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Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

Fire Safety

Monday, July 12th, 2010
Steps to take to be fire-safe.

Steps to take to be fire-safe.

Part 2 in a Series

Since a fire department in the United States responds to a report of fire every 19 seconds, fire is an ever-present danger at work, home or even when you are traveling. Fire is also one of the most common emergencies following an earthquake, explosion, terrorist attack, power surge or other natural or manmade disaster.

Since you never know when fire will strike, you should be careful to prepare so you will immediately know what to do in case of emergency. In this series, we hope to educate you in an effort to help you and your tenants prepare for fire. Today’s post will discuss the ways that you, as a building owner or property manager, can mitigate the risk of fire by making sound choices for building materials and furnishings and by educating tenants about taking responsibility for their own safety.

Making sound choices for building materials

If your property is still under construction, install fire-safe materials wherever possible.

David Horne, a member of the Fire Safe Council (FSC), admits that it’s impossible to take the risk of a fire down to zero unless you live in a bunker.

But he says, “Builders can make their (projects) between 20 percent and 70 percent less likely to burn from the outside by choosing fire-resistant materials and veering from traditional designs.”

Here are some fire-safe installation ideas from the FSC:

  • Install stucco, fiber cement, and other noncombustible cladding materials
  • Build eaves and roof decks that are boxed in and never made from wood.
  • Omit windows from exterior walls that sit close together.
  • Add an extra layer of gypsum or another fire-resistant material beneath the siding on facing walls
  • Install double- or triple-pane windows to keep intense heat from breaking the windows
  • Choose noncombustible materials for fences

Making Sound Fire-Safe Choices for Furnishings

Even if your property has already been built, you can take steps to lessen the risk of home, apartment or office fire.

Upholstered furniture, wall coverings, flooring and mattresses burn quickly and produce large amounts of toxic smoke. Burning upholstered furnishings or mattresses contribute to nearly every home fire death. Understanding the hazards associated with these furnishings will help you choose fire-safe products.

Whenever possible, select upholstered furniture that has been treated with fire retardant. Some professional organizations and the state of California have developed manufacturing standards to increase the fire resistance of certain types of furniture. For a complete list of these guidelines, check out the technical bulletins released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation.

Educating Tenants about Fire Safety

In a perfect world, everyone would know how to prepare for disaster and would take the necessary steps to mitigate risks. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. So don’t assume that your tenants know how to proactively prevent fires or prepare for emergencies. Although you are not obligated to do so, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to provide helpful, straight-forward guidelines for them to follow, so in the event of emergency, they are without excuse.

Print these helpful tips for distribution,  for information about fire safety at home, tips for basic home fire safety and fire safety at work.  The headline for each of these fact sheets notes that the responsibility for fire safety and disaster preparedness rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual. Additional reference materials are also available through FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association.  Whichever fire safety guidelines you prefer, post them in a central location.

Next week, we’ll look at the ways that you can mitigate the risk of fire by adopting best practices for storing flammable materials. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Rebuilding Haiti’s Emergency Management Systems

Monday, February 1st, 2010
Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

The recent earthquake disaster in Haiti will require extensive rebuilding of the country’s emergency response systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately, as a poor nation, many Haitians did not have the proper resources to ensure emergency preparedness. The only positive result of the disaster is that it will give the country the opportunity to focus on ways to ensure quicker, more comprehensive response time for future disasters.

But the application doesn’t stop in Haiti. Some of the hard-learned lessons can be applied to emergency planning for your buildings. These include the importance of following code standards, maintaining the infrastructure of the building, and making sure that communications procedures are established and followed. Disasters can and will happen, and proper preparation can minimize losses and quicken the pace of rebuilding.

Several aspects of emergency management will need to be rebuilt in Haiti:

Earthquake Codes:

  • Focus will be on implementing new building codes
  • Some studies focus on minimizing population densities and overcrowding
  • Authorities and aid organizations will need to provide assistance to lower income families that cannot afford to meet code regulations to prevent the building of unregulated and unsafe structures
  • Scientists say that future earthquakes are likely and Haiti should be prepared
  • New codes are especially important for multi-story buildings such as offices or hotels
  • Many homes in Haiti were built in stages which led to inconsistent foundation standards

Emergency Planning:

  • Seismologists warned of the threat of a potential earthquake, but most warnings went unheeded
  • Proper planning includes distribution of emergency kits to residents, designated relief zones, and equipment for the clearing of debris from roads

Infrastructure Needs:

  • Prior to the disaster, Haiti’s airport, ports and road systems were in need of repair
  • Strengthening infrastructure allows for faster emergency response
  • Bringing water and sanitation up to modern standards will aid the distribution of emergency supplies and information


  • Secure communications are a key to coordinating relief in time of a disaster
  • Telephone and Internet systems need to be improved
  • Communication systems allow individuals to quickly get needed information in terms of where food or medical relief can be located, or where to find temporary shelters

We encourage all of our readers to donate for Haiti Relief by visiting the American Red Cross. Visit for information about our emergency training program. BE SAFE.

The Great California ShakeOut

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Shake, Rattle and Roll

We’ve got a full calendar at Allied Universal, Inc. One event we’re looking forward to is the Great California ShakeOut at 10:15 a.m. on October 15, 2009, when we’ll join millions of Californians to participate in the largest earthquake drill ever!

Drop, Cover and Hold On!

Now an annual event, the ShakeOut will incorporate numerous exercises and drills designed to prepare adults and children to react quickly in the rather likely event of a California quake. In much the same way kids across America have been taught to Stop, Drop and Roll in case of fire, this exercise will give us all the opportunity to practice how to Drop, Cover and Hold On.

Drop Cover Hold on Art

Practice Makes Perfect

At Allied Universal, Inc., we specialize in fire life safety and disaster preparedness training and education, so we can testify to the fact that behavior has to be learned and then drilled often in order to become automatic. If an earthquake hits, you may only have seconds to protect yourself before strong shaking knocks you down, or causes something to fall onto you. So, don’t wait until an earthquake hits to figure out how you’re going to react.

How to Deal

We are proud to join thousands of emergency organizations, emergency responders, and Search and Rescue organizations in support of Drop, Cover, and Hold On education. If you wonder whether you are adequately prepared to deal with an earthquake, take this free interactive quiz, which was prepared by the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

Now is the perfect time to make sure you’re prepared, as September is National Preparedness Month. So check back often to learn about how to update your disaster plans and restock your disaster supplies kits.

And, in the meantime, BE SAFE.

Tsunami Preparedness

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

While fires and earthquakes are common occurrences in America, tsunamis are not. But that doesn’t mean we’re without risk.

Like the unexpected tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, the coastal United States could experience a tsunami in the future.

To keep you prepared for disasters of all kinds, Allied Universal has compiled the following information aimed at helping you stay informed about issues of life safety.


Preparing for the ‘Big One’

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Last week, Allied Universal participated in the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history, The Great Southern California ShakeOut, where we trained a group of commercial property managers on earthquake preparedness.

That day, millions of people in homes, schools, businesses, government offices and public areas all over southern California participated in the event to prepare themselves for the inevitable – a magnitude 7.8 or higher earthquake along the San Andreas Fault that scientists expect will happen.

As part of Allied Universal’s mission to “Save Lives Through Training,” we’re including links to earthquake preparedness resources on our blog this week, including information on the ShakeOut; the Drop, Cover, and Hold On! procedure; the Golden Guardian 2008 Exercise Series, from Governor Schwarzenegger and his Office of Homeland Security; and a great educational video from Preparedness Now, which is available below.


Proper Training Is the Difference Between Life and Death

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

We’re often asked if we really believe training can save lives. We do! And here’s why:

Training is one of the most important tools used to enhance employee performance. This is especially true in life-threatening situations like responding to a fire, earthquake, bomb threat, medical emergency or other natural or man-made disasters. Your ability to know what to do and react immediately with the correct response can save lives.

The key to successful training that has high rates of retention is to train staff broadly to understand goals and constraints of each emergency situation, rather than training narrowly to follow sets of procedures without thinking.

Bob Westmore is frequently quoted as saying, “Emergencies never read the plans written to address them.”  In other words, no two emergency situations are exactly alike. More intuitive training developed by Allied Universal and utilized on the Allied Universal Online Fire Life Safety Training System, increases retention rates by 60% to 200% while it teaches users to learn to recognize situations and adapt their responses as appropriate to achieve the safest outcome.

Proper response training is the only way to proactively prevent the loss of life in an emergency situation. We can help.