how to store Christmas decorations

7 Smart, Easy Ways to Store Your Holiday Decorations

Christmas is over now, and while you still might be enjoying your time now with your friends and family throughout New Year’s and the remainder of the Christmas season, it will soon be time to take down your Christmas decorations and store them away for next year. We know that putting all those decorations can be quite a chore, but if you do it properly, you’ll have an easier time assembling things next year!

Check out our 7 tips and tricks below for properly packing and storing your holiday decorations!

Be Smart About Tree Storage – Artificial trees can last for years and years to come if they are taken care of properly. Before you store the tree, think about its weight. Many are too heavy to wrangle into a trap-door attic or lug down a flight or two of stairs. To save yourself a headache (and a backache!), consider storing your Christmas tree on the same floor that it is used such as in a storage room, a closet, or even an attached garage.

Store Christmas Lights Tangle-Free – Storing lights after the holidays can be such a pain. It’s even more of a hassle when you revisit them in the following year and try to untangle the cords without breaking off or damaging the lights or wires. Avoid the tangled mess by using a piece of masking tape and permanent marker to label each strand. You can indicate how long it is or where you usually use the lights. Afterward, wrap the strands securely.

Protect Your Ornaments – Ornaments come in many different shapes and sizes and can be very fragile. Instead of tossing them in a box, try storing them in a container that is designed with layers and fill the empty space around each ornament with tissue paper to keep them secure. When looking for your container, try to choose something that is lightweight, has fabric-lined trays, and has plenty of padding.

Wrap Up the Gift Paper – If you’re not able to store your giftwrap, paper, tags, bows, ribbons, and tape in one small permanent area, you can put it all into an under-the-bed storage system. If there is no room under your bed for all of your supplies, your gift wrapping supplies can be stored in an organizer in a guest room closet.

Make Setting Up Villages Easy – Do you have Christmas villages? If so, you might know how much work it takes to set up the villages and all of the snow, landscaping, lighting, and accessories each year. Make set up easier next year by storing your villages inside of their packages and placing them inside a storage bin FIRST. Then place any snow, ground, and other accessories you might have on top of the village boxes. By doing this, you can set up the things that naturally go out first without having to dig through all of the village pieces.

Keep Your Wreath Safe – While relatively sturdy pieces, wreaths can be quite fragile, especially if they feature dried berries and twigs. Keep your wreaths safe, decorated, and fluffy for next year by storing it in a crush-proof container! Even though it might take up more space, the container will do a great job protecting what’s inside and can be stacked.

Keep Linens and Cloths Fresh – Want to keep your tree skirts, seasonal tablecloths, and other festive items fresh, fluffy, and protected from moisture, moths, and mold? Consider storing them in a hanging vacuum-storage bag. You can even store your plush winter throws in these storage bags, too. Next year, you can unseal these seasonal items, and they will be as fresh as they were when you stored them!

Your home is so much more than just a place to store decorations. Make sure that it is properly protected with the right home insurance policy. Call the experts at Madison Mutual Insurance Company by dialing 1-800-766-MMIC or by visiting us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

emergency fund

15 Strategies to Help You Create and Maintain an Emergency Fund

Financially speaking, building up an emergency fund is one of the most vital things you can do. While everyone knows it’s a smart idea to have extra money set aside for emergencies and accidents, it isn’t always the easiest task to undertake.

That’s why we’ve come up with 15 sound strategies to help you begin and maintain your emergency fund right away!

*Start small! Even saving as little as $25 per paycheck will help your emergency fund grow, and you will be motivated to save even more.

*Set up an online savings account and have it deduct an amount automatically each payday so you don’t have to even think about it!

*Ask your employer if you can have the amount deducted directly from your paycheck before it goes into your checking account.

*Treat your emergency fund as a bill each payday, and pay it at the same time as your other bills.

*Take a look at what you spend your money on and cut back on luxuries such as cable TV, unnecessary online purchases, gourmet coffee, and superfluous clothing. Whatever you decide to cut back on, take that same monetary amount and put it directly into your savings account.

*If you finish paying off your car, house, or other debt or loan, take the amount you were paying to that debt and put it directly in your savings each month. You won’t fell a difference in your budget, and you’ll save quite a bit of money!

*Do your best to give up an unhealthy habit such as drinking or smoking. While this is no easy feat to accomplish, you’ll find that you can bolster your emergency fund quite a bit when you give up the habit for good.

*Limit the access you have to this account. You can put your emergency fund in a money market account or fund, somewhere where you can’t easily access the account if you were tempted to tap into it.

*If you happened to get a Christmas bonus or will get a tax refund, be sure to save it instead of spending it.

*Don’t forget your coins! When you get home at the end of the day, place your coins into a jar and deposit them in your account once a month. It will add up much more quickly than you think!

*Try refinancing your mortgage or auto loan to help you save money. Take the amount that you would save and put it toward your emergency fund.

*If you have two cars and can live without one of them, sell one of them and save the money you receive or buy a cheaper, used model and save the difference in your payments.

*Instead of seeking fun by going out to eat or going to the movies, make your own meals and do fun things that are free to help save the difference.

*Showcase your talents and market them as a freelancer or get a second job on the side. Take the extra income and put it in the bank.

*Hold a garage sale and put the money that you receive in your emergency fund.

If you need additional money-saving tips or need to save money on your insurance, don’t hesitate to call the experts at Madison Mutual Insurance Company at 1-800-766-MMIC! You can look us up online as well at www.madisonmutual.com to see all the great policies we offer.

Buffalo, NY snowstorm 2014

11 Tips and Tricks to Help You Weather a Massive Snowstorm

Last month was an unexpectedly cold and snowy one for many states, especially for Buffalo, New York, who experienced more than 6 feet of snow within the matter of a few days. Many houses in that region were damaged, vehicles were buried, and travel was absolutely halted for days on end.

Knowing how to stay safe and warm in a huge snowstorm is crucial, especially if you live in an area that is prone to experiencing harsh winter weather. Read the following tips below to see how you can stay safe! After all, this advice could save your life.

Tips for Outside

Seek Shelter Immediately – In the winter, blowing winds can make the wind chill plummet, which can in turn reduce your core body temperature to dangerous levels. With every minute that you spend outside exposed to the cold weather, the risk of frostbite and hypothermia increases, so seek shelter as soon as possible.

Keep Dry – Don’t keep wet clothing on! Light a small fire to help provide you warmth and dry your clothes out. In the meantime, change into dry clothing while you wait for the wet ones to dry.

Stay Hydrated – Dehydration is very common in the cold weather, so be sure to keep your water intake up. About a cup of water an hour will work. If you have no water available, gather some clean snow and put it in a dry, clean container like a canteen, wait for it to melt, and drink.

Tips for the Car

Stay in the Car – If you happen to be stranded in your vehicle, don’t leave it. Your car won’t just provide you a form of protection, but it will also make it easier for others to see that you need help.

Use Some Heat – Go ahead and run the car for short bursts to give you some heat. About 10 minutes per hour is sufficient enough; after all, you don’t want to run out of gas! Remember to crack the windows a little to bring in fresh air now and a gain. Do check that your tailpipe isn’t blocked, though, as dangerous exhaust fumes can build up and back up into your car.

Move Around – While cars don’t offer you much in the ways of exercising, it’s important to keep your blood pumping. Do something while you’re in the car – stomp your feet, clap your hands, dance to your favorite song – just about anything will do.

Make Them See You – Others on the road can have a tough time seeing vehicles on the side of the road, so make sure your car is visible for a rescue. Hang bits of brightly-colored cloths or plastic from the windows. Whenever the snow stops falling, open the hood of the car – this signals that you are in distress.

Tips for Home

Use Alternate Forms of Heat – If the electricity happens to go out during the storm, seek out an alternative form of heat such as a fireplace or kerosene heater. Be careful, though. These forms of heat can be dangerous without proper ventilation, so try to check that first.

Stay in Place – Now is not the time to keep all the doors open and go from room to room. This is a good way to lose heat in your home and waste electricity. Instead, stick to one room for heat and close off unnecessary rooms in your home. Make sure that there are no air leaks in the room. Additionally, let sunlight in through the window, but block all windows as soon as it gets dark.

Protect Your Pets – When the weather takes a turn for the worse, don’t leave your pets outside to face it alone. Bring them in away from the cold. They’ll be safe and happier to be by your side as well.

Be Prepared – For the car or for your home, it’s always to have a winter weather emergency kit available in case things get worse. Be sure that your kit includes an AM/FM radio, a blanket, rations of food, bottled water, flashlight, first aid kit, and more. If you have young children, make sure to teach them about the contents of the kit and how and when to use it all in case of emergency.

Whether you need to insure your vehicle or make sure that your house is properly protected from the impending winter weather, you can feel safe knowing that the experts at Madison Mutual have you covered. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com to get started today!

winter driving

8 Tips to Help You Drive in the Snow Like a Pro

We all love the white crystals that fall from the sky. They provide endless entertainment in the forms of sledding, skiing, and building snowmen. However, while snow is soft and melts in our hands, the pure white fluff provides dangers, too, especially on the road.

When it comes to snowy weather, we want to make sure you’re prepared for its unpredictability. Below are handy snow-driving tips to keep you and your family safe this season.

So stay alert, slow down, stay in control, and don’t let the snow drive you off the road!

Get a Maintenance Check-up – Before the snow and below-zero weather strikes, schedule a maintenance check-up! It’s important to make sure your car’s tires and tire pressure, battery, belts and hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers, and ignition system are working properly. If your tire pressure is too low, it can cause steering problems on the road, and you want to make sure your brakes pick up enough friction so you don’t slide off.

Fill Gas Tank – It’s easy to fall victim to waiting until our gaslight comes on to fill up our gas tank. However, during the colder months, it’s necessary to keep the gas tank half full at all times. If your tank reaches low levels, gas line freeze-ups may occur. So keep that gas pumping!

Gently Pump Brakes When Stopping – When it comes to slowing down, avoid a quick stop in snowy weather. Pump your breaks and slowly come to a halt. It creates more friction and will help keep you from losing control. Also, avoid using your parking brakes in snowy, cold, or rainy weather, and if the tires lock, take your foot off the brake pedal. It’s the little things that make driving in the snow safe.

Keep Windows and Lights Clear – Before you start driving, clear your windows and lights of any ice or snow with an ice scraper or brush. That means your windshield, side windows, headlights and rear brake lights. Then when you get into the car, turn your front and rear defrost on to make sure your windows don’t fog up inside and obstruct your view. Without a clear view, messes can happen easily.

Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly – Remember, there is no need to rush. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads, so you should always be accelerating and decelerating slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. When it comes to snowy and icy weather, slow and steady wins the race!

Maintain Plenty of Space Between Cars – It’s a good rule to keep a following distance of eight to ten seconds or two to three car lengths when you’re driving in wintery conditions. Don’t try to pass other vehicles and stay away from cruise control.

Skid Properly – Skidding is scary, but it’s critical to remain calm and remember what to do when or if it happens. If the rear end or front end of the car begins to skid, remove your foot from the accelerator and steer out of the skid by turning your wheel in the direction you want the car to turn. Turn it in the opposite direction if the car over-recovers from the skid. Don’t ever brake while in the skid because it can lock up your wheels and cause you to slide further!

Make a Safety Kit – Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more! It’s always good to plan ahead in the event an incident arises. Creating a safety kit that you can store in your car is the first step. Put a sleeping bag, some flashlights, trash bags, a lighter, cash, car charger, and some hand warmers in the kit. You can add other items that you think you might need in case your car gets stuck in the snow, too. That way, you won’t freeze up when your car does.

We know the snow is all fun and games until we start driving in it. So if you have a brain freeze on the road and need help, check out our website http://madisonmutual.com/ or give us a call 1-800-766-MMIC! We don’t want the snow to make you feel ice-solated!

fall maintenance tips

7 Home Maintenance Tasks to Check Off Your List Before Winter

During this time of the year, nearly everyone thinks about the beginning of the holiday season. This time of the year, however, should also be considered as a time for completing some home maintenance before the cold winter weather makes its imminent arrival.

Take the time right now to check off these 8 tasks from your home maintenance to-do list before winter arrives!

Maintain Your Chimney and Fireplace – Before you decide to use your fireplace for the holidays, make sure that you give it thorough seasonal maintenance, giving special attention to the flue, damper, and firebox. A buildup of creosote can lead to a very dangerous chimney fire. Also, if you don’t already have a chimney cap, we suggest that you go ahead and get one. You can read more about fireplace safety here!

Ready Your Snow Supplies – You might not be ready to face all that frozen precipitation that comes with winter, but you will have to eventually! Ready your snow gear before the weather turns nasty! Make sure that your snow shovel isn’t buried underneath all of your tools and that you have quick and easy access to it in case of bad weather. If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and fill the tank with fresh gasoline. Finally, stock up on calcium chloride and some sand for deicing – keep a little of it inside your entrance in case you wake up to a snowy surprise in the morning!

Clean Your Gutters – If you haven’t done this yet, now is the time to get it done! Wear long rubber gloves, grab a gallon bucket, and scoop out leaves and debris into the bucket by hand. After the gutters are cleaned, run water down the gutter to see if it drains properly or if there are any spots that need to be patched up before the winter arrives.

Maintain Large Appliances – The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means family, fun times, and of course, great food! You will want to make sure that your appliances are properly prepared for the demands you will be putting on them. Pull your fridge from the wall and gently clean the condenser coils in the back with a vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment. Clean your oven and stove drip pans on your electric range oven. This will help ensure that your holidays are even safer!

Check Your Sump Pump – Most homes have sump pumps installed in an unfinished area in the basement. These pumps switch on automatically when groundwater levels rise, eliminating basement water before it’s a problem. If you happen to have a sump pump in your home, be sure that it is in good working condition before the season begins.

Check Your Windows – After the first snowfall is not the time to discover that your windows aren’t properly sealed. As snow builds up and begins to melt in these areas, the water will then penetrate into unprotected areas, which can cause structural members to rot out. Check your windows before the cold weather arrives and caulk areas that aren’t properly sealed to keep out unwanted moisture and drafts.

Maintain Moisture in Your Home – During the winter season, heaters can rob a home of its humidity quite easily. If moisture sounds like a bad thing to have in your home, know that just a little moisture in the air can make heated air feel warmer, which means that you can keep the heat at a slightly lower temperature as long as your humidity is balanced. If you find that your woodwork is cracking or your skin is dry all the time, you probably need more moisture in your home. Consider investing in a humidifier to help add moisture to the atmosphere!

Remember that a well-prepared home also is protected by a solid home insurance policy. That’s where the experts at Madison Mutual come in! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com to find out about our policies today.

fireplace

9 Fireplace Safety Tips to Warm You Up This Winter

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a roaring fire in the cold months of winter with our friends and family. The crackling of the wood and extra heat radiating on our hands and feet feels downright magical sometimes. However, owning a fireplace isn’t always glamorous – it comes with its own set of rules and responsibilities. In fact, enjoying a warm fire requires a clean and safe fireplace.

Here are 9 tips and reminders to help you maintain your fireplace and ensure that your winter is nice and warm this year!

Don’t Keep It On All the Time – Remember, your fireplace isn’t your furnace and should never take the place of a furnace. Fireplaces aren’t built for long-time uses, so be sure to use it for short-durations fires. Shoot for no longer than 5 hours.

Keep the Doors Open – Do you have glass doors on your fireplace? If so, keep them open in order to let the air be drawn up to cool the chimney. Remember to keep the screen closed, though. This will prevent little sparks from jumping onto your carpeting or hardwood. In fact, keep a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace so that sparks won’t damage your flooring. You can find these rugs at a fireplace supply store.

Use the Right Tools – Hands never belong in a fireplace that is in use. When using your fireplace, be sure to use the proper fireplace tools to handle the burning logs, even if you just need to shift something slightly Even brief exposure can cause burns or, at the worst, an unexpected accident.

Cap the Chimney – Chimney caps are very useful! They help prevent water damage to the chimney, keep animals from nesting inside, and prevent debris from blocking the chimney, which helps prevent carbon monoxide. Put one of these on your chimney to stay safe. Additionally, invest in a spark arrester to help prevent sparks from flying out, which could start a fire on your roof or on the lawn.

Clean the Doors – Glass doors on a fireplace can develop some pretty tough stains from the flames and heat, so be sure to take care of them! When the glass is cool, scrape off any thick gunk deposits with a razor blade, then add a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap to a bucket of clean warm water, sponge the cleaner on, and scrub! Wipe the liquid away with a newspaper or a microfiber towel to make it shine.

Treat the Coals With Care – Coals in the fireplace can remain hot enough to start a fire for 3 days, so treat them with great care. Wait until they’ve cooled before removing any ashes (and never use a vacuum to remove the ashes!). Open the damper so the airborne ash will be drawn up the chimney instead of the room. Don a dust mask, open a window in the room, and use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store this container far away from flammable or combustible materials, surfaces, and wood floors.

Clean the Firebox – Fireboxes need weekly cleaning (at least) when they are used in the cold months. Leave about an inch of ash because it will act as insulation and allow the coals to heat up faster and retain heat more easily during your next use. Remember to keep the firebox totally clean during the warm months.

Keep Children and Pets Safe – When you have your fireplace in use, it’s vital to never leave your child or pet unattended as this could easily cause a tragic accident to occur. Even if you are nearby, children should never be permitted to play with fire tools and equipment or close to the fireplace. Make sure that your child knows how important fire safety is.

Get It Inspected – Make sure to have a certified chimney sweep thoroughly inspect and clean your chimney. It should be checked at least once a year or after about 80 uses.

So what are you waiting for? Get your fireplace cleaned out and prepped for use before your friends and family come over for the holidays! Nothing beats hanging out with your family in front of a roaring fire, but make sure, too, that your home is properly protected in the event of an accident. Call your friends at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC to make sure your policy is up-to-date. Happy holidays!

deer crossing the road

The 6 Tips You Need to Know When Driving in November

November is the month we tend to associate with turkeys, hot chocolate, and cornucopias. In the midst of all the fall weather fun and holiday joy, however, we need to start associating the month of November with something a bit more serious – the increased number of wildlife that appears on or near our roadways.

Studies have shown that November is the month that has the highest number of reported wildlife-related collisions. In fact, it is well-known that deer activity, for example, increases quite drastically between late October through November, which also increases the potential of seeing deer very close to or on our roads. With the dwindling hours of daylight we experience at this time of the year (along with that pesky time change), our visibility can be compromised more easily, making it more challenging to see deer and other wildlife at twilight, night, and in winter weather conditions.

Increase your awareness and sharpen your driving skills with these 6 tips below!

Be Attentive Always – The road should command your full attention as it is, but if you had to give driving your absolute and undivided attention, this month would be the right time. This goes double for sunset and sunrise, which is when many wildlife creatures are the most active. Put away your smart phone (it can wait!), stop fiddling with the music, and tell your friend on your Bluetooth that you’ll call later.

Heed the Signs – If you’re driving in areas that have special signs that indicate that animals could be present, make sure you heed those warnings! Slow down a bit, and use extra caution. Remember, those signs were posted for a reason!

Scan the Sides – It’s not enough to just look at the road itself when driving; you need to scan the sides of the road as well. Look for any sort of reflective features in the grass – your headlights will typically illuminate any creature’s eyes that could be standing in the shadows. Also, be extra cautious in areas that have a great deal of vegetation next to the road. Wildlife might not be visible in these locations.

Look for Others – If you happen to see an animal on or near the road, please keep in mind that there could be others nearby as well. Deer, for example, like to travel in groups, so if you see one, you will more than likely see at least one more. Slow down and keep your eyes peeled!

Slow Down – We’ve mentioned decreasing your speed throughout several of these tips, but we felt that this deserved its own section. Reduce your speed, especially at night and definitely if you see an animal near or on the roadway. Additionally, do your best to stay in your lane. Several serious accidents are a result of the driver swerving to avoid wildlife or driving at high speeds and losing control of their vehicle.

Wear Your Seat Belt – Not only is this a big rule of the road, but it can also save your life. Always put on your seat belt. Remember, even the slightest collision could result in serious injuries.

Of course, even with all of these safety precautions, it’s always a smart idea to be covered in case something happens anyway. Make sure that your auto insurance is up to snuff – call the experts at Madison Mutual Insurance Company at 1-800-766-MMIC or by learning more about our policies online at www.madisonmutual.com!

holiday safety tips

Keep the Holidays Happy: 5 Common Holiday Hazards You’ll Want to Avoid

We can finally prepare our Thanksgiving bibs, blast Christmas music, and enjoy coffee out of red cups because holiday season is here! While the fun we spend with our family and friends around fireplaces, Christmas trees, and dinner tables is now upon us, so are the hazards that surround them. So, it’s important to wrap your presents and your mind around these potential holiday malfunctions. After all, we don’t want the happy in “happy holidays” to be replaced by firemen and copious amounts of stress.

If you follow these safety tips, you’ll be sure to have days full of joyful celebrations instead of hazardous ones.

Online Shopping Fraud:

When our lives become busy and we can’t drive to the mall, our computer and online stores become our best friends. However, while you’re browsing the web and picking out an ugly holiday sweater, make sure you’re doing so safely.

Ways to ensure safety and reduce online shopping fraud include:
*Keeping up-to-date with your software and virus protector
*Visiting online stores you know and trust
*Creating strong passwords
*Paying by credit card
*Keeping records
*Refraining from dispensing any financial or personal information

House and Car Theft: It’s scary to think that our home or car can be invaded, so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen! When it comes to your home, make sure you always leave a light on when you leave. Hide presents out of view, or better yet, close all curtains and shades. To avoid car theft, keep it on lockdown. Don’t leave bags and packages in the back seat or in plain sight. Put purchases in the trunk and park in well-lit areas. Both your home and car should always be locked, and for extra safety matters, invest in an alarm. There’re some holiday discounts floating out there, so take advantage of them!

Social Media: We love social media, especially during the holidays. The lit-up Christmas trees, extravagant family meals, and the beautiful holiday destinations all provide social media worthy pictures and comments. However, before we make social media posts, it’s important to know what not to do. If you use a public computer, log out of accounts and never save passwords. Most importantly, do not post that you’re going out of town. Keep your whereabouts private, even if you want to flaunt it. Besides, you can always post about your latest adventures after you come back!

Cooking: Holiday cooking is one of the best parts of the season. It’s when family traditions are shared and laughter ensues. However, it can be chaotic and messy, so it’s important to practice safety in the kitchen. Before you start cooking, make sure your stovetop and oven are clean and free of grease and dust. Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly, too. Also, it’s important to stay in the kitchen while the stoves are burning and ovens running. If you need to leave, set a timer so you can hear when the food is ready. If kids are around, keep them away from the kitchen by creating a kid-free zone. Lastly, purchase new smoke alarms. You don’t want your feast to go up in flames and disrupt the wonderful holiday aromas. However, just in case a fire occurs, know how to use a fire extinguisher and have one ready to blow out the fire before it creates a gigantic holiday blaze.

Defensive Driving: Everybody is always in a rush during the holidays; it’s easy to get caught up on the road and not pay attention to what you’re doing. Take a different route this season and become a defensive driver. Practice BBB (blinker before brakes) and don’t use a cell phone or any other electronics while on the road. Be alert, not sleepy or under the influence. Just make the time for driving safely. Life may speed up, but it’s important that you still drive safely.

We hope that this list can help you prevent holiday hazards, but we know messes happen, even when you’re prepared. So check out our car and home insurances, and if you run into a problem, visit our website http://madisonmutual.com/ or give us a call at 618-656-3410. We want you to rejoice this holiday season and be happy.

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a hazard-free holiday year!

Trick or treaters

6 Spooky Tips for Safe Halloween Driving

Jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and candy galore! Halloween is meant to be fun for everyone, but it can go bad fast if drivers aren’t being careful. More than any night of the year, it’s important to put 100% of your efforts into being safe behind the wheel on Halloween!

Keep the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and drivers alike with these 6 vital driving tips!

  1. Be prepared to stop for kids crossing the street, even when you aren’t at an intersection. Many kids don’t cross at intersections and either aren’t looking for cars or don’t know how to cross a street safely yet. In fact, the USDOT reports that 84% of collisions with young pedestrians occur at non-intersection locations. To prepare for crossing witches and goblins, look in the street as well as on sidewalks, yards, and driveways for anyone who may be heading for the street.
  2. Drive below the speed limit. You never know when a little ghost might run across the street. When traveling at a slower speed, you give yourself more time to react and your car needs less time and space to come to a stop (Thank you, physics!). Five miles per hour under the posted speed limit in residential areas is a good rule of thumb.
  3. Eliminate distractions. Put your phone in your purse, glove compartment, back seat, or even your trunk if you have a tendency to get distracted behind the wheel. Turn off the radio or keep the volume low so you can hear any pint-sized superheroes nearby.
  4. Communicate with drivers and pedestrians. Use your turn signals religiously so everyone can anticipate your next move. Turn on your hazards when stopped to pick up or drop off trick-or-treaters to signal other drivers to be careful when passing you.
  5. Turn on your headlights, even if it’s still bright out. Just like a little Batman in all black is hard for you to see, it’s hard for distracted and anxious kids to notice a car without headlights. Make yourself as visible as possible for anyone getting ready to cross the street.
  6. Use caution when pulling in or out of driveways and alleys. It can be tricky for you to see kids in these situations, and it can be hard for kids to see you! Inch your way out of these spaces, stopping frequently for any upcoming pedestrians.

With these 6 tips and some focused attention, Halloween is guaranteed to be a great night for everyone! When you’re looking out for zombies and dodging zoo animals, remember that anything can happen every day of the year, so keep yourself covered with Madison Mutual. Visit us at http://madisonmutual.com/ and have a happy Halloween!

Spinach and Zucchini Lasagna

Take a Bite Out of Fall With These 8 Recipes!

Prepare your stomachs—we have some FALL-tastic recipes!

When the leaves change, so do our food choices. So it’s time to take out your fork and knife, relax, and enjoy the seasonal cuisine. Whether you’re a pumpkin lover, apple picker, or squash consumer, we’ve got you covered! Get your taste buds ready (and your favorite flannel shirt) – we have some recipes that will make them water!

Feeling cold and blue: Potato and Cheese Soup

Fall means that the cooler weather we all look forward to is here, but sometimes the change in weather can make us feel a bit under the weather. If you’re battling a stuffy nose or want to stay in, bundle up and avoid the drop in temperature, this potato and cheese soup is the perfect recipe for you!

http://elliebeandesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/potatoandcheese.jpg


Movie night munchies: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

Spice up your puppy chow, pumpkin style! Whether you’re grabbing a movie or having a girl’s night in, this treat will do the trick! It’s festive and easy to make. So sit back, relax and chow down.

http://www.pbfingers.com/2012/10/10/pumpkin-spice-puppy-chow/


Healthy indulgence: Butternut Squash Risotto

Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, it’s easy to pack on the pounds during autumn. Fortunately, this meal allows you and your cholesterol to enjoy the seasonal produce. So indulge happily. Your body will not be disappointed!

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001540257,00.html


Date-night: Pumpkin Goat Cheese Fettuccine Alfredo

Let the leaves fall outside while you and your love cozy up by the fireside and enjoy a night in feasting on this fall pasta! It doesn’t take long to cook, and it will make you want to savor every part of your romantic night.

http://www.closetcooking.com/2013/10/pumpkin-goat-cheese-fettuccine-alfredo.html
Gluten-free: Spinach and Zucchini Lasagna

Gluten-free doesn’t mean you can’t taste fall, too. This lasagna is vegetarian, low carb, gluten-free, and delicious!

http://potluck.ohmyveggies.com/spinach-zucchini-lasagna/
Family time: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Fall reminds us how important family is. So put your apron on and spend a little more time with the people who matter most! The spinach inside brings green to the table, and kids won’t even notice it’s there! Quality family time should equal quality food, too.

http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/fall-family-dinner-recipes#slide-3

Sip of autumn: Butterscotch Caramel Coffee

We crave warm drinks in the fall – so, start craving this one! This butterscotch caramel coffee will warm you right up from the very first sip to the last.

http://www.livinglocurto.com/2014/09/butterscotch-caramel-coffee-recipe/#sthash.32gvHFqE.GvgKfmtu.dpbs
On-the-go: Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Bars

The seasons may change, but our schedules don’t. These pumpkin cinnamon chip oatmeal bars are great for an on-the-go breakfast or snack (kids will enjoy them, too). Just whip up a batch during the weekend and you’ll be happy when you head out the door on Monday!

http://www.ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com/2014/09/pumpkin-cinnamon-chip-oatmeal-bars.html

Which recipe did you like best? Let us know on our Facebook page! If you encounter any cooking fiascos, we are here to lend you a hand! Give us a call at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com.