How to celebrate July 4 in New England


Depositphotos_46061319_s-2015

Here in New England, everything about the upcoming July 4 weekend looks promising – the weather looks spectacular, gas prices are low and the region is chock full of events and celebrations. We’ve listed links to information on some of New England’s best July 4 celebrations below … and we send you on your way with the requisite reminders about firework safety and holiday driving safety. Not to be a Debbie Downer but the rods will be packed and July 4 ranks as “the deadliest single day of the year to be on the road, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).”

But with those cautions in mind, here are some ideas for your weekend!

When guarding against summer burglaries, don’t forget your yard


There are more than two million home burglaries per year, according to the FBI, and the highest percentage of burglaries occurs during the summer months. It’s not hard to figure out why. It’s peak vacation season so a lot of homes are empty; plus, with warm weather, there’s an increase in the number of doors and windows left open, which make accessibility easier. According to Safeguard the World:

  • About 30 percent of all burglaries are through an open or unlocked window or door.
  • Windows are left unlocked at a much higher rate than doors.
  • An open window that is visible from the street may be the sole reason that a house is targeted.
  • An open window with only a locked window screen is particularly inviting to thieves. Access is quick, easy and silent.

See more statistics along with prevention tips.

One other seasonal vulnerability is highlighted in a recent survey conducted by one of our insurer partners. American Modern Insurance points out that in good weather, there are simply more unsecured “backyard valuables” lying around: bikes, sporting equipment, grilles, lawn furniture – all relatively easy targets for thieves. Copper coils from air conditioners and other metallic items can be sold for scrap metal.

“An American Modern survey of more than 500 adults living in the US, indicated that 31 percent do not take proactive steps to secure property and personal items located on the outside of the home. Additionally, the survey indicated that respondents were most likely to take steps to protect their electronics (42%), as well as jewelry and watches (23%) inside their homes, and less likely to do so with outdoor/recreational items (18%). The survey was conducted through Google in June 2016.”

In their press release, American Modern offers 10 tips, which we reproduce here:

1. Install strong door locks and deadbolts. Choose a lock that is proven to withstand drilling or picking.

2. Reinforce doorjambs and strike plates. Most often, structural failures occur when strike plates separate from doorframes.

3. Apply window security film. This prevents glass breakage and can deter a smash-and-grab.

4. Lock your windows. If your windows don’t already have locks, add them. Or, drill small holes into the upper and lower sashes at their overlap point and insert removable eyebolts.

5. Close and lock your shed and garage every night. Make sure your vehicles are under cover and secure before you head out of town. On a smaller scale, stolen tools and lawn equipment are also a lucrative theft item, so ensure these items are securely stored away. The garage can also serve as a common entry point for burglars.

6. When away from home, don’t advertise your absence. Put temporary holds on mail and newspaper delivery, or have a trusted neighbor collect them. Put lights on staggered timers. Also, avoid posting on social media about your travel plans, which can increase the risk of burglaries and break-ins while you are away from your property.

7. Keep valuables outside the bedroom. Thieves on the hunt for valuables will likely make the master bedroom their first stop to scout out jewelry or cash. Keep these items in a different room instead.

8. Put in motion-activated outdoor lighting. Make sure entry points are especially well-lit.

9. Organize a Neighborhood Watch. Meet your neighbors and deter theft!

10. Vehicles and items left in them. Most vehicle-related thefts take place in under 20 seconds. Never leave loose items on the seats or dash; lock them in the trunk or, better yet, take them inside with you. If you have a garage at home, use it. If you must park on the street, install a loud alarm system with a visible, blinking dash light.

Hiding your valuables


lettuce-safe

The average home burglary is a hit and run affair – burglars generally spend 8 to 12 minutes ransacking a home to find cash and valuables. Experts say that bedrooms are one of the first places checked – in bedside tables, in bureaus, and under the mattress. Bathrooms and kitchens are a high search target – often burglars are looking for drugs or money hidden in the “sugar bowl.” Also, home offices and desks are often the place where safes or valuable documents are kept.

Deadbolt locks, lights and alarms are all good deterrents. You should also take precautions before going on a trip. Plus, if you have any prized or valuable collections, make sure you tell your agent and talk over a rider to your homeowners policy to ensure they are covered should your security measures fail.

All that being said, we enjoyed some of the ideas presented in 8 Secret Spots to Hide Valuables at Home. We particularly liked the “Head of Iceberg Lettuce Safe” pictured above which is linked in the article. This is an unusual version of what are often called diversion safes – common household objects either hollowed out or with hidden compartments.

This article reminded us of some creative ways to camouflage your laptop if you worry about theft at the airport or the coffee shop.

Laptop Pizza Box disguise

How to make a laptop sleeve from a FedEx envelope

Make your Macbook a classic

Distracted walking is no joke


OK, you’ve heard about distracted driving – but were you aware that distracted walking could be a problem, too? Although it may sound funny, it’s a real thing and not a joke. Just as happens to drivers, pedestrians experience reduced situation awareness, distracted attention and unsafe behavior when talking or texting on mobile phones.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 1,152 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms after being injured while using a cellphone or some other electronic device in 2010 — and the number had doubled since the year before. The increase in pedestrian injuries paralleled and even exceeded distracted driving injuries.

Falling onto a train track

Falling off a pier

Scary run-in with a bear

A little humor to make a serious point
Distracted walking is a serious topic but it prompted fun-loving pranksters Improv Everywhere to launch an army of “Seeing Eye People” to protect the many distracted walkers in New York – a funny way to make a serious point.

New England summer toolkit – road trips & local treasures


Why not stay local this summer and enjoy all the treasures that New England has to offer? We’ve compiled some tips & tools to get you on your way.

First and foremost, before you hit the road, check Gas Buddy and fueleconomy.gov to get the best gas prices. And make sure that your car is in tip-top shape: Consumer Reports offers a great guide to summer road travel with tips for family travel, maintenance and vehicle prep, fuel economy, travel gear, safety & more.

Here are some ideas of where to go:

Find New England Beaches, Whale Watching tours and some great cycling routes – all these, and many more ideas at Discover New England.

Yankee Magazine is a local favorite with great information and ideas for local travel and events. Eat healthy, eat local by finding the best New England Farmers’ markets – pair your veggies with some seafood – here are the 5 best tips for cooking lobster at home. On the road, check out some “only in New England” landmarks – or just explore the Best of New England with the 2013 Editor’s Choice Awards.

If you want to leave the car behind and go by foot, check out Hike New England to explore more than 200 trail reports for detailed guides that include a description of the hike, trail distances, a difficulty rating, and driving directions; often photos or trail maps are also provided.

Boston.com offers 25 things to do under $25 and many other ideas in Explore New England.

If your travels include your pet, check out pet friendly New England lodgings. The Boston Globe recently highlighted a pick of pet friendly choices in New England. Get more pet-friendly trip help from Boston.com.

Have safe and fun wanderings – and don’t forget to load your insurance agent’s telephone number in your mobile phone, just in case!