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Fire Safety For College Students

Bookmark and Share Are you a college student or a parent of a student heading to school this fall? If so, consider adding fire safety tips to your suitcase. Whether you live on or off campus, several precautions help you prevent fires and stay safe.

Electrical Safety

You certainly need to plug your lamps and laptop into an electrical outlet, but be careful.

  • Use power strips or surge protectors with internal overload protection to avoid overloading the outlets.
  • Never plug in anything that has a frayed or twisted cord.
  • If your lamps or laptop start to feel hot, unplug them.

Making your own meals and snacks in your dorm room is a great way to save money and curb the munchies late at night. For safety as you cook:

  • Supervise the food.
  • Never use a microwave, toaster, hot plate or other appliance if the cord is frayed or damaged.
  • Unplug appliances immediately after you use them.
  • Wipe up any crumbs or spilled food immediately after cooking.
  • Never grill indoors.

The aroma of a candle can help you relax and light your room if the power goes out. However, many colleges ban candles because they're a serious fire risk. If you want to relax, melt aromatic wax in an approved plug-in container. During power outages, use flashlights instead of candles.


Smoking is banned in most campus dorm rooms, so if you choose to smoke, use outdoor designated areas. Off- campus, you can:

  • Use wide, sturdy ash trays that are secured to a sturdy surface.
  • Extinguish your cigarette completely before you toss it into the trash can.
  • Check the sofa and chair cushions for cigarette butts after parties.
  • Never smoke when you're tired or have been drinking.
Smoke Detectors

You may notice numerous smoke detectors in your dorm. Don't tamper with them because they could save your life!

Know the Evacuation Plan

Always know how to exit a building safely so that if there is a fire or other emergency you can get out alive.

  • When you move in, familiarize yourself with the escape route and any fire escapes.
  • Participate in practice drills.
  • If the fire alarm goes off, exit the building right away even if you think it's a prank.
For Parents

Even though your kids are away at college, you can help them practice fire safety.

  • Ensure the dorm or off-campus housing has a working fire alarm system, smoke detectors and exits.
  • Be sure your kids know how to exit their dorm safely.
  • Purchase personal property insurance that covers your child's possessions.
Staying safe on campus includes understanding fire safety. Take these precautions as you head to college this fall.

13 Lawn Mower Safety Tips

Bookmark and Share Summer lawn mowing season has arrived. Are you operating your lawn mower safely? Here are the tips you need to stay safe as you manicure your grass.  

  1. Read the instruction manual. Discover the purpose of all the knobs and whistles on your model, how to operate it properly and safety tips for your lawn mower.

  2. Fill the tank outside. It's never a wise idea to fill your mower's fuel tank inside your garage or in a shed. Combustible fumes could build up and explode.

  3. Store fuel and oil in marked containers. You don't want to use the wrong fluids and ruin your mower or have anyone accidentally drink the fluid or serve it to pets.

  4. Perform maintenance when your mower is turned off and cool. You could be burned if you add fuel to your mower while the engine is running or when it's hot.

  5. Don't use anything with an open flame while you fuel your mower. You don't want to start a fire.

  6. Do not start the engine under an enclosure. Toxic fumes could build up and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

  7. Stay with the mower when the engine is running. Someone could be injured if your mower rolls down a hill or runs into something or someone while it's turned on.  

  8. Turn the engine off before making adjustments. If you notice that the grass isn't getting cut short enough or the engine is skipping, turn the engine off. You can then make adjustments safely.

  9. Refuse to allow young children to operate the lawn mower, and don't carry kids as you mow. The machine is simply too dangerous for young children.

  10. Wear the proper clothes when mowing. Closed shoes and long pants protect your body as you mow your lawn.

  11. Remove foreign objects from your lawn. Rocks, branches, twigs, toys, hoses and other objects in your lawn could damage your mower's motor. Plus, objects spit from the mower could travel at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour.

  12. Don't allow children or pets in the yard. Even if they're playing on the other side of the yard from where you're mowing, it takes only a few seconds for them to cross the yard and enter the path of your mower.

  13. Train everyone who uses the mower. Be sure everyone who operates the mower knows how to use it properly and follows these safety precautions.

Your lawn mower gives your yard the manicure it needs. Whether you mow several times a week or once a month, follow these safety tips. Consider purchasing homeowner's insurance, too, as further protection for you and your home.

Distractions While Driving

Bookmark and Share One in four vehicle crashes is caused by drivers texting or using other electronic devices. Multitasking can help you get several tasks done at one time, but it's always a bad idea when you're behind the wheel. It only takes a second for your attention to wonder and an accident to happen. Learn more about the causes of distracted driving and what you can do to stay safe.


Texting while driving is illegal in 39 states and the District of Columbia. However, texting isn't the only distraction that causes accidents.  A popular Twitter and Instagram social media hashtag #whiledriving has become popular across the country.

According to a recent survey, 55 percent of #whiledriving users are men and 45 percent are women. The top states with the most #whiledriving posts are:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. South Carolina
  5. New York
  6. Illinois
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Oregon
  9. Colorado
  10. Nevada
The top 10 most popular hashtags that accompany #whiledriving include:

  • Clouds
  • Sunset
  • Sky
  • Nature
  • Sun
  • Nofilter                               
  • Landscape
  • Car        
  • Driving 
  • Selfie    
Based on these hashtags, we see that people enjoy snapping pictures of pretty scenery as they drive. Nature is great, but enjoy the view with your eyes rather than taking and posting the picture while you drive.

What if You See a Distracted Driver?

Insurance agents caution drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes and attention on the road while driving. However, that doesn't stop people from getting distracted as they drive. In addition to texting and posting pictures while driving, fatigue, other passengers, eating and daydreaming also distract drivers' attention off the road.

Your safety and the safety of others on the road depends on every driver staying focused. If you see a distracted driver who's weaving out of the lane, not maintaining the speed limit or exhibiting other signs of distraction, you can:

  • Assume the distracted driver will not see your vehicle.
  • Leave extra room between you and the distracted driver, even if you have to slow down or pull off the road. 
  • If you can't get away from the driver, pull over and call 911 to report the driver's behavior. 
  • Avoid road rage or other vigilantism.
Safety on the road depends on everyone paying attention. Stop texting and driving distracted. For more information how to be safe on the road, how to cope with distracted drivers and to update your auto insurance contact your insurance agent. Drive safe!

Condo Insurance Explained

Bookmark and Share Your condo is your home, and it's one of your most valuable possessions. Protect it with condo insurance. Here are the basics you need to know as you protect your investment.

Check Lender Requirements

Unless you pay for your condo with cash, plan on purchasing condo insurance. Most mortgage lenders require condo buyers to show proof of condo unit insurance before the loan is approved. Discuss insurance requirements with the lender, and then talk to your insurance agent.

Consider the Price

The cost of your condo insurance depends on the deductible and amount of coverage. Remember that increasing your deductible and reducing coverage can lower your premiums. However, weigh the benefits of adequate protection versus saving money as you decide what condo insurance to buy.

Understand the Master Policy

Condo associations generally take out a master policy that covers the building and common areas. This policy typically will provide one of three coverage options:

  • The basic building including roof, exterior walls, hallways, basement and elevators but not interior walls, carpeting, cabinets, appliances or wall coverings
  • The basic building and unit items excluding alterations, improvements or additions you make to your unit at your expense
  • The basic building and unit items, including alterations, improvements and additions you make
Be sure to review the condo association's bylaws and insurance documents to ensure you are in compliance with the requirements and purchase adequate protection for your home.

What Your Unit Policy Will Cover

Even though your condo association may have a master policy in place, you still need individual insurance. It covers items that are excluded from the master policy and may compensate you for claims that may not be covered by the master policy's deductible.

The condo insurance policy you purchase should cover three specific areas. Check your policy for details.

  1. Personal Property: Insure the possessions you own in case they are stolen, vandalized or damaged in your home or elsewhere. Those items include furniture, electronics, clothing and other household items. Your unit policy can include replacement value or actual cash value coverage.

  2. Loss of Use: Your insurance policy will pay a portion of your hotel, meal, laundry and other living expenses if you have to move temporarily because your home becomes uninhabitable due to fire, mold or another cause.

  3. Personal Liability: If someone visits you and suffers a physical injury or if you or a family members damage someone else's property, your personal liability coverage will pay for the damages. The policy could also cover court, defense and settlement costs.
Condo insurance is a valuable investment that protects you and your home. Consider you options when you talk to your agent today.