Tornadoes: The Terms to Know

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Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable over a large area for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to develop.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been detected or seen, is on the ground and moving, and is expected to move through your area soon. Take cover immediately!

During the tornado:

  • If outdoors: Seek shelter in a substantial building immediately. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.
  • If at home or in a small building: Go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of the building. Stay away from windows. Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms offer the best protection. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.
  • If in a school, hospital, or shopping center: Go to a pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from large open areas and windows. Do not go outside to your car.
  • If in a high-rise building: Go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Do not use the elevators. Use the stairs.
  • If in a mobile home or vehicle: Get out of mobile homes or vehicles – they are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado.

Take shelter in a substantial structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Emergency Information Handbook.” For more information, please visit www.dhses.ny.gov.

When You Buy Or Lease A Copier

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Evaluate your options for securing the data on the device. Most manufacturers offer data security features with their copiers, either as standard equipment or as optional add-on kits. Typically, these features involve encryption and overwriting.

Encryption is the scrambling of data using a secret code that can be read only by particular software. Digital copiers that offer encryption encode the data stored on the hard drive so that it cannot be retrieved even if the hard drive is removed from the machine.

Overwriting — also known as file wiping or shredding — changes the values of the bits on the disk that make up a file by overwriting existing data with random characters. By overwriting the disk space that the file occupied, its traces are removed, and the file can’t be reconstructed as easily.

Depending on the copier, the overwriting feature may allow a user to overwrite after every job run, periodically to clean out the memory, or on a preset schedule. Users may be able to set the number of times data is overwritten — generally, the more times the data is overwritten, the safer it is from being retrieved. However, for speed and convenience, some printers let you save documents (for example, a personnel leave slip) and print them straight from the printer hard drive without having to retrieve the file from your computer. For copiers that offer this feature, the memory is not overwritten with the rest of the memory. Users should be aware that these documents are still available.

Overwriting is different from deleting or reformatting. Deleting data or reformatting the hard drive doesn’t actually alter or remove the data, but rather alters how the hard drive finds the data and combines it to make files: The data remains and may be recovered through a variety of utility software programs.

Yet another layer of security that can be added involves the ability to lock the hard drives using a passcode; this means that the data is protected, even if the drive is removed from the machine.

Finally, think ahead to how you will dispose of the data that accumulates on the copier over time. Check that your lease contract or purchase agreement states that your company will retain ownership.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses.” For more information, please visit www.business.ftc.gov.

Build a Safe Room

Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code” but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your family can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home.

  • Your basement
  • Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
  • An interior room on the first floor.

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Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection, but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room also can provide the necessary protection. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms.

To protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged or destroyed. Consider the following when building a safe room:

  • The safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and uplift.
  • The walls, ceiling and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist penetration by windborne objects and falling debris.
  • The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist the wind.
  • Sections of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as walls of the safe room must be separated from the structure of the residence so that damage to the residence will not cause damage to the safe room.

Additional information about Safe Rooms available from FEMA:

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Tornadoes.” For more information, please visit www.ready.gov.

Before You Acquire a Copier

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Copiers often are leased, returned, and then leased again or sold. It’s important to know how to secure data that may be retained on a copier hard drive, and what to do with a hard drive when you return a leased copier or dispose of one you own.

It’s wise to build in data security for each stage of your digital copier’s life-cycle: when you plan to acquire a device, when you buy or lease, while you use it, and when you turn it in or dispose of it.

Before you acquire a copier:

Make sure it’s included in your organization’s information security policies. Copiers should be managed and maintained by your organization’s IT staff. Employees who have expertise and responsibility for securing your computers and servers also should have responsibility for securing data stored on your digital copiers.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses.” For more information, please visit www.business.ftc.gov.

Before A Tornado Strikes

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

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Before a Tornado

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

Tornado Facts

Quick facts you should know about tornadoes:

  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
  • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
  • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm, but can occur at any time.

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a tornado hazard:

Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Tornadoes.” For more information, please visit www.ready.gov.

Digital Copiers are Computers

Does your company keep sensitive data — Social Security numbers, credit reports, account numbers, health records, or business secrets? If so, then you’ve probably instituted safeguards to protect that information, whether it’s stored in computers or on paper. That’s not only good business, but may be required by law.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, your information security plans also should cover the digital copiers your company uses. If the data on your copiers gets into the wrong hands, it could lead to fraud and identity theft.

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Digital Copiers are Computers

Commercial copiers have come a long way. Today’s generation of networked multifunction devices — known as “digital copiers” — are “smart” machines that are used to copy, print, scan, fax and email documents. Digital copiers require hard disk drives to manage incoming jobs and workloads, and to increase the speed of production. But not every copier on the market is digital: generally, copiers intended for business have hard drives, while copiers intended for personal or home office use do not.

The hard drive in a digital copier stores data about the documents it copies, prints, scans, faxes or emails. If you don’t take steps to protect that data, it can be stolen from the hard drive, either by remote access or by extracting the data once the drive has been removed.

Digital copiers store different types of information in different ways. For example, photocopied images are more difficult to access directly from the hard drive than documents that are faxed, scanned or printed on the copier.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses.” For more information, please visit www.business.ftc.gov.

Hazard Prevention & Deterence

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Many hazards can be prevented. Workplace accidents are a good example. A comprehensive accident prevention program can reduce the frequency of accidents dramatically. Most fires can be prevented. Spills of hazardous chemicals can be avoided. Business disruptions resulting from machinery breakdown can be prevented by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for inspection and maintenance.

Resources for hazard prevention include OSHA’s free on-site consultation for small business. OSHA also provides many resources to evaluate and improve workplace safety. Many insurance companies provide free workplace safety, property loss prevention and other assistance for their policyholders. Check with your agent, broker or underwriter to see what services are available. Contact your local fire department’s fire prevention division for assistance with fire prevention.

Deterrence is a strategy to prevent criminal activity. A building with clear lines of sight and lighting around its perimeter is not an easy target for criminals. Security of all entrances and screening of visitors, contractors, employees and packages is another element in a good security program. A properly designed and installed intrusion detection system provides a measure of deterrence and can provide notification of unauthorized entry. Security begins with every employee. Consider providing basic training for all employees so they know how they can contribute to a secure workplace.

Cyber or information security should be a part of the security program. Installation of antivirus and anti-spyware software and maintaining strong firewalls are essential to protect network and information security. Keeping computers updated with the latest operating system and application “patches” should be part of the cyber security program.

Natural hazards such as flooding, earthquakes and hurricanes cannot be prevented. However, there are still opportunities to reduce damage from natural hazards.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Hazard Prevention & Deterence.” For more information, please visit www.ready.gov.

Conserving and Protecting our Water Resource

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During the spring it is especially important to conserve and protect water.

Water Saver Home – Learn what you can do to reduce water use in your home — take a virtual tour of this Water Saver Home.
http://www.h2ouse.net Exit EPA Disclaimer

Before you go fishing, see the following Fish Advisories. Although fish can be an important part of a heathy diet, some some fish contain harmful amounts if mercury.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Springtime tips for the environment.” For more information, please visit www.epa.gov.

Protect Your Investment

In addition to emergency planning and communicating with employees, there are steps you can take to safeguard your company and secure your physical assets.

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Review Insurance Coverage: Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed or simply interrupted for a period of time. Insurance policies vary, so check with your agent or provider about things such as physical losses, flood coverage and business interruption. Understand what your policy covers and what it does not. Ask about any deductibles, if applicable. Consider how you will pay creditors and employees. You should also plan how you will provide for your own income. Finally, find out what records your insurance provider will want to see after an emergency and store them in a safe place.

Prepare for Utility Disruptions: Businesses are often dependent on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewer and other utilities. Plan ahead for extended disruptions during and after a disaster. Carefully examine which utilities are vital to your business’s day-to-day operation. Speak with service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up options such as portable generators to power the vital aspects of your business in an emergency.

Secure Facilities, Buildings and Plants: While there is no way to predict what will happen or what your business’s circumstances will be, there are things you can do in advance to help protect your physical assets. Install fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and detectors in appropriate places. Consider the ways in which people, products, supplies and other things get into and leave your building or facility. Secure ingress and egress. The nation’s battle against terrorism takes place on many fronts, including the mailrooms of U.S. companies. Plan for mail safety.

Identify what production machinery, computers, custom parts or other essential equipment is needed to keep the business open. Plan how to replace or repair vital equipment if it is damaged or destroyed. Identify more than one supplier who can replace or repair your equipment. Store extra supplies, materials and equipment for use in an emergency. Finally, plan what you will do if your building, plant or store is not usable.

Secure Your Equipment: The force of some disasters can damage or destroy important equipment. Conduct a room-by-room walk through to determine what needs to be secured. Attach equipment and cabinets to walls or other stable equipment. Elevate equipment off the floor to avoid electrical hazards in the event of flooding.

Assess Building Air Protection: In some emergencies microscopic particles may be released into the air. For example, earthquakes often can release dust and debris. a biological attack may release germs, and a dirty bomb can spread radioactive particles. Many of these things can only hurt you if they get into your body. A building can provide a barrier between contaminated air outside and people inside, but there are ways to improve building air protection.

Building owners or managers, and employers should take a close look at the site’s Heating, Ventilating and Air-conditioning (HVAC) system and be sure it is working properly and is well maintained. Be sure any security measures do not adversely impact air quality or fire safety. Start by developing and practicing shut down procedures. Then, make sure outdoor air intakes are secure. HVAC systems can be an entry point and a means of distributing biological, chemical and radiological threats. Air intakes at or below ground level are most vulnerable because they can be easily accessed. Consider relocating or extending an exposed air intake, but do not permanently seal it.

Finally, determine if you can feasibly upgrade the building’s filtration system. Increasing filter efficiency is one of the few things that can be done in advance to consistently protect people inside a building from biological and some other airborne threats. Carefully consider the highest filtration efficiency that will work with a building’s HVAC system.

Improve Cyber Security: Protecting your data and information technology systems may require specialized expertise. Depending on the particular industry and the size and scope of the business, cyber security can be very complicated. However, even the smallest business can be better prepared. Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date. Don’t open email from unknown sources. Use hard-to-guess passwords. Protect your computer from Internet intruders by using firewalls. Back up your computer data. Regularly download security protection updates known as patches. Make sure your co-workers know what to do if your computer system becomes infected. Subscribe to the Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Alert System, www.us-cert.gov, to receive free, timely alerts on new threats and learn how to better protect your area of cyberspace.

An investment in planning today will not only help protect your business investment and your livelihood, but will also support your employees, customers and stakeholders, the community, the local economy and even the country. Get ready now.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Every Business Should Have A Plan.” For more information, please visit www.nsc.gov.

Springtime Tips For The Environment: Using Pesticides Safely

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If you decide that the best solution to your pest problem is a pesticide, follow these tips when selecting and using a garden product:

  • Identify the pest problem
  • Find the product that solves the problem
  • Buy the right amount for your needs
  • Read the label carefully and use the product the right way
  • Pay attention to warnings
  • Prevent harm to the environment – never pour lawn and garden products down a drain

For more information about:

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Springtime tips for the environment.” For more information, please visit www.epa.gov.