Rescue phone numbers, curfews, critical info in Houston flood emergency

Spain Police Arrest 4 for Website Cyberattack That Cost $530K

security-hacker

Spanish police say they have arrested four people suspected of carrying out a cyberattack that stopped a media website from working for three weeks and cost it some 425,000 euros ($530,600).

Spanish news website prnoticias said Sunday the attacks, organized by a former director of rival news outlet Intereconomia, had hindered its output for 21 days starting in Oct. 2013.

Those arrested are described as a business entrepreneur and three computer experts who he allegedly hired to launch an unlawful attack known as distributed denial of service, a police statement said Sunday.

An international investigation took 14 months and involved the FBI and Canadian authorities who collaborated to locate and arrest the suspects in Madrid and Tarragona.

The statement did not say when the arrests were made.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 

Tips to Get Your Car Ready for the Winter

winter-safety-tips

1. Change your oil
This is something you should be doing when needed, but in the winter months it’s especially important. You may need to change the type of oil you use altogether. Check your owners manual to find out what viscosity you should be using in freezing temperatures. Generally, you’ll need a thinner oil in the winter.

2. Check the ratio on your engine coolant (antifreeze)
In normal weather you typically want a 50/50 ratio of coolant to water but in the winter it should be 60/40.

3. Check your battery
Cold temperatures mean your engine needs more current from the battery in order to start so you want to make sure the battery is functioning properly. Start by making sure you have enough charge left in your battery. The most simple way to check is by turning on your headlights before you start your engine. Then turn your engine on – if the lights get brighter your battery may be dying. You can test the actual voltage at home with a voltmeter or have your mechanic do a test for you. Some batteries also have a built-in hydrometer that measures the voltage. You’ll also want to check the cables for cracks and brakes. Finally, ask your mechanic to check the battery fluid.

4. Change your washer fluid and windshield wipers
Buy a good washer fluid with an antifreeze solution – regular fluids just won’t cut it in freezing temperatures. You should replace your windshield wipers every 6-12 months depending on wear and tear. If they’re starting to look a little haggard be sure to put new ones on before the first big snow storm of the season hits. For especially harsh climates you may also want to pick up a set of winter wipers that protect the wipers’ mechanism.

5. Get a basic tune-up
You should get a tune-up roughly every 30,000 miles. If that tune-up is likely to happen in the winter you may want to go in a little early just to make sure everything is in good shape. Have him or her check your belts and hoses,ignition, brakes, wiring, fan belts, spark plugs, air, fuel and emission filters and the PCV valve.

6. Check your defroster and heater
These types of repairs can be costly, but you really need your defroster and heater to function properly in order to drive safely in the winter. However, one tip that may save you money on a defroster repair, is to check for air leaks around doors and windows. Leaks can allow in extra moisture that will make it seem like you have a broken defroster.

7. Check your tires
This could mean a couple of different things – you may want to invest in snow tires or just make sure your current tires aren’t too worn out. If you frequently drive in tough conditions in the winter snow tires are a great choice. For particularly perilous conditions you can buy snow tires with studs. If you don’t buy snow tires, you’ll want to check the air pressure on your current tires. Refer to your owners manual to find out what the pressure should be in the winter. Check your tread for wear and tear as well. Also remember that if you do skid on an icy road don’t slam on your brakes! Take your foot off the gas and turn into the skid until you come to a complete stop.

8. Check your 4-wheel drive and know how to use it
This is pretty self explanatory. You’ll want to know how to use your 4-wheel drive before winter hits.

9. Keep your gas tank filled
I’ve always known that you shouldn’t let your gas tank get all the way to empty in the winter (or any other time for that matter) but never really knew why until today. Apparently the cold weather can cause condensation to form in an empty or near empty gas tank. That water can drip down into the gas and and sinks to the bottom where it can then travel into your fuel lines. In the winter it can freeze in your fuel lines and block the flow of gas to your engine. Not good! So keep your tank at least a 1/4-1/2 way full at all times.

10. Get your car detailed
This isn’t a completely necessary step but if you’re worried about your car’s paint job it’s a good idea. Don’t forget a car wax that coats the body panels. The wax will help protect the paint from snow and salt damage.

11. Have a de-icer handy at home or in your purse/briefcase
It’s not uncommon for car doors to freeze shut in the winter. You can use warm water if you have access to some or you can buy glycerin to have on hand in an emergency.

12. Beef up your car emergency kit
If you don’t already have an emergency kit in your car now is the time to get one! If you do have one you may want to add a few things for the winter. Jillee has a great post on a DIY first aid kit for the road. In the winter you’ll also want a soft-bristled snow brush, plastic scrapper, kitty litter or salt, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, flares, gloves, a coat, snow boots, a couple of blankets, and tire chains (if you’ll be driving in the mountains).

 

source: BlogHer

Cooking Injuries Peak During Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving Day has more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. More than 4,000 fires occur annually on Thanksgiving as celebrants deep-fry turkeys, boil potatoes, bake pies and more.

“Splashes, spills, slips, burns and cuts are just a few of the many cooking hazards that occur during the Thanksgiving meal preparation,” said Arthur Sanford, MD, burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System. “Adults doing the cooking are often injured but sadly children often also get into harm’s way.”

The trend of deep-frying the turkey has spiked a rise in cooking injuries. In the United States, more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have been reported from turkey fryers over the last decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I have actually cared for a patient who tried to deep fry the turkey indoors, which absolutely should not be done in any circumstances,” says Sanford. “And I cannot stress enough that the turkey must be moisture –free. A frozen turkey in hot oil is a recipe for tragedy.”

Deep-frying turkeys causes an estimated $15 million in U.S. property damages, says Arthur Sanford, MD, burn surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center. 

Serafino Alfe of suburban Chicago knows how dangerous it can be. He was deep-frying turkeys for an annual fundraiser dinner a few years ago and ended up at the Loyola Burn Center with third-degree burns—the worst—on his leg.

“I tripped and fell right into the deep fryer,” he said. “Thirty quarts of hot oil poured over my leg and I basically fried myself.”

Alfe said he has used a deep fryer for many years and is always careful. “We put the deep fryers on cardboard and I caught my shoe on the edge and just lost my balance,” said Alfe, who underwent surgery at Loyola on his injured leg the day before Thanksgiving in 2011. “We were using the older fryers that do not have a secure lid and the gallons of hot oil just splattered out everywhere.”

In addition to the pain of these types of injuries, an estimated $15 million in U.S. property damage is caused by deep-fryer fires.

“Thanksgiving for many means extra people in the kitchen, close proximity to fire and hot surfaces, added stress to cook many dishes on a tight schedule, the manipulation of a large, heavy turkey and the use of sharp knives,” said Sanford, who also is an associate professor at Stritch School of Medicine. “It is easy to get distracted and injuries can occur in a flash.” Sanford also warns against drinking alcohol while cooking. “Intoxication and cooking injuries to adults are terrible but too often children become the victims and that is truly tragic,” he said.

“Too many people spend Thanksgiving in the burn center or the emergency department when they should be home with their loved ones,” Sanford said.

Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating nearly more than 600 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic.

Source: Loyola University Health System, Claims Journal

 

 

Space Heaters Annually Cause 25,000 House Fires

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.

“Bitter cold, ice and snow are here for many parts of the East and Midwest bringing with it burn injuries caused by improper use of heating devices,” said Michael Mosier, MD, burn surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center. The Loyola Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating nearly 700 patients annually in the hospital, and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic.

The Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center is warning the public about the dangers of space heaters used by so many to keep warm.

“If proper precautions are taken, space heaters can be used safely; but so often they aren’t and house fires ignite,” says Mosier, who is an assistant professor at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. “Whole families are seriously injured, often for life.” About 40 percent of Loyola’s burn cases are children and the majority of these children are ages 2 and younger.

Source: Loyola University Health System

Business Travel Safety Tips

travel insurance

Closing deals and meeting with potential customers is foremost in the minds of most business travelers, but safety should be a priority, too. You’re vulnerable when you’re on the road, so take steps to protect yourself and your equipment. These tips will help keep you safe on your next business trip.

In Your Bag

  1. Along with prescription drugs, pack over-the-counter medications so you can start treatment at the first sign of illness.
  2. Don’t pack your passport in luggage that you plan to check in — your bags could be lost or stolen.
  3. Keep your cell phone with you at all times, with its batteries charged.

[Read more...]

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

All Dressed Up:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.  Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carving a Niche:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-Or-Treat Trail:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

Source: aap.org

Homeowners Insurance and Halloween Risks

Celebrating Halloween usually includes buying candy, costumes, pumpkins and scary decorations. Whoever thinks about sprucing up the insurance policy for Halloween?

Although homeowners insurance is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Halloween, it should be one of the items near the top of the Halloween list. The mere fact of the increased exposure (meaning a stream of people visiting the property) increases the possibility of a homeowners insurance claim.

Halloween Insurance Tips for Homeowners

Listed below are a few things you do to reduce the risk of having to report a Halloween insurance claim.

    1. Keep Fido out of the way. Dogs get excited at the hustle, bustle and ringing of the doorbell. The oddly dressed people on the other side of the door don’t do much to calm Fido down. It’s best to make sure your dog is occupied or kept away from unsuspecting trick or treaters. The last type of Halloween treat you wants is a liability suit because of the dog.
    1. Practice extreme caution with candles. While the orange glowing effect of a candle adds to the Halloween ambiance, it can cause a fire if the candles are not carefully placed and monitored.
    1. Illuminate walking paths for trick or treaters. It is possible to decorate a home for Halloween keeping with the dark and gloomy tradition while simultaneously providing enough light for the walking path. Whether the walkway is lined with glowing pumpkins or the muted illumination of solar lights, it is important that you properly illuminate the walking path to avoid unnecessary trips and falls.
    1. Keep all wiring off the walking path. Along with proper theme related lighting, st take care to keep the extension cords off the walkway or cover them with mats in such a way to prevent tripping and falling. Trips and falls are common causes for homeowner insurance third party liability claims.
    1. Be careful of the ‘shock and awe’ affect. The Halloween celebration invokes thoughts of horror, fright and shock. However, in an attempt to reduce the possibility of a lawsuit, it is recommended to refrain from tactics such as suddenly jumping out from darkened bushes or other such scare tactics. These blood rushing tactics may be fun at an amusement park fun house, but it opens the homeowner up to another source of liability. Amusement parks carry Haunted House Insurance to cover such risks; homeowners do not.
    1. Purchase additional coverage. If the thought of pulling in the reigns on a Halloween celebration puts a damper on the fun, maybe its time to consider purchasing additional insurance to cover the holiday. Call your insurance agent to find out how much it will cost to increase your liability limits to cover the increased holiday exposure.

By taking just a few precautions, you won’t have to spend time worrying about potential insurance claims.

5 things to know about hurricane season

By The Associated Press

Starting this hurricane season, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami will begin dropping small drones into storms in the hope they can learn more about how storms strengthen and better predict a storm’s intensity. With the season’s official start just days away, here are five other things to know about hurricanes:

1. SLOW SEASON EXPECTED

Federal forecasters are expecting a slower-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season, with eight to 13 tropical storms and three to six hurricanes. There’s no way to tell whether any of those potential storms will strike the U.S. coastline during the six-month season that starts June 1.

2. EL NINO

The weather phenomenon known as El Nino, which warms part of the Pacific every few years and changes rain and temperature patterns around the world, is expected to suppress the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes this year. Cooler temperatures on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean compared with recent years will also lower the probability of hurricane formation.

3. WHEN DOES IT GET A NAME?

Forecasters name tropical storms when top winds reach 39 mph; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 74 mph. The first storm name on the list this year is Arthur.

4. STORM SURGE

Storm surge — the dangerous water rise created by tropical storms — is one of the deadliest and most damaging tropical storm hazards. This year, the National Hurricane Center will post color-coded maps to show coastal residents how far from the shoreline the water will spread and how high that water will rise.

5. A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

It’s been 10 years since the historic 2004 hurricane season, when four hurricanes affected Florida for the first time since record-keeping began: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. There were 15 named storms that season, nine of which were hurricanes. But those four hurricanes remain among the costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S.

Mercedes Recalls 253,000 C-Class Cars for Fire Hazard

By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN
 

Following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mercedes-Benz is recalling about 253,000 C-Class cars from the 2008-11 model years because the taillights could fail, according to a report the automaker posted Tuesday on the safety agency’s website.

The recall comes about 27 months after Mercedes determined the cause of the problem and made a manufacturing change for replacement parts but did not recall the vehicles, according to the report.

The models affected by the recall are the C300; C300 4Matic; C350 and C63 AMG.

Mercedes said oxidation on a ground pin connector could cause the rear taillights to dim or fail completely. The automaker told N.H.T.S.A. that it was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the problem. But the agency has said it received reports of five trunk fires stemming from the defect.

Mercedes said it received its first complaints in 2009, but didn’t learn the cause of the lighting failures until December 2011. In January 2012, the automaker made a manufacturing change to replacement parts.

In July 2013, the agency began investigating after receiving complaints from 21 owners, some of whom reported scorch marks or small fires inside the trunk. One of the owners said he stopped driving when the warning lights indicated his taillights were not functioning. “Pulled over and opened trunk. Trunk was filled with smoke and burning plastic smell. Visual flame – small – on ground wire.”

Another owner complained that Mercedes refused to repair the problem for free. “This is a safety problem and should be covered no matter what. I have found that this is a common problem with these cars and yet there are no recalls,” he told the agency.

The investigation ultimately found 402 complaints from owners, the five reports of small trunk fires and nearly 24,000 warranty claims the automaker said “may relate” to the problem. So the agency upgraded the investigation last December to a more serious “engineering analysis.”

Mercedes described the recall as voluntary, but once an automaker discovers a safety problem it has no choice but – within five working days – to inform the agency of its plan for a recall or face a civil fine.

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