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How to Keep your Furry Friends Warm and Safe during the Cold Winter Weather

Erika Harvey - Friday, January 23, 2015

How to Keep Your Fury Friends Warm and Safe during the Cold Winter Weather



Just like people pets cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fats, activity level and also the pets health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly.

Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather, unless you’re taking your dog out to use the bathroom. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paws can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below freezing weather. 

A warm vehicle engine can be appealing for outdoor cats because of the heat it gives off but it can also be deadly. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood or check underneath your vehicle to scare them away before starting your engine.


Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold weather injury or damage. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate or burn the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth. When you take your dog for a walk make sure ice does not accumulate between their toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of ice ball accumulation by clipping the hair between their toes. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals.

Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.


Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his or her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well fitted collar with an up-to-date identification and contact information.

Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water and food supply and keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter.


Following these tips can help your furry friend keep warm and safe throughout the winter, which in turn will give you peace of mind. Remember that our pets are part of our families and that they deserve the same consideration and respect as we do when it comes to keeping them safe and warm during the winter months.

Hurricane Katrina

Erika Harvey - Monday, January 12, 2015

Hurricane Katrina


Early in the morning on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. When the storm made landfall, it had a Category 3 rating and it brought sustained winds of 100–140 miles per hour–and stretched some 400 miles across. The storm itself did a great deal of damage, but its aftermath was catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were removed from their homes, and experts estimate that Katrina caused more than $100 billion in damage. In all, Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people and affected some 90,000 square miles of the United States. Hundreds of thousands of evacuees scattered far and wide. Today, after years of recovery and rebuilding efforts, people along the Gulf Coast have made great strides in returning to life as usual even as they continue to rebuild.

 Hurricane Katrina was the largest and 3rd strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the US

The storm surge from Katrina was 20-ft (six meters) high


Hurricane Katrina affected over 15 million people in different ways varying from having to evacuate their homes, rising gas prices, and the economy suffering

An estimated 80% of New Orleans was under water, up to 20 ft. deep in places

Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in property damages, but it is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion, earning the title of costliest hurricane ever in US history



An “Act of God” typically refers to any natural disaster that cannot be foreseen or prevented by humans. Things we cannot prevent include any naturally-occurring catastrophe, such as earthquakes, tornados, hail, lighting and hurricanes. This is why “Acts of God” are also called acts of nature. Most insurers will cover natural disasters and other “Acts of God” as covered by Comprehensive coverage. This usually also covers theft and vandalism, and may include allotments for stolen or damage property that is kept inside your vehicle. Unless events are specifically excluded, this is where payment comes for “Acts of God” or Nature.  

Anyone can be subjected to an earthquake, hurricane or flood at any time or place. We highly recommend calling your personal insurance agent with your questions and concerns about “Natural Disasters” and “Acts of God”.   

Public Safety Tips for the Holidays

Erika Harvey - Monday, December 22, 2014

Public Safety Tips for the Holidays

             The Holiday Season is here, and with it, comes great expectations.  Expressions of love and support for family and friends will take over our thoughts and actions.  So, to make certain that we enjoy the Holidays as we expect to, without incident, let’s all remember some basics about staying safe. 



            *    Avoid driving at night

            *    Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car

            *    If you shop at night, park in a well-lighted area

            *    Avoid parking next to vans, trucks or campers

            *    Park as close as you can to your destination and remember where you parked

            *    Never leave your car unattended with the motor running or with children inside.

           *    Do not leave packages or valuables in plain sight, lock in your trunk

           *    Keep your purse on you at all times. Do not set it down

           *    Beware of your surroundings; do not walk to your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.


            When going to use the ATM make sure you are choosing one in a good location (inside a store, bank, mall, or in a well-lighted area). Withdraw only the amount of money you need at that time. Protect your pin by blocking the keypad from anyone who is standing near you. Do not throw your ATM receipt away in a public trash can, wait till you get home.



        *    Shop during daylight hours; if you are going at night ask a friend or family member to join you

        *    Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; if you’re carrying cash on you keep it in your front pocket

        *    Notify the credit card company immediately if your card is lost or stole

        *    Do not overload yourself with packages. It makes you a prime target for criminals


        *    Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you

        *    Never let your child go to the car or bathroom alone

        *    Keep a close eye on your child at all times

At home

        *    Lock all doors and windows when home alone, going to bed and/ or leaving the house

        *    Have outdoor lights on when it starts getting dark

        *    Leave a light on in the house so it looks like someone is home


Strangers at your door

        *    Be aware that criminals can pose as anyone so when answering the door be cautious and alert, and ask for identification.

Hosting/Attending a Party

        *    Drink responsibly and safely. If you are drinking arrange for an official designated driver that is going to the party with you or find alternative transportation.

        *    NEVER drink and drive!



Winter & Holiday: Home Fire Safety

Erika Harvey - Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter & Holiday: Home Fire Safety

I know were all snuggled up on the couch after we get home from a long day of work or going to school. We start cooking homemade meals that will keep us warm such as a pot of chili or soup or drinking hot cocoa by the fire or heater. We have candles lit around the house with the smell of pinecones, Christmas trees, sugar cookies and berries. Usually around this time of year we get stuck inside for most of the season with the weather and we start to cook more, and bake and use the fireplace if you have one. During the winter months at my house once the cold weather comes knocking we turn on the fireplace and we keep it running all winter long. Here are some tips on keeping your house fire safe this winter.


v Never leave cooking food unattended.

v Keep flammable material and loose clothing away from open flames.

v Keep the appliance and cooking area clean

v Use extra caution with cooking oils as they can ignite easily.

Portable Heaters

v Keep heaters a minimum of 36’’ away from flammable items

v Plug directly into a wall outlet.

v Try to use only heaters with built in high temperature shutoff features

v Do not hang or put anything on or around the heater

v Turn off portable heaters when family members are sleeping or leave the house



v Blow out candles before leaving the room

v Keep candles away from items that can burn

v Always use sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candle holders

v Place candles out of reach of small children and pets.



v Have your fireplace or wood stove inspected annually. Repair and clean as necessary

v Never burn paper or trash in your fireplace

v Always use a fireplace screen

v Never leave the fire unattended



v Replace electrical cords that show signs of damage, and never coil or walk on cords.

v Avoid using extension cords. Use a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker instead.

v Avoid overloading circuits

Gas Appliances

v Ensure proper clearances to combustibles

v Inspect the exhaust venting

v Have a technician come out and check to make sure that it is working properly.

Children and Pets

Keep children and pets away. A toppled Christmas tree or chewed electrical wires are major cause of holiday related fires. Keep wires out of reach and be mindful of low hanging wires and ornaments on your tree. Dogs and cats alike may try to play with or chew on wires which could lead to electrical fires and harm to both tree and pet. Children should be told to look but don't touch as Christmas trees are often filled with shiny and colorful lights and decorations; tempting small children to touch and play near the Christmas tree.

Smoke Alarms & Planning Ahead

Having working smoke alarms are essential because they provide an early warning of a fire developing in your home. It is recommended you have a smoke alarm on every level of the home. Test smoke alarms frequently to ensure they are functioning. When properly placed and maintained smoking alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire by fifty percent.

Plan ahead. Talk with your family about exits and fire evacuation and establish a safe meeting place. Teach your children how to remain calm in these kinds of situations. Show them how to maneuver in the house to be able to find the safest way out. Practice home escape drills with your family monthly to better prepare yourself.

Best wishes for the upcoming holiday season. May it be a fire safe and joyous one for you and your families.

Outdoor Christmas Lighting

Erika Harvey - Friday, December 05, 2014

Outdoor Christmas Lighting

A house lit up with Christmas lights is a beautiful sight to behold. However stringing lights across your roof and around your home can be a real safety hazard if you’re not careful. So before you start to dazzle friends and family with your lightshow, take a few moments to run through this quick safety checklist.


à       Be Cautious when Installing Exterior Lighting

  • Don’t install your lights on trees that come in contact with power lines. Before installing your Christmas lights, plug them in to make sure all of your bulbs are working. If some are out make sure you replace them before hanging them up.

à       Use the Proper Outlet

  • Your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. This type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is over current. We want your lights to shine, not sparks to fly!

à       Keep extension cords out of the way

  • When using extension cords, make sure they are for outdoor use only, and keep the connections above ground, snow and water. Tape cords across walkways and use the correct length needed. You don’t want to have a pile of cords and create walking hazards.

à       Be careful with ladders

  • Make sure you are using a sturdy ladder. Enlist a helper to keep you steady as you hang lights on very tall trees or along the outside of the house.


à       Use Waterproof lights

à       Don’t leave Christmas lights running when you go to bed at night or when you leave the house

à       When you put your lights back into storage after the holidays, make sure to put them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block the animals from getting into it


Holiday Tree Safety

Erika Harvey - Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Holiday Tree Safety

            Now that Christmas is right around the corner, now is the time everyone starts decorating their house and picking out a Christmas tree and getting into the holiday spirit. Christmas trees are such a tradition that brings families together, brings out the child in everyone, creates memories and also gives you pride in your home.  Below are some guidelines on tree safety to help keep you and your family safe this Christmas.

Picking the Tree:

            Find a healthy tree, preferably a tree from a tree farm where you can purchase it while it is still in the ground. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall of when touched.  Steer clear of a tree with dead or browning needles. These trees are already past their prime and will not last much longer. Don’t forget to water your tree daily to help make your tree last longer. If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.



Placing the Tree:

            Pick a place where your tree can be seen by those passing but where it won’t block natural light from entering your home. Also, natural light helps warms up your home.  When you get your Christmas tree it’s the perfect time to bring the family all together to decorate and make memories. Depending on your home’s (or apartments) layout, place the tree away from hallways that attract a lot of traffic. Finding a place where you can see your tree from multiple vantage points is a special treat. The more you see your tree the more you’ll appreciate the time you spent buying and decorating it. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents and or lights so it does not catch on fire. Set up a tree stand and make sure that it is secure and stable. Make sure the tree is not blocking a door or exit. If you’re using a ladder be sure to lock it in place and just to be extra cautious always have someone in the room with you.

Lighting and Decorating the Tree:

Only use lights made for indoor lighting. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose blub connections. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. If you have small children or pets trim the lower branches to avoid eye injury. Hang all ornaments that are breakable, have small detachable parts or metal hooks or that look like food or candy on higher branches where small children can’t reach them. Avoid using artificial snow sprays, which can cause lung irritation if inhaled.  ALWAYS turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.


After Christmas:

            Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried out trees are fire dangers and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside against the home. Use a large, plastic tree bag to cover the tree before removing it from the inside of your home. You can also use an old blanket or sheet to wrap around the tree. This will prevent needles and sap from making a mess on your carpet or hardwood floors. Finally, carry the tree to the curb, making sure not to obstruct any roads or sidewalks. Arrange for pickup by your local yard waste management program if you don't already have this service. Also, check with your local recycling center for free drop-off locations. Oftentimes these centers will chip and shred your tree for use as mulch. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer. 



Happy Thanksgiving

Erika Harvey - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal and is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. The word “thanksgiving” provides memories and images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. No matter how big your family is, we all have cherished traditions that make our holidays even more special. When I was younger my family and I would go to my grandparents’ house to celebrate thanksgiving with everyone. All of the grandchildren would arrive early in the morning to do crafts and help my grandmother decorate the house. She would go to the attic to get all of her decorations out and one by one we would be in line to help her bring them down. All of the grandkids would each take a section of the house they wanted to decorate and make it their own. After we were all done decorating then the craft making part of the day would begin. I would have to say this was my favorite part of the day because I loved making crafts. My grandmother would set up the table with everything we would need to make our craft, including the step by step directions list that she would print off of her computer that morning. The one thing she loved more than anything was doing crafts, especially when her grandchildren were there to do them with her. She would call us her “little helpers” but she always ended up letting us make it on our own and would be there to help out if we needed it. Every year we would make a thanksgiving wreath, our own place mats and name cards, pilgrim hats, a turkey made out of cotton balls and acorns, and a couple other things. After we were done with the crafts we would help her set the table and our parents would start arriving. As soon as you walked into my grandmother’s house you could smell the aroma from all of the food she had been cooking from earlier in the day and it smelled amazing, not to mention she was a great cook. We would all sit around the table eating the amazing Thanksgiving Feast the adults had prepared for us and when we were done eating we would convene to the living room to watch football. Once football was over we would say our goodbyes and go home. Holidays are a very special time to spend with family and friends and to bring about new memories to last you for a lifetime.


Here are some interesting facts about thanksgiving that you can share with your family and friends:

à       The Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920’s

à       The NFL started the Thanksgiving Classic games in 1920 and now has become a tradition to watch football on thanksgiving.

à       It was not until 1941 that Congress declared thanksgiving as a National Holiday. ( It lies on the fourth Thursday in November)

à       The first thanksgiving was not a feast but rather a time when Native Americans helped Pilgrims by bringing them food and helping them build off the land.

à       First thanksgiving lasted for three days

à       The day after thanksgiving has been named “Black Friday” by retailers and is the biggest shopping day of the year.

à       In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebration.


Wanting to wish everyone a safe and blessed holiday this year and a Happy Thanksgiving.


Child Safety

Erika Harvey - Monday, November 10, 2014

Child Safety Protection Month

The goal of child safety protection month is to create awareness about the potential dangers children face in everyday situations and to use this knowledge to help prevent any dangers in the future from occurring. As children grow and change they require different levels of protection, and this is a good way to remind us to check the safety and protection plans we have in place for our children. Here is a list of some of the things you can include in your checklist:


v Vehicle Safety: All children must be riding in and correctly using an appropriate child safety restraint system. Children under age 6 and weighing under 60 lbs. must be in a car seat or booster seat; older children must be wearing a seatbelt. To be able to sit in the passenger seat of the car the child must be 12 years of age or older. When driving engage door and window lock if your car is equipped with them.

v Safety at home: Keep hallways and areas near stairs free of clutter. Designate a space for your children to keep their toys. Keep cleaners, medications and other harmful substances out of reach of children. Use child safety locks on cabinets and doors. Keep small toys or items out of younger children’s reach to avoid choking. Put covers over electrical outlets. Don’t leave sharp objects lying around. Don’t allow your child to play in the kitchen around a hot stove or oven.

v Supervision: Children are active explorers of their environments. No matter how safe we try and keep our home, our children may find things that could potentially lead to accidents or injury. The greatest steps we can take to keeping our children safe is by supervising them. Never leave your child unattended, make sure you have eyes on them at all times.

v Safety Town: Safety Town is a program that teaches youngsters how to be safe at home, school, and play. The children are instructed on pedestrian safety (knowing when and how to cross the street or sidewalk, making sure they look both ways for cars and keeping their ears and eyes open). School bus safety, fire safety (knowing what to do in case of a fire Stop, Drop, and Roll and also being aware that if something is hot such as a stove, oven or fire do not touch it), seat belt safety (how to put on your seatbelt, wearing your seatbelt and knowing when it is okay to take it off). Animal safety and caring for pets, water safety rules (teaching you how to swim and what is not allowed in the water). Poison safety rules (helps children recognize what products they are allowed to handle and what they should not be touching). Dealing with strangers (what you should do if a stranger comes up to you and your parents are not around), bicycle safety (how to ride a bike, wear a helmet, and always ride with two hands) and personal body safety.     

                                                                                                                                               “Gates to block stairs”

        "Locks for cabinets"     



 “Door locks so child cannot open a door”

Other ways to teach your child about safety:

-Coloring and activity books

-Reading books


-Board games

-You can also come up with your own safety games to make it fun for the children so they will want to learn.

-T.V shows (Examples: Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Blues Clues,

Curious George…) they will usually make a show on how to teach your child about safety.


Halloween Safety

Erika Harvey - Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Safety

Halloween can be a frightening time of year. Whether it is the costume you are wearing or letting a child go out unsupervised. Here are some tips on how to stay safe during a fun night of trick-or-treating.

  1. Decorate the child’s costume with reflective tape or wear light colors.
  2. Make sure they have a flashlight for when it gets dark out and is hard to see.
  3. Children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by an adult. If the child is over the age then just remind them that they should be aware of their surroundings and stay with people they know.
  4. Never go to an unlit house and do not accept rides from strangers.
  5. Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.



There are plenty of things to do such as:

-Haunted houses                             -Pumpkin carving

-Corn mazes                                     - Hay rides

-Watch scary movies                      - Trick-or-Treating


Have fun and enjoy the holiday and just remember some of our tips to stay safe on Halloween.




Bad Weather and Property Damage

Erika Harvey - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bad weather and Property Damage

When a storm strikes it is important to know what steps to take if your home has been damaged.


Before calling your agent to discuss the recent damages please have your policy number and any other relevant information about your policy ready and in front of you so that you are prepared. Once you have called fully cooperate with the insurance company and ask what steps need to be taken next to make this process as simple and easy for you and for your insurance company as possible.

Second take photographs/video of the damage.

Third you want to get rid of any standing water. The longer the water sits the more damage it will do to your home. When you call your insurance company you can ask if they recommend how to go about how could call to get rid of the water.

After the water has been cleared out of the house clean up any debris and allow your appliances to air dry. Open the windows and doors if the humidity level outside is lower than inside. Fans and humidifiers are very helpful to circulate air. Have your cabinets, closets and any doors open so the air can circulate in their also. Washing down the walls with a disinfectant such as Clorox bleach can help get rid of the mildew and mold. 

Do not have any repairs made until you have discussed with your insurance agent to find out what is covered and what is not covered under your insurance. Your insurance company might send someone out to inspect the property damage.

Lastly and most importantly save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.


For future reference here are some ways to help prevent it from happening again:

  1. Replace the materials in your home with water-resistant materials
  2. Check for leaks and cracks. Make sure you check around every door and window to ensure that the seals are watertight.
  3. Fix faulty plumbing. Any leaking pipes, clogged drains should be fixed or replaced.
  4. Make sure that drainage pipes and gutters drain water away from the house and that everything is properly sealed.