Cleaning the gutters

Clean Your Gutters Like a Pro With These 7 Tips!

Fall is finally here, and people nationwide are preparing their homes for the new season with pumpkins and wreaths, putting away their shorts and flip flops for another year.

Don’t forget to take care of your home this season, too, especially your gutters! Gutters that aren’t cleaned at least once a year stand a better chance of becoming rusty and clogged, and they could cause a good deal of problems for you. Take the initiative and clean your gutters like a pro with the following 7 tips!

Choose the Right Ladder – If your home is a single story home, you will more than likely need to use a four-legged ladder for the job. If your home is a two stories, you will probably need to have an extension ladder. Remember to check your ladder to make sure that it’s safe and sturdy and that the steps are in good condition before you climb on. Place your ladder on level ground and get to work! Never lean your ladder against the gutters!

Wear the Right Clothes – When you’re setting out to clean the gutters, be sure to wear thick work gloves to protect your hands from leaves, dirt, animal waste, and any sharp debris or hazardous materials that could be present in your gutters. Leather and suede gloves will give you the best protection. If you need to walk on the roof at all, be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes.

Protect Your Eyes Properly – Your eyes need to be protected, too! Wear protective goggles or eyewear in order to prevent any possible eye injuries. A host of animals and insects could be living within the leaves and debris in your gutters, and they will be disturbed when you remove the debris, so it’s best to make sure your eyes remain unaffected by any potential surprises!

Use the Right Tools – Aside from you gear and ladder, be sure to use the proper tools for the job! We recommend using a plastic gutter scooper to help you remove large debris from your gutters. It will give your hands a bit of a break in the long run! Also, consider securely attaching a bucket to the shelf of your ladder in order to help you collect leaves and debris from the gutters.

Pay Attention to the Downspouts – Keep an eye on the downspouts! If leaves and debris are clogging it up, the water won’t drain properly. This could cause your gutters to sag and mildew and mud to overtake your gutters.

Look For Any Sources of Leaking – Take a peek at your gutters when you’re cleaning them out and be on the look out for any holes or cracked calking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape out the old caulking, dry the area thoroughly, and use new silicon sealing to prevent rotting and rust. Try the ultimate test in finding any leaking sources – slowly pour a bucket of water into the gutters and watch it drain!

When in Doubt, Hire a Professional – Cleaning gutters can very much be a simple, do-it-yourself task, but it still can pose a high risk of injury for anyone undertaking the ordeal. If you don’t have the proper equipment or time or if you feel as if you are unfit for the job, don’t be afraid to hire a professional to clean your gutters! Better to be safe and have fantastic gutters than to try it unprepared and wind up going to the hospital for injuries.

Want to learn more home improvement tips for the fall? Need to go over a home insurance policy with us? No problem! Just call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

jump

5 Trampoline Tips to Keep You and Your Children Safe

What comes to mind when you think of a trampoline? Do you think of the rush of bouncing on the rubber and the feeling of the wind in your hair? Do you recall the sensation of temporary flight when you jump up and down on the trampoline’s surface and the undeniable feeling of exuberance and freedom you used to feel?

Trampolines are a lot of fun and can be a good source of exercise, but they should be used with great caution. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages recreational trampoline usage, warning the major injury risks that the activity has for users, especially children.

While the trampoline was invented in 1945 by competitive gymnast George Nissen for acrobats, gymnasts, and military training, the recreational use of the modern trampoline has increased in recent decades. This increased usage has caused a number of injuries in children. In 2009, 70 out of 100,000 children ages 0 to 4 and 160 out of 100,000 children ages 5 through 14 were injured on a trampoline, totaling to whopping 98,000 injuries in the year.

Still want a trampoline for yourself, your friends, or your family? Follow the 5 safety tips below to make sure that you and yours are safe!

Take Turns Jumping – We might have killed your sense of fun in telling you that only one person at a time should be permitted to jump, but you’ll thank us! Three out of four of all trampoline injuries happen because several children jump on the trampoline at the same time. The smaller children are also 14 times more likely to get hurt than their older, heavier counterparts as well. Play it safe – allow only one person to jump on the trampoline at a time!

Save the Stunts for the Professionals – Using a trampoline improperly can result in many different injuries, hospitalization, and though it’s relatively rare, it can also result in death. Remember, this is not American Ninja Warrior or the latest Jackie Chan movie! Do the activity the trampoline was solely meant for – jumping! Refrain from performing somersaults or flips while on the trampoline as it can cause injury and great injury to your spinal cord as well. Additionally, encourage children to get off the trampoline safely by walking to the edge, sitting, and safely sliding off.

Supervise Others on Trampoline – While supervision won’t totally prevent all trampoline mishaps, it can most certainly help nip most of them in the bud. When others are jumping, be sure to act as a spotter of sorts for the person jumping. In case something does go wrong, you’ll be able to act much more quickly if you’re supervising! Additionally, to prevent younger children from getting on without supervision, be sure to not leave a ladder or a chair nearby to help them get up without your assistance.

Make Sure Conditions Are Prime for Jumping – Not just any location or weather will do for trampoline jumping. For the safest options, place the trampoline on soft, energy-absorbing ground or a soft and springy lawn. Make sure that the trampoline is placed on a clear, flat area of land with no potential hazards like fences, bushes, trees, or other equipment around. Never put a trampoline on the concrete, asphalt, or any other hard surface, and never ever allow children to jump on a wet trampoline!

Prepare for Any Potential Falls Accordingly – Falling off the trampoline accounts for up to 40 percent of all trampoline injuries, especially when the device is placed on uneven ground. Make sure that you have an 8 foot radius of clear ground around the trampoline, and consider having a safety net in place if possible. It might not prevent injuries, but it could prevent them from becoming serious injuries.

While the AAP strongly recommends avoiding all recreational trampoline use, you can still use the trampoline if you also employ the appropriate supervision, coaching, and safety measures!

Got questions about trampoline usage? Want to check if your insurance covers trampoline-related injury claims? Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com! We’ll sit down and help you with all of your insurance needs!

Alpha Steering Wheel

20 Warning Signs It’s Time to Take the Keys Away From an Elderly Person

One of the most important and perhaps most difficult considerations you will probably face in life is when or if you must take the keys away from an elderly loved one. This decision should not be made lightly; many elderly people see giving up their car keys as the total and definite loss of their independence. You will need to ensure this decision is made thoughtfully, tactfully, and as lovingly as possible.

Having the ability to drive helps older adults stay active and independent; however, the risk of being hurt or even killed in an accident increases as people age. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 500 older adults are injured every day in crashes, and statistics also show that older drivers are much more likely to be involved in accidents than younger drivers.

In order to determine if your elderly loved one is not fit to be behind the wheel, you must pay very close attention to any warning signs their age or potential disabilities are interfering with driving safely. Here are 20 warning signs that indicate your elderly loved one might not be fit to drive safely, according to the NHTSA.

*He drifts into other lanes.

*He straddles lanes.

*She makes sudden lane changes for no reason.

*He ignores or misses traffic signals or stop signs.

*She easily becomes confused in traffic.

*She brakes or stops abruptly without any reason.

*He hits the accelerator suddenly without any cause.

*She coasts nearly to a complete stop in the midst of moving traffic.

*He presses on the brake and the accelerator at the same time while driving.

*She has difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects, or even other vehicles.

*She gets more and more nervous when driving.

*He drives at a significantly slower speed than the posted speed or than the general speed of surrounding vehicles.

*She backs up after missing an exit or road.

*He has difficulty reacting quickly as he processes multiple images or sounds.

*He has problems with neck flexibility in turning to see traffic on the left or the right.

*She gets disoriented or lost easily, even if she is in familiar locations.

*She fails to use her turn signals or even keeps the signal on without changing lanes.

*He has increased near misses on the road.

*He has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years.

*There are dents or scrapes present on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, or even on curbs.

If you have noticed several of these warning signs happening, then it’s time to seriously assess the situation. Please do not wait for an accident to happen, but do remember to be sympathetic and caring toward your loved one’s feelings as losing the right to drive can be a traumatic event.

Now it’s time to take action. Instead of forcibly taking the keys away, you can try the following tactics to further assess the situation and to ensure your elderly loved one’s safety (and the safety of others):

*Ride along to a few of the elder’s appointments and see how they do. Remember to be calm and to not nag or berate him or her on any driving mistakes that are made. Simply make casual observation notes to yourself when you come back.

*Research other transportation that might be available if your elderly loved one needs to quit driving. You can usually find public transportation such as local or city buses around your neighborhood.

*Casually check the senior’s vehicle once in a while for any possible dents or scrapes.

*Suggest taking a driving test to evaluate the elder’s ability to drive a car. You can do this at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

*If you think the elder is still capable of driving but might simply be having a tough time at the moment, suggest that they enroll in a Mature Driving course. It would benefit even the most experienced drivers to brush up on their driving skills and could potentially instill a newer sense of confidence in the senior.

Remember, a person’s age is not and should not be the sole reason for taking away the car keys! Many seniors in their 80s and 90s are still active and safe drivers, yet there are also those in their 50s and 60s who have become to a danger to themselves and others on the road. The true factors that must be considered in this decision should be the mental and physical condition of the senior.

If the keys are ultimately taken away from your senior, remind them it isn’t the end of their independence. They can take alternate methods of transportation to their destinations, and these different ways of getting around can offer health and social benefits along with being a welcomed change of pace in one’s life.

If your elderly loved one is still quite capable of driving yet lacks auto insurance, we can help! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com for more information!

Happy family

Are You Forgetting These Essentials in Your Emergency Kit?

We never plan for a disaster or emergency to strike. If we did, we would be sure to be well-prepared to handle the obstacles that appear in our way, whether they come in the form of weather, fire, accidents, roadside troubles, or other disasters that occur. For that very reason alone, it’s best to be prepared and why we recommend preparing a few emergency kits for you/your family located in your home, vehicle, and at work!

Do you know which items you need to put in your emergency kits? Find out below how you can prepare your kits today!

For the Home

Your emergency kit for the home should contain the following items:

*Canned food, especially non-perishable food that requires no preparation

*Water – one gallon per person per day

*Medicine

*A change of clothes

*Flashlight and extra batteries

*First aid kit

*Multi-purpose tool

*Sanitation and personal hygiene items

*Copies of personal documents

*Cell phone with chargers

*Family and emergency contact information

*Extra cash

*Emergency blanket

*Map of the surrounding area

Keep this kit in a designated location known to all of your family and have it ready in the event you have to leave your home quickly.

For the Vehicle

In case you are stranded, keep an emergency kit full of supplies in your car! Your kit should include the following:

*Jumper cables

*Flashlights

*Extra batteries

*First aid kit

*Any necessary medications you may need

*Food items containing protein (nuts, energy bars, canned fruit)

*A portable can opener

*Water for each person and pet in your car

*AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages

*Sand for better tire traction

*Shovel

*Ice scraper

*Warm clothes

*Gloves, hat, and sturdy boots

*Jacket

*Blanket

*A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger

*Flares

Additionally, be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full. If you are stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help, and wait there until help arrives!

For Work

Work is usually an area of your life that you don’t think about when it comes to accidents and disasters. You will need to be prepared to take shelter at work for at least 24 hours if disaster does strike. Make sure you’re ready with the following items in your emergency kit:

*Food, especially sealed, protein-filled foods

*Water

*Medicines you may need

*Comfortable walking shoes in case you need to evacuate and walk a long distance

Your kit should also be stored in one container and be ready for you to grab and go in case of an emergency, especially in the event of evacuation.

The best thing to keep in your arsenal for whenever emergencies occur is an insurance policy from a company you trust. If you’re ready to sign up with the best insurance company around, call us at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com for more information!