Game time countdown! Pre-Super Bowl fun

For the last three years, Teddy the Porcupine has correctly predicted the Super Bowl winners. Will he keep his winning streak going with his 2015 pre=game prediction?

We can’t get enough bad lip-reading clips – here’s the 2015 edition.

The older cat teaches baby kitten what to expect on Super Bowl day – it’s a commercial, but a darn cute one.

If football isn’t your thing, don’t forget about Puppy Bowl XI – here’s a preview and a little pregame analysis.

Speaking of commercials, here are some picks for the 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time as well as 5 of the biggest blunders over the years. If you don’t want to wait to see what will be unveiled this year, you can check out the 2015 Super Bowl ads in advance right from your computer.

As for snacks, we’ll have trouble finding a better suggestion than our prior advice on Building a Super Bowl Snack Stadium. Here are 8 more Super bowl snackadiums if you’d lie some variations.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, you want to ensure that things stay fun — take a few minutes to review this handy guide on Social Host Liability.

Blizzard damage: what your insurance covers

It was one for the record books for many in New England. When assessing damage, the Insurance Information Institute reminds us that:

“Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer of the I.I.I. “Car accidents caused by slippery road conditions are also covered under standard auto insurance policies.”

See Concerned About Winter Storm Damage To Your Home Or Car? I.I.I. Reviews What’s Covered by Your Insurance – call your local independent agent if you have questions.

New England begins is digging out today. When digging out, remember to clear your exhaust pipes in your car and your home.

Here’s a retrospect of a few storm-related images.

New England Blizzard Watch Toolkit

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We’re expecting a severe weather event later today that will measure the snow in feet, not inches. According to most reports, snow will begin this afternoon, intensify during the evening, continue all day tomorrow and taper off either overnight or early Wednesday. It’s been classified as a blizzard  — and in case you need a name to curse, this storm has been dubbed “Juno.”

NWS Taunton Skywarn offers the Latest NWS Graphics on the potentially historic blizzard, noting that “Accumulating snows arrives this afternoon & impacts the late day commute across RI & Eastern MA. Then heavy snow arrives later tonight into Tue morning with historic snowfall possible before the storm pulls away late Tue night or early Wed. In addition Hurricane Force Wind gusts are likely across Cape Cod & the Islands late tonight into Tue morning. This will likely result in down tree limbs and at least scattered power outages.”

As of this morning, more than 2,000 flights have been cancelled. CNN offers info on What you need to know if you’re traveling

We’ve been tracking developments on our New England weather twitter feed, a compilation of breaking tweets from regional meteorologists – Twitter is a great source for breaking news so if you don’t have the app on your phone, you may want to think about doing that pre-storm. For a view beyond New England, meteorologist Eric Holthaus offers a go-to weather climate list of hundreds of weather watchers.

Here are resources to have handy as the storm approaches:

National Weather Service – (NWS Twitter)

State Emergency Departments – websites / Twitter feeds

Connecticut  – (@CTDEMHS)

Maine – (@MaineEMA)

Massachusetts – (@MassEMA)

New Hampshire – (@NH_HSEM)

Rhode Island – (@RhodeIslandEMA)

Vermont – (@vemvt)

Handy tips

Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide – emergency tips for before, during and after a storm

Winter Storm Preparedness – Red Cross

Power Outages During Cold Weather

Preventing frozen pipes: tips from the experts

Winter fires (PDF)

Before and after winter storms: advance planning and filing claims

Snow shoveling and snow removal safety

Sharing the road with snow plows & more winter driving tips

Are you ready for snowy, icy roads? Hone your winter driving skills

Winter Driving Tips

The Idiots on Ladders Award

Unsafe ladder use

It’s usually fun to win a contest, but here’s one contest we hope you never win: the annual Idiots on Ladders Contest. This dubious distinction is a recognition by the UK’s Ladder Association, which solicits entries all year on their Facebook page. You can see a gallery of photos this year’s “Biggest idiot” along with several runners up at EHS Today, a publication aimed at health & safety safety professionals.

While this might seem like a laughing matter at first glance, the reality is that this “award” is a clever way to call attention to a serious issue. Here in the U.S., falls are the second leading causes of accidental home-related deaths and the leading cause of deaths on construction sites. Many of these are ladder related. Note the statistics from Consumer Reports, Don’t let a ladder be your downfall:

“Whether it’s cleaning your gutters or hanging holiday decorations, you might have to climb a ladder to get the job done this fall. But be careful: Nearly 200,000 emergency-room visits and 300 deaths are linked to ladder accidents every year, and most people who fell didn’t have anybody holding the ladder below them.

The typical accident victim is a 55-year-old man who falls nearly 10 feet, according to a study of more than 27,000 trauma patients published this month in the Journal of Surgical Research. Reaching too far and placing the ladder in the wrong spot are the most common causes of those accidents. “

Don’t try to win this award! If you use ladders at home, there are many great buying guides, safety tips and free ladder safety training programs online – many ladder manufacturers offer great resources. You can find safety information with simple search, but we’ve picked out a few.

Ladder buying guide – Consumer Reports

Ladder Safety – detailed tips from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – a good guide for home repair

Portable Ladder Safety – OSHA

Do’s and Don’ts of Ladder Climbing – a pictorial guide from Werner

Ladder Safety Posters from Worksafe BC – intended for work, but good visuals for homeowners too

The little-known fire hazard of 9-volt batteries

9-voltThere’s a hidden safety hazard in 9-volt batteries that most people probably don’t know about. Don’t learn the hard way – watch Dave’s real life drama of a destroyed home. He, his family and his pets all got out safely, but you can see the total damage to his home. Now Dave has a mission of telling his story so that other people don’t make the mistake that he made. Here’s a 9-volt battery safety tip sheet from the NFPA.

In the second and third videos, Dave shares his scary experience during the fire and breaks down the many mistakes he made that could have cost him his life  — he’s hoping that his mistakes will be a life-saving lesson for others. If you take a few minutes to watch the videos, you will probably learn some safety tips that you might never have considered – we did! Plus, Dave also encourages everyone to keep a home inventory, an idea we endorse! .

Preventing frozen pipes: tips from the experts

Depositphotos_9251576_xsIn frigid weather, the the common wood frog adapts by literally putting itself into a deep freeze. In a miracle of biology, these adaptive frogs freeze solid and their hearts stop, but they come back to life with the spring thaw.

While frozen frogs are pretty amazing, frozen pipes are anything but. If you turn on your faucet in the winter and nothing comes out, there’s a good chance you may have frozen pipes, particularly if the weather has been very cold. Frozen pipes can be a costly claim on your homeowners policy, but a few annual maintenance steps can help prevent problems. Even if you didn’t prepare well before the winter and now find yourself in frigid weather pattern, there are steps you can take to protect your pipes. The Red Cross offers excellent tips for preventing frozen pipes as well as tips for how to thaw pipes out should they freeze. Here are a few of their tips during cold weather:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

FEMA also has some excellent tips for before, during and after winter storms and extreme cold.

In a short video clip, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey shows various ways to prevent and thaw frozen pipes.

Here are some other video clips from This Old House that will help you keep your water pipes in good condition and prevent problems.

How to Drain Pipes for the Winter
How to Install a Frost-Proof Faucet with PEX Piping

Shedding light on buying energy-saving light bulbs

If saving money is one of your new year’s resolutions, one way might be as simple as flicking a switch. Converting to energy saver bulbs can reap real savings but many people are confused and frustrated by the array of choices and the unfamiliar terminology when shopping. What used to be a simple purchase is definitely a more complex task, but help is at hand with NPR’s simple Guide to Changing Light Bulbs, a handy tool designed to demystify the many options we now have as we transition to energy efficient lighting. It compares standard incandescent bulbs that we are all familiar with to halogen incandescent, CFL and LED options. It includes pictorial aids, terminology definitions and handy comparison charts. Two things we found most useful are the comparison of costs over 10 years (ranging from a low of $16.37 to a high of $76.70) and the equivalency guide of watts to lumens.

For those who’d like a little more detail, CNet offers a guide for techno-geeks, the Light bulb buying guide. It offers more detail on the various choices, along with a discussion about light color. Hint: you don’t have to forgo that soft, romantic glow if you know what to shop for. It also discusses options like shape, directionality of light and dimmability.

In addition to bulbs, you may want to consider replacing some of your fixtures. Energy Star estimates that replacing your five most used fixtures with energy saver models could save up to $75 a year.

Here are a few other guides to help you out.

Holiday fun – cats, dogs, sugar plum fairies & egg nog

Since it’s the holiday season, we thought we’d bring you a few of our favorite seasonal clips. Best wishes to you and yours over the holiday – and be safe – be sure not to drive if you have any spiked egg nog!

Straight No Chaser – Who Spiked The Eggnog?

Cat Christmas Tree Disaster

Freshpet Holiday Feast – 13 Dogs and 1 Cat Eating with Human Hands

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Pentatonix

Holiday mishaps & how to avoid them

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Even the best laid plans can run into snags or unforeseen problems. That’s what insurance is all about for – having financial protection when we encounter one of life’s costly problems. The folks at NAIC have compiled a list of potential holiday mishaps – and what insurance policy would provide coverage. Take a quick look.

Of course, we hope you won’t have any problems. We’ve looked in our archives for some seasonal safety tips to help you minimize risk for common holiday problems.

Don’t lose money on prepaid debit cards!

Holiday alert: Be on guard for identity theft

Take these quizzes to see how safe you are online

Dangerous toy alert

Insurance tips to protect expensive electronic gifts

Burglary prevention when you are traveling

Hiding your valuables

Burglar Secrets: Expert advice on how to protect your home

Terrifying Carbon Monoxide Incidents Should Be a Reminder

Have you watered your Christmas tree today?

Candle and decoration safety

Holiday decorations: fire prevention; keeping kids & pets safe


Have a happy New Year: Plan to party safely

Survey: Most homeowners unaware of holiday liabilities

Remember, if you do suffer a loss, your local independent agent can help. Learn more about the benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent

Get the Santa Tracker App

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For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight. They deploy the latest technologies to track Santa, including radar, satellites SantaCams and jet fighters.

You can visit NORAD’s website to download the Santa app to track his progress via a countdown clock, explore Santa’s village in the North Pole, play games and more.

When asked about what route Santa travels, NORAD says, “Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. Keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. We just track him!”