Contact Us For A Demo

Archive for the ‘Severe Weather’ Category

How to Prepare for Extreme Weather

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Car towingThe Global Climate Risk Index 2017 analyzes the extent to which countries have been affected by the impact of weather-related loss. This year’s index confirms that, although less developed countries are generally more likely to be devastated by weather than industrialized nations, even areas that are typically immune from such risk would do well to prepare. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of climate change, experts agree that the risk of extreme weather events threatens the entire world. And wherever it strikes, extreme weather profoundly impacts facilities, operations and personnel—financially, emotionally and physically.

So how should you prepare for a weather-related disaster?

  1. Don’t wait until the threat is imminent. Instead, proactively plan and stock supplies and run drills to make sure your family, friends, staff and/or building occupants are set to “weather the storm.”
  1. Familiarize yourself with the threats that are most likely to strike your region. If you aren’t sure, check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center to find out about your geographic risks.
  2. Take specific steps to prepare for each and every potential weather-related emergency. Here are a few specific tips the handle some of the most common extreme weather emergencies:Heavy rain and flood concept with house under water 3d illustration.

Extreme cold, sleet and snow

  • Dress in layers to keep warm and dry.
  • Limit your exposure to the cold.
  • If you plan to use a space heater or fireplace, keep clothes, drapes and other flammables away from all heating sources. Turn them off before leaving a building or going to sleep.
  • If you must go outside, watch for signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering, weak pulse, disorientation, incoherence and drowsiness, and frostbite, skin discoloration and numbness.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. When shoveling snow or even walking in deep snow, avoid straining to prevent over exertion or a heart attack. 

Thunder and Lightning

The sound produced by high temperature bursts of lightning, thunder rapidly expands surrounding air, resulting in a sonic boom.

  • If you are inside, steer clear of exterior windows.
  • If you are outside, avoid isolated tall trees.
  • Wherever you are, seek inside shelter immediately.
  • Within a building, avoid using electricity, which contains conductive elements. 

Tornado On The Business Road - Dramatic Weather On CityTornadoes

  • Designate a safe room to shelter in place during the storm.
  • Practice tornado drills at home and in the office.
  • Remove dead or diseased trees near buildings.
  • If you are in your car, drive to a safe shelter location. Or, if that is not possible, stay in the vehicle, buckle your seatbelt, and place your head between your knees.
  • The CDC offers tips for safety after a tornado, including watching for downed power lines, and avoiding the use of gas-powered generators or heaters inside a building.
  • Allied Universal Training System subscribers have access to a tornado module, available at no extra charge.

Safely managing extreme weather events requires planning and teamwork with building occupants and staff. Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, regardless of whether the disaster you face is weather related. 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.

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.

FEMA Adds New Features to Natural Disaster App

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Mobile App Development, Experienced Team. Flat 3d isometricPush notifications remind users to take simple steps to prepare for disasters, and provide easy access to information about safety relative to fires, severe weather and more.

Earlier this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) added a noteworthy new feature to its free smartphone app, which pushes notifications to users’ devices to remind them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

The app reminds users about:

  • Pre-scheduled safety and preparedness tips
  • Routine smoke alarm testing
  • Fire escape plan drills
  • Emergency kit updates
  • Smoke alarm battery replacement

Escape plan

“In just two minutes, a home fire can become life-threatening,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. “Remembering to take small steps to prepare, such as ensuring your smoke alarm is properly maintained and practicing your home fire escape plan, will reduce fire fatalities and ensure our communities are safer. We hope this new feature to FEMA’s app will help save lives by encouraging more families to be prepared.”

At the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, we are committed to pointing our subscribers to helpful disaster preparedness information from a variety of reputable sources, including FEMA. What’s more, we have recently tweaked our own offerings, so our subscribers can e-train at their convenience, on desktop computer, laptop  or iPad.

For their part, FEMA officials tout their new app reminder feature, saying it provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and open recovery centers, and offers tips for surviving natural and man-made disasters. The FEMA app also incorporates push notifications of weather alerts from the National Weather Service. Through the feature, users can stay on top of weather patterns for up to five national locations.

Other key features of the app:

  • weather word cloudWeather Alerts: Users can elect to receive alerts on severe weather happenings in specific areas, so users can follow potential weather-related threats to family and friends.
  • Safety Tips: Includes tips on how to stay safe before, during, and after more than 20 types of hazards, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
  • Disaster Reporter: Users can upload and share disaster-related photos.
  • Maps of Disaster Resources: Users can locate and receive driving directions for open shelters and disaster recovery centers.
    Help with Taxes
  • Apply for Assistance: The app provides easy access to federal disaster assistance applications.
  • Information in Spanish: The app defaults to Spanish-language content for smartphones set to Spanish as the default language.

The latest version of the FEMA app is available for free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices. Users who already have the app downloaded on their device should download the latest update for the reminder alerts feature to take effect. The reminders are available in English and Spanish. To learn more, visit: The FEMA App: Helping Your Family Weather the Storm.

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

El Niño Weather Risks for 2016

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

El nino conceptThe early January storms in Southern California brought not only rain and wind, but also a rare tornado warning for Los Angeles and San Diego. While the warnings didn’t pan out, meteorologists agree that 2016 will bring an increased chance of storms of many types across the entire country. Thanks to El Niño, emergency management professionals across the country are gearing up for what may be a banner year for weather. In fact, citing a worrying El Niño storm pattern this winter that could rival flooding in 1997 and 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has prepared a 66-page Severe El Niño Disaster Response Plan targeted to milder climates such as California and other western states.

What exactly is El Niño? Technically, it is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO). In simple terms, bands of warmer ocean water develop near the equator. This abnormally warm ocean water then alters the atmospheric conditions to produce unpredictable weather events. Here are some tips for handling several potential facets of El Niño weather and tips for preparing your building for severe weather.

Perform Storm Water Inspections of Your Properties

Water flow from drainpipeConduct a property walk-through to spot water drainage problems that could be aggravated by El Niño storms. While on the walkthrough:

  • Check drainpipes and other piping used to channel rainwater. Be sure these are free of debris to potentially handle large quantities of water. Review storm patterns and associated damage from previous years to identify potential problem areas.
  • If your building has water pumps, ensure they remain in good working condition. Remove debris from strainers.
  • If storm drains are severely backed up, you may need to hire a professional who has tools such as cameras to quickly identify and solve the problem.
  • Test the drainage system for leaks. This is especially important in areas that house electrical equipment.
  • Does your building have ground-level storage or parking areas? Check the grading to identify areas which may be susceptible to flooding. Sandbags and other measures can help channel water flow away from high traffic areas.

Managing Snowfall

Natural Disaster Warning Signs, Family Running, Caution, Danger, Hazard Symbol SetThe Weather Channel’s Winter Storm Central details the typical effects of El Niño and La Nina relative to snow patterns. The hope is that the subtropical or southern-branch jet stream, typically turbo-charged during strong El Niño, will deliver long-awaited relief for at least some in the West. However, no one can equivocally guarantee that the drought will end even if El Niño performs as expected. The good news is that, so far this year, California is already experiencing heavier snowfall than normal, with several feet reported.

How to Handle Snow:

  • Use chains. Necessary even if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, snow chains provide the traction necessary to escape snow-packed surfaces, though they remain relatively useless for traversing slick ice. Practice putting chains on your car in the comfort of your driveway instead of opening the package for the first time while you are stranded at the side of the road during a blizzard.
  • Keep exhaust pipes clear. If the pipe is blocked while the car is running, shovel an area around it for the gases to escape, instead of allowing them to filter back into the car.
  • Work with other motorists. If you are stranded during a snowstorm, make contact with other people so you can pool resources such as food, water, charged devices, and other items from your emergency supply kit.
  • Stay with the vehicle. Unless you have veered off the road, stay with the car as it will provide a certain degree of shelter.

Prepping your Building

Rain, tornadoes, and snow from El Niño could lead to a wide range of disaster threats this year. Here are some tips to help you (and building occupants) survive and resume normal operations as quickly as possible:

  • Use backup generators to provide a source of electricity to run sump pumps and to provide essential services to stranded occupants.
  • If applicable, paint your building (especially wood trim) with treated paint, which will repel water.
  • Conduct flood-proofing of your building, including the use of sandbags, attention to gutters, altering rooflines, and other fixes. FEMA has an extension section devoted to flood-proofing.

The effect of El Niño are global, with NASA predicting “weather chaos.” A theme of El Niño weather events is their unpredictability, with unusually-timed floods, blizzards, and the potential for tornadoes in unexpected places. Planning for the unexpected is a requirement for building and safety managers, so follow best practices to protect lives and property in 2016.

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

Tips to Handle Flooding

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
Guest Blogger, Angela Burrell, of Universal Services of America.

Guest Blogger, Angela Burrell

Thanks to our guest blogger, Angela Burrell, Public Relations Manager at our corporate company, Universal Services of America

Being prepared for any type of man-made or natural disaster is the focus all month long during September. The first week of National Preparedness Month is devoted to flood awareness. Please review the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Ready.gov tips to help  make sure you know how to prepare for a flood.

In Case of Flood Emergency Action PlanFlood Risks

Flooding can occur in any region or any season. It may be in the form of a few inches of water or enough to cover a house. For example:

  • Coastal areas are at greater risk during hurricane season (June to November).
  • The Midwest is most at risk in the springtime and during heavy summer rains.
  • Low-lying areas near a body of water or downstream from a levee are also at-risk areas.

Types of Flooding

  • Slow onset occurs due to prolonged rain over several days, whereby flood waters receded slowly.
  • Rapid onset happens when heavy rainfall occurs within hours or days.
  • Flash floods, caused by rapid onset rainfall, occur with little or no warning. They can also be caused by breaks in levees, dams, ice jams or water systems.
  • Storm surges happen when strong winds from a tropic cyclone or hurricane push seawater up onto land and, in some cases, causing storm-tide surges of up to 35 feet high.

National Weather Service Alert Systems

  • Flood Watch advises area flooding is possible. Be prepared to evacuate or move to higher ground on short notice.
  • Flood Warning indicates flooding is occurring or will occur soon. Follow any evacuation advisements.
  • Flash Flood Watch denotes threats of flash flooding in a region, or near a coast or river. You may be advised to evacuate or move to higher ground on short notice.
  • Flash Flood Watch Warning signals a flash flood is in progress or may soon occur in a region, or near a coast or river. You will be advised to immediately seek higher ground.
Motorist driving through flood waters with warning sign in foreground

Are you prepared for a flood?

How to Prepare

  • Visit FloodSmart.gov to learn how to determine your flood risk:
  • Know your evacuation routes. Plan ahead by selecting methods and routes to evacuate, whom you will notify of your status and where you will stay.
  • Reduce your risk of damage to structures by elevating critical utilities, including electrical panels, switches, appliances and waterproofing basements.
  • Keep emergency kits and supplies on hand and business continuity plans in place.
  • Install battery-operated generators as backup in case of power outages.
  • Hold a tabletop exercise. See a guide in FEMA’s Prepare Your Organization for a Flood Playbook.

Protect your business

  • To prevent structural damage, ensure your building’s drains are free of any debris; you may consider calling a roofing contractor to ensure your roof is water-tight.
  • Ask your engineering, janitorial and security teams to walk through your building frequently to identify any water intrusions.
  • Always protect your data with backup files, and make plans for alternate communication in the event of a power outage.
  • In the event of rain, consider placing heavy mats in all major paths of travel.
  • Review your insurance coverage ahead of time to make sure you will be covered in the event of weather-related damage.
  • Establish a procedure to communicate warnings and other information to employees and tenants during an emergency.
  • Read the Allied Universal Case Study: Hurricane Sandy for examples of how one commercial property management team dealt with severe flooding caused by the 2012 natural disaster.

When driving in the rain

  • Allow for more travel time and drive at a slower pace than normal, as heavy rains, mixed with the buildup of oil and grease on our roads, could lead to extremely slick driving conditions.
  • Brake earlier and with less force, and do not use cruise control.
  • Stay toward the middle of the road and never attempt to cross running water.
  • After crossing a puddle, tap your brakes lightly to knock off some of the water from your rotors.
  • Keep your headlights on, defog your windows and watch out for pedestrians.
  • If you start to hydroplane, slowly release the gas pedal until the car regains traction—never brake suddenly or jerk the wheel.
  • If you can’t see the road or car in front of you, pull over immediately and wait until visibility is good.

If a flash flood occurs

  • Never drive through a flooded area, even if it appears shallow enough to cross. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person off his feet, and a foot of water can sweep a vehicle off the road.
  • If your vehicle stalls, leave it and seek higher ground to avoid being swept away.
  • Keep away from storm drains, streams or ditches, and beware of swift-moving water.
  • Do not go near downed power lines or electrical wires, and report any you see to the authorities.
  • If caught outdoors, be aware of quick wind shifts and drops in temperature, and never try to outrun a flood—move to higher ground immediately.

If you are trapped

  • Call 911 for help. Give your location and detailsand wait for help.
  • Get to the highest level of a building. However, avoid attics, and particularly basements and lower floors. Only retreat to the roof as a last resort.
  • Stay in the vehicle if it is trapped in rapidly moving water.
  • Turn your vehicle around, if you can do so safely, if floodwater is blocking a roadway.
  • Seek refuge on the vehicle’s roof, if you are trapped and water is rising inside.
  • Move to higher ground, climbing as high as possible on a sturdy object, if necessary.

Another failsafe of being prepared is to stay informed by monitoring your local weather reports via news media. Consider signing up for community weather alerts via text or email. Coordinate with your security and emergency preparedness teams and heed any evacuation orders from local authorities.

We hope the FEMA resources and this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe in floods as well as every other type of emergency…particularly if you live or work in a high-rise building! 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 our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Blog How to Survive a Flash Flood

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

flash flood corpWith the advent of hand-held video technology, virtually anyone can capture amazing impromptu videos of weather-related events, including flash floods. Scenes of cars, people and animals being carried away by forceful currents serve as grim reminders that flash flooding is more common than you might be aware.

NOAA defines a flash flood as: A flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than six hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.

Flash floods can be produced when slow moving or multiple thunderstorms occur over the same area. When storms move faster, flash flooding is less likely since the rain is distributed over a broader area.

Flash floods can occur when rain overfills storm drains.

Flash floods can occur when rain overfills storm drains.

Here are 10 little-known facts about flash floods:

  1. The national 30-year average for flood deaths is 127.
  2. Almost half of all flash flood fatalities occur in vehicles.
  3. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more.
  4. Two feet of water on a bridge or highway could float most vehicles.
  5. Flash flood damage and most fatalities tend to occur in areas immediately adjacent to a stream or arroyo.
  6. Highly populated areas have a high risk for flash floods.
  7. During a flash flood, low spots, such as underpasses, underground parking garages and basements can quickly become death traps.
  8. Embankments, known as levees, are built along the sides of river banks to prevent high water from flooding bordering land. In 1993, many levees failed along the Mississippi River, resulting in devastating flash floods.
  9. In the United States, there are some 76,000 dams, 80 percent of which are made of earthfill construction.
  10. The majority of flash-flood victims are males.

Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

flash flood corp3One of the first steps to take toward flash flood safety, is to evaluate your risk for being caught in a flash flood. Since many flash floods occur along small streams, you can determine your risk by assessing your proximity to streams. Be aware that flooding can be caused by rain that falls several miles upstream and then moves rapidly downstream. Here are 10 more suggestions to keep you safe in the event of a flash flood:

  1. Since many leisure activities occur in and around streams and rivers, be aware of potential risks.
  2. Don’t play in flood waters. This is especially applicable to children and pets.
  3. Whenever thunderstorms are occurring in the area, pay attention to rapidly changing conditions.
  4. If you notice a stream start to rise and become muddy, or hear a roaring sound upstream, a flood wave could be rushing toward you. Head to higher ground immediately.
  5. Never drive into a flooded roadway or through flowing water. Turn around. Don’t drown.
  6. Don’t walk through moving water. Six  or more inches of moving water could cause you to fall and could carry you away.
  7. Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather-related information.
  8. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  9. If caught in a flood, abandon your car. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
  10. If you are at home when a flash flood hits, if you have time, secure your home and turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

How to Prepare for Lightning and Thunderstorms

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

lightening corp 8-04-14bThe odds of being struck by lightning are roughly 300,000-600,000 to one. Unfortunately, that is little consolation to the family of a USC student who fell victim to a rare lightning storm that hit Venice Beach on Monday, July 28. When a large bolt struck the water, it injured 13 and killed 20-year-old Nick Fagnano, who was said to have been finished swimming for the day and merely rinsing off in the ocean. Fagnano’s tragic death is a good reminder to prepare for thunder and lightning, in order to #BESAFE.

Here are 10 little-known facts about thunderstorms and lightning:

  1. All thunderstorms are dangerous because every thunderstorm produces lightning, although the lightning produced is not always easily detectable.
  2. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. In this type of thunderstorm, although falling raindrops evaporate; lightning can still reach the ground and could start wildfires.
  3. About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe (producing hail at least an inch or larger in diameter, with winds of 58 miles per hour or higher or which produce a tornado).
  4. On average in the U.S., lightning kills 51 people and injures hundreds more.
  5. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the U.S.
  6. Thunderstorms and lightning may occur singly or in clusters.
  7. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of associated long-term, debilitating symptoms.
  8. Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).
  9. Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  10. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

Lightning Corp 8-04-14So how can you prepare for thunderstorms and lighting? First, learn the terminology so you will be able to act when warnings are issued:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Alerts you as to when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

To prepare for an emergency of any kind, assemble an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. In the event of an impending thunderstorm, take these safety steps:

In Advance of the Storm:

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Unplug electronic equipment.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.

During the Storm:

  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electricity for recharging.  Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners.
  • Shelter inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are safer inside a vehicle than outside because the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection (provided you are not touching metal).
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and off of porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors.
  • Don’t lean against concrete walls.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas.
  • Steer clear of hilltops, open fields, the beach and boats on the water.
  • Avoid contact with metal of any kind—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.

While following the above safety suggestions won’t guarantee your safety, careful preparation and planning will put you in a much safer position if thunder or lightning threaten you and your loved ones. When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Hurricanes 5-282In light of the fact that Hurricane Amanda is gaining strength off the Pacific coast, and in honor of hurricane preparedness week, we wanted to take the opportunity to encourage our readers and subscribers to prepare for hurricane season. A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.

Here are a few facts about hurricanes:

  • All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes.
  • Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.
  • The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.
  • The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
  • Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
  • Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and micro-bursts.
  • Hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
  • Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events.
  • Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.
  • Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides.
  • Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

 

hurricane 5-28

So how are you supposed to prepare for a hurricane?

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property.hur
  • Cover the windows in your home.
  • To reduce roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
  • Make sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, when high winds are present, be prepared to take shelter on a lower floor because wind conditions increase with height.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Your hurricane preparations should include the following:

  1. Make a family plan.
  2. Check your disaster kit.
  3. Know your evacuation route (especially if you are new to an area.)

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.

After a Hurricane:

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Severe Weather: Hurricanes

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Hurricane CorpTwo weeks ago, we began a series about severe weather. This week, we will be focusing on a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean—hurricanes. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Each year, parts of the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.

Vital Stats about Hurricanes. They can:

  • Cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
  • Produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts.
  • Create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
  • Cause floods and flying debris which are often the deadly and destructive.
  • Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.
  • Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. It can also wreak havoc on the appearance of a doghouse.
  • Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

Hurricane Andrew Satellite Picture

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. I’ve noticed that lack of preparation about most disasters can lead to lots of avoidable damage. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that you and your family and business associates be ready before a storm approaches. Getting to know your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. And getting to know where cats live can help you avoid disasters of the feline-variety.

Ten Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane:

  1. Get to know your surroundings at home and at work. You never know when and where an emergency will strike.
  2. Build three emergency kits—for work, at home and in the trunk of your vehicle. Consider including non-perishable dog treats like turkey jerky.
  3. Make family and corporate communications plans.
  4. In high-rise buildings, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  5. Consider installing an emergency generator.
  6. Cover windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
  7. Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the frame.
  8. Trim leaves and branches to make sure trees and shrubs are wind resistant.
  9. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  10. Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage cans and dog bowls inside.

Ten Ways to Cope During a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  2. Only evacuate if you are directed by local authorities to do so.
  3. Do not use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  4. Close all interior doors and windows – secure and brace external doors.
  5. Turn off propane tanks.
  6. If instructed to do so, turn off utilities. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
  7. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water to ensure a sufficient supply of for sanitary uses such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Keeping water in your toilet may help pacify the dog in case he or she gets thirsty.
  8. Stay and away from windows and glass doors.
  9. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  10. Lie on the floor under a table or sturdy, secure object. I recommend doing this even when an emergency isn’t pending.

 Ten Steps to Take After a Hurricane:

  1. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news and updates.
  2. If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross.
  3. Stay alert for extended rainfall and associated flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  4. If you were instructed to evacuate, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  5. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  6. For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance.
  7. Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  8. Steer clear of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to appropriate utility. This is probably a good idea even if it isn’t stormy outside.
  9. Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Never use candles.
  10. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and make sure tap water has not been contaminated. When in doubt, throw it out.

Subscribers to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services can take advantage of applicable educational tutorials including instructions for power outages as well as medical emergencies. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

How to Prepare for and Recover from a Mudslide

Monday, March 24th, 2014

House buried under lavaWeeks of heavy rain in the Pacific Northwest have wreaked havoc on roads and structures. Particularly troubling are the massive mudslides which hit Washington State, leaving (as of the date of this writing) 176 missing and at least 14 dead and destroying 30 homes. According to the New York Daily News, “The rescue mission was halted as darkness set in on Sunday because conditions were deemed too dangerous.”

As search and rescue efforts continue, we would like to resume our severe weather series by focusing this week’s blog post on one of the associated risks of severe weather such as rain and snow—mudslides.

Facts about Mudslides

  • Occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope.
  • Can accompany heavy rains or follow droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or fast snowmelts.
  • May result from rapidly accumulating water which saturates rock, earth and debris.
  • Usually start at the top of steep slopes.
  • Slopes which are particularly vulnerable include any area where wildfires or human modification of the land have destroyed vegetation, during and after heavy rains.
  • In the U.S., landslides and debris flows result in 25 to 50 deaths each year.
  • Associated hazards include broken electrical, water, gas, and sewage lines that can result in injury or illness; and disrupted roadways and railways that can endanger motorists and disrupt transport and access to health care.
  • The consistency of debris flow can range from thin or thick mud to rocky mud that can forcefully carry large items.
  • When flows reach flat ground, the debris typically spreads over a broad area, and can accumulate in thick deposits that can wreak havoc in developed areas.
  • Every year, landslides in the U.S. cause roughly $3.5 billion in damage.
  • Mudslides can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.

Mudslide-Prone Areas

  • Steep slopes and areas at the bottom of slopes or canyons;
  • Spots where landslides have occurred before.
  • Slopes that have been altered for construction of buildings and roads;
  • Channels along a stream or river; and
  • Areas where surface runoff is directed.

How to Prepare for a Mudslide

  • Recognize landslide warning signs before they happen so you know what to do when they happen.
  • Before the first raindrop falls, assume that steep slopes and areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to landslides and debris flows.
  • Contact local authorities to help determine whether landslides or debris flow have occurred previously in your area.
  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for your family and business.
  • Find out about local emergency and evacuation plans, so you’ll know where to go and what to do if you are caught in a mudslide.

What to do During a Mudslide:

  • Once the storm starts, look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Stay awake and alert.
  • Watch TV or listen to the radio for warnings about intense rainfall and for information and instructions from officials.
  • Be aware of sudden increases or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. Remember; a trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.
  • If you are out and about in a storm, be alert while you’re driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If landslide or debris flow danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide.
  • Evacuate! Get out of the path of a debris flow. Move to high ground, away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for shelter and take cover.
  • If you can’t escape, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.
  • Don’t forget about your neighbors. They may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them about potential threats could save their life.

How to Recover from a Landslide

  • Stay away from the mudslide site, since flooding and additional slides may occur after the initial landslide. Floods can follow landslides and debris flow because they may have occurred as a result of the same event.
  • If it is possible to do so without entering the path of the mudslide, check for injured or trapped people near the affected area.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to authorities.
  • Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage. Damage to foundations, chimneys, or surrounding land may help you assess the safety of the area.
  • Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding and additional landslides in the near future.
  • Seek advice from a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk. A professional will be able to advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce landslide risk, without creating further hazard.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.