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.
I, like any responsible teenager looking for some quick cash, babysit children when parents want to go out and enjoy the night. The adults get to have fun, and I get to act like a kid again (playing, doing arts and crafts, watching cartoons, etc.).
Everything usually goes smoothly, but ever since I started working at Gordon, I’ve thought about some more precautions that should be taken before a babysitting job, just in case anything goes wrong.
Emergency contact information
In case of poor cell phone connection, leave your sitter with another number to call. This number can be a relative, a friend, or a trusted neighbor. If you are traveling in a group, provide your sitter with the number of another member in the party in case you cannot answer your phone (you leave it on silent, your battery dies, etc.)
Make your sitter aware of any medications or allergies your child/children have. Do not forget to specify where these medications can be found. This is crucial. For example, one of my friend’s mothers was babysitting a young boy when she was a teenager. The boy was stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. Thinking quickly, my friend’s mother utilized the boy’s epi-pen, and she ended up saving his life.
If your babysitter is going to be chauffeuring your children, make sure you give the sitter car seats and explain how to use them properly. If you aren't entirely sure about car seat safety, check out our blog here.
Make sure your children know that the babysitter is the boss and has the final say in things. Some children become unruly when their parents leave, and do not recognize the authority of the sitter. However, if a sitter decides that play is too rough (i.e. jumping on the furniture, getting aggressive with sharing toys, etc.) make sure your children know the consequences of a bad report.
Remember, you can only have a good time if you know that your children are in good care. Leave them in the best care possible by providing your sitter with all the necessary info to make his/her night a piece of cake.
If you have any other questions about insurance or risk management, feel free to contact us anytime. We would be happy to help.
It’s the start of the school year, and you know what that means. High school students that are eligible to get their license are hurrying to finish their driving hours, get their road tests scheduled, and ultimately receive their license for the beginning of the school year. I was the same way. Last year, I got my license less than two weeks before my junior year started, and I am so glad that I did.
Being able to drive is an absolute privilege. Thinking back, I can hardly remember how I got around. Oh wait, I do remember- my mom drove me. I had to keep an updated schedule for when I would need rides someplace, but whenever I needed an unplanned ride I had to call her, and she would show up fifteen, thirty, sometimes even forty-five minutes later.
Now it’s very true that junior operators have certain restrictions that the more experienced operators do not have. Those restrictions are there for a good reason; they help to train the less experienced driver. As a high school student, the law I see broken most often is the passenger restriction law.
Junior operators are not allowed to drive passengers under the age of 18 for the first six months of driving; this law excludes siblings. For example, it was legal for me to drive my 14 year-old sister to school, but it would have been illegal for me to drive my 14 year-old neighbor.
If a junior operator is caught breaking this law, he/she will have a 60-day license suspension and have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee. A second offense leads to a longer suspension (180 days), the same fee, and another driving course (as if driver’s ed. wasn’t bad enough the first time around!). For more information on junior operator license restrictions, click here.
Some teens shrug this law off their shoulders. Why? Technically, the police cannot pull a teenager over for driving a passenger. The police do not possess a “junior operator first six months” radar. Virtually, unless you break another law that gives reason for you to be pulled over, the police will never know.
Accidents are unplanned.
If a junior operator is caught in accident with a passenger within the first six months of having a license- bad things happen. First of all, there’s the whole law issue. Secondly, (this may be more scary to teens) the junior operator now has to deal with his/her parents/guardians.
Teens- it’s not always so easy to say no if a friend asks for a ride. Even if your best friend since preschool asks you, it’s OK to say no. Here are some tips to avoid accepting an illegal passenger:
- You should always start by saying that the passenger restriction applies to you. This way, your friend knows from the start that driving him/her would be illegal and puts you at risk.
- Tell them that you feel uncomfortable breaking the law.
- Tell them that you have an agreement with your parents- if you are caught, you don’t have access to a car. Also, point out that parents do talk to each other. (i.e. Bob’s Mom: “It was so nice of Jimmy to drive Bob home from soccer yesterday!” Jimmy’s Mom: “What?!” )
- Ask them if any other friends that are legal are available to drive them. The odds are that you are not the only option.
- If worse comes to worse, and you have some extra time, tell him/her that you’ll stay with them until his/her ride comes. Sometimes friends will insist they need a ride simply because they don’t want to be left alone.
Usually saying no will get you out of these uncomfortable situations. Don’t act as if you’ll change your mind. If you stay persistent with saying no from the beginning, your friend will realize that continually asking you is a lost cause.
If you do say yes, you are a.) going to be breaking the law, and b.) earn a reputation among your peers as someone who is available to drive. You don’t want either of those.
Best of luck to those new drivers! Remember, be safe and be smart.
If you have any other questions about teen drivers, auto insurance, and road safety, be sure to check out our other blogs, contact us, or visit our page about resources for new drivers. If you happen to be new driver/parent of a new driver and are getting an additional car, click the button below for an auto quote to match your insurance needs.
With the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having, there are more motorcycles than ever on the highways. Due to their relatively small size, they are not always easily visible to the larger vehicles on the road and thus can present a potential risk of accident. It’s important to be aware of them when on the road and give both extra space and extra attention to the two-wheeled cousin of the car.
Motorcycle fatalities have also been climbing,
reaching 5,290 in 2008, the highest level since the Department of Transportation began collecting data in 1975. There has also been a dramatic jump in the number of deaths among motorcyclists age 40 and older in recent years.
We hope these tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation will help keep you and motorcycle drivers safe:
- Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).
- Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
- Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
- Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
- Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
- Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.
- Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.
- Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can’t always stop “on a dime.”
And for relevant and topical insurance information, as well as risk-management solutions, visit us at our website; you can browse insurance information, watch educational insurance videos, or get a quote.
Hurricane Debby’s damage to Florida is a reminder that hurricane season is here; and it’s time for all of us who lie in a potential hurricane path to be ready to be prepared. That means get ready for the worst storm before hand, know what to do during the hurricane, and be on top of dealing with the aftermath.
Before the Storm
Never get caught “up a creek without a paddle” as some might say. Be ready for the worst case scenario storm.
Know what to do with you and your family should disaster strike. This includes having a pre planned evacuation route, how to shut off utilities, having extra fuel. A pet plan is necessity if you want to protect Fido. (see our blog about pet plans)
We provide a free checklist prepared by our in-house insurance experts. Any checklist you find will be a blessing if you follow it.
Canned food, FIRST AID KIT, portable radio, clothing: our checklist has a more comprehensive list
During a Hurricane
The key word here is stay safe. Don’t adventure outside until the storm is long gone.
Listen for any flood warnings and other public service announcements, follow suggestions. One of the best things you can do if your home has suffered damage is to make the temporary repairs necessary (take pictures of damage for evidence.) Your policy probably requires this anyway and costs should be covered. Make your claim as soon as possible as well. If you have questions on your policy, contact us and we’ll make sure you’re prepared to be covered.
Keep your home dry and prevent mold from taking hold.
And for more info on Hurricane season 2012: