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

Happy National Public Health Week

High resolution conceptual hand print isolated with textThe CDC announced that the week of April 7, 2014 is National Public Health Week. Doesn’t sound as exciting as National Bacon Day. But, it is worth noting, nonetheless. During the first full week of April each year since 1995, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW), which is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues important to improving our nation.

This year, during the annual campaign, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are hoping to inspire everyone to be a: “Public Health Nerds,” who focus on bringing communities together to promote good health. I’ve always considered myself a firedog nerd and that’s okay because I’ve always believed that nerds are cool.

Each day of the weeklong promotion, the CDC will release a relevant image to represent the daily theme. Monday’s image pays homage to the theme, “Be healthy from the start,” supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding. From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, the message is that public health starts at home. Other daily messages will include:

Tuesday: Don’t panic. Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action.

Wednesday: Get out ahead. Prevention is now a nationwide priority.

Thursday: Eat well. The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. I sure hope pork chops are considered healthy. They’re one of my mainstays.

Friday: Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best practices for community health come from around the globe.

good health sign

The CDC hopes they’ll strike a chord with what they are referring to as their “nerd” campaign, encouraging people to track the topic using the hashtag #PHNerd. I’ll be posting my “firedogisms” this week using that hashtag. Join the conversation!

“Those of us who work in public health have the shared responsibility of communicating information to save and improve lives of Americans,” said CDC Deputy Director Judith A. Monroe, MD. “CDC’s Public Health Nerd campaign and APHA’s National Public Health Week achieve this objective by increasing awareness about health issues, which helps Americans make informed health care choices.”

Despite the dramatic progress achieved through a century of public health advancements — the elimination of polio, fluoridation of drinking water and seatbelt laws — our nation’s health falls far short of its potential.

  • The U.S. life expectancy has reached a record-high of 78, but still ranks 46th behind Japan and most of Europe.
  • A baby born in the U.S. is more likely to die before its first birthday than a child born in almost any other developed country.
  • The U.S. is among the top 10 countries that have the most people with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation’s capital are HIV-positive.
  • Disparities persist with ethnic minority populations having nearly eight times the death rate for key health conditions, such as diabetes, than that of non-minority populations.
  • Steak hasn’t yet been turned into medication. I think this is something we should spend time trying to tackle.

Next year’s public health week will be April 6-12, 2015. But you don’t have to wait for an official marketing campaign to take care of yourself. The good news is that we have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future by adopting these 10 good health habits:

  1. Eat right and drink plenty of water. I love drinking water, especially out of porcelain bowls.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
  3. Move. Maybe take your dog for a walk!
  4. Manage stress.
  5. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  6. If you’re sick, stay home.
  7. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  8. Keep your hands clean.
  9. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  10. Keep your home and workplace safe. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for a disaster of any kind is to be aware. Our system 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 Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare

The United States of Emergency

How is a State of Emergency Declared?

You’ve certainly heard about how the government declares “States of Emergency,” but have probably wondered how exactly they go about it. In my book, a “state of emergency” would be seeing a squirrel during my walk. Maybe that’s more a “state of extreme excitement.”

With 59 FEMA major disaster declarations in 2009 and 12 already declared in 2010 (three, related to wild winter storms, have already been made in March), it is timely to look at how individual states declare emergencies and the role FEMA plays in reviewing and/or approving the allocation of federal funds.

How state and federal governments deal with emergencies is similar to how you as a building owner or property manager would handle any emergency. First, you would assess the situation, while ensuring that individual safety remains the primary concern. Then, you would look at the amount of damage that has been suffered and judge the replacement and rebuilding costs in terms of money and labor. If my doghouse was ever damaged in a disaster, I would be inconsolable, and would value the loss as “priceless.”

Governors who are faced with large disasters go through several steps before requesting federal disaster assistance: The first step that FEMA takes is called a Preliminary Damage Assessment.” My owners would do these if they knew that I chewed on the coffee table. I don’t want to say anything more.

  • Personnel from FEMA and the affected state’s emergency management agency work together with local officials to survey the overall disaster and write an assessment.
  • This assessment helps the governor support a declaration request and provides an overview at response effort costs including labor and related overtime. It also gives a thorough review of the state of emergency services capacity and the damage to citizens so the governor can show that the damage exceeds state and local resource allocations.
  • After the formal request is submitted to the regional FEMA office, here are some issues that FEMA considers to determine if federal assistance is warranted:
    • The amount and type of damage
    • How many homes are damaged? 10 homes or 1,000? What about business? Was a major office park or manufacturing site affected which would restrict the incomes of a large portion of the given population? (Convert all of the following to questions so they stand alone as sub-points under the larger headings.)
      • Was the Infrastructure affected?
      • Can the public in the area still use the roadways or other transportation?
      • Are basic services such as water and electricity working or will be restored quickly?
      • What about the pooches? Luckily, we are a hardy species and can deal with nearly any emergency.
      • What are the public health considerations?
      • Are the local hospitals or other local care centers affected?
      • What are the impacts to essential government services and functions?
        • Is the Federal government better equipped to do the job?
        • Does the overall scale of the disaster require government assistance?
  • How concentrated or disperse is the emergency? FEMA officials will work with State agencies to assess if there are enough State personnel available to manage the disaster.
  • What is the average Insurance coverage for homeowners and public facilities in the area?If the area is one that lacks proper insurance coverage, then losses will be more severe and rebuilding efforts will be lengthier.
  • Do state and local resource commitments from previous disasters stretch existing resources?
  • FEMA submits their findings to the President’s Office.
  • The President decides if a “Presidential Disaster Declaration” should be made. If this declaration is made, FEMA’s share of disaster expenses will cover at least 75% of the total costs.

This methodical approach to reviewing disasters is a good model for any building manager or property owner. We encourage you to engage tenants as valuable partners in safety and disaster planning. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.