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Posts Tagged ‘American Red Cross’

How Tech is Changing Disaster Management

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

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


Technology and Disasters:

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

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

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

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

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

March is Red Cross Month

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

At Allied Universal by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, we like to give credit to organizations that are doing a good job helping people prepare and/or recover from natural and manmade disasters. Since the American Red Cross is just such an organization, we take pride in honoring their work now because March is Red Cross Month. In communities across the country and around the globe, the Red Cross is providing support to help people in need.

Created by Clara Barton in 1881, the American Red Cross was officially chartered by Congress in 1900 to provide national and international relief during disasters, and to give relief to the military and serve as a means of communication between members of the Armed Forces and their families. From the start, people in the United States have volunteered and donated funds to support the Red Cross’ mission to provide relief to victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

The first ever Red Cross Month was proclaimed in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to encourage fundraising efforts for needs brought on by World War II. Since that time, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month.

Today, the American Red Cross:

  • Responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year.
  • Provides shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected.
  • Offers 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families (in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world).
  • Collects and distributes more than 40 percent of this country’s blood supply.
  • Trains more than 9 million people across the United States in first aid, water safety and other skills each year.

Not a government agency, the Red Cross relies solely on donations of time, money and blood in order to mobilize to provide life-changing and often lifesaving services down the street, across the country and around the world. There are four primary ways that volunteers can further the work of the Red Cross

Donate money. A gift of any size supports the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross whether it’s responding to a disaster, collecting lifesaving blood, teaching skills that can save a life, or assisting military members and their families.

Give blood and/or platelets. Since platelets have a shelf-life of just five days, it is imperative that there are enough platelets on hand to meet the needs of hospital patients across the country. And since the Keebler® elves and the American Red Cross are partnering to recognize acts of kindness with a delicious treat, when you give blood, you’ll get a Keebler® cookie.

Volunteer your time in person or online. The Red Cross looks for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. Needs are often specific, based on current events and levels of necessary ground support.

  • Take Part in Disaster Relief
  • Support and/or Sponsor Local Blood Drives
  • Lead a Group of Volunteers

Raise funds.

  • Conduct a Workplace Giving Campaign
  • Create an Online Fundraiser
  • Donate a Percentage of Sales
  • Fundraise through an Auction
  • Fundraise through a Telethon or Radio-thon
  • Collect Consumer Donations
  • Organize functions for Groups, Schools and Individuals

Through a strong network of volunteers, donors and partners, The American Red Cross aspires to turn compassion into action so that all people affected by disaster across the country and around the world receive care, shelter and hope; communities are ready and prepared for disasters; everyone in the country has access to safe, lifesaving blood and blood products; all members of the armed services and their families can find support and comfort whenever needed; and in an emergency, there are always trained individuals nearby, ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives.

We at Allied Universal by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services offer congratulations to the Red Cross for 132 years successfully promoting disaster preparation and recovery across the world! When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Hurricane Communications

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Prepare for Hurricanes by Following Forecasts

Prepare for Hurricanes by Following Forecasts

Final Post in a Series about Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond. Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready. This week, in our final post in a series about preparing and recovering from tropical storms and hurricanes, we’ll examine where to turn to stay on top of forecasts and local emergency plans.

Since the best way to deal with a hurricane is to prepare for one, you should acquaint yourself with websites and notification centers as well as the terminology used to distinguish between different storm warnings. This is crucial for all those who live and/or work in a high-risk area. Monitor weather patterns and warnings so you will know when to take evasive action. Here are a few helpful resources, offering easily-accessible weather-related information in real time:

AccuWeather.com

American Red Cross

The Disaster Center

FEMA Storm Watch

FindLocalWeather

Intellicast.com

Local Weather Forecast Center

National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service

NOAA

NOLA

Weather Bug

The Weather Channel

WeatherForYou.com

Many of the above sites offer RSS feeds and desktop notifications and email alerts. Another free weather notification system is available via the Emergency Email and Wireless Network, which provides breaking weather alerts and an information-packed National Weather Situation Page.

Once you are set up to receive weather updates, the next step in hurricane preparedness is to be able to distinguish between the terminologies used to describe various storm systems. Where hurricanes and tropical storms are concerned, the following definitions are critical.

WATCH vs. WARNING: THE DIFFERENCE

TROPICAL STORM WATCH

Tropical storm conditions (defined by sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within a specified coastal area within 48 hours.

TROPICAL STORM WARNING

Tropical storm conditions (defined by sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within a specified coastal area within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WATCH

Hurricane conditions (defined by sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within a specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

HURRICANE WARNING

An announcement that hurricane conditions (defined by sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within a specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Once you determine that a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning is in effect, take the following steps:

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
  • Check emergency supplies.
  • Fuel car.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
  • Review your evacuation plan.

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

Hurricane Communications

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Communication is Key in Any Emergency

Communication is Key in Any Emergency

Second in a Series about Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond with decisive action. Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready.  This week, in our continuing series about hurricanes, we’ll look at one of the best ways to prepare for and recover after tropical storms and hurricanes—developing a comprehensive Communications Plan.

Although there is no easy answer—or “silver bullet”—to solve every problem that can hamper the efforts of law enforcement, firefighting, rescue and emergency medical personnel before, during and after natural disasters, the surest way to reduce confusion and quickly restore order is to establish a Communications Plan before you need one.

But what exactly is a Communications Plan?

An Emergency Communications’ Plan outlines formal decision-making structures and clearly defined leadership roles necessary for coordinating emergency communications’ capabilities. In other words, make sure you plan in advance to manage any and every emergency situation. Assess the situation and use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself and your co-workers or family members and to manage the recovery of your family or organization.

To help you with the process, FEMA has put together free resources including a Family Emergency Plan as well as a Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness Plan, which is posted online for easy-access to clients of the Allied Universal, Inc. Training System. The business plan is designed to encourage you to gather emergency information and formalize plans for staying in business following a disaster, and includes information critical for coordinating with neighboring businesses, cooperating with emergency personnel and considering critical operations, staff and procedures.

Other organizations also provide free emergency resources. For example, The American Red Cross has a Safe and Well Website to help families keep in touch after a disaster. If you have been affected by a disaster, this website provides a way for you to register yourself as “safe and well.” From a list of standard messages, you can select those that you want to communicate to your family members, letting them know of your well-being. Other communication services available on the Safe and Well website:

  • USPS, which provides continuing mail service for those displaced by disasters through change of address forms.
  • National Next of Kin Registry, an organization where the public can archive emergency point of contact information. Emergency agencies access the system when there is a need to locate next of kin in urgent situations.
  • Community Voice Mail, which offers free personalized phone numbers with voicemail to people in crisis and transition for job search, housing, healthcare and family contact.
  • Contact Loved Ones, which is a free voice message service, accessible from any phone, to reestablish contact between those affected by a disaster and their loved ones and friends.

Also, at the state and local level, you should be able to access additional information specific to your geographical location. One such resource is put out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And weather advisories are put out by the National Hurricane Center.

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

Halloween Safety Tips

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
BE SAFE

BE SAFE

Trick-or-treating is a traditional childhood holiday favorite. But while fun may be a child’s main priority, safety is the top concern for parents. Horror stories about ghosts and goblins, and even scarier real-life tales of kidnappers and poisonend treats, are legitimate causes for fear on October 31.

Several organizations provide Halloween safety tips, including Allied Universal, Inc. We have compiled the following simple instructions to give kids a, safe, fun, exciting holiday experience, while providing parents with peace of mind.

Allied Universal Top 20 Tips for a safe and sane Halloween:

  1. If possible, send a responsible teenager or adult to escort your kids.
  2. Prepare the route in advance.
  3. Tell people where you plan to go.
  4. Make sure costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or potential contact with flames.
  5. Dress in light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are visible. (Also, remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards and brooms, too!)
  6. Use non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup and small decorative hats as safe alternatives to toxic materials and large caps that could block vision.
  7. Before they head out, casually remind your children to “Stop-Drop-Roll” in the unlikely event that their clothes catch fire. Try not to alarm them. You want them to be prepared instead of scared.
  8. To prevent possible fire, use only battery-powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
  9. Look both ways before crossing the street, checking carefully for cars, trucks and low-flying brooms.
  10. Cross the street only at corners.
  11. Never hide or dart between parked cars.
  12. Walk, slither and sneak on sidewalks instead of the street.
  13. Carry a flashlight and extra batteries, to light the way.
  14. Only visit homes that have illuminated porch lights.
  15. Keep costumes away from open fires and candles. (Bear in mind that many are flammable.)
  16. Accept treats at the door instead of entering strangers’ homes.
  17. Be cautious of strangers and animals.
  18. Inspect treats before enjoying.
  19. Don’t eat candy if the package is already open. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.
  20. To keep neighborhood children safe, eliminate potential tripping hazards on your porch and walkway.

Another good resource, called the “Lucky 13,” was prepared by the American Red Cross. Also helpful are tips assembled by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Sharing simple safety rules with your child is just another great way Allied Universal encourages folks to BE SAFE!