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More Ideas for Holiday Safety

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series

Safety Holiday Travel

To date, our series has covered safety relative to choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees, working with wrapping paper, and guidelines for being safe at work and home. This week, we will conclude our three-part series by focusing on travel, shopping and food safety. Our thanks to Universal Services of America, Food Safety.Gov, Web MD, TSA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for contributing to our holiday safety series.

Holiday Travel Safety

  • Drive slowly when visibility is reduced. It’s better to arrive alive even if you get to your destination a bit late.
  • If you’re flying, prepare for crowds. Arrive at the airport in plenty of time, so you won’t be bothered by long lines.
  • If you notice an item that has been left unattended, alert airport security. Don’t ever agree to watch luggage for someone you don’t know.
  • For instant access to TSA information anywhere, anytime, use the MyTSA app.

Holiday Safety ShoppingHoliday Shopping Safety

  • If you choose to shop online, do so only with well-known businesses. Research websites for legitimacy and track record.
  • Conduct transactions on a secure server only. Look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. URLs should change from http to shttp or https when you begin checking out online. To check for site security, make sure the page is encrypted before you enter payment information.
  • At the mall, park close to your destination, in a well-lit area. Take note of where you park, so you won’t get lost.
  • Don’t carry multiple bags as you walk around the mall. This could attract thieves who could follow you back to your car. If your packages become cumbersome, it’s time to head to the car to drop them off. When you get to your vehicle, lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • As you shop, carry your purse close to your body and/or stow your wallet inside a zippered pocket.
  • Report suspicious activity and/or unattended packages to store/mall security or law enforcement.
  • Pay by credit card, rather than check/debit card, to reduce the risk of having fraudulent purchases made against your bank account. Although most such funds are refundable, depending on your financial institution, your money could be tied up far longer than might be convenient…especially during the holidays.
  • To make sure all debit and credit card charges are legitimate, keep receipts and compare them to your monthly bank and/or credit card statement.
  • Avoid being overcharged. Review your receipt regardless of your method of payment.
  • Keep car keys handy.
  • Lock your doors as soon as you get inside the vehicle.

holiday-food-safetyHoliday Food Safety

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water.
  • Use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and counter tops.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough. It may contain raw eggs, which can harbor salmonella.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never at room temperature.
  • As a general rule of thumb, leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen.
  • For fire safety, keep flammable materials far from open flames.

We hope that this blog series has helped inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

‘Tis the Season to Spread Holiday Safety and Security Tips

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

tips-to-keep-your-holiday-safe-this-seasonHoliday Safety Part 2 of a 3-Part Series (Featuring Guest Blogger Angela Burrell of Universal Services of America. To see her original post, click here.)

‘Tis the Season to Spread Holiday Safety and Security Tips

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

Last week, we examined safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. For part two of our series, we are happy to welcome guest blogger Angela Burrell, who is the public relations manager for our strategic partner, Universal Services of America. Her blog post covers holiday workplace safety home safety guidelines, and basic safety rules. Next week, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.

safety tips holidayUniversal Services of America reminds you to keep the following safety and security tips in mind as you celebrate the holiday season. Regift them to family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and building occupants to let them know you care. Happy holidays!

Seven Workplace Alerts

  • Report all solicitors or suspicious persons to security immediately.
  • Be suspicious of unfamiliar people claiming to be repair persons, as thieves are apt to disguise themselves.
  • Make sure your receptionist clears any workers or contractors before allowing them into your office.
  • Question visitors who wander throughout your offices. Legitimate guests will appreciate your offers of assistance, while potential solicitors or thieves will be deterred.
  • Lock all personal items in a desk or file cabinet. Employees should never leave purses or wallets exposed where they can easily be stolen.
  • Close doors when the office is empty, and secure all valuables in a desk or closet when unattended.
  • Request a security or buddy escort to your car if you are working late and feel vulnerable.

happy holidaysSeven Basic Fire Rules

  • Fires peak, particularly in kitchens, during the holidays – so remain alert when preparing meals and keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • Monitor candles and fireplace fires, and extinguish them before leaving the house or bedtime.
  • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring that they work at optimal level year-round. Replace batteries, as needed.
  • Know where your exits are located and hold regular fire drills that include practicing at least two evacuation routes from every area or building.
  • Notify the property manager about exit lights that are broken or vandalized.
  • Never prop open self-closing doors, as they are designed to keep flames and smoke from spreading.
  • Keep exits and stairways free from obstructions at all times. Don’t store things on or under stairways, or on landings.

Six Home Safety Guides

  • Refresh your holiday lights; consider buying energy-efficient LED types that are cooler than conventional incandescent lights.
  • Limit the number of lights strung together and use appropriate ones for outdoors or indoors.
  • Turn off lights or decorations before bedtime, or set automatic timers for six or eight-hour increments to conserve energy.
  • Consider installing motion or lighting sensors that turn off automatically when no one is around.
  • Ask a neighbor to collect mail or have the post office hold it if you plan to travel for an extended period.
  • Let strangers who knock know you are home without opening your door. Do not feel compelled to donate to solicitors.

Five More Tips and Resources

Next week, check back, as we will finish our series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Holiday Decorating Safety

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Holiday Safety 2014d

Part 1 of a 3-part series

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season. This week, we will look at safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. Next week, we will feature a guest blogger, whose entry will cover holiday workplace safety, basic safety rules and home safety guidelines. Finally, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.

Holiday Safety for 2014

Holiday Safety 2014bChristmas Trees

Choosing your tree

  • Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you choose to go with a fake tree, choose one that is rated as such.
  • If you decide to go with a live tree, freshness is key. A newly cut tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree…not to mention it will look nicer than one that is dead and brown.
  • To check for freshness, remember that a fresh tree is green, and fresh needles are hard to pull from branches. They also do not give when bent between your fingers.
  • When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry. Keep looking.
  • The trunk of a freshly harvested tree should be sticky with resin.

Displaying your tree

  • Before deciding where to put your tree, think about more than whether it is located near a picture window. Instead, make sure you choose a place in your home that is clear of all sources of heat including fireplaces, radiators and lamps.
  • Heated rooms dry out trees rapidly, creating fire hazards. So make sure your home remains relatively cool.
  • When prepping the tree, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for sufficient water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set your tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. If necessary, use thin guide-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are nearly invisible but will keep the tree safe even in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Holiday Safety 2014Decorating

  • Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. If you like the look of a flocked tree, just make sure you avoid potential injury by reading container labels and carefully following directions.
  • Interior Lighting. Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. If they are not properly displayed, lights could short and start a fire.
  • Use colored spotlights above or beside a tree instead of fastened onto it.
  • Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. The bright colors and bubbling movement could tempt curious children to break the light, leaking poisonous liquid and posing an electrical hazard.

Wrapping-related Safety

  • If you decide to make paper decorations, choose papers, glitter and adhesives that are not flammable.
  • Don’t place trimming near open flames or electrical connections.
  • Remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened.
  • Do not ever burn papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Next week, check back, as we will continue our series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

National Fire Prevention Week

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Fire Prevention 2014 corpThe National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that the week of October 5-11, 2014 is Fire Prevention Week. The theme of the week-long fire prevention campaign, which is the 90th annual event of its kind, is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!”

“Smoke alarms can help make the difference between life and death in a fire, but they need to be working,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign reinforces the importance of testing smoke alarms each month, and works to ensure that people have the needed protection in the event of a home fire.”

Educating people about smoke alarm devices is important, since nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths reportedly result from fires in homes without operational smoke alarms.

“The common presence of smoke alarms in the home tends to create a false sense of security,” said Carli. “Simply having smoke alarms isn’t enough. They need to be tested and maintained properly.”

fire prevention 2014 calendar corpHere are ways that smoke alarms figured in United States’ fires between 2007 and 2011, which is the most recent national smoke alarm study:

  • Smoke alarms sounded in half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (37%) of the home fire deaths.

In addition to monthly testing, smoke alarms should be installed and maintained according to the following 10 steps:

  1. Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  2. Install alarms in the basement.
  3. If you own a large home, you may need to install extra smoke alarms.
  4. If possible, use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  5. Test smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  6. Be aware that there are two kinds of alarms – Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. If possible, use both types of alarms in the home.
  7. A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall.
  8. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  9. People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms feature strobe lights and bed shakers.
  10. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Fireman With HomeThe NFPA website has a wealth of additional smoke alarm information and resources for parents and teachers, and for fire departments working to implement the campaign in their communities. In addition, the NFPA  Sparky the Fire Dog® website (www.sparky.org/fpw) features award-winning apps and games for kids that reinforce the campaign’s fire safety messages. What’s more, the NFPA and its 2014 FPW partners are working together to promote the importance of monthly testing and related smoke alarm education. For more information about Fire Prevention Week and upcoming events, visit www.fpw.org.

For relevant fire prevention information relative to high rise buildings and facilities’ management, check out our recent fire prevention blog posts. We hope you will observe National Fire Prevention Week, and take steps to make sure you and your tenants or building occupants are #FireSafe. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Summer Wildfire Safety

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Firefighters fighting fireThe National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. According to news reports, this season promises to be one of the worst potential wild fire seasons of record. The combination of dry weather and high winds lead to increased danger.

Here are 11 facts about wildfires:

  1. The number one cause of wildfires in the U.S. is mankind. Man-made combustion from arson, human carelessness, or lack of fire safety cause wildfire disasters every year.
  2. More than 80 percent of all wildfires are started by humans.
  3. Wildfires (AKA forest or peat fires) are uncontrolled fires which often occur in wild, unpopulated areas. However, they can occur anywhere-destroying homes, other buildings, agriculture, humans and animals in their path.
  4. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, “running crown fires,” spot fires, and ground fires. A ‘running crown fire’ is a forest fire that advances with great speed jumping from crown to crown ahead of the ground fire.
  5. “Running crown fires” are a firefighter’s worst nightmare because they burn extremely hot, travel rapidly, and can change direction quickly.
  6. The most dangerous aspect of “running crown fires” are the convection currents which may produce massive fire storms and tornadoes. These subsequent storms can send embers well ahead of the main fire front, causing spot fires that in turn can start new fires in other directions.
  7. Weather conditions can directly contribute to the occurrence of wildfires through lightning strikes or indirectly by an extended dry spell or drought.
  8. Wildfires can be started by an accumulation of dead matter (leaves, twigs, and trees) that can create enough heat in some instances to spontaneously com-bust and ignite the surrounding area.
  9. Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. Ten to 20 percent of these lightning strikes can cause fire.
  10. An average of 1.2 million acres of U.S. woodland burn every year.
  11. A large wildfire-or conflagration-is capable of modifying the local weather conditions (AKA producing its own weather).

Flame 10

A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.

The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. During heightened fire danger, additional firefighters are generally added to active duty, more engines are on standby and more equipment is at the ready 24 hours a day, to be able to respond to new fires. It is important that everyone takes steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.

Here are tips for preventing wildfires:

While you are enjoying summer activities, make sure you take steps to #BeSafe. When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. 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 costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

How to Prepare for and Survive an Apartment Fire

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Edificio en llamasInvestigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that broke out early Monday morning, May 19, at a Memphis-area apartment complex. A woman was reportedly inside the unit where the fire originated. She was treated on the scene for minor smoke inhalation.

Fortunately, most of the damage from this fire was contained to the one where it began — although other units sustained associated water and smoke damage. Would your tenants know how to respond if a similar incident occurred in your high-rise building?

When fires break out in high-rise structures, the potential for loss of high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. The reasons for this are many, including the fact that fires can burn for extended periods of time before occupants even become aware of the burn. Smoke and deadly gases from the fire are just as deadly as the fire and are major cause of injury and death during a fire situation. What’s more, the sheer size of tall structures increases the amount of time it takes for firefighters to reach flames.

According to the US Fire Administration (USFA), it is not uncommon for 15 minutes to elapse from the start of a fire to the time when first responders reach the blaze. So the best way to manage high-rise fires is to provide training so occupants will immediately know what to do when they hear an alarm, smell smoke or discover a fire.

Did you know that federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant? Unfortunately, despite this fact, 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 both themselves and you.

We believe that every occupant should have the ability to be trained anytime, at their convenience, as often as they want to learn. Our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Our fully-integrated system helps building owners and property managers:

  • Manage one site or an entire portfolio
  • All users are in the same system
  • Train occupants, floor wardens & fire safety directors
  • Keep track of user training and testing
  • Monitor building specific Emergency Responder information

Our Fully Automated System provides automatic:

  • Certificates to each user (instantly via email)
  • Annual reminders to each user (per training module)
  • Employee compliance reports to each tenant – quarterly
  • Notifications to local fire departments
  • Creation of real time Special Assistance and Floor Warden lists
  • Notification of updates to Special Assistance list
  • Regular updates to Floor Warden & Fire Safety Director lists
  • Updates and maintenance notifications

Distinct levels of user access:

  • Property Manager: Full rights and access to one or multiple properties. Receive automatic updates & reminders.
  • Fire Department: Online access to confidential FD documents, reports and training records. Automatic emails.
  • Fire Safety Director: Access to Fire Dept. documents & invites and tracks Floor Wardens.
  • Floor Warden: Tracks occupant training per floor
  • Tenant Manager: Add/update/delete/track employees — all reports
  • Occupant/Employee: View training/tests view & print documents. Add & remove themselves from the individuals who need assistance list.
  • Each level is secure and you can update the contents any time.
  • Each user level has its own Resources section.

Property owners/managers and their tenant employers should make sure they train their tenants to calmly and quickly respond to emergency situations including high-rise fires. Here are a few simple fire safety steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property in high rise fires.

Before the Emergency:

  • Don’t lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. So never prop stairway or other fire doors open.  If your property has locking stairwell egress doors for security reasons, make sure they all automatically unlock upon alarm.
  • Familiarize yourself with your building’s evacuation plan. And know your primary and secondary escape routes. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds and where their interior and exterior safe refuge areas are located.
  • Plan and execute frequent drills so escape plans become second nature. You can use your RJWestmore Online Training System to conduct tabletop drills and virtual evacuation route walks using the “Map View” button on your homepage.
  • If you’re in a position of leadership, lead by example.  Participate in all drills, set training deadlines that include recognition for compliance.  Make participation and creating a safety conscious environment part of your everyday life.
  • Learn to immediately recognize the sound of your building’s fire alarm and post emergency numbers near telephones.

During the Emergency:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t assume someone else has called the fire department. It is better to over-report than run the risk of failing to contact emergency personnel. After all, early notification is critical.
  • Before you try to leave the office or living space, feel the door/door knob with the back of your hand.  If the door/door knob feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Move to the safest secondary escape route and evacuate.
  • If the doorknob is too hot to handle, stay where you are and wait for rescue.
  • Stuff cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
  • If you have access to a telephone, call the fire department to explain exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see can see emergency personnel outside at the scene.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help by waving something bright or with a flashlight, etc.  Anything to attract attention.
  • As a last life safety resort, if possible in your building, open the window, but do not break it, you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
  • Once you are sure that emergency responders are aware of your location and need to be rescued, be patient.

If the door/door knob DOES NOT feel warm, carefully open it.

  • If you do attempt to open the door, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it just a crack. This is the best method for detecting the presence of smoke or fire.
  • If no smoke appears in hallway or stairwells, follow your building’s evacuation plan and move to your safest predetermined alternate escape route.
  • If the building’s fire alarm is not sounding, pull the nearest one while safely and calmly exiting your floor.
  • If you encounter smoke or flames anywhere as you exit the building, stay low to avoid hot smoke and gasses.  If you cannot evacuate, move as far from the fire as possible (closing as many doors as possible between you and fire) and shelter in place.  Stuff the cracks around doorways and vents to block out smoke.  Call 911 and building management/security to let them know your exact location.  If you are near a window DO NOT BREAK THE WINDOW. Wave something to attract attention.  Breaking a window as a last resort may draw the smoke and fire closer to you.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. 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 costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Red Flag Warnings

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Due to a dreadful combination of dry conditions and crazy wind, several areas across the country are currently under a Red Flag Warning, which is also known as a Fire Weather Warning. A forecast alert issued by the United States National Weather Service, a Red Flag Warning is meant to inform firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wild land fire ignition and rapid propagation. After drought conditions, particularly when humidity is low, and especially when high or erratic winds are a factor (with or without lightning), the warning helps firefighting and emergency management professionals prepare for potential weather-related flare ups. To the public, a Red Flag Warning means that there is a higher than normal probability of fire-related danger.

A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert level. During these times, extreme caution is urged because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. One level below a warning, a Fire Weather Watch means the danger of fire remains high but is not as severe as a Red Flag Warning. During heightened fire danger, firefighting agencies typically beef up staff and make sure equipment is ready to go 24 hours a day. One of the areas currently under warning is San Bernardino County, California, where a structure fire erupted behind a radiator shop this weekend in Fontana.

“A lot of these fires, whether it’s this refuse fire or vegetation or structure fire, will grow exponentially with the wind and the speed of the wind—so the more man power, the more people on duty, the better, and the more equipment that can converge on the actual incident, the better,” said San Bernardino Fire Department Captain Shawn Millerick.

These weather patterns lead to a watch or warning:

  • Low relative humidity
  • Strong winds
  • Dry fuels
  • The possibility of dry lightning strikes
  • Any combination of the above

Since a single spark can ignite and level an entire forest, do your part to prevent wildfires by following these tips for prevention:

1. Equipment Use Safety

  • Don’t mow or trim dry grass on Red Flag Warning days. Instead, mow before 10 a.m. when it is not hot and windy.
  • Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
  • If you are in a wild land area, make sure you have a spark arrester, which is required for portable gasoline powered equipment.

2. Campfire Safety

  • Before starting a campfire, obtain a campfire permit.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Carefully extinguish the fire when you are finished. Douse with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until it is cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground.

3. Outside

  • Keep 100 feet of defensible space around structures.
  • Clear dead weeds and vegetation.
  • Remove leaves and needles from gutters.
  • Trim branches 6 feet from the ground.
  • If you are allowed to burn grass clippings, etc., in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.

4. Vehicles

  • Never pull over in dry grass.
  • Make sure trailer chains don’t drag on the ground.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle.
  • Monitor tire pressure to avoid driving on wheel rims, which can ignite.
  • Don’t let brake pads wear too thin.
  • Never throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle.

5. Other

  • Properly extinguish cigarette butts.
  • Don’t make the mistake of burning landscape debris like leaves or branches on No Burn Days, when it is windy, or if it is prohibited in your area.
  • Target shoot only in approved areas, use lead ammunition only, and never shoot at metal targets.
  • To prevent arson, report suspicious activities to authorities.

Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services have access to lots of fire prevention information. What’s more, several of the training modules cover fire safety. 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 a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

How to Prevent Tree and Candle Fires This Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Over the weekend, an Oklahoma family suffered a house fire which originated in their living room and was reportedly caused by a live Christmas tree. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the bulk of the damage was caused by smoke. However, not everyone is so lucky. The NFPA reports that, across the country, fire departments respond to an average of 230 home fires which start with Christmas trees. Over the past several weeks, we’ve blogged about a myriad of holiday safety issues. This week, we would like to turn our attention to two of the most flammable holiday decorations—Christmas trees and candles.

 

NFPA Facts about Home Holiday Fires

  • Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually.
  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious.
  • On average, one of every 40 reported home structure Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.
  • More than half (56%) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
  • Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires.
  • Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Tree Fire Safety

  • Purchase only fresh trees. If needles are brittle or shed easily, choose a different tree.
  • When setting up the tree at home, place it at least three feet away from any heat source. In addition to the fireplace, stay away from radiators, heating vents and lighting. These can dry out a tree and increase its flammability.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Don’t leave the tree up for an extended period. Fire safety professionals recommend you do not leave it up for longer than two weeks.
  • When you dismantle the tree, discard it immediately. Do not leave it in a garage, on a porch or at the side of the house. A dried-out tree is highly flammable and can cause major damage even when it is just sitting outside. Check with your local community for a recycling program.

Candle Fire Safety

  • Candles cause home fires — and home fire deaths.
  • A candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
  • Extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Consider using flameless candles in your home.
  • If you decide to burn candles, make sure that you:
    • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
    • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
    • Light candles carefully.
    • Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
    • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
    • Don’t use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
    • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage.

Religious Candle Safety

  • Whether you are using one candle, or more than one on a candelabra, kinara, or menorah, make sure you take a few moments to learn about using candles safely.
  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
  • Handheld candles should never be passed from one person to another.
  • When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, have the person with the unlit candle dip their candle into the flame of the lit candle.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
  • Candles placed on, or near tables, altars, or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
  • Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.

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 a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

In Praise of Disaster Volunteers

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

When Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines last week, it left thousands dead and 660,000 people displaced. Volunteers from across the globe are rushing to the devastated area to muck out homes, hang drywall, clean, deliver food, and offer financial assistance. The storm’s impact is all the more troubling considering the fact that many of those affected by the typhoon were already left homeless by an earthquake in mid-October.

Charitable organizations around the nation are assembling in and around the city of Tacloban to help residents in much the same way they did to help hard-hit New Jersey recover from Superstorm Sandy. But the volunteer pool is relatively thin because even as we approach the one-year anniversary of Sandy, many of the volunteers and sponsoring organizations who lent a hand in the critical first days after the disaster remain in New Jersey, still helping.

In fact, according to CNN, as of the end of September 2013:

  • 173,544 volunteers had invested more than 1 million volunteer hours in the Sandy recovery effort.
  • The value of their contributions now totals more than $30 million.

“In (times of) disaster, the efforts of volunteers are critical to the recovery,” said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for FEMA in New Jersey. “Volunteers have made a substantial contribution to helping (victims) respond and recover from the challenges they faced after Hurricane Sandy.”

Volunteerism plays a crucial role in disasters of all kinds. Due to the sheer breadth and depth of associated devastation, paid workers can’t possibly meet all of the needs. American Red Cross volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year—most of which were home and apartment fires.

Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, volunteers from more than 500 organizations showed up. These included internationally recognized agencies like the American Red Cross, to smaller groups which routinely travel whenever and wherever major disasters strike. Among these groups are the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Habitat for Humanity, Feed the Children, Lutheran Disaster Response, United Jewish Communities, Catholic Charities, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Medical Teams International…to name a few.

Local churches, charities and nonprofits also work around the clock to provide the help their neighbors needed to survive, recover and rebuild. There are lots of opportunities for volunteers. If you would like to be part of a team to help with the recent disaster in the Philippines, or continuing relief efforts in New Jersey, flood relief efforts in Colorado, or whenever and wherever the next natural disaster strikes, follow these 10 suggestions to maximize your efforts:

  1. Instead of traveling to the disaster site, consider donating funds to a well-established charity, as financial contributions are often requested in lieu of items such as food and clothing—which may be difficult to transport and distribute. Donate $10 now by texting redcross to 90999.
  2. You could sponsor a fundraiser to multiply your efforts. Use your enthusiasm for disaster assistance to encourage others to donate.
  3. If you’d like to work on scene, align yourself with a reputable organization. Consider groups such as the American Red Cross (800) HELP-NOW, Save the Children (800) 728-3843 and UNICEF (800) 4UNICEF.
  4. Show up to all applicable training sessions and read organization materials so you are well prepared for what awaits you.
  5. Give blood. The American Red Cross makes it easy to be a blood donor. Contact them to find out where to give.
  6. Show up. If you say you will be there, follow through.
  7. Be flexible. Humanitarian aid isn’t easily categorized. You might not know what you’ll be doing until you show up on scene.
  8. Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat and get enough rest so you will be a valuable member of a relief team.
  9. Donate Goods. Confirm what is needed before you start gathering items.
  1. Be safe. Wait until it is safe to travel to volunteer sites. Once you’ve been assigned a position, make sure you wearing proper safety gear for the task.

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 a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

All About Halloween Safety

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Each year, on October 31, millions of American children will dress up in costumes and go door-to-door begging for candy. Admittedly a rather strange tradition on close examination, Trick-or-Treating is a cultural celebration which can be fun but can also pose risks. This year, practice these safety tips so you and your family will enjoy a happy and safe Halloween:

Costume Precautions

  • If you buy your costume, ask an adult to check to see if it has a label that says “Flame Resistant.” Flame Resistant means that your costume will be hard to catch on fire and if it does, the fire will go out fast.
  • If you make your costume, try not to make one that is big and baggy so that the material doesn’t touch candles or other flames.
  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is blunt, short and flexible.
  • Only use decorative contact lenses after an eye examination and prescription from an eye care professional. Decorative contact lenses are dangerous and illegal. Poor quality lenses can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders or infections, which could cause permanent vision loss.
  • Test makeup in a small area before applying en masse. Also, remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
  • Choose masks, costumes and shoes fit well.

Fire Safety

  • Avoid candles and Jack-o’-lanterns on steps or porches. Many costumes are highly flammable.
  • Don’t allow children to carry candles while trick-or-treating. (Use a flashlight or glow stick instead.)
  • Remind family members to keep a safe distance between candles and Jack-o’-lanterns and curtains.
  • If your kids see anyone playing with matches or lighters, make sure they know they should tell an adult right away!
  • Make sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
  • Keep your pets far away from open flames. Their tails can swat at candles and cause a fire hazard.

Safety on the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • Provide kids and escorts with flashlights and fresh batteries.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Allow kids to go to only approach homes that have a lit porch light
  • Make sure your trick-or-treaters know they should never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Make sure kids only eat factory-wrapped treats. Avoid homemade treats if they have been made by strangers.
  • Use reflective tape for costumes and candy bags.
  • Make sure someone in each group has access to a cellphone for quick communication.
  • Tell kids not to eat treats until they have been checked by an adult for potential choking hazards or tampering.
  • Tell kids to remain on well-lit streets to stay on the sidewalk.
  • If sidewalks are unavailable, tell kids to walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic and never to cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Make sure children know they shouldn’t cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Since motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters, yield to oncoming traffic.
  • Notify law enforcement authorities immediately if you notice anything suspicious.

Safe Home Décor

  • Don’t let small children carve pumpkins. Instead, let them draw faces with markers. Leave carving to the adults.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you must use a candle, choose a votive, which is the safest option.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects.
  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove everything from the porch and front yard that could trip up a child. Consider items such as hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decor.
  • Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • If your yard contains wet leaves or snow, sweep or shovel sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they won’t inadvertently jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.

For More Tips about Halloween Safety

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 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.