Posted in BE SAFE, Children in Crisis, Health & Welfare, Higher Education, Uncategorized

How to Be Safe at School: Bullying

Bullies and a kidPart 2 in a 3-Part Series

As teachers and administrators across the country are welcoming students to a new school year, we want to help make sure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. Follow these simple safety steps, adapted from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), which are important whether your student is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but our son, J.R., recently graduated from puppy kindergarten. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as bullying and peer pressure, and natural or manmade disasters, students now more than ever need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe. Continue reading “How to Be Safe at School: Bullying”

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, Disaster Preparedness

How to Avoid Disaster-Related Fraud

Fotolia_114103052_XSWhen disasters such as earthquakes or floods strike the United States, an outpouring of financial and emotional support pours in for the victims. Unfortunately, some people prey upon this type of generosity by defrauding disaster victims, donors, and the government. Disaster-related fraud takes several forms, from bogus websites luring people to make donations to fake construction contractors who extract money from vulnerable homeowners. I was once taken in by a bacon-of-the-month scam artist. I should have known that it was too good to be true!

Another example occurs when merchants hike the prices of supplies that are in high demand by disaster victims. For example, during the recent West Virginia flooding, some merchants, such as local hotels and restaurants, were raising rates for bottled water and toiletries in order to cruelly capitalize on short-term demand. I’ll admit that I once stockpiled pig ears. But I didn’t do it to defraud anyone. I just figured I should have an ample supply.

Avoid Fraudulent Donation Workers and Sites

Some unscrupulous individuals pose as workers for charitable organizations, saying that they  are “collecting donations” after a disaster. They will push people to give cash donations which are untraceable and cannot be rescinded. Always ask for identification from volunteers seeking donations, and to be 100% sure of their affiliation,  donate directly through the charity’s main website. After Hurricane Katrina, several people were convicted of impersonating Red Cross workers and dozens of fraudulent donation websites were shut down by authorities.

Online scammer reaching to steal money out of a pocket of a naive internet user, vector illustration, EPS 8Red Flags to help you spot fake donation sites:

  • 100% to victims promise! Genuine charities have overhead, so they can’t possibly give 100% of the donations they collect directly to victims.
  • Site and email misspellings and grammar errors. Compare each website with the official website for the charity. And before inquiring on the satellite site, do a search for the email address on the main charity’s website. After Katrina, unscrupulous scammers purchased the domain name @redcross.org and set up an email account support2@redcross.org, a spoofed Red Cross email address which took people to a fraudulent website for “donations.”
  • Check the site’s “contact us” information. Legitimate charities will provide phone, email and chat support to connect with potential donors.
  • Google to identify fake charities. If an organization’s name sounds unfamiliar, search for it along with the word “scam” to find out if anyone has written news stories or filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Spotting Contractor and Vendor Fraud

Contractor fraud involves someone posing as a qualified contractor. This person will, for example, contact homeowners after a flood and tell them they can repair wood floors or install carpeting on the cheap. Then, they collect deposits from multiple homeowners under the guise of doing work, but simply take the money and run. I have to say that this is abhorrent behavior. And I thought cats were bad!

During Hurricane Sandy, which devastated areas of New Jersey, millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded relief money was fraudulently secured. Some homeowners even pulled from savings or retirement accounts in order to pay contractors, thinking their expenses would be reimbursed. Unscrupulous contractors took advantage of these homeowners and were later indicted on federal charges. The problem prompted the Department of Community Affairs for New Jersey to create a website that educates residents about identifying and preventing contractor-related fraud.

Red Flags for spotting and preventing contractor fraud following disaster:Fotolia_32734369_XS

  • The contractor wants a large upfront payment. Contractors can ask for a portion of the funds upfront, but be very wary of anyone who asks for more than 30%.
  • Poor Reviews or lack of listing on the Better Business Bureau website. Also, check sites Yelp and Angie’s List.
  • Request payment by cash or check. Use a credit card when putting down a deposit, since most credit card companies offer fraud protection. I prefer using Bitcoins for my Amazon dog treat purchases.
  • Rushing you into an agreement. If a contractor is pushy or demanding and/or fails to offer a detailed work plan, then they could running a scam.
  • Address is out of the area. If the contractor claims to be well-known in the area, make a few hours to follow up on his or her referrals. Many scam artists come into an area from out-of-state to prey on homeowners affected by disasters and then flee the scene.
  • Exceptionally low bids. An overeager contractors with a “too good to be true” quote is a warning sign. Even if a low-bid is legitimate, if the contractor is willing to work at such a deeply discounted rate, he or she could have intentionally or carelessly made mistakes when providing the estimate. Many times, these contractors go back to the homeowner to ask for more money when they run out of funds.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. And one of the items you should be careful to safeguard is your money! 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 the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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

Fall for Safety during National Safety Month

Did you know that June is National Safety Month? The National Safety Council (NSC) is sponsoring the awareness campaign because injuries are a leading cause of disability for people and pets of all ages. What’s more, accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. And since many accidents are preventable, it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to review these suggestions for simple, safe behaviors which, when practiced, can help eliminate injuries – and even death.

Fall Facts:

  • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.
  • 87% of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls.
  • Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions, and 40% of all nursing home admissions 40% of those admitted do not return to independent living; 25% die within a year.
  • Many falls do not result in injuries, yet a large percentage of non-injured fallers (47%) cannot get up without assistance.
  • Getting help after an immobilizing fall improves the chance of survival by 80% and increases the likelihood of a return to independent living.
  • Up to 40% of people who have a stroke have a serious fall within the next year.
  • Fall is my favorite season. But that’s a little off the point.

How to Avoid Slips & Falls

Did you know you could injure your back, shoulders, or neck anytime you lift or carry heavy objects or do repetitive actions such as typing or working on an assembly line? Also disconcerting, more than 1 in3 older adults fall each year…spraining or breaking bones, tearing cartilage and/or exacerbating pre-existing health conditions. But don’t think that only hard-labor positions put you at risk. In fact, all types of work (even desk jobs) can lead to injuries. But, as much as you might want to, don’t quit your job to stay safe—because half of all falls happen at home.

So, whether you are at home, at work or on vacation, take these steps to stay safe:

Some people think that the best thing to do if you’ve fallen, or if you’re afraid of falling, is to halt activity. Why take the chance of falling again, right? Actually, research shows that people who are less active are more likely to fall because they lack the strength and balance and they need to resist falls. This is why healthcare professionals recommend starting a regular exercise routine of any kind – even if you start by taking only a few steps every day. Your canine likely tries to remind you of this!

  • Strength and stamina
    Giving your heart, lungs and the rest of your cardiovascular system even a modest workout can make a tremendous difference in the way you feel, in your energy level, and in the way you go about enjoying life as best you can.
  • Balance
    When you were very young, you had to learn to balance yourself, and unless you continue to use your balance under safe conditions, this vital skill diminishes. Balance also helps you to keep the mass of your body over your feet, which helps you maintain your stability when moving your weight from one position to another.
  • Gait
    Regain spring in your step, and practice walking (either alone, or with a cane or walker) with a stronger, safer and more fluid gait.
  • Reflexes
    Exercise can make you more responsive and help you react more safely to obstacles in your path and other potential dangers. Move your body, People!

So the bottom line is that the best way to stay safe from falls is to stay healthy so you can quickly recover even if you do fall! The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!