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Make Vaccinations Part of Your Back to School Routine

Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

It happens every year. It doesn’t seem like summer will ever end, and before you know it, you are scrambling to prepare the kids to go back to school. While picking out backpacks and lunch boxes is fun, don’t forget to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

Many of us are focused on what might be your child’s highest priority, a sports physical. But it is also a great time for a routine annual physical and to make sure their vaccines are up to date. You should check with your local school district to see what vaccinations are required. You should also talk with your doctor/pediatrician to discuss your concerns and the importance of being vaccinated.

Immunizations save lives. You never know when you or your child will come into contact with someone with a disease. By being vaccinated, you also protect others that may be unable to tolerate vaccines due to their age or a medical condition.

Many health insurance policies cover routine wellness visits and vaccinations. Be sure to check your health insurance policy to see if your child is covered. If you find you don’t have coverage for routine vaccines, there are other programs available. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram/ to see if you qualify.

Recent news revealed a measles outbreak affecting visitors to Disney® California Adventure Park earlier this year. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has reported an increasing number of cases of whooping cough, measles, and mumps. These announcements underscore the importance of vaccinations.

Make vaccines part of your back to school routine, and don’t forget to make sure everyone knows how important it is to keep them up to date.

You can also find more information about the importance of vaccinations here:
http://www.vaccines.gov/more_info/features/five-important-reasons-to-vaccinate-your-child.html.

Terrie
TPA Administrator

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10 Ways to Cut Utility Costs During the Summer

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

When we think of summer, we think of vacations, sun, and outdoors. However, with all those good thoughts, we also get the skyrocketing energy bills. You are not totally helpless. There are several things that you can do to minimize your summer utility costs. Here are some things you can do to help cut the costs of high summer utility bills:

  1. Cook outside – The air conditioner will work overtime trying to counteract the heat from your stove and oven. Fire up the grill as much as possible.
  2. Close the blinds and drapes – Don’t underestimate the power of the sun. Sunlight hitting objects in your house produces radiant heat. Again, this makes more work for the air conditioner.
  3. Wear less – Try open-toed shoes, shorts, linen, and clothing that offers little insulation. This will allow you to keep the thermostat at a higher setting.
  4. Go outside – That’s right, you are a heat source. Exercising outside will keep the heat outside and the cool inside.
  5. Fix leaky ductwork – If you have an HVAC tech check your air conditioner each summer, have him check the ductwork, too. Don’t let the cool air escape.
  6. Turn the central fan on – At night, you can give the air conditioner a rest and just use the central fan. It will circulate the cool air, and you won’t miss the air conditioner.
  7. Turn off the ceiling fan – When you are not home, that is. Ceiling fans do not cool the home but make you feel cooler as air passes across your skin.
  8. Dust the refrigerator and freezer – Refrigeration units have coils usually found on the back of the unit. Dust build up on these coils makes the unit work harder.
  9. Use lower wattage bulbs – Putting a 30-watt bulb in place of a 60-watt bulb saves you half the electricity.
  10. Plant trees – This is a longer-term savings plan. In the summer, the shade from a tree will help block direct sunlight and keep your place cooler. Then in the winter, the missing leaves on the tree will let the sunlight through to help heat the dwelling.
    1. Doing only a couple of these tips will help you save money. Not only that, but you will be more environmentally conscious with the electricity savings. Now summer can be about vacations, sun, and outdoors again without the increased utility costs!

      David
      Senior Adjuster

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The Fatal Four

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Controlling Safety Risks on the Construction Jobsites

When people think of dangerous jobs, they often think of things like crocodile wrangling or professional base-jumping. But it’s not just exotic jobs that can be dangerous. You might be surprised to learn that construction contributes to almost 20% of work-related deaths in the U.S. every year—that’s about 1 in 5. Of that 20%, more than half are caused by “the Fatal Four” —falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, or being caught in or between two objects.

Because of that, controlling safety risks on the jobsite is an important responsibility. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss these four major risks more deeply, as well as some things you can do to help control them.

  1. Falls – A century ago, a fall in construction meant almost certain death. These days, through improved work standards and advances in safety equipment, that risk has been drastically reduced. But reduced doesn’t mean eliminated. Falls still contribute to about 30% of construction-related deaths each year, as well as plenty of broken bones and other injuries. To reduce the risk of dangerous falls, make sure proper safety equipment is available and used by any worker on a leading edge 6 feet or higher. Proper safety equipment can include anything from harnesses and guardrails to safety nets. Visit OSHA.gov for complete fall protection guidelines.
  2. Falling Objects – Objects falling from the sky are pretty rare in our day-to-day lives. But on a jobsite where workers spend a fair portion of their day divorced from the ground, falling objects are certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. Falling and flying objects can result in serious injuries, including concussions, blindness, and death. To prevent this risk, workers should wear appropriate protective gear, including hard hats and safety glasses, and items should be properly secured to prevent falling or collapsing. Guardrails or debris nets should be considered to catch falling objects before they reach the ground. And whenever possible, workers should avoid working under moving loads on cranes or other hoists.
  3. Electrocution – Electrocution might appear to be the most avoidable risk, but as the fourth leading cause of construction fatalities, it definitely still requires some attention. Most accidents seem to arise from a lack of basic electrical knowledge. There are a few key things that workers can do to reduce their risk of electrocution. First, if not completely sure of the inactivity of a power line or energized object, keep your distance. OSHA requires a distance of 10 feet for power lines up to 50,000 volts and an extra 4 inches for every 10,000 volts thereafter. Second, double check equipment. Make sure that everything is properly grounded, and if maintenance is being performed, unplug first. Lastly, workers should always wear appropriate gear for the task being performed.
  4. Caught In or Between – In this category, types of risks include being caught in machinery, trench/excavation collapse, and being pinned between equipment and a solid object or any derivative thereof. Perhaps the most horrifying of the Fatal Four, any iteration can mean maiming, complete amputation, or death. Fortunately, there are some basic precautions jobsites can take to reduce this risk. Installing guards on moving parts can prevent employees from getting too close to potentially risky machinery. Bracing sides appropriately in trenches and providing a means of escape will protect against collapse. Seatbelts with rollover protection in heavy machinery can prevent being pinned underneath, while instructing workers on the dangers of passing in between machinery and solid structures can make workers more aware of their surroundings. Risk areas such as trenches and scaffolding should also be inspected daily for vulnerability. And finally, persons not involved in demolition or other specific tasks should be prohibited from entering the worksite without authorization.

These four are just a portion of the risks facing those on a typical jobsite. Managing or taking part in construction work is a big responsibility. Workers should use caution and common sense in every situation and always be sure to report any irresponsible behavior or weaknesses in protective equipment. With proper awareness and the right precautions, we can see worksite fatalities decrease dramatically over the coming years. For more information about jobsite safety, visit OSHA.gov.

Sources:
https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html
http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/avoiding-falling-objects-2
http://www.equipmentworld.com/safety-step-3-wear-the-right-ppe/
https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2007/06/OSHAs-Big-Four.aspx?Page=2

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10 Great Health and Fitness Apps to Make Your Life Easier

Posted by on Aug 8, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

Healthy Living in the Palm of Your Hand

We all know that living a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. From what we eat to how much we sleep, it seems like we’re constantly making hard choices. “Should I go for a run?” “Should I go to sleep early?” “How many packages of Oreos should I eat?” These are weighty questions. But making healthy choices doesn’t have to be difficult—or expensive! To make life a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of 10 health and fitness apps to help you live a healthier and more active lifestyle. And the best part? They’re almost all completely free! So take a look, and get started enjoying a healthier, happier you!

  1. FitStar Personal Trainer – Going to the gym is tough. We get it. You might not even be sure where to start. Created by former NFL star Tony Gonzalez, this app is perfect for beginners and gym rats alike. Providing tailored workouts, this app will assess your fitness level and needs based on a series of questions following each session. This guarantees you always get a workout that’s challenging, without leaving you on bed rest for a week. (Free; iOS)
  2. Sworkit – Time can be one of the biggest enemies of regular exercise. Fortunately, Sworkit is here to save the day. Sworkit makes exercise work for your schedule by creating circuit workouts based on the amount of time you have available. Workouts can last as little as five minutes or as long as 60. You can even adjust your workouts to emphasize different areas, such as upper body strength or cardio, or create a custom workout to get exactly what you want. Don’t know how to do a particular exercise? No problem. Sworkit will illustrate how to properly perform each exercise as you move through your workout. And because it uses only body weight exercises, you won’t need a gym membership to get your sweat on. (Free; iOS and Android)
  3. C25K – Dreaming about running your first 5K? Stop dreaming and make it happen with the Couch to 5K app. This 8-week training program starts off slow, alternating between running and walking, then works its way up to more intense workouts as you build your endurance. It contains just three half-hour workouts a week that, by the end, will have you off the Matlock reruns and in shape for your first 5K! An audio coach will even help you through each workout, while providing you with a little inspiration to keep going. (Free; iOS and Android)
  4. Charity Miles/Zombies, Run! – Okay, so this is actually two apps, but the premise is (almost) exactly the same; get some exercise—and save the world. Save a fictional world from the Zombie Apocalypse in the third entry in this exercise saga. Players are rewarded for every mile walked or ran by earning supplies to help save the human race. ($3.99; iOS and Android) If fiction isn’t quite your style, help save the real world with Charity Miles. This motivational fitness app provides real donations to a charity of your choice, based on the number of miles you run, bike, or walk—10 cents for every mile biked and 25 cents for every mile walked or ran. (Free; iOS and Android)
  5. Argus – Ever feel like tracking your every move? Well now you can, with Argus. This tracking app works primarily in the background of your smartphone, tracking your movements as you go about your day. It can even tell when you’ve changed elevation or speed to track stair climbs and runs. You’ll also get fun, colorful charts to show trends in your daily activities. (Free; iOS)
  6. MapMyFitness – Another tracking app, MapMyFitness has been around since 2007, and it’s still going strong. Its simple user interface enables you to easily track daily food and exercise and is one of the most accurate available in app stores. You can set challenges for yourself and your friends, and it can even keep track of things like running shoes, so you’re alerted when it’s time to purchase a new pair. (Free; iOS and Android)
  7. HealthyOut – Eating out and eating healthy rarely go hand-in-hand … until now. Thanks to HealthyOut, making healthy dining choices has never been easier. Simply plug in your address and dietary restrictions, pick what style of cuisine you’re in the mood for, and voila! HealthyOut will deliver a list of dining options in your area that meet your criteria and even suggest the healthiest dish option. (Free; iOS and Android)
  8. MyFitnessPal – Tracking your calories has never been this simple. Log meals in less than a minute using their massive brand name database. Made a creation of your own? No problem—just input the recipe, and MyFitnessPal will estimate your calories. MyFitnessPal can also provide suggested calorie needs based on your personal information and health goals. (Free; iOS and Android)
  9. ShopWell – Tired of staring at nutrition labels? ShopWell takes the guesswork out of grocery shopping by providing a rating for every item, based on users’ personal profile including age, gender, health goals, and dietary restrictions. Simply scan the item’s barcode, and ShopWell provides a score between 1 and 100. The closer an item scores to 100, the better it is for your diet! (Free; iOS and Android)
  10. Lumosity – Get that beefy brain you’ve been dreaming about with some mental exercises from Lumosity. Lumosity takes the traditional tasks used by neuroscience researchers and transforms them into fun games to sharpen your noggin. As we age, it becomes increasingly important to keep our brains healthy and active—with Lumosity, you can work on everything from attention and memory to complex problem solving. Just 15 minutes a few times a week will work up a solid mental sweat that keeps your mind lean and mean. (Free; iOS and Android)

So there you are—ten great apps to make healthy living easier! But remember, no app can make you healthy if you don’t want to be—you still have to put in the hard work if you hope to reap the rewards. So before you choose an app, decide what your goals are. Those who set goals are far more likely to see results than those who don’t. And when it starts getting difficult, don’t quit! Stick to your commitments—you can do it! It’s as simple as that. Now get out there and get your health on!

Check back here regularly for more great health and fitness tips!

Source:
http://greatist.com/fitness/best-health-fitness-apps

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Think Twice Before Making That Rant on Social Media

Posted by on Aug 1, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

When it comes to your homeowners policy, did you know the liability section covers only “bodily injury” and “property damage?” Thus, any type of non-bodily injury, such as personal injury, is excluded without the attachment of a personal injury endorsement.

Examples of personal injury claims include wrongful eviction, wrongful entry, and oral or written publication that injures a party’s reputation. This latter event is becoming particularly problematic with the rapid growth in social media.

So here are some tips to carefully manage your personal injury loss exposure.

  • Exercise caution when posting on social media sites. Anything negative you share on the Internet is permanent. Avoid highly controversial subjects, sensitive political issues, or inflammatory remarks. Taking the high road is the best approach.
  • If you are blogging or communicating on social media, be careful that you have your facts straight. If it is a close call or a gray area, why say it at all?
  • Exercise caution in the case of product disparagement. There are lawyers and business owners who are willing to threaten lawsuits when it comes to negative comments about their products.
  • Provide strict ground rules for your children on social media and closely monitor their activities. Keep the computer in a public part of the home in order to closely watch their activities. Screen who your children “friend” on Facebook. Place strict limits on the amount of time your children spend online. Provide age-appropriate and concrete explanations of libel, slander, sexting, and their ramifications.
  • If you are on a not-for-profit board, such as a homeowners association, exercise due care in dealing with others on sensitive matters. Be especially careful regarding newsletters that go out to the community.
  • Procure a personal injury endorsement with sufficient limits to provide protection for a personal injury claim. But remember that this endorsement does not provide protection for business-related activities.
  • Purchase a personal umbrella policy that provides higher liability limits for a variety of personal liability claims, including personal injury.

Jim, CPCU, AU
Director of Personal Lines Underwriting

Copyright 2015, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

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Ways to Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

Many of us with older teenagers would agree that the time we spend going to school functions, sporting events, and extracurricular activities is substantial. It may feel like you never have enough time to do everything that needs to be done and enjoy fun things in life. Sure, it’s a big commitment, but those days will pass quickly, and you may start longing for the day your son or daughter was a teenager or younger.

As kids become responsible adults (we hope), the extracurricular activities and sporting events are replaced with work schedules, college classes, and new friends. This makes it possible for parents to have a little more free time. Whether your fantasy is to have a peaceful moment with a good book, go to a movie without a debate on what to see, or simply relax in silence, you may find yourself with the time to do all that and more. Maybe it’s time to plan that much needed vacation or a road trip to nowhere. Maybe you’ll start new hobbies that you never had time for before. Hopefully, you’ll be busy with new activities that you really enjoy doing.

However, some people actually struggle with having this extra time on their hands. The empty nest syndrome can be tough on people who may be at a loss or uninvolved. The Mayo Clinic has provided a few guidelines to work your way through this new phase in your life.

If you’re experiencing feelings of loss, be sure to review these tips to help you work through those emotions.

  • Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.
  • Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts, or video chats.
  • Seek support. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider.
  • Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.

Many people wonder if they can prevent empty nest syndrome. If your last child is about to leave home, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping yourself busy or taking on new challenges can help you ease your sense of loss and help fill the void left by your child moving into adulthood.

For more information about empty nest syndrome, visit the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/empty-nest-syndrome/art-20047165?pg=1.

Source: Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping, authored by Mayo Clinic Staff.

Anonymous

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