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June 06, 2013

Here are some resources and tips:

# 1 If you see a snake, step away from it and DON'T TOUCH IT.

* Managing Rattlesnake Problems --- How to Identify a Rattler & What to Expect, Protecting Yourself and Others, For Hikers, If the Worst Happens

 Los Angeles County Dept. of Animal Care & Control:

 http://animalcare.lacounty.gov/Rattlesnake.asp

California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife:

 http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/snake.html

 * VIDEOS --- RECENT NEWS VIDEOS ABOUT PEOPLE BEING BITTEN BY RATTLESNAKES

Toddler Bitten By Rattlesnake

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/04/30/toddler-bitten-by-deadly-rattlesnake-near-idyllwild/

SoCal Rattlesnake Season Begins; Residents Urged to Be Careful Outside

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/SoCal-Rattlesnake-Season-Begins-Residents-Urged-to-Be-Careful-Outside-208711311.html

 Safety Tips For Pets and Kids During Rattlesnake Season

http://ktla.com/video/#axzz2V4N6ZTB0

SoCal man fights for life after snake bite

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=6803464 

Before you leave on a hike, be sure to fill out a LASD – HIKING PLAN sheet and provide to a loved one to hold onto just in case something happens to a member of your hiking/camping expedition. Or, if you know someone going on a hike, ask them to fill out this easy form, so that it will help your mind at ease. You can download the form by visiting:

HIKING PLAN Sheet

http://file.lacounty.gov/lasd/cms1_163961.pdf

Captain Mike Parker

Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau - Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
323-267-4800
Email: 
SHBNewsroom@lasd.org
Website: http://www.lasd.org

Keywords: animal, bit, care, child, control, hike, identify, pet, protect, rattle, season, snake

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May 21, 2013

Disasters can affect many people and a wide area such as an earthquake, or can affect less people and a smaller area such as a severe windstorm that knocks down thousands of power lines, blocking streets and making it difficult for repair crews to restore power for many days or over a week.

Even if only a few people are affected, if it's you, it's 100%.

Instead of ignoring these facts and hoping for the best, take action now to help yourself and the people you love. Would you be ready if there were an emergency?

Be prepared:

Assemble an emergency supply kit,
Make your emergency plans,
Stay informed,
And get involved in helping your family, your business, and your community be ready for emergencies.

Be prepared for when - not if - the next emergency occurs. How prepared are you? Preparedness is a responsibility we all share. Let's all do our part. Top priorities are shelter, food, water, and power, but there is a lot more to it.

1. Ready, Set, Go! Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/SafetyPreparedness/ReadySetGo/home.asp

2. Safety Preparedness – Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/SafetyPreparedness.asp

3. Learn what to do BEFORE an earthquake, DURING an earthquake, and AFTER an earthquake - Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/safetyprepearthquake.asp

4. Emergency Survival Guide - County of Los Angeles

http://lacoa.org/pdf/emergencysurvivalguide-lowres.pdf

5. Citizens Guide to County Services - Los Angeles County

http://www.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lac/directory/

http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Citizens-Guide-to-County-Services.pdf

6. LA-ESP: At the Los Angeles County Emergency Survival Program’s website, you will find a great selection of useful, lifesaving materials and publications for download to share with your family, community, friends, co-workers and children.

http://www.espfocus.org/

(a direct link to publications)

http://www.espfocus.org/esg.htm

7. Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

https://local.nixle.com/alert/4868470/

8. Federal Emergency Management Agency

http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

http://www.fema.gov/

9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/Features/BeReady/

10. Ten Ways YOU Can be Disaster Prepared:

California Emergency Management Agency

http://www.calema.ca.gov/NewsandMedia/Pages/Preparedness-Month.aspx

11. Totally Unprepared: Admitting You Have a Problem is the First Step:

http://www.totallyunprepared.com/

12. American Red Cross

http://www.redcross.org/

********************

COMMUNICATIONS: (If you don't have a generator, be sure to get a portable cell phone or laptop charger).

Emergency and Routine Messages from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

A. ALERT LA COUNTY telephone emergency mass notification system for Los Angeles County residents. Register your cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) (home computer) phones for emergency messages from police and fire agencies in Los Angeles County:

http://portal.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/alertla

B. Website of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (translates into over 60 languages):

www.lasd.org

C. TWITTER of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

@LASD_News https://twitter.com/LASD_News
@LASDtalk https://twitter.com/LASDTalk
@LASDvideos https://twitter.com/LASDvideos


D. SNAP LA County - Specific Needs Disaster Voluntary Registry

The purpose of this registry is to facilitate the planning and implementation of disaster response by first-responder agencies to persons with Specific Needs in the County of Los Angeles.
http://snap.lacounty.gov/

E. LASD EMAILS and/or TEXT messages (via NIXLE) from the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Visit www.Nixle.com

and register for "Nixle" alerts from "LASD – HQ Newsroom (SHB), Los Angeles County Sheriff" PLUS your local sheriff's station area. Or, text your zip code to 888777 to receive text alerts only. Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your calling plan. View NEWSROOM (Nixle) EMAIL / TEXT messages here, even if not subscribed from the Newsroom of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: http://nixle.com/lasd----hq-newsroom-shb-los-angeles-county-sheriff/

F. FACEBOOK of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment

G. YOUTUBE of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

http://www.youtube.com/LACountySheriff

H. LA Crimestoppers - confidential/anonymous email/ text/ phone call crime reporting to police agencies in Los Angeles County:

http://lacrimestoppers.com/

Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s station. Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau - Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
323-267-4800
Email: SHBNewsroom@lasd.org
Website: http://www.lasd.org
LASD HQ Text and Emails: www.Nixle.com
http://nixle.com/lasd----hq-newsroom-shb-los-angeles-county-sheriff/
Twitter: @LASD_News http://twitter.com/#!/LASD_News
Twitter: @LASDtalk https://twitter.com/LASDTalk
Twitter: @LASDvideos https://twitter.com/LASDvideos
Facebook LASD HQ: http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment
LASD Photos: http://pinterest.com/lacountysheriff/
LASD YouTube Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/LACountySheriff/videos?view=0

Leroy D. Baca, Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

To receive more detailed, up-to-date information directly from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) via e-mail, register for "Nixle" alerts at www.Nixle.com or more directly at https://local.nixle.com/register/ and register for "LASD – Headquarters Newsroom (SHB), Los Angeles County Sheriff" and your local LASD station area. Or, text your zip code to 888777 to receive text alerts only. Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your calling plan.

Keywords: action, disaster, life, people, power, prepare, repair, student, water

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May 09, 2013

Know Where They're Are! Know Who They're With! Know What They're Doing!

The City of Santa Clarita & SCV Sheriff’s Station -- Protecting Our Youth -- Know Where They're At! Know Who They're With! Know What They're Doing! Staying Involved = Staying Safe. 

Every year the City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station work tirelessly to ensure the safety of the youth within our community. As part of these efforts, the City of Santa Clarita promotes numerous youth related programs, partners with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station in crime prevention and enforcement programs, and provides resources to parents, which will assist in planning, controlling and surviving teenage celebrations, parties, and graduation events. 

As we enter into the academic promotion, graduation, and eventually Summer break season and many of our youth in the Santa Clarita Valley have time off from school and other responsibilities, it becomes even more critical to remind parents how important it is that our youth relax and celebrate responsibly and our parents stay closely involved with their teenager's activities. 

This time of the year young adults from all our local high schools attend prom nights and graduation night ceremonies, commonly referred to as "Grad Night." These celebrations are designed to be joyous occasions filled with youthful exuberance as our teenagers celebrate one of the greatest achievements of their young lives. The City of Santa Clarita and your Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station want to ensure that they remain joyous and do not turn to tragedy. 

The overwhelming majority of our youth in the Santa Clarita Valley are making the right decisions and taking personal safety and accountability seriously. However, the harsh reality is that some may make poor decisions during these celebrations that can result in severe consequences. This is an important time for parents to talk to their teenagers, educate them on the dangers associated with drinking alcohol, drug use and unlawful behavior to help them make the right choices. 

“Every year at this time deputies respond to parties in which teenagers are unsupervised and participating in unsafe or criminal behavior,” explains Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. “I intend to increase patrol and protection efforts on every graduation night this year in an effort to keep our youth safe as they celebrate one of the biggest accomplishments of their young lives," added Becker. 

The results of unsupervised teen parties can be tragic, as alcohol and drug use has led to death and injuries. Other times, complaints of loud, unreasonable noise is reported by neighbors. There are times when we also see an increase in sexual assaults directly connected to these types of gatherings. 

Each year, Santa Clarita Sheriff’s deputies responded to over 3000 calls for service involving either large parties or loud music complaints. Some of these incidents involved parties in which teenagers were found to be unsupervised and participating in unsafe or criminal behavior. 

We would also like to remind parents of the possible liabilities they face by hosting a party or having a party at their residence in which illegal activities occur. 

California law holds parents liable, both civilly and criminally, in the event of any injury or death when alcohol is either furnished or allowed to be consumed by a minor on their property. 

The Sheriff’s Department has always taken policing neighborhood parties and disturbances seriously. It is the policy of the Sheriff’s Department to maintain the peace, security, and serenity of our neighborhoods by responding to and abating neighborhood disturbances, including loud parties, unreasonably loud music and other noise-related incidents that disturb the quality of life of our community. 

In these situations, deputies must balance the rights of party participants to have a social gathering against the right of the neighbors to be free from unreasonable noise and disturbance. 
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station would like to remind you -- Don't Drink and Drive! Remember, underage drinking is against the law, but don't complicate matters by adding driving to that. We will be conducting a Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.) checkpoint during the month of May. 

Be aware that the Santa Clarita Safe Rides is a program independent of the Sheriff's Department that provides free, safe and confidential rides home to teenagers who are not in a condition to drive or want to avoid being a passenger with a dangerous driver. On any Friday or Saturday night you can simply call (661) 259-6330. Although the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department does support the free service, as it has undoubtedly helped save lives, we do not condone underage/teenage drinking. The fact is, since programs such as Safe Rides and Every 15 Minutes have been in existence, D.U.I. related traffic collisions and deaths involving teenage drivers have decreased dramatically in the Santa Clarita Valley. Drunk Driving: Over the Limit - Under Arrest! Stay Safe - Stay Sober - Stay Alive! 
By following a few precautionary guidelines and making responsible choices, our youth can have the incredible graduation celebration experience they expect and deserve. 

On behalf of all the staff at your Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station: Congratulations to our soon to be 2013 Graduates! 

Make sure you tune in this Friday, May 10th 2013, between 10am and 11am to Santa Clarita Valley’s only local radio station, KHTS AM 1220 where Deputy Dubin and Juvenile Intervention Team Detective Velek will be live on-air discussing many of the issues discussed in this message. If you’re not close to a radio – you can stream the live broadcast at www.hometownstation.com or by downloading the free KHTS app from the app store on your smart phone. Don’t forget to tweet Deputy Dubin at @jdLASD during the broadcast for questions or comments. 

Authored By: 
Sgt. D. Harris & Deputy J. Dubin 
jddubin@lasd.org 
661-255-1121 EXT. 4411 
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station 

Keywords: know, law, liable, loud, party, responsible, safety, sheriff, youth

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May 08, 2013

Advisory: Amgen Tour of California Traffic and Event Information for Tuesday, May 14, and Wednesday, May 15.

The City of Santa Clarita returns for the fifth time in race history as a host city for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California with the Stage 3 Finish on Tuesday, May 14, and the Stage 4 Start on Wednesday, May 15. 

The City of Santa Clarita will kick off the Amgen Tour of CA with a series of events including a viewing party at Salt Creek Grille, SENSES Rock the Bike, and Bike to Work Day. Please join us on Tuesday, May 14 for the Lifestyle Festival, which will take place at the Westfield Valencia Town Center at the corner of Citrus and Magic Mountain Parkway, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information on the Amgen Tour of California and related events go to SantaClaritaTourofCA.com. 

Please be aware of the significant traffic impacts to local roads during the course of the event. Plan ahead and avoid impacts by checking for the latest traffic information at www.SantaClaritaTourOfCA.com


TRAFFIC IMPACTS 
Tuesday, May 14 
12:45 - 1:30 p.m. There will be an approximate 20-minute closure of southbound San Francisquito Canyon Road, west to Copper Hill Drive, and through the industrial center to the I-5 Freeway between 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. 

2:30 - 4:00 p.m. There will be an approximate 40-minute closure of southbound Bouquet Canyon Road west to Valencia Boulevard, and to Magic Mountain Parkway between 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. 

Wednesday, May 15 
12:15 - 1:00 p.m. There will be an approximate 10-15 minute closure on McBean Parkway, from Town Center Drive north to Newhall Ranch Road, and to Highway 126 between 12:15 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. 

Emergency vehicles will have continuous access to the entire Santa Clarita Valley at all times during the race as the safety of residents and spectators alike is the number one priority to both the presenters of the race and all agencies involved. 

For traffic and event information www.SantaClaritaTourOfCA.com 
For Amgen Tour of CA event information: 661.250.3787

Contact Information: 
Amgen Tour of CA 
Event Information 
661-250-3787

Keywords: amgen, bike, event, public, race, street, tour, traffic

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April 26, 2013

On Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, detectives from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station's Career Offenders, Burglary, and Robbery Apprehension (COBRA) team asked for the public’s assistance in identifying two people of interest thought to be responsible for four separate incidents of school burglary that occurred over the spring break between Friday, March 29, 2013 and Friday, April 05, 2013. 


News media, including network television news programs, aired surveillance video and photos caught by school camera systems. The photos depicted one of the two men believed to have stolen items from inside the administration building during the Hart High School burglary. Detectives began receiving tips from our proactive and involved Santa Clarita residents. Detectives were able to use the information obtained from the public to develop suspect information. 

On Friday, April 19, 2013, during the early morning hours, Gonzalo Ortiz, a 20 year-old male and suspected gang member from Santa Clarita, was arrested along with a 17 year-old male in connection with the school burglaries. Suspect Ortiz is being held without bail, due to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold. He is scheduled to appear in North Valley Superior Court on Wednesday, May 01, 2013. 

Detectives from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station have continued to follow leads and investigative trails in the case. As a result, additional search warrants have been issued and served at other Santa Clarita locations. Those search warrants have resulted in the recovery of some of the stolen school property. 

The investigation is continuing as detectives work to keep our schools and community safe. Fortunately, high resolution cameras on many of our school campuses are also assisting in making it extremely difficult for these late night criminals to get away without detection. “We will not tolerate criminals victimizing our schools and disrupting the educational process,” said Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “We will utilize our school and community partnerships and available resources to apprehend and prosecute these individuals. The safety of our schools is always a top priority for the men and women of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station,” concluded Becker. 
-------------------------------------------------------- 
Original Story - https://local.nixle.com/alert/4984752/ 

Keywords: break, property, school, spring, update, victim

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April 11, 2013

SCV Sheriff’s Deputies Investigating Four Spring Break School Burglaries. Information Sought.

Detectives from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station's Career Offenders, Burglary, and Robbery Apprehension (COBRA) Team are seeking public assistance in identifying two people of interest thought to be responsible for four separate incidents of school burglary that occurred over the spring break between Friday, 03/29/2013 and Friday, 04/05/2013. 

The attached photos were captured from a surveillance camera at Hart High School during the early morning hours on Friday, 04/05/2013. The photos depict one of the two men believed to have stolen items from inside the administration building during the Hart High School burglary. 

The four incidents occurred at Old Orchard Elementary School, Sierra Vista Junior High School, Newhall Elementary School, and Hart High School during the spring break. Laptop computers, a television, and other items were stolen during the burglaries resulting in a substantial loss for the school district. In each of the incidents, forced entry was made into offices or classrooms on the campuses. The offices were ransacked and the items stolen. 

Our local school resource deputies are in contact with many of our school administrators daily and work to ensure open lines of communication between our station and all our schools. Santa Clarita Valley Station patrol deputies have been briefed on these burglary incidents and will continue extra directed patrols at our schools and surrounding neighborhoods. Residents are asked to immediately report and suspicious persons or vehicles on or around school campuses, especially during off school hours and weekends. If you see a flashlight or cell phone light on a school campus during the night time or early morning hours you should call 9-1-1. 

With 6 school districts, more than 70 public and private schools, and a student body population in excess of 50,000 students in the Santa Clarita Valley, protecting each of our schools is no small task. We need the eyes and ears of our local residents. Preventing and solving crimes involving our schools is extremely important to all the deputies assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. Deputies will not tolerate the disruption of the educational process in Santa Clarita and anyone intent on negatively impacting our schools and their educational resources. As the investigations continue, we are asking anyone with information regarding these crimes or the man pictured to call detectives with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s COBRA team at 661-255-1121. For anonymous tips, please call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). 

Keywords: assist, crime, eye, public, resident, school, team, tip

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April 10, 2013

SCV Sheriff’s Station To Hold Zero Tolerance Distracted Driving Enforcement Operation

As part of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station will be actively ticketing those texting or operating hand-held cell phones on April 3rd and 16th, 2013. Drivers who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited with no warnings. The current minimum ticket cost is $159, with subsequent tickets costing at least $279. Last April, over 57,000 tickets were written statewide for texting and hand-held cell use. There were nearly 450,000 convictions in 2012. Whether it’s a ticket or a crash, as the campaign theme states, “It’s Not Worth It!” 

Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk. In recent years, hundreds have been killed and thousands seriously injured in California as a result of collisions that involved at least one driver who was distracted. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 died in 2011. As a result, law enforcement across the state, including the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting. This April will see over 225 local agencies plus the CHP conducting zero tolerance enforcements. 

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop some people from continuing to do it,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain Becker “This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.” 

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver. 

Studies also show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in “inattention blindness” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the drivers’ focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road. When over one third of your brain’s functioning that should be on your driving moves over to cell phone talking, you can become a cell phone “zombie.” 

To avoid a distracted driving ticket or crash, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s offers drivers the following tips: 

Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving 

Include in your outgoing message that you can’t answer while you are driving 

Don’t call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving 

Sgt. Richard Cohen 
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station 

Keywords: aware, distract, driving, enforce, law, talk, text, ticket

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March 07, 2013

IMPORTANT: ARE YOU PREPARED IF A DISASTER HITS LOS ANGELES COUNTY?

Disasters can affect many people and a wide area such as an earthquake, or can affect less people and a smaller area such as a severe windstorm that knocks down thousands of power lines, blocking streets and making it difficult for repair crews to restore power for many days or over a week.

Even if only a few people are affected, if it's you, it's 100%.

Instead of ignoring these facts and hoping for the best, take action now to help yourself and the people you love. Would you be ready if there were an emergency?

Be prepared:

Assemble an emergency supply kit,
Make your emergency plans,
Stay informed,
And get involved in helping your family, your business, and your community be ready for emergencies.

Be prepared for when - not if - the next emergency occurs. How prepared are you? Preparedness is a responsibility we all share. Let's all do our part. Top priorities are shelter, food, water, and power, but there is a lot more to it.

1. Ready, Set, Go! Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/SafetyPreparedness/ReadySetGo/home.asp

2. Safety Preparedness – Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/SafetyPreparedness.asp

3. Learn what to do BEFORE an earthquake, DURING an earthquake, and AFTER an earthquake - Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/safetyprepearthquake.asp

4. Emergency Survival Guide - County of Los Angeles

http://lacoa.org/pdf/emergencysurvivalguide-lowres.pdf

5. Citizens Guide to County Services - Los Angeles County

http://www.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lac/directory/

http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Citizens-Guide-to-County-Services.pdf

6. LA-ESP: At the Los Angeles County Emergency Survival Program’s website, you will find a great selection of useful, lifesaving materials and publications for download to share with your family, community, friends, co-workers and children.

http://www.espfocus.org/

(a direct link to publications)

http://www.espfocus.org/esg.htm

7. Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

https://local.nixle.com/alert/4868470/

8. Federal Emergency Management Agency

http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

http://www.fema.gov/

9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/Features/BeReady/

10. Ten Ways YOU Can be Disaster Prepared:

California Emergency Management Agency

http://www.calema.ca.gov/NewsandMedia/Pages/Preparedness-Month.aspx

11. Totally Unprepared: Admitting You Have a Problem is the First Step:

http://www.totallyunprepared.com/

12. American Red Cross

http://www.redcross.org/


****

COMMUNICATIONS: (If you don't have a generator, be sure to get a portable cell phone or laptop charger).

Emergency and Routine Messages from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

A. ALERT LA COUNTY telephone emergency mass notification system for Los Angeles County residents. Register your cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) (home computer) phones for emergency messages from police and fire agencies in Los Angeles County:

http://portal.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/alertla

B. Website of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (translates into over 60 languages):

www.lasd.org

C. TWITTER of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

@LASD_News https://twitter.com/LASD_News
@LASDtalk https://twitter.com/LASDTalk
@LASDvideos https://twitter.com/LASDvideos


D. SNAP LA County - Specific Needs Disaster Voluntary Registry

The purpose of this registry is to facilitate the planning and implementation of disaster response by first-responder agencies to persons with Specific Needs in the County of Los Angeles.
http://snap.lacounty.gov/

E. LASD EMAILS and/or TEXT messages (via NIXLE) from the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Visit www.Nixle.com

and register for "Nixle" alerts from "LASD – HQ Newsroom (SHB), Los Angeles County Sheriff" PLUS your local sheriff's station area. Or, text your zip code to 888777 to receive text alerts only. Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your calling plan. View NEWSROOM (Nixle) EMAIL / TEXT messages here, even if not subscribed from the Newsroom of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: http://nixle.com/lasd----hq-newsroom-shb-los-angeles-county-sheriff/


F. FACEBOOK of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment


G. YOUTUBE of the NEWSROOM of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

http://www.youtube.com/LACountySheriff



H. LA Crimestoppers - confidential/anonymous email/ text/ phone call crime reporting to police agencies in Los Angeles County:

http://lacrimestoppers.com/

Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s station. Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org



Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau - Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
323-267-4800
Email: SHBNewsroom@lasd.org
Website: http://www.lasd.org
LASD HQ Text and Emails: www.Nixle.com
http://nixle.com/lasd----hq-newsroom-shb-los-angeles-county-sheriff/
Twitter: @LASD_News http://twitter.com/#!/LASD_News
Twitter: @LASDtalk https://twitter.com/LASDTalk
Twitter: @LASDvideos https://twitter.com/LASDvideos
Facebook LASD HQ: http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment
LASD Photos: http://pinterest.com/lacountysheriff/
LASD YouTube Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/LACountySheriff/videos?view=0


Keywords: assist, child, disaster, earthquake, help, prep, ready, school

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February 01, 2013

Safety Tip - Put your car keys beside your bed at night.  

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem, or visa versa.

Keywords: alarm, car, child, home, panic, safe, security

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January 28, 2013

CDC Reports Influenza Activity on the Rise: What You Can Do to Protect You and Your Family

1/22/2013 -

Although unpredictable, flu season usually starts in October, peaks in January and February, and ends in May. It came early this winter in the U.S., and initial reports showed a significant rise in the number of reported cases. Over the past few weeks, patient visits for flu-like symptoms have steadily increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Consider some timely stats on how the flu impacts individuals, employers and the health care system:

  • 47: States reporting widespread flu activity during the week ending January 5.
  • 554,313: Hospital visits for symptoms of “influenza-like illness” during the week ending January 5.
  • 111 million: Workdays lost because of sick days relating to the flu, reported in 2011.
  • $4.6 billion: Direct cost of flu season in the United States, including doctors’ visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions.

Here are tips for protecting your family during flu season:

Get vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 6 months should consider getting a flu vaccination, especially high-risk individuals like seniors over the age of 65, pregnant women, people with a history of respiratory issues, and those who work in a health care setting. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments and pharmacies as well as by many employers.

Wash your hands several times per day, use hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face. There’s no greater preventive measure to help reduce the chance of infection than practicing good hygiene. Hand sanitizer has been found to kill 99% of all germs in 20 seconds. When washing your hands, use warm water with soap, scrub for 20 seconds and pat dry with a clean towel. And make a point to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you’ve touched high-exposure items in public areas, such as using an ATM, handling money or pumping gas. Avoid touching your face so viruses don’t invade the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose and mouth.

Increase vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can aid in removing toxins and free radicals from the body. It’s a natural antihistamine and increases your immune cells which can come under attack when your body comes in contact with infection. The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends 90 milligrams per day. Sources include dietary supplements; fruits such as kiwi, orange, grapefruit and tangerine; and vegetables like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.

For additional information on this year’s influenza season, you can visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

Source: CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/11/health/flu-numbers/index.html

 

Keywords: cdc, flu, hand, health, prevent, protect, safe, school, wash

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November 05, 2012

Community: Disaster Preparedness - Are You Ready Los Angeles County ?

Hurricane Sandy has affected one out of five Americans as well as the people of many other countries. Lives have been lost in this natural disaster,and tens of thousands of people are without proper housing, food, water, and electricity. You can help by visiting FEMA http://www.fema.gov/ and the American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/

IMPORTANT: ARE YOU PREPARED IF A DISASTER HITS LOS ANGELES COUNTY?

Disasters can affect many people and a wide area such as an earthquake, or can affect less people and a smaller area such as a severe windstorm that knocks down thousands of power lines, blocking streets and making it difficult for repair crews to restore power for many days or over a week.

Even if only a few people are affected, if it's you, it's 100%.

Instead of ignoring these facts and hoping for the best, take action now to help yourself and the people you love. Would you be ready if there were an emergency?

Be prepared:

assemble an emergency supply kit,
Make your emergency plans,
stay informed,
and get involved in helping your family, your business, and your community be ready for emergencies.

Be prepared for when - not if - the next emergency occurs. How prepared are you? Preparedness is a responsibility we all share. Let's all do our part. Top priorities are shelter, food, water, and power, but there is a lot more to it.

1. Ready, Set, Go! Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/SafetyPreparedness/ReadySetGo/home.asp

2. Safety Preparedness – Los Angeles County Fire Department

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/SafetyPreparedness.asp

3. Learn what to do BEFORE an earthquake, DURING an earthquake, and AFTER an earthquake - Los Angeles County Fire Dept.

http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/safetyprepearthquake.asp

4. Emergency Survival Guide - County of Los Angeles

http://lacoa.org/pdf/emergencysurvivalguide-lowres.pdf

5. Citizens Guide to County Services - Los Angeles County

http://www.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lac/directory/

http://ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Citizens-Guide-to-County-Services.pdf

6. LA-ESP: At the Los Angeles County Emergency Survival Program’s website, you will find a great selection of useful, lifesaving materials and publications for download to share with your family, community, friends, co-workers and children.
http://www.espfocus.org/

(a direct link to publications)
http://www.espfocus.org/esg.htm

7. Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

https://local.nixle.com/alert/4868470/

8. Federal Emergency Management Agency

http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

http://www.fema.gov/

9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/Features/BeReady/

10. Ten Ways YOU Can be Disaster Prepared:

California Emergency Management Agency

Keywords: action, child, earth, fema, plan, prepare, safety, sandy, school, ten, top

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October 10, 2012

Don't Fall Victim To Scam Artists. Part 1                                      October, 2012

As part of the Santa Clarita Valley Station’s aggressive public outreach campaign that is being used to keep the public informed of crime and crime rates in our patrol areas, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station wants to make you aware of a number of scams that are becoming more prevalent in the Santa Clarita Valley. This is part one of a series of informational broadcasts intended to raise awareness in order to help you from becoming a victim of a scam. Besides the standard, “winning sweepstakes” type of scams, here are two other scams you should be aware of.

A trend the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has recognized is that residents are being tricked by jail inmates and others through a phone scam. This fraud has occurred off and on for many years in different parts of the country. This notice has been shared with the public by the LASD and the news media many times over the past few years. Each time it is shared, it results in a major decrease in victims and potential victims contacting the LASD. There has again been an increase in reports of this scam and we are asking you to forward this to your family, friends and colleagues to help them avoid it.

The scam begins by the victim receiving a call from a person claiming to be a deputy. This imposter tells the victim that one of their family member's has been incarcerated or involved in an accident. The imposter then informs the victim that their family member provided their name as an emergency contact.

The victim is then instructed to call a number that begins with *72 (Example: *72-323-555-1212) to get the information they will need. When the victim hangs up and dials the number provided, they are told they have a wrong number.

Concerned for the safety of their family member, the victim usually then calls an information line (4-1-1) and asks for a number to the Sheriff's Department. They are then connected with a real deputy.

However, since the victim used the prefix *72 to initiate their last phone call, they have just automatically forwarded all their incoming calls to the scammer's phone number (These include collect calls from inmates who want to avoid paying for collect calls). The billing for these forwarded calls goes to the victim until they turn off call forwarding on their phone (usually by dialing *73).

If you receive this kind of call claiming that a relative is in jail somewhere, members from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Crime Prevention Unit can verify if the person is really in custody, or you can visit www.lasd.org and click on Inmate Information for further information. For more regarding this scam – click on https://local.nixle.com/alert/4881035/?sub_id=250566

Another scam that we have recognized in the Santa Clarita Valley is the Latin Lottery Scam.

Some things to remember is that no one needs any help cashing a lottery ticket. If someone is asking you to get money for them to hold, they are intending to steal it. If you are approached by someone who claims to have won the lottery, but needs your money in order to claim their prize, contact the Santa Clarita Valley Station immediately. To read more about this type of scam click here http://nixle.com/alert/4857643/

We encourage residents to report criminal or suspicious activity in their neighborhoods immediately. If you feel you have fallen victim to one of these scams, please call Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at 661-255-1121. Few agencies are actively engaging the public in as many ways as the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. We remain on the cutting edge of information sharing and communication with our local residents through use of social media.

Remember by working together we can send a “Not in Santa Clarita” message!

Deputy Joshua Dubin
jddubin@lasd.org
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
661-255-1121 ext. 4411
Twitter @SCVSheriff http://www.twitter.com/scvsheriff
http://www.santaclarita.lasd.org

Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
4700 Ramona Blvd., Monterey Park, CA 91754
323-267-4800
SHBNewsroom@lasd.org
Twitter @LASD_News http://twitter.com/#!/LASD_News
http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment

For full details, view this message on the web.

Keywords: advisory, call, phone, public, safety, scam, sheriff, victim

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July 24, 2012

"While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised," said Captain Mike Parker, Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau. "The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate."

"As always, we encourage the public: 'If You See Something, Say Something.' The greatest deterrent to crime is often a phone call to law enforcement by a person who sees something that just doesn't look right."

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the many victims, families, friends, and first responders affected by this senseless crime."

Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s Station. Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), or text the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637,) or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org/

'If You See Something, Say Something' campaign and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Public Service Announcements (PSA's):

http://www.dhs.gov/files/reportincidents/see-something-say-something.shtm

'If You See Something, Say Something' - LASD (English and Espanol):

http://sheriff.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lasd/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3hLAwMDd3-nYCN3M19LA0_nEDPvMJMAQ39jA_2CbEdFAFVdgp4!/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=%2Fwps%2Fwcm%2Fconnect%2Flasd+content%2Flasd+site%2Fhome%2Fhome+top+stories%2Fdhs_if_you_see_something_say_something


Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau – Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
(323) 267-4800
http://www.lasd.org/
SHBNewsroom@lasd.org
www.Nixle.com : LASD Text and Emails
http://nixle.com/lasd----hq-newsroom-shb-los-angeles-county-sheriff/
Twitter @LASD_News http://twitter.com/#!/LASD_News http://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment

Keywords: campaign, lasd, report, safety, security, tragedy

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April 27, 2012

This year my students and I discovered a charity that is raising funds to rebuild the schools that were ruined in the Haiti earthquake of 2010.  Concern USA has been working with other charities like Unicef to get teachers trained, housing built and children who might not even gone to school into schools and educated.  This is the video of the project as it wound down this year.  I was surprised how 9 year olds were so interested in what was happening to children in another part of the world and how important this became to the class as a fund raiser.

 

http://youtu.be/fTi-XztU2n4

Keywords: anderson, ConcernUSA, Haiti, SWATTEC

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March 08, 2012

FEMA AND NOAA PROMOTE NATIONAL FLOOD SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK 2012

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are once again partnering for National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 12 -16.  This is a time for individuals, families, businesses and communities to understand their risk for flooding and take precautions to protect their families and homes in the event of flooding. 

"Floods can happen at any time, anywhere across the United States, which means we all need to be prepared now," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  "There are simple steps everyone can take to prepare for flooding, such as developing a family emergency plan, having an emergency supply kit and protecting your home or business from flooding by obtaining a flood insurance policy."

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Floods typically occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly. While some floods develop slowly, flash floods develop suddenly.  Hurricanes can bring flooding to areas far inland from where they first hit the coast, as we witnessed last year from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. And chunks of ice from a thawing river can block its normal flow and force water out of its banks.   

Yet there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods.  Flood Safety Awareness Week is an excellent time for individuals and communities to understand their flood risk and implement precautions to mitigate the threat to life and property.

"Flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the U.S., and this is especially tragic since many are preventable.  Of the nearly 100 flood-related fatalities each year, most occur as people attempt to drive on flooded roads.  In many cases, the water is either too deep or moving too fast for drivers to maintain control of their vehicle, and in extreme cases the roadway may be washed away entirely," said Jack Hayes, director, NOAA's National Weather Service, which produces an array of flood outlooks and forecasts, including watches and life-saving warnings. "Remember, if confronted with a water-covered road follow National Weather Service advice: Turn Around, Don't Drown."

NOAA will issue the 2012 U.S. Spring Outlook and flood assessment on March 15.

FEMA and NOAA will provide the public with key information related to flood hazards, and ways to protect yourself and your property each day of National Flood Safety Awareness week.  Read http://blog.fema.gov/ throughout the week to stay informed and to get involved.  Additional resources can be accessed online at the Flood Awareness Landing Page.

For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit www.ready.gov.  For information on how to obtain a flood insurance policy, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Keywords: child, FEMA, flood, hazard, march, NOAA, press, public

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January 25, 2012

ipadAh, yes, here we go again. Yet another corporate shill (or Schill, in this case) stands before the populus with a somber look, declaring that the U.S. education system ranks whatever-th globally (in test-taking on an uneven playing field constructed to bolster the careers of politicians who lack the temerity to take on real issues - but that's another post). Next, a few heart-warming videos play, followed by a wonderful - dare I say "magical" solution to the problem devised by said corporation, which, as they desperately hope you will believe, truly cares about education. Who are we to doubt their sincerity? This must be true, right?

But wait a minute - are we perhaps being sold? Are we giving Apple a pass because we love their products so? Are we giving up too much just because the solution seems so simple? Or worse, do we really believe that better textbooks are the answer to all of education's woes? Rather than just hoping for the best and assuming Apple's intentions are pure, let's instead take a step back and try to understand a few key truths about corporations. More ...

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January 19, 2012

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is always one of the largest and most anticipated events in computing, devices, and electronic gadgetry, and CES 2012 was no exception. But with all the focus on Smartbooks, Smart TVs, Smart Appliances, and tablets of all shapes and sizes, it's easy to see why news of other device classes might get drowned out by all the noise. Add to that a gap in manufacturing created by hard drive shortages, a next-generation processor transition, and delays in Microsoft certification, and it's easy to understand why it might be hard to find good information on upcoming devices in our favorite product class - namely netbooks and mini-notebooks. But fear not, for a plethora of exciting devices are slated to arrive in the coming months. More ...

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July 14, 2011

The technology department is particularly busy during the summer prepping systems and installing updates in advance of the school year. We continue to push forward with the re-imaging project, a process through which we are also collecting an inventory of existing systems. As a result, we are quantifying a large number of older machines that require, at the very least, memory upgrades to bring them up to modern standards, and reporting these deficiencies to the site administrators. For those that are viable, we are asking that site admins purchase appropriate memory upgrades. As many of the site administrators are on vacation, obtaining responses from a number of them is proving to be difficult. As such, we are prepping the machines to be imaged, so that we can initiate the process at any time after the memory upgrades, even if that proves to be after the new school year has begun.

Additionally, each summer we clean up and update all of the netbook carts, which include roughly 2500 machines. As these devices are used extensively throughout the school year by students, they tend to require a good deal of "refreshing" to get back into shape for the new school year, including fresh software updates, antibacterial wipedown, and often a thorough rewiring of the carts whose wiring has worked itself loose through regular use. This too is a rather time consuming and labor intensive process, but is vital to the continued effectiveness of the SWATTEC program.

As part of the SWATTEC program, we continue to work with U.C. Irvine to plan and prepare for using the new LiveInk system in some of our SWATTEC classrooms. As part of this process, the instruction department has been coordinating the volunteer teacher pool, and we have been providing materials and prepping the software for deployment in the research classrooms. We are looking forward to getting these new tools in student/teacher hands next year, and expect impressive results as part of this exciting program.

Finally, we are updating our server and imaging infrastructure in preparation for the new school year. First, we are adding support for Windows 7, as Windows XP reached end-of-life during last school year and is no longer available or supported. We are also applying a number of system software updates, updating Zimbra to the latest release, and reconfiguring our web server infrastructure in preparation for bringing the school websites under the district's system umbrella. As part of this process, we are working with Westcreek to pilot the system design and operation.

Obviously, this represents significant work for every member of our department, and we are pleased to have welcomed our newest member, Antonio Arana to the team. We look forward to bringing new innovation and greater support to the learning environment in the coming year.

Keywords: Summer, Technology, Update

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May 13, 2011

tDear Saugus teachers, 

It seems I keep doing a series of things, "for the last time", as superintendent. This one is very "bitter sweet". 

I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity during Teacher Appreciation Week to thank all of you for all you do for our children. The job of a teacher has gotten harder during the past eleven years-- the standards and achievement benchmarks are more challenging, the class sizes have increased, and the resources have dwindled. But as I travel around to our schools, I not only see you continuing to ensure that our students receive the best possible education, but also I see you providing exciting new opportunities for learning. And always, you show compassion in caring for their emotional and social well being. 

I am touched and honored to have been able to work with you. I thank you on behalf of our board and management team for your positive dedication to our students and for continuing to work together as one amazing professional learning community! 

Judy

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cm7

Please Note: This post is now obsolete. All of my Nook Color resources can now be found on my Nook Color Resources pages under Wiki Pages (to the right). 

The Nook Color is already an awesome little tablet, especially for those of us who have freed ours by rooting them. And with the most recent 1.2 update from Barnes & Noble, things got even better with the addition of Flash support and speed improvements brought on by Android 2.2 (Froyo). Unfortunately, a non-wonky root kit for 1.2 has yet to appear, so the only way to gain access to all that the Android community has to offer, including Google apps and the Android Market, has been to make major sacrifices in user experience. 

But what if you could actually make your Nook Color even better by completely replacing the Barnes & Noble software with a state-of-the-art Android install, giving you all the goodness of Android, without sacrificing any of the awesome ereader capabilities of the Nook Color (like access to magazine subscriptions - a particular sticking point for me)? Thankfully, now you can! Note: I have been informed that the interactive Nook Kids books don't yet work with the Android app, so if these are important to you, you might want to stick with stock Nook 1.2.

Enter CyanogenMod, a build of Android that works beautifully on the Nook Color. CyanogenMod is a custom build of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with a stellar user experience, including a number of enhancements that really shine on the Nook Color. And, when combined with yesterday's upgrade to Barnes & Noble's Nook app, you don't have to sacrifice any of the features of your Nook to enjoy all of CyanogenMod's Android goodness.

So if you are ready to turn your Nook Color into an even more Awesome Android tablet (and tease all your iPad toting friends for spending twice as much money for a device that can't even run Flash), follow these steps:

Note: there is no risk in doing this - you can easily restore your Nook to stock Barnes & Noble software if you decide you don't like it. See Restoring your Nook Color to Stock 1.2 at the bottom of this post for instructions.

 

Part 1 - Gathering all the pieces you'll need

Aside from a Nook Color, you'll need to pick up a microSD card and an appropriate adapter (like this one) so that you can plug it in to your computer. Most computers and laptops have an SDcard slot (often referred to as a Multi-card reader), but if yours doesn't, be sure to get a USB to SDCard adapter as well (like this one). USB to SDCard adapters may be a little tricky to find in stock at a local store - I've had the best luck at office supply stores like OfficeDepot and OfficeMax. Keep in mind that you'll be using the microSD card to store music, video, and pictures on, so be sure to select one that is of sufficient size (at least 1 gb). Note that an average, feature length movie (don't worry, I'll tell you just how to encode your own from a DVD below) will require about 800 Megabytes (roughly 0.8 Gigabytes) of space. 

Also, the setup process seems to work best if your Nook already has at least version 1.2 of the Barnes & Noble software on it. You can find out if you are running version 1.2 by tapping the up arrow, then Settings:Device Info. If you have 1.1 or earlier, you can either update your stock Nook Color using Barnes & Noble's instructions here, or you can update any Nook Color (stock or rooted) to 1.2 by following my instructions, Restoring your Nook Color to Stock 1.2 at the bottom of this post.

Finally, make sure your Nook Color has a good charge before you get started. In fact, you might want to plug it in now while you work on the next part.

 

Part 2 - Downloading the software installer and preparing the microSD card

Grab your microSD card and adapter, and head over to your computer to download the following file:

nook-cm7-install.zip

Now, we'll copy the image to our microSD card. Follow the instructions below:

Mac

  1. These instructions assume you are using Mac OS X Leopard. If you are using another version of OS X, details may differ slightly. 
  2. Determine where the nook-cm7-install.zip file was saved when you downoaded it from the web site. Macs usually store downloaded files in the "Downloads" folder, which is in your home folder. Firefox often saves downloads in the Desktop. Move the nook-cm7-install.zip file to your home folder and double-click on it once to extract the nook-cm7-install.img file from the zip file.
  3. If you have a newer MacBook with an SDCard slot, insert your SDCard adapter with the microSD card in the slot. Otherwise, insert the SDCard adapter with the microSD card in the USB SDCard adapter you purchased, then plug that into one of the USB ports on your Mac.
  4. Switch to the Finder and open the "Utilities" folder (Go -> Utilities)
  5. Open "Disk Utility"
  6. When Disk Utility opens, locate your microSD card in the panel on the left of the window. You will see two items in the list: the card itself ("Lexar" in the example below - yours will probably be different), and the volume that exists on the key ("usb_disk" in the example below - yours will probably be different). Ctrl-click on the volume ("usb_disk on the example - yours will be different) and select "Unmount"
    macusb1.png 
  7. Close the Disk Utility, and Open "Terminal" in the "Utilities" window
  8. Type "diskutil list" in the terminal window, and look for your microSD card in the list. The detail we are looking for is which device it is ("/dev/disk2" in the example below)
    macusb2.png 
  9. Once you have determined which device it is, type in the following: "sudo dd if=nook-cm7-install.img of=/dev/diskX" replacing the "diskX" with the disk number from step 8. When the command completes, your microSD card will be ready to go.

Windows

  1. Download win32disk imager from https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer/+download
  2. Locate the zip file you just downloaded, right-click on it, and choose "Extract" to extract the application from the zip file. Do the same for the nook-cm7-install.zip file you downloaded earlier.
  3. Locate the W32DiskImager.exe file you extracted, and double-click to run the application
  4. Select the nook-cm7-install.img file you extracted above.
  5. Insert your microSD card with any appropriate adapters into your PC
  6. Click on the refresh button on the right under "Device", and then select the drive letter of your microSD card
  7. Click on the "Write" button and wait until the operation completes.
    winusb.png 

Linux

  1. Determine where the nook-cm7-install.zip file was saved when you downoaded it from the web site. It should be in the root of your Home folder. If not, move it there and double-click on it to unzip it.
  2. Insert your microSD card into all appropriate adapters and plug it in to your computer. Most Linux systems will automatically mount the card.
  3. We need to find out what disk the system assigned to the card. To do so, open up a terminal (usually under "Accessories") and type "mount" followed by the enter key. In the list of disks that appear, you should see your microSD card at the bottom, listed as "/dev/sd*1" where * is probably a,b,c,or d. 
  4. Next, unmount the microSD card by typing "umount /dev/sdX1" (replacing "X" with the letter you saw in the list on step 3)
  5. Finally, type in "sudo dd if=nook-cm7-install.img of=/dev/sdX" followed by the enter key, replacing the "sdX" with "sd"+the letter you determined in step 3. When the command completes, your microSD card will be ready to go.

WHEW! That was the hard part. The rest is pretty easy.

 

Part 3 - Updating the Nook Color to CyanogenMod

Now we'll boot the Nook Color off of the microSD card and install the software. To do this, we need to power it down, insert the microSD card, and power it back up. Hold down the power button and wait until the Nook offers you the option to shut down, then choose "OK" to shut it off. Then turn the nook over and open the "Nook" flap to insert your microSD card. Next, turn the Nook back over and hold down the power button for a few seconds (until you see the screen flash) to turn the Nook on. 

OK, your Nook Color is going to boot into recovery mode, which will probably be unlike any you have ever seen. While in recovery mode, the touchscreen is not used - instead, we'll use all of the buttons on the Nook to navigate. The volume up/down buttons go up and down in the list, the "n" button selects an item, and the power button goes back to the previous menu. Follow these steps to install the update:

  1. Press the volume down button to select "install zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  2. Press the volume down button to select "choose zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  3. Press the volume up/down buttons to select the cm-7.1.0-RC0-encore-2.6.32-beta3.1.zip from the list, and press the "n" button to select
  4. Choose "Yes" to install, and wait for the install to complete. Will be a few minutes
  5. When done, press the power button to go back to the main menu, select "Wipe data/factory reset", and press the "n" button to select. Choose "Yes" to wipe data, and wait for the process to complete.  Important: You MUST wipe data on your Nook Color, or it probably will not work correctly when you restart it, which means you'll have to come back and wipe data anyway. Trust me: wipe your data.
  6. When done, remove the microSD card and select "reboot system now", and press the "n" button to reboot. If your Nook Color is unresponsive, hold down the power button until it turns off, then power it up normally.

After a brief period, your Nook Color will boot up from CyanogenMod, and all will be right with the world. Take note of a few things:

  1. At the bottom left corner you will find a few standard Android buttons, which are necessary to navigate. In order, they are menu, back, search, and notifications. The physical "n" button is still the home button. If you are new to Android, the menu button is of particular importance, as it is context sensitive, meaning what it shows changes depending on what you are looking at. Many new users find themselves lost and not knowing what to do next, because they forget that the menu button is there. A simple rule of thumb is this: when in doubt, try the menu button.
  2. Swiping left and right will bring up additional "pages" or "desktops" that you can place widgets or icons on. Press and hold with your finger on any blank space to add an icon or widget. Press and hold on an existing icon or widget to remove it.
  3. At the bottom center of the display, you will see a mini-dock with a phone, box of four smaller boxes (apps button), and a globe (web browser) The phone really doesn't do anything, since this isn't a phone, but you can replace it by press and hold, choose delete, press the apps button, and press+drag something else into its place. 

 

Part 4 - Google Apps, settings, and stuff to do right away

OK, so your Nook Color is ready to go, but you'll need a few more things to finish the job. First, we need to connect to wireless and get the Google apps installed, especially Market, because that's where you'll go to get all the other apps. To connect to wireless:

  1. Go to the home screen (press the "n" button) and press the menu button (far-left on the bottom left corner). 
  2. Tap "Settings" followed by "Wireless & networks", then "Wi Fi Settings" to select your wireless network. Follow the prompts to set up your connection.
  3. Once you are connected, press the "n" button to return to the home screen.

Next, we'll install the Google applications:

  1. Tap on the apps button on the home screen and open ROM Manager.
  2. Check the "Flash ClockworkMod Recovery" at the top of the list and make sure that it says "Current Recovery: ClockworkMod 3.0.2.8". If it doesn't, tap "Flash ClockworkMod Recover" and select "Nook Color" in the list that appears.
  3. Tap Download ROM, followed by Google Apps, then tap on the top-most entry in the list and tap Download.
  4. When the download is complete, you will be presented with a "ROM Pre-Installation" prompt. Don't change anything, just tap OK.
  5. Press OK to Reboot and Install. If prompted by SuperUser about permissions, tap "Allow". Your Nook will reboot and install the Google apps all by itself. When complete, it will reboot again. The reboot will be a little slow this time, as it will rebuild the cache.
  6. You may be prompted with a list of Google apps. Be sure to select Market, YouTube, and any other Google apps you find interesting. If you aren't prompted, no worries, Market will be there and you can install any other apps you might want from there.

We're almost done. Now that you have all the critical apps in place, there are just a few things that you'll want to do before you start playing:

  1. Set the unhide button: When running a full-screen app, the button bar (menu, back, search, notifications) will add a fifth button, hide (represented by a couple of down arrows). CyanogenMod's default settings make it hard to get the button bar back when you hide it, so we'll want to change them. To do so, press the home button (the "n" button on your Nook), then the menu button (first button in the bottom left corner), and choose "Settings". Next tap "CyanogenMod Settings" followed by "Tablet Tweaks", then "Choose unhide button". Finally, choose "Home" from the list that appears. When you are done, you can press the home button to return to the main screen.
  2. Format your SD card: Many Android apps require a microSD card to work, so you'll want to be sure you have one in your Nook at all times. The problem is, if the card you want to use is the same one that you used to install CyanogenMod, then the recovery console will appear every time you reboot your Nook. To solve this problem, we'll want to erase the microSD card. To do this, insert the microSD card and press the home button (the "n" button on your Nook), then the menu button (first button in the bottom left corner), and then choose "Settings". Next press "Storage" followed by the "Erase SD Card" at the very top (under "SD Card"). Do not choose "Erase SD Card" under the "Additional storage: /mnt/emmc" heading, just the one under the "SD Card" heading.
  3. Make the Nook stay awake when plugged in: Default settings in this build of CyanogenMod set the Nook to go to sleep when it is plugged in. This can be a problem when you have it plugged into a computer and are copying files to/from it, as sleep will interrupt the process. To fix this, press the home button (the "n" button on your Nook), then the menu button (first button in the bottom left corner), and then choose "Settings". Next choose "Applications", then "Development" then check the "Stay Awake" checkbox.
  4. Install Flash Player: CyanogenMod doesn't have the latest Flash Player installed on it. Be sure to open the Market app, search for and install the Flash Player app. Once installed, Flash content on web pages and in apps should play properly.
  5. Install the Nook app: Like the Flash player, the Nook app is essential. Go find and install from the Market app on your Nook. Once installed, run the app and log in to your Barnes & Noble account. All your books and magazines will be there.

 

Part 5 - Go get some apps!

There are a few apps out there that you must have to round out your Nook Color experience.

First off, you must go to the Market on your Nook Color and download Angry Birds. Not only is it a great game, but it really shows off the Nook's screen. All of the graphics appear super-crisp and sharp at 169 ppi screen. Other great games include Bubble BlastLabyrinth, and Flight Frenzy.

Social media types will want to install the official Facebook and Twitter apps, or perhaps something like Seesmic, if you like to have all your social streams integrated into one app. Bloggers will appreciate the Wordpress app, among others. Be sure to check the AppBrain site for the latest and greatest.

Media lovers should install the Amazon MP3 app, so that they can purchase and listen to songs on the go. And the one that every media-loving Android user should have is Doubletwist. Doubletwist is like iTunes for Android, including a desktop app for your Mac or PC and a player application for your Nook Color. The desktop app connects directly to your iTunes and iPhoto libraries, as well as any music/movie folders you might have and enables easy syncing of your content to your Nook Color. It will even automatically resize your un-protected videos prior to syncing (although there is a better way to deal with video below). And if you install the optional Airsync app on your Nook, you don't even have to plug it in to sync your content. Your Nook Color and Doubletwist app on your desktop will just find each other. Doubletwist also connects to Amazon's music store, so you can download all the music you might want directly. 

doubletwist

 

Encoding Video

The last must-have app is Handbrake, which you will use to encode video on your desktop machine. Handbrake enables you to convert video from a variety of formats, including direct from DVD, into a format that the Nook can easily play. The trick with Handbrake is figuring out what settings are best for a particular device. Lucky for you I've already done this for the Nook Color. Note that Hadbrake will not convert any videos that you have purchased on iTunes, as these are copy protected and only work with Apple devices.

When using Handbrake to encode video from a DVD or other (un-protected) video file, set Handbrake up as follows:

On the main page, set the Video Codec to "MPEG-4", check the "2-pass encoding" box, and set the "Average bitrate" to "1000", as you see below:

hb1

 

Next, click on "Audio" and set the first track to a bitrate of "128", then disable any other tracks you see:

hb2

 

Finally, click the "Picture" button and set the width to "512" (the height will adjust automatically).

hb3

Press Start and your video will encode. When it is done, plug your Nook Color into your computer using the supplied USB cable, and copy the video to your microSD card.

Please note: Some DVDs (Disney is particularly notorious) employ some particularly intrusive copy protection techniques that Handbrake can't overcome. For these, first force quit Handbrake, then get an app like RipIt, which will enable you to get a stable version of the video files off the DVD prior to using Handbrake.

 

Last Step - Enjoy your newly liberated Nook Color!

 

Update: For the truly adventurous, I have added an overclock kernel to the update that will boost the speed of your Nook Color from 800MHz to 1200MHz, with no discernible cost in battery life. To install it, follow the steps in Parts 1, 2, and 3 above and make sure everything is working. Then repeat the first six steps in Part 3, but instead of selecting "cm-7.1.0-RC0-encore-2.6.32-beta3.1.zip" in step 3, select "overclock-kernel-cm7-dalingren-2.6.32-emmc-051311.zip". Once your Nook Color reboots, you should notice a marked improvement in performance. 

Note: If you downloaded and installed this update prior to 5/22/11, the image file has been updated since you downloaded it. You will need to re-download and re-image your microSD to see the overclock kernel.

 

Restoring your Nook Color to Stock 1.2

If you experience problems, or you decide you don't like CyanogenMod (ie, you're crazy ;-) ), you can easily restore your Nook to stock (and retry the update, if you so choose) by following these steps:

Note: if you downloaded and installed the update prior to 6/1/11, you will need to re-download the updated image file and re-image your microSD card using the steps in parts 1 & 2 above before following these steps.

  1. Hold down the power button on your Nook and power it off. Then, insert the microSD card you imaged in Part 2, and power it back on.
  2. Press the volume down button to select "install zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  3. Press the volume down button to select "choose zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  4. Press the volume up/down buttons to select update-nc-stock-1.2-keepcwm-signed.zip from the list, and press the "n" button to select
  5. Choose "Yes" to install, and wait for the install to complete. Will be a few minutes
  6. When done, press the power button to go back to the main menu, select "Wipe data/factory reset", and press the "n" button to select. Choose "Yes" to wipe data, and wait for the process to complete. Important: You MUST wipe data on your Nook Color, or it will not boot when you restart it, and will require a bunch of extra steps to recover. Trust me: wipe your data.
  7. When done, select "reboot system now", and press the "n" button to reboot. If your Nook Color is unresponsive, hold down the power button until it turns off, then power it up normally.

Once your Nook has restarted, you'll be back to Barnes & Noble stock software. Note that it will operate as if it were brand new. You will have to re-register with Barnes and Noble and go through their setup process.

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Keywords: Nook, Nook Color

Posted by Jim Klein | 47 comment(s) | Share This

May 05, 2011

A week or so ago, Barnes and Noble released a significant update to the Nook Color, version 1.2. This version offers a number of enhancements, including updates to Android (Froyo), the addition of Flash in the web browser, and a new app store for B & N sanctioned applications (roughly 130 of them - mostly non-free). If you are using a rooted Nook Color, there are a few things you should know before proceeding with an upgrade to 1.2:

  • At this time there is not a good root kit for version 1.2. The kits that are available are still very buggy and/or difficult to use - difficult enough as to prevent me from recommending any or provide instructions.
  • The only real upgrade path at the moment is to restore your Nook Color to a stock (non-rooted) version of the Nook Color software. This means that, while you will be able to use the new features of Nook Color 1.2, you will not have access to Market, Google Applications, or any of the other benefits of a rooted Nook Color.
  • In order to apply the upgrade, ALL DATA must be wiped from the Nook Color. This does not include the SD card, just the internal storage. You will lose any apps you have installed, and any books/magazines/etc you have subscribed to will have to be redownloaded (for free - B & N will not double-charge you).

If you are OK with these conditions, proceed with the following steps. If not, then please be patient - I'm sure a good Nook Color root will be out soon.

Part 1 - Download the files you will need

For this install, we're going to need an application called Rom_Manager and a stock 1.2 zip file that contains the update we want. Download the following files on your computer:

Next, plugin your Nook Color to your computer using the cable provided by Barnes & Noble. The Nook should automatically mount both its internal storage and the installed microSD card under My Computer (Windows), Finder (MacOS), or Nautilus File Manager (Linux). Locate the two files you just downloaded and copy both files to the microSD card on your Nook. The microSD card is fairly easy to identify, it will be the removable device that IS NOT named "media". For example, on a Mac, the microSD card will probably be names "NO NAME" (unless you renamed it somewhere along the way). Once you have copied the files, eject both the Nook (media) and microSD card properly (check your operating system's online help if you don't know how to do this) and unplug the Nook.

Now we need to install a file manager app, so that we can find the files we just downloaded on the Nook. I like OI File Manager for this. On your Nook, tap the up-arrow at the bottom, then Market, then the search button (at the top - looks like a magnifying glass), and search for "OI File Manager". Install the app once you locate it. When this is done, either restart your Nook (hold down the power button and power off, then power back up) or use Advanced Task Killer (see my prior post) to kill the "com.bn.nook.applauncher".

Now that that's complete, your ready to get started installing the software.

Part 2 - Install ClockworkMod Recovery

Note: If you have installed an overclock kernel on your Nook Color according to my prior instructions, skip to step 7

  1. Tap the up-arrow at the bottom, then Extras, and then tap on NookColor Tools
  2. At the top, you will see a checkbox titled "Allow Non-Market Apps. If it isn't already checked, tap to check it. If it is checked, tap to uncheck it, then tap to check it again. Trust me, this sounds silly, but I have seen instances where the box is checked, but the Nook doesn't seem to know it :)
  3. Next, tap the up arrow at the bottom again, and tap Extras, followed by OI File Manager
  4. Locate "ROM_Manager.apk" and tap to install it.
  5. Restart your Nook or kill the launcher app again, so that ROM_Manager will appear in Extras
  6. Tap the up-arrow, then Extras, then ROM_Manager
  7. Tap Flash ClockworkMod Recovery and choose "Nook Color" when prompted to confirm phone model. Note that the version should be 3.0.2.x 
  8. When this is complete, tap Reboot into Recovery

Part 3 - Flash the Stock 1.2 zip file and Wipe All Data

OK, your Nook Color is going to reboot into recovery mode, which will probably be unlike any you have ever seen. While in recovery mode, the touchscreen is not used - instead, we'll use all of the buttons on the Nook to navigate. The volume up/down buttons go up and down in the list, the "n" button selects an item, and the power button goes back to the previous menu. Follow these steps to install the update:

  1. Press the volume down button to select "install zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  2. Press the volume down button to select "choose zip from sdcard" and press the "n" button to select
  3. Press the volume up/down buttons to select update-nc-stock-1.2-keepcwm-signed.zip from the list, and press the "n" button to select
  4. Choose "Yes" to install, and wait for the install to complete. Will be a few minutes
  5. When done, press the power button to go back to the main menu, select "Wipe data/factory reset", and press the "n" button to select. Choose "Yes" to wipe data, and wait for the process to complete.  Important: You MUST wipe data on your Nook Color, or it will not boot when you restart it, and will require a bunch of extra steps to recover. Trust me: wipe your data.
  6. When done, select "reboot system now", and press the "n" button to reboot. If your Nook Color is unresponsive, hold down the power button until it turns off, then power it up normally.

Once your Nook has restarted, the upgrade will be complete! Note that it will operate as if it were brand new. You will have to re-register with Barnes and Noble and go through the entire setup process.

Keywords: Android, Nook, Nook Color, Root

Posted by Jim Klein | 13 comment(s) | Share This

May 04, 2011

The following is a statement written for our district superintendent to share with those who would lead at SUSD. We are on the cusp of a significant transition in the district, as we look to replace two out of four of our top leaders - our superintendent and asst. superintendent of business. It is my hope that those who would lead would endeavor to keep moving forward our efforts to transform education and to build innovative, 21st century learning environments.

When we think about the classroom moving forward, we must continue to press toward building learner-centered environments. Ideally, learner-centered environments are those in which students both participate in and take responsibility for their own learning. Giving our students a sense of ownership and empowerment through the use of personal technology, combined with the subsequent (and necessary) transformation of instructional strategy to one that is student-centered, rather than teacher-centered, is the most effective way to bring lasting change and measurable gains in student performance, both academically and personally. 

Choosing the right technologies to support such a vision is of the utmost importance. Many believe that the best technologies for the classroom are those that are instructionally-centered, driven largely by a belief that students are somehow more "visual" today than they were in the past. As Clark, Yates, et al. point out in a recent paper (2009), nothing could be further from the truth. The research team ultimately found that, while attention and compliance may have increased, outcomes in no way reflected any gains in learning, skills, abilities, or academic achievement. A deep dive into their research reveals only one conclusion: technology that does not drive changes in instructional strategy has little-to-no impact on desired student outcomes. Our own research and data further validate this conclusion.

It is important to note I am absolutely not saying that teacher-centered, instructionally-focused technologies do not have value, just that they should not be the center, or focal point of our strategy moving forward. Instead, our focus should be on building the environment in such a way as to support the learner, and to empower the teacher to guide the learner along their path of discovery.

When we shift our focus to the learner and the skills and experience they will need to succeed not just on tests, but in life, we must first accept that life in the 21st century is not like life was in the 20th century (or the 19th century, in which our present instructional methodology was founded). As John Dewey famously stated, "If we teach today like we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." In order to build and plan for the future, we must first recognize key differences between life in the 20th and 21st centuries, and build our classroom experiences with a mind toward the skills necessary to thrive in a 21st century world. In short, what we need to be doing is preparing kids for something I like to call, Life 2.0. To my mind, the following are what Life 2.0 is all about:

  • Information abundance: The days of the textbook and teacher being the sole source of knowledge and information are gone, and we would do well to recognize it. According to the IDC, 1.2 zettabytes of knowledge and information was created on the internet in 2010. In human terms, that's the equivalent of 100 million times the Library of Congress. To put it in personal terms, that's 80 terabytes of information per person, or the equivalent of a stack of books 7000 feet tall, per man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. When we consider that, according to the latest research in neuroscience, the capacity of the human brain is between 4-10 terabytes (1/8th the total knowledge created per person on an annual basis), the only conclusion we can come to is that we've outsourced our memories to Google. We need to be preparing our kids with the skills necessary to navigate a world of abundant information. Now more than ever students must learn to analyze content for validity and bias, but perhaps even more importantly, students must have the opportunity to learn how to filter. Navigating a society driven by information abundance requires skills that can't be learned by mere demonstration, but instead must be experienced and exercised on a continual basis.

  • Free and open: We live in a world that is increasingly driven by that which is free and open. Free and open tools and resources have not only driven the information abundance described above, but have also changed the way we think about economics, politics, socialization, and life. Free software and tools have empowered us with new capabilities to create and innovate. Social media and other Web 2.0 tools have enabled us to connect, share, and collaborate in new ways. Open content has given us access to information we might not otherwise have gained access to and, more importantly, the ability to participate in the creation of that content, bringing improvements and relevance by way of our own knowledge and experience. This brings with it the further opportunity to remix that content into something new, different, and perhaps equally relevant. Increasingly, the nature of intelligence has shifted from "what do I know and what can I do" to "what can I do with what I don't know and what people and resources can I bring to solve a problem." How will we leverage these tools to bring creativity, innovation, and teamwork back into our classrooms? How will we teach our kids to navigate in these spaces safely and effectively? What will we do to make sure that they understand the implications of their online actions? We cannot continue to pretend these don't exist, we must take an active role in educating our students and, more importantly, leverage these tools for the educational opportunities they provide.

  • Managing choice: All of the abundant information and free resources bring with them a new problem: managing choice. In a society of abundance such as ours, managing choice has become increasingly difficult. Where we once had to choose between two or three options, we now find ourselves choosing between tens, if not hundreds of choices. And we face these choices every single day. In our increasingly structured, scripted, and test driven environments, the opportunities for kids to make choices are often few and far between. Technology-driven access to the abundances above brings with it not only opportunities for our students to make those choices, but also creates opportunities for us as educators to provide guidance and the value of our experience as we ask tough questions, like "why did you make that choice" and "what led you to that decision."

  • Hyper-connected: If there is one thing that the Internet, computers, smart phones, and every other piece of electronics tells us, it is that we live in a hyper-connected society. Access is no longer reserved for a precious few on an occasional basis, it is continuously available to all, at a moments notice. We expect to be able to send a message instantly. We expect immediate responses. We assume that we will be able to get to digital information and resources immediately. This is how we live, how our parents live, and what our kids see every day. Unfortunately, when they get to the classroom, we shut off all the devices and pretend that the world doesn't work this way. Students go home to see mom and dad working on their computers, looking things up, making reservations, etc., etc., then come to school and see none of it. And we wonder why kids don't think school is relevant and why parents are voting with their feet.

  • Embracing failure: The fear of failure can be one of the most crippling things in life, perhaps never more so than in the educational environment. In a place where discovery and exploration are held in the highest regard, the opportunity to fail gracefully has been gradually weeded out in favor of a "pass/fail" mentality. Whether intentionally or not, we systematically condition our students to fear failure through a steady regimen of "proven strategies" (read scripts) that over-emphasize "standards" and "tests". Science fairs are eliminated, arts programs diminished, drama and dance are nearly non-existent, and technology is banished to the periphery because it doesn't fit neatly into a pass/fail model. Funny thing is, life doesn't fit this model either, which may explain why so many schools have settled on a goal of "preparing kids for college" (ie to pass tests), rather that preparing them for life. What we must never forget, no matter what circumstances are forced upon us, is that without failure, there is no success. We learn when we fail. We grow when we fall. Science is all about learning from failure, and failure is a key component of innovation, without which nothing would ever be tried. The right technology brings with it the opportunity to create environments where students have the opportunity to not just fail, but to fail gracefully, recover quickly, and move forward having learned from the experience in a non-threatening way.

The challenge for us moving forward is to find ways to embrace these five key characteristics through our educational practice. I believe (and have the data to back up my belief) that this can be achieved through the use of the right technologies and the creation of effective environments for learning. And all of it can be accomplished without sacrificing content or standards or any of the other "requirements" laid on us by the state, without significant burden on our staff.

Key components of this 21st century learning environment must include:

  • Every student must have a device. That device must be reliable, durable, continuously accessible, and available at a moment's notice. It must be hyper-connected via a wireless infrastructure, have a long battery life so as to not require mid-day charging, and be flexible and capable for creating and sharing. The device must be low cost, as the district (and potentially our parents) must be able to easily afford to purchase/maintain it. Above all, these devices need to be easy for a teacher to manage, providing recovery features that they can perform themselves to keep class moving forward.

  • Every student must have access to a diverse range of resources and tools. These not only empower students to create in a variety of ways, but also afford the opportunity for students (and teachers) to make the choices discussed above, and to differentiate based on each student's (and teacher's) individual needs.

  • Everyone (teachers and students) must have a place to share and swap. Providing a space to post, share, and collaborate creates an environment of sharing and adds relevance to even the most mundane student activities by bringing an authentic audience. In addition, a shared space offers teachers and leaders the opportunity to collect the "artifacts of learning" each student creates over the course of their academic career, regardless of where or how the artifact was created. And perhaps most importantly, a shared space helps to create a culture of open collaboration, where ideas are developed/learned/spread beyond the walls of the classroom and the bounds of the school, to the benefit of all.

  • An empowered teacher. That teacher needs appropriate staff development, opportunities for collaboration, and tools and resources to guide and manage a technology-rich learning environment.

Of course, deployment should be age appropriate. Experience tells us that grade four is probably the earliest we would want to get each student a device. But that doesn't mean that our instructional strategies for grades K-3 should remain unchanged - quite the contrary. All grade level strategies should be adjusted with an eye towards the fourth through sixth grade technology infusion. Opportunities for keyboarding and other essential skills should be worked into lower grade classroom time. K-3 teachers need the tools to leverage digital content and media in the classroom, and to demonstrate/model 21st century skills and citizenship. The obvious growth path is a natural progression that leads to full technology immersion by grade four.

As such, we need to work on getting the following key components into every school:

  • Expand existing wireless infrastructure to school-wide at every school: Relatively easy to do and inexpensive, based on our SWATTEC experience.

  • Projector and laptop for every teacher in all grades: Every teacher needs a way to present and share with students, and they also need to be mobile so that they can build/prepare/leverage technological resources wherever they might be.

  • iPad: Every teacher should have an iPad (in lieu of a SmartBoard or interactive slate). iPads offer teachers the ability to perform all of the "smart" lessons and activities from any location in the classroom. They alleviate the need for a mounted board, which forces a teacher to stand in the shadow of a projector at the front of the class, and are preferable to interactive slates, as interacting with the screen on the iPad directly is far easier than watching the projection while manipulating a slate by braille. iPads are extremely easy for teachers to adopt, enabling teachers to access online resources, leverage a variety of learning applications, utilize existing content libraries, and create new resources for ongoing instructional use. They are also far less expensive and more capable than boards or slates.

  • Voice/audio reinforcement: Reduces voice strain for teachers. Students learn better when they can hear teachers clearly and continuously, regardless of the teacher's location or facing direction. In addition, reinforcement systems can hook into teacher laptops and media distribution systems to provide audio for multimedia being delivered via projector.

  • Central lab or shared device cart with sufficient equipment for primary grades to utilize as they learn and prepare for full immersion. These can be smaller and have fewer requirements than typical labs/carts, as the class sizes and student capabilities will be smaller. Can be built with existing computers in the remaining, non-1:1 classrooms.

  • Continue to build out our efforts to provide netbooks for every student grades 4-6. These can be both district provided and/or parent provided.

By laying this as a foundation, we create an environment where nearly anything is possible, and bring not only relevance to our learning activities, but also the opportunity to guide our students as they learn key 21st century skills through direct experience. Ubiquitous access brings with it the opportunity, dare I say the necessity to transform the learning environment and instructional strategies to meet the characteristics of the 21st century world. Above all, it creates a space where the idea of technology as an "add-on" or "activity" melts away, and instead technology is both assumed and presumed, transparent and expected. As is so well stated by Weston & Bain (2010), "Bransford et al (2000), Jonassen (2000, 2004, 2006, 2008), and Jonassen et al. (1999), fix the future of educational technology in cognitive tools that shape and extend human capabilities. Cognitive tools blur the unproductive distinctions that techno-critics make between computers and teaching and learning (Bullen & Janes, 2007; Hukkinen, 2008; Kommers et al., 1992; Lajoie, 2000). When technology enables, empowers, and accelerates a profession's core transactions, the distinctions between computers and professional practice evaporate. For instance, when a surgeon uses an arthriscope to trim a cartilage (Johnson & Pedowitz, 2007), a structural engineer uses computer-assisted design software to simulate stresses on a bridge (Yeomans, 2009), or a sales manager uses customer-relations-management software to predict future inventory needs (Baltzen & Phillips, 2009), they do not think about technology. Each one thinks about her or his professional transaction." 

Best of all, through research on our own SWATTEC project (Warschauer, 2010) and that of countless others, we know that this strategy works (unlike peripheral delivery technologies). As concluded by Bebell & Kay (2010), "the types of educational access and opportunities afforded by 1:1 computing (lead) to measurable changes in teacher practices, student achievement, student engagement, and students’ research skills." - all outcomes I believe we should collectively strive for.

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Posted by Jim Klein | 9 comment(s) | Share This

April 09, 2011

nookMuch has been made of the value of the iPad as an education device. Some believe it to be the salvation of education, while others are taking a more balanced perspective. While I have already made my opinion well known, I do believe that tablet devices in general hold particular promise for special needs students. Expensive, highly specialized, single purpose devices have long been in use in this space, in an effort to overcome issues with fine motor skills and other cognitive challenges for which traditional computing interfaces are simply ineffective. When compared to those devices, I believe the low cost and high flexibility of a tablet device brings with it the potential to bring significant benefits to special needs students.

Until recently, the only choice for such an application has been the iPad. While the iPad is an excellent tool, it is still big, expensive, and brings with it a raft of associated costs, restrictions, and management headaches that can be challenging for an already over-burdened special education teacher. Size and costs lead to fewer devices being deployed and less than continuous access for students. 

But the iPad is no longer the only game in town. A number of Android devices are on the horizon, many of which bring with them greater portability and lower costs than their larger cousins. Here at Saugus, we decided to give one such option a try - Barnes & Noble's Nook Color.

The Nook Color is, for all intents and purposes, an Android tablet disguised as an e-reader. Its 7 inch screen size makes it significantly smaller, lighter, and generally more portable than larger tablets, which, coupled with its lack of edge-to-edge glass, makes it less prone to breakage in the event of an accidental drop. In addition, it has a fast processor, plenty of memory, and expandable storage through a built-in, microSD slot. On the software side you'll find an easy to use, multi-touch interface with a web browser, a powerful e-reader with access to Barnes & Noble's huge library, and (with a little massaging) access to over 200,000 apps in the Android Market. And it costs less than half the cost of the least expensive iPad. (For further details on Nook Color vs. iPad, see Could the Nook Color be the Tablet Surprise of 2011?)

We recently added 6 units to our moderate-to-severe autism program. Six teachers in the program were already making use of two shared iPads, so they were familiar with the capabilities of tablets and their application in the special needs classroom. This naturally gave us a great foundation for working with the Nooks and figuring out which applications were necessary to meet their needs. At present, the following applications are in active use:

  • Kid Shape Puzzle HD - Puzzle/game where kids slide puzzle pieces into place to reveal one of 90 different shapes. Works on cognitive and fine-motor skills.
  • Monkey Preschool Lunchbox - 6 games that teach kids ages about colors, letters, counting, shapes, differences, and matching
  • Play with Sammy - Playing with Sammy the penguin, kids guess colors of common objects, identify animal sounds, and recognize shapes of objects.
  • Smart Turtle - Smart Turtle develops motor skills & hand eye coordination as well fundamentally develops mental aptitude.
  • Sign Language Dictionary - Teaches the 300 ASL signs needed for clear communication.
  • AAC Speech Buddy - Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) application featuring an image repository you have access to over 2000+ images from the Mulberry Symbols collection by Paxtoncrafts Charitable Trust and sharable (online) speech sets.
  • First Words ABC: Fill the Gap - Excellent elementary spelling program that goes beyond taking away a letter at a time from the words.
  • Preschool Basics - A colorful set of flash cards with sound for the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and vocabulary.
  • Bird Book - Bird illustrations, sounds and bird name pronunciation, with a quiz to recognize the birds from their sounds
  • Xylophone - Music app
  • Kids Piano Lite - Eight tone piano/xylophone/games that help kids develop latent art cell by playing music
  • Learn Letters - Classical matching cards memory game, training memory and learning letters simultaneously.
  • Bubbles - Blow bubbles by dragging your finger and then tap to pop.
  • Learn Cards (Animals) - Explore the world of animals, learn their names and memorize the sounds they make. Includes learning mode, animal recognition test and a fun animal puzzle.
  • Alexicom AAC - Augmentative communication system
  • Days/Months - Calendar flash cards combine audio and visual cues to teach children the calendar.
  • Numbers 50 - Teaches numbers and pre-math skills
  • Shapes - Teaches shapes and colors. Customizable with edit mode enables users to create their own cards and add their own voice
  • Sight Words - Teaches sight words with editable decks, favorites, audio, random letters, multiple colors.
  • TapToTalk - Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tool. Tap a picture - TapToTalk speaks.
  • Kids Connect the Dots - Teaches kids to recognize and pronounce numbers and letters of the alphabet in a kid-friendly way

Installing these apps is actually quite simple. Teachers use the Android Market web site to select the apps they want to try, and they automagically download and install on all six devices with one click. No plugging in, syncing, gifting, etc., etc. as is required on iPads. In fact, the Nooks NEVER have to be plugged in to a computer - they work as completely independent devices.

So far, the results have been quite positive. Comments from the teachers often include the words, "that's it?" in reference to how easy the device is to manage. Other comments have included:

"We are simply ecstatic over the NOOKS! After just a few minutes with it I can see many possibilities!"

"Everyone can do it, even the 3 year olds in the program are making use of them."

"The kids are not interested in doing the traditional wooden puzzles and card matching, but the activities on these devices they would do for hours if we let them."

"The kids are amazing problem solvers with these."

"The Nooks bring all the traits/responses we often talk about in special ed: attention, motivation, reward, etc."

Needless to say, after a month with the Nooks we are quite pleased with them. We are impressed with the pace at which they have been adopted and the amount of use they are getting. And there's nothing quite like seeing an autistic student with one of them in their hands.

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Keywords: Autism, Education, Nook, Nook Color, Special Education, Special Needs, Technology

Posted by Jim Klein | 319 comment(s) | Share This

April 03, 2011

I've been thinking a lot about innovation lately, especially as it relates to education, and perhaps more importantly how the crushing force of hype often stifles it. Corporation X comes out with innovative product Y, sells that product to the world as the future, convinces a few naive but influential writers/bloggers/reporters with a tendency towards utopianism to write/speak favorably about it, and suddenly the world believes that this one thing is the only path to world peace, an end to hunger, and happiness for all. This then leads to the belief among educators that if we can just get product Y into our classrooms, knowledge will flourish and all of our problems will be solved. Of course, there is no depth to these assertions, which are based entirely on assumptions driven by a shallow view of education as a series of activities, rather than an environment or ecosystem for learning. 

The unfortunate consequence of all of this for those who would be so bold as to try something that runs contradictory to these trends - dare I say those who would be innovative - is that their ideas must undoubtedly bear the full weight of this hype-wave and the criticism of its apostles. For those brave souls, I offer these thoughts; this encouragement to stick to your guns and pursue what, if you have thoughtfully considered your idea, you know to be true:

 

1. Innovators put little stock in criticism from the mainstream

It is important to remember that a true innovation is both revolutionary and transformative, and requires a perspective that is likely to be outside that of the mainstream. It tends to challenge the understanding and habits of others, which inevitably leads to broad criticism. Consider the following comments from a wide variety of journalists, pundits, and other self-proclaimed "experts":

product

What's remarkable about these is not that they are profoundly negative - we've all seen comments like them before. What's remarkable is that they are referring to the original iPod, a product and business model that is nearly ubiquitous today. Obviously, the pundits got that one completely wrong, because they lacked both a clear understanding and perspective of the implications of such a move by Apple. They viewed the iPod as it related to their current conditions and habits, from a shallow, evolutionary perspective of "how can I use this to do what I already do better". As such, they simply couldn't see the deeper, radical transformation that Apple and the iPod were about to bring to the music industry and the purchasing/listening habits of the buying public.

The long and the short of it is this: if you are trying to reform something - ie take what you already have and make it better - then you listen to everybody. They know how they use/do what you are trying to improve and are the best resource for knowledge and ideas around building incremental gains. If, however, you are trying to do something truly innovative, then you don't (listen). If your idea is truly innovative, you'll know it by the number of critics you have. If everyone agrees with you, then your idea probably isn't innovative or transformative.

 

2. Innovators see opportunities in both the "old" and the "new"

A funny thing about innovation is that quite often it can be found in something that was, for all intents and purposes, "ahead of its time." For example, I think it's safe to assert that Web 2.0 and all it's related technologies are both an immense source of innovation and transformation in society today. And, as every Web 2.0 programmer knows (and most who are "in the know" recognize), the foundation of all this innovation is the javascript programming language. But the funny thing about javascript is that it's not at all new. Javascript has been a part of web browsers since the days of Netscape, and is over 16 years old (an eternity in time for any technology). It didn't reach it's true potential until a number of other technologies, such as CSS and HTML5, came into existence.

script

Innovators are often criticized for rethinking the use of something "old", be it an idea or a physical thing, in a new and innovative way. It is argued that the idea clearly can't be innovative because they are not using the latest "bright, shiny object" that is garnering the most attention. Innovators recognize that "new" doesn't always equal "better", and that sometimes even the oldest ingredients can be combined to make something so impactful that it inspires a generation.

 

3. Innovators embrace resource constraints

Throughout history, resource constraints have been some of the greatest drivers of invention and innovation. A lack of resources - be they financial, material, technological, or otherwise - forces us to think differently about solving problems, and has a tendency to lead to breakthroughs with broad sweeping social impact. Take, for example, the development of the jet engine. 

jet

In the beginning of the cold war era after World War II there was a race to secure air superiority, with both the allies and the Soviet Union working to develop a reliable jet-turbine engine. The problem with jet engines was this: in order to make them go faster, you had to pump in more fuel and air. When you burn more fuel, you increase heat, which causes the parts to get hotter, and eventually leads to material fatigue and engine failure. At the time, several American teams under General Electric were competing against several German teams under BMW to find a solution to the perplexing problem. The key difference was that the American team had virtually endless resources to test whatever materials they could find/develop, while the Germans had very little, and were forced to work with the materials they had on hand. As it turns out, the German team won by proposing a status quo shattering idea of hollowing out rotor blades and other highly heat exposed parts, allowing air to flow through them and enabling them to cool naturally - a breakthrough that is still in use today.

Resource constraints can arguably be the greatest drivers of innovation, because they force us to look beyond the status quo for new ways to solve problems. Innovators see them not as a limitation, but as an opportunity to re-think, re-imagine, and invent. They wallow not in "if only we had" but instead seek out and discover new opportunities for inventiveness and innovation.

 

4. Innovators jump curves

History reveals another lesson about innovation, and that is that innovators "jump curves." By "curves" I am referring to trend-lines or natural trajectories of evolutionary growth. A famous example of this is the story of ice delivery in America. Around the turn of the 20th century, ice for Americans was largely produced by ice farmers in the far northern reaches and shipped via boat down rivers throughout the states. This was a tedious, labor-intensive process that was not terribly efficient, with limited reach and little impact on society as a whole.

farm

 

Within a few decades, ice farms gave way to ice factories, which were able to produce ice far closer to their destination at significantly reduced cost. The ice was largely delivered by horse and wagon, as you can see below.

factory

 

Of course, within a short time, refrigerators were invented, and no one needed the ice factories any more, because they could produce it in their homes using these new fangled, personal "chillers", like this Oldman model.

fridge

 

The interesting thing about this story is not the evolution and development of refrigeration, although that certainly can be viewed as one of the most significant developments in human history. The important detail is that, as far as one can tell from the history books, none of the ice farmers ever started ice factories, and none of the ice factories ever developed refrigerators. Ice farmers looked for sharper blades and more efficient methods for harvesting ice. Ice factories looked for better ways to store and more efficient ways to deliver. Both were so focused on finding better ways to do what they already knew how to do better, that they "reformed" themselves into oblivion.

Innovators jump curves and challenge the status quo. They aren't afraid to try something new, even if it runs counter to what they already "know".

 

5. Innovators don't pretend to know the outcome

Too often, innovative ideas are ruined by what I call "systemization", or a presupposed methodology combined with a rigid requirement for adherence to a predetermined usage pattern (now that's a mouthful). Case in point: Friendster.

friendster

In the early oughts, before MySpace and Facebook, a group out of Northern California designed a social site called "Friendster", designed to be a safe environment for meeting new people online. Within a few short months of its launch, Friendster was fast on its way to becoming the biggest site on the internet, with staggering growth and social acceptance. Social memes began to take shape all around the world as new norms developed, such as referring to online friends as "friendsters". The future certainly looked bright for this little startup out of Mountain View.

The creativity of its users knew no bounds as members began creating profiles that no longer represented single individuals, as Friendster's founders intended, but instead for bands, groups, fictional characters, and the like. Stories began to emerge of famous profiles like "Salt" and "Pepper", who would write long, humorous love notes to each other about how they "so hated to be apart" and "longed to be together again." Groups would use Friendster to communicate with each other and bands would reach out to their fans. 

Rather than embracing their users' creativity, the people behind Friendster decided that this represented "inappropriate usage", and systematically deleted any accounts that didn't fit their predetermined usage pattern. Naturally, this frustrated their users, which would be courted by a fledgling startup, MySpace, who was all too willing to accept them. MySpace went on to become a cultural phenomenon, while Friendster all but disappeared from cultural consciousness in the United States.

Rigid standards, restrictions, usage requirements, and assumptions lead to one thing: the death of innovation. Innovators' ideas are implemented to be as open as possible, and innovators are willing to step back, and let 1000 flowers bloom. Often, their inventions look quite different than they did at origination, but that's OK, because they are having a lasting impact.

 

6. Innovators aren't afraid of failure, and are quick to let go

The most important trait of an innovator is that they are not afraid of failure. They are not reckless, by any means, but are also not so wed to an idea that they will do everything in their power to force its success. Too often, wannabe innovators will be so convinced that they are right that when the idea proves bad, they buck and fight and strive to keep it alive. There is seemingly no end to the number of hoops they will jump through until their idea is so disapproved that they have expended all of their social capital and significantly reduced the chances that their next idea will be met with acceptance.

Innovators recognize that not every idea will be a success, and are quick to discard and move away from those that are not. As Walt Disney famously stated:

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Innovators keep moving forward, pressing toward new ideas, with the hope of making this world a better place.

 

Photo credits:

Jet engine: Public Domain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BMW_003_jet_engine.JPG
Ice Farmers: Library of Congress - http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91787147/
Ice Factory Worker: Public Domain - http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001022945/PP/
Ice Delivery Cart: Public Domain - http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997023940/PP/
Oldman Refrigerator: CC BY-SA - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monitor_refer.jpg 

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Posted by Jim Klein | 7 comment(s) | Share This

March 10, 2011

ClockAn hour ahead....and no time like the present to act upon the following: 

"Preparedness Best Practices for Homeowners and Renters"

Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.

To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.

Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).

Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.

Know what is excluded by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.

Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.

Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation.

Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.

Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.

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