A Safe Home is a Well Insured Home

Illustration of a smoke alarm sounding off in a smoky room

Many people contact us asking how to bring down their
homeowners’ insurance premiums. One of the quickest answers is to take steps to make your home safer. A safe home means a lower risk of the insurance company having to pay for home damage or other expenses, and leads to lower insurance rates in return. Each precaution you take can reduce your bill.

Install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector

As of 2014, it is illegal in the state of Connecticut to buy or sell any home without these detectors. Even if you don’t plan on moving, you still want your family to be warned in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak.

Install a pool barrier

By law, pools must be behind a fence, gate, or other enclosure so that they cannot be accessed from the outside. If you have small children or pets, keep them safe by also ensuring that there is a fence or other barrier between your exterior doors and the pool.

Insulate pipes near exterior walls

This prevents them from freezing even if the heat is turned off and protects you from costly water damage from a burst pipe. However, if you leave your home for vacation or other extended periods of time, don’t  rely on the insulation to protect your pipes alone. Rather than turning your furnace completely off, lower it to around 60 degrees.

Install a burglar alarm

Alarms provide an effective deterrent to burglars and also notifies the police of a break-in immediately, even if you’re away on vacation. Insurance discounts vary as you go from a simple, unmonitored alarm that just sounds when a window is open to a fully-monitored system with motion detectors and cameras.

Add storm shutters

Storm shutters protect your windows from debris caused from both winter storms and the rare tropical system that makes its way up the Atlantic coast. Because they protect you from window damage, wind damage and rain damage, the insurance rate discount can be substantial.

There are many steps to be taken in order to maintain a safe home. Of course Waitte’s Insurance is more than happy to assist you in lowering your premiums; but first and foremost, we wish for your home to be safe for you and your loved ones. For further information, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. today by clicking here.

Prepare For When Blizzard Problems Become Flooding Problems

It has been a brutal winter in the Eastern part of the United States with New England states receiving the brunt of the snow and nasty weather.  In one day, Worcester Massachusetts had 31.9 inches of snow on January 27th, which came on top of several other feet of snow this winter.  Thompson, Connecticut had over 30 inches on that day too.  Communities and states went from worrying about trying to dig out from the snow to trying to figure out where they were going to put it all when they did remove it.

Although most New Englander’s may not think so right now, there is another problem around the corner that could be as bad as snow:  eventually the snow will melt and municipalities and their citizens will have to face the problem of flooding.  People who live near rivers and along the coast face dangers of melting snow and ice creating run-off conditions that can cause as much or more damage to homes than the excessive snow from this winter.

In preparation for impending urban flooding due to the snow, there are things that homeowners can do to in advance:

*Check for flood insurance policies to ensure you have appropriate coverage in case flooding does occur and you’ll be covered for property damage.
*Move snow away from your home’s foundation to keep water from running into the basement when the snow does begin to melt at a fast rate.
*Clear drains and downspouts so water can go where intended and not create a backup of melted water.
*Remove area rugs and store them so that they won’t get wet and mold won’t grow on them.
*Make certain that sump pumps are working appropriately.
*Know where the electricity shutoff is so that if your home does flood, you can make your home safer.
*Have an emergency preparedness kit ready.

While you’re checking your insurance policies to ensure you’re covered for flooding, double check to be certain you have appropriate coverage for storms too.  It may not seem like it when we’re still digging out from the yet another blizzard, but flood and storm season really are right around the corner.

Waitte’s Insurance doesn’t want you to get blindsided by the potential disastrous costs of property damage due to melting snow. Insure your property from mother nature by reviewing your current policy, or call our office at (860) 886-1961 to see which flood insurance policy could save you money and aggravation come Springtime.

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.

Training Your Pup to Avoid an Aggressive Pet

Aggressive dogs pose serious threats to the community and are far more prevalent than one would think. In 2013, one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims paid was due to dog bite claims. Families with “bully breed” dogs, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers may find themselves unable to obtain homeowner’s insurance or having to pay higher premiums as these dogs have higher aggressiveness statistics. Dog attacks can be prevented by appropriate training and raising of the dog. It’s important to understand some key dog-training principles to raise a safe, friendly dog.

Don’t yell or scream.

While dog training can be stressful, yelling and screaming at the dog is not the answer. These actions cause anxiety and stress in the dog and build tension. In order to successfully train your dog, he/she needs to respect you. By constantly yelling, your dog will just become used to it and start to ignore your commands.

Don’t use negative reinforcement.

Negative reinforcement, like hitting or using a shock collar invokes fear in your dog. Fear may cause certain breeds of dog to act out in aggression. Positive reinforcement with affection, treats, or toys have been found to be more effective than negative reinforcement. 

Ensure your dog is fed properly.

One way to prevent food aggression is to ensure that your dog is fed properly. Never withhold meals as a source of punishment. Your dog may then feel the need to protect his food once he is fed. Be sure to feed your dog at least twice daily and according to the portion guidelines set forth by your vet.

Start socialization early.

Early socialization is a key component of a well mannered dog. Puppies and young dogs should be socialized with other people, children, and other animals.

Never resort to physical abuse.

Physical abuse is a key cause of aggression in dogs. Dogs should never be punched, kicked, or physically abused in other ways after they have misbehaved. This causes them to feel threatened and may, in turn, lead to aggressive or violent behavior.

When raised appropriately, all breeds of dogs can become wonderful members of the family. A state lawmaker in Connecticut is currently trying to introduce legislation that would not allow insurance companies to increase homeowners insurance based on the breed of their dog. However, until this legislation is enacted, it’s incredibly important to be a responsible dog owner. Complete thorough research on the dog breed you are considering prior to bringing it home. Be sure to make training your pup a priority. With plenty of research, healthy attention, love, and discipline you can ensure that your dog is a great addition to your family.

All dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, but it’s important to know if your family pet will affect your insurance premium. If you’re unsure if your dog falls under the same category as Pit bulls or Rottweilers, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency Inc. for a consultation.

Prevention and Warning Signs of Carbon Monoxide Leaks

While most people know that homes are required by law to have smoke detectors, which quickly sense smoke in case of a fire and alert the residents to ensure a quick response, fewer know that the law also requires carbon monoxide detectors. That’s because carbon monoxide is a lesser-known danger than fire – but, in some cases, a much more potent one.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas that is fatal when inhaled in certain quantities and left untreated. It is released by the burning of fuel in stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, furnaces, and other indoor appliances, as well as cars and trucks outdoors.

What are common sources of carbon monoxide leaks?

Carbon monoxide can leak out of appliances and vehicles and build up within an enclosed space, such as a home or car, leading to severe illness or death. Leaks often occur when gas appliances, such as refrigerators or stoves, are not vented properly. The carbon monoxide produced by these appliances is released outdoors through pipes; when these pipes aren’t fitted properly, the carbon monoxide can instead leak into the home. It is important to have horizontal pipes that lead to the outdoors slanting upward slightly, so in case of improperly fitted joints, the CO will still be able to escape. In a vehicle, leaks can occur when there are small gaps or holes in the exhaust system, which cause the car exhaust to seep into the interior of the car instead of being released outside.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning, and what are the symptoms?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is an illness caused by inhaling CO at high levels. Symptoms start by resembling the flu; headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and trouble breathing all may develop. Spotting these symptoms early on can save a person’s life; as the poisoning develops, however, the person can experience mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle function, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in my home?

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to keep your carbon monoxide detector up-to-date and functional, as well as all of your heating and other non-electric appliances, which should be checked by a technician every year. There are also many simple mistakes to avoid, such as using flameless chemical heaters, gas camp stoves, or charcoal-burning devices indoors.

What are the specific laws and requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in Connecticut?

Connecticut requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in all new residences and schools, including residences meant for one or two families. These detectors protect families and individuals from carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure to test and change the batteries in your detector once a year.

For even more tips on how to maintain a safe household for you and your family, visit our blog archives. Be sure to contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency Inc. to review or renew your homeowners’ insurance policy.

Tips to Safeguard Your Home Against Cold Weather

As the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, people around the country experience the telltale signs of the fall season. Along with the approach of the holidays and the changing color of the leaves, however, you can also expect unpredictable weather patterns; from sudden storms to early snowfall. Especially in New England, there is no telling when temperatures may drastically drop – an event that can have significant impacts on your home.

There are numerous ways in which falling temperatures can create problems for your home:

Frozen pipes: What may potentially be the biggest problem caused by cold weather is the freezing of your water and gas pipes, which occurs when the temperature is so cold that the pipes crack or burst from expanding ice. This leads to problems accessing these utilities in your home.

Weathering: Strong storms can damage the paint on your house and lead to a weathered look.

Roof damage: Falling trees or piled-on snow can cause damage to roof tiles or the foundation of the roof itself; which can in turn lead to leaks or even collapses.

Landscape damage: Certain plants cannot survive the freezing temperatures of winter, or may be damaged or knocked over by strong storms.

Cold temperatures: The need to keep your home warm can skyrocket your energy costs and end up being ineffective despite your furnace’s best efforts.

Thankfully, you can take preventative measures to guard your home against the harmful effects described above. Take stock of your situation, analyze the greatest threats to your home, and take the following steps to safeguard your home against cold weather:

Frozen pipes: Insulate your exposed pipes with foam insulation, and make sure to inspect those that are not insulated regularly.

Weathering: Invest in weather-resistant paint that will withstand chipping once cold weather approaches.

Roof damage: Make sure that your trees are not so close to the home that they may cause damage if they fall over onto your roof. Also, clear your roof of snow and inspect it for damage after the weather warms.

Landscape damage: Bring potted plants indoors if possible, and if not, add mulch around plants and cover plants that are prone to frost damage.

Cold temperatures: Use weather stripping to minimize the heat that escapes your home and insulate the house from drafts.

We want you, your family, and your home to be completely safe and sound during the transition into fall and eventually winter. However, in the event that inclement weather conditions have damaged your home or automobile, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. so that we can help you review your current homeowners’ insurance policy and provide you with peace of mind!

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!

5 Tips on How to Prevent Ice Dams

When you have snow on your roof, it should melt gradually and drain into your gutters. If you have ice dams, though, melted snow isn’t able to drain properly. Ice dams form when parts of your roof near the top are warmer than the rest, causing snow in those areas to melt faster. Melted snow then runs down toward the eaves, which are colder, where it freezes and forms blockages called ice dams. These dams block additional melted snow from being able to drain into your gutters, causing it to flow under the eaves and potentially damage your home’s interior. Fortunately, you can take the following steps to prevent ice dams from forming.

Keep Snow Off Your Roof

After heavy snowfalls, clear off snow from your roof as soon as it’s safe to do so. Consider using a roof rake to clear away a few feet of snow from around the eaves without having to go up on your roof.

Keep Downspouts Clear

Clear snow and ice away from your downspouts throughout winter. This helps ensure that melted snow can drain from your roof to the ground through your gutters. It also stops you from having pools of standing water around your downspouts.

Add Attic Insulation

Insulation helps keep heated air from reaching your roof through your attic, which lowers the risk of having ice dams form. Make sure your attic has enough insulation, especially in places where heat can sneak through, such as around vent pipes and light fixtures.

Set Up Heated Cables

Heated cables placed around the edges of your roof can help prevent ice dams. These cables, which attach to your roof with clips, give off heat that helps ensure that melted snow from higher up has a clear path to your gutters.

Improve Roof Ventilation

Making sure your roof is adequately ventilated helps cooler air circulate below the whole roof surface. This prevents certain areas from becoming warmer than the rest, which reduces your risk of ice dams. Ideally, you should have a ridge vent and soffit vents that have openings of the same size.

If you end up with damage caused by ice dams, check your homeowners’ insurance policy. Depending on your policy, you might be covered for issues such as water damage, mold growth, damaged siding or shingles and damaged insulation.

Before having damages to your home repaired due to ice dams or any other circumstance, contact Waite’s Insurance Agency to find out if your current policy covers such repairs.

Our Warming World: How YOU Can Help Reverse Climate Change

Climate change is an issue that often seems far away. We always hear about melting ice caps and rising sea levels, but few people realize that it is a pressing issue around the entire world. The winter of 2015-2016 tied as the hottest year on record for Connecticut, with an average temperature of 35.2 degrees Fahrenheit – and the three warmest winters in the state’s history have all occurred within the last 15 years. These changes show that climate change is a real threat and it is becoming stronger every day. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to do your part to help slow the gradual warming of the earth. Here are several tips for fighting climate change on an individual level.

– Replace your light bulbs: Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use 60 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs, and as a result can save up to 300 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere helps contribute to global warming.

– Change your thermostat: Try raising your thermostat just two degrees in the summer and lowering it two degrees in the winter. This can save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year; alternatively, you can install a programmable thermostat to automatically raise and lower temperatures for you.

– Use energy-efficient appliances: Refrigerators, washers, dryers, and other appliances that have Energy Star labels are the best choice for your home.

– Turn off and unplug your appliances: A TV set uses 40 percent of its energy in standby mode, which means that by turning it off completely, you can save energy in the long run.

– Use renewable energy: Install solar panels on your home, which can ultimately prove to be a worthwhile long-term investment (as well as a sustainable energy source) because of the decrease in energy costs over time.

– Watch what you eat: Consuming food grown locally doesn’t just support local farmers; it also saves tons of carbon dioxide every year that is used in transporting food from around the country.

– Reduce, reuse, recycle: Garbage in landfills releases methane, which means that you should try to reduce your waste as much as possible. Compost food scraps, and recycle glass, paper and metal.

– Green your commute: Walk, bike or take public transit to work instead of driving, which releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide as well as other harmful exhaust such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

It may not seem like we are able to make much of a difference on a solo basis, but with everyone doing their part, our beautiful planet earth can once again blossom for future generations. For more articles like this one, day-to-day living tips, insurance information and a whole lot more, check us out on Facebook!