Servicing DC, MD & VA

Hedda’s Policy Review Tips

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Hedda’s Policy Review Tips | Posted in Hedda's Hints

Hedda Silverman: Ask me about these and any other questions you may have.


  1. shutterstock_259025126Do we have replacement cost coverage on the dwelling?
  2. When should I or should I not put in a claim?
  3. If we are not going to put in small claims, should we have a high deductible to keep the premium cost down?
  4. Is my liability limit sufficient for our lifestyle? – You may want to consider an Umbrella with a limit of $1 million or more.
  5. Should our valuables (jewelry, furs, silverware) be scheduled to provide adequate coverage?
  6. Is our personal property written on replacement cost (no depreciation) basis?
  7. Personal Home Computers – are they covered?
  8. Trees and shrubs – what kind of coverage?
  9. Sewer back up / sump pump – is there coverage?
  10. Identity Fraud Expense Coverage – can it be included?
  11. Am I getting all the available discounts?

Automobile Insurance:

  1. Are my liability limits high enough?
  2. How much can I save if I increase my deductible?
  3. Do I need to keep collision on older cars?
  4. Does my policy cover renting a car on vacation?
  5. How about windshield repair – is there a deductible?
  6. Rental reimbursement if my car is involved in a collision?
  7. Am I getting all the available discounts?

Thawing Food Properly

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Thawing Food Properly | Posted in Live Well, Work Well


Each year millions of people fall ill due to food poisoning, which occurs after consuming foods that are contaminated during preparation.

Thawing Food Properly

When thawing food, outer sections warm up faster than inner sections, which can cause microorganisms to grow. That is why it is important to follow the correct thawing suggestions below, depending on your method, to prevent the growth of microorganisms:

  • In the refrigerator – Thaw food at 41°F (5°C) or lower to keep harmful microorganisms from growing.
  • Under running water – Thaw food at about 70°F (21°C) or lower.
  • In the microwave – Only thaw food in the microwave if the food will be cooked immediately.
  • During the cooking process – Some foods can be thawed while cooking, such as frozen hamburger patties on a grill.

Preparing Food Safely

To ensure that you are safely preparing food, you should prevent cross-contamination—the transfer of microorganisms from one food or surface to another—and use proper time and temperature control. To avoid cross-contamination, adhere to the following practices:

  • Wash your hands using hot, soapy water before handling food and between touching different types of food.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and already prepared/cooked foods.
  • Clean all work surfaces and equipment after each task, especially when handling raw foods.
  • To control time and temperature: The temperature danger zone is between 41°F and 135°F (5°C to 57°C), because microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses grow and multiply in this range.

Cooling and Reheating Food

When cooling food, time spent in the temperature danger zone must be minimized. When being reheated, food must reach the correct temperature in the right amount of time. To properly cool food:

  • Divide large quantities of food into small shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Refrigerate or freeze prepared food and leftovers within two hours.
  • Place the food in an ice-water bath and stir frequently.
  • Stir food to cool it faster and more evenly.
  • Do not pack the refrigerator—cool air must circulate.
  • To properly reheat food, it must reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for at least 15 seconds. If this temperature is not reached within two hours, the food should be discarded.

FDA Bans Artificial Trans Fats

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on FDA Bans Artificial Trans Fats | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_194216075The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that artificial trans fats are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and is requiring that they be phased out of the food supply by 2018.

While trans fat does occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, many processed foods, such as crackers, coffee creamer and margarine, contain artificial trans fats. Artificial trans fats are created in partially hydrogenated oils (PHO)s, which are oils that have been infused with hydrogen. This process keeps the oils solid at room temperature, and is used to maintain flavor and increase the shelf life of processed foods. Intake of trans fat has been shown to cause various health problems, including high cholesterol and coronary heart disease.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Head to the Beach…

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Head to the Beach… | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

In the Middle of D.C.!

Kids love frolicking in the sea (as do we), but unfortunately, the beach is a few hours away from the concrete jungle of D.C. Lucky for us, the National Building Museum has created an ocean city in the middle of the nation’s capital. No worries if your little ones can’t quite handle jumping over waves because this ocean doesn’t require the use of a flotation device. Appropriately called the BEACH, this summer paradise features almost one million plastic balls and 50 feet of “shoreline”. Sun worshipers can lounge by the “water’s edge,” grab food from the snack bar, and even play beach games. Got your attention? Then read on for deets on the district’s latest attraction.


10,000 Square Feet
No, that wasn’t a typo. The BEACH covers 10,000 square feet so you can rest easy knowing your little one won’t be body surfing over other swimmers or blocking anyone’s rays when reading by the edge of the water. Covering most of the Great Hall, the BEACH uses building materials such as scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh to create the ocean ambience we all know and love. Everything is clad in stark white, and features a mirrored wall to create an infinite reflected expanse.

Hungry Swimmers
Forget the traditional snow cones and cotton candy often found at the shore. No outside food is allowed, but rumbling tummies are placated by goodies from Union Kitchen, the DC-based food incubator featuring more than 50 foodie groups including pizza, pickles, cupcakes, and more.

While little ones can “swim” till their heart’s content, kids (and grownups!) will be able to lounge under umbrellas, snooze in beach chairs and (or) play a variety of beach games (think: paddleball, Frisbee, and volleyball). For those of you who absolutely can’t have a beach day without a boardwalk or a pier, fear not – families can dangle their legs off the BEACH’s pier while daydreaming.

The Best Part
No sunscreen! Since this “ocean” adventure fits neatly into the National Building Museum, there’s no sunscreen to apply, hats to wear, or sand to wash out of places we didn’t even know existed. So leave the giant beach bag and plastic toys at home, and get ready to jump in!

The National Building Museum
401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square)
Cost: $16/adults; $13/kids
Online: nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/the-beach.html

Outdoor Movies 2015 Near DC

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Outdoor Movies 2015 Near DC | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

Watching movies on a large screen outdoors has become a popular summer activity. There are several outdoor movie festivals in the Washington, DC area. Most of the movies are free and offer a great opportunity for families to enjoy some time together under the stars.

screenonthegreen2.jpg - Photo by Miller Taylor

1.  Screen on the Green

Mondays, July 20-August 10, 2015
Washington, DC
Enjoy classic movies on the National Mall More »

2.  Georgetown Sunset Cinema Series

Tuesdays, July 7 – August 4, 2015 – New this year!
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Washington DC
See movies filmed in or inspired by Georgetown with a scenic view of the Potomac River. More »

3.  Films at the Stone – Martin Luther King Memorial

Thursdays, June 18; July 16; and  August 27, 2015
Martin Luther King Memorial
Washington DC
Watch inspiring films with the memorial as a backdrop. More »

Noma-screen2.jpg - Photo courtesy of NoMa BID

4.  NoMa Summer Screen

Wednesdays, May 27-August 19, 2015
Family Film Nights are on select Tuesdays
L Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, NE
Washington, DC
Enjoy a variety of dance themed films with your friends and neighbors. More »

5.  Capitol Riverfront Outdoor Movies

Thursdays, June 4-August 27, 2015
Canal Park, M St and 2nd St, SE
Washington, DC
Enjoy a variety of films on the Potomac waterfront. More »

CrystalScreen2.jpg - Photo courtesy of Crystal BID

6.  Crystal Screen Outdoor Film Festival

Mondays, June 1-August 31, 2015
18th and South Bell Streets
Crystal City, Virginia
Check out a variety of spy themed flicks. More »

7.  Drive-in Movies at Union Market

Fridays, June 5-26, 2015
Union Market
305 5th Street, NE
Washington DC
Enjoy a drive-in movie experience in the heart of the nation’s capital. More »

38_Movies_On_The_Potomac_image.jpg - Photo courtesy of National Harbor

8.  National Harbor Movies on the Potomac

Sundays, May 10-Spetember 27, 2015
Waterfront Street
National Harbor
Watch a variety of family-friendly movies along the waterfront.
More »

9.  Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival

Fridays, June 5-August 28, 2015
Gateway Park
Rosslyn, Virginia
The urban park is the perfect setting for a night of comedy. More »

10.  Golden Cinema Series

Fridays, May 22–July 21, 2015
Farragut Square NW
Washington DC.
Enjoy a variety of films in this urban park.

BethesdaMovieNight.jpg - Photo Courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partnership

11.  Bethesda Outdoor Movies-Stars on the Avenue

July 21-25, 2015
Woodmont Triangle
Bethesda, Maryland
Enjoy a variety of movies in the heart of Bethesda. More »

12.  Comcast Outdoor Film Festival – Rockville

August 20-23, 2015
Drive-in at MCPS Board of Education Building, 850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, Maryland
Don’t miss Montgomery County’s only drive-in film festival More »

13.  Alexandria Comcast Outdoor Film Festival

July 17-18, 2015
Waterfront Park
King Street
Alexandria, Virginia
Enjoy movies in the heart of Old Town. More »

lake-anne.jpg - Photo Courtesy of Lake Anne Plaza

14.  Lake Anne Summer Outdoor Movies

June 14, July 12, August 9 and 30, 2015
Lake Ann Plaza Waterfront
Reston, Virginia
Watch a variety of movies on the lake.
More »

15.  Columbia’s Lakefront Summer Festival Movies

Mondays and Fridays, June 15-September 12, 2015
Columbia Town Center
10320 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
Columbia, Maryland
Watch a wide range of movies in the heart of Columbia. More »

16.  Family Movie Nights in Woodbridge, VA

Saturdays, May 23 – August 22, 2015
Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center
15151 Potomac Town Place
Woodbridge, VA
Enjoy a variety of movies with the whole family. More »

17.  U Street Outdoor Movies – Harrison Field Under the Stars

July 15, August 19, Sept. 12 and 16, 2015.
V St. between 13th and 14th Sts.
Washington DC
Enjoy a variety of movies in the heart of one of city’s most popular neighborhoods. More »

18.  Falls Church Sunset Cinema

Fridays, August 14, 21, and 28, 2015.
Cherry Hill Park, 312 Park Ave., Falls Church, VA.
Family friendly movies are held in the park. More »

Source: dc.about.com

Brake Inspection

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Brake Inspection | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Seven Signs Your Brakes Need to be Inspected

During Brake Safety Awareness Month in August, the Car Care Council reminds motorists that routine brake inspections are essential to safe driving and maintaining your vehicle.

“When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists watch for seven signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

  1. Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  2. Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  3. Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
  4. Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
  5. Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  6. Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
  7. Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Using the Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you remember to have your brakes inspected and take better care of your vehicle. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Source: carcare.org

Child going away to college?

August 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Child going away to college? | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Do I need insurance for a child going away to college?

ThinkstockPhotos-187124416With computers, TVs, printers, PDAs and MP3 players being shipped off to school, it is more important than ever that students and their parents purchase the appropriate insurance protection.

Theft can be a major concern on college campuses; according to U.S. Department of Education there were about 40,000 thefts in 2006. And campus fires are on the rise with a dramatic increase from a low of 1,800 fires in 1998 to 3,300 fires in 2005, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so you should check with your agent or insurance company representative.

Expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, parents may consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items. There are also stand-alone insurance policies for computers and cell phones.

Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.

Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Parents should consult their insurance agent or company representative to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.

For students going off to college, the I.I.I. recommends the following:

  • Leave valuables at home if possible
    While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.

  • Create a “dorm inventory”
    Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters. For an easy way to put together an inventory, use the I.I.I.’s free Home Inventory Software.

  • Engrave electronics
    Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

The I.I.I. offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:

  • Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
  • Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
  • Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
  • Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.

In the event a student is planning to have a car on campus, choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some comparison shopping to find the best auto insurance rate. You should also check with your own insurance company as it may offer a multi-policy discount. If you decide to keep the student’s car at home, be sure to contact your auto insurance company, as many insurers will give discounts for students who are living away at school at least 100 miles away from home.

Source: iii.org