Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Health & Welfare, How to stay healthy, Uncategorized

Poison Prevention Week

image0014Did 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
    Poison bottle with a skull and crossbones label. Vector illustration.

Here are some reasons that poison prevention is extremely important:

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.”

Eat me cake. Drink Me potion. Set meal for Alice in Wonderland.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:doctor medical care bubble speech

  • 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.

 

 

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Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Resolve to Be Ready in 2012

National Preparedness Month September 2012

Based on all of the natural and man-made disasters that have been taking place lately, it seems particularly fitting that September is National Preparedness Month. This year marks the ninth annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Here is a sampling of significant world events over just the past seven days, in case you aren’t convinced that it is worth your time to prepare for disaster: (By the way…my run-in with Felix the Cat isn’t even listed. I’ll spare you the details. But suffice to say it was definitely a disaster for him.)

 

Bomb Threats:

USA North Dakota

USA Texas

 

Cyclones:

Antilles

Newfoundland

Philippines

 

Earthquakes:

Argentina

China

Costa Rica

Fiji

Greece

Indonesia

Japan

Kyrgyzstan

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

USA Alaska

USA Maine

Venezuela

 

Fires & Wildfires(These just happen to be my specialty.)

Bulgaria

Canada

France

Italy

Siberia

USA California

USA Oklahoma

USA Oregon

USA Washington

USA West Virginia

USA Wyoming

 

Flash Flood & Landslides:

China

Costa Rica

Fiji

India

Pakistan

Philippines

Thailand

USA California

USA Louisiana

USA Utah

West Africa

 

Hazardous Materials:

USA New Mexico

 

Terrorist Attacks:

British Embassy in Sudan

German Embassy in Sudan

US Embassy in Egypt
US Embassy in Libya

US Embassy in Sudan

US Embassy in Tunis

US Embassy in Yemen
Tornadoes: (I think we should have included Toto’s trip to Oz in this category, even though it didn’t happen within the past 7 days.)

USA Florida

USA New York

USA Texas

 

Transportation Incident:

USA Nebraska

 

Volcanoes:

Guatemala

Indonesia

Japan

Obviously, the above list is far from comprehensive. Disasters of all kinds occur virtually everywhere, every second of every hour of every day. Not to be Debbie Downer. If you would like to check out up-to-the minute disasters, you can download apps for your phone or mobile device, or check out free online resources from the CDC, FEMA and Ready.Gov. To receive free monthly preparedness tips from FEMA, text PREPARE to 43362.  More important than learning about every single disaster is to prepare for any and every kind of disaster.

The RJWestmore Online Training System provides emergency preparedness to tenants of high rise commercial buildings across the country. Online modules such as fire, earthquakes and bomb threats equip building occupants so they know how to quickly and safely respond to virtually any disaster…be it manmade or natural. So, if you own or manage commercial property, you can take advantage of the RJW system and enjoy peace of mind about emergency preparation and recovery for everyone who lives or works in your building.

To make sure you and your family are prepared for disasters; heed the advice of FEMA, whose new campaign is: “Today is the day before. Are you ready for tomorrow?” In other words, we don’t know what type disaster might occur tomorrow. But the best we can do is to prepare for it today. Would you be ready for a disaster? In short:

  1. Make sure you are informed about what to do before, during and after a disaster.
  2. Make a plan. Prepare, plan and stay informed about emergencies.
  3. Build a kit for disasters so you are prepared. Make sure the kit includes lots of dog treats and food for Fido.
  4. Get involved—find opportunities to support community preparedness.
  5. Plan to protect your business. Maybe Man’s Best Friend could help you here.

Over the years, we have devoted 169 RJ the Firedog blog posts to the topic of disaster preparation. To celebrate National Preparedness Month, why not read through a few to refresh your memory and motivate you to take action? When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.

Posted in Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Terrorism

The Ominous 11th Anniversary of 9/11

As we observe the ominous 11th anniversary of 9/11, we at RJWestmore Inc. would like to once again thank all of the emergency personnel and civilians who provided much needed assistance in the hours, days, weeks, months and years immediately following what is considered the deadliest domestic terrorism attack in United States History. In the years since the attacks, we, as a nation have grown accustomed to the idea that America may not be as safe and secure as we once believed. And this is actually a good thing—because it has made us realize that we need to prepare. And preparation is always a good thing!

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. So, to mark the occasion of the 11th anniversary, we want to share some tips to help you plan for a terrorist attack. We hope you will never have to use the ideas. But, in the event you do, we want you to BE SAFE. In fact, at RJWestmore Inc., our primary goal is to keep you safe!

Over the years, terrorists have used several different methods to attack at home and abroad. Here are some examples:

  • Armed attacks and Assassinations— these include raids and ambushes. I like to ambush the neighborhood cats. But I don’t really mean them any harm. I just like to see them run for cover.
  • Arsons and Fire bombings—incendiary devices are cheap and easy to hide. So arson and fire bombings are easily conducted by those groups that may not be as well-organized, equipped, or trained as well-funded terrorist organization.
  • Bioterrorism—refers to the intentional release of toxic biological or chemical agents. Some of the guys at the fire station make chili that gives off toxic fumes. But I don’t think that’s the same thing.
  • Cyber Terrorism—using information technology to attack. I prefer to keep my information in paper folders locked in a file cabinet. But that’s just me.
  • Ecoterrorism— a recently coined term describing violence in the interests of environmentalism. In general, environmental extremists sabotage property to inflict economic damage.
  • Hijackings and Skyjackings—the seizure by force of a surface vehicle, its passengers, and/or its cargo. Skyjacking is the taking of an entire aircraft, which creates a mobile, hostage-barricade situation. This is why I don’t fly. Well, that and the fact they won’t give me a passport. I refuse to sleep in the cold belly of the plane like other K9s.
  • Kidnappings and Hostage-Takings—terrorists establish a bargaining position in an attempt to elicit publicity.
  • Narcoterrorism—has had several meanings since 1983. It once denoted violence used by drug traffickers to influence governments which were trying to stop the drug trade. In the last several years, narcoterrorism has been used to indicate situations in which terrorist groups use drug trafficking to fund their operations.
  • Nuclear Terrorism— refers to a number of ways nuclear materials might be exploited as a terrorist tactic. These include attacking nuclear facilities, purchasing or building nuclear weapons or finding ways to disperse radioactive materials.
  • And, finally… Bombings— which are the most common type of terrorist act.

Overall, the best way to prepare for a terrorist attack is to be observant and vigilant. Familiarize yourself with your work, school and community disaster plans. If you are not aware of such plans, contact your supervisor, school administrators, or local fire department for information. If no one has made a disaster plan, come up with one on your own and share it with emergency personnel.

On an ongoing basis, keep your eyes open for unusual activity in your immediate area, as members of terrorist cells often live and work in suburban neighborhoods even as they prepare to attack. If your neighbor receives lots of packages marked “ammo” or “firearms,” call the police department. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Since bombs are the most typical terrorist attack, here are a few hints about handling bomb threats. Now, admittedly, most members of al-Qaeda won’t call to warn about a bomb threat. But domestic terrorists usually do. And the most common way they warn is via telephone. Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System watch colorful educational videos that walk you through the steps to take if someone calls with a bomb threat:

  1. Take a deep breath. Most bomb threats are false. And even if the threat is real, calls are made by those who want to minimize damage.
  2. Bomb threats are usually made by telephone. So keep emergency numbers by your telephone.
  3. Be polite, calm and patient and ask questions: (This seems weird to me. Be polite to a terrorist? But I think I understand. You have to try to keep him/her calm.)
    • Where is the device?
    • When is it set to go off?
    • What does it look like?
    • Why are you doing this?
    • Do you have any bacon? (Just kidding. But I love any excuse to bring up bacon.)
  4. Pay careful attention to background noises. Does the caller have an accent? Does he/she speak with a lisp or stutter? Write everything down so you will be able to give authorities a clear description of the caller.
  5. A bomb search should only be done by people who are familiar with the area and have been trained to investigate. Some of my best friends are bomb-sniffing dogs.
  6. Do not use two-way radios or cell phones, as these can remotely detonate a device.
  7. Call 911. In this case, the Twilight Bark won’t do!
  8. Notify building management immediately after hanging up.
  9. Open the doors and windows. I recommend doing this all of the time for airflow!
  10. Prepare to evacuate the building following pre-established safety guidelines.
  11. Do not reenter the building until you have gotten the “all clear” from emergency personnel.

For information about what to do during and after a terrorist bombing, check out the free information available on the CDC website. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system.

Posted in Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Terrorism

Olympic Disaster Preparation

Bio-terrorism could threaten the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

As we look forward to the 2012 Olympic Games to be held this summer in London, officials are doing their due diligence to prepare for potential natural and manmade disasters. After all, planning and preparation is critical for an event that brings together millions of people (but bans all canines except service dogs) from all over the world. For security reasons, the International Olympic Committee will not disclose specific steps they are taking to ensure safety for the games. Nevertheless, some disaster management experts agree about the type of disasters that are most likely to strike after the torch is lit during the opening ceremonies in Olympic Stadium in Stratford on July 27.

Disaster preparation has played a crucial role in every game since the so-called Munich Massacre of 1972 when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by Palestinian terrorists. What’s more, the events of 9/11 made preparation all the more critical, tipping the scales in focused planning from natural to manmade disasters.

Two disaster planning and preparedness recently released a novel which explores a likely threat to the 2012 games. Entitled Prion, the work explores the potential of an attack on the London 2012 Olympics using biological agents. Although the thriller is fiction, it sheds light on one of the most likely types of threats to the 2012 games…bioterrorism. Authors, Dr. Italo Subbarao and Dr. Ed Hsu, U.S.-based experts in disaster planning preparedness and emergency medicine, point out the potential dangers of man-made biological agents slipping into the wrong hands.

The authors say their work was inspired, in part, by a 2011 report by the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center in the United States, which highlighted numerous areas for improvement and concluded that: “The nation does not yet have adequate bio-response capability to meet fundamental expectations during a large-scale biological event.”

“If the U.S. is so unprepared, can the UK—or any other country—honestly claim to be in any better position?” asks Dr. Subbarao.

I favor another fictional work about the case for including dog competitions at the 2012 Olympic Games. Might I suggestion a game of “Chase the Bacon” or “Scare away the Cat?”

Rest assured the WMD Report Card was written in 2011. Since that time, extensive time and attention has been devoted to beefing up security protocols in both the U.S. and the U.K. So, even as officials ready the nations, how should average United States’ citizens prepare for a bioterrorist attack? We say this often at RJWestmore Inc, where our goal is to SAVE LIVES THROUGH TRAINING: With bioterrorism as well as any other disaster, to BE SAFE, your best bet is to prepare:

  1. Assemble a kit. Your standard Emergency Supply Kit should include items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. Don’t forget to include your pets in disaster planning. Stash jerky treats and plenty of bones.
  2. Stay informed. The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to an agent. Follow these guidelines during a biological threat:
  1. Make a plan.
    • Check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date. (Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.)
    • Consider installing a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your furnace-return ducts. These filters remove particles in the 0.3 to 10 micron range and will filter out most of the biological agents that might enter your home or office building. If you do not have a central heating or cooling system, a stand-alone portable HEPA filter can be used.
    • Although you might consider investing in gas or surgical face masks, be aware that masks are only effective when worn at the exact time that the agent is released.
    • Familiarize yourself with your community’s warning systems and disaster plans. My pack prefers the Twilight Bark.
    • Public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what you should do. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, areas in danger, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed and where to seek medical attention if you become ill.
  1. BE SAFE. If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance:
    • Quickly get away.
    • Protect yourself. Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing.
    • If you have been exposed to a biological agent, remove and bag your clothes and personal items. Follow official instructions for disposal of contaminated items.
    • Wash yourself with soap and water and put on clean clothes.
    • Use common sense, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs. My wife and I are trying to teach JR to practice good hygiene.
    • If you believe you have been exposed to a toxic agent, contact authorities and seek medical assistance. You may be advised to stay away from others or even quarantined.
    • In a declared biological emergency or developing epidemic, there may be reason to stay away from crowds where others may be infected.
    • Wait for instructions from doctors, veterinarians and other public health officials.
    • For more information about bio-terrorism, check out CDC.gov.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Posted in Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Terrorism, Uncategorized

The Persistent Bioterrorism Threat

Are you prepared for the threat of bioterrorism?

Security experts such as Graham Alison, who is the funding dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and an expert on nuclear proliferation, point to the comparative ease of acquiring bioterrorism materials as opposed to the technology required to actually make a nuclear device. This ease of accumulation makes it considerably more likely that nations will respond to bioterror-detonations or spread before a nuclear attack. And bioterror attacks have already occurred in this country, and continue to happen, with a recent Washington D.C. anthrax attack making the news.

A key tactic for preventing the widespread spread of bacterial weaponized agents is the production of vaccines. However, creating a new vaccine faces many hurdles. There are some successes and shortcomings for efforts to build and stockpile vaccines:

  • Enough smallpox vaccine exists to inoculate every U.S. citizen. There is enough anthrax vaccine to cover three major metropolitan areas. I can cover three major metropolitan areas myself.
  • The organization of Health and Human Services points to a severe lack of urgency with the United States Government’s efforts to stockpile vaccines and prepare for potential calamities. This unfortunately is a common human trait. Spring into action after the worst has already occurred…
  • According to the New York Times, the cost for the pharmaceutical industry to produce a new vaccine averages about $1 billion. Vaccines are not typically money-makers for these companies, which often focus on drugs that require habitual usage—such as cholesterol treatment medications. I’m on a squirrel-chasing protein-based inhibitor myself but it’s not working out too well.

Another key component of managing the risk of bioterror is to protect buildings and personnel:

  • HVAC systems pose a severe risk by their very function. They circulate and recycle air throughout buildings, making them the perfect vehicle for contamination.
  • Companies can improve HVAC filtration, protect outdoor air intakes, and secure building blueprints that would show HVAC details. My doghouse filtration system is Triple 9 HEPA Blue Shield Certified Contaminant Free.
  • Buildings with tenants whose companies utilize industrial chemicals should ensure physical access to these chemicals is severely restricted.
  • Restricting access of unannounced visitors and couriers is vital to providing some separation between the public and tenants.
  • Establish a “safe haven” where employees can congregate after an attack is eminent. I have an old towel that’s my safe place. It’s covered in hair and old grease stains. Perfection!

During the anthrax attacks of 2001, many postal and mailroom staff members were not able to recognize the risks of suspicious packages, even after opening the contents and discovering powders.

Handling suspicious packages requires several key steps:

  • Identify unopened packages that might deserve extra scrutiny. Look for signs such as handwritten or badly written address information, excessive postage, markings such as “Confidential,” mismatched postmark/return address, or misspellings.
  • A powdery substance, oily stains, or excessive packaging can be signs of potential bioterror substances in the package.
  • Don’t open questionable packages! This advice seems rudimentary. But you should instruct tenants and mailroom staff that no package is worth injury. On a side note, if your building receives any packages from kibble manufacturers or “Pig’s Ears R Us,” then please forward directly to me.
  • Handle the package gently, without shaking the contents.
  • Do not smell the package.
  • Keep the unopened package in a secure area that has adequate ventilation.
  • If you come in contact with a suspicious package or substance, immediately wash your hands and possibly discard clothing if possible.
  • Avoid touching your face when you are handling the package. Another benefit of not having hands!!
  • After calling law enforcement, record as many details as possible about the package. Did you notice a new delivery driver, or an unusual shipping carrier? Any details can give law enforcement time to develop evidence.

In the event your building or staff members are involved in an attack, you should take certain steps to limit damage. Designated employees should call the local FBI office to report the incident and coordinate investigation efforts. Affected individuals should be quickly quarantined while they wait for medical personnel. It is important to provide first responders with as many details as possible so they can arrange HAZMAT or other protections.

The threat for bioterrorism is real. Through proper planning, and open communication with agencies such as the CDC and FBI, you can do your part to identify and prevent attacks from occurring.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

More Lessons Learned in the 10 Years since 9/11

9/11 Lessons Learned

Part 3 in our continuing series

September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

Since August is U.S. Army Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month, and with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack. In our third installment this week, here are two more lessons we’ve learned:

1. Security-related incidents will likely impact transportation and travel.

The 9/11 attacks affected public transit, commuter rail, commercial vehicles and ferries, and resulted in the need for significant road repairs. What’s more, the way people travel has shifted since the now infamous act of terrorism on our country. According to the U.S. Travel Association:

  • Business travel was hit particularly hard by 9/11. Between 2011 and 2010, total volume declined, as businessmen and women exercised the option of replacing short business trips with conference calls.
  • The good news is that American leisure travel, on the other hand, has been resilient. Despite long lines and other symptoms of policies implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the leisure segment has seen a 17% increase in travel since 2001.
  • International leisure travel to the U.S. basically lost an entire decade following the attacks. While global long-haul travel increased by 40%. During the same period, overseas travel to the United States rose by less than 2%.

While the travel industry reels, emergency management professionals strategize about ways to ensure safety for anyone traveling to or within the United States. Carefully monitoring and protecting travelers has become a critical part of safeguarding our nation. If you’ve flown since 2001, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the effects of heightened security at our nation’s airports. Among the changes:

  • Restricted Items—box cutters and other sharp objects as well as large quantities of liquids and gels are no longer allowed on airplanes.
  • Heightened security on aircraft—cockpit doors are bulletproof to prevent unauthorized access. Pilots also have the option to carry a gun. And more air marshals have been placed on flights. Curtains that used to divide first class and coach cabins have been removed.
  • Improved security screening—many passengers are patted down, everyone has to remove jackets, shoes and belts before passing through security checkpoints. Even casual comments made in passing (relative to terrorism or hijacking) are taken seriously.
  • Tighter Identification checks—all passengers must carry valid IDs.

Since restrictions could be placed on domestic and international travel in the event of another attack, systems have been put in place to alert citizens if it becomes necessary to ask residents to evacuate and/or avoid certain roads or areas for safety.

2. Law enforcement involvement is necessary at local, state and federal levels due to the criminal nature of any and all terrorist attacks. Most counter-terrorism strategies involve an increase in standard police and local authorities. But did you know that you can play a part to aid officials in their efforts to protect the public?

  • Keep your eyes open and report suspicious activities to local agencies. The best way to do this is to become familiar with your surroundings so you will notice anything out of the ordinary.
  • The Army’s iWATCH Program encourages people to identify and report suspicious behavior that may be associated with terrorist activities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encourages people to help authorities by suggesting: If you see something, say something. If you notice suspicious activity, report it to your local police department. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
  • Since attacks can come in the 3-D world or cyber space, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team offers a US-Cert Incident Reporting System. Learn to identify potential threats to your cyber security along with your physical safety.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Don’t take your safety for granted: Lessons learned from 9/11

Twin towers outline against American flag
September 11 taught us we can't afford to take our safety for granted.

Second in a series about 9/11

Given the serious and sensitive nature of the somber events of September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack.

Two of the 10 things we’ve learned from 9/11:

1, We can’t afford to take our safety for granted. The aftermath of 911 will likely be with us in perpetuity. The plus side to this is that many people now realize they should take steps to protect themselves and prepare for potential future attacks.

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, many of us took our safety for granted. Doing so was easy. After all, planes generally took off and landed as scheduled. Going to work was relatively uneventful. Multi-million dollar buildings stood tall.

All of that changed when pilots hijacked planes and, in a coordinated suicide effort led by al-Qaeda, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A third plane which was likely headed for either the Capital or the White House was overtaken by passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of workers and civilians died in what has since become known as the greatest terrorist attack on American soil in history.

The good news is that, as a nation, we have learned. We have learned to recognize threats and to take action in order to ward off potential assaults against our country. Security is tighter now than it has ever been. And, as a result, we are safer. In fact, the likelihood of broad attacks involving multiple agents has actually decreased since 2001.

What’s more, because we are no longer naïve about potential threats to our personal and national safety, we are more willing to participate in drills and develop emergency preparedness plans. For those of us in the safety training business, this is good news because we have long understood the importance of preparation. In fact, at RJWestmore, Inc. has been providing safety and security solutions to commercial real estate companies for more than 20 years. Our mission is to save lives through training with the motto “BE SAFE!”

You can take an active part in your own safety by observing National Preparedness Month (NPM) in September. Sponsored by FEMA, the month-long campaign encourages citizens to get a kit, make a plan and be informed. Leading by example, RJWestmore, Inc. is a member of the NPM Coalition.

2. Terrorism can cause thousands of casualties and/or extensive damage to buildings as well as infrastructure. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost nearly $2 trillion.

Small Business—Cyber security firm Symantec reports that, despite the plethora of information about terrorism attacks, most small business owners remain unprepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The cost of training your employees to act and assemble simple disaster kits is far less than what you will lose if and when you and your colleagues face another terrorist attack. Potential threats include cyber security. So make sure your information systems are secure.

Property Owners & ManagersEmerald Research reports that terrorist attacks on buildings are becoming an increasing threat. So it is essential that property managers prepare for potential attacks. Building owners and managers should understand the types of devices used by terrorists and assess the threat, determine how buildings can be physically protected and the ways that property managers should respond to perceived threats, both proactively and reactively.

As our series continues, we’ll examine the remaining eight lessons we’ve learned from 9/11 so you and your loved ones and colleagues will BE SAFE. Once you have determined the possible events and their potential affects to your community, you’ll want to discuss them with your family, friends and coworkers.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Prepare for a Terrorist Attack: 10 Lessons we’ve learned in the10 years since 9/11

American flag wrapped around the Twin Towers
Lessons we've learned in the 10 years since 9/11

First in a series about 9/11

Given the serious and sensitive nature of the somber events of September 11, 2001, this week’s blog post does not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we would like to take the next five weeks to discuss the lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack.

Remembering 9/11:

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands of people working in the buildings.

Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon. Hijackers redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House, but were diverted when passengers tried to retake control. The airliner crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, leaving no survivors.

Nearly 3,000 victims and 19 hijackers died in the attacks. Among the 2,753 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, there were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority, and 8 private EMTs and paramedics. Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of more than 70 countries.

Ten things we’ve learned from 9/11:

  1. We can’t afford to take our safety for granted. The aftermath of 911 will likely be with us in perpetuity. The plus side to this is that many people now realize they should take steps to protect themselves and prepare for potential future attacks.
  2. Terrorism can cause thousands of casualties and/or extensive damage to buildings as well as infrastructure. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost nearly $2 trillion.
  3. Security-related incidents will impact transportation. The 9/11 attacks affected public transit, commuter rail, commercial vehicles and ferries, and resulted in the need for significant road repairs. Further, restrictions could be placed on domestic and international travel and citizens may be asked to evacuate and avoid certain roads or areas for their safety.
  4. Law enforcement involvement is necessary at local, state and federal levels due to the criminal nature of any and all terrorist attacks.
  5. Resources for physical and mental health in affected communities will likely be overwhelmed.
  6. Public fear, fed by extensive media coverage, may continue for a prolonged period of time.
  7. Workplaces, government offices and schools might be closed.
  8. Terrorism has many faces. Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, a female suicide bomber…terrorism has many faces. And, as MSNBC travel columnist James Wysong notes: “We must never judge a book by its cover.”
  9. Clean-up could take many months and cost millions.
  10. As a people, we share what Time Magazine writer Nancy Gibbs called, “a sharp resolve to just be better, bigger, to shed the nonsense, rise to the occasion.”

What You Can Do to Prepare

Referring to these ten lessons, in our next several blog posts, we’ll examine specific steps you can take so you and your loved ones will BE SAFE. Once you have determined the possible events and their potential affects to your community, you’ll want to discuss them with your family, friends and coworkers.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Influenza, Swine Flu, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The DHS Will Use New Technology to Announce Threats

New Sample DHS Alert System Snapshot
The Dept of Homeland Security will use social media to announce two tiers of alerts.

Very shortly, news network viewers and their canine companions will no longer find out about updates via color-coded threat levels from the Department of Homeland Security. The current threat-level chart will be replaced by a two-level threat system known as the National Terrorism Advisory System. The first threat level will be coined “elevated,” and would warn about a credible threat, but not list possible targets. (As far as I know, the Midnight Bark will remain unchanged.)

A distinct difference to the previous system is that the two-level system will provide a start and end date for the threat. The second level will be “imminent” when law enforcement officers working with DHS determine a credible threat will very likely be attempted against certain targets. This level of alert would continue for not more than seven days, but could be extended. DHS will also incorporate social media alerts into the two-level system, recognizing the reach and the importance of such networks in the fast sharing of information.

First put into use in March 2002, the current system (officially known as the Homeland Security Advisory System), was established in response to the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. The system initially came under frequent criticisms, with many individuals claiming the threat level was often raised for political motives to incite citizen unrest. Others claimed the threat level did not move sufficiently to recognize actual threats, and was often held at an elevated status level.

According to DHS, the risk of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remains, and citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior. Loud barking is another option for alerting folks about potential threats. Law enforcement is continually training for possible attacks, even participating in testing exercises to measure readiness.

This type of readiness was evident in the thwarted New York’s Time Square bombing attempt in 2009, where a quick-thinking street vendor alerted authorities to a smoking van. The terror alert system reminds citizens about the threat of terrorism and encourages common sense as well as a broader sense of civic responsibility.

Government officials announced that terror alerts and information about threats will be distributed via two primary social networks when deemed appropriate, Twitter and Facebook. The department’s Twitter alerts page is @ntasalerts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/HomelandSecurity. In some cases, distribution of specifics regarding an alert could jeopardize ongoing investigations. In such cases, information about terror threats might not reach the public until after the alleged terrorists are captured and the threat has been mitigated. If you haven’t yet found me on Twitter, be sure to check out my tweets @rjthefiredog.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Help Children Cope Following a Disaster

Cartoon teacher reading to five children
At home or at school, use these strategies to help children cope after disasters.

Whether children personally experience trauma, watch events unfold on television or overhear adult discussions, natural and manmade disasters can leave them feeling frightened, confused and insecure. To help kids or pups cope, parents, teachers and friends should take steps so they understand how to easily identify and reduce disaster-related stress.

Identifying Risk Factors

While individual reactions to natural and manmade disasters vary, there are some common denominators in young folks who experience stress brought on by emergency situations such as fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorism and the like. To help you identify risk factors, consider these common childhood reactions to disaster:

  • Fear, especially at night
  • Sadness
  • Bedwetting or (in JR’s case), missing the puppy pad
  • Sleep disturbances and nightmares
  • Separation anxiety, clinging, dependant behavior
  • Anger
  • Acting out with whining, tantrums or (in my family’s case), excessive barking
  • Physical aggression (or, with my breed, bearing of teeth)
  • Problems in elementary or obedience school
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Although it is normal for both children and adults to react for a time to disasters near and far, for some, response to abnormal events can lead to more substantial, enduring psychological distress. Particularly at risk for this more serious, sustained negative behavior are children who have been directly exposed to physical disasters—such as those who were evacuated from their homes, have come in close contact with accident victims, witnessed deaths, suffered personal injuries or feared for their life and safety.

Also significant are secondary effects of disasters such as temporary changes in living arrangements, interruption in communication with friends and social networks, loss of personal property, parental unemployment and costs incurred during recovery to return the family to pre-disaster life and living conditions. A secondary effect for canines might be recovery from kennel cough.

In most cases, primary and secondary symptoms will diminish over time. But for those who were directly exposed to disasters, reminders may occasionally pop up such as high winds, smoke, cloudy skies, sirens, aftershocks or howling.

No matter the emergency, the ability of children to cope with disasters or emergencies is often tied to the way their parents cope. Kids and most animals are bright; so they can detect adult fears and sadness. So the best way to reduce trauma for kids is to take steps to effectively manage your own feelings as parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters.

Prior to disasters, FEMA advises the best way to establish a sense of control and to build confidence in children is to engage and involve them in preparing a family disaster plan. After a disaster, children can contribute to a family recovery plan.

After the Disaster/How to Help

  • Encourage children and adolescents to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Clarify misunderstandings about risk and danger by listening to children’s concerns.
  • Maintain a sense of calm by validating children’s concerns and perceptions.
  • Listen to what the child is saying or the dog is barking.
  • If a young child asks questions about the event, answer them.
  • If a child has difficulty expressing feelings, allow the child to draw a picture or tell a story of what happened. Since it is always difficult for puppies to explain themselves, I suggest providing plenty of treats.

Suggestions to Help Reassure Children

  • Hug your kids. Physical affection can restore feelings of security.
  • Share just enough details about the event to assuage fears without contributing to insecurity.
  • Quickly reestablish a daily routine. (For what it’s worth, I suggest the more mealtimes, the better.)
  • Involve kids in your efforts to return to normal.
  • Praise responsible behavior.
  • Monitor media exposure.
  • Take advantage of available support networks.

If, despite your efforts, your child continues to exhibit stress, and particularly if the reactions worsen over time or interfere with daily behavior at school, home, or with other relationships, it might be time to call in a professional. Seek assistance from a primary care physician, mental health professional, member of the clergy or veterinarian.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.