National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day falls on Friday, September 17 this year. Established in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter, the day was first recognized in June but is now held annually on the third Friday in September (Time.com). In 1997, this became one of six days when the POW/MIA flag is displayed in specific locations as required by Congress (Time.com).

The flag that has become a symbol for prisoners of war and service members missing in action was designed by World War II pilot Newt Heisley at the request of Mrs. Mary Hoff, wife of MIA Lieutenant Commander Michael Hoff, in 1971 (militarybenefits.info). It remains the only flag, other than the American flag, to fly above the White House. 

Historically, World War II saw the largest number of POWs at 130,201 captured and 116,129 returned (Americanhistory.si.edu). World War I recorded 4,120 captured and 3,973 returned, with Korea at 7,140 and 4,418, respectively (Americanhistory.si.edu). While Vietnam’s numbers were smaller (726 captured and 661 returned), the American public became much more aware of the plight of captured service members as a result of North Vietnamese propaganda campaigns (Americanhistory.si.edu). Over 1500 who served in Vietnam are still missing in action, and investigation efforts continue (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency).

Many states will mark National POW/MIA Recognition Day with veterans rallies. The day will also be recognized with ceremonies, and other events at the Pentagon, war memorials, museums, and communities will show support as they gather for organized walks, candlelight vigils, and other events (timeanddate.com; nationaldaycalendar.com). 

As we approach ≈, consider contacting a local veterans organization to ask how you can show honor and support for the sacrifices of those who have served, and recall the mantra of the POW/MIA remembrance movement honoring our nation’s prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action: “You Are Not Forgotten.”

Americanhistory.si.edu 

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Militarybenefits.info

Military.com

Nationaldaycalendar.com

Pow-mia families.org

Timeanddate.com

Time.com

Empty Nesters

Empty Nesters

Your kids have been a focal point in your home life and schedule for the past two decades or more. For many of us, however, the physical presence of a child in the home will no longer be part of the equation as the youngest (or in some cases only) child moves on to college, work, or another form of adult independence. 

While empty nest syndrome is not a clinical disorder or diagnosis, the sadness, depression, and loss of purpose that may coincide with the child's departure are very real for many parents (Psychology Today). While we are proud of our children for their increasing independence, the pain felt by parents can be substantial enough that they become “vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, and marital conflicts” (Mayo Clinic). 

Some of the sense of loss can be mitigated by frequent contact with a child through texting, email, or phone calls, though too much “helicopter” parenting can backfire and result in a lower sense of well-being for young adults transitioning to independence (VeryWellFamily.com). “Even if they welcome your guidance and attention, too much checking in and giving direction will hinder your young adult from learning to make good decisions and handle life on their own” (VeryWellFamily.com).

Recommendations for parents include limiting texts, emails, or phone calls to children to once or twice a week and engaging in some self-care. Give some attention to your own diet, sleep habits, exercise, and leisure activities. Now might be a great time to reconnect with old friends or plan a trip with your spouse. Consider taking a class or picking up a new hobby or resume an old activity that you didn’t have time for when your kids dominated your schedule.

Keep in mind that it will get easier. Consider seeking support from friends or colleagues who are going through the same thing or who became empty-nesters within the last few years. Like many big life transitions, you may experience some ups and downs. Still, with time, you may be surprised to enjoy your new role as an advisor rather than a direct caretaker of the wonderful person you have coached into adulthood. “You’ll get used to your child being in charge of their own life, and you can begin to develop a new sense of normal in your life” (VeryWellFamily.com).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you to have a smooth transition into this new phase of life. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

 

Mayo Clinic

Psychology Today

VeryWellFamily.com

History of Labor Day and some Sobering Statistics

History of Labor Day and Some Sobering Statistics

In the late 19th century, labor activists fought for and won their battle for a national holiday recognizing the myriad contributions workers have made to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being” of our great nation (U.S. Department of Labor). Every year since 1894, Americans have celebrated the contributions of our laborers. 

Picnics, parties, parades, and other gatherings are common ways to recognize Labor Day, and for some, unfortunately, drinking and driving has become a part of the ritual. 

Only two days rank higher than Labor Day for the number of fatal automobile accidents (Thanksgiving and Independence Day), and the National Safety Council predicts nearly 400 fatalities of this nature.  The fact that drinking and driving account for roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. indicates that many if not all of these deaths are preventable (Trafficsefetymarketing.gov). 

In addition to fatalities, an estimated 44,000 individuals will incur injuries serious enough to require medical assistance (National Safety Council). 

What can you do to stay safe? There are some options you can exercise to avoid becoming one of the grim statistics. 

  • If you are planning to drink, even if it’s just one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver. If a friend who has been drinking is planning to drive, take away the keys and/or find a sober driver for your friend.
  • Stay off the road if possible after dark. The rate of alcohol-impaired drivers more than triples at night compared to daylight hours (Trafficsafetymarketing.gov). 
  • Wear your seatbelt and insist that others in your car do the same. Research indicates that seat belts are 45% effective in preventing fatalities for front-seat car passengers (National Safety Council). If you are in the back seat, buckle up there too. Though some believe that the back seat is safe without a seat belt, the reality is that an unbuckled rider in the rear seat is eight times more likely to be killed or injured in a crash than one who is buckled (Washington Post).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we wish you a happy and safe Labor Day. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

National Safety Council
Trafficsafetymarketing.gov
U.S. Department of Labor
United States Department of Transportation "Alcohol-Impaired Driving"
United States Department of Transportation "Safety Facts"
Washington Post

Do I Need to Purchase Insurance for my Rental Car?

Do I Need to Purchase Insurance for my Rental Car

You’re finally getting out and enjoying the freedom of vacation and exploring new places or returning to some old favorites! Renting a car allows you to go where you want when you want. But are you taking unnecessary risks if you don’t purchase extra coverage for a rental car? Or are you throwing money away if you do?

Like many things, the answer depends on your circumstances and how much risk you are willing to assume. 

If you are risk-averse, you may want to purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW) from your car rental company. The great thing about a CDW is that “no matter how banged up the car could be, you’re off the hook. Just turn it in and be on your way” (SmarterTravel.com). Unfortunately, CDW can be quite expensive--typically starting at $30 per day or significantly higher; the cost of this coverage may be similar to what you are paying for renting the car (SmarterTravel.com). 

For anyone who is not inclined to spend quite so freely, you may be pleased to know that if you already have car insurance, your coverage extends to the rental car and maintains the same coverage limits and deductibles if your trip is for personal travel within the United States (MarketWatch.com). However, you must have commercial coverage if your trip is for business. Rental car coverage for personal travel to Mexico or Canada may or may not be covered by your existing policy, so it’s a good idea to contact your agent before heading out on your trip (MarketWatch.com). If your trip is overseas, you will likely need to purchase rental car insurance, as U.S. companies typically don't provide coverage there.

Another avenue of protection is your credit card. Most cards, when used to pay for your car rental, will provide collision coverage. The coverage is secondary, which means it will only take care of what your own insurance does not pay first, and you will receive it as a reimbursement after you have paid the rental company upfront (SmarterTravel). Unfortunately, there may also be the challenge of rental companies not always sharing proper documentation with credit card issuers (SmarterTravel).

One more option you may want to consider is the collision coverage offered by third-party insurance companies that may be available if you rent your car through one of the bigger online travel agencies such as Priceline or Expedia (SmarterTravel). Collision coverage purchased this way typically costs around $10 per day--much less than the rental company’s CDW. However, if you make a claim, you will likely have to pay upfront and be reimbursed later (SmarterTravel). 

One more reassuring travel-related fact is that if you are the victim of theft, your homeowners' or renters' insurance policy will cover your possessions (Nerdwallet.com). Your deductible will still apply, and to make a claim, you will need to file a police report (Nerdwallet.com).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you to have a safe, enjoyable vacation wherever you go and however you travel. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

MarketWatch.com
Nerdwallet.com
SmarterTravel.com

Mosquitoes: Not Just Biting Pests

Mosquitoes: Not Just Biting Pests

Usually, we think of mosquitoes as pesky nuisances, but the truth is that they can be both downright dangerous and helpful at the same time. Some of the most common illnesses caused by mosquitoes include dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika virus. 

Dengue is carried by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical areas of the world and causes fever and flu-like symptoms. The most severe form of dengue fever causes excessive bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and death (“Dengue Fever” Mayo Clinic). 

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite transferred to humans by infected mosquitoes that have deadly consequences. “In 2019, an estimated 229 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 409,000 people died” (“Malaria” CDC). Luckily for residents of the United States, a project begun In 1942 by the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas (predecessor of the CDC) was established to address the problem of malaria and other similar diseases. These efforts were so successful that in 1951, malaria was basically eliminated as a disease transmitted here in the United States, though about 2000 people are diagnosed with it each year who have recently traveled to areas where malaria is common (“Elimination of Malaria in the United States” CDC). 

Currently, West Nile virus (WNV) is the most prominent mosquito-borne disease in the continental U. S. There are currently no vaccines to prevent WNV. Most people who are infected do not show symptoms or feel sick, though about 20% of those infected develop a fever and other symptoms. Approximately 1 of every 150 people infected with WNV develop a serious illness which in some cases leads to death (“West Nile Virus” cdc.gov).

Worldwide, the virus most frequently spread to humans through mosquito bites is Zika. Most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas, humans infected with Zika show no signs or symptoms. Those who do show symptoms typically experience mild fever, muscle pain, and/or rash, though in some cases victims experience brain or nervous system complications (“Zika Virus” Mayo Clinic). Another concern related to Zika virus involves women infected during pregnancy. Contraction of the Zika virus increases the likelihood of miscarriage for the mother as well as serious birth defects in infants including microcephaly (“Zika Virus” Mayo Clinic). 

So is there anything redeemable about this annoying, disease-carrying menace? As a matter of fact, yes! Mosquitoes are important pollinators, and in the case of a few rare plants, no other insect will suffice. And not all mosquitoes bite and not all of the time. “It’s only when a female mosquito lays eggs does she seek a blood meal for the protein. Males feed only on flower nectar and never bite” (National Wildlife Federation). 

Mosquitoes also serve as a food source for many animals including birds, dragonflies, turtles, bats, and more (National Wildlife Federation). 

So how do we let these annoying insects do their job without becoming their feast? For starters, we can decrease the population around our homes by eliminating standing water where they like to lay eggs (State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program). We can also try to schedule our outdoor time when mosquitoes are less active. While there are a few species of mosquito that stay out all day, most are at their greatest activity around dawn and dusk (State of Connecticut). 

The most common mosquito deterrent people look to solve the pesky problem is a repellant. Those with ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus have been shown to be effective (State of Connecticut). Permethrin, a medication used to treat scabies and lice, is known to repel and kill mosquitoes and as an added bonus will also protect you from ticks (State of Connecticut). It is important if you use permethrin to be sure to apply it only to clothing. If it comes in contact with your skin, it is likely to cause burning and itching. It should also be kept away from pets (State of Connecticut).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you to have a fun, healthy, happy summer. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

"Dengue Fever" Mayo Clinic
"Elimination of Malaria in the United States" CDC
"Malaria" CDC
"Mosquito Control" Environmental Protection Agency
National Wildlife Federation
State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program
"West Nile Virus" cdc.gov
"Zika Virus" Mayo Clinic

Heat-related Illnesses

Mature woman with water bottle in summer

Outdoor fun and sunshine are things we are all taking advantage of and appreciating more than ever this year. Unfortunately, though spending time outdoors is good for our health, too much heat can be dangerous. One of the challenges we face regarding heat-related illnesses is that the symptoms can be difficult to recognize. 

Early signs of heat-related illness can include fatigue, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, confusion, and more (WebMd). Each person may respond differently, and these symptoms could be brushed off as general consequences of outdoor activity, especially for a person who is exercising. However, it is extremely important to recognize these symptoms as possible indicators of heat-related illness that, if left untreated, could cause serious complications.

The most dangerous heat-related illness is heat stroke, which occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. “When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106° or higher within 10 to 15 minutes” (CDC). The body is unable to cool down because it is no longer able to produce sweat. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention. “Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death” (Mayo Clinic). 

Though not considered quite as dangerous as heat stroke, heat exhaustion can also require emergency treatment and has the potential to be deadly if ignored. While victims of heatstroke typically stop sweating, those experiencing heat exhaustion may continue to sweat (CDC). 

Regardless of whether a person is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. While waiting for medical assistance, there are several steps you can take to assist the victim.

  • Be sure to place the victim in the shade
  • Drink frequent sips of cool water
  • Use cold compresses or cold water to wash the victim’s head, neck, and face
  • Remove unnecessary clothing including shoes and socks
  • Stay with the victim until help arrives (CDC)

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about the health and well-being of our community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

CDC
Mayo Clinic
WebMD

Identity Theft–What You Can Do to Help Avoid Becoming a Victim

In 1736, Ben Franklin famously advised Americans that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While Franklin was actually referring to fire prevention, his advice rings true for myriad other issues including contemporary concerns such as identity theft. 

While identity theft is not a new problem, the number of victims has recently exploded to nearly 1.4 million reports received by the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov website in 2020 (Federal Trade Commission “New Data”). While it is commonly known that identity thieves make purchases in their victims’ names, they also open new credit card accounts, take out loans, and create accounts with vendors such as Venmo, PayPal, etc. (Federal Trade Commission). 

Identity thieves sometimes use victims’ information to receive health services. This results in bills that the victims have to spend time and/or money to clear up as well as compromising victims’ health records. They also may commit crimes under the name of the victim which frequently results in an arrest warrant in the victim’s name. 

Common indirect consequences for victims of identity theft include difficulty obtaining a loan or only qualifying for a higher interest rate on a loan, difficulty purchasing or renting a home, and problems at work including job loss or inability to qualify for a desired job as a result of complications related to the identity theft (Federal Trade Commission). While some victims are able to fully reclaim their identity in a few months, others continue to suffer financial consequences for years or even decades.

Not only must victims spend time and money trying to clear up the fallout from having their identity stolen, but there is also, unfortunately, a significant emotional cost. “Victims of identity theft will feel overwhelmed at times by the psychological pain of loss, helplessness, anger, isolation, betrayal, rage, and even embarrassment. This crime triggers deep fears regarding financial security, the safety of family members, and the ability to trust again” (Consumer Protection Division).

So how can you avoid becoming a victim? The following are some tips that can help you keep your identity safe:

  • Shred expired credit cards and any documents with account information including account statements, receipts, and credit offers. If you do not own a shredder or have enough documents that a home shredder is impractical, most areas have local shredding services that will take care of your materials for a small fee. 
  • Keep your social security card stored in a safe place and do not carry it with you. Only provide your social security number to trusted institutions and only when necessary.
  • In addition to keeping your social security number private, also avoid sharing your birthdate and any other personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers when possible.
  • Collect your mail in a timely manner and put your mail on hold when you are out of town.
  • Create complex passwords that thieves will not be able to guess and avoid using the same password for multiple sites.
  • Avoid using public wi-fi when possible. If you do use public wi-fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect yourself from anyone who might otherwise be able to monitor your online activity (“Identity Theft” USA.gov).

If, in spite of your best efforts, you do end up becoming a victim, report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission online at IdentityTheft.gov or by calling 877-438-4338. You may also want to contact your local police department (“Identity Theft” USA.gov).

Consumer Protection Division

Federal Trade Commission "New Data Shows FTC Received 2.2 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2020"

Federal Trade Commission "What to Know About Identity Theft"

"Identity Theft" USA.gov

Identity Theft Resource Center

Identity Theft Resource Center 2021 Survey Responses

Keep Deer Out of the Garden

Keep Deer Out of the Garden

You’ve prepared the soil and planted your garden, but now you may be faced with uninvited guests. Since deer are creatures of habit and a small number can do a great deal of damage, the quicker you act to deter them, the better. Thankfully, there are a lot of things you can try. 

There are many smells that may deter your local grazers including commercial deer repellents, blood meal, mothballs, fabric softener, decaying fish heads, and garlic (Better Homes and Gardens). Since different breeds and populations of deer have different tastes, you may need to do some experimenting to find what works best, and these methods may need to be reapplied after rain.

Some gardeners hang bars of strong-smelling soaps such as Irish Spring around their plants. Another option is to use a vegetable peeler and drop the soap shavings around low-growing plants. Benefits of the soap method include less frequent re-application (it lasts for about a month), it is not harmful to plants, and it can even decrease unwanted pests such as aphids which the soap dehydrates (Good Housekeeping). Irish Spring is not your only soap option, though you should avoid bars with coconut oil, which may actually attract deer (Good Housekeeping). 

Another option is making your own concoction out of ingredients such as milk, yogurt, eggs, cayenne pepper, garlic, or other strong-smelling substances. There are myriad recipes on the internet if you are interested in this method, the downside of which is obviously that you will be smelling the deterrent too. 

Luckily, there are some plants that deer, like to avoid that, may be more pleasant for the human nose. Lavender, marigolds, and fragrant herbs such as mint, oregano, or catnip can be good deterrents, though you may need to plant quite a few marigolds, and mint plants in the ground can become invasive. 

Hanging pie tins or aluminum cans from stakes, fences, or tree branches can be a great way to deter deer, as they reflect light and make noise, especially if there is a breeze. A similar idea is to install motion-activated sprinklers which tend to startle unsuspecting grazers.

When all else fails, there is also the option of a physical barrier. To keep deer out, you will need a fence that is fully enclosed and at least eight feet high. A shorter fence (six feet or so) may also work if it leans outward, making it more difficult for deer to jump. If you want to avoid a heavy-duty structure, you may opt for a durable fishing line. This method allows for a shorter fence (around three feet) and should include a second fence a few feet out from the first with some ties or other visible material on the lines for the deer to see for best results (Chicago Tribune). 

Whatever method you try, you will achieve the best results if you mix up your approach (unless your solution is the sturdy fence), as deer are likely to realize over time that what initially deterred them is not as undesirable as it at first seemed.

Better Homes and Gardens

Chicago Tribune

Good Housekeeping

Summer Reading: Not Just for the Kids!

Summer Reading-Not Just for Kids!

Summer reading isn’t just for students! You might be amazed by both how beneficial reading can be for you and how much you will enjoy this economical form of old-school entertainment.

Many of us have used this past year to re-evaluate what is important and leave behind some of the things we realized wasted our time and energy. If you haven’t done so in a while, try picking up a book! Want to “travel” without spending any money? Check out a novel with a remote setting or a travel magazine! Want to learn more about historical events that interest you? Historical fiction or nonfiction can show you what it was like to be part of a significant period of the past.

Still think reading is just for kids? According to Psychology Today, reading improves our brain power at any age. “Readers develop thicker cortices . . .  which provide extra cognitive reserves and better withstand neurological injuries and damage. Reading a lot may even help to slow the onset of dementia” (Psychology Today “Does Reading Matter?”)

Studies cited in the US National Library of Medicine show that as a subject’s reading ability matures, the circuits and signals in the brain grow stronger and more sophisticated. “Reading stories not only strengthens language processing regions but also affects the individual through embodied semantics in sensorimotor regions” (US National Library of Medicine). 

Reading fiction can improve mental health by increasing our ability to empathize with others and improve social skills (Psychology Today “Can Reading Books Improve Your Mental Health?”)

Other benefits from reading can include increased vocabulary and comprehension, lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, decreased depression symptoms, and increased sleep readiness (Healthline).

Unfortunately, these benefits cannot be gained by reading social media posts no matter how long you look at such text, though electronic delivery methods for extended novels (Kindle, ebooks, etc.) seem to bring the same results as their old-fashioned paper counterparts.

One last reason to read is modeling. Kids notice how their parents and grandparents spend their time and what they value at every age. Once they see you reading, they too will be that much more inclined to develop into readers themselves.

Newspapers and websites are full of recommendations these days, and your local bookstore clerk or librarian will also be sure to have some great ideas. 

Healthline

Psychology Today "Can Reading Books Improve Your Mental Health?"

Psychology Today "Does Reading Matter?"

US National Library of Medicine

A History of Independence Day Celebrations

A History of Independence Day Celebrations

On July 4, citizens of our great nation celebrate Independence Day as they have since 1776. 

Surprisingly, as late as the spring of 1775, most colonists did not favor complete independence from Great Britain (History.com). However, by 1776, their attitudes had shifted. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence (History.com). John Adams, who assisted in drafting the Declaration of Independence, was ready to celebrate that day and wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 would be celebrated with parades, games, sports, and other festivities “from one end of this Continent to the other” for generations to come (History.com). 

Though Adams was correct about the zeal of the celebrations, his date was a bit off. Two more days passed before the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was complete and formally adopted (History.com). 

That first year, festivities were modeled on celebrations of the king’s birthday, “which had been marked annually by bell ringing, bonfires, solemn processions, and oratory,” though in many towns they also  “included a mock funeral for the king, whose ‘death’ symbolized the end of monarchy and tyranny” for the colonists (Britannica.com).

John Adams and lead author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson enjoyed fifty years of Independence Day celebrations before they both passed away on July 4, 1826 (New England Historical Society).

The first organized celebrations of Independence Day took place on July 4, 1777, and in several cities included firework displays. Philadelphia’s celebration also included a 13-gun salute fired from a ship’s cannon to honor the 13 colonies (History.com). There were also 13 rockets fired before and after the firework show (History.com). 

In 1941, Independence Day became an official federal holiday that is celebrated in many of the same ways it has always been throughout history, though the cannons and rockets set off in Philadelphia had been subtracted from the festivities due to safety concerns.

This year we will enjoy the parades, carnivals, barbeques, and fireworks for Independence Day on Sunday, which means most businesses will be closed and workers will have a day off on July 5. The staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency are wishing you a happy and safe holiday! Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

Britannica.com

History.com

New England Historical Society