Independence Day truly kicks summer off into high gear. It is a holiday that has something for everyone, whether you like backyard barbecues, getting out into the water, or just hanging out at home and watching the fireworks light up the sky after sunset.
As you celebrate America this year, however, keep safety in mind — those fireworks aren’t the only holiday staple that can be dangerous.
Along with using plenty of sunblock and staying hydrated, follow these tips to help ensure that you, your loved ones and your friends all have a great Fourth.
Whether you’re hosting a gathering or attending one, you’ll want to make sure the food you’re serving — and eating — is safe. The following U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines can help:
Cook food thoroughly. Steaks, chops and roasts (beef, pork or lamb) should have a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before being removed from the heat source. Ground meats need to be at 160 degrees and poultry at 165.
Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can keep cooked meats warm by placing them to the side of the grill rack, in a warm oven or in a chafing dish. Place dishes holding cold foods on ice.
Bringing food to the party? Use an insulated cooler with ice or ice packs to minimize the growth of bacteria.
On the Road
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the July 4 holiday period ranks as the nation’s deadliest in terms of people killed by drunk drivers. So, if you’re heading somewhere to enjoy the fireworks or just driving to a friend’s get-together, plan ahead: Have a designated driver or don’t drink at all.
On the Water
Spending the holiday on a boat? Lucky you. Just make sure all the equipment is operating properly and that you have the right supplies on board. Here are two more recommendations from the Coast Guard:
If you’re driving the boat, don’t drink or use drugs. That should go without saying, but it’s still a problem — alcohol use is involved in about a third of all recreational boating deaths.
Everyone needs a life jacket. A boat needs a Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard. Kids need their own — adult-sized jackets will not work for them.
Thousands of people are hurt each year by fireworks. In the month around the July 4 holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 240 people go to the emergency room daily with a fireworks-related injury. Don’t be one of them.
Find a safe place, and be prepared. Always have a bucket of water or a garden hose at the ready. And, never point fireworks at a person, animal, home, tree or car.
Make sure adults are present. Kids should never play with fireworks.
Don’t stand too close. The most injured body parts in fireworks accidents are the hands and fingers (36 percent), head, face and ears (22 percent) and eyes (16 percent), the commission says. All are pretty important, don’t you think?
While these tips are great, perhaps the best thing about them is this: You can follow them and still have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Here’s to America — and to you!
We all get busy with daily our daily lives and before you know it a year or more has slipped by without you giving your insurance coverage a second thought.
You pay your premiums and talk with your agent when a claim or need arises, other than that you assume all is well with your policies. But, what if it's not?
There are many life changes that should prompt you to call your insurance agent. For example, you may need to remove a driver from your auto policy or add additional coverage to your homeowner's policy.
Even if you adjust your coverage as some of these changes occur, you will likely only catch others by scheduling an annual review with your insurance agent. Below are a few questions you should be prepared to address:
1. What have I Added or Updated Around My Home? Did you add on to your home or remodel? How about adding a pool or finishing a basement? All of these examples increase the value of your home and how much it would cost to rebuild it. You should update your insurance coverage to reflect not only the new home value but also any new risks.
2. What Has Changed With My Vehicles or Drivers? Are you driving longer or shorter distances to work? Is the vehicle you previously used for commuting now sitting in your garage more often than not? It's a good idea to re-examine this annually to ensure you have the exact coverage you want - not too little and not too much.
3. What Significant Purchases Have I Made? Did you invest in a home automation system or a high-end leather couch? What about new piece of jewelry? If the value of your personal belongings has increased significantly, you'll want to check whether your homeowners or renters insurance still provides enough coverage. If not, you can likely purchase additional coverage for specific items or possibly groups of items. Otherwise, if a costly item is lost, damaged or stolen, you may find yourself needing to replace it with a lower-cost version.
4. What Is New Within My Family? Did someone leave for college? Are more people now driving your motorcycle? These are things you will also need to discuss with your insurance agent.
5. Are there Any Discounts for Which I Now Qualify? Doing things such as adding a security system to your home or driving your car less may help you gain discounts you didn't qualify for when you first purchased your policy.
Some other questions you might consider include:
Do I need any specialized disaster coverage, such as flood or earthquake insurance, that I don't already have?
Is my home inventory current?
Can I afford to raise my deductibles, and how much would it lower my annual premium?
Am I carrying high enough liability limits to protect myself?
Is an umbrella policy right for me?
Just like filing your taxes, an insurance check-up should be an annual item on your to-do list. After all, there's nothing like the headache and heartache of thinking that you're fully covered and then finding out you're not when a claim occurs.
Remember, your insurance policies should reflect the life you have now - no the life you had when you first signed up with your carrier. So, keep your insurance policies up to date and set an annual appointment with your insurance agent.
Both Texas and Oklahoma have been inundated with rain lately. Severe rainstorms have caused a massive amount of flooding in both states, leading to damage to thousands of homes, vehicles and even loss of life. Insurance adjusters have been deployed to these states in order to assess the damage caused by these floods. For many homeowners, damage caused by flooding will not be covered by their insurance policies, as these policies do not offer flood protection.
As many as 4,000 properties in the Houston area alone have been affected by severe flooding. An estimated 19 people have lost their lives to the flooding in both Texas and Oklahoma. Property damage has been reported as being significant and widespread, but insurers are not sure of the exact extent of the damage as they are still assessing disaster areas.
Those lacking flood insurance may be in trouble. Conventional homeowners insurance policies do not offer flood protection. Without flood insurance coverage, homeowners are exposed to losses that are related to flooding disasters. Those in high risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance coverage, but others are not. Regardless, if you have been affected by flooding disaster, you are urged to contact your insurance provider. Your provider may be able to help evaluate your options.
Unfortunately, without appropriate coverage, homeowners could face a troubling financial situation that may place them under significant degree of stress.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.