In the current political climate you can't afford not to focus on safety and security

Plant safety and security has never been more important given the current political climate. Here are some web resources for a coordinated, plant-wide response to madness and mayhem.

By Russ Kratowicz, P.E., executive editor

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Considering the unstable state of the world as we know it, prudence should dictate that it’s worthwhile for risk-averse people to learn a bit about nasty events that can befall your plant, town and home. We’re not talking major outages on the electrical grid like we experienced a while back.

There is so much material available on this topic that it’s nearly impossible to go into great depth for the entries cited here. It’s like a throwback to the 1950s when this country was obsessed with preparing for a nuclear attack. Only the names have changed.

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When an emergency visits itself upon your plant, you’re not going to have any time to research the appropriate responses. And you’re not going to be able to count on the government to take care of you. Self-reliance is the idea behind this column. If you’re going to get serious about preparation, you better do it now while there’s still enough power coming out of the wall to operate your computer. When the disaster hits, you might as well think in terms of living in the Stone Age. That’s why I’m inviting you to join me for another dive into the morass we call the Web in search of practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free Web resources that can help keep you and yours safe when things get a bit sticky. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

Web radio, Arlington, Va., is a Web site that features both online articles and Web audio reports that relate to homeland security. Topics covered include high-tech hardware, legislation, protecting the physical infrastructure, transportation security and more. The audio format uses a 30-minute cycle similar to that used by commercial all-news radio stations. The material it posts is for those having serious concerns about national security. Just try to sneak your stealthy ol’ mouse over to and see what turns up.

The intact shell
Your first line of defense against airborne catastrophe is the building in which you’re sitting. Keeping that shell intact and impervious isolates the interior from the outside nastiness. Our friends in the U.S. Army have a lot of experience defending buildings from biological or chemical attack, and they’re willing to share what they know with civilians. Enlist your mouse to go to, where you’re going to find “Basic Information On Building Protection” by the Technical Assistance Team. This group is part of the Homeland Defense Business Unit, Engineering Directorate, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The site’s primary focus is on HVAC issues such as internal and external air filtration, pressurization and generally keeping the air fit for human consumption. It’s light on details because such matters are so facility-specific. Nevertheless, the Technical Assistance Team can provide non-military facilities with assessments, certification, testing, design support, failure analysis and operating and maintenance manuals for their building protection systems.

Breathe deeply
When it comes to identifying the true staff of life, I’d vote that one could go without bread-induced carbo-loading for a lot longer than without air. If you’re going to breathe, you might as well take in clean air. And our hired hands in Washington are ready, willing and able to help you. This time it’s the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that positioned itself to tell you everything you need to know about respirators. The information you’ll find at [no hyphens] includes applicable standards, selection guides and a downloadable pocket guide to hazardous materials.

Help is on the way
For the most part, the only bad injuries we see in this country are caused by vehicle accidents and industrial mishaps. When victims need help, it should be available immediately. In many cases, it’s not, which is a shame. The general populace simply isn’t prepared for every eventuality. We should tip our hats to the nation’s First Responders, the only people who provide help in an emergency at a moment’s notice. You can get a glimpse of the training these volunteers undergo by reviewing the material in “First Responder: National Standard Curriculum,” which is found on the site operated by the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This 342-page document at [no hyphens] highlights the skills one needs to provide emergency medical care with a limited amount of equipment. It enables people to recognize the seriousness of the patient's condition or extent of injuries, assess requirements for emergency medical care and administer appropriate care for life-threatening injuries relative to airway, breathing and circulation. Knowledge of this type of first aid should be mandatory for every citizen.

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