Is Your Municipality Ready for a Disruptive Event? Business Continuity Planning 101

Every municipality needs an Emergency Management Program.

There are a number of components that make up a comprehensive emergency management program, (i.e. Emergency Response Plan, Business Continuity Plan, Communications Plan, Employee & Family Support Plan, Pandemic Plan, etc.).

When I was with the Office of the Fire Marshal I was responsible for emergency management and the development of these plans for the OFM. And now in these times of global uncertainty, I am once again reminded of just how important it is for organizations to have them – and particularly a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place.

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a plan that outlines the critical services to be delivered during a disruptive event and how full operations are going to be resumed after the event.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is, your BCP needs to address planning/mitigation, response, recovery and restoration.

Generally, a Business Continuity Plan outlines:

  • Who is responsible for recovery actions

  • What is needed to deliver, resume, continue, or restore the municipality’s services

  • Where to go to resume operations if necessary, and,

  • How the municipality’s critical services and operations will continue to be provided during a disruptive event (detailed procedures for provision, recovery, resumption and restoration of services)

Basic Elements of a BCP

It is important to remember that while the unique characteristics of your municipality must be reflected in the plan, the basic elements detailed below represent the foundation on which every BCP should be built.

  • Gather the necessary Baseline Information – This is used to identify municipal services, where the service is located, who uses the service, dependencies, alternate service delivery, critical infrastructure, etc.

  • Conduct a Business Services Risk Assessment Needed to help identify areas of potential vulnerabilities and to examine current and necessary control measures to mitigate threats.

  • Undertake a Business Impact Analysis – Gathers information concerning the exposure and impact on the service should the service experience significant disruptions and assesses the potential financial and non-financial impacts of a disruptive event.

  • Develop a Business Continuity Recovery Strategy – Assesses the advantages and disadvantages, estimated associated costs and determines the recommended strategy for each critical service and the resources that may be necessary for quick recovery.

  • Identify Emergency Response and Operational Protocols & Procedures – This is a checklist of protocols and procedures that help to simplify the necessary activities even further (i.e. notification protocols, call trees, etc.).

  • Create the Business Continuity Plan

Of course, once it’s completed don’t let your BCP collect dust. Keep it dynamic by updating it to reflect any changes to personnel or processes, and practice it with your team so when a disruptive event occurs, like we’re experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization will be ready and well prepared to resume operations.

If you’d like to receive a free Business Continuity Plan template to help you get started or information on any of the other emergency management plans mentioned, please feel free to contact me. Susan Shannon at s[email protected]

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Enterprise Security Risk Management

Perhaps you’re aware of the recent culmination of a managerial approach in the security industry. As an aside the Michael White Group has been promoting the very fundamentals of this approach for years. However, this approach changes how security has been managed for many years.

Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) is a business decision making tool. So, let’s clear up some of the confusion. This is not Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). Although utilizing the exact same risk principles as ERM, ESRM is an additional tool for ERM.

Unfortunately, more than ever, your municipality’s reputation and brand are at risk. Incorporating ESRM into your organization strengthens your municipality’s security program and puts you and the other leaders within your organization as leaders in your vertical.

Organizational Resilience Management

ESRM drives your security program in developing a stronger relationship to your municipality’s Assets and overall risk and security mitigation strategies. It allows you as the security leader to see the bigger picture.

ESRM is not something that happens overnight. It takes careful thought, planning, decision making and involves change. A cultural change. Long gone will be the days that one or two people are essentially responsible for the security needs of the municipality. It will be everyone’s task to be involved. All employees will be associated with the ESRM program and you as the ESRM leader will keep them on track to identify, reduce and mitigate risks.

ESRM creates a stronger brand for your municipality, a stronger brand attracts new business, new residence.

Ready for an enterprising change?

Should your Municipality be open to exploring the need, the application and benefits of a Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

 

 

 

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Security Risk Assessments; high level breakdown

Critical Infrastructure Protection

Security Risk Assessments are a vital insight into your organizations security gaps, vulnerabilities and most importantly strengths. To not dive too deep into the technical structure and methodology of a comprehensive Security Risk Assessment, we provide this brief and mostly non-technical article to break down the basic components.

Recognize – more commonly stated as Identify the hazards or risks. Before you really can do that, you need to know and understand the difference between what a hazard is and what a risk is. A hazard is “something” with the potential to cause you, your organization, your employees, your reputation harm. A risk that “likelihood” of that harm actually happening.

Impact – more commonly known as deciding who is going to be harmed and how. Who’s going to feel it, how is it going to happen? Almost like trying to figure out whether or not it is the butler in the den with the candlestick …for those who appreciate a good game of Clue.

Bump – So you’ve recognized the hazards and risks and you’ve figured out where the impact is going to be. Now what? Now you have to protect it or at least put some form of management or control piece in to either slow it down or stop it completely from happening and affecting you. The virtual or very much physical speed bump.

Note it – Write it down, digitally record it, take pictures, tell a few people. Do what you need to, to record it. Why…because you want to monitor your success. You want to know that the bump you’ve put in place is working or needs to be re-recognized because the impact may have changed. It’s also due diligence. You can show that you know that there is or was something that raised whatever level of concern, you thought about it, did something about it and continue to watch it.

Recognize it again – Plan the Work. Work the Plan. Once you’ve done the assessment you need to do it again. You need to understand what is working, what has changed, what is new and what are you doing about it.

This article is to serve as a high level awareness tool. Unfortunately it doesn’t remove the complexities of your operation or the complexities of the security risk assessment. But boiling it down to it’s barest components allows you to understand the varying phases or steps that are taken during a security risk assessment. It’s important to note and understand that each of these components can be expanded and contracted as necessary to have a myriad of steps or components within each of them.

Nevertheless it all falls back to these high level principal components.

Should your Municipality be open to exploring the need, the application and benefits of a Security Risk Assessment, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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Is Road Salt Really Worth the Risk?

If you live somewhere that has a snowy winter, there is no doubt you are familiar with ‘ice-melts’ or ‘road-salts’ being used to create traction and melt ice build-up. Using an ice melt or salt makes it safer to get around outside, both on foot and while driving during these cold, snowy months. You can pick up a bag of salt at most corner stores, hardware stores etc. When a storm is coming, you’ll see fleets of large trucks spreading salt across the city streets and parking-lots alike. But – What is the ‘salt’ being used to melt the snow? Is it safe? Below we will outline 3 of the most common ingredients of ice melt products, and the potential effects on humans, children, pets and the environment.

Sodium Chloride:

Sodium Chloride is the natural mined mineral form of table salt – rock salt or halite as it is sometimes referred. Sodium Chloride is “one of the most abundant minerals on Earth and an essential nutrient for many animals and plants. It is naturally found in seawater and in underground rock formations.” Source Sodium Chloride is generally inexpensive in comparison to other types of ice-melting products, however its “lowest effective temperature [is] 20°F (-7°C), [making it a] relatively slow and ineffective ice-melter when temperatures are coldest.” Source

Section 6 from Sodium Chloride or Salt Safety Data Sheet from Compass Minerals showing accidental spill measures

Every year in Canada, “5 million tonnes of road salt is used to de-ice roadways.” Source This salt “dissolves into sodium and chlorine ions” which often make its way to waterways, posing risks on aquatic life.  Other negative side effects can include “harm […] to plant life, so it shouldn’t be used near vegetated areas.” Rock salt is also “similarly dangerous to pets [and wildlife] since it causes disorders when ingested.” Source

Calcium Chloride:

Unlike Sodium Chloride, Calcium Chloride works in quite extreme temperatures. Calcium Chloride is “able to melt ice at a lower temperature point of -20°F (-29°C) … Over exposure […] can harm lawns and other plants if deicer is over applied.” Source Calcium Chloride not only melts ice at a lower temperature but it also melts it quicker, this is due to the heat it gives off as it dissolves after contact with water. “[A] study found that at -7 C (20 F), [Calcium Chloride] has 22% more penetration after 10 minutes and 38% after 30 minutes than [Magnesium Chloride].” Source

Section 6 from Calcium Chloride Safety Data Sheet Revere Pioneer RIM showing accidental spill measures

Magnesium Chloride:

Similar to Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride also releases heat when it encounters moisture. It can work in temperatures as low as -5°F (-20°C). Unlike other forms of salt or deicer, Magnesium Chloride dissolves quickly when it is on ice, making it effective for a shorter period, in turn causing it to be more expensive. Source  However, the water created from the rapidly melting ice also dilutes the magnesium chloride at a quicker rate than other products, making it less corrosive on roads, parking lots and other surfaces.

Section 6 from Magnesium Chloride Safety Data Sheet from Innovative Surface Solutions showing accidental spill measures
Dogs playing and walking in the snow with their owners above a list of the dangers road salt and ice melt & dogs

Each of the three ice-melt products listed above have PROS and CONS when it comes to their impact on human health and the environment. While Calcium and Magnesium Chloride were oftentimes in my research being described as less harmful to the environment – as shown on the Safety Data Sheet sections above – in large quantities they can all be dangerous, especially to pets, wildlife and aquatic life. When it comes to choosing which product to use, it is best to consider your specific scenario before deciding on your ice-melt product. Location, quantity, temperature as well as checking for other toxic ingredients are all things to consider when making your decision. Many cities, businesses and environmentalists have experimented with alternative solutions; everything from pickle brine to molasses to volcanic rock! Until an alternative replaces the use of road salts altogether be sure to take the appropriate precautions when working with ice-melt/salt products this winter.

MySDS Inc. can assist you with hazardous material compliance in your workplace… contact us for more information! 1-855-282-4537 | www.MySDS.ca

Sources:

 

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Canadian Government Entities Under Scrutiny for Lax Cybersecurity

Canada’s government sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny for both lagging privacy and security both in legislation and in practice

 

In a sign of the times, figures released in February to the House of Commons reveal that the personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians was mishandled by Federal department and agencies, including the Security Intelligence Service and Department of National Defense.  The breaches were widespread, impacting over 10 separate departments and agencies, with evidence indicating that these figures are being underreported due to inadequate reporting requirements.  The Canada Revenue Agency led the pack with 3,020 identified breaches over the last two years impacting at least 59,065 Canadians. 

 

Helical’s offerings meet the “Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations” published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and can be scaled up according to need.  You can learn more about how we meet these requirements here or for more information about Helical, visit our website.  

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SDS Breakdown: What, When, Why & How?

What is an SDS?

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheet (previously called MSDS • Material Safety Data Sheet)

When do you need an SDS?

Safety Data Sheets are created for any product that is “classified as a “hazardous product” under WHMIS that is intended for use, handling or storage in a workplace in Canada.”

Hazardous product means any product, mixture, material or substance that is classified in accordance with the regulations made under subsection 15(1) in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in Schedule 2 Source

Safety Data Sheets are to be provided by the manufacturer or supplier. They can be a hard copy given in-person or mailed, or a digital copy on a USB, a disc or sent via email.  It is required that workplaces in Canada maintain an SDS library, whether hard copy or digital, and that it be readily available to all employees.

Metal worker wearing PPE at work with fumes surrounding him

What is on an SDS?

A Safety Data Sheet is separated into 16 sections, below is a brief outline of what information goes into each section.

SECTION 1 – Identification

SECTION 2 – Hazard Identification

SECTION 3 – Composition/Ingredients

SECTION 4 – First Aid Measures

SECTION 5 – Fire-fighting Measures

SECTION 6 – Accidental Release Measures

SECTION 7 – Handling and Storage

SECTION 8 – Exposure Controls / PPE

SECTION 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties

SECTION 10 – Stability and Reactivity

SECTION 11 – Toxicological Info.

SECTION 12 – Ecological Info.

SECTION 13 – Disposal Considerations

SECTION 14 – Transportation Info.

SECTION 15 – Regulatory Info.

SECTION 16 – Other Info. (Dates, etc.)

How can you manage your SDS library?

Depending on the number of hazardous materials in your workplace, maintaining your SDS library can often end up being a full-time job! Because Safety Data Sheets are not always provided as easily or up-to-date as they are required, locating the correct copy often takes research, correspondence with the manufacturer and more.

Why do you need help managing your Safety Data Sheets?

Instead of taking up the time of a valuable employee in your company, hiring professionals for your SDS Management is the best way to go. We hire a lawyer to assist with our legal matters, and a plumber to assist with our plumbing, so why not leave this to the professionals as well. Managing your Safety Data Sheets is a matter of not only compliance with legal requirements, but they also provide the needed information to keep your workplace as safe as possible.

MySDS.ca can build and maintain your SDS library which can give you peace of mind, save you money and keep you compliant!

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3 Potentially Deadly Injuries to Avoid this Winter Season

  With the cold weather here and only getting colder, it is important to remember some safety tips around the workplace for the changing seasons. Below we outline some of the increased risks that come with the winter weather, how to prevent them, and what to do if you suspect them in yourself or a co-worker.

1. Slip and Falls

 although this may seem obvious, slip and falls are still a major cause of workplace accidents in the winter. In Canada over 42,000 workers get injured annually due to fall incidents. With around 17,000 of them resulting in lost-time injuries. With 67% of these being falls “on the same level” (with the remaining 30% being falls from heights). Source It is clear that ice and snow will increase the likelihood of these incidents.

Preventative Measures:

  • It is crucial that snow be removed from walkways and areas used by workers, and that ice be treated with some form of anti-slip coverage – whether it be sand, rock salt or something of the sort.
  • Non-slip footwear – many workers will have to work with slippery surfaces while out on the job. The right footwear choices can help prevent slipping on icy surfaces, such as work boots with a heavy tread, or even a removable tread can be placed over your footwear for added traction (please ensure your winter footwear meets your workplace standards prior to purchasing)

Protect your body – with the cold temperatures it is imperative that workers wear the appropriate clothing to stay protected. Layering your clothing allows you to remove and add layers as you begin to warm up or cool down. Wool is an excellent material to include in layering as it stays warm even when it gets wet. It is easy for workers to forget the potential dangers of working in cold temperatures when they are working hard, and their body has warmed up from physical labour but Hypothermia and Frostbite are very real dangers.

2. Hypothermia

– caused from a dangerous drop in body temperature. Hypothermia accounts for approximately 8000 deaths per year in Canada “Normal body temperature averages 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. With hypothermia, core temperature drops below 95 degrees. In severe hypothermia, core body temperature can drop to 82 degrees or lower.” Source

Warning signs:

  • Shivering, one of the first warning signs that your body is getting too cold and you should seek warmer shelter, when shivering becomes violent or stops, cause for worry increases
  • Grogginess, inability to pay attention or think clearly
  • Slow, shallow breathing leading to little or no breathing as severity increases
  • Slow, weak pulse leading to weak, irregular or non-existent pulse

What should you do:

If you suspect yourself or someone is suffering from hypothermia get them to a warmer/dry location as soon as possible and call for emergency help. Keep the person in a horizontal position and warm them with blankets or skin to skin body heat. If they are conscious give them something warm to drink. When hypothermia is severe people can actually appear to be dead so it is important to keep warming them until help arrives! Source

3. Frostbite

– is caused by the freezing of your skin and the underlying tissues. Source Frostbite most commonly occurs on hands, feet, noses and ears. Frostbite can range in severity but it is never something to be taken lightly. In severe cases nerve damage, blackening of skin and skin infections can occur.

Warning signs:

  • a prickly burning sensation, leading to numbness
  • discolouration of skin – blueish/white or grayish/yellow, hard or waxy-looking skin
  • clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • blistering after rewarming, in severe cases Source

What should you do: (as recommended by the Government of Canada)

Passive warming – move to a warm room, wrap yourself in blankets or reheat your body by skin-to-skin contact with another person

Active warming – this can be done along with passive warming. Add heat directly to the frostbitten area. The idea is to thaw the injured skin as quickly as possible without burning yourself. Thawing frostbitten skin is very painful so the injured skin should be placed in water that is just above body temperature. Do not rub, massage or shake the injured skin because that can cause more damage.

Severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention. While you are waiting for help to arrive begin treating it with passive and active warming. Source

The Ontario Government's legal requirements for employers to train staff of hazards specific to weather conditiions

Winter weather brings the fun of many winter activities but also the risk of the injuries listed above. It is important to remember these safety tips while at work and at home this winter. With the proper care taken all three causes of injury can be greatly prevented.

Stay WARM and SAFE this winter season.

Sources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/environment/extreme-cold.html

https://canadasafetycouncil.org/the-cold-facts-on-hypothermia/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frostbite/symptoms-causes/syc-20372656

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-hypothermia#1

https://www.wsps.ca/Information-Resources/Topics/Slips,-Trips-and-Falls.aspx

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What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

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5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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