Archive for June, 2016

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks Safety


For most of us, the Fourth of July is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, having fun and creating memories – whether at home or away.

But for some families, the holiday is a nightmare. Homes each year in Michigan are damaged by wayward fireworks. Thousands of people are injured in accidents.

At Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we want your holiday to be happy, but also safe. So here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your property on the Fourth.

Protecting yourself (and others)
– To minimize the risk of injury, don’t use consumer fireworks. Attend a public display conducted by professionals in your town or elsewhere.
– If using consumer fireworks, always follow instructions. Do not attempt to re-light “duds” or create homemade fireworks.
– Never let children handle or light fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees, can cause third-degree burns. Kids under the age of 15 account for approximately 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
– A responsible adult should always be present when children – even teenagers – are around fireworks. More than half of fireworks injuries happen to those younger than 20 years old.

Protecting your home
– According to the National Fire Protection Association, the best way to protect your home is to not use fireworks at home.
– Remember, fireworks can cause grass fires and other types of blazes as well. Make sure you light fireworks in a safe area, away from homes and buildings, as well as other combustible material. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
– Look out for tree limbs or bushes that could catch fire. Trimming vegetation to keep it away from your home is a good idea anyway, but it could save you from a catastrophic fire on the Fourth of July.
– If your gutters have accumulated leaves, pine needles or other flammable material, clean them before using fireworks near your home.
– Finally, if you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks.

With some common sense and planning, the Fourth of July can be both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Whether you’re staying at home or heading out of town, we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating our independence!

If you’re in need of an insurance quote and live in Michigan, give Marsilje & Vander Plow a call today – 616-396-1497.


*Content provided by Safeco Insurance Company

Categories: Uncategorized

Boating Season

Boating Season


Nothing beats a weekend on the water. Wind in your hair, sun on your face and that hum of your boat gliding through the water. Whether you love fishing, skiing or just cruising around the lake, it’s important to keep your boat in good running order to avoid unwanted issues out on that beautiful water. Part of that is making sure you thoroughly inspect your vessel in the spring to get it ready for the season. Here’s just a few tips that could help you get your boat water-ready this spring:

  • Don’t forget to top off lead acid batteries with distilled water (if applicable).
  • Test running lights and replace bulbs if necessary.
  • Open and close seacocks. They should move freely. Check all through hull fittings for looseness, deterioration, or aging sealant.
  • Hoses for seacocks should be double clamped using stainless steel hose clamps with no signs of rust. Hoses should be flexible and show no signs of brittleness or cracking. Replace if needed.
  • If the drain plug has been removed, make sure it is back in place prior to launching.
  • Test high water alarms and bilge pumps.
  • Inspect prop(s) for signs of wear, pitting, or bending. Check to make sure the propeller shaft is straight by turning the propeller by hand. If you notice any wobbles, check with a marine mechanic (repair shop, etc.) to see if this needs to be repaired or replaced. On outboards and stern drives remove the propeller to check for fishing line that may have become wrapped around the propeller shaft.
  • Check anodes on prop shaft and trim tabs. Replace if they are more than half-way deteriorated.
  • Check all outdrive bellows for cracking or tearing. Pay particular attention to the small shift cable bellows.
  • Check lower end lubricant. Most manufacturers recommend changing this every year. If this lubricant is white, it indicates water intrusion and probably a bad seal.
  • Check fuel hoses. These should not have any cracks, bulges, or soft spots.
  • Inspect clamps on all hoses (fuel system, cooling system, etc.) If any show signs of rust or corrosion, replace them.
  • Check fluid levels (engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant)
  • On inboard and stern drive engines, inspect the exhaust manifolds for any rust or seepage around the exhaust risers. If any seepage is apparent they should be inspected by a marine service facility.
  • Inspect raw-water impellers. Replace the impeller annually.
  •  Make sure that the proper number of life jackets are on board according to your state guidelines.

For the most detailed instructions on care for your boat, please refer to the manual provided by the manufacturer. And remember, A couple hours before your summer launch could save you huge headaches later. After researching this topic, we picked up a couple of our own tips. A lot of boat owners say to have extra plugs on hand, just in case. Also, brushing up on a boater’s safety class is always a good idea and if you have a Foremost policy, you may be eligible for a discount.

Do you live in Michigan and are in need of a hometown insurance agent? Give Marsilje & Vander Plow a call at (800) 968-1497 today!


Content provided by Foremost Insurance Group

Categories: Uncategorized

Camping & Gadgets

Camping & Gadgets


First things first: Do you really need to bring your tablet or laptop on your camping trip? Are you really going to watch a movie instead of looking at the stars? Check your email instead of roasting marshmallows? Work instead of play?

Well, OK. We can’t stop you. But we can help you keep your devices safe at the campground, if you ever tear yourself away from them long enough to take a hike, that is.

Here are five preventive measures you can take to help protect your stuff from theft or damage:

– Make a list, and check it. “Pack it in, pack it out” usually refers to garbage, not electronics, but keeping an inventory of everything you brought will help ensure everything also makes it back home.

– If you’re going out, lock up your stuff. The best place to put things is in your car if it’s nearby — it’s a lot more secure than your tent. Keep valuable items out of plain view, wherever they are.

– Create a ‘neighborhood watch.’ Getting to know the people at nearby campsites can build more than friendships — it also can increase safety. Offer to watch their site while they take off for a while, and have them do the same for you.

– Don’t forget the animals. No, they aren’t after your iPad. But, a bear rummaging for food isn’t exactly going to tiptoe around just to spare your expensive devices. So, don’t attract critters. Clean up your site regularly, and never leave out food or garbage.

– Ask around about security. If there’s campground staff around, or campers who have been on site for longer than you, ask them how secure things are. Have there been any thefts? Are unfamiliar people wandering around? You’ll want to secure your items no matter what, obviously, but it’s always good to know if there are specific safety threats.

Of course, certain electronics, such as GPS devices and phones, can provide important safety functions for campers. And, we know not everyone wants to completely disconnect.

So, whatever your stance on bringing technology to the great outdoors, we here at Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance encourage you to keep your campsite safe to make everyone’s stay more enjoyable.

Do you live in Michigan and are in need of a hometown insurance agent? Give Marsilje & Vander Plow a call at (800) 968-1497 today!


Content provided by Safeco Insurance Company

Categories: Uncategorized

Fire Pit Safety

Fire Pit Safety


It’s a great feeling to hang out with friends and family around a blazing fire in your backyard in Michigan — unless, of course, that fire blazes a little too much.

While a fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your home, all fires are potentially dangerous. So before you sit down with some marshmallows to roast, we here at Marsilje & Vander Plow have gathered up some tips to help you keep that fire in the pit (and away from everything else).

Are you legal?
Before building or buying a fire pit, check the regulations in your area to learn about restrictions. Your fire pit may be legal, but a fire might not always be. Monitor and follow community burn bans. Be respectful. Nothing can extinguish the good vibes of a nice fire more quickly than police complaints from smoked-out neighbors.

What kind of pit do you want?
You can buy a fire pit or build one. If you choose the latter, there are plenty of resources online to help you design it. Don’t dig a hole just anywhere and throw some rocks down. Put some thought into it and you’ll have a better — and safer — spot to enjoy.
If you want convenience, a propane model might be right for you. They produce less smoke and have an adjustable flame.

Ready to build your fire?
Actually, you probably aren’t ready yet. First, ensure the area under and around the fire pit is clear of flammable materials. Keep the pit itself at least 10 feet from any structures.
Before you start the fire, have a fire extinguisher or a garden hose handy.

Okay, now are you ready to build your fire?
Choose hard, seasoned woods. Sparks from softer woods like cedar can increase the danger of igniting something nearby. Don’t use liquid fuels, even lighter fluid, to get your fire going. And don’t burn paper, cardboard, leaves, garbage, etc. If you have a metal fire pit, don’t overload it and always use the included safety screen.

Is the fire out?
When you’re done, spread out the ashes and let them cool off for a bit. Then gently pour water or sand over them. Stick around for a little while to watch for flare-ups.

We want you to have plenty of nice, warm nights — without getting burned. Here’s to making memories around the fire!

Live in Michigan and in need of a hometown insurance agent? Give Marsilje & Vander Plow a call today, (800) 968-1497!


This article provided courtesy of Safeco Insurance.

Categories: Uncategorized

Motorcycle Considerations

Motorcycle Considerations


As summer approaches, you probably notice something in addition to the warmer weather and blooming flowers: more motorcycles on the roads of Michigan.

Riding looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Just imagine heading down the highway with the sun shining and the road stretching out to the horizon. There are other benefits motorcycle riders enjoy as well, such as lower fuel costs and easier parking; but riding a motorcycle safely requires different skills than driving a car.

If you’re thinking that this is the year you’re going to buy your very own bike, let us at Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance help you determine if a motorcycle is right for you. We’ve provided some questions below that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends you honestly answer before becoming a bike owner.

Are you a risk-taker? Or are you safety-minded?
Think about how you drive your car. If you have aggressive tendencies or do things like talk on your phone while driving, a motorcycle probably isn’t for you. Motorcycles lack the protection that cars can provide in an accident, so driver focus and caution are extremely important.

How is your vision? What about your balance and coordination?
It’s extremely important that you see well – peripherally and in general – when riding a motorcycle. Motorcycles are not as visible as other vehicles on the road, so riders need to be alert and aware at all times. And, of course, riding requires balance and coordination, much like a bicycle. If you’re not great on non-motorized two-wheelers, you might want to think again about motorcycling.

Do you respect dangerous machinery?
When you use a chainsaw or other equipment that can cause harm, do you always follow the instructions and wear the proper safety gear? If not, a motorcycle probably isn’t right for you. Maintenance and protective equipment is vital to riding safely. What you might be able to get away with when driving a car or using power tools could lead to a tragic outcome on a motorcycle.

Are you willing to invest in riding safely?
The best way to stay safe on a motorcycle is to invest some time before you get on the bike. Take a safety course and learn how to ride the right way. Purchase the right gear, including approved helmets and padded clothing. And learn about properly maintaining your motorcycle.

If you’re prepared and commit to safe riding, motorcycling can be a great way to get around. The freedom you’ll feel on the road is different than driving any car, which is just one reason millions of people find riding to be incredibly rewarding.

And when you’re ready, we are too! Feel free to give us a call at (800) 968-1497 to discuss your motorcycle insurance options as well as safety tips!

Motorcycle safety resources

There’s a lot of great information out there about safe riding. We’ve just scratched the surface. To read more, check out:

Motorcycle Safety Foundation:

Safeco’s Insurance motorcycle page:


Content provided by Safeco Insurance Company

Categories: Uncategorized