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Home Safety: The Family Gathering

 

Whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving or the 4th of July the family gathering can be a time of joy and cherished memories. With your family growing every year, your annual gathering may be getting bigger and bigger all the time. As the generations start to spread, you may find that you are entertaining children and seniors all in the same house and you need to be prepared for everyone’s needs.

No one likes to think about emergency situations during the holidays, but accidents can happen anytime. In a crowded situation, they can happen even more easily.  When you are getting ready to host a family gathering, take some time to consider the safety in your home and how it will affect all of your guests.

Being prepared, when you have a crowd coming to your home can mean more than having your food and entertainment ready. The comfort and safety of your guests are just as important. With many age groups represented in a family, it’s a good idea that at least one person has emergency medical knowledge or a CPR certification just in case of emergency. Take a look at some of the simple safety issues that you should address before your next family gathering.

Allergies

Many adults and children suffer from food allergies. Make sure that you have a list of any allergies or food items that you should avoid serving. Non-food allergies should also be considered. You may have a guest that is allergic to your pet or has a high sensitivity to odors or scents.

Diet

Some of your senior guests may be on highly restricted diets. Get their information before you start planning your menu and try to be creative about putting out options for everyone. Invite your guests to bring their own meals if necessary. It’s always a good idea to have some vegetarian options for the non-meat eaters in your family.

Babies & Toddlers

If it’s been awhile since you have had little feet running through your house, you should take a minute to do some quick child proofing before a family gathering. Set up barriers or gates to keep kids isolated to one area or level of the house and keep delicate or breakable items up high and out of reach.

Mobility

You may have family members with mobility issues that will need to be taken care of.  Always make sure that your entryways are clear of snow or debris to eliminate any fall hazards. Make arrangements to assist your family members on any stairs where necessary and get them set up in a comfortable area where they will not need to move too much.

Emergency Info

Having your guests bring their emergency information with them can be a really big help in case of any emergency. Basic medical info and a doctors contact info is plenty for most guests. Be aware of any guests that may be Diabetic, have heart issues or a pacemaker and require special care or medication.

Child Identity Theft, the Fasted Growing Crime in the US

*This is a sponsored guest post. The opinions expressed is that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

Have you ever thought about the importance of having some kind of identity theft protection? It seems like news reports are constantly reporting on corporate data breaches, such as 2018’s Panera, Facebook, Orbitz, Lord & Taylor and Saks. These breaches might have prompted you to think about getting protected. Exactly how many digital gates have been left open exposing personal, private information?

Even more startling, children may be at an even greater risk of identity theft. Most parents don’t think about protecting their child’s social security number. Often it’s because a child’s social security number (SSN) cannot be “legally” used until they are old enough to get a job, or when they are 18 and applying for college loans and/or credit cards.

“Legally” being the important word here. Hackers are always one step ahead. They are now creating “synthetic” identities using a child’s real SSN, along with a fake name and date of birth.  A hackers illegal use of a child’s SSN can go undetected for years!

How is this illegal activity going undetected? It’s because most parents don’t think about having to keep any eye on a child’s SSN because legally there should not be any activity associated with it.

Another thing to think about is in the other ways a child’s personal personal information is exposed. Such examples include when a child starts school, camp, and sports. Parents are filling out form after form with all their personal information including social security numbers. Have you ever thought about where this information is being stored? In a milk crate in the back of the coach’s car? In a filing cabinet at the school? The truth is, we have no idea!

There is a company called Identity Protection Planning LLC, that can help protect not only you, but also your child.

Identity Protection Planning LLC was founded by Dana Mantilia Coady. Dana is a business woman with three of her own children and four step children. Protecting children is very near and dear to her heart. Identity Protection Planning was developed to focus on educating, organizing, and protecting families from identity theft. There is a real need to help educate parents on the risks associated with both adult and child identity theft.

Identity Protection Planning’s family focus  is why they offer IDENTRON identity theft protection plans. Read why IDENTRON is different from other identity theft protection companies here – IDENTRON.com/Why-IDENTRON

IDENTRON provides the most comprehensive family identity theft protection available on the market today. The IDENTRON Parent Plan provides complete protection for one (1) adult and up to four (4) children for roughly 80¢ a day.

With everything busy parents have to deal with, they don’t have extra time to deal with cleaning up an identity theft mess for themselves, let alone their child. That is why you should take a few minutes to check out which IDENTRON plan would suit your family needs. You can learn more about their pans here – Identron.com/Plans.

For more information about IDENTRON, visit Identron.com.

Have you ever given any thought to your child’s identity being stolen?

Have you ever been the victim of a stolen identity?

About the author: 

Dana Mantilia lives in Connecticut. She is a Mom, wife and business entrepreneur. Dana has earned status as a Certified Identification Protection Advisor from the Identity Management Institute. While researching and educating herself on the increasing risks associated with identity theft, she realized how prevalent child identity theft. After speaking with hundreds of everyday parents Dana recognized a lack of child identity theft awareness. She developed Identity Protection Planning LLC. A company that focuses on educating, organizing and protecting all family members (including minor children) from identity theft.

*According to the Federal Trade Commission

Rescue Guard – Something you don’t think you need, but you do!

 

A few weeks ago we had a snow storm. There wasn’t anything special about it except it took the towns off guard and they were not prepared for it. They didn’t have enough salters and plowers on the roads, which caused a huge nightmare for anyone trying to drive in it.

My husband left work in New Jersey (we live in New York). It took him 45 minutes to drive to the end of the road (seriously). Forget the almost hour drive home on a good day. He ended up turning around and going back to his office to wait it out until the roads were finally salted and plowed so he can get home. He gets off work at 3:30 in the afternoon. He didn’t get home until 2:30 AM the following morning.

Our daughter had it much worse. Her car got stuck in the middle of the road. She did get some help pushing her off the road, but they pushed her off on the left side of the road (in the medium) and not to the right side.

Our daughter was stuck in her car for over 5+ hours. My husband couldn’t get her because he was stuck at work, and I couldn’t get her because I would have got stuck too (we don’t have four wheel drive). She called everyone she knew to help her and I did the same thing. The Police couldn’t help her because there were cars and accidents everywhere and the tow truck drivers were busy towing hundreds (no exaggeration) of cars off the road.

There she was with no warm clothing. No food. No water. Nothing. She had no safety products available to her.

Because of her experience, and the fact my husband could have suffered the safe fate if he were to continue trying to drive home, we created a “safety box” for our kids to keep in their car. In the box there are two pairs of thermal socks, heavy gloves, hats, scarves, a blanket, non-perishable food, water and a first aid kit. I want to get them other car safety products, but I haven’t had a chance to buy them yet.

No one really thinks about what they need in case of an foreseen emergency until it’s too late. Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes can happen at any time, any where. You might find that you have to flee you home in a moment’s notice. If that were to happen, do you have the supplies you need for you and your family to survive for a few days or longer? Do you have food and fresh water? What about a first aid kit? A flashlight with batteries?

Stock photo of an emergency kit.

Many people have kits, but they might not be enough, especially for multiple people. For that reason you might want to check out Rescue Guard. Rescue Guard makes emergency backpacks filled with many of the things you would need in the event of an emergency where you had to flee in a moment’s notice.

The Rescue Guard backpack is filled with enough supplies for four people for 72 hours (three days). Hopefully within that time frame a person or family will find a safe place to be, but in the meantime it’s great knowing that you have the things you need to survive.

I received a backpack from Rescue Guard to review. Let me tell you, this backpack is HEAVY and its filled to the max with supplies. I was actually reluctant to open the backpack up because I was afraid I would never get everything to fit back inside.

Rescue Guard contains so much.

  • 60 Piece First Aid Kit
  • 212 Piece Deluxe First Aid Kit
  • 2 Squeeze Powered Lights
  • 4 Emergency Ponchos
  • 4 Emergency Blankets
  • 4 Dust Masks
  • 4 Latex Free Exam Gloves
  • 4 Biohazard Bags
  • 1 Deck of Playing Cards
  • 4 Tissue Packs
  • Light Sticks (2 pack)
  • Survival Whistle/Compass
  • Backpack
  • Firestarter Flint & Steel
  • Emergency Tent
  • Emergency Plan/Contact
  • 4 Emergency Food Rations
  • 24 Emergency Drinking Waters
  • Wire Saw
  • 12 Pre-moistened Towelettes
  • Duct Tape
  • Leather Gloves
  • Multi-Function Tool
  • 2 Survival Sleeping Bags

A peek inside the bag. The water “packets” are seen bunched together on the right side.

Yes, ALL of this is squeezed into the backpack (which is why it’s heavy). You can also add other items as needed.

I would recommend packing another backpack with diapers and baby supplies (if you have an infant) and/or pet food and supplies if you have pets. Don’t forget about your pets in a time of emergencies.

I have to admit, there are a lot of products in this bag that I would never think to pack, but they make perfect sense. Honestly, I would never give sleeping bags and a tent a thought, nor would I think about another way of making fire aside from matches (if matches get wet they won’t work). Gloves, duct tape, emergency blankets and glow sticks are other great products to have on hand that I would never have thought of.

The food rations consist of six highly food bars per person (for four people). The instructions read to eat two bars per day. I don’t want to open them up to try them out. I don’t want to waste them. They are vacuumed sealed in “bricks.” It says to replace them every five years, which is good to know.

The water comes in “bags” and the instructions are to drink two of them per day. My only concern with this water is leaving the bag in the car and having the water freeze. It might burst the bags open.

I could go on and on about this emergency bag from Rescue Guard, but there is just so much inside that this post would be super long if I went through each and every item.

Rescue Guard kits are available on Amazon. You can follow this link (where I linked on Amazon) to learn more and to learn more about each of the packs. It is NOT an affiliate link either.

Here are the available packs.

Basic Surival Pack ($49.95)

This kit contains the necessary food and water with a 61-piece First Aid kit and shelter items for up to 6 days for a single person or 72 hours for 2 people.

Intermediate Survival Pack ($99.95)

This kit contains food, water, and all the supplies needed for up to 12 days for a single person or 6 days for 2 people or 72 hours for 4 people. This is the kit that I was sent to review.

Advanced Survival Pack ($169.95)

This kit includes everything from the Intermediate Survival Kit. It also contains a survival knife, ax, lantern, gloves, as well as additional survival tools.

Now is a great time to think about your emergency plan. Are you prepared? Are you FULLY prepared? Be honest with yourself. If you’re not prepared, please make it a priority to prepare yourself and your family for the unimaginable. Natural disasters can strike at any time.

Stock photo – Hurricane Katrina – New Orleans, LA

Kimberly

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

Give the gift of safety and power with a MyCharge AdventureUltra portable charger

 

When it comes to buying Christmas presents, I normally look for something fun and unique. I prefer those types of gifts over practical ones, but sometimes, practical gifts make the best gifts.

The winter months are fast approaching. Some parts of the country have already experienced their first snowstorms.

Snowstorms CAN be pretty – but driving in a snowstorm and shoveling out after one are no fun. Neither is losing power, which does happen a lot. Its easy for heavy snow and/or ice to weigh down a tree branch, break it lose and have it take down a power line. Depending on the severity of the snow storm, people can be without power for hours, days or even week or more.

Thankfully the longest we went without power last winter was six hours. It also happened at night, so we just went to bed early. When we woke up in the morning we had power restored.

I try and keep a supply of batteries on hand to keep flashlights and the radio working. Sadly, that doesn’t really help when it comes to keeping your phone charged.

My whole family has portable chargers (the small, pocket sized ones) but our kids never remember to check the charge from time to time. They find out the hard way when we lose power and they don’t have enough on their charger to charge their phones. Without their phones our kids have to – dare I say – TALK to us. LOL! We can’t have that happen.

A practical gift idea to consider is the MyCharge AdventureUltra portable charger. Not only can is charge MULTIPLE smartphones, but it can also charge iPads, laptops, lanterns and more. It can even run a 32″ television for up to three hours! How many chargers do you know that can do that?

This is not a single device only type of charger. This charger can charge multiple devices at the same time. Of course, the more things you have plugged into it, the quicker it will lose its charge (the electronics plugged into it drains it of it’s charge).

Thankfully the AdventureUltra can be recharged so it can be used again and again.

The AdventureUltra is one of our largest battery banks and has the highest power output. Designed to replace the heavy and bulky generators used when tailgating or camping, the AdventureUltra is a streamlined power source that can run a 32-inch LED television for up to three hours. The AdventureUltra has a maximum power output of 45 watts, enough to run a fan or recharge a drone battery. It can also be used with 2 in 1 laptops and new laptops, such as the 12-inch MacBook, that require less than 45 watts either when powered off and solely charging or when powered on and charging simultaneously.

I was sent one to review. Luckily we haven’t lost power, but I was able to test its ability with charging our devices from around our home (phones, iPads, my husband’s laptop…).

The AdventureUltra is not that large, or heavy. Its about the size of our router box for our internet provider. It’s measurements are .2 in x 5.8 in x 4.1 in, and it weighs barely over a pound. This makes the AdventureUltra very portable. You can take it with you when you travel, go camping or just about anywhere that you might need power.

If I recall correctly, the one I received to review (brand new, never opened) already had a charge on it. Just to make sure it was fully charged I plugged it in for a bit.

I believe the device holds a full charge for up to a year, but it’s recommended that the charge be checked every once in a while when not in use. I told my husband we should check it whenever we change the clocks and check the batteries in our smoke detectors. If we get into that habit we shouldn’t ever be caught without a full charge.

We were able to fully charge our phones (iPhones), our iPads (one newer, one older) and my husband’s laptop (his is small – my laptop is bigger) with no problem. We even plugged in the lamp in our living room and it worked like a charm (although I never thought to see how long it kept the lamp working). I much rather have light from a lamp than a flashlight in the event of a blackout.

Here are some more details about the MyCharge AdventureUltra portable charger.

  • Smart-sense: ensures complete device compatibility
  • Hyper-charge: ultra-fast charging of your devices; up to 65% faster than competitors
  • Power-stay: maintains battery power for up to 1 year
  • Max-power: maximum power transfer from powerbank to device
  • High-density battery: the smallest and lightest powerbank
  • Safe-cell: provides the highest level of battery safety
  • Rapid-recharge: powerbank recharges up to 50% faster than competitors
  • Pass Through Charging: will charge the powerbank and connected device simultaneously

I should add that there is a power display so that you know how much charge you have left on it. It also lets you know if it’s off or on. I can’t find the directions for it, but I believe it also shuts off when not in use to conserve power, but I could be wrong about that.

Ideally I’d love to have another one like this, as a back up, in case we lose power for a longer period of time. The longest was three days back when Hurricane Floyd (1999). Hopefully we never have to experience that ever again, but you can never be too certain.

With the holiday season upon us, the MyCharge AdventureUltra portable charger would make a great gift, especially for an elderly person, someone who loves to go camping, hunters, someone who loves tailgating or anyone you feel would appreciate this practical and very useful gift. I would even think this would make a great gift for a college student, just in case they lose power in their dorm.

For more information about this and other MyCharge products, visit MyCharge.com. The brand can also be found on social media. Their links are on their home page.

What do you think about the MyCharge AdventureUltra portable charger? Does it sound like something you need in your life? Would you consider giving this as a gift? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Kimberly

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

Tips for Preventing Holiday Season Break-ins

 

Many people will be leaving their home during the next couple of months to travel across town or even across the country to visit family and friends for the holiday season and according to the FBI, a home burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the United States. It is important to prep your home and put safety precautions in place before hitting the road or boarding an airplane to ensure you don’t return to a total nightmare.  Krav Maga Worldwide, the industry leader in self-defense and safety, has put together tips for deterring burglars and keeping homes safe during holiday travel season.

Remove opportunities for burglars to hide from view by keeping bushes and trees trimmed. Try to keep these types of plants away from windows where burglars could use them as cover for breaking and entering.

Install adequate lighting around your home, especially walkways and entry areas. Motion sensors are highly recommended and can scare away an intruder. When away from home for an extended time period, also consider at least two light timers to turn on and off in a logical sequence.

Doors and Locks

  • Make sure you have sturdy, metal or solid-wood doors at all entries into your home and install well-made deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Install a dowel or pin to prevent sliding glass doors from being compromised. If you have a garage, ensure the overhead garage door has a lock. Do not rely solely on the automatic garage door opener to secure the area.

Cameras, Alarms and other safety gadgets.

  • Research hi-tech gadgets that can help monitor your home while you are away. Cameras, alarms, smart locks and other hi-tech items can make it tougher for burglars to gain access to your property as well as deter them from even attempting to break in.

Neighbors.

  • Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away and ask them to keep an eye out for suspicious activity around your house. Supply them with a spare key and also ask if they can collect any mail or packages that are left so that burglars don’t notice the mail piling up in your absence. If not, have the post office hold all mail and packages until you get back.

About the author: 

For more information check out www.kravmaga.com see the Facebook page (Krav Maga Worldwide), follow on Instagram @krav_maga_worldwide or call 800.572.8624.

 

Five Unknown Privacy Dangers with Smart-Home Technology

**This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.

Big data is one of the most popular terms used by businesses and consumers alike. Individuals have begun to understand exactly how their personal data is being used, but many still don’t understand the hidden dangers in every day technology. Items like smart phones, location services, smart TVs, and speech programs store user data without their knowledge.  Here are some of the most common yet hidden privacy dangers facing us today.

Web Browsers and Apps

Before smart phones existed, “apps” were nonexistent. Anything accessed now through an app, was before accessed through an internet browser.  The web browser on a smart phone is what is referred to in the cyber security industry as “sandboxed,” meaning it cannot access general data on the system or control hardware.  An installed app however can be coded to do anything it wants to gain access to any hardware the user has control of.  Take the History Channel for example, if a user accesses the site from a laptop, they can access the entire website without a problem.  However, if accessed through a web browser on a smart phone, the user is promoted to “download the app.” Many times, if you do not download the app, the website will disable you from viewing or using it, forcing you to download the app and giving up your personal information in the process. After downloading the app, it asks for permission to access the camera and the microphone on your device.  This is because the app is storing personal information of its users outside of what happens within the History Channel app you just downloaded.

Shopping & Savings Cards

Are these just great programs to help you save a little money at various stores? What is in it for the business offering these ‘savings’?  There are some little- known privacy danger inherent in the “frequent shopper” or savings cards offered by many grocery stores and retailers.  These organizations are saving, analyzing, and sharing information on what you buy, when you buy it, and predicting future sales.  The savings passed on to the consumer are far less than the amount of money these companies are making by selling the information to outside resources regarding your purchasing history and habits.  Specifically, Kroger and Ingles make over 200% more profit from the data that they sell than the savings that the consumer experiences.  The best way to protect oneself from the sharing of personal information, is to limit the number of programs you participate in.

Speech Software & Smart TV’s

Speech software such as Cortana, Alexa, and Siri have become increasingly popular in the past few years. However, if you are running these services in your home or office, then you have an active listening device running at all times.  Essentially, you are “bugged.”  These services are running, tapping and sending your audio steams to remote servers daily.  Many fail to realize that the cameras on these devices can be turned on without the light being activated. Meaning, your smart TV can be watching you even when you aren’t watching it. All of this can be done without downloading any related software because the software is already built-in.  Some smart TV’s will not turn on if the camera is covered with tape, or if the microphone has been disabled.  If you’re living in the United States and utilizing a smart TV, it’s likely monitoring and watching you.

Social Media

Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram are all social media services that are provided to individuals for “free,” but have you ever wondered what the real cost might be?  It is often said that if you don’t have to PAY for the service, then you probably ARE the service.  The hidden cost for utilizing these social media sites is the forfeit of personal information for the social media sites to sell and thus profit from.  In fact, Google and Yahoo can actually read their customers personal email.  Some individuals might say they don’t mind because they have “nothing to hide,” but wouldn’t you be wary of publicly posting your login credentials not knowing who might have access? Giving these large organizations rights to your private messages, can be interpreted as pretty much the same thing.  After all, isn’t your personal email just that – personal? Another unknown fact about Facebook is that they can create “ghost profiles” using facial recognition for people who do not have an account, but appear in someone else’s photos. During the Dakota Pipeline Protests, Facebook sold the private chat messages of its users who were discussing the matter to the FBI and local police, as well as private security companies who further reported inside information directly to the pipeline company.  Because the information was “for sale,” the police didn’t need a warrant to obtain confidential information- they simply needed to buy it.  This is just one of the many ways that social media affects those who don’t realize the implications.

Geo-Location

Geo-Location can be convenient, especially when you’re lost or need GPS services.  However, many fail to realize that any information surrounding your location is stored and archived, and then often times sold to a 3rd party who wants to use that information for a wide variety of reasons.  For example, are you aware that data is often collected during your shopping experiences? A variety of stores will purchase location information to determine how long a customer browsed in a particular aisle, so that they can further market to those customers in the future- promoting similar products.  The information may seem harmless, but would you feel that same way if you saw a physical person following you around collecting the same information?

About the Author:

Greg Sparrow is the Vice President & General Manager of CompliancePoint’s Information Security Practice. Greg has over 15 years of experience with Information Security, Cyber Security, and Risk Management. His knowledge spans across multiple industries and entities including healthcare, government, card issuers, banks, ATMs, acquirers, merchants, hardware vendors, encryption technologies, and key management.