Posted in BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, safe driving, Uncategorized

School Transportation Safety

Elementary age boy and girl running after a school bus, text "Back to school" on top, EPS 8 vector illustrationPart 1 in a 2-Part Series

As we close the book on summer 2017, teachers and administrators across the country welcome students to a school year that’s rife with opportunity and promise. To make sure your student starts 2017-2018 off right, follow these simple safety steps, which are important whether your child is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but my son, J.R. is the top of his class in puppy kindergarten. This week, our post focuses on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. Check back next week when we provide tips for being safe during the school day. American staffordshire terrier puppy with glasses and books

Safety on the Way to School: Biking or Walking – Teach your students to:

  • Check with the school to make sure biking is allowed and that racks are provided so the bicycle can be safely stowed on arrival.
    Teen Guy Biking Back
  • Wear a safe helmet, since helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%.
  • Choose sidewalks or pathways wherever possible, even if using them lengthens the trip.
  • Travel as far from motor vehicles as possible. If sidewalks or designated paths are unavailable, students should walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and not to talk to strangers. This is one of the first things we taught our son, J.R.
  • Find a buddy so they won’t have to go it alone.
  • Follow directions of the crossing guard, if one is present.
  • Cross streets only at corners, at traffic signals or designated crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before passing in front of motor vehicles.
  • Stay alert. Students should pay attention to cars that are backing up or turning. This is a good idea for everyone! Eyes open, people!
  • Avoid running into the street or crossing between parked cars.
  • Wear retroreflective materials to make sure they can be seen.

Taking the Bus – Tell your students to:school bus and schoolchild vector flat illustration on white background

  • Familiarize themselves with the bus stop.
  • Introduce themselves to the driver the first day of school.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the bus stop.
  • Wait patiently at the stop and not to board or exit the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop.
  • Respect the driver as well as other students.

NoPassengersSafe Driving

Teen crashes spike in September as secondary kids head back to school. But the reasons for this may be surprising. Teenage drivers tend to crash not because they are careless but because they are inexperienced. They struggle when judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for road conditions and executing safe turns. What’s more:

  • 66% of teen passengers who die in a crash are not wearing a seat belt.
  • 58% of teens involved in crashes are distracted.
  • 25% of car crashes involve an underage drinking driver.
  • 5% of teens who die in crashes are pedestrians and 10% are bicyclists.

The National Safety Council campaign, “Drive It Home” focuses on the importance of ongoing parental instruction. Don’t end driver’s training as soon your child is licensed. Continue to mentor your young driver. Be sure to check back when we conclude this back-to-school safety series by focusing on how to be safe while at school.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just for students on their way to and from school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure high-rise occupants are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety 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.

Posted in BE SAFE, Cancer Prevention, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare

Summer Safety 2014

Sun iconEach June, the National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. Thousands of organizations across the country are taking part in the campaign to reduce the risk of the safety issues. Safety is a high priority for those of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. In fact, our motto, Be Safe, highlights the priority we put on safety.

Last week, our blog covered several safety issues, including ending prescription drug abuse; preventing slips, trips and falls; being aware of surroundings; and ending distracted driving. This week, we will continue our two-part series by focusing on summer safety. After all; it’s only fitting that we cover the all-important topic before the official start of summer on June 21 and while 4th of July plans are still in the making. I love Independence Day because I can pig out on barbecue without raising eyebrows.

BE SAFE in the Water 

Unfortunately, water-related deaths (including swimming and water-transport) are all too common in the U.S.:

  • More than one in five drowning victims are children 14-years-old and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another four receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion-related injuries.
  • Most drowning and near-drowning incidents happen when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub.
  • According to the CDC, 80 percent of the people who drown are males.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.
  • Dogs don’t usually drown. We have a natural instinct to swim.

To prevent water-related injury or death, prepare:

  1. If you or anyone in your family does not know how to swim, enroll them in lessons immediately.
  2. If you own a hot tub or pool, install a fence with a locked gate or a pad-locked cover.
  3. Supervise children and puppies at all times.

National Safety Month

BE SAFE in the Sun

The drawback about many fun summer activities is that they come at a price– UV exposure.

And that is detrimental because one in five Americans develops skin cancer during their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, over time, excess UV radiation can cause skin cancer, eye damage, immune system suppression, and premature aging. Here are some steps to take to keep you sun safe:

  • Wear sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreen gets stuck in my hair and makes a mess.
  • If you have fair skin or light hair, you are more susceptible to the sun’s rays and should use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.
  • Choose sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning that it protects against two types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB.
  • Use waterproof sunscreen to make sure it stays on longer, even if you perspire or get wet.
  • Reapply sunscreen often – usually every two hours, but sooner if you’ve been swimming or are perspiring heavily.
  • Cover your whole body. Remember those areas that can be easy to forget, such as your ears, eyelids, lips, nose, hands, feet, and the top of your head.
  • Seek shade or avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10am – 4pm. The sun is strongest during those hours, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to help shade your eyes, ears and head.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection to safeguard your eyes.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that protects a larger area of your skin such as long-sleeve shirts or long pants. Tightly woven fabrics in dark or bright colors are best.

BE SAFE in Hot Weather

Heat illness includes a range of disorders that result when your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Anybody not accustomed to hot weather is at risk of suffering from heatstroke (the most serious and life-threatening heat-related illness) as well as heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

Heatstroke in vehicles has become an increasing issue for young children, causing 43 fatalities in 2013, according to Safe Kids. Children overheat three to five times faster than adults, making hot cars lethal in just minutes. Take a second to read more on this growing issue and protect your children.

BE SAFE around Fireworks

In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 8,600 people treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, 39 percent of whom were under 15 years of age

The National Fire Protection Association and the National Council on Fireworks Safety  recommend these tips to keep you safe around fireworks:

  • Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks.
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals. Even if the use of fireworks is legal in your community, fireworks are far too dangerous for amateurs. Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks.
  • After the firework display, don’ let children pick up fireworks that may be left over. They could still be active.
  • Closely supervise children and teens if they are using fireworks.
  • Do not ever allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • If you absolutely must use fireworks, use them outdoors only and only if they are legal in your city.
  • Keep water at the ready whenever you are shooting fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.
  • Never mix alcohol and fireworks.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you! And that’s a bad thing!
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department

Over the next few months, while you are enjoying summer activities, whether they take you to the water or in the sun, #BeSummerSafe. When a disaster of any kind 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 costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness

Back to School Safety

Ausgrenzung(Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)

From the tragic shooting-incident at Sandy Hook to natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, last year was more perilous for American school students than most. But instead of worrying about the potential for your kids to encounter harrowing events this year, take active steps to prepare them to handle any type of emergency they might encounter. In this week’s post, we will focus on safety tips relative to transportation, backpacks and bullying. Next week, we will cover active shooter incidents as well as severe-weather emergencies.

Whether your kids or pups attend elementary, middle school, high school or obedience school at a public or private institution, work with them to make sure they understand how to BE SAFE at school:

Transportation Safety

Walking to School

  1. Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.
  2. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
  3. Before you cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming.
  4. Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  5. (Young kids and puppies should) practice walking to school with an adult.

Riding a Bicycle to School

  1. Always wear as helmet.
  2. Learn the rules of the road.
  3. Ride on the right side of the road and in a single file.
  4. Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.
  5. Don’t ever accept a ride from a stranger. Provide your kids with a code word you will give to anyone who has permission to pick them up during or after school.

Riding the Bus to School

  1. Stand six feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
  2. Learn the proper way to get on and off of the bus.
  3. If your child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are at least 12 feet ahead of the bus.
  4. Make sure your child can see the bus driver and that the bus driver can see your son or daughter.
  5. They don’t offer buses for JR’s obedience school classes. Lucky for us his mom and I love to walk.

School Safety

Backpack

  1. Prevent backpack-related injuries by carefully choosing a backpack for your child. It should ergonomic, with features that enhance safety and comfort.
  2. Don’t overstuff your child’s backpack. It should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. (For example, a child that weighs 60 pounds should carry a backpack no heavier than 12 pounds.) And make sure your children use both straps when wearing their backpack to evenly distribute the weight.
  3. I am not a fan of backpacks. They don’t make many that fit over all four of my legs.

Playground

  1. Encourage your child to only use playgrounds that have a soft surface. Avoid playgrounds that have concrete, grass and dirt surfaces.
  2. Children under the age of four should not use climbing equipment. Older children should also be supervised while climbing.
  3. Monkey bars are unsafe at any age. Make sure you warn your children to avoid them, as serious injury can occur.
  4. I’d also advise not to ear the bark under the equipment, although it has a lot of fiber.

Bullying

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as an aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can have long-term psychological effects, as a study of males in their 20s found that those who had been bullied in school were more depressed and had lower self-esteem than their non-bullied peers

Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); unwanted sexual contact (sexual bullying); and sending insulting messages by e-mail or social media sites (cyber-bullying).

Stop it on the spot. The best way to stop bullying is to nip in the bud. Make sure your children understand that bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated. If you develop a close, open relationship with your kids, they should feel safe telling you if they are being bullied. If anyone ever bullies JR, I think I’d bite him.

Next week, we will focus on additional school safety tips including preparing your schoolchildren for the unlikely event of an active-shooting incident or severe weather-related disaster.

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 Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare

Disaster Planning for College Students

3D university studentsAs September draws close, families throughout the country are preparing to send their teenagers to college— many of whom will be away from home for the first time. I hope JR doesn’t ever want to go to college. My wife and I would really miss him! As students settle into their college routines, the transition may be easier if they know they are prepared to handle themselves in emergencies.

Whether it’s as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a super storm like Sandy, being prepared can help your child remain safe so he or she can calmly handle the situation and even potentially help other classmates do the same. So, as you plan for your son or daughter’s practical needs during their months away, such as clothing, dorm supplies, medications and toiletries, and beef jerky, don’t forget to also provide items to help them in emergencies. Teach your student that weathering a disaster can be similar to passing a challenging course. All it takes is doing their homework and staying prepared!

Here are things to purchase and/or assemble for your college-bound student:

  • Put together a Disaster Readiness Kit, which should include a flashlight, small radio, extra batteries, a solar-powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water, and first aid supplies. Ready-made disaster kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross. Information about compiling a disaster readiness kit is available at Fema.gov. For more information about building a basic disaster kit and developing a family communications plan, go to Ready.gov.
  • Make sure your child knows their college’s Disaster Management Plan. Schools today outline procedures for safely handling natural and manmade disasters and include them in manuals. If your child isn’t automatically issued a copy of the plan, secure one. Check the website to see if plans are posted or call the admissions office to request a copy and to confirm that your student is registered with its emergency notification system. While you have them on the phone, ask if they will supply your student with bacon. At least that’s what I would do.
  • Suggest your son or daughter update their cell phone contact list and adds a contact listed as “In Case of Emergency.” Remind them that cell phone service may be unreliable in the aftermath of a disaster. That’s why I recommend the Twilight Bark. When cell phone calls can’t be placed, texting or communicating via social media may be possible.
  • Create a Family Communications Plan so your student knows where to contact you and your family at any given time. Also let them know where they can leave a message if communications between home and school are disrupted.
  • Prepare an emergency information sheet listing the names, locations and phone numbers for family members, physicians, medical insurance, veterinarian and other important resources.
  • Check your homeowners’ or rental insurance policy to make sure covers your student’s belongings at school. You might need to purchase an additional policy to cover items in your student’s dorm room or your doghouse.
  • Advise your student to keep their emergency kit under their bed or on the top shelf of a closet so it will be easily accessible in an emergency. This is especially important if you store bacon in it.

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 BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Vaccinations, Version 2.0

Whooping Cough Resurgence: How to BE SAFE

Microscopic view of Pertussis
The best way to prevent the spread of Whooping Cough is by getting the vaccination.

A disease that reached near extinction in the industrialized world, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is making a comeback in schools and other facilities in the United States. I stayed in a terrible kennel for three days and got “Woofing Cough.” Did you see what I did there? I really am clever! Highly infectious, Whooping Cough is resistant to antibiotics and can quickly spread through schools or office facilities that contain lots of individuals working or living in cramped quarters. This is why I stay away from the dog park. Droolers and barkers spreading germs on me? No thanks!

Some school districts are mandating proof of Whooping Cough vaccination before students can be admitted to attend classes. In California, a state law mandates that students going into 7th through 9th grade receive booster vaccinations before the fall semester. I’m pushing for a “Feline Vaccine”, where people just decide to not keep cats anymore. To explain the requirement, officials point to the 8,000 California-based cases and 10 infant deaths that were reported in 2010.

Dangers associated with Whooping Cough:

  • Most Whooping Cough deaths in the United States occur in infants. Severe Pneumonia, dehydration, and ear infections can all lead to mortality. Antibiotics can shorten the duration of the virus, but by no means cure the disease.
  • For many older children, vaccinations are mandatory, as they prevent the infection from spreading to young siblings and friends.
  • Violent coughing in kids and adults can result in cracked ribs or abdominal hernias.

I once ate an entire roasted chicken and made a terrible coughing noise for three weeks.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough mirror those of a severe cold, making diagnosis difficult. Early symptoms include coughing, runny nose and a mild fever. After one or two weeks, symptoms usually worsen to include high fever, extreme fatigue and the telltale “whoop” noise cough.

To combat the further spread of Whooping Cough, many government agencies are aggressively pushing for vaccination. The dTAP and DPT vaccines have been used for years to beat Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus and are vital to stopping a Pertussis epidemic.

Information about the various vaccines:

  • DTP is the older version of the vaccine which is used in some countries but has been phased out of the United States.
  • DtAP is the most current vaccine recommended by the CDC for anyone seven years of age and younger.
  • tDAP is the booster shot given to older children to ensure they remain protected from Whooping Cough.
  • The CDC strongly recommends inoculations for anyone who is pregnant.
  • All of the vaccines have been proven safe, with minimal reported side effects including redness at the inoculation area and slight fever. Links between vaccinations and Autism or other behavioral issues have been discredited. And, in fact, some contend that this type of unsubstantiated fear have contributed to the Whooping Cough resurgence.
  • Many health care facilities and some drug stores offer the vaccine at minimal cost or even for free.

Vaccinations provide immense benefits for the health of the general public. Diseases such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella are nearing extinction due to the adoption of safe and convenient vaccinations. Now if we can just get a vaccine for fleas and ticks!

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.