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The Real Deal for Earthquake Preparedness

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

House about to fall into a crack of earth

Take steps to make sure you are prepared in case of an earthquake or other disaster.

It’s easy to talk about disaster preparedness. At RJWestmore, Inc., we like to walk the talk. One example of the way we practice what we preach is our participation in the 2010 Great California ShakeOut, which was recognized by Cal EMA and the Earthquake Country Alliance. We were in good company, as some 7.9 million people actively participated in the 2010 event.

The 2011 ShakeOut will be held on October 20th, 2011 at 10:20 in the morning! So, why are we talking about an event that is six months away? Because earthquakes can happen at any time and often without advance warning. So, to limit loss of life and property, planning ahead is paramount to safety. We would also like to give you plenty of notice so you can make plans to participate in the next ShakeOut.

Unfortunately, much of the latest information about best practices to deal with earthquakes comes from past incidents. Despite the tragedy in terms of lives lost, it is important to take a broader review of disasters (such as the recent Japan quake), to prepare for the inevitability of future earthquake-related disasters:

  • Information sharing is critical. Some Japanese agencies received criticism for the slow spread of information relative to the depth of damage to infrastructure, particularly concerning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Tsunami and earthquake damage are under review by teams from several countries. The sheer scale of the disaster makes it an obvious example of a worst-case scenario, where individuals on top of four-story buildings were not even afforded safety. Groups from the United States are examining the types of buildings that did or did not escape the tsunami unscathed. The research could lead to drastic changes in building codes and provide opportunities for better safety in the future.
  • Scientists use data from the Japan quake to examine similarities in other geographic regions. Researchers are closely reviewing the Pacific Northwest of the United States which is in a similar subduction zone to Japan. Further review will allow better future placement of tsunami offshore beacons and will likely lead to changes in building strategies as well as warning systems.
  • In California, greater emphasis is placed on events like the ShakeOut because the desire to mine earthquake preparedness tips is so dire. Major California cities have avoided a massive earthquake for more than a century. And renewed vigilance is important to recognize the threat posed by a quake.

In the disaster planning field, unfortunately, actual disasters are often the most useful for emergency training. For example, large-scale tragedies can lead to analyzing and revamping building codes and emergency procedures to greatly reduce future destruction. So, when educational opportunities such as the ShakeOut arise, make sure you avail yourself of safe opportunities to learn.

Proper planning and learning the “Do’s” are the keys to managing the situation when disasters strike.  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.

 

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March is American Red Cross Month

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Save a life. Give blood.

Victims of disasters large and small almost always enjoy relief provided by the Red Cross. But not everyone is aware of the myriad ways that the American Red Cross goes beyond delivering basic first-responder assistance to deliver essentials such as blood and related supplies, CPR, First Aid training and more.

To recognize the important role of this venerable organization, each March is classified as American Red Cross Month. American Red Cross Month has a 68-year history which began in 1943 during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, who was the honorary chairman of the Red Cross at the time. His goal of raising $125 million was surpassed when $146 million in gifts rolled in, prompting Roosevelt to call the effort “the greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history.”

Continuing the history of presidential promotion of the American Red Cross Month, President Obama recently released a proclamation that detailed the vital role the organization plays in disaster recovery efforts.

How you can help:

  • Host a blood drive for your tenants. As host, you only need to provide a location and publicize the event. The Red Cross will manage donations and distribute funds.
  • Distribute donation information. A great option for those who would rather remain behind the scenes, the Red Cross offers a video detailing this process.
  • If you are interested in donating platelets, plasma, or double red cells, drop by an American Red Cross Blood Donation Center.

Corporations and individuals can help support the American Red Cross through other means:

  • Donate your frequent flier miles! Major carriers including Continental, United, US Airways and Delta allow the transfer of miles to the American Red Cross to help cover travel expenses for Red Cross volunteers.
  • Donate Hotel Loyalty Points. Several major hotel chains offer the option of transferring guest points to the Red Cross so they can be used to accommodate people who are displaced by disasters.
  • Become a volunteer! A searchable database is available to help you discover volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • It’s important to get a sense of the scale of relief and services that are provided by the American Red Cross in order to understand the organization’s needs. The American Red Cross:
  • Responds to nearly 200 disasters a day throughout the United States.
  • Supplies blood and blood products to 3,000 hospitals.
  • Manages the 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • Alerts the public when supplies run low.
  • With 650 chapters and more than 30,000, the American Red Cross manages logistical and operational planning which requires considerable resources.

The American Red Cross is an integral part of our society, helping not only with large-scale disasters, but also assisting individuals who are involved in accidents and anyone who wants to prepare to administer First Aid.

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.

 

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Guarding Against Anthrax

Monday, January 24th, 2011
Biohazard Label

The fatality rate for those exposed to Anthrax is over 99%, if left untreated.

Soon after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, letters laced with Anthrax began appearing in the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed and 17 were sickened in what became the worst biological attacks in United States history.

Although an attack on the United States using weaponized Anthrax is considered a very low probability now, it is still important to prepare for such an event. After all, the fatality rate for those exposed to Anthrax is over 99%, if left untreated. Terrorists consider it a preferred biological warfare agent because it is easy to disperse, travels quickly and is lethal.

Anthrax can be used for biological warfare, because this infectious disease has spore-forming bacteria that can be spread easily using missiles, artillery, aerial bombs and other methods. Depending on the wind, a disease such as Anthrax could spread hundreds of miles in a few short hours.

Fortunately, there is good news. There is an oral medication that has been proven effective in treating Anthrax, if administered within 48 hours of exposure. Also, in December 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order stating, essentially, that in the event of an Anthrax outbreak, the postal service had the capacity to deliver said antidote, along with instructions for administering it. One hundred and eighty days after the order was signed, the Postal Plan was enacted, a program which uses the nation’s letter carriers to deliver medical countermeasures.

However, there are several things that small businesses and individuals can do to prepare for such an attack.

1. Understand Exposure:

  • Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal.
  • Anthrax can lay in soil for years, and spread by handling animal products and then failing to immediately wash hands
  • Communicability is not a concern; Anthrax does not spread easily from person to person

2. Recognize the symptoms:

  • Over 95% of Anthrax cases are from Bacillus Anthracis that has entered the skin. The first sign of a cutaneous Anthrax infection is a small bump, resembling an insect bite, which grows over the course of a few days, developing a black center.
  • Those infected by inhaling Anthrax initially have symptoms that may resemble a common cold. After several days, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation Anthrax is often fatal.
  • The intestinal disease form of Anthrax may follow the consumption of contaminated meat and is characterized by an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal Anthrax results in death in 25 percent to 60 percent of cases.

3. Know how to prevent possible contact with Anthrax:

4. Use common sense. If you receive a package in the mail with a written threat, or a visible powdery substance in or outside of it:

  • Wash hands immediately after handling
  • Do NOT open it
  • Call 911
  • Leave the package where it is
  • Move everyone away from the package, but keep those who may have come in contact with it in a separate location, until authorities arrive.

John Koerner, chief of the U.S. Health and Human Service’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Branch, said the first piece in preparing for such an emergency is to ensure that planning is evidence-based by using existing experience and expertise to inform plans and processes.

Recognizing the symptoms

Knowing the different ways Anthrax can be introduced into your system, as well as the symptoms and treatments for each particular type of infection, is a good way to prepare against this disease. Being able to identify the symptoms early on can make the difference between life and death.

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.

Shanghai Fire – Lessons from Catastrophe

Monday, December 6th, 2010
high-rise buildings on fire

Lessons learned from the Shanghai Fire

An unfortunate fire in a 28-story Shanghai apartment building claimed the lives of 58 people, with dozens injured and some missing persons unaccounted for. By using the fire as a case study, we can point out ways to avoid this kind of catastrophe in your high-rise property.

The Shanghai apartment building was undergoing renovations for a planned energy-saving project. The scaffolding used for the construction project was made of flammable bamboo and nylon netting. Preliminary investigations uncovered several issues and pointed blame towards several parties:

  • Careless work by unlicensed subcontractor workers ignited the nylon netting which surrounded the building. The fire quickly spread to the bamboo scaffolding frame as well as the building itself.
  • The structure did not feature an indoor fire prevention sprinkler system, as these are not commonly used in high-rise buildings in that area.
  • In addition to the flammable scaffolding, the building was also insulated with polyurethane foam which does not contain flame retardant additives.

Chinese authorities took swift action to hold individuals accountable, and have arrested 13 individuals, including the CEO of one of the companies which was responsible for part of the construction and the former head of an interior design firm. Eight unlicensed welders were also arrested.

Many residents and newscasters are critical of the local fire department’s role in handling the blaze:

  • At 28 stories, the building is one of the smaller structures compared to its surroundings. Residents reported observing firefighting-equipment that could reach only to the 20th floor of the building. This raised doubts about the local fire department’s ability to properly fight high-rise fires.
  • The fire took four hours to bring under control, despite the presence of 1,300 firefighting personnel and 120 firefighting engines. Many residents and critics view this length of time to be excessive and an example of a combination of improper training of firefighters and substandard equipment.

While the fire was unfortunate, tragic accidents provide opportunities to learn from and avoid similar mistakes. What can you implement as a building owner to prevent catastrophe?

  • If conducting repairs, make sure you and your general contractor take into account all activities performed by subcontractors. In the Shanghai fire, proper protocols for the welding crew were not followed.
  • Resist the urge to cut corners by using unlicensed workers. Such workers may be experienced and offer lower prices. But the use of un-papered workers poses a major safety violation that places you at risk of liability and everyone in danger.
  • Ensure residents or occupants are well versed in proper fire life safety procedures. The RJWestmore Fire Life Safety Training System is the perfect way to prepare tenants for every kind of emergency.
  • Conduct annual evacuation drills with designated meeting places and alternate routes in case primary exit routes are obstructed.

Proper fire safety is a comprehensive initiative that requires building owners and managers to carefully consider many interrelated issues. Learning from mistakes that caused past disasters is a strong reminder to follow safety, code and building procedures.

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. 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.

When “You” Isn’t Really You: How to Prevent Identity Theft

Monday, November 15th, 2010
"Identity Theft" typed on documents coming out of a shredder.

Be careful to guard your identity.

Today’s blog post isn’t about the threat of a natural disaster. We will be discussing a manmade crisis that can potentially affect anyone and can take months or even years to repair. Today’s topic is Identity Theft. Claiming nearly 10 million victims a year, Identity Theft is the number one complaint lodged with the FTC.

According to research from Nationwide Insurance, four out of five victims of Identity Theft encountered serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time.

A significant threat now that so many of us handle financial matters online, Identity Theft is a crime that is cloaked in mystery, with most of us imagining identity thieves working in dark, secret computer-filled lairs. The truth is that the crime is far less glamorous than they make it out to be in the movies, with far more serious implications for its victims. The good news is that while Internet anonymity is practically impossible these days, you can take steps to make yourself a less inviting target.

  • When it comes to selecting a password for your online bank account or email accounts, don’t choose “password” or “1234.” Also avoid easily detectable data such as your child’s first name, your birthday, your anniversary, your dog’s name or your street address. This type of data is easily accessible for even casual hackers.
  • No matter how much you hate the hassle of changing and forgetting your passwords, you need to change them periodically. Experts recommend changing passwords on every online account at least every three to six months. People who work with extremely sensitive data change passwords hourly.
  • Check “privacy settings” on social media websites. Recent problems regarding privacy settings on Facebook highlighted the need to carefully consider how public you should be with details about your life. Review your settings and carefully read the “terms of service” on every site you use. Also, look at the amount of data on your social network profiles and determine if certain identifying information should be deleted or altered.
  • Do you like to use WiFi and other public area internet access networks? Take steps to ensure security of your laptop or mobile device when sending information over shared networks. Don’t let the leather chair and tasty beverage lull you into thinking you are at home when you are using your computer at Starbucks.
  • Create truly random passwords. Some popular “systems” for randomizing passwords involve thinking of a phrase such as: “My favorite movie is Gone with the Wind” and using the first letter from each word: MFMIGWTW. Better yet, change the case in some of the letters and swap out the second and fourth letters with characters, so the password would be m@M*GWtw. Randomization and picking phrases only you would know are the keys to real password security.
  • Even if your passwords are difficult to decipher, you might be surprised by how easily experienced hackers can access even complicated encryptions. Fortunately, several applications and software offer secure password management tools. If you do not have access to these tools, consider using a completely random number. And don’t store it near your computer or in your purse.

Also, don’t forget about offline methods that thieves can use to steal your identity. Not every identity thief is a hacker holed up in a basement with five computers and three monitors. Some still take a more old-fashioned but no less harmful approach to assuming someone else’s identity.

  • Don’t leave mail hanging out of your mailbox or dispose of it in the trash can at the post office! The amount of information contained on some of your bills is staggering. Thieves who commit the felony of stealing your mail would have access to your full name, address, phone number, account numbers, bank routing numbers and more. For security, deposit important mail into a USPS drop box.
  • Don’t forget about the trash. Shred any and all documents that contain personal information before you toss away any paperwork…including junk mail.
  • Take a good look at your wallet or purse. Is it a good idea to carry your social security card, checks, paystubs, insurance information and a letter with your mother’s maiden name on it, conveniently located all in one place for the taking?
A lock on top of a credit card

Do what it takes to protect your identity.

What steps should business owners and manager take to guard customer and/or employee personal information?

  • Computer data is hard to erase! If your sell or donate old computer equipment, clicking “delete” on files and folders won’t be sufficient. Purchase an application that can completely wipe the hard drive. Or, better yet, take computers to a trusted source so the hard drive can be erased. All data on CD, DVD or backup tapes should be removed and then destroyed so files are completely unreadable.
  • Mind your laptop. Guard it at all times, as if you are protecting private information. You are! Store sensitive data on secure servers or in the computing “cloud,” behind firewalls, instead of stored on a portable machine.
  • Have old-fashioned paper files? Outsource your document retention services to an established company that will shred or store, as needed. Also, don’t throw boxes of data with sensitive client information into your building’s unsecure storage basement! Invest in a heavy-duty shredder and use it often.
  • Don’t adopt “It Won’t Happen to Me Syndrome.” According to the FTC, in the past five years alone, 27.3 million people were victims of identity theft.

We often discuss the benefits of proactive prevention. And dealing with Identity Theft is no exception. 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. 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.

RJWestmore, Inc. Among First to Receive BIF Certification

Monday, September 27th, 2010
RJWestmore, Inc. was one of the first to receive BIF Certification.

RJWestmore, Inc. was one of the first to receive BIF Certification.

In the city of Los Angeles, a new fire life safety training code LAMC 57.33.19 requires all high-rise building owners to complete building-specific diagrams of elevators, stairwells, typical floor plans, building-specific information sheets as well as standpipe and risers and must make the information available for the LAFD to access online. One of the first two companies to receive this new certification, RJWestmore, Inc. stands poised to be able to create code-compliance forms for your high-rise building located anywhere in the country, for a nominal fee.

Although Los Angeles is the first city to institute the certificate-requirement, the requisite will eventually be nationwide. At the forefront is RJWestmore Inc., whose mission is to save lives through training with the motto, “BE SAFE.” Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your residential and commercial building(s).

The designation equips RJWestmore, Inc. to provide Fire Life Safety Systems information which can be referenced from fire department control rooms, onboard computers, fire station desktops and compatible handheld devices. Having ready-access to building-inventory forms is crucial for emergency personnel who benefit from prior knowledge of potential entries and exits so they can make informed decisions about on-site fire life safety strategies.

“We are pleased to announce our BIF Certification since it shows that we are qualified to produce documentation about all of the information unique to each building,” said RJWestmore, Inc. CEO and President Robert Westmore, “The BIF forms we prepare will not only benefit fire departments who can check stats while en route to any high-rise emergency, but will also ultimately help property owners and managers protect their real estate investments.”

The BIF Cert will benefit companies as well as the fire department, which is why RJWestmore, Inc. is leading the way by offering to prepare structure Inventory Forms for any high-rise structure (which is defined as any building that is 75 feet or higher.) Don’t wait until your city requires your compliance. Contact us today and we’ll take care of everything.

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.

Fire Safety: A to Z

Monday, August 9th, 2010
Fire Safety A-Z

Fire Safety A-Z

Final Post in Our Fire-Safety Series

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

A~A to D Fire Extinguishers

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

A-Rated Extinguishers- extinguish ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these indicates the amount of water they will hold and the amount of fire they are capable of extinguishing.
B-Rated Extinguishers- battle flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for this class indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire they can extinguish.

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

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

Emergency Evacuation Plan If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.157 requires you to have an EAP.

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

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

High-Quality Animation keeps clients engaged. To ensure the highest rate of retention possible, RJWestmore Inc. hired former Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. artists to create engaging animated online e-tutorials.

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

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

K-Rated Fire Extinguishers are manufactured to battle fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. This is for commercial kitchens, including those found in restaurants, cafeterias and catering locations.

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

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

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

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

Post Evacuation Routes clearly, so locations become second nature during actual emergencies.

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

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment when current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources.

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

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

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

View Map Link- RJWestmore Inc. clients have access to multiple views of individual properties and the surrounding areas in our Version 2.0 system. The maps not only provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in an emergency.

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

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

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

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

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Check back next week, when we will begin a series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE

Fire Evacuations: How to Escape a Fire

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Don't depend solely on one evacuation route.

Don't depend solely on one evacuation route.

Part 3 in a Series

When it comes to fire, time is the biggest enemy. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire filling a building with thick black smoke, toxic superheated gases and ominous flames. Every second counts.

Each year, more than 3,500 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires. Many of these deaths and injuries result from failed emergency escape attempts. In our continuing series about fire safety, we will focus on the best practices for making sure evacuation routes are plentiful, accessible and memorable.

PLENTIFUL:

Multiple Routes

One surefire way to get trapped by flames is to depend solely on one evacuation route. When fire strikes, if the escape is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need another way out. So make sure all of your property evacuation plans allow for more than one means of escape.

Up to Code

  • See to it that your properties are up to code regarding building evacuation. For older properties, fire escapes should remain in good working condition.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire escape stairs should be made from steel or other approved non-combustible material.
  • Stairs should be designed to support the dead load of the stair system plus a live load of at least 100 pounds per square foot.
  • Since exterior fire escape stairs are not permitted on newer buildings, make sure interior staircases are easily accessible and clearly marked. If you live or work in a low-rise structure (1-3 stories) consider portable fire escape ladders as a secondary means of escape.

ACCESSIBLE:

Accommodate Individuals with Disabilities

  • While many newer buildings are constructed as “accessible” to allow people with disabilities barrier-free access, it is important to make sure that your evacuation training practices evacuating people with disabilities to ensure everyone knows what to do during emergencies.
  • Clients of the RJ Westmore Training System have access to helpful evacuation resources including a Guide for Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. The guide includes a Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist as well as information about building evacuation plans for people with mobility, visual, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.

Provide Ample Egress

  • This is an important consideration not only during construction but on a regular basis. Tenants can unintentionally block passageways with boxes or overflow from their suites. So take steps to constantly monitor escape routes.

MEMORABLE:

Drill

  • They say practice makes perfect. This is especially true when it comes to emergency evacuations.
  • Review escape routes frequently.
  • Practice not only in the middle of the day in full sun but also at night, to train tenants how to evacuate under cover of darkness.

Post

  • Make sure that evacuation routes are clearly marked so locations become second nature.
  • For more tips about conducting fire drills, see our recent post, Practice Makes Safety.

Visit us again next week for the next post in our series about fire safety and prevention. 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.

Practice Makes Safety

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Do Drills

Do Drills

When you hear the sirens and see flashing lights, you may think you are you at a concert. But these telltale signs might indicate a fire drill. Fire drills might bring back memories of school, where they were a welcome break from classes that gave you an opportunity to laugh with friends. Or tenants might view these periodic run-throughs as an unavoidable hassle that interrupt the normal business routine. But fire drills are vital preparation for emergencies. In fact, in an office setting, properly executed fire drills can save lives.

Why do you need fire drills in your building?

  • Tenants usually enter and exit buildings through the same locations every day. Fire drills often involve moving people through seldom used routes such as back stairwells. Workers are creatures of habit who benefit from frequent drills, which will make them more likely to remember proper evacuation routes.
  • Several building codes mandate fire drill participation such as the NFPA’s Life Safety Code, which has a grid detailing the recommended frequency for and the types of businesses that should conduct drills. Building owners can always choose to run more than the code-mandated number of drills, to ensure that new tenants understand evacuation procedures.
  • Drills provide a great opportunity to discover safety issues that need to be corrected such as locked stairwell doors or the necessity of developing alternate routes for specific tenants.

A fire at an office building in 1989 in Atlanta caused the deaths of five workers. Through investigation, the U.S. Fire Administration determined that Federal employees who worked in the building were required to participate in fire drills, while most private sector employees were not. The fatalities and most of the injured were unfortunately among the private sector tenants. What’s more, the report indicated a high level of chaos among the private sector employees. Fire drills were identified as a contributing factor for saving the lives of many.

Tips for performing fire drills:

  • Ensure that the sound of alarm systems can reach all sections of the building including storage areas, maintenance rooms, restrooms, and within elevators. Instruct Floor Wardens and other designated safety volunteers to keep watch for any problems observed during the drill, such as employees who don’t exit the building immediately or who take non-approved exit routes.
  • Remind tenants to exit the building briskly and to leave behind unnecessary personal items, computers or any office paperwork that might hinder evacuation.
  • Before drills begin, ensure that all exit signs are clearly visible and meet all code standards.
  • Involve local fire departments to coordinate mock drills, so you can work together to speed up evacuation times.

With all types of safety exercises, it’s important to receive training from a qualified source. This short video shows you what happens when you mix fire safety training with an unqualified “trainer.”

Visit us again next week for the second blog post in our series about fire safety and prevention. Next up—we will be discussing flammable materials and how building owners can mitigate fire risks by making sound choices in building materials and furnishings.

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.

Hazardous Materials in the Workplace

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Help Hazmat Crews Help You

Help Hazmat Crews Help You

Virtually every workplace and tenant has chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials. These include simple, everyday cleaners that might be stored under the kitchenette sink as well as heavy-duty chemicals stored in manufacturing facilities. Remember that effective planning for any emergency requires education and preparation. Detailed information about what chemicals your tenants use will give you a head start in any disaster. For example, Hazmat crews need ready information about potential threats so they can contain and clean the area. If you do your homework beforehand, you’ll be able to help emergency personnel when they arrive on the scene.

Those who work with chemicals run an increased risk of chemical fires. Work with your tenants to be sure all protocols are in place and flammable and explosive materials are properly stored. The fire department needs to know exactly which chemicals are present, such as whether any agents are present that could potentially explode if they come in contact with water.

Dealing with Hazardous Materials:

  • In the kitchen, bathroom or storage areas:
    • Take an inventory of tenants’ cleaning products and where they are stored. Too many chemicals in a cramped area can lead to danger.
    • Instruct tenants and cleaning crews not to mix chemicals. For example, bleach products should never be mixed with ammonia.
    • Make sure janitorial personnel alert your facility team to all major spills.
  • Chemical Labeling and Identification:
    • Proper labeling of materials is a first step in safety. For example, NFPA 704 is a group of standards on hazards denoting different degrees of potential harm.
      • The system uses a diamond shape that denotes red for “Flammability”, blue for “Health,” yellow for “Instability,” and white for “Special” hazards, such as chemicals that react violently with water. RJWestmore Training System users have access to information about “How to Read a Fire Diamond.”
      • Numbers from 0 to 4 rate the severity of the hazard.
      • Remind tenants of new code changes regarding labeling practices to help them stay in compliance.
  • Emergency Management:
    • Knowing which types of chemicals are being used or produced by tenants will help with proper emergency response.
    • Inform tenants about the different types of fire extinguishers needed for a variety of fire types, such as those caused by certain chemicals. Make sure you and tenants know what to expect and how to be prepared.
  • Teach your tenants to remember S.I.N.
    • Safety – Assume the materials are dangerous and keep a good distance.
    • Isolation – Close off the room or affected area of your building.
    • Notification – Make sure tenants notify 911 and building management.

If you take time to glance at the dozens of OSHA regulations for chemicals, from Nitrous Oxide to pool cleaning supplies, it will become apparent that attention and detail are required to ensure safety. If your tenant is producing complicated products using a variety of materials, it is your shared responsibility to follow all code requirements to protect your building.

RJWestmore Training System users have unrestricted access to lots of helpful links that will help identify and prepare hazardous materials-related emergencies. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.