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By Jones Insurance Services, Mar 8 2018 08:42PM

Spring Forward and Test Your Smoke Alarms for Daylight Saving Time

Get ready to spring forward for Daylight Saving Time!

Set your clock ahead one hour on Sunday, March 11. Use this as a reminder to push the test button on your alarm. If your alarm does not sound, you should replace the battery.

A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all. Take care of the alarm according to its instructions. Follow these tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

• Smoke alarm powered by a nine-volt battery: Test the alarm each month. Replace the batteries every year. Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

• Smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium battery: Test the alarm each month. Since you cannot replace the lithium battery, replace the entire smoke alarm according to the alarm instructions.

• Smoke alarm hardwired into your home's electrical system: Test the alarm each month. Replace the backup battery every year. Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Check the expiration dates of your emergency supplies during Daylight Saving Time, too. Replace any stocked goods that will expire in the next six months. Use the old supplies before they expire. Some examples of items that can expire are:

• Water

• Food

• Prescription medications

• First-aid supplies

• Batteries

For more information on emergency supplies, visit

By Jones Insurance Services, Sep 7 2017 08:20PM

Sep 07, 2017 | By Jayleen R. Heft,

As a potentially catastrophic hurricane threatens the United States, what actions should property owners in the predicted path of the storm take to prepare?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides invaluable advice on what you should do when you recevie a hurricane watch (conditions possible within the next 48 hours) or hurricane warning (conditions are expected within 36 hours) alert from the National Weather Service for your area.

As the hurricane approaches, here's a checklist of what to do as the storm approaches, broken down by hours: 

What to do when a hurricane is 48 hours from arriving

Review your evacuation route(s) & listen to local officials.

Review the items in your disaster supply kit; and add items to meet the household needs for children, parents, individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs or pets.

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving

Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.

Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

Follow this hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.

Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.

Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.

Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving

Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

What to do when a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving

If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.

Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

After a hurricane

Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.

Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

Watch out for debris and downed power lines.

Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.

Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.

Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

By Jones Insurance Services, Aug 16 2017 05:59PM

Aug 15, 2017 | By Jayleen R. Heft,

The United States will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918, on Monday, August 21.

An estimated 500 million people across North America will be impacted as the moon passes between the sun and Earth in the 70-mile wide path of the total eclipse.

Path of totality

The path of totality will track across the U.S. from the Northwest to the Southeast through these states: Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The shadow outside that track will affect North and Central America, parts of South America and northwestern Europe.

The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.  Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through all 12 states. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT.

From there, the lunar shadow finally leaves the U.S. at 4:09 p.m. EDT.  

In the path of totality, the sun will be blocked for about 2 minutes and the sun’s hidden solar corona — its outer atmosphere — will become visible and create eerie diamond rings of light, weather permitting. NASA describes it as one of nature’s most awesome sights.

Travel concerns & more

How will the total solar eclipse impact drivers, observers and communities? Keep reading for safety tips and possible risk management issues many American's may experience on Monday:

1. Last-minute travel is discouraged.

If you have plans to travel, arrive a day or two early, suggests Bryan Brewer, author of the first edition of "Eclipse: History. Science. Awe." Then stay put, as last-minute travel may be difficult on public roadways.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination throughout the weekend. Traffic will be heavy with large crowds going to and from events all weekend.

Many small towns within the path of the eclipse expect their infrastructure and community services to be stretched to the limit during the event, says the U.S. Department of the Interior. Be early and patient. Don’t expect cell-phone reception as it's already spotty in rural areas and may be overtaxed by the high number of users.

2. Be prepared for heavy traffic, delays and headaches.

The Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and the Wyoming Department of Transportation recommend the following tips if you plan to travel to areas within the "totality" path of the eclipse:

Pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. Drive defensively because there will be more motorists on the road, and some of them may be slowing down or may not be paying attention when the eclipse is occurring.

Ensure vehicles have plenty of fuel.

Don’t take photographs while driving.

Turn your headlights on and don't rely on your automatic headlights.

Don’t stop and pull off onto the side of the roads.

Don’t use the center median crossings on the interstates for turning around or parking. Those crossings are for authorized vehicles. Emergency vehicles need to keep these areas clear for response to emergency situations.

Don’t park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. That can not only be dangerous for you and other drivers, but a person’s car exhaust could start a grass fire.

Watch out for increased pedestrian traffic along smaller roads. People may randomly park and walking alongside roads in the hour before the total eclipse to get the best viewing. 

Plan ahead and move to a safe and legal area prior to the eclipse so you can enjoy the experience.

Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. It's unknown how busy traffic will be, but with hotels and campsites sold out, authorities are expecting large amounts of traffic surrounding this momentous event.

Boater safety

If you plan to be on the water during the eclipse, make sure that your boat has proper lighting. Be aware of your surroundings leading up to the eclipse. You should also keep a safe distance between yourself and other boaters.

3. Wear eclipse glasses for eye protection.

Experts stress that the only safe way to look directly at the sun, except at the brief phase of totality (in the path of totality), is using a special-purpose solar filter, popularly known as eclipse glasses. Eclipse glasses block more UV rays than everyday sunglasses, protecting your retinas from burning even when you feel no discomfort looking at the sun through shades.

NASA offers the following solar eclipse viewing safety guidelines:

Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

Always supervise children using solar filters.

Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.

Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.

If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.

  Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

4. Be wary of phony glasses.

Make sure that your eclipse safety glasses or viewers are certified as meeting ISO standards for safe solar viewing. The current standard for safe solar viewing is ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has warned that the market is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they're compliant with the international safety standard for filters enabling direct viewing of the Sun, but in fact are not. 

Amazon has offered refunds on some solar eclipse glasses purchased via its site, citing concerns about consumer safety.

The AAS and NASA have posted a list of reputable solar filter brands, retail distributors and online dealers. See also: How to avoid buying 'bogus' solar eclipse glasses.

5. The total eclipse will blot out solar panels.

There are thousands and thousands of solar panels across the country that will suddenly be switched off as the sun slips behind the moon, according to the Denver Post.

The eclipse will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow across the country knocking out photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays from Oregon to South Carolina, briefly turning off as much as 9,000 megawatts (MW) of generation. That’s equal to 11 of Xcel Energy’s biggest Colorado power plants.

Related: The renewable energy market

The last time there was a nationwide total eclipse was in 1918, long before solar energy was a thing.

While the eclipse is national, its shadow will fall heaviest in the West where solar has been deeply embraced. Four of the six top states for solar installations — California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah — are located in the region. Some days, California gets as much as 40% of its electricity from solar arrays.

The West will experience biggest impact

The West alone could see the loss of as much as 7,000 MW spread over time, according to Brett Wangen, director of engineering at Peak Reliability, the organization responsible for assuring the dependable operation of the region’s power grid.

Wangen said the “biggest risk” is in California, where 80% of the state is served by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Between about 9 a.m. and noon on the day of the eclipse, CAISO expects to lose 4,194 MW of utility-scale solar and 1,365 MW of rooftop solar, according to Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for the agency.

If your house has solar panels for electricity, you should be able to notice a power drop in the output of your panels, which will reach a minimum when the sun is in full eclipse, according to NASA. Power levels will recover as the moon moves away from the sun. 

6. Prepare for things to get chilly.

If you've never experienced it before, the lack of heat coming from the sun can feel both surprising and alarming. Prepare for the cooling temperatures the same way you'd prepare for sundown. Temperatures may drop by as much as 20-to-30 degrees Fahrenheit in some places over the course of an hour or two, according to Forbes.

When 80% of the sunlight is blocked, you won't notice a difference in brightness, but your skin will. 

7. Hikers, wildfire danger could cause chaos during solar eclipse.

Millions of visitors are projected to swarm the forests and mountains in states within the eclipse path of totality, right at the time wildfire danger and summer tourism is reaching its apex.

The nightmare scenario is a wildfire breaking out while roads are clogged with cars and campgrounds filled with people.

But there's also concern about thousands of people fighting for just a few open campsites, along with hikers attempting to climb dangerous mountains. 

“The thing we’re worried about is people waking up the morning of the eclipse, heading out and expecting to find a campsite or beautiful place to view it,” said Cody Norris, public information officer for Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and USA Today.

“Don’t show up at the last minute," Norris said. "And once you’re here, be prepared to get stuck somewhere for a long time.” 

Virtually all public campsites that can be reserved within the eclipse path were snapped up long ago.

8. General aviation will be significantly impacted.

The total solar eclipse that will take place across the U.S. on August 21, is having a significant impact on general aviation, according to AVWeb.

In Oregon, general aviation airports in the path of totality are reporting that they are fully booked up for the event. Pilots will be camping out with their airplanes.

In Nebraska, Diana Smith, manager of the Beatrice Municipal Airport, told the Nebraska Radio Network she’s heard from pilots across the country who want to fly in for the eclipse. “I would say it will probably be the [most traffic] that we’ve seen at one time, especially since everybody will be coming in all at once,” she said. The airport will close its diagonal runway to park the overflow of aircraft. 

9. Landowner liability for camping & eclipse viewing.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) is suggesting landowners may want to brush up on potential liability issues if they are planning to open up their land for camping and eclipse viewing.

In Nebraska, for example, landowners have legal protection against tourist personal injury liability if they do not charge a fee to campers or eclipse viewers. If they do charge a fee, they must meet 2015 Nebraska agritourism legal requirements in order to reduce their injury liability risk.

Property owners may be liable for damages resulting from injuries occurring on their property. A common example would be a slip-and-fall lawsuit against a retail store. This “premises liability” is not limited to business premises; however, it basically extends to all property, including farm and ranch land.

Landowners are encouraged to contact their insurance agents regarding whether current liability insurance will cover any eclipse-related incidents. 

By Jones Insurance Services, Aug 11 2017 05:56PM

Found on written Aug 04, 2017 | By Peter P. Duncanson.

Summer may be a time for sunshine, warm weather and outdoor fun, but it also brings with it the risk of severe storms and danger to both people and property.

Fortunately, summer weather safety is all about knowing the risks and how to prepare for them. Here's what you need to know to keep your family and home protected this season.

Know your summer weather safety risks

Those late-afternoon summer showers may be good for your lawn, but they can also spell trouble for your home. Thunderstorms are especially common during the summertime and bring heavy rains that can cause flooding, along with lightning that poses a danger to trees, homes and people alike. Then there's hail, which is capable of substantial property damage along with serious and, in some cases, even deadly injuries.

Summer is also prime tornado season in some regions. Typically spawning from an especially violent storm cell, tornadoes are among nature's most powerful phenomena, possessing an unpredictability that makes them especially dangerous. Potential wind speeds over 200 mph mean tornadoes are capable of destroying entire buildings, and each year they claim dozens of lives while injuring hundreds.

Unlike the relatively confined damage of a tornado, the destructive power of a hurricane can affect entire cities or regions. Summer falls squarely within hurricane season, making it a risky time of year for those who live in hurricane-prone areas. Flooding, high winds and coastal erosion are just some of the hazards these superstorms offer.

Knowing the highest storm risks for the area you live is important, but always remember that severe storm damage of one form or another can happen anywhere. You may not have to worry about coastal hurricanes in Oklahoma, but these powerful storms can still create dangerous subsystems that push inland, raise water levels and increase the risk of flooding.

Meanwhile, "Tornado Alley" might be our nation's twister hotspot, but historically, tornadoes have been sighted in all 50 states and every continent except Antarctica, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How to prepare for severe storms

The best way to keep your family and property safe during severe summer weather is to be prepared. Here are some basic guidelines to help you and your family with summer storm preparedness:

Keep your home storm-ready. This includes keeping your roof and windows in good repair and having storm shutters or boards available as needed. Remove loose items around your property that could get swept up by strong winds.

Create an emergency kit. Have one or more emergency preparedness kits accessible within the home. Your kit should include medical supplies, drinking water and nonperishable food, flashlights and other power-outage gear, pet supplies, and other essentials.

Verify your insurance coverage to make sure you're protected. Remember that standard homeowner's policies don't cover flooding; special flood insurance is required.

Inventory and photograph valuables within your home in case you need to file an insurance claim later.

Gas up your car before a bad weather system hits in case you need to evacuate quickly.

Look out for severe weather watches and warnings, and pay attention to emergency weather alerts that might include evacuation instructions or other important notices.

Know your local evacuation routes, as well as the location of storm shelters in case you're unable to leave the immediate area.

What to do after a storm

After a storm hits, the danger may not be over. Use caution in returning to the scene of a disaster and keep the following in mind:

Don't re-enter your home unless it is safe to do so. Structural damage, fire risk and even electrical hazards may exist under certain conditions.

When it's safe, document any damage to your property. Take photos and video along with a written summary.

Contact your insurance agent to begin the claims process.

Begin the inspection and cleanup process of your property as soon as possible after contacting your insurance agent to save your home and belongings from as much damage as you can.

Everyone loves summertime, but dangerous storms can put a damper on summer fun in a hurry. Stay aware of the weather safety risks where you live, and make sure that you are well prepared in the event of an emergency. A little planning can go a long way toward keeping your property and your family safe, all summer long.

Peter Duncanson is director of business process and branch operations for ServiceMaster Restore, and chairman of the board for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). He can be reached at

By Jones Insurance Services, Jul 31 2017 05:31PM

This article was found on on Jul 31, 2017 | By Rosalie L. Donlon, Denny Jacob

Summer is a favorite time of the year for many with warm, sunny days. But it's important to remember extremely hot summer temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly. 

During periods of elevated temperature, your body must work more intensely to maintain its internal temperature of 98.6 degrees, leading to the threat of dehydration, among other things. Beyond the risks to people, extreme heat increases a number of exposures. For example, vehicles can break down if there aren't enough fluids to keep the car cool and functional as it reacts to the increased heat. 

Of the numerous risks that can occur with increased heat, a heatstroke is often overlooked. Children, especially those under a year old, are at risk because their body's temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's, and they're often too young to alert others for help. 

In the span of 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees — enough to kill a child left alone in a vehicle. On July 31, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will tweet every 15 minutes for 24 hours to raise awareness about the dangers of heatstroke. You can follow the conversation through NHTSA's Twitter page and participate using the hashtag #HeatstrokeKills.

The risks of vehicular heatstroke

Vehicular heatstroke happens when a child is left or trapped inside a car or truck. As NHTSA explains, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise high enough to kill a child—even when it doesn’t feel that hot outside. Understanding how and why these tragedies happen is the key to protecting our children. In 54% of cases, the child was forgotten by the caregiver. In 28% of cases, children got into the vehicle on their own. 

High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death. It begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal. 

Regardless of the temperature, heatstrokes pose a risk at any given time; they can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. Heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit or less — rolling down a window does little keep a vehicle cool.

The warning signs of a heatstroke can vary, but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; a throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; being grouchy or acting strangely. 

Follow these five tips from NHTSA to keep children safe from vehicular heatstroke:

1. Look before you lock

Get into the routine of always checking the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away. It sounds unthinkable that you'd forget your child in the back seat, but if the child is asleep and you're distracted or in a rush to get somewhere, it does happen.

2.Have a gentle reminder

Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place your phone, briefcase or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.

3. Do a routine check

If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely. Set a reminder on your phone to call and check in. 

4.Keep track of your car keys

Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle. 

If you have a newer model car that has a keyless entry, check with the vehicle's manufacturer on ways to keep children from getting into the car unsupervised.

5. Act to save a life

You should act if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Call law enforcement immediately, and free the child from the vehicle to protect that child’s life. Don't be afraid to break a window if necessary.


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