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IT Disaster Recovery

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

IT Disaster RecoveryIn a recent blog post, we discussed the millions of Americans who are currently struggling to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, floods, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Another category of disaster affecting millions, which also requires careful pre-planning and purposeful recovery, pertains to Information Technology (IT).

Now, more than ever, businesses rely on IT to communicate. Systems such as email, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), text, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transmit data, including orders and payments, between organizations. Servers process information and store large amounts of data. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets and wireless devices are used to create, process, manage and communicate information. Oftentimes, data is sensitive as well as vital to the survival and continued operation of the business. With so much at stake, would you be prepared if your company’s IT is compromised or stops working altogether?IT Recovery Data Breach

Examples of IT Breaches & How to Reduce Your Risk

Phishing

Phishing ScamsOne of the oldest and most successful web hacking scams, phishing is one of the easiest to prevent. Perpetrators send mass emails which appear to be authentic communications from a bank, subscription service, the IRS, or online payment site. The email asks recipients to verify their account information by clicking on a link. Clicking supplies the hacker with the victim’s login information, which hackers use to divert money from the victim’s account.

Identify Theft

The use of someone’s personal information without permission, such as name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, social security number, phone or utility account numbers or medical insurance information.Identity Theft

Password Hacking

Despite repeated warnings, Internet users continue to reuse simple passwords, and create passwords based on birthdates, anniversaries or children’s names. Motivated hackers can break simple passwords through trial and error or algorithms written specifically for the task.

Buffer Overflow

Password HackingSophisticated hackers use buffer overflow to gain access to customer data via online forms. The hacker navigates to an online form and provides excessive data in a form field.

When this occurs, simple security techniques are unable to respond to the large volume of data input into an unexpected entry point.

Fault InjectionComputer Crash IT Recovery

Also known as “fuzzing,” fault injection is a complicated hacking technique wherein criminals research ways to infiltrate the source code and input different data to crash the system. An example would be a hacker using a database query to erase content, or typing in a Web address that delivers a worm into the network.

Ransomware

Ransomware Data RecoveryHackers capture computer information and encrypt it, demanding payment in exchange for the key to unlock the ransomed data. Instead of targeting high-value, heavily fortified systems, like banks or corporations, which require complex technological skills to crack, many cybercriminals use ransomware on “soft targets,” like small businesses, schools, hospitals, and individuals who are likely to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to reacquire their digital files.

To Avoid Cyber Attacks:

  • Create complex passwords.
  • Change default passwords when you acquire new equipment and software, and train your team to change network passwords every 30 to 60 days.
  • Change your passwords if a company you do business reports a breach.
  • Enable security features on mobile devices.
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on computer systems and home electronics.
  • Update sharing and firewall settings when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Consider subscribing to a cloud security service, which employs unified threat management (UTM) technology to help identify and stop attacks, to keep proprietary data safe and sound.

Create an IT Recovery PlanIT Recovery Plan

With so much at stake, business owners and managers should make it a priority to develop and test an IT disaster recovery plan:

  • Compile an inventory of hardware (e.g. servers, desktops, laptops and wireless devices), software applications and data.
  • Identify critical software applications and data and the hardware required to run them. Using standardized hardware will help to replicate and reimage new hardware.
  • Ensure that copies of program software are available to enable re-installation on replacement equipment.
  • Prioritize hardware and software restoration.
  • Include a strategy for backing up critical information.
  • Test the plan periodically to make sure that it works.

BeSafe 2018We Care About Your Safety in 2018 and Beyond

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety 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 percent and saves you over 50 percent compared to conventional training. Most importantly, it saves lives!

How to Recover from Disasters

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Disaster RecoveryMillions of Americans struggle to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Disasters are currently so widespread, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spending $200 million per day to aid recovery efforts. Although each type of disaster brings unique challenges, no matter which situation you face, recovery is the first order of business as soon as the dust settles. One such disaster is the Montecito Mudslides, which thousands of volunteers and disaster response teams are currently managing.

After disaster strikes, follow these recovery steps:Disaster Rescue

  • After the immediate danger of a disaster has passed, exercise caution so you can stay safe during the clean-up and recovery process.
  • In the case of biological, chemical or radiological threats, listen for instructions on local radio or television stations about safe places to go.
  • Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, stabilize the neck and back, then immediately call for help. If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway, and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated. Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.
  • Disaster RecoveryFor lesser wounds and injuries, wash with soap and water. To help prevent infection, use bandages and replace them if they become soiled, damaged or waterlogged.
  • After a disaster, some additional natural hazards—like severe storms, flooding, mudslides or earthquakes may follow. If a new or similar hazard strikes, exercise safety protocols. For an earthquake aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON–just as you did during the initial quake.
  • Emergency responders need access to open telephone lines to coordinate response. So, avoid using cellular telephones as well as landlines. Immediately post-disaster, use the telephone only to report life-threatening conditions and to call one pre-determined out-of-town emergency contact.Disaster Recovery Phone Lines
  • Remain calm. You may find yourself in the position of supervising other people. Listen carefully and deal patiently, prioritizing urgent situations. Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest. Drink plenty of clean water. Eat well. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Disaster Recovery HygieneWash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.
  • Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, unsafe buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
  • Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation and dead animals.
  • If you are told to leave your home, return only when advised to do so by local authorities. Be sure to carry photo identification, since authorities may limit entry to people who own property in disaster-affected areas.
  • Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles. Drive only in extreme emergencies or if told to do so by emergency officials. If you must drive, do not drive on roads covered with water, which could be damaged or eroded. Vehicles can float in as little as six inches of water.Disaster Recovery Flood
  • If the disaster was widespread, monitor news sources for instructions from local authorities. Information may change rapidly after a widespread disaster, so continue to check regularly for updates. If the power is out, listen to a battery or hand-crank-powered radio, television or car radio.
  • If the area was flooded and children are present, warn them to stay away from storm drains, culverts and ditches. Children can get caught and injured in these areas. Discard food that could have been contaminated by water or sewage.

Disaster Recovery Resources:

FEMA

American Red Cross

Ready.Gov

Allied Universal

Disaster Recovery High RiseWe Care About Your Safety in 2018 and Beyond

The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety 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 percent and saves you over 50 percent compared to conventional training. Most importantly, it saves lives!

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.

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:

Tornado Safety

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

At least 13 people died and dozens more were injured as recent, severe storms brought flooding and tornadoes to Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. Just one snapshot of the havoc that tornadoes cause, this event demonstrates why tornadoes are considered nature’s most violent storms – able to level entire neighborhoods and city streets in mere seconds. Equally disturbing, in many areas of the country, the question about tornadoes is not “if,” but “when?”

Your community could face the wrath of the phenomenon described as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds of up to 300 miles per hour. Subscribers to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System have access to a comprehensive tornado training module, which explains how to be safe before, during and after a tornado hits. In our ongoing effort to help educate and keep our friends and subscribers safe, we have also assembled some valuable tornado trivia and tips:

Tornado Trivia:

  • Damage paths can exceed one mile wide and 50 miles long.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
  • Although the average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, tornadoes can move in any direction.
  • Every state is at some risk of tornadoes, although certain states are more tornado-prone. For example, in the Midwest, tornadoes are frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
  • Peak tornado season in southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
  • Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while others are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds.
  • Certain tornadoes develop so rapidly that little advanced warning is possible.
  • Before a tornado hits, winds may die down and air may become still. In fact, some attribute the idiom, “calm before the storm,” to this phenomenon.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.
  • A cloud of debris may mark the location of a tornado even when a funnel is not visible.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
  • A Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • A Tornado Warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Immediately take shelter.

Before a Tornado

  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Consider building a “safe room.” For more about this, see Gov.
  • Listen to National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
  • Notice changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
  • Be aware of the following danger signs: dark, greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-flying cloud, and/or a loud roar (like a freight train).
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado

If you are in a structure when a tornado hits:

  • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the center of a small interior room on the lowest building level. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Keep windows closed.

If you are in a manufactured home or office when a tornado hits:

Immediately exit and head to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter.

If you are outside without shelter when a tornado happens:

If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for the last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion.

    The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training program features a tornado module, to help you stay safe before, during and after tornadoes.

In every situation:

  • Never seek cover under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Don’t try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas, while in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

After a Tornado

  • Listen to local weather reports and officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, to alert rescuers about your location.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings and homes.
  • Photograph the damage to your property to assist in filing insurance claims.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
  • If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.

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.

Sinkhole Safety

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Record-breaking cold temperatures across the country have wreaked havoc on streets from coast to coast. The severe weather has led to an alarming number of weather-related car accidents, flash flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines across the United States. Another unfortunate yet common side effect of the storms is water-logged land that has given way to hundreds of large sinkholes.

A few examples of the serious sinkholes reported in the U. S. within the past 12 months:

What exactly is a sink hole?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “A sinkhole can be defined as: an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. When it rains, water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than one foot to more than 100 feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers, whereas others have vertical walls. Some hold water, forming natural ponds.”

The three types of sinkholes include dissolution, cover-subsidence, and cover-collapse. Whatever the type, most occur so slowly that changes to the landscape are not immediately evident. This is also true of ground structure that has been compromised by buried bones. So, while it looks like they appear out of thin air, most require time to deteriorate into a full-blown collapse. Collapses most significantly impact structures and people when they happen in urban settings. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, we wanted to devote this blog post to providing subscribers and friends with tips for spotting and safely reacting to sinkholes.

Conditions that foster sinkholes:

  • Active wells
  • Abandoned drywells, cesspools and septic tanks
  • Buried swimming pools
  • Old dumps that were later built-over
  • Buried, abandoned building foundations
  • Cracks, gaps, ravines opened by earthquakes
  • Steep-sloped or otherwise unstable areas
  • Moisture-soaked earth
  • Streets and structures not retrofitted for safety

It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole would swallow a modern high-rise building. Whew. However, you could potentially encounter such an event while you are driving to or from work or school or while traveling to an area with relaxed building inspection protocols. If this happens, remain calm. Try to quickly drive or walk around the hazardous area. Finally, call 911 for help.

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

Personal Safety at College

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety.

Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.

Blog Series

In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. This week’s post will focus on personal safety while in college. Check back next week to read about college safety relative to cyber security.

Be Aware

One of the most important ways to #BeSafe while in college is to make sure that students are aware of potential threats to their personal safety. A recent report by CBS News says that the top nine threats to today’s university students include:

  1. Mononucleosis
  2. Meningitis
  3. Colds and flu
  4. Hazardous mold
  5. Bedbugs
  6. Athlete’s foot
  7. Sleep deprivation
  8. Binge drinking
  9. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Safety Concerns

While we agree that the above are concerns, we suggest there are even more menacing threats to the typical college student’s safety. Whether students are walking on campus to go to a class, headed to the library, or on their way to a dorm, they should take steps to be safe:

  • Lock the residence when leaving or sleeping.
  • At night, walk in groups of at least two.
  • Familiarize themselves with services provided by the office of campus safety. Potential services could include Blue Light emergency phone stations, campus escort services, safety maps with suggested secure routes and support for a safety app like Campus Safety.
  • After dark, walk only on lit sidewalks.
  • Know where you are going.
  • When parking, remove valuables from plain view and lock vehicles.
  • Record serial numbers for valuables and store them in a safe place.
  • Report criminal incidents, losses and suspicious people to campus safety officers.
  • Learn how to defend yourself.
  • Maintain ready access to safety and security supplies.
  • Dial 911 for life-threatening emergencies.

It is also imperative that students, as well as their friends, family members, and neighbors know how to properly respond and support someone who reports a crime to them in confidence. Victims and loved ones should know where to turn for resources and resolution.

Resources are available for males and females as well as non-victims:

Next week, check back to read our final post in this series about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Allied Universal Campus Safety

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Part one of a three-part series

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. However, it also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus.

To help college students be safe while attending college, we are writing a three-part blog series about campus safety. In it, we will offer helpful tips to keep students safe relative to fire, personally, and in cyberspace. This week’s post will focus on fire life safety.

Fire Life Safety – Most modern buildings are equipped with a variety of fire protection features such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers, illuminated signage, fire extinguishers, automatic self-closing fire doors, and compartmentation construction techniques. However, regardless of age or sophistication of the building, these or other fire safety features alone cannot guarantee safety. These buildings have been designed to provide sufficient time to escape. So, for maximum safety, students should be aware of their building’s specific fire drills and emergency evacuation procedures.

The Center for Campus Fire Safety reports that almost 80 percent of fire-related fatalities in student housing occur off campus. They result from lack of automatic fire sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, and careless disposal of smoking materials. What’s more, officials with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that fires in dormitories can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, and point to the use of cooking equipment as the cause for 86 percent of property damage in dormitory-type properties. In just a couple of minutes – whatever the cause of the fire – flames and smoke can engulf an entire room.

To help prevent fire-related emergencies on or off campus, students can follow these fire life safety tips:

  • Make sure off-campus housing features smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on each level. For optimal protection, the smoke alarms should be connected so they all sound at once.
  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Know where your fire extinguishers are, that they are inspected to function, and that residents know how to use the equipment.
  • TALK with your roommates, call a meeting to discuss personal and fire safety to reinforce each person’s commitment to shared safety values and practices. Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms.
  • Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms.
  • Learn the building’s evacuation plan and routinely practice drills as if they were actual fire events.
  • Never rent at a building that is converted into multi-tenant residences or additional rooms which do not meet local codes and/or occupancy requirements – do not hesitate to ask for proof of compliance/certification.
  • Create a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, whenever possible. Remember that windows could potentially provide a means of exit. but always assess risk (oxygen to the fire, likelihood of serious or grave injuries, etc.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, evacuate the building and stay out until cleared to reenter the building. If firefighters or other first responders arrive on scene, students should wait to hear the “all clear” from someone in authority.
  • During power outages, use a flashlight.
  • Learn the institution’s rules before using electrical appliances.
  • Cook only where permitted, and only when alert.
  • Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace.
  • Many institutions offer checklist and audit programs for off-campus safety, including fire. Some campus public safety departments even offer an on-site assessment – be sure to ask your campus public safety office about what programs exist for your campus community.
  • Use surge protectors for computers and plug protectors directly into outlets instead of extension cords.

In the coming weeks, check back to read more about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

2017 Safety Resolutions

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Take steps to “BeSafe” in 2017.

The year 2016 was a banner one for declared disasters in the United States – with emergencies of virtually every conceivable type devastating landscapes, manmade structures and victims across the country.

Declared Disasters

  • Fires in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North & South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
  • Hurricanes/Tropical Storms in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
  • Mudslides & Landslides in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
  • Severe Storms & Flooding in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia (DC), Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
  • Tornadoes in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia

Equally significant “undeclared” disasters broke records in 2016. These included biological and chemical threats, cyber terrorism, droughts, earthquakes, radiation and nuclear events, and volcanoes…to name a few. The good news is that lessons learned in 2016, through endurance, recovery, and rebuilding can help us make a fresh start to #BeSafe in 2017.

Plan 

  • Take responsibility for your own personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of security personnel. Carry emergency contact details and special needs’ information.
  • Put together a Go-Bag/Emergency Supply Kit.
  • If you own your own business, take a cue from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to plan, prepare and protect.

Practice

  • Prepare an evacuation plan.
  • Post instructions.
  • Run drills.

Pay Attention

  • Access government websites for information about emerging threats as information is identified.
  • Listen to instructions given before, during and after disasters from local law enforcement and public safety officials.
  • Note travel alerts and warnings issued by the Department of State.
  • Wherever you are, If you see something, say something.

For more safety resolutions from Allied Universal, click here.

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

Drones and Disaster Management

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Drone delivers the goods against the background of New York at sWhile news outlets often report about people shooting at drones as they hover over homes, and despite the fact certain irresponsible remote controllers have been known to interrupt emergency fire operations, these tiny fliers are well on their way to becoming invaluable disaster management tools.

Potential Drone Use

Identifying Threats and Survivors

  • Local officials could use drones when a dam is under strain from a flood or earthquake, to safely survey damage so they could alert the public about risks such as imminent collapse, or to allay fears if they are able to determine whether the dam is structurally sound.
  • Telecommunication firms are experimenting with drones which can provide a 4G local signal, which could connect responders and survivors.
  • Other companies are offering drones to deliver medical and/or food supplies. One such vendor made Pouncer, an inexpensive drone which features a compact, vacuum-packed cargo area.
  • Drones are ideally suited for search and rescue teams, as they can cover a wide area and link to operators’ cellphones, to help pinpoint exact locations.

Building Inspection

Drones can be used in building inspections.

Drones can be used in building inspections.

  • Drones are ideally suited for high-rise building inspections because they can travel to great heights. Verizon is currently using drones to check cell phone towers affected by Hurricane Matthew. Drones enable them to view tower damage without putting their employees at electrical risk by venturing into flooded areas.
  • A drone operator can launch a UAV that provides a birds-eye view of all sides of nearly any bridge.
  • Certain drones cling to the side of walls, allowing operators to safely assess structural integrity.
  • Bridge inspections conducted with drones don’t impede traffic flow, as the drone operator can stand safely on the shore as cars drive over the bridge, blissfully unaware of the inspection taking place.

Surveying Damaged Areas

To quickly process claims, insurance agencies are using drones to check damaged buildings and property. This technology enables insurance carriers to inspect roofs without employing ladder teams.drone

Government agencies are also using drones to assess flood damages to coastal areas. Instead of renting a plane or helicopter, local agencies can fly drones to take high-definition pictures and videos of an area. They can also safely operate drones without nuisance noise or winds associated with helicopters or small planes.

Fire departments are using fire-resistant drones built to provide invaluable real-time information about high-rise fires, including the severity of the blaze and exact location of any occupants who might be trapped.

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