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

Disaster Recovery

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Out of respect for victims of recent disasters in the United States, I refrain from my usual fire-dogisms in this post. Check back next time for my unique take on all things safety-related.

Millions of Americans struggle to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Disasters are currently so widespread, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spending $200 million per day to aid recovery efforts. Although each type of disaster brings unique challenges, no matter which situation you face, recovery is the first order of business as soon as the dust settles. One such disaster is the Montecito Mudslides, which thousands of volunteers and disaster response teams are currently managing.

Disaster Recovery Earthquake
After disaster strikes, follow these recovery steps:

  • After the immediate danger of a disaster has passed, exercise caution so you can stay safe during the clean-up and recovery process.
  • In the case of biological, chemical or radiological threats, listen for instructions on local radio or television stations about safe places to go.
  • Disaster InjuryCheck for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, stabilize the neck and back, then immediately call for help. If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway, and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated. Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.
  • For lesser wounds and injuries, wash with soap and water. To help prevent infection, use bandages and replace them if they become soiled, damaged or waterlogged.
  • After a disaster, some additional natural hazards—like severe storms, flooding, mudslides or earthquakes may follow. If a new or similar hazard strikes, exercise safety protocols. For an earthquake aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON–just as you did during the initial quake.Earthquake Recovery
  • Emergency responders need access to open telephone lines to coordinate response. So, avoid using cellular telephones as well as landlines. Immediately post-disaster, use the telephone only to report life-threatening conditions and to call one pre-determined out-of-town emergency contact.
  • Remain calm. You may find yourself in the position of supervising other people. Listen carefully and deal patiently, prioritizing urgent situations. Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest. Drink plenty of clean water. Eat well. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Hand Washing SafetyWash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.
  • Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, unsafe buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
  • Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation and dead animals.
  • If you are told to leave your home, return only when advised to do so by local authorities. Be sure to carry photo identification, since authorities may limit entry to people who own property in disaster-affected areas.
  • Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles. Drive only in extreme emergencies or if told to do so by emergency officials. If you must drive, do not drive on roads covered with water, which could be damaged or eroded. Vehicles can float in as little as six inches of water.Emergency Vehicle Safety
  • If the disaster was widespread, monitor news sources for instructions from local authorities. Information may change rapidly after a widespread disaster, so continue to check regularly for updates. If the power is out, listen to a battery or hand-crank-powered radio, television or car radio.
  • If the area was flooded and children are present, warn them to stay away from storm drains, culverts and ditches. Children can get caught and injured in these areas. Discard food that could have been contaminated by water or sewage.

android-2281309__480Disaster Recovery Resources:

FEMA

American Red Cross

Ready.Gov

Allied Universal

We Care About Your Safety in 2018 and BeyondSafety Training

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90 percent and saves you over 50 percent compared to conventional training. Most importantly, it saves lives!

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Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Resolve to Be Ready in 2012, Version 2.5

A Humble Firedog’s Disaster Recap 2011

2011 Had Disasters A-Plenty

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. Protect your computer. Cyber threats are very real. Don’t take electronic safety for granted.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Cyber Security, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fires, Floods, Hurricanes, Uncategorized, Version 2.5

Is Disaster Recovery for Electronic Data?

Does your emergency management plan include electronic data?

To recover from any type of disaster, the best prescription is often done on the front end—with proper planning. But when it comes to disasters such as major earthquakes or hurricanes, there is only so much you can do to prevent damage. On the other hand, when it comes to your electronic data, there are many concrete steps you can take to safeguard your data. Unfortunately, many businesses do not take these steps in order to back up their data. I run a sophisticated backup system for my dog bone supply. I bury two of them in my yard, and then at night I dig under the fence and plant four in Sparky’s backyard. If I could just remember where I put them…

Before you begin to plan, you need to establish what types of data you possess and where it is:

  • Talk to IT and other departments to sort through all of the data that you possess. For some businesses, the data can be strewn all over the place. Sales contact information might be kept on a manager’s thumb drive while product specs are simply on an engineer’s local hard drive. Work out what you have and then give each subset of data a priority number.
  • Once the data is identified, appoint some staff members to be in charge of monitoring and caring for the data. I put Whiskers and Tabby in charge of my data once. I come back for a progress report and they are both napping in the sun. Worthless felines!
  • A next step is to review your current capabilities. Do you have any type of backup system for files, intellectual property or email?

Creating a sound disaster recovery plan is the next crucial step:

  • Think about the various likely types of disaster in your area and how they relate to your technical infrastructure. If you have an on-premises data center, make sure it has backup power and other safeguards.
  • Your data recovery plan should be flexible to account for changes in your business as well as new technologies. If you merge with another company or open a new division, would your IT staff be able to quickly integrate new data? Poochie has too much leveraged debt and now he’s going down!
  • Replacement of hardware is an important part of your plan. Talk with your IT staff about the likely usable life of servers and computers and put them on a schedule for replacement in order to prevent failures.
  • Practice makes perfect!  Find ways to simulate the loss of data to properly test both your IT staff and any third-party vendors.

Over the course of business, it’s very likely you have heard about companies and services moving their disaster recovery needs “to the cloud:”

  • Cloud computing simply means that data and services are stored and powered by off-site servers, so companies don’t need on-premises equipment. It can cut down on costs and is able to provide storage on the fly.
  • Backing up your data to a cloud platform allows it to be securely accessed even if your company’s physical location is destroyed.
  • Do some research and pick a cloud provider that has its own backup data center. If they only have one, and it goes down, then your protection is limited!
  • Another option is to hire a company to pickup backup tapes on a regular basis and transport them offsite. But this method is outdated. Companies need information immediately following disasters. Unfortunately, retrieving data from backup tapes can take days.

With disaster recovery planning, it’s important to consider your data. As more and more companies become internet-based, their data and intellectual property is often many times more valuable than their physical assets. I have a detailed spreadsheet that describes 40 different kibble manufacturers, with breakdowns of protein content and a “deliciousness rating.” This is vital stuff!

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

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, CDC, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Floods, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

What is the “Holistic Approach” to Disaster Recovery and Planning?

Group gathered around a table, everyone holding a puzzle piece
The Holistic Approach to Disaster Planning & Recovery Brings everyone to the table.

What do we mean by a “holistic” approach to disaster recovery and planning? I’ve heard of holistic dog food, but even that isn’t good enough for me. I demand ground rib roast!! In broad terms, a holistic approach simply means the properties of a system cannot be described by its separate parts—the system as a whole influences the parts. Just consider me. A brilliant white smile and thunderous bark don’t define me. You have to look at the whole package.

With disaster recovery and planning, considering a disaster as a whole system promotes broader planning and better cooperation among different groups. For example, with flood planning, engineers could have procedures in place to divert water toward a historical or shopping district area instead of a  parking lot or open area capable of more safely handling overflow. If the building flood planners fail to converse with other members of the city utilities, emergency responders, neighboring properties, etc, they might make plans that would cause more damage to surrounding assets and possibly their own property. A holistic approach brings more information to the table, allowing better planned prevention as well as recovery. I like “bringing things to the table” as well. Pork chops. Chicken gravy. A squirrel.

An example of the need for a broader approach can be seen in the aftermath of the recent Japan earthquakes. As the production capacity of many Japanese plants is rebuilt and comes back online, segments of the Japanese economy were captured by other countries following the disaster. A holistic approach would have demanded better integration between emergency management teams and economic development individuals, who could have worked together to focus efforts on top economic priorities. This would have kept needed resources in the area following the disaster. I like to have integration with several groups, including the local butcher shop, a tennis ball manufacturer, and my favorite salon. That’s synergy!

For some areas of the world that don’t frequently experience disasters, complacency can prevent the formation of a holistic approach. For me, complacency is vitally important. Somebody has to occupy that grassy spot in the sun! Paradoxically, a major disaster can also slow down the development of holistic methods, as individual stakeholders often feel repeated disaster occurrences are less likely, despite the fact that this is not necessarily true.

Key benefits of the holistic approach:

  • Better communication is encouraged when different agencies or groups confront disasters together. Resources or labor can be pooled together avoiding costly duplications of efforts. If disaster recovery is too fragmented, then many cases of “left hand not talking to the right” can occur. Do people’s hands literally talk to each other? Does this occur during sleep? Why can’t humans have four legs like a normal animal!?
  • Major disasters don’t discriminate. They affect large swaths of individuals and businesses. A holistic approach encourages a true community response, where actions are taken by the community for the community, with less emphasis on special interest groups or people with hidden agendas. An example of this is the rebuilding efforts in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, where groups worked together to clean debris and save houses as part of a broader longer-term affordable housing plan.
  • Holistic approaches mean a country, state, or city is more resilient to the effects of disaster and able to quickly regain former capacities. After my doghouse was ruined, I rebuilt. Now it can withstand a Category 5 hurricane!
  • The holistic approach covers mental and emotional states instead of just the physical safety of disaster victims. Such focus allows individuals to quickly return to society, providing an economic benefit to their immediate area.

For disaster recovery and prevention, a holistic method means more than just cooperation. It’s also a way to get more out of the efforts of every group and individual, which is a stark example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

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.