Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Higher Education, Uncategorized

Are you ready to Shake?

ShakeOut_Global_DontFreak_728x90Earthquakes in the News

With two powerful earthquakes striking Mexico last month, now is a good time for the 46th annual International ShakeOut Day, to be held October 19, 2017. Millions of people worldwide will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On this month. In California, where Allied Universal Services Corporate Headquarters is located, Great Shakeout Drills will occur on the 19th, at precisely 10:19 a.m.

ShakeOut Part of America’s PrepareAthon Safety_GIF_Car

Participating in one of the worldwide drills is a great way for family and organization members to prepare to survive and recover quickly from major earthquakes, whether they occur while you are at work, at home, in the doghouse, or traveling. The Shakeout is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s ongoing safety campaign, America’s PrepareAthon!

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

do not go out while earthquake.Red prohibition warning symbol sign on white background.If you reacted to earthquakes in the past by running outside, ignoring the shaking or ducking under someone’s desk and survived unscathed, these experiences may have given you a false sense of security. I don’t usually do anything when an earthquake hits except bark. Until you experience the strong shaking of a major earthquake, accompanied by sudden and intense back and forth motions, which can cause the floor or ground to sway, you could make the mistake of failing to recognize the fact that strong earthquakes can cause you to topple, fall, or go airborne – potentially leading to serious injury. The next time the ground beneath you starts to shake, don’t wait to see if the shaking will be strong. Instead, learn to immediately protect yourself after the first jolt – no matter its strength.

Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that people are likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. Experts agree the plan to Drop, Cover, and Hold On offers the best overall level of protection in most situations. My wife and I will have to make sure J.R. knows what to do when an earthquake hits.

Earthquake Safety Away from HomeUnknown-2

What if you are driving, in a theater, in bed, or on vacation when the earth starts to shake? Try to move but immediately protect yourself as best as possible. Earthquakes occur without warning and might be so violent that you are unable to run or crawl. In such severe cases, you could be knocked to the ground. You will never know if the initial jolt could turn out to be start of “The Big One.” So, no matter where you are when you feel earthquake shaking, drop, cover and hold on! In most situations, your chance of injury will be reduced if you:

  • Drop onto your hands and knees (or all four paws), right where you are. This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby. Wherever you are when an earthquake strikes, protect yourself!
  • Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand (or paws, when applicable). If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter. If shelter is not nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows). Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs.
  • Hold On until the shaking stops. Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts. Without shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.Disability Earthquake Evacuation

Persons with Disabilities: See these instructions for dealing with earthquakes if you are disabled. These recommendations apply to anyone who uses a wheelchair, walker, or is unable to drop to the ground and get up again without assistance.

Drill, drill, drill

As with anything, practice makes perfect. I have found this to be true of the Twilight Bark. To be ready to protect yourself immediately when the ground begins to shake, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On at school and on the job at least once each year. Click here to sign up to fine a Great ShakeOut near you. If your building management subscribes to the Allied Universal online training system, you will find more information about the Great Shake Out and preparation tips for you and your family and/or coworkers on the training system website.Unknown-3

What NOT to do: 

  • Despite training you may have received as a child, do not get in a doorway! This practice became popular because an early earthquake photo showed a collapsed adobe home, with the door frame the only remaining part of the building left standing. However, in modern houses and buildings, doorways do not protect from flying debris or falling objects. You will be better protected under a table. Don’t forget to tuck your tail between your legs!
  • Resist the urge to run outside! Trying to run during an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and could cause you to fall or sustain injury due to flying debris, such as glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as bricks and other building components could fall, injuring you or blocking your escape. Instead, stay inside and take cover under a desk or table.Unknown
  • Don’t ignore opportunities to prepare for earthquakes. Unlike other natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes hit without warning. Nevertheless, by drilling, you can prepare so you know exactly what to do the next time a quake strikes.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Earthquake safety is important for everyone all year round, not just during the Great ShakeOut. 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.

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Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, FEMA

FEMA Adds New Features to Natural Disaster App

Transparent smartphone with apps on three dimensional screenEarlier this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) added a noteworthy new feature to their free smartphone app, which pushes notifications to users’ devices to remind them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters. I think someone should come up with an app to remind dog owners to feed their pets.

The FEMA app reminds users about:

  • Pre-scheduled safety and preparedness tips
  • Routine smoke alarm testing
  • Fire escape plan drillsFotolia_89811476_XS
  • Emergency kit updates
  • Smoke alarm battery replacement

“In just two minutes, a home fire can become life-threatening,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. “Remembering to take small steps to prepare, such as ensuring your smoke alarm is properly maintained and practicing your home fire escape plan, will reduce fire fatalities and ensure our communities are safer. We hope this new feature to FEMA’s app will help save lives by encouraging more families to be prepared.”

At the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, we are committed to pointing our subscribers to helpful disaster preparedness information from a variety of reputable sources, including FEMA. What’s more, we have recently tweaked our own offerings, so our subscribers can e-train at their convenience, on desktop computer, laptop or iPad. Those are great options for millennials, since they spend a lot of time on their devices.Flat Design Concept about People Using Smartphone

For their part, FEMA officials tout their new app reminder feature, saying it provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and open recovery centers, and offers tips for surviving natural and manmade disasters. The app also incorporates push notifications of weather alerts from the National Weather Service. Through the feature, users can stay on top of weather patterns for up to five national locations.

Other key features of the app:

  • Weather Alerts: Users can elect to receive alerts on severe weather happenings in specific areas, so users can follow potential weather-related threats to family and friends.
  • Safety Tips: Includes tips about how to stay safe before, during, and after more than 20 types of hazards, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
  • Disaster Reporter: Users can upload and share disaster-related photos.
  • Maps of Disaster Resources: Users can locate and receive driving directions for open shelters and disaster recovery centers.Tablet Computer - Spanish Everywhere
  • Apply for Assistance: The app provides easy access to federal disaster assistance applications.
  • Information in Spanish: The app defaults to Spanish-language content for smartphones set to Spanish as the default language.
  • Dog Treat Reminders. Okay, I admit this isn’t one of their features, but I think it would be a great addition.

The latest version of the FEMA app is available for free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices. Users who already have the app downloaded on their device should download the latest update for the reminder alerts feature to take effect. The reminders are available in English and Spanish. To learn more, visit: The FEMA App: Helping Your Family Weather the Storm.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Tornadoes, Workplace Safety

RJWestmore Training System Tornado Module Part 2

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Tornadoes present a significant weather-related risk across much of the country. Last week, we began a two-part series about how to prepare for and recover from tornadoes, which is particularly important in 2016, thanks to El Niño. I sure hope El Niño won’t affect bacon production. That’s at the top of my emergency supply list.

As noted in last week’s post, the RJWestmore Training System has recently added a tornado module to further enhance our comprehensive training program. Last week, our post covered what to do to prepare for a tornado. The following post will wrap up our two-week series, focusing on what to do during and after a tornado.

During a Tornado

Vintage old fashioned radioMany cities use an undulating, wailing warning system that sounds for three to four minutes to alert the public about tornadoes. I know a lot of dogs who use a similar system to warn their masters of impending doom. If you hear this signal or are otherwise notified that a tornado is imminent:

  • Remain calm.
  • At home or work, go to the pre-determined safe zone or basement as quickly as possible.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, don’t stay in a large, open area that has windows. Instead, seek out a closet or interior hallway to take cover.
  • Do not leave the building.
  • If you cannot get to a safe zone or basement, seek shelter under a large, sturdy piece of furniture. I find that desks and chairs provide comfort as well as protection.
  • Steer clear of windows and avoid being hit by flying objects.
  • Listen to NOAA weather conditions.
  • If you are away from home, find a small, interior room or hallway and protect your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. And if you’re a canine, tuck in your tail.
  • If you are in a vehicle, do not attempt to outdrive the tornado. But do not stay in the car, as tornadoes can significantly damage automobiles. Park the car as quickly as possible, well away from traffic. If possible, find shelter in a sturdy building or underground. If you are not near a building, seek shelter in a spot that is at the lowest level possible. It is a myth that an overpass would provide shelter from a tornado. It is far safer to literally lie low and cover your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. But make sure you are far from trees and vehicles.

After a Tornado

Emergency Survival Preparedness KitStudies have shown that a great deal of tornado-related injuries occur after a tornado when people are walking among the debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries can also occur during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. So be careful and follow these tips:

  • Unless you are facing a life-threatening situation, do not leave the safe zone until the warning has officially been lifted.
  • Listen for emergency information and instructions as well as weather updates and the “all clear” signal.
  • Do a quick survey of the damage to determine major hazards, looking for fires, leaks and electrical shorts.
  • Anticipate power outages and use the flashlight in your emergency kit to light the way as you check interior spaces and during evacuation.
  • Take time to have a snack. (Okay…I added that suggestion. But I think that snacks are always a good idea.)
  • Do not use an open flame or turn on electrical switches, especially if you smell gas.
  • Establish a safe location to use for triage. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • When it is safe to do so, use telephones for emergency calls, only.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement, which could stir up debris and affect breathing.
  • If you are trapped, tap on metal or another loud surface or, better yet, use a whistle to alert emergency responders. Shout only as a last resort. Bark, if applicable.
  • When evacuation routes are determined to be safe and you are instructed to do so:
    • Evacuate
    • Remain calm
    • Do not use elevators
    • Proceed to the safest exit, using the most continuous handrail
    • Before opening any doors, feel the door with the back of your hand (or paw), to check for heat.
    • Proceed to your designated safe refuge area and check in.
    • Do not reenter the building until you are told it is safe to do so by building management and emergency responders.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

 

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Workplace Safety

Seven Safety Resolutions for 2016

Goals 2016According to StatisticBrain.com, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only eight percent actually succeed in achieving them. (Does this include dogs?) So maybe the first resolution you should make this year is to keep the resolutions you make! Our idea for ensuring success? Buck the trend of focusing your goals on popular resolutions involving weight, money and relationships in favor of resolving to be safe. I’ve never understand humans’ focus on weight goals! So you have a few extra pounds; it’s a badge of honor! Want to know my resolutions list?

  1. Take more naps. Easily attainable and lots of fun.
  2. Eat more food. I will resolve to learn the magic ways of the refrigerator and figure out how to help myself to leftovers.
  3. Guilt people into giving me more belly rubs. My “puppy dog eyes” still work magic.

Seven Safety Resolutions (for Humans) in 2016:

  1. Mr.Simple in SWOT AnalysisReview recent history. Where safety is concerned, consider the steps you took to be safe in 2015 as well as the emergencies that arose, so you can identify emergency strengths and weaknesses. For example, did anyone slip or fall at one of your properties in 2015? If so, how was the incident handled? What steps can be taken to prevent future accidents? The National Safety Council offers several ideas for reducing the risk of slips and falls. I remember slipping in a puddle once. It was glorious!
  1. Plan for earthquakes. Review your earthquake preparedness plan, making sure that evacuation routes are clear and furniture, boilers and water heaters are secure. If your building is located in an earthquake-prone area such as Southern California, use this interactive map to see if your building is located on an active fault line. Understanding the severity of the risk can aid in earthquake planning.
  1. Remove clutter throughout the building. Hallways that are littered with boxes impede safe passage. So make sure stairwells remain accessible and that exits are clearly marked. Cats are another impediment! Who needs them? For suggestions about preparing exit routes and creating a fire prevention plan, check out the emergency evacuation factsheet on the OSHA website.
  2. Reduce fire risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires that start at home. As for nonresidential buildings, the most recent available data from FEMA (for 2013) suggests the leading reported causes of fires are cooking, followed by arson, carelessness and heating equipment. Prominently display safety guidelines for heating food (might I suggest bacon or bratwurst?), reporting suspicious behavior and carefully dealing with electricity and open flames. While I love people to cook up great meals such as bacon and burgers, I always want the cooking to be done safely!
  1. Assemble a “Go-kit”. After any emergency, building occupants might need to shelter in place or move to a safe location on your property, potentially for days. The important components of a go-kit are one gallon of water per person, for three days, non-perishable food, flashlights, medications, first-aid kit, whistle, hand-crank or battery-operated radio (and extra batteries) and emergency blankets. And don’t forget to pack stuff for pets. Learn more about assembling an effective go-kit from the Red Cross.
  1. Emphasize cybersecurity. IT security experts predict 2016 will bring an increase in cybersecurity threats such as ransoming, cloud infiltrations, identity theft, and advanced phishing. The damages from a hacking attempt and possible leak of electronic data can be enormous. Learn best practices to prevent cybersecurity breaches, such as using strong passwords, limiting access to key employees, and regularly installing software updates and patches that can plug security holes.
  1. Subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. I love promoting our system because it 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 all of the training needs of your facility, cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves building owners and managers over 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES 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, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Workplace Safety

Zombies are coming. Are you prepared?

Vector poster about zombie.Shortly before publishing this lighthearted blog post about disaster preparation relative to a fictional Zombie Apocalypse, we learned of a real life active-shooter incident at ZombiCon in Fort Meyers, Florida. As a result of the event, one person was killed and five were injured. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the shooting. For helpful information about how to prepare for, and survive an active shooter incident, see our Active Shooter blog posts.

With The Walking Dead back on television, and Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to consider whether you have a sufficient Zombie Apocalypse plan. While I would rather ask the mail carrier and the vacuum cleaner to tea and biscuits than deal with zombies, we are taking a cue from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to use the season to prepare our subscribers and friends for disasters of any kind…including those of the zombie variety. After all, although the chances of encountering such an attack might be rare, prepping for “walkers” is a good way to get serious about disaster planning.

The series of blog posts and posters that the CDC recently released emphasizes preparedness, discussed protocols for quarantine as well as relevant medical procedures which would be implemented in the case of any disaster…including a zombie attack. The point of the CDC’s campaign is that disasters can happen entirely out of the blue. So plan for the worst-case scenario–which, in this case, would be hungry zombies. As terrible as it was, the great bacon shortage of 1999 would probably pale in comparison to an actual Zombie Apocalypse.

Build Your Zombie Kit

Cartoon zombie charactersPlanning in advance is the best way to survive any disaster. Zombie attacks happen quickly and without warning, so create a zombie defense kit to avoid becoming part of the brain-sucking horde. This post reminds me of the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. Dogs in the film turned into vampire/zombies. That was a scary scene!

Key pieces of your zombie kit should include:

  • A First Aid Kit. If a zombie takes a nibble instead of a huge bite, you might be able to ward off infection with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
  • Emergency Flares. Use these to either spotlight or repel zombies (depending on your game plan) and to signal first responders. Unfortunately, for me and my canine companions, use of a flare gun is impossible without opposable thumbs. So, with a little luck, I’m hoping we would survive without them.
  • Fresh water. Quickly moving from place to place makes you thirsty. And when adrenaline is pumping, hydration is vital. In fact, people can only survive a few days without water. So store enough to allow one gallon per person per day, and make sure you have a three-day supply. Dogs are lucky. Give us a puddle of rainwater and we have instant drinking water.
  • A multi-function tool, with a knife, screwdriver, can opener, and other handy accessories. A knife is useful for dispatching zombies as well as cutting rope, and an opener is helpful if you need to open a can of tuna.
  • Sturdy work gloves, which will come in handy in potentially sticky situations. Zombie guts will slip out of your hands unless you have a secure grasp on them.
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio for important alerts. You will want to make sure to stay up on where “the walkers” are headed. In the event that the zombie invasion leads to an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), the only way to stay connected will be with a hand-cranked or battery-operated radio.
  • Copies of personal documents such as passports, birth certificates and contact information. You should also have your rabies shots on file. You don’t want a little froth to be confused for zombie drool. The zombies will likely have to pass through customs. So have your ID on hand in case you need to cross international borders.

Funny Zombie Apocalypse Signs, Symbols and Billboards Vector eps8 big collection

Establish Safe Zones

Pick a safe place to meet in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse–preferably someplace where you won’t have to climb over lots of obstacles, which would make escape more difficult.

Some tips:

  • If applicable, practice the evacuation plan for your high-rise building, setting alternate meeting locations (in case the zombies decide to host a party in your first location). Be sure to grab puppies on your way out, as well, in case you’re awesome and bring your pet to work.
  • Discuss communication methods beforehand, so you know how to contact people who fail to show up on time. Walkie-talkies with fresh batteries are essential.

If you’ve seen The Walking Dead or any of the dozens of zombie movies, then you can glean some advice, which is prudent during any disaster:

  • Stick together. Work with a group to best manage a disaster. Going solo is typically not a good idea. I might talk tough, but when it comes to zombies, I’m staying in a big group!
  • Don’t make rash decisions. Think about various options before rashly choosing the one that would put you in danger. I made a decision to eat a squirrel once. Not a wise move.
  • Use resources wisely. Ration water and food and keep track of necessary equipment in case the disaster continues for an extended period of time.

While this post is meant to be “tongue-in-cheek,” it is serious in that we want to remind our subscribers and friends about the very real need for proactive disaster planning. If you are prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, you will also be ready to face the unexpected, which is the right mindset to adopt during any type of disaster.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety in High Rises 

Fotolia_66830031_XSThis week, we are covering several threats to workplace safety in high-rise buildings: earthquakes, fire, accidents, and running out of kibble. High-rise buildings pose specific risks for occupants as well as property owners and managers, due to their large size and the sheer number of potential affected tenants, visitors and on-site staff. September is National Pork Chop Appreciation Month. (Every month is pork month, according to National Hog Farmer.) But I should probably focus on the fact that it’s also National Preparedness Month, which makes it the perfect time to review workplace safety procedures.

Earthquakes

Sitting in even a well-built, earthquake-prepared high-rise during an earthquake can be a harrowing experience. The worst part for pooches is that we can sense earthquakes before they strike. Check out this great clip of one of my canine buddies reacting to a quake seconds before it hits!

Buildings caught in an earthquake can sway and move ever so slightly (which is intentional). I sway a little after a giant meal. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay upright when my tummy is full! Shaking can cause light nausea and movement of light fixtures, blinds, and ceiling panels. Building managers and owners can help tenants manage the risk of earthquakes and feel relatively secure during them by:

  • Encouraging tenants to stay seated during an actual earthquake (the dog in that video didn’t listen!). Most quakes are quite short in duration. In fact, most last less than one minute. So it is highly recommended that people refrain from using elevators while the earth shakes. It’s better to simply sit down (away from built-in cabinets and artwork) and wait for the quake to stop. I’m great at sitting. Someone just needs to say the word, and I go right down.

Fire

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that fires cost stores and businesses upwards of 708 million dollars. This is a staggering sum of money, and can be reduced if building occupants closely follow fire prevention best practices. In high rises, the damages caused by fires can be severe, as fires can rise quickly to upper floors. What’s more — it can be logistically challenging to evacuate large numbers of people unless those people have been properly trained about emergency evacuation procedures.

The Yellow HelmetTo prevent high-rise fires:

  • Remove combustible materials and eliminate walkway obstructions. Talk to tenants about the importance of maintaining clutter-free offices. Mounds of paper can fuel fires, and cluttered pathways could impede evacuation, and block the entrance to firefighting crews. Stairways should always be clear of debris.
  • Locate and check fire extinguishers. Consider creating and posting a video instructing tenants about the proper use of fire extinguishers. Selecting and installing the right type of extinguisher for any given area is also important. High rise buildings can contain thousands of extinguishers, so it’s important to monitor their locations and expiration dates. I have an extinguisher in the doghouse. Sometimes it gets a little smoky when I’m making a rack of ribs.
  • Plan and practice evacuation plans. Property owners and building managers should work closely with tenants to explain and practice evacuation procedures in the event of fire. Moving a large number of people through stairwells can prove challenging, particularly for the disabled and elderly individuals. Fire drills can help identify evacuation roadblocks and educate residents about safe evacuation routes. Fido and Whiskers must be safely escorted out of the building, too, if applicable.

Accidents

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 individuals were killed on the job in 2014, with tens of thousands of deaths attributable to occupational diseases. Although great strides have been made over the decades to improve worker safety, companies and property managers and their tenants will benefit when the safest possible workplace environment is provided.

Workplace Safety Best Practices:

  • Eliminate slippery floors. Falls are one of the most common causes of workplace accidents. This is why I use four stable legs. Property managers can arrange to have floors cleaned at night, to allow surfaces to dry properly before workers arrive. In snowy climates, melting ice and snow could leave slick surfaces. Non-slip mats and salt can also reduce this risk.
  • Uneven floors can also lead to falls. Look closely at cracked sidewalks and entryways, as well as the transitions between different types of flooring. For example, if tenants are allowed to make office or residence improvements and choose their own flooring, examine the area between hallways and tenant entrances to make sure the height of the surfaces match.

Remember that safety is an ever-present priority, at home and at work. So be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time–not just during September. 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 our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, High-Rise Buildings

How to Prepare For and React During an Apt Fire

??????????????????????????????Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that broke out early Monday morning, May 19, at a Memphis-area apartment complex. A woman was reportedly inside the unit where the fire originated. She was treated on the scene for minor smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation is gross. That’s why I can’t understand how anyone can smoke. Fortunately, most of the damage from this fire was contained to the one where it began — although other units sustained associated water and smoke damage. Would your tenants know how to respond if a similar incident occurred in your high-rise building?

When fires break out in high-rise structures, the potential for loss of high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. The reasons for this are many, including the fact that fires can burn for extended periods of time before occupants even become aware of the burn. I guess I should be glad my doghouse is relatively small. Smoke and deadly gases from the fire are just as deadly as the fire and are major cause of injury and death during a fire situation. What’s more, the sheer size of tall structures increases the amount of time it takes for firefighters to reach flames.

According to the US Fire Administration (USFA), it is not uncommon for 15 minutes to elapse from the start of a fire to the time when first responders reach the blaze. And a lot of damage can be done in a quarter of an hour. Just look at what cats do when their step out. So the best way to manage high-rise fires is to provide training so occupants will immediately know what to do when they hear an alarm, smell smoke or discover a fire.

Did you know that federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant? That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, despite this fact, studies show that less than 20% of occupants have ever trained or know what to do in an emergency. That’s a bad thing! That means 80% of your occupants are at risk and could represent a liability to both themselves and you.

We believe that every occupant should have the ability to be trained anytime, at their convenience, as often as they want to learn. We also believe that most dogs can be trained, too. Our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services 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 all of 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! And that’s always a good thing.

Our fully-integrated system helps building owners and property managers:

  • Manage one site or an entire portfolio
  • All users are in the same system
  • Train occupants, floor wardens & fire safety directors
  • Keep track of user training and testing
  • Monitor building specific Emergency Responder information

Our Fully Automated System provides automatic:

  • Certificates to each user (instantly via email)
  • Annual reminders to each user (per training module)
  • Employee compliance reports to each tenant – quarterly
  • Notifications to local fire departments
  • Creation of real time Special Assistance and Floor Warden lists
  • Notification of updates to Special Assistance list
  • Regular updates to Floor Warden & Fire Safety Director lists
  • Updates and maintenance notifications

Distinct levels of user access:

  • Property Manager: Full rights and access to one or multiple properties. Receive automatic updates & reminders.
  • Fire Department: Online access to confidential FD documents, reports and training records. Automatic emails.
  • Fire Safety Director: Access to Fire Dept. documents & invites and tracks Floor Wardens.
  • Floor Warden: Tracks occupant training per floor
  • Tenant Manager: Add/update/delete/track employees — all reports
  • Occupant/Employee: View training/tests view & print documents. Add & remove themselves from the individuals who need assistance list.
  • Each level is secure and you can update the contents any time.
  • Each user level has its own Resources section.

Property owners/managers and their tenant employers should make sure they train their tenants to calmly and quickly respond to emergency situations including high-rise fires. Here are a few simple fire safety steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property in high rise fires.

Before the Emergency:

  • Don’t lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. So never prop stairway or other fire doors open.  If your property has locking stairwell egress doors for security reasons, make sure they all automatically unlock upon alarm.
  • Familiarize yourself with your building’s evacuation plan. And know your primary and secondary escape routes. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds and where their interior and exterior safe refuge areas are located.
  • Plan and execute frequent drills so escape plans become second nature. You can use your RJWestmore Online Training System to conduct tabletop drills and virtual evacuation route walks using the “Map View” button on your homepage.
  • If you’re in a position of leadership, lead by example. Participate in all drills, set training deadlines that include recognition for compliance. Make participation and creating a safety conscious environment part of your everyday life.
  • Learn to immediately recognize the sound of your building’s fire alarm and post emergency numbers near telephones.

During the Emergency:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t assume someone else has called the fire department. It is better to over-report than run the risk of failing to contact emergency personnel. After all, early notification is critical.
  • Before you try to leave the office or living space, feel the door/door knob with the back of your hand.  If the door/door knob feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Move to the safest secondary escape route and evacuate.
  • If the doorknob is too hot to handle, stay where you are and wait for rescue.
  • Stuff cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
  • If you have access to a telephone, call the fire department to explain exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see can see emergency personnel outside at the scene.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help by waving something bright or with a flashlight, etc.  Anything to attract attention.
  • As a last life safety resort, if possible in your building, open the window, but do not break it, you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
  • Once you are sure that emergency responders are aware of your location and need to be rescued, be patient.

If the door/door knob DOES NOT feel warm, carefully open it.

  • If you do attempt to open the door, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it just a crack. This is the best method for detecting the presence of smoke or fire.
  • If no smoke appears in hallway or stairwells, follow your building’s evacuation plan and move to your safest predetermined alternate escape route.
  • If the building’s fire alarm is not sounding, pull the nearest one while safely and calmly exiting your floor.
  • If you encounter smoke or flames anywhere as you exit the building, stay low to avoid hot smoke and gasses.  If you cannot evacuate, move as far from the fire as possible (closing as many doors as possible between you and fire) and shelter in place.  Stuff the cracks around doorways and vents to block out smoke.  Call 911 and building management/security to let them know your exact location.  If you are near a window DO NOT BREAK THE WINDOW. Wave something to attract attention. Breaking a window as a last resort may draw the smoke and fire closer to you. I guess I should be glad our doghouse doesn’t have any windows.

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 BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare

April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism Corp 2As an interested firedog, I find it fascinating that autistic people sometimes react more favorably to animals than to people. It shows that they have good taste. But I want to make sure readers know that I share my own thoughts in this post not in any way to make light of autism, but as a means of supporting those who deal with this very serious condition themselves or with people that they love.

Each April, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Autism Speaks promote Autism awareness month. And though this is always an important event in the wellness community, this year is particularly poignant in light of updated Autism data recently released:

Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, said. “As prevalence continues to rise, we are now calling on the international community to turn awareness into action by supporting comprehensive strategies that address the needs of those with Autism. Only through collaboration, can we make significant progress for our families, not just in the United States, but around the globe.”

About Autism

Autism Apple SeriesAutism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – Autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.

Autism Awareness

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on Autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities increase and develop world knowledge of the Autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with Autism and is a day when individuals with Autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe. I wish my doghouse had electricity. I would have shone a blue light for Autism Awareness.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading Autism science and advocacy organization, which is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for Autism; increasing awareness of Autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with Autism and their families.

Founded in 2005 by the grandparents of a child with Autism, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. That’s a lot of money! Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. That’s a lot of walking. I approve! On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness.

RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services: Throughout the year, our training service offers an informational worksheet detailing the most effective way to deal with people who have Autism, in the event of an emergency.

  • Emergency preparedness instructions help family members as well as friends and first responders remember the proper methods for helping Autistic people, since those who care for people with Autism, or are in close contact with an autistic person, must take special precautions before, during and after any emergency.
  • What’s more, RJWestmore has a contact form for Autism Risk & Safety Management. Completing the form in advance equips first-responders with the information they need to properly assist people who have Autism.

Also, the RJWestmore Training System offers an informational PDF which is automatically sent to users who adds themselves to the Special Assistance List. The document is meant for anyone who identifies him or herself as having “any condition, temporary or permanent, that hinders or impedes the individual or others from safely evacuating.”

These individuals are encouraged to register and notify their company, the office of the building/Fire Safety Director and their Fire/Floor Warden.  They are also reminded to follow specific emergency action plan manual instructions and participate in all drills. All of these resources are provided for the safety of the affected individual as well as those in his or her community. You got to hand it to the folks at Universal. They think of everything.

Since Autistic people have unique needs associated with emergency preparedness and disaster response, here are a few tips for Families Affected by Autism

  1. Stay calm

Project a demeanor of calm during a disaster or emergency, even if doing so is difficult. Children and adults on the spectrum may sense an agitated emotional state and mimic it. Practice and prepare to project a sense of calm.

  1. Prepare for immediate needs before disaster (This is always a good idea!)

Be ready to evacuate. Make plans for getting yourself and loved ones out of your home or building (ask family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes in case evacuation routes are closed or blocked.

  1. Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers to assist in an emergency.

If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your needs with relatives, friends, and co-workers and ask for their help.

  1. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist in a disaster.

Contact local emergency information personnel long before disaster strikes. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.

  1. Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability may help in case of an emergency.
  2. If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
  • When you dial 911, tap space bar to indicate TDD call.
  • Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
  • Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
  • Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.
  • If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog. This, too, is always a good idea.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for a disaster of any kind is to be aware. Our system 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 BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations

Preparing for and Recovering from Mudslides

Mouvements de terrain - Effondrement souterrainWeeks of heavy rain in the Pacific Northwest have wreaked havoc on roads and structures. Particularly troubling are the massive mudslides which hit Washington State, leaving108 missing and at least eight dead and destroying 30 homes. According to the New York Daily News, “The rescue mission was halted as darkness set in on Sunday because conditions were deemed too dangerous.”

As search and rescue efforts continue, we would like to resume our severe weather series by focusing this week’s blog post on one of the associated risks of severe weather such as rain and snow—mudslides. Out of respect for the victims and the missing, I will eliminate my typical “firedog-isms.”

Facts about Mudslides

  • Occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope.
  • Can accompany heavy rains or follow droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or fast snowmelts.
  • May result from rapidly accumulating water which saturates rock, earth and debris.
  • Usually start at the top of steep slopes.
  • Slopes which are particularly vulnerable include any area where wildfires or human modification of the land have destroyed vegetation, during and after heavy rains.
  • In the U.S., landslides and debris flows result in 25 to 50 deaths each year.
  • Associated hazards include broken electrical, water, gas, and sewage lines that can result in injury or illness; and disrupted roadways and railways that can endanger motorists and disrupt transport and access to health care.
  • The consistency of debris flow can range from thin or thick mud to rocky mud that can forcefully carry large items.
  • When flows reach flat ground, the debris typically spreads over a broad area, and can accumulate in thick deposits that can wreak havoc in developed areas.
  • Every year, landslides in the U.S. cause roughly $3.5 billion in damage.
  • Mudslides can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.

Mudslide-Prone Areas

  • Steep slopes and areas at the bottom of slopes or canyons;
  • Spots where landslides have occurred before.
  • Slopes that have been altered for construction of buildings and roads;
  • Channels along a stream or river; and
  • Areas where surface runoff is directed.

How to Prepare for a Mudslide

  • Recognize landslide warning signs before they happen so you know what to do when they happen.
  • Before the first raindrop falls, assume that steep slopes and areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to landslides and debris flows.
  • Contact local authorities to help determine whether landslides or debris flow have occurred previously in your area.
  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for your family and business.
  • Find out about local emergency and evacuation plans, so you’ll know where to go and what to do if you are caught in a mudslide.

What to do During a Mudslide:

  • Once the storm starts, look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Stay awake and alert.
  • Watch TV or listen to the radio for warnings about intense rainfall and for information and instructions from officials.
  • Be aware of sudden increases or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. Remember; a trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.
  • If you are out and about in a storm, be alert while you’re driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If landslide or debris flow danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide.
  • Evacuate! Get out of the path of a debris flow. Move to high ground, away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for shelter and take cover.
  • If you can’t escape, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.
  • Don’t forget about your neighbors. They may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them about potential threats could save their life.

How to Recover from a Landslide

  • Stay away from the mudslide site, since flooding and additional slides may occur after the initial landslide. Floods can follow landslides and debris flow because they may have occurred as a result of the same event.
  • If it is possible to do so without entering the path of the mudslide, check for injured or trapped people near the affected area.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to authorities.
  • Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage. Damage to foundations, chimneys, or surrounding land may help you assess the safety of the area.
  • Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides in the near future.
  • Seek advice from a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk. A professional will be able to advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce landslide risk, without creating further hazard.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. 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 Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Workplace Safety

Are you prepared for an earthquake?

Earthquake cracked ground floorWithin the past week, several significant earthquakes remind us that quakes strike without notice:

  • 4.4 earthquake near Westwood in LA
  • 6.9 shaker that struck just off the coast in northern California
  • 6.7-magnitude quake which shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore
  • 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the sea, about 100 miles southwest of Hiroshima

In the event a noteworthy earthquake hits and emergency personnel are unable to immediately respond to you and your colleagues, employees, family and/or friends. In fact, where earthquakes are concerned in prone geographical locations, “it’s not if, but when.” Bear in mind all regions carry risk of one type of disaster or another. So avoiding locations that have earthquakes won’t keep you from the risk of disaster. And since earthquakes happen without warning, well in advance, you have to identify the hazards around you. In other words, prepare! Where have I heard that before? Maybe in every post on my blog and tweet!

Before a Quake: Evaluate your work and home environment and diligently strive to eliminate all potential hazards.

  • Know your specific emergency plan and your role in it.
  • Familiarize yourself with a primary and secondary escape routes.
  • Make every effort to ensure your workplace is safe.
  • Study what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
  • Acquaint yourself with safe areas and stairwell exits
  • Identify and practice moving to your closest safe, drop, cover and hold locations.
  • Lower Heavy Objects
  • Install Safety Latches on Cabinets
  • Secure Tall Furniture
  • Consider what you would do if an earthquake led to power outages, fires and water leaks.
  • Maintain at least a three-day emergency supply kit at work, home and in your car.
    • Water
    • High-calorie, long-shelf life snack bars
    • First Aid Kit, including prescriptions and glasses (and don’t forget medications for your pets)
    • Solar blankets
    • Hat
    • Gloves
    • Sturdy tennis shoes
    • Whistle
    • Emergency out-of-state contact information (since family and friends in your location may also have experienced the quake and so could be unavailable)
    • Hand-crank flashlight and radio (so you aren’t dependent on batteries)
    • Dog food and treats
    • For a complete list of emergency supplies, check out subscriber information on the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services or Ready.Gov.

If a Quake Hits

Inside

  • Stay calm and remember that life safety is always the first priority.
  • Act quickly to protect yourself and your peeps and pups.
  • If you’re in an elevator, sit on the floor, against the wall, and wait for the shaking to stop. In the event of an earthquake, the elevator should temporarily stop and then move to the nearest floor, where the doors will open.
  • If you are inside a building, move away from windows, pictures, and glass partitions to keep yourself out of reach of flying glass. I didn’t know glass could fly. Seems like an unstable form of transportation.
  • Drop to the ground and duck under a safe, sturdy desk, table or other sturdy object so you are safe from falling debris.
  • Lean forward and cover the back of your head and neck. This would take gymnastics moves for a canine.
  • Hold on and be prepared to move along with the furniture, which could be jostled during the shaking.
  • If you can’t find anything to quickly duck under, sit with your back against an interior wall.
  • Stay put until you are certain the shaking has stopped.
  • Since most people are killed and injured in earthquakes because they are hit with falling objects outside, DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE!
  • If you are in a high-rise building, floor wardens will be surveying damage, setting up a triage area and collecting resources, listening to emergency radio reports for instructions and dealing with associated debris that could interfere with safe evacuation.
  • Be aware that fires can break out as a result of an earthquake.
  • Keep your eyes open for post-earthquake fires, water leaks and electrical shorts.
  • Anticipate possible power outages.

Outside

  • If you are outside when the quake hits, find a clear area away from anything that could potentially fall.
  • If you’re outside, on a sidewalk—near buildings, duck into a doorway.
  • If you’re driving, pull over and stop.
  • When the shaking stops, be prepared for aftershocks, which are likely.

After the Earthquake

  • Stay calm.
  • If you are trapped in debris, tap on metal or anything that will attract search parties.
  • Use a flashlight to signal rescuers. Shout only as a last resort.
  • Quickly survey the area to make sure you are far away from major hazards.
  • Listen to your emergency radio for relevant information.
  • Use your cell phone for emergencies only. Would ordering pizza count?
  • Be prepared to function in the dark, in the event power is lost.
  • Avoid unnecessary movements, which could stir up dust and make breathing difficult.
  • DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME (In other words—don’t smoke!)
  • DO NOT turn on electrical switches, which could produce sparks and lead to a fire. This is particularly important if you smell gas.
  • Do not move seriously injured people or provide medical care beyond your level of training, unless their location puts them in immediate danger. If possible, wait for emergency personnel to arrive on scene.
  • Do not evacuate until the shaking stops and it is safe to do so.
  • Widespread damage may make traveling more hazardous than sheltering in place.
  • If you are unsure whether you should stay or go, wait to evacuate until you have been instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
  • Once you are sure it is safe to evacuate or you have been told to do so by officials, remain calm; avoid elevators; and use handrails to guide you down stairwells.
  • Before opening any doors, use the back of your hand to check for signs of fire-such as heat emanating from doors.
  • Proceed to your designated safe area and check in.
  • DO NOT attempt to reenter the building until officials tell you it is safe to do so by facility personnel or emergency responders.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. 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.