Customize up to 300 color glossy pages in our disaster books … for FREE!

July 20, 2014

 

Yes … you read that right. Our upgrade option now allows agencies, businesses and organizations to add up to 288 extra color glossy pages in our IT’S A DISASTER! books for a total of 300 customizable pages..!

Our regular 266-page manual provides tips on what people should think about and do before, during and after specific types of emergencies and disasters, as well as how to administer basic first aid.

DC HSEMA has been using custom IT'S A DISASTER! books as outreach since 2002

DC HSEMA has been using custom IT’S A DISASTER! books as outreach since 2002

Both the public and private sectors have been using our preparedness books (and ebooks, CDs and flash drives) for volunteers, employees, customers and local communities since 1999.

We customize books in the print process on 1,000 unit (& larger) orders and the covers and first 12 pages can be personalized at no additional charge.

And if you want 48 to 288 extra full color glossy pages, the government/nonprofit upgrade price is $5.50 U.S. each … and the business price is $6.50 each. (Note: This is higher than our normal Government/nonprofit book price … and a little cheaper than our bulk business price.) Upgrade prices include free customization and free freight within 48 contiguous U.S. states.

It’s a great Public-Private Partnership tool

Our company (Fedhealth) has been listed on FEMA’s Public Private Partnership Tools page as a Private Sector Resource since 2010. FEMA believes that every community benefits from public-private collaboration in emergency management.

Groups can partner with local Chambers, Rotary Clubs, Local Emergency Planning Committees, UASIs, VOADs, grocery, discount and hardware stores and others … and encourage them to place full color ads inside books for day to day goods and services. Consider collecting ridiculously LOW prices to advertise and remind advertisers and sponsors that books will STAY in the home year round (unlike many other forms of print advertising). And, if paperbacks are filled with coupons, QR codes and savings on things like groceries, preparedness supplies, lawn care, haircuts, dry cleaning and more, the public (and advertisers) will look forward to new versions of the book year after year.

The goal is to use this customized “tool” to encourage and incentivize people to keep your custom book around so they will constantly reference the data. A great way to do that is to fill the paperback full of coupons and savings on every day products and services from your local partners. Basically we are “buying the public’s engagement” while helping whole communities prepare for the unexpected, plus it’s a great way for groups to raise funds.

For example, groups can…

  • Customize books with logos, evacuation maps, shelter data, emergency plans, etc for FREE;
  • Collaborate with Chambers, LEPCs and others to place advertisements and coupons in books;
  • Include discounts on products and services to help people save money on everyday items;
  • Collect cash, lines of credit or barter / trade for ads to help fund groups and sustain your project;
  • Partner with others to combine grants, sponsorship dollars + ad revenues to expand projects (we can invoice each amount to keep everyone’s records clean);
  • Upgrade order to include up to 288 additional glossy pages and collect $$$for ads;
  • Earn tons of match from books and ad revenues that can be used on matching grants programs;
  • Give books to schools, Scouts, volunteer groups, etc. to help disseminate materials.

Use the color glossy pages to build and expand public-private partnerships and offer coupons and savings to motivate and engage the public while raising funds for volunteers or projects.

Funding examples

Say a nonprofit or volunteer group (like a CERT) wants 1,000 custom books with a 48-page color glossy section added (total of 60 custom bound pages) and collects $200 for each 1/4-page ad…

Sell 50 1/4-page ads:  $200/ad x 4 ads/pg x 50 pgs = $40,000

Cost for 1,000 books with 48 extra color glossy pages = $5,500

Total funds leftover for nonprofit/CERT = $34,500 … and more funds could be raised by collecting more per ad or offering premium placement on outside color covers, inside covers, use some more color pages for ads, etc.


Now let’s say a Region or association/Rotary wants 50,000 custom books with 288 extra color glossy pages and collects $5,000 for each full page ad…

Sell 288 pgs of full pg ads: $5,000/ad x 288 pgs = $1,440,000

Cost for 50,000 books w/ 288 extra color glossy pgs = $275,000

Total funds leftover for Region/Assoc/Rotary = $1,165,000 … and more funds could be raised by collecting more per ad or offering premium placement on outside color covers, inside covers, use more pages for ads, etc.

Note: A $5,000 ad is only 10 cents per book that goes into 50,000 homes..! That’s cheaper than a postcard … plus a 576 page book STAYS around.

Please realize we have to bundle 1,000 unit & up custom jobs together and print minimum 20,000 books at a time several times a year. Also … we can do multiple versions of books for projects (1,000 & up per version) so you can customize covers and pages by area, county, division, agency, etc.

NOTE: We are doing a custom print early August so books are ready for National Preparedness Monthread more here!

And remember, in small quantities and on rush orders we can always customize our “standard” red books with free peel and stick labels.

Download a 2-page PDF overview with a few examples, learn more about this creative PPP tool and how to upgrade, … or call FedHealth at 1-888-999-4325 to discuss your needs.

Above appeared in our  July 2014 Fedhealth enews


Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick chart via tickmaster

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                               tick removal 1 of 2 images via CDC      tick removal 2 of 2 images via CDC

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

CDPH’s Don’t Let the Ticks Bite - Curriculum Guide for Teachers

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 - Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some - ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease - NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard - ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem - Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews - and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

May 10, 2014

orange blossom beeWe see bees often here in Southern Arizona – especially when spring is in full bloom. But with bees come the chance of swarms and stings.

We primarily have Africanized bees… but, for the most part, they leave humans alone unless someone disturbs a hive or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few years ago Bill and I were out in the front yard doing chores and heard — then saw — a swarm of bees coming down the middle of our street. The swarm then flew across our neighbor’s yard (across the street from us) so we figured it went into the wildlife corridor behind their home.

The next day we discovered the bees were hanging out in our neighbor’s mesquite tree so they called a bee removal team.

Before the team arrived Bill took this great pic of the bee mosh pit. And yes … the below bee ball is solid bees! Then the swarm flew away just before the removal team showed up.

bee ball

Since spring has sprung in many parts of the world, we wanted to share some basic first aid tips about insect bites & stings in general.

Things to watch for…

  • Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
  • Puncture or bite mark
  • Burning pain or Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)
  • If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)… Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • Move quickly and calmly away from area if there is a swarm, hive or nest nearby.
  • If a bee sting, remove stinger(s) by scraping it away with credit card, knife or long fingernail. Don’t try to squeeze it out with your fingers or tweezers since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack or cold compress.
  • Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element, but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.

Some other potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

  • fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
  • lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
  • vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
  • store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!
  • Learn more about West Nile Virus

 

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual by Bill & Janet Liebsch


Doing another bundled print late May – call if you need custom preparedness books

May 9, 2014

View custom samplesSeveral agencies need custom books for their communities ASAP so we plan to do a large bundled print late-May 2014.

If you or any agencies, businesses or nonprofits you know would like a customized version of our disaster preparedness and first aid manual, please call Fedhealth at 1-888-999-4325 to discuss your needs.

Books make great educational giveaways for employees, customers and local communities, and our customizable tool can help clear out leftover grant dollars that are time sensitive.

We discount our 266-page book 50% to 75% off list (or as low as $3.50 U.S. each) and personalize them for free (in print process [1,000 units & up] .. OR .. with peel & sticker labels on our standard red books [any Quantity]).

You can change the entire outside cover (including the book title) and the first 12 pages can be customized with your contact information, evacuation routes, marketing data, advertisements and sponsorship messages from local partners and more.  (The books are all the same after first 12 pages ~ view some sample covers and pages.)

Also … going forward, we’ll be printing all custom pages in FULL color on glossy paper at no extra charge!

And if you need additional pages, we can insert 48 (or more) color pages in front or back for an upgrade price. This feature comes in handy if agencies or groups want to partner with local businesses, chambers and others to include coupons and discounts for communities … or incorporate other booklets or educational materials inside custom books. We also have some creative funding ideas in our nickels and dimes post.

Again, we hope to send all completed artwork to our printer late May for a late June delivery.

Learn more or call us at 1-888-999-4325Fedhealth is proud to be 1 of 8 Private Sector resources listed on FEMA’s Public Private Partnership Tools page since 2010.


Preparing for a Wildfire (fire mitigation + safety tips)

April 25, 2014

rim-fire-usfs

According to the National Park Service, as many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, recreational vehicles, target shooting (including exploding rifle targets), and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.

As our population continues to grow, more and more people are building homes in places that were once pristine wilderness areas. Homeowners who build in remote and wooded areas must take responsibility for the way their buildings are constructed and the way they landscape around them.

Wildfire Mitigation Tips

Use Fire Resistant Building MaterialsThe roof and exterior structure of your home and other buildings should be constructed of non-combustible or fire-resistant materials. If wood siding, cedar shakes or any other highly combustible materials are used, they should be treated with fire retardant chemicals.

Landscape wiselyPlant fire-resistant shrubs and trees to minimize the spread of fire and space your landscaping so fire is not carried to your home or other surrounding vegetation. Remove vines from the walls of your home.

wildfire defensible space md dnrCreate a “safety zone” or defensible space around the house

  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Stack firewood at least 30 to 100 feet (10 to 30 m) away and uphill from home.
  • Keep roof and gutters free of pine needles, leaves, and branches and clear away flammable vegetation at least 30 to 100 feet (9 to 30 m) from around structures.
  • Thin a 15-foot (4.5 m) space between tree crowns and remove limbs within 10-15 feet (3 – 4.5 m) of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 10 feet (3 m) of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Keep combustibles away from structures and clear a 10-foot (3 m) area around propane tanks, boats, etc.
  • Review Cal Fire’s helpful diagrams on making a Defensible zone

Protect your home

  • Install smoke detectors, test them each month and change batteries once a year.
  • Install protective shutters or fire-resistant drapes.
  • Inspect chimneys twice a year and clean every year.
  • Cover chimney and stovepipe flue openings with 1/2 inch (1 cm) or smaller non-flammable mesh screen.
  • Use same mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and home itself. Also screen openings to attic and roof.
  • Soak ashes and charcoal briquettes in water for two days in a metal bucket.
  • Keep a garden hose connected to an outlet.
  • Have fire tools handy (ladder, shovel, rake, ax, etc.)
  • Put your address on all structures so it can be seen from the road.

Campfire Safety - Campfires are a common cause of brush fires or wildfires so please be careful when you’re out in deserts, mountains, or any other heavy vegetation areas.

NEVER leave a campfire burning – make sure it is completely out using plenty of water before leaving the area. Stir the coals around with a stick or log while pouring water over them to ensure all the coals get wet and they are no longer hot. Any hot coals left unattended can be easily ignited by wind since they can stay hot for 24 – 48 hours.

When building a campfire, always choose a level site, clear away any branches and twigs several feet from the fire, and never build a fire beneath tree branches or on surface roots. Also, build at least 10 feet (3 m) from any large rocks that could be blackened by smoke or cracked from a fire’s heat.

See your local Forest Service office or Ranger Station for more information on campfires and permits or visit www.fs.fed.us or www.pc.gc.ca

wildfire-USFS

 

BEFORE A WILDFIRE (FIRE SAFETY TIPS):

Prepare – See Mitigation tips above.

Learn fire laws – Ask fire authorities or the forestry office for information on fire laws (like techniques, safest times to burn in your area, etc.)

Could they find & reach you? – Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your property and that your address is clearly marked.

Safety zone – Create a 30-100 foot (9-30 m) safety zone around your home.

Teach kids – Explain to children that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys… and if they see someone playing with fire they should tell an adult right away. And teach kids how to report a fire and when to call 9-1-1.

Tell authorities – Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to local authorities and leave if you are told to evacuate.

 

DURING A WILDFIRE:

Listen – Have a radio to keep up on news, weather and evacuation routes.

Evacuate? – If you are told to leave – do so … and IF you have time also…

  • Secure your home – close windows, vents, all doors, etc.
  • Turn off utilities and tanks at main switches or valves.
  • Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
  • See Mitigation tips above.

Head downhill – Fire climbs uphill 16 times faster than on level terrain (since heat rises) so always head down when evacuating the area.

Food & water – If you prepared ahead, you’ll have your Disaster Supplies Kit handy to GRAB & GO… if not, gather up enough food and water for each family member for at least 3 days or longer!

Be understanding – Please realize the firefighters main objective is getting wildfires under control and they may not be able to save every home. Try to understand and respect the firefighters’ and local officials’ decisions.

 

AFTER A WILDFIRE:

Don’t go there – Never enter fire-damaged areas until authorities say it’s okay and watch for signs of smoke or heat in case the fire isn’t totally out.

Critters – Don’t try to care for a wounded critter — call Animal Control.

Utilities – Have an electrician check your household wiring before you turn the power back on and DO NOT try to reconnect any utilities yourself!

Damage – Look for structural damage (roof, walls, floors) — may be weak.

Call for help – Local disaster relief services (Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) can help provide shelter, food, or personal items that were destroyed.

Insurance – Call your insurance agent or representative and…

  • Keep receipts of all clean-up and repair costs
  • Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken by your insurance company.

If you rent – Contact your landlord since it is the owner’s responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.

Move your stuff – Secure belongings or move them to another location.

Above extracted from It’s A Disaster! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill & Janet Liebsch

 

Additional Resources:

Firewise Communities

National InciWeb

National Interagency Fire Center

Ready.gov Wildfire safety

Smokey the Bear

US Fire Administration Wildfire safety


Heartbleed (what it is, how to protect yourself + tips about passwords)

April 11, 2014

Heartbleed logo by Leena Snidate Codenomicon Ltd A recently discovered encryption flaw in OpenSSL – a software used by many popular social networking websites, search engines, banks, and online shopping sites to keep personal and financial data secure — has potentially exposed a majority of the internet. Not all secure sites use OpenSSL (a secure site typically has an “https://” prefix and a little padlock in the address line), but about 66% of websites do … so it’s a big deal.

The bug is called Heartbleed because it piggybacks on a feature called heartbeat and it affects specific versions of the widely-used OpenSSL cryptographic library. Basically an error that was missed over two years ago in the open OpenSSL encryption protocol allows a remote attacker to expose sensitive data, possibly including user authentication credentials and secret keys which may allow an attacker to decrypt traffic or perform other attacks.

In other words, if someone knew this bug existed, they could intercept usernames, passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information from a website’s server in plain text. It also allowed for a server’s private encryption keys to be stolen. Once stolen, these keys can be used by criminals to decrypt data sent between a website’s server and a user of that website. And, since it leaves no trace, system administrators would have no clue they were breached.

Renowned security expert Bruce Schneier said of Heartbleed, “On a scale of 1 to 10, it is an 11.”

What kinds of devices are impacted..?

MIT Technology Review explains the Heartbleed flaw could live on for years in devices like networking hardware, home automation systems, and even critical industrial-control systems, because they are infrequently updated.

Cable boxes and home Internet routers are just two of the major classes of devices likely to be affected, says Philip Lieberman, president security company Lieberman Software. “ISPs now have millions of these devices with this bug in them,” he says. The same issue likely affects many companies, because plenty of enterprise-grade network hardware and industrial and business automation system also rely on OpenSSL, and those devices are also rarely updated.

Large-scale scans of Internet addresses have previously uncovered hundreds of thousands of devices — ranging from IT equipment to traffic control systems — that are improperly configured or have not been updated to patch known flaws. (See MIT’s 2013 article called “What happened when one man pinged the whole Internet” [i.e. 3.7 billion IP addresses] for some disturbing findings about these types of devices.) 

So what does this mean to me..?

If you are a business, a developer or system administrator … upgrading to OpenSSL version 1.0.1g resolves this vulnerability, but realize SSL digital certificates are compromised too so they must be recertified. US-CERT recommends administrators and users review Vulnerability Note VU#720951 for additional information and mitigation details. There is also a way to disable the heartbeat handshake command (although it is best to upgrade) – visit http://heartbleed.com to learn more. Also … once your system is upgraded and recertified, businesses and site owners should notify all users the site is secure and encourage everyone to change their passwords as quickly as possible.

For everyone else … there’s not much we can do other than avoid the Internet (okay … so that’s not realistic) … but you can be proactive and verify all the sites you have accounts with are fixed and get ready to change passwords as explained below. As ZDNet writes… if your bank, favorite online merchant, email, cloud and/or software provider hasn’t fixed Heartbleed yet [or advised that their site didn’t use the buggy version], close your accounts and find new service providers.

What can I do to protect myself..?

Realize some sites don’t even use OpenSSL, others didn’t update to the 2012 version of SSL so they aren’t vulnerable, and many others have patched the Heartbleed flaw once it became known on April 7, 2014. And hopefully any and all websites impacted by this vulnerability notify users once their systems are updated and recertified and recommend everyone log on and change your passwords.

Yes, it is a pain and will be time-consuming, but you should get in the habit of changing passwords every few months anyway.

And realize there will be some scumbags who will take advantage of this Heartbleed scare so be on the lookout for phishing emails requesting you click a link to change your password. The best way to ensure the security and integrity of any of your accounts is to go directly to each website and log in there to manage your secure data.

Mashable has compiled a Heartbleed Hit List of sites possibly affected by this flaw and advises if you should change your password on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, Google, Yahoo mail and more.

heartbleed ssllabsIf you’re not sure if a site you use is vulnerable, visit https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/ to perform an analysis of the configuration of any SSL web server on the public Internet. (If everything’s green, it has probably been fixed.) Another tool you can use to check sites is http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/.

Also, if you use Chrome as your browser, they just released an app called Chromebleed that will test a site before you visit it and display a message if it’s affected by Heartbleed. (Note: Some early reviews weren’t so good so read description and reviews before installing.) But keep in mind these tools are just resources and may not be totally reliable.

heartbleed-cap one not vulnerableThe best solution is to visit each and every site you use that has sensitive information (e.g. banking, email, social media, etc.) to find out if they have posted a public statement or link about the Heartbleed issue — or maybe they weren’t even impacted or vulnerable — but hopefully they’ll say something online or in a newsletter.

If they don’t mention anything about Heartbleed, call, chat or email to ask if they had a problem with it. And if a site was fixed … you should change your password.

Many experts suggest the best thing to do is change all your passwords now. BUT… realize you may have to change some of them again since there may be some websites that are still buggy meaning the secure data is still vulnerable.

It’s totally your call, but it is wise to change your passwords often anyway … and you really should change them on any and all sites that have been patched.

Tips about passwords

  • DO NOT use the same password for all your accounts! And make sure all your email accounts have unique passwords since hackers with access to your email can visit other web sites (e.g. banks, Paypal, email providers, etc.) and submit a “forgot my password” request and intercept the email with the reset password.
  • Create long passwords (at least 8 characters long) using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters … change them often … and don’t share them with others. Consider using numbers or special characters in place of letters if using words, acronyms or phrases. For example, instead of using “ilovesunnydays” as a password, you could use “1loVe$unnyd@ys” to strengthen it.
  • Pet and family names are not good to use since hackers or criminals may have access to your personal data and/or your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Don’t use the “remember my password” option on accounts that contain sensitive data (like credit card data, etc.) since 1) typing them every time can help you remember passwords … and 2) if your PC or handheld device got stolen the perp could potentially access your accounts.
  • Some people invest in password manager services and apps, such as LastPass, KeePass, PasswordBox and 1Password, which keep track of passwords and suggest especially strong ones. However, some security experts warn against creating a single point of potential failure with all your passwords, especially if the service stores your passwords in the cloud. PCMag has some tips on various password managers.

Also…

  • Make sure computers and all wireless devices have current anti-virus software and firewalls, schedule them to scan daily or weekly, and update virus patterns often. If you own or manage a business, encourage employees to protect their personal home devices too.
  • Set security preferences as high as possible on Internet browsers and anti-virus packages.
  • Although it is best to not open emails or attachments from unknown sources, that’s not always feasible – especially in the business world. But consider saving the attached files into a temporary directory and scan them before opening.
  • See more tips about protecting your devices from cyber threats in our October 2013 enews

For more information about Heartbleed:

Heartbleed.com (official site with data + tips for developers and general public)

OpenSSL Project (OpenSSL community with updates, source code, etc.)

US-CERT OpenSSL ‘Heartbleed’ Vulnerability

Heartbleed: What you should know (WaPo article by Gail Sullivan)

What you need to know about the Heartbleed bug (Good Q & A)

How Heartbleed Works (Good PC Mag SecurityWatch article)

Stay safe (and secure) out there!  j & B


Get Ready to Participate in America’s PrepareAthon

April 7, 2014
Below appeared in our March 2014 enews...

America’s PrepareAthon! is a national community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises. 

Ready.gov explains the goal of America’s PrepareAthon! is to build a more resilient nation by increasing the number of individuals who understand…

  • which disasters could happen in their community;
  • know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage;
  • take action to increase their preparedness;
  • and participate in community resilience planning.

The spring and fall events are designed to encourage Americans to practice preparedness before an emergency or disaster strikes. For example, each year the Great ShakeOut earthquake drills encourage millions of people to physically practice what to do during an earthquake, and America’s PrepareAthon is modeled on the same principle. Participants must commit to take action and take at least one step (or more!) to prepare for a hazard they may face.

As mentioned above, the PrepareAthon! will occur twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall – with the 2014 events planned on April 30 and September 30. Each event will concentrate on specific hazards and themes, but communities, organizations and families are encouraged to use the various resources throughout the year since disasters can happen anywhere and anytime.

According to Ready.gov the first National Day of Action is scheduled for April 30, 2014 and will focus on taking actions to prepare for four specific hazards:

– Tornadoes

–  Wildfires

–  Floods

  Hurricanes

Agencies, organizations, businesses, schools and individuals can visit www.ready.gov/prepare and register to participate in America’s PrepareAthon! During the signup process organizers would like to know a few details about activities you are planning for the April call to action (similar to registering for ShakeOut events), plus you can join the National Preparedness Community to post events and network with others in the forum.

Also America’s PrepareAthon! organizers are providing customizable guides, social media tools and promotional materials for families and groups to use whether you just do the National Day of Action on 4/30 or hold drills or exercises year-round. The key is turning knowing into doing!

Additional Resources

View custom samplesIn addition to the above and below links, consider learning more about FedHealth’s customizable disaster preparedness and first aid manual for your public outreach efforts too.

Our IT’S A DISASTER! book is 1 of 8 Private Sector resources listed on FEMA’s Public Private Partnership Tools page, plus it qualifies as community education on grants and provides about a $3 or $4-to-$1 return on match since we discount it up to 75% off list (or as low as $3.50 each) and customize it for free.

Plus we have collaborative Public-Private Partnership ideas to help fund volunteers and schools and educate local communities while saving people money! It’s a whole community approach to resilience and preparedness that can complement your Awareness campaigns. Learn more and download a free mini ebook

Some other informational tools include…

FLOOD resources

Flood Safety Tips (3-pg PDF from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mold cleanup tips

EPA’s 20-page guide, “Mold, Moisture and Your Home”

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Floods)

NOAA’s Flood Safety

Ready.gov flood safety

HURRICANE Resources

Hurricane Safety Tips (6 pg PDF from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

Hurricanes 101 (hurricane basics and resources) / a 2013 post on our IAD blog

Florida’s Foundation “Make Mitigation Happen” (21-pg PDF for FL but could help most everyone)

National Hurricane Center

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Hurricanes)

NOAA Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide (12 pg PDF)

Ready.gov Hurricane safety

TORNADO Resources

Tornado Safety Tips (3-pg PDF from our our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Tornadoes)

NOAA Tornado safety tips

More NOAA tips

Ready.gov Tornado safety

The Tornado Project Online!

WILDFIRE Resources

Wildfire Safety Tips (2-pg PDF from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

Wildfire Mitigation Tips (on USFRA.org) 

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (Wildfire)

National InciWeb

National Interagency Fire Center

Ready.gov Wildfire safety

US Fire Administration Wildfire safety

Or visit your state or local Emergency Management, Health or Fire or Police or Sheriff department’s website to find local emergency information, safety tips and tools to help you and your loved ones get prepared.

And again… learn how to take action and get involved with America’s PrepareAthon at www.ready.gov/prepare and follow them on Twitter @PrepareAthon or Facebook.

 


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