Each year, government organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nonprofit agencies, such as the American Red Cross and private enterprise, including Allied Universal, to mark September as the official month to observe national emergency preparedness. I wonder why this lasts for 30 days, when National Dog Day comes but one day a year? Continue reading “Emergency Preparedness Month 2018”
Each October marks another Great California Shakeout, a month-long event designed to educate people about earthquake preparedness. As an aside, the month also brings the worst holiday of the year. Imagine the horror of hearing the doorbell dozens of times in one night! Halloween is dreadful to pooches. Don’t you know we’re allergic to chocolate? What’s the point?
Held annually in California, and many other states, The Great Shakeout offers expert resources and an earthquake drill that happens at exactly the same time all across the state. This year’s Shakeout will take place on October 15 at 10:15 a.m. PST. With more than nine million individual participants, the Shakeout will drill people from businesses, schools, museums and more.
Drop, Cover, and Hold On are the instructions for anyone participating in an earthquake drill. Lucky for us, our four legs provide us with a stable base. The exercise reinforces several actions to take during and immediately following earthquakes:
- Cover your head with your arms and take shelter under a desk or table. Ignore the old advice about finding a doorway to stand under. Instead, move towards a desk or table (if they are close by). The next alternative is to move to the corner of a room and place your hands over your head.
- Don’t try to go outside. It’s safer to be inside a structure, especially with the associated risk of falling glass and other debris that might shake loose during the quake. The ground during an earthquake is unstable, so you could potentially injure yourself if you move around too much. Keep your pets close by after the quake as they’ll likely be freaked out!
- Move slowly away from large hanging pictures and heavy bookcases. I have several “dogs playing poker” paintings in the doghouse. Good thing they’re secured with epoxy-strength glue!
- Once the shaking stops, take a minute to remember proper evacuation procedures. Leave the building in a quick and orderly fashion.
- If you are on a sidewalk near a building, try to enter via the lobby, to avoid falling glass. If you are on a sidewalk during a regular day, then maybe keep your hands off the fire hydrants. We pooches occasionally like to “greet” the hydrants.
- Stay alert for aftershocks which can approach the same intensity as the main quake.
The Great Shakeout website offers resources for groups preparing for earthquakes. These include drill manuals for business owners, with tips for creating and conducting preparedness drills. Here are a few great tips from the manual:
- Register your business as a participant at Shakeout.org.
- Simulate actual earthquake conditions by asking employees to stay in the crouched safe position for a minute or longer. I paid a guy five bucks to give our doghouse a good shaking. I’m glad I installed the rebar and steel beams.
- Conduct meetings after the drill to discuss possible ways to improve procedures and communications. Adjust your business disaster plan based on this feedback.
- Designate staff members to be in charge of certain activities after a quake. For example, the Shakeout is a great time to make sure your high-rise building’s Floor Wardens understand their job relative to emergency preparedness and disaster management.
While much of the focus on earthquakes centers on California and other western states, the need for earthquake preparedness is great throughout the country. For instance, Ohio and other Midwestern states experience occasional strong quakes. In fact, a massive quake in 1812 reportedly caused parts of the Mississippi River to flow backwards. A 7.3 quake struck South Carolina in 1896, and remains the strongest East Coast quake in recorded history. Dangerous earthquakes can happen in any part of the U.S., so building managers and owners should be certain quake preparedness is part of any disaster plan.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time–not just during October. 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.
Why is September National Preparedness Month? The month was chosen, in part, to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks and, also, because it is the start of hurricane season. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Preparedness Month is intended to promote individual and business safety preparedness to effectively manage man-made threats such as terrorism as well as natural disasters. If I had my way, it would be “Devouring Pork Chops Best Practices Month,” but I suppose safety readiness is more important. While safety should be of utmost concern every month, it’s useful for companies to designate a month for review and adjustment of safety plans and procedures.
Here are some initiatives that property managers can take during National Preparedness Month:
Use Available Resources
The Ready.gov website has a wealth of free safety resources:
- Information about becoming a safety leader, with classes offered through FEMA, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and other organizations.
- Disaster-specific information and appropriate responses are offered for power outages, chemical hazards, severe weather, floods, and dozens of other scenarios.
- Information about disaster kits, including wise food choices (pork chops, sausage, baby carrots are my suggestions) and management of water resources is crucial for waiting out a major emergency.
Revisit Disaster Plans
National Preparedness Month is an ideal time to take a critical look at your building’s disaster plan. Learn about best practices for disaster management and make sure that your plan matches up to the latest advice. Perhaps your building has changed since the creation of the last plan, with a new addition or additional parking structure, or an influx of new tenants? I added a wing to the doghouse, and it’s easy to get lost in the place. You thought the Palace of Versailles was imposing…
Walk through every part of the plan to be sure it still makes logical sense for current conditions. You should also talk to tenants to ensure they have copies of the plan and to address questions and concerns. Work with the tenants to nominate floor wardens and other volunteers who can aid others. Offices that allow pets are more common, so there should be notes in the plan about helping four-legged visitors.
The disaster plan should not only cover ways to safely evacuate or handle dangerous situations, but should also provide a roadmap for getting back to normal operations. Tenants will want to return to work as soon as possible following a disaster, so retain the services of various construction/plumbing/ electrical contractors that might be needed for repairs or inspections following a disaster.
Focus on Communication
The official motto of the 2015 National Preparedness Month is “Don’t wait. Communicate.” My motto when it comes to table scraps: food on the floor, and new shoes is “Don’t wait. Obliterate.” The focus of the theme is to encourage proactivity among individuals to create and talk about disaster plans. For building managers and owners, communication is crucial to disaster planning:
- Alert tenants and other parties about how to access disaster plans and keep them updated about any changes.
- Use social media and other channels, such as mobile apps, to send crucial information about upcoming disaster threats or distribute communications after an emergency occurs.
- My communication technique is simpler. I bark at the mail carrier and whine when I don’t get ground chuck freshly prepared for dinner.
By simply communicating what is being done, property management shows they care about the wellbeing of tenants and understand the importance of transparency of communication.
Review the Details
In addition to reviewing your disaster plan, take time in September to check other areas of your preparedness. One of the keys to being prepared is to be proactive, which means checking to make sure you and your tenants have the tools, supplies, and information they need to best handle an emergency.
Here are some areas to check during National Preparedness Month:
- Check fire extinguishers for expiration dates.
- Perform routine maintenance and inspection of sprinkler systems.
- Review insurance coverages.
- Restock emergency kits with flashlight batteries.
- Review food and water expiration dates.
- Review evacuation plans with staff members.
- Mandate that “bring your pet to work day” becomes an entire month…and that it coincides with the food truck visits.
- Make sure designated “safe spot” meeting areas remain ideal.
- Monitor property management staff members’ knowledge about emergency procedures, including how to shut off water or gas lines, if necessary.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time–not just during September. 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.
Following major disasters, it is entirely possible that first responders, who are first on scene to provide fire and medical services, will not be able to immediately meet the demand for services. Factors contributing to a potential backup of emergency workers and the public’s inability to successfully reach 911 could include: the number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages. A reason dogs might not be able to reach 911 operators is because we don’t have opposable thumbs. For all these reasons, it is likely that in virtually any major emergency, people will need to rely on each other to meet immediate life-saving and life-sustaining needs.
In emergencies of all kinds, family members, friends, fellow employees, neighbors, and tenants spontaneously help each other. Dogs are also quite eager to be of assistance, whether or not we’ve been formally trained. Thankfully, history has shown that people and pets usually rise to the occasion when major disasters strike. Such was the case recently, in the Mexico City earthquake, where untrained volunteers heroically stepped up to save 800 people. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes, unfortunately, 100 of those people lost their lives in so doing. The good news is that many accidental deaths and injuries are preventable, through proper emergency training.
For the above reasons, in 1985, the L.A. County City Fire Department developed and implemented a formal program for emergency citizen training they called the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). I guess this is different than the breath mint with a similar name…Certs? The Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide potential for a major disaster in California. It further confirmed the need to train civilians to meet immediate emergency-associated needs.
Later adopted by public agencies across the country, CERT training benefit those citizens who take it, as it prepares them to respond to and cope with the aftermath of disasters. Since 1993, CERT training has been made available nationally by FEMA, and is now offered in communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico. Many communities tap graduates of the program to form teams of individuals who can be recruited and further trained as volunteer auxiliary responders. I love being part of a team…especially one that’s designed to help save lives!
CERT members receive 17 ½ hours (one day a week for seven weeks) of initial training. The seven-week course is followed by full-day biannual refresher drills, and an opportunity to assist the LAFD at local incidents. In Los Angeles, CERT is provided free of charge to anyone 18 or over. Sounds like a great deal!
CERT Training is divided into the following seven sessions:
- Session 1: Disaster Preparedness
- Session 2: Disaster Fire Suppression
- Session 3: Disaster Medical Operations Part 1
- Session 4: Disaster Medical Operations Part 2
- Session 5: Light Search & Rescue Operations
- Session 6: Disaster Psychology and Team Organization
- Session 7: Course Review and Disaster Simulation
After completing the program, CERT graduates will be able to safely:
- Search for and rescue victims.
- Provide basic medical aid, by treating the three main threats to life: opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock.
- Manage utilities and put out small fires.
- Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.
- Collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.
- Assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.
- Find lots of bacon. Okay—I’ll admit they don’t train for this in a CERT program. But I suggest they start offering it as part of the curriculum.
To find a team and/or begin CERT training in your area:
- Complete a CERT program, take advantage of an interactive web-based class or search the FEMA website by zip code for classes taught on location.
- Complete a CERT Train-the-Trainer (TTT) course conducted by a State Training Office for Emergency Management or the Emergency Management Institute, in order to learn the training techniques used by the LAFD.
- Identify the program goals that CERT would meet and the resources necessary to conduct the program in your area.
- Seek approval from appointed and elected officials to use CERT as a means to prepare citizens to care for themselves during a disaster, when services may not be adequate.
- Identify and recruit potential participants. Naturals for CERT are community groups, business and industry workers and local government workers.
- Train CERT instructors.
- Conduct CERT sessions.
- Conduct refresher training and exercises with CERTs.
In recognition for training completion, CERT members should receive ID cards, vests and helmets. Graduates should also regularly practice their skills. To this end, trainers should offer periodic refresher sessions to reinforce basic training. CERT teams can also sponsor events such as drills, picnics, neighborhood clean-ups, and disaster education fairs.
We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to prepare yourself for potential disasters, and that you might consider starting or joining a CERT in your area. To find a team or pursue CERT training, enter your zip code in the Citizen Corps section of the FEMA website. Another convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for emergencies is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.
Holiday Safety Part 2 of a 3-Part Series (Featuring Guest Blogger Angela Burrell of Universal Services of America. To see her original post, click here.) As a courtesy to our guest, I have dispensed with my usual “firedogisms” in this post, but will resume my canine commentary in next week’s blog.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.
Last week, we examined safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. For part two of our series, we are happy to welcome guest blogger Angela Burrell, who is the public relations manager for our strategic partner, Universal Services of America. Her blog post covers holiday workplace safety home safety guidelines, and basic safety rules. Next week, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.
Universal Services of America reminds you to keep the following safety and security tips in mind as you celebrate the holiday season. Regift them to family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and building occupants to let them know you care. Happy holidays!
Seven Workplace Alerts
- Report all solicitors or suspicious persons to security immediately.
- Be suspicious of unfamiliar people claiming to be repair persons, as thieves are apt to disguise themselves.
- Make sure your receptionist clears any workers or contractors before allowing them into your office.
- Question visitors who wander throughout your offices. Legitimate guests will appreciate your offers of assistance, while potential solicitors or thieves will be deterred.
- Lock all personal items in a desk or file cabinet. Employees should never leave purses or wallets exposed where they can easily be stolen.
- Close doors when the office is empty, and secure all valuables in a desk or closet when unattended.
- Request a security or buddy escort to your car if you are working late and feel vulnerable.
Seven Basic Fire Rules
- Fires peak, particularly in kitchens, during the holidays – so remain alert when preparing meals and keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
- Monitor candles and fireplace fires, and extinguish them before leaving the house or bedtime.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring that they work at optimal level year-round. Replace batteries, as needed.
- Know where your exits are located and hold regular fire drills that include practicing at least two evacuation routes from every area or building.
- Notify the property manager about exit lights that are broken or vandalized.
- Never prop open self-closing doors, as they are designed to keep flames and smoke from spreading.
- Keep exits and stairways free from obstructions at all times. Don’t store things on or under stairways, or on landings.
Six Home Safety Guides
- Refresh your holiday lights; consider buying energy-efficient LED types that are cooler than conventional incandescent lights.
- Limit the number of lights strung together and use appropriate ones for outdoors or indoors.
- Turn off lights or decorations before bedtime, or set automatic timers for six or eight-hour increments to conserve energy.
- Consider installing motion or lighting sensors that turn off automatically when no one is around.
- Ask a neighbor to collect mail or have the post office hold it if you plan to travel for an extended period.
- Let strangers who knock know you are home without opening your door. Do not feel compelled to donate to solicitors.
Five More Tips and Resources
- National Fire Protection Association’s executive summary on Christmas tree and holiday lights.
- Electrical Safety Foundation International’s Holiday Decorating Safety guide lists many resources.
- The National Safety Council recommends several Holiday Safety Tips.
- Sign up for Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) pre-screening status to expedite the boarding process. Refer to these TSA links: Holiday Travel Tips & Travel Checklist.
Next week, check back, as we will finish our series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. 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 numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.
Earthquake Preparedness Month
April is Earthquake Preparedness Month. So, in honor of that auspicious occasion, we would like to share some tips for making sure your preparedness efforts extend to your four-legged friends. (Let me say, I think this blog post is just about the most important one we’ve ever done. But that’s just my humble opinion):
Before the Earthquake
- Prepare. Bring pets into home before storms. Make sure pet areas are secure and free from falling object danger. Crate training is helpful. But if your pet is super smart, like my wife, our son JR and me, you can probably just say, “Stay.”
- Keep a list of phone numbers handy. Include current photos and physical description. My own photo appears at the top of this blog post…in case you ever wondered.
- Confirm your emergency evacuation plans. Practice with everyone, including your pets.
- Make a list of people who could potentially take care of your pet in your neighborhood as well as outside the area where you live, in case you are away from home when earthquakes strike. Identifying alternative housing for your pets will ensure their safe relocation during an evacuation. For example, the Ritz could work.
- Include family, friends and neighbors in the development of your emergency plans. Figure out who would be willing to care for your pets in your absence. Agree in advance how the exchange would happen and provide written authority for them to act on your behalf. Review and update the plan annually using a date that is easy to remember (like your pet’s birthday or annual vaccination appointment).
- Prepare a “Go Bag” for your pet. Here are a few ideas for what you should include:
- Food (Lots of bacon, pork chops and meat loaf)
- Bottled water
- Cleaning supplies (pooper scooper, disposal bags, litter scooper)
- Extra collar and leash
- First aid kit
- Prescription medications
- Disposable litter box (Only for cats, obviously. Yuck.)
- Cat litter (Ditto.)
- Crate (Some manufacturers make soft-sided, easy-to-store crates for travel.) Make sure ID tags and licenses are up to date. If possible, ask your vet about implanting a microchip in your pet. Pets with microchips are more likely to be safely returned to their owners in times of emergency. Or you could just teach your dog to talk so he can tell rescuers where he lives.
- Keep up on vaccinations. Make sure your pet is current on all booster shots for common contagious diseases. In an emergency, your pet could be placed with other animals that could be harboring illness.
- Make sure your dog or cat is obedient and well trained. Enroll in obedience classes if necessary. During an emergency it will be critical that your dog obeys you and can be housed cooperatively with other animals or people.
- Keep pet travel packs in easy-to-access locations.
After the Earthquake
- Grab your pet’s “Go Bag” and implement your emergency plan.
Be prepared for aftershocks, which are likely following any magic quake. Pets are ultra-sensitive to their masters’ state of mind. So try to remain calm. And we’ll do our best to return the favor.
- Try to keep your pet calm. Recognize they may be frightened or disoriented and may not behave as usual. Try to protect them from frightening experiences and monitor them closely when they interact with other animals or people, particularly children.
- If your pet is lost, contact your local animal shelter immediately. But don’t let the dogcatcher lock them up.
- Do not allow pets to roam freely. Keep them on a leash, even if they normally follow you everywhere. They will be scared and will appreciate more structure in a stressful situation.
- Pets can become easily confused and disoriented. Try to get them on a regular schedule as soon as possible after earthquake or other emergency. I know some humans who can become easily confused and disoriented too. Would it help to get them on a regular schedule?
- Monitor news stations for reports of disaster and evacuation orders, and release of those orders.
- Contact your local animal control shelter for assistance. Many provide emergency evacuation services and even provide temporary housing for displaced animals.
After the Emergency Ends
- Allow for the fact your pet may remain fearful or uncertain even weeks after the earthquake emergency. Return to normalcy as soon as possible and monitor your pet for several weeks to make sure he or she is adjusting. Serving filet mignon is also a great way to calm the savage beast.
- Check your home and property for hidden dangers and new escape routes before you bring your pet home.
- Keep pets securely confined if work crews arrive to repair property damage. Or, better yet…let us have the run of the house so we can protect you from dangerous folks like mailmen.
When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit www.RJWestmore.com for more information.
Hundreds of thousands of people’s and puppies’ lives were forever changed by natural and man-made disasters in 2011–from tornadoes to floods, wildfires to hurricanes, earthquakes to tsunamis to terrorist attacks and everything in between, across the world, preparation paid off and recovery response was remarkable.
In the United States alone, in 2011, the American Red Cross launched 137 domestic disaster relief operations in 46 states and territories in order to help people recover from the fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes that rocked the United States. Internationally, disaster recovery extended to the earthquake in Japan and continued to tsunami response in Thailand. You’ve got to hand it to those folks at the Red Cross. They even help pets after disasters.
“The disasters we faced in 2011 affected many lives,” said Regional Red Cross Director Tina Labellarte. “Red Cross workers across the country worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat and help getting their lives back on track.”
This year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that there were 99 Major Disaster Declarations, 29 Emergency Declarations and 114 Fire Management Assistance Declarations. We only had a few emergencies in our doghouse. My wife and I are still training JR. As one of the most active years for disasters in recent history comes to a close and Americans ring in a new year, FEMA is encouraging people to Resolve to be Ready in 2012 by making a resolution to be prepared for emergencies. And, as we recently reported, we encourage RJW Training System clients and friends to start the New Year off right by resolving to be ready.
But, apart from signing up with FEMA, how exactly can you as a building owner and or property manager, prepare for disasters in 2012? Here are our top 10 suggestions for a safe and sane 2012:
- Make an emergency kit. If you have yet to prepare a go-bag for your car, office and home, don’t let another month go by without putting one together. Make sure you remember to pack pet food in it if you have a dog. (If you’ve got a cat, I think it should be made to fend for itself. Most of the cats I know are loners anyway. But that’s just my opinion.)
- Protect your computer. Cyber threats are very real. Don’t take electronic safety for granted.
- Be aware of your surroundings. The threat of terrorism is a reality that cannot be ignored. Remain vigilant about suspicious behavior and report anything unusual to authorities. Or you can always rely on the Twilight Bark. It’s worked for centuries.
- Protect your property from threat of fire. Install fire sprinklers, alarms and extinguishers. Also, tour your property and make sure flammable products are out of harm’s way.
- Guard your kids against disease. Due diligence will reveal that boosters are beneficial. Make sure your children are inoculated. Make sure your canines are vaccinated, too.
- Go green. As members of the Green Building Council, we support efforts to create and protect a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. We are part of a community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation.
- Prepare for regional disasters. If you live in California, you should understand how to prepare for earthquake. In Kansas, learn about tornadoes. And in coastal communities, make sure you understand tsunamis and hurricanes. But wherever you are, take the time to learn about each and every disaster since this year has taught us that disasters of any kind can strike virtually anywhere.
- Stay Connected. Experts agree that social media will continue to play an important role in emergency management in the year ahead. In our continuing effort to lead the way where disaster communication is concerned, we have introduced a new interactive Facebook Fanpage. Check it often to learn about disasters and emergency management. Also, check out my Tweets. I try to keep friends, fans and followers posted about disasters around the world.
- Know your building. To be prepared in the event of any emergency, you should understand the ins and outs of your own building as well as the proper way to evacuate should disaster strike. The RJWestmore Training System Version 2. 5 helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s).
- Above all, in 2012 and beyond…BE SAFE!
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.
RJWestmore Inc. is proud to announce the release of Version 2.5 of our comprehensive e-based safety training program. I’m not sure what 2.5 means. But, in dog years, that would be Version 17.5.
The new system boasts features that property managers and building owners, employers and occupants have come to depend on for building specific safety training, such as the integration and automation that brings together facility managers, fire safety directors and local fire departments.
The system upgrade showcases our continued commitment to offer the most user-friendly and complete training system on the market. Here is a snapshot of some of the new functionality that RJWestmore trainees will enjoy with Version 2.5:
- A New User Interface
- New Special Assistance for Evacuation Interface
- New NOAA Weather Interface
- New Facebook Interface
- New Twitter Interface
- New pop-up notifications
- New pork-chop notification pop-ups. (Well, maybe not. But I’m lobbying the programmers about the next rollout.)
What’s more, new and current RJWestmore trainees will continue to benefit from program features that have made us the e-based safety training program of choice among property managers and building owners from coast to coast: We are approved by every major fire department and are now training more than 350 million square feet across the United States
Our system offers real-time reporting with just one click which—
- Identifies tenants that need special assistance in the case of emergency
- Provides instant access to a list of floor wardens that is shared with building management and the fire department
- Enhanced Fire Department Access—
- One home screen allows department access to all RJWestmore System companies in the city
- Departments can monitor individual building testing and training of floor wardens and fire safety directors.
- Building-specific emergency manuals, diagrams and maps provide pre-response building information.
- Automated Features—
- Automatic personalized certificates are sent to each user via email immediately upon completion
- Employee compliance reports are prepared for each tenant. View, print or export to Excel.
- Annual reminders are sent to each user on their training anniversary date.
- State of the Art Confidentiality and System Control
- Multiple tiers of system access help control the distribution of information
- Confidential Information Access is granted for resources such as maps, emergency plans and reports. (Why are humans so weird about confidentiality? My wife and son and I like to mark our territory so everyone knows where we’ve been.)
- Enhanced fire hydrant access. Okay, I admit this isn’t on the official upgrade list. But a dog can dream…
The RJ Westmore Training System, Version 2.5 gives building owners a complete picture of their emergency preparedness as well as user-friendly interfaces. We map out an exterior refuge map with a satellite picture of each building. We can also include a map of the lobby showing the best exit routes, fire control room location, hose connections, etc. Elevator banks and stairwells can also be graphed, to show a comprehensive picture of accessibility and egress.
More info about the RJWestmore Training System Version 2.5:
- 30-day implementation with a simple monthly flats-rate fixed fee
- All updates, training, and other resources are provided for no additional fee
- Property managers can easily print and export building training information via their Management section.
- Training and procedures are available for any kind of disaster, be it manmade or natural. (Do you suppose this includes paper training disasters?)
If you own or manage a building, or know someone who does, do them a favor. Let them know about the RJWestmore Training System. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES! BE SAFE.
Your business has planned for any disaster. (maybe not squirrel infestation). Fire extinguishers are frequently checked and positioned in the right area. You have a well thought out evacuation route with primary and secondary meeting places. But does your business have a plan for getting back to work after a disaster?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 40 percent of businesses adversely affected by natural or man-made disasters fail to reopen. (On a completed unrelated note, up to 40 percent of cats are not to be trusted. Thieves and liars!) To be a part of the other 60 percent requires prior planning and a sound disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
Before you begin a disaster recovery plan, you need to take these steps:
- Form an internal team comprised of individuals from several departments who possess deep knowledge about the business. (Include employees from several levels. You wouldn’t want only upper management involved.)
- Build a list of critical processes and services that must be up and running after a disaster. Plans that have specific and tested tasks are critical. For example: “Product ordering available within 24 hours of the disaster.” For my owners, the key item on the plan should be “where do we stash the emergency kibble?”
- Review your rental agreement for specific terms regarding the landlord’s responsibilities. If your building burns down because of the actions of another tenant, what is your recourse?
- Consider hiring an auditor to review your procedures. These professionals can determine if your plan is unrealistically optimistic or if it includes any logistical holes. I generally stay away from auditors. Let’s just say I shouldn’t have tried to deduct the re-shingling of the doghouse back in ’08.
Key disaster recovery plan components to get your business back to work:
- Establish procedures to let all employees know that a disaster has occurred. Ensure personal email addresses and cell phone numbers are available and frequently updated for key disaster implementation personnel.
- Review the disaster to determine if the delay in business functions will be temporary or could last weeks. (The detailed disaster plan should have specific tasks based on the duration of the disaster.)
- Store insurance documents and other critical documents both as scanned images on an off-site server and in hard copies stowed in a safety-deposit box. I have a box at the bank down the street. Contents: blanket from when I was a puppy, old ham bone from 1987, and $2.5 million in bearer bonds.
- Select alternative warehouse or inventory locations in case primary locations are damaged in a disaster.
- Find alternative locations for business operations. Determine, in the planning stages, which employees need to be congregated together and which ones can work remotely.
- Consider options for manufacturing products if your facility is damaged. Can you lease space from another facility that is under-capacity? (I’m talking to you Mr. Pig Ear factory owner! I can’t handle another shortage!)
- If your company produces non-perishable items that aren’t custom built, then you should calculate how many days or weeks you can fulfill orders using current inventory. If the disaster will put you out of commission for a month but you can only fulfill 10 days of orders, then you have a problem!
For many businesses, essential business functions can go on even if the organization’s facilities are determined to be unsafe. With cloud computing storing virtual data, real-time chat and other tools, many employees will be able to work from home or gathered together in small groups at remote locations.
Tips for protecting your company data and enabling seamless work productivity after a disaster:
- Task the IT department with finding the best solution for off-site data backup. New advancements in cloud computing allow redundant systems to be set up quickly and inexpensively. Older tape-backup systems can be cumbersome to retrieve or lost in transport–putting your company’s data at risk. It’s 2011! Time to think futuristic!
- Consider backing up entire applications and processes, not just data. Nearly every professional function can now be performed virtually.
- Give employees the option to check email from home. Even if “working from home” is not currently part of corporate culture, providing access in advance may help your company in the long run, as employees with ready access to key documents and applications will be well prepared to work immediately following any natural or manmade disaster. I’ve been working from home for years. You miss the water cooler interaction, but the flexibility is great.
- Protect your intellectual property. If you run a manufacturing company, you might use a proprietary process to make your product. Make sure this information is stored offsite and is not simply located in on-site computers or assembly machines.
For businesses, failure to plan concrete steps necessary for recovering after disasters can result in complete business failure. Creating a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is a worthwhile exercise to encourage your company to consider and manage worst-case scenarios.
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.
Hack…hack.. hack!! Sorry, I had a hairball! Sorry; I couldn’t resist the urge to mock felines, who actually cough things up. Or so I’m told. Today, we are talking about those nefarious hackers and cybercrime. With the recent hack of various Gmail accounts by cyber criminals, companies are again casting an eye at ways to ensure data security and circumvent the risks associated with cyber crime. Cyber attacks are particularly difficult for law enforcement because they occur anonymously over great distances and are often conducted by highly intelligent individuals who are skilled at covering their digital tracks. Sounds just like that band of kitties that I know is behind a string of recent bank robberies. If only I could find proof!
The disruption caused by cyber attack presents businesses with more than just a minor annoyance. High profile breaches, such as the recent attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network, caused significant losses, as thousands of insecure customers bugged out. As a result, Sony claimed to have lost more than $170 million as a result of the breach.
For some entities, such as utilities or defense contractors, cyber attacks cause disruptions which go far beyond the scope of financial loss. A recent survey of senior level IT professionals indicated that they hold cyber crime to be the most dangerous threat for their business, ranking above the fear of natural disasters.
Details of the Recent Gmail Account Hacks:
- Some of the hacked accounts included senior U.S. Government officials, Chinese political activists, and journalists, prompting many to suspect that the Chinese government had something to do with the attack.
- The accounts were compromised through a phishing attack, which involves gaining access to an account by presenting the user with a legitimate-looking, fraudulent emails or texts. (Many bank customers have been caught by phishing schemes where the crook will say he represents the client’s bank and needs user account information). Someone tried to trick me into giving them my Petco rewards number. No dice!
- The Gmail criminals used information from hacked email accounts to contact and infiltrate other user accounts, since people tend to trust messages sent from someone they know.
What Can Businesses Do to Better Safeguard Electronic Information? The RJWestmore Online Training System encrypts all passwords to protect client data. Other ideas for safeguarding information include:
- Establish robust firewalls to prevent intrusions. For years, I thought you people literally built a wall of fire around the server room. I realize now I was mistaken.
- Conduct an internal employee survey to find out how many of your employees are using “1234” for their password. Prepare to be shocked by the results. (I use “bowzer27” for all of my passwords. Wait, is this going on the internet? Oops.) Require employees to follow set procedures for password creation and changing of passwords at regular intervals.
- A popular method for creating hack-resistant passwords is to think of a phrase such as “I love gravy covered pork chops.” Then, use the first letter of each word from the phrase to create a password: “ILGCPC.” Then, to mix it up further, add two or three memorable numbers and a symbol to the mix: IL$GC&PC@. Also, use different cases instead of all caps or lowercase letters: Il$gC&Pc&. Breaking a password this complicated will keep hackers at bay, since easily-cracked “1234” passwords are easier targets of opportunity. (This is for the same reason thieves prefer to break into cars that have open windows and keys in the ignition rather than vehicles that are locked and armed with alarms.)
- Password reset software can be used following a breach to bring passwords back.
- Review outside vendors who have access to your data. Even if your company has state of the art protection, it is worthless if one of your vendors operates in an open environment which can easily be hacked.
- Carefully guard client email lists and account numbers. The recent loss of email data by Epsilon cost the company millions of dollars, as customers canceled their credit cards after they discovered their data had been compromised. That’s why I’m old school; I only use cash or bones as currency.
- Run routine security updates on your computer system. But be careful not to click on screen messages from anyone other than the system you subscribe to. Make sure that your employees know they should do a hard reset (manual shut-down) if anything out of the ordinary appears on their computer screens. When I suspect a hacker, I simply growl at the computer and scare it away.
A breach not only costs time and money in the short term, but it can be detrimental to customer perception and trust. This is especially true of companies that hold customer data such as social security numbers or financial information. Virtual disasters should demand the same foresight and planning as natural large-scale events such as floods, fires and earthquakes.
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.