Safety

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.

Spring Tips!

As many people gear up to do spring cleaning each year it’s a good time to also consider safety of your home.

Check your fire extinguisher and replace it if needed.

Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Consider your pets, and children and do not leave dangerous items in their reach (including cleaning supplies)

Keep an emergency kit on hand that includes a first aid kit, 72 hours of non perishable food, water (one gallon per person) flashlights with extra batteries, a NOAA weather radio, blankets, and even a whistle to signal for help if needed.  You can find many first aid kids for relatively inexpensive.  Emergency and disaster planning resources are available online, and many are free.

These are just a few of the many items to consider, be safe, and Happy Spring!

Summer is here!

With our skin being the largest organ of our bodies it is very important to protect against heat and sunlight year round, especially in the warmer summer months. 

Some of the ways to protect your skin as follows: 

Wear proper clothing to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays.  Long sleeved shirts and pants are a good example.  Make sure to remember to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes with 100% UVA/UVB protection, and wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your head and scalp, including your neck and ears.

Avoid a sunburn by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.  Be sure to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day (every two hours is recommended), especially after swimming, drying off, or sweating. Remember to apply to all areas of the body including your face, neck and ears. 

Stay out of the sun and avoid strenuous outdoor activities if possible between peak hours 10:00am – 4:00pm. 
    
Use caution when at higher altitudes or near reflective surfaces (ie: snow, water, sand).  Reflective surfaces can reflect the damaging rays of the sun increasing your change of a sunburn even when in a shady location.  Higher altitudes can create more UV exposure with less atmosphere to absorb the radiation. 
    
If it’s too late and you already sustained a sunburn use Aloe Vera (fresh is best) or an Aloe gel to relieve the pain.  Vinegar is also helpful to remove the heat.

By adhering to these recommendations you will greatly reduce your risk of sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer. 

IS DANGER A CLICK AWAY?


I have a passion around cyber security. In fact I've been a geek wanna be for years. At one time a version of I hate hackers was my password after they'd hacked Google. So here are some warnings and tips to keep you safe when you surf the web or travel the world. 

What Can A Typo Cost Me?

A particularly nasty form of hacker are the ones who install ransom ware on computers and hold your files, your tax returns, your family vacation photos, your email addresses, etc.  for ransom. They lock you out of your own computer files until you pay the money (usually in digital/ bit currency to make it harder to trace), they demand.  This morning on the news they showed an article on how many of the hackers who install ransom ware are gaining access to people's and companies' computers. It can be as easy as a typo when you're doing an internet search. Instead of typing .com, you type .om, you see what you believe is the link to the legitimate website and you click on it.  If it is one of the sites that hackers have set up to gain access on the .OM domain, your computer can become infected and your files held for ransom.  Hackers have been registering copy cat web sites on the  .OM domain and just waiting for us, in our haste to find something quickly or check out a website to do something as simple as we all do, every day --make a typo and in this case a sticky keyboard can make it even easier--drop a "c".  
So remember to surf safely and avoid typos because what can a typo cost you or your company?  Plenty!

Do you know what a skimmer is?  It is a device that reads the data off of your magnetic strip on your credit or debit card. Hackers use that data to make fake cards or purchase items on line. So how can you be on the watch for skimmers at ATMS and when you pay at the pump?  Is the card reader a different color? Do the graphics on it appear misaligned?  Does it obscure the flashing indicator  on the card reader? Skimmers are usually glued onto the actual card reader and so that makes it obscure the flashing indicator. Does it appear loose?  If in doubt DON'T USE IT.  

Ever hear of "juice jacking"?  How many of us while waiting on our flights plug in to  charge our devices at the airport. Similar to a skimmer a hacker can install a device on the charging station so that when you plug in your USB data cable/ power cord they can gain access to your phone or tablet and inject a malicious code such as ransom ware or spyware, a virus or can access your personal data. 

What is the first thing 90% of us do when we land?  We turn on our phone, check our e-mails and social media sites.  Do you grab the first wi-fi network that pops up?  Or do you use only the official wi-fi networks of the airport or hotel?  Did you know that one out of 10 of the first free wi-fi sites that pop up on you device when you turn it on and try to connect is a malicious one?  If in doubt use the Skycure App. It gives you a map of suspicious wi-fi networks in the area. The risk of unsafe free wi fi is higher in high tourist areas. Some of those areas with potentially unsafe free wi-fi are Golden Gate Park, Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Las Vegas Strip, theme parks, Time Square and The Vatican. If after logging into the free wi-fi your phone or device start to crash turn off the wi-fi capability and the device immediately.  For added security install and keep your mobile security apps up to date. 

Ever get a new device and when you are installing internet access several other wi-fi's pop up before your wi-fi system?  Those may be your unsecured neighbors or they could be hackers so avoid those and be sure to keep your wi-fi password secured.  That way you can avoid Wardriving.  Wardriving is how hackers can gain access to your devices through the wi fi in your home using a device like a police scanner. And don't think they can gain it just through your smart phone, lap top or tablet. Have an Xbox One ? Or an Xbox Live account?  That is a potential hacker access point as well. 

Ok last wi-fi warning--I don't want to give you nightmares. But use care in the data you access and share or what you type when using your device at an internet cafe or public wi-fi hot spot such as Starbucks or McDonald's.  Hackers can sit outside the location or even in the location and gain access through the public wi fi to load a malware called a key logger onto your device. It is virtually undiscoverable and can let them record any info you type such as passwords or credit or debit card information.  

We live in a digital world where people can track us by our phone, laptop or tablet, our debit and credit cards, or our social media accounts. I don't want this article to drive everyone away from their computer or smart phones. The majority of the time what we do on them is safe. But to stay that way we need to use caution, common sense and keep ourselves ever vigilant when we surf and travel.

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.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.)

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