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Your roof may be aging faster than you realize

By Vicki W. Hill

Your roof may be aging faster than you realize

The roof of your home is its first line of defense against the elements. But as a roof ages, its ability to protect lessens. Proper maintenance of your roof, chimney, flashing, vents and gutters can slow the deterioration of your roof.

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Your safety rides on your tires (quiz)

By Cincinnati Insurance

Your safety rides on your tires (quiz)

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You and your passengers depend on your tires for a safe and secure ride. National Tire Safety Week, May 24-30, is a good time to check your tire maintenance procedures. Safercar.gov provides a wealth of tire safety information, including tips for purchasing and maintaining tires. Read the five tips for tire maintenance, then test your knowledge by taking our six-question quiz.

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  • Thanks for taking our quiz, and be sure to stay safe on the road.

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  1. Question 1 of 6
    1. Question

    What is the most important part of maintaining your tires, according to Safercar.gov?






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    Proper tire pressure is the most important part of maintaining your tires.


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    Proper tire pressure is the most important part of maintaining your tires.

  2. Question 2 of 6
    2. Question

    Proper tire inflation levels can vary from vehicle to vehicle and from tire to tire. You can find the correct tire pressure for your car:






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    Check your vehicle owner’s manual or read the Tire and Loading Information Label on the driver’s side door edge.


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    Check your vehicle owner’s manual or read the Tire and Loading Information Label on the driver’s side door edge.

  3. Question 3 of 6
    3. Question

    Keep a tire gauge in your car, and use it to check your tire pressure:

Get ready to fire up the grill! (And do it safely)

By Frank Bova

Get ready to fire up the grill! (And do it safely)

Whether using gas or charcoal, grill safely.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of backyard grilling season. The Insurance Information Institute estimated that Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year.

Unfortunately, each summer season also brings numerous home fires and burn injuries associated with outdoor grilling activities. A study of residential fires by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported:

  • In 2012, about 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
  • In one of every six (16 percent) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
  • Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported gas grill fires.

A few simple tips and reminders to help you start off the grilling season safely:

  • Read the instructions and owner’s manual. If you don’t have instructions or a manual, go to the manufacturer’s website or call their customer service number to obtain a copy.
  • Use the grill as it was intended – for outside use only and in a well ventilated area.
  • Never leave a grill unattended while it is fired up and keep both kids and pets away from the area.
  • When you refill the propane tank or connect the fuel line at the start of the season, use a leak detection solution to ensure that connections are tight and leak free.
  • Keep the grill clean – check for grease and fat in the drip pans before firing up the grill.
  • Never use gasoline to start a charcoal fire. Use only charcoal starter fluid, and read the directions on its use and storage.
  • Dispose of hot coal ash properly to prevent burns or fires, handling ashes only after they are completely cooled.

Along with the grill instructions and operating manual there are numerous sites to visit to learn more about enjoying your cookout by grilling safely.

So fire up your grill safely and enjoy the season!

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Inspect your deck, and put your mind at ease

By Troy Dohmeyer

Inspect your deck, and put your mind at ease

Click for larger infographic.

There are roughly 40 million wood decks in use across the U.S., most of them between 10 and 15 years old, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). While decks do not collapse every day, when they do, people can be injured or killed. You can help protect visitors to your home or business by keeping deck safety in mind.

Permits and licenses
  • As with any building, renovation or addition, be sure the deck has the required planning and building department approvals, including a building permit. Check with your local building department if you don’t have copies of these documents.
  • Engage only licensed tradespeople, and check their license with your state before signing a contract or paying anyone. Furthermore, ensure that they have general liability insurance and adequate coverage limits. Ask for certificate of insurance to verify that the contractor is insured.
  • Check your deck regularly for wear and tear or more serious deterioration. Have an inspection done by a professional if you are unsure what to look for or if you think there are any problems.

Before you entertain on a deck, think about the reasonable number of people that the structure can support. The deck may not have been designed to accommodate large groups of people and lively activities, such as dancing, which can impose a significant additional load.

Maintenance checks

All the components that make up our homes and other buildings – including decks – require routine, regular maintenance to keep them in good repair.

In promoting May as Deck Safety Month, NADRA urges consumers to take time to Check Your Deck

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A refresher on water sport and boating safety

By Steve Heiden

A refresher on water sport and boating safety

Stay safe while enjoying the water this summer.

As we enter the start of summer, people will spend more time on the water skiing, boating and riding personal watercraft.

But with more people on the water comes more potential for injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 80 percent of all recreational boating injuries occur from May to September.

The personal and economic costs of boating injuries are high ̶ in 2013, the Coast Guard counted more than 4,000 accidents involving 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries and nearly $40 million in property damage.

According to the Boats U.S. trade association, 36 percent of boating fatalities involved an accident where someone went overboard, and 18 percent resulted from a collision ̶ usually with a pier or another boat.

What are the five primary contributing factors in recreational boating accidents? Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and defective machinery.

Here are some boating safety tips to prevent you from being injured while on the water this summer:

  • Wear a life jacket – In 2013, the Coast Guard reported 77 percent of boating deaths were caused by drowning, and a shocking 84 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets. Be sure to wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Blow-up mattresses, water wings, foam “noodles” or inner tubes are not a substitute for life jackets.
  • Avoid alcohol – Whether boating, waterskiing or riding personal watercraft, alcohol greatly increases the risks of an accident, regardless of whether the operator or passengers are drinking. Alcohol influences balance, coordination and judgment, and its effects are magnified by the summer sun and heat.According to the Coast Guard, where the primary accident cause is known, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in nearly 16 percent of all fatal boating accidents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates alcohol use may be involved in nearly 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation.
  • Use the buddy system if swimming – Make sure someone knows where you are at all times and know the water terrain. Scan swimming areas for drop-offs, and be aware of hidden obstacles in the water.
  • Watch for rip tides – Rip tides can occur along any coastline. Signs of a rip tide include discolored or foamy water that moves in a narrow channel away from the shore. If you find yourself caught in a rip tide, remember to swim parallel to shore until you’re …read more

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Keep exercise equipment in tip-top shape

By Brian Rawlings

Keep exercise equipment in tip-top shape

Keep stability balls and resistance bands maintained.

Gym owners demonstrate concern for member safety and well-being by making sure the club offers good, safe equipment.

You employ and train lifeguards for pool safety; make sure weights are re-racked and do not create a trip hazard; clear walkways; and see that treadmills and weight machines receive regular service and maintenance.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook two common pieces of exercise equipment when doing risk assessments and inspections: rubber stability balls and resistance bands. It’s important to evaluate how this equipment could affect member safety.

Common issues can include:

  • Over-inflating exercise balls
  • Not following manufacturers’ recommendations for use
  • Storing equipment in high temperatures that can cause material to deteriorate
  • Using excessive weight – as with heavy dumbbells – in conjunction with an exercise ball
  • Neglecting repair and replacement when punctures or wear weaken the ball
  • Failing to prevent conditions that allow exercise bands to break or snap back on the user

Most of these concerns are fairly easy to alleviate with some simple steps:

  • Add the stability balls and exercise bands to your checklist for daily inspections – look for nicks, scratches, cuts, punctures or evidence of wear and tear
  • Have stability balls used on an exercise mat and make sure the area is clear of obstructions
  • Post rules for the amount of weight that can be used in conjunction with a ball and instruct users to inform staff of any concerns
  • Check inflation rate periodically
  • Routinely clean stability balls with a mild soap and water, as chemicals may compromise the fabric
  • Keep records of date of purchase and note the replacement cycle of each ball
  • Post guidance for using resistance bands: do not place handles over feet or stretch the band to more than 2.5 times its length
  • Wipe bands regularly with just a damp cloth and store at room temperature

In recent years there have also been a number of recalls on stability balls and exercise bands. Check with the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recall notices.

Educating your members and staff on the proper usage and maintenance of stability balls and exercise bands can help assure the equipment – and your members – stay in good shape!

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You can’t replace Mom, but insurance can help life go on

By Ronda Bradley

You can't replace Mom, but insurance can help life go on

Consider the roles a mom plays, and what would happen if she weren’t there to take care of things.

How do you define “mom”? Her value is certainly more than any of the roles she might play: breadwinner, cook, server, dishwasher, psychologist, facilities manager, laundry operator, housekeeper, bookkeeper, daycare teacher, interior designer/decorator, nurse, chauffeur, janitor and computer operator.

Mothers are what made your life possible, yet in many cases their role is by far the most undervalued of all positions in which one could serve. We fail to consider what would happen if she weren’t there to handle things. How would the family continue with the plans for the future? College? Retirement? The value of a mom’s work has been estimated as high as $118,000 per year. The Mom Salary Wizard at salary.com can provide a customized value of the work of a mother.

Mike Tiernan, actuary and assistant secretary for The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company, knows all too well the value of a mother and the important role life insurance can play in securing the future.

“I wouldn’t be working for Cincinnati Life if it weren’t for life insurance,” says Mike. He and his wife, Diane, were working as underwriters for Cincinnati Insurance. When they purchased a home, they made the critical decision to also purchase life insurance to insure their mortgage. They never really thought they’d need it, but it would be plenty to cover the mortgage should one of them pass unexpectedly.

A couple of years later, Mike and Diane were finalizing the adoption of their son when she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, making her uninsurable. The doctors felt that based on her young age and otherwise good health, Diane could live a normal life with a transplant, so she was placed on a transplant list. Life went on as normal as possible with her condition. When their son was about 2

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The insurance side of house flipping

By Chris Beckman

The insurance side of house flipping

Remember insurance needs when flipping a house.

It’s a classic TV reality show scenario: A young, ambitious couple purchases a foreclosed property and flips it for a huge profit. This quick cash flow seems too good to be true…and usually is.

The thrill of flipping a home often overshadows the harsh reality that profitable house-flipping opportunities are few and far between. I can honestly speak from experience. My wife and I were one of these young, ambitious couples that decided to dabble in the exciting world of house flipping. Although the experience was rewarding and challenging at the same time, we learned some valuable lessons. Potential house flippers should consider some insurance coverage issues before making a commitment:

  • Contemplate the cost of insurance when purchasing a home. If the house does not sell within a few months, insurance is a continuing expense that needs to be included in your budget.
  • Make sure you do your research when selecting an insurance company and policy. Your local independent agent can help you. Some insurance policies provide additional coverages you may need. Consider choosing one that provides limited coverage for water damage and fungi, wet or dry rot or bacteria. These issues often go unnoticed until after a remodeling project begins.
  • Discuss with your agent insurance to value – the need to insure the home for its reconstruction cost. Just because you purchased a home for a certain price does not mean that the home can be replaced for that amount. There can be a huge discrepancy between market and replacement cost values. Your agent can also recommend builders’ risk coverage for the remodeling cost of the project.
  • Consider the cost of building materials going into the refurbished home. Your insurance agent can add an installation floater – coverage for movable property – to your policy to insure construction materials in transit and at the jobsite.
  • Allow plenty of time to purchase insurance rather than waiting until the last minute. Contact your agent and consider an insurance company that will provide coverage for a house undergoing renovation. Some companies may consider this a vacant home and deny or limit coverage for vandalism, theft or other perils.
  • Before you allow contractors to start work on your investment, first confirm that they are insured. The safest bet is to request a copy of each contractor’s general liability policy declarations page. Make sure that the policy has at least a $1 million …read more

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