February 2018 Newsletter

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

carbon monoxidefurnaceCarbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas which is created by incomplete combustion.  Car exhaust, malfunctioning or improperly installed furnaces, gas heaters or stoves that burn carbon-based fuels are some sources of carbon monoxide.  What makes the gas so deadly is that it blocks the absorption of oxygen into the body’s cells.  In fact, the human body will absorb carbon monoxide 250 times more readily than oxygen. Therefore, when both are present, the body will absorb the carbon monoxide before it will absorb the oxygen in the air.In sufficient quantities, this can not only damage the body, it can cause death.  The danger is compounded by the fact that you cannot see it or smell it.

exaust gas burner 





Factors affecting the rate of absorption of carbon monoxide into the bloodstream include:

Kerosene heater

  • Concentration: The concentration of carbon monoxide in the free air.
  • Exposure: The length of time an individual is exposed.
  • Physical Activity: The higher the rate of respiration, the more carbon monoxide will be inhaled.
  • Physical Health: Sick persons, especially those with heart or respiratory ailments are more susceptible to carbon monoxide.
  • Age: Infants and elderly are more susceptible.
  • Sex: Females are more affected than males.
  • Altitude: The higher altitude, the greater effect of poisoning

Carbon monoxide absorbed in the bloodstream is cumulative. The human body has difficulty removing it from the bloodstream and requires 5 hours to reduce the level by half.  

Deaths from carbon monoxide typically rise in the winter months due to people warming their homes. If the heat source they are using is not functioning correctly or is improperly vented, the gas can accumulate in the home’s living spaces.

Every home should have carbon monoxide detectors installed to give early warning of the presence of the gas. Models include units that plug into an electrical outlet (preferably with battery backup), battery powered (similar to many smoke alarms) and units that can be integrated into a home’s security system.

Homeowners must choose the type that works best for their home and their budget. Carbon monoxide detectors must be replaced when the sensor is at the end of it’s life cycle, which is typically 10 years. Most detectors will start to chirp or alert you when the sensor is going bad.

carbon monoxide detector  alarm

A distinct advantage of detectors integrated into a home’s security system is that the monitoring company (if the security system is monitored by the alarm company) will summon help even if the homeowner is overcome by the gas or if they are not home. This offers protection above those that simply emit an audible alarm inside the home. Vertex was shocked when recently told by someone that most homeowners with alarm systems choose not to have carbon monoxide detectors added to their system. Questioning the accuracy of this statement, we asked several different alarm installation companies. To our surprise, they all confirmed the statement. Integrated units typically cost between $125.00 and $150.00 dollars each. While these are more expensive than units which do not integrate into the alarm system, the cost is well worth it. If you have a security system, we highly recommend you integrate carbon monoxide detectors with it.



Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

Early Exposure  Prolonged Exposure  Final Stages 
 1. Flu-like symptoms   1. Confusion   1. Drop in blood pressure
 2. Tightness across the forehead   2. Disorientation  2. Complete loss of muscular control
 3. Headache, throbbing at temples   3. Conscious, but unable to move due to muscular weakness   3. Unconsciousness
 4. Dizziness     4. Convulsions
 5. Weakness     5. Death
 6. Nausea     
 7. Vomiting     
 8. Partial loss of muscle control     
 9. Increased pulse & respiration    

Note: Cherry-red skin is often listed as a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning. While, this can occur, it is normally in the final stages of poisoning and often not present until just before the point of death.

If you think you may be exhibiting the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical assistance immediately. Also, have your home tested to see if carbon monoxide is present.

Seek medical assistance immediately

December 2017 Newsletter
During the holiday season, people are out busily shopping to buy gifts for their loved-ones. While most people are out with joyous intentions, this is also a prime-time for thieves to make big scores. With that said, people must stay situationally aware and not let their guard down.
October 2017 Newsletter
In our last issue, we focused on what private citizens could do to protect themselves while walking. In this issue, we will discuss methods businesses and public gathering venues can utilize to provide protection from these types of threats.
September 2017 Newsletter
Throughout the last year, there have been several instances where terrorist have attempted to inflict injuries by using a vehicle as a weapon, ramming them into crowds of people. Some instances have been perpetrated on city streets during normal daily activities, while others have occurred during special events where large crowds were gathered. Attempting to prevent all such events are monumental tasks for the authorities as well as the private sector...
August 2017 Newsletter
Emergency action plans, also known as emergency procedures help organizations specify what to do in certain dangerous situations. These can include a fire, medical emergency, severe storm, armed robbery, workplace violence event and active shooter situation.
July 2017 Newsletter
In the wake of recent bombings that have occurred throughout the world, many people have grown increasingly concerned about potential suspicious packages. However, an explosive device is just one of the potential dangers a package can contain. Other dangers include chemical, radiological or biological agents. Any of these agents have the potential of inflicting harm to human beings as well as facilities.
June 2017 Newsletter
With the school year coming to a close and summer approaching, many people will be traveling for a vacation. Some will travel out of the country during that time. This often results in people taking public forms of transportation, such as a taxi cab.
May 2017 Newsletter

Safety Tips for Runners & Walkers

With the arrival of spring, the number of runners and walkers taking advantage of the warmer weather has increased. Although we are beginning to lower our guard relative to the cold weather, that doesn’t mean we can do the same with our safety. Every year, criminals target runners and walkers, many of whom are enjoying their time outside and not being situationally aware. However, there are steps people can take to increase their personal safety and not simply fall victim to those with ill intentions.

People are creatures of habit, making them very predictable and easy targets. Many runners and walkers travel the same route each day, often at the same time. Criminals wishing to target people watch for patterns such as this. Don’t always take the same route. Switch it up by reversing the order of your route or by taking a different route altogether. In addition, vary the times as much as possible. That way the time and place you are going to be is not predictable. Also, stick to locations where people are around. Don’t travel in isolated areas.


Earbuds & Cellphones

wearing ear buds while joggingWhen I run, I like to wear earbuds and listen to music. That way I can zone out and not think about how tired I am. Wearing earbuds can also hinder people’s ability to hear warning signs of danger, such as a person, vehicle or wild animal approaching. If you wear earbuds while you are out, consider putting them in only one ear. That way you can enjoy the music and still hear sounds, which could indicate possible danger. Also, keep the volume to an acceptable level.

Always carry a cell phone with you. That way you can call for help if you need emergency assistance. There are many bands and clips that allow you to have your phone with you but not necessarily require you to hold it in your hand. However, make sure you can quickly access the phone in an emergency situation. If you feel threatened, call the police immediately and give them your location. It’s better to have them come and it be nothing then wait until it’s too late. In addition, don’t walk with your head buried in your phone. Cell phones are probably the biggest hindrance to situational awareness in today’s society. Keep your head up and pay attention to what is going on around you.


The Buddy System

use the buddy systemIf possible, run or walk with someone. There is always safety in numbers. If you must go out alone, tell a family member or trusted friend when you are leaving, your intended route and what time you will be back. If you don’t check in afterward, the person will know where to look for you. There are also Apps, such as Map My Run, that you can install on your phone to allow others to track your location and route traveled. It is important to look at the privacy settings for the App you use and ensure that only people you approve can see your location.


Additional Safety

additional safetyIf you run or walk in the street, do so against traffic so you can see it coming towards you. Wear bright clothing so that you can be easily seen. However, always assume drivers don’t see you and distance yourself from them as much as possible. Don’t stop to talk to anyone who pulls alongside you in a vehicle unless you know them. If you think they are suspicious, quickly turn around and run in the direction opposite of what the vehicle is facing. This makes it harder for the vehicle to follow you and makes it more obvious to others that something may be wrong if the vehicle turns around to follow you.

Carry some type of self-defense item with you. Some examples are a personal alarm that emits an audible siren when triggered or pepper spray. Whatever you choose to carry, you want it readily available so that if you are in danger, there is no delay in using it. Check your state’s laws relative to items like pepper spray and stun guns. Some states require a conceal/carry permit to carry them.


Women’s Self Defense

Vertex is a proud independent distributor of Damsel In Defense products, which are designed specifically to keep women safe. You can view our Damsel In Defense product catalog here.

Hot Little Hand Pepper Spray

Hot Little Hand Pepper SprayThis is the perfect self-defense product for any runner or walker. A handy pepper spray that you don’t have to hold on to because it fits in a pocket built into the palm of a moisture-wicking glove. When faced with an attacker, just rotate the trigger to release the safety and spray. This pepper spray contains the highest concentration on the market (18 O.C.) and contains an invisible dye, which can be detected on a suspect by police using a black light. Order yours today --> Direct Link: My Damsel Pro

Lance Bella


Upcoming Seminars:

Topic: Women’s Security Strategies
Date: 5/13/2017
Location: Munster, IN

Interested in attending? Register online here

April 2017 Newsletter

What to Do in the Event of a Tornado

tornadosTornados can reach wind speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour. Devastating damage occurs when a tornado touches down onto land, often destroying everything in its path. Most injuries and deaths are the result of flying debris and building collapse. The National Weather Service categorizes the intensity of tornados using the enhanced Fujita-Pearson scale, which uses 28 indicators to classify them. This scale rates tornados from EF-0 to EF-5, with EF-5 being the most destructive.


Enhanced Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale

Category Conditions Effects
EF-0 65-85 mph Minor to light damage to structures & vegetation
EF-1 85-110 mph Moderate damage to structures & vegetation
EF-2 111-135 mph High damage to structures & vegetation
EF-3 136-165 mph Severe damage to structures & vegetation
EF-4 166-200 mph Extreme damage to structures & vegetation
EF-5 Over 200 mph Complete destruction of structures & vegetation

Although they can occur at any time, tornado season typically falls between the months of March and August, with almost 80% occurring between the hours of noon and midnight. Two terms used by the National Weather Service, tornado watch and tornado warning, are commonly confused.

A tornado watch indicates the conditions are right for a tornado and people should be ready to take shelter if a tornado warning is issued or a suspected tornado is approaching. A tornado warning indicates that a tornado has actually been sited or indicated on weather radar. During a tornado warning, people should take shelter immediately. Tornado warnings give, on average, 13 minutes’ notice. So, what should you do if you find yourself in a tornado situation?


Inside a Building:

Go to the basement or cellar if there is one. Getting to a place that is below ground level is significantly safer. Otherwise, get to the lowest level possible. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can. Find an interior room or hallway, preferably without outside walls or windows.

Never open or partially open windows. This does not equalize the pressure as many people think and provides a portal for debris to blow through. Resist the temptation to go to a window to look out and never attempt to video a tornado. You may be putting yourself in a deadly situation. Closing interior doors that lead to rooms with windows can serve as an additional barrier for debris that may be thrown through them. However, do not sacrifice significant time in order to do so, thereby delaying you getting to the shelter area.

hide in bathtubBathrooms and other areas containing plumbing can provide added protection, since the piping can act as an anchor point for the building. If you have biking or motorcycle helmets available, put them on. Note: These should be stored in the shelter area and be readily available if you intend to use them. Don’t waste time running around to obtain them. Place small children in car seats if you have them available and secure the seat’s restraints. Place pets on a leash to keep them under as much control as possible or put them in a crate. Attempt to get under a table or other object that can offer some protection from falling debris and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Note: Mobile homes offer little to no protection from tornados, even when tied down.


In a Vehicle:

seat beltBuckle your seat belt and attempt to drive to the nearest sturdy building you can enter. Avoid buildings with long roof spans, such as school gymnasiums, arenas or shopping malls. These are typically supported by outside walls only. When hit by a tornado, these buildings can collapse, because they cannot withstand the pressure of the storm.

If no building is nearby or the tornado is too close, consider putting the vehicle in an area significantly lower than the road. Do not attempt to outrun a tornado that is nearby. Leave the vehicle running so the airbags will still deploy. When vehicles are turned off or the key is not turned to the “on” position, airbags normally won’t deploy. Get as low as possible, without removing your seatbelt, covering your head with something to protect you from possible flying glass and other debris. A blanket, coat, cushion or your arms are possible options.


Outside with No Vehicle or Structure Nearby:

Lie flat in an area significantly lower than the roadway, covering your head with a blanket, coat, cushion or your arms.


Things Not to Do:

  1. Do not get into an elevator. The building may lose power causing you to become trapped there. You are better to travel between floors using stairwells, which also offer better structural support.
  2. Never open or partially open windows. This does not equalize the pressure as many people think and provides a portal for debris to blow through.
  3. Do not position yourself under an overpass or bridge. These structures act as wind tunnels and can actually accelerate the wind only amplifying the situation. These structures can also collapse, creating a deadly situation.
  4. Do not attempt to hold a child in your arms when inside a vehicle. Secure the child in their seat belt, using a car seat if they are small enough.

things not to do


At Home:

  1. Create a go-bag for your home with key items that may be necessary during and after a tornado. The go-bag should be portable so it can be quickly taken with you in the event you must change locations or evacuate after the tornado. Vertex has developed a Tornado Go-Bag Home Checklist, which can be used as a guide to prepare your go-bag as well as your home’s designated shelter area.
  2. >
  3. Develop a tornado action plan for your home. Ensure everyone who lives in the home understands the plan and what to do in the event of a tornado. The plan should include communicating the existence of a tornado as well as methods for communication afterward in the event you are separated. Remember that when you are unable to make voice calls using a mobile phone it is sometimes caused by the system being overwhelmed with numerous people trying to make calls. During these times, you still may have the ability to send a text.
  4. Practice the plan with all members of the household just as you would a fire drill.


At Work:

    1. Establish designated internal shelter areas for the business. It is wise to consult a building engineer to determine the safest structural locations for the shelter areas.
    2. Clearly mark internal shelter areas with signage.
    3. Include the locations of internal shelter areas on emergency evacuation maps so they are apparent to the building occupants.
    4. Stock designated shelter areas with equipment and provisions which may be necessary in the event of a tornado. Vertex has developed an Internal Shelter Area Business Checklist, which can be used as a guide.
    5. Develop a written emergency action plan relative to Severe Storms. Ensure the plan includes accountability of employees as well as contractors and vendors working on the property. The plan must also include a means of communicating the potential emergency to employees, contractors/vendors and customers who are on the property. Remember that when you are unable to make voice calls using a mobile phone it is sometimes caused by the system being overwhelmed with numerous people trying to make calls. During these times, you still may have the ability to send a text.
    6. Train all applicable personnel on the emergency action plan. This training should include an explanation of the plan’s content, tabletop exercises and drills to ensure everyone can demonstrate the competencies involved. Employers must ensure that emergency action plans are covered in their new-employee orientation to ensure personnel are trained prior to beginning employment.
    7. Review emergency action plans yearly to ensure they are current and applicable.
    8. Contact all personnel on the written emergency action plan a minimum of once per year or any time the plan is revised.
    9. Conduct tabletop exercises and drills a minimum of once per year to keep personnel proficient with the practical application of the plan.


Upcoming Seminars

Topic: Women’s Security Strategies
Date: 4/8/2017
Location: Crown Point, IN

Interested in attending? Register online here

Topic: Women’s Security Strategies
Date: 5/13/2017
Location: Munster, IN

Interested in attending? Register online here

Jan 2017 Newsletter

What To Do In the Event of a Bomb Threat

Bomb threatAlthough a bomb threat can be a stressful situation it is important to remain calm. The information you are able to obtain may make a difference in the outcome of the situation. Act with purpose but do not give the offender the satisfaction of making you lose your composure. It is also important to remain courteous and not antagonize the individual while talking with them. Treat all bomb threats seriously. Most bomb threats are received via a telephone call. If this happens, listen carefully to what the caller is saying. Keep them on the phone as long as possible, asking as many open-ended questions as possible.

While keeping the caller on the phone, alert a colleague to call the police (911) due to a bomb threat situation. It is helpful to have some signal worked out with colleagues prior to such an event occurring. Keep in mind that cellular phones should not be used to make a call to the police. The cellular signal could possibly detonate the bomb. It is also advisable to immediately discontinue the use of any two-way radios. The radio waves could also potentially detonate the bomb. Write down the numbers and letters displayed on the caller ID readout.

Ask the caller what type of bomb it is, what it looks like and when it will detonate. Be alert to how the caller speaks, paying attention to the tone and pitch of their voice, speech patterns such as accents or speech impediments, types of words they use and their demeanor. Try to identify whether the caller is male or female as well as their approximate age. Also, pay attention for background noises or anything that might indicate the location of the caller. Write down as much of the information as possible, using the exact words the caller used.

If the caller says something to offend you, do not hang up on them. If the caller hangs up, do not use the same phone to call the police. Use a different phone and keep other people from using the involved phone. Activate your organization’s bomb threat protocol. If your organization does not have a protocol, one should be established.

Vertex has developed a Bomb Threat Checklist, which can be used as a guide to document the information obtained from a bomb threat. The checklist contains appropriate questions to ask the caller and provides areas for recording the answers. The checklist can be downloaded from our new “Bonus Intel” section of the Vertex website at

If a bomb threat is received by a note, handle the note as little as possible and contact the police (911) immediately. If the bomb threat is received via voicemail message, an email or a text, do not delete the message and contact the police (911) immediately.



Safeguarding Valuables in Your Home

safeHomeowners often have a variety of valuables in their residence such as jewelry, cash and collector coins, which should be safeguarded. Thieves who target homes look for these types of items, which are easy to carry off. The first-place thieves will look for these items is in the master bedroom. The reason for this is because, that’s where almost everyone keeps them! If you want to throw off a criminal, store the items somewhere else. A small amount of cash can always be kept in a dresser drawer in the master bedroom as a decoy to make thieves finding it think that’s all there is.

hidden safeI recommend keeping your valuables secured in a quality safe. The safe should not be in kept in plain sight. It should be kept in an obscure location, to avoid detection. Smaller safes should be anchored to the floor or wall so they cannot simply be picked up and carried away. If you don’t have a safe, there are other options available. These include keeping the valuables in a hollowed-out book, fake toiletry can or soup can, which has been opened from the bottom. Most thieves are not going to look through numerous books on a bookshelf, check hairspray cans or look through your pantry for valuables. Hollowed-out books can be purchased from some distributors or easily made yourself.

Companies such as Damsel in Defense sell toiletry cans with false bottoms that are lined with foam on the inside so they appear real and don’t rattle when picked up. Most thieves want to get in and get out as fast as possible to avoid detection. Not leaving valuables in plain sight or in the normal places costs the criminal time; time they don’t normally have. Look throughout your house and assess how easy your valuables are to find. Take steps to not only secure these valuables but make them hard to find in the first place. Also, it’s wise to check with your insurance company to make sure you have adequate coverage. In some cases, you may need to purchase an additional policy to make sure your valuables are fully covered.



Department of JusticeStartling Statistics (United States)

  • One in five homes will be the victim of a break-in or home invasion.
  • A burglary occurs every 18.2 seconds.
  • 73% of burglaries are residential.
  • 85% of burglars cased the homes prior to striking.
  • 94% of burglars are high on drugs at the time of the crime.
  • 70% of home invasions occur at the front door.

Source: F.B.I. Universal Crime Report



Situational Awareness & Cell Phones

In an effort to understand what criminals look for when selecting their victims, various pictures of people were shown to inmates in prisons. Almost invariably, the inmates chose victims who were not situationally aware. In other words, they were not aware of their surroundings. Criminals normally are looking for easy marks. Most of the people they selected were walking with their heads down, looking at their cell phones and not aware of anything that was going on.

On a recent business trip, I was waiting for a colleague of mine so we could go eat dinner. I took a seat in the city’s center and just watched people. It was amazing how the majority of people were talking on their phones, reading texts or looking at social media. Many of these people were walking through the city while doing so. The point is, anyone could have easily walked up to them and either assaulted or robbed them before they ever knew what was happening.

While cell phones are great tools, they are probably the biggest hindrance to situational awareness ever created. It’s not so much the phone’s fault, but how we use them. Next time you are walking down the street, waiting for someone or eating; put the phone down and pay attention to what is going on around you. You just may notice something that saves your life. At a minimum, you just may enjoy the nice things around you and actually have a good time. What do you have to lose?

 situational awareness


Reading the Room

exitYou’re sitting in a restaurant, enjoying a nice dinner. Suddenly, a man walks through the front door with a gun in his hand. What do you do? Where do you go? Are you even positioned to see what is going on? How many times have you sat in a restaurant or somewhere else without knowing if there were alternate exits to get out?

The problem is, most people never pay any attention until the unthinkable happens. Unfortunately, at that point, it’s usually too late. One of the things I constantly preach about in my seminars is being situationally aware. Part of this is reading the environment. This takes practice but can be accomplished in a matter of seconds once you grow accustomed to it.

When walking into a building or a room, scan the area. Look at who is in the room and what is going on. Look for alternate exits (other than the one you just walked in through) and remember where they’re at. Often, there are exits that you don’t immediately notice. Many times, looking at the building from the outside can answer this question. I can also pretty much guarantee you that in every restaurant, you can find an exit leading from the kitchen. With that said, make a mental note where the entrance to the kitchen is.

Pay attention to where the emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers and automated external defibrillators (A.E.D.) are. If a fire breaks out or someone has a heart attack, they will be needed. Ask yourself, if a predator strikes, what could I use to shield myself from an attack or improvise as a weapon do defend myself?

When things go bad, you don’t have time to sit and figure it out. You must be prepared to immediately react to maximize your chances of survival. Make a commitment right now and begin the practice of reading the buildings and rooms you walk into. You will be surprised what you start to notice. If the unthinkable does happen, you will have an edge that most people don’t. That edge just may save you and your family’s life one day.



Upcoming Seminars

1/19/17Women’s Security StrategiesMandeville, LA
1/20/17Surviving an Active ShooterCovington, LA
1/28/17Women’s Security StrategiesValparaiso, IN
2/23/17Surviving an Active ShooterValparaiso, IN
Registration for the Surviving and Active Shooter seminar can be found here on the Vertex website at If you don’t see a seminar in your area, contact us to request one.                Registration for the Women's Security Strategies seminar can be found here on the Vertex website at If you don’t see a seminar in your area, contact us to request one.
Active Shooter  Womens Self Defense