Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ICE...In Case of Emergency, Who Do You Want Contacted?

Most of the time here we focus on large disasters and how to prepare for them. Yet, everyday people have various types of emergencies where they are unable to communicate and many of these incidents result in a call to 911 for police, fire, and EMS personnel for help.

I would like to take this time to show support for an initiative called ICE, In Case of Emergency. The idea is simple enough...In this day and age, we hardly ever go anywhere without our cell phones. We have most of if not all of our contact in this one simple device.

All you have to do is choose a few contacts that you would like emergency personnel to contact in the event of an emergency and add ICE next to their names. If you choose more than one person, place a number next to the letter in the order that you wish them contacted, such as ICE1, ICE2, and ICE3.

As a former EMT for NYC EMS I can tell you that many times cell phones have been used to locate family and loved ones. Often by choosing names at random. The best way to ensure the right people are contacted is to ICE your cell phone.

Please take the time to do this, and let your friends and loves ones know as well.

For more on this please see the following links:
ICE on wikipedia
ICE4Safety
ICEsticker.com

Medical information on your cell phone

More Credit Card Numbers Stolen In Los Gatos

It was reported late yesterday that a merchant in Los Gatos, California had a card reader swapped out for one that had been converted to steal Card numbers and PIN numbers from customers.

The merchant, Lunardi's supermarket located at 720 Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos, CA contacted police after having a problem with one of the readers this past Sunday. What that problem was has not been disclosed so far.

As of this writing about 30 people have come forward to say that they have become victims of identity theft. Police are telling people to check there accounts and keep an eye on transactions if you were a customer at this grocery store.

Also, you may call (408) 354-8600 if you have been a victim or think you are a victim of this incident.

With all of the theft going on, the real question to ask is PCI enough? Personally I do not think so. Merchants, need to take the added responsibility for protecting the devices that are used to read credit, debit and other cards on their premises.

The key questions to ask about this incident are first, was it an inside job? If not, how and when did thieves gain access to swap out the device? Either way, did someone see it? Was it caught on video camera? Why weren't the devices locked down to begin with? Is the retailer PCI compliant?

Once thieves get their hands on your number and PIN, they will often sell the cards numbers. In an another incident police in are looking for a man who has been using stolen card numbers to steal from ATMS in the Berkeley area. You can see photos of the man here. If you see this man or know him please call the authorities.

In addition if you are interested in learning more about this subject about how all of this happens and how thieves are able to get away with this I suggest you read this book: Zero Day Threat: The Shocking Truth of How Banks and Credit Bureaus Help Cyber Crooks Steal Your Money and Identity.

It is an excellent read, and you may never use your credit card again. It also provides excellent advice on what you can do today to protect yourself. Again I highly recommend you read this book.

Source 1
Source 2

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shelter In Place, Are You Prepared?

You have your "Go-Bag" or "Bug-Out-Bag" all ready to go. You know the evacuation plan for your family and your business if disaster should strike.

Now you hear on the news that an industrial accident, a terror attack, or other incident has affected the area you're in and the local authorities are asking everyone to follow their shelter in place procedures. What do you do now?

Caught you off guard did I? Not that surprising really. Many people are prepared to go else where when a disaster strikes, but not many are prepared to stay where they are for an extended period of time nor do they know the proper procedures to stay safe.

So what do you do? First, as in all emergency situations it is important to remain calm. Next lets go over some supplies that you will need for a safe and successful shelter in place plan.

SUPPLIES:

Plastic Sheeting
Duct Tape
Scissors
Flash Light with Extra Batteries
Battery Powered Radio with Extra Batteries
Small Fire Extinguisher ABC type
Pliers
Shut-off wrench for utilities
Bucket with tight lid
Toilet paper
Sturdy Large plastic garbage bags
Feminine supplies
Soap and Detergent
Disinfectant
Liquid Chlorine Bleach
First Aid Kit
Non-perishable food supply for one day, canned foods, high energy foods, and comfort foods
Water, typically about 1 gallon per day per person but may be more or less based on personal needs
Medications
Land line telephone

Next we will go through some shelter in place procedures for various places.

WORK:

Close the business, no one should come in or out.
Choose an interior room, preferably with no windows, hopefully with a telephone.
Ensure and provide for the safety of visitors, and clients, someone will need to direct them what to do
Close and lock ALL outside windows and doors If you can close all blinds and curtains.
Turn off all Fans, heating, and air conditioning systems.
If possible, have people call their emergency contacts to let them know where they are and that they are alright.
Get the names of all the people in the room.
Seal off the room using the plastic sheeting and duct tape, cover all doors, windows, and vents.
Listen to the radio for instructions, and for when the shelter in place advisory is over.

HOME:

Close and lock ALL doors and Windows, close shades, blinds, and curtains if there is danger of an explosion
Shut off all fans, heating and air conditioning and close the fireplace damper
Gather shelter in place supplies, and working radio.
Go to an interior above ground room without windows
Bring pets and pet food with you.
Call your emergency contact to let them know what is going on, and that you are okay.
Seal off the room using plastic sheeting and duct tape.
Listen for instructions, evacuation orders, or until you are told it is safe.

VEHICLE:

If you are close to home, work or a public building go there immediately and follow your shelter in place instructions there
If you are unable to do so, pull over and stop in the safest place possible.
Turn off the engine, close windows and shut vents
If possible seal the vents with duct tape
Listen to the radio for updates and instructions
Stay put until it is safe to continue


For more on how to properly shelter in place, and for lists of supplies please use the reference links below.

American Red Cross Shelter in Place
American Red Cross Supply Kit PDF
National Institute for Chemical Studies Shelter In Place PDF
National Institute for Chemical Studies How to Shelter In Place
NICSINFO.org Shelter in Place Info Center
Ready.gov Shelter In Place Diagram
OSHA.gov Evacuation Plans and Procedures

Note: The above is based on a typical scenario for a shelter in place lasting no more than a 24 hour period. These are suggestions only and you may want to add to this list or tailor it to your specific needs and the items above cover only the basics.

This should be more than enough to get you started creating your shelter in place plans, and gathering your shelter in place supplies.

If you feel you need more personal attention or help preparing your business, home, or school for shelter in place please feel free to contact Dynamic Network Technologies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

World Food Shortage Crisis


Photo by Mr. Kris'

What do higher oil prices, increasing demand for biofuels, drought in Australia, pestilence, and overall decreases in rice production worldwide have in common?

All of these and more are factors contributing to increased prices for food throughout the world. Rice, which is the number one food staple worldwide, has increased in price by more than 50 percent in the last 12 months. It is not just rice either wheat another important food staple has increased in price just as steadily as rice and the price of food in general has increased around 40 percent.

In the last week alone major riots have broken out in various countries such as Haiti, Egypt, Ivory Coast, and Uzbekistan. The worst of these riots so far occurred in Cameroon that left 40 people dead back in February after food prices increased and people could not afford to purchase even the staple foods.

While these trends affect typically the poorest of the poor, do not be surprised if you are affected by these trends as well, as some food retailers and major grocery chains limit what you can purchase.

That is right; believe it or not, right here in the United States people are being told they can only purchase a limited amount of rice when they go to the store.

This I personally do not believe is a bad thing as rice is badly needed in other parts of the world. But, it just goes to show how bad the food shortage is getting. Some are calling it the worst food shortage since World War II and 1 in 6 countries right now is facing a food shortage. It may also lead to further rationing here in the United States.

Some experts are calling this just the beginning and are expecting the problem to grow like UN under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who said; “We could be seeing even more trouble in more countries.”

"What we are seeing so far is relatively limited, I'm glad to say, but there have been very severe protests in Haiti, for example. [There have been] riots and deaths in Egypt in bread queues and we've seen unrest in different counties in Africa," he said.

"Now I don't want to exaggerate this or be alarmist about it. When food prices go up for people who are right on the edge of food insecurity of marginal survival to start with, then as soon as they rise beyond a certain point, they have no money to cover their needs or no money for anything else, and that's why the social unrest arises."

Mr Holmes believes the situation is getting worse because global price rises have been so steep and rapid.

"Most of the stapes of people's diet - wheat and rice - have risen more than 50 per cent in the last 12 months and they've risen even more steeply than that very recently," he said.

"There are some fundamental factors behind this. This is not just, I think, a sort of quick blip in prices which will return to normal shortly, it's because there are these fundamental factors of the population rising, crops being used for bio-fuels, more sophisticated diets in places like India and China.

He also cited: "[A] lack of strategic grain reserves and maybe also the effects of climate change and, for example, the drought in Australia affecting wheat production in recent years. That's not helped either.

"What we fear is that if this is a long-term trend, then we really could see in the poorest, most vulnerable countries, in the poorest, most vulnerable sections of the population of those countries, real problems, which is a particular problem from a humanitarian point of view."

He says "the World Food Program is already feeding 80 million people a year around the world."

"That's not really touching everybody who is on the edge of food insecurity. But they could have to face much, much bigger demands than that if the worst comes to the worst."

While Mr. Holmes said he does not want to be alarmist or exaggerate the problem, I think he is being overly cautious. The World Food Programme saw it as a big enough problem to launch their “Silent Tsunami” campaign yesterday in the hopes of gaining world wide attention.

Throughout this post and below are links that you can follow in order to learn more about this crisis and ways you can help.

Listen to an audio interview from ABC News.

International Rice Research Institute
IRRI Rice Crisis Solutions
PDF from IRRI
Five Facts About Rice

Click Here To Donate To The World Food Programme

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