So far so good this Winter

We have been lucky so far this winter and had a small amount of snow.  At some point snow will be here. How can you prepare for the snow so that you are safe around your house and in your car?  One way to prepare your car is to have an emergency kit in your car.  Emergency kits are easy to prepare and can make a big difference.  Some simple items to include are a flashlight, phone car charger, pen and notepad, jumper cables, hats, gloves, and a blanket.  If you want a little bigger and safer kit, including items such as tools, a foldable shovel, first aid kit, fix a flat,portable air compressor, and safety absorbent would be your next step.  If you do not have safety absorbent, kitty litter can also help you get traction on ice.  Your walks and driveways are another area of possible danger during winter months.  One way to remove snow and ice is manually with a shovel.  Just make sure you use proper shoveling technique and safety procedures.  Salt can be used and is a popular method of de-icing.  The issue with salting is that it can cause damage to car, fabrics, carpet, plants, grass, and even pets paws.  You can look for de-icers that are safe for pets and easier on your driveway.  Organic salt free de-icers are available but more expensive than regular salt.  Urea is an alternative safe for pets but dangerous for grass and plants.  Alfalfa meal could be the answer to your de-icing needs.  It is natural, can de-ice, and is grainy so it can help with traction.  Another possibility is sugar beet juice.  Sugar Beet Juice is used by some municipalities.  Sugar beet juice also has a freezing point of negative 20 degrees Celsius.  Finally in a pinch coffee grinds can be effective.  We will continue to look at ways to make winter a little easier on your through the upcoming weeks.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.....

In The Night Before Christmas, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon will be there.  In real life the stockings may be hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that a fire does not come out of nowhere.  According to the NFPA, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top three days for candle fires.  Over half of home decoration fires are started by candles.  NFPA suggest keeping candles at a minimum of 12 inches away from anything that burns.  Candles are not the only fire hazard in town for the holidays.  Christmas trees can cause major damage if they catch fire.  NFPA reports that a heat source too close to a Christmas tree causes 1 in every 4 fires, and on average 1 of every 45 Christmas tree fires results in death.  Keeping your tree at least 3 feet from heat sources and keep light strands to the suggested connected amount is a good place to start with tree fire safety, according to NFPA.  Remember it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames according to the National Institute for Standards and Technology.  Keep your tree well-watered, the USFA reports that a well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite.  Dispose of trees within four weeks of purchase.  Even the best watered tree will dry out after four weeks.  Christmas decorations and candles are not the only hazards around the house.  Heating equipment like space heaters can lead to fires.  Remember to keep anything flammable at least three feet away.  Other winter tips are to check your carbon monoxide detector and be sure to get your chimney cleaned by a professional.  Check out our Facebook and other social media sites for more fire safety tips.

Is jewelry in the plans for this holiday season?

We are in the middle of the holiday and gift giving season.  Typically when giving and receiving gifts, insurance is one of the last things on your mind.  Receiving gifts can potentially impact your insurance needs.  Remember it will cost you an estimated $39,094.93 to buy the Twelve Days of Christmas this year according to www.forbes.com.  The Holiday Season can be a time of year where more expensive gifts are given.  Rings, watches, necklaces, and other jewelry, not to mention other valuable items are given.  Valuable items like this typically need special attention paid to them.  Adding an inland marine policy or inland marine endorsement to your homeowners’ policy is a great way to protect your new gifts.  Homeowners and renters policies without an inland marine component typically offer some coverage for valuable gifts. Your renters or homeowners policy most likely carries a per piece limit for valuable items, that limit can easily be exceeded and leave you with not enough coverage to replace them.  Personal inland marine coverage also typically includes increased covered perils as well.  Your homeowner’s policy will not usually cover things like breakage and some other perils covered by the inland marine part.  A different deductible can also be applied to an inland marine so you can pay less of a deductible on valuable, sentimental items in the event of a claim.  Not sure if an inland marine is right for you and your new gift, give us a call and let us help you understand what you need.  You can reach us via this website, via our social sites, or at 412-344-2800.  Also check out our social media sites for tips on how to stay safe when shopping in the mall or online this year.  Click the buttons on this page to check us out.

Turkey safety tips

Last week we looked at prepping your home for Thanksgiving.  This week we will look at the food preparation part of Thanksgiving.  The first thing to think about is the Turkey.  Will you be buying a fresh turkey or a frozen turkey?  Suggestions for a fresh turkey are to purchase it within 48 hours of Thanksgiving.  Remember that the turkey should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you purchase a frozen turkey make sure you follow safe thawing procedures.  There are a couple of ways to thaw your Turkey.  You can thaw it in a sink of cold water or use a microwave.  Do not leave your turkey out on the counter to thaw.  A turkey thawing for more than two hours can rapidly reach an unsafe temperature. Also be sure to clean any surface your raw turkey touches to prevent the spread of bacteria.  Many experts now also advocate against rinsing your turkey,  rinsing your turkey can spread bacteria and even aerosolize it.  If you are stuffing your turkey, be sure to do it right before cooking.  Your stuffing temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit that same as your turkey.   After dinner make sure to store leftovers promptly. 

November brings Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is one of the most dangerous days for house fires during the year.  Many people are cooking large meals, using deep fryers, and generally just distracted by trying to get everything done.  This month in our blog we will look at Thanksgiving Day safety.  The first thing you can do before even thinking of Thanksgiving Day is make sure all of your fire extinguishers are in working order, or if you do not have any buying one or two. Have baking soda nearby as well in case of a grease fire.  Next if you haven’t checked/changed your smoke detector batteries make sure you do so now.  If you are having friends and family to your house check all walk ways and make sure they are clear and secure.  According to www.popularmechanics.com you should fix loose treads on exterior steps, and check for loose deck boards or loose pavers on walkways.  You can also look to tighten screws on hand rails and tack down rugs using two sided tape.  Also have de-icer or salt on hand to make driveways and walk ways less slippery.  Do a quick review of entry way and walk way lighting, make sure any dim or burned out lights are replaced.  You can also walk through the house and do some quick child proofing.  Moving heavy objects away from edges and covering electrical outlets are a good way to keep little ones safe.  Finally check and replenish your first aid kit.  A good first aid kit can help greatly during an emergency or with a small cut.  Hopefully this will help you prepare your home for the big day.  You can stay tuned to this blog for more help Thanksgiving Day hints.  You can also check out our social media accounts for more hints and tips.  We are on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. 

Winter is coming

Winterizing your home the final steps

 

This Saturday we turn back the clocks.  What does that have to do with winterizing your home?  It is a good reminder to replace your smoke alarm batteries and the batteries in any other safety or monitoring devices.  Remember that in the winter your home is mostly sealed up, this could be a good time to get that carbon monoxide detector you have been putting off.  Fall is also a good time to get a radon test.  It is also a good time to disconnect and drain any garden hoses or hoses that are attached to the house.  You can also add a faucet protector to keep cold air out of your pipes.  Speaking of pipes, you could look to wrap pipes in unheated locations.  According to www.wikihow.com, you need to protect pipes that are in unheated locations such as crawl spaces or garages.  Wikihow suggest using heating tape, whatever you use make sure it is safe to use on your pipes.   Finally according to www.safewise.com, adjusting your water heater could be a good winterizing idea.  Most water heaters have a factor setting of 140, if you turn down you water heater to 120 degrees you could save up to $60 dollars a year.  You water heater will not have to work as hard to keep warm in the winter.

 

Winterizing your life doesn’t just have to be about your home.  It can also be about you.  Feel free to call us for a review of your current insurance.  Let us help you make sure you have the right coverage, at the right price.  Have you had any changes of lifestyle recently, let us know so that we can serve you better.

Clogged gutters can cause big problems

Think that cleaning the gutters isn’t that important? Think again, clogged gutters can cause a variety of problems. Check out the below article from Erie Insurance that discusses some of the damage caused.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/clean-gutters?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=ErieSocial#__prclt=B66o1LN7

Have you cleaned your gutters?

You serviced and prepared your furnace for winter.  The windows and doors have been sealed and are fitting tight.  What else can you do to make your winter more safe, comfortable and affordable?  Two simple outside items that do not cost a lot are the cleaning of your gutters and closing up of your air conditioner.  When you are closing up your air conditioner there are a few things to consider.  According to www.thespruce.com, there are two main things to do.  One is to clean the condensing unit.  An easy way to clean this is to use a pressure washer to clean the blades and coils of debris and dirt.  After cleaning the condensing unit, be sure to cover it.  Winter weather and things like dead leaves can damage the unit.  Letting the unit rust or freeze can have a negative impact.  Cover the unit with a waterproof breathable cover and tie it tight.

 

Cleaning the gutters can also be cost effective.  Leaving dead leaves and debris in your gutters can lead to a variety of problems.  Debris and leaves can block water from flowing freely in your gutters or cause a clog.  Clogs can cause water to pool.  This can lead to seepage into cracks which when expanded and contracted due to freezing and thawing can cause major damage.  How do you get your gutters clean?  According to www.servicemasterclean.org, you need gloves, a gutter scoop, a leaf blower and possible a pressure washer.    You can blow or pressure wash the leaves down the gutter spout.  You can then use the gutter scoop to lift out the excess.

 

Doing these two cost effective cleaning methods can save you money and aggravation in the long run.

The furnace is good, now what?

Your furnace is winterized and ready to go, but how can you help your furnace not run as much.  One thing you can do is run your ceiling fans in reverse.  Running ceiling fans in reverse causes the hotter air that is at the top of the room to be sent down towards the bottom of the room or house.  According to Popular Mechanics, this could cut your heating cost up to ten percent. 

 

Drafts from windows and doors can cause your furnace to work overtime as well.  One simple way to block drafts is to roll up a towel or fabric and place it around door jams that are leaking heat.  A more costly solution is installing storm doors and windows.  Popular mechanics states that a door snake could save you between 5 and 30 percent on your heating, storm doors and windows can be up to 45%.  This could be worth the extra money in the long run.  Weather stripping could be a good middle ground between the two or extra reinforcements.  In the same idea category, re-caulking around your windows can help as well.  Both of these options are cost effected and usually easy to DIY.  Worried about the look of your winterizing?  Try heavier curtains.  Heavier curtains can look stylish and help cut the draft sneaking through windows. 

 

Keeping checking our blog this month as we continue to look at ways to winterize your home to keep you safe and save you money. 

 

Sources:

 

https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/g52/winterize-home-tips-energy-461008/

 

https://www.hgtv.com/design-blog/design/12-ways-to-prep-your-home-for-cooler-days

Fall is here

Fall is officially here and the weather is cooling off slightly.  Soon temperatures will drop below freezing at night, with freezing temperatures during the day to follow.  Now is typically the time of year when you start to winterize your home for the upcoming winter.  Winterizing your home can save you money by making it more weather efficient and by saving you from costly repairs or homeowners insurance claims.  One simple place to start is by replacing your furnace filter.  Replacing your furnace filter can range in price depending on the type of filter.  A permanent filter might be a good option.  According to popular mechanics disposable fiberglass filters can catch 10 to 40% of debris, while electrostatic filters can trap around 88%.  (https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/g52/winterize-home-tips-energy-461008/).  Another thing to think about according to networx.com is that leaving furnace filters to become clogged can result in a build-up that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  (https://www.networx.com/article/furnace-filter-danger).  While you are changing out your furnace filter, it is a good idea to do some cleaning around the furnace.  Make sure that there are no paint thinners or flammables around the furnace.  Also make sure that the front panel door is properly in place.  Finally make sure all of the area under and around the furnace is unobstructed.  Finally have a HVAC professional inspect the furnace.  This can possibly prevent accidents and also make the furnace run more efficiently.  We will be updating this blog with other helpful winterizing tips in the coming weeks.  Also make sure you check out our Twitter, Google+, and Facebook accounts. 

2018 Pittsburgh Vision Walk

We will be at the 2018 Pittsburgh Vision walk again this year. This year’s walk is on September 29th with registration staring at 9 am and the walk starting at 1030 am. The walk will start at The Great Lawn at Heinz Field at 100 Art Rooney Ave Pittsburgh PA 15212. If you would like to donate to the walk you can do so at the below link. We would like to encourage everyone to consider making a donation.

http://www.fightblindness.org/site/TR/VISIONWALK/VisionWalktr?sid=1400&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=6001

We want your feedback

We have a blog, Facebook page, Google+, and Twitter. We update all of these regularly. We update them with insurance info, on-goings of the agency, and local news. What we want to know is what you want to see? Do you want more insurance info? More news and on-goings? Let us know. You can comment on this posting or let us know on our other social media sites. How can we make our social media serve you better?

Life Insurance Awareness Month

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month.  During this month we would like to ask everyone to evaluate your life insurance needs.  We will be updating our social media sites with more life insurance content than normal.  We would also point out that www.lifehappens.org is a great source for life insurance info.  Life insurance can protect your family or company form the loss of a loved one or key employee.  You might also be able to save money on your home and auto with life insurance and the multi-policy discount it generates.  We want to offer our services at 412-344-2800 for anyone with life insurance questions.  Give us a call and see if protecting your love ones is more cost effective than you think.

We want to be here for you

We want to be here for you.  If you our one of our customers we want to thank you for being a customer, if you are doing some research and checking us out then welcome.  Either way thanks for checking out our blog. We want to be here for you in all areas.  Check out our social media accounts.  We are on google+, Facebook, and twitter.  You can click the buttons on this page to go to each account.  On our social media we talk about insurance but we also try to keep you informed on the on goings of the city, traffic and other things related to Pittsburgh.  We also love feedback on these sites so let us know how we are doing. 

 

We want to help you not only with your home and auto insurance but also with your life, health, and business insurance.  We want to help you find the best complete package to make sure that you are properly protect for whatever life throws at you.  September is Life Insurance Awareness month, we would like to ask each of you to evaluate your life insurance needs, or let us help you evaluate.  There are companies that will give you a discount on your home and auto with your life insurance. 

 

We want you to know that we are here for you.  Feel free to call us or contact us for a yearly review as well.  A year or two can result in some big changes; let us help you make sure you are covered.