Preventing a fire is not an impossible task. It’s simple quite frankly. However, having a fire prevention guide isn’t something many households think about creating. Everyone loves to assume that they’re very responsible people and that nothing can happen to them. While there’s no doubt you’re a responsible individual, fires can happen from the least expected culprits. Many people make grocery lists to remember to buy certain things. Why not make a fire prevention list as well?
Below is a complete guide to take preventive measures when it comes to fire safety for the sake of you and your loved ones.
The National Fire Prevention Association reported 475,500 brick and mortar fires causing 2,950 civilian deaths, 12,755 injuries, and $7.9 billion in property damages. Those are outrageous numbers, right? Who knows when this can strike close to home?
We have a quick quiz for you. What part of your home do you believe is most likely to cause the most fires? That’s right, the kitchen! 50% of fires inside of a resident’s home originate from the kitchen, with many of these fires being caused by forgetting that food is actually cooking on the stove. With that being said, it only makes sense if your fire prevention guide begins with the kitchen!
- Ensure that there’s no food left unattended while cooking (try utilizing a timer)
- Going off of the last point, the worst thing you can do is leave your home, even if for a moment, while food is cooking
- Ensure small appliances aren’t plugged in while not being used
- Avoid built up grease on the stove-top and inside the oven
- Avoid using a power strip or extension cord for larger appliances. Ensure they’re plugged directly into the wall
- Ensure space heaters are in good condition and keep anything that can catch fire at least 5 feet away & also keep them unplugged if not in use
- Hire a professional or someone knowledgeable with chimney cleaning and ensure it’s cleaned thoroughly every year
- Going off the last point, your furnace or boiler should be inspected and cleaned annually as well
- Try to keep extension cords and power strips are not so overloaded & also keep them from under rugs or anything else made out of cloth
- Flammable items and liquids should be kept outdoors and away from sources of heat
- If possible, limit smoking to the outdoors (although we would prefer to have you avoid smoking in general for health reasons)
- Ensure your dryer and dryer exhaust is free of lint (this is highly overlooked)
- Make sure candles are not still lit when you decide to leave the house or sleep
- Barbecue grills should not be left indoors, especially if it’s a propane grill. When outdoors, they should not be underneath tree branches or a hanging part of your roof since that can catch fire as well
Additional Information on Fire Prevention
- NEVER try to extinguish a grease or oil fire with water, it will only make matters worse!
- Each floor in your home should have a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should be replaced at least every 5 years or when it shows signs of rust.
- Make sure you have at least 1 safety route from each room in your home if a fire were to break out
- All smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide detectors) should be functional (updated batteries) and placed in the kitchen and each sleeping room
- Create an evacuation plan and make sure to share it with any kids in the house hold until they have a full understanding of it
Our reason for putting together this guide is because we know how overlooked this topic is. Fire safety is a must if you want to protect yourself and your loved ones. Preparation and knowledge on this topic is the best way to make sure you don’t find yourself in this situation. If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other blogs here and learn more about various topics.
A basic science class teaches you that some mold is beneficial to the environment. It helps with the decomposition of organic material such as fallen trees. You consume it as well when you order that nice bleu cheese burger or when you use soy sauce on your Chinese food. However, the types of molds that we’re referring to are detrimental to your health and can cause severe damage. The symptoms that can occur varies between individuals and can mimic other illnesses. Because of this, we want to educate on this matter and ensure everyone is well equipped to handle this.
The reason we take mold so serious is due to the fact that it’s not easily spotted. All that’s needed for mold to develop is a damp environment. Because of this, a leaking pipe or even a home with high humidity can encourage mold growth within your walls, under carpets, and even behind appliances.
According to “The Cleveland Clinic”, some of the symptoms you may experience include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Inflamed Lungs
- Sore throat
- Cough with spots of blood
You’re probably thinking, “that wasn’t helpful, those are common cold/flu symptoms.” Our point exactly! This makes it even more serious. Some of these symptoms, when left untreated, can lead to a serious disease.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Dry wet areas promptly
Moisture is what allows mold to grow to begin with. Eliminate moisture, you eliminate the opportunity for mold to grow. You may have seepage in a basement after it rains or accumulation of water from a leaky pipe. These issues should be resolved within 2 days, at most, to avoid the possibility of mold growing. Even the little things that we do every day can put us at risk. Leaving wet clothes in a washer without drying them in a reasonable amount of time is bad, or spilling a drink on a carpet without cleaning it up can produce mold. Simply put, ensure wet areas are dried within a good time frame.
Clean & repair roof gutters
Damaged gutters lead to leaky roofs that can produce mold. The gutters on your roof should always be cleaned and inspected. A sign that your roof may be leaking is water stains after a storm.
Don’t overlook household plants
Household plants are very attractive and helps give your house a homey feeling. They also help purify the air. However, mold loves the moist soil inside household plants as well. When mold begins to grow, the air you breathe can become more detrimental than beneficial. This accumulation of mold can be due to poor maintenance or over-watering.
There are a few ways you can rid your plants of mold. One popular way is to scrape the mold off the affected areas of the soil. This should be done wearing a mask to avoid inhaling it. If there’s a lot of mold, repotting the plant is your best bet. You can sprinkle a tad bit of cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda on top of the soil, which acts as an anti-fungal solution.
Invest in Humidity Monitors
Humidity monitors gives you a good estimate on how much humidity your house is currently holding. The EPA suggests keeping your home humidity between 30-60%. A moisture meter can be purchased at a decent hardware store near you.
Air holds less moisture when the temperature drops. To increase the flow of air in your home, opening doors and windows is the best route. Without this air flowing in, excessive moisture can accumulate on walls, windows and floors.
We relay information onto you because we care about your safety and health. If you suspect you may have mold sickness or have an abundance of mold growing in your home, please act quickly to resolve the issue!
Choosing a beneficiary is a very important decision in your life, especially when choosing a life insurance policy. This is the individual who you wish to grant financial security to after your passing, which is the most likely reason you’re purchasing the policy in the first place. Because of this, make sure you’re not making these 5 common mistakes when choosing the beneficiary on your policy.
Forgetting to Update Beneficiaries Periodically
As you progress through life, things change. Your lifestyle changes and more importantly, the life of your beneficiary may change. Divorces can occur, marriage, and unfortunately death. Incorrect information about a beneficiary can cause lots of confusion and can delay the payment of money. Also, having a beneficiary (maybe an ex-spouse) who no longer belongs on the policy can be an even bigger issue if you’re in a new marriage.
Appointing Minors as a Beneficiary
A minor in most states is considered to be under the age of 18 and cannot be responsible for their actions and decisions. The child will have to wait until they’re 18 years of age to receive all of the money (21 in some states) regardless of maturity. An 18 year old having a large lump sum of money usually doesn’t turn out good. A good way to avoid this chaos is to set up a trust that receives the life insurance death benefit. If this route is taken, you can specify whether you want the money to be paid at a specific age, for a specific purpose (college expenses), or in installments, lump sums, etc.
Assuming a Will Overrides a Life Insurance Policy
An insurance policy is a contract, which means that it controls what will happen to your policy when you pass away. Your will does NOT have this kind of power. Let’s say your ex-wife is the beneficiary on your life insurance policy. However, your current wife is included in your will so you believe she’s entitled to money. Wrong. Your ex-wife will receive all money included in the policy, despite your will. Doesn’t sound so good right?
Not Informing the Beneficiary
You would assume that this is a given, but many individuals tend to forget about this step. They assign a beneficiary who they never seem to inform. If this happens, they won’t know that they’re able to file a claim when you die. This will lead to a lump sum of money not being claimed so it’s important to let them know.
Forgetting About Government Assistance
This is arguably the most overlooked scenario when it comes to beneficiaries. Government assistance, if the individual receives it, can come to an end if they receive a death benefit. If it’s a person with disability or a child, setting up a special needs trust would work best to avoid this setback.
Avoiding these mistakes will save your loved ones lots of stress and money when you pass. Feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 to review or update your beneficiary information if necessary. If you wish to set up a life insurance policy, feel free to take a look at our life insurance page.
There’s no doubt that children love Halloween. They get to go trick-or-treating, eat lots of candy, dress up in costumes, have classroom parties at school, and maybe stay up a little later than usual. However, sometimes adults can get caught up in the fun that their children will have and forget about the safety issues that should be of concern, especially road and pedestrian safety.
Important Statistics to Know
1. Approximately 6,700 pedestrian deaths and about 160,000 injuries that required a hospital visit was due to motor vehicle accidents.
- 15% of these deaths occurred because of low lighting and dark clothing (Very common on Halloween)
- 17% of these deaths occurred because of crossing the street improperly (Also very common on Halloween)
- 15% of these were also due to darting into the road in kids ages 5-9 (You know what I’m going to say here)
2. A statistic no one wishes was true is the fact that children are more than twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than any other time of the year.
These statistics are unfortunate, but very true. It’s best to know what the facts are so that you can plan accordingly and avoid tragic situations that could’ve been prevented.
Good Safety Practices for Halloween
1. This is pretty cliché and may seem like common sense, but some parents allow their older children to watch over their younger children. However, we recommend having a responsible adult to accompany younger children while they’re out on Halloween.
2. Try to avoid masks, since they don’t allow you to have complete vision of your surroundings.
3. Avoid dark costumes if possible. If not, use reflective tape to place on their costumes or give them glow sticks to be seen at night.
4. Plan a safe route for your older children if they’re going alone to ensure they’re exposed to the least amount of dangers.
5. Ensure that your children understand that everyone they encounter is a stranger and should be treated as such. Make sure they understand that they should not get into anyone’s vehicle or go inside anyone’s home for candy.
6. Instruct your children to not eat any candy until they’re safe at home just in case it’s been tampered with.
Safety Practices for Drivers
1. Look both ways and slowly exit driveways and alleys. Make sure that you blow your horn as well to get the attention of anyone who may be walking behind your vehicle that’s not visible to you.
2. Make sure to avoid jumping the curb when driving, as children may be walking there and on medians during the night
3. Turn on your bright lights in places with dim lighting to detect children in dark clothing ahead of time
Some of these may seem like pretty simple techniques, but many people never think about these safety precautions until it’s too late. We want everyone to enjoy their Halloween holiday while remaining safe.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lobo235/58965867
Imagine coming home from a nice weekend getaway with your family. The weekend couldn’t have gotten any better. You pull into your driveway and proceed to enter your home. You then notice that your backdoor is open and you immediately realize that someone broke into your home while you were away. The next logical thing to do is to take inventory and see what was stolen. You notice that your iPad and your flat screen television are gone. Unfortunately, the ring that your grandmother gave you is gone, along with other necklaces that were gifted to you by your spouse and loved ones.
Why to Insure Jewelry
No one ever wants to be in this situation. Unfortunately, it happens more often now days since thieves are getting smarter and more calculated, security systems can be hacked and disabled, and the response time for authorities to arrive on the scene is not fast enough to stop thieves before they get away.
The best thing you can do is take precautions and make sure you’re covered just in case an unfortunate event like this occurs.
Many may believe that it’s pointless to purchase jewelry insurance when you have a homeowners policy and renters insurance. But, that may not be the case most of the time. A regular policy covers many things which usually consist of; fires, lodging when your home is uninhabitable, and replacement of personal belongings. However, expensive things such as precious jewelry may require an enhancement due to the value being so high.
Jewelry that’s often covered includes; engagement rings and jewelry passed down from loved ones. Of course, if something were to happen to a special piece of jewelry that was passed down from family members, getting compensated for it won’t bring that exact piece back. It has high personal value and we understand that. But, it can give you a means of trying to get it replaced and continue the cycle.
Steps to Insuring Your Jewelry
The first step to get an appraisal of the jewelry that you may want covered. We recommend you keep the receipt and the results of the appraisal, along with photos of your jewelry, and keep them in a safe location until you’re ready to purchase coverage.
The next step is to get in contact with a trusted and knowledgeable insurance agency to proceed with getting a quote for your precious items. The cost of your policy and the coverage depends on several things such as; your appraisal, whether you have a security system or if you keep your possessions in a safe (having these can land you a nice discount).
An important thing to remember is that you must remember to get your jewelry appraised every 2-4 years. This is because the value of it can change and you should adjust your policy to meet your new needs.
If you’re interested in learning more about covering your jewelry, feel free to get in touch with an agent at Bob Oetting & Associates to take steps in covering your valuables at 217-345-7063.
Once retirement hits, the only thing on your mind may be vacationing and spending time with loved ones. You have money saved up and the last thing on your mind is paying for a life insurance policy. In fact, it seems pointless to most retirees. Here are 6 reasons why that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
1. About 70% of retirees believe they will continue to work part-time or full-time to meet their financial needs. If you have a surviving partner or spouse when you pass away, a life insurance policy can be used to replace that lost stream of income from you working part or full time.
2. With income-tax free life insurance proceeds, you can be more aggressive when spending your retirement money. This is because your assets will be replaced by the life insurance policy upon your death.
3. Getting an illness during the retirement stages of life isn’t very uncommon. Death benefits do come with your policy, and a portion of this can be used if you require additional care or develop a terminal illness.
4. The cash value of your policy can provide more cushioning if a financial emergency arises.
5. Just because you’re retired, doesn’t mean you’re debt free. For retirees that may have some debt left over, a life insurance policy can help pay it off after death.
6. If you’ve been married more than once in your lifetime, and you have multiple children from 2 or more marriages, a life insurance policy can help with the process of dividing assets between your offspring.
“Life insurance is not for those who die, it’s for those who live.” This couldn’t be more spot on. As you age and head into retirement, you may want to think harder before dropping any insurance or believing that you do not need insurance anymore. Your loved ones deserve a peace of mind when your time finally come.
If you want to discuss options or speak to one of our specialists about coverages, that’s best for retirees, feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 or request a quote here.
Out of all the months with warm and hot weather, July and August tends to be more popular among most families that take vacation time to go on a trip. Of course, this means if you’re planning on taking a road trip in July month, you need to be safe!
Besides, 91% of summer trips are taken in personal vehicles, with the average distance driven being 284 miles one way(statisticbrain.com). What does this mean? This means that there’s always a big risk of an accident when taking summer road trips.
So, we’ve put together a list of ways you can stay safe during a road trip.
Go for a tune up
This is probably one of the best safety precautions you can take before a long road trip. Make sure your car is in good condition for a long drive. Some things you may want to check on can consist of; making sure tire are properly inflated and not “bald”, all fluids are at their recommended levels, and that neither your engine, or brake lights are on.
This will allow you to determine whether your car is in good enough condition for a road trip. It is best to have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle, versus inspecting your vehicle yourself.
Get a good night’s rest
Driving drowsy contributes to 100,000 accidents annually according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To avoid falling victim to this inconvenience, it’s important to be well rested, and if possible, take turns driving with another adult.
Keep a safety kit
When going on a road trip, the NHTSA suggests to pack the following items;
- Tools to change a tire
- First aid kit
- Jumper Cables
- A fully charged cell phone
Properly install booster seat
Of course, you can’t leave the little one at home if you’re going on a family road trip! However, did you know that 8 out of 10 booster seats are not installed properly? That could pose as a huge issue if an accident were to occur. Putting your little on in harm’s way. You can call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a nearby location for a free safety seat inspection!
Avoid Driving non-stop
Many individuals choose not to stop during a road trip. They want to arrive at their destination as soon as possible, which is understandable. However, by doing this sometimes, you put yourself in danger of making many mistakes behind the wheel due to being exhausted.
Our recommendation is that you make pit stops every now and then, and grab a snack to refuel while resting.
If possible, share the responsibility of driving with another passenger in the car. That way, you can watch after one another while getting some rest and enjoying the trip.
Trips are very common in July and August, especially road trips. This is why we compiled this list to ensure the safety of everyone who’s planning on taking a road trip this month. If you have any questions or want any more tips, feel free to give us a call at (217) 345-7063.
Have you ever woken up to find your dog pacing back and forth and for some reason has diarrhea? You then notice that there’s a chocolate candy bar on the floor that he managed to get his paws on. Now you’re stuck rushing him to the vet in a panic before anything worse happens. This is a situation that many dog owners can relate to. They’re good at getting their paws on items they shouldn’t have. Sometimes it can be annoying, but in cases like this, it can cause serious harm, a coma, or worse.
Here are 8 surprising foods that can be toxic to dogs.
Chocolate is one snack that dogs love believe it or not. They enjoy it until they start feeling the consequences of eating it! You can find both caffeine and Theobromine in chocolate. Both of which have unusual effects on dogs in particular.
Need help to identify whether your little friend has chocolate indigestion? Some of the symptoms include; rapid breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and even a coma or heart failure.
Onions & Garlic
This one is usually a big surprise for many. Although small amounts may not cause any harm, when it’s eaten regularly or in large amounts, it can cause serious anemia that must be treated.
If you’re suspecting that your dog has been the victim of onion poisoning, look for symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, drooling, blood in the urine, pale gums, and an elevated heart rate. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms will take several days to notice.
Yes, bread dough is bad as well. Allowing your dog to eat unbaked dough can even be deadly. What happens is that the dough rises and expands which causes a twisted stomach.
Some symptoms to check for consists of; huge increase in heart rate, severe weakness, a bloated stomach, and unfortunately death.
Who hasn’t treated their dog to some popcorn? Our point exactly. It’s one of the most common snacks to give them to snack on. This can go either way and it all depends on whether you pop your own popcorn at home or buy it from the store. Popcorn that is store bought is more than likely to be fully loaded with sodium. Salt toxicity can lead to vomiting, tremors, seizures, frequent urination and even a coma, says The Pet Poison Helpline.
Xylitol? Yeah, we never heard of it until recently either. However, it’s a sweetener found in almost everything. Literally, everything. You can find it in toothpaste, gum, candy, etc. Now, does this mean that you should completely eliminate ‘everything’ from the list of things your dog can consume? No. You should simply be cautious of the things you allow your dog to get their hands on that may contain this sweetener.
Does this mean your dog can’t have peanut butter? No. Peanut butter is fine. However, macadamia nuts can cause fevers, weakness, and vomiting. Getting help early on will eliminate any symptoms that may have occurred.
Grapes & Raisins
Consuming grapes and raisins can be very toxic for dogs. It has not yet been discovered what exactly causes this reaction in them, according to PetMD. However, it can cause acute kidney failure. The unfortunate part is that it’s hard to catch until things have already taken a turn for the worst. Vomiting and excessive urination are possible symptoms.
Get Help Quick
If after reading this article you realize that you’ve given your little one anything on this list, call your local veterinarian fast. They will make sure to see your dog as soon as possible for the best outcome.
Anything can happen while your dog isn’t under close supervision. If you are interested in learning more about pet insurance, feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 and speak with one of our specialists.
Big changes in life are stressful, especially when it impacts loved ones. It’s natural to be anxious and worried. As a child, you want to ensure you’re making the best choices for your parents as they transition. Making the choice to move your parents into assisted living isn’t easy as you must consider a variety of things such as; location, expenses, amenities, and much more.
How can you make this process easier? Consider these 4 things.
Hobbies are activities that an individual enjoys partaking in. A move to assisted living doesn’t mean this must change for your parents. The majority of assisted living facilities have a wellness director who plans exercise classes, music, and much more. It would be ideal to ask them questions, inform them of what would be a good activity for your parents, and plan ahead. Good facilities will make accommodations and ensure your parents are doing what they love during their stay. Highlight some of these activities to your parents to ease the worry.
Staying in Familiar Territory
The location at which your parent resides doesn’t have to be in a new town or state. They may prefer to stay near home, which may be a better option in some cases. If they attended a Wednesday night book club or Thursday night chess club, continuing this will create a sense of home. This way, they aren’t experiencing a huge shift in their environment.
Studies show that an active social life as we get older is beneficial for both our mental and physical health. Assisted living facilities provide built-in social calendars for residents who are interested. Also, urging loved ones to visit to keep in contact is a good way to maintain their social life as well.
One of the most difficult things about transitioning to assisted living is having to downsize. They can’t bring everything with them. Many of their belongings have great emotional value. It’s important that you pick out the ones that hold the most value for your parents and make room for them.
How to Make the Transition Easier for You
Parents aren’t the only ones who may find this move stressful. It can have a toll on you as well. Here are 3 ways to make the transition easier on you.
You should begin preparation for moving-day ahead of time. Some items will be taken with them, get donated, and others discarded. Some items may be valuable to you as well, and a hard choice must be made depending on whether you have room for those objects in your home.
Get Rid of Guilt
One should never feel guilty of making this decision for their parents. It’s not like you’re shipping them off because you don’t want anything to do with them. You and your family more than likely made this decision for safety and health reasons. Having your parents experience a new environment and make new friends doesn’t sound so bad to me.
Of course, visiting regularly will give both of you a peace of mind at the end of the day. Making a schedule of when you will visit, and even planning fun activities for you two will do wonders. It will also relieve any guilt you may be feeling.
Assisted living isn’t the only new change that some may encounter as they age. Your insurance should change as well.
Feel free to contact our agency at 217-345-7063 to find out how we can assist you in keeping your insurance needs in check through the different stages of your life as you age.
Warm temperatures mean you can finally take your exercises outside. However, the outdoors expose you to undesired elements that you don’t face in the coziness of your home or gym. Some of those elements include: airborne pollutants, UV radiation, injuries and more.
Below are tips you can use to ensure you’re safe while working out in the outdoors.
- Drink plain water if you plan on working out for a short amount of time. If your workout is going to be longer than an hour, a sports drink such as Gatorade will come in handy by replenishing your carbohydrates and electrolytes
- Purchase the appropriate sunglasses that have both UVA and UVB protection. Ensure they also block light from the sides and topside. This is vital because UV rays are responsible for many kinds of eye problems, some of which include: Cataracts and Glaucoma.
- Don’t forget that heat stress is cumulative. Heat related problems are more likely to occur if you exercised in hot weather the day before. It doesn’t matter if today happens to consist of mild weather either. It will more than likely have a toll on you.
- Be cautious when humidity is high outside. Your body is cooled because of your sweat evaporating into the air. When it’s humid, it’s lots of moisture in the air already. That being said, humidity can affect you the same way, or more, that hot and dry weather can.
- Be sure to check your head for hair loss. Skin cancer is more likely to develop on the top of your head than any other body part. If your scalp is visible through your hair, gel sunscreen or wearing a hat while exercising outside is advised.
- When putting on sunscreen, allow at least 30 minutes for it to become fully effective before going outside. It’s crucial to allow the time necessary for other locations on your body to absorb this.
- Going off the last point, bring the bottle of sunscreen with you as well. Some products may say that it’s ‘waterproof’, but even those products can fail during a long, sweaty workout. Be very cautious.
- Don’t be an over-achiever and do every exercise at once. Your body must get used to the outdoors. This will decrease your chances of extreme pain and stiffness the next day, and heat stroke.
- Be sure to drink 16 to 32 ounces of water before leaving out the door, and bring plenty of water with you. The slightest dehydration raises your heart rate and decreases its efficiency, but being dehydrated is just plain dangerous. Drink regularly while you’re in the middle of your workout.
- Consult your doctor about medications you’re consuming. Some medications can make you more vulnerable to the outdoors. For example, fat burning supplements can lead to dehydration, while some antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, even with sunscreen on.
While there are many ways to ensure you’re safe during outside workouts, the tips provided above are a few that we believe are crucial to get started. If you enjoy educational articles like this, feel free to check out more of our blogs on our website