Postal Service Prepares For Hurricane Florence

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

It’s a phrase that many of you, and many Americans, have heard before. Luckily this unofficial motto is not strictly true, and preparations are already underway by the USPS for Hurricane Florence.

Extreme weather impacts over 7.5 million Postal employees across the entire country. Severe weather events delay mail delivery, damage vehicles and equipment, close mail facilities, and destroy mail. Luckily the USPS has contingency plans in place to minimize the risk of these threats.

Of course the first priority of the USPS is to keep all employees in the effected areas safe. Many post offices are suspending operations until Hurricane Florence has passed. A full list of service disruptions can be found HERE.

This means that mail processing will also be temporarily embargoed in these locations. These mail delivery delays are unavoidable and are utilized to keep employees and customer mail/parcels safe.

Postal operations will not be reinstated until safety issues due to Hurricane Florence have been addressed. Mail delivery may resume before electricity and phone service is restored to effected areas. Mail delivery is paramount when it comes to delivering information after an emergency. We are extremely grateful to all the loyal, hardworking Postal employees who will head back to work after the hurricane to deliver important correspondence.

USPS employees can contact the USPS National Emergency Notification Hotline at 1-888-363-7462 to check if schedules have been changed or for special instructions.

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The Headache Of Lost Mail

How much mail do you think is lost by the USPS every year?

It’s a tough statistic to nail down, and nearly impossible if you’re looking for a reliable number. Most lost mail that can’t be delivered or returned to the original sender ends up at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, essential a “lost and found” headquarters for mail and parcels.

The employees at the Mail Recovery Center certainly have their work cut out for them. They’re in charge of doing anything they can to determine where each individual piece of mail is supposed to be. Mail and packages are scanned and sometimes opened in the hope of finding address information so the item can make its way where it belongs. Anything that doesn’t have an owner, in the end, is recycled, donated, or auctioned off.

With millions of pieces of mail being handled daily, it isn’t surprising that the occasional piece of mail is going to be lost. Overall though, there a few key reasons why mail ends up getting lost.

~ Incorrect Address

~ Shipping Label is Damaged

~ Shipping Label Falls off

~ Recipient Didn’t Update Their Address

~ Address Can’t Be Read

For the most part, these issues are something the sender of the mail or parcel can control. For USPS employees working in retail operations, you can reduce the amount of lost mail by reminding customers of these potential issues. We understand that you’re busy, but taking the time to do this can cut down on a lot of headaches for both you and the customers.

But if you do find yourself in a situation where a customer’s mail has gone missing, it is important to provide that customer with excellent customer service. Explain in detail how a customer can find their missing mail without laying the blame on them. This is even more important with parcels, as customers have a variety of courier options and could stop utilizing the USPS if they find the services to not work for them.

Take the time to listen to customer concerns and assure them that their concerns are being taken seriously. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to get answers. If you’ve been to the official USPS Facebook account lately, you’ll see there are a lot of angry complaints in the comments. Do what you can to reduce those complaints by offering excellent customer service to every single person.

Do your part to cut down on lost mail with excellent customer service, attention to detail, and the right pre-inked Postal stamps!

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Top Considerations For Mail Delivery In Extreme Heat

In light of the recent tragic death of a USPS employee, we thought it was important to write about the heat and how to protect yourself while on your routes in scorching temperatures.

Employers are required by law to protect employees from hazards in the workplace, and that includes extreme heat. We recommend speaking with your supervisor so you can fully understand what you are to do during this dangerous weather condition.

In the meantime, there are a lot of things you should keep in mind while delivering mail in excessive heat that we’re going to cover today.

 

New Workers Must Take Extra Care

New workers who are not acclimatized to working in a hot, strenuous outdoor environment are more at risk of developing heat-related illnesses.

If you’re new to the job be sure to take frequent breaks to recover from the heat. Pay close attention to your body and the warning signs of heat illness. Until you are accustomed to working in such conditions, you are more likely to become ill from the heat.

Pay Attention To The Heat Index

The Heat Index takes into account both the temperature of the air and the humidity. The heat index will help you identify how the heat will feel to you physically. There is a misconception that a higher heat index doesn’t lead to a higher rate of heat illness, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Heat advisories and heat warnings exist for a reason so don’t ignore them.

Higher humidity means there is more moisture in the air, making it difficult for sweat to evaporate. This means your body is not being cooled as much as it normally would be. Always pay attention to the humidity when on a route.

It is also important to note that the heat index may be even hotter in direct sunlight. Keep in the shade as much as possible while on your route.

Stay Hydrated

Making sure you drink plenty of water is paramount when it comes to working in excessive heat. Don’t drink only when you feel thirsty, drink small amounts of water on a regular basis throughout the day. Two to four glasses of cool water per hour is recommended.

Drinking soda, juice, or other sugary beverages will cause you to lose body fluid. Stick to water, and make sure it’s not too cold or it can cause stomach cramping.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Because direct sunlight can make your body noticeably hotter, protecting yourself from the sun is extremely important. Try to keep to the shade whenever possible. Investing in some type of sun hat is a great way to keep the sun off your neck and face, and out of your eyes.

Sunburn is also a real threat when working outdoors, so be sure to use ample amounts of sunscreen.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Short-sleeved shirts, shorts, and sun hats are all critical for keeping you cool while on your route. We have an entire section of summer Postal uniforms on our website to make them easy for you to find. These uniform options are lightly colored and lightweight to keep you as cool as possible.

If you’d like more details about the type of uniform items you should invest in for summer, we dedicated an entire post to it.

Treat Early Signs Of Heat Illness

If you begin experiencing early signs of heat illness, give the symptoms immediate attention. By treating early symptoms with rest, shade, and water, you are more likely to avoid a medical emergency.

Some early symptoms to be aware of include cramping, headaches, and weakness. If you begin experiencing these types of symptoms, take action immediately. Even if you are near the end of your shift, don’t push yourself. Heat stroke is nothing to mess around with.

Find our breakdown of heat illness symptoms HERE.

Take Frequent Breaks

How often you take breaks will depend on the heat that day, but make sure you do take frequent ones in the shade or air conditioning.

Doing strenuous work in the heat can be extremely dangerous, so space out these activities when possible. Remember if you ever begin to develop symptoms of heat illness that you need to rest somewhere cool and drink some water. The mail isn’t worth your life.

Use Additional Cooling Products

There are other, more creative ways you can keep cool while on your route. MyPostalUniforms.com carries a variety of non-reimbursable summer accessories to help you during those hotter days. Neck cooling wraps and bandanas are two of our most popular products.

Cooling vests are another great option, and when all else fails a damp cloth can make a world of difference.

Be Aware Of Your Own Special Circumstances

While excessive heat is dangerous for everyone, your personal situation can have a huge impact on how you react to the heat.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications can make your body and skin more sensitive to sunlight. Medical conditions such as heart disease can also make you more vulnerable to the heat. Autoimmune diseases in particular are more likely to flare up due to heat, as well as asthma.

Pay attention to your body. Look up side effects of your medication and talk to a doctor about any medical conditions you have. You may want to talk to your supervisor about any concerns you may have.

Stay safe out there everyone, and don’t forget to stay cool by shopping for summer uniforms.

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Should All USPS Employees Be Required to Wear Postal Uniforms?

When looking at the makeup of the USPS, letter carriers fall into two categories – city carriers and rural carriers. While all letter carriers deliver mail and parcels, the rules and regulations they face while on the job can differ greatly.

Rural letter carriers are to be neatly dressed and presentable, but they are not required to wear a USPS uniform. Rural letter carriers often do more than just deliver the mail; they also sell stamps, offer signature confirmation, and other tasks that can be fulfilled at a traditional Postal counter. Due to this visibility, some people are calling for rural letter carriers to begin wearing Postal uniforms, just like city carriers do.

In addition, the USPS has begun employing more and more temporary workers. Non-career workers often do not receive any allowance for uniforms. What this sometimes means is that a non-career letter carrier will arrive at an individual’s mailbox in street clothing, which can be alarming for customers.

So, should all letter carriers be required to wear a uniform?

 

Yes To Uniforms!

~ Customers are less likely to react with suspicion to Postal workers approaching their mailboxes and homes due to a lack of uniform.

~ Increased safety for letter carriers.

~ Provide a positive, professional image of the USPS to customers while delivering the mail.

~ Alleviate customer confusion, making customers more likely to approach with questions or for additional Postal services.

~ Uniforms allow customers to better understand when an individual is illegally accessing their mailbox.

No To Uniforms!

~ Added financial strain to the USPS.

~ Added financial strain to USPS employees without any Uniform Allowance.

~ USPS should focus on fixing other, more pressing issues such as better delivery times, better training, and building maintenance.

~ Uniforms cost too much money. Instead, require all rural carriers to have signage or graphics attached to their delivery vehicle.

~ Uniforms are often uncomfortable and not feasible for constant wear while working a rural delivery route in a vehicle.

What’s your take? Should all letter carriers be required to wear Postal uniforms? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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The Postal Service – Amazon – Trump Events, Explained

There has been a lot of news regarding the U.S. Postal Service, Amazon, and Trump in the past couple of weeks. Today we’re breaking down exactly what is going on.

Amazon

The Postal Service has more than one company that it gives deep discounts to when it comes to shipping prices, but it is true that Amazon has an agreement with the Postal Service. Under this agreement Amazon delivers many packages to the USPS, and the USPS delivers the packages on the last leg of their journey.

These contracts must cover all of the costs of the Postal Service. Regulators have approved the contract with Amazon, which means the Postal Service is not losing money by working with Amazon in this way.

Amazon handles a large portion of the delivery of its packages itself. Packages are sorted by zip code and carrier route before being dropped off, so the USPS is only handling a small portion of the work when it comes to these deliveries, making it more cost efficient than it may at first appear.

The Postal Service

Trump’s claims that the Postal Service is losing a lot of money are not incorrect. They reported a loss of 1.8 billion in 2017 compared to 2016. This is due to a number of factors, including the decline in First-Class and Marketing mail volumes. The obligation to pre-fund retirement benefits has also had a huge impact in the USPS’ revenue.

The Postal Service was losing money before Amazon became such a big contender in the packaging business. While there certainly has to be an overhaul in postal reform, Amazon is far from the only contributing factor in the loss of USPS profits.

Trump

Trump claims that the USPS should be making more money off Amazon, and they certainly could. USPS is charging below market rate for parcel delivery, not even accounting for whatever discounts they give to Amazon. With how much business the USPS garners from Amazon, surely they could be making more money with a shallower discount.

But Trump is incorrect in saying that the Postal Service is losing money because of this deal with Amazon, simply because the law states that any contracts with the USPS must at least break even. Beyond that, Amazon brings in a lot of consistent business for the USPS.

Trump’s Task Force

Trump has issued an order demanding that the Postal Service’s finances be evaluated, following his many tweets regarding the USPS and Amazon. This task force will be used to examine the USPS’ finances, including the Postal Service’s operations.

Investigations by this task force will include many parts of the USPS business model, including parts of their business plans that involve companies such as Amazon.

Trump insists that there needs to be action to make the USPS profitable again. There have been no details about when this task force will be created or when changes may be implemented.

So What Does It All Mean?

While all this finger pointing may seem childish, this task force could actually be great for the Post Office. Studying the USPS financial situation can bring about great solutions that can help the USPS.

Technology simply means there is less first-class mail, and with the requirement to pre-fund benefits the USPS is going to struggle to operate in the black. The rise in e-commerce has helped some, but not fully. Hopefully this task force can find problems that can be solved down the line.

In the short term, however, very little, if anything, is likely to change when it comes to day-to-day operations.

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7 Hacks To Keep Your Feet Dry This Spring

There’s no escaping the rain during the spring months, especially when you work outside delivering mail and parcels all day. No matter what you wear or what tricks you use, in the end you are going to get wet.

But wet feet are particularly uncomfortable. They make walking unpleasant and will likely mean you are colder during your shift. Luckily there are some things you can do to keep your feet drier this spring.

Try out any combination of these hacks and see what works best for you!

 

Hack 1: Invest in rubber overshoes and waterproof socks. Overshoes fit easily over your comfortable Postal shoes and offer 100% waterproof protection. Waterproof socks will take care of water that may sneak in over the top of your boots. They’re designed to keep your feet warm, and more importantly, dry. These two items combined make for a great defense against the rain.

 

Hack 2: If your shoes get soaked during the day, use newspaper to dry them overnight. Ball up newspaper and put them inside your wet shoes, then wrap newspaper around the outside of your shoes. You may need to change the newspaper several times, but this is an effective way to get the water out of your shoes for the next day.

 

Hack 3: Wrap your socked feet in a plastic grocery bag before putting your shoes on for extra protection against the rain. If you do this, use a bag that will cover your ankles as well. Make sure the bag isn’t going to bunch in your shoes. Be warned, this method will likely make your feet sweat.

 

Hack 4: Bring a second pair of socks with you in case yours get soaked. Keep them in your vehicle where they can stay dry and be changed.

 

Hack 5: Avoid cotton socks at all costs. Cotton absorbs moisture so any water that does get into your shoes will be soaked up. Your feet will get wet and every step you take will be squishy and uncomfortable.

 

Hack 6: Use a powder or balm on your feet before heading out. This helps to manage the moisture on your feet from stray water and sweat. It can also help to reduce chaffing, which gets worse in rain.

 

Hack 7: Consider investing in gaiters if you are able to. These sit over the top half of your walking boot and the lower part of your leg. These will seal off the top of your shoe to prevent water from getting inside. Combined with a waterproof shoe, your feet should stay very dry even in a lot of rain!

 

If you have any tips to share about keeping feet dry in spring rains, let us know in the comments!

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Postal Services From Around The World

Who has the best Postal service in the world? There are plenty of studies out there about this, but there really is no easy answer. Today we want to share some insights into a few of the different Postal services from around the world to give you a chance to see what we do differently.

Japan

Japan is a relatively small country with around 24,000 post offices. Japanese Post Offices handle letters and parcels, but in addition also offer banking and insurance. Japanese mailboxes are red and pickup times are listed on the box.

Only the city’s central Post Office is open on weekends, but they do offer a 24/7 counter. This may be only one nighttime counter, but this does mean citizens always have access to a Post Office if they look. Several years ago Japan became an IPO, essentially privatizing their Postal service.

In Japan you can send and receive parcels and mail any time of day (or night). This means that a parcel delivery at 9:00 PM on a Sunday may not even be an unusual occurrence. The Japanese Postal Service is very efficient and is considered to be one of the best in the world.

Australia

Australia faces many of the same issues as the United States when it comes to the large distance that needs to be covered when it comes to mail delivery. It is self-funding and committed to providing services to all citizens.

The Postal Service operates in three markets; letters & associated services, agency services & retail merchandise, and parcels + logistics. This covers mail delivery, insurance, currency conversion, parcel delivery, banking services, and more.

Australia is always looking for innovative ways to improve their Postal program. The mail service in Australia almost always makes a yearly profit, so they’re doing something right.

United Kingdom

In 2015 the Postal Service became privatized. Even so, it maintains Universal Service, meaning items of a certain size can be sent anywhere in the UK at a fixed price. They offer expedited mail delivery, business mail, and promotional mail.

They have a network of 38 mail centers which serve specific areas. Mail is transferred from these mail centers to delivery offices, from which mail is delivered to recipients. There are occasionally reports of mail going missing and not arriving at the final destination.

Privatization has led to a huge loss of jobs and of delivery offices. This means the workload on the Postal employees remaining has increased. The privatization of the UK Postal Service is still controversial in the country.

Singapore

Singapore has only 62 post offices, but it is one of the more innovative Postal services in the world. They provide mail service, self-service automated machines, and several years ago tested droid delivery.

Drones arriving with mail or parcels would make the delivery only if it received an authentication signal within three minutes. Otherwise it would return to the base.

While drones are not being used for day-to-day operations, officials are discussing how to use this new technology. Drones may be used in the future for reaching remote locations. Testing is still being done to determine if drone delivery will ever go mainstream.

South Africa

Many homes in South Africa do not have individual mailboxes. Instead, citizens may opt to pay for a PO box. These PO boxes can be located almost anywhere, such as in shopping centers. There is often a waiting list to be assigned a PO box close to the individual’s home.

Many financial transactions are handled electronically, which cuts down on the amount of mail being delivered at all. The sending and receiving of mail is simply not a large part of people’s lives.

If you do want to send mail quickly, you can go through a private parcel and letter service that can ship quickly both domestically and internationally.

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How To Choose Postal Shoes

The shoes you wear while on the job are one of the most important aspects of your Postal uniform. When you’re on your feet all day and walking miles and miles, you need the right shoes. With so many options out there it can be difficult to choose a pair. That’s why today we want to offer our advice about what you need to consider while making a Postal shoe purchase.

First off, we recommend keeping several pairs of Postal shoes on hand. You’ll want to wear different shoes for different occasion, and you may want to rotate the shoes you wear day-to-day. A lighter shoe is better for summer while a waterproof shoe is needed in rain and snow. Consider this while looking at your uniform allowance.

Secondly, always buy Postal Approved shoes. Not only will they last longer, but they can save you a lot of hassle. If you fall or injure yourself and you aren’t wearing USPS approved shoes the injury may be contested and you can be blamed for wearing improper footwear. Do yourself a favor and make sure you invest in USPS approved footwear.

Consider buying insoles to add to your shoes. They can add some extra comfort and will help your shoes last longer. Even if you have to spend money out of pocket for them, it’s worth it. Don’t invest in cheap ones; buy high quality insoles that suit your feet. It makes a huge difference.

If you don’t want to invest in shoes designed specifically for winter, invest in overshoes you can wear over your usual Postal shoes. Use these to keep your feet warm and dry while you keep your feet supported and comfortable in your usual USPS shoes.

When it comes to really rainy days pull-on rain boots are excellent, particularly when combined with rain pants. Even waterproof shoes can only be so effective, simply because they are not big enough. If you have to deliver mail in a downpour, rubber boots are a must. Make sure they have a good grip so you don’t slip.

But one of the most important things you need to keep in mind is to buy shoes with good support and good traction. These are basic tips but so important. Shoes that are too flat are going to hurt your feet. You can’t just wear any type of walking shoe.

Take care when selecting your Postal shoes. Choose your shoe width and shoe size wisely. Rotate your shoes and wear extra overshoes and boots when necessary. We have a huge selection of Postal shoes on our website. If you have any questions about our Postal shoes please feel free to call us at 1-800-229-4500 and a customer service representative will help you out.

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Surviving The Holidays

The holiday season is here, which for USPS employees means long hours, added stress, and of course, more mail to deliver. Here’s our tips to help you get through the holidays!

~ Don’t read the comments in articles about the USPS.

~ But do read feel-good articles about the USPS. Get inspired by stories of letter carriers serving their community or helping those in need. It can remind you of why your job is so important.

~ Don’t read the comments on the USPS Facebook page, either. A lot of people take out their anger in these comments, and they likely have nothing to do with you.

~ Embrace the longer hours by remembering all the calories you are burning.

~ Load your mail first, then your parcels.

~ Play Tetris when loading up your LLV. Stack parcels so they won’t go flying when you drive or remove one from the stack.

~ Invest in items to help you stay warm. It will make your long days more pleasant.

~ Remember that the holiday season will end, and that the huge rush of mail and parcels is temporary.

~ Don’t attempt mail and parcel delivery if it is unsafe. Yes, you should attempt to deliver everything you can, but don’t risk your safety for it.

~ Take time to relax during your downtime. Get a massage. Binge watch a new TV show. Make sure you’re doing something to unwind.

~ Get your own holiday shopping done as soon as possible. The sooner you’ve bought gifts, wrapped them, and mailed them, the less you have to worry about in your free time.

~ Don’t take it personally if a customer yells at you or complains about the mail. They may be having a bad day. They may be trying to get a package to a sick relative. You don’t know their situation, so show kindness in return.

~ Chat with the people on your route if they start a conversation. It makes your day more pleasant and is excellent customer service.

~ Don’t ignore your mental health. Meditate. Talk to loved ones about how you are doing. Don’t skip medications or therapy sessions if you need them. Ignoring your mental health makes working much harder.

~ Think of the mail and packages you have to deliver in a positive light. Think of the happy faces on children who get gifts from relatives. Think of the grandparents who are thrilled to get a Christmas card. Think about old college roommates, sending a nostalgic package. The holidays are a season of joy, and you are helping to spread that joy with your job. That is an amazing gift.

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Safety While Delivering After Dark

Daylight savings time is this weekend, which means it is going to start getting dark sooner. With the holiday season nearly here, that means you face an increased risk of delivering mail and parcels after dark. Delivering in the dark comes with increased risk. There’s no one-size-fits-all method for remaining safe when delivering at night, but we’ve got some tips that will hopefully help out.

Tip 1: Stick to the safest path when making deliveries. You will save time cutting across lawns, but in the dark you are less likely to see hazards on the ground such as lawn decorations or holes. Stay on the sidewalk.

Tip 2: Watch where you walk. Again, fingering mail while walking saves time, but in the dark you need to keep your eyes peeled for hazards. Otherwise you may miss hazards such as cracks in the sidewalk. This can lead to trips, falls, and injuries.

Tip 3: Invest in a headlamp or flashlight. This, of course, makes it much easier to spot any hazards that may be in your path.

Tip 4: Be wary when on your route of dogs. At night they can be harder to spot, and if a dog sees you approaching its home at night and doesn’t know you, it may attack.

Tip 5: The same can be said for people. While uncommon, letter carriers have been threatened and even killed at night while delivering the mail and packages. Sometimes this is because homeowners do not expect someone on their porch late at night. Keep an eye out for dangerous situations near homes.

Tip 6: Assess the area you are delivering to. Is it an unsafe neighborhood? Does it have a lot of hazards in the daylight? Consider bringing this up to your supervisor. Your safety is the top priority.

Tip 7: Make sure to always watch for traffic when crossing the street or exiting your vehicle. While you would expect cars to have their headlights on that is not always the case, and a driver may not see you.

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