Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Heart Disease, How to stay healthy

Where there is smoke, there is fire

examination of lungs by x-rayThe CDC announced this week that, over the past three years, 1.8 million Americans were inspired to try to quit smoking and 104,000 have given up the dangerous habit for good, thanks — at least in part — to an aggressive national campaign initiated in 2014. And some people say that marketing is a waste of money? The educational, non-smoking crusade included public service announcements and ads that shared “Tips from Former Smokers.”  Survey results were published on March 24, 2016 in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

The ads featured various ways that people struggle with smoking-related health issues:

  • Cancer
  • Gum disease
  • Premature birth
  • Stroke caused by smoking combined with HIV.

A man knocks smoking outAbout 80 percent of U.S. adult cigarette smokers who were surveyed reported that they had seen at least one television ad during the campaign. I’ve seen some of these PSAs. They are pretty crazy! Tips was the first federally funded anti-smoking media campaign, and is widely considered well worth the investment, since smoking-related diseases cost the United States more than $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion in direct health care costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity. That’s a lot of lost money and productivity that’s going up in smoke!

“The Tips’ campaign is an important counter measure to the one million dollars that the tobacco industry spends each hour on cigarette advertising and promotion,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The money spent in one year on Tips is less than the amount the tobacco industry spends on advertising and promotion in just three days.”

The most recent Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress revealed that cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing about 480,000 Americans each year. I guess I take pride in the fact that dogs don’t smoke. But, in all honesty, doing so would be difficult without opposable thumbs.

For every American who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more suffer at least one serious illness associated with first or secondhand smoke. And while the percentage of American adults who smoke is at the lowest level since the CDC began tracking such data, there are still an estimated 40 million adult smokers in the U.S.

Dejar de fumarQuitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Since life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers, quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. Likely for these reasons, surveys show that 70 percent of all smokers have the desire to quit. I know I have the desire for them to quit! As a dog, I smell smoke on everything it touches, even more than my human companions.

The American Cancer Society reports that quitting completely at any age has significant health and lifestyle benefits:

  1. Within minutes of smoking the last cigarette, the body begins to recover:
  • 20 minutes after quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal.
  1. Almost immediately after quitting:
  • Food tastes better.
  • Sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
  • Teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
  • Ordinary activities leave non-smokers less out of breath than their smoking peers.
  • Minimizes the damaging effects of tobacco on appearance, including premature wrinkling of skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
  1. Three weeks to nine months after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  1. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
  • Heart attack risk drops dramatically.
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  1. Five years after quitting, the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
  • Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
  • Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two to five years
  1. 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
  • The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

 

  1. 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

If you smoke and would like to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view personal stories from the Tips’ campaign as well as detailed assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute to support smokers who are trying to quit. And I might add, if you don’t smoke, don’t start!cigarette ban red

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just where smoking is concerned. 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 Air Quality, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Managing Indoor Air Quality

clouds, sun and sky
Clean air is a safety concern.

For building owners and managers, ensuring tenant and visitor welfare is always of paramount importance. And while there is only so much that can be done to control the quality of the air that enters into a building, it is still important to frequently filter and refresh the air for optimal tenant and visitor health. I have a high-velocity air filtration system in our firedoghouse!

Regulations such as the Clean Air Act have saved thousands of lives from diseases such as emphysema, asthma and heart disease. However, there is still much that can be done to control air pollutants to allow everyone to enjoy cleaner air.

What are some of the main contributors to air pollution?

  • Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless but very poisonous in large quantities. Facilities that operate furnaces and/or automobiles need to provide adequate ventilation and install carbon monoxide alarms to ensure safety.
  • Let’s be honest. Cat dander is the biggest problem for poor air. Tabby and Whiskers need to be left outside at all times!
  • Particulate matter is basically “stuff” in the air. This can be man-made or naturally caused, resulting from sources as diverse as burning fossil fuels, power plants, dust storms and wildfires. Particulates have wreaked havoc on the human body since ancient times.
  • Nitrogen oxides are the brown plumes of “haze” that can be seen downwind of major cities. I love it when people call it “haze,” like it’s just simply trapped water vapor. It’s smog, people! The result of high-temperature combustion, such compounds produce smoggy reddish-brown skies.

Before embarking on new policies and procedures for improving a building’s air quality, it’s important to record a baseline. Testing for radon, carbon monoxide and particulate levels can help guide you about unsafe conditions and provide guidance on the priority order for steps to clean the air.

What kind of policies can a company institute to improve air quality?

  • If your company is relocating or expanding, avoid purchasing office space that is in close proximity to industrial areas which might produce toxins. Of course, if your property is already located in this type of area, you can take steps to safeguard the air in the interior of the building.
  • Don’t allow smoking either in or around your building. Cigarette smoke contains an alarming number of toxins which can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. When I see people smoking, I’m really glad I don’t have opposable thumbs…
  • Review furniture choices in tenant offices. Pieces made of out cheap particle board may contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. I require only top-shelf mahogany for my doghouse…

Cleaning and maintenance tips for air quality:

  • Proper cleaning of carpets is essential. Carpets act as a filter or trap for dust mites and other allergens. Without frequent vacuuming with appropriate filters, carpets can outgas airborne toxins.  I tend get a little gassy after my fourth pig ear.
  • Follow suggested maintenance and cleaning guidelines for HVAC systems. Ductwork should be cleaned to remove mold or other contaminants. Filters should be the highest-quality to effectively remove particles down to the smallest micron.
  • Janitorial staff should be allowed to open windows or other ventilation, whenever feasible. Fumes from high-grade cleaning products are a serious irritant.
  • For residences and businesses in high-humidity areas, consider utilizing dehumidifiers to inhibit the growth of mold. I require a dehumidifier, electronic air cleaner, high-velocity fan, and a white noise machine. I’m a high-maintenance pooch.

Unlike other disasters that can be seen or heard, air quality is (by its very nature) a typically invisible problem. As such, it can pose detrimental health effects over long periods of time, making it a silent but deadly killer. Taking steps to clean the air will have a direct effect on tenant happiness and productivity.

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 Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires

Fire Hazards in Office Buildings

Office Fire is a Serious Subject

Occasionally, we have to tackle serious subjects. Today, we’re dealing with one such topic… building fire safety. According to my good pals at the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 112,000 non-residential structure fires in 2008 which resulted in $3.8 billion in property damages.  Those really tall buildings are especially at risk as fires can spread rapidly and higher floors are can be out of reach for even the largest fire trucks.

Building owners should work closely with tenants to discuss fire hazards to prevent loss of property or life. The potential loss of sensitive data or documents should make them a relatively receptive audience. I know that my ears would certainly perk up if someone told me there that my doghouse is at risk.

Reducing the incidence of fires in buildings can be reduced by identifying contributing factors and minimizing risks. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to handle any type of hazard!

Space heaters:

In enclosed spaces near papers, these are famous for starting fires.

  • Space heaters use a lot of electricity and the use of several units can lead to high utility bills
  • Older space heaters that don’t have auto shutoff can start fire if they are tipped over

Office Equipment and Appliances:

  • Make sure that coffee makers, copiers and computers have plenty of clearance for proper air circulation.
  • Papers should not be stacked on or around equipment. (This includes puppy training papers, too.)
  • Restrict the use of hotplates and other portable heating items. (I prefer my food right out of the can. No need for heating.)

Wiring and Power:

  • Older wiring that is mixed with newer wiring can lead to sparking, which can cause fires.
  • Buildings that fail to keep current with electrical code standards are particularly at risk.
  • Overuse of extension cords and power strips can lead to fire. This risk has increased, recently, since people at home and work use so many electronic devices. Overloaded circuits or power cords routed under combustible carpets can also lead to fire.

Combustible materials:

  • Modern offices typically have highly combustible materials such as file folders, wooden partitions, upholstered furniture, carpeted floors, and wooden doors
  • Combustibles can be decreased by choosing metal furniture, installing fire-rated doors, and moving towards paperless record keeping

Smoking:

Don’t forget about cigarettes! Cigarettes and cigars remain among the leading causes of fire. Even in buildings that prohibit smoking inside buildings, some unruly tenants may not comply with regulations. Strict enforcement of no-smoking policies and the provision of safe outside smoking areas can keep recreational smoking from leading to fire. Outside ash containers should be heavy so they will not tip over. And caution should be taken when disposing of ash.

Fire risks can be greatly reduced by establishing and enforcing safety policies for all of your tenants. The RJ Westmore Training System can help you mitigate these and other potential disasters. Visit my friends at RJ Westmore.com and ask about the recently released Version 2.0 of our award-winning training program. Choosing our program cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training!

Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!