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Past Risk Alerts

Risk Alert 2020-10, Tornado Warning

Tornado Warning

August 4, 2020

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Warning for parts of western Massachusetts Tuesday morning. The warning includes northwestern Hampshire County and northwestern Franklin County and is in effect until 9:30 a.m.

At 8:45 a.m., a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located over Middlefield, or 13 miles east of Pittsfield, moving north at 45 mph.

The warning comes as Tropical Storm Isaias moves into the northeast after making landfall overnight in North Carolina. Tornado watches had been issued for parts of Connecticut earlier Tuesday morning.

The NWS warns residents that flying debris can be dangerous to those caught without shelter, and mobile homes could be damaged or destroyed. Damage to roofs, windows and vehicles could occur, and tree damage is likely.

Residents in the storms’ path are advised to go to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. If you are outdoors or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.

Property Damage

If you experience property damage, contact our Claims office immediately at 781-664-3990 or 617-746-5743.

Risk Alert 2020-09, Tropical Storm Warning - Isaias

Tropical Storm Warning – Isaias

August 3, 2020

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Southern New England – tropical storm-force winds are expected within the next 36 hours.

Tropical Storm Isaias is expected to quickly track through southeast New York and western New England Tuesday evening before heading into northern New England. Most of the storm`s impacts will occur during about a 6-hour period early Tuesday night.

Strong southerly winds gusting to 40 to 60 mph may be capable of downing some trees and power lines. There is also the possibility of an isolated tornado. Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected, with the higher totals closer to the Berkshires, where minor urban or poor drainage flooding may occur.

Minor coastal flooding may impact south coastal Rhode Island and Massachusetts during high tide Tuesday evening. Inundation would be less than one foot above ground level if it were to occur.

Rough surf and an increased risk of dangerous rip currents should affect south coastal beaches Tuesday and at least into Wednesday.

At this time, we urge you to make the following preliminary preparations:

  • Efforts to protect property should now be underway. Prepare for limited wind damage. Act now to complete preparations before the wind becomes hazardous.
  • Closely monitor NOAA weather radio or other local news outlets for official storm information and changes to the forecast. See the “Keep Informed” section below for more information.
  • Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to wind damage due to stress from drought conditions. The strongest wind gusts should occur tonight into Monday afternoon. Immediately inspect trees and bushes. Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Be prepared for potential power outages as a result of downed power lines caused by storm activity. Have an emergency supply kit on hand, including water, flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit and non-perishable food.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people/property.
  • Have window shutters/plywood covers accessible in the event windows need to be protected.
  • Although heavy flooding is not expected, check to see if sump pumps are working, and advise custodians to check all drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.

Keep Informed

  • All locations should have a battery-powered radio on hand. Please monitor weather reports.

Reporting a Claim

If you experience property damage or injury as a result of the storm, report the claim immediately. Contact Alicia Gray at 781-664-3990.

Risk Alert 2020-08, Tornado Watch

Tornado Watch

August 2, 2020

The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch for northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts (Berkshire and Franklin counties) and a Tornado Warning for Hampshire and Hampden counties. The tornado watch is in effect until 10:00 pm tonight. A few tornadoes are possible, with scattered wind gusts of up to 70 mph.

Tornado watches are issued for broad areas where conditions exist for the development of twisters, while tornado warnings are issued for highly localized areas where a tornado is imminent or has been detected on radar.

Precautions

  • Have custodians check drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.
  • Check to see if sump pumps are working.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people or property.
  • Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Shutter windows. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

If outdoors, avoid the following:

  • Natural lightning rods, such as tall, isolated trees in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal, such as lawn mowers, motorcycles, golf clubs and bicycles.
  • After the storm, be sure to inspect basements and roofs for leaks and flooding, especially in buildings that are unoccupied. In addition, inspect the grounds for weak or damaged tree limbs and have these removed immediately.

Property Damage

If you experience property damage, contact our Claims office immediately at 781-664-3990 or 617-746-5743.

Risk Alert 2020-07, Hazardous Weather, Flash Floods

Hazardous Weather – Flash Floods

July 10, 2020

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for portions of northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts today through Saturday morning. Widespread rainfall amounts of one to two inches are expected across the region this afternoon and especially tonight. Localized higher amounts may occur, resulting in flash flooding. Significant flooding of urban areas and small streams is possible.

We urge you to take the following precautions:

  • Have custodians check drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.
  • Check to see if sump pumps are working, especially in buildings that have been unoccupied due to COVID-19.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people or property.
  • Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

If outdoors, avoid the following:

  • Natural lightning rods, such as tall, isolated trees in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal, such as lawn mowers, motorcycles, golf clubs and bicycles.

After the storm, be sure to inspect basements and roofs for leaks and flooding. In addition, inspect the grounds for weak or damaged tree limbs and have these removed immediately.

Property Damage

Property damage caused by lightning, including damage caused to electrical appliances and wiring, is covered under the property and insurance program. If you experienced a lightning strike that caused damage, contact the Claims Manager immediately at 617-746-5743 or 617-746-5739.

Risk Alert 2020-06, Hand Sanitizer Manufactured in Mexio

Hand Sanitizer Manufactured in Mexico

June 24, 2020

FDA advises consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested.

Please note: The 55 gallon drums of hand sanitizer distributed to each region are manufactured by BETCO Manufacturing in Ohio. For more information, go to: https://www.betco.com/. In addition, the disinfectant Bioesque is manufactured in the U.S.

FDA has identified the following products manufactured by Eskbiochem:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ. Lavar Gel contains 81 percent (v/v) methanol and no ethyl alcohol, and CleanCare No Germ contains 28 percent (v/v) methanol. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidently ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

On June 17, 2020, FDA contacted Eskbiochem to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer products from the market due to the risks associated with methanol poisoning. To date, the company has not taken action to remove these potentially dangerous products from the market. Therefore, FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain.

Risk Alert 2020-05, Heavy Rain, Coastal Flooding, Gale Watch

Heavy Rain, Coastal Flooding, Gale Watch

May 15, 2020

The National Weather service warns of scattered thunderstorms between 3:00 and 4:00 pm this afternoon in western Massachusetts, spreading eastward into eastern Massachusetts through about 7:00 pm until about 10:00 pm. These storms have the potential to produce locally damaging winds, large hail, and torrential rain, with a low risk of a tornado. The greatest potential for severe conditions will be in northern and western Massachusetts.

The Office of Risk Management urges you to take the following precautions, especially for buildings that have remained vacant these past weeks due to COVID-19 closures:

  • Have custodians check drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.
  • Check to see if sump pumps are working, especially in buildings that have been unoccupied due to COVID-19.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people or property.
  • Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

Property Damage

Property damage caused by lightning, including damage caused to electrical appliances and wiring, is covered under the property and insurance program. If you experienced a lightning strike that caused damage, contact the Claims Manager immediately at 617-746-5743 or 617-746-5739.

Risk Alert 2020-04, Unoccupied Buildings

Unoccupied Buildings

March 20, 2020

With the closure of schools and parishes as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, please continue to be mindful of the safety of your building and grounds. Unoccupied buildings are often the target of theft and vandalism. Please be vigilant and ask your custodian to do the following:

  • Make sure there are no accessible ladders, tools or other objects that could assist a burglar with a break-in.
  • Make sure all valuables are stored away from access points. Criminals are frequently enticed to break in if there are expensive items, such as electronic equipment, visible from a window.
  • Secure all PCs, laptops or any other device or files that contain confidential information.
  • Look for easy access points into any buildings, specifically focusing on doors, windows and locks. If any of these are faulty, they should be replaced immediately.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs near your building trimmed. This will eliminate hiding places in the shadows. This will also allow your building to be more visible from the street, which will make noticing suspicious activity easier.
  • Remove tree branches below 7’ from trees adjacent to the building and keep shrubbery trimmed below four feet.
  • Adequate lighting on your premises is essential and will prevent criminals from lingering too close to your building. Make sure light fixtures are operational.
  • Is exterior storage of trash/rubbish at least 25 feet from building?
  • Ask local police to increase patrols of your area.

Custodians should conduct daily walk-throughs of every building, as well as the grounds. Look for the following:

  • Signs of forced entry.
  • Open windows or doors left ajar.
  • Interior water leaks.
  • Items that are not properly stored.
  • Valuable items left out in plain sight.

 Prevent Frozen Pipes

Winter is still here! This Saturday night, temperatures are expected to be in the 20-degree range. Please continue to maintain the heat in unoccupied buildings. Maintain a temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if there is a cold spell, please be certain to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent frozen pipes.

COVID-19 Hotline and Email

We have a dedicated hotline available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm: 617-746-5750.

You can also email us at corona@rcab.org.

Risk Alert 2020-03, Ransomware

Cyber Alert – Ransomware

March 16, 2020

On the afternoon of Friday, March 13, the RCAB Network was infected by a crypto virus that impacted a significant number of department files. Many files were encrypted and rendered unusable.  Original versions of these files are now being restored from backup.

The malware was introduced onto the RCAB network by one or more users browsing Coronavirus mapping / tracking websites.   If the progress of this infection was not stopped then all files would have been encrypted and the Archdiocese would have been held to ransom.

To help prevent a similar malware infection on your parish or school network please take the following precautions:

Only access well known and reliable sources for information and maps of Covid-19.  These include:

https://www.bostoncatholic.org/coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/

https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

http://www.childrenshospital.org/

Do not simply google and click links for this type of information. Hackers are using Covid-19 as a cover for placing malware on computers. There are reported malware infected versions of the John Hopkins University Covid-19 mapping website. Infected sites aim to steal account login information or to install ransomware (crypto viruses).

Do not click on any links in emails you may receive from unknown sources with information about the coronavirus. Do not open attachments including pdf files. If the email appears to come from a government agency, health authority or some other group or organization, do not click on any included links or open attachments.

Ensure any accounts you access using an office computer are protected with a complex password and always use two factor authentication where this is an option. This includes all web-based business-related accounts as well as parish/school managed Facebook and other social media accounts.

Pay extra attention to activity on all banking accounts. Variants of the Covid-19 malware include those specifically designed to steal login credentials and banking information. Report any strange or unexpected activity.

Be sure to maintain full backups of all your computer files.  Test your backups by performing a file recovery.  In the event your files are corrupted or encrypted by ransomware a backup will be your ONLY option to recover your documents and files.

Ensure that all parish and school computers have a reliable business-class anti-malware solution, e.g., Malwarebytes.

Ensure all parish and school computers are suitably updated and patched with operating system and software updates.

Windows 7 computers should not be used.  Upgrade or replace them immediately.

Please follow the same recommendations when using your home computers.

This most recent round of Covid-19 related malware is new and is aimed at taking advantage of an already difficult situation. Anti-malware is not yet available to prevent infection; therefore, it is up to users to be extremely careful. Each person using a computer bares a responsibility to be cautious.

Please forward this advisory to all parish and school staff as appropriate.

Risk Alert 2020-02, Coronavirus

Coronavirus

February 28, 2020

The Archdiocese of Boston, through the Office of Risk Management, is monitoring the situation related to the coronavirus outbreak and updating relevant planning guides should the situation warrant in the Commonwealth.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

As of February 26, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the virus is NOT currently spreading in the US, although they indicate that we need to be prepared as it is likely to become widespread. As for the Commonwealth, the first case in Massachusetts was confirmed in Boston on January 31, but the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) reports that, at this time, the risk to the public remains low.

Please keep in mind, however, that this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance. Keeping up with information issued from the CDC, the MDPH and Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) is critical. The MDPH launched a website with up to date information for the public. CDC also maintains a website with up to date info on coronavirus.  BCH’s information is available here.

Archdiocesan webpage

The Archdiocese is posting information on the homepage (www.bostoncatholic.org) including links to various websites and public information. An email for parishes, schools and ministries to seek additional information or to make inquiries for further guidance will be made available on the homepage in the coming days.

Liturgical Directives

These directives are effective Saturday, February 29, 2020 until determined otherwise by the Archbishop. The Office of Worship, in consultation with local health authorities and the Archdiocesan Office of Risk Management, continues to encourage the clergy and faithful to observe necessary standard precautions to protect the health of others during this time. The best way to prevent the spread of contagious disease is to practice good hygiene.

In addition to practicing good hygiene, the Archbishop directs the following for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and for flu prevention:

The Holy Water fonts are to be drained and cleaned with a disinfecting soap on a regular basis. Please note that old Holy Water should be disposed of in the sacrarium.

The distribution of the Precious Blood for the faithful is suspended, save for those who must receive from the cup due to severe cases of celiac disease. The faith of the Church teaches that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one species.

The exchange of the sign of peace is to be offered without any physical contact. If the priest celebrant chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace, the faithful, instead of a handshake, may bow to the persons nearby.

Further questions

Further questions related to Liturgical Directives should be forwarded to Thomas K. Lyman in the Office of Divine Worship. Tom can be reached at 617.746.5759 or via email at TLyman@rcab.org.

Additional information and guidance for schools and travel to and from the Commonwealth to impacted areas will be available on the webpage and weekly mailings.

If you have any immediate questions or concerns about the items in this advisory, please contact Joseph McEnness at 617-746-5740; email: jfm@rcab.org.

Risk Alert 2020-01, Extreme Cold - Frozen Pipe Alert

Extreme Cold – Frozen Pipe Alert

February 14, 2020

Extreme cold temperatures in the low teens to single digits are expected overnight. Because this is a three-day weekend for many schools and parish offices, please be sure vacant buildings maintain a temperature of 68° F all weekend long. This may temporarily increase your heating costs, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid more costly damage and inconvenience caused by frozen pipes.

There is a significant risk of frozen and burst pipes, which can result in millions of dollars in property damage. In addition to the recommendation above, please take measures to prevent frozen pipes:

Maintenance personnel should check facilities, ESPECIALLY UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS, in the morning and evening each day.

If you lose heat and are unable to restore heat before the low temperatures begin, shut off the water supply and drain pipes. This will prevent water from freezing and bursting the pipes. If you are unable to drain the pipes, open the taps a little to allow water to trickle out. If you chose this option, please monitor the taps on a regular basis.

Please be vigilant! Previous cold snaps resulted in over $8 million in property damage from frozen pipes alone. Frozen pipes can be prevented!

Heating Safety
When heating your facility, rectory or home, do it safely. For heating safety tips, go to: https://www.mass.gov/winter-home-heating-safety

Property Damage
If you experience property damage, immediately call the Office of Risk Management at 617-746-5743. For a list of service vendors, go to: http://rcabrisk.org/vendors

 

RCAB Contact List: http://rcabrisk.org/contact