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May is Building Safety Month

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

the reflectionsBuilding Safety Month is a public awareness campaign held each May to help individuals, families and business owners learn how to create and manage safe and sustainable structures. Founded in 1980 by the International Code Council (ICC), which currently has 57,000 members worldwide, the campaign reinforces the need to adopt modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to develop and maintain safe and sustainable structures where we live, work and play.

Each week of the campaign features a unique focus:

Week 1: Building Solutions for All Ages/ More Baby Boomers are ready to Retire—Is the Built Environment Prepared?Senior Couple In Room With Moving Boxes Looking At Drawing of Entertainment Unit.

Many baby boomers are nearing or entering their retirement years and making decisions about where they will live when they retire. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 89 percent of the 50-and-older population like their current homes and intend to remain in them for as long as possible. But aging in place is not just about the home. The aging of the population will affect many interior improvements.

  • Hospitality – restaurants, hotels and motels will need to be accessible
  • Workplace – offices, retail stores and other work spaces will need to provide adequate lighting, seating, technology, task areas and quiet places for older workers
  • Healthcare – increased need for outpatient and in-home care, accommodation for caretakers and caregivers
  • Retail – stores will need to be accessible and accommodate individuals using assistive devices.
  • Multihousing/multiuse – growing demand for livable communities and urban complexes with easy access to health care, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Week 2: The Science Behind the Codes/Updated Codes and Standards Reset the Bar for Structures to Withstand Disasters

emergency plan team work management preparation cooperationBuilding codes are made up of requirements for how to design and construct homes and buildings. These code requirements are based on science that involves research in many different areas, including flood proofing, fire-resistance, structural strength, wind design, sustainability, safe drinking water, airflow, energy efficiency, and more. When science reveals ways to improve an area of building safety, these findings can be included in the code requirements and standards.

Week 3: Learn from the Past, Build for Tomorrow/ Disaster Preparedness Ensures Safe and Resilient Homes, Businesses and Communities

“The Boy Scouts of America have the motto, ‘Be Prepared,’ (which) applies to disaster preparedness, as well,” said ICC Board of Directors President Alex Olszowy, III. “It is so easy to forget about keeping up with items we may hardly ever use, such as first-aid kits, bottled water, dry goods, flashlights and spare batteries. You just don’t know when you might be without the amenities we have become accustomed to.” We share Olszowy’s passion for training people to be safe. For more about this topic, see the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services’ blog posts about disaster preparedness.

Week 4: Building Codes: A Smart Investment/ It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes. A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare.Businessman holding a card saying - Be Prepared

By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future owners, plus you’ll benefit from the best energy efficiency construction techniques that will continue to pay you back for the life of your home.

As our nation faces longer wildfire seasons, more severe droughts, heavier rainfall, and more frequent flooding, safeguarding the resilience of our infrastructure is more critical than ever. To learn more about how to prepare for all types of disasters and improve the safety and resilience of the places in which you spend time, visit www.Ready.gov.

Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during National Building Safety Month. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal 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.

CERT Training

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

CERTFollowing major disasters, it is entirely possible that first responders, who are first on scene to provide fire and medical services, will not be able to immediately meet the demand for services. Factors contributing to a potential backup of emergency workers and the public’s inability to successfully reach 911 could include: the number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages. For these reasons, it is likely that in virtually any major emergency, people will need to rely on each other to meet immediate life-saving and life-sustaining needs.

In emergencies of all kinds, family members, friends, fellow employees, neighbors, and tenants spontaneously help each other. Thankfully, history has shown that people usually rise to the occasion when major disasters strike. Such was the case recently in the Mexico City earthquake, where untrained volunteers heroically stepped up to save 800 people. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes, unfortunately, 100 of those people lost their lives in so doing. The good news is that many accidental deaths and injuries are preventable, through proper emergency training.

Cert 2For the above reasons, in 1985, the L.A. County City Fire Department (LAFD) developed and implemented a formal program for emergency citizen training they called the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Shortly thereafter, the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987 underscored the area-wide potential for a major disaster in California. It further confirmed the need to train civilians to meet immediate emergency-associated needs.

Later adopted by public agencies across the country, CERT training benefits those citizens who take it, as it prepares them to respond to and cope with the aftermath of disasters. Since 1993, CERT training has been made available nationally by FEMA, and is now offered in communities in 28 states and Puerto Rico. Many communities  tap graduates of the program to form teams of individuals who can be recruited and further trained as volunteer auxiliary responders.

CERT members receive 17 ½ hours (one day a week for seven weeks) of initial training. The seven-week course is followed by full-day biannual refresher drills, and an opportunity to assist the LAFD at local incidents. In Los Angeles, CERT is provided free of charge to anyone 18 or over.

Cert 5CERT Training is divided into the following seven sessions:

  • Session 1: Disaster Preparedness
  • Session 2: Disaster Fire Suppression
  • Session 3: Disaster Medical Operations Part 1
  • Session 4: Disaster Medical Operations Part 2
  • Session 5: Light Search & Rescue Operations
  • Session 6: Disaster Psychology and Team Organization
  • Session 7: Course Review and Disaster Simulation

After completing the program, will be able to safely:

  • Search for and rescue victims.
  • Provide basic medical aid, by treating the three main threats to life– medical killers: opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock.
  • Manage utilities and put out small fires.
  • Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective.
  • Collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.
  • Assist professional responders with prioritization and allocation of resources following a disaster.

Cert 3To find and/or begin a CERT program in your area:

  1. Complete a CERT program, take advantage of an interactive web-based class or search the FEMA website by zip code for classes taught on location.
  2. Complete a CERT Train-the-Trainer (TTT) course conducted by a State Training Office for Emergency Management or the Emergency Management Institute, in order to learn the training techniques used by the LAFD.
  3. Identify the program goals that CERT would meet and the resources necessary to conduct the program in your area.
  4. Seek approval from appointed and elected officials to use CERT as a means to prepare citizens to care for themselves during a disaster, when services may not be adequate.
  5. Identify and recruit potential participants. Naturals for CERT are community groups, business and industry workers, and local government workers.
  6. Train CERT instructors.
  7. Conduct CERT sessions.
  8. Conduct refresher training and exercises with CERTs.

In recognition for training completion, CERT members should receive ID cards, vests and helmets. Graduates should also regularly practice their skills. To this end, trainers should offer periodic refresher sessions to reinforce basic training. CERT teams can also sponsor events such as drills, picnics, neighborhood clean-ups, and disaster education fairs.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to prepare yourself for potential disasters, and that you might consider starting or joining a CERT in your area. To find a team or pursue CERT training, enter your zip code in the Citizen Corps section of the FEMA website. Another convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for emergencies 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. Visit rjwestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

 

How to Prepare for a Flood

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Flood waters have rushed through Boulder, as well as 16 additional counties throughout Colorado, stretching about 200 miles from north to south, damaging nearly 18,000 homes, destroying more than 1,500 houses and contributing to the death of at least seven people. To date, emergency management officials give a rough estimate that 658 people remain unaccounted for and 11,750 people have been evacuated as a result of the storms on the Front Range.

The Colorado situation sheds light on an emergency that is somewhat difficult to imagine. In affected areas, people routinely plan for severe weather such as tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards. But, despite the fact it is one of the most common hazards in the U.S., flooding is somewhat difficult to picture without a ready visual reference. Videos and still photographs of the recent flooding in Colorado are effectively demonstrating that flooding can wreak unimaginable horrors on large populations.

Consider the Boulder area flooding-related mayhem, from reports by NBC News, ABC News and NPR:

  • A visually impaired man walking in Denver with his service dog was swept into a drainage ditch and pulled out four blocks later by a police officer and paramedic.
  • Emergency workers used a zipline to bring a woman to safety at Big Thompson Canyon.
  • A father of four spent two hours in a submerged car. He became trapped when a bridge collapsed, sending his car into a creek, flipping it on its roof.
  • Because the waters obliterated many roads, authorities haven’t been able to ascertain exactly how many people might be stranded or missing.
  • The roadways aren’t simply blocked by mudslides or rock slides or debris. The roads are in many, many cases—simply gone.
  • Small towns in the western mountains are completely isolated without road access, telephone information, power, water or sewer.
  • People are being taken to safety in inflatable rafts, as entire houses were submerged by rising floodwater.

To Prepare for a Flood

  1. Copy your most important documents (mortgage papers, deed, passport, bank information). Keep copies in your home and store originals in a secure place outside the home, such as a bank safe deposit box.
  2. Take photos and an itemized list of your most valuable possessions. Store copies with other documents.
  3. Save and store receipts for any expensive household items (appliances, electronic equipment, etc.)
  4. When the National Weather Service issues a flood watch, monitor potential flood hazards on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards or on the Internet.
  5. Create an emergency preparedness kit. Include a battery-operated or hand-crank radio.
  6. Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable food and bottled water on hand.

During a Flood

  1. When a flood warning is issued, heed official instructions.
  2. Don’t walk through a flooded area. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down.
  3. Don’t drive through a flooded area. Just two feet of water can lift and move a car, even an SUV. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during a flood.
  4. Keep away from downed power lines and any other electrical wires—electrocution is often a major cause of death in floods.
  5. Watch out for wandering animals. They may seek shelter in your home and aggressively defend themselves.
  6. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  7. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  8. Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  9. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  10. Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  11. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  12. Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.

If you have recently sustained loss or damage due to the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides, you may be eligible for disaster aid. Contact FEMA to register for assistance. If you would like to donate to relief efforts, contact the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or Help Colorado Now.

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.

Disaster Planning & Recovery Lessons from the Oklahoma Tornado

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Since a category EF5 tornado ripped through several Midwestern states this May, leaving devastated communities (most severely in Moore, Oklahoma) in its wake, reporters en masse have questioned the higher than average natural disaster rate in Oklahoma. ABC7 News, in fact, went so far as to call Oklahoma “Disaster Central.” A writer with the StarTribune called the state “the Bull’s Eye for awful tornadoes.” And FEMA ranks Oklahoma No. 1 in tornados, No. 3 in floods.

According to a story in The Denver Post, the long-time Director of Emergency Management in Oklahoma, Albert Ashwood, has overseen 36 major disasters during his 25-year tenure with the state. The tornado was the 74th presidential disaster declared in the Sooner State in the past 60 years. Also noteworthy:

  •  Only much-larger and more-populous California and Texas have had more.
  • According to FEMA records, when disaster declarations are measured on a per-person basis, Oklahoma gets nearly three times the national average.
  • When disaster figures are computed based on how much land is in a state, OK gets twice the national average.

The reason for Oklahoma’s tendency toward disaster is owed mainly to atmospheric conditions, which position it right in the middle of Tornado Alley…the cluster of states in the nation’s midsection which are particularly prone to twisters. Another explanation for Oklahoma’s role as Disaster Central is urban sprawl, which puts more people in the path of disasters. Moore has 56,000 people. As more such suburbs pop up, the chances of homes being hit increases.

Since Oklahoma has been especially hard-hit in recent years, experts in emergency management say Emergency Manager Albert Ashwood’s experience and innovative thinking have helped ease recovery efforts in Oklahoma.

“(Ashwood’s know-how) makes all the difference,’ said Trina Sheets, executive director of the National Emergency Management Association. “Disaster victims can be assured he understands everything that needs to be done for recovery.’” As a result of Ashwood’s experience, search-and-rescue teams were quickly deployed, demonstrating that Oklahoma was well prepared.

Since Ashwood is arguably the most experienced emergency managers in U.S. history, we can learn a few things about disaster preparation and recovery from him:

  1. A good emergency manager is more of a coordinator than a first responder.

  2. Readiness will result in the quick deployment of search-and-rescue teams.

  3. A well-prepared emergency manager won’t run around like a chicken with his head cut off. Ashwood is well respected among emergency management professionals.

  4. A well-prepared community will rebound. Oklahoma is the leading state when it comes to safe rooms, which probably saved lives in Moore, according to FEMA.

  5. When federal aid comes quickly, so does recovery. ABC reports that several disaster experts say Oklahoma is particularly adept at working the bureaucracy to obtain federal aid.

  6. Total recovery requires help from private sector investment in disaster risk management. For our part, the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is committed to equipping people to prepare for disaster. We’ve learned that prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. So we have created an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly!

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!

Government Cutbacks in Emergency Preparedness Put Onus on the Private Sector

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A story by CBS reporter Brian Montopoli highlighted how massive spending cuts are negatively impacting emergency preparation programs across the country, noting that, “Organizations such as FEMA have made significant cuts to disaster preparedness funding as they have grappled with budget shortfalls and growing debt. With… further budget cuts looming and (more) belt-tightening expected in the future, disaster preparedness experts warn that decreases in funding are leaving the nation at risk.”

Government budgets are increasingly set up as reactive instead of proactive because it’s generally easier to drum up support for aid following disasters than to approve funding in order to prepare for them. What’s more, recovery from massive disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, which is already at $50 billion, require the lion’s share of disaster funding—so less monies are available on the side of disaster preparation.

According to Congressman David Price, who chaired the House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, that trend will continue, “Congress appropriated $3.05 billion to FEMA for preparedness grants designed to (help) prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In fiscal year 2012, that appropriation was less than half that figure—$1.35 billion. (The same) can also be seen in FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grants, which fell from $100 million in 2010 to $35.5 million two years later.”

With less government funding available now and even fewer dollars expected in the future, the onus for disaster preparation falls squarely on the shoulders of the private sector. Cognizant of this, FEMA has started actively engaging representatives of the community in disaster preparation, noting, “The private sector is a vital part of the emergency management team. We see the nation’s vast network of business, industry, academia, trade associations, and other non-governmental organizations as equal – and equally responsible – partners in every phase from preparedness to response and recovery to mitigation.”

FEMA’s private sector initiatives include: “investing and building bridges to businesses and other non-governmental organizations to develop meaningful public private partnerships and facilitate private sector innovation and networking across FEMA. In doing so, we’ve been expanding our portfolio of initiatives and activities with the private sector to increase our return on investment and whole community approach to disaster readiness, response, and recovery.”

FEMA’s Private Sector Initiative is a 90-day rotational private sector seat in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) to support Emergency Support Function. Taking part in the program helps business owners and private citizens understand the importance of taking ownership of their own disaster preparation instead of relying on the government for aid before, during and after any given emergency.

Another way to support FEMA’s efforts is to privately invest in disaster training for employees and tenants of residential and commercial properties. To do this, subscribe to The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. The system helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes using an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system, which motivates and rewards tenants instantly. It is a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your building(s). Choosing this service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users more than 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

When it comes to emergency preparation and recovery, always prepare for the worst

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Apply Murphy's Law to your disaster preparedness plans.

According to Murphy’s Law, “Everything that can go wrong will.” And though many view this kind of pessimism as extreme, when it comes to disaster preparedness, it’s a healthy posture to assume.

Emergency Management lessons from Hurricane Katrina bear this out. In fact, Pat Santos, deputy director of Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, recently told emergency managers that (people) should remember that it’s not ‘if’ a disaster strikes but ‘when.’”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate concurs: “By establishing relationships now and planning for high-impact events, communities and the nation will be better prepared.”

So, as a building owner or property manager, what 10 steps can you take which assume that, as it concerns your building, the worst is bound to happen?

  1. A Disaster Will Strike. As a whole, people are more inclined to believe that disasters can hit home since the Y2K scare and 9/11. However, most continue to think that catastrophes happen to “other people.” Resist the urge to defer making emergency preparations. Disasters happen every day to everyday people worldwide.
  2. The power will go out if an emergency strikes. If the power fails, your furnace will most likely go out, as well. Your best bet is to invest in good, high-quality cold weather gear, such as coats, gloves and sleeping bags and blankets, for yourself, employees and family members. Fires can result from the use alternative indoor heat sources such as space heaters and propane lamps and require power for operation. So use extreme caution. 
  3. Food will be in short supply. There could be a run on supermarkets if a major disaster hits. Stockpiling food for emergencies needn’t be expensive. Store inexpensive, nonperishable items such as rice beans, noodles and peanut butter. Canned food has a long shelf life. Another option is Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). These are ideal since they can be even eaten without cooking. This is important since you should never use a BBQ grill inside. If you must use a grill or campfire to heat meals in emergencies, do so outside.
  4. Water sources will be contaminated and bottled water will run low. When East coast residents were preparing for Hurricane Irene, stores sold out on basic necessities including water. Don’t wait for an emergency to buy extra water. Pick up extra gallons each time you visit the grocery store. You could also invest in commercial water barrels and fill them with tap water, as long as you disinfect the barrels with a diluted bleach mixture to purify water. In a pinch, you can survive by drinking the water in the toilet reservoir tank.
  5. The Lights will go out. Stock up on candles and battery-operated or crank-operated flashlights.
  6. Communications will be knocked out. Purchase transistor radios and plenty of spare batteries. Hand-crank radios are available. Certain brands of FRS radios also have AM/FM capability. These can be used in addition to a larger, battery powered “boom box” type radio.
  1. Medical Care will be in high demand. During emergencies, hospitals are overrun and medical professionals are in short supply. Invest in First Aid training as well as a basic kit so you will be prepared to administer basic medical assistance to those in need.
  2. Transportation will be congested, maybe even at a standstill. If a major emergency strikes and the power goes out, traffic could get ugly. Subway systems, buses and trains might also be affected. Your best course of action in this case is to pack a “go” bag in the back of your car that includes a good pair of walking shoes.
  3. You may have to flee from dangerous situations. So fitness is important. Regular exercise and good nutrition are important for quality of life as well as in cases of emergencies.
  4. You will run out of toilet paper. It might be easy to forget the little things that make life tolerable. But running out of TP can be a drag. So stock up now before disaster strikes.

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 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information.

BE SAFE: How Social Media Saves Lives

Monday, February 14th, 2011
Globe Cloaked in Social Media Protective Banner

Social Media is not just for social interaction anymore.

While some might think that websites like Twitter are only good for tracking celebrity exploits, they are proving incredibly useful for disaster preparation and emergency management.
For example, FEMA is adopting social media websites to share information about disasters and coordination efforts. Created in response to the successful use social media following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the FEMA initiatives aim to harness the power of social media to spread life-saving, instantaneous information.

Social Media in Action

During the recent floods in Australia, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook were instrumental for organizing-efforts. The emergency services in Queensland relied on social media sites for real-time updates on conditions in different areas. This data was used to allocate limited resources and aided in overall disaster planning.

The Australia floods highlighted the particular strengths of Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular social sites. Twitter proved most valuable as a way to spread information very rapidly and widely. During the floods, there were an estimated 1,200 flood-related status updates to Twitter “Tweets” per hour. The short (140) character lengths and ability to quickly “follow” those who were posting pertinent information allowed many residents to stay safe.

Facebook was utilized for providing more detail and acting as a way to manage relief activities. One of example of this occurred when an area animal shelter was at risk of flooding. Facebook was used to find homes for all of the displaced animals.

In all instances of the use of social media in disasters, the public becomes a valuable resource for helping the efforts of emergency management professionals. Acting as “first responders,” the general public can provide immediate information which can be used to affect the routing of emergency supplies and other emergency management efforts.

For emergency management officials, it’s important to keep an eye on the information flowing from the social media universe. Any grossly erroneous information should be quickly rebutted from official sources since one downside to the speed of social media is that misinformation can proliferate. So it’s important to monitor the social conversation. According to a Red Cross survey, 69 percent of respondents fully expect emergency management agencies to actively monitor and respond to emergency requests via social media sites.

Another recent use of social media was during the January blizzard that affected the Midwest. In Chicago, road clearing management personnel posted real-time progress of plowing efforts using phones or tablet devices. The National Weather service was also involved, through its efforts in spreading alerts through Twitter and Facebook.

Social media use during the floods and other disasters also act as aggregators of public sentiment and concern. Officials can use social media data to prepare official videos or flyers that address particular needs.

Usage of social media is a great medium for members of the general public and official emergency agencies to work together for the common good. By responsibly using the platform, the public can quickly learn what is happening and where they can go to help, while emergency officials can discover where to send rescue teams and allocate resources.

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 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Hazardous Materials in the Workplace

Monday, March 15th, 2010
Help Hazmat Crews Help You

Help Hazmat Crews Help You

Virtually every workplace and tenant has chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials. These include simple, everyday cleaners that might be stored under the kitchenette sink as well as heavy-duty chemicals stored in manufacturing facilities. Remember that effective planning for any emergency requires education and preparation. Detailed information about what chemicals your tenants use will give you a head start in any disaster. For example, Hazmat crews need ready information about potential threats so they can contain and clean the area. If you do your homework beforehand, you’ll be able to help emergency personnel when they arrive on the scene.

Those who work with chemicals run an increased risk of chemical fires. Work with your tenants to be sure all protocols are in place and flammable and explosive materials are properly stored. The fire department needs to know exactly which chemicals are present, such as whether any agents are present that could potentially explode if they come in contact with water.

Dealing with Hazardous Materials:

  • In the kitchen, bathroom or storage areas:
    • Take an inventory of tenants’ cleaning products and where they are stored. Too many chemicals in a cramped area can lead to danger.
    • Instruct tenants and cleaning crews not to mix chemicals. For example, bleach products should never be mixed with ammonia.
    • Make sure janitorial personnel alert your facility team to all major spills.
  • Chemical Labeling and Identification:
    • Proper labeling of materials is a first step in safety. For example, NFPA 704 is a group of standards on hazards denoting different degrees of potential harm.
      • The system uses a diamond shape that denotes red for “Flammability”, blue for “Health,” yellow for “Instability,” and white for “Special” hazards, such as chemicals that react violently with water. Allied Universal Training System users have access to information about “How to Read a Fire Diamond.”
      • Numbers from 0 to 4 rate the severity of the hazard.
      • Remind tenants of new code changes regarding labeling practices to help them stay in compliance.
  • Emergency Management:
    • Knowing which types of chemicals are being used or produced by tenants will help with proper emergency response.
    • Inform tenants about the different types of fire extinguishers needed for a variety of fire types, such as those caused by certain chemicals. Make sure you and tenants know what to expect and how to be prepared.
  • Teach your tenants to remember S.I.N.
    • Safety – Assume the materials are dangerous and keep a good distance.
    • Isolation – Close off the room or affected area of your building.
    • Notification – Make sure tenants notify 911 and building management.

If you take time to glance at the dozens of OSHA regulations for chemicals, from Nitrous Oxide to pool cleaning supplies, it will become apparent that attention and detail are required to ensure safety. If your tenant is producing complicated products using a variety of materials, it is your shared responsibility to follow all code requirements to protect your building.

Allied Universal Training System users have unrestricted access to lots of helpful links that will help identify and prepare hazardous materials-related emergencies. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

DHS Announces New Safety Prep Plan for Private Sector

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
An third-party auditor will evaluate your safety preparedness.

An third-party auditor will evaluate your safety preparedness.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new program on October 16, 2009, called PS-Prep (Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program). The initiative was created to provide a voluntary accreditation and certification assessment for use in the private sector.

PS-Prep will assess whether a private sector organization—such as a commercial company, non-profit group or educational institution—complies with one or more voluntary preparedness standards adopted by DHS. Some areas of this certification program will include:

  • Disaster Management
  • Emergency Management
  • Business Continuity Programs

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explained the reason for the new program by saying, “Preparedness is a shared responsibility and everyone—including businesses, universities and non-profit organizations—has a role to play. Ensuring our private sector partners have the information and training they need to respond to disasters will strengthen our efforts to build a culture of preparedness nationwide.”

Through PS-Prep, any small business, hospital, stadium, non-profit organization or corporation can be certified by an accredited third party, which checks for conformity to one or more preparedness standards. Once these standards have been certified, periodic reassessments will ensure that the business is still in compliance.

Participation in PS-Prep is entirely voluntary. Nevertheless, it would behoove anyone working in the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity. Reducing the impact of hazards and planning to protect employees, allows business owners and non-profit directors to recover and reopen following a natural disaster or other emergency. Since business recovery after disasters is uncommon, PS-Prep should help get more people back in business.

At Allied Universal Inc., we believe that it is vital to develop and implement plans to reduce the impact of a potential emergency or disaster, which is why we encourage seeking certification on at least one or more standards set out by DHS. For more information on the new PS-Prep Program, visit FEMA.

Becoming certified is a definite, important way to BE SAFE!!