Each area of the United States is susceptible to certain types of natural disasters. Whether they morph into full-blown catastrophes depends on what we do now to prepare, survive and recover. One potential disaster that threatens millions of Americans each year is earthquakes. To help people prepare, FEMA sponsors an annual campaign designed to inspire ShakeOut drills each October. Continue reading “International ShakeOut Day October 18”
National Fire Prevention Week: “Look. Listen. Learn.”
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson announced the first ever event to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred in October of 1874. Each October since 1924, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has led the annual charge to implement National Fire Prevention Week™. This year’s observance takes place this week, with the theme, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere™.” I guess that includes doghouses! Continue reading “Happy National Fire Prevention Week”
Each year, government organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nonprofit agencies, such as the American Red Cross and private enterprise, including Allied Universal, to mark September as the official month to observe national emergency preparedness. I wonder why this lasts for 30 days, when National Dog Day comes but one day a year? Continue reading “Emergency Preparedness Month 2018”
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
Weather-related disasters across the world lead to devastating loss of life and cost billions of dollars each year. Our last post about severe weather disasters focused on extreme heat. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) breaks weather-related disasters into eight major categories. We’re working on a flood of upcoming blog posts! This week, we will tackle one such designation, floods. Check back, as the final post in this series will focus hurricanes, landslides and mudslides.
A flood is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Recent floods in Charleston, and Texas are taxing resources, destroying property, injuring hundreds and resulting in troubling associated issues such as mosquito-borne disease and infrastructure damage.
Continue reading “Severe Weather: Floods”
Despite the migration of millions of American employees to home offices, 78 percent of the U.S. workforce still report for duty at a company facility, at least part-time. I love reporting to the firehouse. So, safety in the workplace remains of paramount importance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.
Potential causes of workplace injuries and death range from fatigue (due to inadequate ergonomics or overexertion); substance abuse; slips, trips and falls; to natural and manmade disasters, including workplace violence. If a major emergency occurs or you get hurt on the job, everyone pays the price—in down time, lost productivity, low morale and economic impacts. Sounds like it would be better to avoid the whole thing! But when we work together to create a safer place to work, we’re all more productive and satisfied with our jobs and business operations are better prepared to recover.
For the purposes of this post, we will focus on workplace safety before, during and after disasters.
The U.S. Department of Laborestimates two million people fall victim to workplace violence each year. Employees in retail and healthcare are particularly vulnerable, but it can happen anywhere. Working with your local police department can help you control risk and plan for incidents that might occur. Whatever the cause of the workplace emergency, your attitudes and actions can impact your ability to survive the situation. Whether manmade (terrorist attack or coworker’s violent aggression) or natural (severe weather or earthquake), workplace disasters require specific preparation and reactions. I guess that applies to feline-made disasters, too?
Official Safety Training
One way to make sure you are ready is to complete Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT). The CERT program supports local response capability by training volunteers to spontaneously organize themselves at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive. But CERT is not the only way to prepare yourself for a workplace emergency. Wherever you work, you play a critical role in creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone by following pre-established emergency procedures and measures.
To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a free booklet about citizen preparedness, which may help you if disaster strikes when you are at work. Entitled “Are You Ready?”—the in-depth guide walks readers through steps to take to keep them safe in any hazardous situation. I want my wife and J.R. to read this guide, too. We all need to be ready! FEMA’s awareness campaign is called: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” That’s wise advice for employers as well as individuals.Emergency response planning can save lives, reduce the number of injuries, and prevent loss of property.
To be safe at work, before disaster strikes:
- Identify potential workplace hazards and safety roles and responsibilities. Know that workplace disasters can strike at any time, with little or no warning.
- Conduct a job safety analysis to establish proper work procedures to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Executives and safety officers must keep communication open to make sure workers are comfortable with learning and offer feedback.
- Maximize personal safety at your regular workspace. Keep area free from clutter.
- Participate in safety training drills. “Practice makes perfect!)
- Report hazards, incidents, and near-misses.
- Take steps to control flammable and combustible materials in your department and make sure they do not pose a fire or explosion hazard. (For example, large accumulations of waste paper or other combustible materials can pose fire risk.)
- Ask for help, when needed, to maintain your safety.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
- Obey “No Smoking” rules. Careless disposal of cigarettes and matches can lead to fires and explosions.
- Store and handle hazardous materials properly, according to the instructions on the label and on the safety data sheet. Or here’s a thought – don’t handle hazardous materials at all?
- Use and maintain equipment properly. Always a good idea!
During & After an Emergency:
- Stay alert. Just as you drive defensively on the road, use the same caution at work.
- Know the risks and danger signs.
- Don’t get into situations you are not trained to handle.
- Identify at least two ways out of any potentially hazardous situation.
- Volunteer to help others. My mom always taught everyone in her litter to “do unto others”
- Listen to officials for information about evacuation or sheltering in place.
- Repair damaged property.
- Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System
No matter the type of emergency you may face while at work, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
People who live or work in high-rise residential or commercial buildings face very specific disaster-preparedness challenges. Heights don’t bother me. Sometimes, I sit on top of my doghouse. Emergencies such as fires, bomb scares, weather-related incidents and earthquakes present special dangers for high-occupancy buildings, such as dormitories, apartment homes, condominiums and office complexes. The best defense is a coordinated emergency-response plan that identifies potential risks and outlines the best response.With limited access to egress, if you’re in a high-rise when disaster strikes, you might need to stay in the building until the emergency passes. Or, if evacuation is necessary, you would need to quickly find the exit. Continue reading “High-Rise Safety in Disasters”
Earthquakes 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. Continue reading “Are you ready to Shake?”
Part 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. Continue reading “Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters”
Hurricanes 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. Continue reading “How to Prepare for Hurricanes”
Across the United States this winter, even in Southern California, record-setting low temperatures have sent people scurrying to discount stores to purchase space heaters. While the units save energy costs and work well to heat small spaces, they also pose a high risk of fire. I guess space heaters make sense for people because they don’t have a built-in coat like dogs.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) officials say that space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires—figuring in two of every five such fires and accounting for 84% of associated civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage. The peak time for these types of fires is December, January and February.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that the biggest mistake people make relative to the risk of starting fires is to put things too close to heating sources: “Place (flammable materials) at least three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and radiators. Remember that skin burns too. Make sure that people and pets stay at least three feet away.” I guess that includes wagging our tails near space heaters.
While most built-in heating equipment remains safely out of reach of flammable materials, portable space heaters are easy to forget. Preliminary reports reveal that such was the case last month in Baltimore, Md., where a raging house fire claimed the lives of six children. The impact of the tragedy on loved ones is more difficult because officials suspect a space heater may have caused the blaze.
In the cool of winter, whether you are at home or at work, take these 10 precautions to make sure you remain fire safe in 2017:
- Use only portable heaters that have been listed by a testing laboratory (look for the laboratory’s label).
- Make sure the space heater you select has an automatic shut-off switch so that it will turn off on its own, even if it is accidentally knocked over or knocked over by an unwieldy tail.
- Select a heater that has automatic overheat protection.
- Plug portable electric heaters directly into wall outlets instead of potentially overloading an extension cord or power strip.
- Since evenings (between 5 – 8 p.m.) are the peak time for home heating fires, turn space heaters off before you leave the room or fall asleep.
- Keep space heaters out of the way of foot and paw traffic.
- Use space heaters only on solid, flat surfaces.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Check the condition of space heaters throughout the season.
For additional winter fire safety information, check out free resources:
Allied Universal (AUS) – Fire/Life Safety Training System
American Red Cross – America’s Biggest Disaster Threat
NFPA – Put a freeze on winter fires
National Safety Council (NSC) – Don’t wait. Check the date.
Remember that fire 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 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.