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, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Higher Education, Hurricanes, safety plans and procedures, Uncategorized

Back to School Safety: Prepare & Recover from Disasters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

AU-Twitter_profileSafety is important for everyone all year round, not just while at school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure on-campus students or high-rise occupants are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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

How to Prepare for Hurricanes

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

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

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

The additional toll hurricanes can take include:Warning hurricane sign

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

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

Category 1: Sustains winds of 74 to 95 mph.

Category 2: Maintains winds of 96 to 110 mph.

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

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

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

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

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

Strong Wind destroys a HouseWhat to do after a hurricane:

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

Remember that safety is important for everyone, before, during and after hurricanes. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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

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.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Floods, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Winter Weather Hazards

What to Do After a Flood

fotolia_89746277_xsAccording to the National Weather Service, the recent historic flooding in Louisiana was a result of torrential rains that dropped three times as much water as what fell relative to Hurricane Katrina. When storms like this occur, dangerous floodwaters can lead to immediate loss of life. What’s more, the aftermath is often greater still.

In Baton Rouge, cleanup crews are moving street-by-street to pick up flood-related debris.  Officials report that teams gathered 12,000 cubic yards of refuse in a single day. And this figure only reflects refuse on the street. Massive cleanup efforts are still underway, with sanitation companies repairing, cleaning and demolishing homes which were devastated by the flood.

Rescue Service assorted debris
Floodwaters destroy homes simply because most household items do not do well under water (That goes double for dog houses, which are light enough to float away in heavy floods):

  • When saturated, wood floors swell. Sounds a little like how my stomach swells when I eat too many bones.
  • Window casings can quickly rot and shift, breaking windows.
  • Electronic components can short, posing electrical fire risk.Electric outlet fire icon
  • Drywall absorbs water readily, and should be removed before mold grows.
  • Extreme flooding within a structure can cause a home to shift, stressing the foundation.

 

 

 


 

Important Note for Property Managers and Building Owners:

Prior to a flood, make sure that important records and operating equipment are not located in underground basements or parking garages, as these are typically the first areas to flood. 

underground parking


Mold Removal after a Flood

Mold is a major concern for homeowners and disaster relief agencies following floods. Even if the variety of mold that grows is not toxic, the side effects of exposure can produce serious health issues – such as hives, bloody noses and migraines. So, regardless of the type of mold that grows following a flood, it’s important to seek out an experienced remediation firm. Avoid scammers who prey on flood victims, demanding payment in full, upfront, for mold remediation that will never be provided. Mold removal requires special chemicals, breathing masks and equipment; so leave the job to professionals. And if you do run into someone who is trying to scam you after a disaster, I would love to give them a peace of my mind!

Steps a pro will take to prevent and remove mold growth following a flood:

3d render of abstract organic mold structure

  • Replace carpeting, drapes, and pads that were exposed to water. Mold spores can remain in carpets even after thorough drying.
  • Remove drywall to properly sanitize walls.
  • Discard affected materials to remove mold spores.
  • Open windows and utilize masks rated N-95 or higher to prevent respiratory illness.
  • Wash affected areas with special detergent.
  • Use ammonia to kill mold spores. Be careful not to mix bleach and ammonia-containing cleaners.
  • Dry the entire home using dehumidifiers, heat-producing devices, and high-speed fans. I could use one of those fans after I take a bath.
  • Inspect areas in walls and behind wall coverings.
  • Use infrared cameras to detect and target moisture.

In some cases, where moisture penetration is pronounced, insurance providers could deem the dwelling a total loss. Talk to a mold remediation specialist, or a facility services company such as Universal Building Maintenance, which is part of Allied Universal,  and your insurance provider about the severity of conditions affecting your home.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Flooding is not only extremely dangerous while it is occurring, but could also lead to a long and potentially toxic cleanup process. Homeowners and business owners should understand the flooding risk inherent in their buildings, review flood insurance coverage to make sure it is sufficient, and plan to quickly remediate flood damage in the event it occurs. 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, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Elevator Recalls and Safety Tips

image002The advancing age of many elevators and decreased preventative maintenance have recently given rise to the number of elevator failures, such as stalled cars. Nevertheless, elevators remain an exceedingly safe mode of transportation, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting an average associated fatality rate of just 0.00000015% per trip, which represents a total of 27 deaths per year resulting from 18 billion rides. This statistic positions elevator rides as safer than vehicles, airplanes or even stairs

Unfortunately, elevator rides can be nerve-wracking and potentially dangerous for dogs. In fact, a dog in Russia was nearly killed because his leash got caught in a moving elevator. Thankfully, someone pulled him to safety.

Elevator manufacturers stake their reputation on safety, investing considerable resources into redundant systems to help protect elevator occupants. Nevertheless, elevators occasionally malfunction and even break down. Safety malfunctions can involve doors, buttons, cables, and additional components. Here are a few recent strides made in elevator safety:

  • Recall given for Porta elevators. The recall was necessary due to faulty electro mechanical door locks.
  • Elevators manufactured by ThyssenKrupp elevator doors were opening between floors, exposing people to the elevator shaft. When I retire from the fire station, I’m thinking about adding three more stories to our dog house. But stairs will probably suit us just fine.
  • Firefighter Emergency Operations (FEO) transfers control and accessibility of elevator cabs from the public to firefighters during emergencies. Removing public access to elevators in emergencies reduces the possibility of injury or death resulting from cars that accidentally open up on a floor that has an active fire.
  • Otis elevator operates a 38-story elevator test facility in Bristol, Connecticut to properly test cars, cables, and motors. I’d love to be in the “dog biscuit” test facility where I could taste new treats.

Core safety features of modern elevators:image001

  • Electromagnetic brakes are used to keep the car in place, and will automatically snap shut if the elevator system loses electrical power. Modern elevators also feature braking systems located at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft, which can detect excessive elevator movement and apply brakes, when necessary.
  • Despite the common Hollywood movie scene of an elevator cable snapping and elevator car plummeting, this scenario is unrealistic. Elevator cables are comprised of sturdy steel strands, which have been designed to single-handedly support the entire weight of the car and occupants. Each elevator contains between four and eight cables for each car, which provides multiple levels of redundancy.

Stuck in a Tin Can

woman hands try to stop doors of the closed elevator

As alarming as it can be, getting stuck in an elevator is rarely a life-threatening situation. Elevators occasionally get stuck. But even when this occurs, core safety systems remain intact.

Elevator safety tips:

  • Do not attempt to rush into an elevator while the doors are closing. Simply wait for the next car. Also, keep leashed pets very close to you, for their safety as well as the safety of everyone in the car.
  • Try not to panic about oxygen. While the car is an admittedly confined space, you should have plenty of available air to breath. Elevator cars are not airtight.
  • Never, ever try to exit a stalled elevator car through the roof hatch or by prying the doors apart. This is the most important tip, as several deaths have tragically occurred when people try to escape stalled cars. In many cases, the elevator will stop between floors, leaving occupants with the mistaken impression that they would be able to crawl out to safety. However, if the elevator moves as someone is trying to escape, they could be trapped and tragically, crushed. So stay put and be patient.out of order elevator to success, please take the stairs
  • If the elevator car stalls, use the elevator phone and/or your cellphone to alert authorities. Remain calm.

Additional Tips from our friends at Allied Universal

While elevators have proven to be a very safe way of transporting both people and merchandise, occasionally malfunctions do occur. Common problems can include elevators that do not correctly align with the floor, doors that do not open or close properly, stopping between floors or stopping altogether and entrapping occupants.

Universal Services of America offers the following tips to help ensure your safety and knowledge regarding proper elevator use.

When you approach the elevator

  • Stand aside for exiting passengers.
  • Wait for the next car if the elevator is already full.
  • Do not attempt to stop a closing door.
  • Use the stairs, not an elevator, if there is a fire in the building.

When you enter and exit the elevator

  • Watch your step, as the elevator floor may not be level with the landing.
  • Stand clear of the doors, and keep your clothing and any carry-on items away from the opening.

When riding on the elevator

  • Stand back from the doors and hold the handrail, if available.
  • Pay attention to the floor indications, so you may exit when you arrive at your floor.
  • Discern between the “open door” button and the “close door” button to avoid confusing them, if needed.

If you find yourself in an elevator that has become stuck

  • Push the “door open” button. If that does not work, ring the elevator alarm.
  • Use the emergency phone, alarm or help button, if available, to summon emergency personnel. Or use your cell phone to call 9-1-1.
  • Do not attempt to force the doors open.
  • Never try to leave the elevator car on your own, as doing so could result in serious injury.
  • Remain calm. Elevators contain sufficient oxygen levels to last until help arrives.

For more info on elevator safety or to learn about escalator safety, visit the National Elevator Industry website at www.neii.org.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, whether or not you use elevators. 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, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

Drones in Disaster Management

 

Air drones carrying cardboard, cityscape background

Originally novelty items, drones are poised to become a multi-million dollar industry. These small remote-controlled devices are perfectly suited for industrial, emergency response, and building management purposes. This is due to their comparatively low cost compared to traditionally manned aircraft and because they can easily access remote target areas without putting operators at risk. This is how I would use a drone: I would buy one that comes with a scoop, and send it into the pantry to fetch full bags of treats.

Improving Emergency Response

3d Fireman using a magnifying glass

Locating hurt or missing persons after a disaster is crucial for reducing loss of life. Drones work well for search and rescue because they are uniquely capable of enabling disaster response teams to quickly traverse dangerous locations resulting from floodwaters, wildfires, collapsed buildings, and the like. That’s the job of many of my canine companions, who use their noses for good!

Consider, for example, a large earthquake that causes buildings to crumble. Dangerous rubble could pose a serious risk to would-be rescuers, whereas drone operators could quickly scan the area to safely survey the integrity of remaining walls and structures while simultaneously searching for survivors. Using drones in this fashion reduces some of the risks to first responders by reducing their time spent in dangerous situations. I love any technology that helps my firefighting team members do their jobs so they can safely return to the firehouse.

Building Inspections

builder and inspector

Building operators use drones to investigate the exterior of structures for cracks or maintenance issues. I wanted to have a drone check out the shingles on our doghouse. But I couldn’t get the FAA to approve a fly-by. Equipped with a camera, drones can provide engineers and maintenance teams with detailed views of a facility’s exterior. Using drones in this manner can reduce the need for human inspectors, which is a cost-efficient way to detect small but potentially catastrophic problems.

Drones also enable inspection of dangerous building components without associated risks. For example, drone operators can check radiation levels near reactors and closely view chemical factory processes from a safe distance.

Utility giant Con Edison is testing the use of drones to inspect steam boilers that power some of New York City’s iconic buildings. Whereas traditional inspection methods involve building scaffolding and teams of workers traversing tight space, drones armed with traditional and thermal imaging cameras can review deforested areas and correlate the links between primates, mosquitoes and humans.

Disaster Management and Support

Retrieving samples, such as blood or saliva cultures, is crucial when managing a biological threat. Organizations in New Jersey recently conducted drone test flights carrying simulated blood packets and other items on a ship-to-shore mission. Drones are ideal for this type of transport because they vibrate less than traditional automobile journeys, which can damage samples. Drones can also be outfitted to deliver vital supplies, such as telecommunications equipment, to provide instant communication links between disaster victims and first responders. What’s more, drones can be used to deliver vital supplies including dog cookies, bacon, chew toys, old socks — the essentials!

High-rise DisastersTsunami arrasando una ciudad

Drones are ideal for high-rise fire rescue assistance, as they can monitor the intensity of a fire through sensors, and provide associated real-time updates to firefighters relative to the exact location and number of people involved, as well as additional relevant intel. Large commercial drones of three to four feet widths (and multi-thousands dollar price points) can even carry and disperse fire retardant agents, which could provide firefighting teams with precious time needed to save lives.

Other Uses:

  • Organizations around the world utilize drones for planning purposes before disasters strike.
  • Communities in flood plains can use drones to assess risks and spot particularly vulnerable areas.
  • Drones used in Malaysia are providing data about the links between rates of deforestation and malaria outbreaks, allowing response teams to better prepare for and prevent outbreaks.
  • Speculators think that Amazon will one day use drones for instant deliveries. I’ll be the first to sign up for this, so I can order pork chops and have them delivered in time for lunch.

Rectangular Drone parcel Drop Zone sign

Remember that safety is a daily priority. And with the advances in drone technology, safety is receiving a boost from an affordable tool that could prevent or provide relief from disasters. 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.