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”
Part 1 in a 3-Part Series
As we close the book on summer 2017, teachers and administrators across the country welcome students to a school year that’s rife with opportunity and promise. To make sure your student starts 2017-2018 off right, follow these simple safety steps, which are important whether your child is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but my son, J.R. is the top of his class in puppy kindergarten. This week, our post focuses on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. Check back, for part two in the series, when we provide tips for being safe from bullying. Our final post will focus on safety before, during and after natural and manmade disasters.
Continue reading “School Transportation Safety”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. I was glad to read that cases of rabies have decreased thanks to those vaccines. Continue reading “National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)”
Cybersecurity-breach stories are so common lately, the headlines no longer shock. But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. In 2017, you can’t afford to grow complacent about Internet safety. As the following examples demonstrate, it’s crucial to guard your online data: Continue reading “Internet Safety”
Summer is the most popular time to travel. I love taking walking trips each summer. Despite this, the steady stream of recent terrorist attacks threatens to turn vacation dreams into holiday nightmares. Within the last two months in Britain alone–which was long considered a safe haven for international tourists–has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and 116 injured, another at London Bridge which killed eight people and injured 48, and a third last week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.
Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. My personal favorite hashtag is #BeSafe. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. I know a few cats who do just as much damage. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland cooling, rip currents, and tornadoes. Called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world, these massive storms affect regions across the globe – Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific. Continue reading “How to Prepare for Hurricanes”
At least 13 people died and dozens more were injured as recent, severe storms brought flooding and tornadoes to Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. That sounds even worse than the one Dorothy survived in the Wizard of Oz! Just one snapshot of the havoc that tornadoes cause, this event demonstrates why tornadoes are considered nature’s most violent storms – able to level entire neighborhoods and city streets in mere seconds. Equally disturbing, in many areas of the country, the question about tornadoes is not “if,” but “when?”Subscribers to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System have access to a comprehensive tornado training module
Your community could face the wrath of the phenomenon described as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds of up to 300 miles per hour. I hope our community doesn’t experience a tornado. I’m not sure the doghouse would survive. Subscribers to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System have access to a comprehensive tornado training module, which explains how to be safe before, during and after a tornado hits. In our ongoing effort to help educate and keep our friends and subscribers safe, we have also assembled some valuable tornado trivia and tips:
- Damage paths can exceed one mile wide and 50 miles long. I’ve seen cats do that much damage.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
- Although the average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, tornadoes can move in any direction.
- Every state is at some risk of tornadoes, although certain states are more tornado-prone. For example, in the Midwest, tornadoes are frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
- Peak tornado season in southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
- Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while others are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds.
- Certain tornadoes develop so rapidly that little advanced warning is possible.
- Before a tornado hits, winds may die down and air may become still. In fact, some attribute the idiom, “calm before the storm,” to this phenomenon.
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.
- A cloud of debris may mark the location of a tornado even when a funnel is not visible. A cloud of debris seems to follow my son, JR.
- They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
- It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- A Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms.
- A Tornado Warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Immediately take shelter.
Before a Tornado
- Build an emergency kit.
- Make a family communications plan.
- Consider building a “safe room.” For more about this, see Gov.
- Listen to National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- Notice changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
- Be aware of the following danger signs: dark, greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-flying cloud, and/or a loud roar (like a freight train).
- If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado
If you are in a structure when a tornado hits:
- Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the center of a small interior room on the lowest building level. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Put on sturdy shoes.
- Keep windows closed.
- Bring your pets inside.
If you are in a manufactured home or office when a tornado hits:
Immediately exit and head to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. This advice would also probably apply to doghouses.
If you are outside without shelter when a tornado happens:
If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for the last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
- Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
In every situation:
- Never seek cover under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Don’t try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas, while in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Sounds like it might be hard to outrun tornado wherever you are.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
- Listen to local weather reports and officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, to alert rescuers about your location.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes. Sounds like a good idea even without the tornado.
- Photograph the damage to your property to assist in filing insurance claims.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
- If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
It wasn’t long ago that disaster management professionals handled crises primarily through landlines and press conferences. In fact, I still use the Twilight Bark. Thankfully, over the past 10 years, technology has redefined global emergency management and disaster communications. One of the first national disasters to heavily rely on technology, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was Hurricane Sandy, as users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related tweets. I was tweeting like crazy during Hurricane Sandy.
Since people have embraced mobile technologies, it’s increasingly important for disaster management professionals to adopt a social media strategy as well as the ability to use multiple forms of technology to communicate and connect with an increasingly networked population. What’s more, building owners and managers, as well as members of the public, should take advantage of the many ways technology can help them prepare for, survive, and recover after a disaster.
Technology and Disasters:
- The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps that put lifesaving information at the user’s fingertips. The apps give people instant access to more than 35 customizable emergency weather alerts, as well as safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. The Emergency App contains an “I’m Safe” feature, which helps people use social media to let loved ones know they are okay following an emergency. These apps have been downloaded over seven million times and have been credited with saving lives in Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Other Red Cross apps include Blood Donor, Earthquakes, First Aid, Flood, Hero Care, Hurricane, Pet First Aid – which is my personal favorite, Radio Cruz Roja, Swim, Tornadoes, Transfusion Practice Guidelines and Wildfires.
- Disaster Apps. While it would be virtually impossible to list every available disaster app, here are a few noteworthy options, available on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), FEMA, My Hurricane Tracker, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), QuakeFeed, Storm Distance Tracker, and WeatherCaster. Another good one is put out by the ASPCA Mobile App.
- Facebook offers a natural disaster page, which is set up so that people can check on loved ones, get updates about the developing situation, and look for information about how to help. Disaster Response on Facebook highlights tips, news, and information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Facebook users who like and follow the page can stay up to date and connected with affected communities around the world. They can also donate with the “Donate Now” call-to-action button, so nonprofits can connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute.
- Twitter has emerged as a legitimate means of emergency communication for coordinating disaster relief. A 2015 study, What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens: Social Media Communications Across Crises, focused on 26 different crisis situations (such as earthquakes, floods, bombings, derailments and wildfires) for two years. The event which obtained the most Twitter attention at the time of the study was the Boston Marathon bombings, with 157,500 tweets. What’s more, Twitter Alerts provide trusted sources with a platform to disseminate accurate information to concerned parties in real time, and for those people to offer immediate feedback about the impact and hierarchy of needs relative to the associated disaster. My Twitter handle is @RjtheFireDog.
- OneEvent is an algorithm developed by a small startup in Wisconsin. For a monthly subscription fee, OneEvent detects household disasters like fires and floods up to 20 minutes before they happen. The software-based approach uses sensors to monitor things like heat and humidity in key areas of the subscriber’s home. I wonder if it would work in our doghouse? If things start to deviate from the norm due to a leaky pipe or a hot oven, the system will catch it, let the user know, and learnfrom the situation.
- Online Fire Life Training systems, which provide subscribers with access to information about emergency and disaster prevention, management and recovery. A leader in the field is Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Systems. The fully-automated system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Subscribers get access to training for building occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is recorded. Building-specific information is sent to first responders for immediate access during emergencies. Our mission is to save lives through training, with the motto “Be Safe!”
Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Distracted driving is no laughing matter! Because of the serious nature of this week’s blog topic, I have refrained from my usual firedogisms. Please #BeSafe while you drive!
April is National Distracted Driving Month. Increasing awareness about distracted driving is a critical endeavor, as the National Safety Council reports that 40,207 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. That figure represents a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 — marking the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. Experts agree the increase in accidents is in direct proportion to the easy accessibility of technological distractions. In other words, the more available tech-related temptations, the more likely American roadways will be filled with distracted drivers.
New York Times Business Writer Neal E. Boudette explained the phenomenon by saying, “Cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, (but) apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.”
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Nearly half of all people (surveyed) say they feel less safe (driving) than they did five years ago.” AAA attributes this reaction to the fact that (while they are behind the wheel) drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.
AAA also references a distracted driving term known as “latency,” which means that texting while stopped at a traffic light or while stopped on congested freeways can impact full driving engagement, for an average of 27 seconds after texting stops. Replicated across thousands of cars during rush hour, this can add up to significant delays in addition to associated accidents.
Experts agree that cell phone use, which includes talking and texting, remains the most common distraction to safe driving. In response, many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors. Leading the charge is the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), whose message to all drivers is straightforward: “Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.”
10 Tips for Managing Common Driving Distractions
- Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach.
- Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, drive to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
- X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
- Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. GHSA offers a handy state law chart.
- Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
- Secure pets. Unsecured animals can be a big distraction in the car.
- Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
- Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
Remember These Do’s and Don’ts.
While you are driving, DO NOT:
- Text or send Snapchats.
- Use voice-to-text features in your vehicle’s dashboard system.
- Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media.
- Check or send emails.
- Take selfies or film videos.
- Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion).
- Call or message someone else when you know they are driving.
- Stay on top of the distracted driving issue all year long by signing up for the National Safety Council’s free e-newsletter.
- Take the attentive driver pledge.
- Share your pledge on social media.
- Create awareness in your workplace, at home or in your local community by sharing the distracted driving message.
Remember that safety is important for everyone across the country, whether on the roads or not. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Did you know that poison can be found in vitamins, toys, coins, thermometers, and cosmetics? That’s a little creepy, if you ask me. These products, and your basic over-the-counter medications and cleaning products, contain the substance—albeit at very small amounts. With so many hazards to be aware of, drawing attention to the dangers of potential poisoning is the purpose of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19 to 25. Sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council (NPPC), the weeklong observations will center on the following themes:
- Monday, March 20 – Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons (Puppies act fast, too!)
- Tuesday, March 21 – Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money
- Wednesday, March 22 – Poisonings Span a Lifetime
- Thursday, March 23 – Home Safe Home
- Friday, March 24 – Medicine Safety
Here are some reasons that poison prevention is extremely important:
- According to the Global Children’s Fund, 800,000 kids are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States each year due to accidental poisoning.
- The Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers reveals that someone in America called a poison control center every 14.5 seconds.
Says the NPPC about the campaign:
“Unintentional poisoning from a wide variety of substances and environmental hazards can happen to anyone, and represents a substantial public health burden in the U.S. The National Poisoning Prevention Council is an inclusive community comprised of representatives from the public, nonprofit, and government organizations with a shared commitment to poisoning prevention and education. The Council provides a collective voice to raise awareness among the American public about the risks, frequency, and consequences of unintentional poisoning occurrences, injuries, and fatalities.”
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning:
- Don’t share prescription medicines. That’s a wise statement. If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free American Association of Poison Control Centers’ helpline (1-800-222-1222), to find out more about possible drug interactions.
- Carbon monoxide is a form of poison. Keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
- Keep chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children. Never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can create a dangerous gas. And gas is a bad thing in a confined space.
- Keep cleaning products, art products and antifreeze in their original containers. Never use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products.
- Food can become poisonous if handled carelessly. And it’s criminal to waste good food! Wash hands and counters before preparing food. Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
- Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F° (5 degrees C°).
- Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. When it comes to poison ivy, remember this tip: “leaves of three, let it be.”
- Venom is a form of poison. So, I guess eating snakes is right out? Good to know. Find out if poisonous snakes live in your area. Wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors.
- Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities.
If someone ingests poison:
- Remain calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning. That’s a relief.
- Call the Poison Help line(1-800-222-1222), which connects you to the local poison center.
- Follow the advice you receive from your poison center. Good idea!
Take steps while waiting for help to arrive:
- If someone has inhaledpoison, get him or her to fresh air immediately. Fresh air is always a good idea.
- If poison has touched the skin, rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If poison gets in eyes, rinse them immediately with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.Remember that safety around toxic chemicals is important for everyone across the country, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Record-breaking cold temperatures across the country have wreaked havoc on streets from coast to coast. They have also wreaked havoc on our doghouse. Enough with the rain! The severe weather has led to an alarming number of weather-related car accidents, flash flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines across the United States. Another unfortunate yet common side effect of the storms is water-logged land that has given way to hundreds of large sinkholes.
A few examples of the serious sinkholes reported in the U. S. within the past 12 months:
- In Suffolk, Virginia, a sinkhole measured 15 feet deep x 20 feet across.
- Giant sinkholes in Wink, Texas posed serious hazards.
- A recent sinkhole in Studio City, California swallowed two vehicles.
- A massive sinkhole appeared just as a roadway collapsed into a sewage line in the Northern California city of Madera.
- A growing sinkhole in Tarpon Springs, Florida (which measured 100 feet wide and 16 feet deep at one point) forced the evacuation of local residents.
- A large sinkhole opened between two homes in Glenside, Pennsylvania at the beginning of the year.
- Just last month, the largest sinkhole on record for the area happened in Harbor, Oregon.
What exactly is a sink hole?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “A sinkhole can be defined as: an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. When it rains, water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than one foot to more than 100 feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers, whereas others have vertical walls. Some hold water, forming natural ponds.”
The three types of sinkholes include dissolution, cover-subsidence, and cover-collapse. Whatever the type, most occur so slowly that changes to the landscape are not immediately evident. So, while it looks like they appear out of thin air, most require time to deteriorate into a full-blown collapse. Collapses most significantly impact structures and people when they happen in urban settings. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, we wanted to devote this blog post to providing subscribers and friends with tips for spotting and safely reacting to sinkholes.
Conditions that foster sinkholes:
- Active wells
- Abandoned drywells, cesspools and septic tanks
- Buried swimming pools
- Old dumps that were later built-over
- Buried, abandoned building foundations
- Cracks, gaps, ravines opened by earthquakes
- Steep-sloped or otherwise unstable areas
- Moisture-soaked earth
- Streets and structures not retrofitted for safety
It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole would swallow a modern high-rise building. However, you could potentially encounter such an event while you are driving to or from work or school or while traveling to an area with relaxed building inspection protocols. If this happens, remain calm. Try to quickly drive or walk around the hazardous area. Finally, call 911 for help.
Remember that safety on the road is a priority for everyone across the country, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.