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Blog Category: Safety

NIST: Improving Safety Measures and Measures of Safety for World Metrology Day 2012

NIST engineer Kate Remley holds two Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices with wireless alarm capability (Photo copyright Paul Trantow/Altitude Arts)

Sunday, May 20, was World Metrology Day, a celebration of the signing of the Treaty of the Meter on that date in 1875. By signing the treaty, representatives from 17 nations, including the United States, recognized the importance of worldwide uniformity of measurements and established a collaborative global framework for the advancement of measurement science. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Metrology for Safety.”

Measurement plays a key role in ensuring that products—e.g., cars, paints, food and medicines—and processes such as medical procedures, are safe. As the U.S. national metrology institute, the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) creates standard reference materials, improves measurement tools, develops performance metrics and advances metrology so that the nation has the best safety measures and measures of safety.

NOAA and Partners Urge Beach-Goers to 'Break the Grip of the Rip'

Break the Grip of the Rip brochure imageWith summer vacation on the horizon, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service are alerting beach-goers to the threat of rip currents and how to prevent drowning from their strong and potentially fatal grip.

Rip currents are the leading near-shore surf hazard, claiming more than 100 lives per year nationally. For that reason, the three organizations are teaming up to sponsor the Rip Current Awareness Campaign from June 6 through 12, with the theme Break the Grip of the Rip®.

NOAA’s National Weather Service forecast offices issue surf zone forecasts, which include rip current information during the summer beach season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is important to remember though that rip currents can occur anywhere there is surf.

“Every year, more than 75 million visitors come to swim, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, boat and enjoy the wildlife and majestic scenery in our coastal national parks,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “To enhance our ability to provide visitors with the latest information on water safety, we are pleased to team up with NOAA and the United States Lifeguarding Association to educate our visitors about water safety.”

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Awareness Week
: June 6-12, 2010

Commerce's NIST Issues Landmark Fire Study on Saving Lives and Property

Photo of NIST researchers outside of burning building.

A landmark study issued today by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires. Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews. (Release) (Report)

FEMA and NOAA Renew Partnership to Encourage Flood Safety

NOAA logo. Click to go to Web site.

As one of the snowiest winter seasons in many years yields to warmer weather and the promise of rain and snowmelt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) FloodSmart campaign and Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced they are again working together during Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 15-19) to raise awareness of the dangers associated with flooding and steps to protect against damage. (More) (Map)

Demonstration Network Planned for Public Safety 700 MHz Broadband

NIST logo. Click to go to NIST Web site.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced plans to create a demonstration broadband communications network for the nation’s emergency services agencies using a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum freed up by the recent transition of U.S. broadcast television from analog to digital technologies. This demonstration network is currently in the preliminary planning stages and is expected to go live in mid-2010. (More)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama and Administration Officials at White House Tribal Nations Conference

Secretaries Salazar, Vilsack and Locke seen at conference.

Photo-capture from White House Web stream

U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke joined President Obama and high-level administration officials at the White House Tribal Nations Conference to highlight the department’s ongoing efforts to support economic development in Native American communities through the Minority Business Development Agency and other department bureaus. The conference provided leaders from 564 federally-recognized tribes the opportunity to have interactive discussions with administration officials regarding: economic development, public safety, housing, education, health and labor. (Remarks)

New NOAA System Improves Ship Safety, Efficiency, on Lower Mississippi River and Port of New Orleans

Image of ship in port. Click for larger image.

Ship captains and pleasure boaters can now get free real-time information on water and weather conditions for the lower Mississippi River from a new NOAA ocean observing system that makes piloting a ship safer and more efficient. The NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) on the lower Mississippi River provides observations of tides, currents, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, winds and bridge clearance. (More)

States and U.S. Territories Receive $40 Million in Grants to Improve 911 Services

NTIA logo.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced more than $40 million in grants to30 states and U.S. territories to help 911 call centers across the country improve the ability to locate people calling from wireless and Internet-connected telephones. “A majority of emergency 9-1-1 calls are now coming from wireless and Internet-connected telephones,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “These grants will help first responders locate where these calls are made and to ensure that help arrives quickly.” (More)

NOAA Observes Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Advises 'When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!'

Image of jagged lightning bolts. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sponsoring National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 21-27, to help the public learn how to recognize and avoid the dangers of lightning. Violent summer storms can form quickly and stretch for hundreds of miles and can produce deadly lightning capable of striking up to 10 miles away. Each year in the United States more than 400 people are struck by lightning. “Lightning is extremely dangerous,” says John Jensenius, National Weather Service lightning safety expert. “The best advice is, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors.’” (More) (Lightning Safety Brochure-PDF)

NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA Offer Flood Safety Tips for Flood Safety Awareness Week

Image of rescuers in boat on flooded city street. Click for larger image.

Floodwaters can be swift, powerful and, at times, deadly. However, advanced planning can help protect lives and minimize property losses due to flooding. With the spring thaw approaching, NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA are partnering to observe the fifth annual Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 16-20, 2009. The National Weather Service, along with FEMA’s FloodSmart program, has launched a new Web page that shows the effects and cost of flooding to millions of people in the United States. (More)