Everyone knows the real purpose of the Internet is for cute and funny cat and dog videos – and in the holiday season, pet videos abound. We’re posting a few of our favorites, but first, a serious reminder: In all the celebrations and gala, take particular precautions to avoid pet hazards and look after your pet’s safety – the average cost of surgery is a whopping $1,803 per pet. For tips, see: Pet dangers increase during holidays, insurance claims skyrocket.
In many parts of the US, wildfires are a constant threat. Wildfires destroy homes and property, injure and kill people and animals, and disrupt lives. We New Englanders tend to think of wildfires as only happening in the west, but that is not true. While less frequent and less damaging, there are indeed wildfires in New England. There are still some old-timers who remember a devastating Maine fire 70 years ago that destroyed towns and burned about a quarter of a million acres. People literally ran into the ocean to escape the flames. New England’s severe drought a few year’s ago was a prime condition for wildfires.
May 5, the first Saturday in May, is Wildfire Community Preparation Day. Wherever you live, it’s a great opportunity to pitch in and help your community prepare for wildfires and a good reminder to look over your family’s own fire-preparedness plan.
So get the word out May 5: being properly prepared for wildfires is your best defense.
Preparation against wildfires is a matter of taking a few simple steps:
Get the most out of your smartphone. Get community weather alerts. Install the FEMA app or sign up for the Emergency Alert System.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Radio also provides emergency alerts.
Know your evacuation route, and have a plan B. And even a plan C. You don’t always know which exit will be passable. Make plans for your pets and livestock, too.Have your bug-out bag packed. Keep a number of N95 respirator masks handy. These sub-$20 face masks will alleviate the threat from inhaled ash, grit, and other particulates.
Store your important documents in a fire-proof safe, and have password-protected back-ups of your data.
Make sure the hose will reach. You want to be able to soak every inch of your property with it.
Build with fire-resistant materials. Know the properties of the materials you’re using to build, renovate, and repair your home and outbuildings.
Make a firebreak. Keep flammable material such as leaves, firewood, and debris at least thirty feet away from your home.
Keep your insurance coverage up to date. If you’ve made renovations or additions to your property, let your insurance agent know. Go over all your insurance coverages with your agent once a year to make sure they’re up-to-date and suites to your current needs.
Fire safety works best when everyone collaborates. Get together with your friends and family on May 5 and make your community safer from wildfires.
It’s smart to review insurance basics every now and again and the Insurance Information Institute has produced some quick, simple videos on what you need to do to file a home or an auto claim. One important first step is to take the time to review your policies each year and understand what your policy does and doesn’t cover – ask your local agent if you have any gaps or exposures that leave you vulnerable. For example, most homeowners policies don’t include flood coverage. Or if you have valuables such as antiques, jewelry, or special collections, you may want to add coverage for those because your standard homeowners has coverage limits.
As for autos, here’s an interesting post on Gap Insurance and when it might make sense. Today’s long-financing options mean that you might owe more than your car is worth and you could be stuck should you total your car unless you have Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage or Guaranteed Auto Protection (Gap insurance).
One other option is an umbrella policy, which would boost your coverage on your home and auto should you have a large lawsuit. Umbrella policies typically kick in after your regular insurance is exhausted. Learn more here.
OK, with those reminders, here are some basics about filing home or auto claims.
Flu season runs from October through May, generally peaking from December through March. Flu vaccines can take a few weeks to kick in so it’s good to get your shot early. Find out the place closest to you at the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
Health experts say that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, but it’s particularly important for people at high risk for developing potentially serious complications. These include:
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
Adults 65 years of age and older
Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
American Indians and Alaskan Natives
People who have medical conditions
There are a lot of myths about the flu and vaccines – for example, many people think you can get the flu from a vaccine or that healthy people don’t need a vaccine. Harvard Medical School separates fact from fiction in 10 Flu Myths. Another common myth is that the flu is just a very bad cold – wrong! This Healthcare Triage video explains the difference.