Time to prep that swimming pool for safety!


little girls in the swimming pool

Is it too early to think about going swimming yet? We’ve certainly earned warm weather after a snowy, chilly start to spring. Swimming season can’t be far away!

But if you own a backyard pool, whether of the in-ground or above-ground variety, you know that before the fun starts there’s some work to do. Your pool needs to be in swimsuit-shape, too!

A call to your local swimming pool service will do some of the work for you – their trained technicians can clean, fill, and maintain your pool. But there are a host of issues involved with pool ownership that you, the pool owner, will need to consider.

Some of those issues regard insurance. If you’ve just installed a new swimming pool or purchased your first property with a swimming pool, you might not be aware of the implications of swimming pool ownership.

Familiarize yourself with local standards regarding swimming pools to make sure you are in compliance. Certain municipalities may require fencing, locked gates, decks, and accessible pool safety equipment.

You’re also going to need insurance. Call your local insurance agent and ask her to lay out the different kinds of insurance available. Swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” by the insurance industry and they will increase your liability. So upping your liability insurance is generally a good idea. Consider an umbrella liability policy for extended coverage. Make sure your coverage includes the cost to repair or replace the swimming pool should it be damaged in a natural disaster.

There are simple steps you can take to make your swimming pool safer and reduce your risk. Create a barrier to prevent unauthorized access to your pool. A wall, a fence, locked gates, alarms on doors leading to the pool – all of these measures will help to dissuade uninvited guests from taking a quick dip.

It’s also good to know some details about your swimming pool. Know how to remove and change pool filters, and how to shut the pumps off in an emergency. Know how to install, clean, and maintain drain covers. Enroll yourself and your family members in a water safety class and teach your children to swim as soon as possible.

There’s lots of good suggestions regarding pool safety out there. Here’s a good place to start: PoolSafety.gov. Also, The National Swimming Pool Foundation offers a reasonably-priced 2-hour online training on Home Pool Essentials that comes with a 30-page guide.

Choose the right seat: It’s Child Passenger Safety Week


illustration of child car safety seats for child safety passenger week

If you have a child between the ages of 1 and 13 or know someone who does, listen up: This week  – September 17-23 is Child Passenger Safety Week – sponsored by the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, but many deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. A lot of attention is given to infant car seat, but as children grow, how they sit in your car will change. That’s why it’s so important to make age and size adjustments and choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car.

This NHTSA site offers valuable help and resources for choosing the right seat. Learn to:

  • Choose the right seat. Learn the difference between rear-facing seat, forward-facing, boosters and belts.
  • Find the car seat that fits your child’s current size and age and get age-based recommendations
  • Use the Car Seat Finder, an easy-to-use tool that compares seats and ease-of-use ratings to help find the right car seat for your child.
  • Learn tips to install and anchor seats correctly
  • Find out where to get your car seat inspected by a certified technician
  • Register your car seat to receive important safety updates
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If it’s May, it must be National Bicycle Month! Is your bike road ready?


bicycle month

There are a few sure signs of spring – the swallows return to Capistrano, the trees begin to bud, and you see more bicycles on the road. To kick off the season, May is National Bike Month – time to get your bike tuned up so you can participate in Bike to School Day on May 10, Bike to Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike to Work Day on May 19!

And as part of our spring ritual, we like to gather some good resources for everything you need to know to have bike ship-shape and road-ready for the good weather ahead.

Popular Mechanics offers a handy pictorial guide to 9 things to do to check your bicycle for spring.

Check out our prior post on ensuring you get the right fit on bike helmets — particularly important for kid riders. We sourced some excellent guides to get you up to speed on bike helmet safety.

Don’t let your season be ruined by theft. Check out our posts on protecting your bicycle from bike thieves and get the scoop on what you need to know about insurance for your bike to protect your investment.

It’s also a good idea to brush up on bicycle safety – a 2014 report on biking fatalities shows the high risk groups and problems that can occur. Bike safety is important for everybody but particularly important for kids – check out these handy resources.

See our 2016 Bike Month tool kit post for links to bike clubs in New England and some helpful videos for prepping your bike for the season.

A just-for-fun springtime post: Dancing cows


We didn’t set out to make our blog theme for the spring be “animals on parade” but sometimes on the web, you just have to take advantage of the fun and interesting things that surface. A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of 1,000 working ducks. Today, we can’t resist this story of a group of happy, dancing cows.

In an annual seasonal ritual, a farm in the Netherlands celebrates the springtime with something they call “Koeiendans” which, as near as we can tell, is Dutch for “cow dancing.” It marks the first day after a long winter being cooped up that the cows are let out of the barn to frolic in the fields – and frolic they do. Check out how they express their delight at seeing all that lovely, fresh green grass by kicking up their heels. Who’d have guessed that cows could be quite so light on their feet? I think most of us in New England can relate to the happy feeling that the end of winter and the start of beautiful spring weather inspires!

We’re posting one clip for 2017 and one for 2016 – but if you must have more, you can check out the farm’s YouTube channel for spring cow dancing back to 2012.

And before we share the clips – we can’t resist a little plug for supporting your local family farms this growing season – eat local, eat fresh. And if these clips motivate you, consider a farm or ranch stay for your next vacation: Here’s a regional guide to New England Farm & Ranch Stays.

Mobile security: Protecting yourself while on the go


At the tail end of 2016, we crossed an internet usage threshold to little fanfare: Worldwide, more people used phones and tablets to access the web than conventional computers like desktops and laptops. Mobile use is averaging more than three hours a day or email usage, texting, engaging with apps and social media and surfing the web.

Here’s one big problem: As more people move to mobile, so do the bad guys who want to exploit this boom. And while most desktop users have some form of security on their computers, the same is not true for mobile device users. While this security report is from a year ago, things haven’t changed much and the statistics are grim:

The report found that only 32 percent of iPad users had security software installed on their devices, and 26 percent of iPhone users said the same. For those owning Android tablets, 65 percent said they had security software installed, while 60 percent of Android smartphone owners have security software installed. 83 percent of Windows-based tablet owners and 44 percent Windows Phone owners reported having security software installed.

If you think about the threat, it’s pretty scary. Most of us carry an enormous amount of personal information on our phones – just think about what you do on your phone: banking, bill paying, shopping, texting, searching, emailing, using apps. And it’s not just hackers we have to worry about accessing this private data – millions of phones are lost or stolen every year.

This short video from Kaspersky Lab, one of the largest global cybersecurity and anti-virus providers, shows the evolving threat.

Kaspersky talks about the Top 7 Mobile Security Threats: Smart Phones, Tablets, & Mobile Internet Devices – What the Future has in Store. The article identifies and describes the most serious threats, which include data leakage, unsecured WI-fi, network spoofing, phishing attacks, spyware, broken cryptography, and improper session handling.

To combat these threat, see 8 Ways to Increase Your Mobile Security Without Slowing It Down, which outlines 8 excellent best practice security tips. Malwarebytes, an excellent anti-malware software provider offers advice on the Top 10 ways to secure your mobile phone. The article notes that third party apps and lack of timely operating system updates are serious threats.

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