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Teaching Our Kids About Money

October 7th, 2019 | Comments Off on Teaching Our Kids About Money | Posted in inSIGHTS

Allowances and chores don’t exactly result in a fortune for children, but even at a young age, it’s never too early to start teaching them how to handle money responsibly. According to a study by the University of Cambridge, children typically develop financial habits by the time they are 7 years old. If you are a parent, it’s important to teach your kids smart and safe financial habits:

  • Give your children an allowance and let them learn firsthand what it is like having money.
  • Discourage impulsive spending by creating a budget and outlining what you plan to buy before going shopping.
  • Emphasize the importance of saving by explaining how savings accounts and bonds can help even a weekly allowance grow over time.
  • Let your children experience saving by opening an account for them—many banks offer children’s accounts that have no fee and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Teach your children to be skeptical of advertisements and sales tricks by pointing out when certain deals or offers might have a catch.
  • Simulate a borrowing experience by lending your children money and establishing a date by which they must pay it back in order to avoid accruing interest.

Teaching children anything takes time, effort and patience, but it is important for them to grow up with the knowledge and skills to be responsible with money.

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Avoiding Heat Illnesses This Summer

July 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Avoiding Heat Illnesses This Summer | Posted in inSIGHTS

Extreme summer temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they are also dangerous for your health. This is particularly true for older adults and children, who are more susceptible to illness.

Here are some tips for staying safe when you’re out in the heat:

  1. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so your skin gets air exposure.
  2. Shield your head and face from direct sunlight by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Avoid spending time outdoors during the middle of the day, when temperatures are highest and the sun is directly overhead.
  4. Take regular breaks in a shaded area if you’re involved in a strenuous activity.
  5. Drink water frequently, even if you aren’t thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks while avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you.
  6. Monitor children and seniors carefully, since they can get dehydrated more easily.
  7. Call 911 if someone exhibits symptoms of heat stroke, such as flushed skin, rapid breathing, a throbbing headache or confusion.
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INSIGHTS : Skin Safety in the Sun

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on INSIGHTS : Skin Safety in the Sun | Posted in inSIGHTS

As temperatures start to rise during the summer and you spend more time outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Harmful conditions like sunburns are common, but extended exposure to the sun is the primary cause of over 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States.

Keep these skin protection tips in mind:

  • Take extra care before going out in the sun if your family has a history of skin cancer.
  • Try to stay out of the sun when your shadow is shorter that you are, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. During these times the sun is directly overhead, allowing more UV rays to reach your skin.
  • Wear clothing that blocks UV rays, such as hats, sunglasses and tightly knit, lightly colored clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin before you go outside. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is best, but using a broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both types of UV rays.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, as needed. If you’re at a high altitude, in a humid environment, sweating or swimming, you may need to reapply sunscreen more frequently.
  • Monitor children who are outdoors in the sun. Experts believe that about 80 percent of an average person’s total sun exposure takes places before the age of 18.
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Electrical Safety Tips for the Home

May 8th, 2019 | Comments Off on Electrical Safety Tips for the Home | Posted in inSIGHTS

Electricity helps us live comfortably at home, but it isn’t something to take for granted. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are more than 50,000 electrical fires every year, and just one incident is enough to endanger your home, family and finances. Make sure to protect your home from the risks of electricity:

  • Know the details about your home’s electrical systems, including the location of any circuit boards, fuse boxes and shut-offs.
  • Always check electrical cords for damage before plugging them in.
  • Only use one high-wattage device per outlet to avoid overloads.
  • Remember that appliances are always connected to electricity when they’re plugged in—even if they’re turned off.
  • Don’t unplug devices by pulling on its cord. Instead, pull on the plastic head that’s connected to the outlet.
  • Make sure that lights and other heat-generating devices are placed on even surfaces and away from flammable objects.
  • Use outlet covers to protect small children from inserting their fingers or objects into outlets.
  • Contact a certified electrician if you suspect that anything’s wrong with your home’s systems.

Call 240-644-6000 to make sure that your home insurance has enough coverage to protect you from your electrical risks.

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Spring HVAC Filter Maintenance

April 5th, 2019 | Comments Off on Spring HVAC Filter Maintenance | Posted in inSIGHTS

Your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system keeps the air in your home clean and free of pollutants. However, you need to keep your HVAC system’s filter cleaned and maintained regularly so you know you’re always breathing clean air.

Spring is the start of allergy season for many people, making it a great time to inspect your filter. Since your HVAC system circulates the air in your home, the filter will remove dust and pollen particles from the air.

Here some of the advantages of changing your HVAC’s filter regularly:

  • Energy costs—As your filter becomes clogged, your entire HVAC system will have to work harder and use more energy to make up the difference. According to the Department of Energy, the average household can reduce their energy bills by up to 15 percent by replacing air filters regularly.
  • Air quality—A clogged filter won’t clean your home’s air as efficiently as a clean one. As a result, dust, dirt and allergens can spread around your home.
  • HVAC system lifespan—Pollutants can spread throughout your entire HVAC system if the filter is blocked, putting undue stress on the system’s motor and other parts. This can lead to expensive maintenance over time, or even the replacement of the entire system.
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Home Fire Escape Plans

March 1st, 2019 | Comments Off on Home Fire Escape Plans | Posted in inSIGHTS

Many people wrongly assume that they’ll have plenty of time to escape from their home if they notice fire. The reality is that the modern, synthetic materials that are commonly found in most homes mean that fires burn faster than ever. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a small flame can turn into an uncontrollable fire in less than 30 seconds.

fire escape

Planning ahead for a fire can be the difference between being trapped in your home and escaping safely. Make sure to incorporate these elements into your escape plan:

  • Go over how to escape each room in your home. Ideally, every room will have at least two ways to get out through a door or window.
  • Don’t waste time trying to save your personal belongings. Take any important medications if they’re within arm’s reach, then immediately take the closest exit.
  • Before opening a door, use the back of your hand to feel its temperature at the top, the doorknob and the crack between the frame and the door. If any of those areas feel hot, take a different route. If the door is cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
  • If you can’t avoid moving through smoke, crawl as low to the ground as you can and cover your mouth.
  • Set a meeting place outside of your home that your family knows to gather around when they’re safe. Then, have one person go to the nearest neighbor’s house to call 911.
  • Never go back into a burning building for any reason.
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American Heart Month

February 4th, 2019 | Comments Off on American Heart Month | Posted in inSIGHTS, Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Every February is designated as American Heart Month, which makes it a great time to review your health and reduce your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths in the United States.

Many factors contribute to your heart’s health, including your diet, blood pressure and cholesterol. Here are some tips you can use during American Heart Month to lower your risks of cardiovascular disease:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, four or more times a week. Even if your first workouts are slow, you can increase the time and intensity as you progress.
  • Get frequent medical checkups that include blood pressure and cholesterol tests. You can also talk to your primary care physician about medications that can improve your heart’s health.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, try to avoid pre-prepared foods, saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Avoid drinking excess amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Keep your stress levels low by practicing relaxation techniques and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day.
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Managing Holiday Budgets

December 7th, 2018 | Comments Off on Managing Holiday Budgets | Posted in Family Health & Safety, inSIGHTS

Often, a leading cause of stress during the holiday season stems from money problems. If you are like most consumers, you have not planned ahead and may find yourself struggling for cash come January. Proper budgeting and smart shopping techniques will help you stay within budget while finding something special for everyone on your list.

Consider the following tips:

  • Write down a maximum dollar amount that you want to spend for your entire list, and then track how much you are actually spending.
  • Set aside money throughout the year to use for holiday spending.
  • Take advantage of online ordering to save money and time by comparison shopping. Make sure to take advantage of Cyber Monday sales and free shipping codes.
  • Buy gifts using cash. This will help you avoid putting too many expenses on your credit card.
  • Give personalized gifts instead of expensive gifts. A less expensive, thoughtful gift can be worth more than a costly gift that the recipient may never use.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that you can enjoy the holiday season without worrying about money.

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Protect Your Car from the Sun

July 10th, 2018 | Comments Off on Protect Your Car from the Sun | Posted in inSIGHTS, Insurance Discount Strategies

If you don’t take the proper precautions, the sun can severely damage key components of your vehicle. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the exterior of cars to reach 194? F when exposed to direct sunlight in the summer. This amount of heat can not only wreak havoc on your car’s finish, but its interior as well.

To protect your vehicle, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Park in the shade. This is the best way to avoid direct sunlight, which will keep your interior and exterior from drying and cracking.
  • Use a windshield sun protector. These affordable products keep the inside of your car cool and help prevent sun damage.
  • Install seat covers. Seat covers are a great way to protect leather and fabric seats. Better still, these covers can help keep your seats cool.
  • Wash and dry your exterior often. Sun and heat can fade and crack the paint of your car. Frequent washing and hand drying helps remove dirt and dust particles that can cause issues to a vehicle’s finish.
  • Wax your car. Waxing your car adds an extra layer of protection from ultraviolet rays. How often a car needs a wax job varies, but it is best to do it on a regular basis.
  • Check your tire pressure. Hot pavement and underinflated tires can easily lead to blowouts, which can be expensive to fix. Even good tires can lose about one pound of air pressure a month, so it’s important to check them often. Be sure to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.