With sudden onset of congestion, body aches, fever and chills, over the past few months, millions of Americans have been battling Influenza, aka the flu. Worse yet, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that, worldwide, somewhere between 300,000 and 646,000 people die each year from seasonal flu-related respiratory illnesses.
Out 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. Continue reading “PTSD & Mental Health”
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
As teachers and administrators across the country are welcoming students to a new school year, we want to help make sure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. Follow these simple safety steps, adapted from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), which are important whether your student is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but our son, J.R., recently graduated from puppy kindergarten. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as bullying and peer pressure, and natural or manmade disasters, students now more than ever need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe. Continue reading “How to Be Safe at School: Bullying”
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. Continue reading “National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)”
Observed 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.”
It wasn’t long ago that disaster management professionals handled crises primarily through landlines and press conferences. In fact, I still use the Twilight Bark. Thankfully, over the past 10 years, technology has redefined global emergency management and disaster communications. One of the first national disasters to heavily rely on technology, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was Hurricane Sandy, as users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related tweets. I was tweeting like crazy during Hurricane Sandy.
Since people have embraced mobile technologies, it’s increasingly important for disaster management professionals to adopt a social media strategy as well as the ability to use multiple forms of technology to communicate and connect with an increasingly networked population. What’s more, building owners and managers, as well as members of the public, should take advantage of the many ways technology can help them prepare for, survive, and recover after a disaster.
Technology and Disasters:
- The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps that put lifesaving information at the user’s fingertips. The apps give people instant access to more than 35 customizable emergency weather alerts, as well as safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. The Emergency App contains an “I’m Safe” feature, which helps people use social media to let loved ones know they are okay following an emergency. These apps have been downloaded over seven million times and have been credited with saving lives in Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Other Red Cross apps include Blood Donor, Earthquakes, First Aid, Flood, Hero Care, Hurricane, Pet First Aid – which is my personal favorite, Radio Cruz Roja, Swim, Tornadoes, Transfusion Practice Guidelines and Wildfires.
- Disaster Apps. While it would be virtually impossible to list every available disaster app, here are a few noteworthy options, available on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), FEMA, My Hurricane Tracker, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), QuakeFeed, Storm Distance Tracker, and WeatherCaster. Another good one is put out by the ASPCA Mobile App.
- Facebook offers a natural disaster page, which is set up so that people can check on loved ones, get updates about the developing situation, and look for information about how to help. Disaster Response on Facebook highlights tips, news, and information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Facebook users who like and follow the page can stay up to date and connected with affected communities around the world. They can also donate with the “Donate Now” call-to-action button, so nonprofits can connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute.
- Twitter has emerged as a legitimate means of emergency communication for coordinating disaster relief. A 2015 study, What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens: Social Media Communications Across Crises, focused on 26 different crisis situations (such as earthquakes, floods, bombings, derailments and wildfires) for two years. The event which obtained the most Twitter attention at the time of the study was the Boston Marathon bombings, with 157,500 tweets. What’s more, Twitter Alerts provide trusted sources with a platform to disseminate accurate information to concerned parties in real time, and for those people to offer immediate feedback about the impact and hierarchy of needs relative to the associated disaster. My Twitter handle is @RjtheFireDog.
- OneEvent is an algorithm developed by a small startup in Wisconsin. For a monthly subscription fee, OneEvent detects household disasters like fires and floods up to 20 minutes before they happen. The software-based approach uses sensors to monitor things like heat and humidity in key areas of the subscriber’s home. I wonder if it would work in our doghouse? If things start to deviate from the norm due to a leaky pipe or a hot oven, the system will catch it, let the user know, and learnfrom the situation.
- Online Fire Life Training systems, which provide subscribers with access to information about emergency and disaster prevention, management and recovery. A leader in the field is Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Systems. The fully-automated system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Subscribers get access to training for building occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is recorded. Building-specific information is sent to first responders for immediate access during emergencies. Our mission is to save lives through training, with the motto “Be Safe!”
Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. 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.
Distracted driving is no laughing matter! Because of the serious nature of this week’s blog topic, I have refrained from my usual firedogisms. Please #BeSafe while you drive!
April is National Distracted Driving Month. Increasing awareness about distracted driving is a critical endeavor, as the National Safety Council reports that 40,207 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. That figure represents a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 — marking the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. Experts agree the increase in accidents is in direct proportion to the easy accessibility of technological distractions. In other words, the more available tech-related temptations, the more likely American roadways will be filled with distracted drivers.
New York Times Business Writer Neal E. Boudette explained the phenomenon by saying, “Cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, (but) apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.”
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Nearly half of all people (surveyed) say they feel less safe (driving) than they did five years ago.” AAA attributes this reaction to the fact that (while they are behind the wheel) drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.
AAA also references a distracted driving term known as “latency,” which means that texting while stopped at a traffic light or while stopped on congested freeways can impact full driving engagement, for an average of 27 seconds after texting stops. Replicated across thousands of cars during rush hour, this can add up to significant delays in addition to associated accidents.
Experts agree that cell phone use, which includes talking and texting, remains the most common distraction to safe driving. In response, many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors. Leading the charge is the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), whose message to all drivers is straightforward: “Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.”
10 Tips for Managing Common Driving Distractions
- Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach.
- Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, drive to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
- X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
- Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. GHSA offers a handy state law chart.
- Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
- Secure pets. Unsecured animals can be a big distraction in the car.
- Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
- Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
Remember These Do’s and Don’ts.
While you are driving, DO NOT:
- Text or send Snapchats.
- Use voice-to-text features in your vehicle’s dashboard system.
- Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media.
- Check or send emails.
- Take selfies or film videos.
- Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion).
- Call or message someone else when you know they are driving.
- Stay on top of the distracted driving issue all year long by signing up for the National Safety Council’s free e-newsletter.
- Take the attentive driver pledge.
- Share your pledge on social media.
- Create awareness in your workplace, at home or in your local community by sharing the distracted driving message.
Remember that safety is important for everyone across the country, whether on the roads or not. 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.
Did you know that poison can be found in vitamins, toys, coins, thermometers, and cosmetics? That’s a little creepy, if you ask me. These products, and your basic over-the-counter medications and cleaning products, contain the substance—albeit at very small amounts. With so many hazards to be aware of, drawing attention to the dangers of potential poisoning is the purpose of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19 to 25. Sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council (NPPC), the weeklong observations will center on the following themes:
- Monday, March 20 – Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons (Puppies act fast, too!)
- Tuesday, March 21 – Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money
- Wednesday, March 22 – Poisonings Span a Lifetime
- Thursday, March 23 – Home Safe Home
- Friday, March 24 – Medicine Safety
Here are some reasons that poison prevention is extremely important:
- According to the Global Children’s Fund, 800,000 kids are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States each year due to accidental poisoning.
- The Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers reveals that someone in America called a poison control center every 14.5 seconds.
Says the NPPC about the campaign:
“Unintentional poisoning from a wide variety of substances and environmental hazards can happen to anyone, and represents a substantial public health burden in the U.S. The National Poisoning Prevention Council is an inclusive community comprised of representatives from the public, nonprofit, and government organizations with a shared commitment to poisoning prevention and education. The Council provides a collective voice to raise awareness among the American public about the risks, frequency, and consequences of unintentional poisoning occurrences, injuries, and fatalities.”
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning:
- Don’t share prescription medicines. That’s a wise statement. If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free American Association of Poison Control Centers’ helpline (1-800-222-1222), to find out more about possible drug interactions.
- Carbon monoxide is a form of poison. Keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
- Keep chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children. Never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can create a dangerous gas. And gas is a bad thing in a confined space.
- Keep cleaning products, art products and antifreeze in their original containers. Never use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products.
- Food can become poisonous if handled carelessly. And it’s criminal to waste good food! Wash hands and counters before preparing food. Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
- Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F° (5 degrees C°).
- Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. When it comes to poison ivy, remember this tip: “leaves of three, let it be.”
- Venom is a form of poison. So, I guess eating snakes is right out? Good to know. Find out if poisonous snakes live in your area. Wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors.
- Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities.
If someone ingests poison:
- Remain calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning. That’s a relief.
- Call the Poison Help line(1-800-222-1222), which connects you to the local poison center.
- Follow the advice you receive from your poison center. Good idea!
Take steps while waiting for help to arrive:
- If someone has inhaledpoison, get him or her to fresh air immediately. Fresh air is always a good idea.
- If poison has touched the skin, rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If poison gets in eyes, rinse them immediately with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.Remember that safety around toxic chemicals is important for everyone across the country, all year long. 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.
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. That’s good stuff!
Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.
In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. This week’s post will focus on personal safety while in college. Check back next week to read about college safety relative to cyber security.
One of the most important ways to #BeSafe while in college is to make sure that students are aware of potential threats to their personal safety. A recent report by CBS News says that the top nine threats to today’s university students include:
- Colds and flu
- Hazardous mold
- Athlete’s foot
- Sleep deprivation
- Binge drinking
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
While we agree that the above are concerns, we suggest there are even more menacing threats to the typical college student’s safety. For example, why isn’t the Red Baron even mentioned? Whether students are walking on campus to go to a class, headed to the library, or on their way to a dorm, they should take steps to be safe:
- Lock the residence when leaving or sleeping.
- At night, walk in groups of at least two. I suggest walking your dog.
- Familiarize themselves with services provided by the office of campus safety. Potential services could include Blue Light emergency phone stations, campus escort services, safety maps with suggested secure routes and support for a safety app like Campus Safety.
- After dark, walk only on lit sidewalks.
- Know where you are going.
- When parking, remove valuables from plain view and lock vehicles.
- Record serial numbers for valuables and store them in a safe place.
- Report criminal incidents, losses and suspicious people to campus safety officers.
- Learn how to defend yourself.
- Maintain ready access to safety and security supplies.
- Dial 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
It is also imperative that students, as well as their friends, family members, and neighbors know how to properly respond and support someone who reports a crime to them in confidence. Victims and loved ones should know where to turn for resources and resolution.
Resources are available for males and females as well as non-victims:
- Campus Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEO) Office
- Campus police
- The school’s Annual Security Report
- Off-campus information sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),org, the Clery Center with whom we have a partnership.
- For gender-related violence, contact the Victim Rights Law Center, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) as well as on-campus advocacy groups.
- Another great resource is the Stalking Resource Center (SRC).Stalking is a crime that affects men as well as women.
- A rising problem among college students is suicide. Connect with Suicide Prevention in Higher Education.
Next week, check back to read our final post in this series about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone, including dogs, all year long. 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.
The year 2016 was a banner one for declared disasters in the United States – with emergencies of virtually every conceivable type devastating landscapes, manmade structures and victims across the country. It was also a banner year for JR, who learned to tweet emergency information on his own!
- Fires in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North & South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
- Hurricanes/Tropical Storms in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
- Mudslides & Landslides in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Rolling around in the mud is one of my favorite pastimes.
- Severe Storms & Flooding in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia (DC), Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
- Tornadoes in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia
Equally significant “undeclared” disasters broke records in 2016. These included biological and chemical threats, cyber terrorism, droughts, earthquakes, radiation and nuclear events, and volcanoes and cat-scratch fever…to name a few. The good news is that lessons learned in 2016, through endurance, recovery, and rebuilding can help us make a fresh start to #BeSafe in 2017.
- Take responsibility for your own personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of security personnel. Carry emergency contact details and special needs’ information.
- Put together a Go-Bag/Emergency Supply Kit. If you own a dog, make sure you include pet food in your emergency supply kit.
- If you own your own business, take a cue from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to plan, prepare and protect.
- Prepare an evacuation plan.
- Post instructions.
- Run drills. And when you aren’t doing drills, run around the neighborhood with your pooch.
- Access government websites for information about emerging threats as information is identified.
- Listen to instructions given before, during and after disasters from local law enforcement and public safety officials.
- Note travel alerts and warnings issued by the Department of State.
- Wherever you are, If you see something, say something. I guess this means if you see something out of the ordinary, right?
Remember that safety is a priority for everyone all year long. 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 Allied 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.