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Monday, December 09 2013

Make Fire Prevention a Habit

The most important part of fire safety is prevention. The following tips will help you form fire-safe habits and

prevent fires in your home. Click on this link for the tip sheet coutesy of Foremost Insurance Group.

https://n.b5z.net/i/u/10048627/f/Fire_Prevention_Tips_for_Homeowners.pdf

Posted by: Paul J Miner AT 12:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 19 2013

 

Another epic blog post by Brianne Tucker November 15, 2012 11:20 am  on the Foremost Insurance blog.         

I’m feverishly preparing for what I consider to be a rite of passage:  I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. While I love to cook and host my family from time to time, there’s something extra intimidating about preparing the quintessential meal of the year.  How do I manage preparing a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and vegetables at the same time? In one oven? At this point I have a spreadsheet listing what I need to do on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and the baking times and temperatures broken down in chronological order. (Thank goodness my mom is bringing the pumpkin pie.)

While I was researching ways to prevent the turkey from drying out, I stumbled upon this fact. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking-related home fires. Add another thing to worry about to the list.

It’s pretty clear to see why 69% of all home fires on Thanksgiving are cooking fires. People are stressed and busy, which can lead to carelessness and inattention in the kitchen. Let me join the chorus and reiterate the NFPA’s tips regarding cooking safety:

  • Make sure your stovetop is clear of anything that could catch fire, like oven mitts, towels, hot pads, wooden utensils and food packaging.
  • If you are frying, grilling, or broiling, stay in the kitchen. If you have to leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling, check on your food regularly and remain in your home. Use a timer help remind you that you are cooking.
  • Only cook when you are alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove.

Then there’s the use of turkey fryers, which the NFPA actually discourages. So does Underwriters Laboratory (UL), which will not certify any turkey fryers with their UL Mark. This video explains why UL finds those appliances dangerous.

I know that won’t stop everyone from frying a turkey. If you are considering it, please read Underwriters Laboratory’s article on the subject. They list not only the hazards, but key tips you should follow to make the process as safe as possible.

We hope everyone can celebrate a safe and happy Thanksgiving. And if you’re in the market, consider talking to a Foremost Agency about an insurance policy for your home.

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 12 2013

 

This is a very informative and relevant blog entry by Brianne Tucker for The Foremost Insurance Blog posted November 13, 2012.

It’s a necessary task for any seasonal home owner, and you still have time to get it done: preparing your seasonal home for the rigors of winter. Properly planning now can help you avoid damage and expensive repairs in the spring.

The best preparation is to develop a checklist of tasks and then follow it faithfully. Here are the major areas for winterization that Foremost recommends your list includes:

  • Plumbing. This is one of the most important areas to address when winterizing a seasonal home. If your furnace fails, any water in the house could possibly freeze and cause major damage. Make sure the water system is turned off at its supply point and any pipes are cleared to prevent possible freezing and bursting. Further, the toilet as well as the shower and sink traps should be flushed and protected with non-toxic antifreeze.
  • Appliances. You should drain any appliance that may hold water, including the water heater, washing machines, dishwashers or ice makers  Also make sure the refrigerator and freezer are properly defrosted and propped open to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Unplug all devices that don’t need to be powered and shut off the valves for any gas appliances.
  • Furnace. Turn down the thermostat to about 55 degrees to help prevent freezing problems unless your home is an area that doesn’t get too cold in the winter. If your heater will be turned off over the winter, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for winterizing the system.
  • Structural repairs. Check the roof and siding to make sure it’s secure and intact. If a shingle or piece were to blow off while the house is empty and go unnoticed, it could cause bigger water or structural damage problems. Examine the exterior around windows, doors and any pipe openings and caulk any areas that could let air, water, bugs or rodents into the house.
  • Outdoor work. Clean up the yard and trim back bushes from the home to make it harder for burglars to hide. Secure all outdoor furniture in a locked garage or shed.
  • Indoor cleaning. Thoroughly clean the house before closing it for winter to help prevent mold, mildew or insect and rodent problems. Remove all perishable items and any boxed food that animals could eat. Move electronics, TVs or computers from plain sight so anyone looking in the windows won’t see them. Consider removing any other small valuables from the premises altogether.
  • Security. Make sure all windows are closed and locked and sliding doors are secured with bars in the track to prevent entry. Check door locks to make sure the latch plates are screwed into the wall studs and not just the door frame.  Close the curtains and if any neighbors are permanent residents, consider giving a trustworthy one a spare key to check on the place. Otherwise, arrange to have someone check on the place weekly, or install a remotely monitored security system.

It’s also important to do an insurance check-up with your insurance agency to make sure your home’s policy adequately covers it while it’s closed. Seasonal homes often require a specialized policy that addresses the specific situation of a homeowner who only occupies a residence for part of the year. If you’re interested in a seasonal home policy, consider giving Paul Miner at The Compass Insurance Group a call at 207-790-2300.

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 07:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 07 2013
Summer ended months ago and fall is beginning to fade away quickly. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape what’s up next? You wouldn’t be the only person who decides to do just that. In fact, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association estimates that there are over 2 million people spending the winter in RVs, which doesn’t even include those who rent or own a second home.

The people who escape the harsh winters of their primary location to live in a warmer climate are known as snowbirds. Snowbirds are typically retirees or business owners and the snowbird season runs from October through April, but may vary from year to year.

Are you a snowbird, or better yet, are you going to become one? Before you take flight towards a warmer climate and leisure lifestyle, check out Kiplinger’s 6 tips for your home and finances so you can fully enjoy your home away from home.

Prepare your home for winter.

It is important for everyone to prepare their homes for the winter season to avoid expensive damage or homeowners claims caused by cold weather and snowstorms. It is even more important to prepare your home for winter if it will be vacant during the coldest months of the year since you won’t be there to notice any problems that may arise. Prior to closing up your home, inspect your roof for any damage that could result in leaking and clean gutters and downspouts. Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls and open cabinet doors to allow heat from the room to get into concealed spaces, which can make pipes less likely to freeze. Also, drain and shut off outdoor water faucets.

Trim trees.

Winter’s high winds and snowstorms can cause a lot of damage from fallen tree limbs; therefore, make it a priority to remove dead trees or large overhanging tree limbs before you leave town.

Ask someone to shovel snow.

Arrange to have a neighbor shovel snow from your driveway. This will help prevent snow that melts from leaking into the home and causing damage. It can also prevent your home from looking vacant and becoming a target of thieves.

Secure your home.

Home security is a big issue if you’re away from your house for months. Stop your newspaper delivery and forward your mail to your winter address or have it picked up on a regular basis. Also have someone check the house at least weekly to make sure any flyers or packages that are delivered while you’re gone don’t build up and make the house look unoccupied. Secure doors and windows with deadbolt locks, and install slide locks or other security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors. You can also install variable light timers, which turn lights on and off at different times to make it look like someone is home.

Notify your bank.

Before you leave, provide the bank with your contact information as well as your temporary address. This will give the banks a heads up, so there are no issues regarding out-of-state debit and credit card charges. If your financial institution is not aware that you will be away for a long period of time, your account could be frozen temporarily as they may see out-of-state charges as suspicious activity or fraud.

Sign up for online banking.

Online banking allows you to receive bills and make payments online. It gives you the peace of mind that your bills are being paid on time, without having to wait for statements to be mailed to your current location.

Maintaining two homes can be a lot of work, so it’s important to be prepared as seasons change. Having a good and reliable insurance policy is also important. So, if you’re in the market for insurance locate a Foremost agency near you.

The Compass Insurance Group is proud to be a Foremost Insurance Agent. Call us at 207-790-2300.

Posted by: Paul J Miner AT 10:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, November 05 2013

 

Another super article by The Foremost Insurance Blog on Home Maintenance Tips.           

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to share their home with eight-legged strangers. When I see those creepy spiders crawling across my floor I immediately feel like I need to check under every chair, table and rug for the rest of their families. Of course, in the part of the country I live in, the spiders are harmless, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling just a little uneasy when crawling friends start taking over my home.

It’s starting to get colder out and that means that my home is beginning to be infiltrated with spiders! Because of that, I feel the need to share some tips and tricks for keeping those creepy, crawly creatures out of our homes:

Outside:

  • Seal and cover cracks. Walk around your house and think like a spider. Cover the gaps around the house and especially around doors. Check whether screens and windows are repaired. Air vents need to be covered in hardware mesh and cracks sealed in the foundation.
  • Clean up the perimeter. Clean up or move any leaves, woodpiles, or other debris next to your house. Spiders don’t like wide open spaces, but they love dark nooks and crannies.
  • Get rid of their paths. Trim any shrubs or stray branches that are touching the sides or roof of your home. These are a direct path for spiders.
  • Spraying isn’t the answer. According to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program, pesticide control is difficult and rarely necessary. Spiders are very resilient and you’ve practically got to fire the spray right at them. Instead, just clean up anything around the base and sides of your home.

Inside:

  • Clean up your act. Allowing things to build up, like a stack of newspapers or a pile of shoes make perfect homes for spiders. Try to hang up or put away whatever you can.
  • Vacuum their hiding places. Vacuuming up webs and dust leaves little room for spiders to feel comfortable. Spiders love hiding in webs and dust.
  • Caulk. Caulk around doors and windows to keep the spiders outside and you safe and warm inside.

Whether or not you have eight-legged roommates trying to move in, it won’t hurt to follow the above steps to deter any little creatures from trying to make your home their home!  And, if you are in the market for home insurance consider giving a Foremost Agency a call.


November 9, 2012 11:32 am Featured Articles, Home Sweet Home, Maintenance, Safety At Home

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, October 25 2013

An excellent blog by: Noelle Kimball for The Foremost Insurance Blog

Celebrate!  Celebrate what?  National Teen Driver Safety Week, that’s what.

If you have a teenager driving this is a great excuse to get them to listen to some very important safety tips and information.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is observed October 20-26 this year and is focused on “It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parent Drivers.” 

I was standing in line the other day and a woman was talking about her teen driver.  Not that I was eavesdropping, but…here is a sampling of the conversation:

“My husband and I were following our son home from the basketball game last night and we couldn’t even catch up with him.  He must have been going 90 mph (laugh).  I guess I can’t blame him, he has a lead foot just like me.”

As I stood in that line, I was thinking, “Parents lead by example.”  It’s a really important responsibility we have as parents and a difficult one too.  My daughter is not even close to driving age, but she is already a good back seat driver.  She tells me when I am going too fast and reminds me to put on my seatbelt.  I can’t imagine what she will be watching for when she actually becomes a teenager.

As parents we need to show our kids the right behaviors.  That means safety and patience at all times, or as much as we possibly can.  Read about some tips to help promote safe driving HERE.

Posted by: AT 08:28 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 24 2013

Teen Driving=Big Responsibility

This a great blog post from Foremost Insurance blog writer Noelle Kimble dated May 14, 2012 9:40 am.           

Cruising down the strip in my mini-van, windows down, friends in tow, listening to some sort of 90’s hair band without a care in the world…now that was the life. I remember how fun it was to finally turn 16, drive around the town feeling 100 feet tall because I was an adult (in my eyes). I don’t remember seeing my parents act nervous or scared…although I’m sure after I pulled out of the driveway they were a nervous wreck.

Driving as a teenager carries a hefty amount of responsibility and when your child smiles big for that first license picture, your stomach may drop. Chances are you have heard the stories, seen the statistics or maybe firsthand witnessed teenage driving accidents. That’s because traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

The NHTSA reports that each year more than 5,000 teens (ages 16-20) are killed in passenger vehicle crashes and during 2006 a teen died in a traffic crash an average of every hour on weekends and once every two hours during the week.

Don’t let these statistics keep your teen in the house forever, but set some rules that reiterate the importance of responsible driving. I think I did a pretty good job as a teen. I credit it to the fact that our grandparents lived with us and I drove them back and forth to McDonalds every night. Besides anticipating the delicious hamburgers, I remember thinking that I had to drive carefully because I didn’t want anything to happen to them. Whether your teen has a grandparent or younger sibling they are responsible for or are on their own, these tips should help point them in the right direction.

  1. Buckle up always! The car shouldn’t even start before everyone in it has their seat belt fastened.
  2. No alcohol or drugs. Explain the consequences of being caught with alcohol or drugs in their vehicle and that they are responsible for what is in the car, even if it is not theirs. (That one seemed to help me say no to my peers a lot in high school.)
  3. No texting or talking on the phone while driving.
  4. Curfew: Think about heading home when it starts getting dusk out.
  5. Passengers: No more than one at a time.
  6. No speeding.
  7. Don’t drive while sleepy. According to the AAA Foundation, driving sleepy slows reaction time, impairs judgement and is similar to driving drunk.
  8. Drive defensively.
  9. Pay attention. (You would think this would come automatically, but even as adults we need to be reminded.)

Driving is an important responsibility and the way your teen learns to drive today is how they will drive tomorrow. Remind them that driving is a privilege—not to be taken lightly or for granted. Getting behind the wheel can be a great rite of passage…just make sure it’s the right passage they are driving down. How did you handle your teen driving years?

Stay safe wherever you choose to go on the road. Your safety is number one to us. For peace of mind on the road, contact a Foremost agency to talk about an auto insurance policy. The Compass Insurance Group writes Foremost Insurance. 207-790-2300.

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 08:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, October 23 2013

A Message to Teenagers and Their Parents Concerning Safe Driving in Maine From Secretary of State Charlie Summers; 

While obtaining a driver's license is the dream of most teenagers, it can lead to a great amount of anxiety for many parents.   For teenagers, a driver's license means freedom, fun, and becoming an adult.  For most parents, this event brings images of speeding cars and motor vehicle crashes.  There are good reasons to be concerned, as the current statistics regarding young drivers are sobering:

Nearly one young driver is killed each week in Maine;

More than 60 young drivers are injured each week in Maine;

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of young people ages 15 to 24  in both Maine and the nation;

In Maine, 15 to 24 year olds comprise 12.5% of all licensed drivers, but they are involved in 25% of all motor vehicle fatalities and 30% of all injuries.

Most fatalities and injuries among young drivers are the result of driver inexperience and risky driving behavior.  Fortunately, both of these issues can be addressed and significantly reduced when parents take an active role in their teenagers' driver education.

Research indicates that parental involvement in a teen's driver education and training can have a significant impact on the success of a young driver on the road.  This process is most successful when it is interactive - when parents and teenagers communicate with each other in a respectful and meaningful manner.

The process should begin when teens receive their permits and continue during the first several years the young drivers are on the road.  However, for the first few years young people have their licenses, communications between parents and teens are often strained.

One way to increase and improve communication about driving behavior is with a driving contract.  By outlining the duties and responsibilities required for operating a motor vehicle, a contract establishes the expectations or conditions the teenager and parent are expected to meet.  The contract, therefore, attempts to minimize the ambiguities or misunderstandings that can break down vital communication and lead to tragic consequences.

We have provided a sample contract for your consideration.  This contract may be changed to meet the needs of any family, and is intended only as a guide.  Sections may be added or removed based upon a particular family's concerns.

Everyone involved in licensing young drivers wants them to be safe drivers.  Recent improvements to the driver education program and the additional requirement of 35 hours of logged driving time prior to qualifying for a road test have been effective in placing better prepared young drivers on Maine's roadways.  By opening up the lines of communication between parents and new drivers, we can reduce the tragedies that deprive young people of fulfilling their potential. 
Driving Contract For New Drivers and Their Parents 

Here is the link where you can find the contract.  http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/contract.pdf

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 10:36 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 22 2013

Distraction.gov is the official US Government website for distracted driving and a great way to learn more about distracted driving and preventing it. http://www.distraction.gov/

Check out this video on distracted driving: https://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/teendriver.html

Maine also has a new distracted driving law in the last year. See all relevant Maine laws here: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/bystate/me.html

Don't text and drive.

Paul J. Miner
Compass Insurance Group

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 22 2013

One of the best ways to influence your teen drivers habits is to sit in the copilot seat as your teenager learns to drive.
You might feel better about your teenager driving if you had some influence over how your teen handles themselves behind the wheel. Chances are good that you are not a certified driving instructor, chances are also good that you are a better role model than most of your teen's friends who are also just learning to drive. Your influence could make a difference- a difference that could save your teens life.
One way to try to ensure sanity during your practice sessions is to try to focus on just one aspect of driving each time you drive together.
Taking the process in small doses just may provide a way for you and your teen to really cover some ground.

Stay cool as the copilot. Start with the right frame of mind.  Stay Alert. Start with short practice sessions, then build up to longer drives. Start in an empty parking lot and set an easy attainable goal for them for each session. Empty parking lots are great to help them get a feel for turning accurately and starting and stopping smoothly but in a safe environment with no other traffic.  Make sure they can see in all the mirrors, out the windows, adjust the seats as needed. Identify blind spots in your vehicle. Each vehicle has different blind spots so make sure you walk around the outside of the vehicle with them looking in the mirrors and have them identify when they can't see you. That is a blind spot.
Start your drives on quiet residential streets. Map your route in advance. Stress to your teen the importance of always staying alert to parked cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and other hazards like construction. Always stress that a slower cautious appropriate speed is ok at first. Obey the posted speed limits and its ok to go slower sometimes.
Making sure the time is a positive experience and learning experience are essential. Keep your cool and watch your tone of voice.
Your teen is probably convinced that they know just about everything, but chances are they are probably scared to death for once so be calm and move the process along slowly with encouragement. Don't give examples of what not to do. Show them the process of how to do it right all along.  These are just a few of the tips from a brochure I have in my office free to you from Met Life Auto & Home named: "Teaching your Teen to drive, without driving you crazy."
Make sure you understand and follow all local laws regarding drivers education and the process to earn a permit and drivers license.
See Maine laws here:  https://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/teendriver.html

Another excellent program adopted by many states and the State of Maine is the Parent Supervised Driving Program linked below:
http://www.theparentssuperviseddrivingprogram.com/states/me.html

We all want our kids safe as they head out on the road. Lets make sure we do all we can to keep them safe.

 

Posted by: Paul J. Miner AT 10:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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