October is National Ergonomics Month. That’s a weird word. Calling attention to the importance of effective work environments, the campaign is meant to help refine office product design for maximum health and safety. Concentrating mostly on efficient construction and use of office chairs, desks, computers and keyboards, the field of applied ergonomics is crucial. I wonder if my doghouse is ergonomic. Continue reading “Happy National Ergonomics Month”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has earmarked September as National Preparedness Month. The annual awareness campaign is designed to encourage individuals and businesses to proactively plan for disasters. The need for awareness is crucial. Nearly three-quarters of Americans report they are worried about natural disasters, terror attacks, or serious accidents affecting their communities. And most admit they aren’t adequately prepared for such calamities. That’s a shame. Continue reading “Happy National Preparedness Month”
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has earmarked September as National Food Safety Month. The campaign is designed to keep American people and pets healthy. Every year, 48 million get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of eating contaminated food. Dogs are also prone to suffer from food poisoning. While anyone may experience symptoms associated with foodborne illness, certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing far more serious conditions if they eat tainted food: pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. The best way to combat food poisoning is to avoid contracting it in the first place – no matter your age, species or health status. Continue reading “Happy Food Safety Month!”
A 2018 Gallup poll reveals that 35 percent of parents fear for their child’s safety at school. That represents a 24 percent increase over the way they felt in 2017. What’s more, a near-record-high 20 percent report that their child has expressed similar fears. I often worry about JR when he’s at Puppy Kindergarten. Since preparation is crucial for improving peace of mind for parents as well as children (and puppies), before your kids (and pups) head back to school, remind them to take the following steps so they will be safe while they are on the road, in the classroom, on a field, or traveling between classes: Continue reading “Back to School Safety 2019”
“Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.” ~Anne Wilson Schaef
Wise words indeed. Inspired by that wisdom, Wellness Month was created “to inspire consumers to focus on wellbeing.” The August observance promotes the process of assessing and potentially improving emotional and physical health. Few would argue the value of investing in improving self-health. For the record, I would also argue daily consumption of bacon. Continue reading “Happy National Wellness Month”
Summer is a great time to spend time in the sun. But while you’re enjoying summer fun, take steps to make sure you’re careful in extreme heat. According to the National Weather Service, heat is a leading weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses. Extremely hot and humid weather challenges human and canine bodies’ability to cool themselves. When a body heats too rapidly to properly cool itself, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises. If this occurs, the victim may develop a heat-related illness. Continue reading “Extreme Heat Safety”
July is National Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, enjoy summer fun in the sun. But also protect yourself from harmful rays which candamage your skin and eyes in just 15 minutes. I would hate to develop age spots because they might clash with the spots I already have!The American Cancer Society reports that exposure to electromagnetic radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and welding torches leads to cancer, not to mention pre-mature aging. Other harmful effects from UV exposure include vision problems and immune-suppression. In all cases, your first line of defense is coverage. Personally, I recommend fur for coverage. Continue reading “Happy UV Safety Awareness Month”
In honor of National Safety Month, we want to focus on a topic we hold dear to our hearts at the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services– high-rise fire safety. According to the most recent study published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 14,500 structure fires per year in high-rise buildings.These fires cause (on average) 40 civilian deaths, 520 civilian injuries, and lead to $154 million of property damage each year. Fire response is critical because fire is one of the most common emergencies following earthquakes, explosions, terrorism, power surges and other natural and manmade disasters. Continue reading “High-Rise Fire Safety “
June is National Safety Month. Developed in 1996 by the National Safety Council (NSC), the annual observance is designed to help eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, as well as on the road, through leadership, research, education and advocacy. While safety is paramount in every aspect of life, the NSC focuses their efforts on these core safety areas: work, road and home. So, in the interest of brevity, we will do the same. Although, I would like to have seen “doghouse safety” included in the list. Continue reading “Happy National Safety Month”
Arthritis is a debilitating condition which affects more than 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the United States. In hopes of providing help for the millions afflicted, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation mark each May as National Arthritis Awareness Month. No cure exists yet for either of the two main diagnostic categories: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). However, medication can help ease both diseases into remission. The Canine Health Foundation reports that 20 percent of adult dogs suffer from canine arthritis. Continue reading “Arthritis Month”
Global Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM) is an international observance of health and fitness in the workplace during the month of May. The goal is to promote the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle to employers and their employees through worksite health promotion activities. Sponsored by MINDBODY, the campaign began in 1989, to promote the value of investing in employee health. Sounds like a good idea to me!
Workplace wellness takes many forms. So, the final program may look different from one organization to another. Your workplace wellness plan should be tailored to reflect the culture of your organization in the way that will most likely encourage your employees to stay healthy and fit. The Office of Disease & Health Promotion at Health.Gov lists five reasons wellness is worth the investment: Continue reading “May is Health & Fitness Month”
Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month was instituted in April 1997 to commemorate the birth month of Dr. James Parkinson, the first man to formally identify the disease in 1817. His piece, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, remains one of the defining studies on the chronic, progressive condition that affects 7-10 million people, worldwide. The disease can be attributed to a variety of genetic, environmental, and age-related factors. This year’s campaign theme is #KeyToPD, which stresses that awareness is key toward working on a world without Parkinson’s disease. Continue reading “Parkinson’s Disease Awareness”
(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Americans drive 3.2 trillion miles per year. That’s a lot of miles!Over that same time period, U.S. consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages. That’s a lot of texts!The problem is that many people combine the mutually exclusive activities. The result is as deadly as it is dangerous. Dogs can’t text or drive because we lack opposable thumbs. In our ongoing efforts to promote and share safety-related content, we began a two-part series about the dangers of distracted driving in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The series discusses the risks associated with this dangerous yet popular habit and offers tips to discourage the behavior. Click here to read part one. Continue reading “10 Tips For Distraction-Free Driving”
Americans drive 3.2 trillion miles per year. Over that same time period, U.S. consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages. The problem is that many people combine the mutually exclusive activities. The result is as deadly as it is dangerous. In fact, distracted driving led to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries last year. Most dogs I know prefer to focus on one task at a time – preferably eating. Continue reading “Arrive Alive (Distraction-Free Driving)”
Advancements in automated technology delivers everything from smart phones and houses to smart cars. I’ve even heard they make smart doghouses! I want one! Boasting rearview cameras, BluetoothTMand more, new vehicles do everything short of steering themselves. What’s more, many new autos use small pieces of hardware – key fobs – containing built-in authentication which locks and grants access to vehicles with the press of a button or proximity to door handle. While these entry methods ease locking and unlocking vehicles, they could also lock out owners and provide unauthorized access. Continue reading “Be Safe with your Key Fob”
People in the United States are living longer than ever before. The upside to longer lives is better medical care and quality of life. The downside to longevity is the emergence of several age-related medical conditions, many of which impact eyesight. Millions of dogs also suffer from eye conditions. Consider these stats compiled by the National Eye Institute (NEI): Continue reading “Happy Low Vision Awareness Month”
In Santa Ana, California, corporate headquarters for the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, heavy rains have fallen. Winds have gusted. Mud has slid. And temps have dipped below freezing. To Southern Californians, this weather feels extreme. In contrast, those who live in the Midwest and East Coast are facing frigid temps on an entirely different level. In fact, at least 21 people have died as a result of bitter Arctic weather known as the Polar Vortex. This weather takes cold to the ultimate extreme, much like bacon takes pork products to new heights.
What is a Polar Vortex
The media coined the term Polar Vortex in 2014 during a particularly frigid storm system. I think I’ll coin the term “cat vortex” to describe feline activity year round. It refers to a large pocket of very cold air (typically the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere) which sits over the polar region during the winter season. Located six miles up in the atmosphere, the 2019 system has blasted much of the American Midwest and Northeast with temperatures cold enough to bring on frostbite within minutes.
How to Be Safe in Cold Weather
Whether you are impacted by the Polar Vortex or not, you should take steps to be safe in cold weather by following these tips:
- Stay Inside
One of the most important things you can do isstay inside as much as possible. Also, bring pets inside. We fare better because of our coats, freezing temps can be dangerous for us, too. Pay attention to weather service warnings. The coldest part of the day is typically early morning. So, whenever possible, stay home.
- Prepare Your Car
Don’t let cold weather catch you off guard. In advance of storms or approaching cold fronts, get your car ready for cold weather use.
- Service the radiator.
- Maintain antifreeze level.
- Check tire tread. And, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
- Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
- Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. If applicable, include items for pets in your kit.
- Stay Warm
- If you must go outside, cover hands with mittens to keep fingers together. If you have paws, you probably don’t need mittens. But some owners use booties. I’m not a fan. This also traps additional heat more effectively than gloves, which separate fingers.
- Layer loose-fitting and lightweight clothing under outer clothing. Select tightly woven knits and water-repellent material. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton.
- Avoid activities that would lead to perspiration. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause the body to quickly lose heat. Generally, I love activities that make me sweat. But I am a dog.
- Watch for Frostbite
This dangerous condition occurs when the tissue just below the skin freeze. The extremities such as fingers, toes, nose, ears and paws are most likely to be affected, but any exposed area skin is susceptible. If skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb, seek medical attention immediately.
- Identify Hypothermia
This occurs when the body loses heat faster than it is able to produce heat. This leads to dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Hypothermia can occur when a person or animal’s body temperature falls below 95 degrees.Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech or difficulty speaking, confusion or memory loss, sleepiness, stiff muscles,slow and shallow breathing, weak pulse and clumsiness, or lack of coordination. In infants, you may also spot bright red and cold skin.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
In every kind of weather, we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
The 2019 flu season is well underway. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that six to seven million people have suffered one strain of influenza or another already this season. DogFlu.com reports two strains of dog influenza appearing in virtually every state. The CDC puts the number of (human strains) of flu-related hospitalizations, nationwide, between 69,000 and 84,000 people. With flu activity expected to continue in the coming weeks and months, we are focusing this week’s blog post on the preemptive measures you can take to stay healthy and avoid this unwelcome harbinger of winter.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by various strains of influenza viruses. Symptoms range from mild to severe, with serious outcomes resulting in hospitalization or even death. Certain people groups, such as the elderly, young children or anyone who has a compromised immune system face an increased risk of serious flu-related complications. Even relatively healthy people prefer to skip the virus altogether. Yeah, the flu (canine or the human variety) isn’t fun.
- Muscle or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose (This is difficult to manage in the canine strain, since dogs don’t have opposable thumbs, so we can’t use facial tissue.)
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
- Click here for a link further explaining symptoms of canine influenza.
Although the flu and colds are respiratory illnesses, they are brought on by different viruses. Both viruses impact the upper respiratory system and share similar symptoms. As a result, suffers often struggle to tell the difference between the two. Most of the time, when it’s a cold, people are able to suffer through a runny or stuffy nose and rebound in a week. With the flu, symptoms are typically more intense and have the potential to lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.
How to Avoid Catching the Flu:
- Avoid close contact with sick people or puppies. If you must share airspace with them, wear a mask, whichmay help block airborne germs and prevent the transmission of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose. This seems wise for preventing the spread of other illnesses, too. Just a thought.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have access to a tissue, sneeze into your sleeve to limit the spread of germs.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and hot water. If neither is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. I’m not a fan of hand sanitizer because it makes my fur wet.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to limit the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
- The CDC recommends getting the flu shot. Although several strains of flu exist, the injection combats many.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
All year long we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
Studies show that individuals waste up to an hour each day searching for misplaced items. But disorganization sucks more than just valuable time if disaster strikes. When chaos breaks loose, every second matters, leaving you with precious little time to search for important stuff. I always forget where I buried my bones. I guess I should work on that. Organizing today will enable you quickly locate what you need at critical times, leading to more satisfactory outcomes during a crisis.
Studies show that individuals waste up to an hour each day searching for misplaced items. But disorganization sucks more than just valuable time if disaster strikes. When chaos breaks loose, every second matters, leaving you with precious little time to search for important stuff. Organizing today will enable you quickly locate what you need at critical times, leading to more satisfactory outcomes during a crisis.
The Association of Professional Coordinators (APC) founded National Get Organized Month in 2005 in an effort to increase awareness about the significance of organization. As the leader in training commercial building tenants for fire safety and emergency certification, we use this month-long observance to focus on providing best practices and organization strategies that improve outcomes for building occupants in the event of an emergency.
While no one wants to think about disaster, being prepared helps to reduce negative outcomes. Preparing “Go Bags” and emergency kits in advance of an emergency sets you up to respond efficiently and keep a cool head during an emergency. For 2019, to help you stay safe and be prepared, we have put together guidelines to prepping and organizing Go Bags and emergency kits. I don’t have much room for storage space in my doghouse. Maybe a fanny pack?
Go Bag Ideas
A Go Bag is filled with personal emergency items which are self-contained and easy to grab-on-the-go in the event a fireman, police officer or other first responder instructs you to evacuate. Bags usually include items such as prescriptions, food, water and extra clothing to get you through the first few critical days following a disaster.
A backpack or other easy-to-carry case or bags make an ideal a Go Bag since there is the potential you might have to carry it. Keep “portable” and “lightweight” in mind and when selecting the necessary contents. Additionally, remember to label your bag with your name and address in case you and your necessities get separated.
- Extra batteries
- Small first-aid kit
- Cellphone with chargers
- Whistle, to signal for help
- Pocket knife
- Emergency cash in small denominations (quarters for phone calls and a prepaid phone card in case cell towers are down)
- Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes for different weather contingencies and a warm hat
- Local and regional maps (you may not have access to online versions)
- Water and food (snacks and a few bottles of water) Don’t forget pet food!
- Recent photos of each family member for identification purposes
- List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
- List of allergies to drugs (especially antibiotics) and/or food
- Copy of health insurance and identification cards
- Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aids or other vital health-related items
- Prescription medications
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Extra keys to your house and car
- Special-needs items for children, seniors or disabled family members
Don’t forget about your pets! They need a Go Bag too.
- Sturdy leashes and pet carriers
- One-week supply of their food
- Potable water and medicine for at least one week
- Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid
- Plastic bags, litter box and litter
- Recent photo of each pet
- Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
- Copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical history
Emergency Supplies Kit Ideas
While a Go Bag is typically meant for you if you need to “bug out,” an emergency kit is designed to use while you are on the scene of a disaster and in the event you need to Shelter in Place (SIP). Although many of the recommended items overlap, an emergency kit is not necessarily as portable. Designed to sustain you until help can arrive, an emergency kit will typically include more first-aid related items as well as larger quantities of food and water. Since a first-aid kit is so much larger than a Go Bag, contents should be stored in a large, clean, unused trash can or covered plastic container. I also recommend keeping dog food in these.
The following are recommended items to include in your emergency kit:
- Nonperishable food
- If you have an infant or young child (or puppy), be sure to include diapers, formula and child-specific medication.
- Water, enough to sustain your family for at least three days.
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Battery-operated or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape for using during certain types of SIP contingencies.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties and personal toiletries
- Permanent marker, paper, pencils or pens and tape
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Butane lighter and matches (stored in a waterproof container)
- A well-stocked first-aid kit. At a minimum you need wound cleansing and dressing supplies, eyewash and burn treatment bandages.
- Emergency reference material such as a first-aid book or information
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person and appropriate to your climate.
- Fire extinguisher
- Identification and bank account records kept in a waterproof, portable container
- Bacon (I admit it won’t store well. But what could be better in an emergency?)
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
All year long we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
If your holiday plans include travel, you aren’t alone. Auto Club reports that 54 million people travel between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And the word on the street is that many people plan to travel with their pets! The most popular mode of transportation? Hitting the open road. But millions opt to fly the friendly skies. Whatever method you plan to use to get from Point A to Point B, make sure you take steps to be safe:
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 are over, the holiday shopping frenzy is far from done. In fact, Nielsen projects that seasonal sales will top $923 billion, with $106 billion in purchases expected to originate online. Unfortunately, holiday shopping breeds crime. In fact, a recent survey reveals that most scams and package theft, worldwide, occur during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. So, how can you shut down the Grinch? Follow these tips for a safe holiday shopping season. Continue reading “Shopping Safely Online & In Real Life”
The holidays are upon us, and with them, opportunities abound to enjoy celebrations with family, neighbors, colleagues, canines and friends. As you plan your 2018 holiday season, please consider these office safety tips, designed to help you safely make the most of this festive time of the year. Continue reading “Holiday Office Safety Tips”
The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends over delicious food and drinks (make mine water). But be careful to incorporate safety precautions into your meal prep to help keep everyone you love in good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 48 million people get sick; 128,000 are hospitalized; and 3,000 people die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Continue reading “Holiday Food Safety”
Each area of the United States is susceptible to certain types of natural disasters. Whether they morph into full-blown catastrophes depends on what we do now to prepare, survive and recover. One potential disaster that threatens millions of Americans each year is earthquakes. To help people prepare, FEMA sponsors an annual campaign designed to inspire ShakeOut drills each October. Continue reading “International ShakeOut Day October 18”
National Fire Prevention Week: “Look. Listen. Learn.”
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson announced the first ever event to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred in October of 1874. Each October since 1924, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has led the annual charge to implement National Fire Prevention Week™. This year’s observance takes place this week, with the theme, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere™.” I guess that includes doghouses! Continue reading “Happy National Fire Prevention Week”
This week, as we remember our emergency first responders who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy, we ramp up to honor some additional unsung heroes — security professionals. Don’t forget about guard dogs!
Security officers, who strive to help maintain safe and secure workplaces, schools, shopping malls and communities, deserve heartfelt appreciation. Hard-working, highly trained men and women, security officers are counted among our country’s first responders. These individuals deter crime, lead evacuations, provide information, work closely with local law enforcement and are constantly vigilant in their efforts to keep us safe. Continue reading “Security Guard Appreciation”
Each year, government organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nonprofit agencies, such as the American Red Cross and private enterprise, including Allied Universal, to mark September as the official month to observe national emergency preparedness. I wonder why this lasts for 30 days, when National Dog Day comes but one day a year? Continue reading “Emergency Preparedness Month 2018”
The following is provided for informational purposes only. Allied Universal is not a medical expert. Consult your healthcare provider before pursuing any vaccines or taking any medication.
It’s that time of year again. Leaves are turning, football has begun, the weather is cooling off, and it’s time to fill backpacks with school necessities—pens and pencils, notebooks, laptops and bacon. But when you check that all important “to-do list” this year for your student, make sure to include the most important item on the list—inoculations. Continue reading “Back-to-School Safety: College Vaccinations”
Part 3 in a 3-Part Series about Severe Weather
Weather-related disasters lead to devastating loss of life and cost billions of dollars each year. The first post in our three-part series about severe weather disasters focused on extreme heat. The second entry discussed floods. This last post will tackle landslides and mudslides, since they so often accompany other severe-weather events. My son, JR, likes slides at the park but these slides don’t sound like fun. Continue reading “Landslides and Mudslides”
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
Weather-related disasters across the world lead to devastating loss of life and cost billions of dollars each year. Our last post about severe weather disasters focused on extreme heat. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) breaks weather-related disasters into eight major categories. We’re working on a flood of upcoming blog posts! This week, we will tackle one such designation, floods. Check back, as the final post in this series will focus hurricanes, landslides and mudslides.
A flood is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Recent floods in Charleston, and Texas are taxing resources, destroying property, injuring hundreds and resulting in troubling associated issues such as mosquito-borne disease and infrastructure damage.
Continue reading “Severe Weather: Floods”
Part 1 in a Series
Extreme weather causes some of the most devastating natural disasters known to man and beast. Already this year, the United States has faced six weather and climate-related major disaster events, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports have resulted in 36 deaths and economic losses exceeding one billion dollars. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) breaks these disasters into eight major categories: extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, landslides and mudslides, lightning, tornadoes, tsunamis, and winter weather. I’m not sure why cats aren’t included on the list, since they’re the number one cause of disasters in my world. This week, we will discuss extreme heat. Check back for future posts, which will conclude our series about extreme weather-related disasters. Continue reading “Extreme Heat: Severe Weather Disasters”
According to AAA, nearly 37 million Americans (88 percent of travelers), will drive to their destinations this summer – which represents an increase of 4.7 percent over 2017. Another three million will take to the skies, increasing air travel by 6.8 percent over last summer. Other modes of transportation will include cruises, trains and buses, which will be used by nearly two million travelers. Reminds me of that movie, Planes, Trains & Automobiles. It’s a good film, even though there aren’t any dogs in it. If you plan to join the ranks of summer travelers sometime between now and Labor Day, heed necessary precautions and take these steps to avoid travel-related scams to ensure your journey is safe.
If you opt to take a cab, you could fall victim to the case of the broken meter. If the driver says he can’t use the meter for some odd reason, but promises to give you “the best rate,” find another mode of transportation. Or avoid this altogether by negotiating rates before starting the journey. That is why I prefer traveling on all fours!
More serious issues could put you at risk of bodily harm. If you’re traveling via cab, Uber or Lyft and sense that something isn’t right, ask to be dropped off ASAP. In the meantime, pull up the number for emergency services (911 in the U.S., 999 in Europe and Latin America) for easy access. Click here to see emergency numbers throughout the world. Uber has also recently launched a high-powered emergency button for use with its app. Did you know they also have a smartphone app that barks?
Active air travel scamsusually involve the offer of free tickets, available online via several major airlines. These amount to elaborate phishing schemes, designed to steal and resell credit card and other personal information. Also, the fine print on the so-called “free tickets” offer states that in agreeing to the terms, the user opts to volunteer to receive telemarketing phone calls and text messages from a variety of different companies. Good rule of thumb—if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This tip is good even if you’re like me and don’t have thumbs!
First, unless you win a sweepstakes prize, you have probably not won a free cruise, no matter what a telemarketer says. Popular cruise-related scams include:
- Free Cruise
Once you select the offer, you receive a combination of fees and taxes (including those imposed by the cruise line in addition to government fees), a requirement to sit through a high-pressure timeshare presentation, in exchange for a dingy cabin in an obsolete ship without air-conditioning, sub-par land accommodations in a run-down resort; and (5) pressure to “upgrade” ship or land accommodations.
- Online Scams
A potentially dangerous cruise scam can compromise your identity, files, or both. A cruise line emails you with instructions to click a link for more information about your upcoming cruise. This “click-bait” originates with someone who has hacked the cruise line’s or operator’s data, to obtain a list of current and prospective customers. The mail itself or the link contains malware. Be careful when you’re online, people!
- Ridiculous Discounts
The promise of “75 percent off” sounds like a great deal. But the truth is that the “base price” is fiction. Compare deals by searching for similar cruises and checking objective review websites.
Always be aware when traveling by train or railway, which is a very popular mode of transportation.
- In New York City, subway crimes occur daily.
- Groping and other sexual assaults are so common on that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and the JR Railway Company worked together to establish Women-only carriages.
- In Mumbai, groups of men posed as “railway police” to rob unsuspecting travelers.
- In London, 457 railway-related crimes were reported over a 12-month period at King’s Cross Station.
Be on alert for these schemes:
o “Overbooked” Train Scam
Versions occur around the world, but are particularly common in Asia. Scammers target travelers who look confused, telling them their train was overbooked. The scammer ushers unsuspecting passengers towards a bus stand, where they must purchase a ticket. Scammers do this to earn a commission from bus drivers.
o Bag Assistance
Another common scam train travelers face occurs when someone offers to carry their bags. If someone approaches you offering to carry your bags, politely refuse. If you agree, you may never see your luggage again. Carry your own baggage. Great advice in life as well as travel!
o Ticket-Machine Trick
Refuse help if you are trying to buy tickets from a machine. If you accept the help, the scammer will cancel the transaction and grab the money that has fallen into the change tray. Also, pickpockets hover around these machines, waiting for unwary travelers to be distracted.
- Fierce competition between bus companies forces owners to lower their advertised fares to attract travelers. They make up for the shortfall in other ways. For example, agents upsell “VIP bus” tickets to tourists for a higher price. Then, when the bus arrives, passengers who have paid for VIP seats are ushered onto a regular bus. They are told that the VIP bus broke down, but that the driver is not able to issue refunds. And if you return to the booking office, you will miss the bus.Don’t miss the bus!!!
- Another bus-related scam involves drivers purposely driving slowly, so passengers miss their pre-paid reservations and are forced to stay at other hotels, for which the driver receives commission.
- If you travel by bus, keep your personal belongings close to you. In some countries, the bus company staff steal from passengers while they sleep. This sounds like good advice however you travel.
Final Travel Hints
- If you plan to travel overseas, check the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Travel Alerts & Warnings to make sure you are good to go.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see something, say something.
- Keep your personal items close to you, always.
- Leave your itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member.
- In a hotel, review your escape route.
- Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself or save the image to your smartphone. This step will save you hassle if you need to replace the actual document.
- Don’t flash cash or valuables. And if you’re around dogs, don’t flash bacon.
- Record emergency numbers so you can easily access them while you are away.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System
During your travels this summer, take steps to make sure you are safe. Whether you are traveling or staying local, our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
Although it’s a great way to exercise and stay cool during the hot summer weather, participating in water sports is not without risk. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 360,000 people drown each year. The good news is that most water-related fatalities and injuries can be prevented when safety steps are taken. These tips should help you #BeSafe this summer!
To keep your family and friends and pets safe this summer, observe the following summer water safety tips:
Continue reading “Summer Water Safety”
Despite the migration of millions of American employees to home offices, 78 percent of the U.S. workforce still report for duty at a company facility, at least part-time. I love reporting to the firehouse. So, safety in the workplace remains of paramount importance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.
Potential causes of workplace injuries and death range from fatigue (due to inadequate ergonomics or overexertion); substance abuse; slips, trips and falls; to natural and manmade disasters, including workplace violence. If a major emergency occurs or you get hurt on the job, everyone pays the price—in down time, lost productivity, low morale and economic impacts. Sounds like it would be better to avoid the whole thing! But when we work together to create a safer place to work, we’re all more productive and satisfied with our jobs and business operations are better prepared to recover.
For the purposes of this post, we will focus on workplace safety before, during and after disasters.
The U.S. Department of Laborestimates two million people fall victim to workplace violence each year. Employees in retail and healthcare are particularly vulnerable, but it can happen anywhere. Working with your local police department can help you control risk and plan for incidents that might occur. Whatever the cause of the workplace emergency, your attitudes and actions can impact your ability to survive the situation. Whether manmade (terrorist attack or coworker’s violent aggression) or natural (severe weather or earthquake), workplace disasters require specific preparation and reactions. I guess that applies to feline-made disasters, too?
Official Safety Training
One way to make sure you are ready is to complete Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT). The CERT program supports local response capability by training volunteers to spontaneously organize themselves at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive. But CERT is not the only way to prepare yourself for a workplace emergency. Wherever you work, you play a critical role in creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone by following pre-established emergency procedures and measures.
To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a free booklet about citizen preparedness, which may help you if disaster strikes when you are at work. Entitled “Are You Ready?”—the in-depth guide walks readers through steps to take to keep them safe in any hazardous situation. I want my wife and J.R. to read this guide, too. We all need to be ready! FEMA’s awareness campaign is called: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” That’s wise advice for employers as well as individuals.Emergency response planning can save lives, reduce the number of injuries, and prevent loss of property.
To be safe at work, before disaster strikes:
- Identify potential workplace hazards and safety roles and responsibilities. Know that workplace disasters can strike at any time, with little or no warning.
- Conduct a job safety analysis to establish proper work procedures to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Executives and safety officers must keep communication open to make sure workers are comfortable with learning and offer feedback.
- Maximize personal safety at your regular workspace. Keep area free from clutter.
- Participate in safety training drills. “Practice makes perfect!)
- Report hazards, incidents, and near-misses.
- Take steps to control flammable and combustible materials in your department and make sure they do not pose a fire or explosion hazard. (For example, large accumulations of waste paper or other combustible materials can pose fire risk.)
- Ask for help, when needed, to maintain your safety.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
- Obey “No Smoking” rules. Careless disposal of cigarettes and matches can lead to fires and explosions.
- Store and handle hazardous materials properly, according to the instructions on the label and on the safety data sheet. Or here’s a thought – don’t handle hazardous materials at all?
- Use and maintain equipment properly. Always a good idea!
During & After an Emergency:
- Stay alert. Just as you drive defensively on the road, use the same caution at work.
- Know the risks and danger signs.
- Don’t get into situations you are not trained to handle.
- Identify at least two ways out of any potentially hazardous situation.
- Volunteer to help others. My mom always taught everyone in her litter to “do unto others”
- Listen to officials for information about evacuation or sheltering in place.
- Repair damaged property.
- Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System
No matter the type of emergency you may face while at work, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
People who live or work in high-rise residential or commercial buildings face very specific disaster-preparedness challenges. Heights don’t bother me. Sometimes, I sit on top of my doghouse. Emergencies such as fires, bomb scares, weather-related incidents and earthquakes present special dangers for high-occupancy buildings, such as dormitories, apartment homes, condominiums and office complexes. The best defense is a coordinated emergency-response plan that identifies potential risks and outlines the best response.With limited access to egress, if you’re in a high-rise when disaster strikes, you might need to stay in the building until the emergency passes. Or, if evacuation is necessary, you would need to quickly find the exit. Continue reading “High-Rise Safety in Disasters”
Out of respect for all of our friends who are on the Spectrum, I have refrained from “firedogisms” in this post.
A quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awarenessand acceptance and draw attention to the tens of thousands facing diagnosis of the disorder each year. Toward that end, April was declared Autism Awareness Month in 2007. The goal of the annual event (as well as the society), is to encourage acceptance and appreciation for anyone who is diagnosed as autistic. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)is a “spectrum” disorder because of the wide variety of type and severity of symptoms patients experience. Continue reading “April is Autism Awareness Month”
The first cellphone was developed in 1973 by Motorola Researcher Martin Cooper. Heavy and clunky, that first device was a far cry from the sleek, versatile mobile phones of today. Without opposable thumbs, I find every cellphone clunky. Since Cooper’s invention, companies have competed to produce more portable technology and offer better connectivity. And they have largely succeeded. In fact, as a result, worldwide today, 2.53 billion people own smartphones. According to a Pew Research study, 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 77 percent of the devices qualifying as “smart.” With smartphone use at an all-time high, it’s time to examine the myriad ways the device can aid disaster preparation, survival and recovery. I wonder what would make some cellphones dumb? Continue reading “How Smartphones Can Aid in Disasters”
Out of respect for the families impacted by recent active shooter incidents, I will refrain from my usual “firedogisms” in this post. Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by these tragedies.
Unfortunately, a pattern has recently unfolded across the country. An active shooter opens fire on students during school, such as what occurred last month in Parkland, Fl., where 17 innocent victims lost their lives and –even more recently – in Maryland, where a 17-year-old student shot two others. This type of event spurs widespread panic and concern about campus safety. Students, parents and political pundits demand gun law reform, teacher armament and mental health awareness. Then, almost as immediately as the frenzy begins, conversations about the court of public opinion abound. But the issue remains. How can we keep American elementary, middle-school, high school and college students safe? Continue reading “Post Parkland & Great Mills: Active Shooter Safety”
One of the most important tools for effective disaster management is communication. With lives at risk, the need to quickly, effectively and accurately communicate is crucial. To train stakeholders and entire communities to make the best possible decisions for their well-being during a crisis or emergency, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) developed Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) in 2002. Continue reading “Emergency Communication: CERC Training”
With sudden onset of congestion, body aches, fever and chills, over the past few months, millions of Americans have been battling Influenza, aka the flu. Worse yet, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that, worldwide, somewhere between 300,000 and 646,000 people die each year from seasonal flu-related respiratory illnesses.
In a recent blog post, we discussed the millions of Americans who are currently struggling to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, floods, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Another category of disaster affecting millions, which also requires careful pre-planning and purposeful recovery, pertains to Information Technology (IT). As a prolific blogger, I wonder what we would do without IT? Continue reading “Information Technology Disaster Recovery”
Out of respect for victims of recent disasters in the United States, I refrain from my usual fire-dogisms in this post. Check back next time for my unique take on all things safety-related.
Millions of Americans struggle to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Disasters are currently so widespread, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spending $200 million per day to aid recovery efforts. Although each type of disaster brings unique challenges, no matter which situation you face, recovery is the first order of business as soon as the dust settles. One such disaster is the Montecito Mudslides, which thousands of volunteers and disaster response teams are currently managing. Continue reading “Disaster Recovery”
If you’re like 41 percent of Americans, before the ball drops in New York City to ring in 2018, you will make a few New Year’s resolutions. According to Statistic Brain, although a mere 9.2 percent of people report following through with the resolutions they make, individuals who make them are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who fail to make them at all. My resolution is always the same – spend more time chasing my tail. This year, why not make a New Year’s resolution that could literally save your life? In 2018, resolve to be safe!
5 Safety Tips for 2018
As Andy Williams sang, the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” However, with porch piracy, pick-pocketing, burglary and cyber theft on the rise, unless you are careful, December can turn into the most troublesome season of all. That’s a lot different than the song version, which says it’s the “hap-happiest season of all!” Don’t let holiday cheer lull you into giving thieves a chance to dampen your spirit. At the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, we are committed to your safety. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to share tips to help keep you safe this season. Continue reading “Consumer Safety during the Holidays”
Delicious feasts and brilliant decorations are hallmarks of the holiday season. For the record, my favorite holiday food is gizzards. Unfortunately, however, these festive favorites also can pose potential fire hazards. Thankfully, you can enjoy everything that makes the holidays special during this time of year while simultaneously keeping your loved ones safe. Continue reading “What You Absolutely Need to Know About Holiday Safety”
With 128.3 million people commuting to work and traveling to leisure activities in the United States each year, as a nation, we spend a lot of time in our cars. In the event disaster were to strike while you are behind the wheel, would you be prepared?
How to prepare for emergencies that occur while you are in your car
Out of concern for everyone who was directly or indirectly affected by recent traumatic events, for this week’s post, I will dispense with my usual “firedog-isms.” Check back next week to read my unique “canine take.”
The term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) was originally coined to refer to veterans of war. Now, doctors diagnose PTSD in anyone who has experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event and suffers associated long-term physical and/or psychological symptoms. With the recent prevalence of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, active shooting events and other manmade and natural disasters, 13 million people worldwide are believed to suffer from the malady. Continue reading “PTSD & Mental Health”
Earthquakes in the News
With two powerful earthquakes striking Mexico last month, now is a good time for the 46th annual International ShakeOut Day, to be held October 19, 2017. Millions of people worldwide will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On this month. In California, where Allied Universal Services Corporate Headquarters is located, Great Shakeout Drills will occur on the 19th, at precisely 10:19 a.m. Continue reading “Are you ready to Shake?”
Part 3 of a 3-part Series
Out of respect for everyone who has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey & Hurricane Irma, this post will dispense with my usual “fire-dogisms.”
As teachers, educators and administrators across the country welcome students to a new academic year, we want to help ensure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as transportation challenges, cyber bullying and peer pressure, and handling emergencies and disasters, students need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe. Continue reading “Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters”
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
As teachers and administrators across the country are welcoming students to a new school year, we want to help make sure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. Follow these simple safety steps, adapted from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), which are important whether your student is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but our son, J.R., recently graduated from puppy kindergarten. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as bullying and peer pressure, and natural or manmade disasters, students now more than ever need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe. Continue reading “How to Be Safe at School: Bullying”