Fourth of July Safety Tips

Fireworks, the beach and family outings are the highlights of the July 4th holiday. While the day is fun-filled, it also has its share of dangers. Here are some tips from the National Safety Council to keep your Fourth of July safe.

Fireworks 

Sparklers, firecrackers, Roman candles, cherry bombs and bottle rockets are illegal in many states, including Massachusetts. And, for good reason. The National Safety Council reports that two years ago, four people were killed and more than 11,000 injuries occurred due to amateurs using fireworks.

Also, there are more reported fires on July 4 than any other day of the year. Two of every five reported fires are due to fireworks. According to the National Fire Association, an average of 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires are attributed every year to fireworks.

Check out the dangers of these popular Fourth of July fireworks:

Sparklers – There burn at nearly 2,000 degrees, enough to melt many metals. Many children have received severe burns from what most people believe are an innocuous Fourth of July celebration staple.

Bottle Rockets – These are small rockets, attached to a stick, lit by a fuse and fired from a rocket. Children have received serious eye, head and chest injuries from these devices.

Firecrackers – Some are linked together to explode as a series. Users have sustained burns and other injuries.

M-80s (Cherry Bomb) – The explosion from these M-Class devices can rattle windows for blocks and have caused serious injuries from premature detonation.

Roman Candles – Tubes eject multiple exploding shells. They have known to jam and have caused lost fingers and serious burns.

Leave fireworks to the professionals. Go to a local fireworks show where they can be enjoyed in a safe environment.

On the Road

July 4th is one of the busiest days on the roads. It is also one of the most dangerous. The National Safety Council is estimating that more than 160 deaths and well over 18,000 injuries will occur.

If you’re hitting road:

  • Drive defensively
  • Avoid distractions
  • Be patient
  • Buckle up
  • Stay engaged with your teen drivers
  • Be well rested to avoid fatigue
  • Have a designated, sober driver

Keep Safe

Following these tips will keep you and your family safe on the Fourth of July. Enjoy! And, Happy Birthday, America!

Seven Signs Your Contractor May be Shady

Building a home or renovating your existing pad is no simple task. From budgeting to design and choosing the right contractor, there’s a myriad of details you’ll need to juggle. But when it comes to choosing the right contractor for the job, it’s important to be mindful that not every contractor is reputable. Here are seven ways you can spot a shady one.

  1. They pressure you. Whether they’re pushy with contracts or material, if they’re using pressure to sway you, be cautious.
  2. They only accept cash. This is a huge red flag. Reputable contractors will take checks and potentially even credit cards for their payments.
  3. They want it all up front. Most remodelers typically require a down payment of 25-50 percent of the contract price for small jobs and 10-33 percent for large jobs. If they demand full payment up front, be wary: they may never finish the job.
  4. They have no references. No matter what, never hire a contractor without verifying at least three separate references.
  5. They suggest a lender. If the contractor suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows, you could be the target of a home improvement loan scam.
  6. The contractor fails to listen. A contractor should want to meet your specific needs. If they seem unable or unwilling to listen to your wants, if they talk over you or in any way seem disrespectful, they may be unreputable at worst, or at best, difficult to work with.
  7. No right of rescission. A solid contractor will let you know that you have the right to cancel your contract within three days of signing; this “right of rescission” is required by law and allows you to change your mind without penalty if the contract was provided at a place other than the contractor’s place of business or an appropriate trade premise.

This article was provided by Beth Davis of Keller Williams Realty

Are You Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions?

It’s three months into the New Year – are you sticking to your New Year’s resolutions? Did you know that only 20% of people actually carry them out?

If you’re having trouble sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, read this:

Choose one new goal, one new habit, one task. Only one. Don’t pick two. Did you know that your likelihood of success at changing one behavior is 80%?

But, did you also know that your likelihood of success drops to 55% when you try to change two behaviors? And, at three behaviors, a measly 5%.

So, if you’re having trouble changing your entire diet and exercise regimen, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Try changing only one thing at a time. Start taking a multivitamin, eating a vegetable at dinner, or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Do this one thing every day for a month.

Buy a small notebook and keep track of your success. Even when this thing becomes too easy, stick with it. Do not add another habit.

Over the course of 12 months, you will have easily accumulated 12 new habits.

Maybe you can drink more water throughout the day or pick up those old dumbbells downstairs and start working out after work at night.

If you haven’t picked one yet, don’t worry – that’s okay.

Just start small. Don’t try to change your entire lifestyle in one week.

Your resolution needs to be comprised of process-oriented goals. Process-oriented goals are based on things you can do, not things you’ll become.

For instance, instead of saying you’ll lose “X” amount of weight by “Y” date, choose to eat a certain way, go to the gym a certain number of times, and get a certain amount of sleep. Essentially we’re trying to control the input, not the output.

Here are a few more suggestions for things to tackle over the next month. Remember, just pick one.

  • Start tracking your steps – add 1,000 steps each day.
  • Drink 32 extra ounces of water each day. That’s approximately two Poland Springs’ bottles.
  • Eat a fruit or vegetable at one meal if you don’t currently eat a fruit or vegetable. Just one.
  • Reduce your caffeine consumption by one drink each day.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption by one day each week.
  • Pick a regular bedtime hour and stick to it. Make it 30 minutes earlier than usual.

Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions. It’s never too late to get started!

This article was contributed by Josh Mavilia Fitness of South Weymouth.

 

 

Preventing Pipes from Freezing

Winter’s bitter cold is more than an inconvenience – it can be damaging. An extended period of below freezing temperatures can freeze water pipes in your home. A frozen pipe can burst, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Preventing pipes from freezing can save you from a disaster.

Why Pipes Burst

According to the Family Handyman, when water freezes, its volume expands by about 9%. It expands with tremendous force – the pressure inside a pipe can go from 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000. Imagine, water expanding by that much inside a small, copper pipe. The force is just too great for any pipe to withstand.

Symptoms of a Frozen Pipe

Typically, pipes in the basement, crawl space or those that run in exterior walls are prone to freezing. The first sign that a pipe may be freezing up is a reduced flow out of the faucet. If the weather has been very cold for a few or more days and the water just trickles from the faucet, you need to take action.

Action Steps

Here are some steps you can take as recommended by the Family Handyman:

  • Turn up the heat in your home
  • Set up fans to blow heat in cold rooms
  • Open cabinet or vanity doors so warm air can reach the pipes under sinks
  • If you have exposed pipes in closest or pantries, leave doors open

Frozen Pipe Solutions

If the pipes are completely frozen and no water is coming out, use a hair dryer to thaw the pipe. Leave the faucet completely open as you attempt to thaw the pipe so the water can flow. Do not use a blow torch or any type of flame. The safest bet is to call a licensed plumber.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

  1. During a cold snap, let the water trickle or drip from faucets. A constant flow helps prevent freezing.
  2. Insulate crawl spaces, basements and walls where the pipes are located.
  3. Replace outdoor faucets with frost-proof models.
  4. Wrap an electric heating cable around vulnerable pipes. A thermostat will switch on when the temperature reaches a certain degree.
  5. Keep cabinet and vanity doors open under sinks to allow heat from the home help warm the pipes.
  6. Seal cracks and holes around pipes to prevent cold air from getting in.

Should a pipe burst and cause flood damage in your home, your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs up to the limits of your policy.

If you would like to be sure you have correct coverages, call me to schedule a free insurance review!

So What About The Law [Radio Broadcast December 2017]

“So what about that law?” Radio Show

Sunday 10:30 AM WATD 95.9 FM

Lois Drukman, my insurance broker, and the show’s Health, Auto and Home Insurance expert co hosted. We discussed the law as it relates to insurance.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

If you are in need of an insurance agent or are looking to find out what your insurance options are for your home, auto, health or business please contact me.

Lois Drukman
Independent Insurance Broker
Walter J. May Insurance Agency Inc., Hingham, MA
Direct: 781-740-5421 Cell: 617-827-6848
Email: ldrukman@waltermayinsurance.com

Christmas Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Christmas is an ancient celebration with centuries of tradition. Many of the things that make up the Christmas holiday as we know it have some surprising origins.

  1. Christmas wasn’t always on Dec. 25 – Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but, Dec. 25, the date that is celebrated as his birthday, is not mentioned in the biblical accounts. Many historians believed Jesus was actually born in the spring. It is believed the Dec. 25 date was chosen to coincide with the Pagan festival of Saturnalia, name after the agricultural god, Saturn. The festival involved partying and gift-giving.
  2. Thank Prince Albert for the Christmas tree – The Christmas tree originated from the Saturnalia festival, where evergreen branches served as a reminder f spring during the winter solstice. The Germans are credited with being the first to bring evergreen trees into their homes and decorating them. This tradition came to the United States in the 1930s. It really took off around the world when Germany’s Prince Albert and his wife, Queen Victoria of England, were featured in a sketch standing in front of a Christmas tree in 1848.
  3. Santa’s red suit – Folklore has it that Santa’s red suit was the result of a Coca Cola advertising campaign. Although Santa did appear in suits of various colors over the centuries including green, white, blue and, yes, red, the red suit became his staple after a 1931 Coca Cola ad. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom painted Santa in a red suit for the soft drink company’s Christmas promotion. Santa has since been seen wearing a red suit.
  4. Reginald the blued-nosed reindeer? – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was the brainchild of Robert May for Montgomery Ward’s Christmas coloring book. May originally was going to name the reindeer Reginald or Rollo. At first, the red nose made Montgomery Ward nervous since a red nose is associated with an alcoholic. But, it all came together as the classic we know today.
  5. Christmastime injuries – At least 15,000 people visit the hospital as a result of holiday-related injuries. Here are a few safety tips to keep your Christmas merry:
  • Check the condition of holiday lights for frayed or broken wires and make sure they are UL, CSA or ELT certified
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or run wires under rugs
  • Always turn off holiday lights when leaving your home
  • Do not connect more than one extension cord together
  • Check your smoke and CO detectors and make sure they are installed on every level of your home

Have a happy holiday and keep it safe!

Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

It won’t be long before drivers will be dealing with snowy and icy roads. Be prepared by having a winter survival kit in your car.

In addition to essentials such as jumper cables, a flashlight, duct tape, first aid kit and a few tools, Popular Mechanics suggests these items for your car to get you through the winter months.

  1. Snow Socks – These are a space saving alternative to tire chains when you need extra traction. Snow socks are basically fabric doughnuts that fit easily over the drive tires and can increase grip to extricate a stuck car or get it up a slippery hill.
  2. Shovel – A compact folding shovel is perfect to dig your car out of a snow drift.
  3. Spare Phone Charger – Today, the cellphone is your primary means of rescue. But, it’s no use if the battery is dead. A car charger should always be in your glove box, but, a hand-cranked charger could be a life-saver if your car battery is dead.
  4. Hand Warmers/Wool Blanket – A pair of winter gloves and a wool blanket will help keep you warm if you’re stuck. You should only run the engine a few minutes at a time to avoid deadly exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle. That’s where the gloves and blanket come in to provide warmth.
  5. LED Flashers/Flares – Battery-powered LED lights will work for hours and alert other drivers if your car is on the side of the road. Flares may seem like something from the past, but the heat they generate helps prevent them from being buried by driving snow. They can also be used to start a signaling or warming fire.
  6. Food and Drink – If you’re stranded during a blizzard, it could be hours or even more than a day before helps arrives. Keep a few plastic bottles of water and energy bars in the car. Instead of water, consider sports drinks. The sugars and electrolytes lower the freezing point of the drink and will stay liquid longer in bitter cold.
  7. Windshield Deicer – This is a must to help keep the windshield clear. Windshield wipers often ice up and can even stop working in heavy snow and ice. The deicer can also be used to melt ice on the road to provide traction and unfreeze car locks.
  8. Snow Tires – All of today’s vehicles come equipped with all-season tires. These are basically meant for three-season driving and are not good for heavy snow or ice. All-season tires’ tread will harden when the temperature drops decreasing slip resistance. Consider installing snow tires that are made with a special compound that keeps its grip in the harshest weather and provides better traction.

Contact me today to see if you have the right auto insurance for all seasons!

Halloween Safety Tips for the Home

Halloween is a fun holiday for kids – and adults, too. It’s all about costumes, candy and parties. But, sadly, Halloween does pose some risks. Homeowners need to be aware that they need to keep their property safe when the ghosts and goblins come calling.

Here are some Halloween safety tips to keep children, your home and even the pets, safe:

Check your homeowner’s policy – Make sure your homeowner’s policy has to proper liability coverage to protect you against lawsuits. Have your insurance agent review your coverage.

Light it Up – Turn on the front, outside lights. If your stairs or walkway are not properly illuminated, consider stringing some Halloween lights along the walk leading up to the stairs, creating a lighted pathway.

Keep it Clear – The walkway and stairs should be clear of any obstacles such as flower pots, ornaments, and wet leaves. This will avoid trips and falls.

Prepackaged Candy – Serve only prepackaged candy or fruit to the trick-or-treaters. Make sure the wrapping is not ripped. Unwrapped fruit or candy will make parents nervous and would likely just get thrown out.

Party Safe – If you’re hosting a Halloween party, remember you are responsible for your guests when it comes to serving alcohol. Do not allow anyone under the legal drinking age to consume alcoholic beverages and be aware of anyone drinking excessively.

No Candles – Do not use candles in Jack-o-Lanterns in your home. These can easily be knocked over and cause a fire. Children should not carry candles, even in a Jack-o-Lantern. Use battery-powered candles, flashlights or glow sticks.

Safe Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes have some reflective areas when they head out for trick-or-treating so they can be seen by drivers. Masks should not impede vision. Have your children carry a flashlight or light stick.

Pet Treats – Don’t forget your pet on Halloween. Most pet shops sell Halloween treats. Do give chocolate to your dog.  A substance in chocolate, theobromine, is toxic to pets. Candy, in general, is not good for your pet since it can cause upset stomachs. Be careful not to leave wrappers around for your pet to consume.

Stepping Out – If you’re going out for Halloween, keep lights on inside and out to deter vandals and burglars.

If you have questions about homeowners insurance, please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, at 781-740-5421.

Flood Insurance Facts

In the wake of two major hurricanes that recently hit the U.S., many homeowners are thinking about flood insurance. Unfortunately, many do not realize that most homeowners and apartment policies do not cover flood damage.

Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Storms are not the only cause of flooding. Overflows from oceans and rivers, snowmelt, a dam or levee breach and impacts to groundwater tables from new developments can result in flood damage.

Everyone is at Risk

You don’t have to live on the coast or in a high-risk area to be in danger of a flood damaging your property. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that about 20% of flood insurance claims occur outside of flood zones. Many are caught off guard from the financial and emotional impacts of floods.

Flood vs. Water Damage

There is a difference between flood damage and water damage.

Flood – Insurance companies classify a flood as a sudden rise of water on land that is normally dry. This can be from rising rivers, lakes, streams or oceans. Also, a flood can be from a mudslide or heavy rain seeping into the basement of a home. These causes are typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Water damage – This is generally from a burst water pipe in your home or rainwater or an ice dam leaking through a roof. Homeowner’s insurance would cover these damages.

Where Do I Get Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance is offered through NFIP as well as private carriers. A broker can determine what carrier you would be eligible for. Contrary to believe, it is affordable – most policies cost as little as $200 depending on your circumstances.

If you live in a flood plain and have a mortgage through a lender, you would be required to buy flood insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage and live in high risk area, having flood insurance can mean the difference between having the funds to rebuild or being financially devastated.

Please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, 781-740-5421, for more information about flood insurance.

Why Auto Insurance Rates are Rising

Many drivers are asking why auto insurance rates are rising. There are several factors that are driving rates up – more vehicles on the road, lower gas prices and distracted driving – among them. These factors result in an increase in crashes and an increase in costly claims that push up auto insurance premiums.

Let’s take a look at the details from Hanover Insurance.

    • More Fatalities and Injuries– According to the National Safety Council, traffic fatalities in 2016 increased 6% from the previous year where about 40,000 died on the nation’s roads – a 10-year high. There were about 4.6 million injuries as a result of crashes.
    • Costly Crashes – The cost from crash-related injuries, deaths and property damage crashes spiked 12% last year to about $432 billion. The costs include losses from wages, medical expenses, productivity and damage.
    • More Distracted – At any given time, about 660,000 American drivers are using cellphones and electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving played a role in about 10 percent of fatal crashes.
    • Lower gas prices – Gasoline prices in 2016 average $2.01, the lowest since 2009.
    • More Hitting the Road – A total of 3.2 trillion miles were driven in the US in 2016, an increase of 100 billion from the previous year. This is the fifth straight year the numbers have risen.
    • More Social – It is estimated that 74% of drivers use Facebook while behind the wheel.
    • More New Cars – A record high of 17.6 million new cars were sold in 2016. More cars on the road lead to more crashes. The more crashes, the more claims.
    • Fatigued Drivers – A study found that some 83 million sleep-deprived Americans drive every day. Drivers who are short one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep a night doubles the risk of a crash.
    • More Technology – Today’s vehicles have more high tech-parts than ever – sensors, xenon headlights, and cameras to name a few. These are expensive to replace when damaged and have increased the costs of claims by $300 in the last five years.

If you have questions about you auto insurance policy, please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, at 781-740-5421.