Safety of property and person is an inherent part of our business.  On this page, we post safety information that is relevant to both.  If you have any suggestions for topics, we welcome your input.

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

We all tend to shop more this time of year.  While many were out in force shopping already for Black Friday savings last night and early this morning, many more of us to save time and money will be shopping on line and snatching up bargains on Cyber Monday. Per the article by Althea Chang of CNBC News here are some safety tips to protect your information when shopping on line this holiday season:

1.      Michael Bruemmer, Experian's vice president of consumer protection, said shoppers should use prepaid credit or debit cards to limit their exposure while shopping online. "The easiest thing you can do is have a throw-away credit card or debit card that you only use for shopping as well as potentially an email address," Bruemmer told CNBC's "Tech Bet."

2.      Experian also advises shoppers to avoid public Wi-Fi hot spots because many aren't secure, recommending that shoppers make all online purchases from home.

  1. Keep your desktop and mobile software up to date. Software updates often improve the security of the personal information stored on your device, according to Experian.
  2. Limit some activities on open public Wi-Fi connections, including avoiding checking email and online bank accounts.
  3. Don't make purchases based on price alone. Make sure the seller is a trusted vendor. "If an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is," Experian said in an email.
  4. On Web pages where you enter your credit card or other personal information, look for "https," with an "s." That indicates your information will be encrypted, which scrambles data on its way to the retailer, according to Experian.
  5. Be wary of links included in emails. Instead of clicking on those links, type website URLs into the address bar of your browser, advises security software maker Kaspersky.
  6. Turn on two-step authentication — also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication — on accounts when it's an option. It adds a layer of protection beyond logon and password, according to the National Cybersecurity Alliance. 


El Nino is Coming

We hear it in the news daily. El Nino is coming and it is expected to be a strong one. So what does that mean for me?  Do I need to be concerned?  What preparations should I make? The following is an article from the KBR Safety Information Sheet.

 El Niño is the warming of ocean currents in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This warmer water increases air moisture and affects weather. When El Niño is active, there is a greater than normal probability of monsoon like rains along the Pacific coast of California. These rains, if they develop, can result in small urban streams and washes overrunning their banks as well as regional and large scale flooding.

While we needn't get hysterical about El Niño, we should be aware of its possible impacts and plan accordingly.

Prepare your home and contents. Open drains and keep ditches and other water collection ways clear of leaves and debris.

Prepare emergency provisions. Since electric power may be affected, store up plenty of flashlight batteries and if you are on a well or booster pump, store several gallons of bottled water. Also store some "long life" non- refrigerated provisions. Localized flooding, mud slides and downed trees may prevent you from moving about the community by automobile until local public works and emergency services workers can mobilize and get roadways cleared.

If your home is subject to seepage problems during heavy rains, it would be wise to consider purchasing a portable electric submersible pump to which a garden hose can be attached. Around 1000 gallons per hour capacity should be adequate supplied by a durable, water resistant extension cord. These pumps tend to get hard to find once the rains get heavy!

If your property is low lying or is impacted by high runoff volumes, know where to find sandbags and other emergency provisions. Check with local emergency service agencies before you have an emergency and know where to tune for emergency broadcasts and official information.

In most locales the local fire department or public works agency will respond to flooding calls so long as they have personnel available and are not committed to higher priority calls. Such agencies can assist in some cases with water diversion, water removal and checking the safety of storm damaged utility lines, etc. During peak storm activity these agencies may receive dozens of calls so they have to "triage" their responses, assigning priorities to those calls which involve life safety first, then property damage based on potential loss and the amount of benefit we think the agency thinks it can provide under the circumstances.

Thus, while most public agencies will do the best that they can to help you, you do need to think about being as self-sufficient as you can.

Calling for Help

Know the non-emergency number to use to reach your local public safety communications center. If you have a storm related problem and it is not a life threatening emergency or fire, you should use the dispatch center's non-emergency line.

If the dispatch center is inundated with calls and you can't get through, try reaching the business office of your local fire or police services. During emergency conditions most agencies will try to keep the phones staffed as best they can.

If you suspect a serious property threat or life safety problem, go ahead and dial 9-1-1 (or your local emergency number if 9-1-1 is not active in your area.)