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4 Ways to Ensure Social Media Safety This Holiday Season

November 28, 2014
Social Media Safety
The holiday season brings entertaining parties, fun presents and shopping excursions. However, online shopping, social media posts, and other sources of holiday fun do have the potential to create safety issues if you’re not careful with what you post and how you use your social media accounts. Consider these simple guidelines for creating a safe and rewarding online holiday experience this season.

1. Click with Care

People share pictures and videos with wild abandon on today’s social media websites. It’s important to look at what you’re clicking when you see a photograph or link posted by one of your friends on a social media website. According to virus prevention company McAfee, digital e-cards are a popular way of spreading viruses and getting unsuspecting web surfers to download malicious software.

As with any area of online web surfing, clicking on unknown web addresses is always something to avoid. If you aren’t familiar with a company or website, do a simple Google search before you click on a link to determine whether the video or picture is hosted on a legitimate website. Hackers can take over a person’s social media account and post dangerous links, so use caution whenever you click.

2. Real Life Security and Digital Sharing

Hopefully, you’re already utilizing smart privacy habits online by not sharing your personal information with anyone and by restricting who can see your posts and photographs on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Accidentally sharing your phone number with the public could lead to problems with virtual identity theft, and it could even lead to real-life security problems if that phone number were linked with your home address.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests that you never share personal information like birth date, age, or where you were born, even with your close friends or family. Consider that if their social media account were hacked, your personal information could be compromised.

3. Think Before You Post Pictures 

You might want everyone to see that adorable picture of the kids when they were opening presents for Christmas while on vacation, but there are several reasons why you might want to delay posting pictures or avoid posting them at all to social media websites.

Consider that posting a picture of yourself while on vacation lets viewers of your social media accounts know that you’re away and may not be home. What better way for a thief to figure out if your home is worth burglarizing than to get confirmation that you’re not home?

4. Don’t Forget Shopping Safety

The popularity of “Cyber Monday” has practically eclipsed that of Black Friday, and the increase in the number of people shopping online has led to some significant security breaches and hacking activity in the past few years.

According to a survey conducted by Webroot, about half of the shoppers surveyed suggested they would shop online using a smartphone or tablet, which is a dramatic increase over just a few years ago. Just as it’s important to consider privacy when using social media websites, the same rules should be applied during any holiday purchases that occur online.

Essential Tips for a Safe Fall Season

November 26, 2014
Safety Tips
For many, fall is the most anticipated season of the year. When a chill enters the air, the leaves change into a beautiful assortment of colors, sweaters and coats are pulled from closets, and preparations begin for the holidays. But with the changing season comes a new set of safety concerns that weren’t there during the summer months. Here are essential tips for a safe and enjoyable autumn.

Prepare Your Vehicles

Certain steps must always be taken to keep your vehicle safe for the road, but there are specific tasks to complete when the cold air arrives. Make sure you always have a warm blanket or two in the trunk just in case your car breaks down and you have a long wait for help. Also make sure your tires are ready for freezing temperatures. Tire pressure changes as the temperature changes, and bald tires, while dangerous all the time, are especially hazardous on early morning icy roads.

Beware of Clogged Gutters

When leaves fall from the trees, they don’t just end up in the yard. They also end up in your gutters. Clean and free gutters are essential to the health of your home, but be careful on ladders if you clean the gutters yourself. A fall from a tall ladder is not only dangerous, it can be deadly. Consider hiring this job out to a professional. If you must clean your gutters yourself, ask a family member or friend to help you keep the ladder safe and steady.

Take Care of Yourself

Fall is filled with great times with friends and family, which means you have to take care of yourself if you plan on keeping up with all the holidays and parties. Get extra sleep, eat right, dress for the weather, and get a flu shot. Flu shots have never been easier to get and they’re inexpensive. Fifteen minutes out of your day for a flu shot at your local pharmacy or doctor may save you weeks of misery at the wrong time.

Autumn can be the most beautiful and exciting time of the year. As the summer heat turns into a fall chill, the excitement of a new school year, the coming holidays, and cozy clothes fills the air. Be prepared with these simple tips and don’t let an unexpected accident ruin it for you.

Tailgating Safely During Football Season

November 25, 2014
Tailgating Safety Tips
Cooler temperatures and the kids going back to school signal the arrival of football season and the time-honored tradition of tailgating. The only thing better than cheering on your favorite football team is doing so at a tailgating party with your friends and family. The fun rivalries and camaraderie are a welcome feature of the fall and winter seasons.

However, football is a rowdy sport, and it’s not uncommon to see fans get particularly excited about the success or failure of their team. Here are a few tips you’ll want to use to create a safe tailgating experience for the season.

Limiting Alcohol Intake

Since tailgating involves vehicles, a designated driver is essential, but it’s also a good idea to limit overall alcohol intake. Consider this experience of a fan and his family who attended a game at Candlestick Park to see the San Francisco 49ers play against the New Orleans Saints. The man was a Saints fan and a group of rowdy, inebriated 49ers fans threatened his family. Stories like this are not hard to come by.

Tempers can flare, and people can get into fights during tailgating parties simply because they’re drunk and caught up with the excitement of the game. Consider bringing drinks like water or basic carbonated beverages instead of cases upon cases of beer. You may also consider bringing hot chocolate and cider for those particularly chilly games.

Take a Look at Your Auto Insurance Plan

It might not occur to you, but having insurance is important for tailgating because there’s a vehicle involved. According to Valley Insurance Agency, adequate coverage means being able to cover the contents of your vehicle in case of theft.

Further, you’ll want to make sure you have coverage for things like medical injuries, which may require taking a look at your homeowner’s insurance policy. Do you have coverage if a friend hurts himself while attending a party in your home? 

Tip: You might want to look into umbrella coverage to make sure you’re protected for all events.

Getting Healthy While Tailgating

Just like events such as the Super Bowl, Fourth of July barbecues, and Thanksgiving, tailgating can get rather unhealthy, particularly if you’re out every weekend with your friends to celebrate the team. Consider these final tips from Food in Sight to make sure your tailgating experience is as healthy as it is safe:

•Serve small food-like little burgers and bite-sized brownies instead of huge servings.
•Use dips like hummus and guacamole instead of cheese dip and ranch dressing.
•Bring fruit and veggies instead of tortilla or potato chips.

Also, you’ll want to consider cooking safety in addition to eating healthy. Make sure you grill meat separately from grilling vegetables. In addition, you might want to bring along a fire extinguisher if you’re barbecuing. Finally, don’t just toss those coals after using a charcoal grill; cool them off before throwing them away or tossing them in a container in the bed of your truck.

Football season offers a variety of fun activities for your family, and you’ll want to remain aware of safety concerns at all times. Having a happy, healthy, and safe tailgating season is easy when you follow these simple guidelines.

5 Easy Pumpkin Carving Safety Tips

October 22, 2014
Pumpkin Carving
Halloween is just around the corner, and that means it is time to start carving pumpkins. Although this is a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous. There is nothing that ruins pumpkin-carving fun faster than an accident with a knife. To keep things safe this fall, follow these tips when you are carving your pumpkins.

1. Get the Right Tools

The first step in safe pumpkin carving is to get the right tools. The best way to do this is to purchase a pumpkin-carving kit that has all the tools you need included in it. If you want to put together your own carving kit, then you should start with a serrated knife. You never want to use a flat blade to cut your pumpkins. Also, get a pair of gloves to handle the messy job of scooping out the pumpkin innards. You will also need a magic marker to trace the outline of the design you want to carve.

2. Work at a Proper Location

Carving pumpkins is a messy job, and the pumpkins can be very slippery. You want to work on a flat surface that will keep the pumpkins from moving while you are using a knife on them. Working on a table works best in most cases. Just make sure that the table is not too slick. You will also need plenty of light to see what you are doing while you are carving.

3. More Sawing than Carving

Again, you do not want to use a kitchen carving knife when you are working with the pumpkin. In fact, pumpkin carving is a bit of a misnomer. It is actually more like pumpkin sawing. Using a serrated blade will give you the best results when you are carving your pumpkins. Use a slow sawing motion when you are carving to make it easier to cut through the pumpkin’s flesh, and reduce the chances that you accidentally cut yourself.

4. Never Leave Kids Unattended

One of the best things about pumpkin carving is that it is a great family activity. Carving pumpkins with your kids will create memories that last a lifetime. However, you need to make sure that you kids stay safe while you are doing it. The best way to do this is to watch them through every step of the process. Never leave them unattended for even a moment.

5. Fire Safety

One of the hazards of jack-o-lanterns is the traditional lit candles that illuminate them. Luckily, this can be avoided by using a flameless candle. These flameless candles will give you that wonderful flickering effect without the danger of an open flame.

Follow these tips to stay safe when you are carving your pumpkins. There is no need to spoil the family fun by someone getting hurt. Take your time and make sure that you follow every rule to keep your family safe when you are creating your jack-o-lanterns this Halloween.

Making Your Home Safe for Your New Baby

September 30, 2014
Home safety for new born
It is a very exciting time when parents get to bring their newborn baby home. With the joy that a new baby brings into your home, there is a lot of responsibility that comes along as well. As well as providing your baby with food, warmth and love, you also must be sure to create a safe environment for your baby and there are a lot of potential hazards that the typical home presents for babies. Here is a guide for new parents on baby proofing their homes to make them as safe as possible for their newborns.

Handling Electricity

One of the most dangerous parts of a home for babies is the electrical system. There are two primary dangers that the electricity in your home presents a baby: Prevent electrical shock via the outlets by simply using outlet plugs on all unused outlets in the home. The other danger is the cords that come out of the outlets. If a young child tugs on one of these cords, the attached device could fall on top of the child. The best way to prevent this is to tape down all electrical cords to keep them from being tugged on.

Securing Cabinets

Babies are very curious, which means that they are constantly exploring their surroundings. You must put safety latches on all of your cabinets to keep babies from getting into them. This is especially important for any cabinets that contain things like chemicals or other substances that would be harmful to children.

Making the Crib Safe

One of the most dangerous areas for a baby is surprisingly the crib. Keep all blankets, toys, pillows and stuffed animals out of the crib. Babies can easily suffocate on these things if they are left unattended with them.

Do a Crawling Test

Before your baby arrives, you should go through every room in your house to check for potential hazards. The best way to do this is to crawl around the floor and look for dangers. This will allow you to see things from the baby’s vantage point, allowing you to more easily identify and eliminate potential hazards.

Baby Gates

One of the easiest ways to simplify your baby safety measures is to make use of baby gates. When you put up a baby gate on the entrance to a room, it allows you to keep your baby from being harmed by anything in that room. This allows you to skip completely baby proofing any room that has a baby gate on the doorway.

Start Well Ahead of Time

It can be a little tedious going through all of these baby proofing measures in your home. To make the job less bothersome, you should make sure to start several months before the baby arrives. This will allow you to do a little at a time, which will keep the process from becoming overwhelming.

Personal Safety for the Close of Daylight Saving Time

September 29, 2014
Daylight Saving Time
The end of Daylight Saving Time means the days are growing shorter and the nights longer. People are leaving work at their normal time, being met with darkness. Kids are leaving after school activities and walking home in the dark. This makes safety a growing concern as the days become shorter.

Parking Lot at Work

Even if you’re in the parking lot at work, you should be extremely aware of your surroundings. Unless you park in an enclosed, guard-secured lot, there are reasons to be concerned about safety. Your employer should ensure that there are lights in the parking lot, and they are switched on when it’s time to leave work. If possible, leave in a group so everyone is protected, and check your surroundings before opening your car door.

Kids After School

After school activities like football, soccer or drama club can last for an hour or two, meaning your kids will be leaving school when it’s becoming dark outside. They should be aware of their surroundings to stay safe, especially if they walk home. If they normally take a shortcut home, have them take a longer, lighted way home instead. Talk to them about ways to stay safe. Do not allow them to listen to any music on headphones as it may mask some dangers they might otherwise hear. If they can walk home with a group of other children, have them buddy up for the walk home.

Jogging or Walking

Before or after work is the only time that you have to exercise, but soon it will be dark. There are ways to stay safe while jogging at night. Use reflective clothing so that drivers can see you as the sun sets. Dusk is the time when many accidents occur because the light is hazy and drivers haven’t turned on their headlights. Stay on lighted paths if you’re jogging in the park. If possible, make time in the mornings for your daily walks or jogs to avoid some of the after-dark dangers.

Holiday Shopping and Festivities

The season seems to start earlier and earlier every year, so it’s not too soon to discuss some safety precautions when preparing for this holiday season. When shopping, be sure that you’re being safe while walking to your car. Make note of where you park and have your keys ready before you get to the vehicle. If you see anything suspicious, go back inside and find a security guard to accompany you. If someone knocks on your door, don’t open it until you know who it is. Be wary of strangers during the upcoming holiday season.

In Your Driveway

With a timer, you can set the lights, so you’ll arrive to a well-lit driveway and home. Motion lights are great for driveways too. As an added deterrent, anyone moving in the darkness will have triggered the light before you pull into the driveway alerting you to danger.

Criminals are always looking for you to let down your guard, and because many people have not yet adjusted to the time change, Daylight Saving Time is ideal for these deviant individuals. Start early and get in the mindset before the time change gets here—that way, you and your family are all prepared for the dark evenings that have their owns set of dangers.

Keeping Your Bike Safe from Theft

September 12, 2014
bike theft
Bike theft can happen anywhere. Even if you think your bike is in a secure location with video cameras and security guards, a determined thief can steal it. It is important that you protect your bike well to keep it from being stolen. Here is a look at the most important steps you need to take to keep your bike safe from thieves.

Lock Your Bike

It is appalling how many people routinely leave their bikes unlocked. You need to always, always make sure that you lock your bike up securely. Even if you are only going to be leaving it unattended for a minute, you need to lock your bike. Even if you live in a small town, you need to lock your bike. No matter what the situation is, you need to lock your bike up whenever you leave it unattended.

Secure the Frame

Proper locking technique is crucial for keeping your bike safe from theft. This means that you need to secure the frame when you are locking up your bike. When you use a good lock to secure your metal bike frame to a metal bike rack, you make your bike a very unappetizing target for thieves.

When you are locking your bike up, it is best to secure it to a bike rack. If you secure it to something other than a bike rack, use your head. Make sure that whatever you lock it to is made out of sturdy metal. Also, ensure that you always lock your bike in such a way that it cannot be simply slid up and removed. For example, do not lock you bike to a metal pole that allows the thief to simply push the bikemand lock up and off the pole.

Use a U-Lock

When you are selecting your bike lock, make sure that it is a sturdy U-lock. You do not want to skimp on this purchase. All it takes is a few seconds with a pair of bolt cutters to steal a bike that has been locked up with a simple cable lock.

Take It Inside

If you want to use the ultimate form of protection, then you should always take your bike inside with you. Even if you use the best lock possible, it will not stop a determined thief from stealing your bike if he really wants it. The only way to keep your bike 100 percent safe is to never leave it unattended outside. Many businesses will allow their employees to bring their bikes inside with them while they are at work.

Protect Your Investment

Bikes are more expensive than ever these days. You must protect your investment by securing your bike from thieves. Try to bring your bike inside whenever possible. If you must leave it outside, then always secure the frame of the bike to a sturdy metal bike rack with a U-lock.

Avoiding Security Breaches Post-Termination

August 26, 2014
post termination office security
Large businesses tend to have lawyer-refined protocols in place for terminating an employee because firing staff comes with a great deal of security risk. Organizations have to protect themselves. Small businesses face that same level of risk and often have even more to lose. Although small businesses may not have a human resources department and a large army of lawyers, they can still protect themselves by identifying the concerns and putting safeguards in place to protect against them.

Be Prepared for a Range of Emotions

Big companies often have so many employees that each individual worker is little more than a number to a lawyer or HR department. This does have its advantages, such as during termination. All employees are treated the same. In a small business, people are more prone to treat employees differently. Most people will leave a business in a professional manner. Who is to say why that one percent will choose anger, bitterness and possibly revenge? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Building Security is a Priority

The vast majority of security breaches performed by disgruntled employees are physical in nature and occured at the site where the individual worked. If the building is accessed through traditional locks, then all keys should be returned and/or all locks should be replaced the day of termination–this must be viewed as a cost of doing business. Change all access codes for alarm systems as well. If the business uses a door entry system, or access control system, it’s necessary to disable that badge ID or take whatever similar measures are necessary to prevent unwanted entry.

Establish Awareness

The best building security can be undermined by a lack of awareness. Often, a business will want to respect a terminated employee’s right to privacy and dignity, but in doing so, will expose itself to a security threat. Although there is no need to explain the termination, there is a need to ensure that all employees and vendors understand that the individual has been terminated. It is also a good idea for the business to establish a protocol in the case that the fired employee comes to the building.

Securing the Cloud is Essential

Security breaches do not just occur within the company’s physical location. They can occur from an Internet café, a parking lot outside the building or the comfort of the individual’s home. The cloud is at particular risk because it is intended to be accessed by employees remotely. If a department is using an internet service like DropBox that a terminated employee still has access to, then the company can lose sensitive data.

Therefore, while it is important for the company to secure its servers and the cloud services that it controls, it is also important to inform people throughout the business to change passwords and the like. The value of awareness cannot be stressed enough. It is also of great value to establish protocols for terminations and to refine these protocols over time, as these will make the transition for the remaining employees much easier and seamless.

Keep Cell Phones out of Your Bed

August 25, 2014
cell phone safety
Smartphones have completely transformed our world. Their helpfulness knows no bounds when someone is lost or needs to get information in a hurry. However, they also offer dangers that people need to be aware of. One of the lesser-known dangers is the risk of bringing mobile phones to bed. Here is a guide to the many reasons that you should avoid bringing your cell phone to bed with you.

Raising the Risk of Cancer

One of the most worrisome of the hazards that cell phones pose is the research that links cell phone usage and an increased risk of developing cancer. Look for ways to lower the odds of getting cancer by leaving your cell phone on the nightstand and away from your body.

Fire Hazard

As scary as a heightened risk of cancer may be, it is not nearly as worrisome as the risk of fire caused by a cell phone that is not properly ventilated. The problem is that people who take their smartphones to bed with them often fall asleep with them. When a cell phone is trapped underneath a pillow for example, it does not get the ventilation it needs. This situation causes the phone to rapidly overheat and create the potential for fire. Never take a chance of falling asleep with your smartphone in your bed.

Ruining Your Sleep Cycle

Poor sleep can cause many kinds of health problems as well as make you unfocused and irritable. Bringing a mobile phone to bed with you is an easy way to ruin your sleep cycle. This is especially true if the phone is set up to give email and text alerts. It would be best to remove the smartphone from the bedroom but if this is not feasible, you should turn off any notification sounds.

Make sure that your smartphone is put away on the charger at night. Keep it well away from your sleeping area. This will not only keep you safe, but it will also ensure that you always have a full charge on your phone to start the day.