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Items filtered by date: October 2016
Monday, 31 October 2016 15:21

9 Halloween Safety Tips

9 Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is tonight and many consumers may not realize how scary this ghoulish night might really be for their personal safety, their property…or their pocketbooks. Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents can help families better prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark. To help families and businesses have a good time and protect themselves against more scary Halloween risks, we are offering the following safety tips:

  1. Prevent Accidents Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
  2. Fire Dangers Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed and use battery operated lights wherever possible. 
  3. Costume Safety Be careful with costumes. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Try to avoid masks that may obscure vision and try to use hypo-allergenic make-up instead. 
  4. See and Be Seen Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes. 
  5. Don’t be a Scary Driver Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
  6. Power in Numbers When walking, travel in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks—never between parked cars—and stay on well-lit streets. 
  7. Unwelcomed Guests Scare away potential property vandals who often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike by keeping outdoor lights on. 
  8. Pet Safety Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest dog or cat or other creatures. 
  9. Candy Inspection Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all children’s treats. Never eat unwrapped items, collect candy only from those you know and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy.
Published in Homeowners
Happy teen behind the wheel

Next time your teen groans at the thought of a weekend driving lesson, flash a smile and tell the young driver it won't be with you. Let them try a distracted driving simulator, a video-game like experience that creatively inspires teens to keep their eyes on the road.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Any activity that diverts a driver's attention from the road is distracting. For new, young drivers, these temptations seem like harmless, everyday tasks. From answering a phone call to adjusting the radio station, non-driving activities should be left until the car has come to a complete stop and is safely parked.

The United States government has created a website, Distraction.gov, to educate parents about the dangers of distracted driving with some eye-opening statistics. For example: "Ten percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted."

The site also explains it takes an average of five seconds for a driver to read and respond to a text message. In that short period of time a car traveling at 55mph can drive the length of a football field!

A study from the Pew Research Center titled "Teens and Distracted Driving: Texting, Talking and Other Uses of the Cell Phone Behind the Wheel" discovered that 75 percent of teenagers ages 12-17 own a cellphone, and 66 percent of them use the mobile device for texting. Of those teens who send text messages, one in three in the 16-17 year-old age bracket admits to texting while behind the wheel. Fifty-two percent say they chatted on the phone -- which also counts as distracted driving -- while operating a vehicle.

Making Auto Safety Exciting and Interactive

Toyota’s TeenDrive365 Safety Clinics are popping up across the nation (with events scheduled far into 2015) to help address these dangerous habits. The two-and-a-half hour class teaches road safety and automobile maintenance for both parents and teens -- because we can all use a little tune-up when it comes to driving safety.

The hottest feature of the clinic is the realistic driving simulator that allows teen drivers to find out what happens when they take their eyes off the road for even moment to respond to a text message or apply makeup. The simulator reinforces defensive driving techniques and how to use safety features in the car to make driving both enjoyable and safe.

Michael Rouse, vice president of diversity, philanthropy & community affairs for Toyota in North America and president of the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation, said in a recent press release, “At Toyota, we really believe that the most important safety feature in any car is an educated driver – whether you’re 16 or 60,. That’s why we’ve been committed to offering free education programs, like our Teen Driver Safety Clinics, that bring teens and parents together to learn about ways to be safer behind the wheel.”

The clinic is free and open to anyone who registers on the TeenDrive365 website.

Other Ways to Feel Secure When Your Teen's On the Road

It can be scary letting your teen get behind the wheel. The best way to ease this stress is to ask questions and be prepared.

  • Is your child covered as an additional driver on your auto insurance policy in the event of an accident?
  • If your teen hits another vehicle or someone's property, is it covered?
  • Does your child need special insurance coverage while driving a school-owned vehicle in a driver's education class?

If your teen is taking driving lessons using your vehicle, make safety for your child and others on the road your number one concern. Find out what type of policy and coverage you need by talking with one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice independent agents. They're happy to explain how to add a new family member to an existing policy, and when the time comes, secure their first automobile insurance coverage policy.

Published in Auto Insurance

Here is a piece by IIABA's Trusted Choice which give you concrete ways to prevent property crimes. 

 

Property Crime prevention

 

Are you unknowingly enticing potential thieves to damage your property or break into your home? While you want your home to be a welcoming environment for family and friends, you might be surprised how common habits might be inviting to criminals, too. According to the FBI, there were over nine million property crimes in the United States in 2010. This statistic includes vandalism, arson, larceny and theft. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for burglary and property damage with these easy-to-follow tips.

Make It a Point to Keep Everything Locked Up

While you probably lock your vehicle and the main points of entry into your home, you may overlook locking your fence gates, garage or garden shed from time to time. The San Jose Police Department strongly encourages homeowners and renters to lock all doors, windows, and any point of entry to their property to deter theft. An unlocked gate allows a thief access to your backyard, away from the view of your neighbors. Once inside your yard, a thief has more freedom to peer through windows and patio doors. Access to garages and garden sheds also gives a thief more tools to use to break into your home. For example, a ladder in your backyard could make it much easier for a criminal to enter your home from the second story—where windows are more likely to be unlocked. Tools such as drills, hammers, and crowbars are also kept in many sheds and garages and can be used to break windows and open doors. Even if a thief is unable to get into your home, your backyard likely has valuable items such as a barbeque grill or bicycle.

Be Careful with Your Trash

Even what you throw away for curbside pickup can make you a target for theft, says the Bristol Herald Courier of Virginia. Perhaps you took advantage of Black Friday deals after Thanksgiving and scored a great price on a large  flat-screen television. After unpacking a television, gaming console, or computer, many people leave the boxes at the curb for recycling or trash pickup. Unfortunately, most packaging for expensive electronics shows pictures, brand names and specifications of the products in plain view. Placing boxes at the curb makes your home a target for thieves looking for electronics to steal. When unpacking electronics, break down the boxes and packaging instead and place them in black trash bags.

Maintain Your Home's Lawn and Landscape

Did you know that your landscape might entice property thieves? According to a presentation by the City of Mesa, Arizona Police Department, the way in which your home is landscaped and maintained affects your risk for theft. For example, large, untrimmed shrubs and bushes can give criminals a place to hide—especially at night. Be sure to keep hedges and bushes cut back so that the majority of your yard can be easily seen from a number of vantage points. On the other hand, shrubs and bushes can deter theft as well. Thieves are less likely to attempt to break into windows with landscaping underneath. Small bushes can provide an obstruction to otherwise easily accessible windows.

Light Up Your Property

Dark properties are alluring to those with malicious intent. Hiding under the cloak of darkness makes sneaking around someone's home much easier. The San Jose Police Department recommends keeping your home's exterior well illuminated with motion sensor lighting. This type of lighting can be found in hardware stores throughout the country. Because the lights are activated by movement, you don't have to worry about lights staying on night and day. If you choose to install motion sensor lights, make sure they illuminate your backyard, the sides of your property, and driveways or pathways. When installing this type of lighting, the higher the light is mounted the better, so that criminals cannot reach the bulbs to unscrew them.

Consider Using a Security Alarm

Security systems come with a variety of features to suit almost any budget. From basic systems that sound off loud alerts when an armed point of entry or window is breached to high-tech systems that allow for surveillance from a tablet or smart phone, there is likely a system that offers the best features  for your needs. Not only is the loud sound of a security alarm a major deterrent, many systems alert your local police department that your security has been compromised in some way. Furthermore, signage such as picket signs and window or door decals from your security system company can deter criminals as well. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies offer discounts for homes armed with security systems. Talk to your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent regarding home security discounts.

One of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker's Trusted Choice agents can make sure you have the best policy to protect your property, and even provide you with more helpful tips for preventing theft and vandalism.

Published in Homeowners

Here's are important tips to get your fireplace ready for the winter season from our friends at Trusted Choice

 

fireplace

Once the sun sets this time of the year, you feel the cool air creep in. It’s those crisp, cool evenings that often give homeowners the itch to start a fire in the fireplace and curl up on the couch. Before you have your first fire of the season, take these safety steps to ensure a relaxing, cozy night doesn’t turn into a stressful situation.

  1. Hire a professional to clean and inspect your chimney. In addition to creosote build-up, therecan be other issues such as leaves or birds’ nests that pose a problem. The chimney structure and liner should also be looked over carefully for any signs of deterioration.
  2. Stock up on seasoned hardwood. Ideally, you want wood that has been split and stacked for at least 6 months. Not only will you get more heat out of this type of wood, but it leaves less creosote behind, reducing the main risk factor for a chimney fire.
  3. Have the right supplies. Use kindling instead of a flammable lighter fluid, and build the fire on a metal grate. Use a metal screen or glass doors to keep sparks from flying out of the fireplace. Store matches and lighters up high.
  4. Move items near the fireplace. Over the summer, the hearth might become a place to store any number of items, including magazines, books, pillows, and toys. Make sure all items are moved a good distance from the fireplace.
  5. Educate children about fireplace safety. Make sure they know to stay away from the fire and never play with matches or a lighter.

There’s nothing better than the first fire of the season. Gazing into the flames and hearing the wood crackle is the perfect way to end a long day. Before you use your fireplace this fall, follow these steps to ensure a safe experience.

Published in Homeowners
Sunday, 16 October 2016 20:30

Preventing Home Fires - Heating Safety Tips

The National Fire Protection Association has these important tips as the weather gets colder, Make sure your fireplace and heating equipment are in top condition!

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

Click here for more - Heating Safety Tips

Published in Homeowners

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