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

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Keeping your home safe while on vacation

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Following months on lockdown that may have felt like years, many families are deciding it’s finally time to take a vacation. While there is plenty of focus on how to stay safe during the trip, it’s also a good idea to take steps before we depart to keep our homes safe.  

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on average, one home is burglarized every 18 seconds in the United States. Burglaries occur most often during the summer months, and any evidence that your home is unoccupied will make it a more likely target. Before you take off, consider taking the following steps to keep your home safe.

  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Have mail or package delivery stopped.  A stack of mail or a package on the doorstep is a clear giveaway that homeowners are absent.
  • Hire someone to mow your lawn or shovel your driveway. 
  • Tell a trusted neighbor what your plans are. If possible, ask the neighbor to bring in your garbage cans if they will be outside and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
  • Consider putting some indoor and outdoor lights on timer switches.  This helps make your home look occupied.  
  • Wait until you return to post pictures and stories about your trip on social media. Posts often circulate more widely than you intend.

While these steps will take a bit of time, they will help ensure that your trip is worry-free and relaxing. 

Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with planning ahead for your well-earned vacation.  Learn about more ways you can plan to protect your home and family by calling Waitte’s Insurance Agency where our staff can assist you with your unique insurance needs. Share our vacation tips with your family and friends, and be sure you, your family, and your friends are covered so we can all keep our community safe.

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

US Department of Justice "Crime Clock" article

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

The Rose of New England: An Historic Overview of Norwich

The city of Norwich, Connecticut, also known as “The Rose of New England”, was founded in 1659 by settlers from Saybrook. The land was purchased from Chief Uncas of the “Mohegan Native American Tribe”. This Native American tribe originated in upstate New York as the Mohegans and later became The Mohegan Tribe after moving into Connecticut.

As one of the first Connecticut cities, Norwich was incorporated in 1784. Textile factories were common, due to the available water supply of the Yantic and Shetucket rivers. Thanks to the ship trading between Boston and New York, Norwich became a prosperous shipping center, due to its convenient location.  It was also known as both an agricultural and industrial area. Many of the agricultural areas evolved into to more industrial ways over time.

Notable Natives

Benedict Arnold: Born in Norwich in 1741, Benedict Arnold was an American General during the Revolutionary War. Arnold became possibly the most infamous traitor in United States history after his plan to defer to British military forces was exposed in 1780.

Samuel Huntington: As a signer of the Declaration of Independence, long-time resident of Norwich, Samuel Huntington became the President of the Continental Congress in 1779. Since he obtained this position during the time that the Articles of Confederation were being ratified, many beat-biographers and Connecticut cival groups believe that Huntington was actually the first President of the United States.

Thomas Leffingwell: Built in 1675, a two-room home built by Stephan Backus was purchased and converted into an Inn by Thomas Leffingwell. Known best to locals as the “Leffingwell House Museum”, the house is a modern day tourist staple containing many fine works created by 18th century silversmiths and clock makers. The Inn is said to have also hosted George Washington for breakfast in 1776.

The Rose City Today

The Norwich & Worcester Railroad (still alive today) was constructed from 1835-1840. Today’s Norwich is flourishing and boasts immigrants from French Canada, Cape Verde Islands, Europe, and more. The “Mohegan Native American Tribe” continues to thrive in this area of Connecticut as well. Named after the tribe, Mohegan Park is one of the most popular recreational areas in the city today. With it being the largest park in Norwich, residents and patrons can enjoy the beach, hiking and biking trails, basketball courts, picnicking and grilling, playgrounds, and more. Many events and activities are held here and preservation efforts are constantly made to keep it thriving.

Have you visited one of the many historical venues in Norwich lately? Please share in the box below your experiences and any additional fun facts you may have learned about our fair town!

Top 5 Scenic Routes for Fall Foliage in Connecticut

Every fall, while the rest of the country is lamenting the end of summer and dreading the coming of winter, New England is experiencing a uniquely beautiful experience – the gradual shift from summer to fall foliage throughout the region’s forests. This seasonal event brings vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow to the leaves of trees throughout the state of Connecticut, and because of their widespread nature, the best way to enjoy them is by car. Thankfully, the state is full of scenic routes, all of which become even more beautiful in fall when the leaves change color. This fall, head out for a drive along these top five scenic routes:

1. Connecticut River Loop

This scenic drive takes a combined four state routes into one loop that circles the Connecticut River, crossing the water twice and winding along its banks from Old Lyme to East Haddam. Along the way, it passes through the picturesque towns of Essex, Centerbrook, Deep River, Chester, Haddam and East Haddam; all of which display the fall foliage to its greatest extent, combined with charming shops and a small-town atmosphere. The drive between towns is spectacular as well, with the forested banks of the river providing a perfect backdrop for the fall colors.

2. State Route 169

This federally designated National Scenic Byway takes you from the Massachusetts border to Jewett City, passing through numerous historic towns and sites along the way. The highlight of this drive is the abundance of maple and pine trees, which provide a spectacular color-changing show in the fall.

3. Colchester and Salmon River

A large part of this loop follows state routes 16 and 149, looping around Salmon River State Forest in the process. This drive takes you from quiet, wooded lanes to scenic towns to the undisturbed woodlands of the state forest, which is the perfect place to view fall foliage due to its abundance of spectacular trees.

4. Merritt Parkway

Merritt Parkway, a 37-mile National Scenic Byway, passes not only through prime fall foliage areas but also crosses over numerous historic and beautiful Art Deco bridges in the process. Get ready for an explosion of color when you take on this short but scenic drive.

5. Litchfield Hills

There is nothing quite like the sight of rolling hills colored in all shades of red, orange, yellow, green, and everything in between. That is exactly what you will experience in the Litchfield Hills, in northwestern Connecticut. You can craft your own drive through this region, or follow a general route along Route 7 from Norfolk to Litchfield.

As we are all looking forward to the breath-taking landscapes that Connecticut provides in the fall, it’s important to remember proper maintenance for your vehicle or motorcycle before embarking on your scenic journey. This would, of course, include having adequate auto insurance. To review your current automobile or motorcycle policy,  contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc.

5 of the Most Haunted Places in Connecticut

As one of the first areas to be colonized by European settlers, as well as the site of Native American activity for thousands of years, it comes as no surprise that Connecticut has a long and storied history – and where there is history, there are hauntings. Today, with Halloween approaching, you can visit numerous haunted sites across the state, absorbing the atmosphere and quite possibly getting the scare of your life. However, even among Connecticut’s many haunted places, there are a few that stand out for being exceptionally spooky. Take a look at 5 of the most haunted places in Connecticut.

1. Norwich State Hospital, Preston

During its operation from 1904 to 1996, the Norwich State Hospital was the site of numerous tragedies and horrific events, from a patient who hanged himself in 1914 to a hot water heater explosion in 1919 that killed two employees. Today, the hospital stands in ruins, and has an exceedingly creepy atmosphere – numerous sightings of ghosts and reports of strange sights and sounds have been common. Although the actual facility is closed and guarded, you can view and take pictures of the hospital from the road.

2. Union Cemetery, Easton

Known as one of the most haunted cemeteries in the entire United States, the Union Cemetery contains burials dating back to the 1600s alongside modern-day graves. Famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the site and even caught a glimpse of the White Lady, the graveyard’s most notorious ghost. Be careful of visiting at night – policemen guard the cemetery, which is off-limits after sunset.

3. Fairfield Hills State Hospital, Newtown

What is it with old hospitals and hauntings? The Fairfield Hills State Hospital housed criminally insane patients from 1931 to 1995, and, like the Norwich State Hospital, has a long and cruel history and many reports of hauntings. Unfortunately, it is strictly off-limits to visitors.

4. Dudleytown, Cornwall

Dudleytown is a ghost town in northwestern Connecticut, which was founded by Thomas Griffis in 1745. The deaths of many of its occupants have led to modern-day reports of hauntings; however, today’s owners of the Dudleytown land do not allow hikers to visit.

5. The Warren Occult Museum

Named for Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famous paranormal investigators, this museum is home to the actual doll that inspired the horror movie “Annabelle”. The doll is known to be haunted, moving on its own and even writing messages on the walls. Unlike the other sites on this list, you can visit the museum freely…if you dare!

Waitte’s Insurance Agency wishes you and your family a very fun, and SAFE Halloween!