Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Active Shooter Safety

social shooter 600Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. My personal favorite hashtag is #BeSafe. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”

FBI white stamp text on blue backgroundThe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends the following course of action if you find yourself in an active-shooter situation: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. In other words, if you have the ability, quickly run as far away from the situation as possible. In fact, I recommend running any time you can, even if you aren’t around an active shooter. But, for this post, the FBI says you should run and then hide. Fight back only as a last resort. View this video to learn more:

Unfortunately, over the past few years, active shooting incidents have become all too common. Consider these, which have unfolded across the country already this month:

  1. June 5, 2017, Beauty College in Fort Wayne, Indiana

A lone gunman entered the Ravenscroft Beauty College shortly before 7 p.m. and began shooting. One woman was seriously injured while others on the scene escaped without harm. The shooter was later found deceased, from an apparent suicide. Preliminary police reports suggest this may have been the result of a domestic disturbance between the shooter and his victim.

  1. June 5, 2017, Workplace Shooting, Orlando, Florida
  • A 45-year-old “disgruntled” employee entered his former workplace in Orlando armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a hunting knife. He fatally shot five people, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

UnknownActive shooter situations are quick and unpredictable. I’ve noticed that the damage cats do to property is quick and unpredictable, as well. In many cases, in fact, the entire event will unfold before first responders arrive on scene. While facing an active shooter might be unimaginable, being prepared could save your life. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to your environment and locate the nearest two exits in any place you visit.
  • Run to a safe place immediately. (I recommend running every day just for fun, if possible.)
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • If you’re unable to run, hide.Penguin in baseball cap behind blank space
  • If you’re somewhere with a door, lock it or barricade it shut.
  • Silence electronic devices.
  • Call 911 if it is safe to do so.
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. In close-range cases, fighting increases your chance of survival.

About the NSC

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the NSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas of greatest risk – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and safe communities.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

be safe! blue stamp on white backgroundSafety is important for everyone all year round, not just during National Safety Month. 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.

Additional active shooter response resources:

Information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Active Shooter Booklet
Active Shooter Poster
Active Shooter Information


Security Awareness Tips

Active Shooter Emergency Planning
Workplace Violence
Workplace Violence Prevention Planning

 

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Elevator Recalls and Safety Tips

image002The advancing age of many elevators and decreased preventative maintenance have recently given rise to the number of elevator failures, such as stalled cars. Nevertheless, elevators remain an exceedingly safe mode of transportation, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting an average associated fatality rate of just 0.00000015% per trip, which represents a total of 27 deaths per year resulting from 18 billion rides. This statistic positions elevator rides as safer than vehicles, airplanes or even stairs

Unfortunately, elevator rides can be nerve-wracking and potentially dangerous for dogs. In fact, a dog in Russia was nearly killed because his leash got caught in a moving elevator. Thankfully, someone pulled him to safety.

Elevator manufacturers stake their reputation on safety, investing considerable resources into redundant systems to help protect elevator occupants. Nevertheless, elevators occasionally malfunction and even break down. Safety malfunctions can involve doors, buttons, cables, and additional components. Here are a few recent strides made in elevator safety:

  • Recall given for Porta elevators. The recall was necessary due to faulty electro mechanical door locks.
  • Elevators manufactured by ThyssenKrupp elevator doors were opening between floors, exposing people to the elevator shaft. When I retire from the fire station, I’m thinking about adding three more stories to our dog house. But stairs will probably suit us just fine.
  • Firefighter Emergency Operations (FEO) transfers control and accessibility of elevator cabs from the public to firefighters during emergencies. Removing public access to elevators in emergencies reduces the possibility of injury or death resulting from cars that accidentally open up on a floor that has an active fire.
  • Otis elevator operates a 38-story elevator test facility in Bristol, Connecticut to properly test cars, cables, and motors. I’d love to be in the “dog biscuit” test facility where I could taste new treats.

Core safety features of modern elevators:image001

  • Electromagnetic brakes are used to keep the car in place, and will automatically snap shut if the elevator system loses electrical power. Modern elevators also feature braking systems located at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft, which can detect excessive elevator movement and apply brakes, when necessary.
  • Despite the common Hollywood movie scene of an elevator cable snapping and elevator car plummeting, this scenario is unrealistic. Elevator cables are comprised of sturdy steel strands, which have been designed to single-handedly support the entire weight of the car and occupants. Each elevator contains between four and eight cables for each car, which provides multiple levels of redundancy.

Stuck in a Tin Can

woman hands try to stop doors of the closed elevator

As alarming as it can be, getting stuck in an elevator is rarely a life-threatening situation. Elevators occasionally get stuck. But even when this occurs, core safety systems remain intact.

Elevator safety tips:

  • Do not attempt to rush into an elevator while the doors are closing. Simply wait for the next car. Also, keep leashed pets very close to you, for their safety as well as the safety of everyone in the car.
  • Try not to panic about oxygen. While the car is an admittedly confined space, you should have plenty of available air to breath. Elevator cars are not airtight.
  • Never, ever try to exit a stalled elevator car through the roof hatch or by prying the doors apart. This is the most important tip, as several deaths have tragically occurred when people try to escape stalled cars. In many cases, the elevator will stop between floors, leaving occupants with the mistaken impression that they would be able to crawl out to safety. However, if the elevator moves as someone is trying to escape, they could be trapped and tragically, crushed. So stay put and be patient.out of order elevator to success, please take the stairs
  • If the elevator car stalls, use the elevator phone and/or your cellphone to alert authorities. Remain calm.

Additional Tips from our friends at Allied Universal

While elevators have proven to be a very safe way of transporting both people and merchandise, occasionally malfunctions do occur. Common problems can include elevators that do not correctly align with the floor, doors that do not open or close properly, stopping between floors or stopping altogether and entrapping occupants.

Universal Services of America offers the following tips to help ensure your safety and knowledge regarding proper elevator use.

When you approach the elevator

  • Stand aside for exiting passengers.
  • Wait for the next car if the elevator is already full.
  • Do not attempt to stop a closing door.
  • Use the stairs, not an elevator, if there is a fire in the building.

When you enter and exit the elevator

  • Watch your step, as the elevator floor may not be level with the landing.
  • Stand clear of the doors, and keep your clothing and any carry-on items away from the opening.

When riding on the elevator

  • Stand back from the doors and hold the handrail, if available.
  • Pay attention to the floor indications, so you may exit when you arrive at your floor.
  • Discern between the “open door” button and the “close door” button to avoid confusing them, if needed.

If you find yourself in an elevator that has become stuck

  • Push the “door open” button. If that does not work, ring the elevator alarm.
  • Use the emergency phone, alarm or help button, if available, to summon emergency personnel. Or use your cell phone to call 9-1-1.
  • Do not attempt to force the doors open.
  • Never try to leave the elevator car on your own, as doing so could result in serious injury.
  • Remain calm. Elevators contain sufficient oxygen levels to last until help arrives.

For more info on elevator safety or to learn about escalator safety, visit the National Elevator Industry website at www.neii.org.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, whether or not you use elevators. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, safe driving, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Happy National Safety Month!

Fotolia_93755008_XS.jpgOn the heels of celebrating National Building Safety Month in May, we feel it equally essential to note that June marks a more general but no less important annual observance – National Safety Month. Organized by the National Safety Council (NSC) and observed by thousands of organizations across the country, the campaign is designed to raise awareness about what it takes to stay #SafeForLife. National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, as well as in private homes and communities. Each week in June, the NSC will provide free downloadable resources highlighting a specific safety topic. Many of the items are available in English and Spanish.

Week 1 (Through June 12)

Fotolia_75603502_XS.jpgStand Ready to Respond

When seconds count, preparation is key. This is true in both natural and man-made disasters. To prepare, keep a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle. Be sure to include supplies such as food, water, necessary medications, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and a first aid kit. And, just as you participate in emergency drills at work, run regular drills with your family. Also, when collecting items for your emergency kit, don’t forget about Fido. Disasters affect us, too.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 2 (June 13 – 19)

Be HealthyFotolia_37959041_XS.jpg

Each day, decisions we make directly impact our health. So do your best to make smart food choices and exercise regularly. When an injury occurs, strive to work with your doctor to safeguard your health by making informed decisions about what types of medications to take. Keep young children safe around medications by properly storing medicines out of a child’s reach.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 3 (June 20-26)

Watch Out for Dangers

Although, in a recent RJWestmore Training System blog post, we covered the importance of situational awareness, the topic is important enough to bear repeating. Even in familiar surroundings, constantly survey your surroundings for potential danger. My canine companions and I are pretty good at doing this. Noses in the air at all times. Keeping an eye out for hazards can help you identify and avoid them before an injury or attack might occur. Looking at the world through this safety lens can help protect you and loved ones.

Resources available through the NSC

Week 4 (June 27-30)

Share Roads Safely

Fotolia_58160215_XS.jpgVehicles traveling or disabled along our nation’s roadways are constantly at risk. Since it’s impossible to control the choices everyone makes while on the road, practice defensive driving. Getting behind the wheel is a time for patience and focus, qualities that can help you avoid a collision even if someone else makes a bad decision. And, let’s face it; there are a lot of horrible drivers on the road. I have noticed this and I don’t even have a driver’s license.

Resources available through the NSC

Be sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during the month of June. 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 prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Tornadoes, Workplace Safety

RJWestmore Training System Tornado Module Part 2

Fotolia_90922777_XS

Tornadoes present a significant weather-related risk across much of the country. Last week, we began a two-part series about how to prepare for and recover from tornadoes, which is particularly important in 2016, thanks to El Niño. I sure hope El Niño won’t affect bacon production. That’s at the top of my emergency supply list.

As noted in last week’s post, the RJWestmore Training System has recently added a tornado module to further enhance our comprehensive training program. Last week, our post covered what to do to prepare for a tornado. The following post will wrap up our two-week series, focusing on what to do during and after a tornado.

During a Tornado

Vintage old fashioned radioMany cities use an undulating, wailing warning system that sounds for three to four minutes to alert the public about tornadoes. I know a lot of dogs who use a similar system to warn their masters of impending doom. If you hear this signal or are otherwise notified that a tornado is imminent:

  • Remain calm.
  • At home or work, go to the pre-determined safe zone or basement as quickly as possible.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, don’t stay in a large, open area that has windows. Instead, seek out a closet or interior hallway to take cover.
  • Do not leave the building.
  • If you cannot get to a safe zone or basement, seek shelter under a large, sturdy piece of furniture. I find that desks and chairs provide comfort as well as protection.
  • Steer clear of windows and avoid being hit by flying objects.
  • Listen to NOAA weather conditions.
  • If you are away from home, find a small, interior room or hallway and protect your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. And if you’re a canine, tuck in your tail.
  • If you are in a vehicle, do not attempt to outdrive the tornado. But do not stay in the car, as tornadoes can significantly damage automobiles. Park the car as quickly as possible, well away from traffic. If possible, find shelter in a sturdy building or underground. If you are not near a building, seek shelter in a spot that is at the lowest level possible. It is a myth that an overpass would provide shelter from a tornado. It is far safer to literally lie low and cover your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. But make sure you are far from trees and vehicles.

After a Tornado

Emergency Survival Preparedness KitStudies have shown that a great deal of tornado-related injuries occur after a tornado when people are walking among the debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries can also occur during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. So be careful and follow these tips:

  • Unless you are facing a life-threatening situation, do not leave the safe zone until the warning has officially been lifted.
  • Listen for emergency information and instructions as well as weather updates and the “all clear” signal.
  • Do a quick survey of the damage to determine major hazards, looking for fires, leaks and electrical shorts.
  • Anticipate power outages and use the flashlight in your emergency kit to light the way as you check interior spaces and during evacuation.
  • Take time to have a snack. (Okay…I added that suggestion. But I think that snacks are always a good idea.)
  • Do not use an open flame or turn on electrical switches, especially if you smell gas.
  • Establish a safe location to use for triage. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • When it is safe to do so, use telephones for emergency calls, only.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement, which could stir up debris and affect breathing.
  • If you are trapped, tap on metal or another loud surface or, better yet, use a whistle to alert emergency responders. Shout only as a last resort. Bark, if applicable.
  • When evacuation routes are determined to be safe and you are instructed to do so:
    • Evacuate
    • Remain calm
    • Do not use elevators
    • Proceed to the safest exit, using the most continuous handrail
    • Before opening any doors, feel the door with the back of your hand (or paw), to check for heat.
    • Proceed to your designated safe refuge area and check in.
    • Do not reenter the building until you are told it is safe to do so by building management and emergency responders.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

 

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, High-Rise Buildings, Tornadoes, Workplace Safety

Training Enhancements to RJWestmore System

Big TornadoPart one in a two-part series

Arguably nature’s most violent storms, an average of 1,000 tornadoes strike each year in the United States. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes often strike with little or no warning, wreaking havoc on communities of all kinds…from suburban neighborhoods to metropolitan areas. And here I thought that cats were the only thing to spawn something capable of wreaking havoc on canine communities! Surprisingly, tornadoes actually pose a risk to virtually every state in the union, not just tornado-prone regions. And this is especially true in 2016, thanks to El Niño.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a subscription-based e-learning training system that prepares high-rise building occupants to anticipate and respond to disasters of all kinds. A recent addition to the comprehensive system is a tornado module, which uses sound educational material, presented in an entertaining format, to train building occupants to understand their emergency plan as well as their role in it; how to make their home or workplaces safe; and what to do before, during and after an emergency. I love watching the videos in the RJWestmore Training System. Cartoons and voiceover are a great way to educate! In this first post in our two-part blog series, we will cover safety steps relative to tornado preparation.

Screenshot (1054)In part two, we will discuss what to do during and after a tornado. Here are some highlights of the life-saving topics covered in the first few video segments of the RJWestmore Training System tornado module:

  • Some tornadoes develop with little or no warning. So preparation is vital long before a siren wails, signaling the start of a tornado event. My appetite also hits with little or no warning.
  • Before a tornado hits, it is important to stay informed about weather conditions and listen for radio or televised instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Long before a tornado hits, make sure you identify and practice moving to your closest safe zone or basement and that you understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning:

Tornado Watch

Tornado Warning

  • A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
  • Take shelter immediately.

This is a summary of how our training system instructs subscribers about the steps to take for safety before, during and after a tornado:

Screenshot (1053)Before a Tornado

  • Practice evacuation procedures.
  • Maintain an emergency supply kit. (The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services provides subscribers with a complete list of emergency supplies, available in the resources section of the training system website.) We sure provide lots of great options. I’m happy to be the mascot for such a safety-focused corporation!

Click here to check out part two of our two-part series about tornado safety. In it, we cover the steps you should take during and after a tornado. Be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, High-Rise Buildings, Workplace Safety

Seven Safety Resolutions for 2016

Goals 2016According to StatisticBrain.com, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only eight percent actually succeed in achieving them. (Does this include dogs?) So maybe the first resolution you should make this year is to keep the resolutions you make! Our idea for ensuring success? Buck the trend of focusing your goals on popular resolutions involving weight, money and relationships in favor of resolving to be safe. I’ve never understand humans’ focus on weight goals! So you have a few extra pounds; it’s a badge of honor! Want to know my resolutions list?

  1. Take more naps. Easily attainable and lots of fun.
  2. Eat more food. I will resolve to learn the magic ways of the refrigerator and figure out how to help myself to leftovers.
  3. Guilt people into giving me more belly rubs. My “puppy dog eyes” still work magic.

Seven Safety Resolutions (for Humans) in 2016:

  1. Mr.Simple in SWOT AnalysisReview recent history. Where safety is concerned, consider the steps you took to be safe in 2015 as well as the emergencies that arose, so you can identify emergency strengths and weaknesses. For example, did anyone slip or fall at one of your properties in 2015? If so, how was the incident handled? What steps can be taken to prevent future accidents? The National Safety Council offers several ideas for reducing the risk of slips and falls. I remember slipping in a puddle once. It was glorious!
  1. Plan for earthquakes. Review your earthquake preparedness plan, making sure that evacuation routes are clear and furniture, boilers and water heaters are secure. If your building is located in an earthquake-prone area such as Southern California, use this interactive map to see if your building is located on an active fault line. Understanding the severity of the risk can aid in earthquake planning.
  1. Remove clutter throughout the building. Hallways that are littered with boxes impede safe passage. So make sure stairwells remain accessible and that exits are clearly marked. Cats are another impediment! Who needs them? For suggestions about preparing exit routes and creating a fire prevention plan, check out the emergency evacuation factsheet on the OSHA website.
  2. Reduce fire risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires that start at home. As for nonresidential buildings, the most recent available data from FEMA (for 2013) suggests the leading reported causes of fires are cooking, followed by arson, carelessness and heating equipment. Prominently display safety guidelines for heating food (might I suggest bacon or bratwurst?), reporting suspicious behavior and carefully dealing with electricity and open flames. While I love people to cook up great meals such as bacon and burgers, I always want the cooking to be done safely!
  1. Assemble a “Go-kit”. After any emergency, building occupants might need to shelter in place or move to a safe location on your property, potentially for days. The important components of a go-kit are one gallon of water per person, for three days, non-perishable food, flashlights, medications, first-aid kit, whistle, hand-crank or battery-operated radio (and extra batteries) and emergency blankets. And don’t forget to pack stuff for pets. Learn more about assembling an effective go-kit from the Red Cross.
  1. Emphasize cybersecurity. IT security experts predict 2016 will bring an increase in cybersecurity threats such as ransoming, cloud infiltrations, identity theft, and advanced phishing. The damages from a hacking attempt and possible leak of electronic data can be enormous. Learn best practices to prevent cybersecurity breaches, such as using strong passwords, limiting access to key employees, and regularly installing software updates and patches that can plug security holes.
  1. Subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. I love promoting our system because it helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire/life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your facility, cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves building owners and managers over 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES 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, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Preparing Against Attacks

poster against terrorism

Due to the sensitive nature of the recent attacks of terrorism in Paris, I have abstained from adding my usual “firedogisms.” Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by the attacks.

This week’s blog topic is a somber one, because it refers to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France. The horrifying and cowardly incident included mass shootings at the Bataclan Theatre, suicide bombings, and the taking of hostages. A total of 130 victims died in the attacks, representing 20 different countries. The terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks, and promises to target more Western countries in the coming months and years. Following the incidents, France was thrust into a state of emergency, and actions were taken throughout Europe and the Middle East to find and eliminate those responsible for the atrocities.

Here in the U.S., terrorism remains a persistent (and now heightened) concern for public agencies as well as the private sector. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assures us that there are currently no credible attacks planned for the U.S. or Canadian soil. In fact, the risk of incidents to North America is at an all-time low, due to increased awareness and tight safety precautions. Unfortunately, however, as the Paris attacks demonstrated, the need for worldwide disaster prevention and mitigation relative to terrorism will likely remain mission critical in perpetuity.

terrorist with bomb old backgroundPrevention Tactics

Fortunately, North America is free, allowing citizens and visitors to move about as they wish. This is an important part of life in the United States and Canada, but one that also means that potential terrorists also have freedom to move about. Here are some tactics to employ to keep your high-rise building safe from the threat of terrorism:

  • Establish security protocols for anyone who wants to enter the building. For example, require escorts and verification for all visitors. The lobby should be carefully protected, with limited access provided to more secure areas.
  • Require package deliveries to be left in the lobby with staff members who can screen mail and appropriately alert building occupants.
  • Install security barriers outside entrances to stop vehicles from ramming into the front of your building. Large companies have employed these tactics, to great effect.
  • Prevent access to the roof of your building, by carefully guarding access to internal stairwells, elevators and fire escapes.
  • Train staff members to properly check incoming mail and package deliveries. Make sure they know how to spot suspicious materials.
  • Learn about building-specific upgrades such as hardening outer walls and installing security glass. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a detailed guide about several types of improvements. Our subscribers also enjoy access to lots of safety training materials relative to high-rise preparedness.

Reducing the Risk of Airborne Attacks

Terror organizations may utilize chemical and airborne agents to attack a building. What should building owners and managers do to reduce this threat?

  1. Conduct a review of the building’s HVAC system, including how to quickly shutoff the system in the event of an airborne or chemical attack.
  2. Restrict access to air intake vents on the outside of buildings.
  3. Consider moving vents to inaccessible locations — the higher, the better. If this is impossible, use strong fencing or grating to secure intake areas.

Preparedness Tips for Handling Terrorist Attacks

Managing the lives of building occupants during a terrorist attack requires the same calm and well-planned actions that are needed during other emergencies. Here are some tips to help you prepare to handle emergencies before, during and after an attack:

  • Identify any critical infrastructures and ensure those areas and systems are locked down and closely monitored at all times.
  • Review your terrorism and emergency response plans. Create a plan to tighten security protocols at a moment’s notice.
  • Instruct and train your staff to be extra vigilant and report anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary.
  • Use the DHS “If You See Something, Say Something” approach to prepare yourself and your staff.
  • Keep first aid kits at the ready.
  • Establish evacuation routes for everyone in the building, including alternate routes that could circumvent an ongoing attack.
  • Utilize a hand-crank radio and cell phone for alerts about the situation, and be prepared to accordingly adjust actions.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency first-responders.
  • Don’t leave the safety of a building until emergency responders tell you to exit the building.
  • Make sure your emergency supply kit includes flashlights and bottled water.
  • Once you are outside the affected building, wait for instructions from emergency personnel. 

The Importance of Security Procedures

A suicide bomber involved in the Paris attacks was discovered trying to enter a France vs. Germany soccer game, when a security officer patted him down and discovered his explosive vest. Building owners and managers who employ security personnel should teach them to spot and deter suspicious behavior so they can stop an attack.

While vigilance and planning for terrorist attacks are warranted, it should also be noted that the risks of terrorism are still incredibly low in our post-9/11 nation. Nevertheless, implementing security measures is recommended, and building managers and owners should take steps to prepare occupants for the possibility of an attack.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, Disaster Preparedness, FEMA, Workplace Safety

The Red Cross Offers ReadyRating

RedCrossReadyRating 2At the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, we frequently work side-by-side, with an iconic disaster relief agency – the Red Cross. Although the agency is always at the front lines of a disaster and is best known in that regard, its mission extends beyond immediate relief into disaster preparedness and education, much like our own. Well, my mission includes attacking those things that pop-up on the lawn and spray water. What is going on with those things? Where do they go when the water stops!!?

Why is disaster planning so important for business owners? According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses will not reopen following a disaster, a sobering (that’s a big word!) statistic, which illustrates both the challenge in managing a small business and the severe impact disasters can have on otherwise potentially successful companies.

The American Red Cross Rating Program

ReadyRating is designed to help schools, companies, and other organizations prepare for disasters. This free service provides members with access to information about how to both evaluate and improve their disaster planning procedures and save lives… something that we strive to do through our own training modules. I saved a squirrel once. Whiskers and Mr. Tubbington had cornered the little guy, so I swooped in to save the day. Squirrels are nuts.

RedCrossReadyRating7
Photo provided courtesy of the Red Cross. All rights reserved. 2015

The ReadyRating is promoted by agencies such as the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), an agency with whom we are proud to partner. We are pleased to join agencies such as LAFD to encourage businesses to participate in the Red Cross’ program, in order to gauge and improve their disaster readiness. Free membership into ReadyRating provides users with a dashboard that helps them evaluate their level of preparedness. Customized feedback is based on assessment scores, as well as the ability to create an “Organization Manager” with linked member-accounts. The steps and recommendations found within ReadyRating are adopted from scientific research and expert opinions from noted industry professionals. This means they know their stuff!

ReadyRating features a three-step process for participating members:

  1. Conduct an Assessment

Organizations can choose either a “ReadyGo” assessment or a “ReadyAdvance” assessment to determine preparedness. The ReadyGo 25-question version is basic, designed to help companies see the most critical steps they should undertake to best manage disasters. The ReadyAdvance plan is more in-depth, with 60 questions. More comprehensive in nature, ReadyAdvance results effectively measure the merits of an organization’s existing preparedness plan, and provides users with roadmaps for improving their existing plans. Before another pooch can hang with me, I ask them to complete an in-depth assessment to gauge their willingness to chase rabbits and chew shoes.

The assessment contains five sections that score the preparedness level of the company, including level of current emergency planning, commitment to preparedness, knowledge of hazards, love of bacon, implementation of the plan, and resiliency of the community.

  1. Create a Well-Informed Emergency Plan

ReadyRating features a template generator that utilizes the company’s assessment information to create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), specific to the company. The plans are OSHA-compliant, which is a primary concern for businesses required to meet OSHA regulations.

  1. Leverage Expert Resources

The final component of the plan is to encourage businesses to utilize Red Cross resources such as emergency preparedness guides, checklists, and other tools. For example, the resource center on the Red Cross website include disaster drill forms, emergency contact card templates, and a step-by-step guide for organizing a blood drive. I told you these people know what they are doing! The resources, including videos and guides, are designed to be actionable – offering clear advice to companies that want to strengthen their disaster planning.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Terrorism, Workplace Safety

Cyber Attacks. Would you be prepared?  

Cyber Security concept on keyboard button

While we usually cover safety issues relative to incidents such as falls, earthquakes, or fire, the damages of failing to observe cybersecurity safety protocols, which — though life-threatening, can be equally devastating. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed in October, and is designed to raise awareness about the risks of electronic data and information breaches that can happen to individuals, companies and organizations. I guess I should consider myself lucky that my lack of opposable thumbs limits my ability to tweet. So it keeps my electronic risk at a minimum.

Last week, the focus of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015 was on the “smart world,” meaning all of the internet-connected devices that exist — from phones to thermostats. And here, I’ve always thought of “smart world” as contestants on the TV show, Jeopardy. This week, we focus on building the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, with an emphasis on promoting education and awareness to spark interest in the field. Education is essential for companies that want to protect their critical data from hackings and/or breaches.

Tips for Business Owners

Up to 95% of breaches are caused by human error. Notice that canines are not even mentioned. Whew! So, it is vitally important to train employees, first by giving them context, so they understand the consequences of data breaches and hacking incidents. Then, employers can guide them about best practices such as protecting passwords, carefully guarding data relative to outside agents, avoiding phishing scams, and adhering to data storage policies. Empower employees to alert management when something seems suspicious or odd or such as when someone from graphic design requests company financial data for something other than an infographic. Also, make sure staff members are careful not to post sticky notes with passwords on their monitors. I don’t use sticky notes, myself. They get stuck to my fur.

Additional best practices include:

  • Set automatic updates. Instruct IT to program automatic operating system and software updates, so the latest virus definitions and security protocols are always in place. Asking staff to perform these tasks manually opens you up to risks.
  • Establish login tracking. Login monitoring should be in place to spot external access attempts and identify employees who are accessing sensitive information or data outside their purview.
  • Set a security “fence” around sensitive data. I’m not usually a major fan of fences. But, in this case, they seem like a good idea. A company’s most important data (for example, personal customer information) should be protected behind a company firewall at all times. Restrict access to this data to a select few staff members. Also, make sure it is protected from potential download to personal devices or hard drives.

Tips for individuals to protect data and avoid cybersecurity issues:

  • Follow password procedures. Using “12345” or “password” for computer passwords is not recommended. Staff members should be trained about methods for selecting strong passwords and protecting sensitive documents.
  • Avoid storing data locally. News stories often recount employee losing laptops or thumb drives, with the device contents being used for illegal purposes. Discourage individuals from storing sensitive data directly on their devices. For greater security, instruct them, instead, to access data online. I guess that’s the mysterious “cloud” I keep hearing about? How safe can a cloud be for storing sensitive data?
  • Protect mobile devices. Employers increasingly allow employees to use their own devices to check email and access work data. Before approving this practice, instruct employees about methods for wiping their devices if they are lost or stolen. For maximum protection, establish and follow written “bring-your-own-device” procedures.
  • Don’t download unapproved software. Malware and other nasty computer bugs often reside in seemingly innocuous software. Beware of employees downloading free PDF-maker tools from the web. This software could be a launching pad for an attack. Staff should only download IT-approved software or apps to either their computer or mobile devices.
  • Don’t click on unknown links. Many businesses are targeted with official looking emails that provide an “important link.” Clicking on the link could infect the user’s computer, which can then travel throughout the employer’s network. Encourage employees to run suspicious emails by the IT department for a thorough review and safe deletion. Makes sense to me!

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Workplace Safety

Zombies are coming. Are you prepared?

Vector poster about zombie.Shortly before publishing this lighthearted blog post about disaster preparation relative to a fictional Zombie Apocalypse, we learned of a real life active-shooter incident at ZombiCon in Fort Meyers, Florida. As a result of the event, one person was killed and five were injured. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the shooting. For helpful information about how to prepare for, and survive an active shooter incident, see our Active Shooter blog posts.

With The Walking Dead back on television, and Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to consider whether you have a sufficient Zombie Apocalypse plan. While I would rather ask the mail carrier and the vacuum cleaner to tea and biscuits than deal with zombies, we are taking a cue from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to use the season to prepare our subscribers and friends for disasters of any kind…including those of the zombie variety. After all, although the chances of encountering such an attack might be rare, prepping for “walkers” is a good way to get serious about disaster planning.

The series of blog posts and posters that the CDC recently released emphasizes preparedness, discussed protocols for quarantine as well as relevant medical procedures which would be implemented in the case of any disaster…including a zombie attack. The point of the CDC’s campaign is that disasters can happen entirely out of the blue. So plan for the worst-case scenario–which, in this case, would be hungry zombies. As terrible as it was, the great bacon shortage of 1999 would probably pale in comparison to an actual Zombie Apocalypse.

Build Your Zombie Kit

Cartoon zombie charactersPlanning in advance is the best way to survive any disaster. Zombie attacks happen quickly and without warning, so create a zombie defense kit to avoid becoming part of the brain-sucking horde. This post reminds me of the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. Dogs in the film turned into vampire/zombies. That was a scary scene!

Key pieces of your zombie kit should include:

  • A First Aid Kit. If a zombie takes a nibble instead of a huge bite, you might be able to ward off infection with antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
  • Emergency Flares. Use these to either spotlight or repel zombies (depending on your game plan) and to signal first responders. Unfortunately, for me and my canine companions, use of a flare gun is impossible without opposable thumbs. So, with a little luck, I’m hoping we would survive without them.
  • Fresh water. Quickly moving from place to place makes you thirsty. And when adrenaline is pumping, hydration is vital. In fact, people can only survive a few days without water. So store enough to allow one gallon per person per day, and make sure you have a three-day supply. Dogs are lucky. Give us a puddle of rainwater and we have instant drinking water.
  • A multi-function tool, with a knife, screwdriver, can opener, and other handy accessories. A knife is useful for dispatching zombies as well as cutting rope, and an opener is helpful if you need to open a can of tuna.
  • Sturdy work gloves, which will come in handy in potentially sticky situations. Zombie guts will slip out of your hands unless you have a secure grasp on them.
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio for important alerts. You will want to make sure to stay up on where “the walkers” are headed. In the event that the zombie invasion leads to an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), the only way to stay connected will be with a hand-cranked or battery-operated radio.
  • Copies of personal documents such as passports, birth certificates and contact information. You should also have your rabies shots on file. You don’t want a little froth to be confused for zombie drool. The zombies will likely have to pass through customs. So have your ID on hand in case you need to cross international borders.

Funny Zombie Apocalypse Signs, Symbols and Billboards Vector eps8 big collection

Establish Safe Zones

Pick a safe place to meet in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse–preferably someplace where you won’t have to climb over lots of obstacles, which would make escape more difficult.

Some tips:

  • If applicable, practice the evacuation plan for your high-rise building, setting alternate meeting locations (in case the zombies decide to host a party in your first location). Be sure to grab puppies on your way out, as well, in case you’re awesome and bring your pet to work.
  • Discuss communication methods beforehand, so you know how to contact people who fail to show up on time. Walkie-talkies with fresh batteries are essential.

If you’ve seen The Walking Dead or any of the dozens of zombie movies, then you can glean some advice, which is prudent during any disaster:

  • Stick together. Work with a group to best manage a disaster. Going solo is typically not a good idea. I might talk tough, but when it comes to zombies, I’m staying in a big group!
  • Don’t make rash decisions. Think about various options before rashly choosing the one that would put you in danger. I made a decision to eat a squirrel once. Not a wise move.
  • Use resources wisely. Ration water and food and keep track of necessary equipment in case the disaster continues for an extended period of time.

While this post is meant to be “tongue-in-cheek,” it is serious in that we want to remind our subscribers and friends about the very real need for proactive disaster planning. If you are prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, you will also be ready to face the unexpected, which is the right mindset to adopt during any type of disaster.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.