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How prepared are YOU in case of an emergency?

 

Tornado

Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? How prepared are you if a disaster hit?

I think many people – myself include – have a false sense of security. “It could never happen to me.” Let’s ask how many people devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and the recent floods in Louisiana and West Virginia if they thought “it could never happen to them.”

There are a variety of natural disasters that could strike without warning – hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, fires and earthquakes to name a few.

What would happen to YOU and YOUR family if you found yourself trapped in your home for days – or weeks – or if you had to flee your home in a moments notice. Would you have everything you needed to survive for a few days or more?

What you need is a plan – and a “kit” stocked with the essentials you’ll need for at least a few days for all family members. Don’t forget your pets! You need to have food, water and other supplies on hand for them as well.

Proper planning and preparation is essential for day-to-day survival, but in the case of an emergency, it can make all the difference in a family’s world. Seventy-five percent of parents agree that emergency readiness became a higher priority when they had children, yet 50% of parents don’t even know where to start.

Live Prepared Kit. PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

Live Prepared Kit. PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

The trick is finding the time to download the list of recommended products, running around town to purchase everything, properly storing your kit items and tidying them away in an organized fashion. To make the entire process easier and more attainable, Live Prepared is here to help people prepare for life’s unexpected adventures by introducing a collection of simple, high-quality emergency readiness food kits.

Live Prepared emergency readiness kits make it easy for parents to check preparedness off their to-do list by including everything they need to be secure, nourished and have peace of mind in an emergency. Having a kit on hand means parents can provide a prepared and peaceful home for their family, which in turn helps moms worry less and enjoy their families more!

In addition, Thomas Kostigen, an expert climate survivalist and New York Times best-selling author, was just named Global Ambassador for Live Prepared. In this role, Thomas will provide educational content, training and best practices to equip families and communities with the knowledge to weather any type of emergency situation with proper planning and tools.

Live Prepared has several kits in various price points to suit your families needs. They have kits that contain everything you’ll need for the home including food, first aid kit, hygiene products, radio, flashlight, candles, complete cooking and 6-in-1 Utensil Set, Advanced Water Filtration Bottle and more. Some kits even include things like duct tape, premium first aid kits, dust masks, utility cords and a 10-in-1 multi-tool.

PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

PHOTO SOURCE: Live Prepared

Their kits are sold for individual people but you can easily add on more adults or children without paying for duplicate gear and safety items. The add-ons provide you with food for each additional family member for 72-hours (three days). I like that they give you this add on option so you don’t end up with multiple emergency kit, radios and other equipment you don’t really need extras of.

If you already have a “kit” available for your family, but you are in need of food with a long shelf life, Live Prepared has JUST food kits available too for both adults and children. They have 72-hour food kits and one week food kits. . In fact, the American Red Cross recommends having enough food and water on hand to cover a period of at least two weeks. At least these premade kits get you off to a good start. You can purchase what you need now and then purchase more to supplement the kits as time goes on.

Emergencies don’t always happen at home. They can also happen when you are on the go. That is why Live Prepared also offers consumers travel kits (everything in stored in the accompanying backpack) and auto kits.

I have one of the kits that was sent to me to review. It’s packed! In fact, I was afraid to take the products out of the storage box to take photos because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get everything back in the box the right away in order to close the lid.

 

I love that it comes in a reusable container. You can re-purpose it or add to it whenever you need to.

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Currently our kit is in the basement and is easily accessible if we need it. I’d keep it upstairs but our condo is tiny and we don’t have much storage space inside our unit.

Each kit comes with a guide about emergency preparedness. They even provide every kit with a deck of cards. After all, without power there is no much you can do to entertain yourself. At least playing cards games is possible.

I would also recommend that you have any necessarily medications ready to go in case you have to flee your home or are unable to get refills for a while. I would recommend a few toys (lightweight, easy to store) toys and games for your kids (crayons, coloring books, paper, pencils…). It’s hard enough dealing with an emergency. Adding scared or bored children into the mix only adds to the stress.

And please don’t forget your pets! Make sure you have extra food, water and bowls – even if you need to make them their own kits (use backpacks because they are easier to carry around). Including a few toys for your pet would also be a nice gesture.

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With thunderstorm, hail, flooding, and tornado season in full bloom, and the possibility for heat-related blackouts in our future, it’s a good time for parents to think through their emergency preparedness kits to ensure everything they need is organized and at their fingertips if the time comes.  That is why kits like Live Prepared are a “must have” in every home.

For more information visit LivePrepared.com. Right now, if you sign up for their newsletter you can received a discount code for 15% off your purchase. They also offer FREE shipping.

Live Prepared can also be found on social media. All of their links are found at the top of their website.

Are YOU fully prepared in case of an emergency? Do you have food, water and supplies to last AT LEAST 72 hours?

What do you think about the Live Prepared kits? Do they sound like something you and your family need?

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Kimberly

*I received a free kit to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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5 Ways to Check if Your House is Being Watched

 

spying

Whether you are a high-profile businessman or a simple homeowner, protecting yourself against spying is essential. Aside from the risk to your finances, having people watching your every move in the comfort of your own home is scary and dangerous, too.

In case you suspect that your home is being watched, here are a few things you can do to verify:

Look into your computer

Since most computers and networks are connected to home security systems, they are the most commonly used device to hack a home. Aside from security data, computers can also store very important pieces of information, such as your personal data, financial details and account numbers.

One of the things you can do to check if your computer is being hacked is to look for any suspicious-looking physical devices connected to it. A key capture device, for example, can look like a USB key or a weird bulge in your computer cables. Aside from looking for these devices, you can also check your computer for any programs installed which you know nothing about.

Listen to your phone

If you’ve been hearing weird static noises or high-pitched humming while you’re using your phone, there’s a good chance someone’s listening to your conversation. In some cases, strange noises can also be heard even if no one’s actually using the phone.

You should keep in mind, however, that not all weird noises can be linked with phone tapping right away. The presence of electronic devices, for example, can also cause these sounds.

Checking Phone

Check your driveway

If service repairmen pop up in your front door even without you asking for them, then you should be wary. Burglars and criminals tend to spy their target homes before they attack. They can disguise themselves in uniform so that you’ll be less suspicious of them. In some cases, they can take along with them a utility truck which they can use to easily go around your neighborhood. They can go around in circles several times in a day.

If you’ve been seeing the same truck passing by your driveway, it’s a good idea to take note of its plate number, color and other distinguishing features. It can also help if you can take note of the hours that it’s passing by your property and where it can be parked. Notify the police as soon as possible and give out as much details as you can.

Examine your home for bugs

In case you have a very intense feeling that your home is being watched, one of the best times to look out for spy bugs at home is during the night. Since it’ll be quite and there’ll be no one to walk around as you search, you’ll have enough time and space to do a thorough search.

Once the house is quiet, you can start going through your household items. Run your fingers around switch plates and wall sockets. You can also do the same to your home accessories. Make sure to assess their out-of sight-edges to ensure that no spying device has been installed there.

You can also search your walls or ceilings for any discoloration or chipped paint that has not been there before. Any circular marking can indicate the placement of a listening or surveillance device. You should also include your carpets, pillows and curtains when checking for bugs.

Get infrared detectors

Spy cameras tend to be very small in size and discreet so that they aren’t easily noticed. One way to check if you have them at home is by using an infrared detector. Since most surveillance cameras used for spying come with infrared sensors to record your movements in the dark, the detector will let you easily see the source of IR.

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Author’s bio:

Rose Cabrera specializes in writing reviews. She has covered a lot of big names in the market of home security, including Frontpoint, Livewatch and more.

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7 Signs Your Teen May Be Hiding Drug or Alcohol Abuse

 

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Being a parent is not always easy. It’s not all “sunshine and rainbows” all the time. The older a child becomes, the more challenges you face as a parent.

I think being a teenager in today’s world is a lot harder than it was when I was a teen. When I was a teen I felt pressure to have designer jeans and albums from the top of the charts. Sure, there were keg parties in the woods, but sampling your first taste of beer as a teenager seems a lot more harmless than what teens today are doing.

Social media is the biggest danger to teens, in my opinion. They are also faced with much more “bad stuff” than just a keg party. These days teens are pressured to try out and/or use a variety of drugs and alcohols. It’s not just pot and beer – it’s cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Adderal as well as glue, pens and household cleaners, not to mention Jello shots and hard liquor.

How do you know if your teen is using and/or abusing drugs?

Here are seven signs to look out for, compliments of TeenSafe (TeenSafe.com).

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Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this information for the benefit of site readers. 

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – How focused are YOU when you drive?

 

Teen Driver

I’m a mom to two teenagers. Our daughter has her driver’s license, but we are not confident about her driving abilities. We feel that she’s easily distracted and the littlest thing causes her to panic.

We also have a 16 year old son who also drives. Oddly enough he does better than his older sister. I guess all of those driving games he plays on the computer really helped him.

We try to educate our children that when you drive you are bombarded with things that can take away from your focus – other drivers, animals, debris blowing on to the road, passengers in your own car… the list goes on.

For the time being we tell our kids they need to keep the music off and conversation to a minimum until they develop better driving skills and more experience.

Cellphones are a huge “no-no” when it comes to driving. We tell our kids to not only put their phones in the backseat, but also to turn off the volume or turn them off completely, that way they are not distracted by an incoming phone call or text message.

I’m not sure about other states, but here in New York it’s against the law to drive while talking on the phone. I cannot tell yo how many drivers I have seen who totally ignore the LAW and continue to drive while talking on the phone. You can spot those driver’s easily enough because you can tell by their driving that they are distracted by something.

Some people think they are getting around that law by making “hands free” phone calls via a earpiece, their car’s built in phone system or using the hands free option and speaker on their cellphone.

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Personally I think any kind of a phone call can be distracting whether it’s on your phone or done “hands free.” You should be 100% focused on your driving and the world around you and not chatting with your spouse about dinner or what to watch on T.V. that night.

If what you need to talk about is THAT IMPORTANT you should find a parking lot or a safe place to pull over and chat. Don’t chat when you are speeding down the thruway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I never use my phone when driving. My phone is either in my purse in the backseat or side pocket on my car door (I have a small purse) or in my pocket. The only time you will visually see my phone when I am driving is if I need to charge it. Even then I place the phone in the cup holder in my car and forget it’s even there.

When you are not distracted you are better able to focus on what is going on around you so that you can deal with driving hazards. Take for example a recent incident with my husband. He went into the left lane to make a left hand turn. Someone coming from the opposite direction went into his lane thinking it was the turning lane to go into the diner. Had my husband not been 100% focuses on his driving he could have been involved in a head-on collision. Thankfully he was fully aware of his surroundings and was able to quickly get out of the turning lane before the other car hit him.

Another recent incident happened to me the other day. I was driving home from the store with my son when and elderly man with a cane stepped out into the road before me. I slammed on my breaks immediately. Turns out he suffers from dementia. Thankfully his daughter was with him to get him back on the sidewalk where they were walking.

road

If was even slightly distracted I could have hit him!

Driving is not a right – it’s a privileged. As such you should give it your un-divided attention all the time.

Don’t talk and drive. It’s that simple. If you feel you might be too tempted, put your phone in the backseat or trunk. Or simply turn off your phone so you are not tempted to check to see if you have text messages.

The National Safety Council has a wealth of information and resources to help you not to be a distracted driver. You can find all the materials here.

The NSC is also asking drivers to take the pledge to drive cell free. I hope you will take a moment to take the pledge. You can take the pledge here.

The NSC is also hosting a FREE 1 hour webinar on Wednesday April 6 at 12:00 PM (EST) / 9:00 AM (PST). The webinar is about how car manufacturers are in an arms race to make vehicles as connected as possible – but at what cost? Research is showing that voice-activated technologies may be distracting, which means they are not a good alternative to using a cell phone while driving. Please click here to register for the webinar.

To see what others are saying please check out the hashtag #TakeBackMyDrive and check out @NSCsafety on Twitter.

Do you use your phone (hands-free or in your hand) when driving? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts on this matter.

National Safety Council Logo

Kimberly

*I have partnered with NSC to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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The 6 Dangers Teens Face on the MeetMe App

 

Skype

TeenSafe, one of the most popular parental monitoring technology service, is developing a guide on everything parents need to know about MeetMe, one of the hundreds of apps teens use for socializing that have the potential to become dangerous.

In fact, in 2014 the San Francisco city attorney sued MeetMe  after three separate sex-crime cases that stemmed from conversations started on the app occurred in California.

MeetMe differentiates itself from other social networks because it introduces people to new friends instead of connecting them to existing ones.

Below are some quick facts about MeetMe and the dangers teens may face by simply logging on.

What are the dangers of MeetMe?

  • Members can be introduced to other users located nearby — You will be able to see profile pictures, basic information and choose to message MeetMe. Users can also browse through the newsfeed of people nearby.
  • Widely considered to be a dating app to find people nearby —There are games available for users to play that feed into the dating app reputation, including the Blind Date game, where users are asked to answer questions to be introduced to a match.
  • “Ask Me” feature — Anonymous questions can be sent to users, which are not monitored or censored, so the content can sometimes turn explicit.
  • No profile information is verified — Predators can easily pose as teens to befriend and lure other teens to meet in person. The fact that MeetMe matches users based on location elevates the possible danger.
  • Automatic public privacy settings – Unless teens log in to their accounts and manually change their privacy settings, the app will automatically have everything set up to be public, meaning any MeetMe user in the area will be able to view your photos and information.
  • Private messaging and photo exchange – These features introduce the possibility that your teen could be cyberbullied based on his or her looks, values, or comments made on the app, leading to low self-esteem and emotional stress.

 The Numbers Behind MeetMe

  • There are more than one million daily active users on MeetMe.
  • In 2012, MeetMe was named one of the 25 most trafficked websites.
  • There is a minimum age limit of 13 on MeetMe, however since this is nearly impossible for the app to verify, it does not stop younger users from joining.
  • There are over 100 million MeetMe users.
  • About 25% of these users are between the ages of 13 and 17.
  • MeetMe was named as one of the 6 adult dating apps that teens are using too much by The Huffington Post.

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*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 

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Spring Cleaning Tips to Clean Up Your Cyber Clutter

 

technology

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) are encouraging consumers to put cybersecurity top of mind by urging them to make digital devices an additional target of their spring cleaning activities. NCSA and BBB encourage everyone to make a thorough “digital spring cleaning” an annual ritual. Internet users can get a fresh start with their online life by keeping all machines clean, purging their online files, enhancing security features and ensuring that their online reputation shines.

Seasonal changes always have an impact on our lives ‒ whether it’s the biannual changing of our clocks or swapping our skis for a baseball glove. It has also become the time to declutter and start anew,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “Our lives have become increasingly connected and, with multiple devices, we accumulate digital clutter that needs attention. That’s why we’re adding a new spin on spring cleaning that can help you be more secure online, protect valuable, personal information and avoid identity theft. By following our handy checklist, investing a little time each week and performing a series of simple chores, you can dramatically strengthen your security posture. In addition, your digital life will be more manageable and you will have peace of mind that you are helping protect your family and the extended online community while enjoying the Internet with greater confidence.”

“For many years, BBB has hosted Secure Your ID Day shredding events to help consumers safely dispose of paper files they no longer need,” noted Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “In recent years, many events have added electronic shredding to the mix to help consumers deal with old hard drives and other electronic data storage. We are urging more businesses, employers and institutions to join with us in hosting shred events for employees and customers to safely scrap documents and files that could be used for identity theft. This year’s Secure Your ID Day is April 16, but any day is a good day for digital spring cleaning.”

One of the hardest parts of any decluttering process is determining what to undertake first ‒ not to mention deciding who will do what. So why not approach your digital spring cleaning like a pro? Create an action plan that assigns maintenance tasks to appropriate family members. NCSA’s downloadable Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist is user-friendly and will help keep everyone organized. The checklist includes a four-week list of tasks grouped together by category. Parents are urged to get the whole family involved as some duties may be better for adults to handle and others are perfectly suited for kids.

mom and child with ipad

Follow this four-week outline and clean up your family’s online life with an easy-to-follow timeline and plan:

Week 1: Keep Clean Machines

As a very basic first step, make sure that all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections. Use this as a launch pad for your month of digital maintenance.

  • Keep all critical software current: Having all software current is one of the best security measures you can take. This includes security software, web browsers, document readers, operating systems and any other software you use regularly.
  • Clean up your mobile life: Most of us have apps we no longer use as well as ones that need updating. Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile device. An added benefit of deleting unused apps is more storage space and longer battery life. Actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone and camera – making sure apps use them appropriately.

Week 2: Make Sure You’re Secure 

Building on Week 1, users can enhance the security of their online accounts – a fast and simple way to be safer online. There are quick and easy things you can do that have long-term safety and security benefits.

  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication ‒ on accounts where available. Many of the Internet’s most popular email services, social networks and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt in to turn it on. Visit stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to learn more and view a list of the websites that offer two-factor authentication.
  • Secure your router: Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as “the Jones Family” or “123 Elm Street”. Update your router software as well.
  • Make better passwords: If your passwords are too short or easy to guess, it’s like leaving the front door to your home unlocked. Longer passwords and those that combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols provide better protection.
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords ‒ at least for key accounts like email, banking,and social networking ‒ helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place in your home.
  • Secure your phone:Use a passcode or a finger swipe to unlock your phone.

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Week 3: Digital File Purge and Protection

Tend to your digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you do for paper files.

  • Clean up your email: Save only those emails you really need. Your inbox is likely stuffed with lots of outdated materials. Delete or archive what you don’t need and be sure to empty your deleted mail folders.
  • File upkeep: Delete or archive older files such as numerous drafts of the same document and outdated financial statements.
  • Manage subscriptions: Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read.
  • Dispose of electronics securely: Wiping data isn’t enough. When you dispose of old electronics, look for facilities that shred hard drives, disks and memory cards. BBB is hosting Secure Your ID Day shredding events in communities nationwide, and many of these will include electronic shredding. Some municipalities also offer this service.
  • Update your online photo album: Back up photos you want to keep, and delete old or less flattering pictures of yourself and your family and friends. In addition to not showing your best side, they take up space.
  • Update your online relationships: Review friends on social networks and contacts on phones and PCs and make sure everyone on those lists still belongs.                                                                                .
  • Back it up: Copy important data to a secure cloud site or to another drive where it can be safely stored. Password protect backup drives and keep them in a different location off the network for maximum security. Commit to doing backups on a regular basis.
  • Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices: Make sure to permanently delete old files.

Week 4: Clean Up Your Online Reputation

Parents and older kids with social media accounts can take an active role in making sure their online reputation is squeaky clean.

  • Own your online presence: Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit with whom you share information.
  • Clean up your social media presence: Delete old photos and comments that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are.
  • Update your “online self”: Are your social media sites up to date? Review your personal information and update it where needed.

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Twitter Chat Details and Resources

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*I was not compensated for this post. I am sharing these tips for the benefit of site readers. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

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