Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 17, 2016

Travel Safety Tips

Air safety Abstract concept digital illustrationThe recent attack in the Istanbul Airport was a grim reminder of the reasons the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was forced to adopt stringent security protocols in airports throughout the world. Unfortunately, the emphasis on security equates to excessively long lines at security checkpoints, thousands of missed flights, and mounting aggravation among travelers. In fact, according to a report done in May 2016, on American Airlines, alone, more than 70,000 passengers missed flights due to TSA-related delays. I’ve been with some humans at the airport when they missed a flight. Temper, temper! Passengers of other airline carriers also miss flights due to security checkpoints, which can result in wait times of several hours.

Despite the frustration, most travelers are willing to endure security measures because they realize the importance of airline travel safety. But there are additional steps you can take to ensure your safety as you travel by air this summer:

Overseas Travel

Before heading overseas, check the U.S. Department of State website which advises U.S travelers about the safety or lack thereof relative to foreign destinations. The site provides travel alerts, which are short-term advisories tied to specific events; and travel warnings, which are recommendations about countries which should be avoided, altogether. Some areas currently included on the travel warnings’ list include Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, and Ukraine. On May 31, the U.S. Department of State issued a Europe Travel Alert to warn about the risks associated with traveling to Europe during the summer months.

Even those destinations not currently included on an active warning list could prove problematic, as intelligence gathering is an inexact science. But don’t let that keep you from traveling. According to the National Safety Council, Americans are 353 times more likely to die from a slip-and-fall accident than from a terrorist attack. And data released by the CDC asserts that we are 110 times more likely to succumb to contaminated food than from an act of terror. So don’t ignore the risks. Just don’t let fear keep you from enjoying a vacation or traveling for business. baggage control in airport

Tips for safe and comfortable overseas travel

  • Be respectful of others’ cultures and institutions. If, for example, the recommended dress code for visiting a church/holy site/mosque requires you to cover your arms and legs, respect the request.
  • Learn basic native-language phrases. If you speak English and are traveling to a country with limited English speakers, take the time to learn and practice words to help you make basic requests.
  • Avoid large crowds or protests where there is an elevated risk of danger. For more about this, check out our recent post about safety during civil unrest.
  • Add the U.S. Embassy’s 24—Hour Hotline to your cellphone contacts. If only I had opposable thumbs!
  • Carry your hotel’s native language business card to show cab drivers and police, if necessary.
  • Take pictures of your passport photo, driver’s license and credit cards and email them to yourself. Keeping the photos on your phone instead of emailing them is inadvisable in case your phone is lost or stolen. If you travel with a canine companion, this type of theft is less likely.
  • Avoid confrontation whenever possible. Don’t attract attention by arguing with someone unnecessarily. Try to calmly settle disagreements, especially if you are in a crowded setting.

Airport Security and Safety

Situational awareness is essential when navigating airports and all related security procedures. For example, if you see someone leave a bag on the ground for an extended period, alert airport police. Will this mean that you and other travelers might potentially miss your flight due to security protocols? Yes! But it’s important to follow the Department of Homeland Security’s request that “If You See Something, Say Something.” My mantra is “If you want something, eat something.”Airport Security

  • Only allow official personnel to inspect or move your luggage. Always keep an eye on your belongings. This is especially important in curbside loading/unloading areas where people have not been screened. Someone could potentially tamper with your luggage before you check it in and you could end up unwittingly carrying an incendiary device on board.
  • Keep your tickets and passports close to your person at all times – not dangling out of your purse or pocket or resting on top of your bags.
  • Watch your valuables go through x-ray machines and pick them up as quickly as possible. Loudly alert security staff if you see someone pick up your bag or loose articles such as your watch or wallet or tennis balls (you know – the things that matter most).
  • Don’t make jokes about “terrorists” or “bombs” or other loaded language. TSA agents and foreign airport officials are working to keep you safe. Making this kind of a joke could land you in serious trouble.

Despite my wisecracks, it’s important to remember that airport security and traveling safely are no laughing matter. Follow these tips to ensure you come back home to everyone in your family…even those of us of the four-legged variety.

Remember that safety is a daily priority – whether you are working at home or traveling the globe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 12, 2016

Civil Unrest: How to Be Safe

Out of respect for the victims and loved ones of the recent events that claimed the lives of police officers as well as members of the public, in this post, I have refrained from my usual “firedogisms.” Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the violence. 

Group of people carrying.

Civil disorder, also known as civil unrest, is a broad term typically used by law enforcement officials to describe an unhappy group of people whose goal is to express displeasure through riots, violence and mayhem which disrupt a community. Although the motivation for action varies (political unrest, severe weather, fire, or socio-economic instability, to name a few), the ensuing outcomes are often dire. In fact, in recent weeks, civil unrest has led to loss of life in the United States in Dallas, TX; Baton Rouge, LA; Ferguson, MO; and Falcon Heights, MN…to name just a few. According to CNN, the Dallas shooting and murder of five officers was the deadliest for police since Sept. 11, 2001 when 72 officers were killed in the line of duty.

In addition to life-threatening injuries sustained by police officers and demonstrators, some of the fallout from these events has impacted innocent bystanders. So, even as we collectively mourn as a nation over the heartbreaking loss of life, we want to take this opportunity to provide tips for staying safe if you find yourself in the mix during a riot or other violent public demonstration.

What to do if you are at work when a protest breaks out nearby
During the protest:

  • Make contact with the senior responsible party for your office (onsite) and follow their instructions. If you are the senior person in charge, follow the instructions from your onsite security/property management team. If you have an emergency plan, refer to standard protocols set forth.
  • Check with the senior person in charge to determine if a lockdown of the property is necessary.
  • Relocate to the incident command center, building lobby or other location per their instructions.
  • Record any pertinent information, such as signage, group size, group name and group location. Determine if the gathering is peaceful, organized, and/or on the building’s property. If the answer is “yes” to all three questions, approach the leader and ask that the group remove themselves from the property.
  • If the crowd fails to disperse or becomes hostile, call 911 immediately. Once emergency personnel arrive, allow them to handle the situation and assist only as requested.
  • If violence erupts and you are unable to evacuate, move away from all windows and close window coverings. Move to the safest areas in the building, taking cell phones, a fire extinguisher, first aid supplies and other provisions.

911 emergency symbol

Following an Emergency Situation:

  • Reset and/or restore all systems and equipment to operational condition.
  • Respond to any emergency conditions as necessary.
  • Conduct a full assessment of building and grounds for damage.
  • Take photographs to document the incident and any property damage.
  • If people are evacuated, implement a full or partial reentry as directed by the local authorities. Hold doors open and call elevators for customers. Do not discuss the incident, just state that the local authorities authorized reentry. Document the chain of events that occurred. Answer the question who, what, where, when, why and how.
  • Incorporate dates, times, location, full names of participants, employers and titles.
  • When directed by the person in charge, or the police department, use the PA system to share information with the building occupants. Repeat the message three times, per floor.

Wherever you are when a protest breaks out:
1. Stay put. You may be out and about when a demonstration and associated violence spontaneously evolve. Most experts agree that the best way to steer clear of chaos is by staying put until the fervor dies down. If you are able to, in advance of the event, set up a safe room, such as what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends. Otherwise, make sure your doors and windows are locked.

2. Be informed. Don’t bury your head in the sand. To #BeSafe, you need to make sure you are aware of escalating tensions. This is one of the reasons we so often recommend including a hand-crank or battery-operated radio in your emergency supply kit. Don’t make the mistake of counting on technology in an emergency. Depending on the severity of the situation, you could lose cell service and/or electricity. In such cases, a ham radio and police scanner could prove useful.

3. Move on. If you are in public and notice that protestors begin to get loud and raucous, quickly vacate the area. In the case of an active-shooter situation, if you can do so safely, run! If not, then you should seek shelter and stay quiet. Click here to read more about what to do in the case of an active shooter.

4. Blend in. First, always be aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds. Avoid the area around the demonstration and do not provoke the protesters, as any unnecessary conversation could turn a peaceful situation into a problematic scenario. If you are unable to safely leave an area where violence has broken out, hide.

5. Practice makes perfect. Don’t wait until a civil unrest incident occurs to find out whether your plan to avoid danger and stay safe is effective. Review and update your emergency plan. Then hold table top exercises and drills to make sure it works. Stay in contact with local law enforcement officials and public agencies.

image.jpeg
Staying safe at times of civil unrest can be challenging. But situational awareness and advanced preparation could give you an edge. Remember to take proper disaster preparation steps because safety is a daily priority. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | July 5, 2016

Toxic Water Proves Problematic

What’s in the Water?

image.jpegIdentifying the Danger of Algae and other Contaminants

According to UNICEF, in 2015, nine percent of every child’s death, worldwide, resulted from illnesses caused by toxic water. Poor water quality contributes directly to life-threatening ailments as common but potentially deadly as diarrhea to as rare and dangerous as malaria and schistosomiasis. Thankfully, in most parts of the U.S., the water supply is exceedingly clean — especially when compared to what’s available in developing countries. Nevertheless, United States’ officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the presence of toxic algae in dozens of areas in the Midwest. In Flint Michigan, for example, poor water supply (and mismanagement of the same) has caused serious health problems for residents, as well as massive political fallout. Personally, I prefer muddy water when it comes to splashing and playing.

Algae in a Nutshell

watrcolor algae seamless vector pattern

Present in all bodies of water, algae plays an important role as a building block in the food chain.

  • It functions as a carbon sink, which pulls excess CO2 from the air, reducing the risk of climate change.
  • Blooms are outsized algae growths which often occur due to increased temperatures, as well as fertilizer and wastewater runoff.
  • The most dangerous kind of algae is cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae. This type is toxic to animals and humans.

How Algae Affects Humans
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has recently noted an alarming rise in incidences of algal blooms in drinking water reservoirs. They identify golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) as a frequent culprit relative to algal blooms, which include those which have affected Lake Erie in the recent past. Steps taken to mitigate the problem include better monitoring, and, in the case of Lake Erie, an ongoing effort to minimize farm runoff — which has contributed directly to the algal bloom. Algal bloom sounds like the name of a band.

Sometimes, large geographical regions can be affected. For example in 2014, the entire city of Toledo, Ohio had to avoid drinking tap water due to the presence of Cyanobacteria. More than 500,000 residents were impacted, including thousands of business owners who had to think quickly in order to provide alternative drinking sources for staff and visitors. Since Cyanobacteria are not killed by boiling, the only viable solution is to use bottled water during an algae-related water supply crisis. Boiling kills most micro organisms; so this makes me wonder just how tough these bacteria are!

chiken cartoon character with water drop

To combat algal blooms, the water source must be treated. This includes restricting usage of fertilizers and other agricultural runoff sources, adding phosphorous, suction dredging, and wetlands conservation.

Other Common Water Contaminants
Beyond algal blooms, there are many other water contaminants that must be properly monitored and treated:

  • Lead seepage was the main problem relative to the drinking water crisis in Flint. This is typically caused by corroded lead pipes which leech contaminants into the water supply, over time. Lead is exceedingly toxic, especially for children, and causes damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, and compromises affects brain development.
  • Arsenic is another common contaminant typically found in private wells, as it is found in the earth’s crust. Detrimental health effects include cancers of the bladder, kidney, and skin, as well as blood vessel diseases.
  • The EPA lists dozens of other potential contaminants including cleaning supplies, medications, and various other organic and inorganic substances. This makes me rethink my habit of dropping tennis balls and dog toys into my water bowl.Hungry Dog

Ensuring the safety and availability of drinking water during a crisis requires diligent monitoring of water quality alerts and preparation of emergency supply kits containing sufficient stores of potable water. So remember to take proper disaster preparation steps and remember that safety is a daily priority. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or To subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 28, 2016

Drones in Disaster Management

 

Air drones carrying cardboard, cityscape background

Originally novelty items, drones are poised to become a multi-million dollar industry. These small remote-controlled devices are perfectly suited for industrial, emergency response, and building management purposes. This is due to their comparatively low cost compared to traditionally manned aircraft and because they can easily access remote target areas without putting operators at risk. This is how I would use a drone: I would buy one that comes with a scoop, and send it into the pantry to fetch full bags of treats.

Improving Emergency Response

3d Fireman using a magnifying glass

Locating hurt or missing persons after a disaster is crucial for reducing loss of life. Drones work well for search and rescue because they are uniquely capable of enabling disaster response teams to quickly traverse dangerous locations resulting from floodwaters, wildfires, collapsed buildings, and the like. That’s the job of many of my canine companions, who use their noses for good!

Consider, for example, a large earthquake that causes buildings to crumble. Dangerous rubble could pose a serious risk to would-be rescuers, whereas drone operators could quickly scan the area to safely survey the integrity of remaining walls and structures while simultaneously searching for survivors. Using drones in this fashion reduces some of the risks to first responders by reducing their time spent in dangerous situations. I love any technology that helps my firefighting team members do their jobs so they can safely return to the firehouse.

Building Inspections

builder and inspector

Building operators use drones to investigate the exterior of structures for cracks or maintenance issues. I wanted to have a drone check out the shingles on our doghouse. But I couldn’t get the FAA to approve a fly-by. Equipped with a camera, drones can provide engineers and maintenance teams with detailed views of a facility’s exterior. Using drones in this manner can reduce the need for human inspectors, which is a cost-efficient way to detect small but potentially catastrophic problems.

Drones also enable inspection of dangerous building components without associated risks. For example, drone operators can check radiation levels near reactors and closely view chemical factory processes from a safe distance.

Utility giant Con Edison is testing the use of drones to inspect steam boilers that power some of New York City’s iconic buildings. Whereas traditional inspection methods involve building scaffolding and teams of workers traversing tight space, drones armed with traditional and thermal imaging cameras can review deforested areas and correlate the links between primates, mosquitoes and humans.

Disaster Management and Support

Retrieving samples, such as blood or saliva cultures, is crucial when managing a biological threat. Organizations in New Jersey recently conducted drone test flights carrying simulated blood packets and other items on a ship-to-shore mission. Drones are ideal for this type of transport because they vibrate less than traditional automobile journeys, which can damage samples. Drones can also be outfitted to deliver vital supplies, such as telecommunications equipment, to provide instant communication links between disaster victims and first responders. What’s more, drones can be used to deliver vital supplies including dog cookies, bacon, chew toys, old socks — the essentials!

High-rise DisastersTsunami arrasando una ciudad

Drones are ideal for high-rise fire rescue assistance, as they can monitor the intensity of a fire through sensors, and provide associated real-time updates to firefighters relative to the exact location and number of people involved, as well as additional relevant intel. Large commercial drones of three to four feet widths (and multi-thousands dollar price points) can even carry and disperse fire retardant agents, which could provide firefighting teams with precious time needed to save lives.

Other Uses:

  • Organizations around the world utilize drones for planning purposes before disasters strike.
  • Communities in flood plains can use drones to assess risks and spot particularly vulnerable areas.
  • Drones used in Malaysia are providing data about the links between rates of deforestation and malaria outbreaks, allowing response teams to better prepare for and prevent outbreaks.
  • Speculators think that Amazon will one day use drones for instant deliveries. I’ll be the first to sign up for this, so I can order pork chops and have them delivered in time for lunch.

Rectangular Drone parcel Drop Zone sign

Remember that safety is a daily priority. And with the advances in drone technology, safety is receiving a boost from an affordable tool that could prevent or provide relief from disasters. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

 

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 21, 2016

Happy National Pet Preparedness Month

Graphic: Pet Preparedness

According to the American Humane Association, June is National Pet Preparedness Month. Can I just say that I think that’s great? Pet safety is important because animals suffer in the face of natural and man-made disasters in many of the same ways as their human counterparts.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation reports that 36.5 percent of American households include a dog (far too few), 30.4 percent have a cat (far too many), 3.1 percent own a bird and 1.5 percent include a horse. With such robust pet-representation and because our corporate mascot, RJ the Firedog, is a Dalmatian, we thought it fitting to focus this week’s post on the importance of making safety preparations for your pets. It’s so nice to be appreciated.

Whether the disaster you and your pet face affects an entire community of just your household, there are steps you can take before emergency strikes:

  1. Order a pet alert sticker. Offered free of charge from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), these stickers are placed near the front door to alert first responders about the presence of a pet. In addition to noting on the sticker whether pets have been evacuated, information should include the types and numbers of pets in the home. I’ve seen window clings that say “Pet inside.” Those seem good, too.
  2. Choose designated care givers or arrange a safe haven. Pets should never be left behind in unsafe conditions. So, before disaster strikes, contact your vet to ask for contact information for suitable boarding kennels and foster care shelters for pets. Click here for information about local animal shelters.
  3. Identify dog-friendly hotels and motels in the area, in case your entire family is evacuated — or even if you are just going on vacation. We like to go on holiday, too. Or ask friends and relatives if they would be willing to temporarily house your pet if the need arises.

During an emergency

Graphic: Prepare Your Pets

 
Photo courtesy of FEMA

  • Stay calm.This will help you handle the disaster and, since pets can sense emotion, it will help lessen their stress.
  • Bring pets indoors, at the first sign of an emergency. Animals can easily become disoriented and could wander away during a crisis.
  • Create a “lost pet” flier to store on your Smartphone, so you will be prepared to instantly share via social media, if your pet is lost.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your pets.

What to include in a pet preparedness kit (FEMA recommends building one for humans and another one specifically for pets. And the American Red Cross and CDC implore pet owners to include their furry friends in emergency prep.)

  • Water – enough for at least three days. And we do like our water!
  • A week’s supply of canned or dry dog food (Don’t forget the can opener!)
  • Bowls for food and water
  • 2-week supply of prescription pet meds
  • Collar & Leash and/or Pet Carrier (Make sure all tags include updated information or consider having your pet micro-chipped.)
  • Medical Records, including record of immunizations
  • First Aid Kit with pet-specific items
  • Contact list including info for pet-friendly hotels and veterinarians
  • Favorite toys and comfort items
  • Disposable bags for dogs, litter boxes for cats
  • Photo of your pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • A bag of cooked bacon (Just a suggestion…)
  • Click here for a list of supplies to include in your emergency kit for humans.

Graphic: Make a Plan with Pets

Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not only during pet preparedness month and not just relative to your pets. After all, preparation for humans and pets can save lives. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 14, 2016

 Summer Water Safety Tips

Dog In A Blue KayakAccording to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about 10 people die from unintentionally drowning each day in the United States. In fact, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death for people of all ages, and is the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years in the nation. Globally, the statistics provided by the World Health Organization are scarier yet, with more than 40 people dying by drowning every hour of every day! But the good news is that accidental drownings are preventable as long as you observe a few safety guidelines whenever you are in or around water this summer. Although it probably won’t win you any points for style, the doggie paddle is a great way to stay safe in water.

Wherever you choose to vacation this summer, #BeSafe and #SafeForLife:Fotolia_112188044_XS

  1. Steady on your feet (or paws). Even if you opt for a “stay-cation” this year, be careful not just in, but around water. This includes areas adjacent to man-made water sources such as the wooden decking around Jacuzzis and spas as well as slick surfaces like freshly watered lawns or pool decks. Slip-and-fall accidents account for a myriad of serious and even life-threatening injuries each year, especially among senior citizens. So instruct children to walk instead of run and help elderly people when they are walking in slippery areas.
  2. Easy does it. Alcohol and water do not mix. If and when you choose to indulge over the summer, do so when you are clear of water-related dangers. The American Boating Association reports that almost half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. So an easy way to reduce your risk of a boating accident is to stay sober whenever you get behind the water wheel. I’m a teetotaler, myself.
  3. Start early. Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible. Even babies can learn basic water survival techniques. Be sure to include swimming lessons in your summer routine. And whenever young kids are around a pool, watch them like a hawk and brief babysitters about the necessity of providing constant supervision around water. My wife and I let JR learn to swim when he was a wee pup. He loves the water.
  4. summer timeMake rescue easy. If you have an above-ground or in-ground pool, live near a dock or have a hot tub, post CPR instructions near the water. Also, learn emergency lifesaving procedures so you can provide aid when necessary, while waiting for first responders. Also, make sure a phone is always on hand whenever anyone is in the water. And stow rescue equipment as close to the water as possible. When it comes to drowning, every second counts.
  5. Discourage accidents. Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool and spa. Also, teach your kids to stay away from drains. Tips at Gov point out that children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits could potentially get stuck in a drain or suction opening. Also, make sure that all pools and spas (including those in backyards as well as in public areas) have compliant drain covers. And if your pool is not covered, remove bright colored toys or flotation devices from the surface, since these attract curious kids

Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just when you are enjoying the water. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | June 7, 2016

Happy National Safety Month!

Fotolia_93755008_XS.jpgOn the heels of celebrating National Building Safety Month in May, we feel it equally essential to note that June marks a more general but no less important annual observance – National Safety Month. Organized by the National Safety Council (NSC) and observed by thousands of organizations across the country, the campaign is designed to raise awareness about what it takes to stay #SafeForLife. National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, as well as in private homes and communities. Each week in June, the NSC will provide free downloadable resources highlighting a specific safety topic. Many of the items are available in English and Spanish.

Week 1 (Through June 12)

Fotolia_75603502_XS.jpgStand Ready to Respond

When seconds count, preparation is key. This is true in both natural and man-made disasters. To prepare, keep a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle. Be sure to include supplies such as food, water, necessary medications, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and a first aid kit. And, just as you participate in emergency drills at work, run regular drills with your family. Also, when collecting items for your emergency kit, don’t forget about Fido. Disasters affect us, too.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 2 (June 13 – 19)

Be HealthyFotolia_37959041_XS.jpg

Each day, decisions we make directly impact our health. So do your best to make smart food choices and exercise regularly. When an injury occurs, strive to work with your doctor to safeguard your health by making informed decisions about what types of medications to take. Keep young children safe around medications by properly storing medicines out of a child’s reach.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 3 (June 20-26)

Watch Out for Dangers

Although, in a recent RJWestmore Training System blog post, we covered the importance of situational awareness, the topic is important enough to bear repeating. Even in familiar surroundings, constantly survey your surroundings for potential danger. My canine companions and I are pretty good at doing this. Noses in the air at all times. Keeping an eye out for hazards can help you identify and avoid them before an injury or attack might occur. Looking at the world through this safety lens can help protect you and loved ones.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 4 (June 27-30)

Share Roads Safely

Fotolia_58160215_XS.jpgVehicles traveling or disabled along our nation’s roadways are constantly at risk. Since it’s impossible to control the choices everyone makes while on the road, practice defensive driving. Getting behind the wheel is a time for patience and focus, qualities that can help you avoid a collision even if someone else makes a bad decision. And, let’s face it; there are a lot of horrible drivers on the road. I have noticed this and I don’t even have a driver’s license.

Resources available through the NSC

Be sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during the month of June. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 24, 2016

All About Situational Awareness

The U.S. Coast Guard defines situational awareness as follows: “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission.” More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you. As a dog, I am usually exceedingly aware of whatever is happening around me…especially if it involves food.

PickpocketThe concept of situational awareness is helpful not just for members of the Coast Guard but for anyone who values personal safety. In fact, many life-threatening emergencies, such as muggings, kidnappings, assaults, and car-jacking’s, can be averted if the intended victim takes steps to be prepared and pays careful attention to his or her environment. Seems like a good reason to me!

The ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while conducting normal activities is easier said than done. But the trait can be acquired. The trick is to pay attention to surroundings without succumbing to distraction. I will admit that bacon can distract me from most things.

Three Obstacles to Situational Awareness

  1. Failing to monitor the baseline. On an everyday basis, remember to pay attention to normal patterns and behaviors. If you fail to do this, you won’t recognize when something happens outside the norm.
  2. Normalcy Bias. If you grew up in a relatively safe area, you may have to repeatedly remind yourself to pay attention to people around you. Most people tend to have a bias towards the status quo. They erroneously assume that since nothing of note has ever happened during their regular routines, nothing major is likely to happen. To overcome this bias, make a conscious decision to be on alert whenever you leave the home or office. The guys and I are always on alert at the firehouse. You never know when the siren will sound.
  3. Focus Lock. This is a form of distraction that causes us to focus all of our awareness on one thing to the detriment of everything else in our environment. For example, this is what happens when someone digs for keys in her purse and is surprised when thieves attack. It is also the reason some people walk into water fountains while texting.Head in the Cloud

Here are some tips to help improve your situational awareness:

  • Open your eyes. This might seem like a no-brainer. But the first step towards personal safety is to pay attention to your surroundings at all times. No matter where you are, be on your guard. Or why not bring your trusty canine with you? We love to keep our masters safe.

A good rule of thumb is to be mindful of the Color Code of Awareness, as coined by the late USMC Commander Jeff Cooper. This code differs from the color code which corresponds to the amount of danger our nation faces at any given time. Cooper’s Colors refers to a person’s current state of mind and willingness to take action regardless of real or imagined threats:

Cooper’s Colors

Condition White: Lack of Threat

Condition Yellow: Relaxed Alertness

Condition Orange: Focused Alertness

Condition Red: Ready to Act

Condition Black: Blind Panic/Psychological Shutdown

Although most people operate in “white mode,” yellow should be the rule of thumb. Criminals are more likely to attack someone who is blissfully unaware and distracted than someone who is alert and prepared for action.

  • Avoid unsafe situations. For example, when parking at night, choose a spot that is well lit. Don’t jog at night by yourself. Never park with your car door directly next to a large van. Don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. Don’t pet a stray dog.
  • Be prepared. As far as situational awareness goes, we are not suggesting you draft a formal evacuation plan every time you leave the house. However, it pays to take steps to be safe. For example, take a few minutes to find your keys before standing next to your locked car. Carry a flashlight with you at night.

Fotolia_50460455_XSBe sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

 

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 17, 2016

Happy Building Safety Month

Building Safety 2016Building Safety Month is a public awareness campaign held each May to help individuals, families and business owners learn how to create and manage safe and sustainable structures. Founded in 1980 by the International Code Council (ICC), which currently has 57,000 members worldwide, the campaign reinforces the need to adopt modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to develop and maintain safe and sustainable structures where we live, work and play. I wonder if they have safety codes for dog houses? This piques my curiosity.

Each week of the campaign features a unique focus:

Week 1: Building Solutions for All Ages/ More Baby Boomers are ready to Retire—Is the Built Environment Prepared?

Elderly couple dreaming about a retirement cottage, EPS 8 vector illustration, no transparenciesMany baby boomers are nearing or entering their retirement years and making decisions about where they will live when they retire. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 89 percent of the 50-and-older population like their current homes and intend to remain in them for as long as possible. But aging in place is not just about the home. The aging of the population will affect many interior environments.

  • Hospitality – restaurants, hotels and motels will need to be accessible (I think it’s especially important to make sure that restaurant kitchens are accessible for canines.)
  • Workplace – offices, retail stores and other work spaces will need to provide adequate lighting, seating, technology, task areas and quiet places for older workers
  • Healthcare – increased need for outpatient and in-home care, accommodation for caretakers and caregivers
  • Retail – stores will need to be accessible and accommodate individuals using assistive devices.
  • Multihousing/multiuse – growing demand for livable communities and urban complexes with easy access to health care, entertainment, shopping, bacon, etc.

Week 2: The Science Behind the Codes/Updated Codes and Standards Reset the Bar for Structures to Withstand Disasters

Senior Couple In Room With Moving Boxes Looking At Drawing of Entertainment Unit.Building codes are made up of requirements for how to design and construct homes and buildings. These code requirements are based on science that involves research in many different areas, including flood proofing, fire-resistance, structural strength, wind design, sustainability, safe drinking water, airflow, energy efficiency, and more. When science reveals ways to improve an area of building safety, these findings can be included in the code requirements and standards.

Week 3: Learn from the Past, Build for Tomorrow/ Disaster Preparedness Ensures Safe and Resilient Homes, Businesses and Communities

“The Boy Scouts of America have the motto, ‘Be Prepared,’ (which) applies to disaster preparedness, as well,” said ICC Board of Directors President Alex Olszowy, III. “It is so easy to forget about keeping up with items we may hardly ever use, such as first-aid kits, bottled water, dry goods, flashlights and spare batteries. You just don’t know when you might be without the amenities we have become accustomed to.” We share Olszowy’s passion for training people to be safe. For more about this topic, see the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services’ blog posts about disaster preparedness.

Week 4: Building Codes, A Smart Investment/ It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes. A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare.

Survival setBy following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, your pets, or future owners, plus you’ll benefit from the best energy efficiency construction techniques that will continue to pay you back for the life of your home.

As our nation faces longer wildfire seasons, more severe droughts, heavier rainfall, and more frequent flooding, safeguarding the resilience of our infrastructure is more critical than ever. To learn more about how to prepare for all types of disasters and improve the safety and resilience of the places in which you spend time, visit www.Ready.gov.

Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during National Building Safety Month. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 10, 2016

All about Recalls

Man Missing A Car KeyUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are probably aware of the huge air bag recall. Until recently, it was easy to take safety recalls lightly. After all, nearly every television newscast makes mention of one, affecting everything from lettuce to toys. But our outlook on recalls will forever be changed thanks to Takata air bags, which were installed in tens of millions of vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2015. Subject to the largest and most complex recall in U.S. history, the bags’ internal inflators explode and expel bits of sharp metal shards, leading to serious injuries or death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined the root cause of the problem: airbags that use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. Environmental moisture, high temperatures, and age are associated with the defect. To date, 10 people have died from air-bag related injuries and more than 100 have been injured in the U.S.Airbag word cloud

Millions of cars are included in the recall, so you probably either own an affected vehicle or know someone who does. In cases like this, I am glad I don’t know how to drive! Click here for a complete list of affected vehicles and contact your dealer for the appropriate repair and potential loaner.

Managing Auto Recalls

The problem with most recall notices is that they resemble sales pamphlets, so they are often discarded. This is dangerous. Also, while car manufacturers keep track of original owner information, they may lose track of cars sold to third parties. So we wanted to call attention to the importance of being aware of recall information. The NHTSA campaign motto is similar to our own: “Safe cars save lives.” That’s pretty close to our own motto: “Training Saves Lives.”

Airbag Seat belt worksHere are several tips for staying informed about vehicle recalls:

  • Regularly check out Recalls.Gov , which allows you to check by make, model or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • Ask your dealer. When you drop your car off at the dealer for an oil change or other routine maintenance, ask about recalls.
  • Check websites such as Edmunds, CarFax, and Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com).
  • Visit your vehicle manufacturer’s website.
  • Don’t throw away things without reading them.

Comprehensive Government Resource Multi-Industry Recalls

Autos are hardly the only consumer products subject to recall. Recalls.gov provides updated information about recalls in several categories including consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics, pet items and environmental products. A quick check on the “Food” section, for example, brings visitors to the FDA recall site where an April 28 press release recall announces: “Bakery Express of Southern California Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanut in 7-Eleven Fresh-To-Go Cookies.” I’ve also heard about recalls on pet food. Why not just play it safe and feed the dog human foods like steak, pork chops and bacon?

Staying on top of recalls does not mean conducting online reviews before buying a bag of chips or spinach. However, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes each month investigating recall sites, and keeping your eyes out for news stories about the latest problems.

Keep your eyes peeled for potential recalls on your vehicle as well as other consumer products.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just relative to items on recall. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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