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    • 7 Things to Know About Your Child's Summer Camp

      19 June 2019

      Sending your child to camp this summer? Great! But before you pack their trunk or lunchbox, it's important to take the time to understand the organization you're involving your child in. To help, the American Camp Association, NY and NJ offers parents some quick tips to ensure they’re choosing the safest summer camp possible.

      Licensed by the Department of Health. Many parents don't realize that there are over 10,000 unlicensed summer camps in New York State alone, which means there is no oversight by the Department of Health. These camps aren't being checked for a wide range of safety standards that include checking the state sex offender registry prior to hiring staff, maintaining minimum staff-to-child ratios, hiring medical personnel, maintaining vaccination records and reporting illnesses to the Department of Health.  

      Measles. Find out what your camp is doing about the U.S. measles outbreak. Are they accepting unvaccinated children? Do all children need to be vaccinated to attend? Do they keep vaccination records? Each camp has a different policy, and it's important to find out what it is before sending your child to camp. Unregulated summer camps don't need to report illnesses and aren't required to keep vaccination records as regulated summer camps do.

      Camp Director. One of the most important parts of researching a camp is looking at who the camp director is. Don't choose a camp without speaking with the camp director. Parents should inquire about the camp director's background and if he or she is a year-round camp professional or a seasonal employee.  

      Staff Composition. Inquire about a camp's staff composition. Ask about who is caring for your child. Ask about age of staff, experience, pre-season and on-going staff training, background checks, staff ratios, the interview process, camper-staff ratios, work history checks, and character references. Unregulated summer camps aren't required to do background checks or maintain minimum staff-to-child ratios.

      Medical Staff. Ask if there is a doctor or nurse in residence or on call for campers at all times. Parents want to also make sure the camp has EpiPens and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on site and that the camp employs staff members trained to use them. Keep in mind that unlicensed summer camps don't need to have medical staff.

      Safety procedures. Ask about the safety measures that are in place. These can include inquiring about active shooter plans, emergency plans for natural disasters or evacuations, security guards, staff screening procedures, and instructor qualifications.

      Accreditation. Camps that choose to become Accredited by the American Camp Association go above a state's basic licensing requirements and address specific areas of programming, personnel, health care, emergency response, management practices and youth development. Choosing an accredited camp is a parent's best evidence of a camp's commitment to a safe program.

      Source: American Camp Association, NY and NJ

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 10 Ways to Use a Generator Safely

      19 June 2019

      With storm season kicking into high gear, many homeowners will turn to their generators to keep things running during sustained power outages. While they can be life-saving during emergency situations, generators do involve a degree of risk, and operating them properly is critical. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) reminds consumers to never place a generator in the garage or inside a home or building, and to keep it a safe distance from the structure, away from any air intakes. OPEI also offers the following 10 tips for safe generator usage:

      1. Assess your generator’s condition now, before a storm hits. Make sure it’s in good working order before starting and using it.

      2. Review the manufacturer’s directions. Go over the owner’s manual to make sure you know how to operate the equipment safely. Can’t find the manual? No problem—just look it up online.

      3. Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home. This alarm will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide enter the building.

      4. Have the right fuel on hand. Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. It’s illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment. It’s best to use fresh fuel, but if you’re using fuel that’s been sitting in a gas can for more than 30 days, add fuel stabilizer to it. Store gas only in an approved container and away from heat sources.

      5. Ensure portable generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home, a building, or a garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to drift indoors.

      6. Keep the generator dry. Do not use a generator in wet conditions. Cover and vent a generator. Model-specific tents or generator covers can be found online for purchase and at home centers and hardware stores.

      7. Only add fuel to a cool generator. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.

      8. Plug in safely. If you don’t yet have a transfer switch, you can use the outlets on the generator. It’s best to plug in appliances directly to the generator. If you must use an extension cord, it should be heavy-duty and designed for outdoor use. It should be rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Make sure the cord is free of cuts, and the plug has all three prongs.

      9. Install a transfer switch. A transfer switch connects the generator to the circuit panel and lets you power hardwired appliances. Most transfer switches also help avoid overload by displaying wattage usage levels.

      10. Do not use the generator to “backfeed” power into your home electrical system. Trying to power your home’s electrical wiring by “backfeeding”—where you plug the generator into a wall outlet—is dangerous. You could hurt utility workers and neighbors served by the same transformer. Backfeeding bypasses built-in circuit protection devices, which could damage your electronics or start an electrical fire.   

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Keeping Your Pet Cool This Summer

      19 June 2019

      If you have an outdoor pet, the summer months can be a fun time for playing and lounging in the grass. However, it can also be extremely hot. Consider the following tips for keeping your pet cool.

      Shade. Make sure there is ample shade for your pup or kitty to hang out in. If you don't have a covered porch or garage, consider stringing a tarp to make a cool cover for your animal to hang under.

      Multiple water sources. Keep a minimum of two water sources full of fresh drinking water at all times, should one dry out or get kicked over. If you live a busy lifestyle, consider a large, self-filling water receptacle for your pet, or Google how to make one DIY-style.

      A summer shave. If your dog has a heavy coat, consider a seasonal "puppy cut" to lighten up their fur for the summer.

      Avoid mid-day walks. Mid-day walks in high heat can lead to heat exhaustion or burned pup paws. Walk your dog in the early morning or early evening when things are naturally cooler.

      Puppy pool. If you're in the midst of a real scorcher, consider filling a kiddie pool with water for your pup to cool off in. Warning: If your pup comes indoors at night, you may have a muddy mess on your hands, so plan accordingly.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Want to Be a Morning Person? Here’s How

      18 June 2019

      Don’t you hate it when morning people talk about everything they’ve already accomplished while you’re still finding your way through your first few sips of coffee? Even worse, don’t you hate it when you discover that you’re actually envious of them?

      While you don’t have to run a half marathon or write the next best-selling novel before 8 a.m., there are steps you can take to make your mornings more productive, and more enjoyable. The trick? It’s all about your nighttime routine.

      Stop working late. If you want to get up early and take advantage of early morning hours, then your evening must begin winding down at a reasonable hour. That means punching out between 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. No more burning the midnight oil if you intend to be an early bird.

      Stick to a dinner routine. Those who rise early and have efficient mornings aren’t  grabbing pizza or take-out at 11 p.m. They’re usually preparing their own nutritious meals between 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Eating a healthy dinner at this time of night gives your body time to properly digest, paving the way for a sound sleep.

      Get some light activity. It may go without saying that most morning people work out in the morning. While you don’t necessarily want to do anything to get your energy flowing before bed, some light exercise will help you de-stress from the day and likely sleep better. Take your dog for a walk if you have one, do some relaxing yoga poses, do some light gardening, or play catch with the kids.

      Prep for the next day. A productive morning begins with smart strategies the night before. So carve out some time to select your outfit, pack your lunch, make a to-do list and shower...or whatever it is that will take a few stressful things off your plate in the morning.

      Find your relaxation routine. Morning people stick to nighttime rituals in order to relax and get to sleep at a decent hour. That means turning off the TV and putting your tablet away in favor of getting into bed with a book, meditating, sipping some herbal tea or journaling. Any of these relaxing routines will help you slumber sooner so that you can greet the day earlier and make the most of your morning.  
       

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Protect Your Home From Summer Risks

      18 June 2019

      The warm summer months can bring external risks to your property, from swells in heat to high wind and rain from hurricane season. It's best to be prepared and avoid any midsummer headaches.

      "A home is like a vehicle in the respect that it needs a tune up to handle the change in seasons," says Mercury Insurance Vice President of Property Claims Christopher O'Rourke. "Now is the time to prepare property for the intense summer heat, and one important step is to contact an insurance agent to assess coverage before you suffer a loss."

      O'Rourke advises property owners to prepare for the following scenarios.

      Tree branch drops. Parking a vehicle under a tree for its shade might seem like a good idea during the summer; however, the phenomenon called "tree branch drops" caused by extreme heat can cost you money. If a tree on your property extends over parked cars, you're responsible for any damage they cause if they fall. Tree branch drops aren't limited to streets, however, because they can also do a lot of damage to your home, too. Consult a local arborist about how to keep your trees healthy and to trim potentially hazardous limbs. And for those in wildfire prone areas, remember to control overgrown vegetation and keep a defensible space. Tip: Comprehensive coverage will protect vehicles damaged in this scenario when there isn't coverage by the tree owner, and your homeowners policy will protect your house.

      Sudden, accidental water leak in your home. Water leaks in your home when the temperature hits triple digits happen more often than you might think. July is one of Mercury's busiest months for homeowners' claims due to water damage caused by blocked HVAC drains, and water damage accounts for nearly half of all homeowners claims. Air conditioning units see a lot of use during the summer months and many homes are built with plastic pipe drainage systems that can get clogged over time by debris or damaged by foot traffic. A simple HVAC overflow preventive measure is to get it serviced by a professional before the weather warms up.

      Power surges. Electrical spikes can be caused by a scheduled blackout when the utility company turns the power off and then back on. These events can send a surge of electricity to your home's electronics and appliances, potentially "frying" them in the process. Often, homeowners and renters will not remember to unplug their devices, and some require using the circuit breaker to turn them off to protect them. You should also consider plugging your devices into surge protectors rather than directly into a wall outlet. However, before the worst happens, be sure to protect appliances and electronics from rolling blackouts during the summer by investing in a good home systems protection coverage plan.    

      Source: Mercury Insurance

      Published with permission from RISMedia.