Posted in Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Influenza, Swine Flu, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The DHS Will Use New Technology to Announce Threats

New Sample DHS Alert System Snapshot
The Dept of Homeland Security will use social media to announce two tiers of alerts.

Very shortly, news network viewers and their canine companions will no longer find out about updates via color-coded threat levels from the Department of Homeland Security. The current threat-level chart will be replaced by a two-level threat system known as the National Terrorism Advisory System. The first threat level will be coined “elevated,” and would warn about a credible threat, but not list possible targets. (As far as I know, the Midnight Bark will remain unchanged.)

A distinct difference to the previous system is that the two-level system will provide a start and end date for the threat. The second level will be “imminent” when law enforcement officers working with DHS determine a credible threat will very likely be attempted against certain targets. This level of alert would continue for not more than seven days, but could be extended. DHS will also incorporate social media alerts into the two-level system, recognizing the reach and the importance of such networks in the fast sharing of information.

First put into use in March 2002, the current system (officially known as the Homeland Security Advisory System), was established in response to the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. The system initially came under frequent criticisms, with many individuals claiming the threat level was often raised for political motives to incite citizen unrest. Others claimed the threat level did not move sufficiently to recognize actual threats, and was often held at an elevated status level.

According to DHS, the risk of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remains, and citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior. Loud barking is another option for alerting folks about potential threats. Law enforcement is continually training for possible attacks, even participating in testing exercises to measure readiness.

This type of readiness was evident in the thwarted New York’s Time Square bombing attempt in 2009, where a quick-thinking street vendor alerted authorities to a smoking van. The terror alert system reminds citizens about the threat of terrorism and encourages common sense as well as a broader sense of civic responsibility.

Government officials announced that terror alerts and information about threats will be distributed via two primary social networks when deemed appropriate, Twitter and Facebook. The department’s Twitter alerts page is @ntasalerts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/HomelandSecurity. In some cases, distribution of specifics regarding an alert could jeopardize ongoing investigations. In such cases, information about terror threats might not reach the public until after the alleged terrorists are captured and the threat has been mitigated. If you haven’t yet found me on Twitter, be sure to check out my tweets @rjthefiredog.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

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Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Going Green, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Identity Theft, Influenza, Swine Flu, Travel, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Winter Weather Hazards

11 Safety Tips for 2011: How to BE SAFE in the Coming Year

 

road sign with with "2010" red-lined and "2011" with an arrow
BE SAFE in 2011
  1. Be prepared…for everything and anything! At home and at work, the most important step you can take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of coworkers, employees, family and friends, is to prepare. For ideas, look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign, which features several suggestions for disaster preparedness. What’s more, our own blog posts provide food for fodder. And, as everyone knows, I love food of any kind…fodder or otherwise.
  2. Drill. A timely example of how preparation is critical for saving lives occurred at a San Antonio CPS office building which caught fire on December 20.  According to news’ reports, all 400 of the building’s occupants were forced to evacuate the building before 9 a.m., at which point the company’s emergency evacuation plans were put into effect. No doubt benefiting from the safety plan and associated regular fire drills, preparation paid off as every employee escaped without injury. I’m a big fan of drills, myself. But the guys at the firehouse didn’t appreciate the Chinese Fire Drill I started when we were on a recent call.
  3. Protect yourself from cyber-terrorism. As we rely more and more on all things electronic, we must be diligent to guard ourselves against identity theft. Four out of five victims of Identity Theft encounter serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time. So protect your Internet passwords by creating them randomly and changing them frequently. This isn’t a huge risk for me, personally, since I don’t have opposable thumbs.
  4. Guard against health risks. Although the flood of sensational news’ stories about Cholera, the Swine Flu and SARS have ebbed, you still run the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria if you fail to take precautions to remain healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands (or paws, whatever the case.) Also, take advantage of vaccinations designed to protect you against illnesses such as Influenza or Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  5. Consider your location. Since different types of disasters occur depending on your location, pay attention to geography and history when you prepare for natural or man-made disasters. If you live on the coast, for example, plan for tsunamis. If you get snow, make winterizing a priority. If you live near a fault line, make sure you are ready for earthquakes. No matter where you live, you should probably stock up on kibble and rawhide chews.
  6. Heed storm warnings. While some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, come without warning, many others are relatively easy to predict. So, if you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, follow forecasts. And when an event is anticipated, take necessary steps to ensure your own safety as well as that of emergency workers, who might be put in harm’s way if they have to brave the elements in order to rescue you. In other words, don’t sit on your roof in a flood. This is especially true if you live in a doghouse.
  7. Do the right thing. Don’t cut corners. Take a cue from the recent Shanghai Fire, which some believe resulted from contractors who cut corners. Applicable to all areas of life, doing what’s right will help keep everyone safe in 2011 and beyond.
  8. Go green. You don’t have to be a hippie to understand the importance of protecting our planet. Today, millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. This practice puts us all at risk. So do your part this year to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. You can start by sharing your leftovers instead of throwing them away. Every little bit helps! So I’ll do my part to reduce the refuse.
  9. Travel safely. Try to be patient if you fly. While it might be inconvenient to take off your belt, shoes and jewelry at the security gate, and possibly undergoing a TSA pat-down, these safety measures are in place to keep us safe.
  10. Fight fire with fire prevention. The surest way to fight fire is to prevent it. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week each year since the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago in 1871. This year’s push is to install smoke alarms. So if you haven’t installed them in your commercial property building or at home, do so today!
  11. Keep learning. Our corporate mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” The RJWestmore Training System 2.0 is a fully integrated system which allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

If you own or manage commercial property, by enrolling in the system, please consider our system, which trains occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. What’s more; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. We hope you’ll allow us to do our part to help keep you safe in 2011 and beyond.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Health & Welfare, Influenza, Swine Flu, Uncategorized

Simple Suds for Staying Healthy

Keep your paws or hands clean for good health!

Our last blog post focused on the winter flu and other ailments. We also discussed the benefits of flu vaccines as a compelling form of prevention. Today’s post will investigate other effective ideas to keep you healthy.

One of the simplest ways to stay well is to wash your hands. Yes, this blog is going to be about those silly human animals with hands instead of paws. Whatever! This easy task is so essential to good health, that the CDC has created an interactive training course focused entirely on hand hygiene.

In the workplace, you touch things all the time. Elevator buttons, door handles, phones, keyboards, other dog’s noses…There are a host of touch-surfaces. To wash hands properly, you need soap. So what exactly is soap? Soap is an evil substance made by people who want to clean dogs. Ummm, I mean it’s made by combining essential oils or fats with an alkaline substance such as lye. The two ingredients are heated and mixed together and work to neutralize each other. Fragrance and other materials are also added to the mixture. (My favorite fragrance of all time has to be “Parfum de Bacon.”) Then the soap is dried into a mold. Soap works as a detergent and surfactant that mixes with and dissolves oils and dirt so it will wash down the drain.

Everyone thinks they know how to wash their hands. But few know how to wash them right:

What about antibacterial soaps?

Despite aggressive marketing, many studies show that regular soap is as effective for removing germs and bacteria as antibacterial options that contain Triclosan. In addition, most antibacterial soaps need to remain on hands for two or more minutes to take full effect. People who are waiting for a sales meeting aren’t likely to wait that long for their turn at the public restroom sink. And remember, since the common cold is caused by a virus instead of bacteria, antibacterial soaps won’t provide an added benefit for the prevention of colds.  I like to get sanitized by lying on my back in a big pile of mud. In dog world, this does the trick.

Make sure you are washing your hands the right way.

Building owners can encourage tenants to wash hands the right way:

  • Hands and forearms should be lathered with soap for at least 15-20 seconds, which is longer than you might think!
  • While warm water is more effective for removing oils from your hands, it is not actually hot enough to “kill” bacteria, which thrives in very high temperatures.
  • Proper drying is important not just because no one wants a damp handshake, but also because drying helps remove contaminants that are suspended in water droplets.
  • Encourage washing of hands after restroom use and before and after taking lunch or snack breaks. They might also want to wash after playing fetch with the office dog, who knows where that mouth has been!

Paper Towels and Air Dryers:

Many building owners and facility managers have held debates about the use of air dryer vs. paper towels. While the environmental advantage typically goes to the air-drying option, paper towels take a win in the hygiene department. Paper towels are one-time use and so do not require pressing of a communal button. Also, studies have found that air driers, especially very high-speed models, can actually forcefully blow germs up to a few feet. I would love a full-body sized dryer. Nobody likes that wet dog smell…not even me.

Alcohol Sanitizers:

Some facility managers have started providing alcohol sanitizing spray or gel sanitizer products for visitors and staff. While this is a good idea, remember that it’s important to remember that hand sanitizers are not as effective as hand washing for removing dirt.

Alcohol-based rubs are a good alternative for sanitation when water isn’t available. Here are some tips for maximizing effectiveness:

  • Apply the right amount – a nickel-sized application is about right. It’s certainly not a case of “more is better” like when you are talking peanut butter!
  • Work quickly. Alcohol evaporates quickly. So rub vigorously to disinfect the front and back of your hands as well as your wrists.
  • Don’t dry off your hands! Much of the germ-killing is accomplished while the alcohol evaporates. So let the sanitizer go to work.

For disease prevention, it’s important to think of Mom’s words: “Don’t forget to wash your hands!” This time-tested advice is especially important in a workplace where common areas increase your odds of picking up or transmitting disease.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Influenza, Swine Flu, Uncategorized

Sickly Sounds of the Season

Take steps to arm yourself against catching the flu.

Hack! Shiver! Sneeze! Cough!

While winter often brings to mind holiday parties, gift exchanges and fireside chew toys, it’s also a miserable time for those unfortunate souls who get sick. The typical air inside an office building is circulated less than 12 times an hour, compared to 15 times per hour on a plane. Think about that the next time you worry about getting sick from “stale” cabin air. I traveled in the cargo hold of a jetliner once, and it was freezing!  Next time I’ll bring a blanket!! With flu vaccines resulting in employees taking 45% fewer sick days, more companies are taking notice and getting involved in prevention.

When most people think about winter diseases, the first thing that comes to mind is influenza. It’s estimated that 5 to 20 percent of U.S. adults come down with seasonal flu every year. While we pets enjoy having our owners at home, they typically lie in bed and watch bad daytime TV when they’re ill. According to the CDC, 119 million doses of flu vaccine had been distributed this year as of September 24. That amount is a substantial increase of 30 million doses, compared to the amounts which were sent the same time last year.

Although analysts at the CDC are predicting a milder flu season this winter, they are still stressing that everyone gets vaccinated. Keep an eye on us pooches too! Canine influenza affects millions of dogs, so take us to the vet when we are coughing!

You may ask, “What about H1N1, the “swine flu?” It’s still out there, although research estimates that 59% of the U.S. population is now immune.

Respiratory Synctial Virus, commonly known as RSV, is another very common lung and respiratory tract infection. It’s so prevalent that researchers state almost all children age two and under have had the disease. While it is the biggest threat to smaller children, and especially premature infants, RSV can also cause problems for adults, sending individuals who have heart or lung disease to the hospital. As a building owner or manager, you can take steps to educate RSV-infected individuals about the benefits of staying at home, away from tenants and employees who are parents of small children. I know I like to look out for the puppies. So please do the same for little babies!

What can property-owners and managers do to mitigate the effects of winter illness?

  • Set up a flu vaccine clinic at your building. Many private companies will provide qualified nurses, consent forms and the latest vaccine. Another event to consider is a mobile treats bar attended by qualified experts from the bacon and steak industries…
  • Distribute information about recognizing the symptoms of flu and other winter diseases.
  • Consider new HVAC systems that better circulate and clean the air.
  • Adopt policies regarding sick employees, including work-from-home arrangements for vital staff.

A real focus on workplace health can pay immediate and long-term benefits. Healthier employees mean more productive and profitable tenants who might need additional office or industrial space. Healthy people also have more energy for walks and trips to the dog park!

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

Posted in Health & Welfare, Swine Flu, Uncategorized

Swine Flu News You Can Use

swine flu image

Continuing our discussion about the swine flu, I just want to make sure that you know what your options are, in the event that, despite taking all of the necessary precautions (which we’ve been discussing for the past few weeks in this blog), you contract a case of the swine flu.

While some experts insist that immediate hospitalization is required at even the slightest hint of H1N1, other professionals believe that your best bet is to stay home and lay low. You should do whatever you feel most comfortable with. But here are some pros and cons to help you make a more educated decision.

If You do decide to stay home, the good news is:

  • If you are infected, the chances of spreading the virus are much less if you don’t leave your home.
  • There are doctors to call, such as the CDC H1N1 hotline, Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or email cdcinfo@cdc.gov. (For TTY, call 1-888-232-6348) where you can seek medical advice without having to leave your house.
  • There is the chance that, if you go to the hospital, you may not even be immediately tested for swine flu, anyway, due to limited lab space.

However, you should also be aware that, without professional medical attention:

  • You could misdiagnose yourself, and your symptoms could become more severe.
  • You obviously do not have access to the H1N1 vaccine, in your own home. And experts agree that, to be effective, the vaccine must be administered within 36 hours of H1N1 onset.
  • Your symptoms might suddenly make a turn for the worse, and, by then, it could be too late to stop the infection in its tracks.

Just remember that either way, until you are completely certain of whether you have swine flu or not, play it side.

  • Continue coughing into a tissue (or your sleeve, if Kleenex is not readily available).
  • Religiously wash your hands with soap and hot water.
  • Use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to a sink.
  • Carefully wipe down surfaces that are used by multiple people, (like countertops and microwave ovens, both of which get a lot of action down at the fire station).

Of course, as with any virus, the swine flu will continue to mutate, and, in fact, may never go away completely. That’s why it is important to remember to take safety precautions. Prevention is always the best medicine.

For more safety tips and procedures, visit RJWestmore, Inc.

Posted in Health & Welfare, Swine Flu, Uncategorized

Doghouse-Bound

Since we take safety so seriously in our home, we’ve been preparing for the flu season for quite some time. Aside from avoiding crowded areas and incessantly washing our paws, we’ve also tried to bone up on as many swine flu facts as possible.

The Doghouse isolated

Fortunately, we had a little extra time at the fire station this week, as all the fires in the area have finally began to die down. So I did a little research. Education is important because, even if you don’t get the virus yourself, you might still pass it on to others. The spread of swine flu can stop with you.

RJ Flu B & W Shot

If you have any young pups, it’s especially important to get them vaccinated, because they’re the most vulnerable. But until the vaccine is readily available, it’s probably best to spend as much time indoors as possible.

  1. If you suspect you might have the swine flu, you’ll want to make a quick visit to your vet (or, if you are not a canine, your doctor). Even if the bug that you have turns out to be a cold, there’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to containing the swine flu. For a list of symptoms, check out this view of the swine flu.
  2. If you have any young pups, it’s especially important to vaccinate them, because they’re the most vulnerable. The H1N1 vaccine and spray applications will be available soon.
  3. You know what they say. (Whoever they are?) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, the best way to control the spread of the swine flu is to avoid catching it in the first place. And the best way to do that is to stay inside.

At the doghouse, with my entire family cooped up inside, it’s hard to keep from going stir-crazy. Poor JR, my son, was chasing his tail for days until the wife and I came up with some ways to keep him busy. Here are a few family-friendly ideas we’ve come up with to keep us safe, as well as entertained.

  • Instead of going to the park, where there are germs lurking everywhere, we’ve started hosting picnics in our front yard.
  • Rather than eating out, we enjoy our rawhides inside, as a family. (This also saves us money.)
  • Though we used to spend a lot of time at the library, we’ve been staying at home, inventing our own stories to tell each other.

The swine flu scare is bound to dissipate, as time goes on. So why not take this opportunity to enjoy relaxing at home? One day, you might be able to credit the virus for making you creative and close-knit as a family. There are several websites that offer ideas for staying safe, and simultaneously entertained. One that my wife likes the most is Family Fun Magazine.

Once again, our friends at RJWestmore, Inc. urge you, as always, to be prepared, and BE SAFE!