Thanksgiving Safety 2022

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Thanksgiving Safety 2022

AAA is predicting 55 million people will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. All across the country family & friends will be gathering together to share a meal and their blessings. There are some safety issues to be aware of, however, in preparing for the big day. We found an article from the National Fire Protection Association with some tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe during holiday preparation:

  • Stay in the Kitchen. When using your stovetop to cook, make sure you stay in the kitchen to prevent any potential boilovers or burning of food.
  • Keep the Kids Out. Of course kids want to help prepare the meal but for little ones the kitchen could be a dangerous place. From hot ovens & boiling liquids to sharp knives, it would be best to corral the kids out of the kitchen for their safety.
  • Test the Smoke Alarms. You should be in the habit of cleaning/checking your smoke alarms twice a year during the time changes. Double-check that they are in working order by pressing the test button.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has tips on preparing your turkey for the big day:

  • Thaw Safely. One of the safest ways to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refigerator although it is the slowest as it is recommended to allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 15 pound bird can take up to 3 days to thaw, but would be safe in the refrigerator for up to 2 days after it has fully thawed out.
  • Beware of Stuffing. The USDA doesn’t recommend stuffing a raw turkey. If you insist, they recommend preparing the stuffing just before putting it in the bird and cooking it immediately. Use a food thermometer and make sure the stuffing has reached at least 165 degrees.
  • The Two-Hour Rule. All perishable foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours, any longer and the food will enter the “bacteria zone” which will cause the food to be unsafe for consumption.

Be sure to check out both articles for more tips on keeping you and your loved ones safe during the Thanksgiving holiday!

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Winterize Your Vehicle 2022

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Winterize Your Vehicle 2022

The weather forecast for the next week shows rain & snow showers with temperatures in the mid-30’s. Winter is fast-approaching which means time to think about winterizing your vehicle if you live in the Midwest. Here are some tips to help prepare your vehicle for the upcoming winter weather driving season:

  • Check Your Tires. Make sure the tread on your tires is still at a safe level, easiest way is to use a Washington quarter. Stick the quarter upside down in one of the tread grooves of your tire. If you can see Washington’s head, it is time to get a new set of tires. Also check for cracks in your tires or possible nails/rocks that may be imbedded in the tires. Be sure they are inflated to the proper PSI as listed on the tire itself or in your owner’s manual. Over-inflation or under-inflation can cause premature wear on the tire.
  • Inspect Those Belts & Hoses. Look over the belts for cracking or wear and change as necessary. Also check your hoses for leaks or cracks as well. Cold weather causes rubber to become brittle which can lead to broken belts or pinhole leaks in hoses.
  • Top Off The Fluids. Check your fluid levels and change or top them off as necessary. Consider a coolant flush to remove any sediment or rust buildup that may have occurred during the summer. Check your brake fluid and transmission fluid as well.
  • Clean The Windshield. Clean your windshield and consider adding a winter-blend washer fluid to your reservoir that will prevent freezing and help with ice removal. Inspect the windshield as you clean for cracks or chips and repair/replace as necessary. Turning on the defroster on a cold day could cause cracks to spread or chips to “pop”. Also change the wiper blades as well, worn blades can be useless in removing snow & ice from your windshield while driving.
  • Catalog Your Emergency Equipment. Make sure your spare tire is in good condition & all items needed to change a tire are accounted for. It may be a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables, a bag of kitty litter, & a small shovel in the trunk as well as a first aid kit with a couple of bottles of water & protein bars in case you are stuck on the side of the road for a period of time. A foldable space blanket may be helpful as well.
  • Watch That Battery. Cold weather can cause old batteries to lose their charge quickly and leave you stranded. Check the date on your battery, it is recommended that you replace the battery every 3 years or sooner depending on how much you use your vehicle. Check the battery terminals & connectors, clean them if necessary and replace any worn connectors or wires.

It’s important you make sure your vehicle is ready for winter, taking the time and going through this checklist may help prevent you from headaches & being stranded in the wintry cold.

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Winterizing Your Motorcycle 2022

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Winterizing Your Motorcycle 2022

It’s the end of riding season for many motorcycle enthusiasts here in the upper midwest as the morning temperatures hover in the 30’s & 40’s and daytime temperatures around 50 or so degrees. To that end, it is important to take steps to properly store your cycle for the winter months in order to protect it and make it easier to bring it out when the riding season starts again next Spring.

We found this article from WikiHow with tips to help you winterize your motorcycle:

  • Give It A Wash. Giving your cycle a nice wash before storing will take care of any dirt or grime that may have accumulated during the season. Be sure to avoid getting the inside of the muffler & air cleaner housing wet as this may cause internal damage. Dry with a chamois and finish off with an appropriate wax or polish for the various items on the bike to protect surfaces when in storage. Clean the chain & use WD40 if needed to get the dirt & grime off, remembering to lube the chain once it has been cleaned.
  • Add Stabilizer. Add fuel stabilizer to your gas tank and fill the tank to the top. Run your cycle to allow the fuel/stabilizer mix can go through the system including the fuel injectors & carburetor. Turn off the fuel and let the cycle run dry.
  • Change the Oil. After running the fuel/stabilizer mix through your cycle, it should be warm enough to change the oil. During extended storage periods oil can become acidic and corrode the engine. Putting fresh oil in just before storing will help reduce this.
  • Remove the Battery. When storing your cycle for the winter, you may want to consider removing the battery. Inactivity & cold storage could wreck your battery. If you don’t remove the battery, consider using a “battery tender” that will turn off and on to maintain the proper level of charge to the cycle’s battery.
  • Watch Your Storage Location. If you are storing your cycle somewhere with a bare concrete floor, consider using a pad made from a piece of plywood or old carpeting as insulation. It is recommended that you store your cycle with the weight off the wheels so consider using a bike stand or blocks to support the chassis while allowing the wheels to leave the ground.

Be sure the check out the full article from WikiHow with even more tips on properly storing your motorcycle for the winter!

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Trick or Treat Tips 2022

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Trick or Treat Tips 2022

Monday is Halloween, a time when kids dress up in their favorite costumes & travel from house to house or other events to gather up candy and have a good time. 2022 is going to be a big year for trick or treaters as cities & towns across the country are allowing for events to be held 2 years since the COVID-19 lockdowns.

YouTube is a treasure trove of old public service announcements & commercials; we love this PSA from 1977 that offers a lot of tips that are still relevant today.

We found this article from Today’s Parent with tips to help keep your kids safe this Halloween.

  • Check the Fit. Check your child’s costume to make sure that it fits properly. It should be loose enough to allow for full range of motion but also prevent potential tripping hazards.
  • Make Up vs. Masks. Consider using make up for your child rather than a mask as masks can reduce vision and could cause breathing issues. Of course make sure to do a “test run” of the make up to be sure that your child isn’t allergic & can be easily removed.
  • Be Seen. Use reflective tape on the front & back of your child’s costume and utilize glow sticks & flashlights to make sure your child is visible to cars and other pedestrians.
  • Stay in Familiar Territory. Only visit areas you are familiar with and go to homes in well-lit areas. Trunk & Treat events can be great places to visit as kids can visit many more people for candy in a safe environment. These events usually have games and stuff for adults as well.
  • Watch the Little Ones. Those under the age of 7 should be accompanied to the door by an adult, older kids can have an adult wait at the sidewalk to allow them a little independence.

Be sure to check out the full article with many more tips on how to keep your little ghosts & goblins safe while trick or treating!

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Fall Driving Tips 2022

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Fall Driving Tips 2022

Fall is now in full swing here in the Midwest. Leaves are changing color and gently falling, the night temperatures are getting chilly, and the daytime warmth is staying in the mid-50’s. Driving in the fall season brings new hazards to be careful of when out on the road. We found this article from AARP with tips to help keep you safe during the fall season when driving.

Watch for Children. School has been in session for a couple of months and although you may be used to it, it is always a good idea to remember a few things:

  • School Zones. It’s important to watch for both children and parents in school zones as they walk to school or are being dropped off.
  • Young Drivers. Another thing to be wary of are young drivers on the road. This may be their first year driving to school and may not be familiar with the ins and outs of school traffic.
  • School Buses. Flashing red lights on a school bus means other vehicles must stop. Keep an eye out for children walking in front of the school bus & do not continue until the red flashers are off and the road is clear. Many buses these days are equipped with cameras to catch violators’ license plates.

Daylight Savings Time. DST in many parts of the country will be ending within a few weeks and this means more drivers will be faced with driving in the dark. According to the National Safety Council, even though 25% of driving is done at night it accounts for 50% of traffic deaths. As you get older, driving at night becomes more difficult as we need more light to see clearly.

Animal Encounters. According to the state of Michigan 50,000 vehicle/deer collisions are reported each year with the majority of them occurring between dusk & dawn. November is mating season for deer which is why you may be 3.5 times more likely to encounter one. Always keep an eye out on the sides of the road for any movement and expect there to be more than one deer. DON’T swerve to avoid a deer if it runs in front of your vehicle but rather hang onto your steering wheel tightly and brake hard while avoiding locking up of your wheels.

We recommend reading the full article from AARP with more tips to help you drive safely during the fall season!

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Fall Cleanup Tips 2022

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Fall Cleanup Tips 2022

The temperatures are dipping into the 30’s overnight and the leaves are beginning to change. Fall is upon us in many parts of the country, time to do some yard cleanup before the snow flies. We have a couple of articles to share with tips on cleaning up your yard this season. One is from the blog Safewise and the other from Lowe’s.

Clean Up Debris. Fallen leaves, weeds, & other debris are great places for vermin and pests to hide out over the winter. If you have roses, be especially careful as their debris can create disease through the winter.

Lowe’s has a great tip on taking care of leaves by using a tarp. Raking the leaves onto the tarp and then either dragging the tarp to the road (if your municipality takes away the leaves) or make it easier to get into a lawn dumpster or leaf bags.

Take Care of the Vegetables. Once the final harvest is completed, pull all the old vegetable plants and put down your compost in preparation for the spring.

Cut Down Branches. Trim the trees around your property of dead limbs or branches that may break & fall onto your home during a snowfall. Lowe’s has a great primer on pruning trees & shrubs.

Mow One Last Time. It is recommended to set your mower deck to a low setting and basically buzz your lawn to help the dirt to dry out quickly when spring comes around. Lowe’s has an article on mowing the lawn correctly.

Clean the Deck. Power wash your deck to get rid of any mold or mildew that has built up. When the deck is clean & dry, stain and weatherproof your deck to protect it from moisture over the winter.

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Your Duties As An Insured

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Your Duties As An Insured

Your homeowners policy is essentially a contract between you and the insurance company. You promise to maintain your property & pay premiums on time and the insurance company will cover the sudden & accidental losses within the scope of the insurance policy at the agreed upon amounts & endorsements.

When it comes to a claim, you have responsibilities as well. Today we discussed these responsibilities as spelled out in a standard homeowners policy.

  • Give Prompt Notice. You are obligated to let your insurance company or insurance agent know as soon as possible that there is a claim.
  • Notify the Police. In case of a loss by theft, you need to call the police and make a report.
  • Notify the Bank. In case of a loss under the Credit Card or Fund Transfer Card coverage, you need to let the financial institution know of the loss.
  • Protect from Further Damage. In case of a loss you need to make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property from further damage and also keep an accurate record of these repair expenses.
  • Gather an Inventory. You need to put together an inventory of damaged personal property showing the quantity, description, actual cash value, and amount of the loss. You will also need to provide bills/receipts/documentation to justify the figures in the inventory.
  • Show the Damage & Provide Documentation. The company will reasonably require to see the actual damaged property and documentation relating to the loss. They will also require either a recorded statement or a signed statement from you regarding the loss which will include several items including the time and cause of the loss, other interests in the damaged property, potential other insurance that may cover the loss, etc.

In turn, the insurance company will settle losses as follows:

  • Personal property, awnings, carpeting, household appliances, outdoor antennas and outdoor equipment, whether or not attached to the buildings, and structures that are not buildings are settled at actual cash value at the time of loss but not more than the cost required to repair or replace.
  • Buildings under Coverage A or B at replacement cost without depreciation subject to the following: the insurance coverage on the damaged building is at least 80% of replacement cost prior to the loss. They will pay actual cash value first and once the repairs are complete the loss will be settled at replacement cost.
  • Loss to a pair or set will be settled at either the cost to repair/replace any part to restore the pair or the difference between actual cash value before and after the loss.
  • glass replacement will be settled on the basis of replacement with safety glazing materials when required by ordinance or law.

If you disagree with the appraisal of the loss by the insurance company, you may demand an independent appraisal of the loss. You will have to pay the cost of your own appraiser and share the cost of an umpire and other expenses.

Most insurance carriers require the settlement of the loss within one year of the date it was reported.

Here is a copy of the HO3 policy form for you to peruse…

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Power Outage Tips 2022

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Power Outage Tips 2022

Recently we had a windstorm that came through knocking out power to over 100,000 homes in the area and of course ours was one of them. When we lived in town we didn’t have to worry about downed power lines as the city buried the lines as a part of their new power grid initiative. Outside the city, however, downed power lines during severe windstorms have become more common. Luckily we haven’t gone more than 48hrs without power, but others have been less-fortunate.

This week we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips in case the power goes out where you live. We found this article from Reader’s Digest with some great tips to help you prepare:

  • Keep Warm. In case the power goes out during the winter, you need to save as much heat in your home as possible. Closing off rooms, putting blankets or plastic over doors & windows can help preserve the remaining heat in your home. DO NOT use gas ovens, grills, or heaters indoors as they give off toxic fumes that could be deadly.
  • Keep Cool. In case the power goes out during the summer, stay hydrated as it helps your body to cool off. Cover windows with curtains or blankets to keep out the sun and open windows that aren’t to allow for breeze to circulate. Put on a wet towel or bandanna & fan yourself with a magazine or your hand to cool off. Take a cold shower or bath & cook outside on a grill to prevent additional heat inside the home.
  • Save the Fridge. If you can, freeze bottles of water to have on hand in case the power goes out. A full freezer can last up to 48 hours before temperatures start to creep up. A refrigerator can usually last 4 hours or so. If the temperature in your fridge creeps up above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, it is best to throw out everything rather than risk illness.
  • Save The Pipes. If the power goes out in winter, the pipes in your home are vulnerable to freezing. Turn the cold water faucets on and allow them to drip in order to keep water flowing through the pipes. In extreme cases, you may need to shut off the main water valve and drain the pipes.
  • Unplug Electronics. When the power does come back on, there could be a surge of power that may damage electronics in your home. Unplug all unnecessary electronics in your home to help prevent potential damage when the power does come back on.

Check out this article for tips on what to have in a short-term and long-term power outage kit.

Be sure to read the full articles for more information on what to do when the power goes out in your home.

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Pool Closing Tips 2022

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Pool Closing Tips 2022

It’s the end of the season for pools here in the upper Midwest, the nights are getting colder, and the days are as well. In order to protect your summertime investment, you need to properly prepare your pool for winter. We found this article from International Pool & Spa Centers of Canada with a lot of great tips to help you winterize your pool:

  • Don’t Close Too Early. Algae has difficulty growing in temperatures below 64 degrees, so aim for a time when overnight temperatures are consistently below that. This will lessen the work & chemicals needed to open the pool again next summer.
  • Remove All Accessories. Pool toys, ladders or stairs, slides, everything that isn’t attached to the pool. Check the pool cover as well to make sure it is in good condition with no rips or holes, repair or replace as necessary.
  • Don’t Drain All the Water. To protect the structural integrity of the pool, don’t drain all the water. Most above ground pools are recommended to drain the water to below the output jet for the filter. Inground pools vary, consult your manual or local pool center for information.
  • Alternate Chemical Applications. Prior to closing your pool, it is recommended to add a winterizing pool shock and algaecide. It is best to add chlorine shock to the pool a few days before and then add the algaecide the day you put the cover on. Adding algaecide before the shock will render it useless.
  • Drain Pool Equipment. Draining the filter, pump, hoses, & other equipment will help prevent damage from freezing winter temperatures. If you are able to store items indoors during the winter, it would be best to do so.

Be sure to check out the full article from International Pool & Spa Centers of Canada for more tips on closing your pool for the season!

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Internet Security Tips 2022

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Internet Security Tips 2022

A client called to warn me not to deposit a check she had written for insurance. Her computer was hacked & the “tech support” person told her to go purchase 2 $500 Google Play cards and give him the codes to pay for restoring her computer. Luckily an employee at the store informed her she was being scammed. She had to get a whole new bank account & debit card. She said she would bring me cash as soon as she gets her new debit card. A couple of tips to remember:

– Don’t click on links sent to you via email unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate (as in the sender calls you and says the link is safe).

– Don’t fill out “Fun Facebook Surveys” that tell you what animal you are or how rich you will be. These “surveys” often contain common security questions used to recover account passwords that hackers in turn can use to change passwords & gain access to your account.

– Make sure your anti-virus & anti-malware are up to date. AVG and Malwarebytes are good products to look into.

– Be wary of “tech support” people who require gift cards as payment. No legitimate business accepts gift cards as payment for their services. Also be wary of those who require Western Union transfers or ask you to use the pay service Zelle.

– Download software from legitimate websites, there are plenty of good & legal free or low-cost software alternatives to paid programs like Adobe or Microsoft Word.

Check out this video from Kitboga on YouTube as he deals with a scammer similar to the one my client dealt with…

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