create environmental benefits.

Your individual recycling efforts do make a difference! Learn more about why you should recycle and the affect your actions have by visiting Recycle More Minnesota’s “Why do we recycle?page. 


On March 13, we changed their clocks for daylight saving time. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to use this opportunity also to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.


"Smoke and CO alarms add layers of lifesaving protection for families and homes from the dangers posed by fire and carbon monoxide," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Changing the batteries and testing your smoke and CO alarms to ensure they are working, when you change your clocks, is a great way to ensure alarms are operable and families are fully protected in the event of an emergency."


An estimated annual average of 385,100 fires, 2,470 deaths, 12,600 injuries and $6.43 billion in property losses associated with residential fires was reported by fire departments from 2005 through 2007. Of the reported incidents, common household products, such as cooking, heating, and cooling equipment accounted for the largest percentage of fires.


Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. On average, there were an estimated 184 unintentional, non-fire CO poisoning deaths annually associated with consumer products from 2004 through 2007. Carbon monoxide associated with generators and home heating systems accounted for the largest percentage of reported fatalities.


CO and smoke alarms should be tested monthly. CPSC recommends that consumers replace the batteries in their smoke and CO alarms every year. Smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Each home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area outside individual bedrooms. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.


CPSC recommends consumers follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning from occurring in the home:




* Never leave cooking equipment unattended.


* Use caution with candles, lighters, matches and smoking materials near upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.


* Have a fire escape plan and practice it, so that family members know what to do and where to meet if there is a fire in the home. Children and the elderly may sleep through or not react to the sound of a smoke alarm; therefore, parents and caregivers should adjust their fire escape plan to help children and the elderly escape from the house in the event of a fire.




* Have a professional inspect home heating, cooling, and water-heating appliances annually. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in the home.


* Never ignore a CO alarm signal. It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard. If the alarm signal sounds, do NOT try to find the source of the CO. Immediately move outside to fresh air. Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911.


* Never use a portable generator indoors-including in garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds. Opening doors and windows or using fans will NOT prevent CO build up in the home.


* When using portable generators, keep them outdoors and far away from open doors, windows, and vents to avoid toxic levels of CO from building up indoors.


* If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. The CO from generators can quickly lead to full incapacitation and death.


* Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.


For more information, visit www.FireSafety.gov for fire safety information from CPSC and other federal agencies.


Importance of Residential Energy Use

$241 billion. That's how much consumers spend each year on energy for home use. About 1 in 5 of the nation's energy dollars is spent in homes. Energy efficiency improvements could cut this number by well over half.

90% of your time. That's the proportion of the average American's time spent indoors. The quality of indoor air is often worse than the air outside. Moisture and gasses from building materials are some of the many invisible sources of indoor air pollution. When done right, energy efficiency upgrades will also improve indoor air quality and make your home safer and more comfortable.

1.2 billion tons of greenhouse-gas emissions. That's what is emitted (as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere as a byproduct of making the energy to power U.S. homes. Every single thing done to save energy at home trims these emissions.

Did you know that the typical U.S. family spends about $1,900 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. And each year, electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.

Right in your own home, you have the power to reduce energy demand, and when you reduce demand, you cut the amount of resources, like coal and gas, needed to make energy—that means you create less greenhouse gas emissions, which keeps air cleaner for all of us...and saves on your utility bills! Plus, reducing energy use increases our energy security.


Four points to safe lifting

As you know, lifting is a major contributing factor to workplace back injuries. The following techniques can help you avoid hurting your back. Keep in mind that you still have to use your discretion in applying them to your particular job.

It is important to avoid lifting if you can. Use assistive lifting equipment whenever available. Try pushing or rolling, rather than lifting. If a manual lift is absolutely necessary, follow these four safe lifting techniques.

Lifting techniques

1. Keep your head up. Looking forward is the best way to lift. It helps keep your back in a neutral position.

2. Keep neutral curve in back. In normal standing position, the adult spine has natural curvatures from front to back. When lifting or bending, try to maintain that position. Bend from the knees rather than the waist. When leaning over a counter, extend one leg straight behind. Remember to keep your head and shoulders up as you begin lifting.

3. Bring the load in close. Carry the load in the pit of your stomach instead of at arms’ length or under one arm. This keeps your back from acting as sole support of the load and reduc-es the stress.

4. Lift with your legs. Then stand up in a smooth, even motion. Use the strength of your legs to straighten your knees and hips. This  significantly decreases back stress.

You’ll also want to avoid using sudden, rapid and wide movements. Let your muscles and your discs have a chance to accommodate changes in shape and position.

·         Stretch slowly before doing tasks, gradually increasing range and speed of movement.

·         Avoid twisting by making sure your feet, knees and torso are pointed in the same  direction when lifting.

·         When unloading, gradually release the weight, and then straighten up slowly.

These lifting techniques are not fail proof,  but they can reduce the strain on your back and  help prevent injury.


1. Keep head up.

2. Keep neutral curve.

3. Bring load close
Lift with legs.



Cleaning Up Broken CFL's


Broken CFLMercury from compact fluorescent light bulbs is an issue, but it's not as bad as portrayed in some press releases. Although mercury in high enough doses can cause health problems, the amount of mercury in a CFL is relatively small-just 4 milligrams compared to 500 milligrams in old mercury-containing thermometers. Because burning coal releases mercury in to the atmosphere, using CFLs, which can reduce electricity consumption, actually decreases the amount of mercury released to the atmosphere, according to the EPA. Initially the EPA had recommended airing out a house for 24 hours if a CFL breaks, that's dated information. New EPA guidelines recommend airing out a room for 5 to 10 minutes before cleaning up the bulb, and then for "several hours" after it's cleaned up.  The EPA now recommends:

1.      Before cleanup 

  1. During cleanup
  1. After cleanup

Over 5 million school-age children—that’s 3 students in an average classroom of 30—have asthma. Asthma is a leading cause of absenteeism, accounting for millions of missed school days each year. Asthma-friendly schools are those that create safe and supportive learning environments for students with asthma and have policies and procedures that allow students to successfully manage their asthma.  One of the leading asthma triggers in schools is dust mites.  Dust mites live in things like sheets, blankets, pillows, mattresses, soft furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. 


By taking the following actions you can help minimize dust mites in your classroom/office.

·         Reduce clutter.  This will allow for efficient and thorough vacuuming of your room.

·         Remove soft furniture, pillows, and stuffed animals.  These are seething nests of asthma and other allergy triggers.

Make sure supply and return vents, radiators and baseboard heating units are not obstructed by furniture, appliances, paper, files or other objects and that air can flow freely to and from them. This will maximize the efficiency of your system and help distribute warm air throughout the room.  It takes as much as 25 percent more energy to pump air into the workspace if the vents are blocked.  Do this at home as well since heating and cooling accounts for over 40% of household utility bills.  Every small optimization adds up.

During my recent safety inspections, I noticed a wide variety of household cleaning chemicals have been brought into our buildings.  These chemicals can deliver harmful fumes that pose a health risk to our students and staff. Cleaning chemicals are not required to list ingredients on the label making it had for consumers to make good decisions when purchasing.  A study conducted in 13 California school districts found that most of the 450 chemicals identified had not been assessed for safety.  Chemicals found in these cleaning products included;

-           6 that can lead to asthma: formaldehyde, styrene, methyl methacrylate, ethanolamine, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC), didecyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride.   According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at present, nearly 1 in 10 children have asthma in the U.S., up from 7.5 percent in 1996, and just 3.6 percent in 1980.

-          11 that have been tied to increased cancer risk: formaldehyde, styrene, chloroform, trichloroethylene, benzene, 1-chloro-2, 3-epoxypropane, acetaldehyde, N-ethyl-N-nitroso-ethanamine, 2-butoxyethanol, ethylbenzene, quartz. Incidence of childhood cancer rose 28 percent from 1974 to 1998, with especially significant increases in leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and several brain and nervous system cancers.

The best thing to do is leave these products at home and request cleaning supplies, if needed, from your building custodians.  Also, please remember to keep all cleaning products out of the reach of children.  I noticed many products just sitting on counter tops or shelves.  Accidents happen, but let’s make an effort to avoid as many as possible.

Some information for this tip was provided by www.healthfreedoms.org


The typical household has 20 to 40 electronic devices that use standby power at the same time.  Although each device uses a relatively small amount of electricity, their combined energy usage represents, on average, 10% of household electricity consumption – the equivalent of operating a second refrigerator!  Households spend about $100 per year to power devices while they are in this standby mode.  To save energy, unplug these devices when not in use or consider plugging them in to a power strip with overload protection that can be easily switched off.  Remember to use this conservation practice while at work too.

After competing Safety/Energy Inspections at all of our buildings last month it makes sense that this week’s safety tip focuses on electrical safety.


The Code

-          Extension cords shall not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances [MSFC (03) Section 605.5].

What Does It Mean?

-          Extension cords must be unplugged, coiled up, and stored away after each use or every night.


The Code

Multiplug adapters, such as cube adapters, unfused plug strips or any other device not complying with the State Electrical Code shall be prohibited [MSFC (03) Section 605.4].  Relocatable power taps shall be of the polarized or grounded type, equipped with overcurrent protection, and shall be listed [MSFC (03) Section 605.4.1].

What Does It Mean?

-          Devices that increase the number of outlets, such as power strips or multiplug adapters, must be grounded and have circuit overload protection.  Also, these devices cannot be duplicated or used with extension cords.  I still see a lot of power strips plugged into power strips or power strips plugged into an extension cords.  Neither of these combos is allowed and if found will be removed.

Calculate your carbon footprint with this easy-to –use tool!


In our daily lives, each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.  Yet, there are many steps each of us can take to reduce our carbon emissions.  The choices we make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and how much/what we buy and throw away all affect our carbon footprint and can ensure a stable climate for future generations.


Use the Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator link below to measure your impact on our planet’s climate.



Source – Chisago County Environmental Connections

Winter Slips and Falls Prevention Tips

-          Wear appropriate winter footwear that is well insulated, waterproof, has a non-slip, thick sole and a wide, low heel. Ice grippers can also improve walking on ice and snow.

-          Use walkways that have been salted or shoveled. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and in areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible is discouraged.

-          Test your travel path for slickness by sliding your shoe or boot on it before proceeding.

-          Do the penguin shuffle.

o   Walk flat footed.

o   Take short steps to maintain your center of balance over your feet.

o   Keep your head up and don’t lean forward.

o   Walk slowly. Never run on snow- or ice-covered surfaces.

-          When entering or exiting vehicles, use the vehicle for support. Never jump from vehicles or equipment.

-          When entering a building, remove snow and water from footwear so as not to create wet, slippery conditions indoors.

Educational facilities in the U.S. and Canada spend about US$16 billion on energy each year. Although energy costs account for only 2 to 4 percent of school district expenditures, it is one of the few expenses that can be decreased without negatively affecting classroom instruction.

The quickest and easiest way to implement load reductions is to ensure that equipment is turned off when it's not needed.

Computers, printers, and copiers. These should be turned off when they are not in use as well as over weekends and holiday breaks.  Also, because a computer monitor can use two-thirds of the total energy of a desktop system, it is important that they employ sleep-mode settings—this can save as much as $75 per desktop system annually.

Lights. Lighting strategies are the easiest way to minimize energy consumption without any major expense. Simply turning off lights in unoccupied rooms can save from 8 to 20 percent on lighting energy. 

While you decorate your classrooms and building for the holiday season, please keep in mind that artwork and teaching materials shall be limited on walls and corridors to not more than 20 percent of the wall area.  [MSFC (03) Section 803.3.2 & 803.4.2].  Excessive artwork and teaching materials negate the fire rating of the surface (walls, doors, ceiling) it is displayed on and adds to the rooms fuel load.

Appliance Rebate Program Extension 


Minnesota residents who missed out on the state's popular Trade-in and Save Appliance Rebate Program will have another chance to participate, beginning on November 17, 2010. Since the launch of the program in the spring, 22,185 rebates have been mailed to Minnesota consumers. About $717,000 in rebates not claimed by residents are available on first-come, first-served basis. The rebate is retroactive and applies to purchases made on or after March 1, 2010. Minnesota residents who already received a rebate are not eligible.


Purchase Appliance and Reserve Rebate


Here are the steps to follow to receive a rebate:

  • Purchase an appliance and then reserve a rebate online at www.mnappliancerebate.com or call toll-free 1-877-230-9119. If you apply online, print the application confirmation page. If you apply at the toll-free number, a copy of the confirmation will be mailed to you.
  • Purchase an eligible ENERGY STAR appliance from a Minnesota retailer. For a list of ENERGY STAR rated appliances, go to www.energystar.gov
  • Fill out the application completely; make a copy for your records.
  • Mail all required materials within 14 days of the rebate reservation to the address provided on the rebate form, not to our office.


Rules and Requirements


Here are the rules and requirements for this rebate program:

  • Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Minnesota residents who already received a rebate are not eligible.
  • You must purchase an appliance before you reserve a rebate. 
  • Appliance purchased must be an ENERGY STAR rated appliance
  • Only one rebate per household.
  • Purchases are retroactive to March 1, 2010. Appliances purchased on or after March 1, 2010 are eligible.


Eligible Appliances and Rebate Amounts


 Eligible appliances and associated rebate amounts are as follows:

  • clothes washers ($200)
  • dishwashers ($150)
  • freezers ($100 with self-certification of recycling)
  • refrigerators ($200 with self-certification of recycling)

When to Turn Off Personal Computers

If you're wondering when you should turn off your personal computer for energy savings, here are some general guidelines to help you make that decision.

Though there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, this small amount of energy is still less than the energy used when a computer is running for long periods of time. For energy savings and convenience, consider turning off

·         the monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes

·         both the CPU and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.

Make sure your monitors, printers, and other accessories are on a power strip/surge protector. When this equipment is not in use for extended periods, turn off the switch on the power strip to prevent them from drawing power even when shut off. If you don't use a power strip, unplug extra equipment when it's not in use.

Most PCs reach the end of their "useful" life due to advances in technology long before the effects of being switched on and off multiple times have a negative impact on their service life. The less time a PC is on, the longer it will "last." PCs also produce heat, so turning them off reduces building cooling loads.

For cost effectiveness, you also need to consider how much your time is worth. If it takes a long time to shut down the computer and then restart it later, the value of your time will probably be much greater than the value of the amount of electricity you will save by turning off the computer multiple times per day.

Power-Down or Sleep Mode Features

Many PCs available today come with a power-down or sleep mode feature for the CPU and monitor. ENERGY STAR® computers power down to a sleep mode that consume 15 Watts or less power, which is around 70% less electricity than a computer without power management features. ENERGY STAR monitors have the capability to power down into two successive "sleep" modes. In the first, the monitor energy consumption is less than or equal to 15 Watts, and in the second, power consumption reduces to 8 Watts, which is less than 10% of its operating power consumption.

Make sure you have the power-down feature set up on your PC through your operating system software. This has to be done by you, otherwise the PC will not power down. If your PC and monitor do not have power-down features, and even if they do, follow the guidelines above about when to turn the CPU and monitor off.

Note: Screen savers are not energy savers. Using a screen saver may in fact use more energy than not using one, and the power-down feature may not work if you have a screen saver activated. In fact, modern LCD color monitors do not need screen savers at all.




U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs

Washington, DC 20207


November 4, 2010
Release #11-030

CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Change Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Batteries When Changing Clocks This Weekend
CPSC Also Recommends Consumers Test Their Homes’ Electrical Safety Equipment

WASHINGTON, D. C. - When you change your clocks this weekend, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms too. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to make a habit of replacing smoke and CO alarm batteries when the time changes. Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7 this year.

“Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year.”

In addition to changing batteries every year, CPSC recommends consumers test their alarms monthly. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.

Fire departments responded to an estimated 385,100 residential fires nationwide that resulted in an estimated 2,470 civilian deaths, 12,600 injuries and $6.43 billion in property losses annually, on average, from 2005 through 2007.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. An average of 181 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths occurred annually associated with consumer products, including portable generators, from 2004 through 2006.

CPSC is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide poster contest to increase awareness about the dangers of CO in the home. The poster contest is open to all middle school students in grades 6, 7 and 8 through December 31. Each of nine finalists will receive $250 in prize money. The grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $500. More information about the contest is available at www.challenge.gov/cpsc. Encourage your middle school student to participate.

CPSC also urges consumers to test electrical outlets in their homes that are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, also called GFCIs or GFIs. A GFCI is an inexpensive electrical device that can be installed in a home’s electrical system to protect against severe or fatal electric shocks. If you don’t have GFCIs, have them installed by a qualified electrician.

Test the GFCI after installation, at least once every month, after a power failure and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. See our GFCI Fact Sheet for more information about GFCIs, where to install them and how to test them.

Electrical Outlet with a GFCI
Picture of Electical Outlet with a GFCI showing 'test' and 'reset' buttons


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054. To join a CPSC e-mail subscription list, please go to https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC's Web site at www.cpsc.gov.

What Actions Can I Take Today to Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in My School2?

Every member of the school community plays a role in monitoring and improving air quality in your school. By becoming IAQ-conscious and taking some simple actions, you can make a real impact on the health and productivity of all members of the school. Listed below are some simple actions that can make an immediate difference.

2 Adapted from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Actions to Improve Indoor Air Quality” EPA 402-F-99-008.

Teachers and Other Staff

Teachers impact IAQ through their behaviors and knowledge of the classrooms where they teach. Teachers should work cooperatively with facility operators to control sources of indoor air pollutants and ensure adequate ventilation.

1. Ventilation



2. Cleanliness

3. Communication

4. Personal Belongings

5. Volunteer to be on the IAQ or Health and Safety Team. This way you can be involved in some of the decision-making that impacts IAQ in your buildings.


With the changing seasons it may be tempting to open the window and allow the cool fall air in.  Opening a window may allow a cool breeze in, but it is also causes the heating system to work harder to maintain your rooms set space temp.  The cool air coming in through the window and the warm air from the heating system will be in constant battle with each other.  The only thing that will come out of this battle is higher energy costs for the district.  This also may cause other rooms or areas to overheat if the heating system is shared.  For your heating system to function properly, your windows and doors need to be closed.  If you are having temperature related issues in your room, please contact your Building Lead Custodian. 


In the early 90s, a school in Newfolden, MN was completely destroyed by a fire that was started by a residential coffee maker left on over the weekend. Apparently, the auto-shutoff failed and the device overheated. 

To avoid a devastating loss like this in our district, please follow these simple safety rules.

-          Check personal appliances regularly to make sure they are in proper working order.

-          Never leave personal appliances unattended while they are running.

-          Unplug or shut off power source to your personal appliances after each use.

Since October is Energy Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to send out the first “Wildcat Energy Tip”.  The goal of these tips will be to raise awareness of energy consumption by students and staff, not just at school but at home as well.   Energy awareness month was first proclaimed in 1991, and is promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy.   The theme for this year is “POWERING AMERICA; We’re On Target”.  The theme depicts how, across the nation, Federal agencies continue to zero in on energy targets to stimulate the economy, lower operating expenses, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and achieve long-term energy and economic security.  Please visit http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware.html  to learn more about Energy Awareness Month 2010.  While you’re there be sure to check out the helpful energy conservation checklists that are available for your home and office.

NEW  - This year we will not only be sending out great energy conservation tips but also safety tips.  Just like the energy tips, the goal of the safety tips will be to raise awareness within our schools.  Hopefully by doing so we may be able to identify a hidden hazard or prevent an injury.

NEW - Thanks to a few of our generous vendors, we will once again be able to offer prizes for our monthly challenges.  This year, all correct challenge entries submitted by 2:30 pm, on the day of the challenge, will be put into a drawing for the monthly prize.  In addition to a great energy or safety related prize, all monthly challenge winners will be entered into a Grand Prize Drawing at the end of the school year for a $50.00 gift card to Cabelas.