Protecting Your Digital Footprint

Protecting Your Digital Footprint

In today’s digital age, it is impossible to avoid the internet. Even if you don’t have a computer and actively avoid social media, there is information about you in some corner of the web. Here are some ideas to help you manage your digital footprint:

  • Actively manage your security settings. Every app, social media site and web browser have multiple layers of privacy and security settings. When you download a new app or register with a new site, don’t simply trust the default settings. Look through the options yourself to ensure you are comfortable with the level of privacy. One thing to watch for with apps on your phone is location settings. Some apps will track your location even when the app isn’t running.
  • Protect your online image. Career search firms now have strategies built entirely around recruiting through social media. In addition to recruiting, human resource departments will vet prospective employees by reviewing social media profiles. Pay attention to what others post about you, as well. If you are uncomfortable with what they are sharing, have a conversation with them and ask that it be taken down.
  • Set boundaries for yourself. According to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis. And 51 percent say they visit multiple times per day. Try to find the balance that allows you to enjoy connecting with others online, but doesn’t negatively impact other parts of your life. In addition to time spent, draw a bright line between what you consider shareable versus personal information. If you have these boundaries in mind when on social media, it will help you think critically before continuing to scroll or posting something.
  • Know your friends. Be aware of who you are connected to on social media sites. Be cautious of accepting connection requests from people you don’t know, as some of these requests could be a phishing attempt to swipe confidential information.

The best defence of your private information is you. Having a plan and actively managing your online profiles is the best way to minimize the chance of your personal data falling into the wrong hands.

If You Wait, It’s Too Late! Fire survival occurs before the first signs of smoke.

If You Wait, It’s Too Late! Fire survival occurs before the first signs of smoke.

It’s the dead of night. Something wakes you from a deep sleep. It sounds like popcorn. Is someone in the house? Now you are alert. You grab your phone, open the door and head for the sound. It’s coming from the kitchen. At the same time, the smoke hits you AND the smoke alarms go off. Now is the time to act, and improving your survival comes from thinking about what you need to do….long BEFORE it happens.

Learn from the experts

Do a review of your situation now. Here are links to two great sources:

American Red Cross

National Fire Prevention Association

Install and maintain equipment

This includes smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and proper fire extinguishers all in the proper places and all in working order.

Minimize risks

The top causes of home fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Knowing this, you can reduce the risk of fire by creating an awareness trigger when engaging in these areas. For example:

  • Know how to handle different types of cooking fires both inside and outside.
  • Know where shut off valves are for gas.
  • Unplug when not using electrical devices.
  • Never smoke inside.
  • Only buy candles enclosed in glass.

Have an escape plan and practice it!

When a fire occurs, you have two minutes to get out. Create a plan, provide two methods of escape, and practice the plan every six months. Know where you are going to meet so everyone is accounted for after you exit. This is especially important for kids as they may need to escape without your help. Also think about overnight guests and grandkids at sleepovers. This is where reviewing plans from experts can help.

Get out. Stay out. Call for help.

Make this your mantra when in the midst of a fire emergency.

Review this I wish list.

Hindsight is 20-20, and especially so when it comes to fires. Here are some tips from those who have gone through it:

I wish:

I had a go bag. This is a small bag of essentials stored in your bedroom to grab if you need to leave in a hurry. It contains a change of clothes, coats, or other emergency items for the kids.

I had a good inventory. After the fire, you are going to spend a significant amount of time with insurance adjusters. Periodically review your policy and develop an inventory of your household items. Take videos, document models and ages of major appliances, autos, other equipment, and valuables.

I had a where to go plan.  If you cannot return to your home, where will you stay? How will you pay for it? Figure this out ahead of time.

I had a remote backup of my computer and phone. Remote backups can be invaluable in getting you back up and running.

I had an emergency fund. It will take a while to get your life back in order. What if you need to take time off from work? Having 6 months of emergency funds can make all the difference as you recover from your disaster.

The purpose of this article is not to act as an expert in fire safety, but rather to help generate awareness in this often overlooked subject. If, however, you need expert advice with your financial and tax affairs as you navigate this or other disasters, please call for help.