Anchor-it! Preventing toddler tip-over deaths

Most parents would do anything in the world to protect their young children – nothing is more important or higher on the agenda. But there can be a less-than-obvious household danger lurking in a seemingly safe room. That’s the tragic lesson Jackie Collas learned when she found her darling 2-year old son Curren’s lifeless body under a tipped-over bureau. Last week, the Washington Post covered her story: Ikea, a tipped-over dresser and a toddler’s tragic death

“What happened to Curren is known as a “tip over” — the term for when an everyday appliance or piece of furniture is knocked over and suddenly transformed into a deadly threat. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPDC), a child dies roughly every two weeks due to tip-over incidents. The vast majority of victims are under the age of five.”

We previously posted about protecting kids from TV tip-overs, but the incident in this news story involves furniture. The terrifying video simulation below shows the danger and the solution. Anti-tip anchoring devices are readily available and easy to install, as demonstrated in the video. Here’s an anchoring how-to tip-sheet (PDF) from CSPC. Learn more at anchorit.gov.

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Drowning doesn’t look like what we see in the movies

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When we head to the beach or the pool on the weekends, most of us do so with a dangerous knowledge gap. We have wrong ideas about drowning and our ignorance means we don’t always recognize the signs of a person in distress when we see them. We are conditioned by movies and pop culture to think that a drowning person would yell and wave for help and splash violently to get attention. In reality, drowning is a quiet, desperate event – so quiet that every year, children die in pools and water just feet away from parents or friends who do not recognize the signs of distress.

Drowning behavior is so similar victim to victim that experts describe it as The Instinctive Drowning Response. Mario Vittone is an expert on water safety and he has been on a mission to raise awareness of what drowning behavior actually looks like – his blog post Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning is a really eye opener and something worth sharing.

He describes the behavior as:

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening. Drowning does not look like drowning

Here’s a video showing instinctive drowning response.

Drowning can happen in seconds. A more widespread understanding of what signs of swimming distress and drowning behavior actually look like would help to save lives. Help to raise awareness – why not share this post with friends and relatives – particularly parent of young kids?

See related posts on pool safety:
Swimming pool and spa safety issues and insurance coverage

Pool & spa owners: Minimize your risk with simple steps for safety

When wild animals decide to take a swim in your pool

New DUI law in Connecticut mandates an ignition interlock device

ignition-interlockSince July 1, if you are found to be driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID), An IID is a type of breathalyzer that requires a breath sample before the car will start. (See the short video from LifeSafer in this post to learn how and IID works.) The car will be immobilized if the sample is over .025. Previously, installation of these devices was only required of repeat offenders, but now the law extends to first time offenders too. According to MADD CT, states with IID laws have seen a 40% decrease in alcohol related fatalities.

“The duration of time in which the IID must be installed is dependent on whether the offender is 21 at the time of the incident, whether they are a repeat offender, and the result or refusal of the blood alcohol test taken.

This law will affect up to 6,500 first-time offenders charged with operating under the influence. The previous law did not require those who entered a diversion program to use the IID, but the new law now requires all offenders to.”

This is in addition to any fines and suspensions that may be imposed. It’s up to the offender to pay for the device and its installation.” A device costs about $75 to install and $75 per month to maintain. They also require about $275 in DMV fees.”

All states have some form of ignition interlock device laws – and almost half of all states have mandatory provisions for all offenses. See the Insurance Information Institute for more on state drunk driving laws. MADD also has an update on state laws related to ignition interlock devices.

DUI conviction also have a severe impact on insurance rates
In addition to any state fines and penalties associated with a DUI offense, remember that a DUI conviction will be very costly to your insurance rates, too. Just how costly will vary, depending on the circumstances of the offense, your age, your driving history, your state law and your insurer. You may be designated as a high-risk driver, limiting your insurance options – some insurers may refuse to insure you at all. The amount of a surcharge can vary by insurer and the duration of such a surcharge will vary by state law. Usually, it will negatively affect your rates for at least three years and as many as 10 years, in some states.

Note: DUI is also sometimes referred to as OUI (operating under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated).

Image source: Video screen grab from LifeSafer

Life Insurance Survey: Most people have too little

Do you have life insurance? If so, you are among the 57% of Americans who do, according to a recent survey on life insurance by Bankrate Money Pulse. But even if you have it, do you have enough coverage to meet your financial goals? The survey found that of those who do have coverage, most people have under $100,000 – which would not be sufficient to sustain a young family or a surviving spouse.

“Especially vulnerable are families with children under 18. More than 1 in 3 of those parents (37%) have no life insurance at all, while a third of those who do have no more than $100,000 in coverage (32%).”

“The $25,000 to $100,000 policies that you usually see in employer group plans may cover your funeral expenses, but they’re not going to pay off a mortgage or put a kid through college,” Bridgeland says. “It’s worrisome to me to see that half of those insured have those levels of coverage.”

See the graph below for a more detailed breakdown of coverage amounts held by survey respondents.

life-insuranceInsurance Information Institute just released a good overview of the basics of life insurance in a short video – check it out!

When wild animals decide to take a swim in your pool

When the days get hot and steamy, who doesn’t like a dip in the pool? And while you may not mind sharing the pool with your dog, you may feel less generous about sharing it with other critters. Even if you have a barrier system to keep uninvited visitors out, some pool crashers are persistent. Here’s a group of wild animals who just couldn’t resist the allure of a nice cool pool.

While having a bear or a moose take a dip in your pool might make for a good YouTube video, you probably do not want to be the neighborhood wildlife watering hole. Visits by the larger species are rare occurrences but small critters, particularly baby animals, can easily find their way in but not so easily find their way out. The Humane Society offers tips for pool safety for wild animals.

These stories all have happy endings, but you can’t be too safe. Pool barriers aren’t just for wildlife — unsupervised kids are attracted to pools too, all-too-often with tragic results. About 400 children drown in pools each year and there are also more than 5,000 near-drownings or injuries. Pool Safely offers a variety of safety resources for residential pool / spa owners – as well as for commercial and other pool owners. They offer great information on the latest safety systems, from barriers and alarms to safety covers.

Deck maintenance tips & tools: Don’t risk a collapse!

deck-repairSadly, deck collapses have been making the news lately. There was the tragic deck collapse in California that resulted in 6 deaths; one in Ohio that injured 8 students in the spring, and a collapse in North Carolina this past weekend that injured up to a few dozen family members who were posing for a photo at a holiday gathering. A similar family portrait scenario happened to an Indiana family last Christmas – see the disturbing footage in the video below – it will give you pause.

AP requested deck collapse statistics from Consumer Product Safety Commission, who reported that since 2003:

  • 6,500 people have been injured in porch and deck failures
  • 29 fatalities occurred
  • 4,600 emergency room visits were associated with deck collapses
  • 1,900 emergency room visits were associated with porch failures

Decks are exposed to the elements and just like roofs or any other part of your house, may require replacement or repair when they are older. Whether you are a homeowner or a business that hosts gatherings or meetings on a porch or deck, be sure to:

  • Check your deck regularly for wear & tear. Experts advise a professional inspection
  • Hire only licensed professionals if you need repairs, and be sure you are in compliance with codes & permits
  • Learn the load-bearing capacity of your deck and do not overload
  • Make sure that your homeowners insurance or business insurance coverage is up-to-date!

Here are some resources to help you learn more about deck inspection

Where to Celebrate Independence Day in New England

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Independence Day in New England – does it get any more authentic than that? From America’s Oldest 4th of July Celebration in Bristol (230 consecutive years!) and the Boston Hatch Shell on the Esplanade to Old Sturbridge Village Independence Day and the old-fashioned Enfield Town Celebration – we just seem to know how to do it up right! You might also want to visit the site where everything started: Minute Man National Historical Park, where they’ll be reading the Declaration of Independence at 1 pm on July 4 by the North Bridge!

Here are some other July 4 Events to help you in your planning:

July 4 Safety Tips

Hang on — as insurance professionals, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t also issue a few reminders for holiday safety. Insurance is all about planning ahead!

Red Cross Issues Safety Tips For 4th of July Holiday

Fireworks Safety

Stay Safe this 4th of July

Top 10 Safe Driving Tips for the 4th of July Weekend

Identity Theft Protection: A guide to what & when to shred

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Wondering which financial documents to keep and which to shred? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers this handy shredding infographic along with an accompanying article A pack rat’s guide to shredding. Both offer helpful advice on what security experts say you should shred immediately (ATM receipts, credit card offers, sales receipts) to what you should keep forever (birth certificates, tax returns) and everything in between. This is only one of the many great Identity Theft resources available from the FTC.

Talk to your local insurance agent about whether your homeowners policy covers identity theft and if not, have a talk about identity theft insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a good primer on ID Theft Insurance.

shredding-infographic

Happy Father’s Day!

Wishing Dads everywhere a fabulous Father’s Day. We thought this video tribute to one person’s Dad was pretty impressive. Vietnamese architect Le Phong Giao composes incredible animated paintings in sand. This one is called “This Is My Father’s World.” It’s touching and sweet.

For a little bit lighter take on things, we point you to our post last year From the warm & fuzzy to the hilarious: Video tributes to Fathers. Don’t miss the “babies & Dads” segment!

It’s Men’s Health Week!

June - Men's Health Month

June is Men’s Health month, and this being the week leading up to Father’s Day, it’s also Men’s Health Week. The purpose of Men’s Health Week & Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. On average, men live about 5 years less than their female counterparts – maybe that is directly related to the fact that men make half as many visits for prevention as women. Promoting men’s health information is a way to change that. The photo in this post is from one of an excellent series of posters and flyers available at Men’s Health Month – why not print and share in your workplace?

Also on point, Dr. David Samadi looks at 7 Things Men Must Know About Their Health, which includes interesting and important information to know, such as the fact that more younger men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer – an nearly six-fold increase in the last twenty years.
He also notes that men who exercise may reduce age-related cholesterol.

His fifth point offers a Men’s Health Screening Guide by Age, valuable information that we think deserves sharing:

For men in their 30s
Complete physical every 2 years
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month

For men in their 40s
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month
Complete physical every 2 years
Baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE)
Stool test (for colon and rectal cancers) every year

For men in their 50s
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month
A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (for colon cancers) every three to four years or as recommended by your healthcare provider
PSA and DRE exam every year

For another good checklist, the Men’s Health Network offers Health Screening Timeline Checklists for both Men and Women – it’s a PDF you can download and share.

With Father’s Day coming up, here’s some good health news from NPR for men who love golf: Take A Swing At This: Golf Is Exercise, Cart Or No Cart. The article cites the The World Golf Foundation in estimating that “golfers who walk an 18-hole course clock about 5 miles and burn up to 2,000 calories.” But even those who use carts get a pretty good workout, burning about 1,300 calories during an 18-hole round.

Plus, there’s a good stress-relieving benefit: “There’s also a mental boost for lots of players. “There’s rarely a bad day on the golf course,” Gary Metzger says. “You’re breathing good air and looking around at the nice scenery.”