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By Jones Insurance Services, Jul 5 2018 07:19PM

FoodSafety.gov says that foodborne illnesses increase during the summer due to factors like the warmer weather.

When planning a picnic, or barbecue, stay healthy while enjoying the outdoors by following these food safety recommendations from FoodSafety.gov:

When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:

• Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. You can also use frozen food as a cold source.

• Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.

• Keep your cooler out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Remember that a full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.

• To keep your food cold longer, avoid opening the cooler repeatedly.

When cooking on the grill:

• Prevent cross-contamination from raw meat or poultry juices by washing counter tops and sinks with hot, soapy water. Wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry or its packaging because anything you touch afterwards could become contaminated.

• Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.

• Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures.

• Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve cooked food.

When serving food outdoors:

• Do not sit perishable food out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.

• Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler.

• After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140°F or warmer.

• Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

For more information, visit www.foodsafety.gov and learn fire safety for your next barbecue from the U.S. Fire Administration.

By Jones Insurance Services, May 24 2018 06:00PM

If you plan to barbecue this Memorial Day or anytime this summer, keep yourself, children, pets, and property safe.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends the following tips for preventing burns and controlling the flames while you grill outside:

• Only use your grill outside. Keep it away from siding and deck rails.

• Wear short sleeves or roll them up when cooking on the grill.

• Open your gas grill before lighting.

• Use long-handled barbecue tools.

• Keep a three-foot safe zone around grills, fire pits, and campfires. This will help keep kids and pets safe.

• Never leave your grill, fire pit, or patio torches unattended.

• Clean your grill after each use. This will remove grease that can start a fire.

• Place the coals on your grill in a metal can with a lid once they have cooled.

For more information on first aid for burns or fire prevention during the summer months, visit the USFA Summer Fire Safety page.

By Jones Insurance Services, May 3 2018 07:26PM

Convenience can be costly, and when it comes to passwords, a new study says Americans’ habits are putting them at risk.

According to a new survey, almost half of U.S. consumers (44%) use one to five passwords to access all of their online applications, indicating that for many, using the same password for multiple accounts is common practice.

Additionally, the HSB consumer study found that Americans’ choice of storing these passwords isn’t safe either, as it is more likely they will use a sticky note than a secure password management app.

The survey asked, “Do you use a password organizer?” Only 16% responded yes, while 80% were a resounding “no.” Many said they stored passwords as notes on their smartphones, in computer documents, notebooks and planners, on slips of paper, or saved in emails they send to themselves.

One respondent added that she keeps her passwords on recipe cards. Another business owner said the “universal” passwords that are used by everyone in the company are written down for anyone to view.

To protect yourself, Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB suggests that instead, passwords should be strong and stored in a secure or encrypted location. “Better yet,” Zeilman adds, “use passphrases, choosing random common words that don’t occur together in everyday speech.”

Cyber risks by the numbers

Respondents were also surveyed about their computer health.

Of those polled, one in three respondents (32%) said they experienced a virus, hacking incident, or another form of a cyber attack in the last 12 months. Zeilman says this rate should be falling, but attributes part of the problem to carelessness with passwords and personal security.

As a result of these attacks, respondents say the most common type of damage (81%) suffered was a computer virus or other unwanted software on the system, up from 69% in last year’s survey.

The second most common type of damage at 42% was to software or operating systems.

Zogby Analytics was commissioned by The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB), part of Munich Re, to conduct an online survey of 1,551 adults in the United States. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin for error was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, meaning all other things being equal, the identical survey repeated will have results within the margin of error 95 times out of 100.

By Jones Insurance Services, Apr 5 2018 06:29PM

With the rise of mobile device usage, distracted driving is a significant problem. Here's a look at some alarming statistics:

Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

In 2016, 9.2% of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

Nine percent of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field.

At any given daylight moment across America,approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.​

​Texting while driving is as serious as driving while intoxicated. Don’t text while you drive. Tell your teenagers not to text while they drive. Tell your friends not to text while they drive. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s campaign says: “Stop The Texts. Stop The Wrecks.”

By Jones Insurance Services, Mar 15 2018 08:38PM

Prepare for Spring Tornadoes

Tornadoes can strike in any season but occur most often in the spring and summer months.

Every state has some risk of this hazard. Learn how to prepare ahead of spring with the How to Prepare for a Tornado Guide. It explains how to protect yourself and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly. Tornadoes may develop quickly with little, or no warning.

Follow these tips from Ready.gov to prepare:

1. Sign up for local emergency alerts and warnings. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

2. Look for danger signs including: dark, often greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating); and, loud roar, similar to a freight train. If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

For more information, watch the When the Storm Comes preparedness video and visit Ready.gov/tornadoes.

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