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

RJ the Firedog Wants You to Resolve to be Ready in 2012

With wildfires, droughts, historic flooding and several other disasters, 2011 proved to be quite a year for emergency managers. It was also quite a year for me. I rolled in a pile of something and carried the odor around for days. To help with what is expected to be a turbulent 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the Resolve to be Ready in 2012 campaign. The purpose is to promote individual and business preparedness in the face of disasters.

Before we go any further, I want to disclose my resolutions for 2012:

  1. Gain between 10 and 12 pounds.
  2. Exercise less and conserve strength by napping in the sun.
  3. Chase various animals more frequently (despite the fact this contradicts resolution #2).
  4. Ask the guys at the station to cook things that will make my coat nice and shiny.

The good folks at FEMA are encouraging the private sector to be more self-sufficient in its management of disasters. After such a busy year as 2011, the reserves of FEMA and other organizations are sparse. The private sector can help itself by limiting losses incurred following disasters or by preventing damage altogether through proper planning and safeguards. I’ve been planning ahead for months. Our doghouse is prepared for anything and everything.

Many training materials and tips for improving readiness can be found through the site Ready.gov:

  • Multi-language communication materials are available in several languages including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Hindi, among others. Why can’t somebody invent a dog-bark translator?
  • Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Programs are intended to help organizations to follow proven standards for optimal safety. Followed standards come from three sources— the American Society for Industrial Security, the British Standards Institution, and the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Voluntary certifications through Ready.Gov are the result of a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector and are designed to promote self-sufficiency and a decreased reliance on government aid.
  • Disaster kit contents are detailed on the site, including the importance of following the rule of storing one gallon of water per person per day. I’m on the 1.5-gallons-of-gravy per-day rule.
  • Pledges can be taken at www.Ready.Gov/Resolve, which certifies an individual or business entity is taking necessary steps to be ready to act during a disaster.
  • Free materials including the publication Ready Business are available through the site. I offer a stellar tome called How to Succeed at the Dog Park without Even Trying.
  • Business Continuity Plans that will allow companies to resume business operations quickly are fully explained on Ready.gov. Companies are encouraged to consider work-at-home arrangements, backup data storage, and other safeguards that will prevent delays in business.
  • Disaster Planning Exercise training materials can be downloaded from the site and used to run real-world drills. Personally, I don’t like drills. “Sit!” “Stay!” Those are no fun. I have some commands for you people. “Get the leash!” “Drop that salami!”

Business owners and facility managers are encouraged to offer readiness tips, including:

  • Incorporate readiness information and products into any holiday parties. Perhaps you can provide a NOAA radio as a party gift. Or maybe a gift card to the local pet store?
  • Need a theme for your party? While “disaster preparedness” might not sound too exciting, you could build a fun volcano or rent a fake snow machine to bring some lightness to the party while raising awareness.
  • Perform fire drills during the holiday season to ensure tenants don’t forget about safety.
  • Hang up various print and electronic banners available for free from Ready.gov. My wife had me hang a bunch of posters in our doghouse including some of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.

Resolving to be ready does not mean you have to live a constant state of paranoia or fear of disaster. Stop following me you crazy squirrels! It simply means implementing the right practices, products, or facilities that limit your building’s exposure to harm. Your tenants and their employees will have confidence in your safety features, which can prove invaluable in an emergency situation.

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, Disaster Preparedness, Social Media

Introducing the New RJWestmore Facebook Fan Page

We Hope You Really “Like” Our New Facebook Fan Page!

I am pleased to announce the new RJWestmore Training System Fan Page on Facebook! It’s intended as a meeting place for emergency management professionals to “virtually gather” to share information. Our goal is to facilitate engaging discussions about disaster preparedness, fire life safety and building management among Facebook users around the world. I’m thinking of starting a “Friends of Squirrels” Fan Page.

My pals at RJWestmore remain committed to continually advance our social media presence as a service to the community—to help business leaders, property owners and managers, first-responders, healthcare professionals and everyday folks prepare for and recover from disasters of all kinds. Serving commercial real estate companies for more than 20 years, RJWestmore Inc. offers a state-of-the-art Training System, which was recently upgraded to Version 2.5, to building managers and property owners throughout the country.  I have a training system of my own “PoochSoft Stick Chewing V1.4.” We’re still in beta mode.

The fully-integrated system allows property management companies to administer one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Property Managers can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors, with all user-training and testing recorded. Subscribers also enjoy quick-access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. What’s more, the RJW Training System automatically routes certifications and sends compliance reports to every tenant-subscriber.

The fully-automated system features personalized certificates, which are instantly sent to users via email upon course completion. And annual reminders for each training-module are also automatically sent to each user along with quarterly employee-compliance reports, which are sent to every tenant. I try to send Bowzer and Miles reminders on their fetch level certifications, but they just chew them up…

An added benefit, the RJW Training System sends out automatic notifications to local fire departments. Those guys and gals are the best! Props to my Dalmatian brothers! And higher-level users can automatically create real time Special Assistance and Floor Warden Lists and get automatic notification of updates to Special Assistance, Floor Warden and Fire Safety Director Lists. Automatic updates and maintenance make the system even easier to use.

Fans of the Facebook page will receive updates about the awesome training system, further enhancing our innovative service. We also want to encourage clients to talk to each other, to share tips about best practices for emergency and disaster preparedness and recovery. I had my own Fan Page for a while, but I simply had too many fans

Highlights of our new Fan Page:

  • Use it as a social media gateway to the corporate blog, RJ the Firedog blog (This is my own blog!), Twitter feed, and YouTube content.
  • Take advantage of information available through daily posts which will detail the latest news and best practices in emergency management—covering a myriad of topics such as earthquake preparedness, indoor air quality, government agency news, fire safety, beef jerky national aggregate pricing, evacuation procedures, disease prevention and CDC warnings, cyber threats and many other related topics.
  • Learn about industry events such as conferences for emergency management and first- responder professionals as well as security training summits.
  • View engaging photos and videos relative to emergency management communications and training. These really do exist! Have you ever seen a video of a fire drill in action? It’s riveting!

Like the RJWestmore Training System Fan Page today to become a part of the best emergency preparedness group on the web. As the fan base grows, we hope the page will emerge as a central hub for networking and information-sharing for dedicated emergency management and building management professionals, property owners, building managers and safety personnel across the country. It will also expose more people to my extremely witty repartee.

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, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, RJ Westmore personnel

The Growing Role of Women in Emergency Management

Women are increasingly entering the field of emergency management.

Emergency management positions are traditionally male-dominated. Many war veterans and first responders such as firefighters traditionally filled many emergency management roles. So, since the majority of individuals in these positions were male, emergency management became a male-centered profession—one that is only recently adapting to new hiring practices.

Traditional barriers for women entering emergency management fields:

  • Many agencies felt that on-the-ground first responders experience as police officers, firefighters, or EMTs was necessary for effective emergency services management. If I had a doghouse fire emergency, I would not care about the gender of the person! I would just want help!
  • A “boy’s club” mentality existed, where the path to promotion and appointment to leadership-positions was largely directed by men who tended to hire other men. Whiskers tried to make a “feline’s only” club back in the 1980’s. I told him discrimination has no place in the pet world!

Some relevant statistics on the changing landscape of security management:

  • A 2006 survey from the Emergency Management Professional Organization for Women’s Enrichment (EMPOWER) showed only 10 percent of respondents possessed more than ten years of experience.
  • Annual employee survey data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shows gradual increases in the number of women working for the department, with percentages up to 37.5 in 2010, compared to 32 percent in 2007.
  • EMPOWER also notes an increase in women’s involvement in the field following 9/11, which inspired many to join the ranks of emergency management after witnessing and respecting the heroic actions of first responders relative to the attacks. The events surrounding 9/11 prompted the creation of the DHS and raised awareness of the need for coordinated relief efforts and emergency management as rewarding and patriotic career paths. That’s pretty cool!

Another factor that has contributed to the growth of women in emergency management is the fact that numerous professional organizations allow women across the country to share about best practices, and as mentors for others who are hoping to enter the field. Organizations such as the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services offer networking, policy guidelines for fire departments and also a voice for women on policy-making initiatives. (I’m thinking of starting up one of these acronym organizations myself. How about POOCH, the Proud Order Of Canine Heroes.) These types of organizations promote the capabilities of women in emergency management and are helping to further open professional doors that were previously closed. EMPOWER is another group that pushes mentoring and educational opportunities as ways for women to join the field.

Below are some expert tips for women who are looking to join emergency management:

  • Volunteering early in your career is an ideal way to gain experience. You can learn how the organization operates, and the efforts involved in directing and motivating volunteer staff.
  • Be open to new opportunities that might indirectly lead to positions in the field. Nobody will get an upper-level emergency management job right out of college. Consider working for a police department or taking a temporary disaster relief job to get your foot in the door. That’s another human expression I don’t get! “Foot in the door?” Doesn’t that hurt? My paw got caught by the front door the other day and I yelped for days!
  • Focus on an area of special interest. For example, your medical background would translate well to public health emergency agencies. Or your work in public relations might parlay to emergency management communication positions. So keep your eyes open for opportunities. My unique talents lend themselves to the world of competitive eating. One day I’ll get my chance…

Diversity in hiring is always a good thing. The particular community covered by an emergency management agency is best served by the most qualified leader—regardless of gender. Now if only dogs could master speaking, then think of the doors that would be opened in emergency management and other fields! Well, we would still need help with the door handles, but still…

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, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, Holiday Gift Ideas, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Resolve to Get Ready. Come on. Let’s Go!

Cartoon Santa with a full shopping cart and long list.
Give the gift of emergency preparedness this holiday season.

 

I always stress the importance of being proactive about preventing disasters. I also stress the need for a good shiny coat. But that is a little off-topic. Back to the business at hand, disaster preparedness is critical because, while it won’t necessarily stop every potential disaster from happening, it will aid your efforts to mitigate the damage and, we hope above all else, save lives.

As 2010 comes to an end, families and property managers and owners have a chance to consider some New Year’s safety resolutions. For some ideas, you can look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign. This is great because, while we want you to be thinking about safety every day; New Year’s is the perfect time to commit to implementing change. My resolution is to demand even more tummy scratches and to take more naps. I like to set the bar low.

Whether you choose to use this post to help formulate a New Year’s resolution or to inspire ideas for safety-related holiday gift ideas, remember that safety equipment pays for itself 100-fold the minute it is needed.

For families, the Resolve-to-be-Ready Program promotes readiness in three simple steps. So schedule firm deadlines for each to ensure your family is covered:

1. Create a Family Emergency Plan.

  • Discuss plans with all members of the family, being careful to include younger children, who often think quickly in emergencies.
  • Establish a meeting place and ways to contact each other. Remember cell phones might not be operational. So plan for contingencies.
  • Involve neighbors, especially noting whom children should contact during emergencies if parents are not present.
  • Designate someone to rescue or guide your pet during an emergency. (This point is near and dear to my heart.)

2. Create an Emergency Kit. (Here is a comprehensive list of kit-suggestions.)

  • Include documents such as emergency contact numbers, insurance information and bank records.
  • Also, don’t forget flashlights and first aid supplies.
  • Don’t neglect your pets. (This is an important rule all the time, not just during emergencies. They will need food and water! They also might enjoy a nice brisket, some chicken wings…
  • For little children and infants, you should include diapers and related items. Be sure to check the kit contents on a regular basis since 18-month-old children won’t fit into newborn diapers.

3. Be Disaster-Specific.

  • If you live in Southern California, you should create unique plans for wildfires, earthquakes and maybe even mudslides.
  • Atlantic coastal residents should purchase NOAA radios for better hurricane awareness to help plan evacuation or shelter plans.
  • Make sure you plan for the natural disasters specific to your region of the world. In my world, running out of tennis balls is a natural disaster.

Need gift ideas for family members, employees or coworkers? You might get some funny looks. But safety preparedness gifts show that you truly care! Consider these suggestions, which are more creative and helpful than a tie or Chia Pet:

  • An Emergency Generator
  • New carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are now available even for the hearing impaired
  • A piece of rope with a chewable ball on the end
  • Fire extinguishers are perfect for family members who spend long hours in the garage doing woodworking or tinkering with cars
  • A gift certificate for First Aid or CPR classes. If you can’t find an organization that offers these, create one of your own.

What can property owners and managers do to promote readiness?

  • Giving fruit cakes at the holiday party? Consider a safety-related item such as an earthquake kit or roadside emergency kit.
  • If a major disaster prevents your employees or tenants from going home, do you have sufficient supplies for an overnight stay? Resolve to build an adequate stockpile of ready-to-eat meals, blankets and bottled water.
  • Institute a “bring your pet to work” day! What does that have to do with safety? Well it will certainly make your tenants happier!

Encourage your employees to meet resolutions by developing incentives. Resolve-to-be-Ready recommends that employees sign safety related pledges and display them at their desks.

Unlike trying to lose weight or resolving not to chase Whiskers, safety and preparation resolutions are relatively simple and realistic to meet. Whether you are buying waterproof flashlights for Uncle Fred or offering free CPR classes at your office building, you can help others by encouraging them to focus on safety.

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, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON PREDICTED

First in a Series about Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery

In their latest forecast, the National Weather Service reaffirmed their May forecast of a heavy Atlantic hurricane season. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encouraged Americans living in coastal states to take steps to ensure their families are prepared for hurricanes. And the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center recently announced that all the factors are coming together for a stormy season.

What does all of this mean? If you live on the coast, get ready for a rough ride. And when I say, “rough,” I don’t mean “ruff.”

Since before hurricane season started, FEMA personnel have been actively engaged with state and local officials in coastal states to ensure they have the support and resources necessary to prepare for and respond to a tropical storm or hurricane. This season has been particularly taxing for emergency management professionals who have to weigh the potential effects of the BP oil spill on response capabilities and recovery scenarios. I haven’t seen so many people affected by a “spill” since JR was paper-trained.

“FEMA continues to work across the administration and with our state and local partners to ensure they’re ready should a hurricane make landfall,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “But we can only be as prepared as the public, so it’s important that families and businesses take steps now to be ready.”

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond with decisive action. Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready.  In the coming weeks, we’ll look at the various ways you can prepare for and recover after tropical storms and hurricanes, including:

But first, let’s examine the nature and history of hurricanes so we know what to prepare for. A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, which is a generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. According to the National Hurricane Center, the ingredients for a hurricane include:

  1. A pre-existing weather disturbance
  2. Warm tropical oceans
  3. Moisture (Not canine-derived)
  4. Relatively light winds aloft

If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon. Each year, approximately 11 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. An average six of these storms become hurricanes each year.

Hurricane Hit Parade (Hurricane Trivia)

The deadliest hurricane on record (prior to the practice of naming tropical storms in 1953) is reported to have slammed into Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing 8,000 people. A Category 4 hurricane, it struck the island with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

The costliest hurricane on record, as most of Florida will remember, was Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992 and cost an estimated $26.5 billion. I don’t know about you. But I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this much money. Suffice to say it’s a whole lot of rawhide treats…at least several bags.

The most intense hurricane to strike the U.S. hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day weekend in 1935. The Labor Day Hurricane sustained winds are estimated to have reached almost 200 miles per hour. Although it hit a tiny, low-populated area, 390 died in the event.

The busiest month in the U.S. for major hurricane hits is September, with an average 36 of 64 annual such storms. August is the second busiest month, with an average of 15 out of 64 annual strikes.

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 RJWestmore, Inc. Check back next week, when we will continue our series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE.