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

Ebola: What You Should Know

According 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.

ebola cdcHe 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.
  • 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. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and during contact with infected bats.
    • There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola.
    • Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread the 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.
  • 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 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. 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.”

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.

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 five 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 contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Service, 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. By sharing their tips, tools and precautions with our friends and subscribers, our shared goal is to promote the well-being 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.

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

Never Forget 9/11

9/11 Memorial at World Trade Center Ground ZeroWhat is Patriot Day? 

On September 11, 2001, four planes were hijacked by terrorists who deliberately flew three of the planes into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and both of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The loss of life and damage that these hijackings caused remain the largest act of terrorism ever committed on United States’ soil.

Patriot Day is not to be confused with Patriot’s Day, which commemorates two of the earliest battles in the American Revolutionary War (Lexington and Concord in 1775). In observance of 9/11/2001, when nearly 3,000 people died (including 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard four planes and three emergency responders), we mark each September 11 as Patriot Day. Since Patriot Day is not a federal holiday, schools and businesses do not close and public transit systems run on their regular schedules. But many national observances are made:

  • Flags are prominently displayed outside American homes, inside the White House and on all United States government buildings in the world. Some flags are flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to those who died.
  • A moment of silence is often observed at 8:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time). This marks the time that the first plane flew into the World Trade Center.
  • Some communities, particularly in the areas directly affected by the attacks, hold special church services or prayer meetings.
  • People who personally experienced the events in 2001 or lost loved ones, may lay flowers or visit memorials.

911 2014To commemorate Patriot Day, we at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services would like to call attention to just 10 of the myriad lessons learned from the events of 9/11:

  1. Terrorism Hits Close to Home.Before 9/11, Americans tended to feel secure at home. September 11 made us realize that terror is next door instead of on the other side of the world.
  2. Heroes are everywhere.As a nation, we are at our best when times are at their worst.
  3. Don’t Judge a Book by its cover.Terrorism has many faces. So it is important to avoid judging people based on their race, religion, sex, or age.
  4. Air travel is integral to our way of life.When air travel completely ceased the week after 9/11, our entire country was at a standstill. We now realize how crucially important air travel is to our way of life and how important it is to safeguard the entire process.
  5. America remains vulnerable. Terrorism is a post 9/11-fact-of-life. As a nation, we were previously mostly aware of terrorist activities in foreign lands but did not expect them at home. Although security is tight and our defenses are up, we remain at risk.
  6. We can’t let the terrorists win.Although it might be tempting to hide and alter our lives greatly because of the fear generated by the 9/11 attacks, doing so would only help terrorists accomplish their goals. Our way of life is worth preserving and protecting.
  7. We each need to do our part.Never leave your bags unattended when you’re in a public location. Be aware of your surroundings. Speak up if you witness anything suspicious.
  8. Training is important. DHS has developed a variety of infrastructure protection training and educational tools for partners at the state and local level. Since 9/11, in total, more than 35,000 partners have taken risk mitigation training on a range of topics.
  9. Our resolve remains strong. As a result of 9/11, in many ways, we are stronger than we were before the attacks.

  10. Preparation is imperative. The best way to handle a disaster of any kind is to prepare long before it strikes. Our system is designed to provide online life safety training because it guarantees time efficiency, offers inexpensive rates, and helps bring your buildings up to code.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. Our system offers 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.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | September 2, 2014

Happy National Preparedness Month

PrepareAthon firedogThe recent newsworthy earthquakes in Napa, California, in Chile, and off the coast of northern Japan, earlier this month are sobering reminders that it is always prudent to prepare for major shakers. Since September is National Preparedness Month, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is partnering with communities in Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii to encourage families, individuals and businesses to act now to increase preparedness for emergencies of every type throughout the U.S. We, at RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, join with FEMA to encourage preparedness throughout the month of September and beyond. After all, our goal is to “save lives through training” with the motto, #BESAFE.

Nancy Ward, FEMA Region IX Administrator said, “Preparedness is a shared responsibility. It takes a whole community and this is why you see federal, state, and county government agencies partnering with local municipalities, non-profits, and private businesses to spread the message about the importance of being prepared for emergency situations.”

National Preparedness Month is a nationwide, month-long effort hosted annually by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, which encourages households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies. One of the key messages is to be prepared in the event of an emergency, which includes making plans to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services. People are further encouraged to prepare for the possibility of the unavailability of immediate response from agencies such as police, fire or rescue. According to FEMA, preparing for such disaster realities starts with five important steps:

  1. Stay informed about emergencies that could happen in your community. This year’s campaign will focus on “Family Connection,” encouraging families to prepare.

Identify sources of information in your community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency. If you are aware of the potential emergencies that could strike your region, you will be better prepared during and after such an event. In other words, if you live in an area where tornadoes strike, take steps to prepare for tornadoes. If you live near a fault line, make sure you understand how to prepare for an earthquake, etc. Or, maybe consider moving somewhere where the earth doesn’t shake? Just a suggestion…Also, ask officials about your community’s disaster plans.

  1. Ask Questions:
  • What hazards are most likely?
  • How will I get alerts and warnings? Again, I recommend the Twilight Bark.
  • What is the advice and plans for sheltering and evacuation for the hazards that may impact the community?
  • Are there emergency contact numbers I should have for different situations?
  • Are there opportunities for preparedness education and training? There are ample opportunities for online training through the RJWestmore Training System!
  • Does my community have a plan? If so, can I obtain a copy?
  • What does the plan contain?
  • How often are plans updated?
  • What should I know about this plan?
  • What hazards does it cover?
  1. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency. Include the kids and pets in your plan. For business, make sure you include your employees. If you own or manage a facility, don’t forget your tenants or building occupants.
  2. Build an Emergency Supply Kit. Your kit should include a collection of basic items your household members (including pets) would need in the event of an emergency.

Be Disaster Aware 2014 corpTry to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. Since you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice, be prepared to take essentials with you since you probably won’t have time to search for and/or shop for the supplies you need.

Set aside 3-day-per-person-(and dog) supply-of foodwater and other essentials. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. Help could arrive in hours or it could take days for relief workers to get to you.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. But you can always drink from the toilet. Works for me! Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

  1. Get involved. A variety of activities and events are planned each year to commemorate National Preparedness Month. If you own a business, make sure you get everyone in your firm involved in the effort to prepare. An ideal way to do this is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. Our system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. You can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on establishing family connections in any emergency preparedness plan. For information about preparedness events, check out FEMA’s Ready.Gov website. When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. Our system offers 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.

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

Would you be able to survive a flash flood?

flash flood firedogWith the advent of hand-held video technology, virtually anyone can capture amazing impromptu videos of weather-related events, including flash floods. Scenes of cars, people and animals being carried away by forceful currents serve as grim reminders that flash flooding is more common than you might be aware. Videos like that always make me wonder why the camera man is filming instead of trying to help!

NOAA defines a flash flood as: A flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than six hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.

Flash floods can be produced when slow moving or multiple thunderstorms occur over the same area. When storms move faster, flash flooding is less likely since the rain is distributed over a broader area.

flash flood firedog2Here are 10 little-known facts about flash floods:

  1. The national 30-year average for flood deaths is 127.
  2. Almost half of all flash flood fatalities occur in vehicles. So I guess I am reducing my risk of being killed in a flash flood by staying on all four paws!
  3. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more.
  4. Two feet of water on a bridge or highway could float most vehicles.
  5. Flash flood damage and most fatalities tend to occur in areas immediately adjacent to a stream or arroyo.
  6. Highly populated areas have a high risk for flash floods.
  7. During a flash flood, low spots, such as underpasses, underground parking garages and basements can quickly become death traps. So move to higher ground, people!
  8. Embankments, known as levees, are built along the sides of river banks to prevent high water from flooding bordering land. In 1993, many levees failed along the Mississippi River, resulting in devastating flash floods.
  9. In the United States, there are some 76,000 dams, 80 percent of which are made of earthfill construction.
  10. The majority of flash-flood victims are males.

Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

One of the first steps to take toward flash flood safety, is to evaluate your risk for being caught in a flash flood. Since many flash floods occur along small streams, you can determine your risk by assessing your proximity to streams. Be aware that flooding can be caused by rain that falls several miles upstream and then moves rapidly downstream. Here are 10 more suggestions to keep you safe in the event of a flash flood:

  1. Since many leisure activities occur in and around streams and rivers, be aware of potential risks.
  2. Don’t play in flood waters. This is especially applicable to children and pets. Does that mean adults can play safely in flood waters? No!
  3. Whenever thunderstorms are occurring in the area, pay attention to rapidly changing conditions.
  4. If you notice a stream start to rise and become muddy, or hear a roaring sound upstream, a flood wave could be rushing toward you. Head to higher ground immediately.
  5. Never drive into a flooded roadway or through flowing water. Turn around. Don’t drown.
  6. Don’t walk through moving water. Six or more inches of moving water could cause you to fall and could carry you away.
  7. Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.
  8. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  9. If caught in a flood, abandon your car. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. Here again, I notice it’s safer to stay on your feet and out of a car.
  10. If you are at home when a flash flood hits, if you have time, secure your home and turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

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.

 

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

How to #BESAFE in Lightning & Thunderstorms

Lightning Firedog 8-04-14Out of respect for the family and friends of Nick Fagnano, we will dispense with my usual light-hearted “firedogisms” in this post. We wish the best for everyone who was affected by the recent thunder and lightning storm on Venice Beach.

The odds of being struck by lightning are roughly 300,000-600,000 to one. Unfortunately, that is little consolation to the family of a USC student who fell victim to a rare lightning storm that hit Venice Beach on Monday, July 28. When a large bolt struck the water, it injured 13 and killed 20-year-old Nick Fagnano, who was said to have been finished swimming for the day and merely rinsing off in the ocean. Fagnano’s tragic death is a good reminder to prepare for thunder and lightning, in order to #BESAFE.

Here are 10 little-known facts about thunderstorms and lightning:

  1. All thunderstorms are dangerous because every thunderstorm produces lightning, although the lightning produced is not always easily detectable.
  2. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. In this type of thunderstorm, although falling raindrops evaporate; lightning can still reach the ground and could start wildfires.
  3. About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe (producing hail at least an inch or larger in diameter, with winds of 58 miles per hour or higher or which produce a tornado).
  4. On average in the U.S., lightning kills 51 people and injures hundreds more.
  5. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the U.S.
  6. Thunderstorms and lightning may occur singly or in clusters.
  7. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of associated long-term, debilitating symptoms.
  8. Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).
  9. Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  10. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

lightning firedog 8-04-14b

So how can you prepare for thunderstorms and lighting? First, learn the terminology so you will be able to act when warnings are issued:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Alerts you as to when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

To prepare for an emergency of any kind, assemble an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. In the event of an impending thunderstorm, take these safety steps:

In Advance of the Storm:

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Unplug electronic equipment.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.

During the Storm:

  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electricity for recharging.  Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners.
  • Shelter inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are safer inside a vehicle than outside because the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection (provided you are not touching metal).
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and off of porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors.
  • Don’t lean against concrete walls.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas.
  • Steer clear of hilltops, open fields, the beach and boats on the water.
  • Avoid contact with metal of any kind—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.

While following the above safety suggestions won’t guarantee your safety, careful preparation and planning will put you in a much safer position if thunder or lightning threaten you and your loved ones. 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.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 22, 2014

Rip Current Safety

Rip Current Firedog

When a Newport Beach lifeguard, Ben Carlson, ventured on July 6, 2014 to save a swimmer caught in a Rip Current, tragically, he lost his life. One witness described ocean conditions that day by saying, “It looked like a hurricane from outer space.” That seems like a pretty scary place to go swimming.

The survivor who owes his life to Ben Carlson is one of 278 people who were rescued from the turbulent waters off the coast of Newport Beach that day. Unfortunately, Rip Currents are unpredictable, strong and deadly for experienced lifeguards, let alone casual swimmers. But there is good news. If you prepare, no matter the conditions, you can #BESAFE.


Ten Little-known facts about Rip Currents:
1. A Rip Current is a horizontal flow of water moving in the offshore direction.

2. An oft-repeated myth is that a Rip Current is the same as an undertow. On the contrary; a Rip Current is typically the strongest at about a foot off of the ocean floor. Rip Currents do not pull people under the water. They carry people away from the shore.

3. People get in trouble when they are so far offshore that they are unable to swim back to the beach. People also get into trouble when they ignore the conditions and swim anyway. Don’t take unnecessary chances, people!

4. Rip Currents are actually present on many beaches every day of the year. But they are usually too slow to be dangerous to beach-goers. It is only under certain wave, tide and beach shape conditions that they can increase to dangerous speeds. And if you stay on dry land, you won’t have anything to fear from Rip Currents. Just my land-loving opinion.

5. Several different terms are currently used to describe Rip Currents. The National Weather Service, Sea Grant, and the United States Lifesaving Association are working together to develop consistent terminology to provide a clear Rip Current safety message to the public. Seems like a no-brainer, to me.

6. Despite potential danger, The National Weather Service does not issue Rip Current advisories or warnings. However, local beach patrol personnel, local lifeguards, or local law enforcement officials may issue such warnings.

7. The National Weather Service does issue Surf Zone Forecasts for some coastal areas, which contain Rip Current Outlooks. So check out those forecasts if you like to swim.

8. Rip Current Outlooks are issued during the “swimming season,” which is defined by local National Weather Service Office. If you swim in a pool, rip currents won’t affect you. Just another idea…

9. Long period swells sometimes result in minimal wave action where the ocean surface is hardly disturbed, yet there is a greater than normal transport of wave energy into the surf zone which may result in an elevated Rip Current risk.

10. Rip Currents can be 50 feet to 50 yards in width, and the strength of the current can be up to 3 to 5 mph.


Rip Current 2 firedog

The Three-tiered Set of Qualifiers to identify Rip Currents:

Low Risk – Wind and/or wave conditions are not expected to support the development of Rip Currents; however, Rip Currents can sometimes occur, especially in the vicinity of jetties and piers. Know how to swim and heed the advice of lifeguards. I think this sounds like the best time to doggie-paddle.

Moderate Risk of Rip Currents – Wind and/or wave conditions support stronger or more frequent Rip Currents. Only experienced surf swimmers should enter the water.

High Risk of Rip Currents – Wind and/or wave conditions support dangerous Rip Currents. Rip Currents are life-threatening to anyone entering the surf.


 

Ten Tips for Preparing for/or Surviving a Rip Current:

1. Before heading to the beach, check out the Rip Forecast so that you can be prepared.

2. Only swim at beaches guarded by beach patrol or lifeguards.

3. Don’t swim alone. Swimming is more fun with friends or family members, anyway.

4. Learn to recognize the signs of a Rip Current, which include water traveling from the beach back out to sea. What’s more, Rip Currents produce water which will likely be turbulent due to the carving out of a channel in the sub-sea surface sand.

5. When in doubt, avoid swimming in the ocean.

6. If you are caught in a Rip Current, try to remain calm!

7. Signal to someone on the beach, a lifeguard or a friend, that you need help.

8. If you are a strong swimmer, try to swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the Rip Current. Then swim toward the shore.

9. Never try to swim back to shore directly against the Rip Current, as this can exhaust and drown even the strongest swimmer.

10. For less confident swimmers, wade sideways parallel to the beach until you are out of the rip. And if you aren’t a confident swimmer, maybe stay in a pool until you improve?

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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