Ice Dam Tips

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Ice Dam Tips

Ice dams are becoming a menace in the midwest with the fluctuating temperatures. A cycle of melting snow during the daytime and refreezing at night can cause ice build-up that will eventually find its way inside your home. This article from Money Crashers has tips on preventing ice dams and what to do when one occurs on your roof.

  • Rake It. Using a roof rake to remove snow right away while it is still fluffy is much easier than when the snow has become wet or hard from compacting. Snow rakes can be had for anywhere from $30 to $80.
  • Heat Cables. Most home improvement stores offer DIY kits with electrically-heated cables to run along your roof’s edge to melt snow before ice can form. Costs can vary depending on the size & length of your roof.
  • Add Insulation. Improving the insulation in your attic can help prevent ice dams from occurring. Plug gaps and find other areas where warm air is leaking into the attic. Just adding more insulation does not help plug gaps or leaks.
  • Chip It. If you have an ice dam already, don’t go whacking away with a claw hammer or hatchet. An ice pick or rubber mallet can help break up the ice and prevent damage to your shingles.
  • Puck It. There are commercially-available de-icers out there, puck-shaped chemicals you can throw onto the ice dams to help melt or create channels in the ice dams. Read the labels as some products could discolor shingles or damage sensitive shrubs or plants.
  • Sock It. Filling socks or nylon stockings with calcium carbonate and laying them perpendicular to your roof can create channels for melted snow to runoff your roof. Again, be wary of plants as calcium carbonate could damage more sensitive plants & shrubs.

Be sure to check out the full article from Money Crashers with more tips on preventing & dealing with ice dams.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Warmth During a Power Outage

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Warmth During a Power Outage

Much of the country experienced a wave of severe cold weather this week, especially in areas that don’t usually see temperatures below 40 degrees. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, & other usually warms states have seen temperatures in the teens as well as ice & snow. This has affected power grids for these states leaving many without power, water, & heat. We found this article from Prepper’s Will with tips on how to stay warm during a power outage:

  • Check Your Efficiency. Have someone come in to do an examination of your home to point out weak spots as far as losing heat in the home. Many natural gas & electric companies offer services like this to help their clients save money on their natural gas and electric bills. Use the information to properly seal your home and provide more barriers to keep heat inside your home.
  • Purchase a Generator. Depending on your needs, a small generator could be enough to run your stove, refrigerator, and other key electrical appliances. Be sure to keep the generator away from all doors & windows or other areas where the generator exhaust could creep in. People die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning because of improperly using a portable generator or using their vehicles in enclosed spaces to keep warm.
  • Consider a Grill. A propane or charcoal grill will cook food/soups, as well as boil water for drinking & bathing. Do not use the grill in an enclosed space or close to your home.
  • Conserve Existing Heat. Use sheets/blankets/towels to trap warm air in occupied areas and prevent cold air from entering. Use blankets/towels/rugs to insulate the floor of the room/area you are occupying.
  • Basements Could Help. Basements can be easily heated and are naturally insulated by the ground around each wall. Average temperatures in basements are between 50-60 degrees and the enclosed space is easier to heat.

Be sure to read the full article from Prepper’s Will with more tips on keeping warm during a power outage as well as other tips for survival.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Carbon Monoxide Safety

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Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills over 400 people each year with the majority of the deaths happening in December, January, & February. We found this article from the National Safety Council with the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and safety tips on how to protect you and your family:

Mild symptoms can include headache/fatigue/nausea/dizziness and are often mistaken as the flu.

Severe symptoms can include vomiting/mental confusion/loss of coordination and also death.

If you feel you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately – don’t shrug it off.

-Purchase a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and place them in the hallway near your sleeping areas and near fireplaces/furnaces. Be sure to check the batteries at the same time you check your smoke alarms (twice a year).

  • Have your gas/coal-burning appliances checked out once a year by a qualified repair person.
  • Avoid using flameless portable heaters indoors
  • Keep generators outside and at least 20 feet from any window, door, and vent.

The winter months are the most dangerous for carbon monoxide because of a closed-in environment and reliance on gas furnaces/wood or coal-burning stoves to heat our homes. Be sure to read the full article from the NSC for more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Frozen Pipe Tips

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Frozen Pipes Tips

According to Punxatawny Phil we are going to see another 6 weeks of winter. I received a warning on my phone this afternoon that a “Winter Weather Warning” is in effect until 7pm tomorrow night. Freezing temperatures, 6-8 inches of blowing snow, & recommendations to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary. With this warning of freezing temperatures, I can’t help to think about frozen pipes. This article from the Red Cross offers tips on how to prevent frozen pipes and how to properly thaw them to avoid broken pipes and water damage.

  • Drain water from swimming pool & water sprinkler supply lines by following the manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not use anti-freeze unless directed to do so.
  • Remove/drain outdoor hoses and store indoors. Shut off valves to outside faucets and leave faucets open to allow for remaining water to expand and avoid pipes to burst.
  • Add insulation to attics/basements/crawlspaces to maintain temperatures in those areas.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to circulate around pipes to help prevent freezing. Leave faucets to drip overnight to help keep water flowing through pipes.
  • Keep your thermostat at a constant temperature during day & night, this may result in a higher heating bill but can help to prevent frozen & burst pipes which may be more costly.

Be sure to read the full article from the Red Cross with more tips on how to prevent frozen pipes and how to thaw them properly.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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New Puppy Tips

(Meet Bailey Jo, our new puppy!)

New Puppy Tips

Pets are great additions to your life. They have been found to help with anxiety, mood, depression, & general overall health. But there is work involved when you decide to add a new puppy to your household. We found these tips from the American Kennel Club to help your new puppy adjust to its new home:

  • Potty, Potty. Take your new puppy to the area in your yard that has been designated as the “potty spot”. When they relieve themselves in the right spot, use phrases like “go potty” or similar to get the puppy to equate the phrase with going outside for potty time. Praise the puppy when they go where they are supposed to in order to positively reinforce their behavior.
  • Chew Properly. Puppies like to chew and gnaw on just about anything, you need to provide the proper toys for them. The article has great suggestions for safe chew toys and how to live with a chewing puppy.
  • Keep An Eye Out. You should be keeping tabs on your new puppy, keeping them within your field of vision at all times. Take them with you from room to room so they can explore the spaces under your supervision.
  • Slow Down. Take your time introducing your new puppy to its surroundings, give them lots of love & praise as well as correction for unacceptable behavior.

Puppies are great companions and will give you as much (or more) love that you give them. Be sure to read the full article from the American Kennel Club with more tips on helping your new puppy adjust to their new surroundings.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

Distracted Driving Prevention Tips

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Distracted Driving Prevention Tips

Distracted driving has become a huge issue across the country and the world. 80% of car accidents today are caused by some form of driver distraction. 58% of these crashes are committed by teen drivers. Couple that with on average 9 people a day die as the result of an accident involving a distracted driver and you have a serious issue.

We found this article from the Shepard Center with tips on how to avoid or prevent distracted driving from occurring when you are behind the wheel:

1 – Put That Phone AWAY! Putting your phone on vibrate or locking it in the glove box or center console while you are driving will reduce your urge to check emails or texts.

2 – Watch Out! Don’t multi-task while driving. Focus on one thing and that is driving!

3 – Make a Plan. Set up your music, make those last texts or phone calls before you even put the key in the ignition. If using the GPS function on your phone, get a voice-command version. If using a map application, PULL OVER!

4 – Buckle Up! This goes without saying, but we have to say it – when you get into a vehicle whether a passenger or driver, buckle your seatbelt!

We’ve only shared a few tips, make sure you read the full article from the Shepard Center with more tips on preventing distracted driving!

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Winter Driving for Seniors 2021

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Winter Driving for Seniors 2021

Winter weather is coming to Michigan according to the local weatherpersons. With COVID-19 necessitating social distancing practices, I can only assume many Senior persons are having to drive themselves to appointments this time of year rather than relying on neighbors & public transportation.

We found this article from McCann & Wall with tips on how to drive safely this winter if you are or know a senior:

Health Concerns – getting older means many functions of your body are slowing down or beginning to develop issues. If you are over the age of 65, you should get an eye test each year to make sure that you are able to see your surroundings clearly.

Vehicle Maintenance – Make sure your vehicle is in good running condition for the weather. Check your battery, brakes, tires, & other important systems to be sure they are safe for driving.

Preparing Your Vehicle – Start your vehicle and let it warm up a little and allow the front/rear defrosters do most of the work. Use long-handled scrapers & shovels to cut down on injuries.

Driving in the Snow – Check the weather report before you head out, if the conditions don’t feel right to you then don’t go out. Add additional stopping time because of slippery roads & intersections.

Be sure to check out the full article from McCann & Wall with tips on how to drive safely this winter if you are or know a senior!

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Renters Insurance 2021

Renters Insurance 2021

An apartment building within 45 minutes of our office went up in flames displacing 11 renters and their families. Thankfully all are accounted for, sadly according to the article none of the residents had renters insurance and have lost everything to the fire.

For roughly the cost of a pizza and 12 pack of soda a month, these residents could have had coverage to replace what they had lost in the fire. You may think that you don’t need renters insurance, but it’s a bargain for the coverage benefits.

Renters insurance boils down to a handful of coverage that a renter would need:

  • Personal Property covers everything you move into the rented space. Your clothes, furniture, electronics, dishes, etc. would be replaced in case of a covered loss. Most insurance carriers offer a minimum of $15,000 in coverage with Replacement Cost (new for old).
  • Loss of Use covers temporary accomodations needed due to the rented space being uninhabitable in case of a covered loss. The coverage is usually 20% of the Personal Property coverage amount.
  • Personal Liability covers incidents where the renter is found liable for damage to another person or to others’ property. Most insurance carriers offer a minimum of $25,000 in coverage but we recommend a minimum of $100,000.

For the unfortunate tenants in the article they would have had coverage to get a hotel room until other arrangements could be made (Loss of Use), received funds to begin replacing their belongings (Personal Property), & for the tenant that started the fire on their stove coverage for the potential lawsuits brought on by the building owner and the other tenants (Personal Liability) if they had only purchased a renters policy.

Renters insurance is often inexpensive ($150-$175 in the West Michigan area) and provides a lot of coverage for the price.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Snow Removal Safety Tips 2020

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Snow Removal Safety Tips 2020

Snow has been dumping on the East coast for the past few days with upwards of 4 feet of snow being reported. Here in West Michigan we are beginning to see a few flakes. With snow on the way, it’s important to be safe when clearing your driveway and sidewalks. Here’s an article from Replacement Commercial Parts Warehouse with a lot of good information on being safe while removing snow:

  • Check with the Doc. Whether you use a snowthrower or a snow shovel, snow removal is a physically demanding task that puts quite a load on your heart. Check with your doctor to make sure you are up to removing snow. This is especially important in the current pandemic climate.
  • Start ASAP. Clearing snow early and frequently will result in moving lighter coverings of snow rather than waiting to dense/packed snow later.
  • Keep the Pace. Take as many breaks as needed to avoid dehydration and exhaustion. If you experience any sort of respiratory distress or chest pain, stop and seek medical attention.
  • Use the Right Equipment. If possible, use ergonomical snow shovels, or at the very least a snow shovel that fits your height & ability. Using a heavy or unwieldy shovel can cause physical distress.
  • Clear the Way. Make sure all objects are removed from the area you are going to remove snow. Dog chains, sleds, doormats, newspapers, any debris could cause damage to yourself and your snow thrower.

Be sure to check out the article from Replacement Commercial Parts Warehouse for more tips on using your snow thrower and snow plow safely to remove snow from your property!

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips

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Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips

My wife is a “professional” gift-wrapper. She used to work for JC Penney in their catalog department, and one of the tasks in the department was gift-wrapping. This time of year was busy for them and she learned quickly how to wrap gifts efficiently and beautifully. I enjoy wrapping gifts but fail miserably unless they are in a box or can fit into a bag with tissue paper!

We found this article from Real Simple with tips on making your gift wrapping “pop” this holiday season!:

  • Get Your Materials. You’ll need a flat work surface (kitchen table), paper, scissors, tape, & other items. Better to have everything you need before you sit down than have to rush around trying to find them.
  • Measure & Cut the Right Amount. It’s easy to over-measure when “eyeballing” how much paper you need. See the article for tips on measuring the correct amount.
  • Make a Clean Edge. Fold over the last 1/4 inch of paper before taping it to the opposite side. This makes for a clean seam or edge. If you cut the paper jaggedly, this will help hide the massacre.
  • Fold the Ends. Follow the directions on the article on how to have clean & tight ends to your wrapping.

Be sure to read the entire article from Real Simple for more tips and to read the step-by-step instructions for wrapping your gifts!

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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