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Oklahoma tornadoes prompt all to consider safety apps

The recent Oklahoma tornadoes have the nation gripped and mourning, and now considering preparations for their own lives. Moore officials are asking people to donate to reputable charities – we’ve included a list where you can give.

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Oklahoma tornadoes and safety apps

One of my first thoughts upon seeing the destruction of the tornadoes in Oklahoma was to wonder if friends and their loved ones in the state were making it through the storms safely. Social media answered my questions about most of them fairly quickly, but communication can be one of the most challenging aspects of a disaster situation.

The top priority, of course, is communication with and between emergency first responders. Then, people want and need to be able to locate and know the status of friends and family. There are a number of phone apps available to assist in this effort – including social media.

Some of the apps focus more on providing information to emergency personnel in case they find you and your phone, others focus on communicating quickly with a variety of people you choose. And still others provide information on helping you provide basic first aid when emergency personnel have not yet reached you.

Safety apps everyone should have

I keep a couple of my favorite apps on my phone and updated. There are several “In Case of Emergency” apps you can choose among based upon your phone platform. My favorite app to update friends and family is Microsoft’s free HelpBridge app which not only allows you to set up custom lists from among your contacts to contact quickly through a variety of platforms simultaneously, but also allows you to donate to a number of disaster recovery organizations easily through the app.

Another of my favorite emergency apps is the American Red Cross First Aid app. The free app not only helps you know how to react to an emergency situation, but gives tips on how to prepare for them and offers tests so that you can assess your preparedness.

Apps such as HelpBridge and the First Aid app are also a good way for you and all of the employees in your company to be better prepared and communicate with one another. With HelpBridge, for instance, you can set up lists to quickly pass emergency information to your employees to instruct them and update them on critical information.

While no app will help in some situations, every bit of preparedness improves your chances of surviving a disaster situation and communicating with those whom you most care about during and after the event.

Note from AG: if you feel called to help, we ask you to donate financially to the reputable organization of your choice, and if you are searching for a missing relative or friend, check Red Cross Safe and Well’s website. Here are some ways to donate – texting is the easiest.

American Red Cross: 

  • Donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund here
  • Donate $10 by text to the Disaster Relief fund by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 (donation will show up on your phone bill)
  • 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575

Religious Organizations:

Salvation Army

  • Donate to SalvationArmyUSA.org.
  • Text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation (will show up on your phone bill).
  • Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

United Way of Central Oklahoma

  • Disaster relief fund donations may be made online here.
  • For more information:  Karla Bradshaw at (405) 523-3534 or kbradshaw@unitedwayokc.org
  • A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

Feeding America

  • Donate here to feed locals in their time of need.
  • Call 1-800-910-5524.

Convoy of Hope

  • Donate online here on their website or through  HopeMob (crowdfunding site).
  • Call 1-800-988-0664

AmeriCares

  • Donate to the Emergency Response team online here .
  • Donate $10 by texting the word LIVE to 25383.
  • Call 1-800-486-HELP.

David Holmes, owner of Intrepid Solutions, has over 20 years experience planning for, avoiding, and solving crises in the public policy, political, and private sectors. David is also a professional mediator and has worked in the Texas music scene.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Charity Kountz

    May 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Great article and I agree. I downloaded the Red Cross app yesterday as soon as I heard about it. It’s a great app and helped my husband and I to know that our nearest shelter is 30 minutes away. Very good info to have.

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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Business News

Genomelink is a one-stop-shop for your DNA data, but is it safe?

(NEWS) Genomelink is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. Sounds cool…until you think about privacy.

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dna ancestry tests representing genomelink

Have you ever done one of those nifty home test kits to check your ancestry? In this new world where covid is a long-term reality and the resulting boom in telehealth services, genetic home test kits are seeing a comeback in popularity. What many consumers aren’t aware of, is what happens to their data after they get their report back. Now, there is a new contender in the market called Genomelink that is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. That sounds cool… until you start thinking about privacy.

Most of the major companies in the business don’t even give you the option to not have your data sold, but that fact is buried so far into the fine print, it is no wonder that people miss it. Research published in the journal Nature found that genetic-testing companies frequently fail to meet even basic international transparency standards. Unifying all this data into one dashboard product unlocks even more opportunities for your data to be compromised.

There are four big glaring red flags prospective users should be aware of:

1. Cyber security standards in the genetic testing industry are low-tier.

2. The protocols for how to make your information “anonymous” before they sell it en masse are laughably ineffective.

3. There are no restrictions on who can purchase it or for what purpose.

4. Genomelink is trying to build a platform to streamline access to this data for “all users everywhere.”

Genomelink Co-founder Tomohiro Takano provided the following quote on ProductHunt.com: “We believe in the future, billions of people will have access to their DNA data. When that happens, imagine: [the place] where you will store DNA data and how you [will] connect data [to an] app ecosystem. That will be Genomelink in a nutshell.”

As someone who lives with disabilities, the last people I want to have access to my DNA data are health or life insurance providers or other for-profit interests who may not have my best interests in mind. Genomelink’s vision sounds like the well-intentioned beginning of something with the potential to be abused in sinister ways.

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Business News

9-to-5 workdays are no longer the norm: Flexibility brings productivity

(BUSINESS) Doing away with 9-to-5 workdays in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity. This is no longer a dream, but today’s reality.

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productivity outside of the challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely. One of these concepts that have been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four-day workweek. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour workweek which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of working smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) helps to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old-fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working are not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours give us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

9-to-5 workdays are becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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