10 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

There’s no doubt your little ones are beginning to get excited about Halloween. You can’t blame them – what child wouldn’t start counting down the days to dressing up as a superhero, princess or firefighter while also getting free candy?

To make sure your family has the best Halloween this year, here are 10 safety tips:

  1. Never trick-or-treat alone. Always make sure you are either with your kids or they are in a group.
  2. Have a planned route before-hand. If you aren’t accompanying your kids, plan out where they’re going to go with their friends. Tell them what neighborhoods are good, which they aren’t allowed to go to and what’s deemed too far.
  3. Have a flashlight. You want to be able to see that candy right? It’ll also make your trick-or-treaters more aware to other children and drivers on the roads.
  4. Wear comfy shoes. Sure, Spider-Man might not rock sneakers with his outfit but you’re going to want your children to be comfortable for the long walk that night.
  5. Never accept rides from strangers or go inside strangers houses.
  6. Only visit well-lit houses. If a house doesn’t have its porch light on or any other indicators that they’re open for candy, it’s best to skip that house and move on.
  7. Don’t eat any candy that isn’t properly wrapped. A tummy ache will crush your child’s candy-eating dreams.
  8. Don’t run! Those costumes aren’t built for sprinters, so tell your kids to not be in such a hurry to avoid tripping over theirs or others costumes.
  9. Stay on sidewalks as much as possible. Don’t wander into the street and stick as close to houses as possible.
  10. Make sure your child can properly see and move comfortably. It’s fun to put down the cape and cowl of your favorite hero, but make sure they can see and enjoy the night properly and reduce the risk of getting hurt.

Alliance wants to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! We’d love to see your costumes, please share them with us! And you have a funny Halloween story then we’d like to hear that too! Let’s kick off this holiday season with a great start!

Alliance Insurance

 

5 Tips for Preparing Your Car for Winter

Fall is just about here and that means the hardest season for your vehicle is around the corner. Winter takes its toll on many drivers, particularly if you haven’t taken the time to do some basic maintenance on your vehicle.

Here’s what you need to know to reduce your risks of getting into an accident in slippery conditions and to help you get more life out of your vehicle.

1. Check Your Tires. First, you’ll need to check the tread-wear on your tires. Take a penny and place it in between your tread, with Lincoln’s head facing up. If you can see Lincoln’s hair, you need new tires. You’ll also need to check your tire pressure to make sure it’s at the optimum level for your particular vehicle. If you live in an area with chronically bad winter weather, you may want to consider purchasing snow tires for the winter season.

Prepared for Winter
Is your Car ready for Winter?

2. Replace Your Windshield Wipers. This is one thing that many car owners miss, and it can have serious consequences. The elements are hard on your wipers, and they should be changed twice a year, in spring and fall. Don’t forget to change the wiper on your back window if you have one!

3. Change Your Oil. As the weather cools down, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the right viscosity of oil. If you change your own oil, check your owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the recommended oil. If you’re having it done for you, just ask the shop to provide you with oil that’s right for winter.

4. Check Your Battery. The last thing you need when it’s cold is to end up stranded somewhere. Take your battery to a shop and have it checked to make sure it’s got enough power to get you through winter. If you’re getting your oil changed, many shops will even throw in a battery check for free.

5. Check Your Antifreeze. After the long, hot summer season, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got the right levels of water and antifreeze in your car. The ideal mix is 50/50. It’s best to have the professionals take care of this one for you, unless you have experience in checking your antifreeze.

These five simple steps will help keep your car running smoothly all winter and reduce the risk of getting into an accident or needing a tow.

Have more questions on your options for vehicle insurance and what you can do to lower your premiums and reduce your claims? Give us a call today at 616-897-1515

Alliance Insurance

5 Boating Safety Tips for Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day is one of the most popular vacation weekends. Everyone is getting their outdoor toys out of storage! Boats can be a real blast but there are a couple important safety tips that could make or break your summer!

Memorial Day

1.       Know the weather getting caught in a storm, blinding rain, or rough waves could turn disastrous quick! Make sure there are clear skies in the forecast!

 

2.       Be prepared make a checklist of necessary items before you head out to be sure that you don’t forget any necessary items! Sunscreen, sunglasses, extra fuel, sound producing devices (in case of emergency!), and plenty of flotation devices of all shapes and sizes!

3.       Develop an EAP Any emergency can be easily complicated by water, make sure you have an Emergency Action Plan to avoid chaos in a tough spot.

4.       Avoid Alcohol – this is one of the most important things when boating. Alcohol can be dangerous in any situation and holiday weekends like this are when it can easily get out of hand. If you’re driving anything, car or boat, you should stay clear of alcohol to be sure that your reflexes and judgment are all top notch.

5.       Come experienced learning basic swimming skills and boating skills are going to be necessary for a fun weekend on the lake. Experience is a great teacher but learning on a busy weekend like this may not be the best time for a beginner.

With all the excitement of summer, we can get distracted and forget to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the risks that can come from these fun activities. Getting your boat, ATV, motorcycle, car, and home insured keeps you more relaxed over the holiday because you know that you’re covered. Make sure your boat is adequately covered, heaven forbid, something happens.

 

Safety
Share your favorite Memorial weekend memory with us in the comments!

10 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Halloween Candy CornThere’s no doubt your little ones are beginning to get excited about Halloween. You can’t blame them – it’s the yearly chance to go splurge on free candy. Plus who wouldn’t be counting down the days to dressing up as a superhero, princess, or firefighter?

To make sure your family has the best Halloween this year, here are 10 safety tips:

1. Never trick-or-treat alone. Always make sure you are either with your kids or they are in a group of friends you trust.

2. Plan your route beforehand. If you aren’t accompanying your kids, plan out where they’re going to go with their friends. Tell them what neighborhoods are good, which they aren’t allowed to go to, and what’s too far from home.

3. Have a flashlight. You want to be able to see that candy right? It’ll also make your trick-or-treaters more aware to other children and drivers on the roads.

4. Wear comfy shoes. Sure, Spider-Man might not rock sneakers with his outfit but you’re going to want your children to be comfortable for the long walk that night. If your child insists on those sparkly princess shoes, consider bringing some more practical back-up shoes for when reality (or blisters) set in.

Halloween Costume

5. Never accept rides from strangers or go inside strangers’ houses.

6. Only visit well-lit houses. If a house doesn’t have its porch light on or any other indicators that they’re open for candy, it’s best to skip that house and move on.

7. Don’t eat any candy that isn’t properly wrapped. A tummy ache will crush your child’s candy-eating dreams.

8. Don’t run! Those costumes aren’t built for sprinters, so tell your kids to not be in such a hurry and avoid tripping over theirs or others’ costumes. Be especially aware of this when capes or long robes are involved!

9. Stay on sidewalks as much as possible. Don’t wander into the street and stick as close to houses as possible.

10. Make sure your child can properly see and move comfortably. It’s fun to put on the cape and cowl of your favorite hero, but make sure they can see and enjoy the night properly and avoid getting hurt.

What rules do you have for keeping your Halloween safe? Share in the comments!

 

3 Scary Halloween Insurance Claims

Let’s look at some of the most common tricks that are pulled on policyholders over the holiday and ways you can safeguard your car and home this Halloween.

Dog Bites on Halloween

1. My dog bit a trick-or-treater! Halloween creates heavy traffic to your home and can be downright spooky for dogs.  A scared dog is on higher alert than normal, and this could result in your furry friend taking a bite out of one of your costumed visitors.

It’s best for you, and your pet, to have them put away from the door when you know traffic will be high – such as Halloween night. They should be fine in a back room, away from the front door. If possible put some of their favorite toys and a treat back with them so they know they are not in trouble. We also recommend turning on the TV or a radio in the room your dog is in to help muffle the doorbell or noise and giggles of trick-or-treaters at the front door, which may stress them out.

Remember not to take this risk lightly. There were over 16,000 dog bite claims last year, making up more than one-third of all liability claims paid out homeowners insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). They totaled almost $479 million, averaging nearly $29,400 paid out per claim. Every state has different rules about dog bites, homeowners policies typically cover the liability and medical expenses related to a dog bite, unless your dog or his breed is excluded from your policy.

2. Does my homeowners policy cover TP in the trees? Toilet paper typically doesn’t damage trees, most of the time it’s just paper blowing through the branches, so a claim isn’t necessary. For the most part, toilet paper is merely an annoyance that must be cleaned up in the morning.

However, there have been instances when a tree has been damaged during an act of vandalism.  If this happens, your homeowners policies may cover this – check with your agent to be sure.  If your tree does have damage from vandalism, avoid cutting down limbs or hauling away any debris until a claims adjuster is able to come out to take a look at the damage to the tree or your home.Halloween

3. My car was egged, am I covered? Vandalism is most likely covered by your car insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage.  Whether or not you should file a claim depends on the amount of damage versus the amount of your deductible. You may be able to remove egg with a simple car wash – though more extensive damage may occur depending on the severity of the vandalism.

In the last few years, we’ve seen claims increase for damage caused by paintballs, water balloons filled with paint or other liquids, and broken windshields with pumpkins thrown through them. If you see severe damage, dents, or your paint eaten away, then a claim may be justifiable.

Your best bet to protect your vehicle is to park your car in the garage or another well-lit, covered area. If you do not have this option, even simply buying a tarp to cover your car can detour vandals.

The good news is that most neighborhoods are prepared for Halloween, and you and your neighbors can look out for each other and the rest of your neighbors. By working together, and helping others be vigilant about safeguarding your street from pranksters, your street will be unattractive to teens ready to egg cars or toilet-paper trees.

What other tips do you have for preventing pranks during Halloween? Share them with us on our Facebook page or Twitter.

Grilling Safety Tips for Summer

Safe Grilling TipsWhether it’s for the holiday weekend or just another gorgeous day in Michigan, nothing says summer like the smell of grilling wafting through the neighborhood. It’s one of our favorite parts of summer and a great way to gather the family together to savor the long, hot days. Unfortunately, when folks gather around the grill this summer, risk factors also increase.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, US Fire Departments respond to over 8,200 home fires involving some sort of outdoor grill per year. These 8,200 fires have caused 15 deaths, 120 injuries and $75 million in property damage.

But this doesn’t mean you have to throw water on the coals just yet. You can stay safe and still enjoy your delicious food by following just a few safety tips. 

  • Never grill inside. Besides the obvious fire hazard, grilling inside your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area can result in an accumulation of carbon monoxide – possibly enough to be deadly. The safest place to set up your grill will be a well-ventilated area on a flat surface, outdoors and away from buildings and others.
  • Any utensils (forks, tongs, etc.) should have long handles and you should use flame retardant mitts to avoid burns and splatters.Grilling Safety
  • If a grease fire occurs, don’t panic, and never throw water on a grease fire! Use baking soda to control a grease fire. You should also have a fire extinguisher handy to be sure flames do not get out of control. A bucket of sand can be used as a substitute if you don’t have a working extinguisher. Remember to use the sand or baking soda first, and then you can apply water from a nearby hose if needed.
  • Never leave a grill unattended once it’s lit.
  • Don’t allow children to play near the grill when in use or immediately following its use. The grill will remain very hot to the touch for up to an hour or more once it’s been extinguished.
  • Never attempt to move a hot grill. It’s easy to stumble or drop it and serious burn yourself or someone helping you.

Whether you’re grilling for an outdoor party or just tonight’s dinner, employing safe grilling habits is the hallmark of any true pit master.

Consumer Fireworks Safety Guidelines

Firework SafetyAs we approach Independence Day, the country is gearing up for one of its biggest summer celebrations. While many of us will be content with attending community displays, many people prefer the excitement of holding their own personal fireworks display. These can range from simple sparklers to huge displays from more serious enthusiasts. But whether big or small, putting on your own show always entails an element of danger. It’s critical to understand the risks, follow all safety guidelines and have safety procedures in place before lighting the first match. This will ensure that your family and friends will enjoy a safe and exciting celebration.

Another thing to note before organizing a fireworks event is that you should ensure that you have the proper official approval in place and any required documentation or permits. Michigan has laws governing the purchase and use of fireworks, including the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, so be sure to do your homework first and stay in compliance with state and local laws. Also, before holding your fireworks display, check with your local fire department for any fire regulations that you will need to follow.

Purchasing Fireworks

Purchase fireworks from an authorized dealer and check that the fireworks you purchase are allowed to be sold in your area. There are three categories of firework explosives. Class A are common fireworks or consumer fireworks. Class B and C are special fireworks meant for fireworks display professionals only.

Precautions
There are many precautions that you need to abide by for the safety of everyone. Before holding your fireworks display, ensure you have proper insurance coverage. If there are injuries and you are under-insured, the results could be devastating. Here are some guidelines:

  • Fireworks should be locked up and stored in a cool dry place, away from children.
  • Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Don’t drink while setting them off.
  • Read and follow the directions on the fireworks carefully.
  • The display site should be clear and at least 100 feet by 100 feet. Verify that there are no trees, buildings or hydro lines on the site.Safety on 4th of July
  • Never hold fireworks in your hands when lighting them. 
  • Do not fire under windy conditions.
  • Always have water nearby, either in pails or a hose connected to a water supply.
  • A metal bucket filled with sand makes a good platform for lighting fireworks.
  • Fireworks should be buried half their length in the bucket of sand unless the directions say otherwise. 
  • Angle the fireworks 10 degrees away from the audience and make sure the people are upwind from the display.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing, including scarves or anything that may dangle into the fireworks.
  • Children need to be monitored and supervised at all times during the fireworks display.
  • Light one firework at a time and never experiment.
  • When finished, soak them in water before disposing in a trash can.
  • If any of the fireworks do not light, don’t try to fix them. Leave them for at least 30 minutes before soaking in a bucket of water.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting the fireworks.
  • In the unlikely event that someone gets burned, soak them with cold water and seek medical attention.

Remember, having an exciting 4th of July doesn’t have to mean sacrificing safety! A safe celebration is also a fun one.

If you want to be sure you’re covered before you host a party with fireworks, please give us a call at 616-897-1515. And for more tips like these, subscribe to our newsletter!

Fourth of July Safety Tips

4th of JulyHappy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a time for enjoying freedom, family, and (of course) fireworks! Your weekend might include grilling, swimming, boating, and a light show at the end of the day. But while all of the activities are summer favorites, each one has its unique safety hazards, especially when combined with drinking and blowing things up!

But keeping safety in mind doesn’t have to equal a damper on your celebration. You can keep your home and your family safe this Fourth of July by considering a few tips for smart celebration.

  • Keep a bucket of water nearby. Whether you’re setting off fireworks or grilling burgers, sparks can land on nearby foliage and flammable items and quickly start a fire. Make sure you can easily douse any unwanted flames and dud fireworks. For even better protection, keep hose nearby as well.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks and never trying to fix or relight a dud. According to the Red Cross, fireworks are behind almost 9,000 emergency room visits each year. Just a few simple precautions can keep you from becoming part of this statistic!
  • Keep fireworks and grills away from dry grass and overhanging foliage. Trim any bushes around your grilling area and create a safe, non-flammable area for firework lighting.
  • Read the instructions that came with your grill for the safest grilling experience, Be aware of flammable objects, such as house eaves and railings, and keep the grill at a safe distance. Lastly do not add starter fluid after coals are ignited; nobody likes to end the holiday weekend without eyebrows!Firework Safety
  • If you plan to celebrate all or part of your Fourth of July holiday on a boat, make sure everyone on board wears a life jacket. The US Coast Guard noted in its report, 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics, that at least 79 percent of the drownings in 2011 were experienced by individuals not wearing a life jacket.
  • If camping is part of your weekend plans, keep your campfire at least 15 feet from tents, trees and shrubs, and make sure there are no low-hanging branches over the fire.
  • When putting out a campfire, douse all embers with water and continue pouring until doing so no longer causes a hissing noise. Then, use a shovel to move through the ashes and ensure that everything is wet and cold.
  • If your festivities include a swimming pool or a day at the lake, make sure children are always supervised by a sober adult with both swimming and CPR skills.
  • Having a fun 4th doesn’t have to mean sacrificing safety. For more tips on having a safe holiday or to understand how your insurance policies can be affected by your Fourth of July activities, give us a call.

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5 Tips for Safe Family Boating

Boating on LakeIt’s Michigan Boating week! And that means families everywhere in the Great Lakes State are starting to hit the water as the weather heats up. While being out on the water together is a favorite summer pastime for Michigan families, it’s important to remember that when you mix kids and boats, safety becomes even more important. So while you’re spending some time on the waves, follow these tips to keep your boating experience safe and problem free:


1. Life jackets on everybody


Children usually protest less about wearing their life jackets if they see the adults wearing them as well. And if older boaters have concerns about comfort, people over the age of 16 have the option of choosing the new Coast Guard-approved auto-inflating vests. These are more comfortable because they sit close to the body, and they only inflate if you pull the ripcord. And they may be an easier sell for more fashion conscious teenagers.


2. Bring a child-comfort kit


Your boat should already carry a first-aid kit, but there are some extra items you’ll want to bring along for your children’s safety and comfort. Sunscreen and sunhats are important, but you may also want to bring an over-the-counter seasickness remedy or chewable antihistamines. Bringing a set of dry clothing and some familiar music or comforting toys may be helpful for younger children if nap time beckons. Younger children can get worn out boating all day; avoid a meltdown at sea and be prepared with items that help comfort your child. Helping an overly-tired child have a nap may be a simple way to avoid accidents.


3. Check the weather forecast


If you’re planning to be out in open water, especially large lakes, weather is a serious factor that has to be taken into account. Besides simply ruining a beautiful excursion, bad weather can pose many safety risks. Wind is the most common danger, but electrical storms can pose serious risks to smaller boats that aren’t constructed with a lightning protection system in place. Too much sun can present a safety problem as well, so it’s crucial that you ensure that all passengers have access to shade and that there is plenty of fresh drinking water on board.


4. Skip the alcohol

Boats are vehicles, and over one-third of boating accidents result from a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Drinking may even create greater risks for boat operators than it does for automobile drivers since the stresses of sun, vibration, engine noise, motion and spray intensify the effects of alcohol. Furthermore, most recreational boaters are relatively inexperienced, since they haven’t spent many hours operating the boat and thus have fewer driving reflexes. Every state has criminal statutes forbidding boating while under the influence (BUI), and if you do get into an accident, you may be subject to stiff fines or criminal charges. You wouldn’t drink and drive, so why would you drink and boat?


5. Fuel and exhaust safety


Before you start out, double-check your fuel gauge to make sure you have plenty of gasoline; nothing ruins a day on the lake like having to call for a tow! Also, if your boat has indoor areas, it’s important to make sure that all exhaust is properly vented. Boat engines produce carbon monoxide, and small enclosed cabins are not safe places for operating propane heaters or camp stoves.


Practicing responsible boating is the best way to keep your loved ones safe on the water, as well as avoiding boat damage and liability. Even with the best of intentions, however, we know accidents may happen. Call us today at 616-897-1515 for more information about your boating coverage or with questions about insuring yourself and your boat today!

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Driving Apps for Your Teen Driver

Texting while driving

You watch your teen bound out of the door every day, car keys in hand, loving the new independence that a drivers license brings. But you can’t help but worry. You know you can’t shelter your teen from every driving risk they face, but you still want to make sure your young driver is as protected as possible.

While parents can’t remove every risk from their children’s path, they can help to encourage good driving habits. And one of the most dangerous habits that teens are susceptible to involve their cell phones. But how can you control that, short of confiscating phones!? Luckily, today there are many apps available to help minimize the risks of distracted driving and the temptation of cell phones while driving. 


Disabling Texts Apps

Texting is as disorientating as driving intoxicated, but luckily there are apps out there that can disable your teen’s ability to read or send texts while they are in a moving car. Key2SafeDriving  and TextArrest are two examples. Some apps, like Drivesafe.ly Pro speak texts aloud and allow your teen to speak an auto response that the device sends on its own.

Riding Shotgun Apps
Anxious parents may wish they could monitor their teen while they drive on their own, and now you can! The Safe Driver app can send a text message to you every time your teen passes the speed limit in a given area. While this certainly helps you monitor your teen, it might also be the push your child needs to stay alert about the speed limit and avoiding accidents when they drive.

Phone Call Restrictive Apps
Sometimes taking a call, making a call, or even just talking on a cell phone can be enough to distract your teen from driving safely. The apps ZoomSafer and Key2SafeDriving can lock and prevent your teen’s access to their phone’s calling feature while they drive.

Texting while drivingEducational Apps
Some apps can actually help teach your teen on how to drive safely, provide different tips, and react correctly to dangerous situations. The Dangers of Distracted Driving app demonstrates to teens how quickly accidents can happen while driving distracted. To give kids an interactive lesson in safe driving practices that they can apply when they drive, there’s The Steer Clear Mobile app.

There are plenty of apps coming out that can help your teen be a safer, more accountable driver. Be sure to check that your teen isn’t downloading apps that distracting your teen even more than they might already be. These apps can be an enormous sigh of relief for worried parents with new teen drivers. 

There will always be risks that go along with driving. But do yourself a favor – your teens may have newfound independence, but you can still have peace of mind. 

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