Monthly Archives: October 2012

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

 

Remember getting all dressed in your costume to go trick or treating? Pure spooky joy. To keep it fun, everyone needs to stay safe. Here are 13 helpful tips to make sure your kids have a healthy and happy Halloween.

 

 

  • Have adult supervision. Accompany your kids if you don’t think they’re old enough to trick-or-treat on their own.
  • There is safety in numbers. If they’re old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, tell your kids to stay in a group.
  • Map out your plan. Designate a route before your kids begin trick-or-treating, and make sure they stick to it.
  • Take the long way ’round. Have your kids trick-or-treat in areas where there are a lot of people around. They should also avoid taking short-cuts through alleys and parking lots.
  • Try tick-or-treat-friendly homes. Ensure your kids only visit houses with lights on. And, you might also suggest the houses they visit have some sort of Halloween decoration on the porch.
  • Stay outside. Make sure your kids don’t go inside someone’s house. They can get their candy from the porch.
  • Remain visible. Dress your kids in a bright costume so others can see them. If their costume is dark, have your kids wear reflective strips or carry a glow stick or flashlight.
  • Remember, shorter = safer.Goes without saying but just in case you forget, ensure your kids’ costumes aren’t so long that they can trip over them.
  • Don’t cover the face. Instead of masks, have your kids wear make-up so they can see better.
  • Quality-check treats. Check your kids’ candy before they eat it. Throw out any candy that is not in its original wrapper or looks like it has been tampered with.
  • Say “no” to strangers.Tell your kids to never accept a ride or go anywhere with a stranger.
  • Obey the law. Encourage your kids to follow all the regular rules for walking around. That includes looking both ways before crossing, obeying all traffic laws and using cross walks and crossing lights where available.
  • Have a great time! Finally, make sure your kids have tons of fun and get lots and lots of candy.

Don’t forget to stop by Penny-Hanley & Howley for our costume contest and treats.

Happy Halloween

source information: http://holidays.kaboose.com/halloween/halloween-safety.html

Chimney Safety Tips

Knowing BEFORE prevents tragedy AFTER: Chimney Safety Institute of America offers tips for fire safety

• Keep chimney clear and capped. Make sure tree branches and leaves are at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney. Contagious flames or sparks can jump from the fire source, quickly igniting other close objects, which can spread to neighboring premises. Installing a chimney cap can help prevent debris and animals from blocking the opening.

• Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well-seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months to one year and stored in an elevated, covered location. Never burn Christmas trees, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace or wood stove.

• Keep the hearth area clear and remove ashes. Combustible material too close to the fireplace or a wood stove, can easily catch fire. Be sure to keep furniture at least 36” away from the hearth. When you clean the fireplace, discard ashes in a closed metal container and place it away from the house until they have fully cooled.

• Install smoke detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.

• Be on the safe side. Before using your fireplace, woodstove or furnace each season, the Chimney Safety of America recommends an inspection by a professional to ensure that your chimney’s interior has not suffered damage or significant creosote build-up that would allow heat or hazardous gases to invade your living space.

• Hire a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep®. When in doubt, ensure your home and family’s safety by hiring a chimney professional. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® have earned the chimney and venting industry’s most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. This knowledge allows them to expertly diagnose and solve chimney and venting problems.

source information: http://www.csia.org/

Cyber Security Awareness Month- Tips for Your Teens

Tips for Teens on Cyber Safety

While PCs are likely a prerequisite for school-bound young adults, securing laptops or desktops is unlikely to be a top priority. Don’t let high school and college students head off to the classroom or campus life without the knowledge they need to protect their computers and the valuable information on them. The strategies below – tailored specifically to young adults – will help to avert online disasters.

Be on guard when you shop online. You can save a bundle by buying books and other school supplies online. But, when it comes to giving out your financial information, stick to companies you know and trust or to well-established retailers. Before you click the buy button, always check out the seller, what you are buying, and the payment details.

Work securely from wireless networks. Today’s world means you can access the Internet from a variety of public locations, from a coffee shop to a library to a train station. But, open networks run an increased security risk and are vulnerable to security breaches. When you can, choose networks that have a network security key, which means information sent over them is encrypted. Connect to a standard or wired network for the most protection.

Steer clear of peer-to-peer and file sharing networks. You always need to pay special attention to what you download and share online – peer-to-peer networks are often swamped with malicious files. And it’s not just music and movie downloads that you need to be aware of; malware often piggybacks on other freebies that promise ringtones, smilicons, and screensavers.

Navigate social networking sites with care. Social networking and other Web 2.0 features make communicating, socializing, and sharing information easier than ever. But they also open you up to a variety of online threats, so you need to be on guard when logging into online hotspots like MySpace and Facebook. To avoid phishing and malware installations, use caution when you check messages, click on advertisements, and access links in other members’ profiles.

Be wary of sharing your PC. You should not loan your computer out to friends and peers but, if you do, make sure they are operating under a limited-user account and not the all-powerful administrator account. This will minimize infections in the event of an accident.

Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Passwords help protect your computer and your various accounts from unauthorized access. Use complex passwords of at least 10 characters, comprised of letters, symbols and numbers. Do not have your browser store passwords and log-in credentials – this is especially important to remember if you are using a shared computer.

Backup your data regularly.Even the most prepared and cyber savvy among us are bound to run up against serious PC problems at one time or another. Prepare yourself for worst case scenarios (your laptop crashing the night before a term paper is due) in order to avert a complete disaster. All you need to do is set up a regular backup system for yourself by saving critical information on a CD, external hard drive or online server.

Limit the information you give out online. Don’t post too much information about yourself, whether it’s on a personal website, blog, or chat room. Identity theft is a real and growing problem, and openness on the Web can lead to someone harvesting your information for their gain.

Be skeptical of e-mail and instant messaging. Do not open e-mail attachments or click on links in instant messages from anyone, including ‘buddies’, unless you expect it. Verify the attachment before opening and scan with updated anti-virus software first. Be especially leery of odd subject lines and suspicious links. You’ll also need to watch out for phishing e-mails that purport to be from familiar organizations.

While it may seem difficult to fit cyber safety steps into the busy lives of young adults, keep this in mind: it’s easier to prepare yourself and your computer than to recover from lost data and private information after an online nasty compromises your system. So, during this school season and for the rest to come, be proactive in keeping your PC safe and secure.

source: http://www.lavasoft.com/mylavasoft/securitycenter/articles/cyber-safety-101

Contact your local agent at Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance for more information on Cyber Insurance

Cyber Attacks on Small Businesses

Below you will find some great information on how to protect your Small Business from Cyber Attacks.

Recently cyber-attacks were back in the news, and the latest attempted victim was the White House. According to an October 1st report from the Washington Post the White House acknowledged that hackers attempted to remove data from a White House computer. While the attempt wasn’t successful thanks to mitigation efforts, the attack should serve as a reminder to all small businesses that they face risks of similar attacks from data thieves, and they may not have the same level of mitigation systems in place.

In addition to a hacker getting into your system, data theft can occur if an employee’s computer is stolen, or if an unauthorized person is able to access a computer in your office. It could even be a disgruntled employee who carries out data theft. Any business that collects and stores sensitive information from customers, including credit card information, contact information, credit information, social security numbers, medical information, etc. is at risk for data theft.
Here are a few tips to reduce your risks for cyber-attacks and data theft of sensitive customer information:
  • Change the passwords you and your employees use to log into your technology systems on a regular basis
  • Avoid emailing sensitive information, but if you do, use a secured email service
  • Have employees lock their computer screens when they step away from their desks
  • Avoid having un-escorted/unsupervised visitors walking through your office
  • Don’t open strange email attachments or click unusual links in emails, especially from an unknown sender as they may be scams
  • Have a written technology policy in place so that all of your employees understand the expectations and rules guiding how your business handles sensitive data
Loss of electronic data is not covered under most commercial theft policies because it is not a tangible asset, and most general liability policies also exclude coverage for your costs to notify customers of potential data theft, pay for the costs of investigating the loss or the costs of potential fines, penalties or lawsuits that result from a failure to protect the data. A cyber liability policy can provide your business with coverage that will help you cover several costs, including the expenses to inform your customers and regulatory authorities about the possible exposure of data.
For more information on a cyber-liability policy contact one of agents at Penny-Hanley & Howley Insurance.
Information source: http://www.trustedchoice.com