It's that time of year again! When people think of October, people think of jack-o-laterns, witches riding on brooms, spooky ghosts, and of course, Halloween.
Halloween's date may be October 31st, but Halloween is much more than a single day. It's an entire season of supernatural fun. And with this particular holiday season, certain safety precautions should be kept in mind.
If you set up Halloween lights or something of the sort (we have a glowing ghost for the outdoors) make sure you keep all your electric stuff safe. That means- make sure if you have outdoor lights they're meant for the outdoors (you wouldn't want a slight drizzle to short circuit anything and potentially start a fire) and make sure these wires do not overheat. This applies to lights as well as stereo systems.
If you're dealing with pumpkins and carving of any sort, make sure you follow pumpkin carving safety procedures. Click here to read our blog about the subject. Also, if you're going to put your jack-o-laterns on display, put them inside and visible through a window. This way you can avoid unwanted trespassers who are looking to smash some pumpkins, silly string some plants, and TP some tree branches. By putting the pumpkins inside, you are taking a step to avoid vandals on your property.
Kids go out trick-or-treating, and they go out wearing fabulous costumes that can stretch the imagination. But not all costumes are created equal. You want to look out for fire retardant costumes that have reflectors. You also want to make sure your kid will be fine with the temperature.
This is when all the fun takes place. But it's also one of the most risky parts of the night. Make sure you always go out with a flashlight, so you can see what's in front of you, and so what's in front of you can see you. Children should never go out alone, and even if they're in a small group, an adult should always be supervising. If kids near the older end of the spectrum insist on going without an adult, maybe to cover some more ground, make sure they go in a larger group and have cell phones. Plural. Make sure the adult responsible for all the children has all the children's numbers, so any child can be contacted at any time.
Before kids start mowing down on their sweets, double check what they have. There have been scary stories of homemade treats such as candy apples have razors and/or toxins inside them. Do not eat any candy in which the wrappers have already been taken off. Better safe than sorry.
Stay safe, and have a fantastic October and Halloween season!
If you have any other questions or concerns about insurance, safety, or risk management, do not hesitate to contact our office by clicking the button below.
Drunk driving. Something that injures and kills innocent people everyday. Something that can be prevented. Something that doesn't have to happen, but still does.
In the United States, one person dies from an alcohol-related car crash every 53 minutes or so. Think about that- every hour at least one person dies. On average, one person gets injured in an alcohol-related car crash every 90 seconds. That's a minute and a half. By the time you finish reading this article, somebody has been injured.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 2000 road trips taken in the United States is driven under the influence of alcohol. How many cars do you pass on the way to work, to school, to the grocery store? Although time of day is definitely a factor, the statistics remain the same, there's a .05% chance that any driver is under the influence. Don't let that driver be you.
Repeat Offenders in MA
If you think driving drunk is scary, think of all the repeat offenders out there. They drive around completely intoxicated in one of mankind's greatest weapon: the car.
In Massachusetts, we have more than 20,000 three time repeat offenders who have been caught. There are probably several thousand more out there who repeatedly offend this safety precaution that go uncaught and unpunished.
Everytime a drunk driver hits the road, they do nothing but endanger. Uncaught drunk drivers may not have caused mayham and chaos, but everytime they go out and drive around drunk they risk safety and lives, including their own. Repeat offenders are lucky to be alive and/or unharmed; it's not typical for a drunk driver to have a clean, safe experience.
Why Do It?
Although you have the repeat offenders who drive drunk all the time because they feel invincible, at one point these drivers had to make their decisions to do so. And what influenced their decision? Alcohol definitely had something to do with it.
Alcohol influences judgement and decision making skills- everybody knows that- but not everybody knows how.
In our bodies we have these chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters travel through neurons and synapses in our body to elecit reactions from us. Adrenaline that you get when doing something daring, such as skydiving, is an example of a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that is associated highly with happiness.
Alcohol also has a chemical makeup. The typical alcohol contains a hydroxyl group OH that is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. Other groups may be attached, but this isn't a chemistry class and you don't need to know that.
The chemicals in alcohol interfere with proper processing of the other neurotransmitters in the body. This causes signals to not be fully delivered and otherwise messed up.
The part of the brain does the decision making is the frontal lobe. That's the very front of your head. If you place your hand on your forehead, your frontal lobe is just centimeters from your fingers, and is also protected by a thick skull. However, if you let alcohol inside your brain, no skull thick enough can prevent you from making terrible decisions using your impaired frontal lobe.
How to Prevent Drunk Driving
Drunk driving can be prevented so easily. All it takes is for a drunk person to not drive. Planning how to get home and how to do so safety before any event that involves alcohol is the key.
- Have a designated driver (no alcohol for him/her)
- If everybody is drinking, ask someone not attending the event to assist with driving
- Go to the event with the idea in mind that you will not be driving- being mentally prepared while sober will help you keep that idea true even when alcohol is in your system
- Hosts: take away car keys so people do not have the option of driving themselves home
- Hosts: have possible sleeping arrangements prepared just in case people are unable to leave
- If you are trying to prevent others from drinking and driving, read our blog here which contains six easy steps
Other Effects of Alcohol
People make the decision to go out and about drunk driving because of impaired judgement. But the other alcoholic effects occur while driving.
If we go back to the whole neurotransmitter scene, we can figure out that all actions and muscle movements that people make are caused by these neurotransmitters. Driving requires mental and physical ability, and alcohol affects both. Judgement is affected (you might see a red light as green and drive right through a busy intersection) as well as physical ability (slower reaction times; you can't brake fast enough and end up crashing, you cannot turn down a side road, etc.).
Because drunk driving is such a safety hazard, there are severe legal penalties to doing so. Several crimes include:
- Vehicular homicide: killing a person using a motor vehicle while the driver is drunk
- DUI Child Endangerment: operating a motor vehicle while drunk when a child is in the car
- If your blood alcohol is over .08, you are considered drunk legally
- Having an open container of alcohol in car
Penalties for these different crimes vary, but they are all very severe. They can range from a suspended license to a felony. For a list of laws for Massachusetts, click here. Read our blog here about the difference between a DUI and an OUI.
Please don't drink and drive. And please don't allow others to do it either. It causes too much pain and suffering. If we all help each other out in situations like these, we can reduce and hopefully eliminate drunk driving all together.
Have you been thinking about getting a trampoline? Have your kids been bothering you to get one for that oh-so magical bounce? And if so, have you thought about how a trampoline purchase could affect your insurance?
Insurance companies tend to deny insurance to homes with trampolines because trampolines pose so many risks to everyone who uses them. Even if you go jumping all the time and have successfully avoided injury, you are just one of the lucky few. Every year, more than 100,000 injuries occur by trampoline, and approximately 20% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by trampolines. (Source: LiveStrong.com)
- Jumping up and down on a trampoline can cause bodily injury, but some injuries can be very severe. Broken bones, sprained ankles, and even paralysis can result from a dangerous jump on the trampoline.
- Trampolines vary in size, but generally they aren't that large. For parties or gatherings of other sorts, having too many people on a trampoline not only ruins the fun (less bounce), but also increases the risk that a jumper will get hurt. In fact, it is recommended that only one person should use a trampoline at a time.
- In the insurance world, trampolines are known as an "attractive nuisance." This means that uninvited guests, such as neighbors, have the ability to use trampolines without permission of the owner. If these unwelcome visitors get injured, they can still sue you for their injuries. In a courtroom, cases can get pretty expensive.
Insurance and Trampolines
Like I've said, generally companies will not cover you if you have a trampoline on your property.
Whenever you switch insurance companies, or if this is your first time buying a home, generally you will get a home insurance inspection. When you get an inspection, if a trampoline is found on your property you have two options: 1) Get rid of the trampoline or 2) lose your insurance.
If you avoid a home insurance inspection and have a trampoline that your company is not aware of, know that you will not have coverage for any claims regarding the trampoline. And, if we go back to that "attractive nuisance" issue, just know that if someone happens to get injured on your trampoline and sues you, you will have no coverage from your insurance company.
You don't have to have a trampoline to have fun. If you're really itching for some jumping, try to find places such as SkyZone or any other indoor trampoline park. They have the trampolines for you. Yes, you will have to sign a waiver for your injury, but you do have attendents near every trampoline and the environment is much more controlled. Plus, you also get to keep your home insurance!
My personal recommendation would be to think long and hard about getting a trampoline. Nobody's going to stop you, but it's good to know what risks come with getting one. You should always check with your insurance agent BEFORE purchasing a trampoline: this way, you can know what you're getting yourself into.
Any other questions? Feel free to contact us.
We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. The two race each other, and even though the hare has the obvious advantage of being much faster, the tortoise triumphs. The tortoise does this by dilligently working towards his goal, whereas the lazy hare stops to take a rest break. Once he rests, he cannot catch back up to the tortoise. Valuable life lesson? Definitely. So besides the obvious moral of Aesop's fable applying to you with everyday life- i.e. work, studies, personal goals, etc.- how does this story apply to you now and today?
Maybe you've noticed them, and maybe you haven't, but there are turtles lining the streets EVERYWHERE. Driving recklessly or speeding through a neighborhood puts you, your car, and these cute little guys at risk.
It's been only one week of summer for me, but I've already "rescued" two turtles from car-related deaths, (or so I'd like to think.) The first one was tiny; he fit easily into a bucket. My friend and I lifted Ronaldo- yes, we named our turtle- into the bucket with a shovel. We filled the bucket with some water, and we carried him down to the North River. He was home, or at least he was far, far away from the street and the oncoming traffic.
The second turtle was not so easy. We dubbed him William, and William was a large snapping turtle who decided to chill in the middle of my neighborhood street. We could not lift him into a bucket; he snapped at us, and he was GIANT. So what we my friend and I to do? We had originally driven right on by, my friend believed William to be a curled branch with leaves, but I saw the truth. William was William, the giant snapping turtle. So we drove back.
We eventually got William to the side of the road. When we drove back to my neighborhood later that night, we did not see William on the side where we had left him. But, we also didn't see a squashed William in the middle of the road. We had fulfilled our roles as "Turtle-Savers."
The frequency of my rescuing turtles shows two things: 1.) Turtles are coming out now, more than ever. Maybe it's just me because of where I live, but there are bodies of water everywhere. Where there's water, there's bound to be a turtle. 2.) Sometimes turtles like to be in the road. DO NOT HIT THEM.
Turtles are living creatures just like you. Hitting one involves killing one, and think of all the other consequences. The horror your child will feel. The loud crunch of the turtle shell beneath your tires. The damage to your car. The massacred turtle on the road. All of these are negatives; there is literally not one positive thing that comes about from hitting a turtle. So don't.
- Snapping turtles are large turtles, so large, in fact, that they do not entirely fit into their shells. This is why they snap; it's a natural adaptation for defense. Although turtles are more likely to flee than snap, a turtle will snap if you provoke it. They have jaws that have a hooked upper mouth. If you come across one, keep your distance.
- June and early July are the prime months for mother turtles to lay eggs. Typically, they will dig many holes and leave them as false nests. Mothers will lay their eggs and then leave them.
- It is illegal in Massachusetts to own turtles that are considered endangered. It is legal to take non-listed turtle species and keep them as pets, but it is highly discouraged. If you are interested in a pet turtle, your best option is to buy one from a store or a person with a valid license to sell turtles.
- Do not disturb turtles if you come across them. The only exception perhaps is if you find one in the middle of the road. I've rescued them, but make sure you make good judgement calls when you interact with turtles.
Referring back to the fable at the beginning of this little spiel, go slow and go steady so everybody, including the turtles, can win the race. Avoid the turtles, and keep the wildlife safe.
If you are curious about turtles and other wildlife, we encourage you to contact the local experts at the South Shore Natural Science Center. If you are curious about any insurance related questions, maybe even something like the relationship between deer and auto insurance, do not hesitate to contact us or ask an insurance question at anytime.
Summer is one of the best seasons of the year. There's a little something special in it for everyone at any age. Here's just a quick reminder of why we love summer so much:
- Ice cream trucks and local ice cream shops
- Beach trips on weekdays and the smell of the ocean
- Sand castles large and small with moats and decorated with shells and stones
- Swimming in the ocean or in the outdoors pool because that first splash isn't too cold
- Warm weather all day every day
- Long runs in the morning before the heat, or at night when it's cooling off
- No school, no homework, no stress for those hard-working students who deserve a break every now and again
- 4th of July celebrations and feeling patriotic
- Barbeques with the works- hot dogs, cheeseburgers, steak, chicken, kabobs
- Tank tops, shorts, flip flops, sundresses, and that wonderful feeling when you feel comfortable in your clothes
- Fireworks at night for holidays, and sometimes fireworks for no reason
- Outdoor concerts and people making music for the love of it, not for the money
- Water balloon fights with your best friends
- Smell of sunscreen and not getting sunburns
- Movie marathons for those bad weather days
- Thunder storms where you can hear the thunder and falling asleep to the sound of rain
- Sleeping in because you want to and you're tired
- Staying up late because you want to and you're wide awake
- Air conditioning to control those muggy days
- Reading outside in a hammock, at the beach, wherever summer takes you
- Spending more time with family and friends
- Roller blading and biking in your neighborhood or in a park
- Fishing on a pond or a lake with your old man
- Summer carnivals, balloon animals, buying tickets, winning prizes
- Amusement parks and being brave enough to go on that scary roller coaster
- Gathering around fire pits with your friends and throwing in tiny leaves to watch them burn up
- Making s'mores and setting marshmallows aflame
- Lazing around and doing nothing
- Cold lemonade with ice
- Driving with the windows down blasting your favorite song
- Parades through town celebrating everything
- Relaxation and enjoying life
These are only a few of the reasons that summer is great. Remember, with summer comes more freedom for teen drivers, so make sure they're safe!
Vacationing is an exciting time and summer vacations are right around the corner. Part of vacation planning should be used to secure your home while you are away. Some burglaries are random while other are planned out (someone has been watching you and your home to learn your daily routine). Here are some tips that I have personally practiced. Some tips more obvious than others.
- Ensure that all doors and windows are securely locked.
- Not everyone has burglar alarms. But if you do, notify your alarm company that you will be on vacation. Notifying your local police department is also advisable.
- Outdoor lights – while your porch lights & exterior lighting do provide great security, they can also be a dead giveaway that you are on vacation if they’re left on 24/7. The use of timers or automatic light sensors gives a more realistic look that you are home. On at dusk, off at dawn.
- Interior lights – Use light timers in a few rooms. Stagger their on/off times. A radio or television on a timer is also a great deterrent.
- Stop mail and newspaper deliveries or have someone take them in for you.
- Mow your lawn or have it mowed before you go away. In the winter months, arrange to have your driveway shoveled.
- Have a trusted person check the inside of your home daily. Reciprocate when it’s their vacation!
- Empty driveways are a tell tale sign that you are away. Your car that’s parked in the same stationery position for a week is also a dead giveaway. When on vacation, regardless if I leave my car at home or not, I ask a neighbor to park their car in my driveway. I reciprocate when they’re on vacation.
- Large objects that can be used as a platform to gain entrance through your windows should not be left out in the open. I once returned from vacation to find that my wheelbarrow had been propped up against my rear window in an attempt for someone to gain access to my home.
- Voice mail – your message should never imply that you are not at home or away. It’s better to say that you can’t come to the phone right now. This tip should be practiced 365 days per year!
- Facebook, Twitter & other social media - Never, ever post your vacation plans or post your vacation while you are on vacation! As excited as you are to share your vacation, wait to post until you arrive home.
Vacations are few and far between. Relax more during them, knowing that you have taken security measures to return to a safeguarded home.
If you have any other questions or want advice on home safety and secuity, contact us by clicking the button below.
No major holiday would be complete without a safety blog from us here at Gordon Insurance. Independence Day, the Fourth of July, is tomorrow and that means traffic, grilling, fireworks, and drinking.
A Brief History
Independence Day is the celebration of when the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence back on July 4th (or around there) in 1776. A year later, 13 gunshots were fired and celebrations were held. 1870 marks when Congress declared July 4th and unpaid federal holiday, however, it was made a paid holiday in 1938. Today, national songs are sung, fireworks are shown, military bases have a one gun salute, parades, barbecues, fairs, picnics, concerts, reunions are held. And final fun fact is that the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in RI is the oldest celebration in the US (Since 1785!)
During one of the busiest driving times of the year, exercise caution on the roads. Many people could get aggressive due to the large volume of cars on the road, you should just relax and drive defensively; do not get into any confrontations. Remember, everyone is trying to get somewhere, and all will arrive…eventually.
We already have an extensive blog about grilling safety, but here are a few main points from it.
- Wear protective gear
- Keep the gas away from main structures/flammable objects
- Turn of the gas when not in use
- Charcoal: use the right lighter fluid
- Check for leaks
- Grills remain hot long after the gas is off
The most iconic Independence Day activity has to be setting off fireworks. Many will travel with blankets, sweatshirts, and snacks in tow to local shows or the Boston Pops event; however, some will go the “do it yourself” way. Despite the fact fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, people still bring them into the State. If you do, follow these tips (from the National Council on Fireworks Safety)
- Outdoors only
- Obey local laws
- Keep water nearby
- Don’t relight duds, wait 20 minutes then put in water
- Stay away from the shooter (who should wear safety glasses)
- Alcohol and fireworks: nope. Have a designated shooter
- Sparklers are a 12 and up activity
- NO HOMEMADE FIREWORKS
Speaking of drinking, spend the 4th however you want to celebrate, but drink responsibly and have a designated driver. The traffic situation is bad enough this time of year. For more information about drinking and driving at holiday time, see my Christmas time Drinking and Driving Prevention blog.
What are your plans for the 4th? Leave a comment below.
And after the celebrations are over, check us out at www.agordon.com for insurance information and more.
There are different types of wiring present and used in residential homes and buildings today.
Knob & Tube Wiring
This type of wiring was used in buildings in North America from about 1880 to the 1930s. It consists of single-insulated copper wires run within walls or ceilings, passing through joists and stud drill-holes through protective procelain insulating tubes, and supported along their length on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators. Due to the age of this wiring, if there are an live wires in your home or building, the should be replaced immediately. This type of wiring is also known to cause problems with squirrels and other rodents damaging the wires.
BX wiring are bundles of insulated wires sheathed in a flexible and protective metallic sheath.
BX or Type AC is one of the earliest types of electrical cable made for both residential and commercial uses in the early part of the 20th century. "BX" is the older term for this type of cable. It’s assumed that the name originated from the Bronx, NY since the first BX cable was made there.
BX cable is still used today in both residential and building applications. It is especially used when the wiring is exposed and not protected by interior walls i.e. workshops, commercial buildings, etc.
If the protective insulation is nicked or cut, the wiring should be replaced. Also, if the wires within show degrading of their rubber insulation, these wires should also be replaced.
The word Romex® refers to any type of non-metallic sheathed electrical cable. It is electrical wiring sheathed in a plastic coating.
The name comes from the Rome Cable Corp. of Rome, NY, which originally produced the wire. Now the Romex® brand is owned by Southwire and is an actual trademarked brand just like Jell-O or Kleenex. This type of wiring is the most commonly used in homes and buildings today.
As always, you should have any electrical repairs, alterations or inspections performed by a qualified, licensed electrician.
The weather is getting nicer which means there are more people out on the road driving, walking, running, riding… We have many equestrians in our area and most drivers seem to be courteous when approaching them on the road. Unfortunately, there are fewer trails around than there were 20 years ago which translates to equestrians having to use the roads more to reach a trail. Please use caution when passing a horse since they can spook easily. Here is a section from the Massachusetts Drivers Manual for guidance.
http://www.mass.gov/rmv/dmanual/chapter4.pdf (page 101)
Animals and Horse-Drawn Vehicles
Always give the right-of-way to an animal that someone is leading, riding, or driving. Animals are easily scared by motor vehicles. When you get near an animal or horse-drawn vehicle, be careful and do the following.
• Slow down.
• Stop if the animal or vehicle is coming toward you or is crossing your path. Allow the animal to pass.
• If the animal or vehicle is traveling in the same direction as you, allow plenty of room
for passing safely. Drive at a reasonable speed.
• Do not honk your horn or make a loud noise.
• If the animal you are passing looks scared, you must pull your vehicle to the side and stop.
• Proceed only when it is safe.
• You must stop if a rider or driver signals you to do so.
The law applies to horses, cows, and any other draft animals.
In rural areas, take extra care when passing hay rides. These are usually animal drawn and full of passengers.
With the start of boating season upon us, it is important to remember all of the recreational boating safety rules. Several of them are mentioned here. Some are more than obvious BUT ALWAYS worth mentioning. This applies to all types of vessels you navigate, from dingy to yachts and everything in between.
- Always wear a life vest - the water may be calm but always expect the unexpected.
- Know the area you are navigating – rocks, shallow areas, changing currents, tide changes, etc can be challenging.
- Check your emergency equipment BEFORE you put your boat in gear or hoist the sail – check your supply of life vests, emergency lighting & flares, radio equipment, cell phone, life ring, gas supply & any navigational instruments and equipment.
- Obey the rules of the water – keep to the right, keep your distance from other boaters & swimmers, calm wake when close to other boats. Sailboats have the right of way.
- Drinking & driving don’t mix, neither does drinking & boating.
- Be proficient with boat maneuvers such as docking. Interesting fact: most boat-to-boat collisions happen at marina fuel docks.*
- Advise your passengers on emergency procedures
- Take boating courses appropriate for your size & type vessel
Have fun, be safe! For boating and other insurance needs, visit us at www.agordon.com.
*Safety Rules for Boating
By Will Carpenter, eHow Contributor