Glascock-Meenan Insurance

8 Disaster Preparedness Tips

In the event of a natural disaster, having a preparedness plan can be a critical element in helping secure a safe transition out of danger for you, your loved ones and your property. Preparation is key, but it is also important to stay calm and focused during an emergency. If you are ordered to evacuate, do so. If you are not evacuating, use your time wisely to make preparations.

 

  1. Communicate where you will be. Contact someone outside the affected area to tell them where you will be for the duration of the event. Business owners should remind employees of their roles in helping to get the business back up and running, and how they will be notified when the facility is open again.
  2. Know the warning signs and alert signals for your area. Stay tuned to your local television or radio station or community alert system for emergency information.
  3. Check your emergency survival kit. Make sure your emergency survival kit is stocked with essential items and kept in an easily accessible location.
  4. Collect emergency building materials. Depending on the type of disaster, you may want to have emergency materials on hand, such as plywood, sandbags and waterproof tarps.
  5. Fuel up your vehicles and equipment. If you have an emergency generator, make sure you have fresh fuel on hand. Depending on your situation, you may need a supply of extra fuel. If so, be sure to store the spare fuel in an approved container in a safe location. Never use a generator inside or even in a garage. Make sure it is located a safe distance from windows, doors and vents. Read More

ARE YOU PREPARED?

If disaster strikes, being prepared can make all the difference.

Let’s build your preparedness kit. Your watertight container holds 12 items, and you have 60 seconds to find out how prepared you really are!

When creating an emergency survival kit for the home, consider the supplies you might need to last you and your family for a minimum of three to seven days. In case of emergencies that may require that you leave your home quickly, such as a wildfire, prepare your kit well in advance, and keep it in an easily accessible location so you can take essential items with you if you must evacuate with little notice.

For other emergencies that might require staying in place at home for several days, such as a blizzard, you might want to gather supplies when a storm is first forecast and closely monitor the storm, to ensure that you have everything you need on hand.

Whether you are hunkering down to weather a storm at home, scrambling to evacuate to get to safety, or facing the possibility of being stranded in your vehicle during stormy weather, one thing is sure: having the proper provisions can help make a difficult scenario safer for you.

The following are some of the key considerations for a survival kit to fit these potential emergency situations. Consider how each of them could suit these scenarios and arm yourself appropriately. Click here to take the quiz!

7 Steps to Prepare an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Well before a disaster or some unforeseen event strikes, you should be thinking about an evacuation plan in the event you and your family are forced to leave your home on short notice. Emergencies can come in a variety of forms with varying preparation times, from storms with fair warning to a more immediate crisis, such as a fire.

An evacuation plan that is spelled out and shared with your family members well in advance is a good strategy for success, and overall safety, in case of disaster. Consider where you will go and how you will get there, how you will stay in touch and who will know where you are.

Step 1: Designate a place for all family members to meet while ensuring the meeting place is outside the impacted evacuation area.

Step 2: Map out a primary evacuation route, including alternate routes in case your intended route is blocked.

Step 3: Create a communication plan for use if family members become separated. Develop an alternate plan that everyone is comfortable with in case there is no landline or cell service. Remember that during certain emergencies, public safety officials will communicate the need to evacuate and other developments through various methods including the news media, social media and alert broadcasts to smartphones. These can be valuable information resources for individual family members should anyone become separated.

Step 4: Be sure that you have ample fuel in your vehicle to reach your meeting place, remembering that you may not be able to take your preferred evacuation route.

5 Steps to Create a Home Inventory Checklist

 

After a fire, burglary or another event in which you lost possessions from your home, it may be difficult to remember the details of every one of the belongings that you have accumulated over the years. In this situation, having a current inventory of your possessions, including make and model numbers, may help you with any potential insurance claims. Taking the time to document your belongings now can help you recover faster after a loss.

Here are some steps you can use to help build your home inventory checklist.

Step 1: Take the time to walk through your property. Compiling a comprehensive home inventory takes time and effort. The more detailed your inventory, the more useful it will be if you have to make a claim. Document possessions inside your home and on your property that may be of value.

Step 2: Keep your inventory in a safe place. Creating a digital home inventory and storing it off-site will help ensure that it won’t be lost, stolen or damaged during any disaster at your home. You can also create a photo or video inventory and upload it to a cloud-based service.

  • First, take a picture of relevant rooms or items. Label pictures of rooms and important individual items with a description, including where you bought it and the make, model and serial number. Don’t forget to inventory items that may be out of sight in storage closets or drawers.
  • Second, walk through your home or office using your phone to shoot video of the contents, describing them as you go.
  • Finally, digital home inventory programs allow you to upload multiple photos of each item, including photos of the serial number, receipt and other identifying details. If you choose to create a paper version, consider storing it off-site in a safe deposit box.

Step 3: Update your inventory often. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to the inventory while the details are fresh in your mind. This is also a good time to delete items that you have replaced or no longer own. Read More

5 Home Improvement Projects That May Have the Biggest Return on Investment

 

Conventional wisdom has long held that kitchens and baths sell homes. Those are also two of the more expensive areas to tackle for home improvement, but if you make sound design and material decisions, you could end up making your home more appealing to potential buyers — and a more enjoyable place for you to live.

A recent study from the National Association of Realtors1 confirms that kitchens and baths still top the interior home renovation projects that appeal most to potential buyers. The survey ranked the projects’ likely value to the home for resale. These five home improvement projects can potentially provide the biggest bang for your buck for ROI.

1. Complete Kitchen Renovation

NARI Remodelers’ cost estimate for the project: $60,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $40,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 67%

The look and feel of a kitchen can serve as shorthand for how up-to-date the owners have kept a house. Potential buyers have been known to rule out homes based on kitchens alone. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops continue to be on many buyers’ checklists, especially those who want to move right in and start entertaining.

The top reason for renovating a kitchen, cited by 36% of homeowners, was to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials. According to the Remodeling Impact Report, 12% of realtors said a completely renovated kitchen most recently helped them cinch a deal, resulting in a closed sale.

2. Kitchen Upgrade

NARI Remodelers’ cost estimate for the project: $30,000
REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $20,000
Percent of value recovered from the project: 67%

A less expensive alternative to completely gutting a kitchen is an upgrade. Replacing dated appliances, refinishing cabinets and changing out tile backsplashes are some cost-effective updates that can still modernize a kitchen and make it more appealing to buyers. Read More

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Extreme temperatures, from wintry winds to summer heat waves, can make us more mindful of the importance of an energy-efficient home. But no matter the season or which climate you live in, taking a few key steps can make a significant difference on your energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.

That’s because making your home more energy efficient can do more than help control temperatures. Mold, excessive dust, ice dams, moisture on windows, sinus problems and inordinate noise can also be potentially addressed by making home improvements.

Rather than one-off solutions, such as adding insulation or replacing dated appliances with more energy efficient ones, ENERGY STAR® recommends a more holistic approach. Their Home Performance survey, conducted by a qualified contractor, can help homeowners identify specific problems. For example, ice-cold kitchen floors, a second-floor bedroom that’s too hot in the summer or high energy bills, might be signs of larger issues.

According to ENERGY STAR, here are some improvements that homeowners typically make after an audit of their home:

  • Air sealing and adding insulation. Sealing up all of the small holes throughout your home can improve energy efficiency and also keep out dust and pests. Attics and basements can be primary culprits, but doors and windows can also account for air leaks.
    • Lack of insulation in the attic or air leaks around pipes and chimneys can lead to escaping heat in the winter.
    • In the basement, leaks are common where the basement walls meet the floors above.
    • Leaks around doors, windows and pipes may be sealed with caulk or expanding foam.
    • Crawlspaces can draw in cold air in the winter and humid air in the summer.
  • Heating and cooling. Systems that are more than 10 years old can be replaced with models that have earned the government’s ENERGY STAR rating.
    • ENERGY STAR-rated heating and cooling systems, when properly installed and used correctly, can help homeowners save up to 10 percent on home utility bills.
    • When used correctly, an ENERGY STAR-rated programmable thermostat can provide additional savings and increase comfort by having your home programmed based on your schedule. Read More

New Car Tech Headed Our Way

Craig Thomas & Eric Vo

Many car buyers make purchasing decisions based on the technology fitted to their new ride.

In fact, nearly 60 percent of millennials and 40 percent of older adults would change brands if another car manufacturer offered the technology they wanted. And an average buyer would pay over $2,200 more to have the technology features they wanted in their car. The tech also has to be easy to use. If the technology wasn’t intuitive, more than 30 percent of buyers said they’d look at a completely different car.

Let’s take a look at technology for your car—both what’s currently available and what we’re likely to find in our cars in the coming years.

Keyless Entry

Having been widely available since the 1990s, keyless entry is a common feature on many of today’s cars. But there have been some updates.

Keyless entry was first introduced by Ford in 1980. It was featured in the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, Lincoln Continental and Lincoln Town Car, and adopted by the likes of Renault, Nissan and GM soon after.

The first versions used a keypad that required a code to unlock the vehicle. Soon, more sophisticated systems were developed that turned keys into radio transmitters that sent a coded signal to a receiver unit in the car.

Keys have evolved even further so that these days there are a number of automakers that offer smart keys. Used in conjunction with car doors that have touch sensors, these hands-free smart keys (or keycards) rely on a proximity-based system of opening. The mere positioning of the key close to a vehicle unlocks the car as soon as the driver places their hand on the door handle. Read More

A Quick Refresher: Driving and Maintaining Your Vehicle in Wintry Conditions

Michael Kelly

To be a safe driver, you must learn how to handle your vehicle in all conditions. This article explains some of the best winter driving tips to help you stay safe on snowy and icy roads.

Tips for Driving Safer in the Winter

Maintain distance. In normal driving conditions, you should maintain 3 seconds of distance from the car in front of you. In winter driving conditions you should maintain 8 to 10 seconds of distance from the car in front of you. This will help ensure that you can brake in time to avoid the car in front of you if it stops or slows down abruptly.

Drive for the conditions. Speed limits are based on perfect road conditions. In winter driving conditions, going 65 mph on the highway can be fatal. Use your judgment and reduce speed to what you think is safe. Also, don’t feel pressured by a driver behind you who is tailgating or flashing his lights. You know what’s safest for you. If necessary, pull to the side of the road to let the driver pass.

Respect snowplows. Keep a distance of at least 70 feet (four car lengths) behind a snowplow. This will help ensure that you are not in one of the plows blind spots. It can also help prevent the sand and brine spraying from the back of the plow from damaging your vehicle. Also, never pass a plow. It is frustrating when they drive under 35 mph, but parts of the road they have not yet cleared may be unsafe. Read More

Manufacturers, Do You Understand Your Products Liability Risks?

From an initial prototype sketch to the warning labels on a finished product, the decisions made during the course of bringing a product to market can come under intense scrutiny in a products liability claim. Manufacturers should focus on the potential risks across a product’s life cycle to help both prevent and defend against product liability claims.

In 2014, products liability led the list of top verdict categories for court cases. Among the top 100 verdicts by dollar value, a total of more than $33 billion in jury awards involved product liability.1 In addition to the financial costs of product liability, negative publicity can have a lasting effect on a company’s brand and reputation and lead to a loss of goodwill and market share.

“Companies need to be aware of the potential for product liability at every stage of the life cycle as well as their ability to defend the decisions that they make,” says Reese Cann, a Travelers Risk Control products liability professional. “For example, product liability claims can be made long after the products were manufactured. A manufacturer’s post-sale responsibilities may be questioned, such as updated warnings or instructions when a hazard is later determined.” Read More

Inside a Products Liability Claim

Products liability claims and lawsuits can be complex, potentially involving alleged design defects, manufacturing defects and warning, and instruction defects. A common thread in all product liability claims is the need for manufacturers, distributors and retailers to have policies and procedures in place to defend themselves, regardless of whether or not their products caused harm.

To illustrate how companies can think about their risk and how to help mitigate it, the following are three scenarios that demonstrate how product liability claims can unfold.

Manufacturing Defect: Product Contamination

An international spice importer’s new supplier delivered a shipment of paprika contaminated with peanut protein, a potentially life-threatening food allergen. Some manufacturers of prepared foods used the contaminated paprika and had to issue product recalls preventing the tainted foods from reaching the market. Many consumers suffered allergic reactions, which led to claims in multiple jurisdictions.

“Manufacturers and importers can help guard against food contamination by testing or otherwise verifying that the product received meets their specifications,” says Robert T. Bell, a Travelers Risk Control Technical Director. Conducting these tests could help avoid product liability claims by alerting manufacturers to potential hazards prior to releasing them into production or into the market.

Companies that import products, including raw ingredients that are later provided to manufacturers of final products, can face serious liabilities if the imported product does not meet safety standards, including required labels, warnings, and instructions. In the case of an allergen, consumer warnings may be required, and the prepared foods company, unaware of the allergen within the paprika, had not provided that warning on their packaging. Read More

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