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

Don’t Drive Yourself to Distraction

Woman_Distracted_Driving“One text or call could wreck it all” is the slogan for the 2014 Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, which runs through the month of April. According to Distraction.Gov, in 2012, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes, which makes the practice of driving while doing virtually anything else a dangerous epidemic. I guess that means it isn’t good to eat bacon while driving. Bummer.

Since the most effective way to end distracted driving is education, we are devoting this blog post to inform our friends and subscribers about the hazards of this dangerous practice. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. I guess I should be glad dogs aren’t allowed to drive. It seems tempting to drive while distracted. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Some of these include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming (Save this for the groomer!)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video (That includes RJWestmore Training System videos!)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Although each of the above activities is dangerous while driving, text messaging is the most alarming distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention of the driver.

In support of National Distracted Driving month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has planned a number of activities. The first is a national, highly visible enforcement campaign for distracted driving, called U Drive. U Text. U Pay.  Who knew that avoiding distracted driving can help your budget? Throughout the month of April, public service announcements and commercials will appear in English and Spanish on television, radio and in digital advertising.

Phone in One HandAs one might guess, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is reportedly the under-20 age group. In fact, 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 who are involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, 30- to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement. Kids seem to think they are the exception to the rule. But no one can concentrate when they are distracted.

The NHTSA has also developed a robust social media strategy to raise public awareness about the consequences of texting and driving. Focusing on the idea that “If you’re texting, you’re not driving,” the campaign has been designed to engage the target audience of men and women ages 18-34.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to avoid curling your hair or applying mascara or preparing pork chops while you drive, you may be surprised to learn that even hands-free activities can put you at risk when you’re behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council and Distraction.Gov:

  • The #1 cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S. is car crashes.
  • About 100 people die each day in car crashes in the United States.
  • Up to 90% of all automobile accidents are a result of driver-error.
  • About 26% of all car crashes involve cellphone use (even hands-free).
  • At any given moment, 9% of drivers are talking on cellphones. That’s why I prefer the Twilight Bark.
  • Although the human brain toggles between two tasks, it cannot do two things at the same time.
  • The activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening or talking on a phone.
  • Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them while talking on any kind of a cellphone.
  • New studies show that using voice-to-text is MORE distracting than typing texts by hand. Now, that’s surprising!
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

When you drive, remember the Essential Trio of Requirements for Safe Driving include:

  1. Eyes (not paws) on the road
  2. Hands on the wheel
  3. Mind on driving

Paradoxically, passengers do not pose a serious threat to drivers for the following reasons:

  • A passenger is a second set of eyes.
  • Passengers are able to recognize when traffic is challenging, and stop talking as a result.
  • A passenger is able to spot and even point out road hazards.

Now that you understand the risks associated with distracted driving, here is something you can do about it. Take the pledge to keep roadways safe by driving cell-free. Since distracted driving laws vary by state, check out what the regulations are in your region. I’m going to take it. Will you?

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system 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 | April 15, 2014

April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism Corp 2As an interested firedog, I find it fascinating that autistic people sometimes react more favorably to animals than to people. It shows that they have good taste. But I want to make sure readers know that I share my own thoughts in this post not in any way to make light of autism, but as a means of supporting those who deal with this very serious condition themselves or with people that they love.

Each April, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Autism Speaks promote Autism awareness month. And though this is always an important event in the wellness community, this year is particularly poignant in light of updated Autism data recently released:

Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, said. “As prevalence continues to rise, we are now calling on the international community to turn awareness into action by supporting comprehensive strategies that address the needs of those with Autism. Only through collaboration, can we make significant progress for our families, not just in the United States, but around the globe.”

About Autism

Autism Apple SeriesAutism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – Autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.

Autism Awareness

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on Autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities increase and develop world knowledge of the Autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with Autism and is a day when individuals with Autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe. I wish my doghouse had electricity. I would have shone a blue light for Autism Awareness.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading Autism science and advocacy organization, which is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for Autism; increasing awareness of Autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with Autism and their families.

Founded in 2005 by the grandparents of a child with Autism, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. That’s a lot of money! Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. That’s a lot of walking. I approve! On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness.

RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services: Throughout the year, our training service offers an informational worksheet detailing the most effective way to deal with people who have Autism, in the event of an emergency.

  • Emergency preparedness instructions help family members as well as friends and first responders remember the proper methods for helping Autistic people, since those who care for people with Autism, or are in close contact with an autistic person, must take special precautions before, during and after any emergency.
  • What’s more, RJWestmore has a contact form for Autism Risk & Safety Management. Completing the form in advance equips first-responders with the information they need to properly assist people who have Autism.

Also, the RJWestmore Training System offers an informational PDF which is automatically sent to users who adds themselves to the Special Assistance List. The document is meant for anyone who identifies him or herself as having “any condition, temporary or permanent, that hinders or impedes the individual or others from safely evacuating.”

These individuals are encouraged to register and notify their company, the office of the building/Fire Safety Director and their Fire/Floor Warden.  They are also reminded to follow specific emergency action plan manual instructions and participate in all drills. All of these resources are provided for the safety of the affected individual as well as those in his or her community. You got to hand it to the folks at Universal. They think of everything.

Since Autistic people have unique needs associated with emergency preparedness and disaster response, here are a few tips for Families Affected by Autism

  1. Stay calm

Project a demeanor of calm during a disaster or emergency, even if doing so is difficult. Children and adults on the spectrum may sense an agitated emotional state and mimic it. Practice and prepare to project a sense of calm.

  1. Prepare for immediate needs before disaster (This is always a good idea!)

Be ready to evacuate. Make plans for getting yourself and loved ones out of your home or building (ask family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes in case evacuation routes are closed or blocked.

  1. Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers to assist in an emergency.

If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your needs with relatives, friends, and co-workers and ask for their help.

  1. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist in a disaster.

Contact local emergency information personnel long before disaster strikes. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.

  1. Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability may help in case of an emergency. 
  2. If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
  • When you dial 911, tap space bar to indicate TDD call.
  • Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
  • Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
  • Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.
  • If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog. This, too, is always a good idea.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system 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 | April 7, 2014

Happy National Public Health Week

High resolution conceptual hand print isolated with textThe CDC announced that the week of April 7, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Doesn’t sound as exciting as National Bacon Day. But, it is worth noting, nonetheless. During the first full week of April each year since 1995, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW), which is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues important to improving our nation.

This year, during the annual campaign, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are hoping to inspire everyone to be a: “Public Health Nerds,” who focus on bringing communities together to promote good health. I’ve always considered myself a firedog nerd and that’s okay because I’ve always believed that nerds are cool.

Each day of the weeklong promotion, the CDC will release a relevant image to represent the daily theme. Monday’s image pays homage to the theme, “Be healthy from the start,” supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding. From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, the message is that public health starts at home. Other daily messages will include:

Tuesday: Don’t panic. Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action.

Wednesday: Get out ahead. Prevention is now a nationwide priority.

Thursday: Eat well. The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. I sure hope pork chops are considered healthy. They’re one of my mainstays.

Friday: Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best practices for community health come from around the globe.

good health sign

The CDC hopes they’ll strike a chord with what they are referring to as their “nerd” campaign, encouraging people to track the topic using the hashtag #PHNerd. I’ll be posting my “firedogisms” this week using that hashtag. Join the conversation!

“Those of us who work in public health have the shared responsibility of communicating information to save and improve lives of Americans,” said CDC Deputy Director Judith A. Monroe, MD. “CDC’s Public Health Nerd campaign and APHA’s National Public Health Week achieve this objective by increasing awareness about health issues, which helps Americans make informed health care choices.”

Despite the dramatic progress achieved through a century of public health advancements — the elimination of polio, fluoridation of drinking water and seatbelt laws — our nation’s health falls far short of its potential.

  • The U.S. life expectancy has reached a record-high of 78, but still ranks 46th behind Japan and most of Europe.
  • A baby born in the U.S. is more likely to die before its first birthday than a child born in almost any other developed country.
  • The U.S. is among the top 10 countries that have the most people with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation’s capital are HIV-positive.
  • Disparities persist with ethnic minority populations having nearly eight times the death rate for key health conditions, such as diabetes, than that of non-minority populations.
  • Steak hasn’t yet been turned into medication. I think this is something we should spend time trying to tackle.

Next year’s public health week will be April 6-12, 2015. But you don’t have to wait for an official marketing campaign to take care of yourself. The good news is that we have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future by adopting these 10 good health habits:

  1. Eat right and drink plenty of water. I love drinking water, especially out of porcelain bowls.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
  3. Move. Maybe take your dog for a walk!
  4. Manage stress.
  5. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  6. If you’re sick, stay home.
  7. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  8. Keep your hands clean.
  9. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  10. Keep your home and workplace safe. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system 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 | March 31, 2014

More about Severe Weather: Hurricanes

hurricane fiiredogThree weeks ago, we began a series about severe weather. We interrupted that series to discuss earthquake safety. This week, we will resume our severe weather series, focusing on a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean. And we aren’t talking about disasters of the feline variety-I’m talking hurricanes. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Unfortunately, cat disasters occur all over the globe. Each year, parts of the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.

Vital Stats about Hurricanes, which can:

  • Cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
  • Produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts.
  • Create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
  • Cause floods and flying debris which are often the deadly and destructive.
  • Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.
  • Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides.
  • Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that you and your family and business associates be ready before a storm approaches. Getting to know your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

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Ten Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane:

  1. Get to know your surroundings at home and at work. You never know when and where an emergency will strike.
  2. Build three emergency kits—for work, at home and in the trunk of your vehicle.
  3. Make family and corporate communications plans.
  4. In high-rise buildings, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  5. Consider installing an emergency generator.
  6. Cover windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
  7. Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the frame.
  8. Trim leaves and branches to make sure trees and shrubs are wind resistant.
  9. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  10. Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage cans inside.

Ten Ways to Cope During a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  2. Only evacuate if you are directed by local authorities to do so.
  3. Do not use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  4. Close all interior doors and windows – secure and brace external doors.
  5. Turn off propane tanks.
  6. If instructed to do so, turn off utilities. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
  7. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water to ensure a sufficient supply of for sanitary uses such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
  8. Stay and away from windows and glass doors.
  9. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  10. Lie on the floor under a table or sturdy, secure object.

Ten Steps to Take After a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news and updates.
  2. If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross.
  3. Stay alert for extended rainfall and associated flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  4. If you were instructed to evacuate, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  5. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  6. For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
  7. Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  8. Steer clear of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to appropriate utility.
  9. Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Never use candles.
  10. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and make sure tap water has not been contaminated. When in doubt, throw it out.

Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services can take advantage of applicable educational tutorials including instructions for power outages as well as medical emergencies. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system 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 | March 24, 2014

Preparing for and Recovering from Mudslides

Mouvements de terrain - Effondrement souterrainWeeks of heavy rain in the Pacific Northwest have wreaked havoc on roads and structures. Particularly troubling are the massive mudslides which hit Washington State, leaving108 missing and at least eight dead and destroying 30 homes. According to the New York Daily News, “The rescue mission was halted as darkness set in on Sunday because conditions were deemed too dangerous.”

As search and rescue efforts continue, we would like to resume our severe weather series by focusing this week’s blog post on one of the associated risks of severe weather such as rain and snow—mudslides. Out of respect for the victims and the missing, I will eliminate my typical “firedog-isms.”

Facts about Mudslides

  • Occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope.
  • Can accompany heavy rains or follow droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or fast snowmelts.
  • May result from rapidly accumulating water which saturates rock, earth and debris.
  • Usually start at the top of steep slopes.
  • Slopes which are particularly vulnerable include any area where wildfires or human modification of the land have destroyed vegetation, during and after heavy rains.
  • In the U.S., landslides and debris flows result in 25 to 50 deaths each year.
  • Associated hazards include broken electrical, water, gas, and sewage lines that can result in injury or illness; and disrupted roadways and railways that can endanger motorists and disrupt transport and access to health care.
  • The consistency of debris flow can range from thin or thick mud to rocky mud that can forcefully carry large items.
  • When flows reach flat ground, the debris typically spreads over a broad area, and can accumulate in thick deposits that can wreak havoc in developed areas.
  • Every year, landslides in the U.S. cause roughly $3.5 billion in damage.
  • Mudslides can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.

Mudslide-Prone Areas

  • Steep slopes and areas at the bottom of slopes or canyons;
  • Spots where landslides have occurred before.
  • Slopes that have been altered for construction of buildings and roads;
  • Channels along a stream or river; and
  • Areas where surface runoff is directed.

How to Prepare for a Mudslide

  • Recognize landslide warning signs before they happen so you know what to do when they happen.
  • Before the first raindrop falls, assume that steep slopes and areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to landslides and debris flows.
  • Contact local authorities to help determine whether landslides or debris flow have occurred previously in your area.
  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for your family and business.
  • Find out about local emergency and evacuation plans, so you’ll know where to go and what to do if you are caught in a mudslide.

What to do During a Mudslide:

  • Once the storm starts, look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Stay awake and alert.
  • Watch TV or listen to the radio for warnings about intense rainfall and for information and instructions from officials.
  • Be aware of sudden increases or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. Remember; a trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.
  • If you are out and about in a storm, be alert while you’re driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If landslide or debris flow danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide.
  • Evacuate! Get out of the path of a debris flow. Move to high ground, away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for shelter and take cover.
  • If you can’t escape, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.
  • Don’t forget about your neighbors. They may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them about potential threats could save their life.

How to Recover from a Landslide

  • Stay away from the mudslide site, since flooding and additional slides may occur after the initial landslide. Floods can follow landslides and debris flow because they may have occurred as a result of the same event.
  • If it is possible to do so without entering the path of the mudslide, check for injured or trapped people near the affected area.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to authorities.
  • Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage. Damage to foundations, chimneys, or surrounding land may help you assess the safety of the area.
  • Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides in the near future.
  • Seek advice from a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk. A professional will be able to advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce landslide risk, without creating further hazard.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. 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 | March 18, 2014

Are you prepared for an earthquake?

Earthquake cracked ground floorWithin the past week, several significant earthquakes remind us that quakes strike without notice:

  • 4.4 earthquake near Westwood in LA
  • 6.9 shaker that struck just off the coast in northern California
  • 6.7-magnitude quake which shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore
  • 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the sea, about 100 miles southwest of Hiroshima

In the event a noteworthy earthquake hits and emergency personnel are unable to immediately respond to you and your colleagues, employees, family and/or friends. In fact, where earthquakes are concerned in prone geographical locations, “it’s not if, but when.” Bear in mind all regions carry risk of one type of disaster or another. So avoiding locations that have earthquakes won’t keep you from the risk of disaster. And since earthquakes happen without warning, well in advance, you have to identify the hazards around you. In other words, prepare! Where have I heard that before? Maybe in every post on my blog and tweet!

Before a Quake: Evaluate your work and home environment and diligently strive to eliminate all potential hazards.

  • Know your specific emergency plan and your role in it.
  • Familiarize yourself with a primary and secondary escape routes.
  • Make every effort to ensure your workplace is safe.
  • Study what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
  • Acquaint yourself with safe areas and stairwell exits
  • Identify and practice moving to your closest safe, drop, cover and hold locations.
  • Lower Heavy Objects
  • Install Safety Latches on Cabinets
  • Secure Tall Furniture
  • Consider what you would do if an earthquake led to power outages, fires and water leaks.
  • Maintain at least a three-day emergency supply kit at work, home and in your car.
    • Water
    • High-calorie, long-shelf life snack bars
    • First Aid Kit, including prescriptions and glasses (and don’t forget medications for your pets)
    • Solar blankets
    • Hat
    • Gloves
    • Sturdy tennis shoes
    • Whistle
    • Emergency out-of-state contact information (since family and friends in your location may also have experienced the quake and so could be unavailable)
    • Hand-crank flashlight and radio (so you aren’t dependent on batteries)
    • Dog food and treats
    • For a complete list of emergency supplies, check out subscriber information on the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services or Ready.Gov.

If a Quake Hits

Inside

  • Stay calm and remember that life safety is always the first priority.
  • Act quickly to protect yourself and your peeps and pups.
  • If you’re in an elevator, sit on the floor, against the wall, and wait for the shaking to stop. In the event of an earthquake, the elevator should temporarily stop and then move to the nearest floor, where the doors will open.
  • If you are inside a building, move away from windows, pictures, and glass partitions to keep yourself out of reach of flying glass. I didn’t know glass could fly. Seems like an unstable form of transportation.
  • Drop to the ground and duck under a safe, sturdy desk, table or other sturdy object so you are safe from falling debris.
  • Lean forward and cover the back of your head and neck. This would take gymnastics moves for a canine.
  • Hold on and be prepared to move along with the furniture, which could be jostled during the shaking.
  • If you can’t find anything to quickly duck under, sit with your back against an interior wall.
  • Stay put until you are certain the shaking has stopped.
  • Since most people are killed and injured in earthquakes because they are hit with falling objects outside, DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE!
  • If you are in a high-rise building, floor wardens will be surveying damage, setting up a triage area and collecting resources, listening to emergency radio reports for instructions and dealing with associated debris that could interfere with safe evacuation.
  • Be aware that fires can break out as a result of an earthquake.
  • Keep your eyes open for post-earthquake fires, water leaks and electrical shorts.
  • Anticipate possible power outages.

Outside

  • If you are outside when the quake hits, find a clear area away from anything that could potentially fall.
  • If you’re outside, on a sidewalk—near buildings, duck into a doorway.
  • If you’re driving, pull over and stop.
  • When the shaking stops, be prepared for aftershocks, which are likely.

After the Earthquake

  • Stay calm.
  • If you are trapped in debris, tap on metal or anything that will attract search parties.
  • Use a flashlight to signal rescuers. Shout only as a last resort.
  • Quickly survey the area to make sure you are far away from major hazards.
  • Listen to your emergency radio for relevant information.
  • Use your cell phone for emergencies only. Would ordering pizza count?
  • Be prepared to function in the dark, in the event power is lost.
  • Avoid unnecessary movements, which could stir up dust and make breathing difficult.
  • DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME (In other words—don’t smoke!)
  • DO NOT turn on electrical switches, which could produce sparks and lead to a fire. This is particularly important if you smell gas.
  • Do not move seriously injured people or provide medical care beyond your level of training, unless their location puts them in immediate danger. If possible, wait for emergency personnel to arrive on scene.
  • Do not evacuate until the shaking stops and it is safe to do so.
  • Widespread damage may make traveling more hazardous than sheltering in place.
  • If you are unsure whether you should stay or go, wait to evacuate until you have been instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
  • Once you are sure it is safe to evacuate or you have been told to do so by officials, remain calm; avoid elevators; and use handrails to guide you down stairwells.
  • Before opening any doors, use the back of your hand to check for signs of fire-such as heat emanating from doors.
  • Proceed to your designated safe area and check in.
  • DO NOT attempt to reenter the building until officials tell you it is safe to do so by facility personnel or emergency responders.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. 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 | March 11, 2014

Tornadoes–Severe Weather

vector illustration of kawaii tornadoes which is eating houseLast week, we launched a series about preparing for severe weather. This week, we will focus on one of the most chilling of all severe weather storms—tornadoes. Tornados can cause flash floods, lightning, and winds up to 140 miles per hour. What’s more, tornadoes can produce hail stones as big as grapefruit. I don’t care for grapefruit. So I would rather say hail can be as large as a pork roast. Tornadoes occasionally develop in areas where a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect, and they may strike with little or no warning.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, they can cause fatalities and devastate neighborhood in mere seconds. Initially, a tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. According to Ready.Gov, damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. That’s a whole lot of damage.

Did you know that every state in the union is at some risk from this hazard? Admittedly, some states are at greater risk than others. While many tornadoes are clearly visible, rain or nearby low-hanging clouds can obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately. Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris. So remember to protect your head! You might even want to consider wearing a helmet at all times. Then again, that might be a little drastic.

Before a Tornado:

  • Look for danger signs such as dark, greenish skies; large hail; a large, dark low-lying cloud (particularly if it is rotating); or a loud roar reminiscent of an approaching freight train. It would be difficult to sleep through that.
  • Listen to radio and television for updates.
  • Keep a map nearby to follow storm movement.
  • Secure a battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) All Hazard Radio.
  • Stay away from windows. My doghouse doesn’t have any windows.
  • If an underground shelter is unavailable, move to an area that puts as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.
  • Move to the lowest floor of the building.
  • Do not stay in a car or motor home.
  • Sit underneath a sturdy piece of furniture. Dogs do this all of the time.
  • Cover yourself with thick padding, such as a mattress or blanket, and use your arms to protect your head and neck from debris.

Description of tornado states of alert:

  • A “Tornado Watch” denotes that tornadoes are possible for your area. Remain alert.
  • A “Tornado Warning” means a tornado has been sighted, or its presence is indicated by weather radar. In the event of an alert, finding shelter is imperative. Sirens are activated in response to warnings.

During a Tornado:

Outside

  • Try to get inside and seek a small protected space devoid of windows.
  • Avoid large-span roof areas such as school gymnasiums, arenas, or shopping malls.
  • If you cannot get inside, crouch for protection beside a strong structure or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing. Crouching is another thing that dogs do naturally.

In a Car

  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter.
  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. I really should get a driver’s license. It seems like cars provide lots of protection.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Inside

  • When a tornado warning has been issued, you may have very little time to prepare. How you respond now is critical. And how you react depends on where you are.
  • If you’re inside a house, make sure you have a portable, battery-operated or hand-crank radio on hand.
  • Seek shelter in the lowest level of your home (basement or storm cellar). If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room, or a closet. Keep away from all windows.
  • You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but never use one to cover yourself. Cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass.
  • Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier. We will appreciate the extra protection.
  • Multiple tornadoes can emerge from the same storm, so do not go out until the storm has passed.
  • Don’t leave a building in a vain attempt to escape a tornado.
  • If you are in a manufactured (mobile) home, leave immediately and take shelter elsewhere.

After a tornado

  • Injuries can occur in the aftermath of a tornado, during cleanup or rescue attempts, from exposed nails or broken glass. Wear sturdy shoes, gloves and long sleeves.
  • Be careful entering any structure that has been damaged by a tornado.
  • Don’t touch downed power lines or objects that are in contact with power lines.
  • Beware of open flames. Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to light homes without electricity.
  • If your home has been damaged, shut off electrical power to avoid natural gas and propane tanks from catching fire.
  • If you see damaged electrical wires, tell authorities. Make sure your canine companions don’t chew on loose cords.
  • Cooperate with public safety officials and respond to requests for assistance from emergency responders. However, do not go into damaged areas unless your assistance is requested.

Measuring damage on the EF-scale

  1. You’ve probably heard a tornado described as “an F3″ or “barely an F0.”
  2. The “F” comes from the Fujita scale, developed by T. Theodore Fujita in 1971.
  3. The 2004 update of the system came with a new name: the Enhanced F-scale or EF-scale, which measures estimated tornado wind speeds based on the damage they cause.
  4. To determine where a tornado falls on the EF-scale, surveyors look at the damage in its wake. Investigators examine 28 types of free-standing structures to see how much damage they sustained.
  5. Based on all the damage, the National Weather Service can estimate the wind speed of the tornado itself and put it on the EF-scale.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. 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 | March 4, 2014

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

?????????????????????????????????????????Welcome to National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which runs from March 2nd to the 8th, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Calling on individuals across the country to prepare for severe weather and to encourage others to do the same, the national campaign slogan is: Be a Force of Nature. I consider myself a force of nature because I am a dog for all seasons.

No matter which part of the country you call home, your geographic location poses inherent weather risks—tornado, hurricane, typhoon, thunderstorms, floods, blizzards, snowstorms, water spouts, tropical cyclones, ice storms and dust storms…to name a few. To minimize your risk of severe weather-damage, familiarize yourself with your region’s particular weather-risks so you can prepare accordingly. For example, NOAA National Weather Service Director, Dr. Louis Uccellini, warns residents of tornado-prone areas:

“With the devastation of last year’s tornadoes fresh in our minds and springtime almost here, I urge individuals to become weather-ready now. Make sure you have multiple ways to access forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service before severe weather strikes.”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate agrees, “Being ready today can make a big difference for you when disaster strikes. It only takes a few minutes. Talk with your family and agree to a family plan. Learn easy steps on how to prepare at Ready.gov and find out how your community can take action in America’s PrepareAthon through drills, group discussions and community exercises.”

In the coming weeks, we will focus on preparation and response for various forms of severe weather emergencies. In the meantime, for every type of severe weather emergency, the national severe weather safety message is a simple, three-pronged approach: know your risk, take action, be an example.

Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Sign up for weather alerts and check the weather forecast regularly.

Take Action: Be prepared for severe weather.

  1. Your family may not be together when a storm strikes.
  2. Plan how you will contact one another by developing your family communication plan.
  3. Put together an emergency kit.
  4. Store important papers and valuables in a safe place.
  5. Visit Ready.gov/severe-weather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.
  6. Subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, where you will find loads of great, easy-to-understand instructions for disaster preparation.
  7. Store lots of pork chops and bacon in your freezer—just in case you run out of food after a thunderstorm and need to feed the dog.

Be an Example: Once you have taken action, tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same.

  1. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. For example, I use my blog, RJtheFireDog.com and Twitter account @RJtheFireDog to alert people to weather and other hazards.
  2. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and share the steps you took to become weather-ready.
  3. You can download apps, sign up for email or text notifications, watch informational videos on YouTube and even subscribe to the new NOAA and FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) project, a new text-like message system, which is part of a national effort to increase emergency preparedness and build a Weather-Ready Nation. Last year, millions of individuals across the country received WEAs with life-saving weather warnings via their cell phone. These geographically-targeted emergency alerts alert people to weather warnings they would not have otherwise received. And, as a result, many people took life-saving action. To sign up, visit www.Ready.gov/Alerts.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. 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 | February 25, 2014

Reemerging Measles Epidemic Worries Health Officials

Boy with the measlesOn the heels of a record-setting flu season (278 deaths confirmed to date), health officials warn that another infectious virus has reemerged. Officials report that, already so far this year, 15 Californians have come down with a disease that was thought to have been eradicated by vaccine— Measles. Canine Distemper is similar to Measles, but dogs can’t catch the human variety.

Measles, also known as Rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is a virus which causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough, and runny nose. Though rare in the United States, 20 million cases occur worldwide every year.

Signs and Symptoms

While Measles is probably best known for the associated full-body rash, the first symptoms are typically a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever and red eyes. Characteristic markers of Measles are small red spots with bluish white centers that appear inside the mouth. The rash itself typically has a red or reddish brown blotchy appearance, and first usually shows up on the forehead, then spreads downward over the face, neck, and body, then down to the arms and feet. Measles doesn’t sound too attractive or comfortable.

measles firedog cdc

  • Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2012, there were 122 000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.
  • In 2012, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
  • Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012.
  • Although bacon can’t cure Measles, I think bacon improves every situation. So my advice is if you get the Measles, eat a pound.

Unfortunately, Measles is highly contagious. In fact, 90% of people who have not been vaccinated will contract it if they live with an infected person. Measles is spread when someone comes in direct contact with infected droplets such as when someone sneezes or coughs. A person with Measles is contagious from 1 to 2 days before symptoms start until about 4 days after the rash appears.

The Los Angeles Times reports that epidemiologists say we’re off to “a bad year.” To wit, this same time last year, there had been only two Measles cases.

The California Department of Public Health reported illnesses in six counties:

  • Five in Los Angeles County
  • Three each in Orange and Riverside counties
  • Four combined in the Bay Area’s Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties.

Although none of the reported cases have been fatal, Measles can be deadly. Authorities remain concerned that more people than reported may have been exposed. In fact, fears have emerged that thousands of people might have been exposed when a Measles-infected UC Berkeley student traveled on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. That’s why I don’t take public transportation. I prefer walking…everywhere!

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 — meaning that it no longer circulated. Nevertheless, people here can still contract the virus while traveling to locations where Measles is common, since it is airborne.

The two-part Measles immunization, which is given to kids at six months and four years old, is said to provide protection 99% of the time. According to Dr. Kathleen Harriman of the Public Health Department, said, “Fewer than 3% of California schoolchildren use the exemption.”

The reason some opt out of the vaccines, by citing exemption due to ‘personal beliefs,’ is largely due to a myth that the vaccine is dangerous. No one has died of Measles in California this year, but the illness can be deadly in cases with complications, officials said. The public health department urged people who have not had Measles or received two doses of the Measles vaccine to get immunized before traveling outside of the Americas, where the disease is under control.

Since Measles is easily eliminated with the vaccines, it only makes sense to agree to them. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. 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 | February 19, 2014

What’s New About the Flu?

咳エチケットWith the incidences of reported flu cases across the country officially reaching epidemic proportions, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine as the best means of defense. In the meantime, health officials are scrambling to cope with the outbreak. To date this year, 50 children have died from the flu, with hundreds of adult deaths reported across the country from the virus and associated complications. The illness has sickened more than 6,600, which is the number of lab-confirmed flu cases nationwide. Health officials estimate actual infection rates are much higher. Unfortunately, The University of Texas reports that this year’s strain can also affect pets.

Flu Facts.com describes influenza as: “a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. The virus usually enters the body through mucus membranes in the mouth, nose, or eyes. When a person with the flu coughs or sneezes, the virus then becomes airborne and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. You can also get the flu if you’ve touched a contaminated surface like a telephone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth. Of course, the risk of infection is greater in highly populated areas like schools, buses, crowded urban settings and kennels.

sick puppy

Here are Some More Facts about the Flu

  • Flu season typically peaks in the United States between October and March, with February historically its most active month. February is coincidently my favorite month to eat bacon, followed closely by January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
  • Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a number of flu viruses, including H1N1, which killed 284,000 people worldwide in 2009 and 2010.
  • A Wausau, Wisconsin man, aged 43, died just this week from H1N1, after being sent home with from his doctor’s office with instructions to drink plenty of fluids and rest.
  • Between 5 percent and 20 percent of people living in the U.S. get the flu each year.
  • Symptoms can be mild or severe and include fever, a cough, sore throat, weakness, headache and aches and pains in the joints and muscles around the eyes. You might not realize that the stomach flu is an entirely different virus than the one we’re talking about here.
  • Serious complications include (but are not limited to) bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration or worsening of chronic health conditions.
  • To date, since October 1, 2013, the CDC has documented 1,583 laboratory-confirmed cases.
  • Although there is currently no vaccine created specifically for the current strain of H1N1, getting an annual flu shot remains the first line of defense against the virus.
  • The virus is widespread in Oklahoma, Arkansas, New York, Texas, Connecticut and Kansas.
  • To be considered an epidemic, influenza and pneumonia must kill above 7.3 percent.

“We’re seeing pretty substantial increases in activity, but they’re not unexpected,” Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the flu division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We see pockets of high activity in several states and pockets of low activity in others, but we expect every state will get hit.”

Antiviral treatment is an after-the-fact recommendation for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza, who are:

  • Hospitalized
  • Have experienced complications
  • Have a progressive illness
  • Are at higher risk for complications
  • Are adversely affected to illness. I would qualify in this group.

The New York Times reports that scientists are reducing the uncertainty of flu outbreak prediction by using computer models. Last year, one team carried out flu forecasts in real time. Now, they are making predictions about the current outbreak. If you are curious about your geographic location, check out their predictions for yourself. Another helpful tool for finding outbreak locations is the site, FluNearYou.org

Hospitals and public health workers could someday use flu forecasting to prepare vaccine supplies and ready hospital beds. The advanced warning would be useful not only for the regular seasonal flu, but also for pandemics (new strain sweeping across the country and causing higher-than-normal rates of disease and death). I think the only thing that should sweep the nation is a broom!

How Flu Vaccines Work

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus. That is all a mouthful. But the bottom line is that doctors are working to create a vaccine for the specific strain affecting folks today.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. 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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