Your Guide to the Best Block Party

block party

There’s nothing quite like summer. The food, the parties, the pool and lakes, and the long nights. Even on days where temperatures hover above 110-degrees, you’ll find us Arizonians outside, soaking up the sun (with lots of H20 of course). Summertime is one of the best times of years for getting outside and spending time with friends.

Why not use this time to have a summer block party? Hosting a summer block party can be a great way to get the whole neighborhood together for some summertime fun. If you’re thinking about planning a summer block party, or already have one in the works, these tips will guarantee an amazing and safe event.

The Logistics

Enlist Some Help

Before you begin, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of your friends, family or the neighbors you DO know. Block parties are not a one person show. Assign each person a job, such as getting the permit (if applicable), sending out invitations, creating a food signup sheet, etc. Sign Up Genius is a great resource.

Invitations

Invite all your friends, family, and neighbors to your block party using this awesome invitation idea (found on Pinterest). You’ll need cute desert size paper plates, a stapler or glue, a hole puncher, and some rubber bands. Once you’re done creating your invitations, simply hang them on the doors of people you wish to invite.

Name Tags

Since you might be meeting some new neighbors during this event (which is part of the point), you’ll want to provide name tags for all the attendees to wear. Blank name tags will suffice but make sure to provide enough markers to go around. Set up a table with plenty of name tags and markers.

Safety First

Because outdoor events don’t offer the same controlled environment as indoor events, it’s important to take everyone’s safety into consideration, when planning your block party. Block off the street with plenty of barricades and set up ample lighting (don’t just rely on street lights).

Summer Block Party Food Ideas

Potlucks

One of the easiest, and most cost effective, summer block party food ideas is a potluck! Ask each of your attendees to bring main dishes, desserts, sides, etc. so you have food for everyone. If planning a barbeque, ask each attendee to bring a package of hot dogs, or hamburgers along with buns.

Barbeque

Nothing says summer like a barbeque. Have a few neighbors or close friends bring grills (you’ll need more than one or two) and then set up an eating area around them. Don’t have access to full-size grills? Consider picking up a few portable grills. You can find portable grills that take either charcoal or propane.

Food Set Up

Set up various food stations such as: condiments and snacks, main courses, and deserts. Depending on your theme, you can use clean, plastic sand pails with shovels to put chips and candy in. These also work great for utensils. An inflatable pool is perfect for displaying your beverage offerings.

Party Décor and Game Ideas

Hang a Banner

Start the party off right by hanging a banner welcoming everyone to the block party. Be sure to hang it somewhere will everyone will see it. If you don’t have a banner, grab a chalkboard and some chalk, and use your imagination. Set one or two chalkboards up at the entrance to your street.

Decorations

The next step is to ensure you decorate with style. You can make simple beach ball garland using a little paint, Styrofoam balls, and string. Get the tutorial here (found on Pinterest). You can also decorate with plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. Don’t forget to make a DIY photo booth with props.

Games

Tic Tac Toe Frisbee is always a favorite. Simply draw a Tic Tac board on the sidewalk or street using chalk and use Frisbees marked with an X or O. You can also create a jumbo Jenga game using 54 2 by 4s cut into 10.5” pieces. Be sure to sand the sides to avoid splinters. Also consider having a raffle with summer themed prizes.

Nothing Trumps Safety on Black Friday

{Source: PurpleSlog | Flickr.com}

{Source: PurpleSlog | Flickr.com}

Thanksgiving is just three days away! And, while many people are preparing for the arrival of family and friends to join them as they sit around to enjoy a mouthwatering turkey dinner with all the fixings, many others are gearing up to kick-start the holiday shopping season off.

According to the yearly National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, an estimated 25.6 million people will hit the stores in an effort to purchase electronics, toys and clothing at some of the year’s best prices. This is down from last year’s figures as approximately 44.8 million consumers shopped in 2013.

However, for consumers to actually purchase the best deals they seek, they’ll have to brave “Gray Thursday’s” madness knowing that there are a limited number of items available for the advertised price and that they’re definitely not the only one who wants one (or two for that matter).

Although the total number of shoppers expected this year is down from last year, it is still big enough for retailers to take some necessary precautions, including following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recommendations.

“OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple safety guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees.” This according to David Michaels, assistant labor secretary. Each store’s crowd management plan should include the following:

  • On-site security guards
  • An emergency plan in the event something goes wrong.
  • Safety barricades surrounding the entrances of the store.
  • Limits on how many customers may enter the store at one time.

Another way retailers are making their stores safer is by staggering their sales. What this means for consumers is that the prices advertised at 6:00 p.m. are only good for a specified amount of time – typically until the next round of sales begin, which in most cases is 8:00 p.m.

In the name of competition, Walmart is practicing yet another subtle – but extremely clever – form of crowd control by incentivizing their brick-and-mortar customers with “One Hour Guarantees.” They are thus far the only retailer to offer this incentive.

Consumers that arrive during a specified one hour window will be awarded with the door buster regardless of whether they run out of stock or not.  Knowing that you’re guaranteed to receive the item 2 weeks prior to Christmas really alleviates much of the stress associated with the evening.

As does knowing that nothing in life goes according to plan. So if you’re one of those brave souls that will venture out in pursuit of some great deals remember to breathe and know that while this year’s Black Friday shows much potential to boost the economy; nothing trumps safety on Black Friday.

Traffic Barricades: A Reliable Lifesaver

safety barricade, traffic barricadesTraffic barricades are a reliable lifesaver. By controlling traffic, or keeping traffic safe from steep cliffs, they save lives. Whether it’s rounding a corner slower or slowing down in a construction zone, driver often realize that when barricades are present, they need to show caution.

When barricades are present on Arizona’s roadways, specifically those with flashing lights, drivers know that there is something – road construction, pedestrians, events, etc. – there that they need to be on the watch for. When drivers slow down in these situations it additionally saves them money.

Traffic Barricade Applications

With over 200 events and tourist attractions taking place each year throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area, traffic barricades and lights are often used to direct traffic, as well as to block vehicular and pedestrian access to certain areas. This includes blocking off entire streets.

Barricades are also often used to block people from entering a crime, fire or natural disaster zone in order to avoid compromising the area’s integrity. When a movie or commercial is being filmed, barricades are used to deter pedestrians’ from walking on set unauthorized.

The most popular application for barricades includes roadway construction and road safety zones (think Highway 87 with all its steep turns and cliffs). The main purpose of barricades in these types of situations is to keep drivers and workers from accidentally becoming injured.

Using Traffic Barricades

When safety is paramount, and you need to direct pedestrian or vehicles away from certain designated areas, barricades are extremely useful. Most model barricades are lightweight enough that they can be easily maneuvered and installed from site to site.

Due to their resourcefulness they are additionally cost-effective – you can literally use them time and again for many different applications. You can rent or purchase barricades that meet all of your specifications. For more information, or to rent/purchase barricades, be sure to contact Action Barricade LLC.

4 Ways to Avoid a Speeding Ticket

According to the National Motorists Association, more than 41 million drivers throughout the United States are ticketed each year for speed related incidents alone.

And that’s not even the best part. $6,232,000,000 – is the average amount of revenue the U.S. receives from speeding tickets alone yearly! This means the average ticket costs $152.00.

When it comes to receiving a traffic ticket – which just so happens to be the bane of any driver’s existence – the long-accepted rule of thumb has been to pay it no matter what it costs.

The reality of this situation, however, is that there are ways to ensure you don’t get ticketed in the first place. The best of which is to obey the rules of the road – many are posted in plain sight!

  1. Adhere to the Speed Limit

How fast can you go over the posted speed limit before you can reasonably expect to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror? The answer to this question is quite possibly one of life’s greatest mysteries.

If you were to Google this question you would see many vague answers. However, some websites will provide you with the answer of 5 to 10 mph, which is considered by many a speeding “cushion.”

No, this doesn’t mean you should go out right now and test this “cushion”. If anything, you should at all costs adhere to the road’s posted speed limit, as each city and state’s cushioning amount varies.

Although they’re a bummer – especially for those that have a need for speed – speed limits are posted for a reason. Just some of the factors considered include the roadway’s condition and traffic amount as well as an area’s environmental conditions.

  1. Pay Attention to the Road

Distracted driving is a growing – not to mention, dangerous – epidemic that has been sweeping the nation. Even taking your hands off the wheel is a distraction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving while distracted – talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, drinking, putting on make-up – doesn’t only endanger your life; it also endangers the safety of everyone around you including other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Did you know that sending or reading a text message causes a driver’s eyes to stray from the road for 4.6 seconds, which if they’re driving at a speed of 65 mph, is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blind?

Considering that texting and driving is, by far, the most dangerous form of distracted driving there is; it has been banned in 44 states; talking while driving has also been banned in 12 states.  It pays to pay attention to the road; trust me!

  1. Slow Down in Construction and School Zones

Speeding – even if you’re doing the normal speed limit – while in a school or construction zone is one of the easiest things you can do to earn yourself a ticket and a hefty one at that.

Unless you’re a novice driver, it shouldn’t surprise you that in zones marked specifically for school or construction, you’re undoubtedly going to notice a reduced speed limit – regardless of whether children or workers are present or not.

The only difference is that should you get caught speeding (doing one mile over in this case is considered speeding) when children or workers are present you’ll be looking at a ticket worth double the price of a normal speeding ticket.

You should assume, as long as barricades or signs are still present, that these reduced speed limits are still in effect. Lower speeds in these zones are there not to annoy you but to protect everyone nearby.

  1. Be a Courteous Driver

Whether a driver is tailgating, improperly changing lanes, or failing to yield at a stop sign – you know you’re guilty of at least one of these – today’s drivers don’t always drive as they should.

Want to hear the worst part? All of these maneuvers are reckless, which means you could be putting your safety and that of someone else’s at risk. Equally important is the fact that police officers monitor this type of driving very closely.

Although not exactly a surprise, driving maneuvers such as these often lead to aggressive driving and road rage. While it is true that you can’t control what other drivers are doing; you can control how you’re driving.

Avoid Traffic Congestion for a Smooth Ride

I live in Phoenix and during rush hour my two daily commutes last roughly forty-five minutes to an hour each.  When I’m lucky enough to miss rush hour all together, however, my commute lasts just under thirty minutes.  And, boy let me tell you, I love missing rush hour!  Who wouldn’t?

Over many months and let’s be honest, much frustration, as I sat in my vehicle waiting for traffic to clear up, yet again, I realized there had to be a better way.  There had to be other ways, better ways, to detect and subsequently avoid traffic congestion rather than just waiting for the radio station’s “traffic report”.

Why had my research intuitive mind never realized it before?  Once my brain became sensitized to finding inventive ways to avoid traffic congestion, I started to find a variety of interesting traffic detection software, websites and apps.  Most of which worked pretty well when put to the test.

By using one, or a combination, of the following methods to avoid traffic congestion you’ll be assured a smooth ride as you bypass the pitfalls associated with rush hour traffic.

Map out Alternative Routes

I can’t stress this enough!  One of the best, and quite frankly, the easiest methods for ensuring you’re able to avoid traffic congestion is to simply map out alternative routes.  And, while two will suffice, it is ideal to map out a few more than that.  So that you can better imagine alternating your route, here is an example:

On any given day, I must travel down Interstate 10 to arrive home, which as we all know is notorious for traffic congestion.   But by alternating my route by just a few blocks, so that I get on and off on a different exit, I’m able to effectively shave time off of my commute.  My advice for finding alternative routes includes:

  • Asking your friends, and/or co-workers, if they know of any shortcuts you could use to shorten your ride.
  • Review online and offline maps to explore routes.  Online maps, including those on your smartphones, will generally provide you with an estimated time of arrival.

Play With Your Timing

If it seems like your always stuck driving in rush hour traffic, like me, you may want to consider speaking with your boss about tweaking your time just a little bit.  Starting a half hour later could help you avoid traffic congestion all together.

Listen to Traffic Reports

Traffic reports are broadcast on virtually every radio station a few times per hour during rush hour.  It pays to continue listening to these reports for the duration of your ride so as to ensure you don’t get stuck behind a traffic accident later on down the road.

Get Traffic Information on Your Phone

Using apps, such as Waze, allows you to get status updates from other drivers advising you of any negative traffic conditions before leaving your location – please steer away from using this or any other app while on the road.

These apps can provide you turn-by-turn directions, traffic speed information, see information on accidents, street closures or police barricades – all of which is provided by other users, first respondents, fleet operators and local transportation departments.

Traffic Control Devices | A History Lesson

As we drive through the many streets, highways and freeways that make up Arizona’s roadways, we will often find ourselves faced with one traffic control device, after another.  The variations of the traffic control equipment on the roadways today – as many of you have already noticed – are immense.

However, these devices don’t go without their fair share of history, nor did they arrive without their fair share of challenges. Many manufactures began developing traffic control devices and signs shortly after the arrival of the first-ever automobile; over 100 years ago.  These devices are on our roadways, not to frustrate us unnecessarily, but rather to insure we meet our destination safely.

Now for Some Interesting Facts

Road Surface Markings – The first road surface marking in history was a center line that was painted in Michigan in 1911.  Road surface markings provide guidance and information to both drivers and pedestrians.  Today road surface markings can be mechanical, non-mechanical or temporary.

Traffic Signals – Manually controlled traffic lights became commonplace, when in 1914, the state of Cleveland hung electric lights across its roadways that lit up the words “stop” and “go”.  The 3-color traffic signals that we commonly use today, however, weren’t installed until 1920 in Detroit.

Stop Signs – With the arrival of 1915, the state of Detroit saw the installation of the very first “stop” sign, which at the time had black lettering written across a white background.  In 1922, the increased use of this signage led to the development of the octagon shape that we are all familiar with.

Road Symbol Signs – We gradually started seeing the installation of road symbol signs within the 1960’s.  These signs commonly depict road conditions, speed limits, U.S. highway route numbers and other travel information for drivers.  As more and road symbol signs were adopted and installed, we saw fewer navigational problems.

Today, we now have more traffic control devices than ever before including; devices that monitor traffic such as traffic cams, solar-powered message boards that tell us how many minutes we can expect to spend on the road before we meet our destination, and road barricades that keep us from going in a direction we shouldn’t.  For more information, please contact Action Barricade.

Traffic Control Equipment Rentals

Controlling traffic in the busy streets of Phoenix – whether for an event, block party, race or vehicular traffic – is typically never the easiest task one wants to undertake.  Ever have more traffic than you know what to do with?  Ever wished there was an easier way to control it?  Action Barricade Company LLC can provide you with the means necessary to control traffic no matter what your particular needs may be.

As our name suggests, Action Barricade is a company that gives our clients’ the ability to control the city’s traffic, by simply providing them with the finest quality traffic control equipment.  This equipment includes barricades, movable cones, movable speed bumps, signs, message boards and so much more.  Best of all, we have offices in both Phoenix, and Flagstaff!

Are you in the midst of planning a block party?  Use your judgment on which lanes to open and avoid any safety issues with our temporary lighting and barricade equipment.  No matter what your traffic control needs, you can count on us not only to provide you with the equipment you need, but to ensure you’re provided with a strategic plan outlining the city’s specific traffic control requirements.

Start your traffic controlling career in the Valley of the Sun and watch the traffic zoom right on by with our comprehensive flagger training program.  This program will provide you with all of the information you need in order to conduct your job efficiently and without harm while properly utilizing traffic control equipment.  If you’re ready to start the path to an exciting career, contact us today at (602) 288-6350.

In addition to our promise of delivering the highest quality equipment, we strive to do so at some of the best rates in town, in order to ensure you receive the best bang for your buck.  We work with contractors, utility companies, state and local governmental agencies, the department of transportation, the railroad industry, commercial business owners as well as residential home owners.