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 BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Fire Safety: A to Z

A to Z in Fire Safety

For the final post in our series about fire safety, we would like to recap the top 26 tips for preventing and responding to fires at home and work, as well as a myriad of reasons for signing up for The RJWestmore Safety Training System.

A~A to D Fire Extinguishers

(With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for use at your home and in the office can be a daunting task. Since use of the wrong type of fire can actually cause the fire to spread, pay careful attention to the difference.)

A-Rated Extinguishers– extinguish ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these indicates the amount of water they will hold and the amount of fire they are capable of extinguishing. I lobbied to include Alpo, bones, chow and dog food for the first four letters of this series. But I wasn’t able to come up with a way that my number one interests help in fire preparation and prevention.

B-Rated Extinguishers– battle flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for this class indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire they can extinguish.

C-Rated Extinguishers– fight fires caused by electrical equipment, appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires. The risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

D-Rated Extinguishers– are most commonly used in chemical laboratories. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These extinguishers do not feature numerical ratings or multi-purpose ratings. Instead, they are designed for class D fires only.

Emergency Evacuation Plan If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.157 requires you to have an EAP. My own EAP includes barking like crazy until my wife and JR evacuate our dog house.

Fumes from containers that are not properly sealed can be carried on air currents to the flame of a water heater or the pilot light on a stove.

Gas Appliance fires lead to the deaths of 14 people annually, who succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths are caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained. Make sure your gas-powered appliances are in good working-condition.

High-Quality Animation keeps clients engaged. To ensure the highest rate of retention possible, RJWestmore Inc. hired former Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. artists to create engaging animated e-tutorials. I have these artists to thank for translating my likeness to 2-D. Talented designers they are!

Integrated System-A fully-integrated system, the RJWestmore Training System allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

Join the US Green Building Council which is a non-profit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation. RJWestmore, Inc. is a proud member of the USGBC. Reducing needless waste lessens the risk of e-related fire.

K-Rated Fire Extinguishers are manufactured to battle fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. This is for commercial kitchens, including those found in restaurants, cafeterias and catering locations. This should not be confused with K-L Ration, another important K-item.

Landfill fires are on the rise. The EPA says that as we become more dependent on electronic products to make life more convenient, the stockpile of used, obsolete products continues to grow. To help prevent this type of fire risk, dispose of e-waste responsibly.

Make sure your tenants know evacuation routes. The best way to do this is to conduct regular drills.

NFPA National Fire Protection Association endeavors to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s).

Post Evacuation Routes clearly, so locations become second nature during actual emergencies. You might also consider hanging wanted posters of Morton, the spokes-cat for 9 Lives. Just a suggestion…

Quiz your tenants, employees and family members regularly to make sure they remember safe evacuation routes and emergency procedures.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment when current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources. My suggestion for reducing pet food waste is to share whatever it is you’re eating. Why bother with bagged dog food when steak and potatoes will do?

Slightest Spark can start a devastating fire; so proper handling and use as well as proper storage of volatile materials are essential.

Tenant Safety is of paramount importance to property owners and managers. With our system, you can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors how to respond in emergencies. All user-training and testing is recorded and available for review at your convenience.

Up to Code– Federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant. However, studies show that less than 20% of occupants have ever trained or know what to do in an emergency. That means 80% of your occupants are at risk and could represent a liability to themselves and you.

View Map Link– RJWestmore Inc. clients have access to multiple views of individual properties and the surrounding areas in our Version 2.0 system. The maps not only provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in an emergency. I’ve tried to find the firehouse on Google Maps. But my nails get stuck in the computer keyboard.

Watch for fire risks. A fire watch ensures the fire-safety of a building or area in the event of any act, e.g., hot work, or situation instigating an increased risk to persons or property.

Xeric conditions pose greater risk of fire. Make sure dry landscaping around buildings is watered on a regular basis.

You can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors with our system. All user-training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

Zealously guard your property to ensure fire safety strategies are observed. At RJWestmore, Inc., our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

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 begin a series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE