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Back-to-School Safety

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Part 1 in a 2-Part Series

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


Safety on the Way to School

Biking or Walking – Teach your students to:

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

Taking the Bus – Tell your students to:

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

Safe Driving

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

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

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

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just for students on their way to and from school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure high-rise occupants are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

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.

10 Space Heater Safety Tips

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Space Heater SafetySpace Heater Safety

Across the United States this winter, even in Southern California, record-setting low temperatures have sent people scurrying to discount stores to purchase space heaters. While the units save energy costs and work well to heat small spaces, they also pose a high risk of fire. In fact, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) officials say that space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires—figuring in two of every five such fires and accounting for 84% of associated civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage. The peak time for these types of fires is December, January and February.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that the biggest mistake people make relative to the risk of starting fires is to put things too close to heating sources: “Place (flammable materials) at least three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and radiators. Remember that skin burns too. Make sure that people and pets stay at least three feet away.”

While most built-in heating equipment remains safely out of reach of flammable materials, portable space heaters are easy to forget. Preliminary reports reveal that such was the case last month in Baltimore, Md., where a raging house fire claimed the lives of six children. The impact of the tragedy on loved ones is more difficult because officials suspect a space heater may have caused the blaze. Space Heater Safety Highrise

In the cool of winter, whether you are at home or at work, take these 10 precautions to make sure you remain fire safe in 2017:

  1. Use only portable heaters that have been listed by a testing laboratory (look for the laboratory’s label).
  2. Make sure the space heater you select has an automatic shut-off switch so that it will turn off on its own, even if it is accidentally knocked over.
  3. Select a heater that has automatic overheat protection.
  4. Plug portable electric heaters directly into wall outlets instead of potentially overloading an extension cord or power strip.
  5. Since evenings (between 5 – 8 p.m.) are the peak time for home heating fires, turn space heaters off before you leave the room or fall asleep.
  6. Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic.
  1. Use space heaters only on solid, flat surfaces.
  2. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.
  3. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  4. Check the condition of space heaters throughout the season.
    Space Heater Safety kids and pets

For additional winter fire safety information, check out free resources available through:

Allied Universal (AUS) – Fire/Life Safety Training System

Allied Universal Space Heater Safety Tips

American Red Cross – America’s Biggest Disaster Threat

NFPA – Put a freeze on winter fires

National Safety Council (NSC) – Don’t wait. Check the date.

Space Heater Safety House

USFA – Fire is everyone’s fight

Remember that fire safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the 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.

Cyber Safety in College

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series 

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies.

Campus Safety Recap

In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.

Password protection is crucial to cyber security.

In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. Part two focused on personal safety while in college. For this final entry, we cover college safety relative to cyber security.

Cyber Safety

Each year, college IT departments deal with hundreds or thousands of new and returning students who show up with laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets—all of which need to connect to the campus network. This is a scary proposition where online security is concerned, so students should prepare to eliminate risks, both for their own safety as well as that of their college.

Most college students today are infinitely more familiar with computer equipment than most of their parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, this familiarity can breed contempt, as most assume that cybercrime happens to other, less computer-savvy people. In fact, they are often referred to as “the click generation,” because they are so quick to click on website links and social media before considering the consequences. Another habit that puts them and their computers at risk is the sheer number of hours they spend online.

Cyber The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an aggressive cyber security branch, which focuses on cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure, both of which are vulnerable to a wide range of risk—stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards. Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services. The DHS current cyber security campaign, Stop. Think. Connect encourages Internet users of all ages to take responsibility for their own cyber safety.

Here are five tips to follow, to help keep college kids cyber safe:

  1. Keep a Clean Machine—Utilize malware software. Run regular security scans. Scan every device before inserting into a computer. Think twice before inserting an unknown flash drive into any computer. Not only should the source who provided the flash drive be trustworthy, but his or her cyber habits should be beyond reproach.
  2. Protect Personal Info—Secure accounts with strong passwords. Change passwords often. Don’t write them on Post-it notes placed next to the machine. Set stringent security protocols on laptops, tablets, phones and desktop computers. Hackers and identity thieves can only access information provided over the Web. Stick to online activity that doesn’t require full name or contact information unless you are using a trusted site for online purchases, such as PayPal, eBay or and Amazon. Be skeptical of an unknown site that asks for email, credit card number or home address.
  3. Connect with Care—Refrain from clicking hyperlinks sent in emails. Avoid doing anything of a personal nature while using a public hotspot. Make sure connections are secure (encrypted) whenever doing online banking or paying bills. And even while using a trusted social media platform, avoid revealing items of a personal nature such as school name, favorite hangout spot, and make/model of your car.
  4. Be Web Wise—If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Students should think twice before ordering online from an unknown vendor. Trust your gut. Use only trusted websites. Keep abreast of known Internet threats. Think before typing or clicking.
  5. Be a Good Online Citizen—Apply the *Golden Rule to everything done online. Help fight cybercrime by reporting anything unusual to the Department of Homeland Security .
  6. Check your school’s systems. Students should also contact campus safety department and IT department for best practices and tips recommended for their specific institution’s systems.

*Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Remember that safety in the 3D world, as well as cyberspace, is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the 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.

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.

How to Avoid Disaster-Related Fraud

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Deception Concept - Disguise Between Shark And GoldfishWhen disasters such as earthquakes or floods strike the United States, an outpouring of financial and emotional support pours in for the victims. Unfortunately, some people prey upon this type of generosity by defrauding disaster victims, donors, and the government. Disaster-related fraud takes several forms, from bogus websites luring people to make donations to fake construction contractors who extract money from vulnerable homeowners.

Another example occurs when merchants hike the prices of supplies that are in high demand by disaster victims. For example, during the recent West Virginia flooding, some merchants, such as local hotels and restaurants, were raising rates for bottled water and toiletries in order to cruelly capitalize on short-term demand.

Avoid Fraudulent Donation Workers and Sites

Some unscrupulous individuals pose as workers for charitable organizations, saying that they  are “collecting donations” after a disaster. They will push people to give cash donations which are untraceable and cannot be rescinded. To protect yourself, always ask for identification from volunteers seeking donations, and to be 100% sure of their affiliation,  donate directly through the charity’s main website.

After Hurricane Katrina, several people were convicted of impersonating Red Cross workers and dozens of fraudulent donation websites were shut down by authorities.

Make note of these red flags to help you spot fake donation sites:

  • 100% to victims promise! Genuine charities have overhead, so they can’t possibly give 100% of the donations they collect directly to victims.
  • Site and email misspellings and grammar errors. Compare each website with the official website for the charity. And before inquiring on the satellite site, do a search for the email address on the main charity’s website. After Katrina, unscrupulous scammers purchased the domain name @redcross.org and set up an email account called support2@redcross.org, a spoofed Red Cross email address which took people to a fraudulent website for “donations.”Swiss cross red flag
  • Check the site’s “contact us” information. Legitimate charities will provide an address, phone, email and, and in many cases,chat support to connect with potential donors.
  • Google to identify fake charities. If an organization’s name sounds unfamiliar, search for it along with the word “scam” to find out if anyone has written news stories or filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Spotting Contractor and Vendor Fraud

Contractor fraud involves someone posing as a qualified contractor. This person will, for example, contact homeowners after a flood and tell them they can repair wood floors or install carpeting on the cheap. Then, they collect deposits from multiple homeowners under the guise of doing work, but simply take the money and run.

During Hurricane Sandy, which devastated areas of New Jersey, millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded relief money was fraudulently secured. Some homeowners even pulled from savings or retirement accounts in order to pay contractors, thinking their expenses would be reimbursed. Unscrupulous contractors took advantage of these homeowners and were later indicted on federal charges. The problem prompted the Department of Community Affairs for New Jersey to create a website that educates residents about identifying and preventing contractor-related fraud.

Red Flags for spotting and preventing contractor fraud following disaster:Scam Alert on Green Direction Arrow Sign.

  • The contractor wants a large upfront payment. Contractors can ask for a portion of the funds upfront, but be very wary of anyone who asks for more than 30%.
  • Poor Reviews or lack of listing on the Better Business Bureau website. Also, check sites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List.
  • Request payment by cash or check. Use a credit card when putting down a deposit, since most credit card companies offer fraud protection.
  • Rushing you into an agreement. If a contractor is pushy or demanding and/or fails to offer a detailed work plan, then they could be running a scam.
  • Address is out of the area. If the contractor claims to be well-known in the area, make a few hours to follow up on his or her referrals. Many scam artists come into an area from out-of-state to prey on homeowners affected by disasters and then flee the scene.
  • Exceptionally low bids. An overeager contractor with a “too good to be true” quote is a warning sign. Even if a low-bid is legitimate, if the contractor is willing to work at such a deeply discounted rate, he or she could have intentionally or carelessly made mistakes when providing the estimate. Many times, these contractors go back to the homeowner to ask for more money when they run out of funds.Man in jeans with empty pocket

Remember that safety is a daily priority. And one of the items you should be careful to safeguard is your money! 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.

Recent Earthquakes Hit Ring of Fire: Would You Be Prepared?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Seismic activity graphThe recent earthquakes in the Ring of Fire focus attention on the importance of earthquake preparedness throughout the western United States. Important components for lowering the incidences of loss of life and property are to follow construction guidelines and retrofit structures while making sure tenants understand the need to follow safety procedures.

The recent earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan highlight the need for proper building codes and preparedness for individuals. These quakes unfortunately caused loss of life as well as property damage, but there are lessons to learn from each disaster, which could potentially limit damage associated with future earthquakes.

Ecuador Earthquake

Waving flag of ecuador. 3D illustrationOn April 16, 2016, a 7.8 magnitude quake hit Ecuador, causing extensive damage and leading to the deaths of at least 587 people. The deadliest disaster in the country since a quake that hit in 1949, it leveled several towns. Due to the upheaval, officials have raised alerts about the associated increased risk of spreading Zika virus and dengue fever among displaced residents. The earthquake destroyed more than 805 buildings and damaged 600 more. Building code enforcement in the country varies by region, and rural homes likely collapsed due to inferior construction materials.

Japan Earthquake

Kobe, Japan Earthquake Memorial

Kobe, Japan Earthquake Memorial

After the horrific quake and tsunami in 2011, Japanese residents are understandably concerned about earthquake safety and loss of life prevention. Earthquakes hit Japan on April 16 – five years, exactly, to the day as the Ecuador quakes. The main shock registered a 7.0 on the Richter scale.

Despite the terrible losses from the 2011 earthquake, Japan’s strict building code improvements helped limit the damage this time around. The country made a concerted effort to improve codes after the 1995 Kobe earthquake and has emerged as a global leader in earthquake construction and retrofitting.

FEMA and Local Agency Involvement

In some areas of the United States, funds are available through individual states or federally, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for several projects, including the completion of retrofitting. For example, an early 2016 California initiative through the California Residential Mitigation Program offered homeowners in select areas a $3,000 credit for proper crawlspace bolting and bracing of older homes. FEMA also offers programs and educational documents for commercial buildings. In Los Angeles, property owners are pushing for residential tenants to shoulder much of the costs of the county-mandated retrofitting due for completion within coming years. There are several viable options available to property managers and owners relative to mandatory retrofits.

Building Codes Save LivesHigh-rise Building Construction

In most earthquakes, the loss of life occurs from building collapse (and tsunamis) instead of shaking associated with the trembler. This underscores the need for countries in the Ring of Fire earthquake zone to follow recommended earthquake building codes for new construction and to properly retrofit older structures, when possible.

Retrofitting buildings for earthquake safety involves several procedures for commercial and residential buildings. Commercial buildings might need external bracing of parking garages to prevent floors from “pancaking” due to stress, as well as supplementary dampers that convert motion into heat.

Prepare Building Occupants for Earthquakes

While the integrity of residential and commercial buildings is vitally important, the onus for earthquake survival and safety is shared by building occupants. Here are tips to observe for optimal earthquake preparedness:

  • Secure pictures on walls with approved adhesives, and anchor tall furniture to the wall.
  • Understand and follow the evacuation plan. Know when the situation (or building-wide alerts) call for evacuation versus sheltering in place.
  • Know how to turn off gas lines to the stove and hot water heater as well as proper fire extinguisher operation.
  • Recognize the importance of listening to floor wardens and follow their directions.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, whether or not you live in an earthquake-prone region. 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.

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

autism  written on book with tablets. Medicine concept.Nearly 20 years ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, to guarantee that each person with autism is given ample opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. The ongoing effort to promote autism awareness, including National Autism Awareness Month, held each April, is made to encourage not only acceptance but appreciation for anyone who is diagnosed along the autism spectrum.

Autism is characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. It affects individuals from every racial, ethnic and socioeconomic background. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), includes autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified—and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. The cause is currently unknown and, unfortunately, there is no cure.Autism awareness month design

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in their most recent report, the rate of diagnosed autism cases among 8-year-olds in the United States was one out of 68 children, which is nearly twice the rate of the diagnoses the last time prevalence was officially measured, in 2004…when only one in 125 children were diagnosed. The reason for the increase in documented cases is unknown.

Signs that may signal autism:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Doll children background design with autism wordAs emergency and disaster management professionals, we believe that autism awareness is crucial for anyone who might encounter someone who has autism during an emergency drill or actual disaster. During an emergency, for example, individuals who have autism may have difficulty distinguishing emergency responders from strangers. As a result, they may shut down or even become combative.

The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services provides tailor-made instructions designed to aid family members, neighbors and friends in assisting anyone on the spectrum before, during and after emergency situations. We also provide our subscribers with Autism Emergency Contact Forms, to be completed by family members or caretakers, which quickly educate first-responders about anyone who has autism in our subscriber’s high-rise buildings.

Five Tips for Helping Autistic Individuals in an Emergency:

  1. Be prepared. Some individuals with autism do not have a normal range of sensations and may not feel cold, heat, or pain in a typical manner. They may show unusual pain responses, which could include laughter, humming, singing and/or removing of clothing.
  2. Be aware. Individuals with autism often have tactile sensory issues. So the use of Band-Aids or other adhesive products could increase their anxiety and aggression.
  3. Move slowly. Explain what you plan to do in advance and as you do it. Explain where you are going and what they may see and who they may encounter. This could potentially lessen unnecessary anxiety and/or outbursts and aggression. If possible, handle this exchange in a quiet spot.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Children with autism might ingest something hazardous. And people with ASD at any age may fail to acknowledge pain, despite the presence of significant pathology. So carefully inspect for injuries.
  1. Give a reward and stay calm. Stickers and stuffed animals can be used to calm young children as well as older patients.Autism text against barbwire

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, whether or not Autism Spectrum Disorders affect your daily life. 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.

New Residential Fire Safety Training Module

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Chief residentialEvery 19 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States, which makes fire an ever-present danger at home, at work, and even while you are traveling. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services has long provided commercial building occupants, owners and managers with affordable, entertaining training for disaster preparedness. So it was natural that we would want to expand that training from commercial to residential facilities. To that end, we are pleased to announce release of our very first residential training module, which focuses on fire safety. The training is perfect for people of all ages, in any residential building, apartment, condo, or student housing. And it is available in English and Spanish.

It’s not if, but when an emergency will happen. Knowing what to do in the first few minutes of an emergency can make the difference between life or death. Where fires are concerned, even small fires are extremely dangerous, wherever they begin. So, for fires that begin in commercial or residential buildings, the key to saving your own life and the lives of others will be your ability to remain calm and respond appropriately. The new module trains subscribers to recognize the important role they play in any fire event, such as what to do when. they smell smoke, how to safely evacuate (if possible), or what to do if they are unable to evacuate and need to shelter in place.  It also demonstrates ways to prevent a fire from starting in the first place as well as what to do if a fire alarm sounds.Fred 2 Residential (1)

The new online training module is:

Fast — It’s easy to complete in about 10 minutes.

Convenient — Training is available 24/7, with unlimited usage and accessibility by iPhone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Rewarding — Instant personalized certificate of completion is emailed to participants for each topic. Also, management is able to access and print a report to show the status of each occupant’s training.

Informative — It’s loaded with emergency preparedness information, resources and links.

Kitchen ResidentialHere are just a few of the lifesaving tips you will learn when you take the training:

  • When to report fire to emergency services.
  • Which information to tell 911 operators.
  • Why you should avoid using elevators during a fire.
  • When to familiarize yourself with evacuation procedures.
  • The only reason to fight a fire yourself.
  • The method for safely using a fire extinguisher.
  • What to do if someone catches fire.
  • Ways to minimize the risk of smoke inhalation.
  • When to evacuate the building or shelter in place.
  • How to know it is safe to reenter the building.
  • Much more!

After watching a 10-minute animated video, subscribers are able to print building-specific information and take a short quiz, which covers key points covered in the online training. Once each question has been answered correctly, certification is immediately issued and emailed to the participant. And more importantly, students who have completed the training will be prepared when the unexpected becomes a reality.Elevator Residential

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just where residential fire life safety is concerned. 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.