Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Floods, safety plans and procedures, Uncategorized

Landslides and Mudslides

Landslide & Mudslide SafetyPart 3 in a 3-Part Series about Severe Weather

 Weather-related disasters lead to devastating loss of life and cost billions of dollars each year. The first post in our three-part series about severe weather disasters focused on extreme heat. The second entry discussed floods. This last post will tackle landslides and mudslides, since they so often accompany other severe-weather events. My son, JR, likes slides at the park but these slides don’t sound like fun. Continue reading “Landslides and Mudslides”

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, disaster recovery, Floods, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized

Severe Weather: Floods

Severe Weather FloodingFloods

Part 2 in a 3-Part Series

Weather-related disasters across the world lead to devastating loss of life and cost billions of dollars each year. Our last post about severe weather disasters focused on extreme heat. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) breaks weather-related disasters into eight major categories. We’re working on a flood of upcoming blog posts! This week, we will tackle one such designation, floods. Check back, as the final post in this series will focus hurricanes, landslides and mudslides.flooded buildings

A flood is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Recent floods in Charleston, and Texas are taxing resources, destroying property, injuring hundreds and resulting in troubling associated issues such as mosquito-borne disease and infrastructure damage.
Continue reading “Severe Weather: Floods”

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, How to stay healthy, Uncategorized

Extreme Heat: Severe Weather Disasters

Extreme Weather Disasters

Part 1 in a Series

Extreme weather causes some of the most devastating natural disasters known to man and beast. Already this year, the United States has faced six weather and climate-related major disaster events, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports have resulted in 36 deaths and economic losses exceeding one billion dollars. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) breaks these disasters into eight major categories: extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, landslides and mudslides, lightning, tornadoes, tsunamis, and winter weather. I’m not sure why cats aren’t included on the list, since they’re the number one cause of disasters in my world. This week, we will discuss extreme heat. Check back for future posts, which will conclude our series about extreme weather-related disasters. Continue reading “Extreme Heat: Severe Weather Disasters”

Posted in Uncategorized

Travel Safety

Travel Safety VacationAccording to AAA, nearly 37 million Americans (88 percent of travelers), will drive to their destinations this summer – which represents an increase of 4.7 percent over 2017. Another three million will take to the skies, increasing air travel by 6.8 percent over last summer. Other modes of transportation will include cruises, trains and buses, which will be used by nearly two million travelers. Reminds me of that movie, Planes, Trains & Automobiles. It’s a good film, even though there aren’t any dogs in it. If you plan to join the ranks of summer travelers sometime between now and Labor Day, heed necessary precautions and take these steps to avoid travel-related scams to ensure your journey is safe.

CarRoad Trip Safety

If you opt to take a cab, you could fall victim to the case of the broken meter. If the driver says he can’t use the meter for some odd reason, but promises to give you “the best rate,” find another mode of transportation. Or avoid this altogether by negotiating rates before starting the journey. That is why I prefer traveling on all fours!

More serious issues could put you at risk of bodily harm. If you’re traveling via cab, Uber or Lyft and sense that something isn’t right, ask to be dropped off ASAP. In the meantime, pull up the number for emergency services (911 in the U.S., 999 in Europe and Latin America) for easy access. Click here to see emergency numbers throughout the world. Uber has also recently launched a high-powered emergency button for use with its app. Did you know they also have a smartphone app that barks?

Air Air Travel Safety 

Active air travel scamsusually involve the offer of free tickets, available online via several major airlines. These amount to elaborate phishing schemes, designed to steal and resell credit card and other personal information. Also, the fine print on the so-called “free tickets” offer states that in agreeing to the terms, the user opts to volunteer to receive telemarketing phone calls and text messages from a variety of different companies. Good rule of thumb—if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This tip is good even if you’re like me and don’t have thumbs!

CruiseCruise Travel Safety

First, unless you win a sweepstakes prize, you have probably not won a free cruise, no matter what a telemarketer says. Popular cruise-related scams include:

  • Free Cruise
    Once you select the offer, you receive a combination of fees and taxes (including those imposed by the cruise line in addition to government fees), a requirement to sit through a high-pressure timeshare presentation, in exchange for a dingy cabin in an obsolete ship without air-conditioning, sub-par land accommodations in a run-down resort; and (5) pressure to “upgrade” ship or land accommodations.

  • Online Scams
    A potentially dangerous cruise scam can compromise your identity, files, or both. A cruise line emails you with instructions to click a link for more information about your upcoming cruise. This “click-bait” originates with someone who has hacked the cruise line’s or operator’s data, to obtain a list of current and prospective customers. The mail itself or the link contains malware. Be careful when you’re online, people!

  • Ridiculous Discounts
    The promise of “75 percent off” sounds like a great deal. But the truth is that the “base price” is fiction. Compare deals by searching for similar cruises and checking objective review websites.

Air Travel SafetyTrains

Always be aware when traveling by train or railway, which is a very popular mode of transportation.

  • In New York City, subway crimes occur daily.
  • Groping and other sexual assaults are so common on that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and the JR Railway Company worked together to establish Women-only carriages.
  • In Mumbai, groups of men posed as “railway police” to rob unsuspecting travelers.
  • In London, 457 railway-related crimes were reported over a 12-month period at King’s Cross Station.

Be on alert for these schemes:

o   “Overbooked” Train Scam
Versions occur around the world, but are particularly common in Asia. Scammers target travelers who look confused, telling them their train was overbooked. The scammer ushers unsuspecting passengers towards a bus stand, where they must purchase a ticket. Scammers do this to earn a commission from bus drivers.

o   Bag AssistanceTravel Safety Baggage Scams
Another common scam train travelers face occurs when someone offers to carry their bags. If someone approaches you offering to carry your bags, politely refuse. If you agree, you may never see your luggage again. Carry your own baggage. Great advice in life as well as travel!

o   Ticket-Machine Trick
Refuse help if you are trying to buy tickets from a machine. If you accept the help, the scammer will cancel the transaction and grab the money that has fallen into the change tray. Also, pickpockets hover around these machines, waiting for unwary travelers to be distracted.

Bus Travel SafetyBus

  • Fierce competition between bus companies forces owners to lower their advertised fares to attract travelers. They make up for the shortfall in other ways. For example, agents upsell “VIP bus” tickets to tourists for a higher price. Then, when the bus arrives, passengers who have paid for VIP seats are ushered onto a regular bus. They are told that the VIP bus broke down, but that the driver is not able to issue refunds. And if you return to the booking office, you will miss the bus.Don’t miss the bus!!!
  • Another bus-related scam involves drivers purposely driving slowly, so passengers miss their pre-paid reservations and are forced to stay at other hotels, for which the driver receives commission.
  • If you travel by bus, keep your personal belongings close to you. In some countries, the bus company staff steal from passengers while they sleep. This sounds like good advice however you travel.

Final Travel HintsTravel Safety

  • If you plan to travel overseas, check the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Travel Alerts & Warnings to make sure you are good to go.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see something, say something.
  • Keep your personal items close to you, always.
  • Leave your itinerary and emergency contact information with a trusted friend or family member.
  • In a hotel, review your escape route.
  • Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself or save the image to your smartphone. This step will save you hassle if you need to replace the actual document.
  • Don’t flash cash or valuables. And if you’re around dogs, don’t flash bacon.
  • Record emergency numbers so you can easily access them while you are away.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System

Online Safety TrainingDuring your travels this summer, take steps to make sure you are safe. Whether you are traveling or staying local, our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

Summer Water Safety

Water Safety SummerAlthough it’s a great way to exercise and stay cool during the hot summer weather, participating in water sports is not without risk. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 360,000 people drown each year. The good news is that most water-related fatalities and injuries can be prevented when safety steps are taken. These tips should help you #BeSafe this summer!

To keep your family and friends and pets safe this summer, observe the following summer water safety tips:
Continue reading “Summer Water Safety”

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety

Workplace SafetyDespite the migration of millions of American employees to home offices, 78 percent of the U.S. workforce still report for duty at a company facility, at least part-time. I love reporting to the firehouse. So, safety in the workplace remains of paramount importance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Workplace InjuriesWorkplace Safety Injury

Potential causes of workplace injuries and death range from fatigue (due to inadequate ergonomics or overexertion); substance abuse; slips, trips and falls; to natural and manmade disasters, including workplace violence. If a major emergency occurs or you get hurt on the job, everyone pays the price—in down time, lost productivity, low morale and economic impacts. Sounds like it would be better to avoid the whole thing! But when we work together to create a safer place to work, we’re all more productive and satisfied with our jobs and business operations are better prepared to recover.

For the purposes of this post, we will focus on workplace safety before, during and after disasters.

Workplace Injury PreventionWorkplace Disasters

The U.S. Department of Laborestimates two million people fall victim to workplace violence each year. Employees in retail and healthcare are particularly vulnerable, but it can happen anywhere. Working with your local police department can help you control risk and plan for incidents that might occur. Whatever the cause of the workplace emergency, your attitudes and actions can impact your ability to survive the situation. Whether manmade (terrorist attack or coworker’s violent Facility Injury Workaggression) or natural (severe weather or earthquake), workplace disasters require specific preparation and reactions. I guess that applies to feline-made disasters, too?

Official Safety Training

One way to make sure you are ready is to complete Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT). The CERT program supports local response capability by training volunteers to spontaneously organize themselves at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive. But CERT is not the only way to prepare yourself for a workplace emergency. Wherever you work, you play a critical role in creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone by following pre-established emergency procedures and measures.

To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a free booklet about citizen preparedness, which may help you if disaster strikes when you are at work. Entitled “Are You Ready?”—the in-depth guide walks readers through steps to take to keep them safe in any hazardous situation. I want my wife and J.R. to read this guide, too. We all need to be ready! FEMA’s awareness campaign is called: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” That’s wise advice for employers as well as individuals.Emergency response planning can save lives, reduce the number of injuries, and prevent loss of property.Plan Ahead for Disasters

To be safe at work, before disaster strikes:

  • Identify potential workplace hazards and safety roles and responsibilities. Know that workplace disasters can strike at any time, with little or no warning.
  • Conduct a job safety analysis to establish proper work procedures to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Executives and safety officers must keep communication open to make sure workers are comfortable with learning and offer feedback.
  • Maximize personal safety at your regular workspace. Keep area free from clutter.
  • Participate in safety training drills. “Practice makes perfect!)
  • Report hazards, incidents, and near-misses.
  • Take steps to control flammable and combustible materials in your department and make sure they do not pose a fire or explosion hazard. (For example, large accumulations of waste paper or other combustible materials can pose fire risk.)
  • Ask for help, when needed, to maintain your safety.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
  • Obey “No Smoking” rules. Careless disposal of cigarettes and matches can lead to fires and explosions.
  • Store and handle hazardous materials properly, according to the instructions on the label and on the safety data sheet. Or here’s a thought – don’t handle hazardous materials at all?
  • Use and maintain equipment properly. Always a good idea!

Disaster PreparednessDuring & After an Emergency:

  • Stay alert. Just as you drive defensively on the road, use the same caution at work.
  • Know the risks and danger signs.
  • Don’t get into situations you are not trained to handle.
  • Identify at least two ways out of any potentially hazardous situation.
  • Volunteer to help others. My mom always taught everyone in her litter to “do unto others”
  • Listen to officials for information about evacuation or sheltering in place.
  • Repair damaged property.
  • Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System

Fire Life Safety TrainingNo matter the type of emergency you may face while at work, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Uncategorized

High-Rise Safety in Disasters

High-Rise SafetyPeople who live or work in high-rise residential or commercial buildings face very specific disaster-preparedness challenges. Heights don’t bother me. Sometimes, I sit on top of my doghouse. Emergencies such as fires, bomb scares, weather-related incidents and earthquakes present special dangers for high-occupancy buildings, such as dormitories, apartment homes, condominiums and office complexes. The best defense is a coordinated emergency-response plan that identifies potential risks and outlines the best response.With limited access to egress, if you’re in a high-rise when disaster strikes, you might need to stay in the building until the emergency passes. Or, if evacuation is necessary, you would need to quickly find the exit. Continue reading “High-Rise Safety in Disasters”

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

April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness MonthOut of respect for all of our friends who are on the Spectrum, I have refrained from “firedogisms” in this post. 

A quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awarenessand acceptance and draw attention to the tens of thousands facing diagnosis of the disorder each year. Toward that end, April was declared Autism Awareness Month in 2007. The goal of the annual event (as well as the society), is to encourage acceptance and appreciation for anyone who is diagnosed as autistic. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)is a “spectrum” disorder because of the wide variety of type and severity of symptoms patients experience.  Continue reading “April is Autism Awareness Month”

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, disaster recovery, Emergency Alert System, Emergency Communications, Uncategorized

How Smartphones Can Aid in Disasters

Smartphones DisastersThe first cellphone was developed in 1973 by Motorola Researcher Martin Cooper. Heavy and clunky, that first device was a far cry from the sleek, versatile mobile phones of today. Without opposable thumbs, I find every cellphone clunky. Since Cooper’s invention, companies have competed to produce more portable technology and offer better connectivity. And they have largely succeeded. In fact, as a result, worldwide today, 2.53 billion people own smartphones. According to a Pew Research study, 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 77 percent of the devices qualifying as “smart.” With smartphone use at an all-time high, it’s time to examine the myriad ways the device can aid disaster preparation, survival and recovery. I wonder what would make some cellphones dumb? Continue reading “How Smartphones Can Aid in Disasters”

Posted in active shooter, be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Children in Crisis, Disaster Preparedness, Uncategorized

Post Parkland & Great Mills: Active Shooter Safety

Active Shooter Safety

Out of respect for the families impacted by recent active shooter incidents, I will refrain from my usual “firedogisms” in this post. Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by these tragedies.

Unfortunately, a pattern has recently unfolded across the country. An active shooter opens fire on students during school, such as what occurred last month in Parkland, Fl., where 17 innocent victims lost their lives and –even more recently – in Maryland, where a 17-year-old student shot two others. This type of event spurs widespread panic and concern about campus safety. Students, parents and political pundits demand gun law reform, teacher armament and mental health awareness. Then, almost as immediately as the frenzy begins, conversations about the court of public opinion abound. But the issue remains. How can we keep American elementary, middle-school, high school and college students safe? Continue reading “Post Parkland & Great Mills: Active Shooter Safety”