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10 Years Later…

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on 10 Years Later… | Posted in Hedda's Hints

10 Years Later, What Can We Learn From Hurricane Katrina? Essential Preparedness Lessons for the Next Big Natural Disaster

shutterstock_174475100Ten years after the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina is being remembered for its devastating toll on residents in six coastal states. Insured losses from Hurricane Katrina totaled over $41 billion and underscored the importance of recognizing the risk of and planning for natural disasters, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The following four key lessons from Hurricane Katrina can help consumers build a preparedness mindset that will stand as a defense against severe weather threats.

  1. Consider Purchasing a Flood Insurance Policy
    A key lesson learned from Katrina was that neither a home nor a renters insurance policy covers flood damage. Yet, according to a 2014 I.I.I. poll, only 13 percent of American homeowners have a flood insurance policy. This percentage has remained the same since 2009. Since 1968, flood coverage has been available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is also sold by some private insurers. Talk to your insurance professional to make sure that you have enough insurance to replace your personal possessions and rebuild your home.The maximum amount of NFIP coverage available to homeowners is $250,000 for the home and $100,000 for the home’s contents. For higher coverage levels, ask about excess flood insurance from private insurance companies.
  1. Keep an Up-to-Date Home Inventory
  2. An inventory of personal possessions makes it simpler to purchase the right amount of coverage, as well as making the claims filing process easier and more accurate. It can also be helpful when filing for financial assistance after a disaster. The I.I.I. has information on how to conduct a home inventory, as well as a free Know Your Stuff® home inventory tool.

  1. Have an Evacuation Plan
    In the event of a disaster, there may be only hours to evacuate—in order for an evacuation to go smoothly when a storm is imminent, it is important to plan and practice in advance. Have emergency supplies, including medicines, extra clothing, comfort items and important papers gathered and ready to go. Knowing where to evacuate to and the planned route is equally important. And be sure to take into account any special accommodations that need to be made for elderly relatives, a family member with special needs or pets. The I.I.I. has information on disaster planning with pets as well as the free Know Your Plan app.
  1. Take Steps to Protect Property
    Strengthening the roof, windows, doors and protecting all openings are important steps in safeguarding both the structure of a house and its occupants. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has practical tips for reducing property damage to help homeowners prepare for and recover from a storm.

Use the I.I.I.’s hurricane insurance checklist for a productive disaster preparedness conversation with your insurance professional.

Source: iii.org

Your Life Insurance Application

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Your Life Insurance Application | Posted in Hedda's Hints

5 Common Health Conditions That Can Affect Your Life Insurance Application

One of the many reasons Americans do not have life insurance is they believe that they won’t qualify, or that if they do qualify, the price will be too expensive. This is not always the case.

Many people are able to find affordable coverage despite having common health conditions. Life insurance companies will determine rates based on the severity of the health condition and whether or not it is currently being treated. With the help of a doctor, a condition can be managed so that it has minimal impact on life insurance rates.

Life insurance companies deal with risk by assigning customers a health rating. Generally the three ratings are standard, preferred and preferred plus. Typically there can be a 20% to 30% change in price from one rating to the next, depending on the company. Here are several examples of common health conditions and how life insurance companies may respond.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to serious health problems if left unmanaged. Life woman-taking-medication-300x200insurance companies will determine a customer’s rate class depending on the severity of the condition and whether or not it is being managed with medication. Typically, someone with 150/90 or lower with medication can qualify for standard rates. A preferred rate would likely be for someone with 140/90 or lower without medication.

High cholesterol: Over 102 million Americans over the age of 20 have high cholesterol. This is defined as total cholesterol over 200mg/dL. Life insurance companies may classify you as regular with cholesterol no higher than 300-350 mg/dL. Less than 250 mg/dL may qualify you for a preferred rate, while 220 mg/dL or less with medication could place you in the preferred class.

Anxiety: 18% of the American population suffers from anxiety, making it the most common form of mental illness. Life insurance companies consider it a risk because it can lead to other health conditions such as depression, substance abuse and insomnia. Applicants with managed anxiety that are on one medication prescribed by a primary care physician can typically qualify for the preferred plus health class.

Obesity: With more than 33% of Americans being affected by obesity, it is one of the most common health conditions that life insurance companies deal with. Most companies use the body mass index (BMI) number to determine if an applicant’s rate class. Usually an individual with a BMI of 26-28 can qualify for preferred plus, while a BMI of 27-34 can be preferred, and 35-38 or higher will be standard.

Acid reflux: With almost 19 million Americans diagnosed with acid reflux (GERD), it ranks as one of the most common health conditions. Since it can lead to ulcers and potentially cancer, life insurance companies see it as a risk. The good news is that most people that treat their mild GERD with over the counter medications can qualify for preferred plus rates. Those taking prescriptions for mild to moderate GERD can qualify for preferred, and moderate to severe GERD with ongoing treatment or surgery would qualify for standard rates.

Don’t let the fear of high prices keep you from getting the life insurance coverage that you need. Millions of people suffer from these common health conditions, and many of them could qualify for a preferred or preferred plus rate class. Remember that many of these conditions can be improved with the help of a doctor, medication, proper diet and exercise.

Source: lifehappens.org

More Comfortable Workstation

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on More Comfortable Workstation | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

7 Tips for a More Comfortable Workstation


Office workers in the United States spend an estimated 10 hours each day sitting at their workstations. Because they spend so much time at their desks, an improperly designed workstation can severely drain workers’ productivity, focus and even their physical health. Poor workplace ergonomics can even cause workers to develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which cause an estimated 380,000 workers to miss work each year. The three most common causes of ergonomics-related injuries are:

  • Improperly adjusted furniture and equipment
  • A poorly organized or inappropriate workstation layout
  • Prolonged awkward, twisted or static postures

Office workstations are not solely responsible for the development of chronic aches and pains; over 20 percent of office workers in the United States work from home. Regardless of whether you are working at the office or from home, you need to ensure that your workstation is suitably organized. To help you set up your workstation to avoid developing an MSD, use these tips:

  1. Sit close enough to your keyboard so that your shoulders, wrists and hands are relaxed.
  2. Sit up straight so that your back is firmly but comfortably against the chair back and your feet are flat on the floor.
  3. Position your monitor directly in front of you at eye level so that you do not have to twist or turn your neck.
  4. Aim your monitor away from any windows to reduce glare, which, over an extended period of time, could lead to sore eyes or headaches.
  5. Take three one- to two-minute breaks each hour to exercise your eyes by focusing on a distant object and then at an object nearby.
  6. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch your wrists and fingers. Put your hands together, then spread your fingers out and “steeple” them—separating your palms but keeping your fingers together.
  7. Take a five-minute break each hour to stretch and relax your back, neck, arm and leg muscles. A walk around the office is a good way to do this.
View more Safety tips here.

Blood Pressure Readings

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Blood Pressure Readings | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_156608045Although most people have their blood pressure measured at the doctor’s office once a year, many people aren’t sure what the numbers mean in relation to their overall health. However, blood pressure readings are easy to understand if you know the blood pressure basics.

A blood pressure reading consists of the measurements of two kinds of blood pressure: systolic pressure, which is the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts, and diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in your blood when your heart rests between beats. These two types of pressure are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A blood pressure measurement has systolic pressure listed first and diastolic pressure listed second.

A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. But, even if you have normal blood pressure, it is important to take preventive measures in order to decrease your risk of developing problems in the future. Typically, systolic pressure tends to rise once you are over 50. The best course of action at any age is to maintain a healthy weight through a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle.

There may be cause for concern if your systolic measurement is between 120 and 139 mm Hg, or if your diastolic measurement is between 80 and 89 mm Hg. While these levels are not considered high, you may have prehypertension—which is a sign that you may need to adopt healthier habits.

A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg is considered high. Generally, if you have high blood pressure, you may also be diagnosed with hypertension. Hypertension significantly increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. Depending on which stage of hypertension you are in, your doctor may prescribe medication in addition to asking you to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Healthy School Lunches & Snacks

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Healthy School Lunches & Snacks | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Make school lunches healthy and fun with these easy brown bag lunch ideas. Transform classic lunches, from tuna to PB&J to turkey and cheese, into healthier recipes. Kids will also love the healthy snack ideas that will keep them full throughout the day.

The simplest and healthiest foods look extra-yummy when they’re tucked inside colorful little compartments. That’s the idea behind Laptop Lunches, the company that sells these cute plastic sets (starting at $21; laptoplunches.com). We filled the containers with a protein, some fruit, a vegetable, and a small treat — all in perfect-size portions for kids 5 to 8.


All Dressed Up

* 1 cup bow-tie pasta salad with veggies
* 1 cup baby greens salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat
* 3/4 cup watermelon
* 2 fig cookies


Catch of the Day

* Fish-shaped tuna sandwich with lettuce on
   whole wheat bread
* 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dip
* Small plum
* 1/4 cup whole-grain Goldfish crackers


Pretzel Kabobs

* Ham, turkey, and cheese rolled up together, sliced, and
   skewered with pretzel sticks
* 1/2 cup mandarin oranges
* 1/2 cup shelled edamame
* 1 container (4 ounces) fat-free chocolate pudding


Early Riser

* Sliced hard-boiled egg and 2 mini whole-grain waffles
* Bell-pepper strips
* 1 sliced kiwi fruit mixed with a few blackberries
* Mini corn muffin


Finger Food

* String cheese and a handful of whole wheat crackers
* 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons
   light raspberry dressing
* 1/2 cup blueberries
* Slice of banana bread



* 1 cup bean salad
* 1/2 cup melon wedges
* Handful of whole-grain tortilla chips with 2 tablespoons
* 8 cubes of reduced-fat cheddar cheese


Hole New PB&J

* Peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat mini bagel
* 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons low-fat
   Caesar dressing
* 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
* 4 mini oatmeal cookies


Pizza Party

* 1 slice leftover cold veggie pizza cut into squares
* 3/4 cup cucumber moons with 2 tablespoons hummus
* 1/2 cup purple grapes
* 1/2 cup popcorn


Power Pita

* 2 mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken
   strips and veggies
* 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries
* 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
* 8 animal crackers


After-School Snack Mixes: Sesame Sticks

Sesame sticks + chopped cereal-nut bars + dried pineapple


After-School Snack Mixes: Pita Chips

Mini pita chips + soy nuts + mini chocolate chips


After-School Snack Mixes: Mini Pretzels

Mini pretzels twists + cashews + dried cranberries


After-School Snack Mixes: Low-Fat Granola

Low-fat granola + sunflower seeds + dried apricots


After-School Snack Mixes: Dried Papaya

Dried papaya + whole-grain cereal + golden raisins


After-School Snack Mixes: Almonds

Almonds + M&M’s + dried mango

Source: parents.com

Sept. 2015 Festivals and Events

September 1st, 2015 | Comments Off on Sept. 2015 Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

shutterstock_110913071The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the website or call to confirm information.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Through Oct. 25, 2015. Crownsville, MD. A 16th century English village with crafts, food, live performances, games and lots more.

Epicurience Virginia: A Wine & Food Festival
Sept. 4-6, 2015. Taste the finest in Virginia wines, meet top tastemakers and master winemakers, and sample cuisine prepared by celebrated chefs from around the country.

Labor Day Weekend
Sept. 5-7, 2015. Find some family fun at great outdoor events going on this Labor Day Weekend.

National Book Festival
Sept. 5, 2015. Washington Convention Center. Visit with more than 100 award-winning authors, illustrators and poets who will talk about and sign their books.

Virginia Scottish Games
Sept. 5-6, 2015. Celebrate Alexandria’s Scottish Heritage with live music and dance competitions, a British Car Show, children’s games, Celtic crafts and foods.

DC Blues Festival
Sept. 5, 2015, 12:15-7 p.m. Carter Barron Amphitheater. This free annual festival features live blues by outstanding local and national acts.

Silver Spring Restaurant Week
Sept. 8-13, 2015.
Enjoy great dining deals and try some new restaurants in Silver Spring, Maryland during Restaurant Week.

Women’s Voices Theater Festival
Sept-Oct 2015. More than 50 professional theater companies in the Washington DC area will present world-premiere productions of a work by one or more female playwrights.

Prince George’s County Fair
Sept. 10-13, 2015. Upper Marlboro, MD. Carnival rides, live animals displays, family circus, fireworks, live entertainment, food.

The DC Shorts Film Festival
Sept. 10-20, 2015. Film festival in Washington, DC featuring short films and discussions with filmmakers.

September 11 Memorial Events
Sept. 11, 2015. See the schedule of special commemorative events in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Columbia Heights Day
Sept. 12, 2015. Harriet Tubman Elementary School, 11th & Kenyon Streets NW, Washington, DC. The community event includes live music, food, vendors, guest speakers, children’s activities and more.

Maryland Seafood Festival
Sept. 12-13, 2015. Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, MD. Weekend event with great food, music, and family fun.

Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival
Sept. 12, 2015. Annapolis, MD. The event features beer tastings, seminars, live music, food and arts and crafts exhibits.

Virginia Wine Festival
Sept. 12-13, 2015. Centreville, VA. Sample wine from 60 Virginia wineries and enjoy gourmet food, seminars, arts and crafts, live music and more.

Rosslyn Jazz Festival
Sept. 12, 2015, 1-7 p.m. Enjoy a day of free jazz concerts in Rosslyn, VA.

Silver Spring Jazz Festival
2015 Date to Be Announced, 3:30-10:30 p.m. See a variety of jazz performances in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

Nation’s Triathlon
Sept. 13, 2015. The sporting event includes a scenic course that winds through the National Mall, a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, 40k bike course through the streets of Washington and Maryland, finishing with a 10k run past the city’s historical landmarks. The weekend includes a Health and Fitness Expo that is open to the public.

Adams Morgan Day
Sept. 13, 2015, Noon-7 p.m. Annual street festival in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Washington Redskins Opening Game
Sept. 13, 2015, 1 p.m. The Washington football team plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener. Enjoy the football season and cheer for the Redskins.

National Hispanic Heritage Month
Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Celebrate the culture and traditions of Spanish speaking residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Anne Arundel County Fair
Sept. 16-20, 2015. Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, Crownsville, MD. Monster truck rides, carnival rides, farm animals, pig races, antique saw mill, pie eating contest, talent show and much more.

Charles County Fair
Sept. 17- 20, 2015. Charles County Fairgrounds, 8440 Fairgrounds Road. La Plata, Maryland. (301) 932-1234. Farm animals, displays, demonstrations, food, entertainment, carnival rides, games and activities for all ages.

Great Frederick Fair
Sept. 18-26, 2015. Frederick Fairgrounds. Musical entertainment, tractor pulls, equine expo and showcase, agricultural events, food.

Nation’s Football Classic
Sept. 18, 2015. RFK Stadium. The event is a black college football game held annually in Washington, DC. Additional events will be held around town throughout the weekend.

Alexandria King Street Art Festival
Sept. 19-20, 2015. King Street becomes an outdoor gallery featuring 200 of the nation’s top award-winning artists.

Hyattsville Arts Festival
Sept. 19, 2015, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. More than 70 local artisans will display their works alongside feature performances by musicians, dancers, and street performers.

WalkingTown DC
Sept. 19-27, 2015. Enjoy free guided tours of the neighborhoods of Washington DC. Dozens of walking tours are available offering a great way to explore the nation’s capital.

Andrews Air Show
Sept. 19, 2015. Andrews Air Force Base, Camp Springs, MD. The popular air show returns this year featuring the Thunderbirds flight demonstration squadron, performing fast-paced aerobatic maneuvers of two, four and six planes flying in formation.

H Street Festival
Sept. 19, 2015, noon-6 p.m. The festival includes musical and dance performances, children’s activities, crafts, international foods and more.

Korean Festival
Sept. 19-20,2015. Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA. The festival features Asian cuisine, musical performances, a taekwondo demonstration, a talent show, a singing contest, and more.

Latino Festival – Fiesta DC
Sept. 19-20, 2015. Washington DC. Celebrate the Latino culture with one of the largest festivals in the nation’s capital. International cuisine and lots of live entertainment.

Mount Vernon’s Colonial Craft Fair
Sept. 19-20, 2015. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The fair is a re-creation of an early American marketplace with artist demonstrations, family entertainment and 18th-century amusements.

Takoma Park Folk Festival
Sept. 20, 2015, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Community festival with games, food, crafts, dancing and music.

Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo
Sept. 21, 2015. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy a celebration of Latin American culture and wildlife through a variety of family-oriented activities, live music and dance, special keeper talks, and a Latin American food court.

Capital Home Show
Sept. 25-27, 2015. Dulles Expo Center. 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA. See what’s new in building, remodeling, and decorating. Meet experts and shop, compare and save on all of your home improvement projects.

Fall Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2015 season.

Charity Walks in the Washington, DC Area
The MS Challenge Walk and the Walk for Kids are great charities to support while improving your own health. See these and more walks coming up this fall.

Oktoberfests Near Washington, DC
Find German folk festivals with great beer, food, and live entertainment.

National Public Lands Day
Sept. 26, 2015. The nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands includes special events to get volunteers to work together to build trails, bridges, remove trash and invasive plants, restore water resources and plant trees. See the events in the DC area and pitch in.

Washington DC Tour de Cure Bicycling Event
Sept. 26, 2015. Washington, DC. Bike across the nation’s capital and help raise funds and awareness for the American Diabetes Association. All experience levels welcome.

Landmark Music Festival for the National Mall
Sept. 26-27, 2015. National Mall, Washington DC. The event will feature more than 40 artists on multiple stages as a grassroots effort to increase volunteerism and stewardship of the National Mal. The festival will also celebrate America’s diversity through a wide range of musical styles, art and cuisine.

Turkish Festival
Sept. 27, 2015, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC. Celebrate Turkish art and culture with a variety of family-friendly activities, food, crafts and more.

Fall For the Book Festival
Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2015. The regional celebration of literature and the arts features events at George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia Campus and at multiple locations throughout the capital region. The festival welcomes nearly 150 authors including some of the nation’s most exciting and provocative writers.

Pumpkin Festivals
Some of the region’s pumpkin patches open at the end of September. Find out where the best pumpkin patches and fall festivals are in the Washington, DC area and plan an early visit before the crowds.

Calvert County Fair
Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2015. Prince Frederick, Maryland. The fair includes a wide range of activities including farm animals, exhibits, musical, entertainment, food, carnival rides, contests and a 4H auction.

Source: dc.about.com