Posted in Health & Welfare, Heart Disease

Happy National Health & Fitness Day

Fitness Firedog 3National Family Health & Fitness Day USA is an annual event observed the last Saturday of September, to encourage families to deliberately include physical activity in their daily lives. Since this year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 27, we wanted to devote this week’s RJWestmore blog posts to encourage subscribers and friends to develop a fit lifestyle for optimum health and wellness. This is an event I can really get behind, because (like most dogs), I love to stay active!

One of the goals of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, family fitness is crucial for anyone who wants to do their part to avoid costly and uncomfortable health crises. Of course, no course of action can guarantee perfect health. But countless studies confirm that people who exercise on a regular basis are healthier, by far, than their sedentary peers.

According to Health.Gov, regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes, and additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration. The Office of Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion
also points out five important facts about physical activity:

  1. Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. In fact, I would suggest 150 minutes a day of exercise.
  2. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial. That means walking is just as good as weight lifting. I prefer walking.
  3. Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults and dogs, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group!
  4. The health benefits of physical activity occur for people and pets with or without disabilities.
  5. The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes. So don’t use a lame excuse to get out of working out.

Fitness FiredogUnfortunately, despite the fact most people agree that activity is the key to optimum health, the Surgeon General reports that the majority of Americans, and especially children from 12 to 21, do not exercise nearly enough. And since most dogs depend on their masters to take them for walks, I’ll bet most dogs don’t get enough exercise, either. In fact, CBS News reported that 80 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise each week. Data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came from more than 450,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who were randomly phoned across all 50 states.

To help correct the trend, Health Information Research Center (HIRC) staff members help local organizations throughout the country host events such as health fairs, family walks, low-impact exercise demonstrations, health screenings, open houses, games and workshops at schools, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs/YWCAs, malls and health clubs. Thousands of adults, children and pets are expected to participate in this year’s health and fitness activities.

“We are now entering our 18th year as a national family health and fitness event,” says Pat Henze, FHFD director. “Our goals for Family Health & Fitness Day are to emphasize the importance and fun of regular physical activity and to encourage families of all ages to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities.”

 What Can Adults Do To Get Enough Physical Activity?

Fitness Firedog 2When it comes to exercise, remember that every little bit adds up. And doing something is always better than doing nothing. Here are 10 ideas for getting fit:

  1. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot, bus stop, or subway station. I suggest walking the dog.
  2. Join an exercise class or workout to an exercise video. Keep things interesting by trying something different on alternate days.
  3. Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play. And maybe bring the dog so he can walk, too.
  4. Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk. I LOVE THIS LIST!
  5. Clean the house or wash the car.
  6. Walk, skate, or cycle more and drive less.
  7. While watching television, do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike. I’ve never understood the draw of TV. Why not do something instead of watching other people do fun stuff?
  8. Mow the lawn with an old-fashioned push mower. Increase activity level by planting and caring for a vegetable or flower garden.
  9. Start a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall. Recruit a partner for support and encouragement. Again, why leave the dog at home?
  10. Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your kids and your dog.

We hope you will observe National Health & Family Fitness Day, so you will avoid the problems so often associated with living a sedentary life. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in many aspects of your life.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, epidemics, Health & Welfare, Influenza, Vaccinations

What’s New About the Flu?

咳エチケットWith the incidences of reported flu cases across the country officially reaching epidemic proportions, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine as the best means of defense. In the meantime, health officials are scrambling to cope with the outbreak. To date this year, 50 children have died from the flu, with hundreds of adult deaths reported across the country from the virus and associated complications. The illness has sickened more than 6,600, which is the number of lab-confirmed flu cases nationwide. Health officials estimate actual infection rates are much higher. Unfortunately, The University of Texas reports that this year’s strain can also affect pets.

Flu Facts.com describes influenza as: “a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. The virus usually enters the body through mucus membranes in the mouth, nose, or eyes. When a person with the flu coughs or sneezes, the virus then becomes airborne and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. You can also get the flu if you’ve touched a contaminated surface like a telephone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth. Of course, the risk of infection is greater in highly populated areas like schools, buses, crowded urban settings and kennels.

sick puppy

Here are Some More Facts about the Flu

  • Flu season typically peaks in the United States between October and March, with February historically its most active month. February is coincidently my favorite month to eat bacon, followed closely by January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
  • Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a number of flu viruses, including H1N1, which killed 284,000 people worldwide in 2009 and 2010.
  • A Wausau, Wisconsin man, aged 43, died just this week from H1N1, after being sent home with from his doctor’s office with instructions to drink plenty of fluids and rest.
  • Between 5 percent and 20 percent of people living in the U.S. get the flu each year.
  • Symptoms can be mild or severe and include fever, a cough, sore throat, weakness, headache and aches and pains in the joints and muscles around the eyes. You might not realize that the stomach flu is an entirely different virus than the one we’re talking about here.
  • Serious complications include (but are not limited to) bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration or worsening of chronic health conditions.
  • To date, since October 1, 2013, the CDC has documented 1,583 laboratory-confirmed cases.
  • Although there is currently no vaccine created specifically for the current strain of H1N1, getting an annual flu shot remains the first line of defense against the virus.
  • The virus is widespread in Oklahoma, Arkansas, New York, Texas, Connecticut and Kansas.
  • To be considered an epidemic, influenza and pneumonia must kill above 7.3 percent.

“We’re seeing pretty substantial increases in activity, but they’re not unexpected,” Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the flu division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We see pockets of high activity in several states and pockets of low activity in others, but we expect every state will get hit.”

Antiviral treatment is an after-the-fact recommendation for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza, who are:

  • Hospitalized
  • Have experienced complications
  • Have a progressive illness
  • Are at higher risk for complications
  • Are adversely affected to illness. I would qualify in this group.

The New York Times reports that scientists are reducing the uncertainty of flu outbreak prediction by using computer models. Last year, one team carried out flu forecasts in real time. Now, they are making predictions about the current outbreak. If you are curious about your geographic location, check out their predictions for yourself. Another helpful tool for finding outbreak locations is the site, FluNearYou.org

Hospitals and public health workers could someday use flu forecasting to prepare vaccine supplies and ready hospital beds. The advanced warning would be useful not only for the regular seasonal flu, but also for pandemics (new strain sweeping across the country and causing higher-than-normal rates of disease and death). I think the only thing that should sweep the nation is a broom!

How Flu Vaccines Work

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus. That is all a mouthful. But the bottom line is that doctors are working to create a vaccine for the specific strain affecting folks today.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Vaccinations

40-Year High in Number of Malaria Cases in the US

malaria firedogTo prevent malaria when traveling, take recommended medicines 

Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by a parasite, which causes infected people to experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. And if infected folks allow their symptoms to go untreated, they may develop severe complications and could die. Worldwide, 219 million cases of malaria are estimated to occur each year, resulting in 660,000 deaths, mostly in children under five years of age. Although dogs don’t get Malaria, they can get infected with heart worms through the bite of a mosquito carrying the larvae of the worm. Gross.

The most recent malaria epidemic in the United States was in 2011, when there were 1,925 cases reported, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The highest number of cases since 1971 (more than 40 years ago), this figure represents a 14% increase over the number of reported cases in 2010, when five people in the U.S. died from the disease or associated complications.

Since most of the malaria cases reported in the U.S. were acquired overseas, Americans should use the information as impetus to take recommended medications when traveling. If your doctor advises you to take medication, people—listen! I don’t always agree with my vet’s ideas about suppositories, but we listen because he’s the expert. This is especially important for people traveling to Africa, since more than two-thirds (69%) of the cases were imported in that region, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of the cases acquired in West Africa. India had the second highest number of cases, with seasonal peaks reported in January and August.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said, “Malaria isn’t something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s. The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel.”

Uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries. That’s one of the reasons I prefer a cooler clime. One of the ways world health officials are trying to reduce the incidence of malaria by distributing bed nets to help protect people from mosquito bites as they sleep. What’s more, scientists around the world are working to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria.

In most cases, Malaria is preventable and is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Yuck. In 2010, there were an estimated 660,000 deaths and 219 million cases globally. The signs and symptoms of malaria illness are varied, but the overriding common denominator is fever.

Other common symptoms

  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Chills
  • Increased sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Enlarged Spleen

Rare (serious) symptoms

  • Impairment of brain function
  • Impairment of spinal cord function
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Loss of consciousness

If left untreated, infections can rapidly spread, inducing coma, kidney failure, respiratory distress and death. Travelers to areas with malaria transmission can prevent the disease by using anti-malarial drugs, insect repellent, insecticide-treated bed nets and protective clothing. First- and second-generation immigrants from malaria-endemic countries returning to their “home” countries to visit friends and relatives tend to avoid using appropriate malaria prevention measures and thus are more likely to become infected with malaria than members of the general population. Prevention seems pretty basic—take your meds!

To BE SAFE, consult a health-care provider for information, medications, and vaccines necessary prior to embarking on international travel. The CDC provides advice about malaria prevention recommendations If a traveler experiences symptoms of malaria (such as fever, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms—while abroad or on returning home—he or she should immediately seek diagnosis and treatment from a health-care provider.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home

First Human Victim of West Vile Virus

Stop mosquito sign.An elderly resident in Glenn County near Sacramento is the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus infection this summer in California, according to Dr. Ron Chapman, the state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The man was hospitalized, but is now recovering. The CDPH is the agency known for its Fight the Bite campaign reported last week that it has detected the first signs of West Nile virus in dead birds and mosquito samples in the Sacramento region. I think they should start a “Fight the Bite” campaign for vicious cats. Just an idea…

“This first confirmed West Nile virus case this summer reminds us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Chapman.

“West Nile virus activity is greatest during the summertime.”

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Maybe someone should start a Fight the Bite campaign for mosquitoes! The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. And people 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of arboviral encephalitis in the United States. Originally discovered in Africa in 1937, WNV was first detected in the western hemisphere in 1999 in New York City. Since then it has caused seasonal epidemics of West Nile virus fever and severe neurological disease. West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with WNV when they feed on infected birds. The only birds I like to feed on are chickens.

To date in 2013, West Nile virus has been detected in 31 California counties. The CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”:

  1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Make sure the repellent covers all of your exposed skin. Repellents keep mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, swings, clogged rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency. Consider using BTI briquettes (mosquito dunks) in water that can’t be drained, such as in drinking troughs.

Here are some additional tips to keep you safe from contracting West Nile Virus:

  • Wear pants and long sleeves when outside. Spray thin clothing with repellent.
  • Consistently check areas that collect water and drain them (at least weekly).
  • Get rid of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused kid’ pools or other containers that collect and hold water.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters, remove standing water from flat roofs, and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least every 3-4 days.
  • Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats or pools, and arrange the tarp to drain the water.

California’s West Nile virus website includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state. Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473).

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, epidemics, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Vaccinations

Norovirus Jeopardizes Health of Children & the Elderly

Norovirus IllAccording to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among children less than five year of age (who seek medical care) is an illness called Norovirus. The alert was announced following a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which showed the illness is responsible for nearly one million documented pediatric medical care visits between 2009 and 2010 in the United States. All told, the illness costs hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment each year.

Dr. Daniel Payne, an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC said, “Infants and young children are very susceptible to Norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea. Our study estimates that 1 in 278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for Norovirus illness by the time they turn 5 years of age. It is also estimated that about 1 in 14 children will visit an emergency room and 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for Norovirus infections.” This Norovirus sounds like a horrible illness. I’m glad the folks at the CDC have a handle on it.

Originally called the Norwalk virus after the town of Norwalk, Ohio, the location of the first confirmed outbreak in 1972, Norovirus is defined by The Mayo Clinic as a virus which includes: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, watery or loose stools, weight loss, malaise and low-grade fever. The incubation period is usually 24 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and signs and symptoms usually last one to three days. However, it is worth noting that some people with the infection may show no signs or symptoms but will remain contagious and may unwittingly spread the virus to others. If you suspect you may have the virus, seek medical attention if you develop diarrhea that doesn’t abate within several days or if you experience severe vomiting, bloody stools, abdominal pain or dehydration.

NorovirusDisease

The NEJM study determined that Norovirus was:

  • Detected in 21 percent (278) of the 1,295 cases of acute gastroenteritis
  • Rotavirus was identified in only 12 percent (152) of the cases.
  • About 50 percent of the medical care visits due to Norovirus infections were among children aged 6 to 18 months.
  • Infants and 1-year-old children were more likely to be hospitalized than older children.
  • Overall rates of Norovirus in emergency rooms and outpatient offices were 20 to 40 times higher than hospitalization rates.
  • Nationally, the researchers estimated that in 2009 and 2010, there were 14,000 hospitalizations, 281,000 emergency room visits, and 627,000 outpatient visits due to Norovirus illness in children less than 5 years of age.
  • Together, hospital visits amounted to an estimated $273 million in treatment costs each year.

“Our study confirmed that medical visits for rotavirus illness have decreased,” said Dr. Payne. “Also, (it) reinforces the success of the U.S. rotavirus vaccination program and also emphasizes the value of specific interventions to protect against Norovirus illness.” There is currently no formal treatment protocol for Norovirus, other than bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Most people recover between 24 hours to 48 hours. A Norovirus vaccine is reportedly in development.  I am not usually a proponent of injections. But, in this case, it seems like a good idea…maybe as important as my rabies booster.

Unfortunately, Norovirus does not target children alone. Senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems are more prone to contracting the highly contagious infection, with more than 21 million people in the US succumbing each year. This week alone, more than 100 residents at nursing facilities in Nevada showed symptoms, and seven tested positive for Norovirus over a 41-day period.

Approximately 800 people have died so far from the disease. The virus spreads primarily through close contact with infected people, such as caring for someone who is ill and it also spreads through contaminated food, water and hard surfaces. The best ways to reduce the risk of Norovirus infection are through proper hand washing, safe food handling, and good hygiene. Is it just me or are those the same instructions the CDC gives for most illnesses? It seems like frequently washing my paws is an all-around great idea. For more information about Norovirus, visit CDC website at www.cdc.gov/Norovirus.

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

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The CDC, Emergency Kits, and …..Zombies?!

 

cartoon zombie
Prepare for: Zombies?!

When you think about preparing for an emergency, you likely worry about threats that occur in your area. Californians contend with fires, mudslides and the specter of big quakes. East Coasters have hurricanes, floods, and damaging thunderstorms. But one threat can affect everyone from San Francisco through Topeka and beyond to Jacksonville. Zombies. Yep, brain-eating zombies who are bent on destruction. Ummm…what? Did you think I was going to say tabby cats?

Few scary scenarios capture popular culture quite like zombies. Well, for me it would be this ranking.

#1 fear – running out of teeth-cleaning treats.

#2 – the pig ear bank has a run and a shortage.

#3 – well, ZOMBIES!!!

In real life, some individuals such as this man profiled by National Geographic Television view zombies and a possible outbreak as real scenarios that deserve proper planning. There even exists a book called “The Zombie Survival Guide.”

Wait. Isn’t this blog about disaster planning? Well, the CDC has a current campaign that warns of the coming “Zombie Apocalypse.” Citizens are encouraged to plan for “zombies” by taking certain initiatives. My main tactic would be “playing dead,” which I think would be incredibly effective. While the premise is silly, the CDC is using thoughts of a zombie takeover to get people really thinking about how to plan and manage big disasters.

For businesses that want to promote the zombie campaign, the CDC offers various images such as this one that look like the poster art for the newest zombie scare fest.

To prepare for the coming hordes of zombies, the CDC recommends some planning tips:

Create a disaster plan:

  • Discuss a disaster plan in advance to allow cooler heads to prevail (and not be eaten…) during an emergency.
  • Establish two emergency meeting places. A primary spot and a distant alternate to be used in case the first one is inaccessible.

Stock your disaster kit:

  • Include some of the basics, such as light, food, and water. You need multiple flashlights with extra batteries, some canned or dried meals, and up to one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Don’t forget such essentials as duct tape, plastic tarps, radios, and a whistle allow you to be prepared or reenact an episode of MacGyver.
  • Throw in 15 pounds of beef jerky for person. 75 pounds of dry dog food. A portable tummy scratcher.
  • Collect and organize important family documents such as passports, insurance papers, and other essentials.
  • Include land mines or bats which would truly be useful in a real zombie pandemic. Wait, zombies aren’t real? No fun!

It’s refreshing to see such a serious organization as the CDC employing some humor like “Zombie Apocalypse” to get its point across. Let’s be honest, any section of the government having a sense of humor is simply shocking. The campaign was also perfectly timed, coming days before the “end of the world” that thankfully did not come to pass. The zombie blog was so popular that it crashed the campaign’s site (not the CDC’s main site). I put a video on YouTube once called “Dog digs a hole in the yard.” Last time I checked, it had 1.2 million hits.

So what exactly is the point of the “Zombie Apocalypse?” Do those nerdy CDC folks know something we don’t? Are they stockpiling the zombie vaccine? (Sorry, I spend too much time on the interwebs looking at conspiracy forums…) For any type of disaster, preparation is the key. If you over prepare for the worst case scenario (it doesn’t get worse than flesh-eating zombies), then you will be able to handle any 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, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Health & Welfare, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Prepare for a Nuclear Disaster

Person in Haz Mat Suit Holding a Glowing Ball
There are lots of resources available for preparing for radioactive events.

All of us at RJWestmore, Inc. want to extend our sympathies to those who were affected by the 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunamis that ravaged Japan last Friday. Sources report the death toll at a staggering 2,800. With thousands of people remaining missing, the total number of casualties is expected to exceed 10,000.

As if the earthquake and tsunami disaster were not enough, Japanese nuclear scientists are warning of a possible related reactor-explosion. Shortly after the earthquakes and tsunami, explosions are said to have occurred when zirconium alloy casings of reactor fuel rods were exposed to air, causing the rods to overheat and release hydrogen gas. I’m not sure what a reactor fuel rod is. But it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to expose to air.

With a second hydrogen blast on Monday morning destroying the outer walls of one of the reactor units, Japanese nuclear specialists are struggling to cool three affected units at the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant. The events have the Far East bracing for a potential large-scale disaster.

Cooling systems are said to be malfunctioning, and, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the plant is in danger of a meltdown, though they guarantee that, “There is no possibility of a Chernobyl-style accident at the site.” The events have led Japan to appeal to the United States for help.

In the midst of this news, it is timely that we take the opportunity to advise our clients and friends about steps to take in order to prepare for and react to potential disasters of this magnitude.

All RJWestmore Training System subscribers have proprietary access to life-saving information about effectively dealing with, among other things, both tsunami and radiation-related incidents.

Four Charts Available to RJWestmore Safety Training Subscribers
We've got lots of resources for subscribers of the RJWestmore Training System.

Like jerky treats and dog chow, info of this kind is invaluable.

Another valuable resource is offered by FEMA—An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22), called: Are You Ready? FEMA’s most comprehensive source on individual, family, and community preparedness, the PDF provides current and up-to-date disaster preparedness information to reference if there is, among other things, an imminent terrorist or strategic nuclear attack threat. The downloadable booklet includes the following sections relative to earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents:

Why Prepare

Basic Preparedness

Getting Informed

Emergency Planning and Checklists

Assemble Disaster Supplies Kit

Shelter

Hazard Specific Preparedness

Practicing and Maintaining Your Plan

Natural Hazards

Earthquakes

Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)

Tsunamis

Technological Hazards

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Nuclear Power Plants

Terrorism

General Information about Terrorism

Explosions

Biological Threats

Chemical Threats

Nuclear Blast

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)

Recovering from Disaster

Another great resource is available from the CDC. So be sure to check it out.

Familiarize yourself with the FEMA and CDC information and, if you are a safety training subscriber, the RJWestmore materials. When faced by a potential nuclear incident, take these preliminary safety steps:

1.     Decide to Stay or Go.

First, you must decide first if you need to prepare where you are or attempt evacuation. The nature of the threat, your prior preparations, and your confidence in your sources of information should inform your decision. I think I would try to stay with my wife and JR in our doghouse if at all possible. But I guess I won’t know for sure until we are faced with the real-life scenario. If you know that you do not plan to stay at your own home or place of business or in the general vicinity, see step #2:

2.     Evacuate?

If you are considering evacuation, make sure that leaving your current location is worth the associated risk. You won’t want to get stuck between your current location and destination, as returning will not be easy. If you fail reach your destination, you may be exposed to nuclear fallout without shelter.

3.     Delegate!

Because time is of the essence, quickly delegate and assign tasks to various adult family members and/or colleagues. Your first priorities should be handling any medical emergencies and arranging for food, shelter, water and emergency provisions. And dog treats!

When a disaster of any scale 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, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Workplace Safety

Tips & Hints for Safety at Home and at Work

wooden ink stamp labeled with "Safety First"
Take steps to ensure the safety of those in your care

Staying safe from hazards at the workplace and at home can only be accomplished with thorough training about potential threats and associated courses of action.

In the workplace, the prevention of various safety hazards translates directly and indirectly to reduced costs. Workplace accidents and related worker’s compensation claims result in billions of dollars in lost productivity. Accidents result in the loss of valuable time spent pouring over insurance claims and jumping through hoops in order to meet OSHA reporting requirements.

Some considerations for optimal office safety that you may not be aware of include:

  • Avoid over-crowding your employees – give them at a minimum 50 square feet of their own space. This will help them avoid collisions and has the added benefit of keeping germs at bay. This is why I never allow the guys at the station to leave me in a kennel. Have you seen the accommodations!?
  • Encourage clean workspaces. Papers or files on the floor are hazards. Tangles of wires can cause serious falls and pose electrical fire hazards.
  • Employees who need to use ladders or step stools should be trained as to proper procedures for operating equipment. For instance, dogs that need to use ladders probably shouldn’t.

Accidents in the workplace are often related to improper storage:

  • Don’t store boxes on top of filing cabinets or other unsecured high places. Especially not boxes of mint flavor “breath-freshening” biscuits. Those should be kept at ground level.
  • Flammable or combustible materials should be stored separately from ignition sources.
  • Clear hallways are vital for evacuations. Ensure that your building’s tenants follow proper egress codes.

Not all workplace hazards are visible. Stress is an important issue that contributes to accidents and injury. While employers often view the effects of stress in terms of lost productivity, it is important to note that a stressful work environment can also hinder sound decision-making in cases of emergency. Best way to deal with stress? Head to the local pound and rescue a pooch!

At home, many of the same rules apply for ensuring maximum safety. Resources such as the Home Safety Council provide helpful tips.

Fire safety in the home:

  • Kitchen safety includes using oven mitts and never leaving hot surfaces unattended.
  • Gas grills should only be used outdoors and kept away from shrubs and areas of dried leaves. I have heard that some humans use grills indoors during the winter. Not a good idea.
  • Space heaters should only be used on flat surfaces far away from any ignition source. If available, consider installing central heat, which is considerably safer and more fuel efficient. I tried a space heater in the doghouse once. Then I remembered I have a fur coat.

Help prevent accidents involving small children:

  • Baby gates installed at the top and bottom of stairs and basement access points can prevent falls. Teach little ones to go downstairs backwards until they are able to walk and can hold onto the railing. If you are trying to keep out Bowzer, just remember that we dogs can jump!
  • Secure balconies with Plexiglas coverings if there are large gaps between posts.
  • Window screens won’t prevent a 40-pound toddler from falling. Quick-release window guards, on the other hand, can prevent such accidents and can be easily removed in case of fire.

Poisoning prevention:

  • According to the CDC, poisoning caused more than 700,000 ER visits in 2009.
  • Secure all items in the home, not just those under the kitchen sink. Usage of tamper resistant caps can prevent inquisitive children from playing with chemicals.
  • All prescriptions and other medicines should be secured in medicine cabinets. Simple rule. Cold medicine – medicine cabinet. Teriyaki jerky – food cabinet.

Overall safety in the workplace and home is a vast topic. Developing a broad knowledge base in multiple areas will minimize risks and make accident prevention a state of mind.

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, Health & Welfare, Influenza, Swine Flu, Uncategorized

Simple Suds for Staying Healthy

Keep your paws or hands clean for good health!

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

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

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

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

What about antibacterial soaps?

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

Make sure you are washing your hands the right way.

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

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

Paper Towels and Air Dryers:

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

Alcohol Sanitizers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sickly Sounds of the Season

Take steps to arm yourself against catching the flu.

Hack! Shiver! Sneeze! Cough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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