Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Be Safe On The Roads This Fall

The potential hazards of winter driving always get plenty of attention, but did you know that fall driving can be just as dangerous?  Some of these dangers are caused by the leaves that can look so pretty in the trees.  After they eventually fall down, the leaves can accumulate on the roads, creating a very slick driving surface.  Here are a few tips on how to safely maneuver around this potentially treacherous situation.  

  1. Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns.
  2. Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
  3. Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road.
  4. A pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place to a child. Children enjoy jumping into the leaf piles or burrowing down into them and hiding. Never drive through a leaf pile. Use caution going around turns and where children are playing.
  5. Keep your windshield leaf free to avoid wet leaves getting stuck under the windshield wiper blades.
  6. In order to avoid the possibility of a fire hazard from the exhaust system or catalytic converter, never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves.
In addition to the leaves on the road, autumn can bring other dangers, such as the changing temperatures.  With the often damp and foggy weather, falling temps can cause slick roads, especially on bridges and overpasses.  When approaching these areas, be sure to slow down and brake gently.  Also, be aware of other areas where black ice may form.  

And, of course, watch out for animals, particularly deer, on the road this time of year.  This is their mating season and they are on the run.  Chances are, if you see one deer, he/she isn't alone, as they tend to travel in groups.  If you cannot avoid hitting an animal, brake firmly but steadily; most vehicles now have anti lock brakes which eliminate the need to "pump" the brake pedal.  Do not swerve to avoid an animal in the road, as this tends to lead to more dangerous accidents, such as head-on collisions and rollovers.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Critical Illness Insurance Awareness Month

Chances are if you're over 40, you have heard the term "Cancer Insurance" at some point in the past.  By and large, Cancer Insurance has evolved into Critical Illness Insurance. I've never been in favor of Cancer Insurance for two reasons:  1) It used to be the case that if you had good health insurance, there really wasn't a great need for Cancer Insurance, and 2) It only covered one specific illness, and buying insurance against one very specific cause of loss is often times a bad idea.

However, it can no longer be said that having good health insurance is all you need.  With the out of control cost of health care and health insurance, most plans now have high deductibles and Out-Of-Pocket maximums.  In addition, Critical Illness Insurance covers many more types of diagnosis than the original Cancer coverage.

In addition to the above, health insurance doesn't usually cover a large portion of the costs associated with a critical illness.  Costs such as: modifications that may need to be made to your house to accommodate your new situation, travel to and from doctors, hospitals and treatment centers, time your spouse has to spend away from work to care for you, and many more.  These expenses can be very significant.

Click on this link to watch a very short video about how one individual benefited from Critical Illness Insurance.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CDC Says To Baby Boomers:  
"Get Tested For Hepatitis C!"

CDC Now Recommends All Baby Boomers
Receive One-Time Hepatitis C Test

New approach will help avert major increases 
in liver disease and deaths in the U.S.

All U.S. baby boomers should get a one-time test for the hepatitis C virus, according to final recommendations published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 30 baby boomers – the generation born from 1945 through 1965 – has been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t know it. Hepatitis C causes serious liver diseases, including liver cancer (the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths) and is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States.

The final recommendations are published in today’s issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Draft recommendations were issued in May, followed by a public comment period.

“A one-time blood test for hepatitis C should be on every baby boomer’s medical checklist,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The new recommendations can protect the health of an entire generation of Americans and save thousands of lives.”

CDC’s previous recommendations called for testing only individuals with certain known risk factors for hepatitis C infection. Risk-based screening will continue to be important, but is not sufficient alone. More than 2 million U.S. baby boomers are infected with hepatitis C – accounting for more than 75 percent of all American adults living with the virus. Studies show that many baby boomers were infected with the virus decades ago, do not perceive themselves to be at risk, and have never been screened.

More than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die each year from hepatitis C-related illness, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, and deaths have been increasing steadily for over a decade and are projected to grow significantly in coming years.

CDC estimates one-time hepatitis C testing of baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C. And with newly available therapies that can cure up to 75 percent of infections, expanded testing – along with linkage to appropriate care and treatment – would prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases and save more than 120,000 lives.

Comments received from individuals and organizations during the public comment period (May 22-June 8, 2012) overwhelmingly supported CDC’s original proposal. As a result, the agency did not make substantive changes to the draft recommendations.

For additional information about hepatitis, visit

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beware Of Mail Solicitations From HomeServe USA

If you've received a mailing from HomeServe USA, check with the Better Business Bureau.


BBB Alerts Consumers about Mailing from HomeServe USA  
Please share with employees, family and friends!  

Significant numbers of consumers are contacting the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa  regarding a mailing they've received from HomeServe USA. The mailings inform recipients that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. It provides an 800 number and a deadline to enroll in their water Service Line Coverage. Some consumers have stated the mailings appear to be from a local government agency or utility company. 

The BBB is advising consumers to review these notices carefully, particularly the portion that says HomeServe USA is an independent company separate from your local utility or community. The BBB received similar waves of calls related to HomeServe USA mailings in both February and May of this year.  

The BBB also notes that while the company is correct when they say homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their water lines "utility service connection to your home," the warranty coverage they offer is optional. 

"Similar to any warranty, service plan or insurance policy, it is up to the consumer to determine its value and whether or not it's worth purchasing," said Jim Hegarty president and CEO of the BBB. "They should also be clear about what is covered under the policy offered, as well as what is not covered." 

The BBB says that while some homeowners may not be covered for the line repairs offered by HomeServe USA, anyone who is uncertain should call their water department to avoid paying for duplicate coverage. You should also review your homeowner's insurance policy to see if coverage is already provided, as well as contact your insurance company to ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with your current policy. 

Although HomeServe USA is headquartered in Stamford, CT, the company does claim a Post Office Box in Lincoln, NE.  HomeServe USA has entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Both Kentucky and Ohio alleged that the mailing solicitations "generated confusion" and were "deceptive" in their appearance. The settlements should not be considered as an admission of guilt or a legal violation. The BBB recommends the following tips to consumers who receive a call or letter from HomeServe USA or similar companies: 
  • Read the service contract very carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it, especially each of the exclusions, before agreeing to buy coverage. Do not purchase any coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all details that were discussed verbally set down in writing. 
  • Make sure you're familiar with the company's cancellation policy in case you change your mind after signing up. 
  • Check the company's BBB Business Review at 
For more information please visit or call the BBB toll free at 800-649-6814.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Protect Yourself and Those You Love In Case of Extreme Heat


Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don't take the proper precautions.

Before Extreme Heat

  • To prepare for extreme heat, you should:
  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.

During Extreme Heat


 What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
First Aid for Heat-Induced Illnesses
First Aid
Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches
Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally.
Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.
Heat Cramps
Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating
Get the victim to a cooler location.
Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms.
Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
Heat Exhaustion
Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.
Get victim to lie down in a cool place.
Loosen or remove clothing.
Apply cool, wet clothes.
Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place.
Give sips of water if victim is conscious.
Be sure water is consumed slowly.
Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.
Discontinue water if victim is nauseated.
Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
Heat Stroke
( a severe medical emergency)

High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.
Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
Move victim to a cooler environment.
Removing clothing
Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.
Watch for breathing problems.
Use extreme caution.
Use fans and air conditioners.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Did you know that the first Friday in June is designated as National Doughnut Day?  National Doughnut Day actually stretches back all the way to 1938, when the Salvation Army initiated the holiday to commemorate the volunteers who passed out doughnuts to soldiers on the front lines in World War I. According to Wikipedia, it was started by the Salvation Army as a fundraiser and continues as such today.

Also from Wikipedia, "Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed "huts" that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could "mother" the boys. These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers.

About 250 The Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dog Bite Prevention Week

National Dog Bite Prevention Week
May 20 - 26, 2012

This week (May 20 - 26) is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, so please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with important facts and safety recommendations, both for you and your family as potential dog bite victims, but also as a dog owner.  Keep in mind that all dogs have their own personality and can be unpredictable at times, regardless of breed.  Although the more aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls, garner most of the news coverage, a small breed can be just as likely to bite, depending on the circumstances.

Some dogs can appear to be innocent and playful:

While others can seem downright sneaky:

 But you can never really be sure of what they are thinking:

Here is some important safety information, to help protect your family from dog bites, but also if you are a dog owner (courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe
  • Be cautious around strange dogs, and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:
  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Teach their children – including toddlers – to be careful around pets. Children must learn not to approach strange dogs or try to pet dogs through fences. Teach children to ask permission from the dog's owner before petting the dog.
  • Never come near a dog you don’t know – especially if it is tethered to something, behind a fence or confined in a car.
  • Don’t ever play with a dog without adult supervision.
  • Never disturb a sleeping dog, or one who is eating or caring for puppies.
  • Don’t chase or tease a dog.
  • Always ask a dog’s owner if it’s OK to pet a dog.
  • Never pet or touch a dog before it has a chance to see and sniff you.
  • Don’t ever turn away and run from a dog, and don’t scream.
  • Instead, remain still: stand without moving with your hands at your sides. Don’t make eye contact with a dog. If you sense it’s about to attack, find something to put between you and the animal such as a backpack or blanket.
  • If a dog knocks you down, curl your body into a ball and put your hands over your face. Get help immediately.

 Tips For Dog Owners

Like all types of insurance claims, the best kind of dog bite to have is the one that never occurs, so focus first on prevention.
  • Carefully select your pet. Puppies should not be obtained on impulse.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
  • Properly socialize and train your dog. The basic commands "sit," "stay," "no," and "come" help dogs understand what is expected of them and can be incorporated into fun activities that build a bond of trust between pets and people.  Teach the dog submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose its abdomen and relinquishing food without growling.
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Avoid highly excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
  • Keep your dog healthy. Have your dog vaccinated against rabies and preventable infectious diseases. Parasite control and other health care are important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.
  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secure.
  • Dogs who spend a lot of time alone or chained up can become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite. To help prevent dog bites, make your dog part of your family.
  •  Dogs with a history of aggression are not appropriate for households with children.
  • Use caution when bringing a dog or puppy into the home of an infant or toddler. Never, ever leave infants or young children alone with any dog
  • If your child seems fearful or apprehensive about having a dog, it is probably wise to delay bringing one into your home.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and to bite.
Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to prevent a dog bite, so if your dog bites someone, please, please act responsibly and follow these steps:

If Your Dog Does Bite, Take Responsible Actions
  • Confine your dog immediately. Check on the victim and seek medical attention.
  • Provide the victim with important information, such as the date of your dog’s last rabies vaccination. Without a current rabies vaccination on record, your dog likely faces a quarantine.
  • Cooperate with the animal control official. Strictly follow any quarantine requirements.
  • Seek professional help to prevent your dog from biting again. Consult with your veterinarian, who may refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. Your community animal control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services.

Friday, April 6, 2012

 Due to the recent events in the Dallas - Fort Worth area, you really can't be over-prepared when it comes to tornadoes.  They can literally appear out of nowhere in a matter of seconds and that may not leave you any time to think about what to do to protect yourself and your family... knowing what to do needs to be so ingrained in your mind that can react, rather than think. 

Please immerse yourself in knowledge so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a tornado.

The following is from the American Red Cross.