Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, disaster recovery, Floods, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

Severe Weather: Floods

Severe Weather FloodingFloods

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.flooded buildings

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”

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety

Workplace SafetyDespite 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.

Workplace InjuriesWorkplace Safety Injury

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.

Workplace Injury PreventionWorkplace 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 Facility Injury Workaggression) 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.Plan Ahead for Disasters

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!

Disaster PreparednessDuring & 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

Fire Life Safety TrainingNo 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.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

High-Rise Safety in Disasters

High-Rise SafetyPeople 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”

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. Continue reading “Are you ready to Shake?”

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Higher Education, Hurricanes, safety plans and procedures, Uncategorized

Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters

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

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

As teachers, educators and administrators across the country welcome students to a new academic year, we want to help ensure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as transportation challenges, cyber bullying and peer pressure, and handling emergencies and disasters, students need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe. Continue reading “Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters”

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

How to Prepare for Hurricanes

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

Posted in BE SAFE, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

10 Tips for Space Heater Safety

Keeping WarmAcross 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. Chihuahua watercolor painting

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.

Cold moose warming by an electric heaterWhile 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:

  1. Use only portable heaters that have been listed by a testing laboratory (look for the laboratory’s label).
  2. 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.
  3. Select a heater that has automatic overheat protection.
  4. Plug portable electric heaters directly into wall outlets instead of potentially overloading an extension cord or power strip.
  5. 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.
  6. Keep space heaters out of the way of foot and paw traffic.cat relaxing on a warm radiator
  1. Use space heaters only on solid, flat surfaces.
  2. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.
  3. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  4. 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

Allied Universal Space Heater Safety Tips

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.

USFA – Fire is everyone’s fight

owl firemanRemember 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.

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

Drones for Disasters

Air drones carrying cardboard, cityscape backgroundWhile news outlets often report about people shooting at drones as they hover over homes, and despite the fact certain irresponsible remote controllers have been known to interrupt emergency fire operations, these tiny fliers are well on their way to becoming invaluable disaster management tools. I would like to buy a drone for my own personal use.

Potential Drone Use

Drone Vector IllustrationIdentifying Threats and Survivors

  • Local officials could use drones when a dam is under strain from a flood or earthquake, to safely survey damage so they could alert the public about risks such as imminent collapse, or to allay fears if they are able to determine whether the dam is structurally sound.
  • Telecommunication firms are experimenting with drones which can provide a 4G local signal, which could connect responders and survivors.
  • Other companies are offering drones to deliver medical and/or food supplies. One such vendor made Pouncer, an inexpensive drone which features a compact, vacuum-packed cargo area. Sounds like the cargo area is the perfect size for bones and chew toys.
  • Drones are ideally suited for search and rescue teams, as they can cover a wide area and link to operators’ cellphones, to help pinpoint exact locations.

Building Inspection

  • Drones are ideally suited for high-rise building inspections because they can travel to great heights. Verizon is currently using drones to check cellphone towers affected by Hurricane Matthew. Drones enable them to view tower damage without putting their employees at electrical risk by venturing into flooded areas.fotolia_81813383_xs
  • A drone operator can launch a UAV that provides a bird’s-eye view of all sides of nearly any bridge.
  • Certain drones cling to the side of walls, allowing operators to safely assess structural integrity.
  • Bridge inspections conducted with drones don’t impede traffic flow, as the drone operator can stand safely on the shore as cars drive over the bridge, blissfully unaware of the inspection taking place.

Surveying Damaged Areas

  • To quickly process claims, insurance agencies are using drones to check damaged buildings and property. This technology enables insurance carriers to inspect roofs without employing ladder teams. That sounds like a smart idea because crawling on roofs is dangerous.
  • Government agencies are also using drones to assess flood damages to coastal areas. Instead of renting a plane or helicopter, local agencies can fly drones to take high-definition pictures and videos of an area. They can also safely operate drones without nuisance noise or winds associated with helicopters or small planes.
  • Fire departments are using fire-resistant drones built to provide invaluable real-time information about high-rise fires, including the severity of the blaze and exact location of any occupants who might be trapped.

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, and is becoming a priority for many companies that use drones for disaster management efforts. 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.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

The Great Shakeout 2016

shakeout_global_getready_300x250Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:20 a.m. on October 20, 2016 during The Great California ShakeOut. Participating in the annual event is a great way to make sure you are prepared to survive and recover quickly from substantial earthquakes – whether you are at home, at work or traveling. Personally, I think Shake-n-Bake pork chops would be a great way to mark the occasion.

To help mark the occasion and call attention to earthquake preparedness, we want to take this opportunity to educate our subscribers and friends about earthquake preparedness in high-rise buildings. We would like to extend our thanks to Safe-T-Proof, which provided their “Quake Cottage” for a Pre-Great California Shakeout event. They offer superior earthquake fasteners and straps for offices as well as survival kits and additional earthquake-safety supplies.quakeshack

The latest and greatest in earthquake-resilient design is currently being implemented to build the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles, which, at 1,100 feet, will make it the tallest building on the Pacific coast. The building’s massive foundation is so robust that its construction is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “longest continuous concrete pour.” I wonder who holds the record for the longest bacon feast?

Despite how odd it feels to stand in a tall building that sways during an earthquake, modern California high-rises provide safer refuge during earthquakes than most shorter facilities. This is because architectural plans and construction for high-rise California structures built after the Sylmar quake in 1971 are required to follow stringent seismic codes. You can further improve your high-rise earthquake survival odds by taking preparedness steps.

shakeout_global_joinus_160x600Safety Tips for High-Rise Earthquakes

  • Stay put. Sitting down under a desk or doorway is the safest way to “ride out” a quake while it’s happening. Most earthquakes are relatively short. So it is safer to patiently wait a quake out instead of trying to exit the building as it moves. Even with four legs, I find it difficult to maneuver during earthquakes.
  • Stay alert. After exiting a building, tenants should move under cover in order to avoid falling debris such as panes of glass. Also, pay attention to warnings of fires or tsunamis which can follow any quake.
  • Stay informed. Tenants in high rises should be familiar with evacuation protocols for their building. A speedy yet orderly evacuation is crucial for ensuring building occupant safety. The National Fire Protection Association offers an evacuation plan video that encourages individuals to take ownership of their safety while following safety procedures.

Allied Universal offers these earthquake safety tips for anyone who may not be in a high-rise to follow:

Indoors

  • Drop to the ground. Take cover by getting under a sturdy table and hold on. Stay inside until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from glass or anything that can fall, like light fixtures and furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes.

In a Fire…R-A-C-E to Safety!

  • Rescue—Remove any employees or visitors from immediate danger.
  • Alarm—Pull the nearest Fire Alarm and call the proper emergency phone number.
  • Contain—Contain all smoke and toxic fumes by closing all doors and windows.
  • Extinguish and Evacuate—Follow all posted and verbal procedures.

Outdoorsshakeout_global_dontfreak_728x90

  • Stay where you are if you are not near any buildings, streetlights or utility wires.
  • Do not move from the area you are in until the shaking stops. Remember that aftershocks can be just as bad as the earthquake itself.

In a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as possible, but stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the shaking has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that have been damaged.

Built to Withstand QuakesTerremoto en una ciudad

Modern high rises, such as the Wilshire Grand Center, undergo considerable earthquake modeling and testing before they are complete. Taller buildings must withstand massive amounts of force from earthquakes and wind, so engineers make sure construction will withstand the “worst case scenario.” To me, any worst case scenario involves cats.

High-Rise Earthquake Safety Features

  • Tuned mass dampers. These are massive weights that are mounted within a building and designed to move opposite to the oscillations of the structure. For example, the massive Taipei 101 skyscraper damper weighs 660 tons.
  • Simple roller bearing. This is a type of “base isolation” where the movement of the building is mitigated by bearings, which absorb some of the energy, thereby minimizing the building’s lateral movement. This is a common technique that essentially removes the structure from the ground, so it “floats” freely.
  • Sway. Engineers build the structure to withstand a certain amount of sway, knowing that there is a direct relationship between the height of the building and seconds of associated, safe side-to-side movement.

Low and extremely wide angle view of Office BuildingsBuilding design is always dynamic, with new materials and procedures explored that can make buildings safer and more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, the growing use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) is pushing architects to consider high-rise wood buildings in Seattle and other areas. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, not only those working or living in high-rise buildings. 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.

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

National PrepareAthon Day

Graphic: Be Smart. Take Part. Prepare.President Obama officially proclaimed September National Preparedness Month, establishing September 30, 2016 as a “national day of action,” aka “America’s PrepareAthon.” Managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the campaign is designed to spark awareness and preparedness among the general public. In my book, preparedness is always a good thing!

America’s PrepareAthon

The emphasis on awareness and active participation in safety-related exercises is especially timely in light of the recent terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey. Also, in a separate and apparently unrelated incident in Minnesota, a terrorist attack was thwarted by a trained firearms expert, whose quick thinking and ready action saved the lives of innocent people.

Graphic: Be Prepared

In each of these incidents, well-prepared Americans, first-responders and members of the general public worked together to lessen the severity of incidents relative to attacks and/or helped the injured while simultaneously staying alert to additional threats. Way to go, people!

America’s PrepareAthon encourages alertness in several types of incidents:

  • FEMA provides free materials such as badges and posters to promote preparedness for floods, earthquakes, winter storms, etc.
  • A compelling video showcases the way bystanders helped victims.
  • Disaster preparedness-related news is announced through the #PrepareAthon Twitter feed.
  • Concerned members of the public can conduct drills, test communication plans, safeguard documents, and make plans with neighbors for post-disaster actions.
  • Common steps to follow after a disaster such as tornadoes, hurricanes, active shooter incidents, winter storms, wildfires, and earthquakes alert the public.

America’s PrepareAthon could potentially save lives:

Active Shooter Scenarios

America’s PrepareAthon offers useful advice for active shooter incidents. Here is what you can learn:

  • Find active shooter training classes, which are held at various locations throughout the country.
  • Discern the importance of quickly running, hiding, or fighting (if necessary).
  • Take first aid classes which instruct students in emergency procedures, such as how to tie a tourniquet.
  • Determine when to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Winter Storms

fema-emergency-supplies-kitSevere winter storms bring ice, freezing rain, and potentially crippling quantities of snow, posing risks to first responders as well as the general public.

How to properly manage a major winter storm:

  • Prepare by stocking up on valuable supplies, such as food and water. I also suggest stockpiling cans of food for pets.
  • Create a backup heat source in case electrical or gas power are compromised.
  • Understand the potential dangers of fallen power lines, which can be pulled down by ice accumulating on trees.
  • Prepare your car by keeping the tank full to prevent the gas line from freezing. Also, pack extra blankets and water in your car as well as chains.
  • Set outside faucets to trickle to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Create a travel bag containing several layers of clothing, a first aid kid, and signaling devices.
  • Prepare a “Go Bag.”
  • Grow fur. It works for me!

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just on September 30th during America’s PrepareAthon. Take advantage of the resources offered through FEMA and other agencies, which can provide you and building occupants with lifesaving tips. 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.