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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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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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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Dress For Fall

We’re right in the middle of fall, which means cooler temperatures are rolling in. If you don’t have the right attire for the season, now is the time to shop. That’s why this month we’re featuring some of our top recommendations for uniform items that are perfect for fall weather.

Long-Sleeved Shirts

Since temperatures in fall can fluctuate so much, investing in a simple, long-sleeved Postal shirt for the season is a great option. You can add a jacket to this shirt if needed, or simply complete your route without one. They are made from a poly and cotton blend to keep you comfortable while on the job. Click the link above to read the full details about this shirt.

Letter Carrier Sweaters

Carrier sweaters are a great way to keep snug during your route without wearing a Postal jacket. They are perfect for the changing seasons such as fall. These sweaters come with a zippered front so you can keep it zipped or unzipped depending on the weather. This item will keep you not only warm, but comfortable.

Unisex Dickie

If you are looking for just a bit of extra warmth during these cooler fall temperatures, a Postal sweater dickie is a great option. This simple garment is low-priced and union made, so you can be sure that you are getting a quality item. This Postal dickie comes in one unisex size, designed to fit anyone. This is a great low-cost option to help you keep comfortable this fall.

Mock Turtleneck

Our unisex mock turtlenecks are manufactured from 100% combed cotton jersey knit, so you will be warm and comfortable while on your route. It has been designed for the ultimate comfort and is made in the USA by union members. The collar, which measures two inches, provides a bit of extra material to protect you from that cool, fall breeze.

Postal Jacket with Zip-Out Liner

Our Postal jacket with a zip-out liner is great for all seasons! This is because the jacket comes with a zip-out insulated liner. You can keep it inserted when it is cool, and as the day grows warmer you can remove it so you don’t get overheated. Our jackets are made right here in the USA in a wide variety of sizes so all USPS employees can benefit.

Postal Windbreaker

Stay warm against the chilly winds and dry during autumn rain with our Postal windbreaker. The windbreaker is lightweight so you won’t get too warm, but gives you some protection from cooler weather. Our windbreakers are made in the USA so you can rest assured that they meet the quality standards you expect from your uniform items.

 

These items will help your work experience this fall be more comfortable. Which is your favorite? Let us know!

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Rural Letter Carrier Tips

When you work as a rural letter carrier you face challenges that city carriers do not. Today we want to offer some tips to all our hardworking rural letter carriers out there! Some of these tips may also apply to city carriers, but all of these tips are here to help you make your job easier.

First off, we recommend not casing DPS unless you will be facing intense weather such as rain or snow. On the whole this will save you time. If you find this slows you down, try casing it, but overall most rural carriers report that the former method is faster.

If you own your vehicle that you are taking on your route, make sure you have a spare key. You do not want to get locked out of your vehicle.

Invest in a tool to help you retrieve mail from mailboxes. If mail is stuffed in the back of mailboxes, it really slows you down if you have to exit your vehicle. You may choose to invest in a retrieval hook, or even some type of handle that you can manipulate to drag the mail closer to you. This saves a lot of time.

Mark large parcels that you will need to take to the door. You may also choose to label these parcels and arrange them in order in your vehicle. This will save time while you are actually on your route.

You may also choose to arrange your parcels street by street, with each street assigned a box or bucket that you can keep parcels in.

If weather allows, try to keep your window open at all times. It makes the mail delivery much faster. You may consider modifying your personal vehicle with some type of wind or rain deflector which makes driving with an open window much more pleasant in colder weather.

Keep a towel in your vehicle or on your lap for rainy days. You may want to invest in some sort of raingear because when it rains, there is no way to avoid getting wet.

Get warm gloves with a strong grip for winter delivery. And it’s also a good idea to keep a warm beverage in your vehicle with you, since opening your window so often is going to keep your vehicle much colder than you’d like.

Invest in safety products. This may be a sticker warning other vehicles that you make frequent stops, or some type of light on the top of your vehicle. Your car will not be utilizing the road like the average car, so having some visual safety markers can help keep you safe.

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Tips For Delivering Mail Faster

Are you new on the job and trying to figure out how older USPS employees finish their routes so quickly? Like most things, it simply takes practice. While a few tips from us can’t make you zip through your route, these tips will make your route easier and save you a bit of time.

The best thing you can do is ask for advice from your coworkers. They’ve been doing the job and will likely have tons of advice to offer. You may choose to simply ask for tips, or ask for more specific information. A better question to ask is to find out any locally relevant information. Find out if there’s anything you need to know about your route. Learning more about your route can save you a lot of time.

If you can’t get advice about your route, drive around the neighborhood to get a better idea of it during your time off. Familiarizing yourself with your route will make things much easier.

Delivering your mail will also go faster if you have it neat and organized. It makes mail delivery smoother and by extension, faster. There’s many ways you can choose to do this. Casing your mail is important, so take your time and make sure it is ready to go before you leave on your route.

Postal employees are delivering parcels more and more, so loading your packages in an efficient order can be a huge time saver. If you don’t do this, you’ll find yourself unloading parcels onto the street while looking for the ones you need. You’ll also want to do this before you leave on your route.

This one may seem obvious, but use your satchels. Yes, they may be heavy, but it saves you a lot of time to have your satchels with you instead of having to return to your vehicle multiple times, which will slow you down. Carry the mail in bulk in your satchel if you want to move faster.

Between stops you’ll also want to check the addresses of mail. Sorting the mail order beforehand helps you avoid backtracking. If you work on foot this is easy enough to do while doing deliveries. If you drive you have less time for this task, but it’s still possible.

You’ll also want either a map or GPS device to help you while on your route. Until you know your route well, there’s a good chance of you getting lost. Maps can sometimes be outdated, so it is up to you which you’d rather go with. Either way, some type of mapping device is extremely useful and will save you tons of time. But don’t use your phone while on your route beyond this, unless you need to call someone with a question. Distractions slow you down.

As you get to know your route, pay attention to streets that often have a higher volume of mail and parcels. Once you know this you can sort out the high volume streets to make it easier on yourself.

Remember that everyone does things differently, including sorting the mail and loading their vehicle. It will take some experimentation to find what works best for you.

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Recognize The Signs of Heat Illness

We’re right in the middle of summer, which means hot temperatures and humidity. Even if you do everything you can to stay cool, heat illness can still happen. That’s why it is so important to know the signs of heat illnesses so that if you’re getting sick, you can take the proper measures before it gets too serious. We’ve outlined the symptoms you need to be aware of to stay safe in hot temperatures.

There are three different types of heat illnesses, and certain risk factors can make you more susceptible to any of them. Certain medications can increase your chances of heat illness, so if you’re on prescriptions it might be wise to check with your doctor. Obesity can affect your body’s ability to cool itself, so take extra care if your weight has been a problem for you. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the heat index, as higher humidity makes it harder to keep cool.

The first of the heat illnesses to pay attention to would be heat cramps. This is the least severe of heat illnesses you can experience. With heat cramps, you will experience muscle cramping and spasms due to sweating in high temperatures or due to heavy exercise. The symptoms are easy to notice. Muscles will become hard and tense, and you will have very painful cramps, typically in your calves. Your skin may also become flushed or moist. If you notice these symptoms, it is important that you move somewhere cool and take a break from your route. Gently stretch the muscles that are cramping and if possible, change clothes. Heat cramps usually do not require medical attention, but it’s a good idea to get in touch with your supervisor to seek advisement.

The next, more serious illness is heat exhaustion. This occurs due to a lack of water and salt in the body, meaning the body is unable to cool itself. Cramping will likely occur with this, but there’s more than that. When one is experiencing heat exhaustion they will likely be faced with nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and general weakness. You may become confused and dizzy. If this goes untreated it can lead to heat stroke, so it is important to take first aid measures immediately. First, get somewhere cool as quickly as you can. Excess clothing should be removed and you will need to take in fluids, preferably sports drinks. But if you don’t start to feel better, you need to get to the emergency rooms.

And of course, the most dangerous heat illness you can face is heat stroke. This means the body’s system is unable to provide heat regulation because it is overwhelmed. If you are experiencing the following symptoms you need to call 911 immediately. Your skin will feel warm and dry. Nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, and fatigue can all be present. You will have a fever of 104 degrees or more, and you will likely have a rapid heart rate. You may also experience convulsions and even a loss of consciousness. But you don’t want to wait for all of these symptoms before getting to a hospital. If you experience confusion, anxiety, a changed heartbeat, a rise in body temperature, a decrease or sharp increase in sweating, or convulsions, call 911 immediately. And if any of your other symptoms are not alleviated by moving somewhere cool, get to a hospital because heat stroke could be on its way.

Heat illness is nothing to mess around with. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe.

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