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Panama Guide

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Friday, September 20 2019 @ 02:27 pm EDT

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High Rise Escape Systems - Panama

Safety & Security Well, it's official. I am now the exclusive distributor for High Rise Escape Systems in the Republic of Panama. Details will be coming soon, but in the meantime check out this video. This system is basically a solidly built anchoring system which uses a "Controlled Descent Device (CDD)" to gently lower people to the ground, while protecting them in a coverall suit that reflects radiant heat on a steel cable. The system is easy to operate, requires no electricity and very little training, safe, tested and proven - it gives you a way to get out of a fire in a high rise building should you ever become trapped by fire. I've been looking into this since Terry Grinham got caught in an apartment contents fire back in May of 2006. The fire and safety codes in high rise buildings in Panama are not the same as they are in the United States, and I've known this for a lot time. Then I saw a speech on television. (more)
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Pinkerton - My Patootie

Safety & Security The last time I debunked the "Pinkerton" thing was almost a year ago and it's been awhile since I've had the time to toss a few stones at the businesses and website owners that are still using this reference. So, I am now launching a "Panama Pinkerton Most Wanted List" of the top-ten websites that are still making reference to this bogus report that never existed:




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Apartment Content Fire

Safety & SecurityYesterday I received an email from Matt, the webmaster of The Panama Report asking about a couple of apartment fires in the area around Via Veneto and Via Argentina. In Panama most of the structures are made from reinforced concrete but content fires are common. Matt took a couple of pictures on the fly and sent them to me. This fire was on the first floor and was apparently going pretty good at one point. Remember this article about the guys who were trapped on the 19th floor? This fire was apparently caused by an electrical short, all of the damage in this fire was caused by the contents of the apartment and nothing of the structure burned. It's a good idea to have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire insurance for the contents of your home or apartment. And thanks for the photo, Matt.
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Fire Safety Regulations Lacking in Panama City

Safety & Security (Source: La Prensa) In Panama a very peculiar thing is happening: its rate of growth is outpacing legislation. This, according to Federico Cvetreznick, a specialist in fire safety, in discussing the shortage of laws to force building owners to adopt fire safety standards that are in effect around the world. "Here buildings are being built on a par with what's going up in Europe where there are very rigid safety and security laws in place and Panama does not have them, which is very worrisome ", said Cvetreznick. The specialist participated in a technical seminar discussing fire safety organized by the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects (SPIA). Roberto Chanis, president of the SPIA, is less drastic in that sense. He affirms that in Panama there are laws that regulate fire security in buildings but they need to be updated; and that the Technical Board of Engineering and Architecture, the governmental agency charged to develop these standards, is working to adjust local laws to international standards. Firemen in Panama City have repeatedly complained that they have insufficient personnel and equipment to face the threat of fires.
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Arriving Tourists Robbed Leaving Airport

Safety & Security Last night at about 7:30 pm three tourists (one each from Spain, Italy, and Venezuela) were robbed at gunpoint after having arrived in Panama. They rented a car at the airport and were driving towards their hotel in the center of town when they were hit by another small sedan in a side-to-side collision under the overpass just after the entrance to Via Lucre near the old Roosevelt monument. Thinking they had been in a simple accident the tourists stopped the car and four theives exited the other vehicle and took control of the victims at gunpoint. They stole their luggage, cash, and personal belongings and left the area in two other vehicles that came in and picked them up. The tourists were unharmed in the incident. Police are investigating. (Editor's Comment: This kind of thing happens periodically. The airport is a public area and it's easy for theives to have a spotter at the airport to identifiy easy pickings and to relay information to accompliances who are waiting outside of the airport security perimiter. In any case if you are involved in a traffic accident in Panama anywhere and you don't feel completely safe, take off and find a cop. If it turns out you were just being paranoid, just explain yourself. Better safe than sorry.)
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Lightning Safety in Panama

Safety & Security Lightning killed four people in different areas of the country on Friday during the heavy rain storm that afternoon. Three people were killed when they were hit by lightning near Malena beach in Veraguas. Gil Alberto Barcia Collado, 47 years-old, Ariel Suira, 30, and 13 year-old Secundino Castro were killed while fishing. Two other people, Other two people, Angel Garrido and Jhonny Sánchez survived the impact. In Chagres, about 80 kilometers north of Panama City and on the Caribbean coast Leon Cerrud Abrego, of 58 years, was killed by a bolt of lightning as he walked in town. Heavy rains damaged ten houses in Chiriquí and and Coclé according to SINAPROC affecting 50 people. red of people. SINAPROC also issued alerts for high tides and rough seas over the weekend.
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Update: Home Invasion (Security Mistakes)

Safety & Security There was a significant security incident recently involving a family of English speaking expatriates from the United States. I received information about this event from several sources. What I heard and learned prompted me to investigate this crime with an eye toward informing other members of the community. In short this family went through hell unnecessarily. They committed several fundamental security mistakes. All mishaps are the result of the convergence of unanticipated circumstances and in this incident an exceptionally lax security posture resulted in criminals targeting this family for a violent home invasion, assault, and robbery. The family was victimized and the criminals are to blame, but each of us bears the responsibility for our own personal safety and security. You can significantly reduce your chances of being targeted for crime by following adequate security practices. This event is an opportunity for all of us to learn from the mistakes of others... (more)
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Security Update – Incidents involving foreigners in Panama City

Safety & SecurityFrom: U.S. Embassy Warden System - Security Update – Incidents involving foreigners in Panama City. This warden message is to inform American citizens resident in and traveling to Panama of two recent security related incidents in Panama City. Local police and other diplomatic missions inform the Embassy that both incidents were violent attacks on foreigners in Panama. In one incident, a female British national was sexually assaulted after hailing a cab from Albrook Mall at 12:30 PM on July 9, 2006. Although taxis in Panama are generally safe, please use caution when hailing a cab. Negotiate fares prior to entering. Advise the cab driver not to pick up other fares while you are in the cab. Be aware of your surroundings. Note the name of the cab company, when possible. If you feel the cab is taking you somewhere other than your destination, exit the cab when safe to do so, and head to the nearest public place (i.e. police station, mall, shopping center, or fire station). The other incident involved an American family living in Altos de Golf. Two armed individuals broke into the house and physically assaulted two members of the family at 12:30 AM on June 30, 2006. The local police suspect that the individuals had worked for the residents in the past. (more)
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Safety Warning - Use of Taxi's and Home Security

Safety & SecurityDavid Andrews, the Consul of the British Embassy in Panama released this warning this afternoon:

From: Diane.McGarrity@fco.gov.uk [mailto: Diane.McGarrity@fco.gov.uk]
Sent: 12 July 2006 16:03
To: Diane.McGarrity@fco.gov.uk
Subject: Personal Security in Panama
Importance: High

Dear Residents,

We are aware of two recent incidents involving serious assaults. One involving a visiting British national and another on a recently arrived US family who were making their prime residence in Panama.

In the first instance, a British national was seriously assaulted after being abducted by a taxi driver in Albrook Mall at midday on a Sunday afternoon. In the other incident the family were seriously assaulted in their home in Altos del Golf.

We would advise whenever possible, that you use a reputable taxi company and you should also review your security measures at home.

Regards

David Andrews
Consul
British Embassy
Panama

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JP-4 Probably Used to Torch Courthouse

Safety & Security The fire in the Maritime Court of Panama was caused by a chemical expert who was in the Fourth Penal Court, according to a source who talked to the Panama America. According to the source, xylene was found at the scene of the fire, and was used by an expert who knew it would cause a fire because it burn easily. The arsonist also knew how to handle xylene because this substance is extremely dangerous when inhaled. The substance was found impregnated in several files and shelves. Fire investigators suspected arson from the start according to the incident report. There was a yellowish smoke at the scene of the fire, and several firemen had headaches and dizziness from smoke inhalation. Eustorgio Márquez, captain of the Fire department's Office of Security, explained that the evidence could be conserved when the top floor of the building burned the accelerant did not dissipate. The flames created a vertex or "V" burn pattern where chemicals concentrated in materials that were highly flame resistant, that later were given to the PTJ for analysis.
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Panamanian Fire Protection Lacking

Safety & Security Panama City is growing rapidly, and the quality of the fire protection service is not keeping up. Their facilities, equipment, personnel, and training are all lacking. My father is a retired Fire Chief in New York, and I grew up riding with him as he responded to fires and accidents (I went along to take pictures) so I know a little about fire departments and fire protection. Sooner or later the contents of one of these new highrises is going to catch fire and people are going to get hurt or killed. I've copied some advice from the New York City Fire Department on what to do if you're in a high-rise and there's a fire in your building. There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself in increase your odds of survival. I would not recommend putting a whole lot of faith in the Panamanian Fire Department to save you, especially considering that even the best equipment can't reach past the third floor. So, plan on saving yourself, and prepare for it.
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