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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:

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.

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.

Earthquake Preparedness

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
quakeshack

Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services’ client, Brookfield, recently used the Quake Cottage in their earthquake tenant training.

Worldwide, millions of people practiced how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:20 a.m. on October 20, 2016 during The Great California ShakeOut. Participating in the annual event is a great way to make sure you are prepared to survive and recover quickly from substantial earthquakes – whether you are at home, at work or traveling.

To call attention to earthquake preparedness, we want to take this opportunity to educate our subscribers and friends about earthquake preparedness in high-rise buildings. We would like to extend our thanks to Safe-T-Proof, which provided their “Quake Cottage” for a Pre-Great California Shakeout event. They offer superior earthquake fasteners and straps for offices as well as survival kits and additional earthquake-safety supplies.

The latest and greatest in earthquake-resilient design is currently being implemented to build the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles, which, at 1,100 feet, will make it the tallest building on the Pacific coast. The building’s massive foundation is so robust that its construction is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “longest continuous concrete pour.” Exploding city

Despite how odd it feels to stand in a tall building that sways during an earthquake, modern California high-rises provide safer refuge during earthquakes than most shorter facilities. This is because architectural plans and construction for high-rise California structures built after the Sylmar quake in 1971 are required to follow stringent seismic codes. You can further improve your high-rise earthquake survival odds by taking preparedness steps.

Safety Tips for High-Rise Earthquakes

  • Stay put. Sitting down under a desk or doorway is the safest way to “ride out” a quake while it’s happening. Most earthquakes are relatively short. So it is safer to patiently wait a quake out instead of trying to exit the building as it moves.
  • Stay alert. After exiting a building, tenants should move under cover in order to avoid falling debris such as panes of glass. Also, pay attention to warnings of fires or tsunamis which can follow any quake.
  • Stay informed. Tenants in high rises should be familiar with evacuation protocols for their building. A speedy yet orderly evacuation is crucial for ensuring building occupant safety. The National Fire Protection Association offers an evacuation plan video that encourages individuals to take ownership of their safety while following safety procedures.

Allied Universal offers these earthquake safety tips for anyone who may not be in a high-rise to follow:

Duck, cover and hold on.

Duck, cover and hold on.

Indoors

  • Drop to the ground. Take cover by getting under a sturdy table and hold on. Stay inside until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from glass or anything that can fall, like light fixtures and furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes.

In a Fire…R-A-C-E to Safety!

  • Rescue—Remove any employees or visitors from immediate danger.
  • Alarm—Pull the nearest Fire Alarm and call the proper emergency phone number.
  • Contain—Contain all smoke and toxic fumes by closing all doors and windows.
  • Extinguish and Evacuate—Follow all posted and verbal procedures.

Outdoors

  • Stay where you are if you are not near any buildings, streetlights or utility wires.
  • Do not move from the area you are in until the shaking stops. Remember that aftershocks can be just as bad as the earthquake itself.

In a Moving VehicleEarthquake scene at the town

  • Stop as quickly as possible, but stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the shaking has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that have been damaged.

Built to Withstand Quakes

Modern high rises, such as the Wilshire Grand Center, undergo considerable earthquake modeling and testing before they are complete. Taller buildings must withstand massive amounts of force from earthquakes and wind, so engineers make sure construction will withstand the “worst case scenario.”

High-Rise Earthquake Safety Features

  • Tuned mass dampers. These are massive weights that are mounted within a building and designed to move opposite to the oscillations of the structure. For example, the massive Taipei 101 skyscraper damper weighs 660 tons.
  • Simple roller bearing. This is a type of “base isolation” where the movement of the building is mitigated by bearings, which absorb some of the energy, thereby minimizing the building’s lateral movement. This is a common technique that essentially removes the structure from the ground, so it “floats” freely.
  • Sway. Engineers build the structure to withstand a certain amount of sway, knowing that there is a direct relationship between the height of the building and seconds of associated, safe side-to-side movement.

Building AbstractBuilding design is always dynamic, with new materials and procedures explored that can make buildings safer and more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, the growing use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) is pushing architects to consider high-rise wood buildings in Seattle and other areas.

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, not only those working or living in high-rise buildings. 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.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Several hikers in ArizonaMan using compass for directions were killed this summer when they engaged in strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. And an Indiana landscape crewman died when his body temperature soared to 108 degrees after he worked for nine hours in the direct sun, in 110 degree heat. These deaths are especially tragic because they could have been avoided if the victims had taken steps to avoid heat exhaustion – the precursor to heat stroke, potentially leading to death.

Heat stroke affects people engaged in recreation, at home, and on the job. What’s more, workplace heat exhaustion is a significant problem, with agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) working diligently to educate workers about the risks of heat-related deaths. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities can lead to heat-related illness.Workplace Safety Signs

Heat can strike any time of the year, in virtually any location, as it did last October when temperatures soared over 100 degrees across California. With fall weather and associated slightly cooler temperatures, people have the tendency to grow complacent about heat exhaustion. But the risks are not relegated to a few summer months or tropical locations.

The following headlines illustrate the point:

Heat Exhaustion – How to Spot it and Stop it

Heat strokeThe first step to heat exhaustion prevention is to pay attention to how your body feels and make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Next, heed these signs and contributing factors:

  • If you aren’t sweating enough in heat, take notice. Dehydration occurs when the body cannot properly regulate internal temperature.
  • In high heat, monitor alcohol use, as it can interrupt body heat regulation and cause dehydration.

Heat Stroke – the Warning Signs

After heat exhaustion comes heat stroke – a condition wherein death can occur in the absence of swift action. For example, a construction worker in North Naples, Florida recently succumbed to heat stroke after working on a roof in 90-degree heat.

Symptoms that suggest the onset of heat stroke

  • Red, hot, dry skin, unlike the clamminess that often accompanies heat exhaustion
  • Cessation of sweating, despite heat
  • Seizures and general confusion/disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing

At-home treatment for heat stroke includes wetting the victim’s skin, fanning him to increase air circulation, and possibly even submerging the person in a tub filled with ice. Heat stroke often requires a speedy trip to the emergency room, so the patient can receive specialized care. Once a person is unconscious or the body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher, every minute counts. Tablet with "Dehydration" on screen, stethoscope, pills and objects on wooden desktop.

Don’t forget to watch your pets for signs of heat stroke. Cats and dogs can suffer from heat stroke. Avoid long walks during the middle of the day and pack plenty of cold water for your dogs. If your pooch is excessively panting, has sticky saliva, shows signs of dizziness, and/or vomits, cool your pet as soon as possible. In California, a bill is being considered which would protect someone who breaks a window to rescue a dog in a hot car.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Maintaining a state of preparedness is essential for every month of the year, no matter the temperature. 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 PrepareAthon Day

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Be prepared text on speech bubble and businessman hand holding megaphonePresident Obama officially proclaimed September National Preparedness Month, establishing September 30, 2016 as a “national day of action,” aka “America’s PrepareAthon.” Managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the campaign is designed to spark awareness and preparedness among the general public.

The emphasis on awareness and active participation in safety-related exercises is especially timely in light of the recent terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey. Also, in a separate and apparently unrelated incident in Minnesota, a terrorist attack was thwarted by a trained firearms expert, whose quick thinking and ready action saved the lives of innocent people.

In each of these incidents, well-prepared Americans, first-responders and members of the general public worked together to lessen the severity of incidents relative to attacks and/or helped the injured while simultaneously staying alert to additional threats.

America’s PrepareAthon encourages alertness in several types of incidents:eas-test-092816_national

  • FEMA provides free materials such as badges and posters to promote preparedness for floods, earthquakes, winter storms, etc.
  • A compelling video showcases the way bystanders helped victims.
  • Disaster preparedness-related news is announced through the #PrepareAthon Twitter feed.
  • Concerned members of the public can conduct drills, test communication plans, safeguard documents, and make plans with neighbors for post-disaster actions.
  • Common steps to follow after a disaster such as tornadoes, hurricanes, active shooter incidents, winter storms, wildfires, and earthquakes alert the public.

How America’s PrepareAthon could potentially save lives:

Active Shooter Scenarios

America’s PrepareAthon offers useful advice for active shooter incidents. Here is what you can learn:

  • Find active shooter training classes, which are held at various locations throughout the country.
  • Discern the importance of quickly running, hiding, or fighting (if necessary).
  • Take first aid classes which instruct students in emergency procedures, such as how to tie a tourniquet.
  • Determine when to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Winter Storms

Graphic: PlanSevere winter storms bring ice, freezing rain, and potentially crippling quantities of snow, posing risks to first responders as well as the general public.

How to properly manage a major winter storm:

  • Prepare by stocking up on valuable supplies, such as food and water.
  • Create a backup heat source in case electrical or gas power are compromised.
  • Understand the potential dangers of fallen power lines, which can be pulled down by ice accumulating on trees.
  • Prepare your car by keeping the tank full to prevent the gas line from freezing. Also, pack extra blankets and water in your car as well as chains.
  • Set outside faucets to trickle to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Create a travel bag containing several layers of clothing, a first aid kit, and signaling devices.
  • Prepare a “Go Bag.”

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just on September 30th during America’s PrepareAthon. Take advantage of the resources offered through FEMA and other agencies, which can provide you and building occupants with lifesaving tips. 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.

Cleaning Tactics Following a Flood

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

business man looking at the city underwaterAccording to the National Weather Service, the recent historic flooding in Louisiana was a result of torrential rains that dropped three times as much water as what fell relative to Hurricane Katrina. When storms like this occur, dangerous floodwaters can lead to immediate loss of life. What’s more, the aftermath is often greater still.

In Baton Rouge, cleanup crews are moving street-by-street to pick up flood-related debris.  Officials report that teams gathered 12,000 cubic yards of refuse in a single day. And this figure only reflects refuse on the street. Massive cleanup efforts are still underway, with sanitation companies repairing, cleaning and demolishing homes which were devastated by the flood. Rescue Service assorted debris

Floodwaters destroy homes simply because most household items do not do well under water:

  • When saturated, wood floors swell.
  • Window casings can quickly rot and shift, breaking windows.
  • Electronic components can short, posing electrical fire risk.
  • Drywall absorbs water readily, and should be removed before mold grows.
  • Extreme flooding within a structure can cause a home to shift, stressing the foundation.

 

Underground ParkingImportant Note for Property Managers and Building Owners: Prior to a flood, make sure important records and operating equipment are not located in underground basements or parking garages, as these are typically the first areas to flood. 


Mold Removal after a Flood

Mold is a major concern for homeowners and disaster relief agencies following floods. Even if the variety of mold that grows is not toxic, the side effects of exposure can produce serious health issues – such as hives, bloody noses and migraines. So, regardless of the type of mold that grows following a flood, it’s important to seek out an experienced remediation firm. Avoid scammers who prey on flood victims, demanding payment in full, upfront, for mold remediation that will never be provided. Mold removal requires special chemicals, breathing masks and equipment; so leave the job to professionals.

Steps a pro will take to prevent and remove mold growth following a flood:

  • Replace carpeting, drapes, and pads that were exposed to water. Mold spores can remain in carpets even after thorough drying.
  • Remove drywall to properly sanitize walls.
  • Discard affected materials to remove mold spores.
  • Open windows and utilize masks rated N-95 or higher to prevent respiratory illness.
  • Wash affected areas with special detergent.
  • Use ammonia to kill mold spores, being careful not to mix bleach and ammonia-containing cleaners.
  • Dry the entire home using dehumidifiers, heat-producing devices, and high-speed fans.
  • Inspect areas in walls and behind wall coverings.
  • Use infrared cameras to detect and target moisture.

In some cases, where moisture penetration is pronounced, insurance providers could deem the dwelling a total loss. Talk to a mold remediation specialist, or a facility services company such as Universal Building Maintenance, which is part of Allied Universal,  and your insurance provider about the severity of conditions affecting your home.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Flooding is not only extremely dangerous while it is occurring, but could also lead to a long and potentially toxic cleanup process. Homeowners and business owners should understand the flooding risk inherent in their buildings, review flood insurance coverage to make sure it is sufficient, and plan to quickly remediate flood damage in the event it occurs. 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.