Posted in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

BE SAFE: How to Prevent and React to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Are your Carbon Monoxide detectors in good working condition?

Hundreds of lives are lost each year through exposure to an invisible, odorless, colorless toxic gas called Carbon Monoxide (CO). CO also sends thousands of exposed victims to Emergency Rooms to seek treatment. Impossible to see, taste, or smell, CO can kill you before you are even aware of its presence in your home or office. Interesting side note: dogs CAN smell CO in the air. That’s right; our noses are that finely tuned.

Although many of us have heard about the dangers of CO poisoning, few realize the many sources the gas can come from—gas-fired appliances to domestic heating systems, charcoal grills and wood-burning furnaces, blocked flues in fireplaces, inadequate ventilation in living areas or places of work and motor vehicles.

One reason CO is so dangerous is that low levels of exposure can mimic symptoms that might easily be mistaken for the flu. Headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue send people to bed to catch up on rest. But if CO poisoning is the real culprit, affected individuals could drift off to sleep, never again to awake. (This is especially troubling when it happens at work. If your employees are sleeping at their desks, you might consider installing something in addition to a CO warning system to keep them awake! Just a suggestion…)

The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person, and dog to dog, depending on several factors:

  • Age
  • Overall Health
  • Concentration of Carbon Monoxide Poison
  • Length of Exposure

Health professionals believe that certain groups of people are more at risk if exposed to Carbon Monoxide:

  1. Unborn Babies
  2. Infants
  3. Children
  4. Senior Citizens
  5. People who suffer from heart or lung problems
  6. Lazy people who fall asleep at their desk. Okay; not an “official” category. But, come on, people…really?

Here’s how you can protect yourself, your employees and/or coworkers and your family:

  • Install at least one Carbon Monoxide alarm that features an audible warning signal near the areas where people sleep and just outside of every bedroom or office door. Interesting tidbit: canines produce great audible warning signals. Make sure alarms have been approved by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Since Carbon Monoxide alarms are designed to measure levels of CO over time and sound only after levels reach a certain concentration, some healthy adults may not think the alarm is accurate since they might not experiencing noticeable symptoms when they hear the alarm. So don’t ignore your CO alarm. If it goes off, heed the warning. The same is true of your pet. If we’re howling, pay attention. We might be trying to tell you something. Or we might just want to go for a walk.
  • Don’t ever use your stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Hire a qualified professional to check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, vents and chimneys regularly.
  • Don’t use charcoal grills or hibachis in your home, office, garage or doghouse.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of gas.
  • When purchasing a new or existing home, make sure qualified technicians have evaluated the integrity of heating systems and cooking equipment, as well as sealed spaces between garages and homes. A Carbon Monoxide alarm could save your life.

If Carbon Monoxide Detector Sounds:

(If no one is feeling ill):

  1. Silence the alarm.
  2. Turn off appliances and all sources of combustion.
  3. Open all doors and windows for ventilation.
  4. Call qualified professionals to investigate the possible source of CO buildup

(If people feel the effects of CO poisoning):

  1. Evacuate occupants immediately.
  2. Determine which occupants are ill and assess their symptoms.
  3. Call 911. Relaying information to the dispatcher, include how many people feel ill.
  4. Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
  5. Call qualified professionals for repairs.

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, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Workplace Safety

Fire Safety: How to Stay Safe this Summer

bottle rocket and fireworks
Fire and safety: How you and your loved ones can stay safe this summer.

With summer here, thoughts turn to grilled pork chops, fireworks displays and road trips. Did I mention pork chops? All are super fun activities. But there are dangers involved with summer fun. Proper fire safety is extremely important in summer, when people spend lots of time outside even as high heat and drought provide fuel for flames, which is good for cooking pork chops but not so good for safety.

Carelessness and human activity in the summer is a major contributor to seasonal wildfires. In Texas the wildfire season got started early and has burned three million acres and counting.

For many families, summer is the time to dust off the barbecue and grill pork chops. But if used improperly, the grill can turn from friend to foe. Here are some grilling safety tips:

  • Margaritas go good with seared meats. But use care whenever you mix drinking and cooking. You should remain ever mindful of fire-related danger and be careful to exercise common sense. I prefer to stick to water straight from my bowl or the toilet bowl.
  • Check gas or propane hoses and connections for cracking or leaks. A new hose and regulator costs around $20 and is not only safer but will produce a better flame.
  • Squirting lighter fluid may be fun. But it’s also inherently dangerous. Consider using a chimney-starter. They will produce hot coals without the nasty chemical taste.
  • Don’t barbecue indoors or in enclosed areas such as patios that have multiple walls and solid roofs. Enclosed fire lead to carbon monoxide gas buildup.
  • Regular cleaning of grease and food particles will reduce the chance of flare ups and charring, which will also make food tastier. This is especially true when it comes to grilling pork chops.

Fire Safety on the Road:

  • Don’t use signal flares to notify others of emergency situations. Flashing emergency LED lights and reflective signage are better choices.
  • Watch the temperature gauge on your car. If it spikes high, you need coolant or should have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.
  • Avoid parking a hot car near dry leaves or pine straw. Overheated cars can ignite surrounding areas. Personally, I recommend traveling on your own two (or four) feet!
  • Don’t throw cigarettes out of the window. Just another reason to quit the habit is to eliminate the risk of starting a massive fire!

Fireworks are an integral part of summer celebrations. However, it’s always best to leave the show to professionals. In amateur hands or paws, fireworks are accidents waiting to happen. In fact, in the United States, the CDC reports thousands of fireworks-related ER visits each July. If you insist on launching bottle rockets and lighting sparklers yourself, follow a few simple safety rules:

Firework Safety:

  • Keep young children away from fireworks. They are not coordinated enough to manage sparklers and other fireworks which can cause serious eye injuries.
  • High quality safety goggles can prevent eye damage.
  • Don’t light fireworks indoors or near dry brush.
  • Keep a fire hose or large buckets of water available for emergencies.
  • Don’t shoot fireworks into the woods. This tip might seem obvious. But if you can’t see where the bottle rockets land, you won’t know for if they landed safely or started a brushfire.
  • To handle the risks of accidental fire, common sense is always the best ally. Be aware of your surroundings and use good judgment so you don’t put yourself and others in danger.

Campfire Safety:

  • Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
  • Keep campfires small so they are less likely to get out of hand or paw.
  • Make sure you have immediate access to emergency water supplies and a shovel to douse flames. Stir the coals to disperse the heat from the coals and then douse it again just to be safe.
  • Don’t ever leave a campfire (or a pork chop) unattended.

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.