Keep Your Home Safe This Christmas Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and as per tradition, you may have already noticed the gradual glowing of your immediate surroundings. Homes, offices and commercial establishments may have begun decking their halls with more than just boughs of holly, and we’re guessing you yourself may be doing the same. Before you haul that new Christmas tree in or hang a bunch of running lights by your window, though, bear in mind that these very same decors can increase the risk of fires.

According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 holiday lights-related home fires occur every year. All in all, these result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage. Keep your home and family members safe this Christmas by taking note of these safety tips.

CHRISTMAS TREE CARE

Does your household have a natural tree included in this year’s festivities? If so, then remember this very important note: Keep the tree watered.

Yearly, Christmas trees account for a lot of fires because typically, electrical shorts or open flames from candles, lighters or matches can start tree fires. While well-watered trees aren’t a problem, a dry and neglected tree can be. Also keep in mind that when selecting trees, needles that are green and hard to pull back from the branches should be taken into consideration. If the tree has been freshly cut, make sure that the needles do not break, and its trunk should be sticky to the touch. To test if the tree is old, bounce the tree trunk on the ground. If a lot of needles fall off, it means that the tree has been cut for too long and dried out, and could be a fire hazard.

When put on display, be careful not to put your tree near a heat source because it will dry the tree out and cause it to be more easily ignited. It also helps to take note of how long you’ve put your tree up. Don’t put it up too early, and don’t leave it longer than two weeks. Again, keep the stand watered at all times.

When disposing of your tree, never put branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. The best way to dispose it is to take it to a recycling center or having it taken away by a community pick-up service.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS TIPS

Before putting up your holiday lights, inspect them well for frayed wires, bare spots, excessive wear and other signs and signals indicating that you need to have them changed. Check your power supply too, and make sure you don’t overload your electrical outlets with too many light strands/decors. Check the wires periodically once installed. They shouldn’t be warm to the touch.

If possible, avoid the use of lit candles. Nowadays, there are battery-operated flameless candles which look and smell like real ones, so consider using those. However, if you do use lit candles, make sure they are installed in stable holders and are placed in areas where they cannot easily be knocked down. Never put lit candles on a tree, and remember not to leave them lit when you are going to bed.

It is advisable to have working smoke alarms in your home to alert you in case something goes wrong. Have them checked and keep them equipped with fresh batteries at all times. It also helps for every member of the family to know what to do, who and how to call in case of a fire. Enjoy the holidays and all the glad tidings it brings, and may you all have a safe and warm Christmas!

 

Yeager Insurance & Financial Services is an independent insurance and financial services agency serving West Virginia. To learn more about how we can serve your insurance and financial needs, please contact us at (304) 757-3900. You may also use this site to submit requests for insurance quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Reference: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/holiday.shtm

 

Tips for the Thanksgiving Traveler

While we are thankful for a lot of things like having our loving family around us, a roof above our heads and food on our table, one of the things that’s definitely not on our list is the traffic rush we experience during the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s always a busy season for travelers, but there are ways to avoid the stress that crammed airports or jam-packed streets can cause us. Here are some tips for you, the Thanksgiving Traveler, to keep yourself happy and stress-free while on your way to a well-deserved vacation.

BE EARLY – If your schedule allows it, travel ahead of time. Booking tickets might get tricky a few days before Thanksgiving, and there’s also the threat of unfortunate weather occurrences that may put a damper on your travel plans. Planning and traveling ahead of everyone else promises a faster, more comfortable and safer trip for you and your family, too.

TRY TO PACK LIGHT – Always the most challenging tip to follow, packing light does have its benefits. With light luggage, you won’t have to strain your arm or your back while lugging it along, waiting in line at the airport or train station. You also don’t have to fight for storage space inside the airplane or the train cabin, or if you’re driving, you wouldn’t have trouble fitting in all your luggage in your vehicle while leaving a comfortable space for your family members during the ride.

BRING SOMETHING TO PASS THE TIME – It is unavoidable sometimes to have to wait; your flight or train may be delayed, or the traffic may be really awful, so it’s best to have something to distract you during the downtime. Are you a voracious reader? Bring a book or a magazine you could easily tuck away in your bag. Into games? It’s possible that you may already have a portable game console, so pack it together with your essentials too. If you keep yourself busy with things that interest you, the chances of getting annoyed and stressed about waiting long periods of time will decrease.

PACK SOME (HEALTHY!) FOOD – During the rush of packing things for your trip, sometimes you forgo food and decide to just pick up something on the way or at the airport. It might save you a lot of time, but there’s also that chance of picking up something that’s not so tasty. Or if you’re a health buff who’s watching your weight, it would be best if you packed your own food. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (Think PACKING LIGHT at all times), you can pack away dried fruit to munch on or tough fruits like bananas or apples. Also bring a reusable water bottle so you could rehydrate yourself when you need to.

Try to keep these things in mind while preparing for your trip this Thanksgiving and we hope your travel experience proves to be a safe and stress-free one. You might even put “Traveling for Thanksgiving” on your list of things to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

Yeager Insurance & Financial Services is an independent insurance and financial services agency serving West Virginia. To learn more about how we can serve your insurance and financial needs, please contact us at (304) 757-3900. You may also use this site to submit requests for insurance quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Reference: http://www.weather.com/family-kids/holidays-thanksgiving/tips-thanksgiving-travel-20121112 | http://www.weather.com/family-kids/holidays-thanksgiving/holiday-travel-must-haves-20121111

Keep Your Body Fit and Healthy!

The risk of catching a cold or going down with the flu grows rapidly as the weather turns colder this season, and whether you’re an office employee or a full-time homemaker, if you’re someone who absolutely cannot afford to be sick, it is your responsibility to keep your body healthy and fit all the time. As an extension, help keep the rest of your family healthy as well by following these very simple tips.

EAT A BIG BREAKFAST

Not everyone is a fan of the first meal of the day and would much rather run on coffee all morning, but if you’re the type to skip breakfast, you might want to reconsider. Recent research from the Sam Houston State University in Texas shows that eating in the morning reduces total calories eaten for the entire day. To those keeping fit by trying to shed off extra pounds, this may be the best way to start.

PACK A HEALTHY LUNCH

Being adults doesn’t mean you should be embarrassed to pack your own lunch. In fact, this gives you free (and healthy!) rein over your daily menu, which is better if you have kids who go to school and you want to make sure their food intake is perfectly balanced. When packing lunch, try to avoid processed foods and opt instead to include fresh fruits.

EXERCISE

Yes, the cold weather is perfect for staying indoors and curling up in bed, but before winter comes, enjoy the fall season by taking relaxing walks in your neighborhood or at the nearby park. Go to an indoor gym. Take short jogs. Walk your kids to school if possible. Conditioning your body for even a few minutes everyday counts!

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT

Unconscious eating or snacking while doing idle activities like watching TV is bound to become a habit, so make sure not to bring a whole bag or bowl of snacks with you to the couch. Pre-measure them in the kitchen beforehand. Snack on fruits if possible. They will provide you the extra nourishment you need to get you immuned from the common cold and other illnesses.

Try cooking healthy vegetable-based soups too and include it in your daily meals. Avoid high-fat soups or those that contain fatty meat or cream. Those are high in calorie content and will most likely add to your weight instead.

KEEP CALM AND STAY HEALTHY!

Ever found yourself eating your stress away? A recent study from the Netherlands’ Maastricht University states that even when an individual isn’t hungry, he or she will tend to eat under a significant amount of stress. Adjust yourself well to work or school schedules and give yourself time to breathe. If you have a difficult time fighting the urge to eat, then make healthy food choices. As much as possible, keep junk food out of your home or the workplace, and replace them with fruits instead.

Yeager Insurance & Financial Services is an independent insurance and financial services agency serving West Virginia. To learn more about how we can serve your insurance and financial needs, please contact us at (304) 757-3900. You may also use this site to submit requests for insurance quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Reference: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/7_Ways_to_Stay_Healthy_During_Fall.htm

Four Steps To Breast Cancer Prevention

Besides lung cancer, breast cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Though the mortality rate for breast cancer has been decreasing since the 1990’s because of advancements in treatments, early detection and increased awareness, the numbers are still jarring. Just last year, an estimated 39,970 deaths (both male and female) were recorded in the USA alone.

There are a number of preventive measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones cancer-free, and awareness is the first step. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but while most people have already been made aware of this fatal disease, they forget to take the next steps to ensure their health and encourage or help others to do the same. Reduce the risk of having breast cancer by following these four important pieces of advice:

•  Exercise daily. Because many studies have shown that exercise is a breast-healthy habit, The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Your exercise routine may range from moderate to intense activity, or a combination of both. Just make sure you don’t cram it all into a day’s worth of workout or you’ll be in danger of straining yourself instead.

• Make weight-watching a habit. It’s been found out that being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause and for women who gain weight later in life. If you’re currently overweight, try shedding some pounds by exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Meanwhile, if you’re already at a healthy weight, do your best to maintain it.

• Cut down on alcohol intake. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women (and two a day for men), as studies showed that women who have two or more alcoholic drinks a day have about 1½ times the risk of having breast cancer compared to women who don’t drink at all. The next time you go on that girls’ night out, take note! It’s okay to have a little fun every now and then, but you should always be careful of your health, too.

• Avoid hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might be useful to cure night sweats and hot flashes, but instead of actually helping women get through these symptoms for menopause, researchers found out that post-menopausal women who took a combination of estrogen and progestin were more likely to develop breast cancer. Before using HRT, it’s best to consult a doctor about options to control your menopause symptoms just in case they could provide you with safer alternatives.

Remember that the fight against breast cancer doesn’t stop with awareness. Take the necessary steps to keep yourself healthy, and encourage your family members as well as your friends to do it too.

 

Yeager Insurance & Financial Services is an independent insurance and financial services agency serving West Virginia. To learn more about how we can serve your insurance and financial needs, please contact us at (304) 757-3900. You may also use this site to submit requests for insurance quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Reference: http://www.cancer.org/ | http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

Keep Your Home & Family Safe

Fire may be one of the most significant and functional discoveries known to mankind, but it is also one of the most destructive. Just last year, the National Fire Protection Association has recorded up to 370,000 home structure fires that were responded to by various US fire departments. These fires have resulted into thousands of injuries and deaths, and billions worth of damage in property.

As we observe Fire Prevention Week, here are some reminders to help keep your home and family safe from the dangers of a possible fire breakout.

Keep an eye on your cooking. While there’s a saying that goes “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” you really shouldn’t take it literally. Kitchens are the leading area of origin for home structure fires, and cooking the leading cause. You might be juggling a couple of chores at one time, but never forget what you left simmering in the kitchen.

Use appliances wisely. When using new appliances (or even older appliances), make it a point to read the user manual and take note of their safety precautions so that you don’t end up overheating them. Never overload circuits or extension cords with a lot of plugged in appliances at one time, and remember to unplug them after use as well.

Smoke alarms can save your life. According to statistics, almost two-thirds of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes that didn’t have smoke alarms, or had dysfunctional ones. Installing smoke alarms around your home might be an extra expense, but in the event of an emergency, it might save you something far more precious than the money you’ve shelled out for them.

Smoking is hazardous to your health in more ways than one. Because it has been reported that smoking is the lead cause of home fire deaths in 2011, be extra mindful of where you smoke inside your home. Stay away from sheets or curtains that might catch fire quickly, and make sure you put out your cigarette butts completely before throwing them in the trash bin.

What’s your escape plan? When living with children or elders, most especially, you should plan escape routes inside your home in case of emergency and teach every member of the family the basics on dealing with a fire emergency. Practicing a drill or two won’t hurt, either.

As it is with other natural disasters, recovering from a fire is very difficult, especially dealing with the property damage or even the loss of a loved one. One could always dodge this headache by being mindful of their surroundings, however, and like they always say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’

 

Reference: The US Fire Problem http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=953&itemID=23071&URL=Research%20&%20Reports/Fire%20statistics/The%20U.S.%20fire%20problem&cookie_test=1

Motorcycle Safety

You’re no kid and that’s no 10-speed. To stay safe, you need complete command of your machine and the best safety gear you can get. We also have some helpful tips to keep in mind as you’re heading for the highway.

Be Prepared and Protected

  • New Gear? Update Your Policy
    You have to make sure each piece of equipment is listed on your policy. Any time you buy new leathers or safety equipment or customize your bike, update with our customer care professionals before you head out on the highway.
  • Training saves
    One out of four motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006 were driving with invalid licenses.* Safeco offers discounts to riders who attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s safe riding courses or are active in one of 10 approved groups that promote safe riding. Do both those things and you can reduce your premium by up to 10 percent.
  • No one’s too old to wear a helmet
    A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is forty percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury in a crash than a rider without a helmet.* A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reports that “helmets saved 1,658 motorcyclists’ lives in 2006, and that 752 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.”* Buy a full-face helmet for the best protection for your head and eyes. Wear other protective gear as well: heavy leather or synthetic gloves, long pants and jacket, and over-the-ankle leather boots.
  • In a crash, the SUV wins
    When cars and motorcycles collide, it’s usually because the driver of the car failed to see the cyclist. With more SUVs on the road, it’s even more critical to take extra steps to become more visible. Use your headlamps—both night and day—and wear yellow, red or orange jackets to make yourself easy to see. Make a point of positioning yourself in your lane for visibility.
  • Ride sober
    Driving impaired is more deadly for cyclers than other drivers. In fact, more than half of all motorcycle deaths occur when the rider has been drinking.*

* Source: NHTSA’s 2008 Traffic Safety report on Motorcycles.

Understanding Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It, Too.

One smart way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly.

Start with Good Habits

  • Print out the .pdf of this information, and store in a convenient place
  • Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place
  • Shred papers with personal information
  • Reduce your credit card accounts, and carry only the cards you need
  • Write checks with a permanent pen, and mail from a secure place
  • Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely

Watch Your Accounts Closely

  • Review balances and transactions often by phone or online
  • Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate
  • Take advantage of free credit reports (see sidebar) and watch for unusual activity
  • Sign up with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax and stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch services which will report directly to you for a fee

Fill Out the FTC Affidavit Quickly

  • The FTC Theft Affidavit supplies proof that you didn’t authorize any accounts opened or debts run up by the identity thief
  • New accounts need this FTC affidavit form to investigate the fraud and process your claim
  • Call your existing accounts for instructions on disputing unauthorized charges as other forms may be needed
  • Keep originals of the affidavit, and all supporting materials such as driver’s license or police report. Send copies only.
  • Send quickly—many creditors request that you send the affidavit within two weeks

Keep This Information Handy

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Line and websites:

1-877-438-4338

www.consumer.gov/idtheft
www.ftc.gov

Social Security Administration Fraud Line:   1-800-269-0271 

Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax:  1-800-525-6285      
www.equifax.com

Experian:  1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

Transunion:  1-800-680-7289 
www.transunion.com

Identity Theft Plan

  1. Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  2. Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
  3. Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (see contact information above to request these forms).
  4. Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
  5. Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Give Your Home an Energy Checkup

Over time, your home may not be as energy efficient as it once was. Left unchecked, it will continue to waste energy; costing you money. A home energy checkup is a series of tests and inspections that look for ways to make your home more energy efficient; saving you money.

Steps in a Home Energy Checkup

While you can perform some of the steps yourself, a thorough home energy checkup should be conducted by an energy auditor. A professional auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home.

Appalachian Power offers a variety of energy efficiency programs for its West Virginia customers, including a free and easy to complete Online Energy Checkup. Once your complete the online assessment, Appalachian Power will send you a free energy efficiency kit to help you get on your way to saving money and energy.

On the AEPrebates.com site, there is a lot of information about energy efficiency programs for Appalachian Power customers, including a list of contractors who can help with your improvement projects.

Outside—the auditor will begin by inspecting the outside of your home, looking for problems around walls, joints, or doors and windows.

Attic—the next stop on your energy assessment may be the attic. The auditor will make sure that you have the right amount of insulation, and check for air leaks, as well as proper ventilation.

Walls—wall insulation should meet recommended R-values and should be evenly applied throughout the structure. If it is attached loosely or has fallen down, it is not doing its job. Your auditor will use a thermographic scanner to inspect your walls to determine if they are insulated properly.

Basement—the auditor will look for air leaks in the area where the basement walls meet the ceiling. If you have a crawlspace, it should be inspected for proper insulation. Next, the heating and cooling system will be checked for regular maintenance. Something as simple as a dirty air filter could be costing you money. Depending on the age of your heating and cooling system and your water heater, the auditor may recommend upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient units.

Ductwork—the auditor will inspect connections to make sure they fit tightly. They must be sealed to keep the conditioned air going where it is supposed to go.

Blower Door Test—this test measures the overall air tightness of your home. Blower doors consist of a frame and panel that fit inside an exterior door, a fan, and a pressure gauge. As the fan pulls air out of the house, it lowers the interior air pressure. The higher pressure, outside air then flows in through all unsealed openings. With the fan operating, the auditor can spot leaks using an infrared camera or smoke pencil.

An energy checkup will reveal the various ways energy is escaping your home. Your auditor may suggest additional ways to save energy, such as installing low-flow faucets and shower heads, or switching to energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lights (CFLs). At the end of the checkup, you will receive a comprehensive report showing which energy-efficiency measures are right for you. Upgrading your home to save energy can reduce your utility bills by up to 30%.

10 Things You Should Know About Purchasing Home Insurance

You Need Home Insurance

Homeowners need to buy home insurance to protect their homes and personal property. Those who rent need insurance to protect their furniture and other personal property. Everyone needs protection against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.

Decide How Much Coverage You Need

The better your coverage, the less you will have to pay out of your own pocket if disaster strikes. In some cases, your lender decides how much coverage you need and may require you to buy a policy that covers at least the amount of the mortgage. It is important to note that the amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents and personal property will affect the price you pay.

Compare Deductibles

The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket on each claim and applies only to coverage on your house and personal property. Make sure when choosing a policy that you are comfortable paying the deductible if you make a claim. Remember, a policy with a $100 deductible will cost more than one with a $250 deductible. Higher deductibles may be available at a reduced price.

Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value?

You have the option to choose to insure your home and belongings for either replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home afterdepreciation.

Shop Around Before You Buy

You are not required to purchase insurance from the company your lender recommends. There are a number of unbiased sources available to find out what different insurers charge for identical products and services, including your state insurance department, consumer publications and your public library.

Ask Your Agent About Discounts

In some states, insurers offer lower prices for such things as insuring your home and car with the same company, installing deadbolt locks or alarm systems or replacing the roof.

Basic Coverages Available

Whether you own or rent, there are different packages of home insurance offered to protect your home and belongings. Each package protects against a specified number of events that cause damage to property. Three examples are fire, windstorm and theft. In addition, each package policy usually contains four additional types of coverage: property damage, additional living expenses, personal liability and medical payments.

Where to Shop

Check the newspaper and yellow pages of the telephone directory for companies and agents in your area. In addition, ask your neighbors, relatives and friends for recommendations on insurance companies and agents. Remember to shop around to get the best price and service.

Read Your Policy Carefully

You should be aware that a home insurance policy is a legal contract. It is written so that your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the insurance company are clearly stated. When you purchase home insurance, you will receive a policy. You should read that policy and make certain you understand its contents. Keep your policy in a safe place and know the name of your insurer.

Review Your Home Insurance Needs Every Year

Check with your insurance agent at least once a year to make sure your policy provides adequate coverage. The addition of a room, new insulation or remodeling add value to your home and therefore may increase replacement cost.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Cross Lanes and St. Albans.

Two basic types of life insurance

The first is term insurance, which covers you for a term of one or more years. It pays a death benefit only if you die in that term. Term insurance generally offers the largest insurance protection for your premium dollar. It generally does not build up cash value, and it may not be renewable at the end of the term or may cost considerably more to continue.

The second type is permanent life insurance, which goes by several names, such as universal life, variable universal life and whole life. Permanent insurance may provide long-term financial protection. These policies include both a death benefit and, in some cases, cash savings. Because of the savings element, premiums tend to be higher.

A number of factors affect life insurance premiums. These include:

The age you purchase your policy. The older you are, the more expensive the premiums.

Your overall health. Life insurance companies typically ask you about your medical history, request access to medical records and even obtain blood and urine samples for testing.

Pre-existing and/or chronic health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or sexually transmitted diseases may prevent you from getting life insurance or place you in a high-risk pool at greater cost.

Poor health habits, such as smoking and excessive drinking. Be aware that insurance companies may look back and consider these behaviors for the past five years.

Engaging in dangerous hobbies, such as skydiving, skiing or rock climbing

Your driving record, in terms of accidents, DWI/DUI citations, claims and tickets. The better your driving record, the better rates you’ll receive for your life insurance.

Your geographic area. Life insurance companies have access to regional data that document mortality rates and life expectancy, and they use that data to calculate the rates they offer.

Some of these factors are in your control. Others are a function of your genetics, occupation or location. Either way, it’s important for you to be educated on these issues so that you can make the best insurance decisions to fit your life.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Hurrican and Milton.