When a hurricane or tropical storm hits the Central Florida area you can be sure power outages will follow, some that can drag on for weeks. It is due to that scenario that many people have chosen to purchase a portable generator, maybe your one of them.
While portable generators are convenient and can bring relief during power outages, they are not always used correctly. Carbon monoxide poisoning is all too common with portable generators. Here are several ways you can be sure that you are being safe when you use your portable generator.
Always use your portable generator outside. Exhaust fumes from your portable generator will fill your house with carbon monoxide, and it will slowly poison you, your family and any pets you may have. This rule also applies to your garage, attic, and basement.
It is a good idea when using a generator near your house to have carbon monoxide detectors. Strong winds can blow the exhaust from your generator into the house through an open door or window. You should always keep your generator at least ten feet away from your house, but even at that distance winds could still blow the exhaust into your home.
Remember, your portable generator is producing electricity and electrocution is a real hazard. Do not place your generator in a puddle or damp ground that could conduct electricity. Never use your generator when it raining unless you have a shelter that will keep it and the ground around it dry, the shelter won’t trap carbon monoxide, and it is not flammable.
Backfeeding occurs when a generator is plugged into an outlet like the ones above your kitchen counter, or where your lamps are plugged in. If you send power into your home by that method, you are sending electricity in the wrong direction, and nothing good can come of it.
Things like burning up your TV or computer are a real possibility when you backfeed with your portable generator. Backfeeding also sends power out to the nearby power lines and has caused the death of more than one lineman trying to repair the lines.
In order to avoid backfeeding, you will need to have something called a transfer switch installed before a power outage happens. Make sure a licensed electrician installs the transfer switch, so it is installed correctly. The transfer switch will switch the load from the power lines to the generator to ensure power from both sources doesn’t cause serious damage to your home, appliances, and electronics.
There are two types of transfer switches, automatic and manual. Automatic is preferable because it switches when it senses that a power source has been gained or lost.
Don’t ever add gasoline to your portable generator while it is running, not only is it hot and combustible, gas is a conductor of electricity. Pouring gasoline into a running portable generator could very possibly end in your electrocution.
Likewise, don’t pour gas into a generator into it when it’s hot, even if it is not running. Portable generators can get very hot and are likely to ignite the gasoline that is being poured. A trip to a burn unit is not why you purchased a portable generator.
With that in mind keep your portable generator away from anything that off-gasses flammable fumes. Things like solvent-based paints and cleaning products should be kept well away from your portable generator. Don’t place any materials that could easily burn against your generator either; this includes rags that have been soaked in solvents, things like hay or straw, and paper.
If you follow these safety tips, there is no reason that you should not be comfortable in your home while the power is out around you.Continue Reading
Knowing that you have a car seat that will keep your child safe is a priority if you are a parent. You want to make sure that every time you pull out of the driveway, your child won’t be seriously injured in a car accident. But how can you be sure that the car seat you have chosen is safe? Here are some tips that will help you find the best car seat for your child.
If you are purchasing a seat for an infant, realize that they grow a tremendous amount in the first five years. If you buy a car seat that doesn’t adapt to your child’s growth, then you are wasting money. Your baby will eventually face forward in its car seat so think of the car seat as a long-term investment. If it sounds expensive, there are a variety of different priced car seats available.
If you are busy, you may miss a story on the news about that car seat you just bought is the subject of a recall. How do you find out if there is a recall on your car seat? Go to seatcheck.org to find out if the seat you purchased has been recalled. It would be wise to visit the site prior to purchasing a car seat. By doing this, you will ensure that your child is safe.
Never place your child in a used car seat. Older car seats may not meet current safety standards for car seats. Use car seats often have vital components missing that will cause the car seat to be less effective or ultimately fail. If you don’t want to put your child in danger, never put a used car seat in your vehicle.
Your infant will undoubtedly spit up in the car seat, and it will need to be cleaned often. When choosing a car seat, find out how easy it is to clean. Make sure that the coverings can be removed and washed or easily replaced. If you can’t keep stains and caked on regurgitation off of the car seat, you will end up having to replace it.
If you are going to purchase a car seat, be aware of the LATCH system. The latch system uses a system of straps, hooks, and anchors to secure a car seat. In the LATCH system seatbelts are not used in conjunction with the car seat. While research does not show that LATCH is more effective than using a seat belt, it does not show it is worse than seat belts. There are two schools of thought on which is better and research is needed to understand each system. The decision really rests with you if you want to use the LATCH system or a car seat that utilizes a seat belt.
Be sure to measure the car seat to see if it will fit in your car. If you are in a smaller car, some seats might not fit. If your car is older it may not have anchors for the LATCH system either; so be sure you know what kind of car seat you are purchasing.
Buying a car seat takes some due diligence, but in the end, when you have chosen the right car seat, you are ensuring your child’s safety in your vehicle for the duration of their childhood.Continue Reading
Are you hosting a family reunion or neighborhood party at your house or perhaps an apartment? Before you have that big event in your home, it’s wise in this litigious age to make sure you are protected.
We all have that one uncle who drinks a little too much at Thanksgiving and then stumbles into something valuable and breaks it. It would be unfortunate if you were under the impression such incidents were covered by your insurance policy when they were not.
Here are some things that you will want to make sure are in your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
If an accident happens, take these steps:
If the structure of your home or apartment is damaged, or any of the property inside of it, take the following steps.
If you have taken steps to make your home safe and know what your policy covers, you can rest easy when guests arrive at your party that you are prepared.Continue Reading
It can be a nerve-wracking experience, your teen, who you raised from a baby is now ready to traverse the roadways, and you aren’t sure if he or she is prepared. While they may be mature enough to handle the responsibility and may have finished driver’s ed, you are just not convinced that it is time for he or she to take to the road. Here are some ways you can be sure if your teenager is ready to drive down the streets of your town.
It is second nature to you to know where everything in your car is, but your teen does not have the years of experience driving that you have obtained. The first thing that you should do before taking to the road is to know where all the essential equipment is in your vehicle. Your teen probably knows about the break and gas pedals, but may not know how to adjust the side mirrors or how to use the wash feature with the windshield wipers. Here is a list of all the things your teen should know how to operate the vehicle before taking to the road:
Your teen should also be able to understand what the warning lights mean on the dashboard; a key can usually be found in the owner’s manual or online.
That empty grocery store parking lot down the street you’ve been complaining about is now your ally. It is the perfect place to let your teen drive slowly.
Your teen can get a feel for applying the gas and breaks, and if you have a manual transmission, your son or daughter can learn how to shift gears in the parking lot.
With all those empty parking spaces around you can teach your teen how to park. If you have cones available to you, use them in the adjacent parking spaces to simulate parked cars.
An empty parking lot is also a perfect place to have your teen drive in rain, fog, or snow. The parking lot will provide safety the roads can’t as they learn how to turn into a slide. After a few times practicing in the parking lot, your teen will be ready for the next steps.
Staring out in low traffic areas like your neighborhood is a wise idea. Start below the speed limit; your teen may not have the reaction time yet to react when an animal or child runs out in front of them.
After being on the road at a slower speed a few times gradually increase the speed your teen drives at until they are driving at the speed limit. Be sure that there is an understanding of what the different traffic signs are and what they mean. After your teen has learned the basics like merging into traffic and how to be a defensive driver you can move on to more advanced roadways.
Getting on the on-ramp to the interstate or a highway can be intimidating to a teen, but if you have prepared them, panic won’t set in. Make sure they know how to accelerate until their speed matches the traffic they will be merging with as they get on the interstate or highway. Once your teen has had the first eighteen-wheeler blow past, he or she will feel less anxiety when the next one comes along.
Before you let your teen drive alone make sure of the following:
Once you have decided your teen is able to drive alone, you can take solace in the fact that you have prepared her or him for the challenges of being on the road.Continue Reading
If you were watching the nightly news and saw that your car, truck, or SUV was recalled you are one of the millions who has had their vehicle recalled for a defect that affects safety over the past decade. There is usually scant detail about this looming danger to you and your loved ones when you ride in the family car. You have no idea where and how to start looking into your vehicle being recalled; with that in mind here are some actions you can take when your vehicle is recalled.
If you purchased the vehicle directly from the dealer, a notice will be sent to you in the mail if your car is of the type being recalled. Dealerships are required by law to inform their customers when a recall occurs, so you will be contacted. If you are not the original owner, or not willing to wait because say something such as the gas pedal is sticking to the floor, or a component that causes the gas tank to explode are the reason for the recall there is a way to find out if your vehicle is being recalled.
Ever car has what is known as a vehicle identification number (VIN) that tracks things like transactions the car was involved in and for things like recalls. Usually, you can locate the VIN on the front corner of the dashboard in front of the steering wheel. In some cases, it will be found on the driver’s side door jamb when you open the door.
Using the vehicle’s VIN, you can go to safercar.gov which is run by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. By entering the VIN, you can determine if the recall applies to your vehicle.
When you receive a letter from the dealership where you purchased the car, it will give you instructions on how to set up an appointment at the dealership or with an authorized mechanic to perform repairs.
If you did not purchase the car directly from a dealer, contact the manufacturer dealership in your area, and they will be able to assist you. In most cases, there won’t be a charge for repairs. However, if the recall is on tires, you will only have 180 days to have them replaced before a fee is assessed.
Unfortunately, the reputation of car dealerships and mechanics being unscrupulous has been well earned by some. Remember, in almost all vehicle recalls there is no charge for repairs. If the dealership you received the letter from, or the dealer authorized mechanic who is going to do the repairs asks for money, take your car home.
Contact another manufacturer dealership and explain what happened; in most cases, they will offer assistance or direct you to another authorized mechanic.
As previously stated, the only scenarios where there would be fees associated with recalls are when the car is older, or it’s past 180 days on a tire recall. There should be absolutely no charge on a recently purchased vehicle.
If you do encounter someone trying to charge for recalls be sure to inform both the manufacturer and the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration.
So, breathe easy, having your car recalled may cause some slight inconvenience, but it is not the ordeal many think it will be.Continue Reading
You may have thought about buying a life insurance policy so that your loved ones are secure if something happens and you are no longer here. Even with that basic knowledge, you may still be unsure of how life insurance works and what it entails. It can be hard to contemplate your fate, but you are hardly alone. Too many people put off purchasing life insurance and leave their family to bear the burden of debts, funeral costs, and other expenses. Let’s take a closer look at why you need life insurance and how it works.
Simply put, life insurance is a contract between the insurance company and you, the policyholder. The contract will guarantee that if anything happens to you that your loved ones, the beneficiaries, will receive payment of a benefit at the time of your death. The life insurance policy will give you the peace of mind to know that your loved ones can continue to live the same lifestyle they had been in the same place. Life insurance can even let you leave money to a charity that is important to you.
All life insurance policies have the same goal, to make sure that beneficiaries receive payment when you pass away. There are, however, various types of life insurance available.
Short-term protection – Term life insurance falls under this heading. A policy can be purchased for a definite amount of time, usually ten to thirty years. If your demise happens in that period, your beneficiary will receive payment of a death benefit. If you outlive the covered period, then the policy ends.
Long-term protection – This is also known as permanent life insurance, which also includes whole life insurance and universal life insurance. Long term protection covers you for the rest of your life. Just like term coverage, long term protection yields a death benefit to your beneficiary at the time of your death. It also offers benefits before your death, such as having a cash value that can be accessed in times of need such as a child’s wedding or college tuition. Some retirees have used long term protection policies as a way to supplement their income.
One type of policy may be enough to cover your needs, or you may want a combination of different coverages. What you choose depends on your particular situation. Discussing your needs with an agent can help you to decide what coverage or coverages are best for you and your loved ones. As time passes your needs may change, periodic reviews of your policies to gauge if adjustments are needed to your policy will ensure your loved one’s needs are met.
Everyone’s needs are different, and there is no one size fits all policy. Sometimes the group coverage you receive through your employer is just not enough. Most life insurance policies obtained through group coverage are not portable, so when you leave the company, most likely you leave the life insurance. You need to examine what will play a role in determining how much life insurance you need. Factors like the size of your family, the value of your home, how much debt you’ve incurred, and your business (if you own one). If you have children, you will want to ensure coverage of basic expenses such as food and clothing, to future costs like college tuition.
The key factor is what you want for your family. How much help do you want to leave for your family when you can no longer be with them? Do you want to keep them headed towards their life goals? Do you want to make sure your spouse can stay in the home you made together? These are just a few things you may want to take into consideration.
Your age and health will determine how much life insurance costs. Younger and healthier people typically pay lower premiums. The cost of not having life insurance, however, cannot be put into a dollar value. The burden left on your loved ones if you did not invest in life insurance will be costly for them.
Getting life insurance is an easy way to have peace of mind knowing that if something happens to you that your family will be able to carry on.Continue Reading
You may be like the growing number of people who have left their job to start a home business. When you start a small home business, you need equipment such as a computer, printer or printers, or specialized equipment. All of those items are probably covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, but there is more cost to consider. Having your computer damaged or destroyed costs time and most likely will result in lost revenue and data; homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does not cover lost profits or intellectual property. There is good news if you own a small home business, you can protect it; let’s take a more in-depth look.
An in-home business policy gives more comprehensive coverage for business equipment and liability than a homeowner’s policy. An in-home business policy can give coverage for lost income. In some policies coverage provided covers losses or damage not only from business activities at the insured’s home or rental residence but also off-site at a different place. This added benefit means the business property is covered while a business owner is in transit and gives liability coverage when at business-related activities at a trade show or a customer’s home. These policies, are also known as in-home business endorsements, can differ greatly depending on the insurer.
Another option that small home business owners have available is to increase coverage limits on their homeowner’s insurance. A homeowner’s policy could cover as much as $1,500 worth of personal property. Things like vitamin samples, tools, and office furniture may be included. The coverage basically protects the business merchandise or equipment you keep at home. It may also offer additional coverage for your business property while in your car or at a customer’s home. If this is not enough coverage, you may have the option to increase coverage with what is known as a homeowner’s policy endorsement. It would be a wise choice if your small home business meets the following criteria:
Some home-based businesses are not eligible for additional business property or in-home business coverage due to the kind of business or its annual Income. In cases such as these, a business insurance policy is the best choice. This fact is especially true if you have clientele visit your home. If a client is injured while involved in a business-related transaction or activity homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance may not cover the injury. Here are some additional things to consider when deciding if you need a business insurance policy:
There are a few other things to consider when deciding on what insurance options to choose for your small home business. Factors such as being zoned for business, licenses and permits, vehicles used for your business, and taxes all need to be investigated. Your agent can help you to wade through all of the regulations and help you to determine what is the best way to protect your small home business.Continue Reading
As a renter, the apartment or townhouse you live in may not require you to have renter’s insurance, but not having it puts your possessions at unnecessary risk. As a landlord, you can protect your tenants and your bottom line by making it part of a lease agreement. Here’s why if you’re are a renter or landlord you should consider renter’s insurance.
Renters insurance is a type of insurance that covers your personal property in a rental residence. It repays tenants for lost, stolen, or destroyed belongings. Renter’s insurance also covers vandalism, fire, and natural disasters. Most policies don’t cover flooding or something like water damage from a burst pipe. In the second scenario, the rental property would be responsible for paying for the damage. Renters Insurance is different from a Renter Dwelling Policy which covers the physical structure; renters insurance covers the tenant’s belongings (and liability) inside.
It’s not hard for tenants to purchase renters insurance, and it usually costs about $12 a month for most rental units depending on the scope of what the policy covers.
Renter’s insurance is the only way tenants are guaranteed they’ll be compensated for possessions that are lost, stolen, or damaged
If you have a guest to your rental residence, and they are injured on the property. Even if it’s not your fault that the guest was injured, you could be held responsible. Renters insurance will shield you from being liable for the injury and the subsequent medical cost related to it.
Another reason to have renter’s insurance is that it will cover your personal property even if it may be located in the rental property. The policy could include things such as having something stolen from your car or losing a suitcase on vacation. Depending on coverage, some renter’s insurance policies will cover damage to other’s property such as bumping into a crystal vase and breaking it, or your child knocking over a display of glassware at a department store.
By requiring your tenants to carry renters insurance, you protect yourself or your company from being liable. If someone gets injured in your tenant’s rental residence, you could be sued for medical costs, even if you are not responsible. Renters insurance would pay for someone’s injury in a rental residence and would reduce the chance of a lawsuit from the injured party.
Requiring renter’s insurance means that you can allow tenants to have pets, most renter’s insurance policies cover damage from pets up to a certain size. Obviously, it would not cover someone having a pet like a donkey in their apartment.
Requiring your tenants to have renter’s insurance would also cover relocation costs in the event of a fire or natural disaster. This benefit would keep your company from having to cover the costs of a hotel. It may be that you or your company just want the best for the tenants and want them to be covered even if it’s not your responsibility.
Regardless of if you are a tenant or a landlord owning renters’ insurance can give you peace of mind that your possessions or your rental property are covered. On both sides of the renter’s insurance policy, the cost of lawsuits can be reduced or covered altogether. It’s clear, when it comes to rental properties having renter’s insurance is the smart choice.Continue Reading
In the Lakeland and Plant City areas, many homes have crossed the century mark. These beautiful old southern homes can be enticing, but restoring them can have hidden costs. Several factors should be considered prior to taking on a fixer upper; do-it-yourself or contracted home renovation.
A lower priced listing on a two-story Victorian home can be tempting. Restoring a fixer upper and increasing its value is an excellent way to increase your net worth. But, do you really know what’s involved? Renovating a home takes time, effort, and capital. The size of a renovation will dictate how long it takes; a fixer-upper can take up to a year to finish. As the home is worked on there will be hammers hammering, saws cutting, voices shouting and footsteps on the roof.
If all of this sounds like too much of a disruption for your family, you should avoid taking on the project. However, if you can take the bang and clatter of renovation, it can be rewarding both personally and financially.
The saying “location, location, location” carries just as much weight now as it did a century ago. You want to find a fixer upper to restore in an area where real estate prices are on the upswing, not the opposite. Factors like crime rates, school ratings, and undesirable things like liquor stores or strip clubs all should be considered before making your decision.
The condition of the home you are going to purchase makes a difference in the success of its renovation. Is weathered and only needs a coat of paint and new shingles, was it ravaged by termites, did squatters use it as a drug den before it was put up for sale?
The difference between cosmetic repairs and having to replace 70% of the structure can mean thousands of dollars more. Electric wiring should be factored into the cost if the home is over 50 years old. Fuse boxes and old wiring can’t handle the load that today’s electronics and appliances put on them and will have to be replaced.
Do you want a 19th or 20th-century floorplan in the 21st century? Do you like the charm of a room that is centered around a fireplace, or do you want wide open areas where a high definition TV is the center of attention? If the latter is the case, support walls in an older home may not be able to be knocked out for expansion. Air conditioning may not flow well in a house that was never intended to have it. Make sure the layout gives you enough square footage for your family to live comfortably. Lifestyle is a significant point to consider when deciding to live in a home that has been around since the Civil War.
Before you embark on your journey to restoring an old home, you should create a realistic budget. Make sure there are allocations for the cost of unforeseen issues, this will save you from going over budget. Here are a few of the things to consider in your budget:
Remember to shop for the best financing on your home; or seek a Federal Housing Administration 203k loan which lets borrowers purchase a property and also finances the cost of renovation. Once you have received financing, don’t gold plate your renovation project. Don’t add a new wing or an addition that will put you over budget and ruing the aesthetics of a home.
Saving a piece of history by renovating a home can be a rewarding experience, just be sure it is an experience you are prepared to have.Continue Reading
We may not get much ice in Central Florida, but many other potential hazards can cause someone to slip and fall at your house or your office. In Central Florida we also have a large elderly population who are all potential fall victims, steps must be taken to keep them from falling. Prevention is the key to eliminating slip and fall hazards and preventing serious injury from occurring due to negligence. Here are a few ways that you can make both your home or business safe from slip hazards: