Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Tsunamis

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

?????????????????????????????????????????Welcome to National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which runs from March 2nd to the 8th, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Calling on individuals across the country to prepare for severe weather and to encourage others to do the same, the national campaign slogan is: Be a Force of Nature. I consider myself a force of nature because I am a dog for all seasons.

No matter which part of the country you call home, your geographic location poses inherent weather risks—tornado, hurricane, typhoon, thunderstorms, floods, blizzards, snowstorms, water spouts, tropical cyclones, ice storms and dust storms…to name a few. To minimize your risk of severe weather-damage, familiarize yourself with your region’s particular weather-risks so you can prepare accordingly. For example, NOAA National Weather Service Director, Dr. Louis Uccellini, warns residents of tornado-prone areas:

“With the devastation of last year’s tornadoes fresh in our minds and springtime almost here, I urge individuals to become weather-ready now. Make sure you have multiple ways to access forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service before severe weather strikes.”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate agrees, “Being ready today can make a big difference for you when disaster strikes. It only takes a few minutes. Talk with your family and agree to a family plan. Learn easy steps on how to prepare at Ready.gov and find out how your community can take action in America’s PrepareAthon through drills, group discussions and community exercises.”

In the coming weeks, we will focus on preparation and response for various forms of severe weather emergencies. In the meantime, for every type of severe weather emergency, the national severe weather safety message is a simple, three-pronged approach: know your risk, take action, be an example.

Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Sign up for weather alerts and check the weather forecast regularly.

Take Action: Be prepared for severe weather.

  1. Your family may not be together when a storm strikes.
  2. Plan how you will contact one another by developing your family communication plan.
  3. Put together an emergency kit.
  4. Store important papers and valuables in a safe place.
  5. Visit Ready.gov/severe-weather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.
  6. Subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, where you will find loads of great, easy-to-understand instructions for disaster preparation.
  7. Store lots of pork chops and bacon in your freezer—just in case you run out of food after a thunderstorm and need to feed the dog.

Be an Example: Once you have taken action, tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same.

  1. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. For example, I use my blog, RJtheFireDog.com and Twitter account @RJtheFireDog to alert people to weather and other hazards.
  2. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and share the steps you took to become weather-ready.
  3. You can download apps, sign up for email or text notifications, watch informational videos on YouTube and even subscribe to the new NOAA and FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) project, a new text-like message system, which is part of a national effort to increase emergency preparedness and build a Weather-Ready Nation. Last year, millions of individuals across the country received WEAs with life-saving weather warnings via their cell phone. These geographically-targeted emergency alerts alert people to weather warnings they would not have otherwise received. And, as a result, many people took life-saving action. To sign up, visit www.Ready.gov/Alerts.

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, Building Evacuation, dehydration, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Hurricanes, Insurance, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.5

2011 Marks Banner Year for U.S. Disasters: 5 Tips for Dealing with Weather-Related Disasters

RJW Shares 5 Tips for Dealing with Natural Disasters

President Barack Obama recently named New Jersey a federal disaster area as a result of floods that came before Hurricane Irene. In so doing, he cemented 2011 as the United States’ most disaster-prone year ever. The U.S. is not alone in boasting a banner year. At the Firedog household, JR ate more pig ears than any other puppy on the planet.

As of the third week of September, Obama had issued 84 federal disaster declarations at the request of governors. That is more declarations than in any year since the score was first kept 60 years ago. And there are still three months left in 2011! Since many of the recent emergencies resulted from extreme weather, we want to use this week’s blog post to discuss the ways that you can prepare for weather-related disasters. By the way, these tips might also apply to canine territory-marking accidents, as well.

While weather has always been a contributing factor to damage to hearth, office and home, natural disaster-related damage affects more people than it used to because of urban sprawl. When tornados strike open, undeveloped areas, dollar amount damage is relatively low. Centered in a densely populated area, the same storm will wreak considerably more havoc. I know a few dogs of a different breed who can wreak quite a bit of havoc no matter their location.

So how should urban residents and professionals who work in major metropolitan locations prepare for natural disasters? Here are some tips, prepared for you by the fire life safety training professionals at RJWestmore, Inc:

  1. Take cover. This is important regardless of temperature. If you’re outside in the heat, make sure you have a hat, sunglasses and lip balm as well as sunscreen in case you get caught in any situation that leaves you stranded for an extended period of time.

Likewise, in snow, rain or hail, you should make sure you have plenty of protection against the elements. Invest in protective, waterproof outerwear and make sure your emergency supply kit includes plenty of blankets and waterproof matches.

Also, one of the best ways to protect from loss is to purchase insurance to cover repairs to infrastructure. We are not experts in insurance. But it is likely that a standard policy will not cover flood damage. The only way to protect against flood losses is to purchase flood insurance directly from the National Flood Insurance Program. Policies must be in place for 30 days before coverage takes effect. For information, contact your insurance professional.

  1. Drink Up. One of the risks of any type of disaster is dehydration. Consider miners who are stranded for hours underground or motorists whose cars get stuck on snowy roadways in blizzard conditions. Dehydration is not relegated to desert environments.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure you include plenty of water in each of your emergency preparedness kits. You should have one in your car, one at work and a third at home, all in easily-accessible locations. This is one of my favorite tips. My wife and I make sure all of the bowls in our doghouse are full 24/7.
  2. Tune In. Another suggestion for your disaster preparedness kit is to include a portable, hand-crank radio to make sure you can stay connected even in power outage. Storms of any kind can knock out phone lines, electricity, gas, water and even wireless cell phones. So don’t make the mistake of relying on high-tech forms of communication to stay abreast of news in emergencies. Tuning in will alert you to the threat level relative to the storm, be it Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Warning or Winter Weather Advisory. There is also always the Twilight Bark, which works in any emergency.
  3. Stay Put. In many cases, you will be safer if you shelter in place than if you venture out in hazardous conditions. Of course, you must use common sense when deciding whether you should stay or go. For example, in the event of a tornado, seek shelter in a steel-framed or concrete building. However, in case of a flood, you might be putting yourself in danger by staying in an area that will likely be consumed by fast-flowing water. For detailed instructions about what to do in every possible weather scenario, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Service website. All RJWestmore Safety Trainees have immediate access to NOAA information from inside our fully-integrated training system.
  4. Remain Calm. Whatever the disaster, you will make better choices if you avoid the temptation to panic. How can you remain cool, calm and collected when surrounded by turmoil? One surefire way is to prepare well in advance of emergency. Another is a shock collar. But I prefer the former.

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.

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, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Obscure Disasters Can Pose a Major Risk

fire, sky, water, earth pics
Are you prepared for each and every type of disaster?

With the Japan earthquake, frequent hurricanes, and massive tornadoes, many are wondering if we should expect more and bigger disasters. Major disasters by their very nature are unpredictable, which further enforces the need to imagine worst-case scenarios when implementing or rehearsing disaster response efforts. My worst-case scenario is when “Air Bud” came out on DVD. Worst. Movie. Ever.

The effect of some disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, can be minimized by advanced planning. For instance, governments can build levees and coastal swamp areas can be left undeveloped to provide natural flood protection. If the origins of a disaster come from beyond our planet or miles under the surface, then prevention is impossible, and preparation and planning are the only possible means of recourse.

Solar Flares are a known sun phenomena that affect communications on earth. In the past, such interruptions were temporary and were limited to certain types of devices and services. However, scientists who study solar storm patterns now contend that the severity of storms is cyclical and we are now entering an intense phase. (Let me get this straight, we can predict storms on that big glowing ball of fire, but you can’t tell me if my afternoon walk will be rained out!?).

  • NASA officials have equated a large solar storm to a “bolt of lightning” that could damage electronics and communications’ equipment around the globe.
  • Solar flares dramatically change the earth’s magnetic field, which could cause serious consequences for satellites, computers, handheld devices and myriad other items. My magnetic field gives me a great sense of direction. I was once 126 miles from home and was able to tell the limo driver exact directions to get me back.
  • If international power grids fail, potential losses are estimated to be in the trillions.
  •  Solar storms are monitored by the appropriately named Space Weather Prediction Center, which is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you’re prepared for each type.

On the west coast, scientists are concerned about what they refer to as an ARKstorm, a massive storm that dumps rain on California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada for up to two weeks straight. The storms pull so much heat and moisture, that they develop “atmospheric rivers.” Such rainfall amounts would produce massive flooding in the California central valley and in major metropolitan areas. It would simply be a case of too much water with nowhere to go.

  • Such a storm is based upon historical precedent, with winter rains in 1861 and 1862 leaving some parts of central California completely impassable. In San Francisco, nearly 30 inches of rain was reported. That’s taller than me!
  • The USGS offers a video titled “This is ARKstorm” that some might consider to be a little over the top. But it does clearly describe the possible effects.
  • Projected damage estimates are pegged at several hundred billion dollars. If my doghouse is washed away, somebody’s calling FEMA.

Yellowstone Caldera” might sound like the latest trendy micro-brew. But it actually refers to a potential “super volcano” that could erupt in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone sits on a “hotspot,” which is an area where molten mantle rock moves towards the surface over time. As it moves closer, it can become trapped, and needs release of pressure to prevent catastrophic explosions.

  •  The latest eruption occurred only 640,000 years ago, which is a very long time compared to a human or canine lifetime, but a relatively recent event geologically speaking.
  •  Half of the United States could be covered in ash.
  • Global cooling would result from atmospheric sun-blocking particles, restricting agriculture and leading to food shortages. Umm, not good.

The existence of such mega-disasters underscores the broader point of knowing there are various risks and that it is necessary to do your best to plan ahead and prepare for unforeseen contingencies. While you certainly shouldn’t live your life in a potential state of abject fear, it is important to take time to consider the unknown.

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 Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Fires

Is Your Pack Prepared?

Family Preparedness is Critical for Any Pack

Planning for an emergency is a project for every family member. Get your pups or children involved in preparedness to help them understand how important it is to be prepared and encourage them to remain calm under stress. Emergencies could happen when you are away and the rest of your pack is at home. So be sure the babysitter knows your emergency plans, too.

Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. Not fun things to talk about. But, if one of these emergencies strike, will your family be prepared?

The first step is to figure out what types of events might occur. Fire happens no matter where you live. Working at the firehouse, I know this all too well. Earthquakes are more regional; but remember, earthquakes have hit in some unexpected places. Floods are more common in some areas than others. So, if your home or doghouse is located in a floodplain, be sure you establish emergency plans to share with your relatives and neighbors. Sharing the information with cats is optional.

So how exactly can you get your kids involved?

  • Do a home hazard scavenger hunt to teach our brood about dangerous objects. Have them check every large piece of furniture to make sure everything is secured to a wall. What about paintings and other loose items? Imagine an earthquake. What could, potentially happen to prized possessions like bones or food bowls?
  • Make an emergency kit! FEMA has a great online matching game that helps kids picture the key contents of emergency kit. And don’t forget flashlights and canned goods. Alpo and Pedigree are my personal favorites.
  • After you put together your kit, it is time to plan! Get your kids involved. And, if you have hands instead of paws, write out the plan. Also, consider including some simple designs, clip art or pictures to make it easy for younger kids to understand.

Here are some key points to cover:

  • Notes  about each family member
  • Phone numbers. Don’t forget to include the names of folks who live far away in case the emergency knocks out local communications. Put copies of photos in the plan, too, so they can be easily distributed if anyone goes missing.
  • Make sure everyone understands escape routes and the group meeting area.
  • Large families can get older kids to watch over the younger ones
  • Ready.gov has a good emergency plan template

After a disaster, you will need to make sure all of your family members are present and accounted for. Then, its contact agencies such as your local Red Cross and to keep watch on alerts from FEMA

With proper planning, you can help make sure your family stays safe in if and when a real emergency strikes. The most important thing is to make sure everyone is involved. BE SAFE.