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angie sullivan

  • Back Up Plan

    Not only should you prepare your family for an emergency, you should also prepare your data for an emergency.

    I love taking pictures of my family. There’s rarely a get-together, performance, or other activity in our family where I’m not behind the lens of my camera. Most of the time, those precious pictures are stored on my computer and later turned into a video or added to a blog. These photos are some of my most prized possessions. Several years ago, my laptop crashed. For several days we were unsure if we would be able to retrieve the information stored on the hard drive. I was devastated. I had yearsof pictures stored on that computer. Luckily, with the help of a good friend in the computer business, we were able to retrieve my files, but I quickly went to work looking for ways to back up my data for the future.

    Securing your information digitally may not seem like emergency preparedness, but many of us put some of our most important information on our computers. In an emergency, this information can be lost. Imagine a house fire, hurricane, flood or other natural disaster. If you were to lose your computer completely, what would happen to everything stored in its files?

    With our current technology, many pieces of our lives are already digital, or can be easily converted to a digital format. This information should always be backed up and updated if the files change. There are four basic types of back up for your data: USB Flash Drive, CD/DVD, External Hard Drive, and online backup service.

    USB Flash Drives are small, quick, and convenient. They are easy to transport and have a data retention span of up to ten years (citation?). But, due to their small size, their storage space is often limited. If your home is like mine, flash drives are often misplaced. If you keep them in the same space as your computer, they may also be damaged in a disaster. In addition, flash drives need to be backed up manually.

    CD’s and DVD’s are small, stackable discs that allow you to store hard copies of your data. Depending on the manufacturer and where your discs are stored, your CD or DVD can have a shelf life of 20 to 100 years (citation?). Like flash drives, they require manual backup and can be damaged in a disaster. Still, I like to make copies of our family videos on DVD to give to other family members. This makes a great gift, and is a wonderful way to have extra copies should your information become damaged.

    An external hard drive is simply a hard drive  stored outside of your computer. They usually connect to your computer through a USB port and can have a large storage capacity. These too need to bebacked up manually to keep your information current. I use an external hard drive to hold my pictures and videos so they don’t slow down my computer. When I need to retrieve my pictures, I just connect my external drive and voila.

    The last form of data backup is Online Backup. This is relatively new and has grown in popularity over the last few years. Basically, you download and configure the provider’s backup software onto your computer  and the software takes care of everything else! Many of these services automatically backup the information on your computer and your data will be encrypted, so it cannot be seen by others. and the servers where your information is stored are typically kept in temperature regulated, tamper-free rooms where it is highly unlikely that your information can become corrupted or stolen. Should your computer go down, all your information would be available by simply recovering the information from the company. Typically, there is a monthly fee involved in this backup system, but in my opinion, it is well worth the cost to know that my information is constantly being saved and in a remote location. I often hook my external hard drive up to my computer so it can also be backed up online. This method will not work without an internet connection and will not be as effective if your connection is often compromised.

    Take the time this New Year to make sure you have a backup plan for your data. A combination of several of these backup methods will keep your information both close at hand, and safe from harm!

    -Angie Sullivan

  • Readiness Resolve

    By Angie Sullivan

    The New Year is right around the corner; discover a new type of resolution, a resolve to be ready!

    If you are like me, the New Year is bittersweet. There is something invigorating about starting off with a clean slate and creating a set of new ideas for running your life. Then there is the down side. Often, my New Year’s Resolutions tend to be overwhelming, self depreciating in nature, and I find myself two weeks into February and I can’t even remember what I decided to do.

    Several years ago I abandoned this theory of a “list” of resolutions and decided to choose one simple phrase to describe how I would try to use my year. I’ll give you a few examples. The first year my resolution was “Be Happy” and I spent that year learning how to find happiness in the most mundane of tasks. It was a success! I’ve since chosen to “Find Beauty”, and most recently “Be at Peace”. These small resolutions have been simple, yet profound in their effect. I enjoyed more sunsets, laughed more with my children, even learned to be still and ponder instead of rushing through my day.

    I would like to suggest a simple phrase for you this New Year. Though it will definitely help you remember to work on your food storage, it can help in many areas of your life. Here it is: Be Prepared. What should you be prepared for? For whatever you decide you need! For me, this resolution will mean that I will not procrastinate the things that are most important for me. For example, I’m going to make sure that the school projects for my older daughters are done early, so I can be free to rock my youngest at night.

    In regards to preparedness, your goal to be prepared can influence your decisions throughout the year. Maybe you’ll decide to forgo that new sweater and instead put together a more comprehensive first aid kit instead. Or, you’ll dedicate one family night a month to preparedness. Maybe you’ll decide that you need to try out that emergency kit while camping this summer to be sure that it is properly supplied. Perhaps you will be more prepared by adding just one extra can of food to your grocery list each time you run in to buy a gallon of milk. The possibilities for you on a personal level are virtually limitless!

    Take a few moments during this holiday time to find a resolution that will bless your life in many ways. Maybe you too can resolve to “be prepared” and make it a daily part of your life, whether it be physical preparedness, or just a pledge to be aware of what your family really needs from you and be ready to provide that. With your readiness resolution, you might find that 2011 is your year to be prepared!

  • Holiday Hazards

    By Angie Sullivan

    It’s the holiday season and you are at home cooking and celebrating, or out and about on fun adventures. Whatever you’re doing, don’t forget your first aid kit because sometimes there are hazards that come with the holidays!

    I don’t know what it is about having everyone over for the holidays, but it seems pretty inevitable in our family that someone is going to get hurt. It’s sounds terrible, but it’s true! Whether it’s a burn from baking cookies in the oven, a cut from a broken Christmas light bulb, or even just a bump or bruise from the kids wrestling together, you’re bound to need a good first aid kit around.

    What would be in good first aid kit? Well, you first need to decide what type of kit you are creating. I have several different kinds of kits in my home. I always carry a small pocket first aid kit in my purse for those little paper cuts or other “owies” my four year old is bound to get while we’re out and about during the day. I keep a first aid kit in our car, and one in our boat which are a little more comprehensive and have extra items specific to those circumstances. Finally, in my medicine closet I house our most extensive kit, one that I could take with me in an emergency. Speaking of emergencies, a small first aid kit in each emergency kit is essential too!

    Now that you know the type of kit you are making, start with the very basics and continue to add to the kit until you feel it is sufficient for what you are using it for. The first aid kit in my purse has not only bandages, antiseptic wipes, and antibacterial ointment, but I also include pain reliever, stomach pills, wet wipes, and even a set of tweezers (we’re always getting slivers at the park!).

    When I stock first aid for my transportation kits, I add a few additional items. I like putting in bug spray, sun block, burn gel, small scissors, and even a few ice and heat packs. I also think an ace bandage and an arm sling are a good idea.

    My comprehensive first aid kit houses a few specific items that I’ve found can be helpful. I’ve add vinyl gloves, splints, larger bandages and gauze pads. I also tuck in medical tape and additional specialized bandages like knuckle, spot, and fingertip bandages. You might want to consider what medications are essential for your family. My children have a tendency toward ear infections, so having extra children’s ibuprofen and Benadryl on hand is essential for us. I often experience stomach discomfort, so a sufficient supply of antacids in important too.

    Above all, one of the most important items you should put in your first aid kit is a good first aid booklet. Having the knowledge of how to provide proper treatment is the best preparedness you can have.

    Take some time out of your wrapping and baking to put together some good first aid kits for your family. You will be grateful to have it should your family experience any holiday hazards!

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