Safe Driving Practices For Winter Weather Conditions

The winter season is certainly a time of great merriment and celebration. The holidays offer Americans the opportunity to travel around the corner or across the country to be with friends and relatives. However, it is also a time to be even more cautious, primarily when you’re traveling in the icy winter weather conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, between the years of 2002 and 2012, there were 211,188 vehicle crashes attributable to snow and sleet. Furthermore, during that same period, 154,580 crashes occurred due to ice on the pavement. Safe driving practices are your insurance for traveling during this joyful yet dangerous time of the year. Read below to find some quick best practices for driving in winter.

-Always watch the weather forecast to learn of the conditions or road closures in your area and where you are traveling. Make preparations to travel before the weather turns ugly and always inform others of your route, destination, and expected time of arrival.
-Keep your fuel tank half full in order to avoid a gas line freeze.
-Never drive while sleepy. Stay alert to both the weather conditions and the actions of the drivers on the road with you.
-Always steer into a skid.
-Keep your windshield clean to increase visibilty.
-Always wear a seat belt.
-Be sure your automobile is appropriate for the weather conditions in which you will be driving. Properly maintenance your vehicle for optimum performance.
-Get a winter survival kit for your vehicle which may include a flashlight and spare batteries, canned food, snack bars, medications, water, a cellphone charger, and a red bandana or cloth.

If you can avoid driving, stay home until the worst of a winter storm has passed. Be sure you are prepared for incidents that may occur to your vehicle without driving. Don’t let winter weather conditions get the best of you. Practice these safe driving tips in the snow and ice.

An icy branch fall on your car? Does your autombile insurance cover this? Contact your insurer to confirm that you are prepared for the tough winter season.

What Summer Sun and Heat Can Do to Your Body Internally?

It is no secret that the sun can be damaging to the skin; causing wrinkles, and potentially causing skin cancer. But, we often overlook how impactful the sun can be on internal organs. The heat from the sun and associated dehydration can cause a host of life-threatening health problems. It’s important to learn about what heat can do to your body internally, how to treat it and ultimately, how to prevent it.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are a condition that causes muscle spasms and cramping, often as a result of being overheated or lacking electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that are essential to the body’s optimal functioning. They include potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. In a hot environment, many individuals sweat out a lot of electrolytes. Being dehydrated, or not drinking fluids that contain enough electrolytes can result in heat cramps.
Heat cramps may occur while working in a very hot environment, or several hours after the work has been completed. The muscle spasms associated with heat cramps can be very painful but are usually brief and intermittent. The best way to treat them is by rehydrating with fluids, electrolytes, and rest. If the cramps do not resolve, or nausea and vomiting prevent the restoration of fluids, it’s very important to seek professional medical attention.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion represents another serious illness associated with high temperatures and dehydration. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to a heat stroke. The two different types of heat exhaustion are either related to water or salt depletion. Water depletion can cause an individual to feel weak, exceptionally thirsty, and can cause a headache. Loss of consciousness can also occur if not treated. Signs of salt depletion include dizziness, muscle cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

In general, those suffering from heat exhaustion may feel confused, fatigued, or dizzy. They may have a headache, muscle cramps, profuse sweating, and a rapid heart rate. Anyone suffering from these symptoms should immediately leave the heat to rest in a cooler area. They should then drink a lot of non-caffeinated fluids. Fans, ice towels, or cool showers are helpful in cooling down a person with heat exhaustion. If symptoms do not begin to subside after 15 minutes, the person should seek emergency medical help.

Heat Stroke

A heat stroke is the most severe form of illness caused by heat. It is a medical emergency, and if an individual is suspected to have heat stroke, it’s imperative to call 911. Heat stroke can cause serious damage to vital internal organs and the brain. Heat stroke occurs when an individual has been exposed to high temperatures for a significant length of time. It is usually accompanied by dehydration. These two elements can lead to a failing of the body’s natural temperature control system. Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature is higher than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is the definitive characteristic. Other symptoms of heatstroke may include dizziness, headache, dry skin, lack of sweating (regardless of heat), rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness and even seizures. Treatment of heat stroke begins by first contacting emergency medical help. Waiting can be fatal. While waiting for help to arrive, make the effort to begin to cool the individual’s body by using fans, wetting their skin with cool water, applying ice packs to key areas like underarms, neck, and back or immerse the individual in cool water. Heat stroke is most common in older people, those who don’t drink enough water, and those who drink too much alcohol.

Stay Hydrated!

Dehydration and heat are the key causes of each of the above heat illnesses. It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated during hot weather and when exercising. The most obvious way to stay hydrated is to drink adequate amounts of water during hot weather and during exercise. The general recommendation is to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily. This may change depending on the individual, the temperature, and the activity. Eating foods high in electrolytes and water can help you stay hydrated as well as aid in the recovery of dehydration. Fruits and vegetables typically contain a high water content as well as vitamins and minerals like sodium and potassium. If food isn’t available, a sports drink or other fluid replacement drink will contain the electrolytes that can help your body restore its fluid balance. Remember to drink more fluid than you’re expelling. If you’re sweating excessively, you will need to drink double the fluid to regain what was lost in sweat. Don’t ever confuse caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as hydrating fluids. They contribute to more frequent urination and actually may contribute to dehydration. Do your body a favor, drink adequate amounts of water, especially during hot weather or while exercising.

These ailments are not only serious, but symptoms can creep up on you very quickly without warning. The last thing you want is faulty health insurance when you or a loved one is in need of emergency medical care. Take the proper precautions to protect your body this summer and call Waitte’s Insurance Agency at (860) 886-1961 to review your current health insurance policy so that your family is covered while trying to ‘beat the heat’.

Summertime Safety: Keeping Your Campfires Under Control

Summer days lead to cool nights that are perfect for cozying up to a warm fire with your family and friends. The smell of s’mores is in the air, and some of you may even be roasting your marshmallows the old fashioned way – on a stick. There is nothing more relaxing than hearing the crackle of firewood and the sound of laughter as you look up at the stars. There is also nothing more terrifying than a fire that has become unruly or is emitting noxious gasses due to the materials that are being burned.

First and foremost, there are several guidelines that the city of Norwich has put together to regulate the types of fires that are lit in its residents’ backyards. The following are a few of these guidelines:

-You do not need a permit for: Small cooking fires, campfires, bonfires that do not threaten to create a forest fire, fires for training or construction purposes.

-Your fire is considered safe it is can be contained/maintained, does not emit a foul odor or generate an unusual abundance of smoke.

-You will need a permit to burn large amounts of brush.

As you can see, you are legally allowed to have a fire in your backyard, toast your marshmallows and sing campfire songs with your loved ones without needing to submit a permit. However, this does not mean that small campfires do not pose threats. To keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe this summer, here are a few tips:

-Set up your fire pit at least 15 feet away from your home or any other structure – be even more careful if there are winds.

-Be sure to clear the ground around your fire pit of dry leaves or twigs. This will make your fire less likely to spread.

-When starting a fire, it is important to use proper materials. If your firewood is completely dry, it should catch quickly. If you are having trouble starting your fire and want to use other types of kindling, like paper, make sure that it is secured inside a nest of wood so that hot ash cannot escape freely. Secondly, try to avoid using lighter fluid or gasoline to start your fire. You can purchase or create DIY fire starters that are safe and easy to use.

-While you are enjoying your campfire, be sure to keep foreign objects out of it. It is common to feel the urge to throw an object into the fire, but some objects can and do explode when heated. To be safe, it is better to fight the urge to experiment than to burn your guests or yourself.

If you do end up having an accident at your next backyard get-together, or are wondering how to get coverage just in case something does happen, feel free to contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency for all of your insurance inquiries.

Ensure a Safe Thanksgiving For You and Your Family

Thanksgiving is a holiday that all family members can share in and enjoy; it is the one time of year when your entire family can come together, sometimes from all areas of the nation and beyond. However, the importance of Thanksgiving as a holiday can only be matched by the importance of staying safe and vigilant; because it is such a prominent holiday, there are many more dangers during this time that people don’t experience during the rest of the year. Thankfully, by taking preventative measures, you can provide a safe Thanksgiving every single year.

Fire Prevention

Three times as many fires happen during Thanksgiving than any other time of year. The vast majority of these fires are started in the kitchen, so keep the following tips in mind when cooking:

1. Make sure to secure any loose hair or clothing when cooking; long sleeves could trail in a gas flame or burner, catching fire and spreading it to the rest of your home.

2. Use caution with turkey fryers; because people often use them for the first time on Thanksgiving, they pose a distinct fire hazard.

3. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case a fire breaks out, and make sure that you and your family members know how to use it.

4. Stand by your food; don’t leave the kitchen when something is on the stovetop.

5. Keep children away from the stove at all times.

Home Security

If you are travelling away for Thanksgiving, it is crucial to keep your home safe from burglars, who will take advantage of your empty home. Follow these tips for maximum safety:

1. Don’t post your plans on social media; burglars can keep track of this and use it to their advantage.

2. Make sure to remove any ladders, decorations or other objects that provide easy access to your windows or any other entrances in your house from the outside.

3. Invest in a home security system, which will alert you if anyone breaks into your home.

4. Don’t leave any signs that you are away; for example, put your lights on a timer, and turn off your phone so that it does not ring off the hook and indicate that you are not there. Have a friend come by to pick up your mail so that it does not pile up out front.

Travel Safety

When traveling to meet family and friends during Thanksgiving, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Be prepared: if you are driving, carry an emergency road kit, and leave yourself extra time in case of bad weather.

2. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive. It is illegal and you drastically increase your chances of having an accident.

3. If you are flying, try to get to the airport early, because Thanksgiving crowds will cause significant delays.

In the event that unforeseen circumstances have occurred and you require either an automobile or homeowners’ policy consult, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Waitte’s Insurance Agency hopes that you and your loved ones have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving Holiday!

12 Tips to Keep Halloween Festive & Safe

HalloweenA bit mystical, magical and fun, Halloween draws all kinds of kids in search of candy treats and harmless gags. Unfortunately, this popular childhood staple could run the risk of turning into a nightmare. Taking a few simple precautions can keep the excitement alive and the haunting all in fun without compromising the safety of your home or your little ones.

TRICK-OR-TREAT SAFETY

1. Un-Mask

Non-toxic face paint makes for a safer costume accessory than a mask. While masks can provide a realistic look, they can limit and block vision, creating a risk of injury. They also hold the potential of restricting a child’s breathing, as some masks can be too tight and constrictive to allow adequate breathability. There are many online tutorials available on how to create the perfect face paint look for your desired costume.

2. Know the Route

While an adult should ALWAYS accompany younger children, be sure older trick-or-treaters know the route to safe treats. Review safety and emergency protocol with all children before the big night.

3. Get Glowing

Choose costumes which are bright and easily seen in darkened areas. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags to increase visibility for passing motorists.

4. Share the Wealth

Host a candy swap at home to exchange favorites among siblings or a few friends. With the loot spread out, use this as an opportunity to discard items with signs of tampering, such as spoiled, unwrapped or looking otherwise suspicious.

PUMPKIN CARVING SAFE PRACTICES

1. Set the Stage

Be sure the carving or decorating area is clean and well lit. The gooey mess of pumpkin innards creates slippery surfaces which affect the stability of both the pumpkins and tools.

2. Get Crafty

For younger celebrators, gather the art supplies and let them decorate safely without the sharp carving tools. Paint, permanent markers and glue on accessories such as pom-poms and yarn make for one-of-a-kind creations.

3. Choose Tools Wisely

Specialty tools work best to carve those infamous pumpkin characters, according to Consumer Reports. Small, easy-to-handle tools designed to tackle this gooey job decrease risk of injury.

4. Extinguish the Flame.

Consider an alternate lighting source for those beloved jack-o-lanterns. Flashlights and battery-operated candles offer safer glowing creations than flamed candles. If you insist on that genuine candle flame look for your jack-o-lantern, never leave lit flames unattended and always extinguish them properly before the end of the evening.

HOLIDAY HOME PROTECTION

1. Be the Light

Though it may slightly hinder the creepy mood and atmosphere, replace burned out light bulbs and light your home’s exterior to increase visibility. This allows residents to more clearly see any potential pranksters that may be tempted to pull a ‘trick’ rather than ask for a treat.

2. Park It

Park your vehicles in a garage (if possible) to deter pranksters.  If a garage is not available, park your vehicles as closely to your home as possible. Never keep valuables inside your vehicles on Halloween night.

3. Lock It Up

While continually locking the front door in between visitors should go without saying, it offers protection for your home when you are distracted by the festivities. Be sure to keep all additional entryways locked, especially while handing out candy at your main entrance.

4. Be Alert

Even amid the jovial atmosphere, be certain to keep your eyes open to your surroundings. Consider handing out treats in the driveway for better sight lines and home security.

Preventing a Halloween nightmare is as simple as following the suggestions listed above. Waitte’s Insurance Agency encourages people of all ages to enjoy all facets of the holiday but to do so responsibly!

In the unlikely event of a natural disaster or your home is vandalized, do you know what your current Homeowners Insurance policy covers?  Call us today at (860) 886-1961 to review your coverage.

Black Friday: From Origin to Modern Day Spectacle

Black Friday has something of an infamous reputation for becoming a no-holds-barred, bring-home-the-bacon, make-or-break the holiday season for many retailers and shoppers alike. From its humble beginnings as simple day-after-Thanksgiving sales to the modern day spectacle of excess it has become to many, Black Friday has consistently been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States for decades. In recent years, many retailers have actually been expanding the day into Thanksgiving Day itself, opening stores at midnight the day before to remaining open for a number of hours on Thanksgiving Day before commencing Black Friday Sales. Here’s a brief history of the craziest day of the shopping year, and a list of stores that will be closed Thanksgiving Day in order to let their employees share the holiday with family and friends without requiring them to work.

The History of Black Friday:

Black Friday traditionally falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the last Friday of November every year). Many federal and state government employees are off work, and so many employers also extend the day as a paid holiday to many of their workers as well. This means that millions of Americans have a four day weekend right before December begins, and many choose to go shopping for Christmas gifts during this time since they have the time off from work. The long weekend led many retailers over the years to offer special sales and incentives on popular items in order to drive up sales revenue and give the holiday shopping season and their annual sales numbers an extra boost.

Why it’s Called ‘Black’ Friday:

The name actually derives from the business term, “out of the red and into the black”, referring to accounting ledgers that used to write losses in red under revenue tallies, and profits in black. The Friday after Thanksgiving Day has traditionally been a record-breaking sales day year after year, putting many businesses “in the black” for the year with billions in sales revenue. Many retailers report vast crowds that line up for specials each year, sometimes resulting in scuffles or injury as customers strive to get items at extraordinary deals before they sell out each year. Stock shortages are common in the face of high demand, and behavior by the general public in search of bargains for the holidays has proven to be something of an issue over the years.

There is a cultural movement to end the greed, rush, and materialism of Black Friday in the United States by boycotting Black Friday sales, instead choosing to shop throughout December in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This has led to a trend of retailers spreading out their Black Friday sales over the entirety of November and December instead of putting all of their efforts and budget into Black Friday alone. Many shoppers have also started boycotting stores on Black Friday in protest of businesses that require their employees to work hours on Thanksgiving in preparation for Black Friday as well.

In case you were considering having an early dinner and getting in some extended Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll want to plan accordingly by knowing which retailers will even be open. To see the  list of retailers that will be closed on Thanksgiving, visit www.bestblackfriday.com. 

Waitte’s Insurance encourages all shoppers on Black Friday and onward to be safe and courteous to others to ensure that everyone’s holiday season is merry and bright!

The end of the calendar year is rapidly approaching. If you haven’t yet reviewed or renewed your current insurance policies, you’ll want to do so before January 1st! Contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency in Norwich, CT by calling us at (860) 886-1961.

Fighting Connecticut Traffic Violations: Is it Worth it?

If you have ever received a traffic ticket, your first instinct may have been to fight it – after all, many people believe that the citation was unjust and that they did not deserve the harsh penalty that they received. However, roughly only 3 percent of drivers who receive traffic citations actually contest them in court, and choosing to do so relies purely on the circumstances surrounding the ticket. You’ll want to ask yourself the following questions before you consider fighting Connecticut traffic violations

1. Is the cost of the ticket worth the expenses it would take to fight it?

Going to court requires taking time off of work, finding reliable transportation, and possibly hiring legal counsel to help you with your court battle. All of these costs combined may be greater than the loss you would incur by just paying the ticket.

2.  Do I have the time to go through the process of fighting it?

Court cases for driving infractions typically don’t drag on for weeks or months like other cases can, but you still must be prepared to take at least one entire day off from work just in case. Taking time away from your work and personal schedules to fight a simple speeding ticket could serve as an inconvenience, especially if you have an unforgiving employer or a position that really requires you to be there on the court date.

3. Will the ticket influence my insurance rates?

If your premium increases because of the ticket you received, you may actually be saving money by fighting it in court – even with the expenses mentioned above. Check with your insurance agency to find out how certain citations affect your rates.

4. Could I lose my license if I don’t fight the ticket?

Some motorists run the risk of losing their licenses if they have tallied up multiple traffic violations. If this is the case, it provides a valid reason for you to go to court, as you don’t want to lose your mode of transportation or be forced to attend traffic school over another ticket.

5. Do I have a solid defense to successfully fight the ticket?

Without proper representation, fighting the ticket may simply be a waste of time. Review your options  you may need to hire an attorney who has experience with traffic cases and can help advise you through the process as well as in court.

Defenses for Fighting Connecticut Traffic Violations:

If you are considering going to court, there are several possible defenses (if applicable) that you could use to successfully get a traffic citation overturned. For example, if you can provide proof that the view of the police officer who pulled you over was obstructed, this could warrant dismissal of the violation. If you were cited for speeding and a radar gun was used, check whether it could have been compromised by something in the surrounding area. Alternatively, you could bring up the need to keep up with the flow of traffic (if there was any at the time).

Whenever you receive a traffic ticket, make sure to get testimonials from witnesses and document everything, including the officer’s name, badge number, their temperament, and the weather conditions. Finally, take photos to document the area where you were pulled over.

In the event that you are pulled over, it is important to remember one thing. Whether you believe the traffic ticket you received is justified or not, ALWAYS cooperate with the citing officer, abide by his or her instructions and treat them with the utmost respect. Acting irrationally and unnecessarily escalating the situation could result in additional citations that will only affect you long after the officer has left.

The most common traffic citation issued by police officers on a daily basis is due to speeding. But do you know what types of driving infractions in Connecticut could cost you the most?

How a Rough Winter Could Impact Your Car Insurance Premiums

Connecticut drivers aren’t strangers to driving in the snow. However, we can all use a little reminder as to what to do to properly prepare for the winter season; which can put exponential  wear and tear on your vehicle. There are a few simple precautions you can take to help your car survive the winter in good condition. Wear and tear cannot only affect the life of your vehicle, but also your car insurance premiums.

Here are some preventative measures to take during winter to avoid increased car insurance premiums:

Have your vehicle thoroughly inspected.

Before winter reaches the coldest months of the year, make sure that the maintenance on your car is evaluated thoroughly so everything is up to code. Change the oil and fill up both the wiper fluid and engine coolant. It is recommended to check tire pressure once a month to ensure it is consistently at the recommended PSI. You may want to add a little air into your tires anyway since the air will contract on bitter cold days. Doing this before sub-zero temperatures arrive will allow you to add an adequate amount of air while you can still feel your hands.

Make sure your tires are safe.

Check your tires before winter hits to make sure you have enough tread left on them. The roadways will be challenging enough without the extra worry of bald tires. A great way to check to see if your tires have sufficient tread is the penny test. Stick a penny face down into the tread of each of your tires – if you can still see more than half of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time to consider replacing your tires. To get the best protection you could also invest in snow tires.

Don’t let your gas tank get too low.

If you have a habit of letting your gas tank run all the way down to ‘E’, try your best to break this habit during the winter. Your engine has to work harder when it’s cold out and you don’t want to risk running out of gas. Always keep your tank at least halfway full. By having half of a tank or less, it could cause ice to form in your fuel lines.

Be careful of where you park during bad weather.

Accumulated snowfall on tree branches can cause them to become weak and break. Do not park your car under any trees where weak branches can fall. You also shouldn’t park on the street during a storm. This could get your car buried or struck by a plow, or even get your car towed if there is a parking ban in effect – which will certainly increase your car insurance premiums.

Wash car regularly to prevent salt erosion.

In the winter, especially in New England, your car will be constantly picking up salt. If left on your car for an extended period of time, this salt can cause corrosion. Even though it can be difficult to do in the low temperatures, you should be rinsing off your car periodically. Spray the undercarriage of your car where it is the most susceptible to corrosion. If possible, try to shoot for once per month or whenever salt excessively builds up.

Leave an emergency kit in your car.

For the safety of yourself and any passengers you have with you, always keep an emergency kit in your car in the event you become stranded or have an accident. The kit should include blankets, a flashlight, washer fluid and flares. Also, make sure you have a reserve of water and nonperishable snacks.

Keep yourself safe and your car insurance premiums steady by preparing your vehicle for any situation that winter throws at you. With the speculation that New England will experience especially harsh weather conditions this year, you’ll also want to know how to better control your vehicle on snowy and icy roads.