Winter Fun and Adventure

Winter Fun and Adventure

Winter Fun and Adventure

This year many of us were experiencing some degree of cabin fever before the winter season even began. Fortunately, here in Connecticut there are so many opportunities for outdoor fun that everyone should be able to try something new or rediscover an old pastime. 

The Connecticut Office of Tourism (see link below) offers information about a variety of activities that allow you the opportunity to be outdoors, active, and still maintain social distance. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are obvious go-to winter activities. If you want to add a new twist, try going at night. If you are ready to bring it up to another level, you can try freestyle skiing or snowboarding. This involves jumps, rail slides, tricks, rides on half-pipes, and/or switch riding.

Another option is ski jumping at Satre Hill in Salisbury. Not ready to make the leap yourself or want to watch the experts do it? Check out Jumpfest 2021 on February 12-14 (Jumpfest.com). 

Kids can build a snowman or a snow fort, and when they are ready to explore beyond the yard, they may want to try snow tubing. Snow tubing is a fun activity for all ages and levels of athletic ability and can be enjoyed at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort.

Another option for the adventurous can be found ice climbing. Ascent Climbing and Ragged Mountain Guides can hook you up with the guides, advice, and training you need for your next adventure. Fat-tire biking, also known as snow biking or ski biking, is done with bikes built with frames to accommodate extra-wide tires that allow you to explore trails in the winter on dirt or snow. 

Adventurers who prefer more independence can cross country ski or snowshoe at a variety of scenic Connecticut locations including Winding Trails in Farmington, Gay City State Park in Hebron, Weir Farm National Historical Site in Wilton, White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield, or Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic (Connecticut Office of Tourism).

One more option that may not yet have crossed your mind is ice fishing. Ice fishing can be done with one friend or a bunch, and as any veteran winter angler will tell you, you don’t even have to catch anything to have a great time, as typical ice fishing can have a lot in common with tailgating. If you do catch fish worth keeping, you may be surprised to realize how tasty they are. “The ‘muddy’ taste you sometimes hear about from fish can be caused by blue green algae, which can proliferate during warmer months. Blue green algae is gone, or greatly diminished, in cold and frigid water, so it no longer affects the fishes’ taste” (Associated Press “Ten Reasons to Go Ice Fishing”). If you decide to try ice fishing, check out the link below from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for advice on how to know when the ice is thick enough to support ice fishing and other tips.

Whatever you are into this winter, the staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency wish you health and happiness as we embark on a new year. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

 

Associated Press "Ten Reasons to Go Ice Fishing"

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection 

Connecticut Office of Tourism “8 Must-Try Winter Activities in Connecticut”

Jumpfest

Snowmobile Fun and Safety

Snowmobile fun and safety

Snowmobile Fun and Safety

Those who have never tried it may wonder what is so appealing about riding a 500 pound machine that initially may be hard to control and often leaves even experienced riders stuck in snow. However, new riders are often hooked after just one run on the sled. The scenery, the variety, and the friendly people are all frequently mentioned as reasons to ride. If you are feeling skeptical, you can rent one to try it out. 

If you don’t own land enough to ride on or know anyone who does, you can check out the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website linked below with a list of ten state forests with snowmobile trails. After exploring the beauty these areas of Connecticut have to offer, you may be inclined to look toward other areas of New England or head west to even more wide open spaces including Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Montana. 

If you purchase your own sled, you are required to register it with the state of Connecticut unless you are only operating on property owned or leased by you (State of Connecticut DMV). Drivers are not required to have a special license to operate a sled in Connecticut, though intoxicated drivers can be prosecuted (State of Connecticut DMV).

With all the exploration, fun, and excitement to be had riding a snowmobile, it is also important to keep in mind that there are risks. Every year over 14,000 people are treated in hospitals with injuries sustained while snowmobiling, and over 200 fatalities are attributed to snowmobiling accidents in North America (Researchgate). While drugs and alcohol are frequently cited as contributing to these statistics, other sources point to lack of experience and excessive speeds (New Hampshire Snowmobile Association and NewYorkUpstate.com). 

Whatever you do for fun this winter, Waitte’s Insurance Agency is ready with options for your business, home, and recreational vehicles. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

 

Connecticut DUI Law

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

NewYorkUpstate.com

New Hampshire Snowmobile Association

Researchgate

State of Connecticut DMV

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"

Waitte’s Insurance wishes you and your family a safe and happy Labor Day

Friends drinking spritz at cocktail bar with face masks - New normal friendship concept with happy people having fun together toasting drinks at restaurant - Bright filter with focus on left woman

Waitte's Insurance wants to wish you a safe and Happy Labor Day

On September 5, 1882, ten thousand union workers gathered for a parade in New York City. This event inspired the creation of the official federal Labor Day holiday in 1894. While initially created to celebrate the achievements of the American labor force, Labor Day has also come to symbolize, for us, the end of summer.

While the usual parades may be on hold for this year, many parties and other social events will still take place, and the National Safety Council anticipates between 348 and 452 traffic fatalities. The NSC also estimates that over 45,000 non-fatal injuries will occur due to auto accidents that will be serious enough to need treatment by medical professionals.

Now more than ever, we value our time with family and friends. So how can you enjoy this opportunity to socialize and still protect yourself?  Wear your seatbelt, only ride with a sober driver, and call Waitte’s Insurance to be sure you have the coverage you need before the celebration starts. 

 

For further information, visit the following publications:

NSC Labor Day - Injury Facts

Life is meant to be lived! Get out and enjoy the ride!

POV shot of young man riding on a motorcycle. Hands of motorcyclist on a street

Life is meant to be lived! Get out and enjoy the ride!

For some, the word “bike” conjures up images of childhood and that first delicious spin on two wheels. Many adults recapture this thrill riding a motorcycle. For non-riders, the pull of the bike may be hard to comprehend. What is the draw? Sam Louie, a writer for Psychology Today, describes riding as a way to engage: “You take in what’s around you, using all your senses. You must concentrate all your energy on riding (no texting, eating, etc.).” Louie points out the therapeutic aspect of riding: “Sometimes being alone on the seat of a bike free of distractions can provide the emotional space needed to declutter your soul.” 

Other riders describe this focus as meditative or a feeling of “zen,” as it clears your mind of clutter, including the worries and fears that are especially present with us today and maybe weighing on us more than we realize.

In addition to the freedom, thrill, and zen aspect of riding, there are many practical aspects. Motorcycles are more fuel-efficient than cars, so you will spend less at the pump and pollute less. According to Business Insider, motorcycles are cheaper and easier to maintain than cars, even when including the gear cost.

The thrill of the ride combined with the mental health benefits from being outside and a part of the world in a way car drivers don’t experience (not even you convertible owners), as well as the practical, economic benefits of riding make motorcycles start to sound like the panacea of transportation. Unfortunately, the safety factor is not something we can ignore.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorcycle rider is 28 times as likely to die in a traffic crash as a person in a car. While motorcycles make up approximately three percent of all vehicles on the road, they account for about 14% of fatalities (National Safety Council). How can you enjoy your freedom on the road while taking steps to avoid becoming one of these statistics?

Wear a full-coverage helmet whether your state requires it or not. According to the CDC, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 37%. Never drink and ride; stay alert and drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all accidents occur. Invest in proper gear: wear durable protective clothing, preferably something reflective, and glasses, goggles, or a face shield that will prevent fogging. Be educated: most states, including Connecticut, require you to pass a motorcycle safety course to operate a two-wheeled motorcycle on the road legally. If it has been a while since you took your course, consider a refresher. Life is meant to be lived! Get out and enjoy the ride! For information about insuring your motorcycle, call Waitte’s Insurance, where our staff is here to discuss your unique insurance needs.

For further information, visit the following publications:

CDC Motorcycle Safety
Motorcycle Safety is a Two-way Street
12 Reasons to Ride a Motorcycle
Motorcycling: Love of the Machine
NHTSA Motorcycle Safety

Schools In. Stay Safe and Drive Safe.

Stop Sign on School Bus

Schools In. Stay Safe and Drive Safe.

Although life as we know it has been met with many changes in recent months, most students will be returning to some sort of school routine in the coming days if they have not already. During a typical school year, 56.6 million children attend an elementary or secondary school in our nation, and of these, an estimated 23.5 million students ride school busses. While not all schools are currently at full capacity, most students will be physically attending during at least part of the week, and this should influence how we behave on the road.

According to Connecticut law, a motorist “must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road, or at an intersection you are approaching” (DRIVE-SAFELY.net). The exception is if you are traveling toward the bus and the bus is separated from you by a median or other physical roadway barrier. Consequences for failing to follow the law are significant, with the first violation resulting in a fine up to $450. Repeat offenders risk a $500 to $1000 fine and 30 days in jail for every subsequent violation, and motorists risk consequences even if no law officer is present. If a bus driver is able to identify the license plate number, color, and type of vehicle or provide a camera recording the violation along with the date, time, and location, police must issue a warning or summons to the owner of the vehicle cited for illegally passing a school bus (Poole and Gadson).

While these laws may seem strict, they are necessary. Almost three times as many school children die getting on and off the bus as students who die in crashes while riding the bus (Stanford Children’s Health). While the overall fatality rate is low, the loss of any child is a tragedy, especially if there is something we can do to prevent it.

See our links below for more tips to help drivers, parents, and children stay safe. Thinking and planning for the unexpected can help ensure a better tomorrow. To help you prepare for tomorrow, contact Waitte’s Insurance for help with your unique insurance needs.

 

For further information, visit the following publications:

Stanford Children's Health
Connecticut DOT School Bus Safety
CT's Laws and Comparative State Penalties for Illegally Passing a School Bus
School Bus Laws by State

Honest Abe Can Help You Avoid an Accident

How to check tire wear with a penny

Consumers are advised to check tires monthly and replace them when they are too worn. So how can you tell when a tire is no longer roadworthy? Hold a penny with Lincoln’s head facing you upside down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, your tire has less than 2/32” of tread, and it’s time for new tires (NHTSA).  

It is also important to maintain proper tire pressure. Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy, increase wear on the tires, and can lead to accidents caused by tire separation or blowout.

It is no surprise that usage contributes to tread wear. Less obvious is the impact of time. “As tires age, they are more prone to failure” (NHTSA). It is recommended that automobile owners replace tires every 6-10 years, including the spare.

While monthly checks for proper inflation and tread wear can help you prevent an accident, not every accident can be avoided. Waitte’s Insurance is here for you to prepare for and recover from the unexpected. 

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration