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.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Don’t take your safety for granted: Lessons learned from 9/11

Twin towers outline against American flag
September 11 taught us we can't afford to take our safety for granted.

Second in a series about 9/11

Given the serious and sensitive nature of the somber events of September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack.

Two of the 10 things we’ve learned from 9/11:

1, We can’t afford to take our safety for granted. The aftermath of 911 will likely be with us in perpetuity. The plus side to this is that many people now realize they should take steps to protect themselves and prepare for potential future attacks.

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, many of us took our safety for granted. Doing so was easy. After all, planes generally took off and landed as scheduled. Going to work was relatively uneventful. Multi-million dollar buildings stood tall.

All of that changed when pilots hijacked planes and, in a coordinated suicide effort led by al-Qaeda, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A third plane which was likely headed for either the Capital or the White House was overtaken by passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of workers and civilians died in what has since become known as the greatest terrorist attack on American soil in history.

The good news is that, as a nation, we have learned. We have learned to recognize threats and to take action in order to ward off potential assaults against our country. Security is tighter now than it has ever been. And, as a result, we are safer. In fact, the likelihood of broad attacks involving multiple agents has actually decreased since 2001.

What’s more, because we are no longer naïve about potential threats to our personal and national safety, we are more willing to participate in drills and develop emergency preparedness plans. For those of us in the safety training business, this is good news because we have long understood the importance of preparation. In fact, at RJWestmore, Inc. has been providing safety and security solutions to commercial real estate companies for more than 20 years. Our mission is to save lives through training with the motto “BE SAFE!”

You can take an active part in your own safety by observing National Preparedness Month (NPM) in September. Sponsored by FEMA, the month-long campaign encourages citizens to get a kit, make a plan and be informed. Leading by example, RJWestmore, Inc. is a member of the NPM Coalition.

2. Terrorism can cause thousands of casualties and/or extensive damage to buildings as well as infrastructure. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost nearly $2 trillion.

Small Business—Cyber security firm Symantec reports that, despite the plethora of information about terrorism attacks, most small business owners remain unprepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The cost of training your employees to act and assemble simple disaster kits is far less than what you will lose if and when you and your colleagues face another terrorist attack. Potential threats include cyber security. So make sure your information systems are secure.

Property Owners & ManagersEmerald Research reports that terrorist attacks on buildings are becoming an increasing threat. So it is essential that property managers prepare for potential attacks. Building owners and managers should understand the types of devices used by terrorists and assess the threat, determine how buildings can be physically protected and the ways that property managers should respond to perceived threats, both proactively and reactively.

As our series continues, we’ll examine the remaining eight lessons we’ve learned from 9/11 so you and your loved ones and colleagues will BE SAFE. Once you have determined the possible events and their potential affects to your community, you’ll want to discuss them with your family, friends and coworkers.

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, Cyber Security, High-Rise Buildings, Identity Theft, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Is there a Safe Way to use Public Wi-Fi?

Wi Fi Image
Using public wi-fi can be hazardous to your data's health.

You’re on the road to the next sales meeting and absolutely need a coffee. You pop in for 20 minutes and use your laptop to browse the Internet. Everything is copacetic until you later hear about a breach to your company’s back-office financial data. Are you to blame?

A source called an “ethical hacker” by CBS News says, “Information you’d send to and from your bank, information coming off of your credit card—any of those types of information you’d rather people not have, goes over WiFi.” I’m not sure what an ethical hacker is. Seems like an oxymoron to me. Also according to CBS, security experts estimate hackers can easily take $1,000 worth of data from just one hacked computer.

Unfortunately, little exposes your work to greater security risks than latching onto a public Wi-Fi service. The problem is that most people and pooches don’t realize the risks. And even fewer have the ability to perform the necessary tasks that would fix it. So what’s a modern business person to do?

Here are some tips on browsing safely:

  • Just say no. While this might be unreasonable for road warriors who need to access the Internet at airports and hotel lounges, infrequent users are better off avoiding the temptation to hop on unsecured networks. The wife and I have a strict “doghouse only” use rule for our own laptops.
  • Use a firewall to guard against incoming threats.
  • Conceal your files using encryption, so important documents are not accessible by others who are snooping or phishing on the open network. The RJWestmore Online Training System encrypts all password information, for the safety of all of our clients.
  • Turn off your wireless connection when not in use. Perhaps you are at a coffee shop working on a document but you don’t need to check your email. By turning off the wireless connection, unscrupulous individuals will be cut off from gaining prolonged access to your computer files. This is especially important to keep people from poaching your electronic PetSmart coupons.
  • Don’t enter your Social Security Number or credit card information while using a public network. If you encounter an emergency and need to purchase something, use only the sites that show the padlock symbol and third-part security verification.
  • Find the “S”! On sites such as Facebook, you can change your security settings to only login on “https” enabled pages. While these might run a shade slower than regular connections, they prevent all but the most sophisticated hacking attempts. So check website settings to restriction enabling to this higher security setting.
  • Ask IT to show you how to disable your computer so it won’t actively search for hotspots. Windows is too user friendly at times (the same could be said of several overactive canines I know), and will look for wireless networks wherever you take your laptop…whether you are trying to log online or not.

Beyond public Wi-Fi risks, there are myriad other ways your personal or business information can be comprised through carelessness or bad practices. Additional tips for keeping data safe:

  • Be careful using USB “thumb” drives, which can be easily misplaced. They also are the perfect carrier for viruses and malware. USB drives were the culprit for the spread of the damaging Stuxnet virus which infiltrated industrial computers, including some at nuclear facilities.
  • Use passwords. Protecting access to both the laptop and individual files and folders can slow down or discourage hacking attempts. Every week you hear stories about possible data breaches from stolen or lost or laptops that were unprotected.
  • Mobile devices can be protected with security apps that can remotely “lock and “wipe” your device. Or, if you prefer, give me a call and I will be happy to “lick and wipe” your mobile device for free.
  • Train employees how to spot phishing and scam emails that might distribute viruses. Some scammers will even spoof their emails to look like they are coming from a company’s HR department.

Using public Wi-Fi properly requires some technical know-how and common sense. When feasible, only look at public non-identifying sites on the public network, and purchase items or do banking when you are back at work or at home. While 24/7 access is nice, you can ask yourself “Do I have to do this now?”  Unless pork chops are involved, I am willing to wait for almost anything. If you follow the tips on using public networks and best practices for portable drives and laptops, you will greatly increase your protection from malicious hackers.

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, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Aftermath of the Raid in Pakistan

drawing of Osama Bin Laden
How to Remain Vilgilant Following Osama Bin Laden's Death.

After the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and his subsequent death, some law enforcement officials and property owners are concerned about the threat of new terrorist attacks. Congratulations are in order for the brave soldiers who risk their lives overseas. But are we any more at risk than we were prior to Bin Laden’s death?

Many residents of the United Kingdom consider a new attack to be likely. In fact, the U.K. Metropolitan Police Commissioner warned that: “Vigilance should be our watchword.”

In the United States, the presence of security personnel has been beefed up in numerous locations. Still, despite the perceived risk of potential terrorist repercussions, the official terror threat level in the United States was not elevated following the announcement of Bin Laden’s death. (The new alert system differs from the former multi-color-coded system in that it only offers two-threat levels— “elevated” and “imminent.”) My alert system gets to “code red” when I’m out of kibble!

Potential risks might result:

  • A branch of al-Qaida in Yemen or some other disconnected country might be the source of the next attack.
  • The next threat might come from a lone individual who sympathizes with al-Qaida, such as occurred with the Fort Hood shooter, who some contend was linked to terrorist groups.
  • Terrorist cells in North Africa have either loose or no affiliation with al-Qaida and have many connections to ethnic groups in the United States.
  • A broader risk is a decreased emphasis on funding for anti-terrorism training due to the perception of the “War on Terror” coming to an end.
  • As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many experts caution of an interest in terror groups to commemorate the sad day with new attacks.
    • U.S. officials have confirmed that documents retrieved from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan show that al Qaeda was in the early planning stages for an attack on U.S. railroads to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
    • According to Homeland Security, the FBI has advised local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spike missing from train tracks, packages left near the tracks, and/or any other indications that a train could be at risk.

But the truth is that regardless of recent developments, it is always advisable to prepare for the threat of terrorism. Domestic terrorism is possible. This is not a time for complacency. Property owners, tenants/employers and everyone should continue to follow best practices.

How can you remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism?

  • Set protocols for monitoring any incoming delivery packages and personnel.
  • Establish rules for suspicious items that are left at or near your facility.
  • Pay attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s threat monitoring.
  • For high-traffic and value buildings, consider installing metal detectors at each entrance. I’ve heard that you need a doctor’s note if you have a metal plate in your noggin!
  • Develop a check-system to verify visitors with tenants. A good watchdog might be just the ticket!
  • Double check current evacuation procedures make sense if a terrorist attack occurs.
  • Install security cameras, which can capture individuals who could be “casing” your building.
  • Read information about altering your HVAC systems to protect from possible chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.
  • Terrorists increasing usage of online media for propaganda also increase the risks of cyber terrorism attacks that could strike at key facilities. If you operate a secure facility that handles sensitive materials, be sure to catalog and report any suspicious hacking attempts.
  • Flag individuals who ask for detailed information about your building or the surrounding areas. Scrutinize any requests for blueprints or other schematics. Just sayin’.

The best way to manage the risks of terrorism is similar to planning for natural disasters. It demands practicing common sense and planning ahead to make a facility a less desirable target. While the death of al-Qaida’s leader will hopefully destroy the terror network, threats remain that require attention.

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, Building Evacuation, Cyber Security, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized

How to Safeguard Your Residential or Commercial Property from Terrorist Attacks

cartoon bomb with mad face
Terrorism has many faces.

After the grand assault of 9/11, many security analysts worried terror cells were plotting similar or even larger scale attacks. Fortunately, however, due to law enforcement efforts and increased security, the likelihood of broad attacks involving multiple agents has actually decreased since 2001. This is due in part to decentralization of terrorist groups, which means more individuals might be operating without financial or operational backing. Unfortunately, it also means that the location of potential terror targets grows beyond high profile targets in major cities. City officials and police chiefs are responding by participating in terrorism-prevention training.

What should facility managers do in the face of the changing terrorism threat?

  • Installation of outside surveillance cameras can dissuade perpetrators from selecting your building for a “dry run” or actual attack. Electronic surveillance is also a good idea if your guard dog is prone to dozing off. I would never do that, myself. But I’ve heard tails of this sort. (Pun intended.)
  • Use Bollards to deter truck bombs. A Bollard is a large three to four foot post which can often be lowered and raised to allow or deny access into sensitive areas. I wonder if they make doghouse-sized bollards.
  • Ask city officials not to refuse to provide architectural plans of their facility to any outside person or organization.
  • Review procedures that allow non employees to enter the building. Set procedures to intercept packages and deliveries at a secure location. Require all visitors to be met and escorted by tenant personnel before being allowed into the building. Or you could hire a canine to sniff out trouble at the front gate.
  • Walk a block away from your building and then try to find a way back. (Take your pooch with you!) Is the parking garage secure? Do side doors remain unlocked? If you do your homework, you will be able to uncover potential Security holes.

The importance of individual vigilance:

  • As potential terror perpetrators become less organized and individuals begin operating solo, law enforcement has less information to stop attacks.
  • Individual awareness of suspicious activities can thwart attacks in progress, even if your bark is worse than your bite.
  • As with any goal, individual collaboration is the key to success. Encourage tenants to speak up if they see something out of place. Also, involvement of the custodial and parking staff can increase the potential for staff eyes and ears to spot potential issues.

In addition preventing potential attacks, facility managers should work with tenants to establish procedures in the event it becomes necessary to manage the aftermath of an attack:

  • Review and improve evacuation procedures for building occupants. Speedy and orderly exit during an emergency can save lives.
  • Establish protocols for reporting suspicious activity. Make sure there is a clear “chain of information,” with one facility point of contact for law enforcement.

In our free society, it is likely that terror threats will occur. However, individual attention combined with enhanced security measures can stop threats in action. With the recent Times Square bombing thwarted in part by a street vendor, ordinary citizens and their canine companions can make a real difference in terror prevention.

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, Hurricanes, Travel, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Winter Weather Hazards

Are you prepared to survive outdoors in the elements?

feet poking out of a pup tent, under the sun and a small tree
Outdoor Survival: Are You prepared?

 

While we typically discuss disasters as they relate to office buildings and other structures, our lessons about emergency preparedness also apply to survival outside.

Today we tackle some basic winter survival skills to help you prepare for unexpected winter weather whether you are trapped in your car or if you get lost while you’re hiking. Recent severe snowstorms on the East Coast tested both emergency responders and numerous individuals who were affected by the stormy conditions.

Motorists in New Jersey were stranded for some 30 hours—stuck in their cars, surviving on snack food like beef jerky and crackers. That really doesn’t sound so bad to me. But that’s beside the point. Some of the storm victims used common sense, which is vital when trapped in the elements (not to mention in other circumstances, as well). These wise folks conserved fuel resources when running the car’s heater and, above all, they didn’t panic. I reserve panic for real emergencies, like when “Lassie” reruns were taken off of the air.

Here are safety tips to remember if you are stuck in your vehicle in the elements:

  • Before any emergency, take steps so you are prepared. Make sure your car is packed with reflective blankets, extra hats and gloves, a small shovel, food and water and flares or other signaling device.
  • Keep your gas tank full. You will need gas to run the heater (or the air conditioner, if you’re stuck in the desert). Experts recommend running the heat for 10 minutes every hour. That is a similar timeframe to my eating schedule. Every hour, I like to munch for at least 10 minutes. It keeps my metabolism going!
  • Stay in your car! Unless you can clearly see rescuers or a better alternative for shelter, staying in the security of your car is the best option. This is particularly important if you are stranded on a busy roadway or have limited visibility. While your first impulse might be to abandon your vehicle and search for shelter, you risk being hit by other cars on a highway or freezing to death in winter or getting heat stroke in summer if you walk, unprotected, in the elements. So stay with your vehicle.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to warm up. Although that big St. Bernard with a barrel flask is a lovable pooch, you are better off asking him to bring Gatorade instead of liquor. Ignore those who recommend taking a sip of brandy to knock off the chill. Blood rises to the surface of the skin when you drink, which causes rapid heat loss. Also especially important in an emergency situation—you don’t want to risk impairing your judgment.
  • Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning. In big snow drifts, it’s likely your car’s tailpipe may be covered with snow. Crack the window when running the heat and use a shovel or other tool to clear some space for exhaust to escape.

If you are out in the elements when a storm breaks, you might get stuck in the snow. If so, take these basic steps to ensure your survival:

  • If you are going for a hike or cross country skiing, tell people where you are going and when you will be back. Search teams won’t come looking if they don’t know you are lost.
  • Make sure you know how to start a fire. Simply carrying a box of matches on your hike won’t help if you get stuck in the rain. Even waterproof matches can fail. Although dogs are very handy to have around, we aren’t much help starting fires. So bring alternative fire-making sources such as magnesium fire starters to create sparks.
  • Staying dry and warm are essentials, regardless of weather. Wear more layers than you think is necessary. This way, you will be able to remove unnecessary layers. Use the three-layer system to stay warm and toasty. Even though I have fur, I still get chilly when wet. So you might consider buying one of those nifty doggie raincoats, as well.
  • Shelter in place. Build a debris hut. When you are certain you are far from traffic, find a pole or log about one and a half times your own height. Prop it about three to four feet up with a boulder or stump. Then, take smaller branches and lay them diagonally on the main beam. Place leaves, grass or any other debris in between the branches and put at least one foot of similar material inside the hut. It might not win any design awards. But it will keep you relatively warm and dry. Man’s best friend can definitely help gathering sticks for the hut!

Unlike disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes, getting caught out in winter weather is largely avoidable. If there is a blizzard outside, you probably don’t have any urgent need to be in the car. Paying an extra $1 to return that Red Box movie isn’t going to hurt you! And you can probably skip our afternoon walk. We would rather stay inside by the fireplace. If you are skiing or backcountry-hiking, use a portable radio to stay informed. Consider joining an outdoor survival school to learn the latest techniques for safety.  As always, staying safe comes down to advanced preparation and cool-headed thinking during an emergency.

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, 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, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Holiday Travel Safety: On the Road…..Again?

cartoon dog in a suitcase
How to stay safe when you travel.

It’s that time already. Hitch up your wagons and travel on the open road or by air to the holiday destination of your choice. While traveling during this time might fill you with dread, we have some tips about safe holiday travel, which we hope will smooth your trip.

Air travel has become increasingly frustrating for passengers and airline staff, alike. More fees and less service are not traditional hallmarks of good business. But airlines have a corner on the market. So they play by a different set of rules. Nevertheless, these hints will help your travel the friendly skies.

Watch your connections. Imagine you have to fly in late December from San Diego to Orlando and have a choice of a three-hour layover in Dallas or a one-hour stop in Chicago. While you might not relish three hours in the airport, consider what happens weather-wise in Chicago in winter. Snow. Lots of it. That means airport delays, potentially dangerous landings and fun “de-icing” experiences.

Expected the unexpected. Delays happen. Computers do crash. So try not to sweat the small stuff.

Give yourself plenty of time. While you probably do not need to arrive two hours early for a mid-week flight to Des Moines in October, your family holiday trip in December will require extra time at baggage-check-in, security, and at the gate. Also consider the drive to and from the airport. Stress can be dangerous to your health as well as to others around you. So plan ahead to avoid the necessity of driving too fast to the airport.

What about those TSA pat-downs and scans? Early reports state that air travel is not too backed up and “opt-out” protests have not caught on. Despite the growing hysteria, scientific review of body scan machines shows that they are safe. According to data, people receive more radiation in two minutes of 30,000 foot flight than they do from scanners. Try to remember that security scans mean safer travel for everyone.

If you are packing up the family wagon and driving to your destination, consider the fact that you won’t be alone on the road. According to AAA, in 2009 there were 87.7 million Americans that traveled 50 miles or more during the year-end holidays. Follow some common sense tips to help you get through a potentially stressful drive.
Even if your travels do not take you to a remote town in Montana, it’s important you take steps to make sure you are prepared for the open road. Pack an emergency kit as well as other helpful supplies:

  • Bring several gallons of bottled water. These are useful for both drinking and emergency radiator usage.
  • Everyone needs to eat. If you get stuck in a blizzard, you will want some non-perishable food with some protein to keep you alert.
  • Traveling in snow? Check with local authorities to see if you need snow chains and bring along an extra bottle of antifreeze and a snow scraper.
  • Road flares and a triangle warning sign are vital in case of a breakdown.
  • Even modern car batteries can lose their charge. Bring jumper cables for your car and in case you are called upon to serve as a Good Samaritan for another motorist.
  • Once your emergency kit is set, you can concentrate on your actual journey:
  • Put your phone down! Statistics show thousands of people die every year from accidents caused by distracted drivers. What’s more, in many states, using the phone or texting while driving is illegal.
  • Inspect your car before you go. Inflate and check your tires. Confirm you have antifreeze and that your oil has recently been changed.
  • Don’t drink and drive. While this tip should go without saying, it’s important to watch alcohol consumption during holiday parties.

Follow our tips and use common sense to get through traveling during the holidays. And remember that politeness and patience can go a long way during what is supposed to be a joyous time.

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 Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Travel, Uncategorized

Fire Safety

Take steps to be fire-safe.

Part #2 in a Series

Since a fire department in the United States responds to a report of fire every 19 seconds, fire is an ever-present danger at work, doghouse, home or when you are traveling. Fire is also one of the most common emergencies following an earthquake, explosion, terrorist attack, power surge or other natural or man-made disaster.

Since you never know when fire will strike, you should be careful to prepare so you will immediately know what to do in case of emergency. In this series, we hope to educate you in an effort to help you and your tenants prepare for fire.

Today’s post will discuss the ways that you, as a building owner or property manager, can mitigate the risk of fire by making sound choices for building materials and furnishings and by educating tenants about taking responsibility for their own safety. (Overall, I think dogs are generally better at taking responsibility for their actions than our human counterparts. When we do something wrong, we don’t blame someone else. We hang our heads low and put our tails between our legs.)

Making sound choices for building materials

If your property is still under construction, install fire-safe materials wherever possible. Also, if you’re building something from scratch and moving dirt, now is a great time to hide bones.

David Horne, a member of the Fire Safe Council (FSC), admits that it’s impossible to take the risk of a fire down to zero unless you live in a bunker. But he says, “Builders can make their (projects) between 20 percent and 70 percent less likely to burn from the outside by choosing fire-resistant materials and veering from traditional designs.”

Here are some fire-safe installation ideas from the FSC:

  • Install stucco, fiber cement, and other noncombustible cladding materials
  • Build eaves and roof decks that are boxed in and never made from wood.
  • Omit windows from exterior walls that sit close together.
  • Add an extra layer of gypsum or another fire-resistant material beneath the siding on facing walls
  • Install double- or triple-pane windows to keep intense heat from breaking the windows
  • Choose noncombustible materials for fences
  • Consider purchasing a pre-made Dogloo instead of building a doghouse from scratch. They’re fire safe and attractive, to boot.

Making Sound Fire-Safe Choices for Furnishings

Even if your property has already been built, you can take steps to lessen the risk of home, apartment, doghouse or office fire.

Upholstered furniture, wall coverings, flooring and mattresses burn quickly and produce large amounts of toxic smoke. Burning upholstered furnishings or mattresses contribute to nearly every home fire death. Understanding the hazards associated with these furnishings will help you choose fire-safe products. Whenever possible, select upholstered furniture that has been treated with fire retardant. This is also a great idea for dog beds. While some have been treated with fire retardant materials, this is not always the case.

Some professional organizations and the state of California have developed manufacturing standards to increase the fire resistance of certain types of furniture. For a complete list of these guidelines, check out the technical bulletins released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation.

Educating Tenants about Fire Safety

In a perfect world, everyone would know how to prepare for disaster and would take the necessary steps to mitigate risks. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. So don’t assume that your tenants know how to proactively prevent fires or prepare for emergencies. Although you are not obligated to do so, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to provide helpful, straight-forward guidelines for them to follow, so in the event of emergency, they are without excuse.

Print these helpful tips for distribution for information about fire safety at home, basic information about fire safety at home and fire prevention at work.  The headline for each of these fact sheets notes that the responsibility for fire safety and disaster preparedness rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual. Additional reference materials are also available through FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association.  Whichever fire safety guidelines you prefer, post them in a central location. Next to the food bowls works for me.

Next week, we’ll look at the ways that you can mitigate the risk of fire by adopting best practices for storing flammable materials. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and 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.