Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Burns, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, Holiday Safety, Uncategorized

Holiday Kitchen Safety

niño cocineroCooking a big meal for the holidays is a joyous event, as you can pour your love and expertise into every bite. But to keep loved ones safe, make sure you are careful in the kitchen. Our first tip? Slow down. Despite the frenetic pace modeled on cooking competition shows, it’s always best to pace yourself while cooking. I like to pace myself during the holiday season. I go from kibble, to nap, to crumb searching, back to nap. Professional chefs work quickly, but they also watch out for one another and take steps to follow basic safety protocols.

Avoid Foodborne Illnesses

Fotolia_82270779_XSAs disheartening as it is, in terms of bacteria, home kitchens are typically more bacteria-ridden than public restrooms. And some people call dogs filthy? The good news is that if steps are taken to follow sanitary practices, you can guard against hosting a houseful of sick holiday guests.

  • Wash utensils thoroughly. The dishwasher is the best method for washing, as it utilizes too-hot-to-handle water and vigorous rinsing. I recommend leaving the dishwasher open for a bit so I can do an “inspection.” I just want a quick lick! If you must hand wash items that have come into contact with raw meat or eggs, use gloves, so you can handle hot water without burning yourself, apply lots of soap, and thoroughly everything, to dispense with soap residue.
  • Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting boards for meat and veggies and fruit. Several manufacturers offer color-coded cutting boards for just this reason.
  • User paper towels to remove juice from meat and raw eggs. Avoid using cloth towels, which can harbor bacteria. I won’t even eat uncooked meat for safety reasons. But “medium rare?” I’m all over it!
  • Marinate and defrost foods in the refrigerator instead of on top of the kitchen counter or in the sink.

Illustration of cooking pan with firePrevent Kitchen Fires

  • Much of the risk of kitchen fires can be avoided if cooks focus on the task at hand. Do not leave items on the stove and then leave to fold laundry or watch TV (or zone out on your phone – silly humans.) Instead, remain in the kitchen so you can quickly control flare-ups. Remove clutter. If you are cooking an elaborate meal, you want to clean up as you go to keep your work space clutter free. Towels or wooden utensils frequently meet burners, so keep a “clear zone” around the range top and oven.
  • Thoroughly lean cooking surfaces to prevent high-fat food residue buildup, which can be flammable.
  • Be careful if you are frying foods. Remember that water and hot oil are incompatible. So don’t put frozen foods into hot oil. You CAN, however, put frozen corn dogs directly into the dog’s bowl. (Just a suggestion.)
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen to put out fires before they get out of control. Make sure you are using the right type of extinguisher for the fire you are battling.

Additional tips for holidays kitchen safety:

  • Watch the kids. Keep children out of the kitchen during meal preparation (and out of the doghouse!) While you might be able to supervise kids in less hectic times, crowded kitchens and lots of activity can lead to accident. So save culinary lessons for after the holidays. Also, keeping children away from meal preparation will prevent curious little hands from pulling on pot handles.
  • Clean up spills. A slippery floor is a major hazard in the kitchen, since people often carry sharp knives and boiling water. So immediately wipe spills until surfaces are completely dry. I know Fido and Rufus want to lick up the spills, but this is one instance where I say you should not let every dog have his day.
  • Use knives properly. There is a proper way to chop different types of foods, which can prevent the loss of a fingertip and a trip to the ER on Christmas Day. In addition, remember that, as counter intuitive as it sounds, it is safer to use a razor sharp knife than a dull blade.
  • Steam burns. Some foods, such as instant rice and veggies, now come in convenient plastic microwaveable packets. If you decide to use these, make sure to open away from your face.

The holidays are a busy time. Adding several relatives and planning big elaborate meals challenge even the most organized host. So follow these kitchen safety practices to ensure everyone has a happy and safe holiday season. Go into the kitchen now and give your dog gravy.  (Did my “Jedi mind trick” work?)

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety 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.

Advertisements
Posted in Burns, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Workplace Safety

Part 2 of Summer Safety & Fire Prevention Tips

It's BBQ Grilling Time!As we head into the heavy summer fire-season, we agree with FEMA’s assertion that the best fire prevention is fire education. To that end, this blog post is the second in a two-part series that focuses on summer safety tips. Last week, we covered fire safety before, during and after the 4th of July. This week, we will cover additional fire safety tips.

Barbeque Safety

  • Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the tubes where the air and gas mix are not blocked.
  • Also, before using a grill, make sure you have plenty of steak to cook. (My personal favorite.)
  • Do not overfill the propane tank.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
  • Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame could flashback up into the container and explode.
  • Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
  • Dispose of hot coals properly – douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
  • Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas – carbon monoxide could be produced.
  • Make sure everyone knows to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.

Campfire Safety

  • Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
  • Keep campfires small, and don’t let them get out of hand.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when you’re done. Stir it and douse it again with water.
  • Never leave campfires unattended.
  • Never leave steaks on the grill unattended unless you want them to disappear.

Home Smoking Fire Prevention

Of course, the surest way to avoid a cigarette, pipe or cigar-related fire is to stop smoking immediately and discourage smoking in your home or office. Personally, I’m glad I don’t have opposable thumbs, because I think smoking is an unsafe habit. However, if you have contact with folks who insist on smoking, encourage the following BE SAFE tips:

  • The safest place to smoke is outside. Encourage smokers to head outdoors before lighting up. But please point them away from the doghouse.
  • Use deep sturdy ashtrays to contain potentially dangerous ash.
  • Before disposing of cigarette butts and ashes, make sure they are completely cool. The best way to do this is to distinguish them in a pail of cool water.
  • Keep all smoking materials out of the reach of children and puppies.

For More Information

The USFA has created a comprehensive Smoking & Home Fires Campaign Toolkit that contains free, copyright-free materials that can be printed and distributed. The toolkit is a comprehensive resource that contains materials for fire service personnel and others to use within their community.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

 

Posted in Air Quality, BE SAFE, Burns, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare

The Great American Smokeout 2012

As we wind down October, it’s time to consider safety tips relative to November. Did you know that November is officially the month to “be aware” of each of the following health and safety related concerns?

Also among this month’s distinctions is the annual Great American Smokeout, to be observed on November 15, this year, which began in 1977 as a social engineering experiment to encourage 45.8 million Americans who smoke to stop. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the event challenges people to cease smoking cigarettes for 24 hours, with the hope that the break will lead to permanent cigarette cessation. I never learned to smoke. I guess there are benefits to not having opposable thumbs.

The reason the event is particularly significant to those of us at RJWestmore, Inc. is because smoking not only causes serious disease, it also often leads to fires. In fact, FEMA reports that, each year, approximately 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking-related materials.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is working to help prevent fire deaths and injuries in residential and commercial buildings caused by smoking materials. Fires of this kind affect not only the smoker, but non-smokers as well. Did you know that one in four people killed in home fires is not the smoker whose cigarette caused the fire? According to the USFA, 34 percent of fire victims are children of the smokers and 25 percent were neighbors or friends of the smokers. And I can’t even find statistics about pets. But I’m sure there are some!

The most common start of cigarette-related fires occurs when individuals fall asleep while holding a lit cigarette. (See…another benefit to not being able to hold a cigarette!) However, that is not the only way that cigarettes start a blaze. Here are additional ways cigarettes, cigars and pipes can lead to fires:

  1. Tossing a cigarette from a moving vehicle. Although some people toss lit cigarettes from their car windows, most try to make sure that the butt has been extinguished. If a cigarette is hot when it is tossed into brush or even dirt, a flame can ignite.
  2. Missing the target. Although many states now prohibit smoking inside commercial buildings, to accommodate smokers, some building managers arrange for a designated area just outside of their facility. This is dangerous, as a discarded cigarette could miss the ashtray and ignite the property.
  3. Accidental disposal. Distracted smokers can unwittingly toss lit cigarettes into cushions, on rugs or in flammable areas.

The good news is that fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable. You canmake a difference! The USFA created The Smoking & Home Fires Campaign to educate people about how to prevent fire deaths and injuries caused by smoking materials. Their key message is: “If you smoke, put it out. All the way. Every time.” Through the use of brochures, community presentations, video and radio public service announcements, posters and more, the campaign encourages smokers to “Butt out.” Take my lead and butt out.

Smoking Fire Action Steps

  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out.
  • Be alert!
  • Check for cigarette butts.
  • Never smoke in a home or office where oxygen is used.
  • Post “no smoking” signs on the interior and exterior of your commercial property.
  • If you smoke, fire-safe cigarettes are better.
  • If you crave the smell of smoke, barbecue some steaks and give them to the dog.

Admittedly, anyone who is at least 18 in the United States has the legal right to smoke. So, if you choose to exercise the right, consider using fire safe cigarettes. Abbreviated “FSC,” these are also known as Lower Ignition Propensity [LIP], Reduced Fire Risk [RFR], self-extinguishing, fire-safe or Reduced Ignition Propensity [RIP] cigarettes, all of which are designed to extinguish more quickly than standard cigarettes when left unattended. To make sure you are buying a fire safe cigarette in the United States, make sure you see the designation of “FSC” above the barcode.

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. To learn more about smoking and fire safety, visit the Smoking & Home Fires Campaign page.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Burns, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Golden Guardian, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Terrorism, Uncategorized

Golden Guardian Program Prepares Folks for Disaster Response and Recovery

Golden Guardian 2011 Logo
The Golden Guardian 2011 Program will prepare agency representatives for disaster response and recovery.

The Golden Guardian is an annual event that tests the responsiveness and readiness of a particular area of California for specific disasters. I thought it was the title of a feature film about everyone’s favorite pooch—the Golden Lab. I get it! They are so cute and furry and playful!

First implemented in 2004, The Golden Guardian is now an annual statewide exercise that tests government agencies, volunteer organizations and other entities. The Golden Guardian is the largest disaster planning event of its kind.The result of multiple agency cooperation, Golden Guardian plans are developed by FEMA Region IX and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), among others.

Each year, the Golden Guardian event has a certain theme which reflects on the risks of a potentially devastating natural or man-made disaster. For 2011, the theme was flooding for the inland region of the state.  The event brought together several agencies including the Inland Region Emergency Operations Center, the State Operations Center, federal agencies and partners in the private sector. From May 17th through the 19th, these agencies worked together to forecast the impact of a major flood and examine where responsibilities would lie for cleanup and evacuation as well as health and food assistance efforts.

The risk of a major flood is demonstrated by scientists who detailed the availability of an ARKstorm for inland California. This massive storm could potentially create a flooded area 300 miles long and up to 20 miles wide in the Central Valley of California.  Wow! That is bigger than a bunch of states! It would be the size of some of the Great Lakes.

The theme for 2012 is a major earthquake in Southern California. For 2013, the theme is a catastrophic earthquake in the Bay Area, for 2014, it is Northwest Coast earthquake and tsunami risks, and in 2015, the theme is civil disturbance.

I have a breakdown of my own personal potential disasters that I will be planning for in the coming years:

  • 2012 – Managing a pig ear shortage, including stockpiling tips and grief counseling
  • 2013 – Tips and tactics for enduring bath time
  • 2014 – How to alert people through barking that Timmy is caught on the railroad tracks again (Sorry, Lassie.)

The 2012 Golden Guardian event is intended to open discussion about the entire scope of disaster response—from evacuation routes to shelters for domestic animals. A comprehensive review of readiness, the 2012 event will cover such issues as:

  • Protocols for airlifting supplies, including the establishment of offshore Naval resupply ships, if necessary. I could use a good airlift drop in the backyard—14 tubes of tennis balls, 79 pounds of beef strips…throw in an old shoe to chew on!
  • A review of the “Hub and Spoke” concept of focusing assistance efforts on areas where affected individuals will congregate, such as stadiums, schools and open areas
  • Stabilization of public utilities in order to support infrastructure for critical care facilities like pet food factories
  • Management of public information announcements such as traffic guidelines or water safety alerts that will help citizens manage the disaster
  • Estimation about the number of fires resulting from earthquakes and also calculations about the water and personnel needed to combat the fires.

Preparation and knowledge are always critical for handling emergencies with speed and sound decision-making. Thorough planning helps to uncover unforeseen circumstances and close gaps in safety, logistics and recovery efforts. There are many lessons to be learned from the Golden Guardian campaign that can be applied to individuals as well as business. The first is the benefits of cooperation and the power of groups who work together to achieve goals.

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, Burns, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Preparing for Wildfire Season

cartoon fire
Wildfire season is fast approaching. Are your prepared?

With average temperatures rising nearly every year, the risk of spring and summer wildfires continues to grow. Already this year, Texas is approaching an annual record for acres burned, with more fires likely to spark. Controlling and stopping wildfires is expensive. A finance officer with the Texas Forest Service reports associated costs of $1 million per day. And fighting them is dangerous as well, so, when the opportunity arises, please give your thanks to my friends in fire prevention and rescue!

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 71,908 wild land fires in 2010 damaged 3,423,136 acres—an area about six times the size of Rhode Island. Why is Rhode Island always the measuring yardstick? Do you think Delaware gets jealous? Fires wreak havoc not only via flames, but also through harmful particulates in smoke, which are dangerous to people as well as pooches and property.

If your commercial or residential property is located near woodlands, you should know that you can take steps now to minimize structural and smoke damage, and maybe even safe a life, should a wildfire break out near your facility:

Clear brush and plant fire-resistant foliage adjacent to your building:

  • A fire that breaks out near your building could potentially spread unless you maintain defensible space.
  • The recommended distance of defensible space varies by the type of wild land vegetation growing near the structure and the steepness of the terrain. But firefighters suggest a minimum of 30 feet of cleared space around any given structure, since sparks from wildfires can jump a considerable distance. I once saw a squirrel jump nearly 15 feet to get some bird seed.
  • According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chances of your structure surviving a wildfire. Defensible space also assures safety for firefighters who battle the blaze.

For a list of fire-resistant plants for your neck for the woods, contact the local forestry agency or do a little bit of research online. For example, San Diego County provides a detailed list of fire-resistant plants suitable for Southern California; a website about the Pacific Northwest explains the way to plant trees and bushes in order to Keep Oregon Green; and the Virginia Department of Forestry website lists regional fire-resistant trees and plants.

  • To prevent soil erosion, plants should be trimmed down instead of removed entirely. Mudslides are no fun, unless they entail a pile of dirt and a garden hose in the backyard.
  • Avoid planting trees near power lines as high winds might cause a line to break and start a fire.

Structural Challenges:

  • For buildings with cedar shake shingle roofs, consider renovating with asphalt shingles since the newer variety are treated with fire retardant.
  • Install external sprinkler systems which will hydrate nearby plants, making it difficult for flying embers to ignite near your building. If you install such a system, make sure it is properly maintained and frequently tested to be sure it is operational in case of emergency. I have misters in our doghouse—not for fire prevention, but just as a luxury for my family and me to enjoy.
  • Ensure debris is moved away from the building. Shipping materials such as wooden pallets can pose a significant risk if exposed to fire.
  • Cover outside ventilation units with wire mesh to prevent floating embers from entering the property.
  • For buildings with patios, utilize only fire-resistant furniture and make sure that gas cooking grills can be stowed away during fire season. I’m on the fence about this one. Maybe the grill can be used on days where there is little to no fire risk? I love my honey-glazed pork chops!
  • Clear leaves and branches from rooftops and gutters.
  • Make sure the fire extinguishers in your building have not expired. Maybe you can train the neighborhood tabby for this job. Cats have to be good for something. You could probably even pay them with saucers of milk.

The threat of wildfires exists in all 50 states, unlike other disasters which might occur only in coastal areas or in the Midwest. For this reason, businesses large and small should include wildfire mitigation in their disaster management plans to ensure the safety of both their building and tenants. If we work together, we might just be able to SAVE A LIFE.

Proper planning and learning the “Do’s” are the keys to managing the situation when disasters strike.  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, Burns, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Innovative Treatments Offer New Hope for Burn Victims

Man in a suit using a spray gun
An innovative new treatment for burns is a "skin gun."

We are covering another serious topic today from the Fire Dog files. According to the American Burn Association, more than 450,000 burn incidents require medical treatment every year, with 10% of those requiring hospitalization.

As with any other injury, if you or someone you know is burnt, err on the side of caution. When in doubt, take burn victims to the emergency room. Or call an ambulance. Isn’t that why humans pay for insurance…to get medical care when it’s needed? Any blistering, sloughing or charring of the skin means the victim needs immediate help. If not treated properly, serious burns can become infected and cause severe scarring.

Burns are classified from 1st to 4th-degree, which each rising level indicating an increase in the severity of the burns and the risks of potential complications.

Basic treatment for first degree and less severe second-degree burns:

  • Run cool (not cold) water on unbroken skin, but not on severe burns
  • Pooches can be sunburned! And it’s pretty serious in some cases. Pay special attention to white-haired and short-haired breeds.
  • Avoid applying topical ointments onto serious burns. First degree burns will benefit from ointments after the initial assessment. My nose loves that pleasing aloe scent!
  • Provide over-the-counter pain medication to help reduce pain and swelling.

Skin grafts have long been the go-to method for treating severe burns in cases where amputation is not necessary:

  • A section of healthy skin is removed from an unaffected part of the victim’s body, or in some cases, skin is extracted from an animal. Yikes!
  • Numerous risks and complications can result from skin grafts including infections, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, and loss of the grafted skin.
  • Patients are required to avoid bending over or stretching the area for 3-4 weeks, which can be very restrictive…particularly if the wounds are on the face, hands or paws. No playing fetch—you need to rest!

But good news is at hand. An innovative treatment that could revolutionize the way burn centers treat patients is gaining popularity. Patients who succumb to burns too often die because of the infections that occur while the patient waits for his or her skin grafts to heal. And this process can take weeks or months. A new procedure known as the “skin gun” takes a different approach:

  • The revolutionary procedure uses the patient’s own stem cells to promote healing.
  • A patient’s healthy skin cells are isolated and placed into a water-based solution.
  • This solution is loaded into a spray gun similar in design to those used to spray fine paints. Seriously? This is going to work?
  • The doctor or technician sprays the stem cell solution directly onto the patient’s affected areas.
  • Healing begins immediately and early results from the procedure show dramatic improvements within hours or days.
  • It’s fun to make fun of the silly things you humans sometimes do. But I have to admit that, sometimes, you are insanely smart. This is Star Trek stuff! A skin healing spray gun!? I suggest you take the people who thought of this and put them on solutions to global warming STAT.

Of course, preventing fires in the first place is the best course of action to eliminate the complications and consequences of serious burns. There are many front-end precautions that can be taken to ensure against the start of fires. And in the unfortunate event that fires break out despite careful planning, there are many ways that fire events can be quickly contained if personnel receive the right training for skills such as extinguisher usage and proper evacuation procedures.

At RJWestmore, Inc., it is our pleasure to provide complimentary information about fire-life safety, disaster preparedness, public health and emergency management as a way to further our corporate mission to “Save Lives through Training.” We recently developed a new Property Messaging Tip Sheet as a courtesy to our clients because we sincerely desire that everyone who reads our blogs, posts and press releases as well as those who join our training program will BE SAFE. And for my part, I hope you are educated entertained by my own firedog blog and tweets.

 

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.