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Sub-Saharan Africa – Safety and Security Tips to Know Before You Go

People traveling to sub Sahara regions should prepare well before their travel. These places can be a lot of fun and adventurous but one has to be prepared in terms of what to expect, how to deal with different situations that are common there and also what to wear or eat. All these form important things to do from a travel point of view.

Sub-Saharan Africa includes places like Niger, Gambia, Mozambique and Madagascar. Safety and security are two important issues that lie largely in your hands too. Here are some simple tips that you can try to safeguard your interests and have a tension free holiday.

Traveling Safety:
Carry minimal stuff and while stepping out go with a backpack. Always keep your belongings with you and never leave them with strangers.

If you are traveling by train, ensure that you travel first class in cabins and never take the third class compartments.

Avoid dark areas and stick to well lit streets. Avoid going out late in the night.

Clothes and Outer Wear:
Always stick to boots and wear shorts and light cotton tee shirts. If traveling in the night, wear full sleeves and jeans.

On wild life treks, make sure you are wearing thick boots that are comfortable always.

While Outside:
Avoid crowds as much as possible. Always strap your backpack to your body and also do not get involved in counseling activities or political demonstration of any sorts.

Always give preference to your personal safety and see that your interests are safe guarded. This applies to any country.

Prioritize Safety and Security of the Users Before Hiring Bouncy Castles

Inflatable castles are more often than not rented by kids’ party organizers who want to make their parties filled with fun and mirth. It goes without saying that these castles serve pure fun and excitement and work as magnets for kids who attend parties with their parents. However, the entertainment quotient of these inflatable units should not overshadow the safety and security factors and the party organizers ought to act reasonably and responsibly to make sure that the party attending kids go back home with sweet memories, and not with injuries and mental trauma that may result from bouncy castle accidents. Any party organizer should prioritize safety and security of the kids over everything else and here below are some safety pointers for you if you are on the point of hiring inflatable castles for your next party.

PIPA Certificate: Even if you do not have the time to visit the storage facility of an inflatable play items hire agency to check the physical condition of the advertised inflatable units, you should ask for a copy of a PIPA certificate of the preferred unit (s) before paying the advance rental fee. PIPA is the Inflatable Play Inspector Scheme in the UK and all the Ireland based bouncy castle hire agencies are required to get the castles tested and certified by the PIPA (or RPII) inspectors). You can ask them to send you an electronic copy of a valid PIPA certificate or send a hard copy to your residential address.

Indoor and outdoor castles: There are companies out there who can tell you whether the castles they offer should be erected outside or indoors. Bouncy castles are of two types, outdoor castles and indoor castles. Outdoor castles are generally bigger units that come with rain covers and higher walls and can withstand rain and wind to a certain extent. Certainly, it is not advisable to use these castles during torrential downpour or heavy wind blowing. But the kids can stay protected inside and will not get wet if you use this type of castle in gentle rain. On the other hand, indoor castles are recommended for usage inside community halls and other sorts of indoor party venues. You should choose an indoor or outdoor castle according to your requirement.

Anchorage points and added support: Irrespective of which place you have chosen for your upcoming party, you should ask the operators to anchor the unit properly. A bouncy castle unit should be supported with sandbags and the anchor points should be reinforced to make sure that the unit does not collapse abruptly. There are companies that also supply safety mat and other accessories with the bouncy castle units they rent out. You should find companies that will be able to provide you with all the safety accessories.

For finding the bouncy castle hire agencies near you that comply with the safety guidelines, take resort to the world of web as surfing the web is proven to be the most convenient way for finding local businesses.

Stay Safe Online – 7 + 1 Steps to Internet Safety and Security For Your PC

Internet safety seems like an oxymoron these days with all the threats aimed at our computers. Staying safe online doesn’t have to be difficult, and this article covers the basic steps that every computer user should take.

The phrase “Internet Safety” often seems like an oxymoron. Every day we hear of new threats aimed at our internet connected personal computers which seems to just make it that much harder to actually stay safe while connected online.

Knowing how to stay safe online has become a practical requirement these days for anyone using a computer connected to the ‘net. Fortunately, a few relatively simply steps and a little education can go a long way to making sure that your internet experience is both safe and secure.

1. Use a Firewall – If you do nothing else, you must use a firewall. Firewalls act as a type of barrier between your computer and the internet, preventing remote computers from connecting to yours unless you explicitly allow it. A firewall can be a simple device such as a broadband router, it could be a feature of your operating system such as Window’s own built-in firewall, or it can be a full featured software package that you purchase and install on each computer. Which one you choose is less important than making sure you have one and that it is enabled and deflecting threats.

2. Back Up – Failing to back up your computer, or at least your critical data, is perhaps the most common mistake I see being made today. And sadly it can also be the most costly regret you’ll have when, not if, disaster strikes. If malware hits or hardware fails often your best if not your only resort will be to recover your system from its most recent backup. Don’t have one? Then you might be severely out of luck. I regularly hear from people who’ve lost all of their data due to a malware infestation or a hardware failure. If nothing else, invest in a large external USB drive and a good backup utility and start backing up regularly right away.

3. Keep Critical Software Updated – Every day people experience problems that could have been completely avoided had they simply kept their operating system and other PC software up to date. Both Windows XP and Vista make staying up to date very easy with “Automatic Updates” and I definitely recommend that it be turned on. Similarly, most other software and applications will now also check for updates and notify you as new ones are available. Make sure your system and applications are checking for updates regularly and installing them as automatically as possible.

4. Educate Yourself – No matter what else you do, no matter what other protections you put in place, malware authors can bypass it all if they can fool you into doing something you shouldn’t. The problem, of course, is that “what you shouldn’t” isn’t always immediately obvious. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself on how to detect and avoid their attempts. In short: be skeptical. Don’t open email attachments or instant messenger downloads unless you’re positive they’re safe. Don’t click on links in email unless you’re positive that they’re taking you to where you expect them to. Don’t download and install software without first checking it for malware. Don’t ignore security warnings unless you’re sure it’s OK. Use strong passwords and never share them with anyone.

5. Scan for Viruses – Even with the best of intentions, viruses happen. Even with the firewall in place, the operating system up to date, and a healthy knowledge of what is and is not safe, sometimes something slips through. That’s where you’ll need a good anti-virus tool. There are many to choose from but the key factors boil down to this: select a reputable tool, enable its “real time” monitoring if you’re at all uncertain of yourself or others using the computer, configure it to scan your hard disk completely once a day, and make absolutely certain that it’s downloading the latest anti-virus information daily.

6. Protect Yourself from Spyware – Much like viruses, spyware can also occasionally make it through your defenses. Spyware is often relatively benign from a pure safety perspective – spyware doesn’t often erase your hard drive or send spam, for example. However spyware does represent an intrusion, often presenting ads or modifying other programs in ways you didn’t expect or ask for. And at its worst, spyware lives up to its name, spying on you and capturing potentially sensitive information. Anti-spyware utilities operate a little differently than anti-virus, so you’ll want to make sure that you have a good spyware scanner in addition to your anti-virus tools. Like those tools, you’ll want to make sure that it’s downloading the latest spyware information daily as well.

7. Secure your WiFi – The default configuration of most WiFi equipment, and certainly the easiest configuration to set up, is completely unsecure. That means that anyone within range of your WiFi equipment can monitor what you’re sending to and from the internet – including your account IDs and passwords. The same is true in most internet cafes and free WiFi hotspots. There are two steps you must take. First, at home, make sure you enable WPA security. This will require a password to connect to your wireless network, and will encrypt all the data so it cannot be monitored. (The older WEP security is no longer sufficient, as it is easily cracked.) Second, when you’re using an open unsecure WiFi hotspot, take care to only access sensitive resources through encrypted connections. That means making sure that any web page you’re visiting that requires personal information is connecting via an https connection. It also means that you shouldn’t be downloading or sending email via your POP3 or SMTP based email program unless you know those connections are configured to use encryption as well, since by default they do not.

Bonus Step: Understand Physical Security – An old saying that I’ve found myself repeating to people more and more in recent years is this: “if it’s not physically secure, it’s not secure.” All of the preceding tips are for naught if someone else who doesn’t understand these steps can use your computer and accidentally download malware. It’s all for naught if someone with malicious intent can walk up to your computer, reboot it, install software or hardware and walk away without your noticing. It’s all for naught if your computer can be stolen. Take care to understand just how physically at-risk you might be and take appropriate actions. Don’t let others use your computer until you’re comfortable with their understanding of the risks. Don’t leave your computer unattended if you can’t trust the people who might be able to touch it. Consider encrypting data on your laptop or other computer if it can be lost or stolen.

Everything I’ve outlined might at first seem overwhelming. The good news it that most of these steps are things you’ll need to do only once, and then consider infrequently thereafter. And to put it perhaps into a little bigger perspective they’re not nearly as overwhelming as the impact of an actual security problem if it happens to you. The practical reality of the situation is simply this: we as individual computer users need to take the responsibility of the steps required to Stay Safe Online.

More information about staying safe online, including specific recommendations for each of the aspects discussed above, can be found at the author’s web site Ask Leo! There you’ll also find hundreds of answers to every day technical and computer problems.