Get free emergency apps for National Preparedness Month


September is National Preparedness Month – here’s one simple thing you can do: Download some free apps for your phone so that if you find yourself in an emergency, you are ready. Pass them along to your family members too, so you can all be informed. Here are a few suggestions.

The free FEMA app

FEMA-appThe free FEMA app is a must. One great new feature is that you can get weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the nation. That allows you to follow severe weather alerts for friends and family located anywhere in the country – even if your phone is not located in the area.  The app is available in English but it will default to Spanish if those who have set that as the default language. It can be downloaded from the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.

The new weather alert feature adds to the app’s existing features: a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers, and tips on how to survive natural and man-made disasters.

Some other key features of the app include:

  • Safety Tips: Tips on how to stay safe before, during, and after over 20 types of hazards, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes
  • Disaster Reporter: Users can upload and share photos of damage and recovery efforts
  • Maps of Disaster Resources: Users can locate and receive driving directions to open shelters and disaster recovery centers
  • Apply for Assistance: The app provides easy access to apply for federal disaster assistance

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Red Cross has an excellent suite of free emergency apps:

first-aid

 

First Aid – Get instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies.

 

 

pets

Pet First Aid – Be prepared to help your furry friends with veterinary advice for everyday emergencies.

 

 

 

blood

Blood – Schedule blood donation appointments, track total donations and earn rewards as you help us meet the constant need for blood.

 

They also have emergency apps for tornado, hurricane, wildfire, flood, earthquake and general emergencies, along with a few apps for kids.

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage and a Toolkit for Spring


Don’t let last week’s snow fool you – it’s just about time to take that motorcycle out of mothballs and get it on the road. But first, before you do anything else, check to be sure that you have motorcycle insurance to protect that investment.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) offers the lowdown on motorcycle insurance:

“Most states require motorcyclists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, to cover bodily injury and property damage costs caused to other people involved in an accident. In addition, uninsured/underinsured (UI/UIM) motorist coverage is recommended, or even required, in many states as part of a motorcyclist’s policy to cover expenses for damage were caused by another driver who either does not have insurance, or whose insurance is inadequate.
The mandatory minimum limits for these coverages in states where they are required for motorcyclists are generally similar to those required for automobiles.”

We think its a good idea to have some of the optional coverages, too: collision, first party medical coverage, emergency road service and coverage for customization and equipment.

III offers more details on motorcycle coverage here with tips on saving money such as a lay-up policy or those who suspend use in the winter and multibike discounts.

Motorcycle laws, safety tools & other resources

msfThe Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is an internationally recognized developer of the comprehensive, research-based, Rider Education and Training System (RETS). Some insurers offer discounts for certified safety training so check to see if your insurer does. In addition to courses, MSF offers many free resources in their online library. One we like is the booklet You and Your Motorcycle Riding Tips – MSF says that many manufacturers include this booklet with their new motorcycles. They also have similar booklets for 3-wheeled motorcycles and scooters. Their Tire Guide looks pretty handy, too.

The American Motorcyclist Association has a good resource on motorcycle laws by state.
The guides cover information like eye protection, handlebar height, lane splitting and other information that bikers need to know.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a good guide on Motorcycle helmet laws by state. They note that, “Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, known as universal helmet laws. Laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states. There is no motorcycle helmet use law in three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire).” IIHS also has a good Q&A about motorcycle safety and related topics

BikeBandit offers some excellent tips on how to prep your motorcycle for spring – he touches on everything from batteries to fluids.

Do your heart good: try these heart health calculators


Heart health

February is Heart Health Month and the resounding theme is that simple changes can make a big difference. The CDC suggests:

  • Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health
  • Add exercise to your daily routine
  • Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium
  • Take steps to quit smoking
  • Take medication as prescribed

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. We’ve gathered some tools – a few of them interactive – that will help you focus on heart health!

calc

heart attack risk

blood pressure risk

Here are a few more useful heart-health tools:

First, it’s a good idea for everyone to know how to recognize signs of heart trouble – whether for yourself or a loved one, the earlier you get help, the better: Warning signs of a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest

Blood pressure: What do the numbers mean

Here’s a tool for tracking your blood pressure – Blood Pressure Wallet Card (PDF)

Questions to ask your doctor

More on men’s heart health and women’s heart health

Snow shoveling 101: Best shovels, best techniques


OK, New England – go find that shovel in the back of the garage and get ready for a little Snow Shoveling 101. Did you think we’d get away with little to no snow this season? Some of the region’s biggest storms on record happen in February and March. Weather.com shows that of the top 10 Boston snow accumulations, 7 occurred in these two months.

So buckle down, folks – Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow last week, so we may have a way to go until Spring. Today into tomorrow, most of central New England will get at least some snow accumulation, ranging from a dusting in the north to as much as a foot in Southern New England. And just in case you got a little rusty since last year, we have some tips, tools and techniques to get you back in shoveling shape. Even if you are a Jedi master, some of these expert tips should kick things up a notch.

First, the tools of the trade: Check out this brief clip on the 5 Best Snow Shovels from Consumer Reports.

For more thoughts on selecting the right tool, see Popular Mechanics: Which Snow Shovel Is the Best?

For technique, we point you to:

And last but not least, we love this guide from Fix.com on Clearing Snow Safely and Efficiently – it’s got some great tips and this handy infographic summary – click for larger view.


Source: Fix.com

Home maintenance: What’s the life expectancy of various parts of your home?


tools in a blue jean back pocketOngoing home maintenance is important in preventing any losses that may trigger insurance claims. It can be helpful to have a guideline to gauge the expected lifespan of certain home infrastructure systems and components. When it comes to experts about home longevity, who could be better than the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)? On their site, they offer general guidelines on how many years of service a home owner can reasonably expect from the various components of a home. They caution that “…numerous factors — including use, maintenance, climate, advances in technology and simple consumer preferences — can have a dramatic effect on the longevity of a product.”

Here’s a sampling of a few items that they list:

  • Roofing. Slate, copper and clay/concrete roofs have a 50-year life expectancy; asphalt-shingle roofs, 20 years; fiber cement shingles, 25 years; and wood shakes, 30 years. However, the life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, proper building and design, material quality and adequate maintenance.
  • Countertops. Natural stone, which is less expensive than a few years ago and gaining in popularity, can last a lifetime. Cultured marble, by contrast, is relatively short-lived, with an age expectancy of 20 years.
  • Garages. Garage doors last 10 to 15 years, and light inserts for 20.

Another useful guide is InterNACHI’s Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. These charts offer predicted life expectancy of home appliances, products, materials, systems and components.

For a guide to the life expectancy of major home appliances, Mr.Appliance offers a low, high and average expectancy for ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and more.