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December Celebrations – American Melting Pot

  
  
  
© Jose Ignacio Soto - Fotolia

America has long been synonymous with religious freedom.   This diversity is clearly demonstrated by the array of spiritually significant celebrations around our country in December.  Nancy Haught and our friends at Huffington Post compiled a great list.

December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas. Some Christians revere the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a Greek province in Asia Minor. His reputation for piety may have inspired the legend of Santa Claus. The tradition of leaving gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day began in the Low Countries and spread to North America with Dutch immigrants.

December 8, Bodhi Day. Buddhists recall that Siddhartha Gautama vowed to sit under a tree in what is now Bodhgaya, India, and not to rise until he was enlightened. The title Buddha means "awakened one."

Roman Catholics observe this day as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, believing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without sin.

December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Observed by Catholics, especially those of Hispanic descent, the story of Guadalupe recounts a 16th-century apparition of Mary to Juan Diego, a poor Indian, on a hillside near what is now Mexico City.

December 17 - 24, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset on this date and continues for seven more nights. It is a remembrance of an effort to restore the Temple in Jerusalem after a period of desecration. Faithful Jews found only enough oil to light the temple lamp for one day, but the flame burned for eight.

December 21, Yalda, the Zoroastrian celebration of the winter solstice.  Yule or winter solstice, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Juul, a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia, featured fires lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. Wiccans and other pagan groups celebrate Yule.

December 25, Christmas, observed by Christians since the Middle Ages as the birth of Jesus. Some Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar, and Christmas may fall on a different date.

December 26, Zoroastrians observe the death of the prophet Zarathushtra, known in the West as Zoroaster. Tradition says he lived in what is now Iran in about 1200 B.C. His teachings include the idea of one eternal God; seven powerful creations: sky, water, earth, plants, animals, humans and fire; and that life is a struggle between good and evil.

December 26 is also the starting date for Kwanzaa, a weeklong, modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. For some people who keep Kwanzaa, the festival has spiritual overtones in its emphasis on imani, Swahili for "faith."

We wish you and yours the warmth and wonder of the season.  May 2015 be a year of prosperity, joy, kindness, and peace.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.  

11 Days Until Christmas Shopping Plan

  
  
  
© Alliance

Procrastinators unite!  It’s almost time for you to hit the stores, racing around like crazy people, and panicking over finding a great gift.  Just because you’re a procrastinator doesn’t exclude your opportunity to be an organized shopper.  So, our friends at Real Simple Magazine have provided a One-Day Holiday and Christmas Shopping Plan.  We’re giving you an edited version of their plan.  For the whole article, click here.

8:00 AM

Fuel up. It’s hard to shop sensibly when your blood sugar is crashing, so skip the bagels, the donuts, and the sugary breakfast cereals.

Don’t dress just for comfort. When people are feeling insecure, they tend to buy more.  Opt for something stylish, like cute flats or an on-trend top, that boosts your self-confidence.  Guys, nice slacks and a great sweater will work wonders in those stores.

Download an upbeat playlist. Outsmart the shops blasting “Jingle Bell Rock” by donning your earbuds and listening to songs with a beat faster than your resting heart rate, which is, on average, about 70 beats a minute. Those tunes will keep you moving quickly and efficiently through the stores.

Get dibs on discounts. Before you leave the house, download the free apps offered by your favorite retailers or check out their websites for announcements, coupons, and the latest information on sales. Smartphone users can use the no-cost app ScanLife to scan a product’s barcode and find out which local or online establishment has the best price.

Head out solo. So just say no to a shopping companion today. You can share deals with friends by using the free My Shopping Circle app, which notifies them about sales you see (and vice versa).

9:30 AM

Stop at the bank… Curb impulse buys by leaving your credit cards at home.  Go to a teller so you can request larger bills, such as 50s or 100s. You will be less likely to break them on unnecessary purchases.

…Then hit the mall. Since the main entrance may have a lavish display enticing you to spend, come in through a side door or the food-court entrance.

Buy less expensive stuff first. And here’s why: Once you shell out for something costly, your brain loses perspective on what’s a good price.  

1:00 PM

Eat lunch. Recharge by choosing a protein-rich salad with chicken or a turkey-avocado wrap. (Carbohydrate-laden picks, like pizza and fries, will make you want to nap.)

2:00 PM

Perk yourself up. A few hours trolling the mall can get anyone down.  So treat yourself to an inexpensive manicure at a salon or a free chair massage at Brookstone.

Skip lines. When possible, pay for your purchases in less crowded areas of the store, like the men’s-underwear or home-furnishings department.

Steer clear of attractive salespeople. You’re more likely to buy something from a sales associate who is easy on the eyes.

Get in, get out. The longer you listen to a sales pitch, the more likely you are to hand over the cash.

6:00 PM

Multitask at dinner. Meet your spouse or friends for dinner at a restaurant that offers gift-card freebies, like T.G.I. Friday’s. At that chain, you can buy your college-age son or a friend a $50 gift card for the holidays and get a $10 credit to apply toward your dinner then and there.

8:00 PM

Back at home, search for discount codes. Look for your favorite e-tailers at freeshipping.org, retailmenot.com, and couponcabin.com to see if free shipping or other discounts are available. Or simply shop the clothing-and-accessories sites zappos.com and piperlime.gap.com —they never charge for domestic shipping.

Cash in your rewards. Assess which credit-card partnerships and rewards programs you are eligible for. Consider using points to buy gift cards or make online purchases through the card’s rewards site.

Buy toys online. Instead of scouring the often ransacked shelves of big-box retailers, such as Target and Toys“R”Us, head to their websites. Bonus: At this time of year, you can often land free shipping with a purchase over a certain amount.

Be a little sneaky. “Just as you’re about to finalize an online purchase, cancel the order.  If you’ve previously shopped the site, the merchant should have your e-mail address, and you may get a message within minutes touting a discount code. Or contact a site’s live-chat associate and ask for a discount.

All done! Now kick back with a glass of your favorite something.

We wish you and yours a fabulous and happy Holiday season.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.  

10 Ideas to Reduce Holiday Stress

  
  
  
Christmas stress © mario beauregard – Fotolia

All of us would like for the Holidays to mean gracious, thoughtful interactions with everyone we meet.  Drivers would welcome the opportunity to allow others to seamlessly merge into freeway lanes, pull out of the crowded parking lot onto the even more crowded street in front of them, or invite you to take the open parking place.  Shoppers would be pleasant in the checkout lines and ask you to please go first with your 5 items.  What a wonderful world it would be.

Instead, driving during the Holiday season is much like amateur hour.  No one seems to know where they’re going or how to get there.  Each person’s individual need is certainly greater than anyone around them.  Rudeness rules the day and shopping feels like going to war.  In an effort to improve everyone’s Holiday experience, we have 10 great tips for reducing your Holiday stress and embracing the season.

1. Change Your Mindset

Of course, the holidays are a special time of year meant to celebrate friends and family, yet we're not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence here. Christmas may come but once a year, and it comes every single year without fail. Remember, there’s always next year to make that dessert, add more decorations, or buy that one more present.  Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

2. Practice the Power of No

The word no is extremely powerful and liberating. Yes, it's tempting to say yes to every invitation and every opportunity to volunteer during the holidays. You'll enjoy the parties and other events more if you pick and choose the ones that are closest to your heart. There's no need to lie or to explain why you can't participate. Simply say, "I'm sorry. I already have plans for that time."  Those plans could be to workout, have a quiet meal at home, wrap presents, or go looking at Christmas lights.  You certainly don’t have to explain your plans.

3. Simplify Your Celebration

Holiday traditions are wonderful and help create lasting family memories, and there's no reason why you can't choose to create new traditions that better fit your current lifestyle. Your family could surprise you and hardly notice the changes – a few less decorations, a couple of varieties of cookies instead of 10 or 12 recipes, or a pot luck style meal with everyone contributing a dish and sharing the cooking chore.  Instead of multiple gifts for each person, possibly the adults in the family draw names to create a smaller gift exchange and save other gift giving for children?

4. Focus on Others

Instead of getting wrapped up in gift giving, baking and other holiday obligations, find a way to give back to your community this year. You might choose to volunteer at a toy drive for underprivileged children or help out at a local food bank. Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, you could be doing good for others and for yourself.

5. Choose a Charity Gift

Another great way to avoid the mall or hours of online shopping is to donate to a charity.  Then give a small gift – possibly cookies, candy, or a lovely card – and include information about the charity to your family and friends. 

6. Don't Skip Your Regular Workouts

It's easy to find extra time in your schedule by cutting back on gym visits or afternoon walks.  Since exercise is such an effective form of stress relief, all you'll be buying yourself is exhaustion and added worry.  For ideas on stress reducing exercises from WedMD, click here.

7. Boost Your Immune System

There's nothing more stressful during the holidays than coming down with a cold or the flu. To protect yourself during the holiday season, make sure you're getting ample fruit and vegetables in your diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and washing your hands regularly. And get a flu shot to protect you from the most common strains of the flu virus.  For more tips on strengthening your immune system, click here.

8. Stretch

Ever notice how dogs, cats and other animals stretch throughout the day? They do it for the same reasons we do—it just feels good! Starting or finishing your day with some light stretches can help you de-stress and relax when you need it most. At work, you can try some neck, arm and chest stretches, too. The Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions for stretching right at your desk.  Click here. 

9. Grin and Bear It

Smiling, even when you don't feel happy, can instantly lift your mood. Instead of frowning, clenching your jaw, or tensing up your forehead in reaction to a stressor, grin and feel your troubles melt away. Try it now! 

10. Visualize

Even if you can't escape from your stressful life, you can escape through the magic of your mind. Right now, close your eyes and imagine the world's most perfect, serene place. It can be waves crashing on the beach, rolling hills, or even a familiar childhood room. Note how safe, secure and relaxed you feel by picturing this place. Whenever you need a short escape, you can always return there in your mind. 

At Dean & Draper, we want to reduce your stress about your insurance coverage .  As always, we are here to answer your insurance questions, review your coverage, and at your request make recommendations to meet your insurance needs. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

Holiday Home Safety Tips

  
  
  
Fotolia 58507584 XS

We’re all about to shake off all the indulgent Thanksgiving food and football daze and pull out the holiday decorations.  Before you start string those lights up, lighting the candles, and hanging the tinsel we have a few tips for keeping your family safe during the this season.  Taking a few minutes now could mean a safe, happy holiday celebration.

According to a study published by the National Fire Protection Association, 4 of every 5 Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January. Of the 10 days with the largest shares of Christmas tree fires, none were before Christmas.

  • Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • 12% of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
  • Candles started 7% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • 2 of every 5 (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Basics

First, there are a few basics that need to handled before those decorations come out of the attic.

  • Make sure your fire alarm is working properly.  Test the alarm and check the batteries.
  • Have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher is handy.

Trees

If you love having a fresh tree, make sure it’s really fresh.  Before buying a live Christmas tree, conduct a three-part stress test, recommends Stacey Palosky, a spokesperson with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  A fresh tree has needles that resist being pulled off and do not snap when bent, a trunk bottom that's sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.

  • Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards.
  • Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet.
  • Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.

That real looking artificial tree is your choice?  Be sure that the box says fire retardant before you buy.

Lights

What would the holiday be without loads and loads of lights?  While you’re untangling those lights here are a few things to check.

  • Use only lights that have been tested by nationally-recognized laboratories such as UL. decorative indoor and outdoor lights must meet strict requirements.  UL's red holographic label signifies that the light decorations meet safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage.  UL's green holographic label signifies the lights are safe for indoor use only.
  • Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
  • Look at each set of lights for damage.  Discard decorative light sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

Candles

The soft glow if candles is almost required during the holidays.  Before you set out enough candles to blaze a path for Santa's sleigh, here are some things to consider.

  • Keep buring candles in sight.  Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
  • Put burning candles on a heat resistant, stable surface.  Chose a place where Kids and pets cannot reach or knock over burning candles.  Lit candles should also be placed away from flammable items - trees, decorations, surtains, and furniture.   

Fireplaces 

A cozy, mesmerizing fire is just the ticket for the holiday.  Let’s be safe with the fire, too.

Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area.

  • Check to see that flue is open.
  • Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning.
  • Use care with “fire salts” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children.

Children & Pets

During the holidays, just about everything is intriguing to children and pets.  Doing some child and pet proofing will save everyone some grief during this season.

  • Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage if chewed or swallowed.
  • Seasonal plants can also cause intestinal upset for both children and pets.  Avoid decorating with holly berries, mistletoe, and varieties of lilies.  Accoring to Michael Wahl, M.D. and Medical Director of the Illinois Poison Center, Poinsettias are not poisonous. 

“That's not to say they're harmless. If a child eats enough poinsettia leaves (say five), he may become nauseated or throw up. But he's not going to die. And he's probably not going to eat more than one or two bites in the first place because the leaves are ‘reported to have an unpleasant taste,’ Wahl says.”

We wish you and yours holidays filled with the warmth and wonder of the season.  As always, if you have questions about your insurance coverage, adding policies, or would like to have your policies reviewed we are here for you.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us

Thanksgiving Trivia Quiz

  
  
  
© Jeanne Provost

Thanksgiving, that all American holiday is a few days away.  We thought a few trivia questions would be appropriate to spice up your meal.  The answers are below – no peeking!

  1. When was the first Thanksgiving celebration?  1492, 1567, 1621, 1777
  2. What great American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?

    Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Andrew Jackson

  3. What sound does a female turkey make?

    Gobble, cluck, chirp, peep

  4. What sound does a male turkey make?

    Gobble, cluck, chirp, peep

  5. The dangling skin under a turkey's neck is called?

    Wattle, Weedle, Wuddle, Widdle

  6. Back in the early Thanksgiving celebrations, they also liked sporting events and took bets. Of course it wasn't football back then. Which sport was it?

    Shooting, Archery, Knife Throwing

  7. Approximately what percentage of American homes eats turkey on Thanksgiving?  

    49%, 67%, 82%, 90%

  8. What Native American tribe celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the colonists?
    Wampanoag, Sioux, Choctaw, Arapaho

  9. Who was their chief?

    Massasoit, Pemaquid, Samoset, Squanto

  10. Thanksgiving is celebrated only in the United States.
    True or False?
  11. The first department store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was:

    Montgomery Wards, J. C Penney’s. Gimbels, Macy’s, none of the above

  12. In what year did the first Macy's Thanksgiving parade take place?

    1864, 1894, 1904, 1924

  13. Which balloon was the first balloon in the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:

    Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Superman

  14. Thanksgiving became a national holiday thanks to this woman who was an editor of a woman's magazine called "The Godey's Lady's Book":

    Sarah Hale, Sarah Parker, Sarah Bradford, Sarah Standish

  15. Which President was the first to establish Thanksgiving as a legal national holiday to be held the 4th Thursday in November?

    Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison

  16. Every year the President of the US pardons a turkey and it goes to a public farm called Frying Pan Park, Herndon, VA.  Which president is believed to be the first to pardon a turkey and start this annual tradition?

    Andrew Jackson, Millard Fillmore, Harry Truman, Warren Harding

  17. The first meal eaten on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren was a roasted turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  True or False?

  18. Before being harvested and sold, an individual cranberry must bounce at least how many inches high to make sure they aren't too ripe?

    1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, 4 inches

  19. Cranberries are native to North America. Which of the following fruits are also native to North America?

    Blueberries, Concord Grapes, Both

  20. In 1943, Norman Rockwell created his famous "Freedom From Want" illustration by using a Thanksgiving dinner as an example of this.  This illustration first appeared on which magazine?

    McCalls, Saturday Evening Post, Life

We hope you have some fun with our Thanksgiving Trivia.  We also wish you a warm and wonderful holiday.  Enjoy each other, eat well, and create some wonderful memories.  At Dean & Draper, we are grateful for our clients, friends, and families.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

Thanksgiving Trivia Answers

1. 1621; 2. Benjamin Franklin; 3. Cluck, 4. Gobble; 5. Wattle; 6. Shooting; 7. 90%; 8. Wampamoag; 9. Massasiot; 10. False, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving, too; 11. Gimbels in 1920; 12. 1924; 13. Felix the Cat; 14. Sarah Hale; 15. Franklin D. Roosevelt; 16. Harry Truman in 1947; 17. True; 18. 4 inches; 19. Both; 20. Saturday Evening Post.

 


Clean Out Your Wallet This Holiday Season

  
  
  
© tashka2000

Before you get the wrong idea, we’re talking about cleaning out the extra credit cards and ID that thieves could use.  While we’re all thinking about those fabulous bargains, there’s one more thing to consider.  Crime peaks during the Holidays.  Yes, we’re out there searching for the perfect gift and distracted by all of those items that scream “Buy me!”  What a great opportunity for pickpockets and identity thieves to strike. 

“Pickpocketing can happen virtually anywhere, and people should be on their guard, especially while shopping this holiday season,” says Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of Experian’s ProtectMyID. “Thieves take advantage of the shopping rush and its inherent distractions to steal wallets and, potentially, identities.”

Kiplinger has provided a great list of things you should leave at home this Holiday season in their article “8 Things Not to Keep in Your Wallet This Holiday Season” by Emily Inverso.  To see the entire Kiplinger article, click here.  Here’s the condensed list:

A Stack of Receipts. Crafty ID thieves can use the limited credit card and merchant information to phish for you account numbers.  Clear out those receipts each night. 

Your Social Security Card and anything with the number on it.  Your nine-digit Social security number is all an ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or get loans.  Take out you Medicare card as well.  It contains your Social security number, too.

Password Cheat Sheet.  The average American uses at least 7 different passwords.  No wonder we all need a little help remembering them.  However, carrying a list of PIN numbers and passwords in your wallet is truly a prescription for disaster.  Consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID Basic version is free on all major platforms, Password Safe Pro (free, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android only). 

Spare Keys.  So, your wallet is stolen and contains your driver’s license with your home address.  Storing a spare key in your wallet is like an open invitation for burglars. 

Checks.  Blank checks are an easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from your checking accountWith the routing and account numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account. 

Passport.  Any government-issued ID opens a world of opportunities for an ID thief.  In most cases, they can use the ID to travel in your name, open bank accounts, or even getting a new copy of your Social Security card. 

Multiple Credit Cards.  Can’t imagine Holiday shopping without your credit card?  We’re not suggesting that you go cardless – how about lightening the load?  Take a single card or two with you on your shopping trip.  And maintain a list of the cancellation numbers for your cards in a safe place. 

Birth Certificate.  Most of us don’t have our birth certificates folded up in our wallets.  However, you could be required to present a host of identification on occasion – like closing a mortgage.  There you are with everything a thief could wish for in one envelope.  Take the time to secure those papers immediately.  Don’t leave them in your car.

And when you’re finished removing your wallet’s biggest information leaks, take a moment to photocopy everything you’ve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a stolen wallet is, “What exactly did I have in there?”

At Dean & Draper we wish you a great Holiday Season.  We want to be a resource for you and welcome your questions about insurance or your policies.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

Insurance Myths – Houses, Red Cars, and Big Crashes

  
  
  
© Christopher Dodge - Fotolia

Who knows how myths get started?  One thing for sure, the more you hear them the more likely you are to believe those untruths.  In a recent survey, Insure.com found some interesting results as reported by Amy Danise in her article Biggest Insurance Myths Involve Houses, Red Cars, and Big Crashes. 

“Any confusion over what to buy or how to use a product can end up being costly, but when it comes to insurance, misunderstandings can end up costing thousands of dollars.”

“We set out to find the worst sources of confusion, based on 10 common insurance myths. Insure.com asked 2,000 adults whether 10 statements were true or false. All the statements were false. We also looked at who believes each myth more – women or men.  In all cases except one, men were more likely to be duped by an insurance myth.

Coming in as the top myth: Over half of people surveyed (52 percent) don’t know how to buy insurance for a house.”  Click here for the Insure.com article.

What were the 10 myths?  We thought we would share them below.

Myth 1: "I should buy insurance coverage for my house based on its real estate market value"

Myth 2: "Red cars cost more to insure"

Myth 3: "If I cause a crash with extensive damage to others, my auto insurance company can cancel me immediately"

Myth 4: "Small cars are the cheapest to insure"

Myth 5: "The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) allows health insurance companies to base rates on medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer"

Myth 6: "Comprehensive auto insurance covers everything and anything"

Myth 7: "Thieves prefer to steal new cars"

Myth 8: "If my friend borrows my car and crashes it, their insurance will pay for damage"

Myth 9: "The Affordable Care Act requires me to take the health insurance plan offered by my employer"

Myth 10: "Out-of-state speeding tickets can't follow you home"

At Dean & Draper, we’re all about demystifying insurance.  We welcome your insurance questions.  Contact Us 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

 

Home Cooked Thanksgiving Meal Could be Risky Business

  
  
  
© Brent Hofacker - Fotolia

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for home cooking fires.  A study by State Farm indicates that grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.  Texas also has the dubious distinction of leading the country in Thanksgiving Day claims in State Farm’s survey.  While we’re all looking forward to our favorite dishes, we thought we’d collect some tips to keep your Thanksgiving on track. 

Based on 2007 – 2011 annual averages, the NFPA lists these six items as the top reasons for cooking fires.

  • Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires.

  • Two-thirds (67%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

  • Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.

  • Ranges accounted for the largest share (57%) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.

  • More than half (55%) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.

  • Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.

The growing popularity of deep frying turkeys has contributed to the Thanksgiving Day disasters.  Though a deep fried turkey is very good, the actual frying can be extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage, many of them due to deep frying accidents.

If you intend to deep fry your bird, let’s start with figuring out how to make sure the hot oil doesn’t overflow into the fire.

Most deep fried turkey recipes call for peanut, corn or canola oil—but just how much oil is necessary? Many turkey frying accidents happen when too much cooking oil is used and spills over the pot, catching fire when the turkey is dropped in.

Here is a simple way to figure out how much oil to use:

  • Place the turkey - still in the plastic wrap - in pot
  • Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
  • Remove and dry turkey (a wet turkey can cause oil to splatter latter)
  • Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that most turkey frying accidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to even adding the turkey. This means we must be extra vigilant when heating the oil, and turn off the fryer immediately if any smoke appears.

The CPSP also thoughtfully provided these additional tips.

  • NEVER leave a fryer unattended.
  • Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
  • Never use your fryer IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
  • Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
  • Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
  • COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
  • Check the oil temperature frequently.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
  • If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.

We would also like to add that having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen are is always a great idea.  For information on which type of extinguisher and how large, here’s the link to the NFPA fire extinguisher page.  Click here. 

For great information about thawing, preparing, and cooking your turkey our friends at Butterball have it all laid out for you.  Click here. 

We wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us

Selling to Millennials: Just Who are They Anyway?

  
  
  
momius@fotolia

Seems like everywhere you turn these days, you hear about the “Millennial” generation.  Clearly their influence is being felt across our country.  They are also possibly the most researched generation in our history.

The Pew Research Center, an American think tank organization, defined "adult Millennials" as those who are 18 to 33 years old, born 1981–1996.  According to them, the youngest Millennials are still "in their teens" with "no chronological end point set for them yet".  Another chart by the organization lists the Millennial birth range as 1981–1998.  To see the full report, click here..

According to the Pew Social Trend report, millennials are the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium — have begun to forge their generation: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. 

They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.  Their entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, but they are more upbeat than their elders about their own economic futures as well as about the overall state of the nation

They embrace multiple modes of self-expression. Three-quarters have created a profile on a social networking site. One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online. Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo (and for most who do, one is not enough: about half of those with tattoos have two to five and 18% have six or more). Nearly one-in-four have a piercing in some place other than an earlobe — about six times the share of older adults who’ve done this. But their look-at-me tendencies are not without limits. Most Millennials have placed privacy boundaries on their social media profiles. And 70% say their tattoos are hidden beneath clothing.

So, just how do the rest of us meet the millennial in the marketplace?  Melissa Hillebrand offers some tips in a PropertyCasualy360 article, The 5 Rules for Winning Over Millennial Customers.  To read more, click here.

Be a trusted advisor

Despite their reputation for living entirely online, many millennials respond well to in-person interactions, especially in the workplace. Be available in person and be available to help. 

Engage millennials with technology

Offer multiple channels, including online, phone, and social media, to enhance your credibility and reach millennial customers where they are most comfortable.

Update your website

Increase conversion rates and capture more customers with a more prominent, better designed online presence. Remember, your site will likely be millennial customers' first contact with you -- make sure you give them a good impression.

Use a cloud-based agency management system

Allow your sales staff to service clients remotely and for clients to access their account information online. Not only is it a value-add for the client, but it makes account management easier for everyone.

Leverage tech solutions

Provide online self-service capabilities that make it easier for millennials to do business on their terms.

To see the complete article, The 5 Rules for Winning Over Millennial Customers, click here 2.

At Dean & Draper, we have served generations of clients and invite your calls, questions, and comments. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

 

Who Knew? Curious Uses for WD-40

  
  
  
Scoiattolo© Nikokvfrmoto

Welcome to a new addition to the Dean & Draper blog topics – Who Knew?  We always want to provide you with ideas you can use and really enjoy the sending you on occasion some unusual and slightly strange information. 

Right after the required duct tape, just about every household has a can of WD-40 stashed on a shelf.  Reader’s Digest recently published over 50 ways to use WD-40.  We selected our top 10 favorites to send to you. 

1.    Use WD-40 to protect a bird feeder.  To keep squirrels from taking over a bird feeder, spray a generous amount of WD-40 on top of the feeder. The pesky squirrels will slide right off.

2.    Remove chewing gum from hair.  It’s one of an adult’s worst nightmares: chewing gum tangled in a child’s hair. You don’t have to panic or run for the scissors. Simply spray the gummed-up hair with WD-40, and the gum will comb out with ease. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when you spray and take care to avoid contact with the child’s eyes.

    3.    Keep wasps from building nests.  Don’t let yellow jackets and other wasps ruin your spring and summer fun. Their favorite place to build nests is under eaves. So next spring mist some WD-40 under all the eaves of your house. It will block the wasps from building their nests there.

      4.    Remove doggie-doo.  Uh-oh, now you’ve stepped in it! Few things in life are more unpleasant than cleaning doggie-doo from the bottom of a sneaker, but the task will be a lot easier if you have a can of WD-40 handy. Spray some on the affected sole and use an old toothbrush to clean the crevices. Rinse with cold water and the sneakers will be ready to hit the pavement again.

        5.    Remove strong glue.  You didn’t wear protective gloves when using that super-strong glue and now some of it is super-stuck to your fingers! Don’t panic. Just reach for the WD-40, spray some directly on the sticky fingers, and rub your hands together until your fingers are no longer sticky. Use WD-40 to remove the glue from other unwanted surfaces as well.

          6.    Loosen zippers.  Stubborn zippers on jackets, pants, backpacks, and sleeping bags will become compliant again after you spray them with WD-40. Just spray it on and pull the zipper up and down a few times to distribute the lubricant evenly over all the teeth. If you want to avoid getting the WD-40 on the fabric, spray it on a plastic lid; then pick it up and apply it with an artist’s brush.

            7.    Remove decals.  You don’t need a chisel or even a razor blade to remove old decals, bumper stickers, or cellophane tape. Just spray them with WD-40, wait about 30 seconds, and wipe them away.

              8.    Remove marker and crayon marks.  Did the kids use your wall as if it was a big coloring book? Not to worry! Simply spray some WD-40 onto the marks and wipe with a clean rag. WD-40 will not damage the paint or most wallpaper (test fabric or other fancy wall coverings first). It will also remove marker and crayon marks from furniture and appliances.

                9.    Untangle fishing lines.  To loosen a tangled fishing line, spray it with WD-40 and use a pin to undo any small knots. Also use WD-40 to extend the life of curled (but not too old) fishing lines. Just take out the first 10 to 20 feet of line and spray it with WD-40 the night before each trip.

                  10. Keep dead bugs off car grille.  It’s bad enough that your car grille and hood have to get splattered with bugs every time you drive down the interstate, but do they have to be so darn tough to scrape off? The answer is no. Just spray some WD-40 on the grille and hood before going for a drive and most of the critters will slide right off. The few bugs that are left will be easy to wipe off later without damaging your car’s finish.

                  You’ve just seen our top 10 favorites for using WD-40.  If you would like to see the Reader’s Digest complete list of ideas, click here.  We hope that you’ve found some new ideas for your trusty can of WD-40.

                  Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

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