Be Prepared Before the Next Disaster

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), September’s designation as National Preparedness Month was put in place in 2004 to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. FEMA campaigns each September to educate Americans on how to prepare for and respond to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

It’s critically important to prepare for possible disasters and other emergencies. Natural and human-caused disasters can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere.

The devastating floods, hurricanes, and wildfires of last year and so far this year have reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters.

Here are 13 Ways to Prepare:

  1. Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
  2. Create your emergency plan and test it.
  3. Find the water and gas valves for your home and learn how to shut off.
  4. Assemble or update your disaster kit.
  5. Learn life-saving skills such as CPR and first aid.
  6. Conduct a drill to practice emergency response actions for local hazards.
  7. Participate in a preparedness discussion, training, or class.
  8. Collect and safeguard critical documents.
  9. Document your property and obtain appropriate insurance for hazards that may occur near your home.
  10. Make improvements to your home to reduce potential injury or property damage.
  11. Conduct a disaster exercise to review and improve your emergency plan.
  12. Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources.
  13. Contact our agency to review your insurance policies and coverage for hazards you may face such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires.

Emergencies can happen at any time and in any place. Follow these tips to make sure you’re prepared for whatever happens!

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Celebrate the First Day of Fall Next Week

The first day of fall is on Sept. 22, which means it’s time to put away your flip-flops and break out the cozy sweaters as you enjoy colorful leaves, juicy apples, and festive pumpkins.

Getting excited yet? So are we! And to properly celebrate the season, we’ve rounded up our favorite ways to enjoy fall:

  1. Watch the Leaves Change
  2. 
Nothing says autumn quite like the sudden burst of red, orange, yellow, and gold leaves emerging from treetops.

  3. Don’t Forget the Pumpkins
  4. While pumpkins make for festive tabletop accessories and spooky Halloween decor, they are also pretty darn delicious. One of our favorite ways to enjoy them? By toasting their seeds into addicting fall snacks, of course.

  5. Get Your House Ready For Fall
  6. No, we’re not talking about turning your home into the ultimate haunted house. Before the cold weather and shorter days set in, you’ll want to get your house in tip-top shape — that means gutter cleaning, furnace tune-ups, roof inspections, and more.

OK, so maybe this last one isn’t the most fun way to celebrate fall, but we promise you’ll feel like a million bucks once you’re finished.

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September Is Life Insurance Awareness Month

I recently heard a story from a friend of mine who is also an Insurance Agent. I wanted to share it with you to help stress how critically important having the proper Life Insurance coverage for your family is.

Last spring, tragedy hit very abruptly. My friend’s agency had quoted a customer and his family for a Life Insurance policy that would have cost them less than what an average cup of coffee costs per day. The husband had come to the agency to talk about increasing his Life Insurance coverage (he already had a very small policy through his work in place, but not sufficient to fully protect his family), but decided he needed to wait and speak with his wife about the decision first.

That was a Wednesday morning. Saturday afternoon the husband was driving and his car was hit by an oncoming driver who crossed the center line on a two-lane road. He was killed instantly, unexpectedly, and of course, very tragically.

As a result of all the family’s bills and costs after the husband’s death, on top of losing her husband and children’s father, the wife was forced to sell her home to get an apartment. The children were taken out of the school they had always gone to, leave all their friends behind, and move across town. Not to mention, going from a stay-at-home mom to a full-time worker for the first time in years, as the husband had been the family’s only breadwinner. Stories like this one do not have happy endings, nor do they have the financial stability to allow the family to properly grieve and try to continue living their lives as normally as possible after their loss.

While it is easy to overlook, life insurance is an absolute necessity to protect your and your family’s financial future. Life insurance is a necessity that you need today to help you prepare for tomorrow. In the event of a tragedy, life insurance can help make an extremely difficult time just a little bit easier, giving your loved ones the financial security they will need.

Your family can use a life insurance payout to cover your mortgage or other routine bills that may burden your family while they recover from the loss. It can also help finance the future needs of your family – stepping in to cover the costs of college or your spouse’s retirement.

Even if you already have a life insurance policy, please consider reviewing your coverage this month to ensure that you have the proper policy for yours and your family’s needs. Many big life events, such as having children or buying a home, can affect your life insurance needs, and we’re here to help make sure you’ve got the protection you need, no matter what life throws your way.

September is Life Insurance Awareness month. Give us a call or come by the office this month to make sure you have the proper insurance you need to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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Happy Early Labor Day!

Our agency will be closed on Monday, September 6th in observance of the holiday. We will return to normal business hours on Tuesday, September 7th.

Many people celebrate Labor Day, also known as the unofficial end of summer, by being off work. Our agency will celebrate by being closed and at home enjoying the holiday as well.

Here are a few fun facts about Labor Day:

  • The first U. S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. The parade that day involved 10,000 workers on unpaid leave. They marched from City Hall to Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic and speeches.

  • The first Labor Day is said to have been organized by Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary Peter J. McGuire.

  • Congress passed an act on June 28, 1894 making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.

  • In the late 1800’s the average American worked a 12-hour workday, seven days a week, just to earn a basic living. Children as young as 5 years old worked in mines and factories.

  • The 8-hour workday was established by the Adamson Act of 1916.

We hope that you and your family have a happy, safe Labor Day holiday!

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Recipe of the Month: Peanut Butter Strawberry Bars

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and the kids are heading back to school. These peanut butter and jelly bars make a great snack to slip into their lunch boxes!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves or jam
  • 1 quart strawberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and stir well.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the peanut butter mixture. Stir.
  4. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until the center is barely firm.
  5. Remove from oven and cool.
  6. While bars are baking, hull and slice strawberries. Once the base is cool, spread with jam and top with sliced strawberries. Cut into bars and serve.

Enjoy!

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The Seventh Side of Leadership is a Serving Heart

As we bring our 7 Sides of Leadership series to completion – the seventh side of leadership as outlined in Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence is servingand that is the hardest dimension of leadership for many people to grasp. There are many five– and six-sided leaders in the world. They’re good at what they do, but they fall just one or two notches short of true leadership excellence.

What are they missing? They lack a serving heart.

The other six sides of leadership are nouns:vision, communication, people skills, character, competence, and boldness. But the seventh side of leadership is a verb – an action word: serving. When a leader SERVES his subordinates, team, or clients, that leader is taking action.

We have not attained positions of leadership and authority merely for the purpose of dominating our followers and subordinates. We lead people in order to actively serve them.

The traditional organization business model is depicted as a pyramid, with the leader at the apex and all the underlings and drones spreading out beneath. The leader is the boss, and everyone beneath exists to serve the leader, the leader’s goals, and even the leader’s whims. But serving leaders stand the pyramid on its head. Yes, the leader still has authority, they are still in command, still takes charge; but the people in the organization no longer exist to serve the leader. The leader exists to serve the people.

In order to achieve a leadership vision, everyone on the team or organization must be willing and ready at all times to sacrifice. We must be able to sacrifice comfort, sleep, safety, financial gain, reputation, and individual goals in order to achieve the common good, the common goal, and the common vision. There is no serving without willingness – even eagerness – to sacrifice. That is the life of a serving leader.

What’s old is new again. The serving-leadership model of the future is also centuries-old wisdom from the past. Even though bosses still boss people around today, many LEADERS are rediscovering the most ancient, most effective, most powerful leadership model of all: a serving heart. Only leaders who serve should serve as leaders. Leadership is serving, and serving is sacrifice.

One of the most ironic and paradoxical truths of serving-leadership is that if you set your ego and ambitions aside and become a true servant to your people, you can become a great leader. But you have to mean it. You have to be the sincere and humble mindset of a servant, or it will all just be a meaningless pose.

Throughout this series, I have given you my cliff notes of Pat’s book but nothing compares to reading the full book yourself. Be sure to check out Pat Williams Leadership Excellence. It is a quick, easy read as he tells many stories and gives great examples.

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If a Claim Happens To You

Over the last month or two, there has been bad weather and storms devastating many areas of our country. I want to share with you the importance of filing an insurance claim the RIGHT way with the RIGHT DATES so that you are prepared in case you find yourself needing to file a claim.

It can really make a HUGE difference when filing a claim, especially when it pertains to wind, hail, or lightning damage. If it isn’t turned in with the correct date, it COULD CAUSE an increase in premium and loss of discounts as a chargeable claim.

If you must make a claim, you will need the following:

  • Pictures or video of items of value
  • Receipts for large purchases
  • Serial numbers for the items that require them

Be sure to keep all records in a safe place – like a fire safe lock box or a safety deposit box.

One of the most important reasons to do business with our agency is the assistance we provide when you’ve had a loss. It is CRUCIALLY important to check in with our office EVERY time for advice BEFORE filing a claim.

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5 Simple Ways To Cut Down On Energy Use

Did you know that the average home spends about $1600 a year on energy costs? It’s true that the cost of energy, i.e. your water and electric bills, can really add up if you don’t pay close attention to it, especially during the warmer summer months while the AC is running all day long. Here are a few simple ways that you can lower your energy bills and help save the environment at the same time!

  1. Be a Speedy Chef – Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than your microwave. It uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.
  2. Push a Button to Wash Your Dishes – Surprise! Your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Then let dishes air-dry to save even more!
  3. Fill Up the Fridge – Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to stay cool.
  4. Adjust the Thermostat – Set your thermostat so that it is cooler when you are home and warmer when you are away. Use ceiling or room fans – the air movement will help cool the room.
  5. Eliminate Wasted Energy – Turn off appliances, lights, and electronic devices when not in use. Unplug any unnecessary electronic devices and chargers. Many new electronics use electricity even when switched “off.”

These tips are designed to help you choose effective ways to reduce your energy bills. Some measures may not be relevant depending on climate, the age of your home/appliances, and past improvements made to your home.
 
Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to reduce energy consumption while saving money. Use the tips above to help reduce your energy use this summer and help the environment.

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August is National Eye Exam Month

August is National Eye Exam Month, making it the perfect time to get your eyes tested. An eye exam evaluates your vision and checks for eye diseases. Early detection is important when it comes to eye trouble. Regular eye exams give your optometrists a chance to correct vision changes as well as give you tips on the best way to care for your eyes.

Many optometrists offer specials or discounts on exams during August, so call today and make an appointment. Here are a few things you should know about eye exams.

How Often Should Your Eyes Be Examined? A number of different factors will determine how often you should have your eyes examined. Everything from your age, health, and family history can affect your chances of developing an eye problem.

Here are a few general guidelines:

  • Children – Kids under the age of three will normally have their eyes examined by their pediatrician. The doctor will look for the most common eye issues such as crossed eyes, lazy eyes, and turned-out eyes. A child should have a comprehensive eye exam between the ages of three and five.
  • School Age Kids – Optometrists recommend that children have their vision checked before they enter the first grade. If there are no issues and no family history of vision problems their eyes will not need to be rechecked for a couple of years. If the doctor finds an issue or if you have a family history of eye problems, your eye doctor will advise you on how often a recheck should be done.
  • Adults – Healthy adults with no symptoms of vision issues should have their eyes checked every five to 10 years between the ages of 20 and 40. Once you are between the ages of 40 and 65 it is advised that you have your eyes tested every two to four years and every one to two years once you have hit 65. If you currently wear glasses or have a history of eye disease in your family more frequent checkups are recommended.

If you’re anything like me and have been putting off going to the eye doctor, it’s time for a checkup! To celebrate National Eye Exam Month, call your local optometrist to schedule your eye exam!

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Recipe of the Month- Campfire Grill Packs

Growing up, my mom would make these easy “Ready-to-Grill” packs during long summer days outside or when the family was going camping. She’d put everything inside aluminum foil and keep it in a cooler until ready to throw on the grill. Delicious and easy, plus made for some great memories!

What You’ll Need

  • 1 lb of cubed boneless chicken
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Other spices for favorites flavors

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients into bowl and mix together well. 
  2. Divide evenly onto four pieces of aluminum foil, the wrap tightly and fold edges. Store in cooler or fridge until ready to put on the grill or over the campfire.
  3. Place aluminum packs on grill or in campfire until done (approx. 35-40 minutes)
  4. Allow to cool for about 3-5 minutes
    *CAUTION: Be careful when opening the packs, the steam will be HOT!
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