What if Nairobi was hit by an earthquake?

Beautiful City of Nairobi

Beautiful City of Nairobi

In the afternoon of 12/01/2010, a disaster in form of a 7.0 magnitude-on the Richter scale- earthquake struck Haiti, one of two republics that make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola(The other being Dominican Republic).In the following hours and days ,incredible horror images of death, destruction and suffering  streamed around the world  and left many  lost for words .About 250,000-a conservative figure-   people lost their lives in that natural disaster.

In the city of Correfour,that has a population of 348,400,about 20,000 people were killed.I point out this particular city not because it was the most affected of all, but to draw attention to how it was affected differently from another city in another country,Christchurch, New Zealand, even when they faced the same kind of disaster and had almost same size of populations.

Though Christchurch was affected by a little lower magnitude of earthquake(6.3 on the Richter scale),the difference in casualty,deaths and destruction were not close to proportional.While in Correfour about 20,000 people died,only 185 deaths were recorded from the Christchurch earthquake disaster.In the latter, only one building was completely destroyed(Canterbury Television building) while in the former, 50% of all buildings in the city were completely destroyed.

The disparity could be explained by many factors at play, but one that comes out clear as the main,is the difference in the quality of buildings in the two cities.Haiti being the poorest country in the western hemisphere and one of the least developed countries in the world, has had challenges of establishment and management of building and construction standards.This has seen poor workmanship  which translate to weak and dangerous buildings.On the other hand,New Zealand has very well-developed and implemented building construction standards that assure her citizens of structures around them that can witstand a huge amount of stress.

On 17 April 2012 at around 5am,residents of Nairobi and some other towns of Kenya were woken up by an earth tremor that, fortunately, was of low magnitude.When it strikes again,we do not know how big its magnitude will be.Earthquakes are natural phenomenons that have always happened from time immemorial and will keep rearing their ugly heads.It is not a question of if, but when and how ready we are.We,of course, can not stop earthquakes from occurring,at least not now,but we can minimise their effects by putting up buildings that can stand them when they strike.

House construction industry in Kenya is in anarchy and can only be compared by that of Haiti.The industry is driven by only one thing,greed.

A game of greed and selfish interest is being played by politicians,corrupt city hall officers and landlords at the cost of sanity and so security of tenants and Kenyans in general.You only need to drive along roads of Eastlands(Umoja,Kayole,Huruma,Majengo,Dandora etc.),and other informal and semi-informal settlements of Nairobi, then it will dawn on you that,with the quality of buildings in place and those coming up, the city is sitting on a bomb that needs only a small shake and what befell Haiti in the evening of 12th of Jan 2010, will visit the city of Nairobi(God forbid).

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20 tips to make your home appear too risky in the eyes of a burglar.

Burglary!!! Please close all doors to continue

It is important to understand how burglars work. Burglary is a burglar’s job, with each new job they do they must consider the risks and rewards like any other person with a job. If your home appears too risky for them, they will simply move on to another one that appears less risky. Read here 20 tips to make your home appear too risky in the eyes of a burglar.

Do not be a victim of robbery with drugging

Police say drugging was rampant in 2009 but nothing has really changed: That friendly man you are seated next to at the bar counter could be having something up his sleeve — a drug that reduces you to a zombie after which you will obediently give him your ATM card and PIN. Or take him to your home.Read more

What is a tsunami?

The word tsunami is one that many Kenyans are familiar with,thanks to its usage in polical rallies and debates,but ironically few might be knowing what its real meaning is or at least how a tsunami is formed and how monstrous it is.

When the Kenyan government issued a tsunami warning alert on 11 April 2012,a joke made rounds in the social media to the effect that guys were calling their family and friends in the lake city of Kisumu to enquire whether they were ok.This joke might be pushing the ignorance of Kenyans on tsunami too far,but the reality is most Kenyans do not know what a tsunami is.

What is a tsunami?

These are larger than normal sea waves generated by a high magnitude disturbance at the sea floor.The long wavelength tides overflow onto land when they hit the coast,with capabilities of destroying property and killing populations in their way( Watch video here).During the 2004 boxing day tsunami,around 240000 people lost their lives in South East Asia,The Indian subcontinent,Australia and Africa and property worth hundreds of billions of dollars was destroyed.

In a nutshell,the sea water is pushed onto the land resulting in huge floods.

The causes of the undersea disturbances that produce tsunamis are many.They include movement of undersea tectonic plates(earthquakes),undersea volcanic activity,massive undersea landslides and glacier calving/falling of huge icebergs into the sea.There are also man-made causes,a good example of which being undersea nuclear tests.

Signs of a tsunami

Initial signs of a tsunami are earthquakes along the coast (if close to the epicentre) and receding of water dramatically, along the coast,exposing normally submerged areas.In tsunami prone countries like Japan and Indonesia,early warning systems have been put in place to watch changes in the sea for tsunami signs.In case of positive signs like earthquakes,change of undersea pressure,out of ordinary wavelengths,they issue warnings in form of sirens.

Normally,tsunamis take time to travel from their source to coastlines,subject to distance.This may give populations time to evacuate before their area is hit.

Security tip;

Any time you are near a coastline and you either have signs of a tsunami like an earthquake and a water drawback or you receive a warning from the authorities,be calm and evacuate immediately.Make effort to help others,like kids,the elderly,the sick and the disabled evacuate along with you.Also, it is important to share messages of tsunami warnings to those you think are in danger but might not have received the warning alerts.

Mobile frauds and mobile security tips

mobile phone text message

mobile phone

You celebrate the mobile phone , and every other life changing mobile tech and solutions-mobile money,mobile internet,mobile banking etc- that have come along with it,every time you pick it up to make a call,text,Facebook,tweet,send money…..But mobile does not start and end with the good.Mobile fraud has proven to be part and parcel of the mobile evolution.With the mobile technology,it is now more likely for you to be coned of your money by a criminal holed up somewhere in Kamiti maximum security prison than it is to be mugged or pickpocket in the streets of Nairobi,east of Tom Mboya street.

As more and more services and products on mobile platform are becoming part of Kenyans’ daily lives,so are criminals moving in with more advanced means of making a kill.It is advisable for you try to always be on top of things by empowering yourself with information that will protect you from falling into snares thrown at you by these mobile criminals.

The following are some of the common mobile frauds you might meet and below them are mobile security tips that might be helpful in such situations;

1)Fictitous promotions-They call or send you a message notifying you that you have won a substantial amount of money.If you play along,they will ask you send a processing fee to enable them transfer the money to your account(This the oldest and the most common). There is another ending to this particular fraud,  taking you through a procedure of remotely withdrawing money from your mobile money account through an ATM(Through the ATM Agent service) while all along making you believe it is a procedure of getting the won money into your account.

Mobile security tip-You can not win in a promotion you never entered in the first place.Check out the contact number of all promotions you enter.Fortunately all genuine promotions today have these contacts made public in advance.Do not enter any code numbers from anybody into your mobile money platform.Also report such incidences to your mobile services provider(If Safaricom,send such messages to 333)

2)Death threats-they send you text messages with information that they-the senders-have been paid to finish you off.But there is a rider to this,that they will not carry out the task if you send them money equal or more than the amount they were allegedly paid or promised by your “enemy” who wants you dead.

Mobile security tip-Be calm and do not send any money. Report these threats immediately to the police and to your mobile service provider.

3)Money accidentally send to you– usually you receive a forwarded receipt of money confirmation text message.If you are not keen you will be mistaken to think you have received real money.The sender will call and ask for a refund, which if you do will result in you sending them your own money.

Mobile security tip– Anytime someone sends or claim to have accidentally send their money to your account,refer them to the mobile money transfer service provider for help(If  Safaricom, ask them to call 234). Do not refund any money instead ask the service provider to verify and refund if the claims are genuine.

4)Premium rate sms promotionsThere very many sms promotions.Some are genuine, but there are also many that turn out to be outright fraud.It also possible for criminals to subscribe your number on your behalf without your consent.

Mobile security tip-Do not subscribe to any promotion you know little about.If you suspect you are subscribed to a promotion without your consent,inform your mobile service provider and, if need be, report to the police.

5)Identity theft and evesdroping-with some softwares available,someone can send sms from their gadgets using your mobile phone number.It is also possible now for someone to evesdrop on your calls,sms,emails etc to and from your phone.This is possible if they succeed in installing spyware in your gadgets.

Mobile security tip-You should be careful who handles your phone.Also phones given to you as gifts should be handle with suspicion, especially if you are supposed to use the phone to pass sensitive data.Open source software is another huge channel of spyware to your mobile and other communication devices,so it is important to be careful with downloads.

There is a chance that you have fallen to at least one of the above frauds or even one that is not listed above.I will appreciate if you shared your experience below.

Quick security risk analysis of your personal environment

Matatu - openbaar vervoer in Kenia

Matatu

Your security is your responsibility at all times wherever you are .Whether you are within the confines of your home at night,earning a living at your workplace during the day,doing some shopping at your favorite mall in the afternoon,keeping fit in the gym down the street in the evening or commuting to and from work in a personal car or a matatu.You are your own best keeper.

With some-or most-of the above environments and situations, we have the right of choice to be in them or not.And as we make those choices,our personal security should be in the  list of the important factors, alongside distance,price,taste etc,that inform our choices of these environments and situations.Even in the few cases where our freedom of choice is limited,the understanding of the security risks around us will still enable us make other possible steps in order to secure our personal safety.Like making our concerns known to the relevant  authority for action,for example.

But what are the things you look out for when determining and analyzing the security risks,or lack of it, within your personal environment of operation?

1)Risk avoidance– check whether there things going on or present that can endanger your safety but do not even need to be there in the first place.It must have not skipped your memory that when Nakumatt Downtown went up in flames,and many people lost their lives,it became clear that the damage could have been less if filled gas cylinders were not housed within the premise.There are many other security risks that can be avoided if some harmful substances and activities that do not have to be around are kept away.Recently there were reports in the media of works producing sparks being carried out near petroleum storage and transportation tanks of Kenya Pipeline  (KPL) with no regard to the danger posed .That is one example of an avoidable security risk that you should look out for.

2)Risk reduction-check out for steps taken to cut effects of disaster when they occur.This includes,but not limited to,fire extinguishers strategically placed,usage of signage with clear and non technical language,having skilled human help at hand like well-trained security guards,metal detectors and well labelled exit doors.First Aid kits are also an important part of disaster preparedness.For a vehicle,road worthiness,driver fitness-drunkenness- and properly installed safety belts are among the things you should look out for before entrusting your life to it on the road.

3)Risk retention-This is the hardest risk analysis to carry out.Because this is about policy that has no physical evidence.The facility management should have a policy of accepting responsibility for risks within their jurisdiction.The only way to find out about this is by studying the organization’s past handling of crisis.

4)Risk transfer-In a nutshell,this has everything to do with insurance covers taken for various risks and various stakeholders.If you staff your interest will run from medical cover to workman compensation insurance cover.Depending on type of business,clients have different insurance covers.Evidence of these covers are usually displayed as per legal requirements. Kenyan law requires all vehicles to have taken insurance cover,including third party.It is prudent to not only use cars-including PSVs- that have valid insurance covers, but also make sure the activities within the facilities do not breach the insurance policy e.g overloading.

Failing to make a quick analysis  on these aspects of risks and risk management around your personal environment, might come in very costly on you.Of course,it is not possible to have an ideally safe personal environment, but trying to lower the risks of breach on your personal security, even if minimally, makes a difference between life and death

Six tips on getting the best guard service deals in Kenya.

Security Guards

Security Guards

Guard service is the major security product that is offered by the majority of players in the physical security industry in Kenya.With poor statutory regulation of the industry, it hard for one to pick a service while assured of the basic technical and professional standards from among the many companies.But the following six factors, if well considered will make your work of shopping for guard service easier:

1)Membership of the service provider to the industry self regulating association Kenya Security Industry Association has a charter and a code of conduct that seek to set standards for industry.It also has mechanism through which customer complaints against members, for under delivery, are handle.Narrowing down your shopping to members of this association will give a head start

2)Financial cost viz value for money- The saying ‘cheap is expensive’ is most relevant  in guard service  than anywhere else .Majority of providers of this service in Kenya offer very cheap services by outright contravening labour laws, at least as far as remuneration is concerned.What you pay to the service provider is important, but also the amount from what you pay that will reach the pocket of the man or woman who will be stationed at your home or premise, should concern you.A poorly paid guard will supplement his meager earning by either working elsewhere instead of resting and turning a corner of your premise his bedroom or from your property,whichever way, making you not to get value for your money.If your budget is constrained,you could make do without a guard and invest in a good alarm system from a service provider with an efficient and effective emergency response component.Better still,you could do an in-house recruitment.

3)Recruitment and vetting of the guard personnelThe importance of criminal background check can not be overestimated.A security firm that gives quality service will not only insist on certificates of good conduct from their prospective employees but will also liase with the Central Investigation Department (CID) to make sure that only people with clean criminal records are put in charge of the clients property and life security.The criminal background is a process that you should apply too if recruiting in-house security guards.

4)Training both initial and follow up-Security guards should be empowered with skills that will make them more efficient in their work.Basic training for security guards include public relations,countersurveilance,firefighting and emergency communication.Bomb threat detection and general terrorism is also relevant if they are going to work in places accessible to many and possible terrorist target like hotels and shopping malls.Keep off firms that recruit and deploy directly.A security firm should also have a curriculum and a defined training period.

5)Supervision and monitoring-It is of the at most importance to outsource guard services from a service provider who integrates efficient supervision, both physical and electronic, into their product.The firm should have provable mechanism of monitoring the movement and activity of their staff when within their post of duty

6)Communication systems and equipment-In order to have an effective guard security service,the guard at your home or premise has to be a component within a security system.This security component( the guard) has to be connected to others,like emergency response teams,police,firefighters etc, through communication systems .A lone ranger guard with no communication is as useless as none.It is now standard that your guard is armed not with the old-fashion whistle only,but with emergency communication gadgets like Remote Panic Buttons(RPBs) radio etc.

Little research,asking friends and a requesting in advance for information from security firm you will find the most right service provider with guard service that can detect,deter,see and report.