Holiday Rush… Brings on Theft

Identity Theft

Prevent identity theft or burglary during the upcoming holiday rush

After the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just two of the days where retailers try to offer super holiday shopping deals. But those days, and the season itself, are a big target for identity theft and burglary. You can protect yourself by employing simple safety practices now and throughout the season.

While some tips may seem obvious, burglars may take advantage of busy shoppers’ stress and distraction through the holidays.

• If you shop online, consider investing in computer security protection software. Also, if you shop routinely with a particular retailer, make sure your account passwords are strong using alpha, numeric, and symbol combinations that don’t include personally-identifiable words.

• Be antisocial. Don’t post the fact that you are away from home or out shopping on your social networks. While you may trust the friends within your network, others’ replies to your posts can be seen by their network, spreading your whereabouts to people you may not know. Encourage your friends to do the same and not post about your whereabouts if they know your plans or happen to be with you.

• Make sure your home and car are locked, and leave valuables out of plain sight. Hiding valuables doesn’t just apply to your vehicle – burglars that can see a desirable item within your home may be on the lookout for you to leave. And locking doesn’t just apply to doors; make sure to lock your windows! If you have shades, draw them. And if you are planning to be away from home after dark, leave a light on in your living and/or front and back areas of your home. You can also install timers for these lights so they turn on at a certain time before nightfall.

• For added protection, you may want to invest in new clever technologies that make it seem like you are home, or your house is secured by an alarm system. These products, while not the real thing, appear real enough that they can deter break-ins. For example, there are products that are lights that look like the flicker of a television or even motion sensors that mimic dogs barking as someone would try to approach a window or open a door. There are also appliances that mimic exterior security cameras.

The keys to making the above steps work are to take the time to employ them. Many people get busy this time of the year and forget to lock their cars or turn the outside lights on. But in the end, taking action can help you avoid the added stress, anxiety and costs of identity theft or burglary during the holidays – or any time of the year.

Source:  State Auto Twitter

Frying a Turkey for Thanksgiving??

Turkey Fryer AccidentTurkey Fryer Safety

There are a few basic rules to safety frying a turkey and yet every year there are fires that destroy buildings and houses. The problem as gotten so bad that Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) has refused to certify turkey fryers. The reason is that most people just don’t follow the safety rules. Let me illustrate with a few examples.

First of all, do not use your turkey fryer on a wooden deck, in your garage, near a wooden structure, under the eves of any building, or anywhere near that nitrous tank you have for your car(?). Sounds reasonable? Well that’s just what one family in Nebraska did. They had removed the turkey from the fryer and left it unattended, not realizing that still hot means still dangerous. The neighbor had to come over to tell them that their garage was on fire and the nitrous tank (really?) exploded just as the fire department arrives. Read the whole story

Second, never leave your turkey fryer unattended. This really is a two person job. You need a good volunteer to do the running while you watch the turkey fryer. Even a few minutes could cost you $71,000 or more. Robert here lost his garage and everything in it, plus did a lot of damage to his house when he ran in the house for a couple of minutes. Just think about it for a second, several gallons of hot oil and a constant burning flame. When turkey fryers get too hot they don’t just catch fire, they can explode. Read More

As John Drengenberg of Underwriters Laboratories described it, when the oil in one of these turkey fryers catches fire “it’s like a vertical flame thrower.” That’s what happened up in Minnesota when flames shot up from a turkey fryer and destroyed a $400,000 house. Just watch this video from Consumer Reports to see how fast and how bad things can get.

Now I’m not trying to scare you away from frying turkeys. It’s a great way to make an incredible meal; however, as Underwriters Laboratories has said, careful use of a turkey fryer is a safe way to cook. The problem is that people just don’t take the time to read the instructions and do not think about what they are doing. A turkey fryer contains several gallons of oil. At temperatures over 300 degrees F that oil becomes about as flammable as gasoline. So, Read, Think, then cook or you could be the next victim.

Source: bbq.about.com

Mentally Strong People and The 13 Things They Avoid

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit”, optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker,  that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear”, if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

It takes much practice to hone mental strength

It takes much practice to hone mental strength

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.

7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time.

Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of? With thanks to Amy Morin, I would like to reinforce my own abilities further in each of these areas today. How about you?

 

Source:  www.forbes.com

Homeowners tips: Water Backup Endorsement, what does it cover?

Raspberry Hill Flood 9Water backup is one of the most common causes of loss for homeowners but also one of the most misunderstood.

What’s covered, what’s not?

Homeowners policy provides coverage for water that backs up through sewers or drains as long as it originates on premises. As this chart shows, the optional endorsement expands the coverage to provide better protection. This optional endorsement is called Escape of Water from a Sump, Sump Pump or Drain on the Residence Premises.*

Covered by  homeowners policy Not covered by  homeowners policy Covered by the  optional endorsement
Toilet or shower drain gets clogged and  overflows causing damage Sewer line in the street backs up and  causes the overflow. (Exception: in Texas, this is covered by Safeco’s Homeowners policy.) Coverage is expanded to include backup or  overflow from causes originating off premises as long as the backup or  overflow itself occurs on the premises
Water that escapes, overflows or discharges  from a sump pump, sump well or any other system designed to remove water  which is drained from the foundation area Coverage is provided when water escapes,  overflows or discharges from a sump pump or other similar system

What’s never covered?

  • Flooding is the most common excluded coverage. Whether the result of a river overflowing its banks or a dam breaking, water damage caused by surface water entering the house is not covered.
  • Overflow originating off-premises is not covered. This would include a sewer line breaking in the street and causing water to flow over the surface into the house.
  • Sub-surface water is excluded. For example, if a swimming pool or sprinkler system leaks underground and causes water to seep through the foundation, there is no coverage under either the base policy or the optional endorsement.

Learn more about optional coverages by contacting Long’s Insurance Agency today!

What to do At the Scene of an Accident

Car accident

What to do At the Scene of an Accident

When you have been in a car accident, there are a few things that you need to do at the scene.  Here are three main things will help you and the parties who were involved in the accident.

1. The first thing you should do is check to see if everyone is okay.  If you are experiencing trouble moving, you need to be as still as possible and try not to push yourself to move or do anything else until help arrives. Pushing yourself to move could cause extreme damage to your body.

2. You will need to set up cones around the accident site.  These cones will alert oncoming traffic and let them know that they need to be cautious.  These cones will also let emergency teams know where the accident is where they need to stop.

3. Make sure that you get each party that was involved in the wreck to provide you with their insurance information.  It is important that you do not discuss who was or was not at fault for the accident.  Gather as much information as you can about their auto insurance.

For more information regarding auto insurance and the steps that need to be taken after a car accident has occurred in the Colorado area, give Long’s Insurance Agency a call today!

 

Source: State Auto

Gettysburg Address: 150 years later

Gettysburg Address5 Things to Know About the Gettysburg Address

USA TODAY – The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-known in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.

So where was Lincoln, exactly?

Where in Gettysburg, exactly, did Lincoln actually deliver his Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863? A prominent, 1912 monument to the speech by the entrance of the town’s National Cemetery leads casual observers to believe it happened there. But look closely: A nearby, vintage plaque says the speech occurred 300 yards away on the spot of another cemetery monument (to fallen soldiers). Except . . . that’s not right, either, modern research has found. The true spot, according to research backed by the National Park Service, lies along the crest of a hill just outside the gates of the cemetery, on the grounds of an older, private cemetery.

Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker

The dignitary who spoke before Lincoln, Edward Everett, delivered what was scheduled as the main speech of the day. The former Massachusetts governor and onetime Secretary of State took two hours navigating its 13,607 words.

The speech was really, really short

Lincoln’s speech, a mere 271 words if you use the version that’s attributed to Lincoln, took only two minutes. The New York Times reported of the Gettysburg Address: “It was delivered (or rather read from a sheet of paper which the speaker held in his hand) in a very deliberate manner, with strong emphasis, and with a most business-like air.”

The Gettysburg Address was ridiculed at first

One of the world’s best-remembered speeches, it includes the line, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Ridiculed at first in some prominent quarters – The Chicago Times, for one, citing “silly, flat and dish-watery utterances” – the address is now regarded as one of the finest speeches ever given. In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr., kicking off his “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of 250,000 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, noted Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect “five score years ago.” The phrase of course invoked the address whose words were etched into the interior of the monument just a few steps behind the civil rights icon.

Different versions of the speech exist

There are five manuscripts of the speech, and the most widely quoted one is the oldest. The earliest versions were given to his two secretaries, John George Nicholay and John Hay. You can find them at the Library of Congress’ website, myloc.gov.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

Spiders! Making Your Home Their Home

SpiderI’m guessing I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to share their home with eight-legged strangers.

When I see those creepy spiders crawling across my floor I immediately feel like I need to check under every chair, table and rug for the rest of their families. Of course, in the part of the country I live in, the spiders are harmless, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling just a little uneasy when crawling friends start taking over my home.

It’s starting to get colder out and that means that my home is beginning to be infiltrated with spiders! Because of that, I feel the need to share some tips and tricks for keeping those creepy, crawly creatures out of our homes:

Outside:

  • Seal and cover cracks. Walk around your house and think like a spider. Cover the gaps around the house and especially around doors. Check whether screens and windows are repaired. Air vents need to be covered in hardware mesh and cracks sealed in the foundation.
  • Clean up the perimeter. Clean up or move any leaves, woodpiles, or other debris next to your house. Spiders don’t like wide open spaces, but they love dark nooks and crannies.
  • Get rid of their paths. Trim any shrubs or stray branches that are touching the sides or roof of your home. These are a direct path for spiders.
  • Spraying isn’t the answer. According to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program, pesticide control is difficult and rarely necessary. Spiders are very resilient and you’ve practically got to fire the spray right at them. Instead, just clean up anything around the base and sides of your home.

Inside:

  • Clean up your act. Allowing things to build up, like a stack of newspapers or a pile of shoes make perfect homes for spiders. Try to hang up or put away whatever you can.
  • Vacuum their hiding places. Vacuuming up webs and dust leaves little room for spiders to feel comfortable. Spiders love hiding in webs and dust.
  • Caulk. Caulk around doors and windows to keep the spiders outside and you safe and warm inside.

Whether or not you have eight-legged roommates trying to move in, it won’t hurt to follow the above steps to deter any little creatures from trying to make your home their home!  And, if you are in the market for home insurance consider giving Long’s Insurance Agency a call.

 

Source: Foremost Blog

 

It’s Clean Your Refrigerator Day!

Gross RefigeratorDo you know how long to hold onto the food currently sitting in your fridge?

In honor of Clean Your Refrigerator Day, here is a guide to the foods that should go and the ones that can be kept around a little bit longer.

Bread

Ever wonder why that wonderful fresh loaf you bought at the bakery grows mold in a matter of days, while the grocery store variety can last for several weeks? The difference is preservatives, which can greatly extend the shelf life of mass-produced bread. But you also play a role in how long bread survives in your kitchen. Too much of this creates a prime environment for bread to mold.

Cheese

When it comes to its edible lifespan, not all cheese is created equal. Experts say hard cheeses can literally last for years, but soft cheeses will mold much sooner. The difference is in the amount of moisture in the cheese — ones with more moisture grow mold much faster.

Milk

There are two good guidelines to follow when trying to decide if the milk in your fridge is spoiled: Check the date on the carton and give it a sniff. If milk smells sour, chances are it won’t taste very good in your coffee or cereal. There’s no difference in the lifespan between organic and non-organic milk, but the amount of this in the milk can impact its shelf life.

Eggs

Keeping eggs safe means keeping them cool. Make sure you purchase them from a refrigerated case and store them at home — in their carton — in the refrigerator. You can also use a specific stamp that’s usually on the carton as your safe-eating guide.

Cold cuts

If you buy your lunch meats freshly sliced from the deli counter, you’ll want to make sure to eat them within three to five days (and keep them cool in the fridge during that time). An unopened package of turkey, ham, bologna, salami or other deli meat can be stored longer. But once you break that factory seal, those meats will need to find their way onto a sandwich soon.

Mayonnaise

Since mayonnaise contains this ingredient, it’s not made to last forever. But when it’s commercially manufactured, the condiment also contains ingredients to help preserve it and extend its shelf (and fridge) life. Besides reading the “best by” date, a good way to determine when mayo is bad is to follow your nose. If it smells sour, it’s likely past its prime.

Lettuce

When you buy a head of lettuce at the store, it should keep, intact, for a few weeks. But once you open up the head and cut up the lettuce, it will start to spoil faster. Leaf lettuces that are sold in bags or containers can last longer than a head you cut up yourself because they are better protected from oxygen.

Fresh meat and poultry

As a general rule, you should plan to use or freeze fresh meats within days of purchasing them. The good news is that meat keeps much longer in the freezer. If you don’t think you’ll have a chance to cook what you’ve bought, toss it in the freezer and know that you can safely defrost and cook it any time over the next year.

And Now you Know!!!

Source: Sally Wadkya for MSN Healthy Living

 

 

Winterize Your Home and Property

Winter Home

Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home. The time to winterize is when the leaves begin to turn and not when the snow begins to fall.

Homeowners should take the following precautions:

Maintain gutters

Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. You may also consider installing gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.

Trim trees and remove dead branches

Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home or car or injuring someone walking on your property.

Check insulation

Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. The water re-freezes causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.

Maintain pipes

Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future.

Keep the house warm

The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.

Check heating systems

The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.
Maintain steps and handrails

Broken stairs and banisters can become dangerous when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
Get to know your plumbing

Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.

Hire a licensed contractor Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter. Also, find out about ways to prevent water damage due to snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump-pumps and other methods can prevent damage to your home and belongings.

Plan for being away If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage. Activity at your home will also reduce the likelihood that it will be burglarized.

Damage to homes caused by flooding is usually excluded from most standard homeowner policies. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip). Ask your insurance professional about flood insurance, as well as specific advice about winter-proofing your home.

Source: Travelers