Thursday, October 30, 2014

Protecting Your Identity During the Holidays

As Halloween arrives tomorrow, the holidays are going to arrive fast and furious this year. Are you prepared to protect your identity during the shopping season? Most are not. People get involved with shopping lists, family politics, work parties, and school events and concerts for the kids. Identity protection seems to be the last item of concern on a long holiday 'to do' list. So, as we head into November this weekend, please remember to turn your clocks back an hour on Saturday and take the following identity protection tips into consideration.

1. If someone bumps into you, don't assume it was an accident. Clutch your purse close to your side or in front of you, and keep your wallet hidden at the bottom, or for men, in an inside coat pocket.

2. Don't let your credit card out of your sight. Unscrupulous clerks or waiters can skim the information from your card into a second machine and later make a new credit card for themselves. Worse yet, they can sell your information to an organized crime ring.

3. Lighten your wallet. Remove anything from your wallet that you don't absolutely need to have with you. That way, if someone is successful in stealing it, they won't get as much. And 'no', you don't need your social security card in your wallet!

4. Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. Such services alert you via email anytime there is an inquiry or other activity to your credit report.

5. Be safe when shopping online. Criminals can make dummy websites look like the real thing. Make sure that the website you are shopping on is the company's real website. If you have any doubt, conduct a new browser search and contact the company to verify. Also make sure that any website you make purchases on is secure. Secure websites will have "https" instead of "http" in the website URL.

I'm going to skip a blog tomorrow and celebrate Halloween with my dedicated office staff!

I'll be back with everyone on Monday. Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween holiday.

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Airports & Ebola - Are You Prepared

Do you know what to expect at the airport the next time you travel internationally? Well, I decided to present the top 3 things you need to know about airports and Ebola. Right now, the Department of Homeland Security is sending mixed messages because each State is handling the Ebola "crisis" differently. The DHS has a responsibility to help out with national health concerns on a threatening level, but each State also has to make decisions based on their specific needs and population concerns.

Either way, below are the top 3 across-the-board things to know about Ebola at airports.

1. Starting 11/01/13, all International airports will start screening for Ebola. There are no nonstop flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, the three countries hardest-hit by Ebola. Nearly 95% of the roughly 150 people traveling daily from or through those West African countries to the U.S. land first at one of the five airports selected for extra screening.

2. Homeland Security employees at airports will use no-touch thermometers to take the temperatures of passengers who have come from or through West Africa.

3. If you present a fever at an International airport, know the DHS isn't playing games. Case-by-case, health workers and the DHS will direct the passenger either to the local medical system or public health system for possible treatment or routine follow-ups, including daily temperature readings for the 21-day Ebola incubation period. There are quarantine areas at each of the five International airports that can be used, if necessary.

Please pass this information on to anyone you know who will be traveling after Saturday. :)

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homeland Security Orders Increased Security for Government Buildings!

"The precise actions we are taking and the precise locations at which we will enhance security is law-enforcement sensitive, will vary and shift from location to location, and will be continually re-evaluated," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said today.

Yes, the Government has issued a security watch increase upon itself today. Why? Well, there are several reasons. First, you should know that the The Federal Protective Service is responsible for the protection of more than 9,500 federal facilities owned or leased by the General Services Administration, through which 1.4 million visitors and occupants pass daily. Now, the reasons cited by Mr. Johnson are due to the recent lone wolf attacks that are slightly related to ISIS, but can be contributed to mental health issues to. The exact affiliations seem to be more claims than official links at this point.

So, are you more at risk if you work in a Government building? Yes and no. Government employees are always more at risk for something tragic happening in the workplace because of where they work and who they work for. However, if a threat is detected, the employees are more protected because of the Department of Homeland Security taking notice of lone wolfs and actual terrorist-related threats.

My advice is to stay calm and ask questions. Know what the emergency evacuation plans are for your specific building and ask your HR Manager if you need to do anything, or be on the look out for anything, in relation to any obvious step-ups in security efforts at your workplace.

The move today is purely precautionary, but we should take notice.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wi-Fi Hot Spot Linked to Terrorism

A passenger aboard a plane at Los Angeles International Airport picked up a Wi-Fi hot spot named after a terrorist group. Authorities held travelers for hours as they investigated and then said no crime was committed. So, no harm-no foul, right? Wrong!

According to The Los Angeles Times, "The passenger on the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London alerted crew members about the network Sunday night, and the plane returned to the gate.
KABC-TV reported Monday that the hot spot was called “Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork” and that passengers were kept onboard for several hours amid the investigation. Los Angeles airport police said Monday that “no crime was committed and no further action will be taken.” Federal authorities who took over the investigation had nothing add Monday morning. An American Airlines spokesman says the flight was rescheduled for 1 p.m. Monday."

Why is this news? Well, there are a couple of important reasons. First, mixing a flight with a Wi-FI Hot spot named after a terrorist group is cause for a concern. But he fact that the entire passenger list was held during an investigation without a crime being committed begs the question of is the DHS being too strict and violating the very same freedoms they are supposed to be protecting? Additionally, why the entire passenger list? Couldn't the passenger who logged onto the HotSpot been left as the one being investigated? What if he didn't know the phrase was a link to a terrorist group? Was it even linked to a real terrorist group or someone being "funny" in a distasteful manner?

My point for all of this is that the DHS has to mix policy and procedure with common sense. We should protect people while respecting their rights. What are your thoughts on this latest Homeland Security news? Let's talk on Twitter. I hope you can join me for an open and honest conversation.

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, October 24, 2014

9 Million People to Receive 'Green' Cards.

Here's some Homeland Security news for you, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is bracing for a couple of busy weeks- to say the least. The DHS is going to be reviewing work applications from an estimated 9 million immigrant workers thanks to an Executive Order that President Barak Obama is expected to implement later this year. So, what? Well, that is the million dollar question.

This information is relevant because US Citizenship and Immigration Services has published a draft contract proposal to buy the card stock needed to make work permits and Permanent Resident Cards, more commonly known as green cards. The proposal also calls for providing material for at least 5 million cards a year, with as many as 9 million “during the initial period … to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements.” The contract calls for as many as 34 million cards over five years.

Basically, non-violent illegal immigrants will be protected and granted legal work status if they have children here in the USA. While many people may not like this concept- or may think it put the country at a disadvantage- there are more benefits to this action than not. These now legal workers have to pay into the tax system, which is a big plus. They will contribute to our medical system and they are trackable. Plus, they can't be taken advantage of in so many ways. It seems to be a win-win for both parties.

The DHS is going to spearhead this effort because it the president can authorize protection from deportation for immigrants on a case-by-case basis, such as with the DACA program, and issue work permits. If someone doesn't look like they working intent, but something more sinister in mind when it comes to being within the USA, we can get a heads up on the scenario (and handle it) through the DHS. This issue is something to think about for sure this weekend before forming an opinion if this effort is good for the country or not.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Worst Actions to Take During a Crisis

What's the worst thing you can do during a crisis? I was recently asked this by a follower on Twitter. Well, I think the answer is subjective depending on the crisis. However, if we are talking in general terms, then I have to say that waiting to see what happens and not taking action takes the cake.

We are all built with the flight or fight mechanisms. This said, some people remain stuck or unwilling to accept what is going on and they don't follow the directions of first responders or the emergency plans. This is when people get into trouble. You have to realize during a crisis that you are in a crisis. Even if you take flight, you're taking some action. Staying in a burning building because the fire fighters will show up soon isn't the best idea. But some people do this and don't come out the other side alive or as their normal selves.

I'm addressing this question because I think it is important. Not having enough water, having too much water- these types of scenarios- well, they are all trivial. Yes, water will eventually show up via the government. Too much water, that's not a problem. Not doing anything- like seeking out water when you don't have it- that is what gets people into trouble.

So, remember - every emergency is different. Handling things calmly and with some type of action plan is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Online Security and You!

I received a question about my cyber security services and personal online security. While these are two very different things, they have a common bond in that a breach can devastate someone's personal credit or business brand! For the purposes to the question I received, tonight's blog tips will deal with personal security online and how to maintain your privacy.

First, let's start with where we are today with "complex" passwords... the concept is a lie! When you hear of hackers, it usually is on a massive level. Your password, no matter how complex, can be guessed using technology that monitors your keystrokes. Yep, you can be in Los Angeles and have your keystrokes determined (to hack your password) from Japan. Below is a great example of this;

The world of cyber-security underwent a game-change last summer, when not one but two top tech writers were spectacularly hacked. Mat Honan, a writer for Wired, was cyber-attacked by a 19-year-old who wanted his highly coveted three-letter Twitter handle @Mat. To get it, the kid (who goes by “Phobia”) and a friend wiped out Honan’s entire digital life — in about an hour. It started with a call to the Apple Help Desk, and Phobia was able to give just enough data to convince the agent that he was Honan. That one password gave him the keys to the castle.

As Honan described in Wired, “First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.” Honan also thought he had lost every picture he had of his one-year-old daughter, since he hadn’t been backing up his hard drive. Ultimately he was able to recover some of his passwords (from his cloud backup,Dropbox, on his wife’s laptop) and then his data. But it was an expensive lesson: He wound up spending $1,690 for the entire recovery.

So, what's my point? Even technology brainiacs get hacked. While there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening, good coders and hackers don't need much to get into your account(s) and then change your passwords to their passwords, often assuming your identity. I tell everyone to forget the password focus and look at what you have online. If the answers to your security questions can be easily guessed by the information you put on LinkedIN- or any other type of social media- then yous shouldn't even bother with having a password. Limit your personal life's details from Google and social media searchers. For now, for the average person and tech geek, this is the best way to avoid getting hacked.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Preparing for Any Disaster

I received a request to deal with home and family issues when it comes to a disaster, not just employment or major issues of national security. I love getting these requests and spent some time this morning putting together the best tips possible to help prepare your family, and your home, for a disaster of any type.

First, know that you need to have 5 master plans. You need a plan for yourself and the adults in the home, a plan for seniors in the home, a plan for children in the home, a plan for pets in the home, and a plan for anyone with disabilities within the home. No, a blanket "one-size fits all" strategy will not work. You do need individual plans.

Each plan needs to have four core elements. These elements include an emergency medical kit. The kit is going to be very different for pets vs. seniors vs. someone with Multiple Sclerosis, etc. Make sure back up medications, general triage items, and written down phone numbers of doctors and allergies are included in each kit.

The next element is being CPR trained. Yes, you and everyone in your home should know how to provide CPR to humans and pets. Your third element is community resources. Do you know what they are in case of a disaster? If not, call your local Red cross and sign up for an emergency maintenance class. The fourth, and final element, is practicing. Don't tell your children or spouse when you are going to practice a disaster alarm. Instead, surprise him or her (or them) really early in the morning when people's defenses are down and they are groggy. This will give you a great indication of what has to be worked on.

I hope this information provides the basics, but please feel free to ask me more questions on Twitter!

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, October 20, 2014

OMG! 'Black Power' Politics & Ebola

For this blog, and my job, I monitor the Google term "Homeland Security" on a daily basis, sometimes even hourly depending on what is happening within the country. Today, however, I am disappointed. I read an article discussing the shortfalls of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in relation to the Ebola "crisis" here in America. What was even more shocking was the context this article took from addressing a serious healthcare issue and the DHS to finger pointing and blatant ethic slander. What am I referring to? Well, this article:

Now, first I had to process the writer's disgusting phrasing, such as "In short, Johnson is an advocate of ‘black power’ politics. Unfortunately he’s not the only one. Michelle Obama based her 1985 Princeton thesis on Carmichael and Hamilton’s book which preached the rejection of assimilation, white middle-class values, nonviolence, and coalition building." Writers often create drama online to get web hits. I wanted to read beyond this and vet the article for its true purpose. As I read on, I became more disappointment. The article ends with, "While Americans scratch their heads in disbelief over this administration’s seeming ineptitude over Ebola, the long-dead communist Carmichael’s dream of sticking it to ‘whitey’ via the White House and its apparatchiks is coming true." WOW!

First, I wasn't aware anyone in this country is still using the phrase "whitey"... Second, the writer's accusations of reverse discrimination are led with what else? Racism! I can't believe at the end of 2014, that this type of thinking still exists- but it does. And thanks to our freedoms, the writer can publish this filth as his opinion. I grew up in a segregated part of Ohio. While time has changed much, I still remember what it is like to be unfairly judged. And, I think this writer is not only unfairly judging the motives of Michelle Obama (and so many others), but he is unfairly treating those who have contracted Ebola and those who may be at risk of contracting it in Africa. This doesn't have to be a race issue. It isn't a race issue. It is a medical issue that has become a concern for the DHS because it involves the overall public welfare of those who live in this country regardless of color, creed or sexual preference. I remember a time when many people believed only "the gays" could get HIV. How wrong, insensitive, and inbred was our thinking back then?!

My point is this.... the longer we use one another's differences to play the blame game, the longer we fail to spearhead the issue at hand. There is always a time and place for politics. There is never a time or place for discrimination. I'm so disappointed that the writer of the mentioned article decided to use his own insecurities and fears to skew the truth and take attention away from a very serious issue.

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, October 17, 2014

Could You Handle A Bomb Scare?

Would you know how to handle a bomb scare at work? Many people don't know what to do or how to react. The topic is so uncomfortable that many don't even want to think about it. Well, let me give you the basics. The best defense is an offense, which means thinking about the uncomfortable and knowing how to handle it.

1. First, if you take the call / threat - call 9-1-1- and then notify your boss.
2. Stay away from any specific area or packages. If a caller notes a certain part of a building on the phone, evacuate that area first.
3. Don't bother the first responders. They will provide information on an "as needed" basis. Make sure you give them all the details of the call or received threat and then take care of yourself and your employees. Don't ask questions or pull people away from their jobs.
4. Don't panic. This is easier said than done, but it is important to remain as calm as possible.

I know it is Friday. I know this topic isn't the easiest and by no means are these four steps (above) meant to cover every aspect of a bomb threat. But, if you can remember these basics, you are a lot better off than the people who don't even want to think about this possibility.

Here's a free checklist in the meantime:

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola, What You DON'T Know!

I was listening to women inline this morning discuss Ebola. Wow! There is a lot of bad information with social circles. Since I covered this topic, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday, I want to expand a bit on what most people don't know , but assume, when it comes to Ebola.

First, a person infected with the deadly virus must be showing symptoms to transmit the infection to others. Someone mentioned kissing today as how it is transmitted, this isn't true!

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it's possible the disease could be spread this way, but WHO said it's "not aware of any studies that actually document this mode of transmission." Also, coughing and sneezing aren't common Ebola symptoms.

Right now, you're more likely to die from the flu vs. Ebola. Yes, you read that right! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1997 to 2007, flu deaths ranged from a low of about 3,500 to a high of 49,000 deaths a year. The flu reached epidemic levels in last year's season. This said, The World Health Organization says West Africa could see 10,000 new Ebola cases a week by December.

We do have to be careful, as a country, about an Ebola outbreak. It is possible but it isn't likely. The DHS is considering a travel ban right now. We have trained professionals working at airports to screen all travelers right now. We're aware and discussing the issue, which is good. The problem is the not knowing and the gossip that I hear on a daily basis. You will always fear what you are not aware or informed about. If you want to learn more about Ebola, please click here:

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Goodbye W. Africa... For Now

The headline out of Detroit today reads as follows; "Congresswoman Candice Miller: Temporarily suspend visas to west African countries impacted by Ebola." Is this move too little, too late? Should this order come from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? Well, yes on both!

I fudged the truth with Congresswoman Miller's statement. You see, she has formally noted a filing with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry to make a temporary suspension come to life. Right now, there are 13,500 visas out there from the three impacted countries plagued with Ebola right now. So, yes- with Ebola now in the USA- it is a little too late and the DHS should have jumped on this sooner rather than assuming we had everything under control.

Either way, do you know what the symptoms of Ebola are? I've listed them below. Keep coming back, however, as I cover this subject more on the day-to-day blog. I'm sure once Congresswoman Miller obtains the suspension, we will have a lot to discuss!

Nausea and vomiting.
Diarrhea (may be bloody)
Red eyes.
Raised rash.
Chest pain and cough.
Stomach pain.
Severe weight loss.
Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)

Ebola is usually transmitted from animal meat to the host. From there, infected people typically don't become contagious until they develop symptoms. Family members are often infected as they care for sick relatives or prepare the dead for burial.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What to do during a national crisis.

I've been discussing emergency management for citizens on this blog over the past two weeks. Today, however, I want to talk about national crisis and terrorist activity. Do you know how to handle yourself and what information to rely upon?

There are 7 key services you need to be in contact with to know exactly what you can and can't do while the country is processing a crisis or disaster. Does this mean you call each one up? No, but you should follow these resources on social media and have your local office numbers written down (not just in your phone) in case of a true emergency. Typically, these agencies will reach out to citizens on the news, but if you don't know something or have to report an incident- you can call them during a disaster.

The mayor is responsible at the administrative level for the smooth running of the response effort.

Fire service
The fire service is the linchpin in disaster response. The fire chief is charged with the operational management of the response effort. Everything that occurs in the disaster area falls under his/her authority.

Regional accident and disaster medical teams
Anyone injured in a disaster will require medical assistance as soon as possible.

The police will ensure that the fire and ambulance services can do their job. They will cordon off the disaster area, manage the traffic, and sometimes set up a safety zone around the disaster area.

The Ministry of Defence can deploy military personnel to respond to a disaster.

Municipal services
Behind the scenes, several municipal services play an important role in disaster response, especially when it comes to the after-effects.

Other services
Which services take part in the response effort will depend on the type of disaster. In the case of flooding caused by burst dykes or heavy rainfall, the water authorities will play a role. If a disaster occurs off the coast, the Coastguard will be involved. But other services will also often take part. The Red Cross cares for the injured in disasters.

Until tomorrow,
Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, October 10, 2014

Homeland Security and Day-to-Day Cyber Security

Today, Dairy Queen announced it is coming off a three month security breach that impacted the financial data of its consumers. Yikes, it seems paying cash is the best option today when you look at many retailers' track record. But what about your track record? While we are busy shaming retail outlets for breaching our data, is it possible we are just as guilty? Many people are and don't even know it!
All this said, I figured I would note a few ways to keep your own email account "hacker-free".

1. Don't use anything personal or that can be guessed about you as your password. This includes your pet's name! Use a weird combination of numbers and letters. Keep the password written down and somewhere in your home, not in a breachable app.

2. Never use a "Remember me" option on any of your devices when it comes to your passwords, especially email. Remember, hackers don't have to hack your email to get into your computer. They can hack your computer, send a "reset my password" request to your online banking and then, once into your email because you have a "remember me" option set up, get into your bank account (or other accounts).

These two steps may seem relatively elementary, but you will be surprised how many people still use "password" as their password and a "remember me" option on their mobile and home devices.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SWamFest October 2014

I'm so grateful to have been invited to speak at SWamFest this year! SWaMfest10 features engaging workshops and networking opportunities, enabling SWaM businesses to interact with representatives from VASCUPP institutions, prime contractors, corporations and other SWaM businesses. VASCUPP is committed to helping Virginia’s SWaM businesses remain strong, vibrant and successful while connecting them to our Purchasing Power!

You can register here to either attend or sponsor:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Traveling - Homeland Security & Ebola

Should I say that is seemed obvious our DHS (Department of Homeland Security) should have been on top of the Ebola "US outbreak" all along? Well, I wish it was all so simple. I've spent the morning reading critical article after critical article and I don't think the reporters understand that the DHS doesn't have a magic wand. It can't snap its fingers and have trained and designated employees on the front line. Does this mean mistakes weren't already made? No, but I think the DHS does need to be cut some slack.... Here's why;

1. The one incident in the USA so far was because of a lie and the home country didn't catch it. This wasn't completely our fault. In fact, it was a Houston hospital who released the patient first, which was a security risk on its own.

2. The Homeland Security Department ordered agents at airports (and other ports of entry) as of TODAY so its staff can observe everyone coming into the United States for potential signs of Ebola infection. We had to coordinate people, training, procedures, etc. to ensure the DHS was meeting both the obligations of our security and its budget. Sending untrained staff to a location doesn't do anyone any good, in fact- this could have put more people in harm's way, so it did take some time to respond.

3. The Obama Administration has to make the final call. The DHS can't write unlimited checks, it needs approval and it needs a signature to perform certain actions. While it is easy to blame the DHS, it isn't as easy for the Department to get initiatives passed.

Going forward, I believe the DHS will do a great job of protecting our citizens from exposure to Ebola through airport and other entry point channels.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Keep Your Family Safe During A Terrorist Attack

I want to talk today about three easy ways to keep your family safe during a terrorist attack. During an attack, people will panic. Providing a long list of "to dos" sometimes can be counterproductive because we, naturally, panic. So, I broke down three easy-to-remember things to help keep your family safe during an attack.

1. Be aware of your emergency exists. If you start this today, it will be second nature to you. Every single time you walk into a business, amusement park, etc. with your family (and yourself), point out the emergency exits to your family members and then note the ER meeting place. It seems simple, but this is the best thing you can do to save a life during an attack.

2. Know how to handle minor and major medical issues. How? Take a CPR course and a first-aide course. Refresh the course knowledge every year. The information learned will be on automatized recall during a true emergency.

3. Find a police man or EMT and ask where you should go. Don't just head to the ER meeting spot and stay there. Once you collect your family members, ask what the plan is next. Find the closest first-responder and ask where the safest place to move to is.

I hope this information helps you make smart decisions when it comes to keeping your family safe during a terrorist attack, hopefully-however- you will not have to use it!

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, October 6, 2014

Secret Service Reform?

Photo: Julia Pierson

A proposal came to the table this week seeking to remove Secret Service from the realm of Homeland Security(DHS). This action was proposed after a terrible week for the Secret Service, which included Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigning amid multiple reports of breaches in White House security. So, what are my thoughts on this proposition?

Well, the Secret Service has 6,500 employees to it- all of which have suffered since it was synced up with the DHS back in 2001. Right now, under the DHS umbrella, these 6,500 employees work as a team to combat counterfeiting and to protect current and former presidents, vice presidents and visiting heads of state. My issue isn't so much with the mission statement or the team work, but the being spread too thin part. For example, why isn't the treasury department handling counterfeiting? Well, because their staff isn't trained to spot certain terrorist patterns, where the DHS is and the secret service can be helpful within this type of associated task. Basically, without one- the other can't work as efficiently.

I do think the secret service should only be focused on protecting the president, but still should remain under the umbrella of the DHS because threats to the terrorist could involve terrorists. They should work hand-in-hand on these types of concerns, but independent ff one another when applicable. To put it in everyday terms, think about a clerk at an office. His or her job is to enter data into a computer system.The data is payroll. So, she enters it in and that is all she is responsible for, right? But what if she spots an error? Should she still enter it in? Or, should she call the supervising manager who turned in the data and point out the error? The two have to work together to solve the problem. If the clerk were to only stick to her job and enter in the error, the billing would be off and someone would be over or under paid. The supervising manager obviously made a mistake. For the benefit of the company- and basically all involved- working together , but in different capacities, was beneficial in the example.

I don't understand why we have to make things so complicated when it comes to common sense security issues. I also don't understand how forcing someone to resign rectifies any errors. Now, a new person can come in and the learning curve to start the security process can be that much more behind... right? Working together without overstepping one another only makes sense.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Spot A Suspicious Package

Would you know how to spot a suspicious package or bag versus someone just forgetting a bag or package on the sidewalk? What about reporting it... do you call 9-1-1 or the Office of Homeland Security? To clarify, I've noted some pointers below.

Suspicious packages might bear restricted endorsements such as "personal" or "private." If you work in an office building and you see these markings on a package, you should pay extra attention.

Ask yourself if the name and/ title is inaccurate on the mailing label. If you're looking at a bag, does it have any international tags on it or odd markings?

Suspicious packages or articles might reflect distorted handwriting or the name and address might be prepared with homemade labels or cut-and-paste lettering.

If you determine the package or bag is suspicious, do not move, alter, open, examine or disturb the article.

Do not put it in water or a confined space- such as a desk drawer or filing cabinet.

If possible, open windows in the immediate area to assist in venting potentially explosive gasses.

Isolate the suspicious package or article and clear the immediate area until the police arrives. Yes, you call 9-1-1 and let them direct what agency shows up. In the meantime, clear the area and wait for help to arrive.

It is better to be safe than sorry when you spot a questionable package or bag. Always report it, never chance it. Emergency responders would rather show up for nothing than not show up for something!

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Emergency Exits At Work… Are They Safe?

Most people are under the impression that emergency exits at work are always safe and well-maintained. I wish this was true. Many workplace emergency exits aren’t kept up to standard. This isn’t deliberate, but usually a cost-savings oversight.

Here are three things you can do to ensure workplace exits are safe.
1. Lighted exit signs should be in good working order, and have a battery backup in case of a power failure. My best advice is to check these signs as you walk into work and out of work on a monthly basis. Not your job? Schedule yourself to do a visual check anyway and then call maintenance every other month to have them perform the actual checks.
2. Check to see if workplace exits are ADA compatible. Most new buildings already ensure this, but older buildings don’t often have handicap accessible emergency exits. Know where your company stands on the issue and develop a plan to help those with disabilities exit the building safely in the event of an emergency.
3. Doors should be secured to prevent unauthorized entry from the outside, but not to prevent employees from exiting in emergencies. Smokers are notorious for using emergency exits as quick routes to cheat a smoke here and there. These people should be addressed directly and you need to explain that the emergency exit is for emergencies only. Propping a door open while they smoke can allow for a security breach- never good!

I hope these tips help you realize the importance of clearly marked emergency exits at work.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hypocritical Encouragement From the Government?

On September 30th of this year, FEMA asked local communities to prepare for disasters as a practice. In fact, here is what their press release say;
"Today, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) encourages individuals, families, workplaces, schools and organizations across the nation to take part in America’s PrepareAthon!, a national day of action that will take place September 30. America’s PrepareAthon! is a community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through participation in hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises every fall and spring. To register, individuals and organizations can visit"

So, why is this a bit hypocritical in my opinion? Well, how would we possibly expect to prepare using FEMA's recommendations when they not only forgot to include important items on their "disaster readiness kit", but when security and preparation incompetency hit the White House recently? Not sure what I'm referencing? Here's a great article, via The Wall Street Journal, showcasing issues of security flaws within our current system:

My point is, we can't depend on the government for 100% of our safety as citizens. It has to be a collaborative experience because humans make mistakes and even put together PSA documents containing content oversights! While I doubt the hypocritical recommendations were deliberate, they weren't utilized by the same people telling us to be prepared for emergencies and disasters. Do this mean we throw everything to the wind and buy into the media hype that we, as a country, aren't generally safe? Not at all. We are better protected now than we were on 09/10/2001. This said, if a recommended disaster kit says to pack two weeks of canned food- do so, just make sure you include a manual can opener (yes, FEMA forgot to include one on its list).

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett