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

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Are Your Valuables Protected?

Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic days of the year, and if you’re in a relationship then it’s probably a day that you can expect a great gift from your special someone.  In fact, Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for getting engaged.  If you’re already married, then you can probably expect a beautiful piece of jewelry or another big present this year.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of criminals who also know that there will be a lot more valuable jewelry, electronics, and other gifts on the streets, in cars, and in people’s homes in the coming weeks.  While losing a sentimental gift will be hard emotionally, you want to make sure that you’re financially prepared as well.

For many people, their engagement ring and other jewelry are some of the highest value assets that they own outside of their home or car.  Losing a single piece can be a huge financial blow.  That’s why it’s important to insure these items just as you would your house or car.

A personal articles insurance policy can help to give you the peace of mind you need.  These insurance policies can be written to cover all kinds of items, including:

  •  – Jewelry
  •  – Appliances
  •  – Electronics
  •  – Collectables
  •  – Fine Art Work
  •  – Furs
  •  – Instruments

Personal article insurance policies are designed to supplement the coverage provided by homeowner’s policies.  Because homeowner policies have high deductibles and restrictions on what is covered, many people discover that after the theft or loss of a piece of jewelry they can’t use their existing policy to cover the loss.  With a personal article policy, however, the entire value of the objects lost can be covered.

While signing up for one of these policies is relatively simple, it is a good idea to hold on to some proof of the value of the items you are insuring.  A receipt or letter of appraisal can provide the proof of value that these policies often require.

If you have any questions on whether or not your particular items can be insured with a Personal Articles Policy, call Waitte’s Insurance Agency today at (860) 886-1961.

8 Things to Know Before Purchasing Homeowners Insurance

Buying a home is one of the greatest decisions that you make in your life, which makes buying homeowners insurance equally as important. Having a suitable insurance policy or protection plan for your phone, computer, or other personal items is essential for covering your investment, right? So why wouldn’t you make sure that you got the same out of your homeowner’s insurance?

Just in case this is the first time you have gone through this process, there are several critical things that you want to keep in mind when shopping around for a fitting insurance policy. Here are a few tips that will help you on your insurance hunting adventure.

1. Know What Your Home is Worth

Has it been some time since you have had your home inspected? No better time than the present, especially if you are purchasing homeowners insurance. Get an exact value from a home builder or a home assessment company so that you can get a better idea of how much you need to insure your home for. This will also put into perspective in the worst possible scenario, what it would cost to replace the entire house, from the foundation up.

2. Find Out Exactly How to File a Claim

In the painstaking midst of something awful happening to your home, the last thing that you want to do is get put on hold. Know exactly who you need to talk to, what information you need to file an insurance claim, and what to do in the event of a home emergency.

3. Use Simple Tactics and Tools That Can Save You Money on Insurance

One great way that you can save money on a homeowners insurance policy is to take advantage of some simple devices, that many don’t think of. Things that could potentially make your policy cheaper are:

  •    -Deadbolt locks
  •    -A home security system or alarm
  •    -New, working fire alarms and sprinklers
  •    -Safe wiring and updated electrical systems
  •    -Being located near a fire and/or police department

Ask your insurer about these to see if you can have money taken off of your premium.

4. Take Inventory of All of the Valuable Items in Your House

Keep an inventory of all of the valuable items in your home, such as jewelry or fine artwork, and the costs associated with those items to the best of your ability. Anything that is important to you or costly should be catalogued somewhere safe so that you have an idea of the possessions you should insure in your home.

5. Shop Around Before You Buy a Plan

Don’t buy through the first insurance company or buy the first plan you come across. Make sure you shop around before you are absolutely certain of which kind of plan is adequate for your particular needs.

6. Compare Insurance Plan Deductibles

Part of shopping around is in comparing deductibles. The deductible is the maximum out-of-pocket costs that you would pay in the event that something disastrous happens to your house or personal property. Compare prices to make sure that you aren’t overpaying and that you are financially capable of paying your deductible.

7. Note the Environmental Risks That Your Premium is Based On 

Think about some of the environmental factors that would put your home at a higher risk for a claim or an unfortunate incident. This is where factors like neighborhood, crime rate, natural disasters specific to your area, and distance from freeways or congested areas would apply.

8. Understand What You Are Covered For

You would be surprised how often this one gets overlooked. Homeowners insurance policies can look like an entire novel’s worth of information, which makes it even more critical that you know exactly what is included in your policy. Ask your insurer or agent any questions that you might have on the policy, and if you need some added reassurance have an attorney review your policy.

By abiding by these simple eight precautionary tips, you will be well on your way to purchasing the most appropriate coverage for your new home!

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.