Winter Car Safety Checklist

snow car

Winter driving can often be unpredictable and change in the blink of an eye. A seemingly sunny day can turn dark and stormy, leaving you in harrowing driving conditions. It’s important to be prepared for hazardous driving conditions even if you don’t expect them. Here is a checklist of safety preparations you should make so you can safely get yourself from A to B this winter season.

Before the storm hits

 

It’s a good idea to get some things ready in the summer or fall so you don’t have to scramble when the bad weather hits. Here are some things you can do in advance to prepare for winter driving:

  • Have your battery checked and replaced if necessary.
  • Check your belts to make sure they’re not cracked or fraying.
  • Check the hoses in your engine to make sure they’re not brittle or leaking.
  • Check the tread on your tires and consider investing in some snow tires or all-season tires that will handle snowy or slippery roads well.
  • Check your tire pressure, because the pressure will drop with the temperature. Properly inflated tires are important for maintaining good traction.
  • Coolant levels should also be checked when the engine is cold. You can pick up an inexpensive tester to check the level of antifreeze protection at any auto parts store.
  • Make sure all lights are working properly and replaced if any bulbs are burnt out.
  • Check that your wiper blades are working and thorough in their wiping abilities. You can buy rubber boots to put around them to prevent ice or snow from building up on them.
  • Refill the wiper fluid if necessary so you can keep your windshield clean after dirty precipitation falls on it.
  • Have your brakes professionally checked to make sure they’re fully functional. Have the brake fluid checked and refilled, as well.

Items to keep in your car

In the event that you are affected by hazardous winter driving conditions, there are a few things you should keep with you to help get you out of a bind. These include:

  • Ice scraper
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • A spare tire and tire-changing tools
  • A snow shovel and salt/kitty litter to help if you get stuck
  • Reflectors or flares so you’re visible if you do run off the road
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit
  • Emergency survival kit, including blankets, nonperishable food, first aid kit, and warm clothing

In the midst of winter

When winter arrives and you inevitably must come face-to-face with the snowy and icy roads, there are still additional measures you can take to ensure your travels are safe. Here are some safe-driving practices that will help you stay safe on the road:

  • Plan ahead. If you can avoid the storm by running your errands on another day, plan for that. Checking the forecast alone can save you a lot of grief.
  • Warm up the car
  • If your trip is long or outside of your usual route, tell someone where you’re going and check-in so somebody is aware if something goes wrong.
  • Don’t use your parking brake to slow down
  • Give yourself more time to stop and more distance from other cars to protect yourself if someone else loses control
  • Don’t use cruise control
  • If you do find yourself stranded, stay in your car to keep warm.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least half-full

Even if you follow every tip and precaution, accidents can and do happen. The best protection for winter driving is a good auto insurance policy. For more information on how to keep safe this winter on the road, talk to the professionals at Heuer Insurance Agency today.

Merry Christmas from Heuer Insurance!

This is the time of year many businesses find a way to say THANK YOU to its clients, vendors and staff.  Heuer Insurance would like to do just that in this short Christmas blast!  Read more

6 Tips For Cutting Winter Heating Costs

fireplace

Heating your house during the cold winter months can be a pricey necessity. And with El Niño casting a colder-than-normal winter on the southern states this year, taking the necessary measures to keep your heating bill as low as possible is important. These six tips can help.

1.     Seal All Air Leaks

By properly sealing all air leaks, you can save 10% or more on heating bills; that’s typically anywhere from $50 to $170 a year in savings. Drafts can occur in the following areas:

  • Electrical boxes: electrical outlets in exterior walls are known for being drafty without proper insulation. Remove all cover plates and fill the gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. Replace the foam gasket and the cover plate before using the outlet.
  • Holes in exterior walls: pipes, gas line and electrical cables frequently have gaps due that lead to drafty air leaks. Seal these gaps with expanding foam.
  • Worn weatherstripping: did you know that 7 to 12 percent of heat loss comes from windows and doors? By replacing worn and torn weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows, you can cut back significantly on lost heat.

2.     Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

Contrary to popular belief, ceiling fans can actually help keep your home warm in the winter. If you set your fan to spin clockwise on a low speed, you can push the warm air that’s trapped at the ceiling down, and spread it throughout your home. By following this simple tip, you could save as much at 15% on your heating bill.

3.     Lower Your Hot Water Temp

There is a good chance that your water heater is factory-set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Department of Energy suggests to dial back the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees.  Not only will that be sufficient for taking showers, doing laundry and washing dishes, but you can also save 6 to 10 percent on water heating costs as well.

4.     Buy A Portable Furnace

Consider buying a portable space heater and set it in frequently used rooms, like the living room or the kitchen. Even though the rest of your home might be cooler, the places you’ll be spending most time will be warm and you can turn down your thermostat.

5.     Get A New Thermostat

Outdated thermostats can actually be costing you money. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. By turning down the temperature 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day – like when you’re at work or while you’re sleeping – you can save significantly on your monthly heating bill. Better yet- programmable thermostats are incredibly affordable, with models starting around $25.

6.     Open Blinds

Keeping blinds and curtains shut during shaded or nighttime hours can significantly reduce heat from escaping through leaky windows. However, by opening these blinds when the sun is shining through your windows, you can use the natural light to heat your home. This added heat increases the temperature inside your home and prevents your heater from overworking.

 

For more information on how to properly care for and insure you home, visit Heuer Insurance Agency. Since 1929, Heuer has been serving homeowners in the Reno, NV area with reliable insurance coverage and friendly service. To learn more tips for keeping your home in good condition, visit the Heuer Insurance blog.

 

Run Yourself to Happiness

Harris Interactive third annual Work Stress Survey reported that eight out of every 10 American workers are stressed by their jobs. Last year, the report showed that a shocking 73 percent of Americans were stressed at work; this year that number has jumped by more than 10 percent, leaving just 17 percent of workers unaffected by the stresses of work.

 

This report highlights a critical epidemic in our society: stress is becoming our nation’s biggest deterrent of happiness and satisfaction. Every aspect of the human body is negatively effected by stress – from the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, to the central nervous system, to the digestive, reproductive and muscular systems, to the immune system and the brain – stress as the ability to completely override our bodies, which suppresses our pursuit of happiness and negatively effects our quality of life.

 

It’s time to put an end to the suffering of stress. Before you spend immense amounts of money on anti-stress measures like medications, therapy and more, consider investing in a pair of tennis shoes and a gym membership. That’s right – by making an effort to exercise on a regular basis, you will find yourself becoming less stressed, less anxious and happier. Here’s how it works:

1.     Dopamine: The Happy Chemical

Dopamine, or “The Happy Chemical: is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s responsible for producing happy, pleasurable feelings. The older we get, the more dopamine we loose, making our brains more susceptible to feelings of stress and anxiety. However, exercises like running, lifting, jumping, playing, dancing and generally increasing your heart rate, triggers the release of dopamine in your brain – making you happier and less stressed.

2.     BDNF: The Positive Protein

When you’re stressed, your body experiences several different reactions: blood pressure rises, heartbeat increases, chest tightens, etc. As you begin to exercise, you experience very similar feelings, which tricks your brain into thinking that you’re either fighting stress, or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from this fight-or-flight concept, you release a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor, or BDNF. This protein has both protective and reparative effects on your memory neurons and acts essentially as a reset switch, which leaves us feeling calmer, clearer and happier after exercise.

3.     Endorphins: The Road to Euphoria

The other vital chemical in the fight against stress is called endorphins. This chemical is released to minimize the discomfort of exercise or block the feeling of pain. Endorphins are also heavily associated with feelings of euphoria, which bring sparks of intense happiness and ease to a stressed-out brain.

 

These chemicals and proteins play a big roll in what happens to our brain when we fight stress and unhappiness with exercise. It’s important to remember, however, that exercising more or exercising harder isn’t necessarily the key to happiness: it’s when you exercise that’s important.

 

A study from Penn State suggests that starting your day with 20 minutes of running or exercise will lead to the highest levels of happiness and productivity. With 20 minutes of exercise every morning, you reduce your risk of disease and other health issues, as well as your risk of stress and unhappiness.

 

Life is too short to struggle with sadness and stress, so what are you waiting for? Tie on those tennis shoes, turn up your music and get moving! Farewell stress, hello happiness.