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How to Cope with COVID-19 Burnout

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

COVID High Rise SafetyPart 2 of a 2-Part Series

In a blog post we published earlier this month; we began a two-part series about overcoming COVID-19 burnout. Click here to read part one, which focused on ways to ease misgivings and regain a feeling of control by making disaster plans at home. This week, we conclude the series by offering suggestions for overcoming Coronavirus burnout by developing disaster plans for high-rise buildings. (more…)

Building Safety Month 2020

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Building Safety Month 2020For 40 years, the International Code Council (ICC) has celebrated advances in the construction of safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient buildings and homes each May, during Building Safety Month. Meant to raise awareness about building safety, this year’s campaign theme is Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World. As most buildings are currently shuttered due to COVID-19, the first week’s virtual events focused on: “Disaster Preparedness, Building Codes and America’s Response to COVID-19.” Week 2 will cover water safety. Week 3, Resiliency. Sustainability. Innovation. And Week 4: Training the Next Generation. (more…)

High-Rise Fire Safety for National Fire Safety Month

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

High-Rise Building SafetyIn honor of National Safety Month, we want to focus on a topic we hold dear to our hearts at the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services – high-rise fire safety. According to the most recent study published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 14,500 structure fires per year in high-rise buildings.These fires cause (on average) 40 civilian deaths, 520 civilian injuries, and lead to $154 million of property damage each year. Fire response is critical because fire is one of the most common emergencies following earthquakes, explosions, terrorism, power surges and other natural and manmade disasters. (more…)

National Arthritis Awareness Month

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Arthritis Awareness MonthArthritis is a debilitating condition which affects more than 50 million Americans, making it the number one cause of disability in the United States. In hopes of providing help for the millions afflicted, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation mark each May as National Arthritis Awareness Month. No cure exists yet for either of the two main diagnostic categories: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). However, medication can help ease both diseases into remission. (more…)

Holiday Office Safety Tips

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Holidays High Rise Office

The holidays are upon us, and with them, opportunities abound to enjoy celebrations with family, neighbors, colleagues, friends and coworkers. As you plan your 2018 holiday season, please consider these office safety tips, designed to help you safely make the most of this festive time of the year.Holiday Decorating Safety Office

10 Holiday Office Safety Tips

When decorating, be mindful of the risk of fire hazard. (more…)

National Fire Prevention Week

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Fire Prevention Week Allied Universal RJWestmore 2018National Fire Prevention Week: “Look. Listen. Learn.”

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson announced the first ever event to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred in October of 1874. Each October since 1924, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has led the annual charge to implement National Fire Prevention Week™. This year’s observance takes place this week, with the theme, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere™.”

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High-Rise Safety

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

People who live or work in high-rise residential or commercial buildings face very specific disaster-preparedness challenges. Emergencies such as fires, bomb scares, weather-related incidents and earthquakes present special dangers for high-occupancy buildings, such as dormitories, apartment homes, condominiums and office complexes. The best defense is a coordinated emergency-response plan that identifies potential risks and outlines the best response.With limited access to egress, if you’re in a high-rise when disaster strikes, you might need to stay in the building until the emergency passes. Or, if evacuation is necessary, you would need to quickly find the exit.

The good news is that high-rise building requirements include more working sprinklers and fire alarm equipment than non-high-rise facilities. And if your building owner or manager subscribes to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, first responders will have access to building-specific instructions, which will help in emergency situations. To help make sure you are prepared, we have assembled some tips to keep you safe.High-Rise Evacuation

High-Rise Disaster Safety Tips

In all situations—

  • Take responsibility for your own safety. This is important because, in some situations, first response may be delayed in reaching you.
  • Familiarize yourself with the safety features of your facility (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans and alarm response).
  • Make sure exit and stairwell doors are clearly marked, remain unlocked and are free from debris and clutter which could obstruct the walkway.
  • If an official makes an announcement, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • If you are told to evacuate, go outside and gather at the pre-arranged meeting place.
  • Stay put until an official instructs you it is safe to return to the building.

high-rise fire safetyFor Fire—

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)reports there are approximately 16,000 to 20,000 fires in high-rise buildings each year. This represents 2 to 4 percent of all building fires. If you are in a high-rise when fire breaks out:

  • Well in advance of an emergency, find the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Don’t automatically run for the stairs. Stay put and wait for instructions.
  • If it is clear you should evacuate, pull the alarm on your way out, to notify the fire department and your neighbors. Don’t assume someone else will handle this.
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening and close all doors behind you as you leave. If the door is hot, find another way out. If it is cool, leave by the nearest exit.
  • Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs in a fire, unless the fire department instructs otherwise. Some buildings come equipped with elevators, which are intended for emergency use. Such elevators should be clearly marked.elevator high-rise evacuation
  • If someone is trapped in the building, notify the fire department.
  • If you are unable to evacuate your apartment or high-rise workplace in a fire due to flames, smoke or a disability, stuff wet towels or sheets around the door and vents to keep smoke out. Call the fire department to alert officials to your location.
  • Slightly open a window and wave a bright-colored cloth to signal your location. However, be prepared to close the window if smoke conditions worsen.

To Shelter in Place—

high-rise flood safetyIn some emergency scenarios, you may need to stay put instead of evacuating.

High-Rise Safety Resources:Earthquake high-rise safety

FEMA Building Code Resources

National Fire Protection NFPA High-Rise Building Safety

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Evacuation & Sheltering-in-Place

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System

No matter the type of emergency you may face while in a high-rise building, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

10 Space Heater Safety Tips

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Space Heater SafetySpace Heater Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allied Universal Space Heater Safety Tips

American Red Cross – America’s Biggest Disaster Threat

NFPA – Put a freeze on winter fires

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

Space Heater Safety House

USFA – Fire is everyone’s fight

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

Elevator Recalls and Safety Tips

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
Do not use the elevator during a high-rise fire.

During an emergency which requires building evacuation, do not take the elevator.

The advancing age of many elevators and decreased preventative maintenance have recently given rise to the number of elevator failures, such as stalled cars. Nevertheless, elevators remain an exceedingly safe mode of transportation, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting an average associated fatality rate of just 0.00000015% per trip, which represents a total of 27 deaths per year resulting from 18 billion rides. This statistic positions elevator rides as safer than vehicles, airplanes or even stairs

Elevator manufacturers stake their reputation on safety, investing considerable resources into redundant systems to help protect elevator occupants. Nevertheless, elevators occasionally malfunction and even break down. Safety malfunctions can involve doors, buttons, cables, and additional components.

Here are a few facts about elevator safety:

Core safety features of modern elevators:in case of fire use stairway for exit sign. vector symbol

  • Electromagnetic brakes are used to keep the car in place, and will automatically snap shut if the elevator system loses electrical power. Modern elevators also feature braking systems located at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft, which can detect excessive elevator movement and apply brakes, when necessary.
  • Despite the common Hollywood movie scene of an elevator cable snapping and elevator car plummeting, this scenario is unrealistic. Elevator cables are comprised of sturdy steel strands, which have been designed to single-handedly support the entire weight of the car and occupants. Each elevator contains between four and eight cables for each car, which provides multiple levels of redundancy.

Stuck in a Tin Canimage002

As alarming as it can be, getting stuck in an elevator is rarely a life-threatening situation. Elevators occasionally get stuck. But even when this occurs, core safety systems remain intact.

Elevator safety tips:

  • In any emergency such as an earthquake, fire or anything that may require building evacuation, do not take the elevator. Take the stairs!
  • Do not attempt to rush into an elevator while the doors are closing. Simply wait for the next car. Also, keep young children and leashed pets very close to you, for their safety as well as the safety of everyone in the car.
  • Try not to panic about oxygen. While the car is an admittedly confined space, you should have plenty of available air to breath. Elevator cars are not airtight.
  • Never, ever try to exit a stalled elevator car through the roof hatch or by prying the doors apart. This is the most important tip, as several deaths have tragically occurred when people try to escape stalled cars. In many cases, the elevator will stop between floors, leaving occupants with the mistaken impression that they would be able to crawl out to safety. However, if the elevator moves as someone is trying to escape, they could be trapped and tragically, crushed. So stay put and be patient.
  • If the elevator car stalls, use the elevator phone and/or your cell phone to alert authorities. Remain calm.

 

woman hands try to stop doors of the closed elevatorAdditional Elevator Safety Tips, courtesy of Allied Universal

While elevators have proven to be a very safe way of transporting both people and merchandise, occasionally malfunctions do occur. Common problems can include elevators that do not correctly align with the floor, doors that do not open or close properly, stopping between floors or stopping altogether and entrapping occupants.

Universal Services of America offers the following tips to help ensure your safety and knowledge regarding proper elevator use.

When you approach the elevator

  • Stand aside for exiting passengers.
  • Wait for the next car if the elevator is already full.
  • Do not attempt to stop a closing door.
  • Use the stairs, not an elevator, if there is a fire in the building.

When you enter and exit the elevator

  • Watch your step, as the elevator floor may not be level with the landing.
  • Stand clear of the doors, and keep your clothing and any carry-on items away from the opening.

When riding on the elevator

  • Stand back from the doors and hold the handrail, if available.
  • Pay attention to the floor indications, so you may exit when you arrive at your floor.
  • Discern between the “open door” button and the “close door” button to avoid confusing them, if needed.

If you find yourself in an elevator that has become stuck

  • Push the “door open” button. If that does not work, ring the elevator alarm.
  • Use the emergency phone, alarm or help button, if available, to summon emergency personnel. Or use your cell phone to call 9-1-1.
  • Do not attempt to force the doors open.
  • Never try to leave the elevator car on your own, as doing so could result in serious injury.
  • Remain calm. Elevators contain sufficient oxygen levels to last until help arrives.

For more info on elevator safety or to learn about escalator safety, visit the National Elevator Industry website at www.neii.org. Remember that safety is a daily priority, whether or not you use elevators. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Managing Fire Risk in Residential Buildings

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

building on fire / big fires /newsProper fire emergency planning and prevention for residential high-rise buildings require special tactics. To that end, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has assembled a “High-Rise Building Safety Advisory Committee” to spot the unique needs and issues relative to safety in high-rise buildings. Since the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services has recently launched several residential training modules, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of the NFPA strategies, with the goal of helping our subscribers and friends to #BeSafe.

Prepare Your Building and Residents

Fire in the buildingMany fires are preventable if proper protocols are put into place and building occupants acquaint themselves with recommended safety procedures. Here are several tips for high-rise building property owners and managers help prevent the occurrence and reduce the impact of fires:

  • Create a formal plan. A written fire emergency plan is essential for optimal safety of residents as well as property. Map evacuation routes, meeting zone locations, sprinkler plans, and fire extinguisher locations.
  • Keep halls and stairways free of impediments. A minute delay can be the difference between occupants’ safe escape and catastrophe. Keeping walkways clear will provide first responders with easy access.
  • Test backup and safety systems including emergency lighting and building communication systems. fire break glass
  • Produce a floorplan of the entire building with floor-by-floor layouts, including the location of floor drains, water valves, utility shut-offs, and standpipe locations. Make the evacuation information easily accessible to building occupants.
  • Conduct drills. Residential occupants of a high-rise might be tempted to brush off fire drills as “false alarms.” Inform occupants that they should never assume alarms are part of a drill. Instruct them about the need to evacuate or quickly take other directives in the event of any and all alarms.

Install and Maintain Sprinkler Systems

Sprinkler systems installed in high-rise buildings reduce both the loss of life and property damage. In addition, they are essential for high-rise buildings, since fire truck ladders only reach six or seven floors. And since sprinkler systems are designed to go off only in the immediate area of the fire, you need not worry about unnecessary water damage.

According to NFPA data between 1996 and 2001, the costs incurred in buildings with functioning sprinkler systems was less than $400,000, while buildings without such systems saw losses averaging $2.2 million.

Maintenance tips and best practices for sprinkler systems:

  • Check water supply and pressure levels. High-rises require greater water pressure to push water against gravity.
  • Ensure water valves are open and fire pumps are in good working order.
  • Properly brace water sprinkler pipes for buildings that are in high-risk earthquake zones.
  • Inspect pipes for corrosion or leaks and check sprinkler heads blocked by dust.
  • Test the main drain lines to see how far the water pressure drops with open valves when water is flowing. If the test shows, for example, a bigger drop in pressure difference every six months, then there is likely a valve problem somewhere in the system that should be addressed.

In case of fire do not use elevatorEvacuation Guidelines for High-Rise Occupants

In a typical single-story residence, with sufficient warning from smoke detectors, occupants will likely escape unhurt. In a high-rise, however, people have to navigate stairwells and hallways to exit the building. What’s more, evacuation routes could be blocked due to fire and smoke. Evacuating people from a high-rise is difficult, and requires the formation of a sound evacuation plan and following best practices for residents including:

  • Memorize the plan. Residents must know what they will do in a fire emergency.
  • Practice the plan. Encourage residents to conduct their own mock drills (in addition to your formal drills) in order to make the evacuation route familiar.
  • Do not use elevators. Create contingency plans for residents who might have trouble walking or difficulty navigating stairs.
  • Stay low to stay safe. Smoke rises, so residents should proceed under the smoke whenever possible.
  • Remain in the residence. If occupants cannot enter hallways because of impassable smoke or fire, they should stay in their residences and mark their location on exterior windows. Also, place towels at the bottom of the door to block smoke.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, whether or not you live or work in a high-rise facility. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.