Fire Safety and Prevention, What You Need To Know

Fire Safety

Fire SafetyHome is where the heart is…it’s also where your family, prized possessions and most fond memories are. Home is also the same place that has the greatest risk of fire. Nearly 80% of fire deaths in the US each year occur in the home. Are you taking steps to keep your home and family safe?

Fire Safety

  • Check all electrical appliances, cords and outlets. makes sure they are all in working condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Use caution with portable heaters. Never place one where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over, and keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Always practice safe cooking habits, such as turning pot handles to avoid being knocked over, and supervising children while cooking.
  • Check the fireplace. It should be kept clean and covered with a screen to keep sparks contained. Burn only wood in a home fireplace and never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Beware of cigarettes. They are the number one cause of fire deaths in the US. Most are started when ashes or butts fall into couches or chairs, so use caution if you smoke in your home.
  • Use candles safely. Keep them out of the reach of children, away from curtains and furniture, and extinguish them before you leave the room. Do not allow children to use candles when unsupervised by an adult. 
  • Be aware of holiday dangers. If you use a cut Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered daily, and inspect all lights yearly for worn or frayed cords.

Fire Prevention

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Use the smoke alarm’s test button to check it every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. 
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. 
  • Plan escape routes by determining at least two ways to escape from every room. 
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor while escaping and never open doors that are hot. 
  • Select a safe location outside your home where everyone should meet, and practice your escape plan at least twice a year so everyone knows it well. 

Do you need to discuss homeowners insurance with one of our agents? Click here to learn more or Click here to contact us. 

Share these tips with everyone you care about, you can never be too careful! 
Your friends at Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance.   
 
 

How To Save Money On Auto Insurance

save money on auto insurance

In today’s world, everyone is looking for ways to make the most out of every dollar. Insurance premiums can be a large expense in most households. Even though auto insurance is something you are required to have, it doesn’t have to break the bank. We have a few recommendations that could help you save money on auto insurance premiums.

Click here for auto insurance details

Consider a higher deductible

The higher the deductible the lower the premium. A deductible is the money you the insured will pay before the insurance company pays out. If you have a $250 deductible and the total cost to fix your car is $2,000, you pay $250 then the insurance company will pay the remaining $1,750. However if you have a $1,000 deductible the insurance company will pay $1,000. By paying a bigger portion of a claim, your monthly premium will be lower. You pay premiums monthly, however, you will only pay your deductible if you have a claim. Why not save yourself money every month?

Keep a good driving record

Your auto premiums are a direct result of your driving record. This amount is determined by the insurance company to cover costs of insuring you and your family as drivers on the road. If you have no accidents or moving violations on your records, you may be eligible for a lower rate or good driver discounts.

Check if you qualify for low mileage discounts

Many insurance companies have “classes” of drivers based on how many miles they drive their car annually. Check to make sure your insurance agent has the correct mileage for you and if you qualify for any low mileage discounts.

Multi Line Discounts

Many insurance carriers offer auto, home and renters insurance. As a result, if you have your auto and home or renters insurance with the same company, you could qualify for additional discounts. This is not only a good way to save money, but a great convenience as you only have to contact one company or agent for monthly payments, questions, changes or the unfortunate event of a claim.

Click here to learn about homeowners insurance

Click here to learn about renters insurance

Work with an independent insurance agent/agency

By working with an independent insurance agent/agency you have more insurance companies available to you. A captive agent works with one company, an independent agent works with multiple companies. This works in your interest as they can shop insurance companies for you and find the best fit for your needs at the best rate. They can do the work for you to help you save money on auto insurance.

We’re here to help. Whether your a current customer or not a customer at all, give us a call and we can start looking into ways to help you save money on auto insurance today.

 

Severe Thunderstorms; How To Prepare And Stay Safe

severe thunderstorms

severe thunderstormsSevere thunderstorms produce lightning, which is extremely dangerous. Though lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2014, there were 26 fatalities from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of severe thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities—more than 140 every year—than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

Before a Thunderstorm and Lighting

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment before the storm arrives.

Facts about Thunderstorms

  • They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.
  • A single thunderstorm affecting one location for an extended time can be more severe than other storms.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  • About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe; these storms generally produce hail at least an inch or larger in diameter and have winds of 58 miles per hour or higher. They can also produce tornadoes.

Facts about Lightning

  • Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000, but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
  • Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning

If thunderstorms and lightning are occurring in your area, you should do the following:

  • Use a battery-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged into electrical outlets for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach and boats on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal, such as tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Lightning Safety When Outdoors

If you are: Then:
In a forest Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike) Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

After a Thunderstorm or Lighting Strike

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 911 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse – if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.

After the storm passes, remember the following:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Water can damage your vehicle and poses a drowning hazard.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

In addition to insuring your home, Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. Severe thunderstorms are a regular occurrence in Ohio and everyone should be prepared. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us today.

The Key To Preventing Slips And Falls

Sips and falls

slips and fallsSlips and falls are usually complete accidents, however most are preventable. A janitorial employee was scrubbing the steps and floors with water and a cleaning agent. An observant worker realized that soon, dozens of employees would be going down these steps for their lunch break. This person then took the proper action to avert this potentially dangerous situation and set up a wet floor sign.

Do Your Safety Part

Slips and falls account for millions of work-related injuries every year, and an unguarded wet floor is just one of the many possible causes. It is important to spot unsafe conditions that could lead to slips and falls, and do what you can to prevent them.    

There are various ways to suffer slips and falls while working. You can slip and lose your balance, you can trip over objects left improperly in your walkway, or you can simply fall from an elevated position to the ground. To avoid slips and falls, be on the lookout for foreign substances on the floor, such as:

  • Deposits of water
  • Food
  • Grease or oil
  • Sawdust
  • Soap
  • Other manufacturing debris

Even small quantities are enough to make you fall.

Good Housekeeping Counts

When entering a building from outside or from debris areas, clean your footwear thoroughly. Snowy and rainy weather requires a doormat at each entrance to allow for complete wiping of shoes. Avoid running, walk safely and do not change directions too sharply. 

Beware of tripping hazards. Trash, unused materials or any object left in aisles designed for pedestrian traffic invites falls. Extension cords, tools, carts and other items should be removed or properly barricaded off. If equipment or supplies are left in walkways, report it so the proper personnel can remove it. Also, keep passageways clean of debris by using trash barrels and recycling bins.

Practice Prevention

Walk in designated walking areas. Short cuts through machine or other manufacturing areas can cause accidents. Concentrate on where you are going – horseplay and inattention leaves you vulnerable to unsafe conditions. Hold on to handrails when using stairs or ramps. They are there to protect you should a fall occur. If you’re carrying a heavy load that hampers your ability to properly ascend or descend stairs, use the elevator or find help.

The worst falls are from elevated positions such as ladders, and can result in serious injury or death. Learn and practice ladder safety and the proper use of scaffolding. For example, when climbing, use a ladder of proper length that is in good condition. Keep it placed on a firm surface. Do not climb a ladder placed on machinery, crates, stock or boxes. Keep the ladder’s base one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. Don’t over-reach. Always have control of your balance when working from a ladder. Never climb a ladder with your hands full, and always transport tools in their proper carrying devices.

Slips and falls occur every day. The extent of injuries and their recurrence can be minimized through proper safety knowledge, good housekeeping and practicing prevention.

Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value, Which Do I Choose?

Your homeowners insurance policy can offer financial protection in the event of an unexpected disaster involving your home or personal property. But how you will be reimbursed following a claim depends on the type of coverage you have. There are two main valuation methods when it comes to homeowners insurance for you to choose between. Replacement cost coverage vs actual cash value coverage. By understanding the difference between these valuation methods, you can make informed decisions about your homeowners insurance and secure coverage that meets your needs.

Key Differences Between Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value

Although replacement cost coverage and actual cash value coverage can both offer financial protection in the event of a claim, the amount that your policy will pay out differs between these two valuation methods. Here are the key differences to help you weigh replacement cost vs actual cash value:

  • Replacement cost coverage can offer compensation for the cost of replacing your stolen, damaged or destroyed property with a brand-new version (as long as it’s similar in kind and quality to the original). For example, if your couch is destroyed in a house fire, replacement cost coverage would reimburse you for the cost of purchasing a comparable new couch. In other words, replacement cost coverage will replace your property without any deduction for depreciation.

    This form of coverage can be especially beneficial in protecting against major losses. Examples would be  significant damage to the physical structure of your home or expensive items within your home. However, keep in mind that replacement cost coverage typically requires you to pay a higher premium. In addition, remember that you will only be compensated up to your policy limit amount. If you experience a covered loss that exceeds your policy limit, you may have to cover the difference. If you are concerned about the risk of a covered loss totaling more than your policy limit, be sure to consult your trusted broker to discuss additional policy options. This would be options such as guaranteed replacement cost coverage or extended replacement cost coverage—which can provide further financial protection.
     
  • Actual cash value coverage can offer compensation for the depreciated value of your stolen, damaged or destroyed property. This value is determined by the age, condition and expected remaining useful life of your property. Under this coverage, you wouldn’t be reimbursed for the full cost of replacing your destroyed couch from the above example. Rather, you would be compensated for current market value of the couch, based on the condition it was in before the fire. That being said, even if you initially purchased the couch several years ago for $2,000, you might only be reimbursed $1,000 for your loss due to depreciation.

    Although this form of coverage typically offers reduced compensation in the event of a covered claim, you will likely save money on your policy premium. Actual cash value coverage can be more suitable for individuals that live in low-risk areas. For example locations where incidents such as heavy winds, fires or theft are less common, or own fewer expensive items.

Which Coverage Is Best for You?

There are pros and cons to both replacement cost coverage and actual cash value coverage. In order to select the best coverage that meets your specific homeowners insurance policy needs, follow these steps:

  • Determine what you can afford by assessing the impact of both coverages on your financial stability. It’s important to consider the difference in premium costs and claim compensation amounts between each form of coverage.
  • Create a home inventory checklist of all of your belongings and their original value, as well as an estimate of their current value. Taking photos is a great way to capture and save information for your inventory. This practice will help you better determine which coverage offers the best protection for your unique belongings. Keep in mind that certain high-value items won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance policy and will require specialized coverage. This would include items such as jewelry, collectible items or fine art.
  • Calculate how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it were completely destroyed. Include added costs for labor, materials and any new or updated building codes in your community that you would be required to comply with. Avoid making a rough estimate for this cost. Be as specific as possible to ensure you know just how much coverage you need.
  • Analyze your personal risk. Be sure to select a coverage option that fits within your budget, risk profile and comfort level.

We’re Here to Help

There are several factors to consider when determining which type of coverage is right for you. But you don’t have to navigate this decision alone. Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency is here to walk you through your homeowners insurance policy and provide expert guidance regarding which coverage option is best for you, your belongings and your wallet. For further coverage guidance, contact us today.

What Is An Employee Assistance Program? Should My Business Offer One?

Employee Assistance Program

Employee Assistance ProgramEmployee productivity is a vital contributor to the success of any business. At times, employees may be too overwhelmed by personal or behavioral problems to perform at their highest levels. Furthermore, higher stress can lend itself to higher health risks and more costly health claims. Similarly, psychological problems, substance abuse, financial troubles and other personal issues can lead to lower productivity and focus during work, increased absenteeism and higher health care costs. An employee assistance program (EAP) can address these issues and help employees tend to their personal needs, leaving you with healthier, happier and more productive employees.

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

An EAP is an employer-sponsored program that offers services or referrals to help employees deal with personal problems. Traditionally, the focus was drug and alcohol abuse, but many employers have expanded programs to include a variety of issues.

Why Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

When employees are distracted by stressful personal or life situations, they are unfocused at work and tend to be absent more often. Their health may suffer as a result, leading to higher medical costs. Obviously, these circumstances are undesirable for an employer, but it is costly to recruit and train a replacement for the struggling employee, especially if that individual was formerly, and has the potential to once again be, a valuable asset to the company.

A better solution for many employers is to offer their employees assistance in handling their personal issues in order to improve their situations and regain their former productivity levels and value to the company. EAPs can provide that assistance. Once an EAP is implemented, it can help the employer attract and retain employees, lower health care and disability claims costs, increase productivity and morale, and lower absenteeism.

In addition, any government contractors or employers receiving federal grants are required to maintain a drug-free workplace. Part of fulfilling that requirement can include an EAP with a drug-free component that offers education, awareness, testing and counseling.

Designing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

EAPs vary from employer to employer, but most have common elements. Some programs are limited and focus on alcohol and drug abuse, but many programs offer expanded services that address a variety of areas in an employee’s life. The most important consideration is whether the problems and issues covered are ones that adversely affect the employee’s job performance. Typical issues addressed include the following:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Divorce or marital problems
  • Stress management
  • Crisis intervention
  • Child care or eldercare
  • Eating disorders
  • Gambling addiction
  • Psychological or psychiatric problems
  • Financial or legal problems
  • Consultation services and training for managers regarding employee performance

Depending how an EAP is structured, it could offer employee education, evaluation, hotlines, counseling and/or referrals. It could be an in-house program, outsourced through an independent EAP provider or a combination of the two.

There are different types of EAPs, but research suggests that the most effective ones offer more comprehensive services and integrate with the employer’s health plan, prescription drug plan, disability benefits and wellness program. Integration can allow the EAP to serve as a preventive measure to address lifestyle issues that could lower health care and disability costs in the long run.

Cost versus Return on Investment (ROI)

The cost of an EAP can vary depending on which services are offered, whether it is administered in-house or outsourced and the number of counselors employed. Also included in the cost is the time employees spend away from work while receiving EAP services. Start-up costs for an EAP program can be high because many employees might be referred for counseling or treatment all at once; however, the ROI can be well worth the initial costs. The following are ways that EAPs can reap savings for employers:

  • Lower health care costs
  • Fewer disability claims
  • Less absenteeism
  • Higher productivity and focus
  • Improved employee morale
  • Fewer workplace accidents
  • Higher retention (saves the cost of hiring and training a replacement)

ERISA and COBRA Considerations

If an EAP is considered a welfare benefit plan, it must comply with ERISA’s reporting and disclosure requirements. The key distinction, typically, is whether the EAP offers direct counseling or simply referrals. Because employee welfare plans are defined as providing medical benefits or benefits in the event of sickness, an EAP that provides counseling would generally fit that description and would be subject to ERISA standards (there is some uncertainty about these distinctions, however).

Similarly, the COBRA implications are a bit unclear regarding EAPs. Generally, if an EAP is a welfare benefit plan and provides medical care, it is subject to COBRA. Medical care can include the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease; EAPs that offer those services in some form (even through counseling) are likely considered health care plans subject to COBRA. COBRA regulations do not address EAPs that offer both medical and nonmedical benefits. It would seem, though, that an employer is at least obligated to offer eligible beneficiaries the option to elect to continue the portion of their EAP that provides medical benefits.

Legal Considerations and Confidentiality

Offering an EAP could open an employer for certain legal liability situations for actions taken by EAP counselors or outside vendors. Employers should ensure that their liability insurance covers all aspects of the EAP program.

In addition, confidentiality is essential for an EAP. Employees need to be certain that participating will not damage their career or reputation. EAP records and counseling sessions should be strictly confidential, including the fact that the employee contacted the EAP in the first place. Employers are entitled to employee surveys evaluating the EAP or statistical information as a whole, but employee names should not be revealed. If the release of information or records is necessary or advantageous in a certain situation, the employee must sign a written consent form. Exceptions include situations where disclosure is legally required, such as cases involving child abuse, or homicidal or suicidal intentions.

Employee Communication

An EAP should include a policy statement, which communicates to employees the services offered, how to obtain those services, an assurance that the program won’t jeopardize their jobs or reputations, a promise of confidentiality and any exceptions to the confidentiality agreement. Employers should also create a communication campaign to generate employee awareness and understanding of the program.

Are You Prepared for Emergencies? How to build an Emergency Supply Kit

emergency supply kit

emergency supply kitEveryone should have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency or disaster occurs. This article discusses some basic items that every emergency supply kit should include; however, it is important that you also consider the unique needs of your family in order to create an emergency supply kit that will meet those needs. Ideally, you should maintain at least two emergency supply kits: one full kit at home and smaller portable kits in your vehicle or at your workplace or other places you spend time.

A basic home emergency supply kit could include the following items:

  • Water—one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food—at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cellphone with charger and inverter

Water

Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency.

How Much Water Do I Need?

You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one gallon of water daily just for drinking; however, individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

To determine your water needs, take the following into account:

  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • During warm weather, more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.

How Should I Store Water?

It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Keep the water stored in a cool, dark place.

Preparing Your Own Containers of Water

It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.

Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

If you chose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles—not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers, and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they are heavy and breakable.

Storing Water in Plastic Soda Bottles

Follow these steps for storing water in plastic soda bottles.

  • Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
  • Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
  • Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using. A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water; if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
  • Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place.
    Water can also be treated with water purification tablets that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
    Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.

First Aid Kit

Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following items can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

 

  • Two pairs of latex gloves, or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to latex
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications you take every day, such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies, such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies

Non-prescription drugs:

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid
  • Laxative

Other first aid supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

Emergency Supply Kit Items for Unique Needs

Consider the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when building your emergency supply kit.

For Baby:

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications
  • Moist towelettes
  • Diaper rash ointment

For Adults:

  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.

During cold weather, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:

  • Jacket or coat
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeved shirt

Emergency Supply Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

Home

Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days.
Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
You may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.

Work

You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food, water and other necessities, like medicines, in your kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.
Your kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.

Vehicle

In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
  • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; also canned fruit and a portable can opener
  • Water for each person and pet in your car
  • AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Also consider:

  • A fully-charged cellphone and phone charger
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

Maintaining Your Emergency Supply Kit

Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect it from pests and to extend its shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded.
  • Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies.
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
  • Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supply kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.

Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full. If you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

Rinehart, Walters & Danner is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at 419.522.9892 or https://www.rinehartinsurance.com today.

 

7 Tips For How To Stay Safe During Power Outages

power outages

power outagesYou can’t control the weather—but you can take safety measures to protect your family and home against the threat and hazards of power outages. If severe weather or intense winter chill hits unexpectedly, power outages can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. However, if you’re already in the dark, there are still steps you can take to keep everyone safe until your power is restored.

Stay Safe

Staying home and indoors is the best way to stay safe during power outages. Consider the following tips to cope during an unexpected or extended power outage.

1). Get The Essentials

In case the power outage lasts a few days, it’s important to have the following items on hand:

  • Three to seven-day supply of food and water (per person)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • First-aid supplies
  • Extra medicine

2) Conserve Power

When the storm is approaching or the lights are already out, consider unplugging or turning off electronics and small appliances.

3) Protect Your Water Supply

Some water purification systems may not function when the power goes out. Bottled, boiled or treated water is safe for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene purposes. Check with local officials to ensure your water is safe to drink.

4) Protect Your Food Supply

Remember to keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures. During a power outage, food will stay cold for about four hours in an unopened fridge and about 48 hours in a full, closed freezer—24 hours if it is half full. If necessary, fill coolers with ice to keep food from spoiling.

5) Maintain A Normal Body Temperature

  • If it’s cold outside, layer up by wearing at least three layers of tops and two layers of bottoms. Look around your home for extra blankets, sleeping bags and winter coats to help you warm up. Learn more about how to recognize and prevent hypothermia.
  • If it’s hot outside, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness, such as heat stroke and fainting. To avoid heat stress, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) heat safety tips

6) Avoid Carbon Monoxide

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators outdoors only and at least 20 feet away from your home. Additionally, do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

7) Check On Your Loved Ones

When it’s safe to do so, check in with people to make sure they’re OK or find out if they need assistance.

If you need to make a trip outside, keep it as brief as possible. Check with your local emergency authorities first to make sure it’s safe to drive or travel during severe weather.

Be Prepared For Power Outages

If you are not currently experiencing a power outage, consider the following tips to prepare for a sudden loss of electrical power:

  • Invest in a home generator. A portable backup power source can keep critical equipment like refrigerators, sump pumps and air conditioners running during a blackout.
  • Utilize surge protectors. A UL-listed surge protector can safeguard expensive electronic devices like televisions and desktop computers.
  • Develop a family emergency communications plan. It’s important to have a game plan so everyone knows what to do and when. Decide on a meeting spot, identify shelter locations and store the plan on your cellphone.
  • Assemble an emergency survival kit. Account for your pets, too. The American Red Cross recommends having the following items readily available:
    o One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
    o Nonperishable food to last each person three days
    o Flashlight and extra batteries
    o First-aid kit
    o Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    o Copies of important personal documents (e.g., medication lists, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
    o Cellphone with both wall and car chargers
    o Pet food, supplies and water
    o Emergency contact information for family and friends

For additional emergency preparedness resources, visit the CDC’s Power Outage website.

What You Need To Know About A Health Savings Account

health savings account

health savings account

If your employer offers health benefits, there is a chance they offer a Health Savings Account compatible plan. You may be familiar with those type of plans, or it may sound like a different language. Don’t fret if you don’t understand. That’s where we come in. Below is a basic breakdown of an HSA.  

What is a Health Savings Account?

Also know as a HSA, a Health Savings Account is a savings account that you can use to pay for medial related expenses. It can be funded by tax-exempt dollars by your employer, by yourself or by anyone else on your behalf. The funds in the HSA account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan. This can include copays, deductible, coinsurance and prescriptions. 

Who is eligible for a Health Savings Account?

In order to open and contribute to a HSA plan there are a few stipulations. You are eligible if you are: 

  • Covered by a high deductible health plan (HDHP)
  • Not covered under another medical plan that is not an HDHP
  • Not entitled to (eligible for AND enrolled in) Medicare benefits
  • Not eligible to be claimed on another person’s tax return

What is a HDHP?

A high deductible health plan is a plan with a minimum annual deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket limit that is set by the IRS. These limits change annually but for 2021 the limits are as follows:

    Type of Coverage         Minimum Annual Deductible       Maximum Annual Out-of-pocket 
Individual $1,400 for 2021 $6,900 for 2021
Family $2,800 for 2021 $13,800 for 2021

So how does it work?

Your high deductible health plan does not provide co-pays when you visit a Dr or pharmacy. That leaves you to pay the total expense of the visit or the prescription. Your claims will still be ran through your insurance company and most will be re-priced at the negotiated price from your insurance company. You can then use the funds in your HSA account to pay for those expenses. Most HSA accounts will offer checks or debit cards to make paying bills easy. The important thing is to make sure you are using those funds for qualified medical expenses. If you use the money for non medical expenses you will be subject to additional taxes and penalties. 

Click here to learn how your HSA works with Retirement.

HSA Contributions

You can make a contribution to your HSA each year that you are eligible. You can contribute no more than:

  • Single coverage: $3,600 for 2021
  • Family coverage: $7,200 for 2021

Individuals ages 55 and older can also make additional “catch-up” contributions of up to $1,000 annually.

A few more things.

Unlike other accounts, a HSA is not one that you have to use or loose by the end of the year. You can contribute money into this account and not touch it for years. It will just stay in the account until you need it. The IRS also puts yearly caps on how much you can contribute each year into your HSA. You can click here to learn more. 

If you have additional questions, we are are happy to help! 

What You Need To Know About Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove Safety

Winter is here along with the frigid cold temperatures! Have you prepared for this cold weather? Fireplace And Wood Burning Stove SafetyHow about your home? Did you know the largest source of fire in American homes comes from fuel burning appliances? That is why fireplace and wood burning stove safety is so important. 

Wood Burning Safety

Use these tips to practice fireplace and wood burning stove safety. 

  • Read the instructions for your wood burning stove and follow them carefully. 
  • Inspect the firebrick liner, if you have one. Should the liner show signs of wear, replace it immediately. Do not use that unit until the liner is replaced. 
  • Do not use flammable or combustible liquid (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.) to start a fire. 
  • Burn wood recommended by the manufacturer only. 
  • Do not burn plastic, wood or garbage that has been painted or treated with chemicals. 
  • Be sure to have properly maintained smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and an approved multi-purpose fire extinguisher in your home. 
  • Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. Doing so will cause the fire to heat up which will force toxic carbon monoxide into your house. 
  • Take extra care when disposing of hot ashes. Remember that these embers may still be hot for several days. 

Solid fuel units tend to require a lot more maintenance than other heating systems. Therefore, regular inspections and care are needed to protect your home and family against fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Chimney Maintenance

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition: 

  • Have  your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote buildup. 
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote. 
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape. 
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. 

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to maximize the dangers in your home. 

  • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
    • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney. 
  • Factory-built metal chimneys:
    • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner. 

A few other tips

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue. Doing so can cause major complications. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of the following serious problems:

  • Heavy creosote accumulation
  • Deterioration of the flue
  • Creosote blocking the lower heater vent
  • Carbon monoxide drifting into your home

 

When it comes to your home and family fireplace and wood burning stove safety is crucial. Make sure to practice the above safety tips to stay safe and warm. Now is a good time to review your homeowners insurance coverage to make sure your policy is up to day and adequate.

Click here for information on homeowners insurance.

Click here to learn more about chimney fires. 

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