Boat Safety Week in two words: Wear It!


illustration of people wering life jackets for Safe Boating Week

It’s National Safe Boating Week May 18-24, a good reminder to all boat owners and boat lovers to review boat safety best practices and to take the “Wear It” Life Jacket Pledge. And if your boat represents a serious investment, it’s also a good time to think about insurance.

Why are life jackets important? In 2017, the Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

Life jackets may not protect you against property damage, but they will help to save lives. But simply having life jackets on board is not enough – accidents happen too fast to access them. Being a good swimmer isn’t enough – an injury or water-logged clothes can interfere with even the strongest swimmer’s abilities. Another big objection is that jackets are too hot, too restrictive, or don’t look “cool,” but new, lightweight jackets are slimmer, cooler and less restrictive. Plus, as for the coolness factor – bicycle helmets didn’t look cool at one time, until they became a sporting fashion statement. Do your part to make life jackets cool.

The U.S. Coast Guard life jacket requirements for recreational vessels:

  • A wearable life jacket for each person must be aboard
  • Life jackets must be U. S. Coast Guard approved
  • Jackets must be proper size for the intended wearer
  • In good and serviceable condition
  • Properly stowed (readily accessible)

The Coast Guard puts out a brochure that talks about the different types of life jackets and how to ensure a good fit.

Before you take put any boats int he water, make sure you know the federal laws as well as any state laws that might apply. The US Coast Guard offers links and resources on boat regulations and laws, including federal and state laws, navigation rules, and more.

Talk to your independent agent about Boating Insurance

Do you need boat insurance? Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover canoes and small sailboats or powerboats, but larger boats require a separate policy. Talk to your independent agent about the coverage you do have and whether it applies to any boats that you have. Typically, liability coverage would need to be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good overview of boat and watercraft insurance, as well as safety best practices.

 

Get your ride on: May is National Bike Month


Haul the bike out of the cellar or the garage because May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. National Bike to Work Week 2019 will take place May 13–19. Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 17.

Biking is a great way to experience the outdoors and to get good exercise. It’s also a much more economical and earth-friendly form of transpiration than cars. Whatever your reason for biking, there are a few important steps to take to make sure you are safe on the road.

Finally, don’t forget to protect your investment! Bicycle theft may be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance but there is ordinarily a rather high deductible. If your bike is particularly valuable, you may want to speak with your independent insurance agent about a floater policy to keep it covered at all times.See our prior post which includes a video bicycle insure quiz and link to more information on insuring your bike from the Insurance Information Institute.  In addition to a discussion about insurance, they suggest marking your bike, writing the serial number down and taking several photos of it to help police in identification. They also recommend registering your bike with local police and the National Bike Registry.

Year-Round Bicycle Maintenance

Spring Tune Up - Bicycle Maintenance
Source: Fix.com Blog

Quick Fixes - Bicycle Maintenance
Source: Fix.com Blog

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: April 27


Prescription Drug Takeback Day Banner

Do you have expired or unused prescription medicines sitting around in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets? Now you have a safe and anonymous way to dispose of them: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27.

According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), unused or expired prescription drug medications are a public safety issue, leading to potential accidental poisonings, misuse and overdose. Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That’s dangerous and often tragic. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs. During the last Take Back Day in October 2018, more than 457 tons of medications were turned in at more than 5000 collection sites nationwide for proper disposal.

Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and saves the environment!

Use the Collection Site Locator – enter your zip code to find a site near you.

If you or someone you love needs help for a prescription drug problem, find treatment using the treatment services locator.

The DEA offers tips for disposal if no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug label and no prescription drug take-back program is available in your area:

  • You must not share your prescription drugs – they were prescribed to you.
  • Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty bag, or other container to prevent medicine from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • Scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable to protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless the prescription drug labeling specifically instructs you to do so, and check with your community’s laws and regulations prior to taking such action.

See more in this PDF tip sheet: How to properly dispose of your unused medicines

Tips for driving safely around large commercial vehicles


Any time you are driving your car on the highway or on your city and town roads, you are navigating a vehicle that weighs about 5,000 pounds, while sharing the road with 12.5 million giant commercial vehicles. A fully loaded bus can weigh 30,000 to 44,000 pounds, according to the American Public Transportation Association. And according to The Truckers’ Report, the legal weight for an eighteen wheeler is 80,000 lbs. Plus, factor in any oversize or overweight permits. The length of time to stop an eighteen wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile.

How confident are you about your driving skills? Having a collision with any other vehicle is a serious matter, but the stakes are even higher when it comes to collision with a 30 or 40 ton vehicle! There are no mere fender benders in an accident pitting your car against this weight class.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued Our Roads, Our Safety, a national safety campaign shaped to raise awareness about sharing the road safely with large trucks and buses. They offer Tips for Passenger Vehicle Drivers, as well as Tips for Bicyclists and Pedestrians, both of which are worth checking out. We found the infographics that illustrate the driver tip list particularly helpful and have reprinted them below. They offer useful visual guides for blind spots and space considerations when driving around large commercial vehicles.

diagram showing how drivers can stay out of blind spots navigating around trucks

diagram showing how to give trucks extra turning space

diagram showing the stopping distance for large vehicles

Spring-Ahead Reminder: Annual “check & change” chores


This weekend, it’s time to spring forward with your clocks. We offer suggestions for some other spring safety chores to put on your weekend home maintenance list, too! 

In the Fall, there’s a collective groan when we set our clocks back and the world gets darker, but most people welcome gaining that hour of daylight back in the Spring – it’s a harbinger of better weather, more sunlight and greenery and leaving winter behind. But what we gain in daylight we lose in sleep and even though it’s only one hour, the change can have bigger impact on us that we would think on first glance. The one-hour loss of sleep can wreak havoc with out body clocks. Some studies even say that the time change is killing us – incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and fatal car accidents all spike around the start of daylight-saving time each year. Employers have long noted that right after the time change, there is also a jump in on-the-job injuries and accidents.

Yikes. If it is so risky, why do we keep doing it? We’ve been observing Daylight Savings since 1918, but there is a lot of controversy about whether it is something we should continue observing. John Oliver has an amusing segment on how this ritual started.

Your check & change weekend to-do list

Whether we like it or hate it, as long as long as the time change is something we observe twice a year, it’s a handy reminder for household safety checks. For years, fire safety professionals have urged us to use the biannual ritual as a good time to remember to update batteries in our smoke and C)2 detectors. Here’s a list of other maintenance things that should be checked periodically for safety — you may want to put them on your weekend “to-do” list:

  • Change smoke alarm and CO2 alarm batteries
  • Check pressure / expiration date on any fire extinguishers
  • Replace furnace filters
  • Clean your dryer filter, hoses and vents
  • Throw away any expired medications
  • Reverse your ceiling fan direction