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Halloween Safety Tips for Furry Friends

- Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA recommends taking these simple, common sense precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy all the way to November 1.

Stash the Treats

The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not Scruffy or Fluffy. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets.

Watch the Decorations and Keep Wires Out of Reach

While a carved jack-o-lantern certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, but can produce stomach discomfort in pets who nibble on them.

Be Careful with Costumes

For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. The ASPCA recommends that you don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

Be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. If he or she seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting your pet wear his or her “birthday suit” or don a festive bandana instead.

Keep Pets Calm and Easily Identifiable

Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet it wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.


Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

- Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

Cyber scams are nothing new. Every day, con artists are looking for the best “marks.”

Think you’re not worth being the target of online predators? Think again!

Hackers don’t need to know how much is in your bank account to want to get into it. Your identity, your financial data, what’s in your email…… it’s all valuable. And cyber criminals will cast as wide a net as possible to get to anyone they can. They’re counting on you thinking you’re not a target.

So how can you reduce the chances of falling for the scams? Learn the signs!

Let’s start with the basics of “cyber hygiene,” easy and common-sense ways to protect yourself online.

Here are the 4 things you can do:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts and make it significantly less likely you’ll get hacked.
  • Update your software. In fact, turn on automatic updates.
  • Think before you click. More than 90% of successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email.
  • Use strong passwords, and ideally a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.

Being cybersmart is contagious.

Our world is increasingly digital and increasingly interconnected. So, while we must protect ourselves, it’s going to take all of us to really protect the systems we all rely on. Being cyber smart is contagious. Take the four basic steps outlined above and help two friends do the same.

For more information, visit CISA’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month Resources page.

How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan

- Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Your ability to get out of your home during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.

Crime Prevention Month: 8 Simple Ways to Make Your Neighborhood Safer

- Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Crime Prevention

Neighborhood safety is not just about feeling safe—it can also save you money and hassle. The average cost of a burglary is nearly $3,000. And burglars are likely to strike again in areas they hit once, so you have a lot to gain (and potential money to save) from creating solidarity with your neighbors.1

Neighborhood safety is a team effort, but it starts with you. What can you do to make your neighborhood a safer place? We have some simple tips here.

Make friends with neighbors

Familiarizing yourself with neighbors can be a win-win situation. Offer yourself as a resource in case of emergencies or help needed on their end; some neighbors might reciprocate the offer. See if they’re comfortable sharing their needs.

Are there small children you should look out for? Do you live next to an older couple that stays home but sometimes needs help? Does your neighbor have indoor pets, and should you call if you ever see the pets outside?

Planning get-togethers based on physical activity is a great way to get to know neighbors. Arrange to go on walks or to have your children play together outside. Ensure all kids are a safe distance away from traffic, and teach them safe rules for playing outside together.

Organize neighborhood safety efforts

Consider giving a Neighborhood Watch group a go in your neck of the woods. If you don’t know where to start with a neighborhood association, we outlined the steps to get Neighborhood Watch started in your area.

Developing a neighborhood calling tree could help when things go amiss in the neighborhood, whether it’s a property crime or something more sinister like violent crime.

You could also encourage neighbors to disclose safety/burglary incidents on a neighborhood safety app so others know what to look out for. These apps can flag specific crime occurrences so you’re not just relying on perceived neighborhood safety assumptions.

Be cautious about the neighborhood safety app you choose since Ring’s Neighbors app has been entangled with law enforcement in ways that raise privacy concerns. Think critically about what neighborhood incidents should involve police versus when you can turn to other public safety resources.

Keep up your yard

A well-kept yard can help deter crime since trimmed foliage offers fewer places to hide. And fences can, of course, keep unwanted visitors out.

But these backyard crime prevention measures can get pretty pricey sometimes. Lean on the free tips in our article if you want to stave off property crime but landscaping/construction isn’t in your current budget.

Exercise caution when out of town

To choose targets, burglars rely most on easily scannable visual cues.2 Details like building type and signs of vacancy fall under this umbrella. We can’t overstate the importance of making it look like you’re home when you are away.

Consider swapping offers with neighbors to keep an eye on each other’s homes when out of town. Even small efforts can deter crime.

Favors might include mowing your lawn, shoveling your walks, or picking up your mail and newspapers. You could even have a neighbor park a car in your driveway occasionally while you’re gone. Make sure to return the favor if payment isn’t involved.

Use timers or smart switches to turn on your lights, or find a smart security system that will allow you to turn lamps off and on remotely.

Close windows and blinds at night

A big-screen TV is a less enticing steal if no one knows it’s there. Leaving your blinds open and lights on at night provides a free look into your house, its layout, and the habits of its occupants. And leaving windows open at night or when you’re gone is an invitation for an uninvited guest to come on in.

Improve lighting on your street

Burglars often prefer to target neighborhoods with lower residential density.3 So if your neighborhood has few houses and lots of space, take special care to ensure that space is well lit. Streetlamps are not the only way to do this.

Ask that each household turn on their porch lights in the evenings and install motion-detector lights in the backs or sides of the house so potential intruders don’t have the darkness to hide in.

Burglars also prefer homes with multiple entry points or detached properties, so ensure that all doorways and pathways are well lit.3

Install a security system

Overall, one of the surest options for crime prevention in your neighborhood is to get a home security system and use it properly. We regularly update our list of the ten best home security systems—these are your best bets.

If you see something, say something

It’s not just for airports—being diligent in your neighborhood and speaking up when you see something out of place helps everyone on the block. Criminal justice expert and SafeWise advisor Dr. Ben Stickle says neighbors working together can make a big difference, especially with crimes like package theft. He also recommends filing a police report, even though odds of recovering goods swiped off the porch are low.

If package theft is a concern in your neck of the woods, work with neighbors to keep an eye out for deliveries and suspicious snoopers or cars. If one neighbor is home most days, see if they’re willing to collect packages that would be left unattended on other porches for hours.

And if you catch a package thief on your video doorbell, share the footage with neighbors—yours may not be the only home targeted.

Improving neighborhood safety is a team effort, but it needs to start with someone. As you get to know your neighbors, discuss your concerns, and apply some of the ideas above, you’ll find that your neighborhood becomes not only a safer place to be but a more enjoyable one.


Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent About ATV Insurance

- Tuesday, October 04, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - ATV

What do outdoor adventures look like for you? Whether it's an ATV, UTV, dirt bike, dune buggy, golf cart or other off-road vehicle (ORV), you'll want to make sure you have the right type of insurance coverage to protect your toys. It's important to ask your independent insurance agent - the right questions about what type of coverage you're seeking and customize it to fit your lifestyle.

1. What typical coverages are available for ATV/UTVs?

Ask your agent or broker about standard coverages that are available, as well as optional ones you might consider. Standard coverages include Collision, Other Than Collision, Liability and Medical Payments. They help provide coverage for damage to your ATV itself or damage or injury that you may cause while riding your ATV.

2. Is my safety apparel covered?

Whether it's helmets, goggles or other clothing that helps minimize injuries from an accident, most companies will offer safety apparel coverage for when these things get damaged. We want riders to be as safe as possible while enjoying the outdoors, so we encourage wearing safety gear.

3. Is there optional equipment coverage available?

Most people have customized or added options to their ATVs. Optional Equipment coverage helps cover things like towable trailers, racks and winch kits for your ATV.

4. Am I able to insure my ATV/UTV year-round?

Year-round coverage is definitely something you may want to consider. Some policies have a lay-up period for colder weather when you may not be able to ride. But when an unusually warm day comes around and you want to take your ATV out, you might be stuck without coverage. A year-round policy lets you take it out whenever Mother Nature's providing good weather and, with some companies, you can do this for the same price as seasonal coverage.

5. What kinds of discounts are available?

Everybody wants to save money. Ask what's available for you. Some companies, like Foremost, offer discounts for things like multi-units, multi-policies, maintaining continuous coverage when you renew and for having prior off-road vehicle insurance.

Your safety is number one to us. Stay safe wherever you choose to go on your off-road vehicle.

For more information, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


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