Posted in BE SAFE, Computer Safety, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, disaster recovery, Identity Theft, Uncategorized

Information Technology Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery ITIn a recent blog post, we discussed the millions of Americans who are currently struggling to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, floods, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Another category of disaster affecting millions, which also requires careful pre-planning and purposeful recovery, pertains to Information Technology (IT). As a prolific blogger, I wonder what we would do without IT?
Blog IT Recovery

Now, more than ever, businesses rely on IT to communicate. Systems such as email, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), text, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transmit data, including orders and payments, between organizations. Servers process information and store large amounts of data. I rely on technology to tweet and post about safety issues. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets and wireless devices are used to create, process, manage and communicate information. Oftentimes, data is sensitive as well as vital to the survival and continued operation of the business. With so much at stake, would you be prepared if your company’s IT is compromised or stops working altogether?

IT Recovery Disaster
Examples of IT Breaches & How to Reduce Your Risk

Phishing

Phishing ITOne of the oldest and most successful web hacking scams, phishing is one of the easiest to prevent. Perpetrators send mass emails which appear to be authentic communications from a bank, subscription service, the IRS, or online payment site. The email asks recipients to verify their account information by clicking on a link. Clicking supplies the hacker with the victim’s login information, which hackers use to divert money from the victim’s account. Good rule of thumb – don’t click on any suspicious links, which is easy for me because I don’t have thumbs.

Identify TheftIdentity Theft Recovery

The use of someone’s personal information without permission, such as name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, social security number, phone or utility account numbers or medical insurance information. As a dog, I’m not sure I have a credit score. But I would still like to protect my identity.

Password Hacking

Internet PasswordDespite repeated warnings, Internet users continue to reuse simple passwords, and create passwords based on birthdates, anniversaries or children’s names. Motivated hackers can break simple passwords through trial and error or algorithms written specifically for the task.

Buffer Overflow

Sophisticated hackers use buffer overflow to gain access to customer data via online forms. The hacker navigates to an online form and provides excessive data in a form field.Data Forms

When this occurs, simple security techniques are unable to respond to the large volume of data input into an unexpected entry point.

Fault Injection

Also known as “fuzzing,” fault injection is a complicated hacking technique wherein criminals research ways to infiltrate the source code and input different data to crash the system. An example would be a hacker using a database query to erase content, or typing in a Web address that delivers a worm into the network. And I thought fuzz pertained only to the pet world!

Ransomware IT RecoveryRansomware

Hackers capture computer information and encrypt it, demanding payment in exchange for the key to unlock the ransomed data. Instead of targeting high-value, heavily fortified systems, like banks or corporations, which require complex technological skills to crack, many cybercriminals use ransomware on “soft targets,” like small businesses, schools, hospitals, and individuals who are likely to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to reacquire their digital files.

To Avoid Cyber Attacks:Internet Security IT

  • Create complex passwords. Guess that rules out RJTheFireDogRules.
  • Change default passwords when you acquire new equipment and software, and train your team to change network passwords every 30 to 60 days.
  • Change your passwords if a company you do business reports a breach.
  • Enable security features on mobile devices.
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on computer systems and home electronics.
  • Update sharing and firewall settings when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Consider subscribing to a cloud security service, which employs unified threat management (UTM) technology to help identify and stop attacks, to keep proprietary data safe and sound.

Create an IT Recovery Plan

Cyber Info Tech PlanWith so much at stake, business owners and managers should make it a priority to develop and test an IT disaster recovery plan:

  • Compile an inventory of hardware (e.g. servers, desktops, laptops and wireless devices), software applications and data.
  • Identify critical software applications and data and the hardware required to run them. Using standardized hardware will help to replicate and reimage new hardware.
  • Ensure that copies of program software are available to enable re-installation on replacement equipment.
  • Prioritize hardware and software restoration.
  • Include a strategy for backing up critical information.
  • Test the plan periodically to make sure that it works. As they say, “practice makes perfect!”

We Care About Your Safety in 2018 and BeyondSafety First IT

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90 percent and saves you over 50 percent compared to conventional training. Most importantly, it saves lives!

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Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, disaster recovery, Uncategorized

Disaster Recovery

isolated-3063813__480

Out of respect for victims of recent disasters in the United States, I refrain from my usual fire-dogisms in this post. Check back next time for my unique take on all things safety-related.

Millions of Americans struggle to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Disasters are currently so widespread, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spending $200 million per day to aid recovery efforts. Although each type of disaster brings unique challenges, no matter which situation you face, recovery is the first order of business as soon as the dust settles. One such disaster is the Montecito Mudslides, which thousands of volunteers and disaster response teams are currently managing.

Disaster Recovery Earthquake
After disaster strikes, follow these recovery steps:

  • After the immediate danger of a disaster has passed, exercise caution so you can stay safe during the clean-up and recovery process.
  • In the case of biological, chemical or radiological threats, listen for instructions on local radio or television stations about safe places to go.
  • Disaster InjuryCheck for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, stabilize the neck and back, then immediately call for help. If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway, and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated. Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.
  • For lesser wounds and injuries, wash with soap and water. To help prevent infection, use bandages and replace them if they become soiled, damaged or waterlogged.
  • After a disaster, some additional natural hazards—like severe storms, flooding, mudslides or earthquakes may follow. If a new or similar hazard strikes, exercise safety protocols. For an earthquake aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON–just as you did during the initial quake.Earthquake Recovery
  • Emergency responders need access to open telephone lines to coordinate response. So, avoid using cellular telephones as well as landlines. Immediately post-disaster, use the telephone only to report life-threatening conditions and to call one pre-determined out-of-town emergency contact.
  • Remain calm. You may find yourself in the position of supervising other people. Listen carefully and deal patiently, prioritizing urgent situations. Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest. Drink plenty of clean water. Eat well. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Hand Washing SafetyWash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.
  • Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, unsafe buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
  • Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation and dead animals.
  • If you are told to leave your home, return only when advised to do so by local authorities. Be sure to carry photo identification, since authorities may limit entry to people who own property in disaster-affected areas.
  • Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles. Drive only in extreme emergencies or if told to do so by emergency officials. If you must drive, do not drive on roads covered with water, which could be damaged or eroded. Vehicles can float in as little as six inches of water.Emergency Vehicle Safety
  • If the disaster was widespread, monitor news sources for instructions from local authorities. Information may change rapidly after a widespread disaster, so continue to check regularly for updates. If the power is out, listen to a battery or hand-crank-powered radio, television or car radio.
  • If the area was flooded and children are present, warn them to stay away from storm drains, culverts and ditches. Children can get caught and injured in these areas. Discard food that could have been contaminated by water or sewage.

android-2281309__480Disaster Recovery Resources:

FEMA

American Red Cross

Ready.Gov

Allied Universal

We Care About Your Safety in 2018 and BeyondSafety Training

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90 percent and saves you over 50 percent compared to conventional training. Most importantly, it saves lives!

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Holiday Safety, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

Consumer Safety during the Holidays

Holiday Music Andy WilliamsAs Andy Williams sang, the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” However, with porch piracy, pick-pocketing, burglary and cyber theft on the rise, unless you are careful, December can turn into the most troublesome season of all. That’s a lot different than the song version, which says it’s the “hap-happiest season of all!” Don’t let holiday cheer lull you into giving thieves a chance to dampen your spirit. At the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, we are committed to your safety. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to share tips to help keep you safe this season.

Avoid Package TheftPorch Pirate Firedog

A 2017 survey of 4,000 Americans revealed that holiday shoppers plan to spend 51% of their holiday shopping budget online, compared to 42% in stores. While the increase in Internet sales is great news for outlets like Amazon, the shift is resulting in a new wave of theft known as Porch Piracy. Guard dogs might be a good idea to discourage this type of theft. Just a thought. Employ the following strategies to reduce your risk:

  • Christmas Safety StepsTrack deliveries online and confirm delivery was made. You can sign up for email notifications to track packages from initial shipment to home delivery.
  • If a family member or neighbor will be home when the delivery is made, ask for help to pick up packages as soon as they are delivered to the door. Offer to return the favor.
  • Switch delivery location to your work address.Guard Dogs
  • Call to ask if the post office can hold the package for pick up. In many cases, the post office will keep your package safe and secure for up to 30 days.
  • Post your dog by the front door so he or she will raise a raucous if someone approaches your porch.

Pick PocketingPrevent Pick Pockets

  • When you go shopping, remain alert. Since thieves target easy marks, make sure you look like you know what you’re doing and where you are going
  • Park in a well-lit space and be sure to close your windows and lock the car. If possible, use an anti-theft device.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
  • Keep your purse closed and near your body. Never leave it unattended.
  • Stow your wallet in an inside jacket pocket or front pants pocket.
  • Don’t carry more packages than you can comfortably handle. If necessary, make multiple trips to the car. But as you do, make sure you aren’t followed.
  • Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk. Breaking into empty cars isn’t worth a thief’s time. Discourage them from targeting your vehicle by making sure nothing is in plain sight – from gifts to spare change, sunglasses, wallets, CDs, cell phones, tablets or anything of value.Holiday Shopping Safety
  • If you are shopping with your kids, teach them to seek help from a store clerk or security professional if you get separated.
  • Dogs don’t often encounter pick pockets, maybe because we don’t have pockets?

Deter Burglars

  • Burglary PreventionIf you are traveling, invest in an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home, shovel snow, and occasionally park in the driveway.
  • Put your mail and newspaper delivery on a vacation hold. Your home will be safer if thieves assume you are on site.
  • If you head out for a night on the town, turn on your lights as well as a TV or radio to make it appear that you are home.
  • Before you leave, double check doors and windows to make sure everything is locked.
  • Don’t tempt fate by displaying gifts where they can be seen from outside.
  • After you’ve opened gifts, don’t put a target on your doorstep by stacking empty boxes for expensive gifts in front of your home for trash pickup. Break down boxes for computers, TVs, cameras and other electronic equipment.
  • If you see someone suspicious casing your neighborhood or if you witness a burglary in progress, dial 911.
  • Not to be redundant, but a guard dog can be great at discouraging burglars.

Guard Against Cyber AttacksCyber Security Holidays

If you aren’t careful, while you are busy virtually shopping, cyber thieves can strike – aiming to pilfer your personal information so they can skim credit card numbers, open credit accounts in your name, apply for loans or file for unemployment assistance programs. The most effective defense for cybersecurity is to:

  • Make sure you shop only at credible websites, merchants and companies you trust.
  • Pay attention to whether websites which require personal information are encrypted. Verify a secured connection by looking for a padlock in the browser address bar. If you don’t see the lock, verify an encrypted connection, or “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secured” (HTTPS), by making sure the web address starts with “https://” (the “s” stands for secured). HTTP is like a postcard. Anyone can read it as you transmit. HTTPS is like putting the letter into an envelope.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi to shop or do anything else online that could put your personal information at risk. Instead, turn your smartphone setting to “data” to guard your data.
  • Credit Card Holiday SafetyDedicate one credit card for online purchases. Use a second credit card to pay bills, buy gas, groceries, etc. If the online shopping card is compromised, it should be easy to cancel the account. In the event the card is stolen, you will be glad you will only have to cancel and replace one card instead of every piece of plastic in your wallet. For more information about cybersecurity, contact the Department of Homeland Security, which offers useful and practical information at org. Another good resource is the National Cyber Security Alliance at StaySafeOnline.org.
  • If you suspect you are a victim of cybercrime, or if receive suspicious phishing emails, report them to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at gov. The site posts alerts on data breaches and emerging Internet crime schemes.
  • Admittedly, a guard dog wouldn’t be able to do much to deter identity theft.

We Care About Your Safety All Year LongHoliday Safety Firedog

Don’t let stress steal your holiday spirit. Safely enjoy time with family, friends, neighbors and pets. The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training. Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Holiday Safety, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

What You Absolutely Need to Know About Holiday Safety

 

Holiday Safety
Delicious feasts and brilliant decorations are hallmarks of the holiday season. For the record, my favorite holiday food is gizzards. Unfortunately, however, these festive favorites also can pose potential fire hazards. Thankfully, you can enjoy everything that makes the holidays special during this time of year while simultaneously keeping your loved ones safe.

Loraine Carli, Vice President, Outreach & Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), explains how: “The holidays bring lots of opportunities to cook, entertain and decorate at home, but many of these traditions and activities carry potential fire hazards, Fortunately, there are many steps people can take to ensure that the season remains festive and fire-safe. It just takes a little added awareness and following some basic safety precautions.”

 Holiday Safety Tips

CookingHoliday Cooking Safety

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the United States, year-round. That’s why I opt for raw foods. Dogfood doesn’t require much preparation. In fact, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve ranked second and third, after Thanksgiving, for sheer number of cooking-related fires. To reduce the potential risk of kitchen fires in your home this season, follow these suggestions, adapted from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA):

  • Declutter the area immediately near your cooking range. Don’t overload a cooktop with pots and pans. Instead, try to prepare and cook dishes in shifts rather than all at once. This helps to prevent grease spills from leaking between pots, sight unseen, and starting a fire.
  • Keep potholders, oven mitts and lids handy while cooking. But keep them clear of open flames. This is a good tip for tails, too. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, use a flame-resistant oven mitt to pick up a lid and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the food has time to completely cool.
  • When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam. If an oven fire develops, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking. And try not to wag your tail, if applicable. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. If you have long hair, tie it back.
  • Smoke alarms can save lives. Make sure they are installed and properly working. Check the batteries and test to make sure alarm is operational.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use. This will save energy and eliminate potential dangers which could occur if they are accidentally turned on.
  • Fire Extinguisher Fire SafetyKeep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency. Learn how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is UL listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Click here for more details about the different types of fire extinguishers.
  • Avoid the temptation to fry your turkey. These pose several safety concerns, including burn risks and fire hazards. To be safe, if you must fry the turkey, make sure it is entirely thawed out. Ice and hot oil do not mix! They’re a lot like cats and dogs!
  • Since the above list is not comprehensive, make sure you cook safely this holiday season, by referencing the Consumer Product Safety Commission Thanksgiving safety campaign, Stand by Your Pan, the NFPA’s Cooking Safety Tip Sheet, and the National Safety Council’s “Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season” webpage.

Fire Safety Holiday
Greenery

Although Christmas tree fires may not be as common as you may have been led to believe by watching local newscasts, they are deadlier than most other fires. In fact, the USFA reports that one of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death each year, compared to an annual average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

  • Since fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, look for one that has vibrant green needles which are hard to pluck and don’t break when touched. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles while it’s on the lot.
  • Place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. And keep the tree base container filled with water to avoid a dry out. Also, make sure your pets don’t drink the water, for their safety and the life of the tree.
  • If you plan to use evergreen swags as holiday decorations, make sure the greenery is fresh instead of dry.
  • Keep greens far away from candles.
  • Clear needles that drop as soon as possible.

Lightsthe interior style minimalist bedroom (3D Rendering)

  • Make sure indoor and outdoor holiday lights have passed UL or ETL/ITSNA lab tests for safety, which should be noted on the package.
  • Toss damaged lights.
  • Use suitable lights indoors and out.
  • Plug lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
  • Turn off your holiday lights each night and whenever you leave the house, or set them on a timer.

The burning giftsCandles: December is the peak season for home candle fires. The top four days for candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations, compared to 4% the rest of the year. Keep candles away from your Christmas tree, furniture, curtains and other décor.

Decorations: Home decoration-related fires cause an annual average death of one civilian, and injure approximately 41 people, resulting in $13.4 million in associated property damage. Twenty percent of decoration fires start in the kitchen, whereas 17% originate in the living room, family room or den.


We Care About Your SafetyBrick fire place or fireplace flat color icon for apps and websites

The Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training. Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

Disaster Prep for Car

Highway From AboveWith 128.3 million people commuting to work and traveling to leisure activities in the United States each year, as a nation, we spend a lot of time in our cars. In the event disaster were to strike while you are behind the wheel, would you be prepared?

How to prepare for emergencies that occur while you are in your car

Although I don’t drive, I could be riding in a car or a firetruck when a disaster strikes. If a large-scale disaster occurs while you are in a vehicle, first responders could be delayed in reaching you, due to increased demand or limited accessibility. In this case, you may need to respond and maintain self-sufficiency for at least three days. To be safe, prepare your vehicle so that you could potentially use it for shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation. If you use public transportation, preparations should extend to a Go-Bag. I’m not big on public transportation.A set of automotive accessories. Spare wheel, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, emergency warning triangle, jack, tow rope, wheel wrench, pump

Bug Out.

Since you might have to ‘bug out’ if disaster strikes, doing so would be easier if you have a vehicle that has high ground clearance and could potentially handle rough terrain. We are not suggesting you purchase a new car for disaster preparation. But the next time you shop for one, you might want to consider how well it could perform in such a situation. To escape the path of Hurricane Irma in Florida earlier this fall, for example, thousands of residents faced gridlock along Interstate 95 in what was one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history. To avoid the crunch, many ignored driving decorum altogether, heading off road and ignoring signs and signals. If a disaster strikes while you are in a car, remain calm. Take a deep breath and obey the rules of the road, which will help keep you safe.

Items for emergencyShelter in Place (SIP).

In some cases, you might need to SIP in your car. In one Southern California mountain community, for example, a pair of avalanches dumped 15-foot high snowdrifts on the highway, effectively cutting off traffic and stranding motorists for 18 hours, until officials finally cut a swath through the massive drifts.


How to prepare your car

  • Gas Tank SafetyKeep your gas tank full, or at least at half, in case disaster strikes.
  • Check tires (make sure your spare is in good repair and properly inflated)
  • Regularly do routine maintenance to make sure your electrical system, fluid levels, and lights are operational.
  • Stow jumper cables, flares, and flashlights. man preparing to travel by car
  • Carry a cell phone charger.
  • Store cat litter or sand for tire traction in adverse conditions.

What to Stow in Your Trunk or Go-Bag

  • A whistle.
  • Extra clothing and comfortable shoes. These will come in handy if you are forced to abandon your vehicle.
  • First aid kit. Include a first aid book, sterile tape, gauze, elastic bandages, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, sterile gloves, tweezers, scissors, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, gauze, antiseptic cream, and distilled water.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Calorie and protein-dense non-perishable items. And don’t forget about food for your pets!
  • Map and compass, in case you need to travel to unfamiliar territory. Cell phone and Internet service could be compromised.
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Rope
  • Solar Blankets. These are a great choice because they are easy to store and radiate heat.
  • Spade/shovel
  • Water

safe driving conceptual meterSafe Driving Tips. If you are on the road during or after an emergency, remember these tips:

  1. Never drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can disable or stall a vehicle. A foot of water is sufficient to float several cars.
  2. Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  3. If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside until a trained person arrives and removes the wire.
  4. If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  5. If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Check back next week, as we will focus on the second post in our three-part series about disaster preparation: emergency safety at home (or in your doghouse). 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 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 prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, How to stay healthy, mental health, Uncategorized

PTSD & Mental Health

mental health memo post illustration designOut of concern for everyone who was directly or indirectly affected by recent traumatic events, for this week’s post, I will dispense with my usual “firedog-isms.” Check back next week to read my unique “canine take.”  

The term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) was originally coined to refer to veterans of war. Now, doctors diagnose PTSD in anyone who has experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event and suffers associated long-term physical and/or psychological symptoms. With the recent prevalence of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, active shooting events and other manmade and natural disasters, 13 million people worldwide are believed to suffer from the malady.Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD

While disasters and mass violence trigger split-second changes in the body, these fluctuations are meant to temporarily help victims manage or avoid danger. Even though many people experience flashbacks, sadness, terror and grief following trauma, they usually recover, in time. However, in some cases, stress alters brain chemistry so it defaults to fight-or-flight mode long after the threat has passed.

Experts with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain the phenomenon: “This ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.”

For anyone who experiences trauma for weeks, months or even years after disaster strikes, intervention may be necessary.

PTSD Facts

  • An estimated 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD.
  • An estimated 5% of Americans have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women, who are more susceptible to the condition than men, will develop PTSD at some time in their lives.Trauma word cloud on a white background.

Types of PTSD

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
  2. Avoiding situations reminiscent of the event
  3. Experiencing negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  4. Feeling keyed up (AKA “hyperarousal”)

PTSD Symptoms

Get help if you experience any of the following, or know someone whose symptoms:

  • Last longer than three months
  • Cause great distress
  • Disrupt work or home life

What to Do about PTSDPTSD on the Display of Medical Tablet.

PTSD symptoms usually develop soon after a traumatic event. However, for some people, they may not occur until months or even years after the trauma. Symptoms might come and go over many years. If you suspect PTSD, keep track of symptoms and talk to someone you trust.
Anyone with PTSD should be treated by a mental health care professional who is experienced with the disorder. Some people will need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – Teaches patients how to change upsetting thoughts and feelings experienced since the trauma. Includes therapies such as Stress Inoculation Training (SIT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
    psychologist female patient male sympathy
  • Present Centered Therapy (PCT)– A non-trauma focused treatment which centers around current issues rather than directly processing the trauma. PCT provides psychoeducation about the impact of trauma on one’s life as well as teaching problem- solving strategies to deal with current stressors.
  • Counseling – Some patients experience relief after talking to a psychologist or participating in a support group.
  • Medication – In some cases, doctors might prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).Mental Health word cloud on a white background.

Mental Health Safety is important for everyone, not just those affected by PTSD. 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 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 prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Higher Education, Hurricanes, safety plans and procedures, Uncategorized

Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters

Be Prepared / Mann mit SymbolePart 3 of a 3-part Series

Out of respect for everyone who has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey & Hurricane Irma, this post will dispense with my usual “fire-dogisms.”

As teachers, educators and administrators across the country welcome students to a new academic year, we want to help ensure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as transportation challenges, cyber bullying and peer pressure, and handling emergencies and disasters, students need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe.Safe Gold Shield Reduce Risk Avoid Danger Protection Prevention

The first entry of our three-part series about back-to-school safety focused on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. The second blog post focused on how to be safe while at school, relative to bullying. In the final post, we will cover the topic of how to be safe at school before, during and after emergencies or disasters.

In an ironic twist, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma severely impacted the Gulf Coast, Florida and parts of the Caribbean during National Preparedness Month (NPM), whose theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Projected to be the most expensive natural disasters of all time, the two storms are projected to cause losses in excess of $290 billion.

Evacuation Procedures
While some natural disasters are predictable, giving schools leeway to cancel classes and residents ample warning to evacuate, others can happen unexpectedly or rapidly change, suddenly putting students in danger. The first step to take in preparing for emergencies is to assess the types of natural or man-made disaster risks most likely to occur in your region:

  • EarthquakesLightning line icon, outline and filled vector sign, linear and full pictogram isolated on white. Thunderstorm weather forecast symbol, logo illustration
  • Extreme heat
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes and tornadoes
  • Landslides and debris flow
  • Thunderstorms and lightning
  • Wildfires or structural fires
  • Winter storms and extreme cold

The sudden and unexpected nature of disasters means that you could be away from your child during a disaster. Without proper planning, this is a frightening prospect. Nevertheless, while there’s no substitute for being with your children when a disaster strikes, there are ways to lessen associated fears of what may happen if an emergency occurs while your student is at school:

  • Familiarize yourself with your district’s emergency preparedness plans. In fact, get involved in the planning process so you have input about campus procedures.
  • Find out your community’s risk and response plans. Involve your student. Kids like being included in the process, for their own safety and sense of empowerment.
  • People Cooperation Plan Vision Development Guideline ConceptHold a meeting to discuss your family’s communications plan.
  • For younger students, role play what to do during a disaster.
  • After you’ve learned about the school’s and community’s emergency response plans, talk to your child about them, reminding your student about the importance of actively listening to teachers and administrators during emergencies.
  • Use age-appropriate preparedness materials to explain emergency procedures to your child. These could include engaging activities and easy action steps that your students will find both fun, informative and effective.
  • Work together to build an emergency kit. For college-aged students, as you plan for their practical needs during their months away from home, be sure to include some items that will come in handy in an emergency in addition to climate-appropriate clothing, dorm supplies, medications and toiletries. Whether it’s as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a storm like Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Irma, being prepared can help your college student remain safe and deal calmly with the situation, while helping other classmates to do the same.emergency service design
  • Check the district or college website to see if emergency plans are posted. If not, call administrators to request a copy of the plan and confirm that your student is registered with the emergency notification system.
  • The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Program now features disaster training for students in on-campus housing.
  • Ready-made disaster kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross at redcrossstore.org. Information on compiling your own disaster readiness kit is available on the web at www.fema.gov.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

AU-Twitter_profileSafety is important for everyone all year round, not just while at school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure on-campus students or 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 prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Vaccinations, Vaccines

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)

Vaccination child cartoon vector.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. I was glad to read that cases of rabies have decreased thanks to those vaccines.instagram_preteens_teens

In the United States, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases often occur due to non-immunization or under-immunization among children and adults, as well as from exposure to infections brought into the country by unvaccinated travelers who returning from high-risk or endemic regions. Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Their goal is education, so everyone knows that:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout life.
  • Vaccines are safe.
  • Dogs get lots of vaccinations. Here is a link to a schedule for pet vaccines.

Rabies VaccineCertain vaccines are recommended based on age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease). Vaccination needs should be assessed by doctors, pharmacists, or other health care providers. Immunizations are important because they protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the illness, which is especially important to the most vulnerable, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. Puppies are more prone to certain diseases than full-grown canines. Parvo is one example.

Always consult your own healthcare provider before seeking vaccinations or taking any medications.

Immunization Recommendations for Everyonetwitter_baby

The Immunization Action Coalition suggests that adults should get vaccines to protect their health, because even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. One immunization the CDC recommends for all adults, including pregnant women, is the influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Another vaccine-must for adults is the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) for anyone who did not get Tdap as a teen. Follow up should include Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccines every 10 years.

Immunizations for Special Groups

Glossy Pictogram "Immunizations"(The following recommendations for these groups, made by the CDC, NIAM and Vaccines.Gov, are as follows:)

  • For a complete list of childhood vaccines, see the CDC’s schedule.
  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. For communication strategies on maternal vaccination, check out NIAM’s Toolkit: Pregnant Women.
  • College students require immunizations noted on the gov website. Students at campuses where Allied Universal provides training can access additional information in the “Your Resources” section of their Fire Life Safety Training module.
  • Adults 60 years and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older should have one or more pneumococcal vaccines. (What’s more, some adults who are younger than 65 years, with certain high-risk conditions, are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.)
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV) depending on age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received, or other considerations.
  • For more information about adult vaccines, see the CDC Adult Immunization Schedules.
  • Here is a link to the ASPCA schedule of recommended dog inoculations.

Remember, a convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind, including health crises, 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 prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Active Shooter Safety

social shooter 600Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. My personal favorite hashtag is #BeSafe. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”

FBI white stamp text on blue backgroundThe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends the following course of action if you find yourself in an active-shooter situation: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. In other words, if you have the ability, quickly run as far away from the situation as possible. In fact, I recommend running any time you can, even if you aren’t around an active shooter. But, for this post, the FBI says you should run and then hide. Fight back only as a last resort. View this video to learn more:

Unfortunately, over the past few years, active shooting incidents have become all too common. Consider these, which have unfolded across the country already this month:

  1. June 5, 2017, Beauty College in Fort Wayne, Indiana

A lone gunman entered the Ravenscroft Beauty College shortly before 7 p.m. and began shooting. One woman was seriously injured while others on the scene escaped without harm. The shooter was later found deceased, from an apparent suicide. Preliminary police reports suggest this may have been the result of a domestic disturbance between the shooter and his victim.

  1. June 5, 2017, Workplace Shooting, Orlando, Florida
  • A 45-year-old “disgruntled” employee entered his former workplace in Orlando armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a hunting knife. He fatally shot five people, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

UnknownActive shooter situations are quick and unpredictable. I’ve noticed that the damage cats do to property is quick and unpredictable, as well. In many cases, in fact, the entire event will unfold before first responders arrive on scene. While facing an active shooter might be unimaginable, being prepared could save your life. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to your environment and locate the nearest two exits in any place you visit.
  • Run to a safe place immediately. (I recommend running every day just for fun, if possible.)
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • If you’re unable to run, hide.Penguin in baseball cap behind blank space
  • If you’re somewhere with a door, lock it or barricade it shut.
  • Silence electronic devices.
  • Call 911 if it is safe to do so.
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. In close-range cases, fighting increases your chance of survival.

About the NSC

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the NSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas of greatest risk – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and safe communities.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

be safe! blue stamp on white backgroundSafety is important for everyone all year round, not just during National Safety Month. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the 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.

Additional active shooter response resources:

Information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Active Shooter Booklet
Active Shooter Poster
Active Shooter Information


Security Awareness Tips

Active Shooter Emergency Planning
Workplace Violence
Workplace Violence Prevention Planning

 

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

How to Prepare for Hurricanes

Huracn azotando una ciudad costeraHurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. I know a few cats who do just as much damage. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland cooling, rip currents, and tornadoes. Called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world, these massive storms affect regions across the globe – Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific. hurricane season in blue

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in May and ends November 30. Unfortunately, cat season is year round.

Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and intensity of the storm, amount and duration of rainfall, path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, terrain and soil conditions.

The additional toll hurricanes can take include:Warning hurricane sign

  • Damage or destruction of buildings and other structures
  • Disruption of transportation, gas, power, communications (including my tweets), and other services
  • Coastal and inland flooding from heavy rains and storm surge.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale divides hurricanes into five categories based on wind speed, central pressure and potential damage to homes, structures, power lines and trees, and the ability to block roads and bring areas to a standstill, or even render them uninhabitable.

Category 1: Sustains winds of 74 to 95 mph.

Category 2: Maintains winds of 96 to 110 mph.

Category 3 (Major): Whips up winds of 111 mph to 129 mph.

Category 4 (Major): Produces winds of 130 to 156 mph.

Category 5 (Major): Drums up 157 mph or higher winds.

Here’s how to prepare for a hurricane (adapted from Ready.Gov):Fotolia_31644140_XS

  • Know where to go. If ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) and have a plan in place for where you will check in with family and take shelter.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit, including flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of critical information in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include pet supplies.
  • If you are outside the evacuation area and decide to stay in your home, put together adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days, as you could be stranded, due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan. My wife and JR and I have a plan in place.
  • Utilize text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications, if data service is available in your area. To find out which alerts apply to you, search the Internet using your town, city, or county name plus the word “alerts.”

Strong Wind destroys a HouseWhat to do after a hurricane:

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends via text (if cell service is available) or social media (if WIFI is operational). The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System includes notes about what to do in a power failure.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person down, and fast-moving water can sweep away a vehicle. What’s more, it could be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain dangerous debris.
  • Photograph the damage to your property to assist with insurance claims.

Remember that safety is important for everyone, before, during and after hurricanes. 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.

This video from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers additional hurricane preparedness tips: