Tag Archives: risk

wildfire

First Fidelity offers tips to prepare for fire, drought season

As the fire and drought season in Arizona continues, the risk for businesses and the importance to be prepared is higher than ever. Recent research shows that small businesses are particularly vulnerable with only 38 percent having an emergency or disaster preparedness plan, 84 percent don’t have natural disaster insurance and 71 percent don’t have a back-up generator in case of power outage.

“Fires and droughts can catch any business off guard,” said Kevin Sellers, executive vice president for First Fidelity Bank in Arizona. “Having a business continuity plan is a smart first step when preparing for the worst.”

First Fidelity Bank shares advice with other business owners about ways business plans can be set up or improved during natural disasters.

Have a crisis plan. Oftentimes, natural disasters like droughts and fires cloud good judgment, especially when an entire business is at stake. However, it is important to have a plan in place so next steps can be smooth and well planned out. Anytime your business may be impacted, you can easily refer to your plan and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if your business is in immediate danger, refer to your plan for key messages outlined that you can share with employees and the public if needed. It is also beneficial to have next steps planned out when dealing with insurance companies. If your business is severely damaged, you can begin working with your insurance company to make arrangements to rebuild.

Have a communication plan. A key part of your crisis plan is communication. Develop key messages you would share with your employees and fellow staff members. Also, establish a communication pyramid among leadership to ensure effective and coordinated communication. Use forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter to give updates to employees and customers since phone lines can be affected. Be honest and upfront about the state of your business and provide information that will help them know what to expect as your company regroups after a disaster. Make sure to notify your company’s bank and let them know of your situation. Current business, like loan payments, may be able to be put on hold if necessary. Also, talk to your bank to learn about loan options in case your business needs repairs after a natural disaster.

Use additional servers to back up data. During a natural disaster, it is not an ideal time to worry about information being lost. Plan ahead and store sensitive information in more than one place. Electronics and servers can be severely damaged so be sure to have all data stored on an additional server. Sensitive company data on the loose puts a company at risk for fraudulent activity. Looters can easily gain access to company credit card numbers, social security numbers and other highly sensitive data. Use flash drives to keep track of this type of data. These can be easily transported and kept safe during natural disasters.

Have a plan for payroll. In case a natural disaster interferes with the payroll process, have a plan in place to continue paying employees. Since each company has a different payroll system, a back-up plan will be a case-by-case basis. Options include working with insurance to collect the money for payroll, fronting the money to employees or cutting paper checks if the direct deposit system is down. The Society for Human Resource Management offers helpful information to make sure employers know the guidelines for paying employees during natural disasters. Visit www.SHRM.org to learn more about payment requirements for various types of employees. Be sure to contact your company’s bank and notify them of a change in payroll. Most banks will keep an extra close watch on fraudulent activity so any significant change in payment methods could send up a red flag and complicate the process.

Food Basket

Listen To Mother: Eat Your Vegetables And Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

Eat your vegetables. Your grandma said it, your mom said it — even Popeye said it — and now your doctor should be saying it regularly as well. A new analysis of existing research suggests that eating more green, leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Why is this important? Nearly one in five hospitalizations in 2008 involved patients with diabetes, according to a recent federal report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And, the cost of caring for those patients was $83 billion for 7.7 million stays, or nearly one in four dollars of hospital costs that year, according to the report. The report also says the average cost for each of those diabetes-related hospitalizations was $10,937, nearly $2,200 more than the cost of a stay for a patient without a diagnosis of diabetes.

The rates of type 2 diabetes have been going up in the United States as the population has become more overweight, the authors of the analysis noted. So, one of the consequences of not eating our vegetables is that it hits our wallets as drastically as it hits our waistlines. For decades, scientists have been trying to understand the role that diet plays in the development of the disease. Researchers, led by nutritionist Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, examined six studies that looked at the links between diet and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. They found that compared with those who ate the least amount of green, leafy vegetables (0.2 servings daily), people who ate the most (1.35 servings daily) had a 14 percent reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes. However, the analysis didn’t show that increasing overall intake of fruit, vegetables, or a combination of both, would make a significant difference in risk, Carter and colleagues reported in the Aug. 19 online edition of the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Still, in the analysis, the authors concluded that “increasing daily intake of green, leafy vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and should be investigated further.” Evidence also indicates that these vegetables may play a role in prevention of certain cancers, as well as obesity and its consequences. So, what are some green, leafy veggies of choice? Well, spinach, of course, but also broccoli, kale, sprouts and cabbage can reduce the risk by 14 percent when eaten daily, because they are rich in antioxidants and magnesium, which has been linked to lower levels of diabetes. Whether we like it or not, no matter who it comes from, “eat your vegetables” is sound advice.

A rendering of the memorial planned to be constructed at Ground Zero in New York City.  Rendering by Squared Design Lab from www.national911memorial.org

Government Secrecy About Terror Plots Sometimes Tolerated, Sometimes Not

The ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is tomorrow, and a study shows that Americans will tolerate government secrecy about terror plots, but only in certain circumstances.

The study, which was led by professor V. Kerry Smith of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, surveyed more than 2,000 Americans about their beliefs concerning government secrecy about terrorism.  The study, also conducted by Carol Mansfeld and H. Allen Klaiber, included results from an Internet panel run by Knowledge Networks.

“The reason we were interested in doing (this survey) is there’s a presumption that security requires a certain amount of secrecy,” Smith said.  The survey was aimed at determining in which situations Americans will tolerate secrecy from the government in return for the promise of safety, he said.

Survey participants were asked to determine whether the government should release or withhold information regarding terrorist plots in three different situations.  The questions were asked with the caveat that if the information was released, it could increase the possibility of terrorist threat.

In two situations, a threat to disrupt Internet service at local banks, which would disrupt the processing of credit and debit card sales in the U.S. for 48 hours, and a threat to destroy major airports in Los Angeles and New York, participants responded similarly.

More than 75 percent of participants said they would want the government to withhold information rather than give away any knowledge that would make it more difficult to uncover future plots or give terrorists an upper hand.

However, when asked about the government releasing information about the true nature of a plane crash due to a terrorist attack, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said they would want the government to release this information.

“What was the surprise to me and others was the very dramatic differences” in the types of information that Americans would agree to have withheld, Smith said.

Smith says most Americans don’t perceive all threats as being the same, which means that the government shouldn’t think that Americans’ tolerance to secrecy is uniform for all threats.

He suggests a reason why Americans are more sensitive to the threat of an attack on a commercial airplane is that what happens during a plane flight isn’t something they can control, whereas the other situations that can be more easily controlled.  This reasoning comes from results of risk assessment surveys, not done during this survey.

Risk assessment surveys also offer an explanation as to why women and people living in married households were more willing to support the withholding of information, and people with college degrees were more likely to support the release of information.  These definable characteristics of people, gender, marital status or education, can be used to track trends in the way people assess risk and make decisions.

Smith also said survey results don’t change based on whether Americans are confronted with terrorism at the time of the survey or not.

The first leg of the survey, which polled about 1,900 people in 33 major cities in December 2009, was bracketed by the Christmas shoe bomber’s attempt to blow up a commercial plane, Smith said.

Some of the participants took the survey before the attempt, some after, some even lived in Detroit, the plane’s destination, he said.  However, the results of the survey weren’t affected, Smith said.

The second part of the survey, which polled about 500 people in four major cities in April 2010, showed the same results as the December 2009 portion of the survey.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events supported the research for this survey.

    Three scenarios summarized and the survey responses:

    “Should the government release the details of a major plot to destroy airports in Los Angeles and New York after the terrorists have been captured, even though it might give away the techniques law enforcement used and make it harder to uncover future plots?”

    Information Released – 23 percent; Information withheld – 77 percent

    “Should the government announce the details of a major terrorist plot to disrupt Internet service at commercial banks, and prevent the processing of credit and debit card sales across the United States for 48 hours, if the terrorists have been captured, even though it would give away the techniques used to identify the suspects and reveal specifics of the security network?”

    Information Released – 24 percent; Information withheld – 76 percent

    “Should the government release the true cause of an airplane crash due to a terrorist attack, even if that will have major economic effects on commercial airlines, give the terrorists notoriety and create an increased fear of flying?”

    Information Released – 83 percent; Information withheld – 17 percent