Posted in BE SAFE, Managing Summer Heat, Uncategorized

Travel Safety Tips

TravelSummer is the most popular time to travel. I love taking walking trips each summer. Despite this, the steady stream of recent terrorist attacks threatens to turn vacation dreams into holiday nightmares. Within the last two months in Britain alone–which was long considered a safe haven for international tourists–has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and 116 injured, another at London Bridge which killed eight people and injured 48, and a third last week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.

Continue reading “Travel Safety Tips”

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Terrorism

Following the Boston Marathon Bombings–How to Prepare for a Terrorist Attack

Boston, Massachusetts skyline city silhouette


Our thoughts & prayers go out to all of the victims and families of those affected by the Boston bombings. Out of respect for them, this post foregoes my usual Fire-dog isms.

 

It’s hard to believe our nation is once again dealing with the aftermath of what many (including the White House) consider to be another terrorist attack—a multiple-blast bombing near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Though details continue to come in and will undoubtedly shed light on the nature and background of these bombings, what is currently certain is the fact that three people (including an eight-year-old boy) were killed and at least 176 were injured on Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston.

Of the April 15 event, White House Rep Michael McCaul spoke to Fox News where he called for national unity and repeated the sentiments of President Obama:

“Today, we are not Democrats or Republicans. We are all Americans united against terrorism. Some evidence found at the crime scene, including ball bearings, were signs of well-planned terrorist action. We don’t know who’s behind it at this time and we don’t have all the evidence.”

Unexpected disasters like this have the potential to make Americans nervous about the likelihood of future incidents and their potential impact. But there are things you can proactively do to prepare for the unexpected and thereby reduce the stress associated with the terrorism. In fact, taking preparatory action can actually reassure you and your family, coworkers and tenants that you have a measure of control in the face of future emergencies.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies reveal that dozens of terrorist plots which focused on commercial buildings have been thwarted over the past several years. As seen in a recent attempt in New York City, the actions of diligent civilians can also prevent catastrophe. Also, common sense and surveillance procedures increase awareness about things that “just don’t look right.”

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services has devoted considerable blog space over the years to topics relative to preparation and recovery of terrorist attacks. But it seems fitting we should highlight this topic yet again today, since the Boston attack occurred on the day citizens of Massachusetts observe Patriot’s Day, which honors patriots from the Battles of Lexington and Concord—the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

One of the RJWestmore Training System video courses covers steps to take in the event of a bomb threat. If you have not yet signed up for our system, consider subscribing today, as you and your team will have access to detailed training with videos and quizzes, maps, manuals and plans, forms, lists and guidelines, home and family preparedness, emergency info, active shooter instructions, active shooter videos, area-specific training and applicable area tornado preparedness.

Make your building a less attractive terrorism target:

  • In July 2006, a plot by suicide bombers in the NYC commuter rail was revealed by law enforcement personnel, who stated that the conspirator had already obtained detailed blueprints of the rail tunnels prior to the attack. Secure building blueprints which can be used to establish weak points for entering or destroying the structure. Limit the blueprints availability online and train your property managers to follow proper procedures for releasing building information.
  • Pay special attention to tenants who work with or produce materials that could be used to make explosive devices and those that work in aviation-related fields or construction-related companies. For example, Canadian officials recently investigated an individual who purchased a large quantity of manure that is sometimes used to make fertilizer-based bombs. Work with tenants to ensure they follow safety and securing procedures, for both their intellectual and physical properties.
  • A fundamental way to prevent terrorist attacks is to properly report suspicious activity to stop attacks in the planning stages. In the RJ Westmore, Inc. surveillance blog, we talked about identifying suspicious activities but did not explore how to gather and report that activity to law enforcement.

For more about preparation and recovery from any terrorist attack, see RJWestmore How to prepare for acts of terrorism posts.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s 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!

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Terrorism, Uncategorized

Final Thoughts about How to Prepare for a Terrorist Attack

Never forget the events of 9/11
We at RJWestmore will never forget the fateful events of 9/11.

Part 4 of a 4-part series

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we have devoted three of our past four blog posts to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day. We have tried to use our voice as experts in safety and disaster training to recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack. In this, our fourth and final installment, we’ll cover the final lessons we’ve learned since that fateful day.

September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

Remembering 9/11:

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands of people working in the buildings.

Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon. Hijackers redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House, but were diverted when passengers tried to retake control. The airliner crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, leaving no survivors.

Nearly 3,000 victims and 19 hijackers died in the attacks. Among the 2,753 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, there were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority, and 8 private EMTs and paramedics. Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of more than 70 countries.

Lessons about terrorism we’ve learned from 9/11:

  1. Clean-up could take many months and cost millions. Counting the value of lives lost as well as property damage and lost production of goods and services, losses associated with the events of September 11, 2001 exceed $100 billion. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, “The loss in stock market wealth—the market’s own estimate arising from expectations of lower corporate profits and higher discount rates for economic volatility—the price tag approaches $2 trillion.” The best way to prepare for this type of hit is to try to prevent attacks. As a nation, over the past 10 years, we have improved security on many levels. As a building owner or property manager, make sure you take precautions to beef up security.
  2. Public fear, fed by extensive media coverage, may continue for a prolonged period of time. As a result, workplaces, government offices and schools might be closed. According to the Huffington Post, television stations broadcasted more than 3,000 hours of 9/11 coverage. And while much of that coverage was desirable and understandable, portions might have been unnecessary and contributed to anxiety…especially among children. If another large-scale terrorist attack occurs, monitor the amount of associated television programming you allow your children to view. Likewise, try not to watch every televised minute of disaster coverage, yourself. While you will benefit from information about things like restrictions on transportation, make sure you take breaks from the madness to eat and rest and talk to people in the real world.
  3. Terrorism has many faces. Racial profiling is not only unfair but insufficient because terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. Consider terrorists like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, Clayton Lee Waagner, Irv Rubin or the two females who have been blamed for the Twin Metro Blasts in Moscow. Terrorists don’t always wear turbans and speak Arabic. So pay attention to anything out of the ordinary and report it to local authorities.
  4. The world was forever changed by the events of 9/11. Time Magazine writer Nancy Gibbs wrote that we, as Americans, now share: “a sharp resolve to just be better, bigger, to shed the nonsense, rise to the occasion.”

As you honor the innocent and brave folks who died on that fateful day in September 10 years ago, give note to portraits of courage, self-sacrifice and hope instead of focusing on images of the jets and the flames. Paying homage to the brave will encourage us all.

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, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Don’t take your safety for granted: Lessons learned from 9/11

Twin towers outline against American flag
September 11 taught us we can't afford to take our safety for granted.

Second in a series about 9/11

Given the serious and sensitive nature of the somber events of September 11, 2001, this series of blog posts do not include my regular Fire-dog isms. I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave firefighters, paramedics, emergency responders, occupant EAP team members and others who gave their lives to help others on 9/11. My firedog hat is off to you all.

With the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, we are devoting five weeks to discuss the 10 lessons the world has learned from that fateful day and recommend emergency precautions that you should take now to give you and your family, friends, employees and colleagues the best chance of surviving another terrorist attack.

Two of the 10 things we’ve learned from 9/11:

1, We can’t afford to take our safety for granted. The aftermath of 911 will likely be with us in perpetuity. The plus side to this is that many people now realize they should take steps to protect themselves and prepare for potential future attacks.

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, many of us took our safety for granted. Doing so was easy. After all, planes generally took off and landed as scheduled. Going to work was relatively uneventful. Multi-million dollar buildings stood tall.

All of that changed when pilots hijacked planes and, in a coordinated suicide effort led by al-Qaeda, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A third plane which was likely headed for either the Capital or the White House was overtaken by passengers and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of workers and civilians died in what has since become known as the greatest terrorist attack on American soil in history.

The good news is that, as a nation, we have learned. We have learned to recognize threats and to take action in order to ward off potential assaults against our country. Security is tighter now than it has ever been. And, as a result, we are safer. In fact, the likelihood of broad attacks involving multiple agents has actually decreased since 2001.

What’s more, because we are no longer naïve about potential threats to our personal and national safety, we are more willing to participate in drills and develop emergency preparedness plans. For those of us in the safety training business, this is good news because we have long understood the importance of preparation. In fact, at RJWestmore, Inc. has been providing safety and security solutions to commercial real estate companies for more than 20 years. Our mission is to save lives through training with the motto “BE SAFE!”

You can take an active part in your own safety by observing National Preparedness Month (NPM) in September. Sponsored by FEMA, the month-long campaign encourages citizens to get a kit, make a plan and be informed. Leading by example, RJWestmore, Inc. is a member of the NPM Coalition.

2. Terrorism can cause thousands of casualties and/or extensive damage to buildings as well as infrastructure. According to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost nearly $2 trillion.

Small Business—Cyber security firm Symantec reports that, despite the plethora of information about terrorism attacks, most small business owners remain unprepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The cost of training your employees to act and assemble simple disaster kits is far less than what you will lose if and when you and your colleagues face another terrorist attack. Potential threats include cyber security. So make sure your information systems are secure.

Property Owners & ManagersEmerald Research reports that terrorist attacks on buildings are becoming an increasing threat. So it is essential that property managers prepare for potential attacks. Building owners and managers should understand the types of devices used by terrorists and assess the threat, determine how buildings can be physically protected and the ways that property managers should respond to perceived threats, both proactively and reactively.

As our series continues, we’ll examine the remaining eight lessons we’ve learned from 9/11 so you and your loved ones and colleagues will BE SAFE. Once you have determined the possible events and their potential affects to your community, you’ll want to discuss them with your family, friends and coworkers.

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, Health & Welfare, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Aftermath of the Raid in Pakistan

drawing of Osama Bin Laden
How to Remain Vilgilant Following Osama Bin Laden's Death.

After the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and his subsequent death, some law enforcement officials and property owners are concerned about the threat of new terrorist attacks. Congratulations are in order for the brave soldiers who risk their lives overseas. But are we any more at risk than we were prior to Bin Laden’s death?

Many residents of the United Kingdom consider a new attack to be likely. In fact, the U.K. Metropolitan Police Commissioner warned that: “Vigilance should be our watchword.”

In the United States, the presence of security personnel has been beefed up in numerous locations. Still, despite the perceived risk of potential terrorist repercussions, the official terror threat level in the United States was not elevated following the announcement of Bin Laden’s death. (The new alert system differs from the former multi-color-coded system in that it only offers two-threat levels— “elevated” and “imminent.”) My alert system gets to “code red” when I’m out of kibble!

Potential risks might result:

  • A branch of al-Qaida in Yemen or some other disconnected country might be the source of the next attack.
  • The next threat might come from a lone individual who sympathizes with al-Qaida, such as occurred with the Fort Hood shooter, who some contend was linked to terrorist groups.
  • Terrorist cells in North Africa have either loose or no affiliation with al-Qaida and have many connections to ethnic groups in the United States.
  • A broader risk is a decreased emphasis on funding for anti-terrorism training due to the perception of the “War on Terror” coming to an end.
  • As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many experts caution of an interest in terror groups to commemorate the sad day with new attacks.
    • U.S. officials have confirmed that documents retrieved from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan show that al Qaeda was in the early planning stages for an attack on U.S. railroads to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
    • According to Homeland Security, the FBI has advised local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spike missing from train tracks, packages left near the tracks, and/or any other indications that a train could be at risk.

But the truth is that regardless of recent developments, it is always advisable to prepare for the threat of terrorism. Domestic terrorism is possible. This is not a time for complacency. Property owners, tenants/employers and everyone should continue to follow best practices.

How can you remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism?

  • Set protocols for monitoring any incoming delivery packages and personnel.
  • Establish rules for suspicious items that are left at or near your facility.
  • Pay attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s threat monitoring.
  • For high-traffic and value buildings, consider installing metal detectors at each entrance. I’ve heard that you need a doctor’s note if you have a metal plate in your noggin!
  • Develop a check-system to verify visitors with tenants. A good watchdog might be just the ticket!
  • Double check current evacuation procedures make sense if a terrorist attack occurs.
  • Install security cameras, which can capture individuals who could be “casing” your building.
  • Read information about altering your HVAC systems to protect from possible chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.
  • Terrorists increasing usage of online media for propaganda also increase the risks of cyber terrorism attacks that could strike at key facilities. If you operate a secure facility that handles sensitive materials, be sure to catalog and report any suspicious hacking attempts.
  • Flag individuals who ask for detailed information about your building or the surrounding areas. Scrutinize any requests for blueprints or other schematics. Just sayin’.

The best way to manage the risks of terrorism is similar to planning for natural disasters. It demands practicing common sense and planning ahead to make a facility a less desirable target. While the death of al-Qaida’s leader will hopefully destroy the terror network, threats remain that require attention.

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 Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fires, Floods, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Influenza, Swine Flu, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The DHS Will Use New Technology to Announce Threats

New Sample DHS Alert System Snapshot
The Dept of Homeland Security will use social media to announce two tiers of alerts.

Very shortly, news network viewers and their canine companions will no longer find out about updates via color-coded threat levels from the Department of Homeland Security. The current threat-level chart will be replaced by a two-level threat system known as the National Terrorism Advisory System. The first threat level will be coined “elevated,” and would warn about a credible threat, but not list possible targets. (As far as I know, the Midnight Bark will remain unchanged.)

A distinct difference to the previous system is that the two-level system will provide a start and end date for the threat. The second level will be “imminent” when law enforcement officers working with DHS determine a credible threat will very likely be attempted against certain targets. This level of alert would continue for not more than seven days, but could be extended. DHS will also incorporate social media alerts into the two-level system, recognizing the reach and the importance of such networks in the fast sharing of information.

First put into use in March 2002, the current system (officially known as the Homeland Security Advisory System), was established in response to the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. The system initially came under frequent criticisms, with many individuals claiming the threat level was often raised for political motives to incite citizen unrest. Others claimed the threat level did not move sufficiently to recognize actual threats, and was often held at an elevated status level.

According to DHS, the risk of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remains, and citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior. Loud barking is another option for alerting folks about potential threats. Law enforcement is continually training for possible attacks, even participating in testing exercises to measure readiness.

This type of readiness was evident in the thwarted New York’s Time Square bombing attempt in 2009, where a quick-thinking street vendor alerted authorities to a smoking van. The terror alert system reminds citizens about the threat of terrorism and encourages common sense as well as a broader sense of civic responsibility.

Government officials announced that terror alerts and information about threats will be distributed via two primary social networks when deemed appropriate, Twitter and Facebook. The department’s Twitter alerts page is @ntasalerts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/HomelandSecurity. In some cases, distribution of specifics regarding an alert could jeopardize ongoing investigations. In such cases, information about terror threats might not reach the public until after the alleged terrorists are captured and the threat has been mitigated. If you haven’t yet found me on Twitter, be sure to check out my tweets @rjthefiredog.

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, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, High-Rise Buildings, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Workplace Safety

Is it safe to ride the elevator to escape a fire-related emergency?

Emergency Exit Signs
Do you know how to safely exit a high-rise building in case of a fire?

The 9/11 disasters prompted facility managers and emergency management professionals to discuss the use of elevators for egress in cases of fire-related emergencies. Among other things, the terrorist attacks shed light on the fact that, for optimum safety, certain emergencies require evacuation of all floors simultaneously instead of individually.

While not yet mainstream, research and discussion is beginning to challenge long-held beliefs. Some high-rise buildings, such as the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (I prefer Wynn’s salon suites myself), utilize evacuation elevators due to the height of the building, which makes emergency stairway exits implausible.

So is change coming? Who will ultimately decide? Elevator use in buildings is largely managed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, who review and suggest changes for elevator codes that dictate standards for buildings throughout the country. I have to tell you, if you want to have a fun party, just invite those wild guys and gals from the ASME!

Challenges to implementation of evacuation elevators:

  • Changing ingrained procedures will be a challenge. Building occupants have long been told to “take the stairs during a fire.” Adapting tenants to the safety and expediency of elevator evacuation might be difficult. Intensive in-person training will need to be executed and assurances given about the newfound benefits of using elevators for speedier emergency exits. So you can teach old people new tricks?
  • Handling water from sprinklers is an engineering hurdle. If occupants need to escape quickly during a fire, it’s very likely the sprinklers will be on during evacuation. So operations and communications equipment in evacuation elevators need to be protected from potential water damage.
  • Smoke inhalation is the biggest health danger during a fire. So Smoke Control Systems should be installed, maintained and regularly inspected in elevator areas.
  • Other potential hazards, such as earthquakes causing fires, mean evacuation elevators need to be structurally reinforced.

If tenants plan to use evacuation elevators but firefighters on the ground recall all elevators to the lobby, precious time could be wasted. Working with fire department staff prevents this type of miscommunication. And remember, if you visit your fire local fire department; bring a pig ear for the resident Dalmatian.

One way the RJ Westmore Training System improves emergency communication between local fire departments and our clients is via the building-specific, automatic notifications and updates we send to fire departments with real-time information relative to Special Assistance, Floor Wardens and Fire Safety Directors. Thanks to this service, emergency personnel are well-equipped to provide assistance and direction when they arrive on scene.

Installation of dedicated emergency egress elevators is not usually valuable unless the elevators themselves are protected from fire. New codes are emerging which have been designed to protect evacuation elevators with fireproof padding and other structural safeguards. Dedicated emergency power supplies are also needed to ensure elevator occupants are not left stranded between floors during emergencies. I have a backup generator for my doghouse. When my paw pals come over for a party at my place, I need to be sure I won’t lose power!

Widespread requirements for evacuation elevators might be on the horizon. So it’s important to stay ahead of the learning curve. Used correctly, they offer the ultimate promise of a higher degree of safety for those who work and live in high-rise structures. As always, be sure you review the latest national and local codes as they relate to fire-related procedures. It’s important to have an integrated approach to fire safety which includes sprinklers, alarms and safe evacuation routes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  Remember that people are not unlike pooches in that they both need consistent training and repetition to get something right! 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, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Happy National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared?

On 9/11/2010, our nation was transfixed while 3,000 of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and family members perished in violent terrorist attacks. So, it is fitting that we pay homage every September to the Americans who lost their lives nine years ago with an entire month dedicated to emergency and disaster preparedness. And so we do—September is National Preparedness Month.

Furthering our corporate mission to “Save Lives Through Training,” we at RJWestmore, Inc. make it a point to provide emergency and disaster preparedness information to our clients as well as the public at large. So we would like to commemorate National Preparedness Month by sharing tips about disaster preparation and recovery relative to emergency situations in business.

Action Plan to Help You Stay in Business

Stay Informed:

Risk assessment is a sophisticated area of expertise that can range from self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. Whenever I do self-assessments, I discover new black spots on my coat. The specific industry, size and scope of your individual company will determine the risk assessment needs of your organization.

  1. Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally. In both cases, as a Dalmatian, internally or externally, it’s all about the nose. Find out which natural disasters are most common in the areas where you operate. You may be aware of some of your community’s risks; others may surprise you.
  2. Learn about what to do during disasters as diverse as biological, chemical, explosive, nuclear radiological or feline attack.

Plan for Business Continuity: Carefully assess how your company functions. How quickly your company resumes business following a terrorist attack, tornado, fire or flood depends on the extent of the emergency planning you do today. Start planning now to improve the likelihood that your company will survive and recover.

Initiate Emergency Planning: Your employees and co-workers are your business’s most important and valuable assets. Make sure your plans protect them. There are some procedures you can put in place before a disaster. So make sure you learn about the resources usually people need in order to recover after a disaster.

It is possible that your staff will need time to ensure the well-being of their family members. But getting back to work is also important in the personal recovery of people and animals who endure disasters. Re-establish routines whenever possible. If that doesn’t work, adding another bowl of chow might help.

Collect and Stow Emergency Supplies: Think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. When preparing for emergency situations, it’s best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Encourage everyone to have a portable kit customized to meet personal needs, such as essential medications. For more about this, check out the blog post in our recent Go-bag blog.

Decide to Stay or Go: (And, just to clarify, by “go,” I’m not talking about marking your territory.) Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, the first important decision you will need to make following an incident is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. Understand and plan for both possibilities in advance by developing clear, well thought-out plans. Make contingency plans, so you can act quickly no matter the condition of your physical surroundings or your own mental health.

Allow for Fire Safety: Fire is the most common of all business disasters. In fact, each year, fires cause thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in damage. The actual R.J. Westmore of RJWestmore, Inc. (or Bob as he is commonly known), has featured prominently in the development of national standards for fire safety for many years. Our mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” So, be sure to check out our website regularly for fire safety resources. Better yet, enroll your employees and tenants in the RJWestmore Training System. And follow me on Twitter for lots of helpful tweets.

Prepare for Medical Emergencies: Workplace medical emergencies vary greatly depending on the disaster, type of job and the worksite. For example, heavy equipment operators face different safety risks than do office workers or food service personnel. Regardless of the type of work, there are steps which can give you the upper hand in responding to a medical emergency.  So take steps to gain the upper hand (or upper paw) in medical emergency response.

Influenza Pandemic: A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population and the virus begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily from person-to-person. The federal government, individual states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. So make sure your organization is prepared. The best defense against any communicable disease is to regularly wash your paws.

RJWestmore can provide a site-specific Risk Exposure Analysis via our online assessment tool, which ranks the following:

Hazards:

  • Criminal Activity
  • Earthquake
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hurricane
  • Infrastructure Loss
  • Terrorism
  • Tornado
  • Winter Storm

It also rates and ranks the Consequence possibility of:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Mission Loss
  • Property Loss
  • Contents Loss
  • Use Loss
  • First Responder

All of these resources culminate in an easy- to-read-and-interpret color-coded report. For more information about a Risk Exposure Analysis Report for your property, contact us today.

For more, check out the FEMA website, which outlines preparation for nearly every imaginable emergency that may arise. 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. And in the meantime, BE SAFE.

Posted in Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires, Travel, Uncategorized

Fire Safety

Take steps to be fire-safe.

Part #2 in a Series

Since a fire department in the United States responds to a report of fire every 19 seconds, fire is an ever-present danger at work, doghouse, home or when you are traveling. Fire is also one of the most common emergencies following an earthquake, explosion, terrorist attack, power surge or other natural or man-made disaster.

Since you never know when fire will strike, you should be careful to prepare so you will immediately know what to do in case of emergency. In this series, we hope to educate you in an effort to help you and your tenants prepare for fire.

Today’s post will discuss the ways that you, as a building owner or property manager, can mitigate the risk of fire by making sound choices for building materials and furnishings and by educating tenants about taking responsibility for their own safety. (Overall, I think dogs are generally better at taking responsibility for their actions than our human counterparts. When we do something wrong, we don’t blame someone else. We hang our heads low and put our tails between our legs.)

Making sound choices for building materials

If your property is still under construction, install fire-safe materials wherever possible. Also, if you’re building something from scratch and moving dirt, now is a great time to hide bones.

David Horne, a member of the Fire Safe Council (FSC), admits that it’s impossible to take the risk of a fire down to zero unless you live in a bunker. But he says, “Builders can make their (projects) between 20 percent and 70 percent less likely to burn from the outside by choosing fire-resistant materials and veering from traditional designs.”

Here are some fire-safe installation ideas from the FSC:

  • Install stucco, fiber cement, and other noncombustible cladding materials
  • Build eaves and roof decks that are boxed in and never made from wood.
  • Omit windows from exterior walls that sit close together.
  • Add an extra layer of gypsum or another fire-resistant material beneath the siding on facing walls
  • Install double- or triple-pane windows to keep intense heat from breaking the windows
  • Choose noncombustible materials for fences
  • Consider purchasing a pre-made Dogloo instead of building a doghouse from scratch. They’re fire safe and attractive, to boot.

Making Sound Fire-Safe Choices for Furnishings

Even if your property has already been built, you can take steps to lessen the risk of home, apartment, doghouse or office fire.

Upholstered furniture, wall coverings, flooring and mattresses burn quickly and produce large amounts of toxic smoke. Burning upholstered furnishings or mattresses contribute to nearly every home fire death. Understanding the hazards associated with these furnishings will help you choose fire-safe products. Whenever possible, select upholstered furniture that has been treated with fire retardant. This is also a great idea for dog beds. While some have been treated with fire retardant materials, this is not always the case.

Some professional organizations and the state of California have developed manufacturing standards to increase the fire resistance of certain types of furniture. For a complete list of these guidelines, check out the technical bulletins released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation.

Educating Tenants about Fire Safety

In a perfect world, everyone would know how to prepare for disaster and would take the necessary steps to mitigate risks. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. So don’t assume that your tenants know how to proactively prevent fires or prepare for emergencies. Although you are not obligated to do so, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to provide helpful, straight-forward guidelines for them to follow, so in the event of emergency, they are without excuse.

Print these helpful tips for distribution for information about fire safety at home, basic information about fire safety at home and fire prevention at work.  The headline for each of these fact sheets notes that the responsibility for fire safety and disaster preparedness rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual. Additional reference materials are also available through FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association.  Whichever fire safety guidelines you prefer, post them in a central location. Next to the food bowls works for me.

Next week, we’ll look at the ways that you can mitigate the risk of fire by adopting best practices for storing flammable materials. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and 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.

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PS-Prep will help the private sector BE SAFE.

Disaster preparedness is a main priority for any fire dog, or anyone else who cares about being safe. At the fire station, we get plenty of calls to assist in horrible disasters which might have been prevented with simple routine safety checks and adjustments

I’ve seen entire buildings condemned, and employees lose their jobs, all due to faulty wiring. Private and publically held companies, such as hospitals, universities, stadiums, non-profit organizations, and others that fail to establish and maintain safety standards face disasters.

Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has recently announced a new program called PS-Prep which introduces safety standards for these types of businesses as well as non-profit organizations. With PS-Prep, a third-party assessor evaluates organizations to determine preparedness. He or she checks out the current safety provisions and then certifies the company if it’s up to par.

With certification comes a certain degree of confidence that employers and employees have taken necessary steps to eliminate potential disasters. This is a good thing, because it means more tragedies can be averted.

With PS-Prep, everybody wins, because the fewer the number of dismembered bodies my crew and I have to drag out of a terrorist-targeted pile of rubble, the better. I’m kidding, of course. But the reality is that preparation and prevention are the best ways to handle any emergency.

For more tips on how to be prepared so you can be safe in the event of an emergency, visit RJWestmore, Inc. Another helpful resource is provided by the National Fire Protection Association, which is making their standards available at no cost. Regardless of whether your company decides to take advantage of the new PS-Prep Program, it’s important that you do whatever it takes to BE SAFE!