Friday, July 31, 2009

West Angeles is on a roll!

One of the greatest feelings for a person like me is to see people hear my presentation and then act on the advice given. Not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. West Angeles Church of God in Christ is a beacon in the Crenshaw community. What a blessing to see...what an awesome blessing indeed! Thank you to Earl Jordan and the other leadership under Bishop Blake.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

UCLA is taking the first step!

Students at the UCLA school of public health made a great audience for the disaster preparedness presentation. Many great ideas and suggestions where shared as we dialogue about potential threats and disasters.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thank you Downtown Womans Center

No matter where you are in life...preparedness needs to be a part of your "wellness program". thank you to the women of The Downtown Woman's Center for your enthusiasm and attention today as we trained with fire extinguishers. Outstanding!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let's get it started

When looking at the many things to do to get your home and family disaster prepared, it can at times seem overwhelming. Many people have said to me, “Hey JJ, that’s too much for me to do. Besides, what good will it do if the earthquake is as large as predicted?”
A famous proverb says…: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.” The important thing to do is to take the first step. Here are some suggestions to help you and your family get that first step in motion. Remember, you can’t take the second step without taking the first.

Experts say, when disaster strikes, most people will be in one of three places. People will be home, work or in route to or from home and work. For children and college students, you can replace work with school. With a desired healthy sleep goal of at least eight hours, the odds of being either in bed or in your bedroom are significant. Remember, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit at 4:31 AM on a holiday weekend. Many Angelino’s where jarred out of their slumber to the crude reality that despite years of warning, they where not prepared.
I challenge you. Do not allow the day to end…this day…today, without taking the most important step in the preparedness journey…the first step.
Take an old plastic shopping bag and place three things inside.
1.) A pair of walking shoes.- In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, many people failed to put on shoes and subsequently cut the soles of their feet on broken glass, ruble and debris. If any of these victims had diabetes, these cuts left unattended, could become infected and tragically end up with amputation. The simple act of putting on shoes could prevent significant injuries.
2.) Flashlights/Batteries- Store the batteries in a dry place and monitor the date you purchased your flashlights and batteries. There are some great alternative power source flashlights that are “crank” or “solar” powered you may consider. Make sure that what ever you have, that it is safe and in proper working condition. (Money saving/Earth friendly tip…buy your fresh batteries during the holiday season. Many retailers put batteries on sale to attract more customers. These sales mean increased saving for you when rotating your batteries in your families disaster supplies. When you buy the new batteries, label and date them and place them in your disaster supplies. Use the older batteries from your disaster supplies for your current regular battery needs. This way you minimize waste and maximize energy and value. Always remember to dispose of your batteries in a safe and approve way that is earth friendly.)
3.) Whistle- A whistle is an inexpensive and effective way of calling for help. The first 24 hours after a disaster is crucial in the recovery efforts of first responders. Citizens who arm themselves with this simple device can call for help. If yelling and screaming causes you to loose your voice, a whistle may be what USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams hear when searching for survivors.

Place this bag someplace so that if the disaster comes while you are sleeping or in your bedroom, you can have the simple and basic tools needed to increase your survivability. Some suggested places are under your bed, hanging from your bedpost, bedroom doorknob…just remember, you want to be able to get it as close to where you sleep as possible so you have high accessibility.
While there are no absolute preparedness tips that will save everybody, there are many tips that increase your survivability as well as increase your disaster IQ.

Some additional tips you may consider is having a battery operated radio in your nightstand. Check your local area and find radio stations will broadcast emergency information post disaster. It is important in the hours after an emergency that you are able to gather accurate and confirmed facts so that you are able to make the best decisions and safe plans for your family. Emergency broadcasts will share areas of high impact/epicenter, scope of damage, forecast for additional concerns and relief efforts as well as Red Cross and shelter information.

Under my mattress I have a crowbar. This crowbar does not disturb my sleep and is placed near the foot of my bed. In the event of a need to evacuate and the disaster has damaged my home, this crowbar allows me to have the ability to pry open my bedroom door, break open my window safely, go through dry wall and protect my family.
I have incorporated all of the above tips for less then $25. Taking this first step and making this minimal investment will give you priceless peace of mind. It is an incredible feeling when you see your family grow in their preparedness and everybody is empowered.

Thank you ARC (American Red Cross)

Thank you to my friends at the American Red Cross who recently invited the Los Angeles Fire Department Disaster Preparedness Unit to supply their keynote speaker for their 2009 So. California training. The day was great and I truly enjoyed presenting facts, tips and strategies for disaster survival to over 400 employees of the American Red Cross.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

KISS...Keep It Simple w/ Safety

Starting with the youngest, we must teach disaster preparedness to everybody. Above, I am showing a group of pre-school children "stop-drop & roll". The next step is to teach them "duck- cover & hold" during an earthquake. Keeping it simple...keeping it real.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back in Stride

I spent the last four days teaching a highly abbreviated CERT based class to a fire tech class of students from Banning High School. I truly enjoyed teaching and mentoring to an audience who was focused and eager. Thank you to Captain Leo Lopez for the opportunity to be a part of such a positive program. I hope to continue to support efforts that focus on our youth and that promotes a stronger and more diverse Los Angeles Fire Department.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Diaster Preparedness means Vacation Awareness

Recently, I returned home from a family reunion held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The event was wonderful, but a byproduct of being a firefighter is that even off duty, my firefighter, disaster preparedness brain is on. This is a good thing because if we train ourselves, our families and our neighbors to always be aware, be observant, anticipate and articulate what “the plan” is, we are on the way to truly being a safer Los Angeles. The following is a quick ten minute safety walk through I did with my son when we checked into our hotel.

AWARE- Be aware of the region you are in and what are the potential disaster scenarios you can reasonably anticipate. I was in the mid west during the Fourth of July weekend. Some of the common events that the Milwaukee, Chicago areas have experienced is flash floods, tornados and thunder storms. While I did not belabor these thoughts, I did run through my mind a coupled of “what ifs”. What if while at the picnic, there was a sudden thunder storm? What is the forecasted weather condition for our stay? Where is the local hospital if something happens? (I found an urgent care four miles south of our hotel) By having run through these thoughts prior to any emergencies, I felt a great sense of empowerment. (The one thing that kills fear is knowledge.)

OBSERVANT- One of the wonderful things about our country is most cities, counties, municipalities and jurisdictions have a fire code. These fire codes are what require motels, hotels, public assemblies and other places to have proper exit signs, fire extinguishers, and other emergency information posted for everybody to see. Take the time to walk through your hotel and see the exits. If you are out at night, are the exit signs illuminated? Take the fire escape at least once. It makes for good exercise, but you also insure that the routes are clear and are not being used for storage. Has the extinguisher near your room been serviced recently as well as properly charged? Often, on each floor near the elevator doors, there are signs that report the closest exit and sometimes an alternative exit route.

ANTICIPATE- This is in line with the “what if” questions. I anticipate somebody getting sick or injured. I travel with some simple medications such as aspirin, cold & flu medicine (I have a 4 year old and a 9 year old, so I include pediatric medication), cough drops, allergy medication, antacid, nausea/diarrhea medication. Rarely do we feel sick during business hours. Often the feeling of sickness hits at 2:00 AM when the local drug store is closed. This bag of medication can go into your family disaster supplies when you return home. Have extra copies of medical insurance cards as well as a copy of each traveling member’s medical history. A hard copy is preferred, but if you scan all of these items to a USB drive, you can make a spare copy to keep in your luggage, so no matter where you are in the world, you can have a complete set of your documents with you.

ARTICULATE- Share this information with your family. As you can see in my pictures, my son was an active participant is my safety walk through. I had him point to specific items so that not only did he feel he was apart of the family, but he was also apart of the team. His pride in being able to “show mommy the safe way to get out” is as special of a memory as meeting his cousins at the family reunion. The first night, take the whole family for a “ten minute tour” of your accommodations. This not only points out vacation essentials like the day spa, Jacuzzi, pool and gym, but it confirms the location of exits, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, food and beverage vending machines and ice. Make sure everybody is informed.
Disaster can happen at any time and while a vacation is our time to relax, it is also our time to “stay ready”.

Back from vacation

I took a month off for vacation. I will post a new article soon. Glad to be back!