Sticking to Your Healthy Resolution!

Healthy New YearStick to your healthy resolution by planning ahead

When the holidays come to an end we find our wallets empty and fridge full of holiday leftovers.  We also find ourselves at work after the holidays with an array of goodies and treats that your coworkers have brought in; only to lessen the load in their fridge.   However, we must remain focused on the promise we made to ourselves that this year will be different; this year I will live a healthier and more active lifestyle!  Once you have proclaimed your resolution the next step is follow through.

When at the workplace you must keep in mind that although it is offered you don’t have to accept.  Below is a list of tips that can be used to keep you on track and focused:

  1. Instead of reaching for the cake, bring a healthy snack option.
  2. Decrease the amount of time spent in the area where the leftovers are held.
  3. Planning your menu for the week is also beneficial when trying to avoid the temptation of the treat table.
  4. Display positive reminders around your workspace to help you remain focused and encouraged.
  5. Tell a friend at work and make it a team effort.
  6. Don’t skip physical activity! Yes, this can be done at your desk or workspace.
  7. Set small weekly and monthly goals that you can reward yourself for accomplishing.

Remember, a resolution is not meant to be broken but to be accomplished!  With everyday and every new year we have the opportunity to make a change toward a healthier lifestyle.  The benefits of those changes will do nothing less than make you a better you.  Keep in mind there will be speed bumps along the way but with a positive and persevering attitude you can excel and accomplish your goal.

Source: State Auto Twitter

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

Any Hayrides in your plans this week?

Sittin’ on a Bale of Hay – 7 Ways to Stay Safe on Hayrides

There’s perhaps nothing that more embodies fall than heading down to the local pumpkin patch. You can pick out the perfect gourd for carving, purchase apple cider and donuts, wander through a corn maze and hop on a hayride. Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy riding through a farm or orchard while sitting on a bale of hay? I’ve enjoyed plenty of them. But I’m also a living testament to the dangers they present. Twenty-one years ago, I fell off a hayride and was almost completely run over. Fortunately, other riders saw me fall off and were able to get the driver to stop quickly.

I don’t remember all that much from the event because I blacked out. I remember the fall itself and waking up with the wheel of the trailer pressed against my torso. While I spent three days in the hospital, I only had to deal with three broken ribs, a bruised lung, a bruised liver and plenty of road rash. All and all, I was pretty lucky.

And I was pretty dumb. I fell because I stood up on the ride. My injuries were 100% my fault. I was a bright kid, who often shied away from taking risks, but it was easy to get caught up in the fun and I forgot the rules. That’s why it’s important for adults to be extra observant and stress the importance of safety on hayrides.

Surprisingly, when searching for hayride safety tips online, I found few articles. The best resource I could find, from the Haunted House Association, is written for operators, but we can easily apply their recommendations as safety tips for riders.

  • Follow the posted rules. A reputable business operating a hayride should have posted rules, probably near the waiting area or cash register. Read them, and take some time to explain them to your children.
  • Listen to ticket takers, attendants and operators.  These people not only know the rules of the hayride, but are also probably reciting them. They will correct anyone they see doing something wrong.
  • Do not stand on the ride. Learn from my mistake. Once the ride starts, don’t stand, plain and simple. Hay can be slippery, and a moving wagon is not a stable surface to stand on.
  • Do not throw straw. Here’s another admission: I stood because other riders started a hay fight. I wanted to participate. This is another unsafe behavior, don’t do it. 
  • Do not use cameras or other devices that will distract you. You may really want to take a quick photo of your family on the hayride to post on Facebook. Please don’t. While the ride is moving, it’s important to keep your focus on the ride.
  • Hold on. It’s one simple way to help ensure you won’t fall off the ride.
  • Keep arms and legs inside the wagon. You don’t know the trail the wagon will travel. There might be some tight spaces. Keeping your arms and legs inside the wagon will help make sure nothing hits you.

It’s a lot of common sense, but like a said earlier, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget the rules. And hayrides are a lot of fun — more so when everyone is safe.

Source: blog.foremost

Health Insurance for Young Adults

Young adults

You may be healthy now, but you never know when you might get sick or injured. If you’re uninsured, you’ll have to pay the full cost of treating that illness or injury. Even common illnesses and injuries, like a broken bone, can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars to treat without insurance.

You have options

The good news is that, as a young adult, you have new options for finding health insurance that works for you and your budget. If you are between the ages of 18 and 26, you may be able to get health insurance through your parent’s health insurance plan.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 29*, you may want to consider our Colorado Young Adult or CYA plans. These CYA plans, also known as catastrophic plans, are designed for those who are young and in good health. These plans typically have a high deductible and lower premium and are designed to protect you from high cost emergencies.

If you prefer a more traditional health plan, you may choose from all of the health plans available through our Individuals & Families Marketplace. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for financial assistance to reduce your costs when you purchase health plans in the Individuals & Families Marketplace. Cost reductions are not available with the CYA plans. In addition, plans in the Individuals & Families Marketplace will provide more comprehensive coverage. In compliance with new federal requirements, a minimum set of Essential Health Benefits must be included in every plan.

Contact us Today!

Contact Long’s Insurance Agency for answers to all of your questions as you navigate through this process.

*CYA plans cover only individual who have not reached the age of 30 prior to the first day of the plan year or have received a certificate of exemption from the federal shared responsibility requirement based on hardship and affordability.

 

Source: Connect for Health Colorado

Health Insurance~New Tax Savings?

tax savingsConnect for Health Colorado is the only place where Coloradans can access new federal financial assistance, based on income, to reduce the cost of health insurance. We are also the only place where small employers can access a tax credit to reduce the premium costs for covering your employees. You can also buy health insurance through our Marketplace without financial help.

Individuals & Families

The new financial assistance is for individuals, couples and families who:

  • Don’t have health insurance
  • Are not eligible for public health coverage such as Medicare and Medicaid, and
  • Do not have access to affordable coverage through a large employer.
  • Are enrolled in TRICARE or the Veterans health care program, you’re considered covered under the health care law.

Use our Savings Quick Check to get an estimate of your potential savings.

Two types of financial help

You may be eligible for a new kind of tax credit to reduce the monthly cost of health insurance if:

  • You are an individual earning approximately $15,000 to $45,500 per year.
  • You are a couple earning approximately $21,500 to $62,000 per year.
  • You are a family of four earning approximately $31,000 to $94,000 per year.

You may be eligible for health plans with lower deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance if:

  • You are an individual earning approximately $15,000 to $33,000 per year.
  • You are a couple earning approximately $21,000 to $38,000 per year.
  • You are a family of four earning approximately $34,000 to $71,000 per year.

Small Employers

Tax credits for small employers also will be available through Connect for Health Colorado. If you have fewer than 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000 and provide health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 50 percent (35 percent for nonprofits) to offset the cost of premiums for your employees. Use our Small Employer Tax Credit Calculator to see your potential savings.

Contact Long’s Insurance Agency today and we can assist you in navigating through these new waters.  Let us help you with your Life Changes!

 

Source: Connect for Health Colorado