What’s a “firenado”?

FirenadoThe Week in Severe Weather

What’s a “firenado”? Just ask the residents of San Diego County, California, where wildfires have been raging since Tuesday and where several swirling vortexes of fire were spotted in photos from the front lines. A column of smoke and flames even made its ways through one San Marcos neighborhood at midday on Thursday.

“It’s just like a spinning column of flames,” National Weather Service forecaster Michael Watkins told the LA Times. Firenadoes, or “fire whirls” as they’re known in the science community, can burn fuel at a rate that’s three to seven times faster than an open flame.

As many as 14 wildfires burned in the San Diego area this week, according to Aon Benfield’s weekly natural disaster report, with early damage estimates already reaching $20 million. More than 125,000 evacuation notices were issued at the height of the fires. The Poinsettia Fire near Carlsbad destroyed eight homes, a condominium complex and two commercial buildings before being contained on Friday. In Texas, two people were killed by wildfires in the Panhandle region, where fire destroyed at least 225 homes.

Photo: Twitter/Marcus Smith

As of Friday, officials were starting to life evacuation orders is some affected areas in California and there were hopes that cooler, calmer weather over the weekend would stop the fires’ spread.

Severe weather continues in the East

Strong thunderstorms continued to ravage the Central and Eastern U.S. this week, injuring more than 10 people and causing widespread damage across 10 states. There were 60 local storm reports of tornadoes this week, as well as 330 reports of damaging winds and 348 reports of hail. Between May 10-15 “thousands” of structures were damaged, according to Aon Benfield, with economic losses in the 100s of millions.

Overseas, heavy rains in southern and eastern China this week caused widespread flooding and landslides across six provinces, killing at least three and doing an estimated US $316 million worth of damages. Some 12,000 structures were damaged or destroyed. And five were killed in Serbia and Bosnia after the heaviest rains the Balkan region has seen in 120 years destroyed thousands of structures and did millions worth of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

3 Tips for Getting “High Risk” Life Insurance

Denied

If life insurance wasn’t a priority before, it will become one if your health declines. The combination of realizing the most important people in your life are financially dependent on you and you are no longer invincible is a wake-up call for many.

Most consumers with health issues admit that getting life insurance while they were young and healthy was always a thought, but nothing ever pushed them to pursue it until now.

No one likes to think about their untimely passing, but having a health condition prompts the thought of “If something happened to me, would my family be okay?” The harsh reality is when these health complications arise, it becomes a challenge to find affordable life insurance rates.

If you have any health or lifestyle issues and you’re having trouble securing life insurance, here are 3 tips to help you in your search.

Tip #1: Work with a life insurance agent or agency that has experience with your risk.

The truth is, every life insurance company will look at your risk differently. Some life insurance companies will look at your unique risk more favorably than others. Just because you’ve been declined with one company, doesn’t mean you can’t secure affordable coverage with another company.

Ask your current agent if they have access to a “high risk” life insurance specialist. If they don’t then just do an internet search for your risk. For example, you can search: “Life Insurance with COPD” or “Life Insurance with Congestive Heart Failure.” You’ll find several agents who are experts in your risk and will know which life insurance companies will give you the best offer. There are plenty of qualified high-risk life insurance agents out there.

Tip #2: It’s all about control and compliance

If you have a chronic medical issue (diabetes, asthma, arthritis etc), all you have to do is demonstrate control and compliance. Control meaning there are no major complications, and compliance meaning you’re following your doctor’s recommendations. This applies to the majority of medical issues.

In many cases you just need to bring your cholesterol, blood pressure, a1c levels, triglycerides, PSAs or other lab results within normal limits. If you’ve been declined or highly rated because of your lab results, work on getting those under control and reapply when they back within normal limits.

Tip #3: Obtain “trial offers”

There’s a process in the life insurance industry where we can send your risk to several life insurance companies at one time without completing a formal life insurance application. This means you can know with a degree of certainty what kind of offer to expect from several life insurance carriers before you formally apply and without taking a medical exam. Think of it as a “prequalification” service.

Here’s what this entails:
1. Your agent gathers your health information (in great detail), summarizes it for the underwriters and sends it out to any life insurance carrier who would consider the risk.
2. The life insurance companies review your health profile and reply with “tentative offers” in writing. Which means as long as everything was disclosed and nothing has changed, these are the rates you can expect.
3. You choose the best offer and formally apply with that company. Your agent would attach the tentative offer to your application.

The biggest misconception for people with health issues looking for life insurance is that they can’t qualify for coverage. We hear this all the time and in most cases affordable coverage is obtainable.

Qualifying for life insurance coverage with health impairments takes some expertise and a little more work from your agent, but it can be done. Don’t let any health issues deter you from securing this important coverage.

My advice is always to secure coverage while you’re young and healthy because tomorrow’s health is promised to no one. However, sometimes it takes a wake-up call to get life insurance off the backburner.

 

Source: lifehappens.com

Is One of The Biggest Dangers In Your Home Your Trampoline?

The-Trampoline

Home trampoline danger: 1M visits to ER, study says

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Boing, boing, boing … OWW! could be the anthem of the trampoline jumper — and that’s a good reason to ban the things, said an Indiana University researcher.

A new study from an Indiana University School of Medicine researcher finds that from 2002 to 2011, accidents on backyard trampolines accounted for nearly 289,000 visits to emergency rooms for broken bones. Factor in all accidents, not just fractures, and the tally rises to more than 1 million ER visits, according to the study which published online in theJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

“We are inundated with injuries,” said Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Kids need to be healthy and active, but this is not the way to do it.”

His study, the first to look at fractures related to trampoline use nationwide, found that over 10 years, trampolines caused an estimated 288,876 fractures, at a cost of more than $400 million. Trampoline injuries overall led to more than $1 billion in emergency room visits.

Loder, a surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, decided to do the study after seeing an increase in the number of patients with fractures suffered in backyard trampoline accidents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against backyard trampolines since 1999, and many homeowner insurance policies either prohibit them or have a clear exclusion for trampoline injuries.

Still, that doesn’t stop parents from purchasing them.

And some, such as Mark Publicover, dispute how dangerous trampolines are. Publicover invented the trampoline safety enclosure about 15 years ago and founded JumpSport Inc., a San Jose-based trampoline company.

If you compare the number of hours children spend jumping on trampolines compared with the time they spend in other activities such as biking or swimming in backyard pools or playing on swing sets, trampolines cause much fewer injuries, Publicover said.

“If you look at all of the high energy activities kids can play in, trampolines end up being pretty much the safest things that they can do,” said Publicover, who broke his leg on an earlier generation trampoline.

Eight years ago Jason Reese, a personal injury lawyer in Carmel, Ind., purchased a trampoline for his three kids, now 14, 11 and 9; two years ago he replaced it with a large one he considers safer. He also hires an inspector to check the net once a year.

Strict rules govern the use of the Reese family’s trampoline. No more than four kids at a time. A parent must be home. Don’t bounce against the safety net. And no one is to go airborne.

The only injuries from their trampoline? A few bloody noses.

“For the most part, like any other parenting thing, it comes down to supervision,” said Reese. “You can do it safely.”

Still, he’s amazed at what he sees in other people’s backyards, from trampolines that have no nets, to those that sit on uneven surfaces to trampolines with decaying mats that provide iffy support.

Little surprise that stories about trampoline-related injuries are rife in the suburbs.

According to Loder’s study, which included data from 100 hospitals nationwide, the number of injuries peaked in 2004 with about 110,000. Since then, the number has slowly dropped to an estimated 80,000 injuries in 2011.

Safety enclosures like the one Publicover invented, now standard on trampolines, no doubt have had much to do with the reduction in injuries, he said.

By 2004, 75% of trampolines had safety enclosures. At the same time, sales had gone from 600,000 a year just a few years ago to 1.2 million, Publicover said.

Doctors, however, would prefer to see much fewer injuries.

“Whether it’s 80,000 or 100,000, that’s still a huge number of totally preventable injuries,” Loder said. “The way to prevent it is not to go on it at all. There are lots of other ways to get exercise.”

The most common trampoline-related injury that Loder sees at Riley is an elbow fracture, which in some cases requires immediate surgery. Knee fractures that threaten growth plates and require surgery also are common, he said.

On average, patients were 9 years old; though those who have injuries of the spine, head, ribs and sternum — accounting for 4% of the injuries seen — had an average age of nearly 17, perhaps because they are bigger and can jump harder.

The study looked only at backyard trampolines and did not include trampoline parks. Almost all of the fractures, 95%, happened at the injured person’s home.

Loder does not question the appeal of trampolines, just whether they’re worth the risk.

“I’m sure they’re fun,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it that they’re fun. They’re fun up until the time they get the injury.”

Source: http://www.9news.com

 

3 Tips on Fireproofing Your Home

wildfire

Although wildfires are most common in the west, they can happen anywhere in the U.S. There are many ways to prepare your home for an unlikely fire that go beyond keeping a fire extinguisher handy—especially in the case of naturally-occurring fires caused by arid conditions and other environmental conditions. Discover key tips on fireproofing your house from The Hartford Disaster Prep page.

Do Your Homework

Knowing your area’s risk for wildfires is the first step in your process of fireproofing your house. If you know that your neighborhood is affected by wildfires often, and when they are likely to occur, do an inventory of the flammable items around your house. This includes landscaping; avoid keeping plants, trees or dead plants too close to the house during wildfire season for your area.

In addition to inspecting the exterior of your home, take a look around inside. Check that your smoke detectors are working and if not, replace the batteries. You’ll also want to keep an emergency kit with essentials on hand in the event you need to evacuate. In addition to an emergency kit, implement a routine practice of an emergency plan the entire family knows.

What to Take

Your emergency kit should include the following: first aid supplies, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, toiletries, clothing) as well as necessities for any pets. For additional tips on disaster preparedness, check out The Hartford’s Center for Mature Market Excellence’s disaster prep guidebook.

Minimize Damage

If there have been reports of wildfires nearby, it’s important to prepare your home even if you have been ordered to evacuate. Once your emergency kit is ready, and you know what you will take and leave behind, hose down the house, roof and surrounding area, (time-permitting, of course). Also be sure to turn off the gas to your house to lower your risk.

For a complete list of how to fireproof and prepare for wildfires, visit The Hartford’s Wildfire Safety page.

If your in need of Homeowner’s Insurance please contact Long’s Insurance Agency today for a free no hassle quote!  We can handle all of your insurance needs from Home and Auto, to Health and Life and your business needs.

 

Source:  thehartfordmile.com

 

 

 

Spring is Upon Us!! Finally!

driving in rainAs it appears that maybe winter has made its last appearance, Spring will bring rain…

How to Drive Safely in Wet Weather

Spring and summer showers may mean flowers, but wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year.

Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain.

Safety starts before you drive, and your goal should be to see and be seen. Replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe. Make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours. Turn on your headlights whenever you drive.

Proper tire tread depth and inflation are imperative to maintaining good traction on wet roadways. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check each tire’s pressure, including the spare, at least once a month… and be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you. Also, do these things one-at-a-time. Brake, then turn, then accelerate.

If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic, and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

 

Source: weather.com

 

Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene!

sleeping

Sleepless nights? You’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of Americans report they occasionally don’t get enough sleep, while nearly 10% experience chronic insomnia. Not only is sleep difficulty related to mood changes, injuries and weight gain, but it also affects chronic disease onset and management, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By understanding that sleep hygiene is essential for your overall well-being, you start making better choices to improve your sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene is the variety of daily exercises necessary for regular, quality sleep each night. It is measured by your ability to maintain a consistent wake-and-sleep pattern seven days a week. While these practices may differ from person to person, here are some helpful tips to clean up your sleep hygiene:

 

  • Understand how food can affect your sleep pattern. Some foods, such as chocolate or heavily spiced foods, can disrupt you sleep through hidden caffeine or problems such as indigestions or heart burn.
  • Keep a sleep diary. By keeping a sleep diary, you’ll be able to see your sleep patterns over a longer period of time. This can help you pinpoint what’s keeping you up at night.
  •  Exercise to initiate a restful night’s sleep. Robust exercises should be done in the morning or early afternoon, and more relaxing exercises, such as yoga or meditation, can be done in the evening.
  • Avoid napping during the day. This can disturb your normal sleep pattern, and can take several days to restore your normal sleep schedule.
  •  Make your bedroom a pleasant environment for sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable bed, the temperature suits your needs and there is minimal light in order to make the most sleep-friendly room.
  •  Learn more about major sleep disorders. Sleep-related issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea are more complicated than the average night of sleep deprivation, and will need to be treated by a health care provider specializing in sleep medicine.

Each person has a unique sleep hygiene practice, but knowing your individual needs is the first step in guaranteeing restful sleep each night. Test a few options to see what works best for you, and soon you’ll see the difference in your daytime energy, mood and overall wellness.

 

Source: WellCard Health Connect

Be Prepared, Have An Escape Plan!

FirefightersWhen firefighters arrive at a fire, they do a ‘scene size-up’ – identifying where the fire is, where it is spreading, and the location of the primary and secondary exits.  It’s a routine that can save your life – and you don’t need res suspenders and a helmet to do it.

Prior to a fire, have an escape plan and practice it!!  You’ve been hearing that since grade school.  But did you listen?  You should not only do drills at home (and in the dark), but also form a habit of familiarizing yourself with ‘points of egress’ everywhere you go.

If a fire does occur, remember this slogan:  Get Out, Stay Out.  Staying out is critically important.

 

Source: Men’s Health

The Weather Outside is Frightening

icy roadsIt has been snowing, nonstop, for three days. Just when I start to think it will never stop snowing, it stops. At this point, I am finally smiling again and feeling relieved. A day later, it starts raining nonstop. I am now regretting all of my wishes for the snow to go away, because rain and freezing temperatures during the winter season can only mean one thing—icy roads. Even if you happen to be Larry Pegram or a person who has lived in the Midwest your entire life, icy roads are nearly impossible to drive on safely.

The safest way to deal with icy roads is to avoid driving. As nice as it sounds to stay curled up on the couch, we all know that not driving during bad weather is not always an option. If you have to travel when the roads are icy, allow time for snow plows and sanding trucks to work on the roads.

Here are some great tips from The Weather Channel for driving safely this winter, especially on icy roads:

Driving safely on icy roads

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Even if you happen to be Larry Pegram or a person who has lived in the Midwest your entire life, icy roads are nearly impossible to drive on safely.

If your rear wheels skid…

  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse—this is normal.

If your front wheels skid…

  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck…

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, non-clumping kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels to help get traction.
  • Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first—it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Be safe in your travels this winter season. If you’re in the market for auto insurance consider talking to Long’s Insurance Agency.

 

Source: Foremost Blog

Maintaining a Fire Safe Home

As winter continues to make a comeback, the risk of residential fires goes up. Heating is the second leading cause of home fires, accounting for 14 percent of all residential fires across the nation. In many cases, these tragic events can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions.

The following recommendations have been made by the United States Fire Administration (USFA):  
    • Hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect your furnace, chimneys, and other heating equipment on an annual basis.
    • Only use heating equipment that has been approved by a recognized testing laboratory.
    • Maintain adequate space around all heating equipment. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources.
    • When using space heaters, plug them directly into electrical outlets rather than using extension cords or power strips.
    • Install carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors in your home.  Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for placement of these alarms, and replace the batteries at least once per year.

     

    Source:  State Auto Twitter

Tips to Prevent Water Damage

Rain drops Water is everywhere.  We use it to cook, clean and play.  Unfortunately, water in the wrong place can cause damage to your home and belongings.

 WASHING MACHINES

  • Do not operate the washing machine while the home is unoccupied.
  • Leave a three to four-inch gap between the back of the washing machine and the wall to avoid kinking the hose near the valve connection. Leaking washer
  • Inspect the water supply line hoses every six months.  Ensure that the connection to the valve is secure, but avoid over-tightening.
  • Check the hoses for cracks, kinks or blisters, which are most commonly found near the hose connection.

 

 

WATER HEATERS

  • Have a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod at least once every two years and annually once the warranty has expired.  The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage.
  • Remove sediment by flushing the tank every six months.  Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water.

PLUMBING SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS

  • Visually inspect plumbing pipes annually; look for condensation around the pipes or obvious leaks or corrosion.
  • Pay attention to your water bill.  A significant increase could indicate a leak.
  • Call a plumber at first signs of rust-colored water, backed-up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped flooring.
  • Insulate pipes in attics, basements and exposed exterior pipes to avoid freezing.

ICEMAKERSice-maker-line-repair-notext

  • Proper Installation of the icemaker supply line hose is important to avoid water damage.
  • Tightly connect the hose to the valve.  Avoid over-tightening.
  • Leave a three to four-inch space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to prevent the hose from crimping.
  • Inspect the hose and valve every six months.

SINKS

  • Inspect plumbing beneath sinks every six months.
  • Ensure connections are secure and there is no evidence of corrosion on the pipes.
  • Look for kinks in copper or plastic pipes.
  • Inspect the water shut off valve every six month and replace the valve if needed.

ROOFS

  • Consider a professional roof inspection.
  • Request a detailed inspection report that includes the condition of the flashing, roof covering, parapets and drainage system.
  • Repairs are needed if:    *There are cracked or missing shingles or loose or missing granules    *Flashing has deteriorated, particularly around chimneys and vents  *Pooling water is present
  • In areas prone to freezing and heavy snowfall, insulate to prevent heat from entering the attic space.
  • In areas prone to wind and hail consider an impact-resistant roof covering.

SHOWERS

  • Inspect tile and grout every six months, paying attention to loose or cracked tiles and cracked or crumbling grout lines.  Repair as needed.
  • Test the shower pan annually: *Block the floor drain. Fill the shower stall with approximately one inch of water. Use a pencil to mark the water line. Leave the water standing in the shower pan for eight hours. If the water level decreases, contact a plumbing professional.

SUMP PUMPS

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sump pump maintenance.  These vary from running the sump pump every two to three months to a yearly cleaning before the rainy season.
  • To inspect a sump pump: *Open the lid and remove debris that may be blocking the water inlet screen. Pour approximately five gallons of water into the pump and watch the float valve rise. As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on and the water should discharge through the outlet pipe. Go outside and inspect the outlet pipe. Water should be flowing away from the home. If the sump pump fails to operate during this inspection, contact a plumbing professional.
  • Install a battery backup system
  • Choose a system with a battery replacement warning.

Leaky toilet TOILETS

  • Inspect the flushing mechanism inside the toilet every six months. The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper water level.
  • Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice intermittent or constant tank refilling when the toilet is in use.
  • Inspect the supply line every six months and ensure the connection to the valve is secure.

 

 

 

 

Source:  Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Via State Auto