Ideas for Stopping Christmas Delivery Thieves

Posted on Sun, Dec 10, 2017

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Ordering gifts online seems like an easy way to shop – until you get to the delivery.  With online ordering increasing to 9.1% of Holiday shopping, naturally shipping those orders has increased as well making those gifts very attractive to those package pirates. 

More than half of Americans say they know someone who's had a package stolen from outside their home, and 30% say they've experienced it themselves, according to a new survey by Xfinity Home, Comcast’s home security service. 

Of the nearly one-third of shoppers who'd had a package stolen, last week's Xfinity Home survey found city dwellers experienced 42% of thefts. That compared with 26% in the suburbs and 19% in rural areas the survey, conducted by market research firm Wakefield Research, found. 

Worries about theft are holding some back. A survey by Shorr Packaging Corp. this year found that 41% of respondents don't buy certain things online because they’re afraid the packages will get stolen, with electronics being at the top of the list.

In Houston, police on several occasions have used surveillance footage to track serial package thieves.

Spokeswoman Jodi Silva said they’ve had instances of thieves “going from house to house to house. They may be following a UPS truck. They’ll just jump out, see if there was a delivery and grab it,” she said.

Preventing packages from being stolen involves a good deal of planning and scheduling, but it’s worth doing, especially if you’re craving a little peace of mind over the holidays. Here are some things you can do to safeguard your holiday bundles:

Send your packages to your office address

While it may not be the most convenient location and requires you to carry the package home, at least you know that gift will be safe.

Schedule delivery for a time or day when you know you’ll be home

Carriers such as UPS and FedEx require an additional fee to schedule such delivery windows (though UPS My Choice Premium members receive two free requests with their annual subscription). The United States Postal Service doesn't offer that service, but will allow you to schedule a redelivery time if you missed your delivery.

Request a signature

The AARP found in a 2015 survey that more than 40 percent of holiday shoppers didn’t know that package delivery companies are not responsible for stolen packages that are left at your front door without requiring a delivery signature.  If you require a signature from major carriers, including UPS, FedEx and the USPS, you can at least be reasonably sure the delivery person won’t leave your package sitting on your doorstep unattended.

Redirect packages for delivery at the shipping company’s closest location

UPS’s My Choice enables you to redirect your packages for free to a preferred UPS store, a corner store or other independent businesses in your neighborhood that are in the UPS Access Point network.

FedEx offers a similar service. You can also reroute your packages or customize delivery options using the FedEx Delivery Manager.

Enlist friends and families for help

If you have a trusted, stay-at-home neighbor this could be a great choice.  With the easy of tracking packages in this electronic age, you can give your neighbor a heads up about the projected arrival time.  Spread a little Holiday Cheer and a big thanks for their services.

Dean and Draper

We want to help you avoid the Grinch this holiday and hope that our tips will be helpful.  When you have questions about your insurance, we welcome your call.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

 Resources: khou.com, abc13.com, usatoday.com

Topics: Ideas for Stopping Christmas Delivery Thieves

Live Christmas Trees and Bugs

Posted on Sun, Dec 03, 2017

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Is your family in love with a real, live Christmas tree?  Just this year the media has called our attention to the hitchhikers that could be on those beautiful trees.  Before you change your Christmas tree plans, let’s take a look at some of the reports and check out the risks.

Bugs on trees aren’t new

According to Doug Hundley, a retired pest management professional who now serves as the seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees have always had bugs. You just haven't noticed them.

"Christmas tree insects are so small you'll never know they are there and they have always been on real Christmas trees," states Hundley. "On a rare occasion a particular insect like a common aphid may crawl off a tree and be noticed by the family, but these are harmless hitchhikers."

Christmas trees, like any other household plant, will have a few bugs here and there and are a totally natural occurrence, Hundley explained. The most common insects potentially living in your Christmas tree are safe, non-invasive species such as aphids, spiders, mites and bark beetles.

According to Good Housekeeping Magazine, tree bugs go dormant during the cold months, so you might not notice them at first. But once the tree is inside your warm home, they'll wake up. And apparently there could be up to 25,000 bugs in one Christmas tree.

Getting rid of the bugs

To confirm no unwanted guests made it home with you, do a quick inspection with the help of a flashlight. Things to look for: Bird nests, egg masses, and, of course, bugs themselves. Then leave your tree in the garage for 24 hours before decorating. During the rest of the season, vacuum the floor around your tree regularly.  Be sure to water that tree daily as well.

The one thing you should skip? Bug sprays, which are often flammable and don't mix well with Christmas lights. After all, a few critters is nothing compared to a tree on fire.

Mechanical tree shakers

The good news is if you go to a farm, most have mechanical tree shakers to take care of crawling critters. "A mechanical shaker will usually dislodge any potential intruders and eggs, in addition to getting rid of loose pine needles," Nancy Troyano, a medical entomologist and director of technical education and training for pest control company Rentokil Steritech. Or you can shake the tree yourself in the parking lot.

Dean and Draper

Whatever your personal choice for your tree – live or artificial, we hope that you enjoy this Holiday season, appreciate your traditions, and welcome the unexpected events that are sure to come your way.

When you have questions about your insurance, both personal and business, please allow us the opportunity to talk with you about your choices.  Contact us.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Resources: Today.com, Good Housekeeping

Topics: Live Christmas Trees and Bugs

Tips for Safe Cyber Monday Shopping Sprees

Posted on Sun, Nov 26, 2017

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Once again, Cyber Monday is expected to be the largest online shopping day this year, and the largest in history, with a projected $6.6 billion in sales, up 16.5 percent from last year, according to Adobe Analytics.This major online shopping day has gone mobile as well, with about half of online shoppers expected to make holiday purchases from their smartphones or tablets.

Of course, as the popularity of Cyber Monday grows and the deals get bigger and better, the risks of shopping online also increase. Cybercriminals love Cyber Monday too, and work hard to get rich off the huge number of people engaging in online commerce around the holidays.

Shop from a secure computer

A computer or Android phone that isn't protected by antivirus software is more likely to be compromised by malware. Otherwise, all data entered into or transmitted from that phone or computer is at risk. Be sure to keep the operating system and all internet-facing apps updated to the latest software versions.

Shop using a secure connection

Data can be at risk during transit if an attacker controls the network or uses packet-sniffing software. Web protocols such as HTTPS encrypt communications, so always look for the HTTPS lock symbol in your browser address window when performing an  online purchase.

Search for deals on retailer sites, not on search engines.

Scammers "poison" search results with malicious or deceptive links. Want that latest game console? Run a search on the Best Buy, Amazon or GameStop sites rather than on Google.

Too good to be true usually is exactly that

Cyber Monday features a lot of incredible, legitimate deals offered by trusted mainstream retailers. But cybercriminals will prey on shoppers' desire for the lowest prices and will try to slip in a lot of fake deals. Watch out especially for emails, text messages, pop-up browser windows and Facebook and Twitter posts promising fantastic savings.

Review credit-card and bank statements regularly 

Malware can infect credit-card readers in stores, and unscrupulous cashiers often steal card numbers as well. If you find a transaction that doesn't match your purchases, your account may have been compromised. If so, contact your bank or card issuer.

Don't use debit cards online

You've got far less protection against fraud on a debit card than you do with a credit card. Stick to credit cards when shopping online. If you absolutely must use a debit card, use the prepaid kind with a set spending limit.

Use two-factor authentication

Turning on two-factor authentication for email and other mobile accounts, including social media, can add an extra barrier of protection to prevent password theft, Robb Reck, chief information security officer of the identity security company Ping Identity.

“While you may think of your financial accounts as the highest risk, it’s actually your email account that allows hackers to go through and reset all your passwords on those other sites,” he said.

Sign Up for Transaction Monitoring Alerts

Consumers can also take extra caution by signing up for transaction monitoring alerts from their banks and credit unions to immediately notify them when their credit or debit cards have been used.  With transaction alerts, consumers can immediately dispute charges they didn't make.

Dean and Draper

We hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, your Black Friday shopping exciting, and that Cyber Monday will be a worry-free shopping time for you.  When you have questions about your insurance, need advice on making the right decisions, or simply want to chat, please call us.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved

Resources: Tom's Guide, NBC News

Topics: Tips for Safe Cyber Monday Shopping Sprees

Turkey Cooking and Safety Tips

Posted on Sun, Nov 19, 2017

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Turkey is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals — a time when family, friends and loved ones come together for an expansive and filling meal.

Around 45 million turkeys will be killed this year as a result of high demand for the annual feasts, according to the National Turkey Federation.  An estimates 6 billion pounds of turkey meat production is expected for this year - a number that has remained fairly consistent ove rthe last 5 years according to the USDA.

Wondering about those calories lurking in that Thanksgiving meal?  “A typical holiday dinner alone can carry a load of 3,000 calories,” the Calorie Control Council (CCC), an association representing the reduced-calorie food and beverage industry says, noting that “many nibble through another 1,500 calories, downing appetizers and drinks before and after the big meal.”

Thawing the Bird

There are 3 basic ways to safely thaw the turkey. 

Refrigerator.  Place the turkey in a pan, breast side up and in the original wrapper.  The temperature in the refrigerator should be 40 degrees F or below.  Allow 1 day of thawing for each 4 pounds of turkey.  Use within 4 days after thawing. 

Cold Water.  Place the turkey breast side down in the unopened wrapper in the sink or large pan and cover with enough cold water to cover the bird completely.  Change the water every 30 minutes.  Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound.

Cooking Frozen.  At USDA FSIS, we recommend giving yourself at least 50 percent longer to cook that frozen turkey. If you cannot separate that giblet package from the turkey at the start, just remember to remove it carefully with tongs or a fork a few hours into the cooking process. 

Do not thaw the turkey at room temperature.  When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe as it moves into the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can grow rapidly.

 Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
  • Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
  • Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.

Take Care with Leftovers

Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that grows in cooked foods left at room temperature. It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. The major symptoms are vomiting and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours after eating.

  • Clostridium perfringens outbreaks occur most often in November and December.
  • Many of these outbreaks have been linked to foods commonly served during the holidays, such as turkey and roast beef.

Refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation to prevent food poisoning.

Dean and Draper

From our family to yours, we wish you a Thanksgiving Holiday filled with laughter, good food, and the warmth of the season.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: Turkey Cooking and Safety Tips

The Great American Smokeout - November 16, 2017

Posted on Sun, Nov 12, 2017

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The Great American Smokeout began in 1970 when Arthur P. Mullaney asked the people of Randolph, Massachusetts, to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would spend on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

Four years later, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, lead the state’s first Don’t Smoke Day.  The idea caught on. The California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day on November 18, 1976. 

Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports smokers who want to quit.  Thanks to the American Cancer Society for the great information on how to quit and tips for supporting those who want to quit smoking.  

How many Americans still smoke?

About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42% in 1965 to 15.1% in 2015), cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are very much on the rise. Smoking kills people – there’s no “safe” way to smoke tobacco.

Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age. Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully.

Supporting people who want to quit smoking

Do respect that the quitter is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.

Do ask the person whether they want you to ask regularly how they’re doing. Ask how they’re feeling – not just whether they’ve stayed quit.

Do let the person know that it’s OK to talk to you whenever they need to hear encouraging words.

Do help the quitter get what they need, such as hard candy to suck on, straws to chew on, and fresh veggies cut up and kept in the refrigerator.

Do try to see it from the smoker’s point of view – a smoker’s habit may feel like an old friend that’s always been there when times were tough. It’s hard to give that up.

Don’t doubt the smoker’s ability to quit. Your faith in them reminds them they can do it.

Don’t judge, nag, preach, tease, or scold. This may make the smoker feel worse about him or herself. You don’t want your loved one to turn to a cigarette to soothe hurt feelings.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:

20 minutes after quitting

Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

(Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification  Hypertension. 2003;41(1):183-187.)

12 hours after quitting

The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting

Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)

1 to 9 months after quitting

Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)

1 year after quitting

The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.

(US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)

5 years after quitting

Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.

(US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 341.)

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.

Dean and Draper

We invite you to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 16, 2017.  Non-smokers please check out the “Supporting people who want to quit” section of this blog.  Smokers, this is just a one day commitment.  You can do it.  Of course, the theory is that one day will lead to another day and a day after that of being smoke free. We wish you great success!

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.T

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: Great American Smokeout - November 16

History of Veteran’s Day

Posted on Sun, Nov 05, 2017

Dwight D. Eisenhower

On November 11, we have an opportunity to thank our veterans for their service.  Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Proclamation 3071—Veteran's Day, 1954
October 8, 1954

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Whereas it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and

Whereas in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and

Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and

Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

Our Veteran Population

The military men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the veteran population of the United States:

  • 1 million living veterans served during at least one war.
  • 2 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • 2 million veterans are women.
  • 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • 5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.
  • Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 558,000 are still alive.
  • 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.

Dean and Draper

We would like to take a moment to thank our clients, employees, and friends for their service in the U.S. military.  We appreciate your dedication, the risks you accepted, and the outstanding job that you did in the service of your country. 

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Sources: The American Presidency Project, History.com.

Topics: History of Veteran's Day

What’s Up with Your Pup?

Posted on Sun, Oct 29, 2017

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Those of us who choose to live with a canine friend/family member/life support – okay dog – sometimes have serious questions about the sometimes unexplainable actions of our dogs.  If you’re not a dog person, you will probably find our message a beginning step in figuring out what the big attraction is among people and their dogs.

Our friends at grunge.com, a source for interesting and somewhat bazar topics, has provided the information on our dogs along with expert comments and fact-based research.  We have chosen the topics that answered our most pressing questions.  To see the complete article, click here.

How many words do they understand?

The short answer is, "More than you think." The long answer is a bit complicated because researchers have found that it depends on a lot of things, from training and an individual's intelligence to breed, occupation, and how they're spoken to.

Right now, the record-holder for the most known words is Chaser, a border collie from South Carolina, who knows 1,022 words. Chaser has shown the ability to join verbs and nouns together to perform particular tasks, and she can even use the process of elimination to select toys that she hadn't been taught the name of.

Most dogs have a vocabulary roughly equaling that of a 2-year-old, with "average" dogs understanding about 165 different words and phrases. The super-bright class (mostly working and herding dogs) understood around 250 different words.

How efficient are they at learning new things?

An awesome experiment from Yale University's Canine Cognition Center found that most dogs are not only incredibly good at learning new tasks, but they're very good at figuring out how to cut out extra steps and make whatever they're doing more efficient. How good? Better than a human toddler.

Researchers gave some toddlers a puzzle box and showed them how to solve it. The process involved pulling a lever that did absolutely nothing, and the kids couldn't get their heads around how they didn't actually have to pull the lever to open the box and get their treat.

Dogs, on the other hand, were able to figure out which steps they could drop and still get to their end goal faster and more efficiently. That essentially means that they listened to the advice they were given, then took it upon themselves to filter out the stupid stuff.

Do dogs dream?

As much as we want to, we can't get Rover to tell us what's going on when he starts running in his sleep or making those adorable little “boof” sounds. However, educated guesses suggest that they're dreaming just like we do. Letting sleeping dogs lie and then monitoring their brain activity reveals patterns similar to sleeping humans.

Dogs enter REM sleep about 20 minutes into their sleep cycle, and even if they aren't running in their sleep, you should still be able to see signs that there's something going on in there. From eye twitches to ear twitches and those little barks, they're dreaming. One Harvard psychologist suggests that closely bonded dogs are likely dreaming about their favorite person.

What does the world look like through a dog’s eyes?

The idea that dogs can only see the world in black, white, and gray is a long-standing myth. Studies done at the University of California found that dogs can more accurately be described as seeing the world in shades of blues, grays, yellows, and browns. What they can't see is, weirdly, some of the most popular colors for dog toys on the market today - like bright orange and bright red.  Most dogs seemed to associate a light yellow color with a better reward.

Compared to us, dogs are also nearsighted. They tend to be around 20/75, which means things are fuzzy in the distance. They have a huge advantage over us in the dark, though, as their eyes contain a lens called the tapetum lucidim. It reflects what light is available (and makes their eyes glow in photos), and while they're not as good in the dark as cats, they're much better than we are. They have a much wider field of vision than we do, too. While we can see about 190 degrees around us, Fido can see about 250 degrees.

Dean and Draper

That’s it for our trip into the thoughts of our best doggie friends.  We hope you enjoyed the adventure.  When you need information on your insurance policies, want to get a quote on changing your policy, or simply need some good suggestions please call us.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: What's Up with Your Pup?

14th National Prescription Take Back Day

Posted on Sun, Oct 22, 2017

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Is your medicine cabinet full of expired drugs or medications you no longer use? How should you dispose of them?

During the Prescription Take Back Day on April 29, 2017 more than 36 tons of drugs were returned in Texas at 306 collection sites.  To find a location near you, click here.

The 14th National Prescription Take Back Day is on Saturday, October 28, 2017.  Created by the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division, Drug Take Back Day is a community based program that offers the best option for disposing of expired or no longer needed drugs.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has some great information about disposing of expired or unneeded drugs that we have included below. 

A small number of medicines may be especially harmful if taken by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. Many of these medicines have specific disposal instructions on their labeling or patient information leaflet to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed. 

Drug Disposal Guidelines and Locations

The following guidelines were developed to encourage the proper disposal of medicines and help reduce harm from accidental exposure or intentional misuse after they are no longer needed:

  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the prescription drug labeling or patient information that accompanies the medicine. Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
  • Take advantage of programs that allow the public to take unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. To find locations for the Prescription Take Back day, click here.

If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps:

  • Remove them from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter (this makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs).
  • Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
  • When in doubt about proper disposal, ask your pharmacist.

Why the Precautions?

Some prescription drugs such as powerful narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances carry instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or overdose and illegal abuse.

For example, the fentanyl patch, an adhesive patch that delivers a potent pain medicine through the skin, comes with instructions to flush used or leftover patches. Too much fentanyl can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death in babies, children, pets and even adults, especially those who have not been prescribed the medicine.

Environmental Concerns

Some people are questioning the practice of flushing certain medicines because of concerns about trace levels of drug residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies.

“The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies,” says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert at FDA. “Many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through wastewater treatment plants.”

FDA reviewed drug labels to identify products with disposal directions recommending flushing down the sink or toilet. This continuously updated listing can be found at FDA’s Web page on Disposal of Unused Medicines.

Dean and Draper

When you have questions about insurance, need some solid advice, or are considering a new policy, we invite you to call us.  We welcome your call.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: National Prescription Take Back Day

Active Shooter Preparedness and Responses

Posted on Sun, Oct 15, 2017

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A recent article by Renata Elias, Consultant, Marsh Risk Consulting Strategic Risk Practice, contains good information about preparing and responding to an active shooter in your business location.  Certainly the mass casualty shooting in Las Vegas has caught our attention and potentially started the conversation about planning for this type of incident.  Ms. Elias’ posting begins below. 

From 2000 through the first half of 2016, more than 600 people were killed in 213 active shooter events identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.These attacks have affected organizations of all types, including schools, retailers, health care organizations, manufacturers, entertainment venues and arenas, and hospitality businesses.  

Here are three ways that your organization can prepare for an active shooter event and be ready to protect and aid employees, customers, and guests, manage critical business functions, and quickly return to normal operations.

Planning and Testing

Every organization should establish a policy to reduce the risk of workplace violence and impacts from active shooter events. This policy should:

  • Establish procedures through which employees can report violent or troubling behavior.
  • Set criteria for escalating incidents to a pre-defined threat assessment or management team.
  • Address additional security measures that may be needed to safeguard employees, guests, and others.
  • Reflect input from your organization’s security, human resources, and legal teams, and potentially law enforcement, along with feedback from workforces.
  • Be reinforced through tabletop exercises and drills.

Security, crisis communications, emergency response (including active shooter), humanitarian assistance, and crisis management plans should align with your workplace violence prevention plan. They should be similarly updated and reinforced regularly.

Protecting People

The primary focus during and after a violent event should be on employees, customers, and guests. Your organization should be prepared to:

  • Execute active shooter response options: Run, hide, and fight.
  • Provide first aid and other support to injured individuals (when safe to do so).
  • Care for employees who witness an incident and may be traumatized and/or in shock, including possibly funding for grief or trauma counseling.
  • Respectfully attend to deceased employees and support families and loved ones.

In a crisis, communication will be essential but could be hampered by misinformation, panic, and other factors — especially in public or event spaces. Develop a clear protocol for response team members to communicate during and after an attack with each other, employees, customers, guests, security, law enforcement, corporate headquarters, and other stakeholders.

Business Continuity and Recovery

After addressing immediate life safety and investigative concerns, focus should shift to maintaining operations. That includes accounting for:

  • Continuing or resuming critical business functions and processes.
  • Allowing employees to work remotely as needed.
  • Review security measures.
  • Providing additional humanitarian assistance support, as required.
  • Identifying and addressing potential gaps in insurance programs.

Active shooter events and other forms of violence can strike anywhere and anytime, and unfortunately, they often arise without warning. Businesses cannot fully eliminate these threats, but you can act now that may reduce the risk to your organization, better protect its people, and hasten its recovery.

Dean and Draper

We’re sharing this information to provide you with some ideas to manage violence in the workplace.  When you have questions about your insurance coverage or needs, please contact us.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: Active Shooter Preparedness and Responses

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on Sun, Oct 08, 2017

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Every October we take a moment to remind those near and dear to us about mammograms, self-checks, seeing their physicians, and doing the same for their family and friends.  Please check out the information below from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and share it with those around you. 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is a great resource and can answer your questions, provide support information, and send you free books. 

The Good News

In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • One in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosedwith breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in menis rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today. 

Can physical activity reduce the risk of breast cancer?

Exercise boosts the immune system and helps you to keep your weight in check. With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can begin to lower her risk of breast cancer. This doesn’t require going to a gym either. Power walking is more than sufficient!

Can a healthy diet help to prevent breast cancer?

A nutritious, low-fat diet (30 grams or less) with plenty of fruits and green and orange vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. A high-fat diet increases the risk because fat triggers estrogen production that can fuel tumor growth.

Does smoking cause breast cancer?

Smoking is a confirmed risk factor for many types of cancer. Recent research in the last year (2012) has confirmed that smoking is a contributing risk factor for developing breast cancer. Additionally, second hand smoke is also a risk factor for cancer. So if you are a smoker, help yourself in a significant way and join a smoking cessation program to help you stop. The day you stop smoking the healing can begin and each week in which you are smoke-free, you give yourself increasing advantages for a healthier life. Smoking also directly contributes to heart and other lung diseases, too.

Is there a link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer?

Yes, there is. HRT was added to the carcinogenic list by the American Cancer Society in the early 2000s. It is recommended that women with known risks not be placed on HRT to control of menopausal symptoms. They should instead seek other safer alternatives.

Does a family history of breast cancer put someone at a higher risk?

Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

How often should I go to my doctor for a check-up?

You should have a physical every year which should include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately.

What kind of impact does stress have on breast cancer?

In 2012, some research studies have shown that factors such as traumatic events and losses can alter immune system functions, and when immune functions are altered cancer cells may have an opportunity to get themselves established within one’s body. What has been shown is that it is not the fact that a major life crisis has occurred but instead how the individual reacted to this event and coped (or didn’t cope). Therefore, identifying ways to keep your stress level in check is wise.

Dean and Draper

We encourage you to forward this blog to your family and friends.  And to get that mammogram and see your doctor. 

When you have questions about your insurance, please call us.  We have great answers and are here to talk with you.  Contact us.

Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

©2017 Dean & Draper Insurance Agency All Rights Reserved.

Topics: October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month