Remembering Our Nation’s Heroes

Veterans Day

At a time when there is so much divisiveness in our country, we would do well to recognize that there is also much to unite us. The people of our nation have varying opinions about what direction our country should head and what mistakes it may have made in the past, yet no one disputes that we all owe our military veterans the highest of honors. 

Most of us have heard of Armistice Day, but not all may be clear on what it is and why it is significant. World War I, known at the time as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars,” officially ended on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting had actually ceased on November 11, 1918. This armistice (temporary suspension of hostilities) “between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” (US Department of Veterans Affairs). In 1938 legislation was passed to dedicate November 11 “to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’” (Military.com). 

Following World War II and the Korean War, veterans service organizations prompted Congress to dispose of the word “Armistice” and replace it with the word “Veterans” in 1954. Thus November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars (Military.com). 

As a result of the 1968 Uniform Holiday Bill, the celebration of Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October. This caused confusion and some degree of dissent, and some states continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date (Military.com). On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed Public Law 94-97, returning the annual observance of Veterans Day to November 11 effective 1978 (US Department of Veterans Affairs). 

So what is the best way to celebrate Veterans Day? Unfortunately, the usual parades and other gatherings may not be an option this year. We definitely look forward to the resumption of such activities next year, yet there are still things we can do now to show our appreciation.

  • Contact a veteran’s hospital or local veterans association and ask what you can do for them. Ask if there are patients or residents whom you could visit on a Zoom call or other source of live chat.
  • Donate to a reputable veterans association. Do a little research before opening your checkbook to be sure actual veterans will receive the benefits.
  • Join an organization that writes letters to veterans or soldiers currently serving.
  • Contact your American Legion Office to find out where you can get a red poppy pin to wear on Veterans Day. The red poppy is a symbol of sacrifice honoring those who have served and died for our country, and donations for the pins are used to “support veterans, the military community, and their families” (The American Legion).

These are just a few minor ways we can honor those who have done so much for our country. Recognizing and appreciating our community helps us come together in positive ways that strengthen our neighborhoods and our country as a whole. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about our community because we are part of the community. Call us when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Military.com "The History of Veterans Day"

Military.com "8 Ways to Express Appreciation on Veterans Day"

History.com

The American Legion

Staying Safe Online

Stay safe online

Those of us who recall life before the internet are amazed when we stop and think about how much it has changed our world. To say that masses of information are now available to us is clearly an understatement. And sadly, misinformation is just as prevalent as reliable facts. Humans have a tendency to lean toward content that confirms rather than challenges our beliefs. And if something seems too good to be true, rather than giving us pause, we often take the bait. These tendencies, unfortunately, led to internet scams to the tune of three and a half billions of dollars in losses for Americans in 2019 (Statista). 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the most frequently reported complaints in 2019 were “phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion.” So what is “phishing”? Phishing is when scammers commit identity theft by using fake emails, text messages, or websites that look identical to legitimate vendors. Phishing can also be used “to steal personal information including credit card and bank account numbers, debit card PINs, and account passwords” (USA.gov “Online Safety”). Scammers copy logos with such accuracy that it’s difficult or impossible to differentiate between them and an authentic company. They will ask you to click on a link in their email or to give them your bank account number, credit card number, or personal information to verify your account or confirm your identity. “They may even threaten to disable your account” if you do not quickly respond under the guise that they are looking out for your safety (USA.gov “Online Safety”). This should raise a red flag, as legitimate companies do not ask you for such information by email (USA.gov “Online Safety”). 

Phishing emails may also come from someone you know whose account has been hacked. This helps make the request seem legitimate. This type of phishing is also known as “pfishing” (“17 Common Online Scams”). 

Internet shopping scams are also easy to fall victim to. These scams involve a company that appears to be selling you something, takes your money, and likely even sends you a confirmation email, but they have no intention of sending you a product (“17 Common Online Scams”). Products on these sites often appear to be deeply discounted and therefore enticing. However, at best you will be out the money you spent. You stand to lose even more if you have provided credit card information which the company will then use to make further purchases (“17 Common Online Scams”).

Additional scams include the Nigerian scam, involving a seemingly desperate, possibly wealthy, individual looking for temporary aid with health issues or travel issues moving to this country (called so because a rash of these originally came from Nigeria, though now they come from a variety of countries); bitcoin and cryptocurrency scams offering the opportunity to make an initial investment in a (real or fictitious) company about to go up for an initial coin offering; digital kidnapping, in which one or more of your social media profiles is hacked, and the perpetrator demands money for you to resume access; dating and romance scams involving someone who at first seems exciting, fun, and engaging but soon asks you for money to help them with unexpected situations; and many more (“17 Common Online Scams”).

So how can we stay safe and still benefit from what the internet has to offer? There are a few steps we can take to avoid becoming victims of a scam.

  • First, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Contact the company to verify an enticing offer. Go to their website to be sure it is the legitimate version rather than clicking through links provided on the offer you are viewing. 
  • If you are suspicious about a bill or account statement, access the company in a new tab rather than using a link provided, look for contact information, share your suspicions with a customer service representative, and ask if your account has been compromised (USA.gov “Online Safety”).
  • Utilize two-factor authentication which accesses an account or website online using your password or another piece of information such as a code or a random number generated by an app. According to USA.gov’s “Online Safety” article, “This protects your account even if your password has been stolen.”
  • Avoid clicking any links or attachments in questionable emails even if they state the company’s name and/or a legitimate-looking logo, as they may reroute you to a fake website (“Online Safety”).
  • If you are a victim of a phishing or other internet scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (see link below). Victims of any fraudulent transactions can also report them to the FBI. This can help stop the transaction before the money is lost for good (FBI “Internet Crime Report”).

The internet has so much to offer and yet does pose risks if we are not careful. Here at Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want our community members to thrive. We care about our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

"17 Common Online Scams"  

FBI "Internet Crime Report"

Federal Trade Commission

Forbes

Statista

USA.gov "Online Safety"

Poison in Your Home–What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Female Toddler In Kitchen At Home

These days, it is easy to become overwhelmed by things beyond our control, especially when we want so badly to keep our loved ones safe. Although we don’t have the power to control everything, there are some things we can do to make a difference. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, unintentional injury is the third most common cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 170,000 Americans die from unintentional injuries annually. Poisoning tops the list of the causes of these deaths (CDC). 

Unfortunately, so much of the danger is right in front of us in the form of household products. Laundry detergent, household cleaners, and pesticides all pose risks (NSC). Fortunately, the simple act of finding places to store these products well out of the reach of children can make a significant difference. It is also important to read labels and avoid mixing products.

Not all household dangers are visible. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas found in homes that is produced by furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, portable generators, and other appliances (NSC). Thankfully, a modest investment in a carbon monoxide detector can help us battle this invisible foe. Just be sure to check your batteries regularly. Some people use annual events to help remind them, such as the time change from daylight savings in November.

Another invisible foe that merits our concern is radon, the “second-leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking” (NSC). Radon can enter your home “through cracks in floors or walls, construction joints, or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires, or pumps” (American Cancer Society). Since radon is not something you can see or smell, the only way to know if the radon levels in your home are high is to test for it. (For test information, see the link below to “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”).

A commonly overlooked adversary found in the home that can cause serious damage to children is the button battery. Button batteries are found in digital thermometers, remote controls, calculators, cameras, greeting cards, and many other unexpected items. While these batteries may look too small to be of concern, the danger they pose to children is significant. A button battery can be loged in a child’s throat or stomach and cause burns (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). After several hours of exposure, the battery may destroy the child’s voice box or cause internal bleeding. While initial symptoms may be mild, including throat irritation or a cough, left untreated, the battery may cause “abdominal pain, chest pain, and shock” (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).  This may result in permanent damage with the child no longer able to speak or eat through the mouth. Button battery ingestion has even led to death in some cases (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

Household products, button batteries, and poisonous gasses are all worth taking steps to avoid. Yet there is one more concern worth mentioning. Drug overdose is sadly the most common cause of poisoning death. While it can be easy to dismiss this problem as something remote, the issue may be closer than we think. According to the National Safety Council, “in 2018, over 67,000 people died from drug overdoses.” The Texas Medical Center reports that by 2019, Americans were more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash. 

How does this happen? A basic answer comes from the NSC: “People who take prescribed opioids, even as directed, may build up a tolerance. When pain has subsided, some people find it easy to stop taking them and others find it harder to quit.” Sadly, 25% of Americans have been directly affected by opioid use and its accompanying tragedies. Americans either “know someone who has an opioid use disorder, know someone who has died from an overdose, or they have an opioid use disorder themselves” (NSC). If you or someone you know has a concern about opioid addiction, you can find help through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Look around your home for items and substances that might cause harm especially to children. Purchase and maintain smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and have your home checked for radon. Be aware of what medicines you take and what risks accompany them. Keep the number for the National Poison Control Center next to your landline or in your cell phone contacts: 800-222-1222.

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you and your family to stay safe. We care about our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

American Cancer Society
CDC Unintentional Injury Deaths
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
EPA "A Citizen's Guide to Radon"
National Safety Council
National Safety Council "Preventing Poisoning and Drug Overdoses"
National Safety Council "Addressing the Opioid Crisis"
SAMHSA
Texas Medical Center

Some Habits Are Good!

Man Replacing Battery In Home Smoke Alarm

Use the daylight savings time clock switch to help you remember important home safety checks.

November first is this year’s date to turn our clocks back. A great habit to adopt is to also use this event to check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. We would also do well to check the furnace and any space heaters we plan to use and make plans to service the fireplace. 

Carbon monoxide (also known as CO) is a poisonous gas we can neither see nor smell. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 150 people in the United States die annually from non-fire-related CO due to faulty consumer products including generators, space heaters, furnaces, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. In addition to these fatalities, approximately 10,000 cases of carbon monoxide injury are reported annually, causing headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and seasonal depression (CPSC).

In addition to emitting carbon dioxide, faulty space heaters are also common fire starters. In fact, space heaters “are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires” (National Fire Protection Association). A whopping 86% of civilian deaths caused by faulty home heating equipment are attributed to space heaters (NFPA). 

Of course, space heaters are not the only culprits when it comes to in-home fires. Over 20,000 fires each year originate in a fireplace or chimney, most of which could be prevented by annual cleaning and inspection by a certified chimney sweep (Chimney Safety Institute of America).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about keeping our community safe because we are part of the community. Our staff is always ready to meet with you to discuss your unique insurance needs.

Halloween Doesn’t Have to Be Scary!

Halloween 2020 two friends getting ready to trick-or-treat

While some families may opt-out of trick-or-treating this year, there will likely be those who still participate in the annual ritual. Though not all of the costumes will be scary, a few Halloween statistics surely are. According to the National Safety Council, “Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” 

While most little goblins and ghosts will be accompanied by an adult, twelve percent of children ages five and under are permitted to trick-or-treat with an older teen or preteen who is likely to be less attentive (Safe Kids Worldwide). 

Be sure your young ones wear costumes that are easily seen in the dark. If their garments are not already reflective, add reflective tape to the costume and/or treat bag. Remind kids to walk, not run, keep their heads up, and avoid looking at screens while on the move. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult, while older ones should let parents know what their route plan is and when they expect to be home. 

A few safety tips for drivers include driving at slower speeds and paying extra attention around driveways, alleyways, medians, and curbs. Inexperienced drivers should avoid the road if possible after dark. 

Our staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency want you to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. We care about the safety of our community because we are part of the community. Call us when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

NSC
Safe Kids Worldwide

Deer and Driving: a Recipe for Disaster

Deer on the edge of the road just before vehicle

As the lazy days of summer give way to the chill of fall, humans are not the only creatures who start to move around more. As vegitation begins to die off, deer increase their range in search of food. This typically leads them to more open areas where they feel unsafe during daylight and so turn to ranging for food at night (Waternandwoods.net). The mating season also adds to the erratic behavior of deer. Males may be pursuing a potential mate or trying to chase off a rival buck. Unfortunately, the decreasing daylinght hours added to the animals’ edgy and unpredictable behavior can lead to catastrophe for motorists. 

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the United States’ motorists are involved in approximately 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions annually, resulting in over a billion dollars in damage. Unfortunately, the losses are not just monetary. About 200 fatalities and 26,000 injuries are blamed on animal-vehicles accidents, with the most common animal being white-tail deer (NBC News). 

As deer habitat is perpetually decreasing, this problem will not be going away any time soon. Nothing can prevent every deer-vehicle collision, but there are a few steps you can take to decrease your likelihood of joining these unfortunate statistics:

  • Stay focused while driving. Avoid texting, talking on the phone, eating, or drinking behind the wheel.
  • If you see a deer, be on the lookout for more. Deer typically move in groups.
  • Be extra cautious at sunup and sundown, as these are times when deer are especially active.
  • Watch for deer signs, which are placed in areas known for deer crossing, and reduce your speed when you see one.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Though the seatbelt will not prevent a collision, it will decrease your likelihood of serious injury or fatality (The State of Connecticut).

If you are involved in a deer-vehicle collision, stay calm, do not approach the animal, and move your vehicle to the shoulder of the road if you are able. Turn on your hazard lights. Take photos of your car, the accident scene, and any injuries. If you are unable to move your car, or if the animal is blocking traffic, contact the authorities for assistance (The State of Connecticut).

Knowing you have the right insurance will give you peace of mind to weather whatever comes your way. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about the health and safety of our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to talk about your unique insurance needs.

Waterandwoods.net
NBC News
NHTSA
State of Connecticut

Enjoy the Fall Without Getting Burned

Roasting Marshmallows Over Campfire

Enjoy the Fall Without Getting Burned

As the leaves begin to change and the cooler weather of fall approaches, we renew our appreciation for fire. The warmth of a fire brings with it images of cozy gatherings and good food. Backyard fire pits have grown in popularity over the years and now offer a great way to socialize in relative safety as we can enjoy the company of friends and neighbors and still be outside. Like seemingly all good things, though, fire can be risky.

According to the Journal of Burn and Care Research, “Outdoor fire pits represent an increasing hazard to young children who are particularly susceptible to burn injuries from falls in or around lit recreational fires.” On average, a fire injury occurs every 30 minutes, and each year approximately 3,400 burn injuries become fatal (Burn Statistics). 

While backyard fire pits are one concern, what happens in the kitchen can be even more dangerous. Stanford Children’s Health indicates that home-cooking equipment is the “leading cause of home fires and related injuries.”

While medical research has led to advancements that enable 96.7% of patients treated in burn centers to survive, the consequences of serious burns often include serious scarring and life-long physical disabilities (American Burn Association).

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help keep our family members and friends safe. Before building or purchasing a backyard fire pit or table, spend some time planning. Your fire should be at least ten feet from your house or a neighbor’s yard. Stay away from overhanging tree branches, fences, or anything else that might burn easily. Before burning, check the wind. If the trees are swaying in the wind, save your fire for another day. Only allow adults to start and maintain a fire, and anyone near the fire should not wear loose clothing. Have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy, and keep a close eye on any children. Those under five are especially vulnerable.

There are also steps you can take in the house to significantly reduce the risk of burns. Periodically check appliance chords for damage or fraying; unplug appliances when they are not in use; keep children away from hot liquids, hot oils, or deep fryers; turn pan handles in toward the stove; and check the temperature of bottles, other heated drinks, foods, and bathwater before allowing children access. A kitchen fire extinguisher is also a great idea.  

You can help keep your family, friends, and neighbors safe by avoiding fire hazards and burns. More fire safety and burn prevention tips can be found in our links below. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about keeping our community members safe because we are part of the community. Our friendly agents look forward to talking with you about your unique insurance needs.

Oxford Journal of Burn and Care Research

Nationwide Children's

HomeAdvisor "Fire Pit Safety Precautions"

Stanford Children's Health 

Stanford Children's Health "Preventing Burn Injuries" 

American Burn Association

Burn Statistics

Teen Drivers: How to Help Keep Them and Our Community Safe

Teen Drivers- How to Help Keep Them and Our Community Safe

Teen Drivers- How to Help Keep Them and Our Community Safe

It is a sobering fact that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every day about six teens die, and hundreds more are injured in car crashes. Along with the loss of life and pain and suffering also comes a staggering economic cost of accidents involving teen drivers: over $13 billion annually (CDC). 

Why are teen drivers contributing to such grave statistics? Obviously, inexperience plays a role.  Teens are also more likely to speed and/or follow other vehicles too closely.  In addition to these risky habits, teens are the least likely age group to wear seatbelts (CDC). Since research has shown that “seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half,” the importance of buckling up cannot be overstated (CDC). While teens cannot legally drink alcohol, many do drink and drive, and intoxication only exacerbates the challenges of operating a motor vehicle for an inexperienced driver. 

As if they don’t already face enough of a challenge to focus on the road, cell phones and other devices may also be competing for teens’ attention and posing further distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a teen who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver who is not texting.

 

What can you do to help your teen driver stay safe in the face of these daunting statistics? 

  • Model safe driving yourself, especially when your teen is with you. Avoid eating or drinking while driving, and talk to your teen about doing the same.
  • Talk to your teen about the risks of alcohol and other drugs, especially while driving.
  • Make sure your teen is aware of other factors that can compromise a driver’s focus including driving with passengers, driving at night, and driving while drowsy.
  • Stress the importance of wearing a seatbelt, and model by always wearing one yourself.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of using a phone while driving. Consider downloading an app to block calls while driving, and ask your teen to do likewise.
  • Make sure you and your teen are both aware of your state’s graduated licensing laws and follow them. These laws have reduced fatalities as well as crashes overall (CDC).
  • Consider utilizing a tracking app that will allow you to view your teen’s location and speed in real-time as well as track your teen’s recent trips on the road, such as Life 360. Tracking basics are free, and additional paid features are also available.

 

While worry is an inherent part of being a parent of a teen, there are steps we can take to reduce the likelihood of serious injuries or even fatalities. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about the safety of all of the families in our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to talk about your unique insurance needs.

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

CDC "Teen Drivers: Get the Facts"
NHTSA "Teen Driving"
Graduated Licensing Laws

Hit the Road in a Recreational Vehicle

Hit the Road in a Recreational Vehicle

Hit the Road in a Recreational Vehicle

Many of us are thinking about finally taking the vacations that have been on hold for so long, and we might be considering new ways to travel. The assets of recreational vehicles merit their consideration, especially now. An RV allows for a great deal of flexibility--you can go where you want whenever you want. An RV also allows you to avoid the expense, crowds, and hassles of air travel. You can save money by cooking your own food, and when you are ready to head to your next destination, everything is already in the vehicle--no need to pack.  

Seasoned RVers are also quick to point out how friendly people are. If you don't know anyone when you arrive at a campground, you soon will. Another advantage is the view.  While traveling, the RV driver and his or her companion are seated higher off the road than car drivers, and the large windshield offers a broad view of the destination.

RV travel offers a great way to experience the treasures that are our national parks and other great destinations while still enjoying the convenience of a bed and private restroom--go out sightseeing, hiking, biking, or fishing, and return to the convenience of the modern amenities in your RV.  

Drawbacks of traveling by RV include the initial investment of purchasing the RV, the cost of gas, and the challenge of parking.  Consider renting an RV to decide if the investment is right for you, though you may need to plan well ahead. Both sales and rental are significantly up from last year. 

If you do decide to take advantage of the freedom and adventure that come with owning an RV, remember that just like your car, your RV needs to be ensured to be on the road. For more tips about RV travel, destinations, ownership, and rental, check out the links below. For information about insurance, contact locally owned Waitte’s Insurance Agency to discuss your unique insurance needs. Help our community thrive by making sure you, your friends, and your family are covered.

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

AARP "Pros and Cons of Owning an RV"
Tripsavvy "RV Pros and Cons"
National Geographic "Vacationing by RV"

Protecting Your Assets

Protecting Your Assets

Protecting Your Assets

As we accept some of the changes and limitations that life is confronting us with these days, we are learning to find fun wherever we can, and often this means recreating close to home. Home swimming pools, trampolines, swing sets, and treehouses are especially popular this year. 

A home trampoline is a great way to get the kids and maybe even yourself outside and doing something active. Yet they are not without risk. According to Science Direct, “Trampolines account for up to 15% of pediatric orthopedic injuries requiring hospital care during the summertime.” You can take steps to significantly reduce the likelihood that your child will not become one of these statistics, such as allowing only one child to jump at a time, but what happens when a neighborhood kid escapes supervision and can’t resist the lure of your trampoline? 

Another significant perk that is not without liability risk is the home swimming pool. Swimming is the joy of summer, and owning a pool for the convenient use of kids, grandkids, and even adults provide countless hours of healthy summer fun. Yet again, risks accompany the boon. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children,” and home swimming pools are where most of these drownings occur for children ages four and under. While there are certain steps you can take and probably already have, such as never allowing children in the pool without adult supervision and maintaining a fence around your pool, children can be surprisingly adept at escaping watchful eyes, and drowning can occur in minutes.

Sadly, even man’s best friend can become a liability. During the pandemic, pet adoption rates have soared, and many of us are discovering the simple pleasures of walking a dog around our neighborhoods. Encounters with other dogs and their humans are also more common than ever, and if your dog tangles with another and the owner is bitten by your pooch while trying to separate them, you may be liable. Even though this occurs away from your property, this as well as the aforementioned circumstances are situations when an umbrella policy will ensure that you can protect your assets.

Even if you don’t have a trampoline, swimming pool, or pets, an umbrella policy is something you need more than you may realize. In today’s lawsuit-happy society, there are myriad situations that could be financially devastating if you are not properly covered, such as an icy sidewalk or an over-indulgent guest who makes a fatal mistake on the road after leaving your party.

Life is all about balance. While we don’t want to take extreme, unnecessary risks, we also want to enjoy our time rather than let it pass us by. While homeowners insurance is something we already recognize as a must-have, most of us would be wise to also invest in an umbrella policy for that extra security we don’t always realize we need. An umbrella policy covers not just the policy owner but the other members of your household as well, and since an umbrella policy kicks in after the standard insurance you already have, it is relatively inexpensive. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want to help keep you and all of our community safe because we are part of the community. Call us when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

 

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

Evaluation of Primary Caregivers' Perceptions on Home Trampoline Use
Water Safety and Drowning Prevention