CDC Blast Injury mobile application (free iPhone or iPad app for first responders)

April 29, 2017

The CDC Blast Injury app supports pre-hospital and hospital healthcare providers and public health professionals in preparing for and responding to terrorist bombings and other mass casualty explosive events.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can use the application to:

  • Quickly review critical steps to take from the moment an event happens.
  • Learn blast injury patterns and treatment considerations.
  • Scan information efficiently with minimal effort on the way to or at a scene and grasp clinical guidance to support key job functions.
  • Access medical surge capacity guidance including information on facilitating health systems emergency communication.
  • Find special populations treatment considerations (e.g., women who are pregnant, children)
  • Link to the full breadth of CDC’s resources on blast injuries and mass casualty explosive events.

The CDC Blast Injury app for iPhone or iPad is available for free on iTunes


Open for Business and OFB-EZ (Free business continuity tools from IBHS)

July 25, 2013

Sharing IBHS’s cool products spotlighted in our July 2013 enews

America has over 23 million small businesses employing about half of the private labor force. The last thing owners want to think about during these tough economic times (or any time for that matter) is a natural or man-made disaster impacting their bottom line.

However, research shows at least 25 percent (and potentially as high as 40 percent) of small businesses do not reopen after a major disaster. Those that do, often struggle to stay in business.

By planning in advance, the odds of a company surviving and recovering from a disaster increase dramatically. Many small and mid-sized businesses and groups think that developing a continuity plan can be complicated and costly. Most don’t invest the energy and money into preparing for the unexpected.

But some free business continuity tools can help change that…

Free solutions from IBHS

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has developed a streamlined business continuity program for small businesses that may not have the time or resources to create an extensive plan to recover from business interruptions.

Open for Business (OFB) is the Institute’s comprehensive business continuity planning program, and the new OFB-EZ tool is a streamlined kit intended for the use by the very small business owner.

Knowing what risks they face, how to contact key suppliers, vendors and employees without access to electronic records, how to access data, and where to go for help will give small businesses a jump start on recovery if the worst happens.

“Spending a few minutes to plan now will save time and money later,” said Gail Moraton, IBHS Business Resiliency Manager. “OFB-EZ takes into account just how busy small business owners are and focuses on the most important things they must do to be better prepared.”

How can these tools be available at no cost?

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.

Howard Pierpont, Board Chair of DERA (The International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response), has been involved in the review and comments portion of various OFB tool developments since 2005. Pierpont’s 40 years of Business Development, Business Management and Business Continuity experience, combined with his passion to help educate the public about preparedness, are a testament to the types of volunteer experts IBHS has involved with their OFB platform.

The key now, Pierpont explains, is to get the word out to the small and mid-sized businesses, community associations and others about these free tools so they can be better prepared.

OFB-EZ: For the small business owner in the know

According to IBHS, to get started, a business owner should download the free OFB-EZ toolkit and go through each of the eight modules below. Once finished, the next step is to print out multiple copies of the final plan for quick access in the office in a safe, off-site location and save the files to a flash drive.

  • Know Your Risks – Evaluate the extent of your business’ vulnerability to disruptions.
  • Know Your Operations – Identify your key business functions and processes and decide how long you can go without being able to perform each of them.
  • Know Your Employees – Keep employee contact information updated to locate them after a disaster, inquire about their safety, and inform them about the status of your business operations, where and if they should report and what to do following a disaster.
  • Know Your Vendors, Key Contacts and Key Customers – Keep contact information for your key customers, contacts, suppliers and vendors up-to-date.
  • Know Your Information Technologies – Protect your company’s hardware and data.
  • Know Your Finances – Establishing clear strategies and procedures for controlling costs, reporting information to appropriate organizations and clearly budgeting for and tracking what is actually spent during a significant disruption can have a positive impact on the business’ bottom line performance and recovery.
  • Know Where to Go For Help – Maintain a channel of communication with community leaders, public safety organizations such as the police, fire and emergency medical services, government agencies, utility companies, and others
  • Know When to Update and Test Your Plan – Schedule regular reviews and updates to your plan.

With OFB-EZ, IBHS is leading the way toward greater resiliency for the even the smallest of business operations. Business continuity planning is constantly evolving in response to improvements in technology and the increased demands on everyone’s time.

“OFB-EZ focuses on the best practices of business continuity planning,” said Moraton, “It is disaster resilience for a modern world where cutting through the clutter can be challenging.”

Learn more about OFB-EZ … and find other IBHS tools, videos and a vast library of preparedness research and resources at www.disastersafety.org or follow them on Facebook or Twitter, and share ideas with others in your community.  


Cell phones and the ick factor (cootie facts + cleaning tips)

April 1, 2013

We read an article last week about a thief in Uganda who contracted the deadly Ebola virus from a cell phone. It turns out he stole several phones from patients at a hospital and one belonged to a man with hemorrhagic fever (which recently killed 16 people in the African nation). The thief was caught when he returned to the hospital for treatment.

Photo: NIAID (MRSA)The story was a good reminder about how nasty cell phones are.

Think about all the places you use and place your phone every day.

Then remember … germs thrive in warm environments and smartphones generate heat .. plus your hands, face, mouth and body heat (if you carry your phone in a pocket) all add to the cootie cocktail.

Did you know… cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats..?!

Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, explains while toilets tend to get cleaned frequently, because people associate the bathroom with germs, cellphones are often left out of the cleaning routine.

Tests of eight random mobile phones from a Chicago office found “abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria indicating fecal contamination,” reports the Journal, with about 2,700 to 4,200 units of the bacteria on each phone. (Drinking water is supposed to have less than one unit of the bacteria per half-cup.)

Scientists say the sort of bacteria found in the study can result in flu, pinkeye or diarrhea. “People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom,” Jeffrey Cain, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Journal.

While the above test sample is small, a 2011 study in Britain showed one in six mobile phones were contaminated with fecal matter … and a 2009 study involving the phones of 200 hospital staff members found that 94.5 percent of the phones were contaminated with some kind of bacteria, many of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics.

So how do you clean a phone?

Phone companies caution against using most household cleaners since they are too harsh and may damage the coating on touchscreens. Apple’s manual specifically says “Don’t use window cleaners, household cleaners, compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean iPhone.” BlackBerry’s manual states: “Do not use liquid, aerosol cleaners, or solvents on or near your BlackBerry device.” It’s best to use a very soft, nonabrasive cloth that is slightly damp or a cleaner specifically designed for touchscreens, like Monster’s iClean.

TLC’s How Stuff Works explains the most important tip for cleaning your cell phone is to be gentle. Swabs and cloths should be soft and lint-free. Cleansers should be pure and mild. And unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t open up the case. Not only will you void your warranty on some models, but you’re likely to cause more problems than you solve.

As far as the touchscreen, TLC has a list of “don’ts”…

  • Don’t use Windex or any other glass cleaner with ammonia. The harsh chemicals will damage an LCD display over time.
  • Don’t use a paper towel – not even a wet one — because the rough fibers can scratch the display surface. Use a microfiber cloth like the one that came with your glasses.
  • Don’t spray anything directly on your device. Water and electronics don’t mix. Lightly moisten a cloth and wipe it down

TLC explains there are plenty of disposable wipes on the market designed to both clean and disinfect cell phone surfaces. But if you want to save money, simply moisten a cloth with a prepared mix of 60 percent water and 40 percent isopropyl alcohol, available at any drug store. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly as it disinfects, ensuring that no moisture seeps into your phone’s circuitry.

cyberclean goo helps clean smartphone keypadsTo clean out crumbs or debris in crevices, a moistened microfiber cloth or Q-tip might do the trick, but again, check your phone manual first so you don’t void your warranty.

Another cool product to clean and disinfect your phone (and other items) is Cyber Clean® – a gloopy substance that is safe to use on many electronic devices. Cyber Clean Home & Office is a natural, biodegradable cleaning compound that is proven to eliminate more than 99 percent of germs commonly found on different surfaces.  Thanks to its unique membrane system, dirt and bacteria are locked inside the compound. It’s easy to use and leaves no residues, which makes it perfect for cleaning electronics such as phones and intercoms, stereo equipment, computers and keyboards, as well as gaming equipment and controls.

And one of the safest and coolest tools is a UV disinfectant wand because its light rays kill germs without touching the phone. The UV-C light wand says it kills up to 99.9% of germs and comes in handy for all types of handheld devices, ear buds, keyboards, remotes and many other gadgets and household items where germs can thrive.

uv wand sanitizes cell phones and other devices

UV wands can range in price from $30 – $100 or more and come in all shapes and sizes – even travel size (although we’re not sure what TSA would think about it..?!)

Bottom line … there are many different ways to clean the cooties off your handheld devices and please feel free to share your tips or tricks in the comments.

p.s. If you are an frequent user of Apple store devices, just think about how many nasty things are thriving on their touchscreens. Ick.

Stay safe and have a great week! j & B


Turning body heat into clean energy

March 25, 2013

Tegwear body heat into energyDid you know … someday the heat that YOU produce might power your personal electronics..?!

Spectrum reports Perpetua Power’s TEGwear Technology is developing a chip that converts body heat into electric energy .

“We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power,” says Perpetua Power Vice President Jerry Wiant. The result: a single, square-inch TEGwear chip generates enough power (up to 3 volts) to run anything from the accelerometer in your pedometer to the wireless headset for your smartphone.

The physics behind TEGwear is basic: Your body is always generating heat, even when you are asleep. And heat, regardless of the source, excites electrons. The flow of electrons, in turn, generates electricity. The tricky part is harnessing enough electricity to power a small device. Wiant says TEGwear will do just that, as long as the chip is either touching your skin or separated from it by only a thin layer of clothing.

TEGwear-powered devices are still in development and won’t hit the market until 2014. But this clean technology has many potential applications, from mobile health to national security.

The company demo’d the device on a new Swatch Touch watch at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few months ago. In addition, they have a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a prototype wristband to track Alzheimer’s patients as well as funding from Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Division to power wearable devices used for surveillance operations.

turning body heat into clean energyThey have also partnered with several private companies to develop body-powered smartphone accessories (like headsets), health-monitoring devices (such as wearable heart-rate monitors), and military applications (like monitoring a soldier’s vital signs and location while on a combat mission).

Sounds kinda Matrix-ish … with very cool potentials for the preparedness industry.

Sources: Government Technology, io9.com, Fastcoexist


FloodSax – the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing flood preparedness

March 20, 2013

floodsax2We included FloodSax as a “Cool Link / Idea” in our March enews, but we wanted to share more about them here since this is such a revolutionary product.

Plus, since it is National Flood Awareness week (March 18 – 22, 2013), this is a perfect opportunity to share tips about things you can do to help protect your home and property from water damage.

Floods can happen anytime and anyplace. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Spring brings its share of flood events due to snowpack melt, ice jams and heavy rains as the temperatures begin to rise.

Communities use sandbags as a simple, inexpensive and effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage, but it requires an army of volunteers and massive logistics to shovel tons of sand (or gravel or silt) into burlap or plastic bags and place them strategically around homes and businesses to keep rising waters at bay.

But sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, plus certain types of bags are not biodegradable making the disposal process a major ordeal for communities.

FloodSax is the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing the way homeowners, businesses and agencies prevent and reduce damage from floodwaters.

floodsaxAt only one pound, FloodSax avoid the storage, transport and placement problems of traditional sandbags, keep water at bay for 3 months, and are biodegradable.

FloodSax are stored dry and flat. A case of 20 FloodSax weigh less than a single 45 lb. sandbag, making delivery to the flood barrier location much faster and easier than with sandbags, allowing for greater protection in less time. In fact, one case of FloodSax equals 900 pounds of sand.

When FloodSax come into contact with water their semi-porous inner liner has hundreds of biodegradable polymer crystals that absorb up to 5.5 gallons, equal to 45 pounds of water, in just five minutes, making them more taut and more water-resistant than a sandbag.

Plus these sandless sandbags allow agencies to deliver and deploy sandbags much faster than is possible with traditional sandbags since there is no need for large trucks, massive amounts of sand and tons of volunteers to fill bags saving communities money, time and property.

Stephanie Abhrams, meteorologist and host of The Weather Channel’s “Weather Proof” puts FloodSax to the test in the following video…

FloodSax empowers virtually everyone regardless of age or ability to take action in protecting homes, businesses or communities from floods and accidental water damage.

Learn more at www.floodsax.us.com or contact them at 1-888-258-2142.

Update 4-Apr-2013: FloodSax is also available in Canada ~ learn more at www.floodsax.ca


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