Vacation/Travel Preparedness

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Now that graduations have concluded and the craze of the fiscal close is dying down (at least for some), many of our students, staff and faculty on campus are preparing for that most anticipated summer vacation. This can include securing pet-sitters, setting out-of-office replies, choosing which clothes/items to bring and making those logistical arrangements for when you arrive.  All of these things take time and you are willing to invest this time to ensure that your homes and lives are prepared for your departure and to lay the groundwork for an enjoyable trip.  But how many of these arrangements are made under the assumption that your vacation will be “Sunny and 75” with little to no disruption or cause for contingencies?

Whether traveling to another part of the state, country, or outside the U.S. there are many possibilities for disasters, both natural and manmade, that you should be aware of and prepare for before you leave. A few travel preparedness tips include:

  • Make photocopies of essential documents (i.e. identification card/passport, prescriptions, insurance card, etc.) and consider laminating, if possible.
  • Communicating itineraries with non-traveling family members as well as how and where to contact you.
  • Develop a communications plan within the group you are traveling with.
  • Pack a travel-size emergency supply kit with snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, etc.
  • Check the weather of your destination before you leave.
  • Become aware of your destination’s vulnerability to natural disasters as well as any volatile political or social issues currently taking place there.

Also, please see the Department of State Travel Warning page at the following link as a great resource to reference when you are planning on traveling abroad: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html

Many of these simple travel preparedness plans can be easily adopted as they align with what you’re already doing in preparation for your trip. Also, these tips can help reduce the inherent stress that develops when preparing to leave.  Remember that although you may be on vacation, the looming threat of disasters and emergencies never take a break.

 

Pokémon Go Rule #1: Apply Common Sense

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In less than two weeks from its release date, the location-based; segmented reality game that is now one of the most downloaded apps in the United States has rendered the issuance of many public service announcements and has posed a number of public safety concerns. Pokémon Go, is a new social phenomenon that has not only perpetuated the increasing problem of public distraction-by-smartphone but actually requires it’s users to place themselves in locations and/or situations that could pose a significant risk in order to achieve gameplay objectives.  Some of these locations may include subway tracks, highways/roads, bodies of water, power substations and any other number of dangerous and/or prohibited locations.

The Pokémon craze has already been tied to a number of driving-related accidents since its release. One example of this yesterday was when Texas A&M Police responded to a car accident in which the at-fault driver exited and left the vehicle parked illegally to catch Pokémon http://fox5sandiego.com/2016/07/12/driver-illegally-parks-car   Some of the less severe; yet still concerning risks of playing “Pokémon Go” which users have reported via social media include getting sunburnt and dehydrated from walking around outside for hours on end, stepping in ditches and holes causing sprained and broken ankles, walking in to parked cars, benches, trees and even other people.

Another concern of this new phenomenon is the trespassing/public nuisance aspect. Yesterday the Arlington Cemetery tweeted “We do not consider playing Pokémon Go to be appropriate decorum on the grounds of ANC.  We ask all visitors to refrain from such activity.”  Other “sacred” “Pokémon Go” locations that have been reported also include the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

The game itself is not inherently bad with the appropriate application of common sense and awareness. Users should practice safety, obey laws, be respectful and use discretion when deciding whether or not to pursue a specific game objective.  See below for additional safety tips related to specific hazards posed by the game:

  • Risk: Some Pokémon will randomly appear in dangerous locations (e.g. Subway tracks, middle of highway, middle of a river, inside a power substation). Risk Reducer: Users need to realize when one it out of reach and not risk their safety to retrieve it.
  • Risk: Some Pokémon appear on private property. Risk Reducer: Users should not trespass to catch Pokémon.
  • Risk: Users are overly focused on the screen and become oblivious to their surroundings.  Risk Reducer: Look up. Look around. Be aware of who and what are around you. By all means, do not “catch and drive.”
  • Risk: “Pokestops” are certain focal points to attract more users. These are typically located at churches, retailers, public locations, monuments and other attractions. Since they are more attractive, nefarious people can stake out at or near a “Pokestop” and commit crimes against other users.  This is like someone hanging out by the bank on payday waiting for you to cash your paycheck and rob you in the parking lot. Risk Reducer: This goes back to being aware of your surroundings. It’s best to visit “Pokestops” during daytime hours, with a friend or in a group.
  • Risk: “Pokegyms” are other prominent locations where users can meet and battle.  By design, you are there to meet and play against other users.  Risk Reducer: Use “stranger danger.”

Lastly, should Pokemon appear near the location of an officer making a traffic stop as seen in the corresponding photo taken on campus, do not approach or attempt to pursue it until the scene has been cleared for obvious reasons.

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Firefighters in for a Long, Hot Summer

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If the month of June is any indication of what the 2016 Wildfire Season will bring then California firefighters are in for a long, hot summer. In the second half of June alone, firefighters battled the Sherpa fire (Santa Barbara County), Fish Fire (LA County), Border Fire (San Diego County), Frazier Fire (San Luis Obispo County) and the devastating Erskine Fire (Kern County).  We even witnessed a smaller blaze break out in Orange County in the Laguna area last week but thankfully this did not amount to much.  But make no mistake, our risk is tremendous this summer which is why it is so important for individuals, particularly those that live in more rural surroundings, to practice and sustain resiliency.   Cal Fire explains what these resilience-building measures are in their “Ready, Set, Go” campaign found @ http://www.readyforwildfire.org/

Ready:

  • Creating defensible space around your home.
  • Hardening your home by using fire resistant construction materials on the exterior walls, roofing, and rain gutters.
  • Cleaning up leaf-litter and brush in and around the plants and shrubs next to your home.

Set:

  • Create a Wildfire Action Plan with your family identifying escape routes, meeting locations, & what you will bring with you when you evacuate, etc.

Go:

  • Stay informed by watching the news/listening to the radio.
  • Evacuate and evacuate early once warning has come from fire/law enforcement officials.

There are a number of factors that contribute to our great risk of fire danger here in Orange County this summer from the ongoing drought, predicted hot temperatures, notorious Santa Ana Winds, and the Bark Beetle invasive species which has killed over 66 million trees in California since 2010. This number is up from 3.3 million trees in 2014 to 29 million trees in 2015. (http://calfire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/newsreleases/2016/2016_TreeMortality.pdf).  The website above is an excellent resource for wildfire readiness and discusses what you can do to protect against, prepare for and mitigate this risk.

Because Orange County’s geography is so diverse, many of us do not live in an area that is necessarily prone to wildfire danger; however, the majority of us probably know somebody that does. So, take a moment to educate yourself on wildfire resilience at the website above so you can provide some safety tips to that friend or relative the next time you speak with them.

 

Be Firework Wise This 4th of July

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The 4th of July is just around the corner and with this celebration of America’s Independence comes many great opportunities such as BBQ’s, parades, social gatherings and outdoor water recreation activities.  All of these can be very enjoyable events; however, this day is notorious for being the busiest day of the year for emergency rooms nationwide; particularly as it related to firework-involved incidents.  On average, emergency rooms see an average of 230 firework-related injuries per day in the month around the July 4th holiday.

So, find how can we effectively balance our holiday fun with holiday safety? Follow these safety tips if and when using fireworks:

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

For more information visit the National Council on Fireworks Safety @ http://www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips

 

Stay Cool – High Temps Bring Risk of Heat-Related Illness

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Temperatures in Irvine and many inland Orange County communities are expected to reach high temperatures of upper 90’s & low 100’s on Sunday & Monday, increasing the risk of heat related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke for those who are more sensitive to heat.

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures may cause serious conditions like heat exhaustion or heat stroke and can even be fatal. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting and dizziness. At the first sign of heat exhaustion, move to a cool location, rest and drink fluids.  Warning signs of heat stroke may include an extremely high body temperature, unconsciousness, confusion, hot and dry skin (no sweating), a rapid, strong pulse, and a throbbing headache. If symptoms of heat stroke occur, immediately call for medical assistance. Move the person to a shady area and begin cooling their body with water.

Recommended precautions to prevent heat related illnesses include:

  • Drink plenty of water; don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Stay out of the sun if possible, and when in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim, and use sunscreen.
  • Avoid strenuous activities if you are outside or in non-air conditioned buildings. If you are working outdoors, take frequent rest and refreshment breaks in a shaded area.
  • Never leave children, elderly people or pets unattended in closed cars or other vehicles.
  • Check on those who are at high risk to make sure they are staying cool – including seniors who live alone, people with heart or lung disease, and young children.
  • Stay cool indoors – if your home is not air conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls and libraries to stay cool.

For more information on heat related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/index.html

Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated, Stay Informed!

 

UCLA Lockdown Following Tragic Shooting

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Yesterday’s tragic shooting at UCLA resulted in an immediate lockdown of the entire campus until law enforcement officials could verify there was no longer an active threat to students, staff and faculty. This incident immediately triggered inquiries regarding how our campus would respond to such an incident and what actions our community members can take to protect themselves during an ongoing threat.  Our protocol here at UCI would really mirror what we witnessed yesterday on the news, however, rather than “lockdown” we use the phrase “Secure in Place.”  This is one of many protective actions that may be issued via zotALERT and it’s critical that our community members understand what they mean. Please review the “Red Flip Charts” (UCI Emergency Procedures) which can be found in almost every building, classroom, breakroom/common area and dorm rooms on campus to help clarify any confusion regarding these actions.  They can also be accessed online at http://www.police.uci.edu/em/UCI_EmerProc.pdf

In the event that our campus experiences something similar in nature to the incident which took place yesterday, the community should be prepared to follow a “Secure in Place” order. This protective action is explained in detail below.  Please contact the UCIPD Emergency Services Manager, Anne Widney for any questions related to this action at awidney@uci.edu Also, if you have not signed up for zotALERTS yet please register @ http://www.oit.uci.edu/zotalert/

Secure In Place

A Secure-In-Place notification may be issued when the UCI Police Department determines that there is a potential threat to the campus. When notified to Secure-In-Place, initiate action immediately. Take ALL zotALERTS seriously. You will be safest by placing a locked door or other barricade between you and the associated violence or danger.

How do I Secure-In-Place?

  • REMAIN CALM!
  • Find an interior room and lock or barricade the doors.
  • If there are other employees, students/visitors with you or in the vicinity, tell them to go to the closest office/classroom/lab/residence hall.
  • To minimize vulnerability, turn off lights, silence phones, and draw blinds.
  • Move away from doors and windows.
  • Move/use furniture to provide added protection.
  • Follow instructions from Police, Fire, Zone Crew team members, and other first responders.
  • DO NOT leave until an all-clear message is received.

What if I am outside? 

  • If you are outside during a Secure-In-Place emergency you should seek shelter in a nearby building.
  • If you are unable to get inside a building, seek nearby shelter, e.g. large trees, walls, cars in a parking lot/garage, away from the danger area (if known).
  • Follow instructions from Police, Fire, Zone Crew team members, and other first responders.
  • Stay sheltered until an all-clear message is received.

What if I am in a classroom or lecture hall?

  • Notify class of “Secure-In-Place” order (students, if your professor or TA does not see the alert – notify them).
  • Lock or barricade the doors.
  • Turn off lights, silence phones, and draw blinds.
  • Move away from doors and windows.
  • Move/use furniture to provide added protection.
  • Follow instructions from Police, Fire, Zone Crew team members, and other first responders.
  • DO NOT leave until an all-clear message is received.

 

UC Merced: Host Site for County-Wide Violent Incident Exercise

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As many of us remember, last November UC Merced experienced a scenario that all law enforcement officers train for but hope they never encounter when a freshman student carried out a planned attack which left four people wounded and resulted in his own death by campus police. Although tragic, just like the aftermath of any incident, what becomes imperative are the efforts we invest in lessons learned and measures we take to ensure the future prevention, protection and mitigation from future crisis similar in nature.

Over the weekend (May 21st), UC Merced partnered with the Merced County Office of Emergency Services to deliver a multi-agency violent incident training at the university. Participating agencies included the California Highway Patrol, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, the Atwater and Merced police departments, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Riggs Ambulance Service, Merced College, Merced County, city fire departments, California State Parks and 50 students from the Atwater High School drama department who served as exercise actors. UC Merced Police Chief Albert Vasquez stated “The collaborative training is important, so that if a violent incident does occur, law enforcement and emergency personnel recognize each other and there are adequate resources to respond.”

The scenario that all exercise participants were provided at the beginning of this county-wide training is as follows: “A lone gunman is in the building, multiple people have been injured and the suspect is armed with semi-automatic handguns and extra ammunition. It’s up to law enforcement and emergency responders to evacuate the injured and subdue the gunman – all at the same time.” To read more about this training and the lengths that not only the university but the county as a whole is taking to be prepared for these types of possible incidents in the future please see http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/article79198792.html

 

UCI Participates In Full-Scale Exercise

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Every year the UCIPD Emergency Services Division hosts an annual exercise that allows responders of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and various Department Operation Centers (DOC) across campus to sharpen their skills and better prepare the campus to respond to an emergency in an effective manner. These “functional” exercises typically involve a couple hours of exercise play with simulation of a plausible scenario. However, this exercise set a new standard as the University’s first ever “Full-Scale Exercise” that lasted the entire day involving the coordination of the EOC and four of the six DOCs including EH&S, Facilities Management, Housing and OIT. The primary objective tested by the EOC was the handoff between first shift and second shift; something that had never been tested previously. Another objective was to test the operational coordination and communication between the EOC and the DOCs as they were challenged by arising problems within each of their given disciplines/areas of expertise as a result of the impact rendered by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake along the Newport-Inglewood Fault.

Overall, the feedback from participants was quite positive with identification of strengths as well as areas for improvement. The EOC and DOC teams continue to demonstrate growth in their roles and responsibilities with each passing exercise and it’s exciting to watch these programs mature. The Emergency Services Division wishes to recognize and thank these staff members for their outstanding commitment to enhancing the University’s preparedness efforts and, in many cases, volunteering to serve in a role that it outside of their normal job responsibilities.

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Celebrate National EMS Week: May 15 – 21, 2016

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In 1973, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation’s communities. Back then, EMS was a new profession, and EMS practitioners had only just started to be recognized as a critical component of emergency medicine and the public health safety net.

A lot has changed since then. EMS is now firmly established as an essential public function and a vital component of the medical care continuum. On any given day, EMS practitioners help save lives by responding to medical emergencies, including heart attack, difficulty breathing, a fall or accident, drowning, cardiac arrest, stroke, drug overdose or acute illness. EMS may provide both basic and advanced medical care at the scene of an emergency and en route to a hospital. EMS practitioners care for their patients’ medical needs and show caring and compassion to their patients in their most difficult moments.

So, next week, or any week for that matter, when you’re in the grocery store and you see an EMS practitioner in uniform thank them for their vital public service they provide to our communities every day. For more information about National EMS Week visit https://www.naemt.org/ems_agencies_audience/ems-week/celebrate-ems-week

 

California’s “Wildfire Awareness Week” May 1 – 7, 2016

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On Monday May 2nd, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed May 1-7 as “Wildfire Awareness Week” in California. Last year’s destructive Valley and Butte fires as well as the ongoing drought and vast tree mortality remind Californians of the fire dangers the state continues to face this fire season.

Wildfire Awareness Week was kicked off at CAL FIRE’s Aviation Management Unit in Sacramento by Governor Brown with state and federal leaders. Governor Brown was joined by Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci, CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott, California National Guard General David Baldwin, U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Deputy Regional Forester Jeanne Wade Evans, and California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird.

State and federal officials not only discussed steps their respective agencies are taking in preparation of fire season, but stressed steps Californians can take to reduce their risk – such as having a disaster plan and kit, creating defensible space and heeding evacuation warnings. View a short video clip of the press conference at http://www.oesnews.com/california-kicks-off-wildfire-awareness-week/

Although the majority of us here, at least those residing in Orange County, do not live in heavily-wooded; rural areas, it is absolutely necessary that all Californian’s understand the wildfire risk that we face moving in to the upcoming long summer months. Learn more at http://www.readyforwildfire.org/

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