Has your child recently gone off to school?
Here are a few ways to make the transition a little easier:
Regularly being able to see each other when you talk on the phone can be comforting for both of you. Use Skype or another tool, such as FaceTime, moderately for your catch up conversations.
Prepare her or him with housework and other basic life skills.
Does your child know how to grocery shop and operate a washer and dryer? Simple skills like these make a big difference away from home!
Encourage him or her to get out there and establish a new routine.
Meeting new people, trying new activities, and establishing a daily routine can create a sense of normalcy while providing enough stimulation for your child to feel like he or she is embracing the college experience!
In many cases, Mom and Dad's homeowner's insurance policy extends coverage.
Except when it doesn't.
So the answer is: Yes. No. Maybe.
There is a provision in many homeowners policies that will cover parent's college students when they are "off-premises." That can include college too. Sometimes.
Here's why you need to make sure that you talk with your local insurance agent before your kid heads off to school:
ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR AGENT.
I know that agents always say this. "Check with your agent, blah blah blah."
But really- check with your agent before sending your kid (and their stuff) off to college.
Your kid might need renters insurance. Better to find out now... not after a denied claim.
Getting ready to barbecue, grill out, or cook out. Whatever you call it, we're all going to do it this weekend! So let's barbecue brilliantly and safely.
Safety First - Think Fire & Food
You have to fire up the grill before anything else happens. Now I know most of you are using propane. And that's fine. The rest of you die hard purists are cooking over charcoal or wood. These safety rules apply to all of you. I could add more, but let's do a Top 5:
Here are three simple food safety rules:
And here's the bonus tip: don't leave the leftovers out for more than two hours. Put the leftovers in the fridge before they go bad.
Grill On, Have Fun and Stay Safe.
We are pretty safe in America when it comes to kids and buses. But let's work to keep it that way. Practice these 5 safety tips with your kids:
Mom and Dad- you can practice this by role playing with your child, and visiting the bus stop with them at least once to make sure they are alert and following safety rules.
Read more about school bus safety here, here, and here.
photo by julie corsi on flickr, cc licensed
Your kid is back at college. You assume that they are covered under your homeowners policy. But you may be wrong. They may not be fully covered.
Three questions that you should ask yourself:
Call your local insurance agent and ask for a review of your homeowners policy. You may find out that your son or daughter is adequately protected at college. Great!
But you may find out that there are gaps in their coverage- gaps easily fixed.
This is a great time of year for an insurance review. Call today to set up a time for one.
It's summer. And it's time to remember how hot it really gets.
"Running errands" is an American Tradition. A dog is an American Companion. And using lip balm is an American Habit.
So let's see if we can tie them together and possibly save a life.
Many pet owners take their dogs with them to run errands. And for many, leaving their best friend home alone seems so sad. So they take their pet with them.
That's totally understandable.
But now that temperatures outside the car can get to 80 or more degrees, we all need a reminder that inside a car it can easily get to 110 degrees or more on a sunny day.
Parking lots are the worst. There is generally no shade, and the blacktop and other nearby cars create ovens where the temperatures can soar like crazy.
Even though many states have laws about leaving pets in parked cars, and even though most pet owners are responsible and love their best friends... it's easy to forget.
A dog can die of heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes in a hot car.
They can't sweat, and panting (their "air conditioner") can only do so much. Temperatures rise more quickly inside a parked car than many people think. Plus, owners can get distracted, or an emergency can happen that prevents the owner from getting back to the car in the few minutes they planned to be gone.
Here's a simple tip:
If you are going to bring your dog along for the ride, and you need to "run a quick errand," and you're thinking of leaving them alone in the car for "just a few minutes;" (bad idea, but we know good people are tempted) do this:
Put your lip balm in the dash of your car.
If that scares you ("what if it melts and ruins my dashboard?")... then maybe it's too hot to leave your best friend in the car with a fur coat on.
You wouldn't leave your Burt's Bees®, Carmex® or ChapStick® in your car on a sunny day... so don't leave your dog or other pet in there either.
We know you love your pet, and we know that you'd never want them to suffer.
So think melting lip balm the next time you are tempted to leave your pet in the car on a summer day.
Share this memory aid and post with a friend. It may save a pet's life. Thanks.
photo by emdot on flickr, cc licensed
Mowing the lawn is a joy for some, and a chore for others.
It's summer, and one of the homeowner rituals is to become The Lawn Ranger every weekend. Are you practicing safe habits each and every lawn mowing?
Lawn mowers are powerful machines.
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, 74,000 Americans are injured each year by lawn and riding mowers. They compare the force of the blades to that of a handgun, and they say that a mower can throw objects at up to 100 mph.
Let's see how safe you are with a lawn mower, then share the results with your friends.
Notice the emphasis on the word "ALWAYS."
Now add up the number of "yeses." What's your score? Can you improve?
Enjoy your freshly mowed yard this summer. And stay safe.
photo by Phil Roeder on flickr, cc licensed
Signs of dehydration:
1. You have dry skin.
Also known as dehydrated skin, dry skin can be a sign of overall dehydration. A good test to see whether you have dehydrated skin to to pinch the back of your hand - if skin doesn't settle right back down, you may be dehydrated.
2. You feel lethargic.
Dehydration lowers physical stamina levels, making you feel fatigued. The next time you feel this way, try drinking some water.
3. You're always hungry.
A lack of water sometimes manifests itself as a feeling of hunger, even when you know you've had enough to eat. Drinking water gradually throughout the day can help you feel less hungry.
Don't you just hate construction zones?
We all do. And many of us are tempted to unconsciously express our frustration by driving more aggressively instead of more carefully.
The statistics bear this out. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were over 67,000 work zone related traffic accidents in 2013.
And we can't blame those accidents on not seeing well at night. Nope. The majority of accidents occurred during the day, and involved hitting objects (not other cars).
Finally, even though we are forced to drive more slowly, over 500 motorists per year still die in roadway construction zones. So driving safely in these annoying stretches of road is literally a matter of life and death.
10 Steps to Staying Alive in Work Zones
These tips came from the U.S. Dept of Transportation. Download their excellent brochure, Work Zone Safety for Drivers.
photo by mitchell haindfield on flickr, cc licensed
"Mom, the car's overheating! What should I do?"
Here are some simple tips. Consider printing them out and taping them to the inside of your glove box. It may help avoid a panicked phone call, and it may save your vehicle.
Ask your local insurance agent about Roadside Assistance coverage. It's affordable, and a great peace of mind for you, and also for new drivers in the family.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr, CC licensed.
Planning a road trip can be daunting, especially when you throw little people in the mix. Here are a few ideas to try on your next adventure.
There's no way to kick boredom like some good finger food. Try to pack non-sticky, non-crumby foods like cheese sticks, dry cereal, apple slices, etc. For sippy cups, it's best to go simple and stay with water. There's nothing worse than finding a cup under the seat with fermented juice or milk, threatening to explode.
The dollar store is a treasure trove of new toys that are sure to keep interest for at least a little while. Stash some old, loved favorites in a bag, along with a handful of exciting new surprises. You can pull one out every 10 miles or so to keep those little hands occupied.
3. Audio Books and Music
This is the ultimate lifesaver during hours of traveling. Pack up familiar CDs from your collection, or take advantage of the local library. They have a huge selection of stories and songs. Make sure to grab some fun boogie tunes, and don't forget the lullabies. Napping toddlers make travel time fly!
Photo by Donnie Ray Jones on Flickr. CC licensed.
Are you covered?
As a renter, you may assume that your landlord's insurance will cover damage that occurs to your own possessions if tragedy strikes your home. Unfortunately, that's not the case!
You need renters insurance.
To be sure that your belongings are protected, contact your insurance agent to see what policy would fit your needs.
Renters insurance will cover damage that happens due to hurricanes, tornadoes, fire, lightning, theft, etc. It will save the day when your neighbor's kid floods the tub, causing a waterfall to cascade through your ceiling.
It will not cover damage from earthquakes or floods, so you may want to look into additional coverage if you live in an area where these are a possibility.
You should ask your insurance agent about adding a floater or endorsement to your renters policy if you own extra expensive items, such as jewelry, musical instruments, sports equipment, etc.
Make sure you are ready for those unexpected surprises, and contact your insurance agent soon!
Here are the ABCs of preventing sunburn:
A - AWAY
Stay away from the bright rays of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
Why? because that's the time when UV rays (ultra violet rays) are at their peak. What are ultra violet rays? They are one type of the many invisible rays that come from the sun, and they can cause skin cancer. That's the simple definition. If you like science stuff, it's an electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is shorter than visible light (that's why you can't see it), but longer than X-rays. It's enough to know that it's bad for you.
B - BLOCK
Block the sun with sunscreen. Lots of it. The Mayo Clinic and The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. We've seen other medical sites recommend as high an SPF as 45. (Be careful with young babies, especially 6 months or younger. Check with your pediatrician first.) Apply the sunscreen liberally before swimming and before using any insect repellent. And reapply it every two hours- or when it starts to wear off. Don't forget the hard to reach places either, like the back of your elbows, earlobes and my personal "I forgot" place- the back of your knees. Also make sure to get an SPF lip balm for high UV days; there's nothing more painful (and unsightly) than sunburned lips.
C - COVER
Cover up with clothing whenever you can. We know- you can't really do that all the time, especially at the beach. But at least think about a wide brimmed hat- you will still look great! And sunglasses (with UV protection of course)- sunglasses make anyone look cool. If you are wearing cover up clothing to block out harmful rays of the sun, remember that tightly woven clothing is better, and dark clothing too. All this clothing may stop a beautiful tan. But it might also just save your life (or your child's life) some day.
Know your UV Indexes.
Most weather apps have the forecast for today's UV Index.
Coffee Lovers, Rejoice!
Many of us love getting that caffeinated jolt of energy in the morning from a cup of joe, and for some of us it's more than just the energy. Coffee is a complex beverage, full of delightful and diverse flavor profiles that represent its origin and style of preparation. The numerous ways to make a good cup speak to the attachment we have as a culture to our morning ritual.
But is coffee actually good for us?
Rejoice, coffee lovers -- studies show some specific health benefits!
Here, we name just a few:
So go on, enjoy your coffee in the full knowledge that it's actually good for you. Your body will thank you for it!
Photo: Coffee at Pronto, courtesy Ruth Hartnup on Flickr. CC Licensed.
Our teens are at risk.
Our kids are dying out there on the road. Teens crash three times as often as drivers over the age of 20. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Seven teenagers die behind the wheel of a car every single day. That's some sobering news.
We can do something about it.
We can help save lives by talking with our teens about safe driving. There are dozens of safety tips we could talk about with them. The Centers for Disease Control lists eight "Danger Zones" on their excellent parent resource website. (You can visit it.) But I'm going to limit this article to just five simple rules:
1. Drive a safe car.
The car you drive can save your life.
I'll bet you didn't know that there is an organization that evaluates the safety of specific models of cars, vans, mini vans and SUVs each year. It's the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Not only do they compile an annual list of the safest vehicles to drive, but they also create a list each year of the safest used cars for teens to drive. Here's the 2014 list.
You'll notice that there is a "Best Choices" category, but that can get expensive. After all, many of us can't afford to shell out $20,000 or more for our kid's first car. Fortunately, the IIHS also includes a list of "Good Choices," all for under $10,000. Just keep scrolling down the list until you find that category.
Even if you and your teen can't afford any of the vehicles on those lists, there are three additional choices that everyone can make, regardless of budget:
Finally, find out what that vehicle costs to insure. Insurance companies understand safety too. Often, the car insurance rates reflect safety. Safer cars usually mean lower insurance premiums.
2. Slow down.
Speed kills. It's just that simple.
In over 800 vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers, 21% of the accidents involved teens going too fast. That's according to a study in the academic journal Accident Analysis and Prevention. You can be the best driver in the world, but it's still harder to recover from an unexpected bump in the road or an unfamiliar curve when your car is going faster. It's no insult to your teenager's ability to drive. It's just simple physics.
3. Pay attention.
Hang up and drive.
We all know that texting while driving kills people. Plus it's illegal in most states. But texting is not the only thing that kills our kids. It's talking on their cell phone. Or laughing and talking with their friends- especially when their friends are in the backseat. Even seemingly safe activities may not be safe while driving. A burger and fries aren't safe at 65 miles per hour if you spill ketchup on your pants and look down to see the stain.
Anything that's going on inside the car that takes their eyes off the road could be lethal. Have the talk. Sit down tonight and discuss all the ways that eyes come off the road, and figure out how to keep that from happening. Maybe offer to do it together. A pact. No more texting, calling or eating Big Macs and driving- for either of you. It's a thought.
4. Scan the road.
Scanning the road doesn't come naturally.
Most new drivers don't look much farther ahead than just over the hood of their car. They fail to see what dangers are coming up farther down the road... the car that swerved in front of a delivery truck two hundred yards ahead, or the falling couch from an overloaded trailer. So let's teach our teens to lift their eyes and look ahead.
We also need to teach our teens how to scan the road side to side. Dangers aren't always just in front of us. Train your new driver to scan intersections before entering them, and have their foot ready for the brake just in case . They may have the right of way... and still end up dead.
Spend time talking about hypothetical situations. Go to websites that discuss safe driving such as this website. The more we keep the subject of scanning the road in their minds... the more likely it could save their life one day.
5. Buckle up.
This one should go without saying.
Buckling your seat belts is common sense, and it's the law. But that doesn't mean your teen buckles up when you aren't there to watch. A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that of all teens (age 13-19) in the United States who died in traffic accidents, 55% were not wearing seat belts. Here are the big stats on teen drivers... if you haven't checked out any other links, this one is worth reading.
Moms and Dads, don't assume your young adults are buckling up. Ask them. Then tell them that you want them to come home alive tonight.
Bonus: What's the next step?
Share this post with a teenager you love.
Make them message you back that they looked at it. Schedule a time to talk about safe driving. Make a pact with them to follow these rules yourself. Changing habits is hard. Having a friend to help makes it easier. Your teen is moving from being "your little kid" to becoming "your adult friend." Help your friend stay alive.
Photo "Accident" courtesy Matt Lemmon on Flickr. CC licensed.
Avoid post-lunch sluggishness with these three tips:
1. Eat Light
Have some lean protein and veggies that will energize your body instead of weighing yourself down with heavy foods.
2. Have a Zen Moment
Take a few minutes to turn your phone on silent and take some deep breaths with your eyes closed. Or, take a 10 minute power nap for full refreshment.
3. Get Your Blood Flowing
Go for a brisk walk, or just do some full body stretches to boost blood flow and metabolism. Come back to work ready to take on the rest of your day!
Here's the question that just won't go away:
"Do insurance companies charge higher premiums for red cars? If so, why?"
We know that some of you really aren't sure, so we'll add some science to the answer.
First, the good news for you lovers of all things red (including red cars):
Insurance companies do not charge more for red cars.
That's a fact, and the rest of that "higher rates for red cars" talk is just an urban myth. Sorry, but it doesn't matter if your really smart Aunt Betty told you this. It isn't true.
So where did this myth come from?
Like all good urban myths, no one really knows where this one came from. But it goes back a long way, and probably is based on the corresponding myth that red cars are a "ticket magnet."
In other words, there is a myth that cops give out more tickets to red cars. So the companion myth is that insurance companies charge more for red cars.
It was an active myth all the way back in 1990, when a St. Petersburg, Florida reporter decided to practice a little science on the myth.
The reporter visited four locations in two counties on a Thursday, and counted cars.
He counted 1198 cars and recorded their colors.
Then he compared 924 speeding tickets in those same counties, keeping track of the car colors. Here's what he found:
Red cars were 14 percent of the vehicles he counted on that Thursday.
The percentage of tickets given to red cars in those counties was 16 percent.
There was no significant difference or correlation between driving a red car and getting a ticket. As a matter of fact, in that small test, white cars accounted for a higher percentage of tickets.
Here is what DOES factor into your auto insurance rates:
Now go out and buy whatever color car you want- and DRIVE SAFELY. :)
photo by greg gjerdingen on flickr, cc licensed
1. Extra clothes
Pack a small travel bag with a spare set of clothes, a pocket sized first aid kit, and perhaps some swim wear for each child. There will be no need to panic over a spill, and you'll be prepared for a spontaneous stop at the pool.
Kids and parents both get thirsty, even during the short jaunt to Grandma's house. Stashing a metal water bottle per person, and making sure they are freshly filled, keeps everybody hydrated and happy.
3. Safety Kit
A nice first aid kit to keep in the trunk, a small shovel, a bag of kitty litter and a blanket make a good start for being prepared. Getting stuck on ice or in mud won't be a problem, and injuries can be bandaged correctly.
4. Picnic Blanket
You will be surprised how often you could use a nice picnic blanket. With one side vinyl, and the other cozy soft, you're ready for impromptu roadside lunches, or a comfortable curbside parade seat.
Whether you're driving during sunny summer days, or during winter's glare on snow, sunglasses make traveling much more enjoyable.
There are a few different ways burglars manipulate front door locks to break into a home. If you have ordinary locks on your front door, you may be at risk.
Here are some ways to tell whether your lock has been tampered with, and how you can protect your home. Types of forced entry include bumping, brute force and lock picking.
Bumping is a low-impact technique used by burglars that leaves little visible evidence of a break-in. They use a "bump-key" that has been fashioned and manipulated to pick a lock without needing any other tools except a blunt object. This object is used to strike the bump-key until eventually the lock opens, granting free access to intruders. Signs of bumping may include small nicks around keyhole edges, or metal edges that look like they've been hit.
Brute force is the messiest way for intruders to enter a home, and is usually done when they are in a hurry. Forms of brute force include attempting to kick down a door, bashing a deadbolt or drilling through a lock. Signs of this type of intrusion are often easy to spot, and include warped door frames or doors, paint circles from the lock fixture being moved around, and bent latches or deadbolts.
Picking a lock takes more expertise than bumping and can be time consuming, but opens doors with little evidence of tampering and is gentle on the lock itself. This method involves the combined use of small tools such as pins or screwdrivers with a pick to rake the pin tumblers within the lock. Signs can be hard to spot, but include small scratch marks around the key hole.
What to do!
So what can you do to prevent successful lock tampering? Here are some steps you can take to ensure your locks stay safe against intruders: