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Which Home Alarms Do You Need?

Technology has made home alarms of all kinds — from security to smoke, radon to radiation — more accessible than ever. Many of them can be configured to work together, and some even alert you to trouble through your phone or other mobile device, so you can feel confident even when you’re out of the house.

So, what home sensors do you need? Only you can answer that question – it depends on what you’re comfortable with. For your peace of mind and safety, you may want to consider the following types of alarms for your home.

Start With the Basics

Whether you’re in a house, condo or apartment, smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide (CO) detectors are absolute musts. They can alert you and your family in the event of a fire or if deadly gas is building up in your home.

  • Smoke alarms: According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should install these inside every room where people sleep, with at least one on each level of your home. For maximum safety, use both ionization and photoelectric alarms, which respond to different types of fires, or a dual-sensor alarm, which will respond to both flaming and smoldering fires. You can choose from alarms that are hard-wired into your home’s power supply or ones that run on batteries. Be sure to test them regularly and replace the batteries twice a year when you set your clocks forward or back.

    You also should consider smoke alarms that can be linked, so when one goes off, all of the alarms in the house sound. Other options include alarms with strobe lights (for the hearing impaired), voice commands instead of loud beeping (which may help wake children more easily) and even light for visibility in the dark.

  • Carbon monoxide alarms: Carbon monoxide is odorless — and deadly, killing about 400 people in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your home has gas appliances or a wood-burning fireplace, you may be especially at risk. But, every home needs carbon monoxide detectors – on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.

    There are battery-powered and plug-in CO alarms available, and some can be linked to smoke detectors as well. Be cautious about combination smoke-and-CO alarms, however, as the detection capabilities may be limited.

Then Consider Other Types of Home Detectors

Other alarms are more about your specific living circumstances and what will make you feel most safe. There are plenty of different products available, so consider your lifestyle, your location and other factors.

  • Natural gas and propane: Natural-gas detectors typically provide an alarm for propane and CO leaks as well. They’re a good option for those with appliances powered by natural gas, or people who own RVs and trailers with large propane tanks.
  • Water: These alert you to leaks from appliances or pipes via sensors you can place around your home. Some require you to be present to hear the alarm, while others connect to a central hub that can provide alerts to your phone or other device.
  • Radon: Detectors are available that provide constant monitoring of this deadly gas. You could also start with a single-use radon test to help determine if a problem may be present.
  • Radiation: If you live near a nuclear power plant, you might want to monitor the amount of radiation in your home. Some radiation occurs naturally and poses little problem for humans. But, elevated levels can cause harm.

And, What About a Security System?

There are more options than ever for home security today. Some do-it-yourself security systems include cameras and the ability to see what’s happening at your home via your phone or other electronic device. Of course, systems installed and monitored by a separate security company are still available, as well.

Some alarms can provide benefits beyond safety, too. Installing them may qualify you for a discount on your insurance. Check with your independent agent for more details.

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A Good Defense is Always the Best Offense

We’ve discussed how car crashes in the United States each year impact our economy and society. Sure, they lead to higher car insurance costs for each of us, but their impact goes much deeper, and they remove almost 2.5% from our gross domestic product (GDP) each year. We’ve also discussed how they can impact individuals on a deeply personal level, since crashes can result in the loss of life. But despite all of the statistical data that gets thrown our way, one thing is perfectly clear: the vast majority of these crashes, collisions and so-called accidents are preventable.

We’re not kidding. Most automobile accidents are preventable. If every single driver employed the basic techniques of defensive driving, the number of crashes would be dramatically reduced.

What is Defensive Driving?

If you’re like a lot of people, you may be wondering what the actual definition of defensive driving even is. To put it simply, defensive driving is the act of applying driving rules and techniques that can help motorists reduce risks and anticipate dangerous situations. Below are some tips on how to be a better defensive driver.

Focus on the Task at Hand: Driving

The first step in becoming a defensive driver is to recognize that you can control how you drive. You should be thinking safety first. You can’t rely on others on the road to make your safety a priority. That’s your job. So, wear your seat belt, don’t drive aggressively and keep your full attention on the task at hand: driving.

Visualize Everything

Constantly scanning the road with one’s eyes is another habit of good, defensive drivers. This means checking the front, left side, right side and rear with all of your mirrors. Make sure you’re scanning far ahead, not just casually looking around you. This will give you time to react to any situation that could be coming your way. Keep your eyes peeled for other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles or pedestrians even pets and wildlife should be on your radar.

Always Have an Escape Route

This means not following too closely and not getting boxed-in. On multiple lane roads, such as freeways, center lanes are preferred, as they maximize your ability to go left or right.

Don’t Tailgate

Most driver guides insist on leaving a two-second space between yourself and cars you are following. This doesn’t go far enough. Allow for at least three-to-four seconds of space between yourself and the car you are following. Anything less is too close. Having this space cushion will allow you to react to any situation.

Don’t Speed

Your speed should always match conditions, which means sometimes the posted speed limit is too fast. Wet or icy roads and limited visibility may decrease the time you have to react to other drivers, so keep that in mind as you’re driving.

Be Aware, Not Paranoid

Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by dealing with too many risk factors at the same time. Only concentrate on those that seem to have the biggest chance of disaster.

Don’t Become Distracted

A defensive driver is not a distracted driver. Anything that takes your mind off of the task of driving is a distraction.

Overview

Overall, these are the basics of defensive driving. Remember, you are in control of your own outcomes. Take matters into your own hands and don’t rely on other drivers to always do the right thing. In addition to being much safer, employing these practices will also help your auto insurance policy by helping reduce the number of claims on your file.

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Deadly Driving: A Look At Teen Drivers

If you’re seeking a car insurance plan, there are many, many factors that get taken into account, particularly if you have a family with kids in it—kids who will one day likely be sitting behind the wheel of your family car. Getting your teen started down the road with a learner’s permit can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in your entire adult life. Most teens are ready and eager to hit the open road, but there’s a lot of consideration that needs to go into making sure your teen is safe and insured properly for any circumstance that may arise. Teenagers and younger drivers are hands-down the most accident prone demographic on the road: They crash more, seem to think less, and tend to engage in more risky behaviors, like drinking and driving or texting while behind the wheel. You want your teen to be safe, and you also want them to be taken care of by your insurance plan.

If you’re curious about the proper way to be sure your teen is well cared for by your insurance plan, check out this handy guide to the best insurance for your young driver. Every parent’s ultimate desire is for their teen to stay safe, but the odds of your 16-year-old getting into a fender bender are too high to not make entirely sure that your insurance policy is reliable and effective for any situation. Whether you’re the parent of a soon-to-be-driving teen yourself or you simply want to be more aware of those young folk you share the road with teen drivers today.