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.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 8, 2014

Be Wildfire Safe this Summer

Insurance designThe National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. According to news reports, this season promises to be one of the worst potential wild fire seasons of record. And even though we all know that weather forecasters aren’t exactly 100% accurate, it is true that the combination of dry weather and high winds lead to increased danger.

Here are 11 facts about wildfires:

  1. The number one cause of wildfires in the U.S. is mankind. Man-made combustions from arson, human carelessness, or lack of fire safety cause wildfire disasters every year. I take pride in the fact that canines aren’t even mentioned in this statistic. We hardly ever start fires.
  2. More than 80 percent of all wildfires are started by humans. See-more proof that dogs aren’t pyromaniacs.
  3. Wildfires (AKA forest or peat fires) are uncontrolled fires which often occur in wild, unpopulated areas. However, they can occur anywhere-destroying homes, other buildings, agriculture, humans, and animals in their path.
  4. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, running crown fires, spot fires, and ground fires. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, “running crown fires,” spot fires, and ground fires. A ‘running crown fire’ is a forest fire that advances with great speed jumping from crown to crown ahead of the ground fire. Whatever they are called-all of us hate fires and work hard to prevent them.
  5. “Running crown fires” are a firefighter’s worst nightmare because they burn extremely hot, travel rapidly, and can change direction quickly.
  6. The most dangerous aspect of “running crown fires” are the convection currents which produce massive fire storms and tornadoes. These subsequent storms can send embers well ahead of the main fire front, causing spot fires that in turn can start new fires in other directions.
  7. Weather conditions can directly contribute to the occurrence of wildfires through lightning strikes or indirectly by an extended dry spell or drought.
  8. Wildfires can be started by an accumulation of dead matter (leaves, twigs, and trees) that can create enough heat in some instances to spontaneously combust and ignite the surrounding area.
  9. Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. Ten to 20 percent of these lightning strikes can cause fire.
  10. An average of 1.2 million acres of U.S. woodland burn every year.
  11. A large wildfire-or conflagration-is capable of modifying the local weather conditions (AKA producing its own weather). That is pretty spooky. Huh?

Firedog 7-10-14A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. And a tiny cat can cause a huge mess. Just sayin’. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.

The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. During heightened fire danger, additional firefighters are generally added to active duty, more engines are on standby and more equipment is at the ready 24 hours a day, to be able to respond to new fires. It is important that everyone takes steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.

Here are tips for preventing wildfires:

While you are enjoying summer activities, make sure you take steps to #BeSafe. 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 | June 24, 2014

Summer Safety 2014

Sun iconEach June, the National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. Thousands of organizations across the country are taking part in the campaign to reduce the risk of the safety issues. Safety is a high priority for those of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. In fact, our motto, Be Safe, highlights the priority we put on safety.

Last week, our blog covered several safety issues, including ending prescription drug abuse; preventing slips, trips and falls; being aware of surroundings; and ending distracted driving. This week, we will continue our two-part series by focusing on summer safety. After all; it’s only fitting that we cover the all-important topic before the official start of summer on June 21 and while 4th of July plans are still in the making. I love Independence Day because I can pig out on barbecue without raising eyebrows.

BE SAFE in the Water 

Unfortunately, water-related deaths (including swimming and water-transport) are all too common in the U.S.:

  • More than one in five drowning victims are children 14-years-old and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another four receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion-related injuries.
  • Most drowning and near-drowning incidents happen when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub.
  • According to the CDC, 80 percent of the people who drown are males.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.
  • Dogs don’t usually drown. We have a natural instinct to swim.

To prevent water-related injury or death, prepare:

  1. If you or anyone in your family does not know how to swim, enroll them in lessons immediately.
  2. If you own a hot tub or pool, install a fence with a locked gate or a pad-locked cover.
  3. Supervise children and puppies at all times.

National Safety Month

BE SAFE in the Sun

The drawback about many fun summer activities is that they come at a price– UV exposure.

And that is detrimental because one in five Americans develops skin cancer during their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, over time, excess UV radiation can cause skin cancer, eye damage, immune system suppression, and premature aging. Here are some steps to take to keep you sun safe:

  • Wear sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreen gets stuck in my hair and makes a mess.
  • If you have fair skin or light hair, you are more susceptible to the sun’s rays and should use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.
  • Choose sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning that it protects against two types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB.
  • Use waterproof sunscreen to make sure it stays on longer, even if you perspire or get wet.
  • Reapply sunscreen often – usually every two hours, but sooner if you’ve been swimming or are perspiring heavily.
  • Cover your whole body. Remember those areas that can be easy to forget, such as your ears, eyelids, lips, nose, hands, feet, and the top of your head.
  • Seek shade or avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10am – 4pm. The sun is strongest during those hours, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to help shade your eyes, ears and head.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection to safeguard your eyes.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that protects a larger area of your skin such as long-sleeve shirts or long pants. Tightly woven fabrics in dark or bright colors are best.

BE SAFE in Hot Weather

Heat illness includes a range of disorders that result when your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Anybody not accustomed to hot weather is at risk of suffering from heatstroke (the most serious and life-threatening heat-related illness) as well as heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

Heatstroke in vehicles has become an increasing issue for young children, causing 43 fatalities in 2013, according to Safe Kids. Children overheat three to five times faster than adults, making hot cars lethal in just minutes. Take a second to read more on this growing issue and protect your children.

BE SAFE around Fireworks

In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 8,600 people treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, 39 percent of whom were under 15 years of age

The National Fire Protection Association and the National Council on Fireworks Safety  recommend these tips to keep you safe around fireworks:

  • Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks.
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals. Even if the use of fireworks is legal in your community, fireworks are far too dangerous for amateurs. Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks.
  • After the firework display, don’ let children pick up fireworks that may be left over. They could still be active.
  • Closely supervise children and teens if they are using fireworks.
  • Do not ever allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • If you absolutely must use fireworks, use them outdoors only and only if they are legal in your city.
  • Keep water at the ready whenever you are shooting fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.
  • Never mix alcohol and fireworks.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you! And that’s a bad thing!
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department

Over the next few months, while you are enjoying summer activities, whether they take you to the water or in the sun, #BeSummerSafe. 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 | June 10, 2014

Happy  National Safety Month

National Safety MonthEach June, the National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. We bring attention to key safety issues all year long. So we are happy to promote the campaign! Thousands of organizations across the country are taking part in the campaign to reduce the risk of the safety issues, including ending prescription drug abuse; preventing slips, trips and falls; being aware of surroundings; ending distracted driving and practicing summer safety. Safety is a high priority for those of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. In fact, our motto, #Be #Safe, highlights the priority we put on safety. So we are using this week’s blog posts to celebrate safety:

Week 1: Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuseis the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings elicited. I don’t get this one. But maybe that’s because my RXs are always for things like allergies. According to several national surveys, prescription medications, such as those used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety, are being abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users. The consequences of this abuse have been steadily worsening, reflected in increased treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths.

safety first

According to results from a 2010 national survey on drug use and health:

  • 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non-medically for the first time within the past year, which averages to approximately 6,600 initiates per day.
  • More than one-half were females.
  • About a third were aged 12 to 17.
  • Although prescription drug abuse affects many Americans, certain populations, such as youth, older adults, and women, may be at particular risk.
  • Bacon is not considered a prescription or recreational drug. What a relief!

If you or anyone you know has a problem with prescription drugs, contact the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Week 2: Stop Slips, Trips and Falls

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and spills make up the majority of general industry accidents, which account for:

  • 15 percent of all accidental deaths per year, the second-leading cause behind motor vehicles
  • About 25 percent of all reported injury claims per fiscal year
  • More than 95 million lost work days per year – about 65 percent of all work days lost
  • Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually (NSC Injury Facts 2011).
  • Dogs fall too…although not as often as people, I’ve noticed.

Adults 55 and older are more prone to becoming victims of falls, with the resulting injuries often diminish the victim’s ability to lead active, independent lives. The number of fall-related deaths among those 65 and older is four times the number of falling-related deaths among all other age groups.

Most slips and trips occur due to a loss of traction between the shoe and the walking surface, or an inadvertent contact with a fixed or moveable object, which may lead to a fall. There are a variety of situations that may cause slips, trips and falls. Pads on paws help a lot with traction.

Many people have a friend or relative who has fallen, or have fallen themselves. In fact, falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death in homes and communities, resulting in more than 25,000 fatalities in 2009. The risk of falling, and fall-related problems, rises with age and is a serious issue in homes and communities. So take the time to remove slip, trip and fall hazards to keep your family and/or your tenants safe.

Week 3: Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • Whether it’s driving to the grocery store or going on a daily walk, to be safe, it’s crucial that you make yourself aware of your surroundings. By using simple precautions, you can safely enjoy the time you spend outside of your home. Here are some specific instructions for your safety. (But please remember that, while these tips can be helpful, they do not guarantee your safety. Immediately contact the police if you detect any suspicious behavior.):
  • Take a friend (especially a furry one). Walking a dog, especially one inclined to bark at strangers, is better than venturing out alone.
  • Take your cell phone with you so you can call 911 if you see something suspicious.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Avoid walking too closely to bushes or areas with any kind of tall overgrowth.
  • Stay attentive to your surroundings and if listening to music, keep the volume at a low level so you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Only run or walk in familiar areas.
  • Use caution when out at night. If you are out after dark, always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Walk on the sidewalk facing traffic. Facing traffic makes it more difficult for someone to drive up behind you without being noticed.
  • Before heading to your destination, make sure you have enough gas to get you there and back. You wouldn’t want to be stranded alone.
  • If you feel like you are being followed, drive to the nearest gas station or open business. Do not drive home until you are completely sure you are alone.
  • Roll up the windows and lock all car doors every time you leave your car.
  • When you approach your car, have the key ready.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas especially at night. If possible, park your car under a lamppost.
  • Whenever possible, walk instead of drive. This is good for your health and for your canine companion.

If You Are Attacked:

  • Noise is your most immediate defense. Not only will sound attract attention to you and make your location known but it may also cause the would-be attacker to flee.
  • If possible, run in the direction of help. An assailant usually will not engage in a pursuit because it could increase the possibility of detection or apprehension.
  • If the assailant demands your purse, keys or money, give it to him or her. Don’t risk your life.
  • Never leave the site of the attack when prompted by an attacker. Don’t believe an assailant that says he or she won’t hurt you if you leave with him or her. Stay where you are, fight and scream.

Week 4: Put an End to Distracted Driving

We recently wrote detailed blog posts about distracted driving. For details, please check out the links.

Bonus week: Summer Safety

It’s only fitting that we cover summer safety before the official start of summer on June 21. But because the topic is rather broad, we will feature the content in next week’s blog posts. So check back. And, in the meantime, #BE #SAFE.

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 | June 3, 2014

More About Active Shooting Incidents

Bullet Holes

Out of respect for the victims of the Isla Vista rampage, as well as the others who have been affected by active shooting incidents, I will refrain from including my usual firedog-isms in this post. Our hearts go out to all of the victims of active shooting incidents, worldwide.

The recent active shooter tragedy in Isla Vista – the cold-blooded murder of two women, four men and the maiming of 13 others by a gunman who said he acted out of bitterness caused by years of rejection, has become menacingly common of late.

Recent tragedies such as the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage, and the murder of employees at the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. have made preparation for active shooting incidents mandatory for everyone. So, although we’ve covered active shooting in previous blog posts, we wanted to delve a little more deeply into the subject with this week’s offering.

Profile of an Active Shooter

An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

How to respond when an Active Shooter is in your Vicinity

Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.

  1. Run

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.
  1. Hide

If evacuation is not possible, nd a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to nd you. Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view.
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door).
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement.

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door.
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture.

Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.

When it is safe to do so, Call 911!

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door.
  • Silence your cell phone and/or pager.
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions).
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain quiet

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Remain calm.
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location.
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
  1.  Fight

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

How to respond when law enforcement arrives:

The purpose of law enforcement is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.

  • Officers usually arrive in teams of four.
  • Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets and other tactical equipment.
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and hand guns.
  • Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
  • Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.

How to react when law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises.

Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operator:

  • Location of the active shooter
  • Number of shooters, if more than one
  • Physical description of shooter/s
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
  • Number of potential victims at the location

The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Use the following worksheet to make sure you have easy access to any information you might need in the event of an active shooter incident or another type of emergency:

Emergency Numbers

Emergency Services: 911

Local Emergency Information Line: ___________________________________

Local Police Department: ___________________________________________

Local Hospital: ___________________________________________________

Local FBI Field Office: ______________________________________________

Facility Security: __________________________________________________

Facility Address: __________________________________________________

Floor: __________________________________________________________

Suite/Room: _____________________________________________________

Office #: ________________________________________________________

Ext. ___________________________________________________________

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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