Category Archives: Safety Tips

Keeping Your Home Secure

The Central Massachusetts area has seen a sharp increase in break-ins over the past several months. Whether you live in the heart of Worcester, or in the suburbs, everyone wants to keep their home safe from burglars or intruders. However, not everyone wants to have an alarm system installed. Whether you are nervous about the costs associated with an alarm system, or prefer the do-it-yourself route, there are more options than ever when it comes to home security.

We at Zawada Insurance want to help you sort through some of those options, many of which require little or no cost

 

Do-it-yourself options

The widespread availability of electronic tools means that homeowners can set up their own monitoring systems if they choose, without the help of a home-security company.

  • Cameras: Smaller and more inexpensive than ever, cameras can be placed nearly anywhere on the exterior of your home and monitored from inside wirelessly — or set to record footage for review later. Available software even allows you to point your laptop camera in a particular direction (say, at the front door) and check the images from a remote location.
  • Lights: Motion-detecting floodlights are an excellent deterrent to thieves, because they don’t want to be seen. Make sure they’re installed near entryways, and that they aren’t easily reached from the ground. And using timers and/or ‘smart light bulbs’ for interior lights is a good way to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  • Alarms: Vibration alarms are available for windows, alerting you if someone is trying to get in. Similarly, other monitors can be installed near doors and programmed to sound if a person comes within a set distance. Some even emit barking sounds to make it appear that a dog is in the house.

Even if you aren’t interested in installing security equipment around your home, there are a number of things you can do to increase safety:

  • Keep your home locked. According to FBI statistics, over 33% of home burglaries are committed with the thieves walking through an unlocked door or window. Avoid becoming a statistic! You should also make sure that sliding doors and windows have extra security, such as a track lock or dowel in the track.
  • Don’t leave a key outside. If you need to provide access to your home while you’re away, leave your key with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Watch the landscaping and snow piles. Thick shrubs and bushes around your porch or yard can give thieves a good place to hide. Keep them well-trimmed and ensure that problematic areas can be illuminated with your outdoor lighting. You can run into the same issues in the winter with large snow piles.
  • Use common sense. If you’re going away on vacation, cancel your newspaper and other deliveries. Ask a neighbor to keep watch, and park a car out front. Don’t post publicly on social media or leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail indicating that you’ll be away for an extended period.

Burglars really do consider deterrents such as alarms, cameras, dogs, etc., when looking at targets, according to a study released by the University of North Carolina. So a small investment in security can make a big difference!

Sidebar:

It’s a great time for a home inventory

If your home was burglarized, would you know what was missing? A home inventory is a crucial tool to help replace everything that was lost. And we can help you do one! Give us a call at (508) 831-0133 or visit our website at www.zawadagroup.com to learn more.

Contact Us!

At Zawada Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (508) 831-0133, we want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

 

4 Quick Things to do Before Your Family Vacation

With summer right around the corner, many families in Worcester and the surrounding area are planning to spend some time away from home for a change of scenery. This can be a fun and exciting time, but make sure that you’re prepared so that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

 

4. Make sure your bills are paid

Late payments hurt your credit score. To avoid unnecessary damage, prepay any bills that you have due during your vacation. You could also consider setting up automatic payments from your bank account so that you won’t be caught off guard by one that you’ve forgotten. This is especially important for your utilities; you don’t want those to be shut off while you’re gone!

3. Protect against burglers

First on this list is something that everyone thinks about. Criminals love targeting empty homes, so you want to make sure that your possessions are as secure as possible before you take an extended vacation. Consider putting your small valuables such as jewelry in a safety deposit box before you go. Before you leave, make sure all of your doors and windows are locked and your alarm system is working properly.

2. Clean house BEFORE you leave!

No one wants to come home from vacation to a mess. Before you go, make sure you take care of any chores that need to be finished and remove any food from your refrigerator that will go bad while you are gone.

 1. Let your Bank and Credit Card companies know you are leaving

This is especially important if you’ve had fraudulent activity on your account in the past, or if your vacation is somewhere outside of the country. As a way of protecting themselves, your bank or credit card company may shut off access to your finances if they see strange activity occurring (like being used in a country you don’t actually live in!). To avoid this, simply tell the bank you will be on vacation so they don’t shut your card off. On that note, it also doesn’t hurt to carry cash with you when you’re traveling in case you do end up in a situation where your credit cards are being declined. 

Summer vacation can be a lot of fun, but in order to make sure you have a great time, you have to prepare properly! Follow these steps and you’ll be sure that you’re in for a great time and a relaxing return home at the end of your stay.

 

Heads Up!

A new law effective April 7, 2015, requires drivers to turn on their headlights whenever conditions require the use of windshield wipers. The law only allows a minimal fine for a violation, but admitting responsibility and paying the fine puts a “minor surchargeable traffic violation” on your driving record. In some circumstances, that can affect your auto insurance rates.

Remember. Windshield wipers on? Lights on!

Make Your House a Haven for Trick-or-Treaters

Halloween is one of the fall season’s most treasured holidays. Kids love to dress up, get together with friends, and go door-to-door in search of the biggest and best goodies.

If your neighborhood tends to be teeming with little ghosts, goblins, superheroes and princesses, you’ll want to be sure your yard and stoop are safe and welcoming. A little pre-planning can prevent unfortunate accidents that could turn out to be tragic for kids and trying for you.

Here are some pointers for ensuring your house is a safe place for trick-or-treaters on Oct. 31.

Pets first. Many dogs, cats, and other furry family companions get scared when oddly dressed strangers approach their door in droves. Make sure your pet is in a safe and comfortable space or take them to a secure, relaxing offsite location for the evening.

Clean it up. If your yard gathers stuff – like toys, rakes and other yard tools, hoses, tree branches, you name it – take the time to clean it up. Make sure your yard is free of potential hazards and create a clutter-free walking path well before dusk falls this Halloween.

Light it up. Make sure you offer a well-lit path. You can do this using any type of yard lights, from solar, string, LED, existing outdoor lighting or glow-in-the-dark.

Turn it off. When you’re done for the night, make it obvious by turning any and all inviting lights off. However, if you’re still offering candy in a bowl outside, do make sure to keep the path well-lit until your sweet treats are tucked away inside the house.

At Zawada Insurance, we hope you enjoy a safe Halloween devoid of tricks and full of treats!

Contact Us!

At Zawada Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (508)831-0133 or send us a note at azawada@zawadagroup.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

When Things go BOOM in the Night – Fireworks Safety

For most of us, the Fourth of July is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, having fun and creating memories – whether at home or watching the Boston Pops perform in Boston.

But for some families, the holiday is a nightmare. Homes each year in Massachusetts are damaged by wayward fireworks. Thousands of people are injured in accidents.

At Zawada Insurance, we want your holiday to be happy, but also safe. So here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your property on the Fourth.

Protecting yourself (and others)

  • To minimize the risk of injury, don’t use consumer fireworks. Attend a public display conducted by professionals on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester or elsewhere.
  • If using consumer fireworks, always follow instructions. Do not attempt to re-light “duds” or create homemade fireworks.
  • Never let children handle or light fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees, can cause third-degree burns. Kids under the age of 15 account for approximately 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
  • A responsible adult should always be present when children – even teenagers – are around fireworks. More than half of fireworks injuries happen to those younger than 20 years old.

Protecting your home

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, the best way to protect your home is to not use fireworks at home.
  • Remember, fireworks can cause grass fires and other types of blazes as well. Make sure you light fireworks in a safe area, away from homes and buildings, as well as other combustible material. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
  • Look out for tree limbs or bushes that could catch fire. Trimming vegetation to keep it away from your home is a good idea anyway, but it could save you from a catastrophic fire on the Fourth of July.
  • If your gutters have accumulated leaves, pine needles or other flammable material, clean them before using fireworks near your home.
  • Finally, if you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks.

With some common sense and planning, the Fourth of July can be both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Whether you’re staying at home or heading to Worcester or Boston, we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating our independence!

Summers Mean Backyard Grilling – Safely!

Just like hamburgers and hot dogs, a sizzling grill is a symbol of summer and grilling isn’t just about great food. Backyard barbecues often create treasured memories with friends and family.

Keep in mind, however, that when you grill, you’re literally playing with fire. Thousands of residents each year learn this the hard way, suffering damage to their homes or even serious injuries in grilling accidents.

There’s good news, though: You can prevent grilling accidents by taking some simple precautions. The tips below can help ensure you cook only your burgers — and not your house — the next time you fire up the grill.

TIPS FOR ALL GRILLS

Your grill, whether gas or charcoal, should be on a level surface outdoors, away from anything that could be ignited by flames (bushes, fences, etc.).

NEVER use a grill indoors. Odorless carbon monoxide fumes could kill you.

Keep your grill clean and well-maintained. Check parts regularly to determine if replacements are needed.

Never leave a hot grill unattended or let children play near it.

CHARCOAL GRILL TIPS

From Kingsford.com

Do not add lighter fluid directly to hot coals. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.

Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.

Use flame-retardant mitts and long-handled barbecue tongs, as coals can reach up to 1,000 degrees.

To dispose of coals, allow the ashes to cool for at least 48 hours before disposal in a non-combustible container. If you cannot wait 48 hours, carefully place coals individually in a can of sand or bucket of water.

GAS GRILL TIPS

From the National Fire Protection Association

Check your grill’s hoses for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If you have a leak, and it will not stop after the grill and gas is turned off, call the fire department. If the leak stops when the grill and gas are turned off, have your grill serviced by a professional.

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Do not keep a filled propane tank in a hot car or trunk. When getting containers refilled, make that your last stop before going home.

Store propane tanks in an upright position, and never indoors.

From all of us at Zawada Insurance Agency, happy grilling, and stay safe this summer!