Preparing a Household for a Disaster

Homeowners throughout Canada face a variety of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods and wildfires.

If you are unprepared for one of these disasters, you and your family could be left without food, electricity or even shelter.

To prepare your household for a disaster, consider the following tips:

  1. Know the risks. Depending on where you live, your home could be impacted by any number of unique hazards like landslides or hazardous material spills. Familiarize yourself with the risks that are most likely to occur near your home to guide your preparation.
  2. Create a phone list. Create a master list of family and emergency contacts. Ensure that every member of your family has a copy of this list and stores it in a safe and easy-to-access area.
  3. Pick a meeting place. If you get separated from your loved ones during a disaster, it’s important to have a meeting place set up. This could be a neighbour’s house, library or community centre.
  4. Stay informed. Once impacted by a disaster, you will want to know how to receive updates on the situation. You and your family should know how to get this information ahead of time. Contact your local government to learn the best ways to receive alerts.
  5. Know how to turn off utilities. If you suspect a leak, knowing how to turn off your home’s gas and electricity can protect your family from fires or explosions. Locate and label your electrical panel as well as your water and gas valves.
  6. Store emergency supplies. Above all, in the event of a disaster, you will need access to clean water. You will need at least 4 litres (1 gallon) of water per person, per day. In addition, emergency supplies like first-aid kits, whistles, flashlights and cellphones will be critical to have on hand. Keep all of these items in a safe area or create an easy grab-and-go bag for quick access.

How to Avoid Distractions While Driving

Driver distractions have joined alcohol and speeding as leading factors in crashes that cause fatal and serious injuries. However, cellphones aren’t solely to blame. Anything that takes any of your attention away from driving is a distractions. There are three main types of distractions:

  • Visual – Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual – Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive – Taking your mind off of driving

Sending or reading a text while driving is the equivalent of driving blindfolded for 5 seconds.

Whether driving for work or for personal reasons, it is important to remember that any activity that you engage in while driving is a potential distraction that increases your risk of crashing. Taking the following precautions can help you avoid distractions while driving.

  • Silence your mobile devices and keep them away from you while driving to avoid being distracted by notifications. If you must receive phone calls while on the road, pull over before answering, even if using a hands-free device.
  • Set destinations in GPS devices before you depart.
  • Make a playlist on your phone before you leave to avoid the temptation of selecting songs or changing radio stations.
  • Avoid eating while driving. Take proper breaks to allow yourself time for meals.
  • Speak up if you’re a passenger of a distracted driver. Offer to take over the driving responsibilities.

Using and Maintaining Headlights

Your vehicle’s headlights are an essential part of staying aware of your surroundings on the road. Bright, well-maintained headlights can be the difference between seeing a pedestrian and a fatal crash. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t use or maintain their headlights properly.

You should always turn your vehicle’s headlights on as soon as you get into the driver’s seat. Even if it’s bright outside, your headlights can help pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers see you more easily. Some experts also recommend that drivers always use their headlights’ high beams at night to increase visibility, and to turn them off only when there’s an oncoming vehicle.

It’s always best to check your headlights regularly to ensure they’re clean and aren’t in danger of burning out. Because headlights dim over time, it’s always best to replace them both at the same time in order to create an even field of vision when driving.

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Home-Based Business Coverage

What Protection Does it Offer

Common coverages for home-based businesses include personal business property, professional liability, business income, personal and advertising injury, loss of business data, crime, theft, and auto coverage. Depending on the type of home-based business you have, not all coverages apply, and other coverage options may be available.

Coverage Options

Based on your business needs, you have three basic coverage options to choose from, depending on your level of risk:

Homeowners Policy Endorsement

This provides the least amount of coverage and, therefore, is not ideal for most home-based businesses (depending on the level of risk). While it may provide enough coverage for a freelance writer with one computer and no business foot traffic, it’s not enough for someone who employs others, has clients visiting his or her home or has valuable business equipment and/or inventory.

In-Home Business Policy

More comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement, in-home business coverage is a stand-alone policy that provides higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.

Business Owners Policy (or BOP)

A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. Created specifically for the small- to mid-size business, a BOP covers your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expense, and liability. It is the most comprehensive property and liability option. It does not include health or disability insurance, which are available as separate policies.

What’s Your Risk?

While most homeowners insurance policies do cover a limited amount of business equipment – computers, copiers, and printers, to name a few – it’s likely that what you own is worth more than your policy’s limits. Also, your homeowners liability insurance probably won’t cover any injuries that may occur to the employees or clients that you have on your premises. What’s a home-based businessperson to do?

Scrivens is Here to Help!

Properly insuring your home-based business is crucial to protecting both your business and your home. At Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions, we understand the small business owner’s personal and business needs, and can help you tailor coverage that’s as unique as the products and services you provide. Contact us today at 613-236-9101 to learn more about how we can help you insure your livelihood.

Golf Cart Safety Tips

As surprising as it may be, there are many golf cart accidents annually, which result in personal injury, property damage, and even death. Since golfing is intended to be a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable outdoor activity, review the following safety tips to keep you and your fellow golfers safe.

  • Drivers and passengers should remain seated while the vehicle is moving at all times.
  • Never exceed the maximum capacity for a golf cart – everyone needs his or her own seat.
  • Slow down and honk when reaching an intersection to alert other drivers and pedestrians of your presence.
  • Reduce your speed when approaching pedestrians; they always have the right-of-way.
  • Reduce your speed when turning and passing other carts.
  • Use the safety mirrors when approaching intersections.
  • Keep all body parts inside the golf cart when it is in motion.
  • When it is not in use, place the golf cart’s control lever in the neutral position and remove the key.
  • Do not shift gears while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Maintain an adequate distance between you and other drivers.
  • Your maximum speed will depend on the terrain and weather conditions. Generally, you should operate a golf cart at the same speed as a well-paced walk.

ATV Safety Tips

As warmer weather approaches, more people will be using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for recreation. While riding an ATV is a fun activity, they can be extremely dangerous. In fact, in the last 10 years, there have been hundreds of ATV-related deaths across Canada.

Here’s how to keep you and your family safe while operating an ATV:

  • Read the operator’s manual and attend ATV instruction classes before riding.
  • Wear gloves to reduce vibration pressure and to improve grip.
  • Wear boots to maintain balance and control, protect feet and legs from debris, and maintain sound footing.
  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants to avoid burns and scratches.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for wildlife, pedestrians, other ATVs and hazards, such as rocks, branches and unstable surfaces.
  • Drive at safe speeds, taking weather conditions and the terrain into account.
  • Never carry additional passengers, or operate an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Always ride the right size ATV by following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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Home Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Keeping up with seasonal repairs upkeep not only shows pride of ownership, but can reduce the risk of costly and preventable home expenses. Prepare your home for the summer with the following considerations.

Home Exterior

  • Check all window and door locks to make sure they are secure. Open and close them, and apply lubricant when they are hard to open.
  • Inspect your roof and gutters, clean out gutter debris and check shingle integrity.
  • Inspect your home’s foundation, sealing cracks, and leveling yard depressions with compacted soil.
  • Check wooden structures, such as decks and steps, for rotting, loose wood, or exposed nails.

Home Interior

  • Hire a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor to tune up your air conditioning unit.
  • Examine electrical outlets and cords for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires.

Garage

  • Examine your garage door to ensure that it is in proper working order.
  • Declutter by reviewing the contents of your garage. Donate or dispose of items you no longer use or need.

Driveways and Walkways

  • Inspect your pavement for cracks and holes, and remedy them. This can go a long way in preventing accident slips, trips, and falls.

These tips are brought to you by Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.