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

Enjoying the Outdoors Safely

Enjoying the Outdoors Safely

Enjoying the Outdoors Safely

While the past several months have thrust upon us many challenges, frustrations, and disappointments, there have also been a few positive changes.  Some of us are getting more sleep, enjoying more exercise, or spending more time with family. As many of us have been working from home, we are turning to walking and bike riding as ways to get out of the house and improve our health.  

Just being outside can help reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of a variety of diseases, and improve mental health (New York Times). When we add some exercise in the mix, things only get better. However, there are some safety factors that we need to consider.  

The fatality rate for pedestrians and cyclists has been steadily rising over the last several decades. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 6,590 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2019.  While the fatality rate of cyclists is lower, at 857 in 2018, it is still an unfortunately high number (New York Times).  

What are some of the factors contributing to these numbers?  It’s no surprise that distracted driving plays a role. While it is illegal to text or talk on a hand-held phone in many states, not all drivers follow the laws, and hands-free phones can still compromise a driver’s ability to focus on the road. Another factor is the vehicles themselves. Increasingly, Americans favor SUVs and light trucks over cars.  The greater mass of these vehicles along with the fact that they sit higher makes it more likely that the vehicle will smash directly into a cyclist or pedestrian rather than pushing the victim up onto the hood of the car (USA Today).  

While these facts should give us pause, fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming part of the statistics.  

  • Wear a helmet designed for cycling.  Be sure it has a safety certification sticker and is properly fitted for you.  A helmet that does not fit you or is not properly adjusted will not fully protect you.  Consider purchasing one at a local bike shop where staff can help you find the right fit and adjustment.  
  • Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it, and follow the rules of the road. While some people like to ride into traffic because they can see oncoming cars, in reality, this is both more dangerous than riding with the flow of traffic, and it is not legal.
  • Be sure your bike is in good working order before you ride, especially your brakes.
  • Whether you are walking or biking, wear clothes that make you clearly visible to drivers; on the bike, consider attaching flashing reflectors even during daylight. If you walk at night or early in the morning, consider wearing a reflective vest over your clothing.
  • Anticipate that drivers might not see you and be ready to act accordingly. A jump into a ditch or onto a sidewalk is clearly better than an encounter with any automobile when you consider that even lighter coupes weigh significantly north of two thousand pounds. 

Enjoy the satisfaction of connecting with your community and the outdoors by getting out for a walk or a bike ride. Waitte’s Insurance Agency is here for you with tips on how to get the most out of opportunities while still staying safe. Stop in on your next walk or bike ride, or give us a call to talk about your unique insurance needs.  

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

Governors Highway Safety Association
Bike Safety Tips
New York Times Health Article
New York Times Pedestrians and Cyclists Article
Bicycle Safety NHTSA

Life insurance. Do I need it?

Single woman alone swinging on the beach and looking the other seat missing a boyfriend

Life insurance. Do I need it?

Life insurance is not a sexy topic, but like death and taxes, if you are a responsible adult, it should be on your radar. You may be asking yourself, Do I really need it? To answer this question, ask yourself who will be financially impacted in the event of your untimely death. Your life insurance policy can ensure that financial hardship won’t be added to the emotional grief of the people close to you if something unexpected should happen.

The first reason people typically consider life insurance is because they have a family. Ask yourself, How will my family function without my financial contribution? If you don’t work outside the home, your contribution is still significant, and your question might be, What might be the cost of care for my family if I am no longer able to be here for them?

In addition to a spouse and children, you may also be supporting older relatives. How will they get by if something happens to you? Also, consider any debt you may have. If you pass away, your debt will likely become the responsibility of your spouse, parents, or siblings’, which could put them in a difficult financial position.

Perhaps some of you are reading and at this point thinking, But wait, I don’t have a family yet, and I don’t have any debt either. Luckily for you, life insurance is most affordable for people in your situation. Now is a great time to plan for your future!

If you are still unsure why you need to think about life insurance now, consider the cost of the average funeral, which is somewhere in the ballpark of $7,000 to 10,000. This figure does not include a burial plot or monument (or marker), each of which will run you somewhere in the four figures or more. Cremation is typically less expensive. Services are roughly between $5,000 to $6,000 plus the urn and cemetery or interment fees for those who choose this option. 

When your loved ones are grieving, you don’t want them to wonder how they will pay for your funeral today or how they will make ends meet moving forward. The steps you take to provide for the ones you love might be the greatest gift. 

How much insurance do you need? This question is best answered when you sit down with your insurance professional, discuss your unique needs, and help you develop a plan that is right for you.

For further information, visit the following publications:

National Funeral Directors Association: Statistics 
7 Reasons You May Need Life Insurance, Even if You Think You Don't
Yes, You Probably Need Life Insurance And Here's Why

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

Swimming Safety

Young Boy Swimming in a pool during summertime.

For people of all ages, swimming is the fourth most popular activity in the United States, and for children and teens ages seven to 17, it is number one (CDC). Unfortunately, the water we love can also be dangerous. For children ages one through four, drowning is the “leading cause of unintentional injury death,” and for children ages five through nine it is the second most common cause (CDC). Drownings of children under four are most likely to occur in a home swimming pool while drowning victims in older age brackets are more likely to occur in natural water settings such as lakes and rivers.  

In the case of young children, drowning often occurs due to a lack of supervision and/or lack of barriers around a pool. For older children and adults, lack of proficient swimming skills is a greater factor.  

What can we do to keep ourselves and our children safe?  The Red Cross suggests we only swim in designated areas preferably supervised by lifeguards, never swim alone, never leave children unattended, and have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets.  Anyone who has not taken swimming lessons should do so. Lesson opportunities can be found on Red Cross websites, at a local YMCA or other fitness facilities, or through your local parks and recreation department. There are opportunities for both kids and adults of all levels from basic water survival to stroke development for fitness to competitive swimming. 

If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers.  According to the Red Cross, many children who drown in home pools were under the care of one or more parents and out of their sight for less than five minutes.  

Swimming for adults is a whole-body workout and a great way to cross-train for any athlete who wants to avoid or recover from injury. For kids and adults, swimming is a way to relax, cool off, and play.  Be sure you and your family members all have the swimming skills you need to be safe. If you have a pool at home, take the necessary steps to keep it secure both with physical barriers and homeowner’s insurance. The staff at Waitte’s Insurance Company are here to assist you with your insurance needs so you are ready to take the plunge knowing you have taken the steps you need to stay safe.  

 

For further information, visit the following publications:

Red Cross Swimming Safety Tips

CDC Unintentional Drowning

CDC Swimming Publications, Data, & Statistics

Stay Safe and Still Enjoy Your Time in the Sun

Two little kid boys, best friends enjoying sailing boat trip.

While this might not have been the summer everyone anticipated back when the weather was cold, most of us have found ways to have fun, and being outside on the water has been a go-to form of recreation, even more, this year than in the past. Swimming, fishing, waterskiing, tubing, or just riding around our great lakes and rivers have become even more treasured ways to spend time this year. As we look forward to a few more weeks of outdoor adventures, there may be some things we should keep in mind to ensure the safety of the people we care about.

In 2019, 613 people died and 2,559 people were injured in recreational boating accidents in the United States (USCG). The leading contributor to fatal boating accidents was alcohol. While it is legal to operate a boat and drink, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence. Operators are expected to observe the same blood alcohol limits as the driver of a car, and the same penalties apply to boat operators as they do to motorists. Unfortunately, the law is not always taken seriously out on the water. According to the US Coast Guard, boating while intoxicated is even more dangerous than driving a car drunk. “The marine environment motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray accelerate a drinker’s impairment,” causing fatigue and significantly compromising the boat operator’s reaction time (USCG).

Another factor contributing to fatalities is training. Seventy percent of boating accidents resulting in fatalities involved operators who did not receive safety instruction (USCG). One eight-hour course taken in one day can make a significant difference for your safety and the safety of those whose company you enjoy on the water. Most states offer some form of boater safety training, and in Connecticut, boater safety classes are currently offered in online video platforms that provide opportunities for interaction between you and your instructor (see link below).

One more way you can protect yourself and those you care about is to wear life jackets. Eighty-six percent of drowning victims in 2019 boating accidents were not wearing life jackets (USCG).
The staff at Waitte’s Insurance Company want you to enjoy these last few weeks on the water with family and friends safely by taking a boater safety course, wearing a life jacket, and riding with a sober operator. Check with us for more information about insuring your watercraft along with any other insurance needs so you are prepared for a safe journey both on land and in the water.

 

For further information, visit the following publications:

CT gov site for online boater safety classes

2019 recreational boating statistics USCG

US Coast Guard BUI article