How to Keep Your Business Safe Both Inside and Out

Keeping your business safe both inside and out is one of your major concerns as a business owner. Everything in your business, including your data and employees, is precious and you need to do your part to protect them. Here’s how.

According to Business 2 Community, you should think before you send any information digitally. This may seem like an obvious thing to avoid, but it’s actually a fairly common mistake to make. Owners might send their tax information to their accountant or send their credit card number over a text message. These pieces of information can easily be accessed by the wrong people if sent virtually.

A recent survey shows some 87% of small businesses experienced a security breach in 2012 alone. This means it’s not just large companies with huge profit margins that face cyber attack. Since the attacks are so common, another way to protect your information is to be wary of public Wi-Fi connections. Anything that is sent via the public connection can be accessed by anyone logged onto the same network. If you’re out and need to use a Wi-Fi connection, think about using a Virtual Private Network instead. It’s a really easy way to make sure your information stays protected.

Along with thinking about your data, it’s important to protect your employees and office building. DuPage Policy Journal says May is “Building Safety Month”, so what better time to think about protecting your building than now? Every month, check all of the smoke detectors in your building. You should have one on every level and in every room of your space, so if you don’t have those installed, take the time to do so. While you’re at it, install any necessary carbon dioxide detectors as well. Your employees will feel safe knowing that they have an alert system ready for any emergency.

If you have a lot of employees that come in and out of your office every day, chances are you have a parking garage available for their use. Because of this, it’s important to make sure it’s protected, too. Install bright LED lighting throughout the garage to make your employees and others feel safe if they’re using it when it’s dark out. In fact, in many areas throughout the United States, the law requires parking garage lighting to be used 24 hours per day.

For many business owners, hurricanes and other natural disasters may be a concern. The Caller Times says it’s so important to be prepared for anything that comes your way. Have a plan in place and share it with your employees. That plan can include emergency contacts, an evacuation route, and what to do if a natural disaster hits while everyone’s in the building. If all of your company’s information and important documents are saved on your computer’s, consider backing them up to the Cloud or an external hard drive.

There are so many ways to protect your business both inside and out. Take the proper steps, like the ones listed above, to keep everything and everyone safe from harm’s way.

3 Smart Tips To Keep Senior Drivers Safe This Season

Spring is here, and now that the days are getting longer, more and more senior citizens may be going out to drive. There’s no denying that growing older comes with certain changes in our physical and mental abilities, and in order to stay safe, there are a number of quick and easy steps seniors can take. Here are just a few of the top safety tips from pros for safe and successful senior driving.

Be Aware of Effects From Medications

Whether you’re taking a prescription medication or something that’s sold over-the-counter, there could be side effects associated with its use. With this in mind, it’s important to take the time to read the label of each and every medicine you start taking to inform yourself of potential side effects as well as how to take the medicine properly.

“Certain medications can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle. For each of the medications you have been prescribed, be sure to read the label carefully. If it states that you should not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking the medication, DO NOT DRIVE. If there is nothing on the label, BUT you feel as though your mental or physical abilities are altered when taking the medication, contact your doctor and report the effects you’re feeling. He or she may encourage you to find alternative transportation while taking the meds,” writes

Furthermore, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor if they may be able to adjust the dosage of a prescription to make it easier and safer for you to drive.

Use Technology

If you’re worried about struggling with vision impairment when on the road, consider getting a vehicle equipped with the technology to help. Backup cameras are becoming increasingly popular for those who want to be able to see their blind spot any time they’re in reverse. Similarly, a dashboard camera could be a helpful device to record an accident and use as evidence if you ever need to make your case. The global dashboard camera market, in terms of revenue, was valued at US$ 1,458.2 Mn in 2013 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.3% during the period from 2014 to 2020. Don’t underestimate the benefits of using vehicular cameras and other related technology to your advantage.

Take A Mature Driver Course

If you feel like your skills could use some improvement, consider signing up for a mature driver course to review some basic safety tips and procedures. You can relearn some essential defensive driving techniques that could keep you save and even prevent a serious accident. These refresher courses are also designed to educate mature students about updated state-specific laws, so you can stay safe on the roads for years to come.

By 2030, older adults (seniors) will account for roughly 20% of the U.S. population. Knowing how to stay safe on the roads can help you stay independent at any age.

From Homebuilding to Retail, Shipping Containers Are Extremely Versatile

Currently, there are roughly 17 million shipping containers in the world, but only six million of them are actually being used for various purposes (exports, storage, etc.). That means approximately 11 million shipping containers are not being used at all — that trend is starting to change.

People around the country are finding creative and new ways to take advantage of these unused storage containers. Whether it’s for retail purposes, agricultural production, artistic projects, or more, there are dozens of ways these constants can be utilized.

According to Tucson News Now, 13 retail and dining establishments are opening in early May inside a formation of shipping containers. The MSA Annex is a shipping container concept that has been in the development stage for seven years.

One of the featured new retail shops, Transit Cycles, will have a physical store that’s more than 160 square feet large.

“I just like that they’re different. I like the aesthetic,” said Duncan Benning, owner and manager of Transit Cycles. “I like how the space looks. To be able to kind of pull all those things together just made it that much more appealing.”

Each individual container as part of the MSA Annex has been fully repurposed with each owner’s creativity and vision in mind.

“These are real, solid buildings,” added Kira Dixon-Weinstein, executive director of Mercado San Augustin and the developer of the new shipping container retail project. “You look at the walls and the lights and the exit signs and the air conditioning. There’s nothing temporary feeling about them at all.”

A lot of those shipping containers can even be constructed into homes for people around the country. Although the majority of newer roofs are constructed (at least supposed to be built) in order to withstand weather loads of 15 to 30 pounds per square foot, shipping container homes can be just as durable as metal roofing, providing quality protection and shelter for individuals or families.

The Gainesville Sun adds that Terri McFarlane, who calls herself an “artistic MacGyver,” constructed a durable and affordable home out of seven previously unused shipping containers.

“I’m looking forward to having an upper story, basement, a deck to sit on with neighbors and the decorative touches I want in a sturdy home,” she said.

McFarlane started her shipping container home building project last fall on her eight and a half-acre hilltop property in Citra Pines, alongside a few of her friends, a local architect, and a general contractor. She expects her new home to be fully completed by June.

She purchased the containers from Ocala Container.

“About 95% of the containers we sell are used for storage and 5% for shops and homes,” said Jordan Raney, owner of Ocala Container. “Terri is by far the most ambitious (builder) we’ve seen so far and we’re excited.”

Finally, after multiple classroom brainstorming sessions over the years, a new vertical farming shipping container becomes a reality in Arizona.

According to Arizona Sonora News, University of Arizona professor Joel Cuello created a shipping continuer unit that produces leafy green vegetables.

In 2010, there weren’t any vertical farm storage units. Now, there are at least 1,500 around the globe.

Grocery Shoppers Beware: Romaine Lettuce Containing E. Coli

Approximately 61% of shoppers want their produce department to store more local products, but shoppers need to be more concerned about foodborne illnesses as a result of purchasing some of these certain grocery items.

According to CNBC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a nationwide E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. There have been 53 cases of E. coli outbreaks across 16 states and 31 of those outbreaks resulted in hospitalization.

The CDC is warning states that all store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including salads and mixes with romaine, should not be eaten and needs to be thrown away.

“Consumer Reports is making this recommendation given the potentially fatal consequences of E. coli, the fact that there are still several unknowns about this outbreak and that no type of romaine has been ruled definitively safe by government officials,” said James Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports.

CNN Health adds that vegetables are to blame for the majority of foodborne illnesses. Soil is evaluated on two basic features: texture and fertility, but any bit of compromised soil can lead to serious food-related illnesses.

Every year, one in six Americans gets sick from food, and 128,000 people are so sick they have to go to the hospital due to serious vomiting and diarrhea issues as well as severe nausea.

Though grocery shoppers need to be fully aware of what they are purchasing, that doesn’t mean individuals should avoid eating fruits and vegetables altogether.

“When properly cleaned, separated, cooked, and stored to limit contamination, fruits and vegetables safely provide some essential nutrients that would otherwise be lacking in most American diets,” officials from CDC wrote.

In order to combat this concerning outbreak, a coalition of five produce industry groups was working to identify where the problem started. The team found that the E. coli-infected lettuce stems from Yuma, Arizona, where the majority of the product is grown between November and March.

“Leafy greens food-safety programs in both California and Arizona are the most rigorous in today’s produce industry,” the produce groups said. “Both programs include mandatory farm food safety practices, and frequent government audits to ensure those practices are being followed.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new food safety requirements. The draft proposals are the first food safety rules to be proposed in 70 years, and they will allow the FDA to take a more preventative role in dealing with food contamination, rather than strictly reactionary.

The new proposals will require much stricter standards for growing, harvesting, and storing produce items as well as increase sanitation methods for irrigation fields. It will also increase surveillance for machines used in soils like fertilizers and manure.

In order to avoid E. coli, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, cook meat completely, avoid raw milk, wash your hands regularly, and avoid preparing food when you’re sick. If you believe you came in contact with E. coli, write down when you recently consumed and contact your doctor and local health department.

Natural Gas Turbines Revolutionizing International Energy Sector

In 2016, the United States was the largest producer of natural gas worldwide, extracting nearly 750 billion cubic meters of natural gas. A large part of that natural gas generation is the overall mass production from natural gas turbines and other major power plant pieces of equipment.

Across the country and the world, natural gas turbines have been working hard to produce greater amounts of this powerful form of energy, specifically focusing on the 95,471 miles of U.S. shoreline. And the need for oceanic and shore-based turbines certainly isn’t going anywhere.

According to, plans for using submerged gas turbines in Japan could actually replace up to 10 nuclear reactors.

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have developed turbines that can convert the power of oceanic waves into clean and renewable energy. The vigor of the ocean’s waves at the shoreline plays a major role in developing this quality type of energy.

“Particularly in Japan, if you go around the beach you’ll find many tetrapods,” said Professor Shintake of the OIST. “Surprisingly, 30% of the seashore in mainland Japan is covered with tetrapods and wave breakers.”

Replacing those structures with attached turbines would generate quality energy and protect the shoreline.

“Using just 1% of the season of mainland Japan can [generate] about 10 gigots [of energy], which is equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants,” added Professor Shintake. “That’s huge.”

Similarly, on the West Coast of the U.S., decreasing energy costs, improved public policies, and innovative turbine technology is providing much-needed assistance to the offshore market across California.

According to MIT Technology Review, natural gas turbines that were shut down in 2014 could offer some positive help for the future of California’s energy production. Thanks to a Seattle startup company, the world’s largest floating offshore turbine setup could produce as much as one gigawatt of electricity into California’s energy grid.

The floating offshore wind farm is being proposed to sit on a site that would actor between 60 and 100 gas turbines.

“This is the future of offshore wind,” said Alla Weinstein, a longtime engineer who has founded three renewable energy startup, including Trident Winds, which proposed the project.

An assessment last year by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that offshore wind farms across California could actually produce 112 gigawatts, most of it in waters of 200 feet deep or deeper.

Additionally, on the other side of the country, another new natural gas-fired turbine plant just won the approval of a state regularly panel, taking a major step forward for East Coast energy production.

According to The Sandwich Enterprise, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board cast the unanimous vote of approval. The proposed 350-megawatt gas-fired turbine project, dubbed the Canal 3 project, would produce additional power capacity to Massachusetts and Rhode Island in order to meet energy demands during peak times.

Lululemon Profit on the Rise Following Website Revamp

If you are a big fan of athletic clothing then you’re probably familiar with the brand Lululemon. Lululemon is popular among many girls and women around the United States as stores are constantly popping up each and every year. To further their success, the brand has taken their in-store offerings and introduced them the world wide web. And boy, have they been successful.

According to Markets Insider, their e-commerce earnings gave them the boost they needed to beat their earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s also the reason analysts are extremely optimistic about the company’s prospects. Each year, the average United States consumer spends about $1,800 on e-commerce transactions.

Analysts projected the company to bring in $1.26 per share and $912.42 million in revenue. However, the retailer recently posted their earnings, which came out to $1.33 per share and a revenue of $928.80 million. Their e-commerce sales increased by 42% for the fourth quarter, which was already on top of the 12% increase from 2016. The company attributes their e-commerce boost largely to the relaunch of their website. The website was made to be easier for customers to shop on, and the appearance became more attractive. On Wednesday, March 28, the company saw a spike in their stock by 10%, just one day after releasing their earnings for 2017.

As a whole, the company plans to hit $4 billion in sales by 2020. This will include $1 billion from e-commerce, $1 billion from international sales, and $1 billion for men’s apparel sales. Many people, including some Wall Street analysts, believed this spike in their profit was bound to happen.

Wall Street analyst Credit Suisse’s Michael Binetti believes there are multiple reasons for the amp in sales. These reasons include the co-located men’s and women’s clothing stores, their continued e-commerce strength, and their increased capex investments. He has hopes for the company and raised his price target from $96 per share to $98. While many are optimistic, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik believes the company’s valuation is way too high. He placed a “hold” rating on Lululemon and made a price target of $82 per share.

The company plans to keep growing, so we will all just have to wait to see if they reach their goal.

Airthings Wave: A New Device that Tests for Radon in Real-Time

Radon is a very dangerous radioactive gas. Colorless and odorless, it is a byproduct of the naturally occurring breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil, and water, so it is found all over the country. According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.

Radon does not get as much attention as carbon monoxide and asbestos, but it should. Norway-based tech company Airthings has picked up on that and created a device that tests for radon in real time. The Wave is a Wi-Fi enabled, battery powered indoor air quality monitor. It’s about the size of a smoke detector and is enabled with temperature, air pressure, humidity, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, and radon detection sensors.

The hub connects to approximately 50 wireless devices found within a 300-foot range and features Ethernet, Bluetooth, and Airthings SmartLink connectivity. Its surface is pocked with small holes and features an LED ring light in the center that glows different colors to indicate the air quality. Its sensors are located near the bottom edge of the device.

The device comes with two AA batteries installed, so it’s ready to go once you pull the battery tab out. A voice from the device will tell you when it’s ready to be paired with your phone. Once it’s connected, you can mount the Wave to the wall just like a smoke detector and let it run. It takes about an hour to get your first radon reading.

Compared to standard short-term kits, there are advantages and pitfalls of the Wave. The device costs around $200, so it’s definitely not as economical. A typical radon-test kit costs $15 to $35, including the lab fees. Even at the higher end, you could test up to five rooms in your home for less than you could with the Wave, according to Tech Hive.

If you live in an area that is particularly prone to high radon levels, like mountainous areas, it may be a good idea to invest in the Wave to get updates on your air quality in real time. Otherwise, it may be smart to stick with a standard radon-test kit.

Texas Private School Says it’s Arming Administrators

A private school in Arlington Texas is beginning to arm their administrators with firearms to help keep children in the school safe.

According to Fox 4 News, Pantego Christian Academy says they have had plans to arm their administrators with guns since before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. This plan came as a shock to many as teachers and private schools are not allowed to carry firearms on campus. However, teachers in public school districts are allowed to do so.

An estimated 87% of private schools in the United States have less than 300 students. However, Pantego Christian Academy has about 600 to 700 students. Fox News says the school has a campus in Mansfield and in Arlington. The president of the school, Dr. Jeff Potts, says he wants the public to be aware of the fact that at any given time, any of their administrators on their campuses may be carrying a concealed weapon. Potts alerted parents in February that this newly added security, known as the School Marshal Program, was in full effect. He spoke with Fox 4 News about the new security.

“We are arming select individuals who meet certain criteria. And they are administrative type people who are in close proximity to all of our classrooms,” Potts said. “It’s not Florida. It’s the culture today, and it’s something we felt led to do.”

Potts did say that any administrator who is walking around campus with a concealed weapon will be properly trained and undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He wants parents to know that the school is willing to do anything they can to help protect their students. Now, even though administrators will be carrying guns, teachers will not be allowed to do so. The school is going to follow the rules that state no teacher in a private school can carry a concealed weapon. They want to play by the rules while still making the extra safety efforts.

At this time, Potts says his school might be the only private school in North Texas to utilize the program.

Construction to Foreclosure: The Residential Real Estate Market 10 Years After the Crash

In 2008, America was staring down the barrel of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The economy was in freefall. The subprime housing loan market bubble had burst with such ferocity that millions of families were affected, and many were left homeless, creditless, and without hope. Yet a mere 10 years later and the U.S. housing market is poised for a second consecutive record-breaking year, according to Boston Globe.

The recovery happened swiftly, and it just goes to show how resilient the real estate market is. Historically, growth in residential home values has outpaced both inflation and yearly wages, and at the end of 2017 they were 6% higher than the highest ever peak in 2006.

Why is the housing market so resilient? Ten years after the crash, let’s take a look back at what exactly happened in 2008 that brought it all tumbling down.

Construction Begins

Obviously, it costs a lot to build a new house. But where does the seemingly extreme cost come from? When we dig into this question we find some of the immediate expense, and what it doesn’t necessarily account for.

First, we need some raw materials. Some of these are renewable, some of them are not. In metal materials alone, the four most common in construction are aluminum, copper, carbon steel, and stainless steel. These need to be mined, fabricated, shipped and installed by contractors. Next, you have the wood, cement, and insulation. Plumbing and electricity follow, so ceramic, piping, wires, and circuitry are installed. In material alone, a house already becomes expensive.

Second, labor and machining costs are drastic. Digging the foundation of a new home, mixing and pouring cement, and framing all account for a significant chunk of change. But before all of this comes the less than efficient commissioning process. You, the interested real estate investor, want to build a residential home. You then employ a general contractor who in turn must go find an architect, engineer, laborers, landscapers, interior designers, and all the workers that are needed to build a house. The fact that they all work on a contract basis means the price stays high, and the level of organization often leaves something to be desired.

Because of all of these costs, the average price of building a new home in 2018 is $288,280. This is certainly one of the reasons why most real estate construction investments happen in the commercial sector. Yet no matter the cost or the risks, Americans are still building a lot of houses in 2018.

What happened in 2008?

Prices for homes crashed into oblivion while foreclosures happened left, right, and center. Currently, 0.5% (or one in 200) homes are foreclosed upon, and there are very strict state laws regarding giving the resident notice. In 2008, that number was one in every 54 homes. Why?

The abridged version is that banks were giving out adjustable rate mortgages like candy to people that could not afford them. Then, major financial institutions snapped up bundles of these junk loans. When the rates rose, people had no way of paying. This resulted in foreclosure, repossession, and sale at auction.

Except, no one could afford to buy the repossessed homes, causing the banks to also eat a huge loss. Bad news.

Today, though, the American residential housing market is alive and well. And even after the housing downturn, the U.S. construction market is the second-largest in the world, boasting a 210% market share. Mistakes were made, but real estate is in yet another period of growth. Though residential real estate might not be the best business investment, chances are if you buy a home today and can afford to pay for it, by the time you go to sell, it will be worth much more. At least, that’s what history would say.

Easy Ways to Keep Your Apartment Warm While Saving Money

If you live in an apartment, you’re probably familiar with the daily routine of turning your heat down just a little bit to help save you some money on your monthly bill. Heating is one of those things that can really add up if you’re not careful with how you use it.

While you have to be careful about how much heat you’re actually using, there are some alternatives out there to turning down your heat. The New York Times has compiled a list of different ways to keep your heating bill from skyrocketing.

Even though spring is on the horizon, it’s still cool enough outside where you feel the need to turn your heat up just a little bit to be comfortable. Instead of turning your heat up, the New York Times has some suggestions. First, they say that it’s very important to seal your windows and your doors. The smallest of crack in your window or door can actually let cool air in and hot air out. If you have the smallest draft, you’re still risking an extremely high heating bill. You can easily fix these issues by slipping a draft seal underneath the bottom of your door so that nothing can come in or out. You can also plug window cracks with clay rope caulking. These are super easy and inexpensive ways to keep costs low.

The New York Times also suggests putting down area rugs throughout your home. We’ve all experienced stepping on a cold floor after waking up first thing in the morning. It’s not a fun experience and can easily be prevented. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to carpet your entire home, but a few rugs here and there will keep your feet warm and will actually add some insulation to your space. If you want to add extra insulation, put a rug pad underneath the rug!

While many people use space heaters to heat up an area, you can also use an air compressor. In fact, 80 to 90% of the electrical energy used by an air compressor is converted to heat.

Now, if you still do want to rely on your thermostat, make sure you only keep it on for a few hours at a time and keep it under 68 degrees. The Daily Evergreen suggests turning down the thermostat five degrees when you go to bed or when you plan on leaving your home for more than an hour at a time. It’s also important to make sure that you turn off your heat while you’re going on vacation. Forgetting to turn your heat off while you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time is a really easy mistake to make that will end up costing you a lot of money.

To save some money and to help keep yourself warm during the remainder of the colder season, take note of the steps above.