Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, dehydration, Managing Summer Heat, Uncategorized

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke 

Man suffering from heat and strongly sweats

Several hikers in Arizona were killed this summer when they engaged in strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. And an Indiana landscape crewman died when his body temperature soared to 108 degrees after he worked for nine hours in the direct sun, in 110 degree heat. These deaths are especially tragic because they could have been avoided if the victims had taken steps to avoid heat exhaustion – the precursor to heat stroke, potentially leading to death.

Heat stroke affects people engaged in recreation, at home, and on the job. What’s more, workplace heat exhaustion is a significant problem, with agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) working diligently to educate workers about the risks of heat-related deaths. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities can lead to heat-related illness.

Heat can strike any time of the year, in virtually any location, as it did last October when temperatures soared over 100 degrees across California. It gets hot in my doghouse. I wish I could install central air. With fall weather and associated slightly cooler temperatures, people have the tendency to grow complacent about heat exhaustion. But the risks are not relegated to a few summer months or tropical locations.Hot weather. Vector flat cartoon illustration

The following headlines illustrate the point:

Heat Exhaustion – How to Spot it and Stop it

The first step to heat exhaustion prevention is to pay attention to how your body feels and make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Next, heed these signs and contributing factors:

  • If you aren’t sweating enough in heat, take notice. Dehydration occurs when the body cannot properly regulate internal temperature.
  • In high heat, monitor alcohol use, as it can interrupt body heat regulation and cause dehydration. Seems like there are lots of reasons to refrain from imbibing. Personally, I prefer water.

Heat Stroke – the Warning Signs

After heat exhaustion comes heat stroke – a condition wherein death can occur in the absence of swift action. For example, a construction worker in North Naples, Florida recently succumbed to heat stroke after working on a roof in 90-degree heat. 

Symptoms that suggest the onset of heat stroke

  •  Red, hot, dry skin, unlike the clamminess that often accompanies heat exhaustion
  • Cessation of sweating, despite heat
  • Seizures and general confusion/disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing 

At-home treatment for heat stroke includes wetting the victim’s skin, fanning him to increase air circulation, and possibly even submerging the person in a tub filled with ice. Heat stroke often requires a speedy trip to the emergency room, so the patient can receive specialized care. Once a person is unconscious or the body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher, every minute counts.

Funny dog with flying ears up, kitten and rabbit sitting opposite the electric fanDon’t forget to watch your pets for signs of heat stroke. Cats and dogs can suffer from heat stroke. Avoid long walks during the middle of the day and pack plenty of cold water for your dogs. But don’t forego the walk all together. We love to walk it at night. If your pooch is excessively panting, has sticky saliva, shows signs of dizziness, and/or vomits, cool your pet as soon as possible. In California, a bill is being considered which would protect someone who breaks a window to rescue a dog in a hot car. This bill makes sense to me, since we can’t open the car door ourselves and our coats keep us extra hot.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Maintaining a state of preparedness is essential for every month of the year, no matter the temperature. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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Posted in BE SAFE, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, How to stay healthy, Uncategorized

Toxic Water Proves Problematic

What’s in the Water?

image.jpegIdentifying the Danger of Algae and other Contaminants

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

Algae in a Nutshell

watrcolor algae seamless vector pattern

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

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

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

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

chiken cartoon character with water drop

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

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

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

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

Posted in BE SAFE, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Managing Summer Heat

Safety Tips for Summer Sun

熱中症We’ve still got several more weeks left of summer sun. Are you taking steps to make sure your family and friends remain sun-safe? Whether you are boating, swimming, lying out in the sun, walking the family pet or barbecuing in the backyard, it’s important to understand the dangers of unprotected exposure to the elements. There are lots of consequences for excessive sun exposure—sunburn, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer, to name a few.

In the Continental United States, the most dangerous time of the day to go outdoors is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Harmful UV rays damage the skin. So if you are going to spend any time outside this summer, use sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. Also, make sure the product you buy provides protection from UVA and UVB rays. Ultraviolet radiation is composed of three wavelengths: UVA, UVB and UVC.  While UVC isn’t a concern for skin cancer, UVA and UVB play different roles when it comes to tanning, burning and aging. I rely on my fur to keep my skin safe. But unless you’re a canine, you probably need additional coverage to be safe.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that: “With the ongoing debate about the best way to get Vitamin D and the controversy surrounding tanning beds, there is a huge amount of misinformation surrounding ultraviolet radiation (UV). However, one thing is clear: UV radiation is the main factor responsible for skin cancers, including Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and possibly Melanoma. In fact, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have identified broad spectrum UV as a human carcinogen.” Anything with the word “carcinogen” should be avoided, or so I’m told.

While the differences between UVB and UVA need to be further explored, exposure to the combination of UVB and UVA is a proven, powerful attack on the skin. It can create irreversible damage that ranges from sunburn to premature aging to skin cancer. So protection from these rays is the only way to avoid a myriad of problems.

Did you know that even if you’re using a high-quality sunscreen, you may not be out of the woods? Sunscreen washes off in water and wears off even if you are just lying in the sun. I once tried to apply sunscreen, but it got stuck in my fur and made a mess. Every bottle of sunscreen has an expiration date. So be careful to keep your eye on the pull-date so you won’t use inert lotion. The standard shelf life for lotions and creams is three years. But sunscreen can wear out sooner if it is exposed to high temperatures.

Another way to protect your skin is to wear appropriate clothing (Or you could wear fur. It works for me). Your best bet for sun protection is a lightweight long sleeve shirt and long sleeve pants made from a tightly woven fabric. Research shows that darker colors may provide more protection than lighter ones. A standard, dry T-shirt provides an SPF lower than 15.   A better choice altogether is sun-protective clothing.

Hats offer important sun protection. Choose one with a wide brim to shade your face, ears, neck and forehead. For sun safety, the CDC recommends hats or visors made from tightly woven fabric such as canvas. Avoid straw hats which may allow light to filter through. In general, darker hats offer more protection than their lighter colored counterparts.

Another important item for sun safety is a good pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses protect eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. For optimum protection, find a pair that wrap around and offer 100% UV protection. When all else fails and you find yourself unprotected in the sun, head for the shade! Whether you find it with an umbrella or under a tree or the eaves of a building, take cover. I don’t like wearing shades. They cover my best feature, which my wife tells me is my eyes.

And no matter how much you love the look of tan skin, avoid indoor tanning beds. Indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including Melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma). Indoor tanning also causes premature skin aging such as wrinkles and age spots. None of that sounds like fun.

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, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Workplace Safety

As Temperatures Soar, Stay Cool

 

熱中症According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extreme heat causes 658 deaths in each year in the United States, which is more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and lightning combined. Signs of heat stroke are throbbing headache, dizziness and light headedness, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, rapid heartbeat and breathing.

On a 95 degree day, the temperature inside a sealed car can reach 107 degrees in less than one minute. Nevertheless, some people think it’s a good idea to leave their pets in the car while they run into the mall. As a result, the news features far too many stories of dogs dying of heatstroke. If you see an animal in a car with the windows up, police urge you to call 911 and report it immediately.

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death for pets as well as people. Both of them suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Extreme heat affects everyone, but certain groups of people are prone to heat-associated symptoms. These groups include:

  • The elderly
  • Children
  • Poor and/or homeless people
  • People who work or exercise outdoors
  • Anyone who has a chronic health condition
  • Dogs who are unfortunate enough to have dim-witted masters.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke (also known as sunstroke), call 911 immediately and render first aid until paramedics arrive. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Here’s how you can spot heatstroke:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

The good news is that heat-related illnesses and death are entirely preventable. All that is required is preparation. To BE SAFE this summer, make sure your home, office, doghouse or building has access to air conditioning or a cooled forced air system. If that’s not possible, ask your family, friends, associates, employees and/or tenants if they know where to find area cooling stations or other public locations for temporary relief from heat, particularly when temperatures are elevated for several consecutive days.

The Mayo Clinic suggests these steps to prevent heath stroke in heat waves:

  • Limit your physical activity for at least several days until your body can adapt to higher temperatures and humidity. This one is tough for me. It’s a good thing that walking is usually okay.
  • Realize that your body needs time to adapt to extreme temperature changes. You may still have an increased risk of heatstroke for several weeks of higher temperatures.
  • Although fans may bring body temperatures down, in sustained hot weather, air conditioning is the most effective way to cool down and lower humidity.
  • Certain medications place you at a greater risk of heatstroke and other heat-related conditions because they affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and respond to heat. Be especially careful in hot weather if you take medications that narrow your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors), regulate your blood pressure by blocking adrenaline (beta blockers), rid your body of sodium and water (diuretics), or reduce psychiatric symptoms (antidepressants or antipsychotics). Stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and illegal stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine also make you more vulnerable to heatstroke.
  • Certain chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung diseases, may place you at increased risk of heatstroke. Also at increased risk are people who are very overweight, or who are in poor physical condition.

Other stay-cool hints:

  • Stay hydrated. I drink several bowls of water each and every day. You should too!
  • Use a hand-held, battery-operated personal fan to stay cool.
  • Wet skin with water from a sponge or washcloth.
  • Apply ice packs to armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
  • Immerse yourself in a shower or tub of cool water or take an ice bath. Or spray yourself with a garden hose. Works for me!
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
  • Take additional precautions when exercising or working outdoors.
  • Reschedule or cancel outdoor activity. If possible, shift your time outdoors to the coolest times of the day, either early morning or after sunset.

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, Building Evacuation, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Insurance, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.5

2011 Marks Banner Year for U.S. Disasters: 5 Tips for Dealing with Weather-Related Disasters

RJW Shares 5 Tips for Dealing with Natural Disasters

President Barack Obama recently named New Jersey a federal disaster area as a result of floods that came before Hurricane Irene. In so doing, he cemented 2011 as the United States’ most disaster-prone year ever. The U.S. is not alone in boasting a banner year. At the Firedog household, JR ate more pig ears than any other puppy on the planet.

As of the third week of September, Obama had issued 84 federal disaster declarations at the request of governors. That is more declarations than in any year since the score was first kept 60 years ago. And there are still three months left in 2011! Since many of the recent emergencies resulted from extreme weather, we want to use this week’s blog post to discuss the ways that you can prepare for weather-related disasters. By the way, these tips might also apply to canine territory-marking accidents, as well.

While weather has always been a contributing factor to damage to hearth, office and home, natural disaster-related damage affects more people than it used to because of urban sprawl. When tornados strike open, undeveloped areas, dollar amount damage is relatively low. Centered in a densely populated area, the same storm will wreak considerably more havoc. I know a few dogs of a different breed who can wreak quite a bit of havoc no matter their location.

So how should urban residents and professionals who work in major metropolitan locations prepare for natural disasters? Here are some tips, prepared for you by the fire life safety training professionals at RJWestmore, Inc:

  1. Take cover. This is important regardless of temperature. If you’re outside in the heat, make sure you have a hat, sunglasses and lip balm as well as sunscreen in case you get caught in any situation that leaves you stranded for an extended period of time.

Likewise, in snow, rain or hail, you should make sure you have plenty of protection against the elements. Invest in protective, waterproof outerwear and make sure your emergency supply kit includes plenty of blankets and waterproof matches.

Also, one of the best ways to protect from loss is to purchase insurance to cover repairs to infrastructure. We are not experts in insurance. But it is likely that a standard policy will not cover flood damage. The only way to protect against flood losses is to purchase flood insurance directly from the National Flood Insurance Program. Policies must be in place for 30 days before coverage takes effect. For information, contact your insurance professional.

  1. Drink Up. One of the risks of any type of disaster is dehydration. Consider miners who are stranded for hours underground or motorists whose cars get stuck on snowy roadways in blizzard conditions. Dehydration is not relegated to desert environments.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure you include plenty of water in each of your emergency preparedness kits. You should have one in your car, one at work and a third at home, all in easily-accessible locations. This is one of my favorite tips. My wife and I make sure all of the bowls in our doghouse are full 24/7.
  2. Tune In. Another suggestion for your disaster preparedness kit is to include a portable, hand-crank radio to make sure you can stay connected even in power outage. Storms of any kind can knock out phone lines, electricity, gas, water and even wireless cell phones. So don’t make the mistake of relying on high-tech forms of communication to stay abreast of news in emergencies. Tuning in will alert you to the threat level relative to the storm, be it Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Warning or Winter Weather Advisory. There is also always the Twilight Bark, which works in any emergency.
  3. Stay Put. In many cases, you will be safer if you shelter in place than if you venture out in hazardous conditions. Of course, you must use common sense when deciding whether you should stay or go. For example, in the event of a tornado, seek shelter in a steel-framed or concrete building. However, in case of a flood, you might be putting yourself in danger by staying in an area that will likely be consumed by fast-flowing water. For detailed instructions about what to do in every possible weather scenario, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Service website. All RJWestmore Safety Trainees have immediate access to NOAA information from inside our fully-integrated training system.
  4. Remain Calm. Whatever the disaster, you will make better choices if you avoid the temptation to panic. How can you remain cool, calm and collected when surrounded by turmoil? One surefire way is to prepare well in advance of emergency. Another is a shock collar. But I prefer the former.

If you own or manage a building, or know someone who does, do them a favor. Let them know about the RJWestmore Training System. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES! BE SAFE.