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Holiday Safety Tips 2016

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Christmas Fire HazardWith so much to do during the holidays, it can be easy to forget that safety should remain a primary concern at home, at work and on the job. The holidays are hardly the time to turn a blind eye to safety:

  • One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • A heat source too close to trees causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires.
  • December is the peak month for home candle fires.
  • One out of three candle fires originate in the bedroom.
  • Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.
  • In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are in the top 10 causes of death for people aged 1-54, and more than 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year.

As a courtesy to our subscribers and friends, we have assembled some easy tips to help you and yours make this holiday season a safe and happy one.

DecorationsSafety Christmas and  New Year

  • Don’t use lit candles near trees, boughs, curtains/drapes, or with any other potentially flammable item.
  • When using artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, follow directions. These sprays can irritate lungs if they are inhaled.
  • Many holiday plants are poisonous if ingested. These include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Keep these plants out of children’s reach.
  • When displaying a tree, cut off about two inches off the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly.
  • Position trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not impede foot traffic.
  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments where small children or pets can reach them.
  • If you opt for an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the “Underwriters Laboratory” (UL) label.
  • Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights only outdoors. Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords for damage before using.
  • Don’t ever run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways.
  • Turn off tree lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
  • When displaying outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to a secure support with insulated staples or hooks to avoid wind damage.
  • Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended. Whenever possible, opt for electronic versions, which provide a warm glow without the associated risk of fire.

danger Christmas lightsFood

  • Never eat dough or uncooked batter.
  • When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family, be sure to wash your hands, utensils, sink, and anything else that touches raw poultry.
  • Don’t defrost food at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
  • Keep your knives sharp. Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades.
  • Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving.
  • Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges, which harbor bacteria. Use paper towels, instead.
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot food hot. If you’re concerned that your coworker’s casserole has been sitting out too long, move along. Better to be food-safe than sorry.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers within two hours of cooking.
  • When reheating leftovers, bring to at least 165°F to eliminate bacterial growth.

Vehicles

  • Check items such as the brakes, spark plugs, battery, and tires. Check your owner’s manual and follow recommendations for tune-up and oil change intervals.
  • Before heading out on winter roads, evaluate the condition of your tires. When in doubt, take your vehicle to a mechanic to make sure tread is sufficient.
  • Be prepared for emergency situations on the road by keeping a winter “survival kit” in your trunk. Include items such as a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy.
  • Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.Christmas.

Remember that safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Visit www.AUS.com/tips for more ways to stay safe during the holidays

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Santa Claus shopping running pushing cart reindeer black friday sale

Guest Blogger, Angela Burrell, of Allied Universal

Guest Blogger, Angela Burrell, of Allied Universal

 

Thanksgiving is not only a time for expressing gratitude and enjoying family and friends, the holiday marks two of the busiest shopping opportunities in the U.S.—Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Follow these extra tips for a safe holiday and secure shopping experience.

 

 

Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving)

Staying AlertCCTV Security camera shopping department store on background.

  • Deals are now beginning well before Friday, with stores staying open later, so businesses and shoppers should plan for crowds.
  • Park close to your destination, in a well-lit area, and lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • Avoid parking next to vans or large trucks that can block your vehicle from the sight of others.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you witness any suspicious behavior, leave the area immediately.

Guarding Against Theft

  • Use ATMs in well-populated areas during the day, and do not leave receipts at the ATM location.
  • Never leave your purse or smartphone unattended in a shopping cart, on a countertop or in your car.
  • Take extra care with purses and wallets; carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in an inside or zippered pocket.

Protecting Yourself

  • Shop with others, when possible. If shopping with small children, establish a meeting point in case of separation inside a store or mall.
  • Teach small children how to seek help from store personnel or store security in case you are separated.
  • Report any suspicious activity to store/mall security or law enforcement. If you see something, say something.
  • Request a security escort to help with oversized purchases and to accompany you to your car if you feel vulnerable while shopping alone at night.
  • When returning to your vehicle, keep your keys out and lock your doors as soon as you are inside.

Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving)

online shoppingOnline Shopping

  • Shop with known businesses; do your research about their past performances and financial stability.
  • Conduct transactions on a secure server only; look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. The URL should change from http to shttp or https when asked for payment information indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secure.
  • Do not record your social security or driver’s license number online, as it is not needed for purchases.
  • Have packages delivered to an address where they will not be left unattended.

Protecting Data

  • Secure web servers that contain customer information.
  • Add the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software to your computers, and update firewalls regularly.
  • Check your receipt to ensure that the actual price paid is the same amount charged to your card.
  • Monitor your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.

www.AUS.com

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone – whether you are shopping at home or in a mall and even when you aren’t shopping at all. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Holiday Cooking Safety Tips

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Woman preparing for Christmas dinnerCooking a big meal for the holidays is a joyous event, as you can pour your love and expertise into every bite. But to keep loved ones safe, make sure you are careful in the kitchen. Our first tip? Slow down. Despite the frenetic pace modeled on cooking competition shows, it’s always best to pace yourself while cooking. Professional chefs work quickly, but they also watch out for one another and take steps to follow basic safety protocols.

Avoid Food-Borne Illnesses

As disheartening as it is, in terms of bacteria, home kitchens are typically more bacteria-ridden than public restrooms.  But the good news is that if steps are taken to follow sanitary practices, you can guard against hosting a house full of sick holiday guests.Dirty utensil on the kitchen

  • Wash utensils thoroughly. The dishwasher is the best method for washing, as it utilizes too-hot-to-handle water and vigorous rinsing. If you must hand wash items that have come into contact with raw meat or eggs, use gloves, so you can handle hot water without burning yourself. Apply lots of soap and thoroughly wash everything to dispense with soap residue.
  • Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting boards for meat, veggies and fruit. Several manufacturers offer color-coded cutting boards for just this reason.
  • User paper towels to remove juice from meat and raw eggs. Avoid using cloth towels, which can harbor bacteria.
  • Defrost and marinate foods in the refrigerator instead of on top of the kitchen counter or in the sink.

messyPrevent Kitchen Fires

  • Focus on the task at hand. Do not leave items on the stove and then leave to fold laundry or watch TV. Instead, remain in the kitchen so you can quickly control any flare-ups.
  • Remove clutter. If you are cooking an elaborate meal, clean up as you go to keep your workspace clutter free. Towels or wooden utensils are highly flammable, so keep a “clear zone” around the range top and oven.
  • Thoroughly clean cooking surfaces to prevent high-fat food residue buildup, which can be flammable.
  • Be careful if you are frying foods. Remember that water and hot oil are incompatible. So don’t put frozen foods into hot oil.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen to put out fires before they get out of control. Make sure you are using the right type of extinguisher for the fire you are battling. If you need to use it, remember the acronym PASS – pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

Additional tips for holiday kitchen safety:

  • Monitor the kids. Keep children out of the kitchen during meal preparation. While you might be able to supervise kids in less hectic times, crowded kitchens and lots of activity can lead to accidents. So save culinary lessons for after the holidays. Also, keeping children away from meal preparation will prevent curious little hands from pulling on pot handles.Overwhelmed and frustrated Mom in the kitchen
  • Clean up spills. A slippery floor is a major hazard in the kitchen, since people often carry sharp knives and boiling water. So immediately wipe spills until surfaces are completely dry.
  • Use knives properly. There is a proper way to chop different types of foods, which can prevent the loss of a fingertip and a trip to the emergency room on Christmas Day. In addition, remember that, as counter intuitive as it sounds, it is safer to use a razor sharp knife than a dull blade.
  • Steam burns. Some foods, such as instant rice and veggies, now come in convenient plastic microwaveable packets. If you decide to use these, make sure to open away from your face.

The holidays are a busy time. Adding several relatives and planning big elaborate meals challenge even the most organized host. So follow these kitchen safety practices to ensure everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Holiday Safety Tips

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Guest Blogger, Angela Burrell, of Universal Services of America.

This post was written by Angela Burrell, Public Relations’ Manager of our corporate company, Universal Services of America. It first appeared on December 14, 2015. Many thanks to Angela, for sharing her blog about holiday safety.


Our wish for you is that you will keep the following safety and security tips in mind as you celebrate the holiday season. Share them with family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and building occupants to let them know you care. #BeSafe and Happy Holidays!

Be Safe as you Shop this Holiday Season

Nine Smart Shopping Tips 

  1. Park close to your destination, in a well-lit area and lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  2. Carry your purse close to your body and stow your wallet inside a zippered pocket.
  3. Report any suspicious activity or unattended packages to store/mall security or law enforcement.
  4. Stay vigilant this holiday season. Be aware of your surroundings: “If You See Something, Say Something.”
  5. Pay by credit card, rather than check/debit card, to reduce the risk of funds being taken from your bank account. Keep all receipts and compare them to your monthly statements.
  6. Avoid being overcharged; review your receipt if you pay by debit, to ensure that the transaction is correct.
  7. Keep your car key handy and lock your doors as soon as you get inside your vehicle.
  8. Shop online at home with known businesses. Avoid shopping online through pop-up ads as they may be phishing scams or contain malware.
  9. Conduct transactions on a secure server only; look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. The URL should change from http to shttp or https when asked for payment information, which indicates that the purchase is encrypted or otherwise secure. 

Person is ordering online via credit card

Eight Workplace Alerts 

  1. Report all solicitors or suspicious persons to security immediately.
  2. Be suspicious of unfamiliar people claiming to be repair persons, as thieves are apt to disguise themselves.
  3. Make sure your receptionist and/or security team clears any workers or contractors before allowing them into your office.
  4. Question visitors who wander throughout your offices. Legitimate guests will appreciate your offers of assistance, while potential solicitors or thieves will be deterred.
  5. Lock all personal items in a desk or file cabinet. Employees should never leave purses or wallets exposed where they can easily be stolen.
  6. Draw blinds after hours so that computers and other valuables are not visible from the outside.
  7. Close doors when the office is empty, and secure all valuables in a desk or closet when unattended.
  8. Request a security or buddy escort to your car if you are working late and feel vulnerable. 

Christmas outdoor Christmas decorations - Snowman and nutcracker lights up house in Brooklyn, New YorkSeven Home Safety Guides 

  1. Refresh your holiday lights; consider buying energy-efficient LED types that are cooler than conventional incandescent lights and heed indoor or outdoor use labels.
  2. Point any decorative outdoor laser light devices at your home and not towards the sky.
  3. Turn off lights or decorations before bedtime, or set automatic timers for six or eight-hour increments to conserve energy.
  4. Monitor candles and fireplace fires, and extinguish them before leaving the house or bedtime.
  5. Consider installing motion or lighting sensors that turn off automatically when no one is around.
  6. Let strangers who knock know you are home without opening your door. Do not feel compelled to donate to solicitors.
  7. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail or have the post office hold it, if you plan to travel for an extended period.

Six Basic Fire Rules 

  1. 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.
  2. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring that they work at optimal level year-round. Replace batteries, as needed.
  3. Know where your exits are located and hold regular fire drills that include practicing at least two evacuation routes from every area or building to your safe refuge area.
  4. Notify the property manager about exit lights that are broken or vandalized.
  5. Never prop open self-closing doors, as they are designed to keep flames and smoke from spreading.
  6. Keep exits and stairways free from obstructions at all times. Don’t store things on or under stairways, or on landings.

 Five More Tips and Resources 

  1. The National Fire Protection Association summarizes Christmas tree and holiday lights safety.
  2. Electrical Safety Foundation International’s Holiday Decorating Safety guide lists many resources.
  3. The National Safety Council recommends several Holiday Safety Tips.
  4. Be prepared for more thorough airport security checks by TSA and register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program before traveling outside of the U.S., per recent travel alerts and warnings issued.
  5. Consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for recalls and alerts on toys and other products before making purchases.

We hope you enjoy a safe and secure holiday. Please view CDC’s 12 Ways to Health Holiday Song, and #BeSafe! Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Plastic building blocksDecember is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, so designated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to raise awareness about potentially hazardous toys. Since toy purchases are at an all-time high during the holidays, we thought it a good idea to highlight the campaign with this week’s blog post.

Part of the CPSC initiatives include third-party testing laboratories which check toys for lead and phthalate limits, so they can identify dangerous toys before they reach consumer shelves. The commission also produces safety alerts. For example, one highlights the choking hazards of plastic film coverings that are on many toys.

girl on scooterTypes of toys to avoid this holiday season:

  • Scooters and similar riding toys. Since the popular Razor Scooter’s launch in 2000, there has been a sharp increase in ER visits due to falls associated with the toys. Avoid giving these types of toys as gifts, since they lead to numerous serious accidents every year—especially when operated without a helmet. If you do buy a scooter, be sure to include a properly-fitted helmet, as well.
  • Toys with small parts. Pay attention to the warning labels on toy boxes, because they provide guidelines relative to choking hazards as well as age-appropriateness. Lego sets and other similar toys are fun, but they don’t work for toddlers, since the kits come with lots of small choking hazards. A good rule of thumb is to place or imagine the toy-part-in-question fitting inside a toilet paper roll. If it fits, then it’s too small.
  • Toys that could cause eye injuries. Toy guns that shoot pellets or Nerf darts are fun, but are a leading cause of injury, with studies showing a significant increase in the eye injuries resulting from toy parts over the past few years. For example, the “Airsoft” brand of guns led to a significant number of injuries and should only be used with eye protection.

Portrait.Keep little ones safe during the holidays:

The holiday season is a hectic time, which means adult attention spans can be stretched to the limit. Keeping track of babies and toddlers can be especially difficult during family gatherings and other festive events. Here are some tips for protecting your youngest family members at large functions:

  • Dispose of wrapping paper and plastic packaging. Toy packaging contains various types of plastic covers, twist ties, and other bits and pieces. All of these are potential chewing and choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Whenever possible, collect and recycle materials as presents are opened.
  • Keep an eye on the fireplace. Hanukkah nights or Christmas morning are both great times for a cozy fire. But flammable materials should be handled responsibly. Keep them far from flames. And, because kids are curious, be sure your fireplace screen is sturdy. This is also a great time to talk to children about the serious dangers posed by fire.Christmas Fireplace Hearth with Wreath and Stockings
  • Watch your plants. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous if ingested, so keep toxic plants out of the reach of young children.

    Many Christmas plants are beautiful, but toxic.

    Many Christmas plants are beautiful, but toxic.

  • Be careful with alcoholic beverages. If you and guests are enjoying a few cocktails during a holiday party, take steps to keep drinks out of the hands of anyone under the age of 21. Children imitate parents. So make sure they can’t reach unattended beverages. Ask guests to remove empty and even partially-empty cups.
  • Carefully string Christmas tree lights. Toddlers and babies love the glow of lights. So keep strands high on the tree to make sure they are out of reach of tiny fingers. Glass ornaments are another potential hazard which should be replaced, moved to a higher location or boxed until children are old enough to ensure their safety.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.