Case Study: Hurricane Sandy

(Because much of this post was graciously provided by Chris Rodriguez of Brookfield Property Partners, I have not added my usual “firedogisms.” Thanks for your help, Chris!)

City submerged in water because of climate changeThe most common natural disaster in the United States is a flood. In the U.S., floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning. This week, we will focus attention on this severe weather-related disaster, because El Nino could potentially produce the types of conditions that often result in floods.

Since flooding generally occurs at or below ground level, you may be surprised to learn that there are specific flood-related dangers and steps to take to deal with floods if you work or live in a high-rise building. As a service to our subscribers and friends, this post focuses on preparations to take before, during and after flooding if you are in a high-rise commercial building.

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Property Partners

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Property Partners

In the third edition of his High-Rise Security and Fire/Life Safety, Vice President of Universal Protection Service, Geoff Craighead, writes this about flood safety as it relates to high-rise buildings:

“Torrential rain, melting snow, a tsunami or a hurricane may produce too much water for land, rivers and flood control panels to handle and therefore results in serious flooding that will impact an entire area, including high-rise buildings. Floods also can occur as a result of a public water main pipe break or a reservoir failing.

Subterranean parking garages located beneath high-rise buildings can become flooded with water. This can result in damage to vehicles and substantial damage to elevator systems because of water cascading into elevator shafts. Building operations can be paralyzed for days as a result of cleanup of impacted areas and repair of damaged equipment. Also, a severe landslide could result in the collapse of a building.”

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Property Partners

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Property Partners

Our friend and client, Chris Rodriguez, is the Director of Security for Brookfield Property Partners at One New York Plaza. He was onsite at that location in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. Chris stayed on the scene for days, and was kind enough to provide us with the steps he and his team took before, during and after the hurricane. We chose to include excerpts from his notes despite their length, because we believe it provides great insight into a real-world scenario relative to managing and recovering from flooding in a high-rise commercial building.

Pre-Sandy

  • Secured the building perimeter and all entrances to the building, 12 hours prior to the expected landfall of the storm.
  • Protected all street-level entrances with sandbags.
  • Advised tenants to remove their personal vehicles from the subterranean parking garage.
  • Monitored perimeter surveillance as well as live television broadcasts.
  • Brought in an evening security platoon prior to the shutdown of public transportation systems.
  • Advised personnel to be prepared for an extended stay.
  • Reviewed the Emergency Action Plan.
  • Double-checked the security cache of radios, flashlights and backup batteries.
  • Instructed critical operation staff personnel to don high-visibility clothing that identified them as “security, engineers, or life safety personnel.”
  • Made sure that engineers checked and tested critical building emergency utility systems, days prior to impact.

During Sandy

  • Equipped building personnel on duty with walkie–talkies.
  • Maintained perimeter surveillance from the elevated plaza level.
  • Continued to monitor local TV news and weather.
  • Upon notification that the sandbag “levee” had been breached by the incoming tidal surge, instituted the Emergency Action Plan.
  • Gave evacuation orders over the public address system for all areas below the lobby level.
  • When water started entering the loading dock and other areas of the building from the street level, parked elevators on upper floors.
  • As the three sub – surface levels of the building continued to flood, one final check was conducted.
  • When emergency power and lighting was lost throughout the buildingand downtown area, made sure all personnel were accounted for.
  • Ordered everyone in the building to assemble at a refuge point.
  • Continued to monitor the rising flood waters.
  • After the tidal surge appeared to have peaked, personnel “hunkered down” for the night.
  • The engineers on duty threw all the breakers connecting the service from the sub-cellar to the upper floors, which proved to be a vital maneuver contributing to the rapid recovery of power to the upper floors.

Post-Sandy Actions

  • By daybreak, the tidal surge had receded. The streets were dry but the damage was done. All three sub-levels of the building were under water.
  • The building was officially closed to all tenants.
  • All civilians remaining in the building were evacuated to allow for a damage assessment and to address safety concerns.
  • Perimeter patrols were resumed to ward off inquisitive sightseers and maintain the integrity of the building. Manual sign-in was mandatory and enforced.
  • The building Life Fire Safety system was non-functioning. So a fire guard patrol was established for all 50 floors.
  • Everyone was required to have a flashlight and walkie-talkie at all times.
  • Personal cellphones were the sole means of contact with the outside world.
  • Emergency generators were brought in to supply limited power to critical areas of the building.
  • Security Supervisors contacted all off-duty personnel to inquire about their personal wellbeing and potential availability to relieve peers. (The personnel onsite from the evening of the storm remained on-site for four days before relief was available from off-duty personnel).
  • Food vendors in the area of the city with power delivered three hot meals, per person, each day.
  • Security measures were addressed as the first sub-level street entrances were compromised and exposed by the receding water.
  • New security posts were established to maintain a secure environment.
  • The building remained closed to tenants for one business week, which is when sufficient emergency generators were in place to light stairways and restore the Life Fire Safety system.
  • On week two, the building was partially opened only to Critical Information Personnel for certain high-profile tenants’ data centers.
  • Security teams supplied supplemental officers to assist the newly established posts deemed necessary to protect tenants’ assets during their absence.

Lessons Learned

Chris had this to say about his experience: “No matter how much you prepare, you will likely never be ‘totally prepared’ for an event of historical magnitude. A storm the likes of Hurricane Sandy strikes only about once every 100 years. So the road to recovery is much longer than the avenue of destruction. Patience is indeed a virtue.”

Here are a few of the other lessons Chris says he learned:

  • A three-foot levee of sandbags does not standup to a 12- foot storm surge.
  • You probably will not have sufficient resources to handle a large-scale emergency and safely equip all personnel.
  • An easily assessable cache of equipment and resources must be maintained off-site, like radios, food, water, extra uniforms, toiletries, flashlights, etc.
  • Certain critical building resources should be relocated to upper floors, where feasible.
  • A team of supervisors trained and experienced in handling emergency situations begets a staff of efficient, disciplined and task-oriented personnel.
  • Personnel including supervisors must be able to accept and adapt to modified working conditions and hours.
  • Supervisors must be able to execute and display confidence in new and revised policies.
  • It will take some time to get back to “business as usual.”

FEMA has prepared a free, comprehensive 12-page PDF booklet that goes into great detail about flood preparation and recovery. We hope the FEMA resources and this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe in floods as well as every other type of emergency…particularly if you live or work in a high-rise building! A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | August 11, 2015

Online Training Now Available on iPad

People Around the Circle Table Vector Business Meeting Top View Illustration

RJWestmore Corp Blog Announces Exciting Development

Property managers and fire life safety professionals spoke and we have listened by implementing noteworthy changes to our online training software. Subscribers can now easily access safety training via iPads in addition to their laptops and desktop computers. I’ve been told that puppy pads and iPads are very different things. That’s a good thing to point out here.

With the mission to “save lives through training,” the RJWestmore System was developed to help building owners and property managers provide a cost effective, user-friendly way to comply with fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly (with display-quality certificates) for completing online safety training. Thanks to our new update, this training is accessible not only via desktop or laptop computer but also on an iPad, or even an iPhone! Although I don’t own an iPhone or an iPad, I’m glad our training can be accessed using either of these tools since most humans seem to use these devices often.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide a tool that helps property managers get the job done! Offering iOS-compatible modules will improve safety training options for property managers, offering tenants accessible life-saving training for their employees who would otherwise go unprepared,” says Director of RJWestmore Kimber Westmore. “We are passionate about training because it saves lives.”

SnipImageBy and large, millennial and entrepreneurial tenants tend to prefer open concept working environments. The RJW Training System is perfect for this professional trend for several reasons:

  • When users are sharing space and do not want to cause a distraction to their colleagues, the animated training can be muted and the text-on-screen option can be chosen. I love animation and I don’t think I’m a millennial. Snoopy and his pal, Charlie Brown, are my favorite animated cartoons.
  • Millennials typically do not hold to a 9-5 workday, choosing to use iPads in a coffeehouse or on a couch instead. Access to material that’s available via iPad around the clock makes our training more user-friendly.
  • Millennials typically prefer training online and on-demand videos to attending expensive seminars or reading textbooks or training manuals. The RJWestmore Training System enables users to learn on demand in short, entertaining modules.

SnipImage (1)Rest assured, however, that the RJWestmore Training System is not geared exclusively to the younger generation. That’s a relief, since I’m an old dog who isn’t used to new tricks!

Our system has been designed to meet the needs of property managers and their tenants in all age groups and from all walks of life. In fact, it allows property management companies to manage a single site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. It can also be used to train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is documented, and material is always readily available, offering quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

“People love our training,” says Director of Operations Lora Sargeant. “We continue to grow and we add modules and features on request because we want to make sure that we continue to remain at the forefront of online safety training. The more people who take advantage of our training, the more lives that can be saved.”

We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | August 4, 2015

Summer Safety: Stay Safe in the Water

A businessman receiving some help.

Part 3 of a 3-part series

This summer, whether you plan to enjoy a stay-cation or leave your house or doghouse for a short or extended period of time, there are several safety-related things to consider. The first two entries in our three-part series covered safety at home and safety while traveling. In this final post about summer safety, we will focus on how to be water safe. I will never understand why humans don’t naturally learn to dog-paddle the way canines do. It comes in handy to know how to swim.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the six most common causes of drowning include:

1. Inability to swim
2. Absence of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access
3. Lack of close supervision of non-swimmers and/or weak swimmers
4. Omission of life jackets
5. Use of alcohol
6. Seizure-related disorders

Drowning is as significant a concern in natural bodies of water as it is in home and public swimming pools and hot tubs. The U.S. Lifesaving Organization (USLO) says the major causes of ocean-related accidents are weather-related swells and rip currents. In 2014, there were:

  • 90,964 swimmers rescued near U.S. beaches
  • 4,225 boat rescues and 5,240 boat assists boy stranded at sea
  • 7,652,479 preventive actions
  • 341,143 medical aid incidents
  • 93 unguarded drownings
  • 19 guarded drownings
  • 35 other water-related fatalities

So, this summer, take steps to make water safety a priority:

  • Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Swim with a buddy. Never swim alone. The buddy system is always a good idea.
  • Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to swim well. Enroll your kids in age-appropriate classes. We didn’t have to enroll JR in swimming classes. He knew how to doggy-paddle the day he was born.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water.
  • Do not trust your child’s life to someone else.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water. Water wings are insufficient to prevent drowning.
  • Do not rely on life jackets, alone.
  • Set firm rules for your family members. Make sure children always ask permission before going near the water. This includes the dog bowl. I can’t tell you how many times toddlers have knocked over my water!
  • Always be cautious around natural bodies of water (even if you do not intend to swim.)
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Water and alcohol do not mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water

  • For safety as well as reduced risk of liability, install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Also consider containers of standing water.
  • Use pool barriers that enclose the entire pool area, with 4-feet high fences and self-closing gates. Install self-latching gates that open outward, away from the pool. Latches should be high enough to remain well out of reach for a small child.
  • Take safety precautions for above-ground and even inflatable pools. Remove access ladders when not in use and cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Store or distance anything that could potentially provide access to a pool, such as outdoor furniture, trees, walls or swing-sets. You could be held liable if people break into your backyard to swim. Actress Demi Moore recently learned this lesson firsthand.

Maintain Constant Supervision

  • Actively supervise kids whenever they are around water. Don’t rely on a lifeguard or other swimmers or sunbathers to supervise your kids.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of young children.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

What to do in an Actual Emergency

  1. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  2.  Call 911.
  3. If you own a home pool or hot tub, make sure you have easy access to appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.

The smartest thing to do is to prepare well in advance of any actual emergency. Enroll in water safety, first aid or CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies. We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes this summer to #BeSafe in and around the water. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 22, 2015

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: #BeSafe this Summer

happy dog in a car windowThis summer, whether you plan to enjoy a stay-cation or leave your house for a short or extended period of time, there are several safety-related things to consider. In our ongoing three-week series about summer safety, we will cover safety at home, while traveling, and around water. To read part one of our series, click here. In this part two post, we will focus on ways to ensure personal safety relative to summer travel, whether you are going by plane, train or automobile. Check back next week to read about water safety.

Plane Safety

  • Pack well. In addition to making sure you have all of the clothing and personal care items you need, remember to pack with safety in mind. Leave sharp objects at home. For carry-ons, invest in airline-approved travel containers so you won’t get stopped by security. And bring bacon if you are traveling with your dog. Dogs love to eat bacon while traveling (…and while standing still. We pretty much always love to eat bacon.)

  • Never agree to watch a stranger’s bag. If you notice unattended baggage, immediately report it to airport security. Leave that to TSA or the police.

  • Once you have boarded, place your luggage in the overhead compartment directly across the aisle from you so, that you can keep an eye on it to make sure it remains untouched throughout the flight.

  • Most airplane accidents occur during take-off and landing. So booking a nonstop flight won’t just save you time. It may reduce your risk of an in-air incident. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use my own four paws to get around.

  • Even on domestic flights, bring your passport with you. During a crisis, U.S. flights could be diverted to Mexican or Canadian airports. If this occurs, you will be glad you have your passport at border crossings.

Train Safety

  • Did you know that someone is hit by a train once every three hours? Since trains can come from either direction at virtually any time, be careful when you are near train tracks or in stations.

  • Pay attention to painted or raised markings at the platform edge. And remain at least three feet from the train whenever it is coming in or out of the station.

  • Listen carefully to directions from the train operator or conductor. This is good advice no matter how you are traveling. Pay attention to the people who are in charge!

  • Be careful getting on and off the train, as there may be a gap between the train and platform or steps.

  • Follow directional signs so you will be sure to cross tracks only when it is safe to do so. Crossing anywhere else is dangerous as well as illegal.

    For more train safety tips, check out OperationLifeSaver.org.

Summer, vintage cars with fins on the beachAutomobile

  • Plan, map and estimate the duration of your drive ahead of time. Then, let family and friends know about your plans. And, if you plan to travel with a pet, schedule lots of pit stops, because we need to stretch our legs.

  • As you plan, remember to expect the unexpected—for instance, you may run into roadwork, road closures, slow traffic or crowded highways. So try to allow enough wiggle room in your schedule so you won’t be tempted to speed to make time.

  • Before you leave, check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated and have plenty of meat on them. I know what you’re thinking. But this kind of meat means tread on tires, not the kind I crave!

  • Hire a mechanic or inspect the car yourself. Evaluate the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels, and check the A/C.

  • Test the vehicle’s interior and exterior lights, wipers and washer fluid.

  • Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has some great recommendations about what to include in your kit.

Check back next week, when we will wrap up our series with our final summer safety post, about water safety. We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 7, 2015

Tips for Summer Safety

Summer digital design, vector illustration eps 10

Summertime can be fun. Barbecues, backyard parties, picnics, swimming pools and travel beckon. And so do the smells of grilled meat! But your fun in the sun could be short-lived if you fail to take summertime safety precautions. To help you make the summer of 2015 your best ever, we have compiled some tips to help you avoid potential peril.

Summertime Safety Starts at Home

Whether you plan to enjoy a staycation or leave your house for a short or extended period of time, there are several things to consider, which will keep your home safe this summer. In this three-part series, we will cover ways to protect yourself in the summer whether you plan to leave or stay at home. In the next several blog posts, we will cover safety at home, while traveling, and around water.

This week, we will focus on ways to make your home safe.

  • If you plan to leave for vacation, make copies of all of your important information, so you will have everything on hand. For example, record your credit card account numbers as well as customer service phone numbers in case you notice fraudulent activity on your accounts while you are away from home. Also, don’t forget to pack vital documents such as insurance cards, passports, emergency contacts and health information about your pets.
  • Before you leave, lock every door and window in your home. And, if applicable, call your alarm company to let them know you will be on vacation. This is critical even if your trip is short. According to the FBI, more than half (53%) of home burglaries happen during the day. So homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home—even if they plan to be gone for only a few hours. Of course, if you have a watchdog, this may not be necessary. I guess you should decide on a case-by-case basis.

    Hello Summer

  • No matter how excited you are to share your travel experiences on social media, resist the urge to post everything on Facebook or Twitter. Thieves have learned to check out social media posts to determine targets of opportunity. When it comes to your house, keep them guessing. That’s the reason I don’t tweet or post about my schedule. Well, that, and because I like to avoid the paparazzi.
  • Don’t leave clues about your absence on your front porch. Nothing says “empty house” more than having stacks of newspapers on the porch or mail hanging out of an overstuffed box. You can avoid both by putting a vacation hold on subscriptions as well as mail.
  • Make your home as unattractive to burglars as possible. Make sure shrubs are well trimmed, so there is nowhere for thieves to hide. Consider installing a security system with cameras to deter would-be robbers.
  • Take steps to make sure your house is as difficult as possible to break into.
    1. Don’t ever hide a key under the mat or above the door.
    2. Use heavy, solid doors with deadbolt locks.
    3. Don’t forget about doors between an attached garage and the house. Purchase and install as heavy duty equipment on it as you do for the front and back doors.
    4. Install poles so windows and sliding glass doors won’t slide.
    5. Light up your house with motion sensors and floodlights. Thieves don’t like to operate on stage. So lighting is an inexpensive way to burglar-proof your home.
    6. Prominently display security signs…even if you don’t subscribe to a security system. The idea is to deter as many would-be thieves as possible.
    7. If you do subscribe to a security system, don’t write your passcode on a post-it and put it next to your keypad. Doing so will defeat the entire purpose of having the system.
    8. Get a guard dog! (Just a friendly firedog suggestion.)

Check back next week, when we will cover personal safety relative to summer travel. We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

 

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 23, 2015

For June–it’s all about Men’s Health

Health And Fitness Red Blue Green Each June, you likely celebrate Father’s Day with relatives and friends. Every Father’s Day, my son, RJ, gets me a big bone. But did you know that June is also the time to officially focus on men’s health? Men’sHealthMonth.org reports that:

“The purpose of the (annual campaign) is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” What’s more, “The month-long celebration gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.”

Top 10 health risks for men:Walking the Dog

  1. Heart Disease –The American Heart Association says that more than one in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease.And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009 (which is one in every four adult male deaths). Did you know that your beloved pet could have heart problems too?
  2. Cancer (Malignant Neoplasms) – The American Cancer Society reports that the types of cancer affecting men are cancers of the prostate, colon, lung and skin.
  3. Stroke (Cerebral Diseases) – Although strokes are more likely to occur in men over age 65, they can happen at any age. And strokes are more likely to be fatal and strike earlier in men than in women.
  4. Injuries (Unintentional Accidents) – Men and women are more likely to encounter everyday accidents that lead to death than something catastrophic, which we covered in last week’s blog post about National Safety Month. Since 49.1 percent of the U.S. population is made up of men, it stands to reason they should take steps to avoid injury and #BeSafe. I tend to be the clumsy type. So my wife tries to convince me to calm down, especially when I’m excited about taking a walk.
  5. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases – The causes of the chronic respiratory diseases are well known: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, pollution, allergens, occupational agents, age and hereditary. While not all are preventable, men and women should take steps to rectify those that are.
  6. Blood Sugar Abnormalities (Diabetes) – The American Diabetes Association says that the fear of receiving bad news is the number one reason men don’t typically talk about or take better care of their health. If you are a man, take heed, or if you love one, encourage him to visit his your doctor since many diseases, including Diabetes, need not be fatal, if caught and treated early on. I have found that the best way to keep my blood sugar stable is to eat plenty of pork and beef products.
  7. Influenza & Pneumonia – Influenza and Pneumonia are a leading cause of death in the U.S., although both could easily be prevented by a vaccination, say officials from the American Lung Association.
  8. Suicide (Intentional Self-Harm) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that, for many years, the suicide rate has been about four times higher among men than among women. If you know someone who needs assistance, connect him to a support network, such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

  9. Chronic Liver Disease (Cirrhosis) – A doctor’s appointment is immediately necessary for anyone who has persistent signs or symptoms that could be related to liver disease. See a complete list of symptoms on the Mayo Clinic Liver Disease webpage.
  10. Kidney Disease (Nephritis) – The National Kidney Disease Foundation reports that more than 26 million American adults are living with kidney disease. Further, most don’t know they are affected. To see a comprehensive list of warning signs, visit the National Kidney Foundation website.
  11. For more information about men’s health, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

    Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 9, 2015

Safety Matters

Work Safe Be Safe - 3d banner, isolated on white background

National Safety Month

When it comes to safety, many Americans worry most about the stories they see on TV — incidents such as airplane crashes, shark attacks and severe weather. However, while these types of disasters often headline network news, everyday threats to safety are far more common. If you ask me, the greatest threat to our safety is the shortage of bacon I keep hearing about. Save the pigs!

To call attention to safety concerns at home, work, and on the road, the National Safety Council devotes the month of June to raise awareness about what it takes to stay safe. We consider it a privilege to mark the occasion with this week’s blog post, because our mission at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is to save lives through training, with the motto “Be Safe!”

In observance of National Safety Month, we challenge you to take steps to reduce the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in your homes and communities. You may be surprised to learn that, during the course of your lifetime, you are far more likely to be killed while doing common, everyday things than you are to be the victim of a natural disaster or crime. I spend a lot of blog-time talking about crazy disasters. But some everyday things are just as dangerous. In fact, the National Safety Council reports:

  • Your chances of being killed unintentionally through poison or a fall is one in 31, whereas your risk of being assaulted by someone brandishing a weapon is just one in 358.
  • Your risk of dying following an overdose of a prescription painkiller is one in 234, whereas your likelihood of suffering from electrocution is just one in 12,200. So I guess it’s safer to play outside in the thunder and lightning than to eat prescription medication. Good to know.
  • Your odds of fatality in a motor vehicle crash are one in 112, while your chance of being in a plane crash are just one in 8,015. That’s why I prefer walking to driving.
  • You have a one in 144 chance of dying from falling out of a tree and only a one in 6,780 chance of being killed in a thunderstorm.
  • Your chances of being killed while riding in a car is one in 470. But you only have a one in 164,968 chance of dying from a lightning strike. My own four paws are much safer than any motor vehicle.
  • While walking down the street or crossing the street, your risk of dying is one in 704, but your risk of fatality resulting from a bee, hornet or wasp sting is one in 55,764.

To reduce your risk of injury or death from everyday activities, follow these seven safety tips:

  1. Drive the speed limit. Or walk wherever you need to go.
  2. Wear a seatbelt.
  3. Designate a driver or call a taxi or driving service such as Uber. Or forego the liquor.
  4. Pull over if you need to read or answer a text message or make a call.
  5. Wipe away spills and tuck away cords. This is particularly important if the spills are on top of cords.
  6. #BeSafe at home by installing handrails and non-slip bathmats.
  7. Take only the type and quantity of prescription drugs you have been prescribed.

For more information about National Safety Month, check out the National Safety Council website. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.

Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 26, 2015

Don’t Trip Yourself Up!

Businessman slipping and falling from a banana peel

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, two million broken bones occur every year in the U.S. due to osteoporosis. What’s more, most people proceed with fracture repair without ever realizing they have osteoporosis or low bone mass. Join us in celebrating National Osteoporosis Month this May by taking action to Break Free from Osteoporosis. The Break Free from Osteoporosis campaign encourages everyone to get to know their risk factors for osteoporosis and make the lifestyle changes needed to build strong bones for life.

At the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, our first priority is the safety of our employees, clients and the general public. As a company, it is our goal to make every attempt to eliminate the potential for accidents. Slips, trips and falls represent a serious hazard to workers in the security industry and are responsible for well over half of the nonfatal injuries that result in days away from work. In honor of National Osteoporosis Month, we have devoted this week’s blog post to an important part of bone health—preventing slips, trips and falls.

The following post was written by Angela Burrell, manager of public relations for our corporate company, Universal Services of America, (with “Firedogisms” by me—RJ the Firedog, noted by italics).

First and foremost, stay focused and alert for hazards that may cause a slip, trip or fall. Good housekeeping, quality of walking surfaces (flooring), proper footwear and preparing facilities are all critical for preventing accidents that could result from wet surfaces, occasional spills, loose mats or other hazards. I trip myself up regularly, probably because I have twice as many legs as humans.

By partnering with clients, security teams can help prevent slips, trips and falls to reduce serious injuries that could lead to customer civil liability lawsuits and expensive worker compensation claims.

Here are some tips to follow and recommendations that you could make:

Reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring by:

  • Encouraging the use of slip-resistant footwear.
  • Taking your time, paying attention and making wide turns at corners while walking.
  • Protecting entrances to employee areas with matting designed to absorb water.
  • Placing paper towel holders, trash cans and umbrella bags near entrances to reduce wet floors.
  • Providing slip-resistant stair treads on permanent stairs.
  • Recommending installation of grab bars or railing in doorways and stairwells. Although I can’t use railings myself, they seem like a very good idea.

Report or correct the following housekeeping conditions:

  • Debris, spills or wet areas on floors, stairs or walkways
  • Mats, rugs and carpets that may become obstacles themselves
  • File cabinet or storage drawers left open, especially on top levels
  • Exposed cables or bulky power cords that are not properly secured or protected
  • Burned out lights in work areas, parking structures or walkways
  • Bacon on the floor (not really a hazard, but important information, nonetheless!)

Be proactive

  • Mark hazardous areas whenever necessary. Use temporary signs, cones, barricades or floor stand signs to warn people passing by.
  • Block off areas during floor cleaning. Remove all signs once the floor is clean and dry so they do not become commonplace and ignored.

For more information about National Osteoporosis Month, check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation website. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to begin or maintain a regular physical fitness routine for optimal health and aspire to prevent accidents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 12, 2015

Get Moving During Fitness & Sports Month

Physical Fitness 4Despite what we know about the benefits of physical fitness relative to health, weight, longevity and emotional well-being, as a nation, on average, we remain alarmingly sedentary. This fact applies more to people than to dogs. We tend to actually prefer walking to lying around all day. To call attention to the situation, and in an effort to affect change, the President’s Council has named May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

As far as physical fitness, these statistics released by Fitness.Gov demonstrate the need for improvement: 

  • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • More than 80% of adolescents do not get enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
  • Nationwide, 25.6% of persons with a disability reported being physically inactive during a usual week.
  • Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
  • Only six states require physical education in every grade, K-12.
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for three or more hours on an average school day.
  • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
  • Unfit dogs are usually mirror images of their physically unfit masters. So take advantage of your pet’s desire to stay active. Take your dog for a walk!

Physical Fitness 5For those who remain unconvinced, there is ample evidence that exercise drastically improves physical health for people and pets of all ages. Here are five ways physical activity can vastly improve lives:

  1. Improve muscular fitness and bone and heart health.
  2. Lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
  3. Reduce the risk of falls and improve cognitive functioning (like learning and judgment skills).
  4. Control weight – Not only does physical fitness burn calories, but muscle burns more calories than fat. So modest strength training and cardio affect weight. And maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) reduces a myriad of health issues.
  5. Improve mental health and mood – The CDC maintains that regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
  6. Dogs who exercise are happier and live longer than their sedentary peers.

What to do

Physical Fitness 3Instead of being overwhelmed, take simple steps to improve physical fitness and overall health:

  • Start slowly and build gradually so you won’t abandon an overly ambitious workout routine.
  • Make small changes, like taking a walk after dinner, walking your dog, parking far away instead of fighting for a spot close to your destination or riding a bike.
  • WebMD reports that inexpensive, easy-to-use pedometers are proven to motivate people to move more and sit less.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water before and after you exercise, even if you aren’t thirsty. Drink a cup of water every 15 minutes during your workout, as well.
  • To prevent soreness and injury and increase flexibility, stretch for five to 10 minutes after workouts, when body temperature and muscles are warm, and hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

For more information about Physical Fitness & Sports, check out the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. We hope that this blog post will motivate you to begin or maintain a regular physical fitness routine for optimal health. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | April 21, 2015

One Text or Call Could Wreck it All

National Distracted Driving Month — Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free

texting 6While drivers are finally starting to agree that hazards are associated with texting while driving, an even larger problem looms, relative to cell phone use while driving a car. To date, most Americans remain unaware of the hazards associated with using cell phones while driving at all…even with a hands-free unit. I am almost glad I don’t have opposable thumbs, which make it impossible for me to drive or use a cellphone.

According to the National Safety Council, more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, which underscores the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit altogether. I suggest dropping phones in the toilet and using the money to invest in bacon. In response to the danger In response to the danger, the council is using Distracted Driving Month 2015 to launch a new national campaign—Calls Kill, to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk-free, and that no call is worth a life.

“For far too long, we have prioritized convenience over safety,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO, National Safety Council, “When we get behind the wheel, we have an obligation to keep one another safe. Drivers who justify cell phone use with the hands-free myth are disregarding that obligation. It’s time to reconcile the cost of being constantly connected with the consequences of risky behavior behind the wheel.”

texting 7Studies have shown that drivers who are talking on cell phones—even hands-free—are cognitively distracted by the conversation so they are unable to adequately focus on the important task of driving. Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing simultaneously, the brain is unable to do either task well. For example, it is nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, doing two things at once often results in crashes due to delayed reaction and braking times and failure to see and process traffic signals. So does sniffing while walking around the neighborhood.

Although we know that cell phone-related car crashes are a problem, to date, we are unable to accurately measure the degree because, unfortunately, no breathalyzer-like test exists for cell phone use behind the wheel. And drivers who are involved in crashes are reluctant to admit use. So this results in a huge gap in the data. Nevertheless, research shows:

  • Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences, per theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • No fewer than 1.3 million documented cases of cell phone use have contributed to automobile accidents since 2011.
  • The minimum amount of time it takes to shift attention from a device to the road is five seconds. While driving at a speed of 55 mph, a person travels the length of a football field in this short amount of time. I’ll bet the actual number is much higher, though that’s a scary thought.The minimum amount of time it takes to eat a slice of bacon is not measurable with existing technology.
  • The risk of crash increases by 23% while text-messaging.
  • Dialing increases risk of collision by 2.8 times.
  • Talking or listening increases risk by 1.3 times.
  • Reaching for a device increases risk by 1.4 times.
  • 13 percent of drivers, ages 18-20, involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.
  • 10 percent of teens who text while driving spend a considerable amount of time outside their own lanes of traffic.
  • 48 percent of kids ages 12-17 have been in the car while someone who was driving was texting.
  • One in five drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving. Drivers who surf while driving justify their behavior by saying that it is safer to read a text than it is to compose or send one, they hold the phone near the windshield for “better visibility,” they increase the following distance, or they text “only” at stop signs or red lights.

texting 5As part of the Calls Kill campaign, the Council urges drivers to pledge to drive cell free. Drivers who take the pledge will not only increase their safety behind the wheel, but also will be entered into weekly drawings to win prizes including an NSC First Aid, CPR & AED Online course, safety items for kids, and a stuffed animal donated by KidsAndCars.Org.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to avoid cell phone use so that you can drive safely. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

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