6 Unforgettable Ways to Celebrate the USA in STL this 4th of July

Summer vacation is about to hit its halfway point, which means it’s time to celebrate the birthday of the red, white, and blue! There’s no better place to celebrate than in and around St. Louis! With all the festivals, parades, and fairs going on around the city, it can be hard to decide how you’re going to celebrate. Here are 6 great events going on, which will ensure that you have the best weekend possible!

St. Louis, MO: Webster Groves Community Days – Webster Groves is all for celebrating! The city starts the celebration on Wednesday with a barbecue and kicks off its carnival that lasts during the whole festival! Every night features live music, and Friday and Saturday will feature impressive fireworks displays. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, a patriotic parade will kick off the festivities for the day. Admission is free, but you may have to pay a reasonable $5 parking fee, so make sure you plan accordingly! (Starts 7/1 at 5 p.m. through 7/4 at 11 p.m.)

St. Charles, MO: Riverfest – For a great celebration, historic St. Charles is the place to be! Opening on Thursday evening, Riverfest has food, crafts, and a carnival, just to name a few. Friday and Saturday night both offer fireworks on the Missouri River, and Sunday morning promises a parade beginning at 10 a.m.! Plus, from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Riverfest offers a children’s area geared especially for the kids! (Starts 7/2 at 5 p.m. through 7/4 at 10 p.m.)

Alton, IL: Fireworks on the Mississippi – No 4th of July celebration is complete without fireworks, and Alton has the perfect way to celebrate with a bang! The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with fireworks beginning once it’s dark. With free admission, a performance by the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America, and the beautiful locale of the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater on the river, there’s no reason not to head on over to Alton to get your weekend started off right! (7/3, 5 – 10 p.m.)

St. Louis, MO: JB Blast – If you’re looking for music and fireworks without the carnival atmosphere, then the JB Blast is for you! Hosted at Jefferson Barracks Park in South St. Louis County, the Starlifters USAF Band of Mid-America will perform, followed by fireworks around 9 p.m. In between, you can explore the park, get food, or pay your respects to our fallen soldiers at the adjacent national cemetery. JB is the perfect spot if you prefer to focus on our military this holiday. (7/3, 5-10 p.m.)

Chesterfield, MO: Chesterfield Celebration and Fireworks – Looking for something that lets you get out of the summer heat? Check out the Chesterfield Celebration! Located at the Chesterfield Mall, the festivities feature live music, fireworks, and BMX performers for the kids! Plus, with all the great dinner options in the mall, it’s the perfect location for a complete evening. Throw in some shopping beforehand, and the Chesterfield Celebration is your perfect plan for the 4th! (7/4, 7-10 p.m.)

St. Louis, MO: Fair St. Louis – Dubbed “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” this year’s fair will once again be held at Art Hill and the Grand Basin in Forest Park because of the ongoing CityArchRiver project. There’s no air show this year, but because of that, the Fair is hosting even more live events and music for your enjoyment! And, of course, Fair St. Louis will offer fireworks at the end of each evening at 10 p.m.! Admission is free; however, parking in Forest Park is $30. Washington University and Forest Park Community College offer free parking! (Starts 7/2 at 5 p.m. through 7/4 at 10:30 p.m.)

Wherever you end up this 4th of July, be sure to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe! Wear plenty of sunscreen, and stay hydrated with plenty of water, too. Also, make sure your valuables are safe and out of sight in your vehicle. Most importantly, have fun celebrating all of the things that make our country and community great!

What are you planning on doing this Independence Day? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below – we want to hear from you!

7 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Target of Identity Theft During Your Travels

Pack your bags and grab your sunscreen because summer is here, which means it’s time for a vacation! It’s the time of the year to kick back, relax, and leave your stress behind. While vacationing, however, most people don’t think they could ever become the target of identity theft.

Sadly, vacationing season is an identity thief’s playground because this is the time when people let their guard down and pay less attention to their surroundings. Each year, numbers are rising for reported cases of identity theft and your credit and debit accounts, personal information, driver’s license, and other important information could be at stake.

Taking precautions to prevent this from happening is important, because after all, coming back from a vacation to find out you’ve been a victim isn’t fun.

Check out these 7 tips to help you avoid identity theft while you’re on vacation!

Notify Your Bank – Before you go on vacation, let your bank know you’re going to be out of town. Tell them where you are going and for how long so they will be aware of any strange transactions that may occur. When you notify your bank, they will usually monitor your accounts closely.

Don’t Announce Your Plans – We know vacations are too good not to share, but announcing that you will be away for a long period of time on social media opens the doors for identity thieves to come into your home and go through your personal files and information. Save the sharing for after you come back!

Put a Hold on Your Mail – Nothing says, I’m not here!” more than an overflowing mailbox. So put a hold on your mail until you return. This goes for your daily newspaper delivery as well.

Leave Your Laptop at Home – If you can, it’s best to leave your laptop at home. But if you must bring it with you, make sure your anti-virus software is updated. Also, do not access your personal banking information online while staying in your hotel or other public areas.

Protect Your Smartphone – If you’re not using your bluetooth, turn it off. Identity thieves can easily hack into your phone and collect important information if your bluetooth is on. Additionally, turn off your location settings. Leaving them on could notify thieves of where you are.

Use a Bank-Owned ATM – While on vacation, you may need cash in a pinch, but don’t let that drive you to use a random ATM. Try your best to find a bank-owned ATM as they are more credible and will keep your accounts protected.

Use Your Hotel Safe – Most hotel rooms now have pin-protected safes. Use them to keep all of your valuables safe and never leave any receipts, passports, boarding passes, or other important documents out in the open.

We hope this list will be helpful during your travels. If you need assistance with your insurance needs as well, we’ve got you covered! Stop by to see your agent at Madison Mutual or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to make sure your insurance is up-to-date!

5 Important Pool Tips to Follow For a Safe and Enjoyable Summer

Every year once school’s out and the warm summer weather returns in June, millions of Americans enjoy themselves by swimming and lounging in their pools in the backyard. Unfortunately, though, more than 200 children drown in these pools every summer. Even more tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented if a few simple yet vital steps were followed.

Make sure that your summer is a safe and full of fun by following these 5 safety tips when you and your loved ones swim!

Put Up the Proper Barriers – Make sure that your pool is protected with a barrier to keep kids from accidentally entering the pool without your supervision. Consider putting up a 4-feet-high fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around the pool. Also, remember to place a safety cover on the pool whenever it isn’t in use and remove any ladders or steps that could be used to get into the pool.

Actively Watch Swimming Children – If there are children swimming in the pool, you will want to make sure that you are actively watching them. Stay within arm’s reach of young children, and never allow anyone to swim alone. If you’re unable to watch the kids, designate another responsible adult to remain vigilant and look after the young swimmers.

Give Them Lessons – Many deaths in the pool can be prevented with swimming lessons. Ensure that everyone in the home knows how to swim by enrolling them in age-appropriate swimming lessons to help reduce the risks of drowning.

Keep It Clean – While pools are a lot of fun, they also come with a big responsibility, especially in maintenance and cleaning. You’ll want to make sure that your pool is clear, clean, and is maintaining the proper chemical levels, circulation, and filtration. Clean pools also help decrease the risk of swimmers experiencing earaches, rashes, and other serious conditions.

Establish and Enforce Safety Rules – Before anyone goes in the pool, go over the rules with them. Set and enforce safety rules including no diving, no running, staying away from drain covers, and never swimming alone to make sure that all swimmers are safe while having an enjoyable time.

Have you recently added a pool to your backyard? Make sure that you update your homeowners insurance policy! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com to update your policy today! We hope that your summer is a safe and fun one!

Grilling Safety 101: 7 Tips for Safe Sizzling

The sounds of splashing water and a sizzling grill are the iconic symbols of summer! Backyard barbeques create long-time memories with friends and family. However, BBQs aren’t just about great food and fun. It’s also important to keep in mind that you are literally playing with an open fire, and fire can make your summertime BBQs memorable for all the wrong reasons. Thousands learn this the hard way each year, suffering from serious injuries to damage to their homes.

Before indulging in your barbeque, follow these 7 grilling safety tips:

General Safety Tips – Always keep your grill clean. A grill free of grease and food is a sure-fire way to prevent grease fires. Be sure to keep the grill three to ten feet away from the house, railings, overhanging branches, eaves, children, and pets. Also, never, under any circumstance, use a grill indoors! Gas and charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide fumes, which can be fatal in enclosed spaces.

Propane Grills – The number one cause of gas grill fires is an obstruction in the hose. Before firing up your grill for the first BBQ of the season, be sure to check your grill’s hoses for damages or leaks. Perform a simple test using a soap/water solution to the hose. Bubbles indicate a propane leak – if this happens, do not use the grill until the hose is replaced. Also, check for and clear out any blockages such as food, grease, fat build-up, or critters using a wire or pipe cleaner. Always open your grill lid before lighting it. If the flames go out while cooking, turn the gas off and wait approximately 15 minutes before lighting again.

Charcoal Grills – Charcoal grills are known to cause more fires than gas grills. It is often miscalculated how dangerous lighter fluid can be. Since fluid turns to a heavy gas at relatively low temperatures, adding lighter fluid to already hot coals can cause a combustible situation. In a desperate attempt to light your charcoals, NEVER use gasoline. This can cause serious burns. Also, let your coals cool down completely before disposing of them. They will still give off carbon monoxide until they are completely extinguished.

Smoke – Smoke is inevitable while grilling and some love the aroma it gives, but taking precaution when around it is very important. It gets in your hair, on your clothes, in your eyes, and worse, in your lungs. All grills give off carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are cancer-causing substances when breathed in. So if you love the smell of that summertime BBQ smoke, be sure you are admiring it from a safe distance and remember that the younger you are when exposed to it, the worse the outcome!

Grease – Grease flare-ups are more than just a bother to most. They can actually be lethal. Grease will heavily collect in your grill’s trays over time if they aren’t properly cleaned out, and flare-ups can really burn the hair off your face. Literally.

Grilling Tools – Grills give us the convenience of being able to hang our grilling tools on the side for easy access. Typically, this means they are exposed to outdoor elements year-round. Adding frequent use to the equation, your brush takes a real beating. Your wire bristles become fragile over time and eventually start breaking off, dislodging onto the cooking grates and adhering to food surfaces. Similarly, if you have wooden or plastic brushes, they can become warped, split, and cracked. So do a safety check on your brush for wear and tear before your next use. Throw away and replace worn down, grease clogged, and/or warped brushes!

And last but not least,

Proper Food Temperatures – It is critical that your meat is cooked to proper temperatures. Consuming undercooked or raw meat can be very dangerous. According to the USDA, meats should be cooked to the following temperatures:
Chicken: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Ground Beef: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
Pork: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
Turkey: 165 degrees Fahrenheit

Be responsible and protect your home this summer with proper home insurance from Madison Mutual. Stop by to see your agent or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to make sure you are properly protected!