Safe Living Today

Helping you Stay Safe in a Risk Filled World!

Who is This Resource For?

If you're concerned about staying free from crime, navigating the Internet safely, and discovering information and resources that help you and your loved ones live a safe life, this is the resource for you.

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Show Notes:

Stop Package Theft From Your Doorstep! - Don’t be a Victim of the Porch Pirate Grinch!

Don't Let the Porch Pirate Grinch Ruin Your Christmas

If you buy gifts online and have them shipped to you, you run the risk of having those gifts stolen right off of your front porch by criminals known as porch pirates.

Estimates are 23 million people have been victims. I want to ensure you are not one of the many people who will have packages stolen this holiday season.

Here are 6 ways to protect against this common crime.

First, the new Amazon Key service. This is a recently announced delivery option by Amazon. Amazon customers buy a lock and video camera system at a cost starting about $250.

Once installed and activated, Amazon delivery representatives can unlock your door and leave packages inside your home. The door re-locks after the delivery rep leaves.

There is one small problem: this brand new system was hacked several days after it was launched. Amazon sent a patch, but according to reports not all home systems were properly updated.

My advice: run away from this service and run very, very fast and far. Due to the multiple risks inherent is this type of system, I cannot recommend the Amazon Key service.

Option 2, Amazon’s Locker Service. One Amazon service I whole heartedly recommend is their Locker Service. Amazon has installed secured lockers in more than 2,000 locations such as 7-11’s, Whole Foods, Safeways, and other retailers.

When you make a purchase from Amazon, you can designate one of the locker locations as your “ship to” address. You’ll receive a notification from Amazon letting you know the package has arrived at the locker.

You simply go to the locker location and enter the access code you’ll be given by Amazon to retrieve your package. You have 3-days to pick up your package. You can also initiate returns at the same location if that turns out to be necessary. You’ll see a photo of the Amazon Locker kiosk at my local Safeway store in the show notes, available at www.SafeLivingToday.com.

A third option is a system called Package Guard. This device is about the size of a Frisbee.

Delivery personnel place packages on the Package Guard and you’re instantly notified that the package is waiting. If anyone takes the package before you disarm the Package Guard, an alarm is activated. The Package Guard costs about $90. You’ll find details at the company’s website located at www.thepackageguard.com.

A fourth option is to have packages delivered to your workplace. Check with your company to ensure they allow personal package deliveries. If they do, this is a great option.

Option five is to require signature verifications for all packages, or for packages that contain expensive items. This can be inconvenient, specially if you’re typically not at home. It does, however, provide an added layer of package protection.

Option six is to rent a P.O. box for a few months at the Post Office, a UPS store, or other mail handling service and have packages shipped to the P.O. Box address. Prices will vary, but typically a 3-month rental at a UPS store will cost about $75.

Renting a P.O. Box from late November through February can provide a secure delivery location for your holiday packages.

Video Cameras:

A word about outside video cameras. You’ve probably seen videos of people walking onto someone’s porch, taking a package, and running to a waiting vehicle. Sometimes the image quality of the porch pirate is excellent, sometimes not.

While I do recommend video camera installations to capture activity in your yard and at your door, cameras won’t stop a determined criminal from stealing your packages.

Video cameras may help identify the criminal, but if a thief’s face is covered the video images could prove useless. The best way to protect your packages is to not have them available on your doorstep.

How to Handle Missing Packages:

What do you do if you are expecting a package, but when checking the normal home delivery location it doesn’t show up?

First, check all doors and the area around your garage to ensure the delivery rep didn’t place the package in an unusual location. UPS and FedEX hire temporary workers during the holiday season and your usual delivery person may not be the one delivering a package.

Check with neighbors to ensure the package wasn’t left at the wrong address.

If after checking around your home and talking with neighbors, it’s obvious the package is missing, notify the company who shipped the package and confirm their records show the package was delivered. Let the seller know the package is missing and report the theft to your local police. If the package was shipped via the United States Postal Service, notify the postal inspector’s office as well.

How about insurance reimbursement for packages stolen from your porch? Depending on your policy, you may be able to file a claim for insurance reimbursement. However, your deductible will probably apply. Check your homeowners policy and call your insurance company if you are thinking of filing an insurance claim for stolen items.

But if you choose to employ one of the six methods to keep your delivered packages safe, you won’t need to worry about a Grinch porch pirate stealing your holiday gifts.

To summarize those six methods, they are:

  1. Sign up for and use the new Amazon Key Service. I do not recommend this new service, but it is an option.
  2. Use an Amazon Locker near your home as the “ship to” address. I do strongly recommend this service.
  3. Purchase and use the Package Guard product. You’ll find details about this product at www.ThePackageGuard.com.
  4. Have packages delivered to your workplace.
  5. Require signature verification for all packages or packages containing expensive items.
  6. Rent a P.O.Box at the Post Office, UPS Store, or other mail handling service and have packages shipped to the P.O Box address.

Choose to employ one of these safe package delivery options, and the Porch Pirate Grinch will not ruin your holidays.

Thank you for joining me for this episode. You can get the show notes for this and all of our episodes at www.SafeLivingToday.com.

You can also subscribe to the show there as well. You’ll find us on Apple Podcasts, Spreaker, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Subscribe on Android, and on most other podcast listening services.

You can reach me with questions or comments at SafeLivingToday@gmail.com.

As I close this episode, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season. And, as always, I ask you to please… Stay Safe, Stay Well, and Stay Blessed.

"How to Survive a Terrorist Attack"

Show Notes:

In this episode you’ll learn how to stack the survival odds in your favor if you ever find yourself in the middle of a terrorist attack.

Who is this podcast for? If you’re keen to keep you and your loved ones safe in your home, online, and when out and about in your world, this podcast is for you. Other episodes and subscription links at http://www.SafeLivingToday.com.

Key Points:

  • On October 31, a self-proclaimed radical Muslim drove a rented truck up a New York City bicycle path with the intent of killing as many people as possible. Specifics about the terrorist and other related info are discussed in the audio podcast episode.
  • The New York City murderous attack follows the mass killing in Las Vegas by an apparently deranged 64-year old man on October 1st. The death toll in that tragedy stands at 59 people with more than 500 other people wounded.
  • The 2017 terror attack victim count as of November 1, in the U.S. stands at 76 people dead and 577 people injured. This does not include so-called work-place violence killings, murders that are deemed to be non-terrorist related, and the murder of police officers for no reason other than they wore a uniform.
  • World-wide, as of November 1, we’ve had 1,052 attacks so far in 2017 with 6,595 people killed.
  • Terrorist attacks and other acts of deadly violence have occurred on public streets, in schools, on college campuses,, on military bases, in restaurants, shopping centers, government buildings, hotels, office buildings, in the workplace, and other locations.
  • Each attack is unique as to location, actors, and circumstances. That said, based on lessons learned from these types of incidents, there are actions you can take to increase your odds of surviving a terror attack.
  • Put simply, you have three options: Run, Hide, or Fight. Which of those three actions is best depends on the circumstances and where you are physically in relation to the attacker or attackers.
  • To help you develop a survival mindset, we’ll use the word “ALERT” as an acronym. The letters stand for: Awareness, Lockdown, Engage, Run, and Talk.
  • “A” stands for Awareness. When you’re Aware, you’re paying attention to your surroundings. You’re noticing the people around you. You’re listening to the sounds in the environment and you’re noticing exit doors or escape routes. Examples and specific guidance about how to stay attentive in audio.
  • “L” stands for lockdown. Lockdown is the same as sheltering in place. This is typically the best action when you know or suspect there is an active shooter somewhere in a building, but you don’t know where. You'll hear additional specifics of what to do are in the audio podcast episode.
  • “E” stands for Engage, as in Engage the assailant in a physical fight. Typically, this action is taken as a last resort when you believe death or serious injury is imminent and no other viable option exists. Specific instructions for using weapons of opportunity, when, and how to engage are discussed in the audio podcast episode.
  • “R” stands for “Run”. As soon as you believe it’s safe, move as quickly as possible away from the attack scene and don’t stop until you’re several blocks away. If you’re wearing high heels, take them off before running. The more distance you put between you and the scene of the attack, the more likely you are to survive.
  • “T” stands for “Talk”. The first person you want to “Talk” to throughout the attack is yourself. Keep reminding yourself to, “stay calm, stay focused”. Avoid using negatives such as, “don’t panic!”. How to use single word affirmations to stay calm, what to say to police, and what to say to other people are described in the audio podcast episode.
  • Statistically, the probability of being involved in a terrorist attack is small, but growing (note: after this episode was recorded, a gunman killed at least 26-people and wounded more than 20-people on Sunday, November 5, at a Texas Church). Knowing and rehearsing the skills you learn in this podcast will increase your odds of surviving a terrorist attack.

More information and citations for stats are available at our website, http://www.SafeLivingToday.com. Contact us at SafeLivingToday@gmail.com.

Citations for stats mentioned in podcast:

Don’t Be a Craigslist Crime Victim! - How to Buy and Sell Safely: Episode 13 - Show Notes:

Who Is the Safe Living Today Podcast For?

If you are keen to stay safe in your home, online, and when you’re out and about in your world, this is your show. Host Stephen Carter has more than 40-years experience in law enforcement, as a senior Corporate Security Executive, and a Safety Expert.

This, “Don’t Be a Craigslist Crime Victim!" Episode:

Have you ever used Craigslist to buy or sell an item? Millions of postings and transactions have occurred on Craigslist. The good news is the vast majority of transactions occur honestly and safely. Sadly, not all transactions are safe and legitimate.

Headlines:

  • “Anne Arundel County Man Charged With Murder in Craigslist Robbery”;
  • “Glenn Burnie Maryland: A Millersville Man is Arrested in Connection to a Craigslist Robbery and Murder”;
  • “Baltimore Police Arrest Suspect in Connection With a Sykesville Man Who Came to Baltimore to Sell a Dirt Bike Posted on Craigslist”;
  • CNN Story: “A South Georgia Man Was Charged With Murder in the Death of a Couple Who Went Missing Last Week After Contacting a Car Seller on Craigslist”;
  • "Man Charged in Craigslist in West Hartford Sex Assault Makes Multiple Confessions”.

In the last case, the suspect claimed, “I just came to get a bike and animalistic instincts kicked in”.

Stacking Odds in Your Favor:

How can you stack the odds toward safety in your favor when buying or selling on Craigslist?

The number one way to ensure your safety in my view is to meet in a public place to transact a sale. The best place is to meet in the lobby of a police station. Howard County Maryland Police Department has a formal program that allows buyers and sellers to meet in the station lobbies. Many other police agencies have similar programs.

Actions to help ensure your safety include:

  1. Meet in a public place such as a police station, the lobby of a bank, the food court area of a busy shopping center, a busy coffee shop, or a large store such as a Walmart. People pay little attention to what happens on parking lots, but do pay attention to what happens inside a store.
  2. Avoid meeting on parking lots, in secluded locations, or in private homes unless absolutely necessary to inspect or sell a large item (see additional precautions below).
  3. Use extreme caution when buying or selling items of high value. Ensure you know exactly what you’re buying or selling. Ensure the item is in working order.
  4. Let friends and family know where you’re going and with whom you’re meeting. If possible, take at least one friend or family member with you to witness the transaction.
  5. Both you and anyone who accompanies you should have a cell phone readily available.
  6. Trust your instincts. If there is a tiny voice in the back of your head suggesting something’ is wrong, stop the transaction and take action to assure your safety.
  7. If you’re looking at a large item such as a sofa or washer that requires you to go to the seller’s home, take at least one person with you and preferably two people. One person should accompany you into the residence while the second person waits outside. Everyone should have cell phones at the ready. If you’re selling a large item, have at least one adult with you when a potential buyer is in your residence.
  8. If someone is coming into your home, to the extent possible ensure you have the full name, address, and phone number of the person coming to your home.
  9. If you’re selling an item, take only cash; no checks.
  10. If you’re responding to an ad for a home or apartment rental, be extremely cautious. Scammers will post ads to attract renters to residences they do not own. Listen at time stamp 7 minutes 11 seconds for details about these frauds and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Never Miss an Episode:

To ensure you never miss an episode of the, “Safe Living Today” show, go to http://SafeLivingToday.com, scroll down to the links to subscribe on iTunes (now Apple Podcasts), subscribe on stitcher.com, or to subscribe on Android. You can also listen to this and prior episodes on YouTube on the http://SafeLivingToday.com website.

To email the host, create an email addressed to, SafeLivingToday@gmail.com.

Show Notes for: "Halloween Costumes Hiding Head Lice! How to Protect Your Child" - Episode 12

This special alert episode highlights the rise in the incidence of head lice in children during late October and early November.

One major contributor relates to Halloween costumes. When a child with head lice tries on a costume, a number of head lice insects can remain in the costume fabric and mask. If that costume is placed back on the shelf and a second child later puts that costume on, the second child can be infected with head lice.

Head lice are wingless insects who live on the scalp and feed off of the blood of it's victims. It's a serious health hazard and disproportionately affects children.

In this espisode, you'll learn how to protect your child or grandchild from the hazard of head lice transfer through Halloween costumes.

Show Notes for: Honoring Victims and Heroes in Las Vegas

This episode honors the mass murder victims of the Las Vegas shooting, praises the men and women of law enforcement, the amulance / fire service, the hotel security staff, and the brave audience members who risked their lives to help save victims who were wounded in this horrific act.

Key Messages:

  • We honor the victims of this horrific crime.
  • We praise the courageous men and women first responders and hotel security staff who responded quickly and effectively to neutralize the killer. As a result of their rapid response, hundreds of lives were saved.
  • We honor the bravery of every day people in the audience who risked their lives to help save the lives of other people who were wounded by the gunman.
  • Commissioner Stephen F. Sisolak of the Clark County goverment offers praise for first responders and others. He shares information about the Go Fund Me page that they established to help victims of this tragic event.
  • If you suspect someone may be at risk as a "copy cat" killer, please say and do whatever is necessary to get that person help before it's too late.
  • The link to the GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund.

Show Notes for, "How to Choose and Use the Best Non-Lethal Personal Protection Weapon" - Episode 10.

Key Messages:

  • When it comes to non-lethal personal protection weapons, there are two realistic options.
  • The first option is the use of one of two taser devices. The first taser device is the one carried by police that fires two projectiles with the hope both will embed themselves in such as way that an attacker can be stopped with a taser charge. Problems: units are bulky and expensive. Heavy clothing such as a leather jacket may make this type of taser ineffective.
  • The second taser device, sometimes called a "stun gun", requires direct contact with an assailant. If the taser isn't applied properly, the assailant may take the device and use it on the victim or simply continue with the attack.
  • The second option is to use a chemical spray, specifically pepper spray.
  • Choose a pepper spray product from a reputable company such as SABRE or Mace and purchase two canisters (one to practice with) from major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, and other trusted retailers.
  • Pepper spray can't be left in a car safely. In summer, the inside temperature of a closed car can reach 120 degrees and higher. Pepper spray will likely not function if the product is exposed to high temperatures or temperatures near zero degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Most pepper spray streams will extend about 10 feet from the canister. Hold the canister with fingers wrapped around the canister, aimed outward, with your thumb on the activator. Release safety if you plan to spray an attacker.
  • Remember the mantra, "When in fear, spray ear to ear"! You want to aim the spray at an attackers face, particularly his or her eyes. Spray back and forth between the ears to saturate the face.
  • When the attacker stops, take the opportunity to step back and leave the area quickly. Call police ASAP to report the attack.
  • Practice using the device. Rehearse removing it smoothly from it's holster or carrying case, taking the safety off, and aiming the spray at face level. Practice frequently until it becomes automatic.
  • There are legal considerations. Don't try to carry pepper spray onto a plane. Know your State and local laws as they relate to the use and carrying of pepper spray.
  • Resources:

"Don't Be a Charity Fraud Victim! 2-Minute No Crime Zone Special Episode"

Recent hurricanes and earthquakes have left a trail of death and devastation. In the wake of these tragedies, criminal scammers are setting up fraudulent charities, telephone banks, websites, and mass email campaigns to steal money from people who want to help disaster victims.

In this special 2-minute No Crime Zone! episode, you'll learn the 3 most important things to NOT do, and what to do instead.

Key messages:

  • Never respond to telephone solicitations asking for money or anything else. -
  • Never rely on caller ID to verify a caller. Scammers can easily create fraudulent caller IDs that appear legitimate.
  • Never respond to email solicitations.
  • Vet any and every charity you're thinking of donating to. See the links for Charity Navigator and GuideStar sites below.

Resources to spot / prevent fraud and to investigate non-profit charities:

"Equifax: Self-Defense Against Identity Theft Post Data Breach" - Ep #8

On September 7, 2017, Equifax, Inc., one of the three major credit reporting companies, announced a data breach that exposed credit and related records for 143 million consumers. The breach first came to the attention of Equifax at the end of July, 2017.

The episode reviews the latest Equifax public announcement about the data breach posted on September 15, 2017. It also presents consumer self-defense recommendations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to help prevent identity theft.

Relevant resource sites include:

ATM Safety - Create a Robbery Free Zone! Ep#7

Discover how to use an ATM safety. Create your robbery free zone using awareness, transaction planning, and simple safety actions.

Key insights include:

  • Why ATM safety begins well before you drive up to an ATM unit;
  • How to identify specific threats;
  • What is the safest time of day to use an ATM;
  • What to take with you when using a walk-up ATM;
  • How to handle an ATM transaction inside of a convenience store;
  • How to spot and remove a "skimmer", a device designed to steal your credit and debit card information; and,

Lots more...

By applying the simple safety actions you'll discover in this podcast, you'll significantly lower your risk of being robbed while conducting ATM transactions.

You'll also discover how to reduce the risk of losing your debit and credit card information through "skimmers". Skimmers are devices used by criminals to steal your personal identification information at ATMs and gas pumps.

"Hurricane Irma - How to Prepare and Stay Safe"

Show Notes

If a disaster happens, do you have enough food, water, and other necessities to last two weeks or longer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of people give little or no thought to stockpiling enough resources to last at least two weeks.

Please don't wait until a major storm is predicted or a disaster has already happened. It may be too late. Take action now to safeguard yourself and your loved ones by creating a stockpile of food, water, and other necessities.

RECOMMENDED ITEMS

Ensure you have access to items like:

  • Enough gallon jugs of water. The CDC recommends at least 1-gallon per person per day at a minimum (replace with new water jugs at least annually). If you are on well water, you'll need additional water storage.
  • Two can openers (in case one breaks);
  • Canned and other nonperishable food. Consider those with special dietary needs. (Note: track "Use by" dates and replace outdated items as needed);
  • Pet food and supplies (if applicable);
  • Toilet paper and paper towels;
  • Trash bags;
  • Ensure your cell phone is charged;
  • Remember the old style non-electric phones will work if the power is off, but the phone line is functioning;
  • A hand cranked portable radio and flashlight;
  • Battery operated radios and flashlights;
  • Plenty of batteries (check battery type needed for each battery powered item);
  • A Coleman type camping stove (nice to have, but depending on food may not be mandatory);
  • Enough prescription and non-prescription medications;
  • Books, paper, and pens (it gets real boring real fast with no electricity); and,
  • Blankets and enough clothing.

You'll want to fill your car's gas tank ahead of a storm in the event officials order an evacuation such as occurred in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. I suggest keeping bottles of water, snacks, and blankets in your car in the event you're stuck for an extended period on a highway.

Here is a good PDF resource prepared by FEMA and the American Red Cross that will help you decide what you should stockpile and how those items should be stored and used. I suggest printing this guide out and taking action on the recommendations.

Link: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf

Link From My Google Drive: https://tinyurl.com/yagunt9a

Stay Safe, Stay Well, and Stay Blessed.

Bump and Rob - Don't Be a Victim - Episode 5

Here are the show notes / key points for this podcast:

In this episode, you'll learn how to protect yourself against a frightening crime trend called Bump and Rob. In these Bump and Rob crimes, criminals ram their vehicle in to your car from the rear. When you exit your car to assess the damage, criminals will take your purse or wallet, take other property, and take your car. Victims have been beaten, threatened with guns, and - in some cases - sexually assaulted. Protective actions you can take include:

- Stay in your vehicle and lock the doors;

- Immediately call police (911) and stay on the phone as you follow directions from the 911 operator;

- If possible, move your vehicle to an open store or other location where there are people present;

- Attract attention by flashing your lights and sounding the horn;

- If you are face-to-face with a criminal committing a robbery, don't resist. Look at their face, notice how they're dressed, and note any tattoos, scars, or other unusual markings that will help police identify the criminal/s.

You'll learn how to take other personal safety actions to help keep you safe.

In addition to learning how to use these and other actions to help keep you safe, this episode also includes commentary about the devastation in Houston and surrounding areas and guidance on avoiding scam organizations taking advantage of people wanting to donate towards helping victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Murder of a 12-Year Old Girl - Important Lessons for Staying Safe. Episode 4.

Here are the show notes / key points for this podcast:

12 year-old Yhoana Arteaga of Goodlettville, Tenn. was brutally murdered in her home after texting her mother to tell her there was someone knocking at the door.

Her mother discovered Yhoana's lifeless body when the mother arrived home later that day. The child had been bludgeoned to death and - according to police - her clothing was in disarray.

While the investigation is ongoing, there are important safety lessons we can learn from this tragedy. Key recommendations include:

- Teach your children to never open the door to ANYONE when they're alone without your approval.

- Always keep doors locked.

- If a relative or trusted person knocks, instruct your children to call you and follow your instructions. If you determine it's safe to have your child open the door, have your child tell the visitor he or she told you who was at the door.

- Whether a child or adult, talk with someone through the door who is knocking through the door after checking the door's peephole or adjacent widow to see who is there.

- While not discussed in the podcast, consider installing an audio - video doorbell such as the system from Ring. These systems allow you to talk with someone on your doorstep through your smart phone regardless of whether you are home or away.

- Always have a phone in hand. Your phone is a lifeline to police and other help.

- Don't assume the story or identity offered by someone knocking is truthful. Criminals use false stories, children, and other ruses to get you to open the door.

You'll learn other stay safe actions to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Learn to identify convicted sex offenders living and working in your community. Episode 3.

In this video, you'll discover how to identify convicted sex offenders who are living and working in your community and neighborhood. You can use this information to keep you and your loved ones safe from potential predators in your daily life and while online. You’ll learn how to use the National Sex Offender Public Website at https://www.nsopw.gov/ and other resources.

First YouTube video with "NOSPW" is the video version. The second resource is the audio podcast version of the video rendered in YouTube.

Listen to "Create a No Break-in Zone" Episode 2 of the "Safe Living Today" podcast on YouTube. Episode 2.

In this episode you'll discover how an inspirational Facebook post lead to a home invasion and murder and you'll learn the two key safely lessons to apply in your own life to help ensure you and your loved ones stay safe from any similar crime. You'll learn how to create a No Break-in Zone by discovering what criminals look for when choosing a residence to burglarize, how to properly use protective lighting, exactly what kind of locks to use, how to ensure your locks are working properly, how to secure sliding glass doors and windows, and how to safely handle people knocking on your door to help prevent a potentially deadly home invasion In addition, you'll discover the one thing that nearly doubles the risk of melanoma in young people and teens, and exactly how to reduce the risk of skin cancer for you and your loved ones.

Listen to "Stop Crime in Your Neighborhood" Episode 1 of the "Safe Living Today" Podcast on YouTube. Episode 1.

In this episode you'll discover how to track crime reports for your neighborhood and community on http://CrimeReports.com. You'll learn how to use those reports to partner with neighbors and police to reduce crime in your neighborhood.