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Holiday Fire Safety

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Holiday SafetyDelicious feasts and brilliant decorations are hallmarks of the holiday season. Unfortunately, however, these festive favorites also can pose potential fire hazards. Thankfully, you can enjoy everything that makes the holidays special during this time of year while simultaneously keeping your loved ones safe.

Loraine Carli, Vice President, Outreach & Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), explains how: “The holidays bring lots of opportunities to cook, entertain and decorate at home, but many of these traditions and activities carry potential fire hazards, Fortunately, there are many steps people can take to ensure that the season remains festive and fire-safe. It just takes a little added awareness and following some basic safety precautions.”

Holiday Safety TipsHoliday Safety Steps

Cooking

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the United States, year-round. In fact, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve ranked second and third, after Thanksgiving, for sheer number of cooking-related fires. To reduce the potential risk of kitchen fires in your home this season, follow these suggestions, adapted from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA):

  • Declutter the area immediately near your cooking range. Don’t overload a cooktop with pots and pans. Instead, try to prepare and cook dishes in shifts rather than all at once. This helps to prevent grease spills from leaking between pots, sight unseen, and starting a fire.
  • Keep potholders, oven mitts and lids handy while cooking. But keep them clear of open flames. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, use a flame-resistant oven mitt to pick up a lid and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the food has time to completely cool.Holiday Cooking Safety
  • When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam. If an oven fire develops, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. If you have long hair, tie it back.
  • Smoke Alarm Holiday SafetySmoke alarms can save lives. Make sure they are installed and properly working. Check the batteries and test to make sure alarm is operational.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use. This will save energy and eliminate potential dangers which could occur if they are accidentally turned on.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency. Learn how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is UL listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Click here for more details about the different types of fire extinguishers.
  • Avoid the temptation to fry your turkey. These pose several safety concerns, including burn risks and fire hazards. To be safe, if you must fry the turkey, make sure it is entirely thawed out. Ice and hot oil do not mix!
  • Since the above list is not comprehensive, make sure you cook safely this holiday season, by referencing the Consumer Product Safety Commission Thanksgiving safety campaign, Stand by Your Pan, the NFPA’s Cooking Safety Tip Sheet, and the National Safety Council’s “Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season” webpage.

GreeneryGreenery Can Catch Fire

Although Christmas tree fires may not be as common as you may have been led to believe by watching local newscasts, they are deadlier than most other fires. In fact, the USFA reports that one of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death each year, compared to an annual average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

  • Since fresh trees are less likely to catch fire, look for one that has vibrant green needles which are hard to pluck and don’t break when touched. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles while it’s on the lot.
  • Place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. And keep the tree base container filled with water to avoid a dry out. Also, make sure your pets don’t drink the water, for their safety and the life of the tree.
  • If you plan to use evergreen swags as holiday decorations, make sure the greenery is fresh instead of dry.
  • Keep greens far away from candles.
  • Clear needles that drop as soon as possible.

Holiday Lights Can Catch FireLights

  • Make sure indoor and outdoor holiday lights have passed UL or ETL/ITSNA lab tests for safety, which should be noted on the package.
  • Toss damaged lights.
  • Use suitable lights indoors and out.
  • Plug lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
  • Turn off your holiday lights each night and whenever you leave the house, or set them on a timer.

Candles: December is the peak season for home candle fires. The top four days for candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. In December 11% of home candle fires began with decorations, compared to 4% the rest of the year. Keep candles away from your Christmas tree, furniture, curtains, and other décor.Candles can pose a holiday safety issue.

Decorations: Home decoration-related fires cause an annual average death of one civilian, and injure approximately 41 people, resulting in $13.4 million in associated property damage. Twenty percent of decoration fires start in the kitchen, whereas 17% originate in the living room, family room or den.

 


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Holiday Safety

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System Saves Lives!

The Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services Training System helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training. Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

How to Prepare Your Car For Disasters

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

With 128.3 million people commuting to work and traveling to leisure activities in the United States each year, as a nation, we spend a lot of time in our cars. In the event disaster were to strike while you are behind the wheel, would you be prepared?

How to prepare for emergencies that occur while you are in your car

Disasters in CarIf a large-scale disaster occurs while you are in a vehicle, first responders could be delayed in reaching you, due to increased demand or limited accessibility. In this case, you may need to respond and maintain self-sufficiency for at least three days. To be safe, prepare your vehicle so that you could potentially use it for shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation. If you use public transportation, preparations should extend to a Go-Bag.

Bug Out

Since you might have to ‘bug out’ if disaster strikes, doing so would be easier if you have a vehicle that has high ground clearance and could potentially handle rough terrain. We are not suggesting you purchase a new car for disaster preparation. But the next time you shop for one, you might want to consider how well it could perform in such a situation. To escape the path of Hurricane Irma in Florida earlier this fall, for example, thousands of residents faced gridlock along Interstate 95 in what was one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history. To avoid the crunch, many ignored driving decorum altogether, heading off road and ignoring signs and signals. If a disaster strikes while you are in a car, remain calm. Take a deep breath and obey the rules of the road, which will help keep you safe.

Shelter in Place (SIP)

In some cases, you might need to SIP in your car. In one Southern California mountain community, for example, a pair of avalanches dumped 15-foot high snowdrifts on the highway, effectively cutting off traffic and stranding motorists for 18 hours, until officials finally cut a swath through the massive drifts.

How to Prepare Your Car:

  • Keep your gas tank full, or at least at half, in case disaster strikes.
  • Check tires (make sure your spare is in good repair and properly inflated)
  • Regularly do routine maintenance to make sure your electrical system, fluid levels, and lights are operational.
  • Stow jumper cables, flares, and flashlights.
  • Carry a cell phone charger.
  • Store cat litter or sand for tire traction in adverse conditions.

What to Stow in Your Trunk or Go-Bag

  • A whistle.
  • Extra clothing and comfortable shoes. These will come in handy if you are forced to abandon your vehicle.
  • First aid kit. Include a first aid book, sterile tape, gauze, elastic bandages, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, sterile gloves, tweezers, scissors, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, gauze, antiseptic cream, and distilled water.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Calorie and protein-dense non-perishable items.
  • Map and compass, in case you need to travel to unfamiliar territory.
  • Cell phone and Internet service could be compromised.
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Rope
  • Solar Blankets. These are a great choice because they are easy to store and radiate heat.
  • Spade/shovel
  • Water

Safe Driving Tips. If you are on the road during or after an emergency, remember these tips:

  1. Never drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can disable or stall a vehicle. A foot of water is sufficient to float several cars.
  2. Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  3. If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside until a trained person arrives and removes the wire.
  4. If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  5. If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.

About Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training

Safety is important wherever you are. 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.

Mental Health & PTSD

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

The term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) was originally coined to refer to veterans of war. Now, doctors diagnose PTSD in anyone who has experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event and suffers associated long-term physical and/or psychological symptoms. With the recent prevalence of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, active shooting events and other manmade and natural disasters, 13 million people worldwide are believed to suffer from the malady.

While disasters and mass violence trigger split-second changes in the body, these fluctuations are meant to temporarily help victims manage or avoid danger. Even though many people experience flashbacks, sadness, terror and grief following trauma, they usually recover, in time. However, in some cases, stress alters brain chemistry so it defaults to fight-or-flight mode long after the threat has passed.

Experts with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain the phenomenon: “This ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.”

For anyone who experiences trauma for weeks, months or even years after disaster strikes, intervention may be necessary.

PTSD Facts   

  • An estimated 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD.
  • An estimated 5% of Americans have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women, who are more susceptible to the condition than men, will develop PTSD at some time in their lives.

Types of PTSD

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
  2. Avoiding situations reminiscent of the event
  3. Experiencing negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  4. Feeling keyed up (AKA “hyperarousal”)

PTSD Symptoms

Get help if you experience any of the following, or know someone whose symptoms:

  • Last longer than three months
  • Cause great distress
  • Disrupt work or home life

What to Do about PTSD

PTSD symptoms usually develop soon after a traumatic event. However, for some people, they may not occur until months or even years after the trauma. Symptoms might come and go over many years. If you suspect PTSD, keep track of symptoms and talk to someone you trust.
Anyone with PTSD should be treated by a mental health care professional who is experienced with the disorder. Some people will need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – Teaches patients how to change upsetting thoughts and feelings experienced since the trauma. Includes therapies such as Stress Inoculation Training (SIT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
  • Present Centered Therapy (PCT)– A non-trauma focused treatment which centers around current issues rather than directly processing the trauma. PCT provides psychoeducation about the impact of trauma on one’s life as well as teaching problem- solving strategies to deal with current stressors. 
  • Counseling – Some patients experience relief after talking to a psychologist or participating in a support group.
  • Medication – In some cases, doctors might prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

World Mental Health Day is in October.

Mental Health Safety is important for everyone, not just those affected by PTSD. 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.

Great ShakeOut 2017

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Our hearts go out to earthquake victims, their family, friends and colleagues.

Earthquakes in the News

With two powerful earthquakes striking Mexico last month, now is a good time to reinforce the notion of earthquake safety. The 46th annual International ShakeOut Day will be held October 19, prompting millions of people worldwide to practice how to drop, cover, and hold on. In California, where Allied Universal’s Corporate West Headquarters is located, Great Shakeout Drills will occur on the 19th, at precisely 10:19 a.m.

ShakeOut Part of America’s PrepareAthon

Participating in one of the worldwide drills is a great way for family and organization members to prepare to survive and recover quickly from major earthquakes, whether they occur while you are at work, at home, or traveling. The Shakeout is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s ongoing safety campaign, America’s PrepareAthon!

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

If you reacted to earthquakes in the past by running outside, ignoring the shaking or ducking under someone’s desk and survived unscathed, these experiences may have given you a false sense of security. Until you experience the strong shaking of a major earthquake, accompanied by sudden and intense back and forth motions, which can cause the floor or ground to sway, you could make the mistake of failing to recognize the fact that strong earthquakes can cause you to topple, fall, or go airborne – potentially leading to serious injury. The next time the ground beneath you starts to shake, don’t wait to see if the shaking will be strong. Instead, learn to immediately protect yourself after the first jolt – no matter its strength.

Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that people are likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. Experts agree the plan to Drop, Cover, and Hold On offers the best overall level of protection in most situations.

Earthquake Safety Away from Home

What if you are driving, in a theater, in bed, or on vacation when the earth starts to shake? Try to move but immediately protect yourself as best as possible. Earthquakes occur without warning and might be so violent that you are unable to run or crawl. In such severe cases, you could be knocked to the ground. You will never know if the initial jolt could be a prelude to “The Big One.” So, no matter where you are when you feel the earth shaking, drop, cover and hold on! In most situations, your chance of injury will be reduced if you

  • Drop onto your hands and knees, right where you are. This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby. Wherever you are when an earthquake strikes, protect yourself!
  • Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter. If shelter is not nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows). Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs.
  • Hold On until the shaking stops. Under shelter: cover it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts. Without shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.

Persons with Disabilities: See these instructions for dealing with earthquakes if you are disabled. These recommendations apply to anyone who uses a wheelchair, walker, or is unable to drop to the ground and get up again without assistance.

Drill, drill, drill

As with anything, practice makes perfect. To be ready to protect yourself immediately when the ground begins to shake, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On at school and on the job at least once each year. Click here to sign up to fine a Great ShakeOut near you. If your building management subscribes to the Allied Universal online training system, you will find more information about the Great Shake Out and preparation tips for you and your family and/or coworkers on the training system website.

What NOT to do:

  • Despite training you may have received as a child, do not get in a doorway! This practice became popular because an early earthquake photo showed a collapsed adobe home, with only the door frame remaining. However, in modern houses and buildings, doorways do not protect from flying debris or falling objects. You will be better protected under a table.
  • Resist the urge to run outside! Trying to run during an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and could cause you to fall or sustain injury due to flying debris, such as glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as bricks and other building components could fall, injuring you or blocking your escape. Instead, stay inside and take cover under a desk or table.
  • Don’t ignore opportunities to prepare for earthquakes. Unlike other natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes hit without warning. Nevertheless, by drilling, you can prepare so you know exactly what to do the next time a quake strikes.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Earthquake safety is important for everyone all year round, not just during the Great ShakeOut. A convenient and affordable way to make sure on-campus students or 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.

How to Prepare & Recover from Disasters

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Part 3 of a 3-part Series

As teachers, educators and administrators across the country welcome students to a new academic year, we want to help ensure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as transportation challenges, cyber bullying and peer pressure, and handling emergencies and disasters, students need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe.

The first entry of our three-part series about back-to-school safety focused on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. The second blog post focused on how to be safe while at school, relative to bullying. In the final post, we will cover the topic of how to be safe at school before, during and after emergencies or disasters. 

In an ironic twist, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma severely impacted the Gulf Coast, Florida and parts of the Caribbean during National Preparedness Month (NPM), whose theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Projected to be the most expensive natural disasters of all time, the two storms are projected to cause losses in excess of $290 billion.

While some natural disasters are predictable, giving schools leeway to cancel classes and residents ample warning to evacuate, others can happen unexpectedly or rapidly change, suddenly putting students in danger. The first step to take in preparing for emergencies is to assess the types of natural or man-made disaster risks most likely to occur in your region:

  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme heat
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes and tornadoes
  • Landslides and debris flow
  • Thunderstorms and lightning
  • Wildfires or structural fires
  • Winter storms and extreme cold

The sudden and unexpected nature of disasters means that you could be away from your child during a disaster. Without proper planning, this is a frightening prospect. Nevertheless, while there’s no substitute for being with your children when a disaster strikes, there are ways to lessen associated fears of what may happen if an emergency occurs while your student is at school:

  • Familiarize yourself with your district’s emergency preparedness plans. In fact, get involved in the planning process so you have input about campus procedures.
  • Find out your community’s risk and response plans. Involve your student. Kids like being included in the process, for their own safety and sense of empowerment.
  • Hold a meeting to discuss your family’s communications plan.
  • For younger students, roleplay what to do during a disaster.
  • After you’ve learned about the school’s and community’s emergency response plans, talk to your child about them, reminding your student about the importance of actively listening to teachers and administrators during emergencies.
  • Use age-appropriate preparedness materials to explain emergency procedures to your child. These could include engaging activities and easy action steps that your students will find both fun, informative and effective.
  • Work together to build an emergency kit. For college-aged students, as you plan for their practical needs during their months away from home, be sure to include some items that will come in handy in an emergency in addition to climate-appropriate clothing, dorm supplies, medications and toiletries. Whether it’s as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a storm like Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Irma, being prepared can help your college student remain safe and deal calmly with the situation, while helping other classmates to do the same.
  • Check the district or college website to see if emergency plans are posted. If not, call administrators to request a copy of the plan and confirm that your student is registered with the emergency notification system.
  • The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Program now features disaster training for students in on-campus housing.
  • Ready-made disaster kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross at redcrossstore.org. Information on compiling your own disaster readiness kit is available on the web at www.fema.gov.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just while at school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure on-campus students or 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.

Back-to-School Safety

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Part 1 in a 3-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 from bullying and the final post, which will cover how to be safe before, during and after natural and manmade disasters.  


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 will cover part two in this three-part series, about bullying. Our final post in the series will cover safety before, during and after natural and manmade disasters.

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.

National Immunization Awareness Month

Monday, July 31st, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. 

In the United States, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases often occur due to non-immunization or under-immunization among children and adults, as well as from exposure to infections brought into the country by unvaccinated travelers who returning from high-risk or endemic regions. Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Their goal is education, so everyone knows that:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout life.
  • Vaccines are safe.

Certain vaccines are recommended based on age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease). Vaccination needs should be assessed by doctors, pharmacists, or other health care providers. Immunizations are important because they protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the illness, which is especially important to the most vulnerable, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.  Always consult your own healthcare provider before seeking vaccinations or taking any medications.

Immunization Recommendations for Everyone

The Immunization Action Coalition suggests that adults should get vaccines to protect their health, because even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. One immunization the CDC recommends for all adults, including pregnant women, is the influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Another vaccine-must for adults is the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) for anyone who did not get Tdap as a teen. Follow up should include Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccines every 10 years.

Immunizations for Special Groups

(The following recommendations for these groups, made by the CDC, NIAM and Vaccines.Gov, are as follows):

  • For a complete list of childhood vaccines, see the CDC’s schedule.
  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. For communication strategies on maternal vaccination, check out NIAM’s Toolkit: Pregnant Women.
  • College students require immunizations noted on the Vaccines.gov website. Students at campuses where Allied Universal provides training can access additional information in the “Your Resources” section of their Fire Life Safety Training module.
  • Adults 60 years and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older should have one or more pneumococcal vaccines. (What’s more, some adults who are younger than 65 years, with certain high-risk conditions, are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.)
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV) depending on age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received, or other considerations.
  • For more information about adult vaccines, see the CDC Adult Immunization Schedules.

Remember, a convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind, including health crises, 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.

Cybersecurity Safety

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Cybersecurity-breach stories are so common lately, the headlines no longer shock. But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. In 2017, you can’t afford to grow complacent about Internet safety. As the following examples demonstrate, it’s crucial to guard your online data:

GovTech.com

“Hacking actions at nuclear facilities targeted traditional vectors like websites, emails and Microsoft Word documents that were infected as the method for cyberattacks. It needs to be back to basics of ‘security blocking and tackling’ for many, and consideration of even traditional cyber threats.”

Big CountryHomePage.com

“The FBI and Homeland Security issued a new warning to American energy companies about potential cyberattacks on nuclear facilities…Homeland security officials say the hackers penetrated the ‘business’ side of the nuclear facility.”

Fortune.com

“A wave of ransomware attacks spread like wildfire (in June). Many Microsoft Windows-based computers—specifically, ones not protected against a vulnerability in a Microsoft messaging protocol…began seizing up worldwide, locking employees out of their desktops, and displaying ransom notes…It’s still not clear what the initial attack vector was. But once inside, the worm could spread across computer networks.”

Password Matters

A hacker’s job is to crack computer passwords to access sensitive files and data. Once they obtain the password, they can do malicious things to the information stored in an account. Or worse, they may be able to harm the accounts of other people who share computer networks. So, the argument— “I don’t need a secure password because I don’t store important information in my account”— won’t fly. Passwords are usually the weakest security link within an organization’s network. Don’t fall victim to cybercrime. Create a secure password:

Password Don’ts

  • Don’t use dictionary or foreign words, names, doubled names or first/last names and initials.
  • Don’t use simple transformations of words (7eleven, seven11, etc.) or any alphabet or keyboard sequence (backwards or forwards).
  • Don’t use your user ID in any form (as-is, reversed, capitalized, doubled, etc.).
  • Don’t reuse old passwords. Instead, choose a completely new password every time you change it.
  • Don’t consider using short words (less than 8 characters), phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or numbers substituted for letters (like a zero instead of the letter O).
  • Don’t use ‘password’ as your password. (Believe it or not, statistics show that up to 70% of all user-passwords are the word ‘password.)
  • Don’t tape the password under the keyboard or anywhere else on the computer, the computer’s desk or in an unlocked file cabinet. Mischievous people will look for your password in these places like a thief looks for a key under the front doormat.

Password Do’s

  • Choose a phrase, and then use the first letters (‘A stitch in time saves nine’ would be ‘asits9’).
  • Use a password that has at least two alphabetic characters (a-z, A-Z) and at least one numeric (0-9) or special (punctuation) character. Always use a mixture of upper- and lowercase characters.
  • Choose a password that is easy to remember, so you don’t have to write it down.
  • Select a password that you can quickly type. This keeps people from discovering your password by watching you type it.
  • Change your password often—at least once every three months.
  • Implement a password-protected screen saver in case you must leave your workstation without first logging off. When possible, log off or lock your workstation by using CTRL + ALT + DEL.

Smartphone Safety

Since smartphone saturation in the United States surpassed 80 percent of the population in 2016, hackers are targeting secure data stored on handheld devices. Keep your data safe:

  • Malicious people could gain physical access to your smartphone or tablet. Malicious people are rude. Someone has to say it! Protect your device with a password and run apps such as Android Lost or Find My iPhone to help recover lost or stolen smartphones.
  • Malicious emails and text messages can infect your smartphone with malware. To prevent this, periodically run anti-virus software on your device.
  • The camera and microphone on your smartphone can be remotely activated. Do not take a smartphone near classified information, and remove the battery before discussing sensitive information.
  • Wireless networks may be insecure and subject to monitoring. Use VPN when accessing wireless networks and do not access sensitive information over shared wireless networks. Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it, to prevent hackers from exploiting your device.

About Allied Universal

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

Focus on Active Shooter Situations

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services recognizes National Safety Month

Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends the following course of action if you find yourself in an active-shooter situation: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. In other words, if you have the ability, quickly run as far away from the situation as possible. Then hide. Fight back only as a last resort. View this video to learn more:

Unfortunately, over the past few years, active shooting incidents have become all too common. Consider these two, for example, which have unfolded already this month in diverse locations across the country:

  1. June 5, 2017, Beauty College in Fort Wayne, IndianaA lone gunman entered the Ravenscroft Beauty College shortly before 7 p.m. and began shooting. One woman was seriously injured while others on the scene escaped without harm. The shooter was later found deceased, from an apparent suicide. Preliminary police reports suggest this may have been the result of a domestic disturbance between the shooter and his victim.
  1. June 5, 2017, Workplace Shooting, Orlando, Florida. A 45-year-old “disgruntled” employee entered his former workplace in Orlando armed with a semiautomatic handgun and a hunting knife. He fatally shot five people, and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

Active shooter situations are quick and unpredictable. In many cases, in fact, the entire event will unfold before first responders arrive on scene. While facing an active shooter might be unimaginable, being prepared could save your life.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to your environment and locate the nearest two exits in any place you visit.
  • Run to a safe place immediately.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • If you’re unable to run, hide.
  • If you’re somewhere with a door, lock it or barricade it shut.
  • Silence electronic devices.
  • Call 911 if it is safe to do so.
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. In close-range cases, fighting increases your chance of survival.

About the NSC

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the NSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas of greatest risk – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and safe communities.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System

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

Additional active shooter response resources:

Information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Active Shooter Booklet
Active Shooter Poster
Active Shooter Information
Security Awareness Tips
Active Shooter Emergency Planning
Workplace Violence
Workplace Violence Prevention Planning

Hurricane Preparation & Survival

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland cooling, rip currents, and tornadoes. Called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world, these massive storms affect regions across the globe – Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in May and ends November 30.

Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and intensity of the storm, amount and duration of rainfall, path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, terrain and soil conditions.

The additional toll hurricanes can take include:

This damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy.

  • Damage or destruction of buildings and other structures
  • Disruption of transportation, gas, power, communications, and other services
  • Coastal and inland flooding from heavy rains and storm surge.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale divides hurricanes into five categories based on wind speed, central pressure and potential damage to homes, structures, power lines and trees, and the ability to block roads and bring areas to a standstill, or even render them uninhabitable.

Category 1: Sustains winds of 74 to 95 mph.

Category 2: Maintains winds of 96 to 110 mph.

Category 3 (Major): Whips up winds of 111 mph to 129 mph.

Category 4 (Major): Produces winds of 130 to 156 mph.

Category 5 (Major): Drums up 157 mph or higher winds.

Business owners boarded windows to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.

Here’s how to prepare for a hurricane (adapted from Ready.Gov):

  • Know where to go. If ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) and have a plan in place for where you will check in with family and take shelter.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit, including flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of critical information in case you need to evacuate.
  • If you are outside the evacuation area and decide to stay in your home, put together adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days, as you could be stranded, due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Utilize text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications, if data service is available in your area. To find out which alerts apply to you, search the Internet using your town, city, or county name plus the word “alerts.”

What to do after a hurricane:

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends via text (if cell service is available) or social media (if WIFI is operational). The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System includes notes about what to do in a power failure.

    Hurricanes can cause power failures.

  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person down, and fast-moving water can sweep away a vehicle. What’s more, it could be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain dangerous debris.
  • Photograph the damage to your property to assist with insurance claims.

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

This video from FEMA provides additional Hurricane Safety tips: