Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | December 19, 2014

How to #BeSafe this Holiday Season

Part 3 of a 3-part series

Firedog Holiday TravelTo date, our series has covered safety relative to choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees, working with wrapping paper, and guidelines for being safe at work and home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a lot about how to #BeSafe during the holidays! This week, we will conclude our three-part series by focusing on travel, shopping and food safety. Our thanks to Universal Services of America, Food Safety.Gov, Web MD, TSA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for contributing to our holiday safety series.

Holiday Travel Safety

  • Drive slowly when visibility is reduced. It’s better to arrive alive even if you get to your destination a bit late.
  • If you’re flying, prepare for crowds. Arrive at the airport in plenty of time, so you won’t be bothered by long lines. I wonder if Snoopy has to deal with this when he’s battling the Red Baron.
  • If you notice an item that has been left unattended, alert airport security. Don’t ever agree to watch luggage for someone you don’t know.
  • For instant access to TSA information anywhere, anytime, use the MyTSA app.

Firedog Holiday Shopping SafetyHoliday Shopping Safety

  • If you choose to shop online, do so only with well-known businesses. Research websites for legitimacy and track record. Since I don’t have opposable thumbs, online shopping is difficult for me. I guess that’s a good thing.
  • Conduct transactions on a secure server only. Look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. URLs should change from http to shttp or https when you begin checking out online. To confirm the site you are using is secure, make sure the page is encrypted before you enter payment information.
  • At the mall, park close to your destination, in a well-lit area. Take note of where you park, so you won’t get lost.
  • Don’t carry multiple bags as you walk around the mall. This could attract thieves who could follow you back to your car. If your packages become cumbersome, it’s time to head to the car to drop them off. When you get to your vehicle, lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • As you shop, carry your purse close to your body and/or stow your wallet inside a zippered pocket. I don’t carry a purse. But my wife does. I guess I should pass this info onto her.
  • Report suspicious activity and/or unattended packages to store/mall security or law enforcement.
  • Pay by credit card, rather than check/debit card, to reduce the risk of having fraudulent purchases made against your bank account. Although most such funds are refundable, depending on your financial institution, your money could be tied up far longer than might be convenient…especially during the holidays.
  • To make sure all debit and credit card charges are legitimate, keep receipts and compare them to your monthly bank and/or credit card statement.
  • Avoid being overcharged. Review your receipt regardless of your method of payment.
  • Keep car keys handy.
  • Lock your doors as soon as you get inside the vehicle. 

Firedog Holiday Safety FoodHoliday Food Safety

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. As much as I would like to advise having the dog lick your plates clean, washing them in soapy water would admittedly be far more hygienic.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water.
  • Use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and countertops.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough. It may contain raw eggs, which can harbor salmonella.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never at room temperature.
  • As a general rule of thumb, leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen. After four days, you could always give leftover meat to the family pet. Just a suggestion. J
  • For fire safety, keep flammable materials far from open flames. Fire safety is important. So try to remain focused even in the midst of holiday stress.

We hope that this blog series has helped inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | December 9, 2014

Holiday Safety and Security Tips Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

holiday safety firedogHoliday Safety Part 2 of a 3-Part Series (Featuring Guest Blogger Angela Burrell of Universal Services of America. To see her original post, click here.) As a courtesy to our guest, I have dispensed with my usual “firedogisms” in this post, but will resume my canine commentary in next week’s blog. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

firedog safety holidayLast week, we examined safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. For part two of our series, we are happy to welcome guest blogger Angela Burrell, who is the public relations manager for our strategic partner, Universal Services of America. Her blog post covers holiday workplace safety home safety guidelines, and basic safety rules. Next week, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.

Universal Services of America reminds you to keep the following safety and security tips in mind as you celebrate the holiday season. Regift them to family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and building occupants to let them know you care. Happy holidays!

Seven Workplace Alerts

  • Report all solicitors or suspicious persons to security immediately.
  • Be suspicious of unfamiliar people claiming to be repair persons, as thieves are apt to disguise themselves.
  • Make sure your receptionist clears any workers or contractors before allowing them into your office.
  • Question visitors who wander throughout your offices. Legitimate guests will appreciate your offers of assistance, while potential solicitors or thieves will be deterred.
  • Lock all personal items in a desk or file cabinet. Employees should never leave purses or wallets exposed where they can easily be stolen.
  • Close doors when the office is empty, and secure all valuables in a desk or closet when unattended.
  • Request a security or buddy escort to your car if you are working late and feel vulnerable.

Seven Basic Fire Rules

  • Fires peak, particularly in kitchens, during the holidays – so remain alert when preparing meals and keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • Monitor candles and fireplace fires, and extinguish them before leaving the house or bedtime.
  • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring that they work at optimal level year-round. Replace batteries, as needed.
  • Know where your exits are located and hold regular fire drills that include practicing at least two evacuation routes from every area or building.
  • Notify the property manager about exit lights that are broken or vandalized.
  • Never prop open self-closing doors, as they are designed to keep flames and smoke from spreading.
  • Keep exits and stairways free from obstructions at all times. Don’t store things on or under stairways, or on landings.

Six Home Safety Guides

  • Refresh your holiday lights; consider buying energy-efficient LED types that are cooler than conventional incandescent lights.
  • Limit the number of lights strung together and use appropriate ones for outdoors or indoors.
  • Turn off lights or decorations before bedtime, or set automatic timers for six or eight-hour increments to conserve energy.
  • Consider installing motion or lighting sensors that turn off automatically when no one is around.
  • Ask a neighbor to collect mail or have the post office hold it if you plan to travel for an extended period.
  • Let strangers who knock know you are home without opening your door. Do not feel compelled to donate to solicitors.

Five More Tips and Resources

Next week, check back, as we will finish our series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | December 3, 2014

How to #BeSafe this Holiday Season

Part 1 of a 3-part series

Holiday Safety 2014cAccording to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

This week, we will look at safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. Next week, we will feature a guest blogger, whose entry will cover holiday workplace safety, basic safety rules and home safety guidelines. Finally, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.

Holiday Safety for 2014

Christmas Trees

Choosing your tree

  • Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you choose to go with a fake tree, choose one that is rated as such.
  • If you decide to go with a live tree, freshness is key. A newly cut tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree…not to mention it will look nicer than one that is dead and brown.
  • To check for freshness, remember that a fresh tree is green, and fresh needles are hard to pull from branches. They also do not give when bent between your fingers.
  • When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry. Keep looking.
  • The trunk of a freshly harvested tree should be sticky with resin.
  • I advise keeping lots of water in your tree bucket. Dogs like to drink from it…though (for safety), we really shouldn’t.

holiday safety 2014eDisplaying your tree

  • Before deciding where to put your tree, think about more than whether it is located near a picture window. Instead, make sure you choose a place in your home that is clear of all sources of heat including fireplaces, radiators and lamps. You might also want to consider where it won’t tempt your pet, since we tend to consider Christmas trees indoor plumbing!
  • Heated rooms dry out trees rapidly, creating fire hazards. So make sure your home remains relatively cool. But use common sense. If you’re cold, the tree probably will be too. It is alive, after all…if you choose a live one instead of a plastic fake version.
  • When prepping the tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for sufficient water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set your tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors. And this isn’t just so Fido has another cool water option. It’s actually to keep the tree alive as long as possible.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. If necessary, use thin guide-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are nearly invisible but will keep the tree safe even in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Decorating

  • Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. If you like the look of a flocked tree, just make sure you avoid potential injury by reading container labels and carefully following directions. I’m not one for flocked trees. They block the fresh pine scent.
  • Interior Lighting. Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using. Lights are so cheap these days, you can afford to pitch them and start from scratch instead of looking for a single burnt out bulb to replace.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. If they are not properly displayed, lights could short and start a fire. It might be tempting to leave them on. But resist the urge. Safety first!
  • Use colored spotlights above or beside a tree instead of fastened onto it.
  • Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. The bright colors and bubbling movement could tempt curious children to break the light, leaking poisonous liquid and posing an electrical hazard. I’ve never seen bubbling lights. But they sounds scary.

Wrapping-related Safety

  • If you decide to make paper decorations, choose papers, glitter and adhesives that are not flammable. Or, better yet, encourage the kiddos to work with something other than paper if they plan to hang it from the tree.
  • Don’t place trimming near open flames or electrical connections.
  • Remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened. This is particularly important during parties and Christmas morning, when distractions abound.
  • Do not ever burn papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely

Next week, check back, as we will continue our three-week series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | November 18, 2014

November is National Diabetes Month

Paper bag with the word diabetes filled with healthy foodsDiabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Vital to health because it is an important source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues, glucose is the brain’s main source of fuel. I wonder if bacon has glucose? I am sure I could run on it. People who have diabetes suffer not only from the ill effects of the disease itself but are also at risk for many other serious associated conditions. To educate the general public about the disease and help increase fundraising efforts for prevention and treatment, the United States observes National Diabetes Month every November. On an unrelated note, I have heard that International Bacon Day is Sept. 5.

Although specific causes differ, any patient whose system has chronically elevated levels of glucose has some form of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic conditions include:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: usually diagnosed in children and young adults, this was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only five percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which is the hormone which converts sugar, starches and other food into energy. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage this condition and live long, healthy lives.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, this is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes glucose. With type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin or fails to produce adequate insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Although type 2 diabetes is more common in adults than in kids, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity rates increase. Although there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, the condition can be managed by diet, exercise and healthy body weight. In some cases, diet and exercise are insufficient to manage blood sugar levels, so treatment includes medications or insulin therapy.
  • Gestational Diabetes : occurs during pregnancy but often resolves after the baby is delivered. According to the Mayo Clinic, gestational diabetes affects how a pregnant woman’s cells use glucose. One of the main concerns about gestational diabetes is that high blood sugar can negatively impact the health of both mother and child. The good news is that most expectant mothers can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. In gestational diabetes, blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. Unfortunately, women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Pre-Diabetes: a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to classify as full-blown diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 of every 3 U.S. Americcan adults have prediabetes. That is 79 million Americans, aged 20 years or older. The vast majority of people who are living with prediabetes do not know they have it. This is unfortunate, since (without lifestyle changes to improve health), 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

canine diabetes

According to the CDC, 29.1 million people (9.3% of the U. S. population) have diabetes. What’s more, the CDC reports there are approximately 8.1 million people who have the disease but remain undiagnosed. Because that figure represents 27.8% of the affected group, education and intervention are critical.

Asses your risk:

  • Are you age 45 or older?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Does one or both of your parents have diabetes?
  • Has one or more of your siblings been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Is your family background African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander?
  • Did you have gestational diabetes or did you give birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more?
  • Are you physically active less than three times a week?
  • Is your diet made up of candy, cookies and cake? (That isn’t part of the official checklist. But it seems like a reasonable assessment question to me.)

Take action

Research shows that modest weight loss and regular physical activity can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by up to 58% in people who are prediabetic.

  • Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, which is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.
  • Getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking, also is important.
  • A free lifestyle change program is available through the National Diabetes Prevention Program, Led by the CDC, the plan can help participants adopt healthy habits needed to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Lay off the sweets. (Again, not an official bullet point on the CDC’s list. But it couldn’t hurt.)

We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE by paying attention to your blood sugar levels and taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | November 4, 2014

How to #BeSafe from Enterovirus 68

Massive media coverage about Ebola has effectively buried attention about an infection that is far more widespread: Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). As much news coverage as Ebola has gotten lately, you would think everyone is at risk! One of more than 100 non-polio Enteroviruses, EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962, and belongs to a large family of viruses that cause an estimated 10 million to 15 million infections in Americans every year. In an alert distributed by the Business man pointing the text: EnterovirusWorld Health Organization (WHO), as of September 16, 2014, 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of EV-D68 have been reported in 12 U.S. states, including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Investigations into suspected clusters in many other states are ongoing.

Since that time, NBC News reports that two California children have died from symptoms associated with the virus. In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with Enteroviruses and become ill because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to these viruses. The same is true for adults, although they are less likely than children to exhibit symptoms. So that means you could have Enterovirus without even knowing it.

Diagnosed through lab tests, the virus is located in infected respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, and likely spreads from person to person when an infected person’s coughs, sneezes, or body parts touch a surface that is later touched by others. According to Live Science, on average, people touch their faces 3.3 times per hour. I find that dogs touch their faces far less than this…probably because we don’t have opposable thumbs.

Symptoms of EV-D68 infection – Most people who are infected with non-polio Enteroviruses do not get sick, or they experience only mild illness. According to the CDC, these are the symptoms associated with Enterovirus, from mild to severe to unusual:

Mild Symptoms:

  • Mild to severe respiratory illness
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Body and muscle aches

Severe symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing, especially in children who have asthma
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth blisters

Less common symptoms:

  • Myocarditis (infection of the heart)
  • Pericarditis (infection of the sac around the heart)
  • Encephalitis (infection of the brain)
  • Paralysis

Rare symptoms:

Poliovirus, bound to the poliovirus receptor (PV, CD155).Although no anti-viral medications have been approved for use with EV-D68, people with respiratory illness associated with the virus should discuss symptomatic treatment options with their doctors. People with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. And that is true whether their respiratory illness is a result of Enterovirus or completely unrelated.

Six Steps to Take to Avoid Enterovirus

  1. Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  3. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  5. Stay home when you are sick.
  6. Buy bacon. Okay, that won’t help Enterovirus. But it will make you feel better whether or not you’re sick. At least it works for me.

We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE in light of Enterovirus as well as other, more widespread health concerns such as influenza and the common cold. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | October 29, 2014

Ebola: What You Should Know

ebola cdcAccording to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the first case of Ebola in the United States was laboratory-confirmed on September 30, 2014, in specimens obtained from a man named Thomas Eric Duncan, who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa. Although Duncan did not have symptoms before leaving West Africa, he developed them approximately four days after his arrival in the U.S.

He sought medical attention at Texas Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms. Based on his travel history and symptoms, the CDC recommended the hospital test for Ebola while Duncan awaited results in an isolated medical facility. Lab specimens tested at the CDC and also at a Texas laboratory confirmed Ebola in Duncan, who died on October 8.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC offer these key facts about Ebola:

  • Formerly known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. So I gather that pets can contract Ebola and spread it but it doesn’t kill us.
  • Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
    • Blood or bodily fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
    • Objects (such needles and syringes), which have been contaminated with the virus
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. Whew. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and during contact with infected bats. I think even uninfected bats should be avoided at all costs.
    • There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. That’s good news.
    • Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
  • There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to spread the disease in humans.
  • Ebola has an incubation period of up to 21 days.
  • The average fatality rate is around 50%. (Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.)
  • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization. Thus, our reason for sharing about it on the RJ the Firedog blog post.
  • Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but two potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.

Unfortunately, several associated Ebola scares have alerted Americans to the risk of contracting the deadly disease. Two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who treated Mr. Duncan — Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson — have contracted Ebola. Since one of them traveled on at least two planes before being diagnosed, and cruise ship passengers were exposed to an airline worker described as being “tangentially at risk,” hundreds were potentially infected and are currently being monitored. I had to look up the word, “Tangentially.” It means a loose association.

Although officials have not determined exactly how Pham and Vinson became infected, they have focused on their use of personal protective gear, and have called for meticulous protective practices and stringent infection control for treating future patients.

In response to all of the above, Pentagon officials announced the formation of a 30-person military medical team to respond to future Ebola cases in the United States and “provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals.” Sounds like a good idea!

While any case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States naturally raises concerns, and even one death is too many, there are a myriad of other health scares that pose a far greater risk than that of Ebola. In fact, the risk of catching Ebola is still far less than the risk of dying from the flu, which killed 53,667 Americans in 2010. So you may want to read our flu posts.

In fact, Matthew Herper of Forbes Magazine asserts that, “For anyone who is not a healthcare worker treating an Ebola patient, the risk of (contracting Ebola) is probably zero. The news that a potentially exposed health care worker who had gone on a cruise ship was, in fact, not infected should drive this fact home.”

The Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Paul Offit, agrees: “This is not influenza or measles. It’s not spread by the respiratory route. If you’re sitting next to someone on a plane, you’re not going to catch it. People should take note of the fact that Duncan’s family never got sick.”

But what about if you are traveling to an area affected by an Ebola outbreak? In this case, the FDA recommends the following six precautions:

  1. Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids.
  2. Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
  3. Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  4. Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals. Sounds like a good idea, anyway.
  5. Avoid hospitals in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
  6. After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.

In response to public concern, our strategic partner, Universal Protection Services, is alerting clients and employees about signs and symptoms of not only Ebola, but infectious diseases in general. What’s more, they are advising employees to get flu immunizations early in the season, practice regular hand washing and to use hand sanitizers. Is it just me or is hand washing a good idea even if Ebola wasn’t on the table?

By sharing their tips, tools and precautions with our friends and subscribers, our shared goal is to promote the wellbeing of everyone and to help keep workplaces and environments as healthy as possible. For detailed information about infection control, download these free Universal resources:

Infectious Diseases

Flu Pandemic

We hope this blog post has reassured you that, despite excessive media coverage, your risk of contracting Ebola is actually quite low. Nevertheless, we want to make sure you remain informed about anything and everything that concerns public health and welfare, because we want you to #BESAFE. One way to do so is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

 

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | October 15, 2014

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer graphicEach October, our nation observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Based on data prepared by BreastCancer.org, within the next 12 months, some 230,000 women and 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in America. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we recognize all those who have experienced the anguish associated with breast cancer and amplify ongoing efforts to improve care and bring attention to this disease. I’ve read that dogs don’t get breast cancer but we can contract tumors in our mammary glands.

According to the American Cancer Society, “Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells can’t do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.”

The American Cancer Society defines breast cancer as, “a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”

BREAST+CANCER+AWARENESS+16X9Statistics about Breast Cancer:

Fortunately, there is good news. (Whew. I was beginning to wonder!) There are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women currently being treated as well as those who have completed treatment. When breast cancer is caught early, treatments are highly successful and survival rates increase. That IS good news. In fact, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989, with the most significant statistical decreases in women who are younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of early detection through screening, increased awareness, and improved treatment.

10 Steps to take to reduce your risk of breast cancer

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Seems like a good idea even aside from cancer risk.
  2. Stay physically active. I can always get behind this!
  3. Limit how much alcohol you drink. Water is always a healthy choice. I like mine in a bowl.
  4. Follow a healthy diet. I think healthy diets can include lots of bacon.
  5. Seek alternative methods for hormone replacement therapy.
  6. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  7. Breastfeed your baby.
  8. Consider taking part in clinical trials.
  9. Find out if you have genetic risk factors. (The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.) If you have inherited a mutated copy of either gene from a parent, you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. Discuss possible genetic testing, which can identify mutations, with your physician.
  10. Schedule regular mammograms. Ask your doctor about recommended frequency

Whether you or someone you know has breast cancer, or if you would just like to support the effort to increase awareness about the disease, we hope you will find a way to “go pink on purpose for breast cancer” this month. To support the cause, we have “gone pink on purpose” on the RJW social media networks.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | October 5, 2014

Happy National Fire Prevention Month

Fire Prevention 2014 firedogThe National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that the week of October 5-11, 2014 is Fire Prevention Week. The theme of the week-long fire prevention campaign, which is the 90th annual event of its kind, is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” I love National Fire Prevention week because I have devoted my life to fire safety and prevention.

“Smoke alarms can help make the difference between life and death in a fire, but they need to be working,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign reinforces the importance of testing smoke alarms each month, and works to ensure that people have the needed protection in the event of a home fire.”

Educating people about smoke alarm devices is important, since nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths reportedly result from fires in homes without operational smoke alarms. My doghouse is only 5 ft x 5 ft and my wife and son and I have two alarms…just to #BeSafe.

“The common presence of smoke alarms in the home tends to create a false sense of security,” said Carli. “Simply having smoke alarms isn’t enough. They need to be tested and maintained properly.”

Here are ways that smoke alarms figured in United States’ fires between 2007 and 2011, which is the most recent national smoke alarm study:

  • Smoke alarms sounded in half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (37%) of the home fire deaths.
  • If you don’t have a working smoke alarm, you won’t be alerted if a fire starts in your home.

Fire Prevention firedog 2In addition to monthly testing, smoke alarms should be installed and maintained according to the following 10 steps:

  1. Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  2. Install alarms in the basement.
  3. If you own a large home, you may need to install extra smoke alarms.
  4. If possible, use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  5. Test smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working. And if it isn’t working, replace the batteries or the entire unit.
  6. Be aware that there are two kinds of alarms – ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. If possible, use both types of alarms in the home.
  7. A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall.
  8. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  9. People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms feature strobe lights and bed shakers.
  10. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

fire prevention 2014 calendar corpThe NFPA website has a wealth of additional smoke alarm information and resources for parents and teachers, and for fire departments working to implement the campaign in their communities. In addition, the NFPA  Sparky the Fire Dog® website (www.sparky.org/fpw) features award-winning apps and games for kids that reinforce the campaign’s fire safety messages. What’s more, the NFPA and its 2014 FPW partners are working together to promote the importance of monthly testing and related smoke alarm education. For more information about Fire Prevention Week and upcoming events, visit www.fpw.org.

For relevant fire prevention information relative to high rise buildings and facilities’ management, check out our recent fire prevention blog posts. We hope you will observe National Fire Prevention Week, and take steps to make sure you and your tenants or building occupants are #FireSafe. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | September 23, 2014

Happy National Health & Fitness Day

Fitness Firedog 3National Family Health & Fitness Day USA is an annual event observed the last Saturday of September, to encourage families to deliberately include physical activity in their daily lives. Since this year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 27, we wanted to devote this week’s RJWestmore blog posts to encourage subscribers and friends to develop a fit lifestyle for optimum health and wellness. This is an event I can really get behind, because (like most dogs), I love to stay active!

One of the goals of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, family fitness is crucial for anyone who wants to do their part to avoid costly and uncomfortable health crises. Of course, no course of action can guarantee perfect health. But countless studies confirm that people who exercise on a regular basis are healthier, by far, than their sedentary peers.

According to Health.Gov, regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes, and additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration. The Office of Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion
also points out five important facts about physical activity:

  1. Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. In fact, I would suggest 150 minutes a day of exercise.
  2. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial. That means walking is just as good as weight lifting. I prefer walking.
  3. Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults and dogs, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group!
  4. The health benefits of physical activity occur for people and pets with or without disabilities.
  5. The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes. So don’t use a lame excuse to get out of working out.

Fitness FiredogUnfortunately, despite the fact most people agree that activity is the key to optimum health, the Surgeon General reports that the majority of Americans, and especially children from 12 to 21, do not exercise nearly enough. And since most dogs depend on their masters to take them for walks, I’ll bet most dogs don’t get enough exercise, either. In fact, CBS News reported that 80 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise each week. Data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came from more than 450,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who were randomly phoned across all 50 states.

To help correct the trend, Health Information Research Center (HIRC) staff members help local organizations throughout the country host events such as health fairs, family walks, low-impact exercise demonstrations, health screenings, open houses, games and workshops at schools, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs/YWCAs, malls and health clubs. Thousands of adults, children and pets are expected to participate in this year’s health and fitness activities.

“We are now entering our 18th year as a national family health and fitness event,” says Pat Henze, FHFD director. “Our goals for Family Health & Fitness Day are to emphasize the importance and fun of regular physical activity and to encourage families of all ages to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities.”

 What Can Adults Do To Get Enough Physical Activity?

Fitness Firedog 2When it comes to exercise, remember that every little bit adds up. And doing something is always better than doing nothing. Here are 10 ideas for getting fit:

  1. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot, bus stop, or subway station. I suggest walking the dog.
  2. Join an exercise class or workout to an exercise video. Keep things interesting by trying something different on alternate days.
  3. Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play. And maybe bring the dog so he can walk, too.
  4. Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk. I LOVE THIS LIST!
  5. Clean the house or wash the car.
  6. Walk, skate, or cycle more and drive less.
  7. While watching television, do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike. I’ve never understood the draw of TV. Why not do something instead of watching other people do fun stuff?
  8. Mow the lawn with an old-fashioned push mower. Increase activity level by planting and caring for a vegetable or flower garden.
  9. Start a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall. Recruit a partner for support and encouragement. Again, why leave the dog at home?
  10. Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your kids and your dog.

We hope you will observe National Health & Family Fitness Day, so you will avoid the problems so often associated with living a sedentary life. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in many aspects of your life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | September 17, 2014

Is it just me, or is it hot out here?

PrintYou might be surprised to learn that, according to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the United States is extreme heat. In fact, illnesses that are caused or made worse by extreme heat — including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease — currently lead to hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. When extreme heat is at its most deadly, it kills by forcing the human body beyond its capacity to cool itself down, slowing the processes by which normal body temperature is maintained. Too bad people can’t pant. I find that doing so provides me with a lot of relief from the heat.

Unfortunately, the number of heat-related deaths recorded annually is rising. For example, in 1995, 465 heat-related deaths occurred in Chicago. From 1999 to 2010, a total of 7,415 people died of heat-related deaths in the U.S., an average of about 618 deaths a year. And researchers say the number of deaths caused by hot weather in England and Wales could nearly triple by the middle of the century.

In addition to posing potentially life-threatening repercussions at home and abroad, extreme heat is dangerous for a myriad of reasons. In fact, extreme heat can:

  • Overtax the power grid, due to the high demand of electricity for air conditioning units. Due to record-breaking temperatures across much of the state of California, thousands of Southern California Edison customers were recently without power for days. I guess they had to make do with candle light.
  • Lead to an increased risk of wildfires. In fact, wildfire season is now much longer — more than two months longer — than it used to be. And experts attribute this to extreme heat. In California, some people consider fire season to be year round.
  • Cause serious sunburns, marked by skin redness and pain as well as swelling, blisters, fever and headaches. More than simply a dermatological issue, severe sunburn can actually reduce the body’s ability to release excess heat and can foster vulnerability to other heat-related illness.
  • Produce heat cramps, which are manifested as painful muscle spasms, usually in the leg and/or abdomen. They are caused by heavy exertion in the heat, which triggers heavy perspiration.
  • Result in heat exhaustion, which is a mild form of shock, marked by heavy sweating; weakness; cold, clammy skin; a weak pulse; fainting, and vomiting. This usually occurs when people have been exercising heavily or working in a warm, humid place.
  • Bring about heat stroke, marked by a very high body temperature (105 degrees or above) as well as hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.

Extreme Heat Corp 2Hot Weather Coping Strategies:

  • Cut down on exercise and other taxing activities during the hottest parts of the day. But I think it’s always a good time to walk.
  • Drink plenty of water. The CDC recommends 2-4 glasses of cool, non-alcoholic liquid every hour. And don’t wait until you are thirsty to start drinking. I drink bowls and bowls of water each day. Helps cut down on water retention.
  • If you need to be outdoors, rest in shady areas. And dress in light clothing.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • If possible, stay indoors. My doghouse needs central air.
  • Stay cool but don’t break the bank. Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees during the hottest parts of the day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Help conserve natural resources. Try not to use major appliances during peak hours — washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and other heavy appliances.
  • Close the drapes, shades or blinds to keep the direct sunlight from heating your home.
  • Open windows and doors in the morning and evening to help cool your home. I also suggest opening windows in the car.
  • Turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug what the CDC calls “energy vampires,” such as DVD players, microwave ovens, cell phone chargers, computers or anything else that draws energy when not in use. Energy vampires seem scary.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Get out of the house during the hottest times of the day. Visit a cool place such as a library, mall or movie theater. It isn’t fair that dogs aren’t allowed in movie theaters.
  • Don’t ever, under any circumstances, leave people or pets unattended in hot vehicles. Temperatures soar inside locked vehicles.

  • In the workplace, along with air conditioning, preventive measures could include more sustainable options such as shading and changes in building insulation and construction materials.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

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