The National Insurance Agency Blog

On this page, you'll find helpful information and tips about your home, auto, insurance...and much more.
We invite you stop back often!

July 17, 2019 -
Tips For Handling a Tire Blowout

The summer driving season…windows down, the breeze, some tunes…for some this is a little slice of heaven. How will you react should a tire blow on your vehicle during this time of bliss?

It may be hard to believe, but tire blowouts and flats contribute to nearly 11,000 cartirecollisions and 700 fatalities each year.

When a blowout occurs, you may hear a loud bang or a whoosh…followed by the flapping sound of the now deflated tire slapping the road. You’ll also notice your car pulling hard to the side where the blowout occurred.

So…what to do? First, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Don’t aggressively apply the brakes. Allow your car to slow down gradually and once you have reached a safe speed…pull to the side of the road or other safe location. Activate the 4 way flashers.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to avoid a blowout. Most blowouts happen during the warmer months, and often are the result of excessively worn tires, under inflated tires or an overladed vehicle. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated to the specifications set by your car’s manufacturer, and remove unnecessary items from the cargo area.

July 9, 2019 - Tips For Safer Grilling, Part II

Last time, we covered some tips about gas grilling. This time, we’ll go over some tips for those of you that still grill “old school”…with charcoal.grill2

Charcoal grills can remain hot long after the flames go out. Keep combustible materials away from the grill at all times.

It’s a good idea to check for rust damage in metal grills, as this may allow charcoal to fall through and cause a fire or burn.

Do not add starting fluid when charcoal is already burning.

If the fire gets too low, ad some more charcoal or kindling.

July 3, 2019 - Tips For Safer Grilling


Tis the season…for grilling! If your choice of a backyard grill is gas…we have some helpful tips.Grill1

First, check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it the first time each season. Applying a light soap and water moistures can show leaks by releasing bubbles.

If you smell or suspect a gas leak and there’s no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, have this repaired by a qualified technician.

If you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Never turn on the gas while the grill’s lid is closed. Gas may build up inside causing the lid to blow off causing injuries and burns.

After cooking, make sure the gas is turned off.

Finally always store gas grills and propane tanks outside away from your home...

June 26, 2019 - Tornado TipsNIATorn


We’ve seen some tornado warnings already this season in our area. While the Greater Philadelphia Area isn’t exactly known for tornados…they still occur. Here are a few tips that may help keep you safe.

First, if you are inside of a building when a tornado is imminent, seek shelter in the basement. If there’s no basement, stay in the center of the structure on a lower level away from windows.

If you’re outside, and there’s no shelter lie flat in a ravine, ditch or culvert. Shield your head with your hands.


If posible, get under something sturdy like heavy table or workbench. If you can, cover yourself with a sleeping bag or heavy blanket.

Everyone at National National Insurance Agency sincerely hopes that you’ll never be in a situation where these instructions will be needed..

June 20, 2019 - Swimming Pool Tips, Part II


Pools are great fun…but with the fun brings some risk. Here’s show to help keep your pool2pool safe.

Chemicals should be stored away from the pool. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions when using pool chemicals.

Electrical devices should be kept away from the pool. If you must use electrical devices in the pool area, be sure to plug them into a GFCI (Ground Fall Circuit Interrupter) outlet.

Inspect the liner, if equipped regularly. Looks for wear in areas that pipes or other items may pierce the liner.

Above ground pools should be regularly inspected for rust or corrosion on metal parts.

The deck and railings should also be checked to ensure that they are strong enough for pool users should they pull or lean on them.

Ensure that your pool has compliant anti-entrapment drain covers and make sure they are not broken or missing.

June 12, 2019 - Swimming Pool Tips, Part 1


Summer is almost here…and that makes now a great time to talk about swimming pool safety.

First, ensure that your pool is secure. Maintain secure fencing and a locked entrance to ensure security when supervision isn’t available.

One great safety rule is, “no one swims alone”. Less experienced swimmers should always be accompanied by one that has life saving skills.

Diving should be restricted to areas that are cleared marked and of appropriate depth.

Life preservers and a rope with life saving rings should be kept near the pool and readily accessible.

June 6, 2019 - Hail Damage Protection


After the recent storms in our area, it seems like a good time to mention hail damage.

Hail storms can develop quickly and with little notice, so you have very little opportunity to prepare.

First, consider signing up for local weather alerts. These can give you some time to hopefully minimize hail damage.

Large hail can break your home’s windows, so close the drapes, curtains or shades to help prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside.

If possible, park your vehicles under a carport or in the garage.

Lawn furniture can also be damaged by hail. More your outdoor furniture inside or into a covered area. Lighter weight outside furniture can also be blown by the wind, potentially causing damage.

When it’s time to replace your roof, you may consider looking into impact-resistant materials..

May 30, 2019 - Tips for First Time Home Buyers, Part II


So, you’re one step closer to your first home. Congrats! There are tips that can help you not only save money, but also can help you later if an appliance requires repair or match a broken tile.

First, you can negotiate your closing costs. Perhaps you have a motivated seller than will help with those.

Credits. When making your offer, you may want to consider getting a credit to repair or replace items found during the home inspection, like the heating systems, water guysmoveheater or roof.

Make sure you get the paperwork, manuals and receipts if possible for the mechanical items in the home. This way, you’ll know if they are still covered by warranty or who to call to make a repair. Paint colors and tile models are also useful to have in order to match them for a repair.

A final walk-though. Before you sign all the paperwork and officially take ownership of your new home, it’s important that you do a final walk-through. Has the seller removed everything as promised? Was there hidden damage to a floor or wall? This is important to make sure you don’t have a mess before you move in.

Finally…and leave it to an insurance company to bring this to your attention…bundle your auto and homeowner’s policies with the same firm. This can give you some substantial discounts. As an independent agency, the National Insurance Agency can compare rates with many insurance companies to ensure that you are getting the very best value.

May 22, 2019-Tips for First Time Home Buyers, Part IHouseBills

Your home is the largest investment you will make during your lifetime. as a first time buyer, it’s both exciting and a bit scary! Gee are a few tips that can ensure you are doing your due diligence when selecting a home.

Get a home inspection. Whether it’s an older home or new construction, you need a trained, certified, home inspector to check it out from top to bottom.

See what else may be for sale in the area to get an idea of value. Realtors call these “comps”, and it’s so that you are better informed about asking prices, and perhaps recent selling prices for similar homes in the same area.

How long has it been on the market? If it was recently listed, and your area has lots of demand, you’ll need to make an offer sooner than later. If the property has been on the market for a long time, check the price history. You agent can provide a pricing analysis if you’re considering an offer.

Is the price negotiable? If you can get an idea as to how flexible the seller is, you can hopefully avoid making an offer than offends the seller.

May 16, 2019-Extension Cord Safetycord

Electrical extension cords are handy. With this helpful tips, you can make sure that you are using extensions cords safely.

First, it’s important to remember that extension cords are for temporary use only. You may want to have a qualified electrician install outlets in areas where you may often use extension cords.

Repair or replace damaged or worn extension cords as these greatly increase the risk of shock or fire.

Never use extension cords to power an appliance.

Don’t place extension cords under rugs or carpets.

Make sure that you are using an extension cord heavy enough for the load you are powering. Amperage, gauge and cord length all play a role in how power the cord can carry.

Finally, it’s important to know that there are inside and outside extension cords.

May 8, 2019-Call 811 Before You DigDig

Call 811!

In the spring, a homeowner’s attention often turns to outside tasks like new fences and other projects that require digging. It’s always a good idea…and required…to call 811 before you dig.

You could damage power lines that might disrupt service to the whole neighborhood, not to mention incurring potential fines and repair costs.

811 is the national “Call Before You Dig” number, designated by the FCC. By calling 811, you can be made aware of any potential underground hazards.

It may be hard to believe that despite all the potential danger and damage that could be caused, 45% of American homeowners surveyed said they would not call 811 before digging.

May 1, 2019-Check Your Air-Condtioning

We get it…it’s Spring! You’re not even thinking about the upcoming summer heat…are you? Well, now’s a great time to make sure your home’s air-conditioning system checked out and ensure that you’re ready for summer.


First, check around the outside A/C unit. Make sure it’s clear of leaves, branches and other debris. 

Inside, check and/or change the filter. If you don’t remember that last time you did it…it’s time. You may also choose to call your HVAC technician to give the system an examination.


Remember, now is the right time to check your air-conditioning system. There’s no fun in the A/C not working on the first hot day of the season. (Your technician will also be busy on that first hot day with all those folks that waited until the last minute.)

April 25, 2019 -Distracted Driving, Part IV

Multi-Tasking Isn’t good For Your Driving…Or Your Health!

If you text while driving, you are at a 23x higher risk to be involved in an accident. Reaching for something on the floor…9x more likely to get into an accident. Reading? 4x as likely. Eating…2x as likely. See the theme?

There’s no doubt that your attention should be on the activity at-hand…driving. Anything you do in addition to driving causes your attention to shift and your ability to act…or react…greatly diminishes..

April 17, 2019 -Distracted Driving, Part IIIsecondsign

Do you know about the “3 Second Rule”?


If you increase the distance between your car and the car ahead of you…you give yourself more time to recognize a hazard and respond correctly.

To set the 3 Second Rule, simply note when the vehicle traveling in front of you passes a sign, tree or mile marker. Then, count to see how many seconds it takes until your car passes the same point. A good way to count is to use, “1-1000, 2-1-000, 3-1000”. If you haven’t reached three seconds before you reach the marker…it’s time to back off.


The 3 Second Rule assumes that road conditions are good and that you’re not involved in other distracted driving. Of course, the more gap you can leave between yourself and the car in front is better.

April 9, 2019 -Distracted Driving, Part IIDM032420161473

Is technology distracting your driving?


According to the 2019 Travelers Risk Index, 77% of drivers make phone calls or receive calls while driving. 31% of drivers say they've had a near miss crash because of distracted driving.


The three biggest tech related distractions are: taking or making phone calls, engaging on social media, and using GPS maps/or navigation.


Perhaps even more alarming statistics are the following dangerous behaviors that drivers acknowledge. 44% of drivers are texting or emailing. 23% of drivers are using social media. 22% are recording videos or taking photographs. Finally, 15% admit to shopping on-line.


So what can you do to help make a difference? First set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” while driving. If you are the passenger in a vehicle driven by a distracted driver, asked them to stop this behavior. 54% of drivers say they'd likely stop the distracting behavior if asked by a passenger. You can also join the 21% of families who have signed a Distracting Driving Contract.

March 24 , 2019 -Stopping Distracted DrivingDrivePAper

There's no doubt that cars are safer than ever. But this doesn't mean that you are exempt from giving your full attention while driving.

Reading while driving for example, is far more dangerous than you may think.At 50 miles per hour, you...and your car...are covering 88 feet per second.

As you can imagine, that momentary glance at your phone or newpaper could results in a tragic event.

So, put the paper down...wait to answer that text message...until you arrive at your destination.

March 12 , 2019 -High Tech Car Featureshightechcars

Just in time for the driving season, some information about the latest auto technology. While anti-lock braking systems and traction control seem to be the norm now, safety technology has become almost unbelievable in modern cars.

  • Automatic Emergency Braking Systems.. Sensors monitor the distance of vehicles in front of the car. If the system detects that a collision is imminent, this system can apply the brakes the help avoid a collision.
  • Lane Keeping Assist. These systems can alert drivers if they are wondering from their lane of travel, some systems can also help steer the car back into it’s lane should the driver wander too far.
  • Pedestrian Emergency Braking.These systems use cameras or radar to determine if pedestrians are in your path. In some cars, an audible warning is emitted and others actually will stop your car to avoid striking a pedestrian.
  • Drowsiness Detection. These systems monitor your driving by watching for changes in driving patterns that may indicate sleepiness. In most cars with these types of monitors, an audible warning is played, a long with a message in the instrument cluster to suggest it’s time to take a break.

February 21 , 2019 -Tips To Avoid Carbon Monoxide PoisoningDetector

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the incomplete buring of any carbon-containing material including gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. This is dangerous as it replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of oxygens cells to the body.

Here are some tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Keep your vents clear. During and after a storm, make sure nothing is obstructing the outside stack or vent for your dryer, stove, furnace and fireplace.
  • Do not run engines in a closed area. Proper ventilation is critical to avoiding CO poisoning. So do not start a car, fire up a grill or stove, or run a generator in a closed area — like a basement or garage.
  • Keep fireplaces clean and well vented. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you keep it clean and that the flue is working properly.
  • Install CO alarms. If you have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage, consider installing these special devices in your home. You will want one on every level (including the basement), within the vicinity of each sleeping area and in other locations required by any applicable laws/building codes.
  • Maintain your CO alarms. Keep in mind that CO alarms do need to be maintained regularly. Many come equipped with a battery backup to ensure uninterrupted operation, even if the power goes out. But you will need to remember to change your batteries at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, like you do with your smoke detectors. It is also a good idea to keep a supply of batteries on hand in the event of a multi-day power outage. Other maintenance tips to consider are removing visible dust with a vacuum, and testing and replacing units (check your owner’s manual for details).


February 13 , 2019 - Steps To Create A Home Checklist, Part 2

After a burglary or other unthinkable event, it's easy to forget all the details of everything in your home. A complete, accurate list is very important when it comes to making an insurance claim. We sincerely hope that you'll never need to use such a list...but it's wise to make a list and ensure it's kept up to date.

Here are some steps you can use to help build your home inventory checklist.

  • Update Your Inventory Often. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to the inventory while the details are fresh in your mind. This is also a good time to delete items that you have replaced or no longer own.
  • Remember Your Business Assets. While most people think of their home when making an inventory, it is important to document the contents of your business, if applicable, as well.
  • Consider Valuable Items. Valuable items like jewelry, art, and collectibles may have increased in value since you brought them into your home. Check with your agent, if you have one, to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage for these items as they may need to be insured separately. Consider putting jewelry or other valuables that you don’t often wear or use in a safe deposit box.

February 7 , 2019 - Steps To Create A Home Checklist, Part 1 interior

After a fire, burglary or another event in which you lost possessions from your home, it may be difficult to remember the details of every one of the belongings that you have accumulated over the years. In this situation, having a current inventory of your possessions, including make and model numbers, may help you with any potential insurance claims. Taking the time to document your belongings now can help you recover faster after a loss.

Here are some steps you can use to help build your home inventory checklist.

  • Step 1: Take the Time to Walk Through Your Property. Compiling a comprehensive home inventory takes time and effort. The more detailed your inventory, the more useful it will be if you have to make a claim. Document possessions inside your home and on your property that may be of value.
  • Step 2: Keep Your Inventory in a Safe Place. Creating a digital home inventory and storing it off-site will help ensure that it won’t be lost, stolen or damaged during any disaster at your home. You can also create a photo or video inventory and upload it to a cloud-based service.

February 1 , 2019 - Winter Home Maintenance is Important! Part 3, Insulation.

Is your insulation prepared to protect you from the cold? As an important line of defense from winter’s gusty winds and freezing temperatures, it is worth taking time to inspect and upgrade insulation and weather stripping.

  • Add extra insulation in the attic to help guard against ice dams. If too much heat escapes into the attic, it can warm the ice and snow on the roof. When it refreezes, it can cause an ice dam, which can lead to water damage inside your home or possibly even a roof collapse.
  • Add weather stripping around doors and caulk windows to guard against drafts and heat loss.
  • Remove screens from windows and install storm windows, if appropriate.

January 20 , 2019 - Winter Home Maintenance is Important! Part 2, Utilities.

Freezing temperatures can be especially damaging to your home’s water piping. Make sure your pipes are adequately prepared to withstand a cold snap and remember to take extra precautions if you are going to be leaving your home, including shutting off your water.

  • Check for water leaks and fix problems immediately; wrap water piping in UL-Listed heat tape and insulate if it is exposed in unheated areas such as garages, crawl spaces or attics. Use only thermostatically-controlled heat tape if your water piping is plastic, and follow the manufacturer's installation instructions
  • Learn how to shut off your water and know where your pipes are located in case they do freeze; you may be able to prevent water damage.


January 9 , 2019 - Winter Home Maintenance is Important! Part 1. Housesnow

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches so that they don't damage your home or cause injury should they fall or break due to snow, ice or wind.
  • Keep your gutters clear of leaves and other debris so that melting snow and ice can drain properly. Also, ensure that your downspouts are directing water away from your home.
  • It's a good idea to repair steps and handrails to make them safer when walking in ice, snow and slippery conditions.
  • Now's a good time to make sure you have your snowblower and generator serviced and ready to go. Keep fuel for these items in approved safety containers and away from heat.
  • Finally, check your stock of ice-melter, salt and snow shovels.

December 26, 2018 - Roof Snow Removal Information

There's no doubt that snow covered roofs help may a beautiful winter rooficescene...but the melting and freezing of freshly fallen snow...can put more stress on your roof that it was designed to handle.

Snow Removal Tips

Clearing the snow off your roof from the gutters or eaves upwards of three to four feet after each winter storm can help prevent·ice dams·from forming. Remember to avoid using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to professionals.

For Flat Roofs:

If your flat roof is easily accessible from an interior stairway, you may want to shovel the roof, but be careful not to damage the roof covering.

Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, especially one that is covered in snow and ice. If you have any doubt, leave it to professionals.

For Sloped Roofs:

It may be possible to remove the snow and ice from your sloped roof using a roof rake – a long-handled tool designed specifically for this purpose. Stand on the ground and pull as much of the snow off the eaves as you can safely reach.

If you cannot safely reach the roof, contact a homebuilder, landscaping and roofing contractor, or property maintenance company to remove the snow and ice. Before·hiring a contractor, check their references. Always be sure any contractor you hire is qualified, insured and bonded.

The amount of snow and ice your roof can support will depend on a number of factors, including the roof type as well as the age and condition of the structure. But a good rule to keep in mind is if more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice has accumulated on your roof, you should have it removed.




December 21, 2018 - Space Heater Tips

With winter upon us, now's a good time to discuss some safety tips in using space heaters.

When setting up a space heater, remember to keep it at least 36 inches from any flammable or combustible materials and place it on the floor, unless it is designed otherwise.

Areas where space heaters are used should be free of flammable liquids. Do not put them on easily ignitable or combustible surfaces, such as rugs or carpets, or use them to dry wet clothing.

When using a fuel-fired space heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow for fresh air to enter. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup or a depletion of oxygen.

Never take a gas-fired or kerosene heater into a confined space as the results could be deadly.

To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you and your family can get out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly, and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly.


December 13, 2018 - Christmas Tree SafetyTreeSafety
Some tips to help make your Christmas tree not only a joy...but also, safer. John Machnicki, a Travelers Risk Control fire saftey professional offers some great tips.

1. Give live Christmas trees a fresh cut. Machnicki always chooses a freshly cut Christmas tree so it will absorb water and stay fresher longer. “Sap flows out of trees, so without a fresh cut at the bottom, water up-take might not be as good,” Machnicki explains.

2. Water your tree daily. In Machnicki’s household, a dry tree is immediately shown the door. Constant watering keeps trees fresher longer, but the moment the tree appears to drop its needles, it’s a sign that it is drying out.

3. Use approved lights and connect them properly. Choose lights tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Avoid connecting multiple extension cords and more than three strands of lights.

4. Inspect lights and decorations. Before decorating your tree, lay out strings of lights and look for any broken or missing lights. Needles can get stuck in empty light sockets, creating a potential fire hazard, Machnicki says. Electric energy passes through the bulb sockets and can cause needles to ignite.

5. Toss damaged lights and decorations. Don’t attempt to repair light strings if they are worn, frayed or show other problems. Throw them away and buy a new set of lights.

6. Choose your tree’s location carefully. Place the tree away from stairs, where fire can quickly travel to bedrooms. Avoid placing it near heat sources, such as a wood stove or fireplace. Being close to radiators and heat vents can more quickly dry out a tree.

7. Avoid using candles near the tree. In a quarter of Christmas tree fires measured by the National Fire Protection Association, a candle or other heat source was too close to the tree.

8. Avoid combustible ornaments. Pinecones and other ornaments can add fuel to a Christmas tree fire and should be avoided.

9. Keep pets safe. Pets can chew, paw and otherwise damage lights and potentially knock over the tree.

10. Unplug at night. Never leave the tree plugged in when you are away from home or asleep.

11. Close bedrooms doors. Closing your bedroom doors at night can keep out harmful smoke and flames in the event of a Christmas tree fire, giving you more time to escape.

12. Test smoke alarms. Make sure smoke alarms are properly located and in working order.

Taking these precautions to help make your home safer over the holidays can help you enjoy your Christmas tree and help keep your family safe.


December 5, 2018 - Winter Decorating Safety

For many, the winter holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way

to celebrate the season. A little planning can help you enjoy your display all season long. Following are some tips from Travelers

Risk Consultants to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.


Planning Your Holiday Display

 • Plan your display according to the number and location of available outlets, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.

 • Use lights that have been tested for safety – look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other nationally-recognized laboratories. Consider using LED lights when possible – they run cooler, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lights.

 • Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.NIAWintPic1

 • Carefully inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires prior to use – these defects can cause a serious fire or shock.

Decorating Safely

 • When decorating the outside of your home, keep yourself, your~ decorations and equipment at least 10 feet from power lines. Make sure decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance away from flammable items.

 • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical décor and lights outside as metal ladders conduct electricity.

 • Unplug electric lights, devices and decorations before installing or replacing bulbs, changing parts or attempting other repairs.

 • Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.

 • Secure lights, decorations and cords to prevent wind damage. Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.

During the Holidays

 • Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving your home or office, or going to bed.

 • If possible, use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles to avoid the hazards of an open flame. If you choose to light candles, place them away from flammable or combustible materials, including other decorations, fabrics, plastic or paper products. 

 • Do not put candles in places where they might be easily knocked over, and never leave a lit candle unattended. 

 • Extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.

Packing and Storage

 • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.

 • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.

 • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.


November 27, 2018 - Driving In Icy Weather

Icy weather can create challenging, and potentially dangerous, driving conditions in the winter months. Black ice forms on roadways and can produce a nearly invisible hazard. As temperatures approach freezing, icy conditions can develop, especially on roadways where elevation is higher, and bridges and overpasses. Adjusting your driving behavior for these conditions can help keep you, and others around you, safe on the road this winter.

Recognize Local Forecast
Changing winter weather can present hazards for drivers unaware of the local weather forecast. Knowing when ice may be present is an important first step. If you plan to drive in an area where snow or ice may be possible, check conditions in advance. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Just make sure not to use your smartphone while driving, as you will want your full concentration on the road.

Be Aware of Other Drivers
Even if you know the area and are familiar with driving on icy roads, other drivers may not be as experienced or aware of potential dangers. It’s important to increase your following distance to compensate for the increased stopping time it can take for you and other drivers to stop on slick surfaces. Be aware that larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, may require even longer to stop in adverse weather conditions.

Practice Caution in All Vehicle Typesx4snow
While four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, Electronic Stability Control and other safety features can help you to drive more safely in the snow and ice, they may not be able to help drivers to safely drive at regular speed limits during snowy, slushy or icy conditions. The National Safety Council recommends a three-second following distance during ideal road and weather conditions, and suggests slowing down and increasing following distances during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Depending on your vehicle and where you live, you may want to consider whether snow tires are necessary in the winter months.

Expect Changing Road Conditions
Even the day after a storm, road conditions can remain challenging as road crews work to clear snow and ice. The roads may be clear in one area and icy in another due to elevation, road treatment and other factors. Freezing and melting precipitation can create new dangers overnight. As air temperatures rise above 32 degrees, roadways may retain pockets of ice that can be dangerous to drivers.

Know Where to Stop Safely
Deciding to stay home or to get off the roads when conditions turn icy can be a smart safety decision. Make sure that you choose a safe spot to wait for conditions to improve. Rest stops and parking lots are generally safer than the side of the road, where limited visibility may create hazards from snowplows and other traffic.

Encourage Safe Driving
If you have friends or family planning to travel during the winter months, offer them a chance to opt-out of travel if conditions appear hazardous. For parents of newer drivers, consider creating rules about driving in snow and ice, and talk with your teens about the importance of changing their driving behavior during the winter months.

November 20, 2018 - Home Security Tips

Did you know that a burglary happens every 20 seconds in the U.S., according to the FBI?1

Your home is one of your most valuable possessions, along with everything inside. It is a place you want to feel safe and secure from the potential dangers of the outside world. Employing and engaging in some basic best practices around home security is the first step to help create a secure environment for your loved ones and family.

Consider these tips to help keep you and your family, and your possessions, safe and secure.

  • Landscape with safety in mind. As you walk around your property, look for areas that could be potential hiding spots for thieves, who prize the privacy they provide. Try and clear away any overgrown areas.Lock
  • Talk with your local police department. Ask your police department to come and inspect your home and property and provide suggestions to increase home security. They can also offer insight on past break-in trends in your area.
  • Know your neighbors. Take the time to meet and engage with people on your street and encourage them to watch out for any suspicious activity when you are not home.
  • Lighting matters. Lighting can set the right ambiance inside your home, but outdoor lighting can be the difference between your home being targeted – or not – by thieves. Motion-sensitive fixtures can help add security and provide light when needed. Also consider using automatic timers or a smart lightbulb that can be controlled remotely to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house to help make it seem like you are home.
  • Avoid advertising that shopping spree. Thieves look for and steal newly-delivered boxes on your front porch, a method called porch pirating, so consider having them delivered elsewhere or requiring a signature for delivery. Thieves may also look at clues provided by your trash or recycling, which may indicate the new computer or flat-screen television inside.
  • Set a safety routine. Make sure you establish a routine where you regularly lock all doors, shut windows and turn on your alarm system every time you leave your home. Avoid leaving spare keys outside, under a planter or under a welcome mat, as thieves know most of the potential hiding places.
  • Manage visibility. Make sure you can see who is at your front door without opening it. Avoid placing valuables where they will be visible from the street, and do not place your home alarm panel in a place where people can see you arming it from the outside.
  • Protect your outdoor valuables. Burglars also target sheds, garages and other outdoor buildings. Secure your grill, lawn mower, bicycles and other outdoor gear.
  • Create a plan for when you are away. Hold your mail, stop your papers and ask a friend or neighbor to remove flyers from your property. Arrange for snow removal and lawn mowing so you do not advertise when you are away from home.

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