Although it’s a great way to exercise and stay cool during the hot summer weather, participating in water sports is not without risk. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 360,000 people drown each year. The good news is that most water-related fatalities and injuries can be prevented when safety steps are taken. These tips should help you #BeSafe this summer!
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”
As Andy Williams sang, the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” However, with porch piracy, pick-pocketing, burglary and cyber theft on the rise, unless you are careful, December can turn into the most troublesome season of all. That’s a lot different than the song version, which says it’s the “hap-happiest season of all!” Don’t let holiday cheer lull you into giving thieves a chance to dampen your spirit. At the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, we are committed to your safety. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to share tips to help keep you safe this season. Continue reading “Consumer Safety during the Holidays”
Delicious feasts and brilliant decorations are hallmarks of the holiday season. For the record, my favorite holiday food is gizzards. Unfortunately, however, these festive favorites also can pose potential fire hazards. Thankfully, you can enjoy everything that makes the holidays special during this time of year while simultaneously keeping your loved ones safe. Continue reading “What You Absolutely Need to Know About Holiday Safety”
With so much to do during the holidays, it can be easy to forget that safety should remain a primary concern at home, at work and on the job. My wife and JR and I have got a lot going on all year long. The holidays are hardly the time to turn a blind eye to safety:
- One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
- A heat source too close to trees causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
- December is the peak month for home candle fires.
- One out of three candle fires originate in the bedroom. This is why we never use candles in our dog house.
- Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.
- In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are in the top 10 causes of death for people aged 1-54, and more than 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year.
As a courtesy to our subscribers and friends, we have assembled some easy tips to help you and yours make this holiday season a safe and happy one.
- Don’t use lit candles near trees, boughs, curtains/drapes, or with any other potentially flammable item. In fact, why use the kind that burn when nice, safe electronic versions are available?
- When using artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, follow directions. These sprays can irritate lungs if they are inhaled.
- Many holiday plants are poisonous if ingested. These include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Keep these plants out of children’s reach.
- When displaying a tree, cut off about two inches off the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly. This is especially important if you have a dog in the house; we like tree water.
- Position trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not impede foot traffic.
- Avoid placing breakable ornaments where small children or pets can reach them.
- If you opt for an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the “Underwriters Laboratory” (UL) label.
- Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights only outdoors. Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
- Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards.
- Inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords for damage before using.
- Don’t ever run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways.
- Turn off tree lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
- When displaying outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to a secure support with insulated staples or hooks to avoid wind damage.
- Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow.
- Don’t leave candles unattended. Whenever possible, opt for electronic versions, which provide a warm glow without the associated risk of fire.
- Never eat dough or uncooked batter. This one is hard for me. I like dough more than the baked version of most treats.
- When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family, be sure to wash your hands, utensils, sink, and anything else that touches raw poultry.
- Don’t defrost food at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
- Keep your knives sharp. Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades.
- Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving.
- Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges, which harbor bacteria. Use paper towels, instead.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot food hot. If you’re concerned that your coworker’s casserole has been sitting out too long, move along. Better to be food-safe than sorry.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers within two hours of cooking. Or, better yet, give them to your pooch. We love leftovers.
- When reheating leftovers, bring to at least 165°F to eliminate bacterial growth.
- Check items such as the brakes, spark plugs, battery, and tires. Check your owner’s manual and follow recommendations for tune-up and oil change intervals.
- Before heading out on winter roads, evaluate the condition of your tires. When in doubt, take your vehicle to a mechanic to make sure tread is sufficient.
- Be prepared for emergency situations on the road by keeping a winter “survival kit” in your trunk. Include items such as a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy.
- Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
- But that doesn’t apply to your canines.
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.
Visit www.AUS.com/tips for more ways to stay safe during the holidays.
Many thanks to our guest blogger, Allied Universal Public Relations Manager Angela Burrell.
Thanksgiving is not only a time for expressing gratitude and enjoying family and friends, the holiday marks two of the busiest shopping opportunities in the U.S.—Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Follow these extra tips for a safe holiday and secure shopping experience.
Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving)
- Deals are now beginning well before Friday, with stores staying open later, so businesses and shoppers should plan for crowds.
- Park close to your destination, in a well-lit area, and lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
- Avoid parking next to vans or large trucks that can block your vehicle from the sight of others.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you witness any suspicious behavior, leave the area immediately.
Guarding Against Theft
- Use ATMs in well-populated areas during the day, and do not leave receipts at the ATM location.
- Never leave your purse or smartphone unattended in a shopping cart, on a countertop or in your car.
- Take extra care with purses and wallets; carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in an inside or zippered pocket.
- Shop with others, when possible. If shopping with small children, establish a meeting point in case of separation inside a store or mall.
- Teach small children how to seek help from store personnel or store security in case you are separated.
- Report any suspicious activity to store/mall security or law enforcement. If you see something, say something.
- Request a security escort to help with oversized purchases and to accompany you to your car if you feel vulnerable while shopping alone at night.
- When returning to your vehicle, keep your keys out and lock your doors as soon as you are inside.
Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)
- Shop with known businesses; do your research about their past performances and financial stability.
- Conduct transactions on a secure server only; look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. The URL should change from http to shttp or https when asked for payment information indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secure.
- Do not record your social security or driver’s license number online, as it is not needed for purchases.
- Have packages delivered to an address where they will not be left unattended.
- Secure web servers that contain customer information.
- Add the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software to your computers, and update firewalls regularly.
- Check your receipt to ensure that the actual price paid is the same amount charged to your card.
- Monitor your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.
Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, whether in the real world or cyber space. 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.
The 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:
- 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
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.
- 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.
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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about 10 people die from unintentionally drowning each day in the United States. In fact, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death for people of all ages, and is the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years in the nation. Globally, the statistics provided by the World Health Organization are scarier yet, with more than 40 people dying by drowning every hour of every day! But the good news is that accidental drownings are preventable as long as you observe a few safety guidelines whenever you are in or around water this summer. Although it probably won’t win you any points for style, the doggie paddle is a great way to stay safe in water.
Wherever you choose to vacation this summer, #BeSafe and #SafeForLife:
- Steady on your feet (or paws). Even if you opt for a “stay-cation” this year, be careful not just in, but around water. This includes areas adjacent to man-made water sources such as the wooden decking around Jacuzzis and spas as well as slick surfaces like freshly watered lawns or pool decks. Slip-and-fall accidents account for a myriad of serious and even life-threatening injuries each year, especially among senior citizens. So instruct children to walk instead of run and help elderly people when they are walking in slippery areas.
- Easy does it. Alcohol and water do not mix. If and when you choose to indulge over the summer, do so when you are clear of water-related dangers. The American Boating Association reports that almost half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. So an easy way to reduce your risk of a boating accident is to stay sober whenever you get behind the water wheel. I’m a teetotaler, myself.
- Start early. Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible. Even babies can learn basic water survival techniques. Be sure to include swimming lessons in your summer routine. And whenever young kids are around a pool, watch them like a hawk and brief babysitters about the necessity of providing constant supervision around water. My wife and I let JR learn to swim when he was a wee pup. He loves the water.
- Make rescue easy. If you have an above-ground or in-ground pool, live near a dock or have a hot tub, post CPR instructions near the water. Also, learn emergency lifesaving procedures so you can provide aid when necessary, while waiting for first responders. Also, make sure a phone is always on hand whenever anyone is in the water. And stow rescue equipment as close to the water as possible. When it comes to drowning, every second counts.
- Discourage accidents. Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool and spa. Also, teach your kids to stay away from drains. Tips at Gov point out that children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits could potentially get stuck in a drain or suction opening. Also, make sure that all pools and spas (including those in backyards as well as in public areas) have compliant drain covers. And if your pool is not covered, remove bright colored toys or flotation devices from the surface, since these attract curious kids
Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just when you are enjoying the water. 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.
The U.S. Coast Guard defines situational awareness as follows: “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission.” More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you. As a dog, I am usually exceedingly aware of whatever is happening around me…especially if it involves food.
The concept of situational awareness is helpful not just for members of the Coast Guard but for anyone who values personal safety. In fact, many life-threatening emergencies, such as muggings, kidnappings, assaults, and car-jacking’s, can be averted if the intended victim takes steps to be prepared and pays careful attention to his or her environment. Seems like a good reason to me!
The ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while conducting normal activities is easier said than done. But the trait can be acquired. The trick is to pay attention to surroundings without succumbing to distraction. I will admit that bacon can distract me from most things.
Three Obstacles to Situational Awareness
- Failing to monitor the baseline. On an everyday basis, remember to pay attention to normal patterns and behaviors. If you fail to do this, you won’t recognize when something happens outside the norm.
- Normalcy Bias. If you grew up in a relatively safe area, you may have to repeatedly remind yourself to pay attention to people around you. Most people tend to have a bias towards the status quo. They erroneously assume that since nothing of note has ever happened during their regular routines, nothing major is likely to happen. To overcome this bias, make a conscious decision to be on alert whenever you leave the home or office. The guys and I are always on alert at the firehouse. You never know when the siren will sound.
- Focus Lock. This is a form of distraction that causes us to focus all of our awareness on one thing to the detriment of everything else in our environment. For example, this is what happens when someone digs for keys in her purse and is surprised when thieves attack. It is also the reason some people walk into water fountains while texting.
Here are some tips to help improve your situational awareness:
- Open your eyes. This might seem like a no-brainer. But the first step towards personal safety is to pay attention to your surroundings at all times. No matter where you are, be on your guard. Or why not bring your trusty canine with you? We love to keep our masters safe.
A good rule of thumb is to be mindful of the Color Code of Awareness, as coined by the late USMC Commander Jeff Cooper. This code differs from the color code which corresponds to the amount of danger our nation faces at any given time. Cooper’s Colors refers to a person’s current state of mind and willingness to take action regardless of real or imagined threats:
Condition White: Lack of Threat
Condition Yellow: Relaxed Alertness
Condition Orange: Focused Alertness
Condition Red: Ready to Act
Condition Black: Blind Panic/Psychological Shutdown
Although most people operate in “white mode,” yellow should be the rule of thumb. Criminals are more likely to attack someone who is blissfully unaware and distracted than someone who is alert and prepared for action.
- Avoid unsafe situations. For example, when parking at night, choose a spot that is well lit. Don’t jog at night by yourself. Never park with your car door directly next to a large van. Don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. Don’t pet a stray dog.
- Be prepared. As far as situational awareness goes, we are not suggesting you draft a formal evacuation plan every time you leave the house. However, it pays to take steps to be safe. For example, take a few minutes to find your keys before standing next to your locked car. Carry a flashlight with you at night.
Be sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are probably aware of the huge air bag recall. Until recently, it was easy to take safety recalls lightly. After all, nearly every television newscast makes mention of one, affecting everything from lettuce to toys. But our outlook on recalls will forever be changed thanks to Takata air bags, which were installed in tens of millions of vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2015. Subject to the largest and most complex recall in U.S. history, the bags’ internal inflators explode and expel bits of sharp metal shards, leading to serious injuries or death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined the root cause of the problem: airbags that use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. Environmental moisture, high temperatures, and age are associated with the defect. To date, 10 people have died from air-bag related injuries and more than 100 have been injured in the U.S.
Millions of cars are included in the recall, so you probably either own an affected vehicle or know someone who does. In cases like this, I am glad I don’t know how to drive! Click here for a complete list of affected vehicles and contact your dealer for the appropriate repair and potential loaner.
Managing Auto Recalls
The problem with most recall notices is that they resemble sales pamphlets, so they are often discarded. This is dangerous. Also, while car manufacturers keep track of original owner information, they may lose track of cars sold to third parties. So we wanted to call attention to the importance of being aware of recall information. The NHTSA campaign motto is similar to our own: “Safe cars save lives.” That’s pretty close to our own motto: “Training Saves Lives.”
Here are several tips for staying informed about vehicle recalls:
- Regularly check out Recalls.Gov , which allows you to check by make, model or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
- Ask your dealer. When you drop your car off at the dealer for an oil change or other routine maintenance, ask about recalls.
- Check websites such as Edmunds, CarFax, and Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com).
- Visit your vehicle manufacturer’s website.
- Don’t throw away things without reading them.
Comprehensive Government Resource Multi-Industry Recalls
Autos are hardly the only consumer products subject to recall. Recalls.gov provides updated information about recalls in several categories including consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics, pet items and environmental products. A quick check on the “Food” section, for example, brings visitors to the FDA recall site where an April 28 press release recall announces: “Bakery Express of Southern California Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanut in 7-Eleven Fresh-To-Go Cookies.” I’ve also heard about recalls on pet food. Why not just play it safe and feed the dog human foods like steak, pork chops and bacon?
Staying on top of recalls does not mean conducting online reviews before buying a bag of chips or spinach. However, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes each month investigating recall sites, and keeping your eyes out for news stories about the latest problems.
Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just relative to items on recall. 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.