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7 Safety Tips for Hanging Holiday Lights

By Marie Turko on December 4, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/holiday-decorating-tips

The holidays are here, and all is merry and bright. Before you string the lights, consider these quick safety tips.

  1. Light check: Before hanging lights, check for frayed wires and throw them out if anything is exposed. Also replace any missing or burned out bulbs.
  2. Look for the “UL®” stamp: Red UL® stamps mean lights are safe for indoor and outdoor use. Green UL® stamps signify lights are for indoor use only.
  3. Hang safe: If you get adventurous and hang lights up high, ensure that your ladder is level and secure before you climb. Also avoid entangling near overhead power lines or other unsafe hanging areas.
  4. Tactfully tack: Clip lights with plastic fasteners. Do not nail lights through the electrical cord.
  5. Extend with care: Only use extension cords approved for outdoor use. Use three strands or less of connecting lights into each extension cord to remain safe. Keep cords out of walkways or secure cords with heavy tape to prevent tripping hazards.
  6. Stay grounded: Plug outdoor lights into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) if possible. This prevents electric shock.
  7. Time it: Place lights on a timer to save electricity and allow lights to turn on and off when you are away from home.

Home is where love lives and memories are made – at the holidays and every day. That’s why it matters to protect it with insurance you can trust. Learn more about homeowners insurance from ERIE or find a local agent for a customized quote.

4 Fire Prevention Tips for Your Business

By Justin Metz on September 27, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/fire-prevention-tips-for-business

Reducing the risk of a potential fire at your business is one of the most important things you can do to help protect your customers, employees and property.

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 111,000 nonresidential building fires occurred in 2017. Those fires caused 1,200 injuries and more than $2.7 billion in damages.For business owners, these damages can extend beyond physical repairs. It could mean weeks, or even months, of lost revenue while your property is restored.

So what steps can you take to help ensure a crisis like this doesn’t happen at your business? Give these four tips a try:

1. Check potential fire hazards.

According to the American Red Cross, there are a number of common hazards in any home or business that are likely to be the source of a fire. Conduct a survey of your business and examine these potential problem areas:

  • Make sure machines and equipment are clean and well maintained.
  • Keep any combustible objects away from space heaters or furnaces.
  • Properly store flammables away in cabinets and away from ignition sources.
  • Check appliance cords and replace any broken connectors or cracked insulation.
  • Use only one extension cord for each power outlet.
  • Allow room behind any appliances to allow air to circulate and prevent overheating.

Continue reading “4 Fire Prevention Tips for Your Business”

How to Stay Safe While Ice Fishing

By Erie Insurance on October 16, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/ice-fishing

Ice fishing is a winter tradition for many anglers. It gets you out into the great outdoors and lets you bond with friends – just one of many ways to stay active in the winter.

But before you head out, you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind.

How Do You Know if the Ice is Safe?

First off, it’s imperative that the ice on which you fish is safe. Take a pass on fishing if you’re at all unsure about the ice’s thickness.Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Assess its thickness. Four inches is the minimum thickness on which you should walk and fish on ice. . Thicker is safer if you’ll be hauling heavy gear or taking a snowmobile. To find out the ice thickness, ask a trusted bait shop, outdoor outfitter or an authority such as the local fish and game commission.   You can also find out yourself with an ice chisel or ice auger.
  • Ice doesn’t freeze in a uniform way. There can be a dramatic difference in ice just a few feet away, so use caution if you’re moving about.
  • New ice is stronger than old ice. Use extra caution toward the end of the season.
  • Be mindful of snow. Snow slows down the freezing process and adds extra weight to ice.
  • Check out the ice’s color. Soft ice is typically gray, dark or porous, while thick ice has a blue tint.

Continue reading “How to Stay Safe While Ice Fishing”

Here’s What Road Salt Does to Your Car

By Erie Insurance on October 18, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/road-salt

When winter arrives, so do difficult driving conditions like whiteouts and black ice.

Road salt helps melt ice, which definitely makes the roads safer. However, there are some definite downsides when it comes to your car. . Read on to learn exactly how road salt works—and what road salt does to your car.

HOW DOES ROAD SALT WORK?

Salt—or in scientific terms, sodium chloride —lowers the freezing point of water. So while water normally freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water needs colder temperatures in order to freeze when it’s exposed to salt. The more salt you add, the more difficult it is for water to freeze.

The thing about road salt is it needs a little water to activate the process. Sometimes, road crews will pre-treat roads with a mix of salt and water called “brine.”Salt brine can keep ice from ever forming. If there’s a lot of snow and ice on a road, the brine will seep into the bottom layers, breaking the bond between the ice and the road. The remaining snow and ice will then float along the top of the brine, making it easy for any passing traffic to break it up for good. Continue reading “Here’s What Road Salt Does to Your Car”

6 Tips to Track Your Small Business Expenses

by Justin Metz on August 7, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/how-to-track-business-expenses

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you didn’t start your company out of a passion for bookkeeping. But as you grow, financial management becomes an increasingly important responsibility.

For many, it’s an unfortunate truth. We all know that running a small business takes long hours and a lot of hard work. And this often means tasks like tracking expenses can easily fall by the wayside. But this important job plays a critical role in successfully managing your cash flow.

If you don’t keep tabs on how much money is going out, you can quickly find yourself in a difficult situation. Keeping an eye on your expenses will not only help you reach financial goals, it can also provide some extra deductions come tax time. (For specific advice about your individual tax situation, remember to always consult a tax professional.) Continue reading “6 Tips to Track Your Small Business Expenses”

Understanding Premium vs. Regular Gas

by Erie Insurance on October 24, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/regular-and-premium-gas

Most people are clear on which type of gas their car needs. But not as many are clear on the differences between regular and premium gas.

Why use regular instead of premium gas?

One obvious difference is the price.

According to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration premium fuel nationally averages about 60 cents more per gallon than regular gasoline, and 25 cents more than midgrade gas.

What is the difference in octane levels?

Octane is how much compression a fuel can withstand before igniting, or rather it’s a measurement of a fuel’s ability to avoid knock.  Gas stations typically carry three octane grades. State laws regulate which octane levels can be listed as premium, midgrade or regular. Typically “regular” gas is 87 octane, “midgrade”  is 89 octane and over 91 octane is “premium” gasoline. Some states label top-tier gasoline with 93 octane as “ultra” gas. Continue reading “Understanding Premium vs. Regular Gas”

What to Do Before a Blizzard

by Alex Buczynski on October 25, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/what-to-do-before-a-blizzard

Severe winter weather can catch us off guard. Even adults sometimes hope for a snow day… but odds are we’re not getting one. In many cases, you still have to brave the cold, clean off your car and get to work.

When the forecast calls for heavy snow, it helps to think ahead. Follow this checklist of ways to prepare for snowy conditions on the road and at home.

  1. Watch the forecast.Conditions can change quickly. Monitor a trusted source for weather updates. If conditions are severe, use your judgment as to whether you should brave the roads at all – many times, it’s safer to just stay home. If you have to be out in the weather, make sure you have a fully-stocked car emergency kit. Want more advice on winter driving? Read these tips on how to keep your cool driving in whiteout conditions and how to get your car unstuck from the snow.
  2. Stock up and charge up. Make sure your phone is fully charged and has emergency numbers (family, friends the power company and the police) stored in it. Also, if possible, stock up on essentials, including food and batteries, before the snowfall. (See what made our list of 31 must-have items for your home emergency kit.)
  3. Prep your car for the drive. Fill up your gas tank, check your wiper fluid level and leave your wiper blades up.
  4. Continue reading “What to Do Before a Blizzard”

How to Tow a Trailer Properly

by Alex Buczynski on July 16, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/towing-trailer-safety

Whether you’re moving your child back home from college or hauling equipment for your business, a trailer helps when you need some extra space to pack things. While towing a trailer may not seem much different than driving a car, there are a few things to keep in mind before you hitch your trailer.

VERIFY THE TOWING CAPACITY

Just because you have a vehicle with a trailer hitch doesn’t mean it can tow any type of trailer. It’s important to verify that your vehicle’s towing capacity is adequate to tow the trailer you’re using. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting started and may cause damage to your vehicle.

Start by checking your owner’s manual, which will tell you how much weight your vehicle can safely tow. If you exceed the recommended weight, you run the risk of losing control. That often leads to overturning.

Remember: Never try to manipulate your hitch into towing something it’s not designed for. This can increase its risk of breaking free.

Also, never set off without securing the pin in the hitch. The pin keeps you from potentially losing your load when you go over bumps in the road. Continue reading “How to Tow a Trailer Properly”

How to Handle a Windshield Repair

by Erie Insurance on August 21, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/handle-windshield-repair

Ever been carefully driving along when—whack!—a rock hits your windshield? Your eyes scan for damage as you wonder whether you need a windshield repair or a complete windshield replacement.

The good news is that a chip or crack doesn’t necessarily mean you need a replacement. Certified repair specialists, such as those at Safelite AutoGlass®, can usually repair windshield chips, nicks and cracks up to six inches long. No matter what your situation is, it’s best to go to a windshield repair specialist right away. Here are two reasons why. Continue reading “How to Handle a Windshield Repair”

What to Know Before Trading In Your Car

by Justin Metz on October 2, 2019
Source: https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/should-i-trade-in-my-car

There’s nothing better than that new car feeling. But before you drive your new ride off the lot, you often have to decide what to do with the car in your driveway.

When it comes to getting rid of a used car, you have two options: selling it yourself or trading it in. (If money isn’t an issue, cars also make great charitable donations.)

There are pros and cons to each approach. A private party sale can net you a higher profit, but it also takes a lot more work. Meanwhile, trading in your car to the dealer is fast and easy – but it will probably net you less cash in the process.

Looking to get the best bang for your buck? Here are a few ways to maximize your car’s trade-in value. Continue reading “What to Know Before Trading In Your Car”