Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

Disaster Prep for Car

Highway From AboveWith 128.3 million people commuting to work and traveling to leisure activities in the United States each year, as a nation, we spend a lot of time in our cars. In the event disaster were to strike while you are behind the wheel, would you be prepared?

How to prepare for emergencies that occur while you are in your car

Although I don’t drive, I could be riding in a car or a firetruck when a disaster strikes. If a large-scale disaster occurs while you are in a vehicle, first responders could be delayed in reaching you, due to increased demand or limited accessibility. In this case, you may need to respond and maintain self-sufficiency for at least three days. To be safe, prepare your vehicle so that you could potentially use it for shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation. If you use public transportation, preparations should extend to a Go-Bag. I’m not big on public transportation.A set of automotive accessories. Spare wheel, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, emergency warning triangle, jack, tow rope, wheel wrench, pump

Bug Out.

Since you might have to ‘bug out’ if disaster strikes, doing so would be easier if you have a vehicle that has high ground clearance and could potentially handle rough terrain. We are not suggesting you purchase a new car for disaster preparation. But the next time you shop for one, you might want to consider how well it could perform in such a situation. To escape the path of Hurricane Irma in Florida earlier this fall, for example, thousands of residents faced gridlock along Interstate 95 in what was one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history. To avoid the crunch, many ignored driving decorum altogether, heading off road and ignoring signs and signals. If a disaster strikes while you are in a car, remain calm. Take a deep breath and obey the rules of the road, which will help keep you safe.

Items for emergencyShelter in Place (SIP).

In some cases, you might need to SIP in your car. In one Southern California mountain community, for example, a pair of avalanches dumped 15-foot high snowdrifts on the highway, effectively cutting off traffic and stranding motorists for 18 hours, until officials finally cut a swath through the massive drifts.


How to prepare your car

  • Gas Tank SafetyKeep your gas tank full, or at least at half, in case disaster strikes.
  • Check tires (make sure your spare is in good repair and properly inflated)
  • Regularly do routine maintenance to make sure your electrical system, fluid levels, and lights are operational.
  • Stow jumper cables, flares, and flashlights. man preparing to travel by car
  • Carry a cell phone charger.
  • Store cat litter or sand for tire traction in adverse conditions.

What to Stow in Your Trunk or Go-Bag

  • A whistle.
  • Extra clothing and comfortable shoes. These will come in handy if you are forced to abandon your vehicle.
  • First aid kit. Include a first aid book, sterile tape, gauze, elastic bandages, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, sterile gloves, tweezers, scissors, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, gauze, antiseptic cream, and distilled water.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Calorie and protein-dense non-perishable items. And don’t forget about food for your pets!
  • Map and compass, in case you need to travel to unfamiliar territory. Cell phone and Internet service could be compromised.
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Rope
  • Solar Blankets. These are a great choice because they are easy to store and radiate heat.
  • Spade/shovel
  • Water

safe driving conceptual meterSafe Driving Tips. If you are on the road during or after an emergency, remember these tips:

  1. Never drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can disable or stall a vehicle. A foot of water is sufficient to float several cars.
  2. Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  3. If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside until a trained person arrives and removes the wire.
  4. If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  5. If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Check back next week, as we will focus on the second post in our three-part series about disaster preparation: emergency safety at home (or in your doghouse). 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 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.

Advertisements
Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Health & Welfare, Travel, Uncategorized

Don’t Drive Yourself to Distraction

no cell phones - while drivingDistracted driving is no laughing matter! Because of the serious nature of this week’s blog topic, I have refrained from my usual firedogisms. Please #BeSafe while you drive!

April is National Distracted Driving Month. Increasing awareness about distracted driving is a critical endeavor, as the National Safety Council reports that 40,207 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. That figure represents a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 — marking the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. Experts agree the increase in accidents is in direct proportion to the easy accessibility of technological distractions. In other words, the more available tech-related temptations, the more likely American roadways will be filled with distracted drivers.No Distracted Driving Sign

New York Times Business Writer Neal E. Boudette explained the phenomenon by saying, “Cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, (but) apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.”

Fleet Management Weekly quotes Deborah Hersman, president and chief executive for the National Safety Council, as asking, “Why are we O.K. with this? Complacency is killing us.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Nearly half of all people (surveyed) say they feel less safe (driving) than they did five years ago.” AAA attributes this reaction to the fact that (while they are behind the wheel) drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.

Texting and driving. Warning message.AAA also references a distracted driving term known as “latency,” which means that texting while stopped at a traffic light or while stopped on congested freeways can impact full driving engagement, for an average of 27 seconds after texting stops. Replicated across thousands of cars during rush hour, this can add up to significant delays in addition to associated accidents.

Experts agree that cell phone use, which includes talking and texting, remains the most common distraction to safe driving. In response, many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors. Leading the charge is the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), whose message to all drivers is straightforward: “Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.” 

Safe Driving
Distracted driving puts others who are also on the road at risk.

10 Tips for Managing Common Driving Distractions 

  1. Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach.
  1. Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
  2. Pull over. If you need to make a call, drive to a safe area first.
  3. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
  4. X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
  5. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. GHSA offers a handy state law chart.
  6. Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
  7. Secure pets. Unsecured animals can be a big distraction in the car.
  8. Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
  9. Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.

Remember These Do’s and Don’ts.

While you are driving, DO NOT:

  1. Text or send Snapchats.
  2. Use voice-to-text features in your vehicle’s dashboard system.
  3. Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media.
  4. Check or send emails.
  5. Take selfies or film videos.
  6. Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion).
  7. Call or message someone else when you know they are driving.Just Drive to #BeSafe

DO:

  1. Stay on top of the distracted driving issue all year long by signing up for the National Safety Council’s free e-newsletter.
  2. Take the attentive driver pledge.
  3. Share your pledge on social media.
  4. Create awareness in your workplace, at home or in your local community by sharing the distracted driving message.

Remember that safety is important for everyone across the country, whether on the roads or not. 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, Health & Welfare, Travel

Travel Safety Tips

Air safety Abstract concept digital illustrationThe recent attack in the Istanbul Airport was a grim reminder of the reasons the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was forced to adopt stringent security protocols in airports throughout the world. Unfortunately, the emphasis on security equates to excessively long lines at security checkpoints, thousands of missed flights, and mounting aggravation among travelers. In fact, according to a report done in May 2016, on American Airlines, alone, more than 70,000 passengers missed flights due to TSA-related delays. I’ve been with some humans at the airport when they missed a flight. Temper, temper! Passengers of other airline carriers also miss flights due to security checkpoints, which can result in wait times of several hours.

Despite the frustration, most travelers are willing to endure security measures because they realize the importance of airline travel safety. But there are additional steps you can take to ensure your safety as you travel by air this summer:

Overseas Travel

Before heading overseas, check the U.S. Department of State website which advises U.S travelers about the safety or lack thereof relative to foreign destinations. The site provides travel alerts, which are short-term advisories tied to specific events; and travel warnings, which are recommendations about countries which should be avoided, altogether. Some areas currently included on the travel warnings’ list include Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, and Ukraine. On May 31, the U.S. Department of State issued a Europe Travel Alert to warn about the risks associated with traveling to Europe during the summer months.

Even those destinations not currently included on an active warning list could prove problematic, as intelligence gathering is an inexact science. But don’t let that keep you from traveling. According to the National Safety Council, Americans are 353 times more likely to die from a slip-and-fall accident than from a terrorist attack. And data released by the CDC asserts that we are 110 times more likely to succumb to contaminated food than from an act of terror. So don’t ignore the risks. Just don’t let fear keep you from enjoying a vacation or traveling for business. baggage control in airport

Tips for safe and comfortable overseas travel

  • Be respectful of others’ cultures and institutions. If, for example, the recommended dress code for visiting a church/holy site/mosque requires you to cover your arms and legs, respect the request.
  • Learn basic native-language phrases. If you speak English and are traveling to a country with limited English speakers, take the time to learn and practice words to help you make basic requests.
  • Avoid large crowds or protests where there is an elevated risk of danger. For more about this, check out our recent post about safety during civil unrest.
  • Add the U.S. Embassy’s 24—Hour Hotline to your cellphone contacts. If only I had opposable thumbs!
  • Carry your hotel’s native language business card to show cab drivers and police, if necessary.
  • Take pictures of your passport photo, driver’s license and credit cards and email them to yourself. Keeping the photos on your phone instead of emailing them is inadvisable in case your phone is lost or stolen. If you travel with a canine companion, this type of theft is less likely.
  • Avoid confrontation whenever possible. Don’t attract attention by arguing with someone unnecessarily. Try to calmly settle disagreements, especially if you are in a crowded setting.

Airport Security and Safety

Situational awareness is essential when navigating airports and all related security procedures. For example, if you see someone leave a bag on the ground for an extended period, alert airport police. Will this mean that you and other travelers might potentially miss your flight due to security protocols? Yes! But it’s important to follow the Department of Homeland Security’s request that “If You See Something, Say Something.” My mantra is “If you want something, eat something.”Airport Security

  • Only allow official personnel to inspect or move your luggage. Always keep an eye on your belongings. This is especially important in curbside loading/unloading areas where people have not been screened. Someone could potentially tamper with your luggage before you check it in and you could end up unwittingly carrying an incendiary device on board.
  • Keep your tickets and passports close to your person at all times – not dangling out of your purse or pocket or resting on top of your bags.
  • Watch your valuables go through x-ray machines and pick them up as quickly as possible. Loudly alert security staff if you see someone pick up your bag or loose articles such as your watch or wallet or tennis balls (you know – the things that matter most).
  • Don’t make jokes about “terrorists” or “bombs” or other loaded language. TSA agents and foreign airport officials are working to keep you safe. Making this kind of a joke could land you in serious trouble.

Despite my wisecracks, it’s important to remember that airport security and traveling safely are no laughing matter. Follow these tips to ensure you come back home to everyone in your family…even those of us of the four-legged variety.

Remember that safety is a daily priority – whether you are working at home or traveling the globe. 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, Disaster Preparedness, Terrorism, Travel

Spring Break Travel Safety

airport checkpoint 3d renderA series of bomb explosions at Brussels Airport and a metro station in the city this week have led to heightened travel alerts across the world. Based on these events, as well as numerous other recent terrorist attacks, it is imperative that travelers exercise caution this spring. Our hearts go out to everyone whose life was affected by the Brussels’ attacks.

According to Orbitz, each March, 55 percent of college students travel by plane to celebrate Spring Break, with the most popular destinations including Las Vegas, Cancun and Punta Cana, Mexico. I wonder if they bring their pets. But young adults are not the only springtime wanderers. To wit, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly preparing to screen more than 65.1 million travelers over the 2016 Spring Break travel season. With the ever-present threat of terrorism, airline passengers can rest assured that safety is the top priority for TSA. Safety is also the top priority for all of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.Passengers passes x-ray check at airport. Airport transport security scan tape portal. Officer computer monitoring baggage.

“Our dedicated officers do their absolute best to screen passengers both effectively and efficiently, with a primary focus on traveler security,” said Peter V. Neffenger, TSA administrator. “We want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely, while at all times providing the highest standards of security screening possible.”

But don’t trust your safety entirely to others. Here are five common sense steps you can take to guarantee your own safe travels this spring break season (and always):

  1. Remain alert. The less you have to do while at the airport, the more focused and prepared you will be to remain alert about your surroundings. If possible, print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport. Arrive early, to allow enough time to park, print your boarding pass, or go paperless by downloading the appropriate boarding pass app, check baggage, and proceed through the checkpoint. In dog terms, I would say to keep your nose up. phone online booking concept illustration
  2. Keep calm. Passengers who violate rules will cause delays for themselves and everyone behind them. So do your part to keep a lid on traveler rage. Pack liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in compliance with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. And avoid wearing large metal jewelry or clothing with large metal embellishments to reduce the possibility of alarming the screening machine. And we don’t want to alarm the scream machine!
  3. Watch your stuff. Thieves often case populated places like airports, looking for easy marks. Make sure your purse and carry-on bag are zipped and that your wallet is out of site. This is why I travel light. Without baggage, I am able to stay focused on the wonderful sights and smells of an airport. If you appear to know what you are doing, you won’t appeal to opportunistic muggers and pickpockets, who will move on to easier prey. Also, if you pay attention to your own belongings, you will be prepared to quickly identify unmanned baggage. If you see an unattended suitcase, report it immediately to airline security.Full suitcase of a traveler with travel stickers
  4. Blend in. Refrain from carrying large quantities of cash. With the prevalence of ATM’s in virtually every location, you don’t need to carry large sums of cash. Bring small amounts and keep your credit and debit cards close at hand, to protect yourself from unauthorized purchases as well as identity theft. Also, try to blend in with locals. Pull your camera out only when you’re ready to use it. Watch your footing when taking selfies. And refrain from looking at maps while you are standing in the middle of a crowded public square. I prefer to sniff my way around new places instead of using maps.
  5. Stay informed. If you are traveling internationally, in advance of your flight, check on travel security warnings and alerts released by the state department. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Alerts might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. For domestic travel, check with your airline carrier for flight delays and other updates.

Security AlertRemember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just while you are traveling. 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 Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Health & Welfare, Travel

BE SAFE as you Travel Internationally

around the world

If you are currently traveling abroad or are planning an international holiday, RJWestmore asks that you keep the following safe international travel tips in mind.

  • Renew your passport six to nine months before it expires, as some countries will not grant you entry if your passport expiration is eminent.
  • Some countries require both a passport and visa for entry; make sure you know which documentation is needed from you well ahead of time.
  • When traveling to another country, be aware that you must follow their laws. It is important that you are familiar with the local rules and regulations of each place you plan to visit. The U.S. Department of State provides a full list of updated country customs and laws.
  • Make copies of your itinerary, passport and visa. Leave a copy with family or friends and place another in your checked luggage.
  • Do research before you leave. Check to make sure your medical insurance policy apply overseas. If it does not and you plan to stay abroad for awhile, you may want to purchase a temporary supplemental policy.
  • Do not forget to check with your health care provider regarding vaccinations you may need prior to your trip.
  • To stay healthy during your travels, keep the following in mind:
    • When flying, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids: water, juice and non-caffeinated tea are best.
    • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as soda and coffee.
    • Keep your distance. By staying at least six feet away from others while you travel (especially those who appear to be sick), you could decrease your risk of contracting germs.
    • Frequently wash your hands. Use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds at a time. You should also carry a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, for times when water and soap are not readily accessible.
  • Carry your ID at all times. Remember to bring your driver’s license and another set of photo identification. Also, make sure you bring:
    •  Health insurance card
    • Allergy bracelets
    • Emergency contact information.
    • Make sure your passport and visa are signed and the emergency information sections are completed.
  • Safe hotels rooms should be equipped with deadbolt locks, peepholes, fire sprinklers and telephones which allow for outside dialing. Also, look for well-lit interior hallways and grounds.
  • Ask for a hotel room located above the first floor and below the sixth. This will limit easy break-ins. Stay within reach of fire ladders. Always lock your door. Use the peephole and do not leave unsecured valuables in your room.
  • Use the ATM only in groups during daylight hours and use caution when entering your PIN number.
  • Electrical outlets outside North America are generally different. Consider purchasing a travel plug adapter in order to access your appliances via foreign outlets.
  • Avoid being the victim of crime.
    • Do not leave luggage unattended in public places.
    • Keep jewelry to a minimum.
    • Do not carry large amounts of cash or credit cards. Consider purchasing one of the numerous money carrying safety devices available, such as the money belt or leg pouch wallet. If you plan to carry a wallet, keep it close to your body and if you carry a purse, pick one that crosses over your body.
  • While traveling, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest U.S. Embassy and Consulate. A list is available at: http://travel.state.gov/. During the event of an emergency while overseas, you can contact 202-501-4444 for assistance.
  • For extra security while traveling, sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Registering your travel plans will help the government to assist you in an emergency. The free service is available at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.
Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

Do you drive while you’re distracted?

Texting While DrivingAccording to the recent Safety In Numbers newsletter released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment during the day in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating some sort of electronic device while driving a motor vehicle. Most of them are probably “tweeting” me. In 2011, this dangerous practice has resulted in 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDT) marks April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving. It’s time for drivers to put down their cell phones, electronic devices and other distractions such as food and drinks.

According to the NHTSA, while driving:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answers calls
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls
  • 2 in 5 young drivers were observed manipulating a handheld device

The U.S. Dept of Transportation reports that “Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injuries. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. That doesn’t sound very safe.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Many drivers do see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but don’t recognize how their own driving deteriorates. We all think we’re the exception. We think, ‘It’s dangerous for others, but I can handle texting or talking on a handheld cell phone without jeopardizing my safety or the safety of others.’”

The bottom line is that the only way to safely drive is to concentrate. So avoid all of these distractions while driving:

  • reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
  • looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
  • reading
  • eating
  • applying makeup
  • making gourmet steak dinners (If I drove, it’s what I would want to do)

BE SAFE. If you absolutely have to answer or place a phone call while you’re driving, use a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road. And don’t minimize the dangers of routines like eating or applying makeup while you’re behind the wheel. No matter the cause, distracted driving exacts a tremendous cost from a wide range of people and their pets.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that driving requires constant and complex coordination between mind and body. Eating bacon requires the same thing. They categorize distractions as anything that undermines a driver’s visual, cognitive and/or manual concentration. To determine whether or not an activity is too distracting to do while driving, consider whether it takes your: eyes off the road (visual) mind off the road (cognitive)  and hands off the steering wheel (manual).

The California Driver’s Handbook also includes cabin navigation as a potential distraction: “Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, radio surfing for a good song, or adjusting your vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put you in danger of a vehicle crash or near-crash. The availability of in-vehicle Internet and e-mail access from cell phones, blackberries, and other portable devices are added distractions that increase your risk of a crash if you engage in these activities while driving.”

  • Adjust climate controls, mirrors, radio, seats, etc. before you start to drive.
  • Check email, voicemail, and any other portable devices you have before you begin driving.
  • Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls but not to text or email.
  • Ask your passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc. for you.
  • Eat bacon before you leave the house. And when you get back home. And while you’re gone…just not while you’re driving.

To combat the problem, many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving for government business or with government equipment. And in October 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Travel, Uncategorized, Winter Weather Hazards

On the Road: Holiday Travel Tips

Segnale di strada scivolosa isolato su fondo bianco

(Part 2 of a 3-Part Series)

No matter which way you choose to travel this holiday season, you would be wise to take advance precautions to guarantee that your family and friends are safe in the air, on the road, on the rails. After all; winter and holiday travel are stressful propositions. Not only is traffic at an all-time high but the vast majority of people and pets get edgy and tempers flare with crowded parking lots and long lines.

Last week, we covered the ways to travel safely by air. This week, we’ll focus on tips for easing road trips. Tune in again next week when we will cover one more way to travel safely during the holidays. At RJWestmore, Inc., we want you to travel safely this holiday season.

Road worthy travel

For road warriors, winter can be a dangerous time of year. Winter is also a little scary for those of us who use the restroom outside. But I digress. The NTSB attributes 22% of all motor vehicle accidents to severe weather, such as ice and snow. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, a motor vehicle accident occurs every 60 seconds. In fact, annually, 5.25 million driving accidents occur…which amounts to 11,550,000 weather-related accidents per year. Since these are scary figures, we hope the following winter driving tips will help you stay safe and a little less anxious on this year’s holiday road trip.

  1. Get your car checked out before you leave. This is crucial. Drive your car to a reputable auto shop for a quick once-over, making sure your mechanic checks the tires, oil pressure, fluid levels and other mechanical systems.
  2. Be prepared for a change in course. Before you depart, spend a long time concentrating on the best route as well as secondary options. Make sure you’re ready for anything on that could alter your plans, including construction, road closings, accidents, traffic hurdles and weather-related messes. Keep local maps on hand in case you need to reroute your trip and don’t have GPS or an adequately-equipped Smartphone. If you belong to an automotive club, get someone’s help to plan the perfect winter getaway.
  3. Stay hydrated. Although the likelihood of dehydration may seem far-fetched, consider the possibility that you could become stranded. The phenomenon is common, in fact, on windy mountain roads where rocks fall and accidents can cause long delays. A recent study by doctors at the Mayo Clinic showed that a mere one- to two-percent loss of body weight can lead to fatigue and sleepiness, all of which can be deadly conditions when traversing icy winter roadways. Also, your body requires more fuel in the cold. So in addition to bringing plenty of water bottles, stock up on high-energy foods like sandwiches, a thermos filled with soup, fresh fruit and sliced raw vegetables. And don’t forget to bring some beef jerky! If you prefer to hoof it, like my family and me, make sure you drink plenty of water before you leave.
  4. Pack a winter safety kit for the car. Don’t leave home without the essentials for a safe road trip. In addition to your regular “Go Bag,” you should bring extra supplies for long road trips. Don’t forget:
    • Cell phone (and car charger)
    • Ice scraper
    • Tow rope
    • Jumper cables
    • Snow chains
    • Sand or cat litter for traction control on ice
    • Blankets
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Matches and emergency candles
    • First aid kit
    • Portable radio (either hand-crank or battery-powered, as long as you pack extra batteries!)
    • Dog bowls, treats, pet medication and dog food (Or just bring extra steak.)
    • For a comprehensive list of items to include in your Emergency Kit, check out some of our previous posts about how to build a Go Bag.
  5. Take plenty of pit stops. Winter driving leads to fatigue. Make sure you take time to stretch your legs. Just a few minutes off the road will improve your alertness. I’ve always been a fan of pit stops. You could stop at every single rest stop because there is always a lot of great stuff to sniff.
  6. Stay alert. Even if you’re well-rested and attentive on the road, you will likely be traveling near other people who partied too hard during the holidays or didn’t get enough sleep. So, the wisest thing you can do while you drive is pay attention and drive defensively.  If you think you’ll need to drink a gallon of coffee to stay awake, maybe you should consider stopping at a hotel instead of driving on. It could save your life.

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 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

How to Safely Travel by Air

Unexpected vacation disasters can strike whether you travel by ship, airplane or horse and buggy. That’s why I prefer to use my own four paws to get around. In the coming weeks, we will examine the best way to BE SAFE by preparing for travel-related emergencies. Last week, we covered safety in road trips. This week, we will focus on air travel.

The good news is that, according to CNN writer Brett Snyder, 2011 was an incredibly safe year for commercial air travel. In fact, Snyder reports, “There were only 373 fatalities on 18 scheduled passenger flights worldwide.” Considering that there are roughly 10 million flights per year in the U.S. alone, this is a remarkable feat. The bad news is that most dogs are still required to travel in the cold under belly of the plane with the baggage. Where’s the justice in that?

More good news is the anticipated installation of surveillance equipment in 81 markets by a major player in the public safety and professional communication market (HRS). This is significant because many airplane accidents are said to be related to insufficient aircraft surveillance equipment, particularly in remote areas. That’s why I recommend canine intervention. We make great alarms because most of us are nosy and loud.

These moves, along with stringent TSA training guidelines, have once again made air travel the one of the safest ways to get from Point A to Point B. In fact, according to a report in Forbes, commercial airline builder Boeing says that it is 22 times safer to fly than it is to drive on a per-mile basis. Boeing officials report: “Fewer people have died in commercial airplane accidents over the past 60 years than are killed in U.S. auto accidents over a typical three-month period.” Nothing was mentioned about canines and felines, who suffer through non-climate controlled conditions!

Unfortunately, however, as one TSA administrator admitted at an air transport security conference, “If we try to apply the reliable, predictable-world principles of safety to the non-linear, inherently unpredictable world of terrorism, it may lead to the worst kind of disaster: where calamity occurs because we think we are following all the rules, doing it ‘right.”

So, while we ultimately have little choice but to leave the big picture of airline safety to Department of Homeland Security officials, as consumers, what steps can we take to make sure the skies we travel this summer remain friendly? Here are a few helpful hints for you to follow so you can BE SAFE:

  1. Remember the 3-1-1 rule. TSA and private security partners have conducted extensive explosives testing since 2006 and determined that liquids, aerosols and gels, in limited quantities, are safe to bring aboard an aircraft. However, the one-bag limit per traveler limits the total amount each traveler can bring. Consolidating the bottles into one bag and X-raying them separately from the carry-on bag enables security officers to quickly clear the items. For more specifics, check out the TSA website.
  2. Don’t agree to watch someone’s bag while they use the restroom or step out of line. The luxury of leaving anything unattended in the airport ended on 9/11. What’s more, don’t make the mistake of leaving your own bags unattended while at the airport.
  3. Don’t joke about airport security while you’re at the airport. Although you might enjoy poking fun of the rules relative to removing shoes and jackets, if you make the mistake of cracking a joke about terrorism while at the airport, you will likely find yourself escorted to a hidden room for questioning by TSA officials. Admittedly, this is difficult for me. I get annoyed by all of the rules and like to lighten the mood. Not a good course of action in this case.
  4. Cooperate with officials. Although you might often find yourself the subject of “random searches” at the airport, try to grin and bear it. Try to remember that airport security screening is tight for your protection and not just because the TSA officials like to torture you. And the more cooperative you are, the swifter the boarding process will be for everyone.
  5. Don’t attempt to bring anything on board that is forbidden by the FAA or TSA. For instance, the FAA forbids the carriage of hazardous materials on commercial aircraft. Likewise, the TSA forbids the carriage of certain items for security reasons. To follow these rules, you need to be familiar with them. So click on the links for specifics.

When a disaster of any kind 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 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

When it Comes to Summer Travel, Murphy’s Laws Apply

BE SAFE this summer as you travel.

Unexpected vacation disasters can strike whether you travel by ship, airplane or horse and buggy. In the coming weeks, we will examine the best way to BE SAFE by preparing for travel-related emergencies. This post focuses on road trips. Although I am not a licensed driver, I give two paws up to these tips.

Even if you plan and prepare for weeks, you will likely encounter some sort of unexpected situation as your drive. Here is what could happen if you fail to plan:

As you wind your way along steep mountain roads, you hear a terrible thumping sound and, even as you feel a loss of control, you realize that one of your tires has blown out. If you were to pull to the side of the road to fix the flat, would you:

  • Have to stop to unload the luggage and coolers which effectively block all of your tools?
  • Empty the trunk only to discover that your spare is missing or flat or that the jack is nowhere in sight?
  • Leave the car running while dealing with the dilemma so your family won’t suffocate in the summer heat, and in so doing—run out of gas?
  • Turn on your cellphone to call a tow truck and discover that your battery has died?
  • Realize in horror that you left the beef jerky treats on the kitchen counter?

Admittedly, this is a worst-case scenario. We share it to illustrate the fact that the best way to weather a travel-related emergency is to be prepared:

Like a pilot, before you take off, make sure all systems are “go.”

The best thing to do before heading off to Grandma’s is to take your car to a mechanic for a systems’ check. But if you decide to go it alone, make sure your tires are inflated according to manufacturer’s recommendations and that they have plenty of tread. Top off fluids. Check your oil. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working condition. Double-check to make sure the windows roll up and down so your canine traveling companions can stick our heads out and pant.

Prepare an Emergency “Go Bag”

Your trunk should always have an emergency kit. But when you are traveling long distances, you might want to add a few extra items. You should be able to assemble emergency supplies an auto supply or department store, or you can take it easy on yourself by purchasing a pre-assembled kit online. Several organizations create and sell these kits, including the American Red Cross. In our previous blog posts, we have covered details about what should be included in your Go Bag.  So please reference these blogs for more information.

Make sure your travel kit includes:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Hand-crank radio
  • A folding camping (Army) shovel
  • Jumper cables (8-12 feet long)
  • Fuses. Get the right ones for your car, as there are several types.
  • Tools
  • Blankets
  • Fluids for your car
  • Rags
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Road flares
  • Gloves, socks and boots
  • Electrical and duct tape
  • WD-40
  • A Knife
  • Bright cloth or emergency road sign to display in your window
  • Non-perishable food items and a can opener
  • Rain gear
  • Dry clothes
  • Folding chair(s)
  • Snacks
  • Toilet paper
  • Books and games
  • Prescription medications
  • Your favorite pet as well as his food and dishes
  • And, if there’s still room…your wife and kids.

Before you hit the road:

  • Make sure your cell phone is charged and that you have packed your home and car chargers.
  • Invest in a small manual that has easy-to-follow instructions about basic roadside repair.
  • Do a “dry run” of changing a tire in the safety of your driveway, so you know how to do it before called upon to do so in the dark.
  • Check the contents of your kit when the seasons change. While a blanket, chains and ice scraper are important for winter driving conditions, you would probably prefer a battery-operated personal fan in the dead of summer.

Keeping a roadside emergency kit in your car will give you peace of mind as well as the tools you’ll need in the event of an emergency during your travels this summer.

When a disaster of any kind 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 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Travel, Uncategorized

Celebrate National Preparedness Month by Making Sure You’re Ready!

storms brewing over East Coast
What East Coast Troubles Have Taught us about Disaster Response

Recent events, such as Hurricane Irene, the east coast earthquake and this year’s tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and Joplin are critical reminders about the importance of preparedness. So we’d like to take a one-week break from our ongoing series about lessons learned from 9/11 to discuss ways that you and your community can prepare for natural disasters. It seems particularly fitting we do so now, since September is National Preparedness Month.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate kicked off National Preparedness Month last week with a visit to New York. He posed one important question: “Are you ready?” I wish I had been able to attend the press conference so I could have barked my reply.

As active members National Preparedness Month Coalition, we at RJWestmore Inc. would like to echo Fugate’s implied call to action. We believe the more people are aware of available online and real world tools, the more prepared they will be to cope and bounce back when disasters strike.

A great way to learn how to prepare is to learn from past mistakes. After all, that’s how my wife and I paper-trained JR. This method is effective because people are always quick to point fingers and paws and complain. But let’s take a different tact this week, by learning from what went right in the recent events on the east coast as well as Missouri and Alabama:

Hurricane Irene: For Washington, D.C., Hurricane Irene was not only the most dangerous weather system to rip through Washington in some time, but it was also a test of whether the beleaguered power company, Pepco, could claw its way out of the basement of public opinion by keeping the lights on and restoring them when they blinked out.

Pepco’s response was to make automated phone calls alerting citizens before the hurricane hit and then to restore power within 24 hours to 140,000 of the 220,000 affected customers. Fewer homes served by Pepco in the District and Maryland suburbs lost power than did those served by neighboring power companies. Pepco bounced back from bad PR by keeping lines of communication open with their customer base. Whatever line of business you are in, make communication an integral part of your emergency management plans. The twilight bark is an important part of my emergency management plans.

East Coast Earthquake: Immediately after the 5.9 earthquake centered near Mineral, Virginia, the FAA ordered planes at airports around the country to stay on the ground rather than fly to airports in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Virginia where traffic was temporarily halted. Among major airports in the region, only New York’s LaGuardia continued operations throughout the day. But by late afternoon, traffic at all the airports was returning to normal, although delays were expected into the evening. Controlling transportation is crucial to effective disaster management. That’s why I trust my transportation to my own four paws.

Tornadoes: According to an article in USA Today, the Alabama tornado killed 41 people, devastated vital parts of the city’s infrastructure, destroyed or damaged more than 7,000 buildings and affected 10% of local businesses. It was part of a system of twisters that killed 238 people in Alabama alone and another 100 or so in other states across the South.

Tuscaloosa is said to be further along the road to rebuilding than Joplin, Mo., which was struck by a tornado that killed at least 125, blasted 2,000 homes, took out one of the city’s two hospitals, ravaged big-box stores and smashed several hundred small businesses.

Thankfully, funds for survivors and reconstruction are coming in from many sources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies, state and local governments, private insurers, volunteer and faith-based organizations and other non-governmental sources.

Although the rebuilding efforts will likely take years and millions of dollars, thanks to coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies, these devastated communities are on their way to recovery. Handling any large scale disaster, whether manmade or natural, requires coordination and cooperation.

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.