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Summer Travel Safety Tips

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Dynamite bomb in bag in airport. Terrorism concept.The recent attack in the Istanbul Airport was a grim reminder of the reasons the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was forced to adopt stringent security protocols in airports throughout the world. Unfortunately, the emphasis on security equates to excessively long lines at security checkpoints, thousands of missed flights, and mounting aggravation among travelers. In fact, according to a report done in May 2016, on American Airlines, alone, more than 70,000 passengers missed flights due to TSA-related delays.

Despite the frustration, most travelers are willing to endure security measures because they realize the importance of airline travel safety. But there are additional steps you can take to ensure your safety as you travel by air this summer:

Overseas Travel

Before heading overseas, check the U.S. Department of State website which advises U.S travelers about the safety or lack thereof relative to foreign destinations. The site provides travel alerts, which are short-term advisories tied to specific events; and travel warnings, which are recommendations about countries which should be avoided, altogether. Some areas currently included on the travel warnings’ list include Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, and Ukraine.Wooden blocks with the text, TERRORISM, on the background of world map

Even those destinations not currently included on an active warning list could prove problematic, as intelligence gathering is an inexact science. But don’t let that keep you from traveling. According to the National Safety Council, Americans are 353 times more likely to die from a slip-and-fall accident than from a terrorist attack. And data released by the CDC asserts that we are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than from an act of terror. So don’t  ignore the risks. Just don’t let fear keep you from enjoying a vacation or traveling for business.

Tips for safe and comfortable overseas travel

  • Be respectful of others’ cultures and institutions. If, for example, the recommended dress code for visiting a church/holy site/mosque requires you to cover your arms and legs, respect the request.
  • Learn basic native-language phrases. If you speak English and are traveling to a country with limited English speakers, take the time to learn and practice words to help you make basic requests.
  • Avoid large crowds or protests where there is an elevated risk of danger. For more about this, check out our recent post about safety during civil unrest.
  • Add the S. Embassy’s 24—Hour Hotline to your cellphone contacts.
  • Carry your hotel’s native language business card to show cab drivers and police, if necessary.
  • Take pictures of your passport photo, driver’s license and credit cards and email them to yourself. Keeping the photos on your phone instead of emailing them is inadvisable your phone could be lost or stolen.
  • Avoid confrontation whenever possible. Don’t attract attention by arguing with someone unnecessarily. Try to calmly settle disagreements, especially if you are in a crowded setting.

Airport Screening Security TrayAirport Security and Safety

Situational awareness is essential when navigating airports and all related security procedures. For example, if you see someone leave a bag on the ground for an extended period, alert airport police. Will this mean that you and other travelers might potentially miss your flight due to security protocols? Yes! But it’s important to follow the Department of Homeland Security’s request that “If You See Something, Say Something.”

  • Only allow official personnel to inspect or move your luggage. Always keep an eye on your belongings. This is especially important in curbside loading/unloading areas where people have not been screened. Someone could potentially tamper with your luggage before you check it in and you could unwittingly carry an incendiary device on board with you.
  • Keep your tickets and passports close to your person at all times, not dangling out of your purse or pocket or resting on top of your bags.
  • Watch your valuables go through x-ray machines and pick them up as quickly as possible. Loudly alert security staff if you see someone pick up your bag or loose articles such as your watch or wallet.
  • Don’t make jokes about “terrorists” or “bombs” or other loaded language. TSA agents and foreign airport officials are working to keep you safe. Making this kind of a joke could land you in serious trouble.

Remember that safety is a daily priority – whether you are working at home or traveling the globe. 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.

Safe Springtime Travel

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Terrorist has dynamite bomb in jacket. Train approaching underground station.A series of bomb explosions at Brussels Airport and a metro station in the city this week have led to heightened travel alerts across the world. Based on these events, as well as numerous other recent terrorist attacks, it is imperative that travelers exercise caution this spring. Our hearts go out to everyone whose life was affected by the Brussels’ attacks.

According to Orbitz, each March, 55 percent of college students travel by plane to celebrate Spring Break, with the most popular destinations including Las Vegas, Cancun and Punta Cana, Mexico. But young adults are not the only springtime wanderers. To wit, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly preparing to screen more than 65.1 million travelers over the 2016 Spring Break travel season. With the ever-present threat of terrorism, airline passengers can rest assured that safety is the top priority for check

“Our dedicated officers do their absolute best to screen passengers both effectively and efficiently, with a primary focus on traveler security,” said Peter V. Neffenger, TSA administrator. “We want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely, while at all times, providing the highest standards of security screening possible.”

But don’t trust your safety entirely to others. Here are five common sense steps you can take to guarantee your own safe travels this Spring Break season:

  1. Remain alert. The less you have to do while at the airport, the more focused and prepared you will be to remain alert about your surroundings. If possible, print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport or go paperless by downloading the appropriate app onto your smartphone. Arrive early to allow enough time to park, print your boarding pass, check baggage, and proceed through the checkpoint.Vector illustration of airline boarding pass
  2. Keep calm. Passengers who violate rules will cause delays for themselves and everyone behind them. So do your part to keep a lid on traveler rage. Pack liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in compliance with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. And avoid wearing large metal jewelry or clothing with large metal embellishments to reduce the possibility of alarming the screening machine.
  3. Watch your stuff. Thieves often case populated places like airports, looking for easy marks. Make sure your purse and carry-on bag are zipped and that your wallet is out of site. If you appear to know what you are doing, you won’t appeal to opportunistic muggers and pickpockets, who will move on to easier prey. Also, if you pay attention to your own belongings, you will be prepared to quickly identify unmanned baggage. If you see an unattended suitcase, report it immediately to airline security.


  4. Blend in. Refrain from carrying large quantities of cash. With the prevalence of ATMs in virtually every location, you don’t need to carry large sums of cash. Bring small amounts and keep your credit and debit cards close at hand, to protect yourself from unauthorized purchases as well as identity theft. Also, try to blend in with locals. Pull your camera out only when you’re ready to use it. Watch your footing when taking selfies. And refrain from looking at maps while you are standing in the middle of a crowded public square.
  5. Stay informed. If you are traveling internationally, in advance of your flight, check on travel warnings and alerts released by the state department. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Alerts might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. For example, the U.S. Embassy has released a security message relative to the current situation in Brussels. For domestic travel, check with your airline carrier for flight delays and other updates. Security Alert

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just while you are traveling. 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.

Preparing for Terrorist Attacks: In Light of the Paris Attacks

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Jihadist shows bomb with world mapThis week’s blog topic is a somber one, because it refers to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France. The horrifying and cowardly incident included mass shootings at the Bataclan Theatre, suicide bombings, and the taking of hostages. A total of 130 victims died in the attacks, representing 20 different countries. The terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks, and promises to target more Western countries in the coming months and years. Following the incidents, France was thrust into a state of emergency, and actions were taken throughout Europe and the Middle East to find and eliminate those responsible for the atrocities.

Here in the U.S., terrorism remains a persistent (and now heightened) concern for public agencies as well as the private sector. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assures us that there are currently no credible attacks planned for the U.S. or Canadian soil. In fact, the risk of incidents to North America is at an all-time low, due to increased awareness and tight safety precautions. Unfortunately, however, as the Paris attacks demonstrated, the need for worldwide disaster prevention and mitigation relative to terrorism will likely remain mission critical in perpetuity.

Prevention Tactics

War in Paris / 3dFortunately, North America is free, allowing citizens and visitors to move about as they wish. This is an important part of life in the United States and Canada, but one that also means that potential terrorists also have freedom to move about. Here are some tactics to employ to keep your high-rise building safe from the threat of terrorism:

  • Establish security protocols for anyone who wants to enter the building. For example, require escorts and verification for all visitors. The lobby should be carefully protected, with limited access provided to more secure areas.
  • Require package deliveries to be left in the lobby with staff members who can screen mail and appropriately alert building occupants.
  • Install security barriers outside entrances to stop vehicles from ramming into the front of your building. Large companies have employed these tactics, to great effect.
  • Prevent access to the roof of your building, by carefully guarding access to internal stairwells, elevators and fire escapes.
  • Train staff members to properly check incoming mail and package deliveries. Make sure they know how to spot suspicious materials.
  • Learn about building-specific upgrades such as hardening outer walls and installing security glass. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a detailed guide about several types of improvements. Our subscribers also enjoy access to lots of safety training materials relative to high-rise preparedness.

Reducing the Risk of Airborne Attacks

Military guarding eiffel tower after terrorist attackTerror organizations may utilize chemical and airborne agents to attack a building. What should building owners and managers do to reduce this threat?

  1. Conduct a review of the building’s HVAC system, including how to quickly shutoff the system in the event of an airborne or chemical attack.
  2. Restrict access to air intake vents on the outside of buildings.
  3. Consider moving vents to inaccessible locations — the higher, the better. If this is impossible, use strong fencing or grating to secure intake areas.

Preparedness Tips for Handling Terrorist Attacks

Managing the lives of building occupants during a terrorist attack requires the same calm and well-planned actions that are needed during other emergencies. Here are some tips to help you prepare to handle emergencies before, during and after an attack:

  • Identify any critical infrastructures and ensure those areas and systems are locked down and closely monitored at all times.
  • Review your terrorism and emergency response plans. Create a plan to tighten security protocols at a moment’s notice.
  • Instruct and train your staff to be extra vigilant and report anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary.
  • Use the DHS “If You See Something, Say Something” approach to prepare yourself and your staff.
  • Keep first aid kits at the ready.
  • Establish evacuation routes for everyone in the building, including alternate routes that could circumvent an ongoing attack.
  • Utilize a hand-crank radio and cell phone for alerts about the situation, and be prepared to accordingly adjust actions.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency first-responders.
  • Don’t leave the safety of a building until emergency responders tell you to exit the building.
  • Make sure your emergency supply kit includes flashlights and bottled water.
  • Once you are outside the affected building, wait for instructions from emergency personnel.

The Importance of Security Procedures

A suicide bomber involved in the Paris attacks was discovered trying to enter a France vs. Germany soccer game, when a security officer patted him down and discovered his explosive vest. Building owners and managers who employ security personnel should teach them to spot and deter suspicious behavior so they can stop an attack.

While vigilance and planning for terrorist attacks are warranted, it should also be noted that the risks of terrorism are still incredibly low in our post-9/11 nation. Nevertheless, implementing security measures is recommended, and building managers and owners should take steps to prepare occupants for the possibility of an attack.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. 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.

Would you be prepared for a Cyber Attack?  

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Cyber Security on the Mechanism of Metal Gears.

While we usually cover safety issues relative to incidents such as falls, earthquakes, or fire, the damages of failing to observe cyber-security safety protocols—which although not life threatening— can be equally devastating. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed in October, and is designed to raise awareness about the risks of electronic data and information breaches that can happen to individuals, companies and organizations.

Last week, the focus of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015 was on the “smart world,” meaning all of the internet-connected devices that exist — from phones to thermostats. This week looks at building the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, with an emphasis on promoting education and awareness to spark interest in the field. Education is essential for companies that want to protect their critical data from hackings and/or breaches.

Tips for Business Owners

Up to 95% of breaches are caused by human error. So, it is vitally important to train employees, first by giving them context, so they understand the consequences of data breaches and hacking incidents. Then, employers can guide them about best practices such as protecting passwords, carefully guarding data relative to outside agents, avoiding phishing scams, and adhering to data storage policies. Empower employees to alert management when something seems suspicious or odd such as when someone from graphic design requests company financial data for something other than an infographic. Also, make sure staff members are careful not to post sticky notes with passwords on their monitors.

Additional best practices include:

  • Set automatic updates. Instruct IT to program automatic operating system and software updates, so the latest virus definitions and security protocols are always in place. Asking staff to perform these tasks manually opens you up to risks.
  • Establish login tracking. Login monitoring should be in place to spot external access attempts and identify employees who are accessing sensitive information or data outside their purview.
  • Set a security “fence” around sensitive data. A company’s most important data (for example, personal customer information) should be protected behind a company firewall at all times. Restrict access to this data to a select few staff members. Also, make sure it is protected from potential download to personal devices or hard drives.

Tips for individuals to protect data and avoid cybersecurity issues:

  • Follow password procedures. Using “12345” or “password” for computer passwords is not recommended. Staff members should be trained about methods for selecting strong passwords and protecting sensitive documents.
  • Avoid storing data locally. News stories often recount employees losing laptops or thumb drives, with the device contents being used for illegal purposes. Discourage individuals from storing sensitive data directly on their devices. For greater security, instruct them, instead, to access data online.
  • Protect mobile devices. Employers increasingly allow employees to use their own devices to check email and access work data. Before approving this practice, instruct employees about methods for wiping their devices if they are lost or stolen. For maximum protection, establish and follow written “bring-your-own-device” procedures.
  • Don’t download unapproved software. Malware and other nasty computer bugs often reside in seemingly innocuous software. Beware of employees downloading free PDF-maker tools from the web. This software could be a launching pad for an attack. Staff should only download IT-approved software or apps to either their computer or mobile devices.
  • Don’t click on unknown links. Many businesses are targeted with official looking emails that provide an “important link.” Clicking on the link could infect the user’s computer, which can then travel throughout the employer’s network. Encourage employees to run suspicious emails by the IT department for a thorough review and safe deletions.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. 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 our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Safety in Sochi

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Thousands of athletes and their families are either en route or have already arrived to compete in and support the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Dubbed by some as the “Security Games,” this year’s competitions have sparked intense scrutiny because of credible terrorist threats levied mostly against the United States, which will likely boast at least 200 athletes and more than 10,000 spectators.

CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, reports that, “the terrorist group that’s threatening the Olympics is considered capable, dedicated, determined and has been around a long time. They’ve already conducted two recent attacks in Russia, and are saying they want to attack during the Games.”

A Quinnipiac poll conducted in the United States last week found that half of the people surveyed believe a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympics is very or somewhat likely.

Despite the warnings, the Obama administration has made it plain they are not warning Americans to stay away from the games. And, according to an article in Time, officials refuse to compare the threat level before Sochi to past Olympics events. One official confirmed that “common sense” advice has been given by their security coordinator for American athletes to refrain from wearing their uniforms beyond Olympic venues, for fear of attracting malevolent attention.

For their part, the U.S. Olympic Committee is informing athletes and coaches about recommended safety precautions. In a statement, Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said: “The safety and security of Team USA is our top priority.”

Publicized Olympic Safety Precautions:

Other nations are well aware of the security risk attached to any such major event, as well; CNN asserts they are “more coy about their precautions.” Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the British Olympic Association, declined to go into detail about the security measures planned for Team GB in Sochi.

“We will take some extra measures for our delegates,” he said. “But that is not new. We have done that for a number of Games. That’s been part of our planning from the beginning.”

Whether or not you plan to attend the games, there are lots of great safety lessons to be learned from terrorism preparation at the Olympics, which can be applied anytime you are in a large crowd:

  1. The Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) advises people to train, anticipate and drill.
  2. Remain alert about your surroundings. Move or leave if something doesn’t “feel right.”
  3. If you see anything suspicious, report it to authorities.
  4. Take precautions while traveling.
  5. If anyone abandons a package, suitcase or backpack, don’t pick it up. Walk away and inform authorities immediately.
  6. Familiarize yourself with emergency exits so you can act quickly if an emergency occurs.

For more detailed information, see our previous posts about terrorist attacks or download free materials provided by DHS, FEMA, the FBI, or the American Red Cross. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

How to Prepare for a Chemical Weapons Attack

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to deny that he ordered the use of chemical weapons against his own people, someone released Sarin gas in Damascus on August 21, killing more than 1,400 people…including women and children. A human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent, Sarin is among the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. Also known as GB, Sarin is a clear, colorless, and (in its purest form) is a tasteless liquid.

Sarin is just one of a large group of biological agents which could potentially be released into the environment anywhere in the world. So, regardless of whether the United States opts to launch a military strike against Syria in response to the Damascus attack, it is prudent to review the ways to prepare for and react to a chemical attack.

The (CDC) defines a chemical emergency as anytime a hazardous chemical has been released and has the potential for harming people’s health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist attack. Scientists often categorize hazardous chemicals by the type of chemical or by the effects a chemical would have on people exposed to it. The categories/types used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are as follows:

  • Biotoxins—come from plants or animals
  • Blister Agents/Vesicants—on contact, severely blister the eyes, respiratory tract and skin
  • Blood Agents—affect the body by being absorbed into the blood
  • Caustics (Acids)— burn or corrode people’s skin, eyes, and mucus membranes on contact
  • Choking/Lung/Pulmonary Agents—cause severe irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract
  • Incapacitating Agents—render people unable to think clearly or cause an altered state of consciousness
  • Long-Acting Anticoagulants—prevent blood from clotting properly, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding
  • Metals—consist of metallic poisons
  • Nerve Agents—highly poisonous chemicals that compromise the nervous system
  • Organic Solvents—damage living tissue by dissolving fats and oils
  • Riot Control Agents/Tear Gas—used by law enforcement for crowd control
  • Toxic Alcohols—damage the heart, kidneys and nervous system
  • Vomiting Agents—cause nausea and vomiting

Before an Attack

  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit. We often discuss the importance of putting together a kit so you’ll have items on hand when you need them. Be sure to include non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. Also, include a roll of duct tape, scissors and plastic sheeting to use to cover doors, windows and vents if you need to shelter in place.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. In the likely event your family members are not together when disaster strikes, decide in advance how you will contact one another, how you will reassemble and what to do in case of an emergency. Check with your doctor to ensure you and your family’s immunizations are up to date. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.
  • Consider installing a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct.

During an Attack

The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to an agent. During a biological threat, use common sense:

  • Cover Your Nose and Mouth
  • If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance, quickly get away and protect yourself.
  • Wear a face mask to reduce spreading germs if you are sick and/or to avoid contracting contagious germs. Practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs.
  • Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news. Follow instructions of doctors and other public health officials.
  • If necessary, seek medical assistance.
  • Remove and bag your clothes and personal items.
  • Wash yourself with soap and water.
  • Change your clothes.
  • Follow official instructions, if available, for disposal of contaminated items.
  • Do not assume that any illness is the direct result of an attack. Symptoms of common illnesses may overlap.

After an Attack

The most important thing to do following a chemical attack is to wait for instructions so you know whether you should evacuate or shelter in place. Also pertinent is the psychological responses which may follow a bio-terrorism event.  Associated feelings may include anger, fear and social isolation.

Following any attack, thousands of people who think they were infected may seek unnecessary treatment. Trying to distinguish those who have and haven’t been infected could complicate medical professionals’ ability to treat those who have been exposed and infected—especially when diagnoses are unclear. So make sure your symptoms are severe enough to warrant professional treatment. For details, stay tuned to emergency information on radio, television or online.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

As most people know, a train derailed in Spain last week, killing 79 passengers. A lesser known fact about the accident, as well as other transportation mishaps, is that hazardous materials were released into the air following the crash. Hazardous materials come in many shapes and sizes – explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials.

What’s more, chemicals used in routine processes such as distilling drinking water, increasing crop production and simplifying household chores have the potential to release hazardous byproducts if released into the environment. Since hazardous materials are dangerous when released into the environment, take the following steps to protect yourself, your family and your property before, during and after any such incidents:

Before A Hazardous Materials’ Incident

  1. Build an Emergency Supply Kit. The kit should include items such as non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights and batteries. Also include plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors. If possible, prepare a portable kit to store in your car in case you are asked to evacuate.
  2. Make a Family Emergency Plan. Unfortunately, all of your family members may not be in the same location when disaster strikes. So figure out in advance how you will contact each other as well as how you will reassemble. Consider having everyone check in with a relative who lives out of the area. This is especially important if communications and/or transportation are compromised.

During a Hazardous Materials Incident

  1. Listen to radio programs or TV news for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. Avoid the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Some toxic chemicals are odorless. So don’t assume you are safe if you can’t smell anything.
  2. If you are asked to evacuate: evacuate immediately!
  3. Stay tuned to a radio or television station or social media websites for information about evacuation routes, temporary shelters and recommended procedures.
  4. Follow the routes recommended by authorities. This is important, as shortcuts may not be safe.
  5. Minimize the risk of allowing contaminants to enter your house by closing windows, shutting vents, and turning off fans.
  6. If you are instructed to leave, make sure you remember to take pre-assembled disaster supplies with you.
  7. Help neighbors who may require special assistance (infants, the elderly and people with special needs).

If you are outside during a Hazardous Materials Incident

Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at put some distance between yourself and the chemicals. If you can walk one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area, you will be in better shape than if you hang around after a hazardous spill. Move quickly from the accident scene and help others vacate the area.

If you are told to stay indoors

Bring your pets inside. Close and lock exterior doors and windows as well as vents, fireplace dampers, interior doors and turn off a/c and ventilation systems.

After a Hazardous Materials Incident

  1. Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  2. If you have come in contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals, act quickly. Follow decontamination instructions from authorities. You may be advised to take a shower or you could be told to stay away from water and follow another decontamination procedure.
  3. ASAP, seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms.
  4. Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers. Call local authorities to find out methods for proper disposal.
  5. Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
  6. Listen to the news or follow social media for emergency information.
  7. Return home only when you are told that doing so is safe.
  8. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  9. Ask local authorities how to sufficiently clean your land and property.
  10. Report lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.

For more details about how to prepare and react to hazardous materials incidents, check out the free materials available on When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

On the Heels of the Boston Marathon Bombings —How to Prepare for a Terrorist Attack

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and families of those affected by the Boston bombings.

It’s hard to believe our nation is once again dealing with the aftermath of what many (including the White House) consider to be another terrorist attack—a multiple-blast bombing near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Though details continue to come in and will undoubtedly shed light on the nature and background of these bombings, what is currently certain is the fact that three people (including an eight-year-old boy) were killed and at least 176 were injured on Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston.

Of the April 15 event, White House Rep Michael McCaul spoke to Fox News where he called for national unity and repeated the sentiments of President Obama:

“Today, we are not Democrats or Republicans. We are all Americans united against terrorism. Some evidence found at the crime scene, including ball bearings, were signs of well-planned terrorist action. We don’t know who’s behind it at this time and we don’t have all the evidence.”

Unexpected disasters like this have the potential to make Americans nervous about the likelihood of future incidents and their potential impact. But there are things you can proactively do to prepare for the unexpected and thereby reduce the stress associated with the terrorism. In fact, taking preparatory action can actually reassure you and your family, coworkers and tenants that you have a measure of control in the face of future emergencies.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies reveal that dozens of terrorist plots which focused on commercial buildings have been thwarted over the past several years. As seen in a recent attempt in New York City, the actions of diligent civilians can also prevent catastrophe. Also, common sense and surveillance procedures increase awareness about things that “just don’t look right.”

The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services has devoted considerable blog space over the years to topics relative to preparation and recovery of terrorist attacks. But it seems fitting we should highlight this topic yet again today, since the Boston attack occurred on the day citizens of Massachusetts observe Patriot’s Day, which honors patriots from the Battles of Lexington and Concord—the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

One of the Allied Universal Training System video courses covers steps to take in the event of a bomb threat. If you have not yet signed up for our system, consider subscribing today, as you and your team will have access to detailed training with videos and quizzes, maps, manuals and plans, forms, lists and guidelines, home and family preparedness, emergency info, active shooter instructions, active shooter videos, area-specific training and applicable area tornado preparedness.

Make your building a less attractive terrorism target:

  • In July 2006, a plot by suicide bombers in the NYC commuter rail was revealed by law enforcement personnel, who stated that the conspirator had already obtained detailed blueprints of the rail tunnels prior to the attack. Secure building blueprints which can be used to establish weak points for entering or destroying the structure. Limit the blueprints availability online and train your property managers to follow proper procedures for releasing building information.
  • Pay special attention to tenants who work with or produce materials that could be used to make explosive devices and those that work in aviation-related fields or construction-related companies. For example, Canadian officials recently investigated an individual who purchased a large quantity of manure that is sometimes used to make fertilizer-based bombs. Work with tenants to ensure they follow safety and securing procedures, for both their intellectual and physical properties.
  • A fundamental way to prevent terrorist attacks is to properly report suspicious activity to stop attacks in the planning stages. In the Allied Universal, Inc. surveillance blog, we talked about identifying suspicious activities but did not explore how to gather and report that activity to law enforcement.

For more about preparation and recovery from any terrorist attack, see Allied Universal How to prepare for acts of terrorism posts.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

Top 10 Disasters of 2012: Manmade Disasters

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

In 2012, we saw many disasters strike on a global level—killing thousands and inflicting billions of dollars in property damage. In last week’s blog, we focused on the top 10 natural disasters of 2012. This week, we’ll discuss those disasters which originated from man…from intentional attacks such as those relative to active shooting incidents to gross negligence, millions of dollars in damage and thousands of lives were lost to manmade events in 2012.

We hope to highlight those that manmade disasters in 2012 which generated the most media attention, in an effort to encourage due diligence and preparation for the manmade disasters that will inevitably occur in 2013.

  1. Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster. An independent parliamentary investigation assigns blame to “man-made” failures before and after last year’s earthquake leading to the 2012 meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Tokyo. Breakdowns are said to have involved regulators working with the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which failed to implement important preventative safety measures. Implementing important preventative safety measures is something we value highly at Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.
  2. Deadly Philippine Floods. In 2012, deadly floods swamped nearly all of the Philippine capital. Although flooding directly resulted from natural storms, the extent of the damage is said to have caused more as a result of poor planning, lax enforcement and political self-interest than from the storm itself. Damaged watersheds, massive squatter colonies living in danger zones and the neglect of drainage systems are some of the factors that experts report have made the chaotic city of 15 million people vulnerable to extensive damage following severe floods.
  3. Acts of Terror.While individual terrorist attacks could claim all 10 spots on this list of manmade disasters in 2012, we will allow room for just one entry. It is widely believed that terrorism is the most significant national security threat for many countries in the world, despite the capture and killing of key Al Qaeda leaders in 2011 including Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). As written by The Guardianreporter Glenn Greenwald, “The ‘war on terror’ – by design – can never end.”
  4. Aurora Movie Theater Massacre. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” On July 20, 2012, a 24-year-old neuroscience grad student allegedly shot 12 people and wounded dozens more at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
  5. Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members and wounded two at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. After killing students and staff members, the attacker committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as first responders arrived. The massacre was the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. It also was the second-deadliest mass murderat an American elementary school, after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan. 
  6. Atlanta Hospital Shooting. An Alabama man opened fire in a hospital, wounding an officer and two employees before he was fatally shot by police on December 15, 2012. Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams says the officer and employees suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
  1. Clackamas County Mall Shooting. On December 12, 2012, a 22-year-old man, who was wearing a camouflage outfit and a white mask, shot an initial burst of fire and then more rounds at Clackamas Town Center, killing two. The gunman who opened fire on shoppers at the mall had no connection to those he fatally shot and is said to have wanted to kill as many people as possible during his rampage.
  2. Fort Hood Shooting. Differences of opinion exist between whether the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood which left 13 people dead, was workplace violence or a full-fledged terrorist attack. Three years later, on December 15, 2012, another assailant shot at police from his parked vehicle before police shot and killed the suspect. Officials say the officers tried life-saving measures before emergency medical personnel arrived, but the soldier died. Investigators later determined that the 30-year-old man had been assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.
  3. Spinal Meningitis Outbreak. As reported by the New York Times, “one of the many troubling aspects of the national meningitis outbreak caused by a tainted steroid drug is that so many people are at risk: 14,000 are thought to have been exposed, mostly through injections near the spine for back or neck problems. The drug was contaminated with a fungus that causes a severe form of meningitis that can result in stroke.” Since the outbreak can be attributed to poor medical training, the 23 deaths and sickness of 294 others was unnecessary and avoidable.
  4. Unintentional Triggers. The National Geographic Channel recently ran a special about increased incidences of natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanoes which — though on the surface natural — can actually be unwittingly activated by humans. The NGC special examined how efforts to harness natural resources can have the opposite effect…triggering the very disasters they had intended to eliminate. For example, a Chinese dam weighing as much as 3,000 Empire State Buildings caused tremors that claimed the lives of 90,000 people. According to National Geographic reporters, another dam could trigger mudslides that would bury millions. What’s more, growing urban areas can cause tornadoes and mining and drilling have already activated deadly mud volcanoes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, check out the Allied Universal Training System by Universal/Fire Life Safety Services. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system on the market.

September is National Preparedness Month

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Based on all of the natural and manmade disasters that have been taking place lately, it seems particularly fitting that September is National Preparedness Month. This year marks the ninth annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Here is a sampling of significant world events over just the past seven days, in case you aren’t convinced that it is worth your time to prepare for disaster:

Bomb Threats:

USA North Dakota

USA Texas










Costa Rica






Papua New Guinea


USA Alaska

USA Maine



Fires & Wildfires






USA California

USA Oklahoma

USA Oregon

USA Washington

USA West Virginia

USA Wyoming


Flash Flood & Landslides:


Costa Rica






USA California

USA Louisiana

USA Utah

West Africa


Hazardous Materials:

USA New Mexico


Terrorist Attacks:

British Embassy in Sudan

German Embassy in Sudan

US Embassy in Egypt
US Embassy in Libya

US Embassy in Sudan

US Embassy in Tunis

US Embassy in Yemen

USA Florida

USA New York

USA Texas


Transportation Incident:

USA Nebraska






Obviously, the above list is far from comprehensive. Disasters of all kinds occur virtually everywhere, every second of every hour of every day. If you would like to check out up-to-the minute disasters, you can download apps for your phone or mobile device, or check out free online resources from the CDC, FEMA and Ready.Gov. To receive free monthly preparedness tips from FEMA, text PREPARE to 43362.  More important than learning about every single disaster is to prepare for any and every kind of disaster.

The Allied Universal Online Training System provides emergency preparedness to tenants of high rise commercial buildings across the country. Online modules such as fire, earthquakes and bomb threats equip building occupants so they know how to quickly and safely respond to virtually any disaster…be it manmade or natural. So, if you own or manage commercial property, you can take advantage of the Allied Universal system and enjoy peace of mind about emergency preparation and recovery for everyone who lives or works in your building.

To make sure you and your family are prepared for disasters; heed the advice of FEMA, whose new campaign is: “Today is the day before. Are you ready for tomorrow?” In other words, we don’t know what type disaster might occur tomorrow. But the best we can do is to prepare for it today. Would you be ready for a disaster? In short:

  1. Make sure you are informed about what to do before, during and after a disaster.
  2. Make a plan. Prepare, plan and stay informed for emergencies.
  3. Build a kit for disasters so you are prepared.
  4. Get involved—find opportunities to support community preparedness.
  5. Plan to protect your business.

Over the years, we have devoted 169 Allied Universal blog posts to the topic of disaster preparation and emergency management. To celebrate National Preparedness Month, why not read through a few to refresh your memory and motivate you to take action? When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.