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Back-to-School Safety

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Part 1 in a 2-Part Series

As we close the book on summer 2017, teachers and administrators across the country welcome students to a school year that’s rife with opportunity and promise. To make sure your student starts 2017-2018 off right, follow these simple safety steps, which are important whether your child is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. This week, our post focuses on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. Check back next week when we provide tips for being safe during the school day.


Safety on the Way to School

Biking or Walking – Teach your students to:

  • Check with the school to make sure biking is allowed and that racks are provided so the bicycle can be safely stowed on arrival.
  • Wear a safe helmet, since helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%.
  • Choose sidewalks or pathways wherever possible, even if using them lengthens the trip.
  • Travel as far from motor vehicles as possible. If sidewalks or designated paths are unavailable, students should walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and not to talk to strangers.
  • Find a buddy so they won’t have to go it alone.
  • Follow directions of the crossing guard, if one is present.
  • Cross streets only at corners, at traffic signals or designated crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before passing in front of motor vehicles.
  • Stay alert. Students should pay attention to cars that are backing up or turning.
  • Avoid running into the street or crossing between parked cars.
  • Wear retroreflective materials to make sure they can be seen.

Taking the Bus – Tell your students to:

  • Familiarize themselves with the bus stop.
  • Introduce themselves to the driver the first day of school.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the bus stop.
  • Wait patiently at the stop and not to board or exit the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop.
  • Respect the driver as well as other students.

Safe Driving

Teen crashes spike in September as secondary kids head back to school. But the reasons for this may be surprising. Teenage drivers tend to crash not because they are careless but because they are inexperienced. They struggle when judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for road conditions and executing safe turns. What’s more:

  • 66% of teen passengers who die in a crash are not wearing a seat belt.
  • 58% of teens involved in crashes are distracted.
  • 25% of car crashes involve an underage drinking driver.
  • 5% of teens who die in crashes are pedestrians and 10% are bicyclists.

The National Safety Council campaign, “Drive It Home” focuses on the importance of ongoing parental instruction. Don’t end driver’s training as soon your child is licensed. Continue to mentor your young driver. Be sure to check back when we conclude this back-to-school safety series by focusing on how to be safe while at school.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just for students on their way to and from school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure high-rise occupants are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, 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 Immunization Awareness Month

Monday, July 31st, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. 

In the United States, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases often occur due to non-immunization or under-immunization among children and adults, as well as from exposure to infections brought into the country by unvaccinated travelers who returning from high-risk or endemic regions. Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Their goal is education, so everyone knows that:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout life.
  • Vaccines are safe.

Certain vaccines are recommended based on age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease). Vaccination needs should be assessed by doctors, pharmacists, or other health care providers. Immunizations are important because they protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the illness, which is especially important to the most vulnerable, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.  Always consult your own healthcare provider before seeking vaccinations or taking any medications.

Immunization Recommendations for Everyone

The Immunization Action Coalition suggests that adults should get vaccines to protect their health, because even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. One immunization the CDC recommends for all adults, including pregnant women, is the influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Another vaccine-must for adults is the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) for anyone who did not get Tdap as a teen. Follow up should include Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccines every 10 years.

Immunizations for Special Groups

(The following recommendations for these groups, made by the CDC, NIAM and Vaccines.Gov, are as follows):

  • For a complete list of childhood vaccines, see the CDC’s schedule.
  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. For communication strategies on maternal vaccination, check out NIAM’s Toolkit: Pregnant Women.
  • College students require immunizations noted on the Vaccines.gov website. Students at campuses where Allied Universal provides training can access additional information in the “Your Resources” section of their Fire Life Safety Training module.
  • Adults 60 years and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older should have one or more pneumococcal vaccines. (What’s more, some adults who are younger than 65 years, with certain high-risk conditions, are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.)
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV) depending on age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received, or other considerations.
  • For more information about adult vaccines, see the CDC Adult Immunization Schedules.

Remember, a convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind, including health crises, is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Cybersecurity Safety

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Cybersecurity-breach stories are so common lately, the headlines no longer shock. But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. In 2017, you can’t afford to grow complacent about Internet safety. As the following examples demonstrate, it’s crucial to guard your online data:

GovTech.com

“Hacking actions at nuclear facilities targeted traditional vectors like websites, emails and Microsoft Word documents that were infected as the method for cyberattacks. It needs to be back to basics of ‘security blocking and tackling’ for many, and consideration of even traditional cyber threats.”

Big CountryHomePage.com

“The FBI and Homeland Security issued a new warning to American energy companies about potential cyberattacks on nuclear facilities…Homeland security officials say the hackers penetrated the ‘business’ side of the nuclear facility.”

Fortune.com

“A wave of ransomware attacks spread like wildfire (in June). Many Microsoft Windows-based computers—specifically, ones not protected against a vulnerability in a Microsoft messaging protocol…began seizing up worldwide, locking employees out of their desktops, and displaying ransom notes…It’s still not clear what the initial attack vector was. But once inside, the worm could spread across computer networks.”

Password Matters

A hacker’s job is to crack computer passwords to access sensitive files and data. Once they obtain the password, they can do malicious things to the information stored in an account. Or worse, they may be able to harm the accounts of other people who share computer networks. So, the argument— “I don’t need a secure password because I don’t store important information in my account”— won’t fly. Passwords are usually the weakest security link within an organization’s network. Don’t fall victim to cybercrime. Create a secure password:

Password Don’ts

  • Don’t use dictionary or foreign words, names, doubled names or first/last names and initials.
  • Don’t use simple transformations of words (7eleven, seven11, etc.) or any alphabet or keyboard sequence (backwards or forwards).
  • Don’t use your user ID in any form (as-is, reversed, capitalized, doubled, etc.).
  • Don’t reuse old passwords. Instead, choose a completely new password every time you change it.
  • Don’t consider using short words (less than 8 characters), phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or numbers substituted for letters (like a zero instead of the letter O).
  • Don’t use ‘password’ as your password. (Believe it or not, statistics show that up to 70% of all user-passwords are the word ‘password.)
  • Don’t tape the password under the keyboard or anywhere else on the computer, the computer’s desk or in an unlocked file cabinet. Mischievous people will look for your password in these places like a thief looks for a key under the front doormat.

Password Do’s

  • Choose a phrase, and then use the first letters (‘A stitch in time saves nine’ would be ‘asits9’).
  • Use a password that has at least two alphabetic characters (a-z, A-Z) and at least one numeric (0-9) or special (punctuation) character. Always use a mixture of upper- and lowercase characters.
  • Choose a password that is easy to remember, so you don’t have to write it down.
  • Select a password that you can quickly type. This keeps people from discovering your password by watching you type it.
  • Change your password often—at least once every three months.
  • Implement a password-protected screen saver in case you must leave your workstation without first logging off. When possible, log off or lock your workstation by using CTRL + ALT + DEL.

Smartphone Safety

Since smartphone saturation in the United States surpassed 80 percent of the population in 2016, hackers are targeting secure data stored on handheld devices. Keep your data safe:

  • Malicious people could gain physical access to your smartphone or tablet. Malicious people are rude. Someone has to say it! Protect your device with a password and run apps such as Android Lost or Find My iPhone to help recover lost or stolen smartphones.
  • Malicious emails and text messages can infect your smartphone with malware. To prevent this, periodically run anti-virus software on your device.
  • The camera and microphone on your smartphone can be remotely activated. Do not take a smartphone near classified information, and remove the battery before discussing sensitive information.
  • Wireless networks may be insecure and subject to monitoring. Use VPN when accessing wireless networks and do not access sensitive information over shared wireless networks. Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it, to prevent hackers from exploiting your device.

About Allied Universal

Remember, cybersecurity and crime prevention are everyone’s responsibility. 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 Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Summer Travel Safety

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

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

And the threat of terrorism is not limited to the United Kingdom. In fact, so far already in 2017, 615 attacks have left 4,180 dead globally. Here are a few recent examples:

Terrorism is not the only travel-related safety matter. Civil unrest and public health also make the list of relevant concerns. Thankfully, the U.S. State Department issues travel alerts and warnings to help Americans select wise travel destinations long before booking flights, hotels and rental cars.

Travel Alerts

Travel Alert are issued for short-term events. Examples include:

  • An election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations or disturbances
  • A health alert like an outbreak of H1N1 flu virus
  • Evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks
  • Once a short-term event has passed, the associated Travel Alert is canceled.

Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued when travelers should carefully consider whether they should travel to a country at all. They remain in place until the situation changes. Some have been in effect for several years. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include:

  • Unstable government
  • Civil war
  • Ongoing intense crime or violence
  • Frequent terrorist attacks

How to Be Safe While Traveling

  • Assess risks. Check out active travel alerts and warnings before you book travel. While you are away, pay attention to your surroundings. Report suspicious activity to local police.
  • Prepare documents. Before you leave, research topic like entry/exit requirements, visas, laws, customs, medical care and road safety for countries you plan to visit. Write down contact details to carry with you for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in case of emergency while traveling.
  • Plan. Double check that vaccinations are up to date. Make an evacuation plan. Consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance. Schedule regular check-in times using an app like WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends for free.
  • Mind your money. Notify bank and credit card companies of your travel plans and check exchange rates.
  • Safeguard Paperwork! Make two copies of travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from original documents. To help prevent theft, never carry your passport in your back pocket. Separate your passport from cash and credit cards.
  • Enjoy your trip! Don’t let the threat of disaster derail your plans for an enjoyable vacation. If you prepare to be safe while you’re away, you will be able to reap the reward of a restful holiday. For more travel tips, check out our post about summer-safe travel.

Safe travel is important for everyone all year round, not just during summer. 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 Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Focus on Active Shooter Situations

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services recognizes National Safety Month

Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends the following course of action if you find yourself in an active-shooter situation: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. In other words, if you have the ability, quickly run as far away from the situation as possible. Then hide. Fight back only as a last resort. View this video to learn more:

Unfortunately, over the past few years, active shooting incidents have become all too common. Consider these two, for example, which have unfolded already this month in diverse locations across the country:

  1. June 5, 2017, Beauty College in Fort Wayne, IndianaA lone gunman entered the Ravenscroft Beauty College shortly before 7 p.m. and began shooting. One woman was seriously injured while others on the scene escaped without harm. The shooter was later found deceased, from an apparent suicide. Preliminary police reports suggest this may have been the result of a domestic disturbance between the shooter and his victim.
  1. June 5, 2017, Workplace Shooting, Orlando, Florida. A 45-year-old “disgruntled” employee entered his former workplace in Orlando armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a hunting knife. He fatally shot five people, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

Active shooter situations are quick and unpredictable. In many cases, in fact, the entire event will unfold before first responders arrive on scene. While facing an active shooter might be unimaginable, being prepared could save your life.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to your environment and locate the nearest two exits in any place you visit.
  • Run to a safe place immediately.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • If you’re unable to run, hide.
  • If you’re somewhere with a door, lock it or barricade it shut.
  • Silence electronic devices.
  • Call 911 if it is safe to do so.
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. In close-range cases, fighting increases your chance of survival.

About the NSC

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the NSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas of greatest risk – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and safe communities.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just during National Safety Month. 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 Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Additional active shooter response resources:

Information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Active Shooter Booklet
Active Shooter Poster
Active Shooter Information
Security Awareness Tips
Active Shooter Emergency Planning
Workplace Violence
Workplace Violence Prevention Planning

Hurricane Preparation & Survival

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland cooling, rip currents, and tornadoes. Called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world, these massive storms affect regions across the globe – Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in May and ends November 30.

Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and intensity of the storm, amount and duration of rainfall, path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, terrain and soil conditions.

The additional toll hurricanes can take include:

This damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy.

  • Damage or destruction of buildings and other structures
  • Disruption of transportation, gas, power, communications, and other services
  • Coastal and inland flooding from heavy rains and storm surge.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale divides hurricanes into five categories based on wind speed, central pressure and potential damage to homes, structures, power lines and trees, and the ability to block roads and bring areas to a standstill, or even render them uninhabitable.

Category 1: Sustains winds of 74 to 95 mph.

Category 2: Maintains winds of 96 to 110 mph.

Category 3 (Major): Whips up winds of 111 mph to 129 mph.

Category 4 (Major): Produces winds of 130 to 156 mph.

Category 5 (Major): Drums up 157 mph or higher winds.

Business owners boarded windows to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.

Here’s how to prepare for a hurricane (adapted from Ready.Gov):

  • Know where to go. If ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) and have a plan in place for where you will check in with family and take shelter.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit, including flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of critical information in case you need to evacuate.
  • If you are outside the evacuation area and decide to stay in your home, put together adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days, as you could be stranded, due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Utilize text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications, if data service is available in your area. To find out which alerts apply to you, search the Internet using your town, city, or county name plus the word “alerts.”

What to do after a hurricane:

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends via text (if cell service is available) or social media (if WIFI is operational). The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System includes notes about what to do in a power failure.

    Hurricanes can cause power failures.

  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person down, and fast-moving water can sweep away a vehicle. What’s more, it could be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain dangerous debris.
  • Photograph the damage to your property to assist with insurance claims.

Remember that safety is important for everyone, before, during and after hurricanes. 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 Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

This video from FEMA provides additional Hurricane Safety tips:

How Tech is Changing Disaster Management

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

It wasn’t long ago that disaster management professionals handled crises primarily through landlines and press conferences. Thankfully, over the past 10 years, technology has redefined global emergency management and disaster communications. One of the first national disasters to heavily rely on technology, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was Hurricane Sandy, as users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related tweets.
Since people have embraced mobile technologies, it’s increasingly important for disaster management professionals to adopt a social media strategy as well as the ability to use multiple forms of technology to communicate and connect with an increasingly networked population. What’s more, building owners and managers as well as members of the public, should take advantage of the many ways technology can help them prepare for, survive, and recover after a disaster.


Technology and Disasters:

  • The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps that put lifesaving information at the user’s fingertips. The apps give people instant access to more than 35 customizable emergency weather alerts, as well as safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. The Emergency App contains an “I’m Safe” feature, which helps people use social media to let loved ones know they are okay following an emergency. These apps have been downloaded over seven million times and have been credited with saving lives in Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Other Red Cross apps include Blood Donor, Earthquakes, First Aid, Flood, Hero Care, Hurricane, Pet First Aid, Radio Cruz Roja, Swim, Tornadoes, Transfusion Practice Guidelines and Wildfires.

  • Disaster Apps. While it would be virtually impossible to list every available disaster app, here are a few noteworthy options, available on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), FEMA, My Hurricane Tracker, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), QuakeFeed, Storm Distance Tracker, and WeatherCaster.
  • Facebook offers a natural disaster page, which is set up so that people can check on loved ones, get updates about the developing situation, and look for information about how to help. Disaster Response on Facebook highlights tips, news, and information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Facebook users who like and follow the page can stay up to date and connected with affected communities around the world. They can also donate with the “Donate Now” call-to-action button, so nonprofits can connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute.

  • Twitter has emerged as a legitimate means of emergency communication for coordinating disaster relief. A 2015 study, What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens: Social Media Communications Across Crises, focused on 26 different crisis situations (such as earthquakes, floods, bombings, derailments and wildfires) for two years. The event which obtained the most Twitter attention at the time of the study was the Boston Marathon bombings, with 157,500 tweets. What’s more, Twitter Alerts provide trusted sources with a platform to disseminate accurate information to concerned parties in real time, and for those people to offer immediate feedback about the impact and hierarchy of needs relative to the associated disaster.

  • OneEvent is an algorithm developed by a small startup in Wisconsin. For a monthly subscription fee, OneEvent detects household disasters like fires and floods up to 20 minutes before they happen. The software-based approach uses sensors to monitor things like heat and humidity in key areas of the subscriber’s home. If things start to deviate from the norm due to a leaky pipe or a hot oven, the system will catch it, let the user know, and learnfrom the situation.
  • Online Fire Life Training systems, which provide subscribers with access to information about emergency and disaster prevention, management and recovery. A leader in the field is Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Systems. The fully-automated system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Subscribers get access to training for building occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is recorded. Building-specific information is sent to first responders for immediate access during emergencies.

Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. 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 Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

April 2017 Distracted Driving Month

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Don’t be a distracted driver.

#BeSafe on the Road

April is National Distracted Driving Month. Increasing awareness about distracted driving is a critical endeavor, as the National Safety Council reports that 40,207 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. That figure represents a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 — marking the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. ​Experts agree the increase in accidents is in direct proportion to the easy accessibility of technological distractions. In other words, the more available tech-related temptations, the more likely American roadways will be filled with distracted drivers.

New York Times Business Writer Neal E. Boudette explained the phenomenon by saying, “Cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, (but) apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.”

Fleet Management Weekly quotes Deborah Hersman, president and chief executive for the National Safety Council, as asking, “Why are we O.K. with this? Complacency is killing us.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Nearly half of all people (surveyed) say they feel less safe (driving) than they did five years ago.” AAA attributes this reaction to the fact that (while they are behind the wheel) drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.

AAA also references a distracted driving term known as “latency,” which means that texting while stopped at a traffic light or while stopped on congested freeways can impact full driving engagement, for an average of 27 seconds after texting stops. Replicated across thousands of cars during rush hour, this can add up to significant delays in addition to associated accidents.

Experts agree that cell phone use, which includes talking and texting, remains the most common distraction to safe driving. In response, many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors. Leading the charge is the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), whose message to all drivers is straightforward: “Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.” 

10 Tips for Managing Common Driving Distractions

  1. Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in.

the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach.

  1. Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
  2. Pull over. If you need to make a call, drive to a safe area first.
  3. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.

    Rely on passengers to make calls and provide directions while you’re behind the wheel.

  4. X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
  5. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. GHSA offers a handy state law chart.
  6. Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
  7. Secure pets. Unsecured animals can be a big distraction in the car.
  8. Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
  9. Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.

Remember These Do’s and Don’ts.

While you are driving, DO NOT:

  1. Text or send Snapchats.
  2. Use voice-to-text features in your vehicle’s dashboard system.
  3. Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media.
  4. Check or send emails.
  5. Take selfies or film videos.
  6. Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion).
  7. Call or message someone else when you know they are driving.

While you are driving, DO:

  1. Reserve phone conversations in your vehicle for emergency situations only, via hands-free or Bluetooth devices.
  2. Stay on top of the distracted driving issue all year long by signing up for the National Safety Council’s free e-newsletter.
  3. Take the attentive driver pledge.
  4. Share your pledge on social media.
  5. Create awareness in your workplace, at home or in your local community by sharing the distracted driving message.

Remember that safety is important for everyone across the country, whether on the roads or not. 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 Fire Life Training System, 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 Poison Prevention Week

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Did you know that poison can be found in vitamins, toys, coins, thermometers, and cosmetics? These products, and your basic over-the-counter medications and cleaning products, contain the substance—albeit at very small amounts. With so many hazards to be aware of, drawing attention to the dangers of potential poisoning is the purpose of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19 to 25. Sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council (NPPC), the weeklong observations will center on the following themes:

  • Monday, March 20 – Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons
  • Tuesday, March 21 – Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money
  • Wednesday, March 22 – Poisonings Span a Lifetime
  • Thursday, March 23 – Home Safe Home
  • Friday, March 24 – Medicine Safety

Here are some reasons that poison prevention is extremely important:

Says the NPPC about the campaign:

“Unintentional poisoning from a wide variety of substances and environmental hazards can happen to anyone, and represents a substantial public health burden in the U.S. The National Poisoning Prevention Council is an inclusive community comprised of representatives from the public, nonprofit, and government organizations with a shared commitment to poisoning prevention and education. The Council provides a collective voice to raise awareness among the American public about the risks, frequency, and consequences of unintentional poisoning occurrences, injuries, and fatalities.”

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning:

  • Don’t share prescription medicines. If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free American Association of Poison Control Centers’ helpline (1-800-222-1222), to find out more about possible drug interactions.

    Call 1 (800) 222-1222 to be connected to your local poison control center.

  • Carbon monoxide is a form of poison. Keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
  • Keep chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children. Never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can create a dangerous gas.
  • Keep cleaning products, art products and antifreeze in their original containers. Never use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products.
  • Food can become poisonous if handled carelessly. Wash hands and counters before preparing food. Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
  • Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F° (5 degrees C°).
  • Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. When it comes to poison ivy, remember this tip: “leaves of three, let it be.”
  • Venom is a form of poison. Find out if poisonous snakes live in your area. Wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors.

    Snake venom is poisonous.

  • Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities.

If someone ingests poison:

  • Remain calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning.
  • Call the Poison Help line(1-800-222-1222), which connects you to the local poison center.
  • Follow the advice you receive from your poison center.

Take steps while waiting for help to arrive:

  • If someone has inhaledpoison, get him or her to fresh air immediately.
  • If poison has touched the skin, rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If poison gets in eyes, rinse them immediately with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remember that safety around toxic chemicals is important for everyone across the country, 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 Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Sinkhole Safety

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Record-breaking cold temperatures across the country have wreaked havoc on streets from coast to coast. The severe weather has led to an alarming number of weather-related car accidents, flash flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines across the United States. Another unfortunate yet common side effect of the storms is water-logged land that has given way to hundreds of large sinkholes.

A few examples of the serious sinkholes reported in the U. S. within the past 12 months:

What exactly is a sink hole?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “A sinkhole can be defined as: an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. When it rains, water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than one foot to more than 100 feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers, whereas others have vertical walls. Some hold water, forming natural ponds.”

The three types of sinkholes include dissolution, cover-subsidence, and cover-collapse. Whatever the type, most occur so slowly that changes to the landscape are not immediately evident. This is also true of ground structure that has been compromised by buried bones. So, while it looks like they appear out of thin air, most require time to deteriorate into a full-blown collapse. Collapses most significantly impact structures and people when they happen in urban settings. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, we wanted to devote this blog post to providing subscribers and friends with tips for spotting and safely reacting to sinkholes.

Conditions that foster sinkholes:

  • Active wells
  • Abandoned drywells, cesspools and septic tanks
  • Buried swimming pools
  • Old dumps that were later built-over
  • Buried, abandoned building foundations
  • Cracks, gaps, ravines opened by earthquakes
  • Steep-sloped or otherwise unstable areas
  • Moisture-soaked earth
  • Streets and structures not retrofitted for safety

It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole would swallow a modern high-rise building. Whew. However, you could potentially encounter such an event while you are driving to or from work or school or while traveling to an area with relaxed building inspection protocols. If this happens, remain calm. Try to quickly drive or walk around the hazardous area. Finally, call 911 for help.

Remember that safety on the road is a priority for everyone across the country, 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 Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.