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‘Tis the Season to Spread Holiday Safety and Security Tips

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

tips-to-keep-your-holiday-safe-this-seasonHoliday Safety Part 2 of a 3-Part Series (Featuring Guest Blogger Angela Burrell of Universal Services of America. To see her original post, click here.)

‘Tis the Season to Spread Holiday Safety and Security Tips

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home holiday decorations cause more than 400 holiday fires each year, resulting in $15 million in property loss and damage. Nothing is as sad as a news story about a child dying in a Christmas tree fire or a father falling off of a ladder while decorating the exterior of his home. As our holiday gift to you, we would like to offer some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

Last week, we examined safe practices for choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees as well as working with holiday paper. For part two of our series, we are happy to welcome guest blogger Angela Burrell, who is the public relations manager for our strategic partner, Universal Services of America. Her blog post covers holiday workplace safety home safety guidelines, and basic safety rules. Next week, we will conclude our three-week series by focusing on holiday travel, shopping and cooking.

safety tips holidayUniversal Services of America reminds you to keep the following safety and security tips in mind as you celebrate the holiday season. Regift them to family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and building occupants to let them know you care. Happy holidays!

Seven Workplace Alerts

  • Report all solicitors or suspicious persons to security immediately.
  • Be suspicious of unfamiliar people claiming to be repair persons, as thieves are apt to disguise themselves.
  • Make sure your receptionist clears any workers or contractors before allowing them into your office.
  • Question visitors who wander throughout your offices. Legitimate guests will appreciate your offers of assistance, while potential solicitors or thieves will be deterred.
  • Lock all personal items in a desk or file cabinet. Employees should never leave purses or wallets exposed where they can easily be stolen.
  • Close doors when the office is empty, and secure all valuables in a desk or closet when unattended.
  • Request a security or buddy escort to your car if you are working late and feel vulnerable.

happy holidaysSeven Basic Fire Rules

  • Fires peak, particularly in kitchens, during the holidays – so remain alert when preparing meals and keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • Monitor candles and fireplace fires, and extinguish them before leaving the house or bedtime.
  • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring that they work at optimal level year-round. Replace batteries, as needed.
  • Know where your exits are located and hold regular fire drills that include practicing at least two evacuation routes from every area or building.
  • Notify the property manager about exit lights that are broken or vandalized.
  • Never prop open self-closing doors, as they are designed to keep flames and smoke from spreading.
  • Keep exits and stairways free from obstructions at all times. Don’t store things on or under stairways, or on landings.

Six Home Safety Guides

  • Refresh your holiday lights; consider buying energy-efficient LED types that are cooler than conventional incandescent lights.
  • Limit the number of lights strung together and use appropriate ones for outdoors or indoors.
  • Turn off lights or decorations before bedtime, or set automatic timers for six or eight-hour increments to conserve energy.
  • Consider installing motion or lighting sensors that turn off automatically when no one is around.
  • Ask a neighbor to collect mail or have the post office hold it if you plan to travel for an extended period.
  • Let strangers who knock know you are home without opening your door. Do not feel compelled to donate to solicitors.

Five More Tips and Resources

Next week, check back, as we will finish our series about holiday safety. We hope that this blog post will help inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season, and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

How to BE SAFE this Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or an occasion you made up yourself, we want to make sure you stay safe this holiday season. So, from all of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, please read and follow our Holiday Safety Tips and accept our warmest wishes for a safe and wonderful celebration:

Decorations

  • Don’t use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains/drapes, or with anything that is potentially flammable.
  • Wear gloves while decorating with “angel hair.” It can irritate your eyes and skin.
  • When spraying artificial snow, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Sprays like these can irritate your lungs.
  • Small children may think that holiday plants look good enough to eat. Unfortunately, many holiday plant varieties (such as mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis) are poisonous and/or can cause severe stomach problems if ingested. So keep them well out of the reach of kids.
  • Cut off about two inches off the trunk of your tree and place the base in a sturdy, water-filled stand. Monitor water level so the tree does not dry out and become combustible.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and heat sources. Also, for safety, don’t place the tree where it blocks foot traffic or doorways.
  • Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments on low-hanging branches where small children or pets can reach them.
  • If you opt for an artificial tree, choose one that has been tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should be approved by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Use indoor lights inside and outdoor lights outside. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair damaged light sets.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to prevent tripping hazards. Never run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways.
  • Turn off lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Unplug extension cords when they are not in use.
  • If using a natural tree, keep it well watered so dry branches won’t ignite when they touch warm bulbs.
  • If you decide to display outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to a secure support with insulated staples or hooks.
  • Don’t nail or tack wiring when hanging lights.
  • Keep plugs off the ground, far from puddles and snow.

Food

  • When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family wash your hands, utensils, the sink and countertop, and anything else that comes in contact with raw poultry.
  • Don’t defrost food at room temperature. Thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
  • Keep knives sharp. Believe it or not, most knife injuries occur due to dull blades instead of sharp ones.
  • Use a clean food thermometer to make sure internal temperature of food is safe.
  • Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges. These harbor bacteria and promote bacteria growth. For safety, use clean paper towels instead.
  • When reheating leftovers, bring the temperature up to at least 165°F to eliminate the risk of bacterial growth.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers within two hours after cooking.

Toys

  • Make sure toys suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.
  • Read instructions carefully before allowing your child to play with something he or she has received as a gift.
  • To prevent burns and electrical shock, don’t give young children toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. On average, battery-operated toys are safer.
  • Since young kids can choke on small parts, follow government recommendations that say toys for children under the age of three cannot contain parts that are less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Keep children from swallowing button batteries and magnets. These are found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids and other small electronics as well as toys. If your child swallows a battery of any kind, immediately call your health care provider.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on broken balloons. So do not allow children under age eight to play with them.
  • Pull-toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length are choking hazards for babies. Keep kids away from strings and cords.
  • Store toys in designated locations, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest.

For more about holiday safety, check out the free information provided by the National Safety Council, the National Fire Protection Association and our previous posts. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore 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 High Rise Fires

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Would you be prepared to respond to fire in a high rise building?

When fires break out in high rise buildings, the potential for loss of life is high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. The reasons for this are many, including the fact that fires can burn for extended periods of time before occupants even become aware of the burn. Remember that the smoke and deadly gases from the fire are just as deadly as the fire and are major cause of injury and death during a fire situation.  What’s more, the sheer size of tall structures increases the amount of time it takes for firefighters to reach flames.

In fact, according to the US Fire Administration (USFA), it is not uncommon for 15 minutes to elapse from the start of a fire to the time when first responders reach the blaze. So the best way to manage high-rise fires is to provide training so occupants will immediately know what to do when they hear an alarm, smell smoke or discover a fire.   Remember the best way to prevent fires is to know how to keep it from ever getting started in the first place. Please make sure tenants are prepared long before the first ember appears.

Emergency preparedness and exit strategy knowledge are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, OSHA mandates that “An employer with 10 or more employees must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of other employees.” Additionally, there are local and state laws that require emergency preparedness training.

At RJWestmore, Inc, our motto is “SAVE LIVES THROUGH TRAINING.” So we encourage property owners/managers and their tenant employers to make sure they train their tenants to calmly and quickly respond to emergency situations including high-rise fires. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system offers comprehensive fire life safety and other emergency situation preparation. So check it out. In the meantime, here are a few simple fire safety steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property in high rise fires.

Before the Emergency:

  • Don’t lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. So never prop stairway or other fire doors open.  If your property has locking stairwell egress doors for security reasons, make sure they all automatically unlock upon alarm.
  • Familiarize yourself with your building’s evacuation plan. And know your primary and secondary escape routes. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds and where their interior and exterior safe refuge areas are located.
  • Plan and execute frequent drills so escape plans become second nature. You can use your RJWestmore Online Training System to conduct tabletop drills and virtual evacuation route walks using the “Map View” button on your homepage.
  • If you’re in a position of leadership, lead by example.  Participate in all drills, set training deadlines that include recognition for compliance.  Make participation and creating a safety conscious environment part of your everyday life.
  • Learn to immediately recognize the sound of your building’s fire alarm and post emergency numbers near telephones.

During the Emergency:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t assume someone else has called the fire department. It is better to over-report than run the risk of failing to contact emergency personnel. After all, early notification is critical.
  • Before you try to leave the office or living space, feel the door/door knob with the back of your hand.  If the door/door knob feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Move to the safest secondary escape route and evacuate. 
  • If the doorknob is too hot to handle, stay where you are and wait for rescue.
    • Stuff cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
    • If you have access to a telephone, call the fire department to explain exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see can see emergency personnel outside at the scene.
    • Wait at a window and signal for help by waving something bright or with a flashlight, etc.  Anything to attract attention.
    • As a last life safety resort, if possible in your building, open the window, but do not break it, you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
    • Once you are sure that emergency responders are aware of your location and need to be rescued, be patient. More Information on high-rise safety.

If the door/door knob DOES NOT feel warm, carefully open it.

  • If you do attempt to open the door, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it just a crack. This is the best method for detecting the presence of smoke or fire.

o   If no smoke appears in hallway or stairwells, follow your building’s evacuation plan and move to your safest predetermined alternate escape route.

o   If the building’s fire alarm is not sounding, pull the nearest one while safely and calmly exiting your floor.

o   If you encounter smoke or flames anywhere as you exit the building, stay low to avoid hot smoke and gasses.  If you cannot evacuate, move as far from the fire as possible (closing as many doors as possible between you and fire) and shelter in place.  Stuff the cracks around doorways and vents to block out smoke.  Call 911 and building management/security to let them know your exact location.  If you are near a window DO NOT BREAK THE WINDOW. Wave something to attract attention.  Breaking a window as a last resort may draw the smoke and fire closer to you.

We SAVE LIVES THROUGH TRAINING—and you can too!

The RJWestmore Training System helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. 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).

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

Being Fire Smart in Summer Heat

Friday, July 1st, 2011
fireworks

BE SAFE this summer.

With summer here, thoughts turn to grilled pork chops, fireworks displays and road trips. All are super fun activities. But there are dangers involved with summer fun. Proper fire safety is extremely important in summer, when people spend lots of time outside even as high heat and drought provide fuel for flames.

Carelessness and human activity in the summer is a major contributor to seasonal wildfires. In Texas the wildfire season got started early and has burned three million acres and counting.

For many families, summer is the time to dust off the barbecue. But if used improperly, the grill can turn from friend to foe. Here are some grilling safety tips:

  • Margaritas go good with seared meats. But use care whenever you mix drinking and cooking. You should remain ever mindful of fire-related danger and be careful to exercise common sense.
  • Check gas or propane hoses and connections for cracking or leaks. A new hose and regulator costs around $20 and is not only safer but will produce a better flame.
  • Squirting lighter fluid may be fun. But it’s also inherently dangerous. Consider using a chimney-starter. They will produce hot coals without the nasty chemical taste.
  • Don’t barbecue indoors or in enclosed areas such as patios that have multiple walls and solid roofs. Enclosed fire lead to carbon monoxide gas buildup.
  • Regular cleaning of grease and food particles will reduce the chance of flare ups and charring, which will also make food tastier.

Fire Safety on the Road:

  • Don’t use signal flares to notify others of emergency situations. Flashing emergency LED lights and reflective signage are better choices.
  • Watch the temperature gauge on your car. If it spikes high, you need coolant or should have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.
  • Avoid parking a hot car near dry leaves or pine straw. Overheated cars can ignite surrounding areas.
  • Don’t throw cigarettes out of the window. Just another reason to quit the habit is to eliminate the risk of starting a massive fire!

Fireworks are an integral part of summer celebrations. However, it’s always best to leave the show to professionals. In amateur hands, fireworks are accidents waiting to happen. In fact, in the United States, the CDC reports thousands of fireworks-related ER visits each July. If you insist on launching bottle rockets and lighting sparklers yourself, follow a few simple safety rules:

Firework Safety:

  • Keep young children away from fireworks. They are not coordinated enough to manage sparklers and other fireworks which can cause serious eye injuries.
  • High quality safety goggles can prevent eye damage.
  • Don’t light fireworks indoors or near dry brush.
  • Keep a fire hose or large buckets of water available for emergencies.
  • Don’t shoot the fireworks into the woods. This tip might seem obvious. But if you can’t see where the bottle rockets land, you won’t know for if they landed safely or started a brushfire.
  • To handle the risks of accidental fire, common sense is always the best ally. Be aware of your surroundings and use good judgment so you don’t put yourself and others in danger.

Campfire Safety:

  • Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
  • Keep campfires small so they are less likely to get out of hand.
  • Make sure you have immediate access to emergency water supplies and a shovel to douse flames. Stir the coals to disperse the heat from the coals and then douse it again just to be safe.
  • Don’t ever leave a campfire unattended.

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 RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Getting Involved With Fire Prevention Week

Monday, October 4th, 2010
This Year For Fire Prevention Week, Thank a Firefighter!

This Year For Fire Prevention Week, Thank a Firefighter!

Fire is a frequent topic of safety discussions because it is a primal force that strikes fear in the heart of man and beast. It is also a relatively common occurrence compared to other disasters, and can cause severe damage to people as well as structures.

Raising awareness about fire safety is a priority of fire departments. October 3-9 is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) official Fire Prevention Week. The NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for nearly 90 years, and has made great strides in the area of fire safety for the public.

It took a great tragedy to encourage the development of a week dedicated to fire safety. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless and 17,000 structures destroyed. While most people believe a cow started the fire, many historians note other possible culprits. Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the fire, and marked the start of fire departments’ role in education and prevention, in addition to the physical acts of fighting fires.

Fire Prevention Week reinforces the basics of fire safety to the public. The theme of this years’ Fire Prevention Week is Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With! The NFPA is making a big push for smoke alarms to be installed, properly upgraded and maintained in residential and commercial buildings.

The NFPA has several initiatives for this years’ Fire Prevention Week which are offered to fire departments and other similar agencies for fire education initiatives:

Video Tutorials and Audio PSAs:

  • A video about smoke alarm safety includes information about the benefits of interconnecting alarms, testing alarms, checking for expiration dates and regularly replacing batteries.
  • Downloadable MP3 audio files that discuss fire alarm safety.

How can building owners participate in Fire Prevention Week?

  • Distribute free safety materials from the NFPA, FEMA and other agencies
  • Review your overall fire safety plan including evacuation routes, location of extinguishers, rules on stairwell and elevator usage, etc.
  • Invite your local fire department to fire safety activities. Firefighters are sometimes willing to conduct special events such as parades. Organize an interactive event where employees and facility management can speak directly to firefighters.

Fire Prevention Week is an opportunity for building owners to engage staff and employees in preventing the threat of fire. To learn more about fire safety, review the many fire-related topics that we have covered in previous posts, including: fire evacuation procedures, flammable materials, extinguishers and sprinkler systems, and fire hazards.

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 RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Fire Safety: A to Z

Monday, August 9th, 2010
Fire Safety A-Z

Fire Safety A-Z

Final Post in Our Fire-Safety Series

For the final post in our series about fire safety, we would like to recap the top 26 tips for preventing and responding to fires at home and work, as well as a myriad of reasons for signing up for The RJWestmore Safety Training System.

A~A to D Fire Extinguishers

(With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for use at your home and in the office can be a daunting task. Since use of the wrong type of fire can actually cause the fire to spread, pay careful attention to the difference.)

A-Rated Extinguishers- extinguish ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these indicates the amount of water they will hold and the amount of fire they are capable of extinguishing.
B-Rated Extinguishers- battle flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for this class indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire they can extinguish.

C-Rated Extinguishers- fight fires caused by electrical equipment, appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires. The risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

D-Rated Extinguishers- are most commonly used in chemical laboratories. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These extinguishers do not feature numerical ratings or multi-purpose ratings. Instead, they are designed for class D fires only.

Emergency Evacuation Plan If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.157 requires you to have an EAP.

Fumes from containers that are not properly sealed can be carried on air currents to the flame of a water heater or the pilot light on a stove.

Gas Appliance fires lead to the deaths of 14 people annually, who succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths are caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained. Make sure your gas-powered appliances are in good working-condition.

High-Quality Animation keeps clients engaged. To ensure the highest rate of retention possible, RJWestmore Inc. hired former Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. artists to create engaging animated online e-tutorials.

Integrated System-A fully-integrated system, the RJWestmore Training System allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

Join the US Green Building Council which is a non-profit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation. RJWestmore, Inc. is a proud member of the USGBC. Reducing needless waste lessens the risk of e-related fire.

K-Rated Fire Extinguishers are manufactured to battle fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. This is for commercial kitchens, including those found in restaurants, cafeterias and catering locations.

Landfill fires are on the rise. The EPA says that as we become more dependent on electronic products to make life more convenient, the stockpile of used, obsolete products continues to grow. To help prevent this type of fire risk, dispose of e-waste responsibly.

Make sure your tenants know evacuation routes. The best way to do this is to conduct regular drills.

NFPA National Fire Protection Association endeavors to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

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).

Post Evacuation Routes clearly, so locations become second nature during actual emergencies.

Quiz your tenants, employees and family members regularly to make sure they remember safe evacuation routes and emergency procedures.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment when current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources.

Slightest Spark can start a devastating fire; so proper handling and use as well as proper storage of volatile materials are essential.

Tenant Safety is of paramount importance to property owners and managers. With our system, you can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors how to respond in emergencies. All user-training and testing is recorded and available for review at your convenience.

Up to Code- Federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant. However, studies show that less than 20% of occupants have ever trained or know what to do in an emergency. That means 80% of your occupants are at risk and could represent a liability to themselves and you.

View Map Link- RJWestmore Inc. clients have access to multiple views of individual properties and the surrounding areas in our Version 2.0 system. The maps not only provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in an emergency.

Watch for fire risks. A fire watch ensures the fire-safety of a building or area in the event of any act, e.g., hot work, or situation instigating an increased risk to persons or property.

Xeric conditions pose greater risk of fire. Make sure dry landscaping around buildings is watered on a regular basis.

You can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors with our system. All user-training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

Zealously guard your property to ensure fire safety strategies are observed. At RJWestmore, Inc., our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

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 RJWestmore, Inc. Check back next week, when we will begin a series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE

Fire Evacuations: How to Escape a Fire

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Don't depend solely on one evacuation route.

Don't depend solely on one evacuation route.

Part 3 in a Series

When it comes to fire, time is the biggest enemy. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire filling a building with thick black smoke, toxic superheated gases and ominous flames. Every second counts.

Each year, more than 3,500 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires. Many of these deaths and injuries result from failed emergency escape attempts. In our continuing series about fire safety, we will focus on the best practices for making sure evacuation routes are plentiful, accessible and memorable.

PLENTIFUL:

Multiple Routes

One surefire way to get trapped by flames is to depend solely on one evacuation route. When fire strikes, if the escape is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need another way out. So make sure all of your property evacuation plans allow for more than one means of escape.

Up to Code

  • See to it that your properties are up to code regarding building evacuation. For older properties, fire escapes should remain in good working condition.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire escape stairs should be made from steel or other approved non-combustible material.
  • Stairs should be designed to support the dead load of the stair system plus a live load of at least 100 pounds per square foot.
  • Since exterior fire escape stairs are not permitted on newer buildings, make sure interior staircases are easily accessible and clearly marked. If you live or work in a low-rise structure (1-3 stories) consider portable fire escape ladders as a secondary means of escape.

ACCESSIBLE:

Accommodate Individuals with Disabilities

  • While many newer buildings are constructed as “accessible” to allow people with disabilities barrier-free access, it is important to make sure that your evacuation training practices evacuating people with disabilities to ensure everyone knows what to do during emergencies.
  • Clients of the RJ Westmore Training System have access to helpful evacuation resources including a Guide for Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. The guide includes a Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist as well as information about building evacuation plans for people with mobility, visual, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.

Provide Ample Egress

  • This is an important consideration not only during construction but on a regular basis. Tenants can unintentionally block passageways with boxes or overflow from their suites. So take steps to constantly monitor escape routes.

MEMORABLE:

Drill

  • They say practice makes perfect. This is especially true when it comes to emergency evacuations.
  • Review escape routes frequently.
  • Practice not only in the middle of the day in full sun but also at night, to train tenants how to evacuate under cover of darkness.

Post

  • Make sure that evacuation routes are clearly marked so locations become second nature.
  • For more tips about conducting fire drills, see our recent post, Practice Makes Safety.

Visit us again next week for the next post in our series about fire safety and prevention. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Practice Makes Safety

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Do Drills

Do Drills

When you hear the sirens and see flashing lights, you may think you are you at a concert. But these telltale signs might indicate a fire drill. Fire drills might bring back memories of school, where they were a welcome break from classes that gave you an opportunity to laugh with friends. Or tenants might view these periodic run-throughs as an unavoidable hassle that interrupt the normal business routine. But fire drills are vital preparation for emergencies. In fact, in an office setting, properly executed fire drills can save lives.

Why do you need fire drills in your building?

  • Tenants usually enter and exit buildings through the same locations every day. Fire drills often involve moving people through seldom used routes such as back stairwells. Workers are creatures of habit who benefit from frequent drills, which will make them more likely to remember proper evacuation routes.
  • Several building codes mandate fire drill participation such as the NFPA’s Life Safety Code, which has a grid detailing the recommended frequency for and the types of businesses that should conduct drills. Building owners can always choose to run more than the code-mandated number of drills, to ensure that new tenants understand evacuation procedures.
  • Drills provide a great opportunity to discover safety issues that need to be corrected such as locked stairwell doors or the necessity of developing alternate routes for specific tenants.

A fire at an office building in 1989 in Atlanta caused the deaths of five workers. Through investigation, the U.S. Fire Administration determined that Federal employees who worked in the building were required to participate in fire drills, while most private sector employees were not. The fatalities and most of the injured were unfortunately among the private sector tenants. What’s more, the report indicated a high level of chaos among the private sector employees. Fire drills were identified as a contributing factor for saving the lives of many.

Tips for performing fire drills:

  • Ensure that the sound of alarm systems can reach all sections of the building including storage areas, maintenance rooms, restrooms, and within elevators. Instruct Floor Wardens and other designated safety volunteers to keep watch for any problems observed during the drill, such as employees who don’t exit the building immediately or who take non-approved exit routes.
  • Remind tenants to exit the building briskly and to leave behind unnecessary personal items, computers or any office paperwork that might hinder evacuation.
  • Before drills begin, ensure that all exit signs are clearly visible and meet all code standards.
  • Involve local fire departments to coordinate mock drills, so you can work together to speed up evacuation times.

With all types of safety exercises, it’s important to receive training from a qualified source. This short video shows you what happens when you mix fire safety training with an unqualified “trainer.”

Visit us again next week for the second blog post in our series about fire safety and prevention. Next up—we will be discussing flammable materials and how building owners can mitigate fire risks by making sound choices in building materials and furnishings.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Halloween Fire Safety Tips from RJWestmore!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Halloween is a time for fun and frights, but behind the festivities lurk hidden dangers – including fire hazards.

From 2000 to 2004, decoration fires accounted for an estimated 1,610 reported home structure fires per year, the majority involving candles as the heat source, and causing seven civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $24.9 million in direct property damage per year.

It goes without saying that RJWestmore wants you to ‘BE SAFE’ – no matter how you’re celebrating the holiday. Whether you’re hosting a party or donning a creative costume to trick-or-treat, we hope you’ll follow these safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

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Hot Topic: How to Prevent Home Fires

Monday, October 6th, 2008

This week marks the beginning of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week – which means that there’s no better time to safeguard your home.

Fire departments nationwide responded to nearly 400,000 home fires in 2006, but by practicing extra caution, preventing the leading causes of home fires – cooking, heating, electrical and smoking materials – is within your power.

First, here are some statistics you should know:

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