Risk Alerts

A Risk Alert is service designed to provide notice of a topic of concern or high risk to the facility, its operations or its people. Periodically, a Risk Alert or other communication is issued to our participants as a warning or reminder of a potential or imminent hazard. The goal is to educate and inform as well as provide useful and proactive measures to help you maintain your property and continue to provide a safe environment.

Please pay close attention to these alerts and distribute them to your staff so that they may implement the recommended actions. Your feedback on these communications is also helpful in improving this service and evaluating its impact.

Current Alert

2024-12, Wind, Rain, Floods

April 2, 2022

The National Weather Service issued a High Wind Watch in effect from Wednesday evening (April 3) through Thursday afternoon (April 4). East winds of 25-25 MPH are expected, with gusts up to 60 MPH possible, in Eastern Norfolk, Suffolk, Eastern Essex, Barnstable and Eastern Plymouth counties.

In addition, a Coastal Flood Watch is in effect Thursday morning, April 4. One to two feet of inundation above ground level is possible in low-lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways. Affected areas are: Eastern Essex, Suffolk, Eastern Norfolk, Eastern Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties.

Shallow pockets of flooding up to one foot deep affects the lowest lying areas along the coast, including Morrissey Boulevard in Boston. Roads remain passable. Shallow pockets of flooding less than one foot deep affect more vulnerable coastal roads along the North Shore from Salem and Gloucester to Newburyport. Rough surf will likely cause some splashover onto coastal roads around the time of high tide. 

We urge you to make the following preliminary preparations:

  • If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
  • Prepare for potential floods. Have custodians check drains, grates and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris.Check to see if sump pumps are working.
  • Prepare for wind damage. Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to high winds. Immediately inspect trees and bushes. Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage. Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people/property.
  • Be prepared for potential power outagesfrom 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.
  • If using a space heater, inspect it for safety – make sure it is functioning properly and that the cords are not frayed. Only use a space heater that automatically shuts off if it tips over. DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS WITH PORTABLE HEATERS – PLUG THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE WALL OUTLET.

Property Damage
If you experience property damage or injury because of the storm, report the claim immediately. Contact Alicia Gray at alicia_gray@rcab.org or go to https://rcabrisk.org/property-claim-report/.

2024-11, Cyber Security Alert

February 22, 2024

Over the last several months, the Department of Homeland Security has issued warnings of increased hacking and phishing attacks aimed at Catholic entities. Recently, a number of these have been successful with at least three instances of ransomware significantly and disastrously impacting the operations and ministry work of major Catholic agencies.

Though every organization is subject to hacking, we see attacks following certain patterns – it appears that Catholic entities are, at this time, a particular focus.    

Please revisit your cyber security program. Your strategy to protect your assets and data needs to include clear policies on data handling, technologies for asset protection, and a cyber training program that ensures all staff recognize, or at least question, emails that could be vectors for infection.

Modern ransomware techniques delay the execution of ransomware until data, including Personal Identifiable Information (PII), has been exfiltrated or stolen. This stolen data is used to encourage the payment of a demanded ransom. Failure to do so exposes that data on the dark web. Currently there is no acceptable and full recovery from a successful ransomware attack. Your cyber security posture must include a proactive prevention strategy.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Solutions

The ORM strongly encourages all institutions to consider purchasing and installing Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) software. There are several products on the market; however, our parishes are successfully utilizing CHECKLIGHT® by CISO Global. CHECKLIGHT® is an advanced cyber security tool that is easily installed on each office computer with a quick software download. If unusual activity is detected, as is the case when a virus attempts to infect a computer, CHECKLIGHT® stops the attack before it occurs. This response happens in just a few seconds, while simultaneously sending an alert (via text message and email) to your IT team, who can further address the issue.

In addition, every endpoint that has CHECKLIGHT® installed is enrolled in their warranty protection of the $250,000.

The program operates at the system process level and does not monitor or track specific use such as emails or web activity.

For a demo or more information on purchasing and installing CHECKLIGHT®, please contact Rob Hegedus at rob.hegedus@ciso.inc, phone: 757-635-6278.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

In addition, below are some recommendations for cyber security best practices. The list is not comprehensive but is provided to you so that you can speak to your IT Department or Managed Services Provider (MSP) to help question, test, and ensure cyber security.

  • Establish clear policies for asset, information, and data protection.
  • Mandate cyber security training for all administrative and faculty staff.
  • Do not allow unsupported operating systems on servers and computers.
  • Ensure all servers and computers are routinely patched and maintained.
  • Maintain the network environment including firewalls, switches, Wi-Fi access points, etc.
  • Develop an air-gapped backup solution that eliminates online or network access.
  • Test backup solutions through a recovery exercise.
  • Use an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) software.
  • Implement a web filtering solution.
  • Implement strong passwords and MFA (Multi-factor Authentication).
  • Ensure all academic and administrative staff can recognize a phishing email.
  • Engage an MSP to fill gaps in knowledge or expertise.
  • Do not use volunteers for support.
  • Do use volunteers for Technology Steering Groups and Committees.
  • Engage a Cyber Security provider to perform a network and security audit on some regular basis.
  • Any communication requesting or relating to financial transactions or information such as wire transfers, method of payment, or change in account numbers, should be verbally verified through a known contact name and number.

Reporting a Claim

If you suspect your data or systems have been compromised, immediately report the incident to Alicia Gray at Alicia_gray@rcab.org and your IT service provider, as well as law enforcement.

2024-09 Winter Storm Warning and Coastal Flood Warning

February 12, 2024

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect from 1:00 AM Tuesday, February 13, through Wednesday, February 14. Heavy snow is expected, with a total accumulation of 7 to 13 inches and winds gusting as high as 40 mph. Affected areas are: Portions of northern Connecticut, central, eastern, northeastern and western Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island.

Travel could be very difficult to impossible with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour at times. Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions will particularly impact the Tuesday morning commute.

Wet snow and gusty winds may result in power outages.

In addition, a Coastal Flood Warning is in effect from noon to 5pm on Tuesday. Two to three feet of inundation above ground level is expected in low-lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways in the following counties: Suffolk, Eastern Norfolk, Eastern Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket.

Some vulnerable coastal roads become impassable around high tide. Flooding 1 to 2 feet deep affects some coastal roads and low-lying areas from Revere and Winthrop through Boston to Hull, Braintree, and Quincy. Splashover and debris may wash onto coastal roads when large waves occur. 

We urge you to make the following preliminary preparations:

  • If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
  • Prepare for wind damage. Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to high winds. Immediately inspect trees and bushes. Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage. Secure outdoor objectsthat could blow away or cause damage to people/property.
  • Maintenance personnel should check facilities, ESPECIALLY UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS, in the morning and evening each day. Check for frozen lines by making sure water is flowing in the faucets and toilets. If you believe a line is frozen, shut off the water supply until a plumber arrives.
  • Be prepared for potential power outages from 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.
  • If you lose heat and are unable to restore heat, shut off the water supply and drain the 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 choose this option, please monitor the taps on a regular basis.
  • If using a space heater, inspect it for safety – make sure it is functioning properly and that the cords are not frayed. Only use a space heater that automatically shuts off if it tips over. DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS WITH PORTABLE HEATERS – PLUG THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE WALL OUTLET.

SPACE HEATER SAFETY

During cold periods, it is tempting to use portable space heaters for extra warmth. PLEASE USE CAUTION. If using a space heater, inspect it for safety – make sure it is functioning properly and that the cords are not frayed. Only use a space heater that automatically shuts off if it tips over. DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS WITH PORTABLE HEATERS – PLUG THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE WALL OUTLET. Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, clothing, or furniture.

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, Alicia_gray@rcab.org. Again, for a full list of service vendors, go to: https://rcabrisk.org/vendors.

2024-05 Extreme Cold, Frozen Pipe Alert

January 19, 2025

Starting Friday night, January 19, temperatures will fall into the upper single digits across the far interior of Massachusetts and mid 10s along the coastal plain. Wind chill values Friday night and Saturday night will drop to below zero degrees.

Before the low temperatures set in, snow is expected across the region on Friday. The snow forecast for the Boston-area is 1 to 3 inches, while southeastern Massachusetts and the South Shore could see 2 to 4 inches, and Cape Cod may get 3 to 5 inches.

The cold snap increases the risk for losses from frozen pipe damage, a leading cause of loss and expense for us. Last year, frozen pipes caused over $500,000 in damages.

We urge you to take immediate precautions to protect your property from potentially costly damage

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS

  • Considering the severity of this cold, keep thermostats set at 70°–72° F for the duration of this cold spell, even in unoccupied buildings. 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.
  • Maintenance personnel should check facilities, ESPECIALLY UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS, in the morning and evening each day throughout the weekend. Check for frozen lines by making sure water is flowing in the faucets and toilets. If you believe a line is frozen, shut off the water supply until a plumber arrives.
  • If you lose heat and are unable to restore heat, shut off the water supply and drain the 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 choose this option, please monitor the taps on a regular basis.
  • The plumbing and heating contractors’ contact information should be shared with the facilities staff and immediately available. For full a list of service vendors, go to: https://rcabrisk.org/vendors.

Losses will increase insurance premiums for all locations. Please take action – frozen pipes can be prevented! Read more about preventing frozen pipes: https://rcabrisk.org/knowledgebase/preventing-frozen-pipes/

SPACE HEATER SAFETY

During cold periods, it is tempting to use portable space heaters for extra warmth. PLEASE USE CAUTION. If using a space heater, inspect it for safety – make sure it is functioning properly and that the cords are not frayed. Only use a space heater that automatically shuts off if it tips over. DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS WITH PORTABLE HEATERS – PLUG THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE WALL OUTLET. Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, clothing, or furniture.

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, Alicia_gray@rcab.org. Again, for a full list of service vendors, go to: https://rcabrisk.org/vendors.

2024-03 Flood and High Wind Watch

January 8, 2024

The National Weather Service issued a Flood and High Wind Watch in effect from Tuesday evening, January 9, through Wednesday afternoon, January 10. Flooding caused by heavy rain and snowmelt is possible in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and portions of northern Connecticut.

In addition, southeast winds 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph are expected in portions of eastern, northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts and northern and southern Rhode Island.

Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas. Storm drains and ditches may become clogged with snow.

Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Power outages are possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

We urge you to make the following preliminary preparations:

  • Prepare for wind damage. Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to high winds. Immediately inspect trees and bushes. Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage. Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage to people/property.
  • Have custodians check drains, grates, and basins to ensure they are free of leaves and debris. Check to see if sump pumps are working.
  • Shutter windows. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.

Be prepared for potential power outages from 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.

During and 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
If you experience property damage or injury because of the storm, report the claim immediately. Contact Alicia Gray at 781-664-3990, alicia_gray@rcab.org or go to https://rcabrisk.org/property-claim-report/.

2024-01 Winter Storm Watch in Effect

January 5, 2024

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect from Saturday afternoon, January 6, through late Sunday night, January 7. Heavy snow and high winds are possible. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 7 inches are expected. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.

Affected areas are: Massachusetts, Suffolk, Eastern Norfolk and Northern Bristol Counties. In Rhode Island, Southeast Providence and Eastern Kent Counties.

Travel could be very difficult. Snow loading from heavy wet snow may lead to power outages.

There remains uncertainty in the exact track and intensity of the winter storm, therefore expect changes to later forecasts. Stay tuned to local weather stations.

We urge you to make the following preliminary preparations:

  • Prepare for wind damage. Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to high winds. Immediately inspect trees and bushes. Remove dead or rotting branches that could fall and cause injury or damage. Secure outdoor objectsthat could blow away or cause damage to people/property.
  • Maintenance personnel should check facilities, ESPECIALLY UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS, in the morning and evening each day. Check for frozen lines by making sure water is flowing in the faucets and toilets. If you believe a line is frozen, shut off the water supply until a plumber arrives.
  • Be prepared for potential power outagesfrom 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.
  • If you lose heat and are unable to restore heat, shut off the water supply and drain the 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 choose this option, please monitor the taps on a regular basis.
  • If using a space heater, inspect it for safety – make sure it is functioning properly and that the cords are not frayed. Only use a space heater that automatically shuts off if it tips over. DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS WITH PORTABLE HEATERS – PLUG THEM DIRECTLY INTO THE WALL OUTLET.

Property Damage
If you experience property damage or injury because of the storm, report the claim immediately. Contact Alicia Gray at 781-664-3990, alicia_gray@rcab.org or go to https://rcabrisk.org/property-claim-report/.

Risk Alerts by Category

Nor'easter

A Nor’easter is a storm along the East Coast of North America, so called because the winds over the coastal area are typically from the northeast. These storms may occur at any time of year but are most frequent and most violent between September and April. Some well known Nor’easters include the New England Blizzard of February 1978 and the Boston snowstorms of January and February 2015. Past Nor’easters have been responsible for billions of dollars in damage, severe economic, transportation and human disruption, and in some cases, disastrous coastal flooding. Damage from the worst storms can exceed a billion dollars.

Precautions

  • 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.
  • Closely monitor NOAA weather radio or other local news outlets for official storm information and changes to the forecast.
  • Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to wind damage due to stress from drought conditions. 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.

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: https://rcabrisk.org/vendor

 

Tornado Watches and Warnings

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, with whirling winds that can reach 300 mph. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Massachusetts residents have recently experienced the destruction of the Greater Springfield Tornado in June 1, 2011 which killed three, injured over 300 and destroyed or damaged over 1,400 homes and businesses. The infamous Worcester Tornado, which swept through Central Massachusetts in June 9, 1953, killed 94, seriously injured over 1,200 and over 4,300 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged.

Although tornadoes as severe as the Springfield and Worcester tornadoes are rare, they can and do happen here in Massachusetts. It is important that everyone familiarize themselves with what to look for and what steps to take if a tornado is forecast.

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. 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. If you have any questions, please call the Office of Risk Management at 617-746-5742.

 

Blizzards

A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout

conditions, making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you.  If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.

  • Closely monitor NOAA weather radio or other local news outlets for official storm information and changes to the forecast.
  • Some trees in our area may be more susceptible to wind damage due to stress from drought conditions. 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.

Roofs

If not cleared off, snow accumulations will add weight and stress to structures and contribute to leaky roofs once the snow begins to thaw. In many cases, roof ice dams can form, causing water build-up leading to interior damage. To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow, please take into consideration the following tips:

  • If roof snow can be removed from the ground with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up. Snow and ice collect on boot soles and metal ladders.
  • Remove snow in layers uniformly across the roof to prevent unbalanced loads that might cause collapse. Avoid making snow piles on the roof during the removal process.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
  • Use care with snow removal equipment (shovels, ice spaces, snow blowers) to prevent roof cover damage. It is not necessary to clean completely down to the roof surface as long as melting snow and water can freely flow to the drains.
  • Because snow is heavy and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery, all of the abovementioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults. Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.

 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: https://rcabrisk.org/vendors