Swimming Safety: 10 Tips for Summer

Summer is here and people are flocking to the water — whether it’s the beach, a lake, a river or a backyard pool. But, wherever there’s water, there’s also danger.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people drown every day — and two of those are children 14 or younger. Even seasoned swimmers can find themselves in dangerous situations, so brush up on these basic safety tips before your first—or next—swim:

Swimming Safety Tips

  1. Consider the swimming level of everyone in your party before selecting a place to swim. Just because swimmers are comfortable in a pool doesn’t mean they can handle swimming in the ocean.
  2. Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present, and follow any posted warnings or instructions. However, don’t rely on the lifeguard alone. Never leave young children or other inexperienced swimmers unattended or in the care of another child.
  3. Teach children to ask permission before going near the water. If a child is missing, always check the water first.
  4. Young children should wear swim diapers and Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Even still, maintain constant supervision.
  5. Avoid alcohol or drug use during water activities.
  6. Know CPR and other life-saving measures.
  7. Don’t dive into unfamiliar water. You never know what might be below the surface.
  8. In open bodies of water, watch for dangers that just aren’t present in pools. These can include plants and animals, as well as riptides, currents, waves and rapids. If you see someone in danger, reach out to them with a pole or tree branch – anything that extends your reach – or throw them a floating object while someone else alerts the lifeguard. Wading in yourself could put you in just as much danger, so leave the water rescues to the professionals.
  9. Don’t swallow the water, no matter where you’re swimming. It could cause illness.
  10. Check the weather and be aware of changing and potentially dangerous conditions.

If you happen to have a pool on your property (lucky you), you have even more responsibilities. Your pool should be completely surrounded by a locking fence, at least 4 feet tall, and all pools and spas should have compliant drain covers. Keep life-saving equipment, such as life rings and poles, within easy reach. If you have a small kiddie or wading pool, be sure to empty it after each use. A baby can drown in just 1 inch of water.

Summer fun in and around the water is for people of all ages — just keep in mind that some people need more supervision than others, and everyone needs to keep safety in mind at all times. Happy splashing!

Benefits of Using a Dash Cam

More and more people these days are choosing to add dash cams to their vehicles, and for good reason. These small cameras can be highly useful to you, especially in the event that you get a traffic ticket or are involved in a crash or other incident on the road. Here’s how a dash cam can benefit you.

Document What Happened in a Crash

Car crashes can be incredibly traumatizing, and this can greatly impact your memory of the event. Not only that, but you and the other driver are likely to differ in your accounts of what happened. With a dash cam, you’ll have the footage to prove exactly what happened leading up to and during the incident.

You can then provide this information to law enforcement and your insurance company to ensure everything proceeds as it should. If the other driver was at fault, this would also maximize your chances of getting a fair settlement from their insurance company. Some drivers may omit information to avoid fault, and your dash cam footage can fill in the gaps to provide a more complete story.

Avoid Traffic Tickets

Police officers are human just like the rest of us, and that means that they can make mistakes too. If you have received a ticket and don’t believe you actually committed the offense they said you did, dash cam footage can help to get the charges dismissed. Of course, it won’t help if you actually were in the wrong, but it can minimize the risk of officer error.

Find Out How You Got That Door Ding

Some dash cams are always on, even when you’re not in your car, and can detect when something bumps into your car. When that happens, they store video from a minute or two before until a minute or two after the bump so you can see what happened, possibly even catching the license plate of the car that was responsible for causing the damage.

Share Your Adventures

If you enjoy off-roading or track racing in your vehicle, a dash cam is the perfect way to document your activities. You can then share the videos later with your friends. Just remember to keep your attention on driving, and put the dash cam out of your mind until it’s time to retrieve the video later.

Equip Your Vehicle with a Dash Cam to See All the Benefits

We’re sure you can come up with many other benefits besides these once you get started with your own dash cam. These devices are affordable and easy to set up, so just about anyone can add a dash cam to their vehicle. Dash cams are available from several manufacturers and with many different options to fit your needs and your budget.

How Independent Agents Are Different from Captive Agents

When it comes to buying insurance, you have two primary options available to you: independent agents like us, and captive agents. While both can provide insurance services, these two types of insurance agents are not the same, and it’s important to understand the differences.

  • Captive Insurance Agents A captive agent works for a single insurance company, either as an employee of that company or as an independent contractor. This means that a captive insurance agent will be limited to the specific insurance products offered by that particular company, so they won’t be able to help you if you need a type of insurance they don’t offer, or shop around to find the best deals on the market. The insurance company may also push certain products, so there is no guarantee that you are truly getting what is best for you, and not just what is best for the company.
  • Independent Insurance Agents An independent agent is not controlled by any one insurance company, and instead works with multiple insurers. This means independent agents have access to all of the insurance products and services offered by all of the companies they represent. As a result, it’s often the case that an independent agent will be able to help you with all of the products you need, even if those products come from multiple insurance companies.

As an independent insurance agency, we are not bound to a single company and can assist you with insurance products from multiple providers. This enables us to shop around to get you the best possible rates for you. We offer a wide range of insurance products, and we can help tailor a plan that fits your specific needs and budget.

We also take customer service very seriously. If you need to file a claim, we’ll walk with you and work on your behalf throughout the process. We’re available for questions, and we can even regularly review your policy to ensure it is still the best possible fit for you.

To see how an independent insurance agent can help you, or to find out how much you might save by switching, get in touch with us today.

How to Decide If Solar Panels Are Right for Your Home

Solar panels can provide clean electricity for your home, helping you to save money on energy costs while also doing your part to help the environment. However, not all homes are suited to solar energy. Here’s what you need to know to determine whether solar panels make sense for your home.

Can you afford solar panels?

Gone are the days when you had to shell out thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars upfront to buy solar panels. You’ll have a lot of other options available to you these days, including taking out a personal loan, financing the project through the solar panel company, and leasing the panels from the company. Depending on where you live, you may even be eligible for state or federal subsidies or rebates to encourage you to go solar.

Take the time to request quotes from several solar companies, and be sure to research the many options in your jurisdiction. This way, you’ll have all the information you’ll need to work out which option makes the most sense for your budget. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised that solar panels are much more affordable than you might think.

Do you get plenty of sunshine?

Of course, you’ll need to have plenty of sun on your roof throughout the day to make solar panels worthwhile, or enough space on your property for a ground-mounted system. If you have a large tree that shades the bulk of your property, or if you live in an area where the weather is often cloudy, solar panels may not be cost-effective for you. Think about the layout of your roof and the typical weather where you live to determine whether you’ll get enough sunshine to produce the necessary electricity to reduce or your electric bill enough to make the project worthwhile.

Are there any local or HOA requirements?

Some jurisdictions have regulations regarding solar panels, so you’ll want to ensure you are complying with any laws in your area. If your home is in a community with a homeowner association (HOA), you may also have to comply with their rules and bylaws. Be sure to do your research in advance and request approval so you don’t end up getting fined for not following the rules.

Get Started with Solar Today

You’ll never know how much you could save with solar panels until you start looking into it, so start your research today. You could save a lot of money on your electric bills while also potentially adding value to your property and preserving the environment, so it is in your best interest to at least check out the possibilities.

How to Make a Fire Safety Plan

No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire in their home, but this is one situation where it definitely pays to be prepared. This is especially true if you have children or pets in your home. Read on to learn how to develop a fire safety plan to ensure you and your loved ones are as safe as possible in an emergency.

Plan Multiple Routes Out of Your Home

Depending on where the fire starts and how much of your home it consumes, you may not necessarily be able to use the most obvious exit. Of course, the best way to get out of your home in a fire is the quickest route, but you may not have access to it if fire is blocking it. In addition to identifying the fastest way out, be sure to have several contingency options at the ready as well.

This is especially important if your home has two or more levels. If a fire is blocking the stairs, how will you get your loved ones out safely? Think about as many possible ways to get out of every room in your home as you can, and make sure all members of your family are familiar with their exit routes, no matter where they are.

Consider All Members of Your Family

Small children and pets will likely need assistance in the event of a fire, so you and any other adults in your home will need to plan who will take on which responsibilities. For example, you might tend to your children while your partner handles the pets, or vice versa. The important thing is to ensure that everyone will be taken care of and that no one will be forgotten. The last thing you want to have to do is run back into a burning house to rescue a forgotten hamster on the upper floor.

Do Several Practice Runs

All that planning can quickly go out the window in the stress and chaos of an actual emergency, so be sure to practice your fire exit plan frequently. This will instill the exit routes and procedure in your and your loved ones’ minds so everyone can get out safely without panicking. Make sure your kids understand the importance of this practice as well to ensure they take it seriously and pay attention to the details. With practice, you and your family will be well-prepared in the event of a fire.

How to Choose Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for any home, so you should ensure that your house is equipped with them. You should have detectors in the main living areas on each floor, including in every bedroom and the kitchen. This way, you’ll be able to identify problems in the most important areas as quickly as possible. However, not all detectors are the same. Here’s what you need to know to pick appropriate ones for your home.

Types of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

First, you’ll need to choose between individual and combination devices. With individual devices, you’ll have separate detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide. As you might have guessed, combination devices can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide from a single device. While combo options can be a bit more costly, they’ll take up less space on your ceiling, keeping the overall look clean and uncluttered.

You’ll also have to choose between wired and battery-powered options. In general, battery-powered detectors are cheaper and easier to install, though you’ll need to replace the batteries periodically. It is also a smart idea to test them frequently to ensure they are working properly. If you opt for wired detectors, consider choosing the kind with backup batteries to ensure they continue working in the event of a power failure.

Finally, modern smoke and carbon monoxide detectors also come in smart versions. These devices connect to your home’s internet connection, enabling you to monitor them from your smartphone or other mobile device. This way, you can check on your home while you are at work or out of town to ensure everything is safe. These devices tend to be the most expensive, but they’ll also give you the greatest peace of mind, especially if you travel frequently.

Adding Sprinkler Systems

If you live in an area that is prone to fires, you may wish to add overhead sprinklers to your home as well. In fact, some jurisdictions actually require them, so be sure to check the laws in your area. Modern sprinkler systems can sync with your smoke detectors, activating the sprinklers in case of fire.

Upgrade Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Even if your home already has detectors in place, you may wish to upgrade them to more modern versions. This will give you the greatest amount of protection for both your home and your loved ones. You may even be able to save a bit of money on your home insurance. Get in touch with us to learn more.

How to Evaluate and Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Today’s modern appliances are much more energy-efficient than their predecessors, and some are even better than the rest. When shopping for appliances, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by choice, so it is important to know what you are looking for. Follow these steps to find the right energy-efficient appliances to meet your needs and fit within your budget.

Choose the Right Size

Particularly for air conditioning and heating units, it is crucial that you select the appropriate size for your home. If you choose an HVAC unit that is too small for the size of your home, it will have to run much more frequently and stay on longer to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This constant running will negate any energy-efficiency savings you might have reaped. Most appliances in this category will identify how many square-feet they can accommodate, so be sure to pay attention to this metric.

Look for Energy-Efficiency Settings

When choosing a dishwasher, for example, be on the lookout for devices that enable you to adjust the wash settings. For dishes that are only mildly dirty, you won’t need to use as much water or wash for as long as you would with heavier loads. The same goes for washing machines. Those with sensors can regulate the amount of water used based on the size of your load, and you should be able to adjust the soil level of the clothes as well.

Consider Both Upfront and Ongoing Costs

While it is true that energy-efficient appliances tend to be more expensive than their standard counterparts, that is not the only cost you need to consider. Check the label to determine the annual operating cost as well. With an energy-efficient appliance, this amount will typically be much lower, so you could save a lot of money over the years. Be sure to factor in these savings so you can weigh them against the initial cost of the appliance to determine your break-even point.

Think about the Environment

While energy cost savings may be your primary concern in choosing an energy-efficient appliance, it is important to also consider the benefits for the environment. In using less energy, you’ll be less reliant on non-renewable resources, which can help to preserve our environment for future generations.