Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety

How to #BeSafe in 2015 

new-years-resolutions firedogNew Year’s Resolutions. Most people write a few down, even if they have no intention of ever following through. That could be the reason dogs don’t participate in the practice. Well, it could also be because we don’t have opposable thumbs. But, whatever the reason, according to USA.Gov, the 10 most popular resolutions (for people) are to:

  • Lose weight
  • Volunteer to help others
  • Quit smoking
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Save money
  • Get fit
  • Eat healthier
  • Manage stress
  • Manage debt

BeeSafeAs good as those aspirations are, we propose they fail to incorporate one of the most important goals anyone could make—to #BeSafe! So, as our gift to you for 2015, we have prepared a list of our suggestions for 10 New Year’s Safety Resolutions:

  1. Create/update home and workplace emergency preparedness kits. The contents of your kit will vary depending on individual needs. Set aside a three-days-per-person supply of foodwater and other essentials. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. Help could arrive in hours or it could take days for relief workers to get to you. So take responsibility for yourself. This is good advice even outside the arena of safety.
  1. Develop and practice an emergency preparedness plan. The Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps encourages households, businesses and communities to prepare for emergencies by making plans to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services. If you own or manage a facility, make sure tenants and employees are well-informed of emergency procedures. Develop a plan and run periodic drills. Practice makes perfect. I love running drills…or running anything, for that matter.
  1. Don’t play with fire. When fires break out, the potential for loss is high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. So take precautions to make sure you are fire safe, whether you are located in an area with a high risk of wildfire; visiting, living or working inside a high rise building; or just hanging out at home. We can’t really emphasize this enough. Fire is dangerous stuff. Be careful.
  1. Learn CPR. Sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death in adults, accounts for 325,000 annual adult deaths in the United States. Prompt, effective administration of CPR/AED and first aid can mean the difference between life and death. Did you know you can’t call the Heimlich maneuver the Heimlich maneuver anymore? I guess Heimlich’s family got mad they weren’t making any money off of the deal. So now it’s called the Abdominal Thrust. Not quite as catchy.
  1. Take advantage of available vaccines. Because people are starting to second-guess the wisdom of vaccinating their children, once eradicated diseases such as polio and TB are reemerging. Do your due diligence, researching booster shots your pediatrician suggests. But refusing every vaccination could put the rest of the population at risk. I don’t know why people refuse to get shots. We give JR boosters all of the time and he doesn’t even cry.
  1. Learn how to determine whether any given disaster would be best handled by evacuation or sheltering in place. Since every natural or manmade disaster is unique, you won’t be able to predict the best course of action. But, you can educate yourself about the various types of emergencies and how to respond most appropriately in any given situation. Safe Room
  1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer to prevent spreading germs. During flu season, this is especially important! The CDC likens hand washing to a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Effective hand washing involves five simple and effective steps, including wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Regular hand washing, particularly before and after certain activities, is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. I try to keep my paws as clean as possible.
  1. Be mindful of safety risks associated with natural disasters. Extreme heat, mudslides, flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes pose significant and very specific safety-related issues. So the best way to prepare is to research the risks that pertain to your geographic location.
  1. Eat better and move more. Why are these suggestions on a list of safety tips? Because many health-related issues are brought on by lack of exercise and poor diet. So, eat right and keep moving to beef up your immune system. Doing so will help you avoid contagious bugs such as Influenza, and prevent you from developing serious health conditions like Diabetes. I can always get behind anything that has to do with eating or exercise.
  1. Be careful when you travel. This is important for several reasons:
  • Remain alert at the airport to help circumvent terrorist activity. When you fly, pay attention to suspicious activity and refuse to watch bags for anyone you don’t know.
  • Research the potential health risks associated with your destination (West Africa, relative to Ebola), and take proper precautions.
  • Don’t drink and drive!
  • Do not text while driving. Did you know that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than those who resist the urge to pick up their cellphones while driving? More than 1.6 million automobile accidents that occurred last year in the U.S. were related to texting while driving (National Safety Council). Put the phone down or pull over to use it. It can wait.

We hope that this blog post will help you make safe choices in 2015 and beyond. One convenient and affordable way to do so is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Alert System, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Tornadoes, Uncategorized, Workplace Safety

Why Humans Should Learn How to Shelter in Place

Safe RoomThe recent tornadoes in the Midwest have reminded all of us that evacuation is not always the wisest choice for anyone facing a disaster. This is important to remember, since our natural “flight or fight” response may urge us to flee when sheltering in place may be the better move.

Emergency management professionals have long maintained that it’s often preferable to stay put during and immediately after any disaster (as long as you are inside anything other than a mobile home.) Better by far is preparing an easily accessible safe room well in advance of any emergency. Or there is always a well-constructed doghouse. That’s what I use to keep my family safe during disasters.

According to a report by CNN, to date, at least 16 are dead in Oklahoma following the vicious storm which spawned at least five tornadoes. A spokeswoman from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office noted that the death toll may rise even further. Tragically, among the dead are two children — an infant who was sucked out of the car with its mother and a 4-year-old boy who, along with his family, had unsuccessfully sought shelter by hovering in a drainage-ditch. Whether or not these deaths could have been prevented, we feel it is important to remind people that the time to think about disaster preparation is while you are safe and sound…not during the actual emergency when stress mounts and time is short.

The American Red Cross defines the term Shelter-in-Place as “taking immediate shelter wherever you are—at home, work, school, or anywhere else. It may also mean “seal the room.” In other words, in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, to BE SAFE, you might need to take steps to prevent outside air from coming in. This is particularly difficult for most dogs to understand since we love sticking our noses out of windows.

Just a few instances where sheltering in place makes more sense than evacuating include:
•    The release of chemical or radiological contaminants
•    Weather-related hazards
•    Active shooter incidents (including, but not limited to terrorist attacks)
•    Shortage of bacon

If any of these occur, it is important to listen to TV or radio to accurately be able to determine whether the authorities recommend simply that you remain indoors or that you take additional steps to protect yourself and your family and building occupants if you own or manage a facility. The first step to prepare for any such emergency is to determine which alert systems are used in your area. Fire or police department warning procedures could include:

  • “All-Call” telephoning – an automated system for sending recorded messages, sometimes called Reverse 911.
  • Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts on the radio or television.
  • Outdoor warning sirens or horns.
  • The Twilight Bark
  • News media sources – radio, television and cable
  • NOAA Weather Radio alerts. NOAA offers several online resources and apps to make sure you are made aware of any disasters in your area.
  • Residential route alerting – messages announced to neighborhoods from vehicles equipped with PA systems.
  • Facilities that handle potentially dangerous materials, such as nuclear power plants, are required to install sirens and other warning systems (flash warning lights) to cover a 10-mile area around the plant.

At Home
1.    Choose a “shelter” room in advance of any actual emergency. No matter the type of incident, the safest room is one that has as few windows and doors as possible.
2.    Consider using a master bedroom that is connected to a bathroom. This is often a good choice because it is connected to a water supply.
3.    Develop a family emergency plan so that everyone knows what to do.
4.    Find out when warning systems will be tested. If alarms are tested in your area, determine whether you can hear or see sirens and/or warning lights from your place of business.
5.    Assemble a disaster supplies kit that includes emergency water and food supplies.
6.    Check the Disaster Supply Kit regularly. Make sure it has plenty of dog food and treats.
7.    Practice “sheltering in place” regularly.

Away from Home
1.    Contact your workplaces, your children’s schools, nursing homes where you may have family and your local town or city officials to learn about their plans for “sheltering-in-place.”
2.    Help ensure that the emergency plan and checklist involves all employees and/or tenants of your building.
3.    Assign volunteers or recruits specific duties to fulfill during an emergency. Also, assign alternates to each duty.
4.    Create an Emergency Supply Kit for building occupants. Check the kit on a regular basis. (Items like duct tape and first aid supplies can sometimes disappear when employees or tenants know where the kit is stored. Also, even if the kit is sealed, batteries for the radio and flashlight require regular replacement.
5.    Learn CPR, First Aid and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for more information.

When you are notified of a “Shelter in Place” disaster, take these steps:

  • Bring children and pets indoors immediately. If your children are at school, do not try to bring them home unless told to. The school will shelter them. If you have pets, prepare a place for them to relieve themselves where you are taking shelter. Pets should not go outside during a chemical or radiation emergency. Consider including plastic bags in your Disaster Supply Kit. Or, better yet, potty-train your dog. Some of us are bright enough to learn how to flush.
  • Close and lock all outside doors and windows. Locking may provide a tighter seal.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • Turn off the heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. Turn off all fans, including bathroom fans operated by the light switch.
  • Close the fireplace or wood stove damper. Become familiar with proper operation of flues and dampers ahead of time.
  • Get your disaster supplies kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • If you are instructed to seal the room, use duct tape and plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, to seal all cracks around the door into the room. Tape plastic over any windows. Tape over any vents and seal electrical outlets and other openings. As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
  • Call your emergency contact and keep the phone handy in case you need to report a life-threatening condition. Otherwise stay off the phone, so that the lines will be available for use by emergency responders.
  • Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Do not evacuate unless instructed to do so.
  • Stay where you are until you are told that the emergency is over. Only then should you open windows and doors and turn on ventilation systems.
  • After the “all clear,” go outside until the building’s air has been exchanged with clean outdoor air. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical or radiological contaminants outdoors.

Although this blog post is longer and more entertaining than most, it should not be considered a comprehensive digest about sheltering in place. However, subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services have access to instructional videos which explain the concept in great detail. For more about sheltering in place, check out previous RJWestmore blog posts, as well as information provided by the National Terror Alert Response Center, the CDC and FEMA.

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!

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