Driving Safety: Deer in the Headlights

Watch For Deer While Driving!

Deer Crossing Minnesota

For those of us who live in Minnesota, we are well aware that most any season is “peak” for deer and auto collision. Here are some tips to prevent a collision between your car and a deer.

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings. 
    Look for the yellow traffic sign with a deer on it. If you see one, it means you’re entering an area with an active, concentrated deer population. Make sure your eyes are always moving, and pay  particular attention to the side of the road. AND, don’t forget to pay attention to what other cars are doing. The car in front of you may brake suddenly. If you notice something out of the ordinary, slow down.
  2. One deer probably equals many more.
    Deer usually travel in herds, so if you see one cross the road, look immediately to where the deer came from. There are probably others ready to cross. Deer are most active between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
  3. High beams, high beams, high beams.
    Use your high beams as much as oncoming traffic will allow. High beams do a great job lighting up the road in front of you, especially the side of the road where the herd may be hanging out. If you feel your head lights aren’t lighting up the road properly, consider taking your car to your local mechanic for a check up. A headlight may be burned out or need an adjustment.
  4. Never swerve for a deer or other animal.
    While swerving is an instinct many of us feel when an animal runs in the road, it can put you in a more dangerous situation. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your car, put you in the lane of oncoming traffic, or cause you to hit a tree or ditch and overturn your vehicle. The best techniques are to remind yourself not to swerve and to braked firmly.
  5. Consider purchasing deer whistles.
    While there is conflicting data on whether or not deer whistles actually work, they’re a cheap precautionary measure. I believe it’s worth giving them a try.
  6. Stay calm and safe.
    If you do hit a deer, another natural instinct is to get out of your car to check the damage. But can you really determine the extent of the damage just by looking at it? Probably not. I recommend you stay in your car. From there, you can do a number of things that will keep you and your family safe:
    Call 911           Turn on your hazard light          Call your insurance agent
  7. Knowledge is power.
    Make sure you understand what coverage’s and limits of insurance you have on your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage for damage that results from hitting an animal. Without that coverage, you’ll be left with the bill.

Fireplace Safety

Fireplace and Home Fire Safety

Fireplace Safety TipsWarm, cozy fires are very inviting, especially around the Holidays. We decorate our fireplaces with beautiful ornaments and fragrant pine and of course the stockings that are filled with goodies. Keep in mind, however, you will want to be vigilant about keeping it clean and safe.

The U.S. Fire administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility.

• Keep Fireplaces clean.
• Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
• Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
• Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures the fire receives enough combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
• Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from getting into the room.
• Always use a metal mesh screen if you do not have a glass door. This keeps embers from getting in the fireplace area.
• Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned, dry wood.
• When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container at least 10 feet away from your home and other buildings. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Source:  U.S. Fire Administration

By: Jane Williamson

Homeowners Insurance & Your Firearm

Owning a firearm is a major responsibility and requires significant insurance to go along with that responsibility.

Minnesota Homeowners Insurance, Minnesota Firearm SafetyIf you own a firearm, it’s a good idea to know what kind of coverage is available under the standard home insurance policy. You will need to consider both the personal property and the liability aspects of the policy. The property portion of your policy will cover your firearms if they are stolen or destroyed, whereas the liability coverage applies due to the accidental discharge of a firearm causing injury up to the limits of the policy; typically $100,000 to $500,000.

Like many items that are small, valuable and easily transportable, firearms are subject to a limit. In many cases, the firearm sub-limit is $1,000 – $2,500. If you need more coverage than is normally available on the home insurance, you’ll have to look for more specialized coverage. Your options will be to add a “rider” to your existing home policy; or you can purchase a separate, stand-alone policy. Riders are very common for items such as jewelry and antiques. In the case of firearms, you will need to ask your agent just how much coverage you would have. Because of the risk factors associated with firearms, it would be beneficial to purchase an Umbrella policy which provides additional liability protection.

A few tips for firearm storage and safety:

  • Store guns safely and securely to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Guns and ammunition should be stored separately.
  • Use a trigger or cable lock so it can’t be fired.
  • Store unloaded in a lockable container.
  • Don’t store firearms where visible.
  • Don’t store firearms with other valuables such as jewelry or cameras, etc.
  • If you have children, be EXTRA vigilant for obvious reasons.

On average, one Minnesotan dies every day by firearms while others suffer injuries. Firearms are the state’s second leading cause of traumatic brain injury deaths.

Sources: homeinsurance.org/firearms
Minnesota Department of Health

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Recommended Reading: “The Four Agreements”

"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel RuizRecently, a colleague recommended a small, but powerful book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Rooted in traditional Toltec wisdom beliefs, four agreements in life are essential steps on the path to personal freedom. It’s message is a simple but effective code of personal conduct. He asserts that maintaining these simple agreements will open the door to more meaningful and accepting relationships, both personally and professionally.

Whether we are selling ourselves, our products, or our services, it is apparent that we need to bring a simplicity back to the forefront for the sake of preserving our relationships and professional integrity. Here are “The Four Agreements”:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

They are so simple, it’s almost cliché, right? Let’s dilve more deeply into what Mr. Ruiz is trying to express.

Be impeccable with your word. Say what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself, or to gossip about others. Remember to use the power of word in the direction of truth.

Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you; it is a projection of their own reality You will be far less vulnerable to needless suffering if you strive to be immune to the opinions and actions of others.

Don’t make assumptions. It’s the only way to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want.

Always do your best. In any and all circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. When we focus on excellence, our regrets are reduced, and we are empowered to grow in all areas of our lives.

These four simple agreements are essential to living a more positive, balanced life. And, all of them are fundamental to developing stronger, more balanced relationships.