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Safety Is Everybody’s Responsibility

Jul 31, 2013

Modern appliances, such as microwaves, dishwashers, toasters, refrigerators and many others have made our lives easier and more comfortable. But to ensure that they work safely and effectively, we need to take care of them properly.

Here are some tips on taking care of your appliances:

Dishwasher – This useful appliance has an average life expectancy of 9 years. Here’s  how to help it make it there:

  • Check the drain for clogs
  • Make sure the door seals properly to prevent water leaks
  • Try to purchase good quality detergent to prevent overuse

Washing Machine – Another vital item in our homes, has an average life expectancy of 10 years. How to make it last longer:

  • Replace the rubber hoses with flexible stainless steel braided hoses
  • Use anti-rust solution

Dryer – With an average life expectancy of 10 years, here is what you can do:

  • Clean the dryer vent every 3 months
  • Make sure your dryer hose is attached correctly
  • Replace the plastic vent hoses with metal
  • Clean the lint filter after every load

Toaster/toaster oven – The item that makes our mornings easier and has an average life expectancy of 5 years.

  • Try to clean the trap door as often as possible
  • Clean out any crumbs to prevent a fire

Microwave – With the life expectancy of 8 years, it helps us prepare the food as fast as possible.

  • NEVER put metal inside a microwave
  • Keep it clean, inside and out
  • Don’t keep anything on top of it

Gas Stove/Oven – It has an average life expectancy of 15 years, and it can be one of the most dangerous appliances in your home.  Here’s how to take care of it:

  • Clean up spills inside the oven before they generate smoke and start a fire
  • Watch out for sleeves, dish towels and pot holders
  • And NEVER walk away from a pan of oil heating on a stove, or walk away with a stove turned on

Refrigerator/freezer – This is the vital item in any kitchen with a life expectancy of 15 years. What you can do:

  • Clean your fridge and freezer at least twice a year by turning it off and defrosting it and cleaning out what’s inside
  • Replace the plastic ice maker line with a copper line

For those who are constantly fighting odors in the fridge, simply put two lemon wedges in the fridge and change them every two days.

Garbage disposal – It has an average life expectancy of 15 years. The things to do is:

  • If it is clogged, go to the fuse box and turn off the breaker or fuse before trying to clear it
  • Never stick your hand down inside a garbage disposal
  • Replace the rubber drain line with a braided line

Be sure that you aren’t using a frayed extension cord. Do not place the cord under a rug, carpet or piece of furniture. Check all of the cords in your home to make sure that a furniture leg is not resting atop any of them. Touch the cords being used to see if they are warm or hot, and if they are hot, throw them away and get a heavier cord.

Keeping these simple tips in mind and you will drastically lessen the chances of having emergencies, such as home fires. But if you do have a home fire, you will need an expert to help submit your claim. If you have not purchased home or renters insurance, this may be a good time to consider it.


Home Safety Tips to Protect Your Children

Jul 31, 2013

Children are still learning about the world around them, so it is up to us to protect them from the things they don’t know will hurt them. So, what can you do to make your house safer?

Think like a child – Because kids are smaller, things that are lower to the ground pose a bigger threat than things they won’t be able to reach. Don’t be afraid to get down to a toddler’s level and look around your home for potential threats like electrical fixtures.  Staying at your current height for the exercise might mean missing something.

Falling – Remember how many times you fell when you were a kid? Stairs can be really dangerous for children. If you have stairs in your house, protect them with a sturdy child barrier. Unsecured objects can also fall on your child. Bookcases and shelves should be fixed tightly to the walls.

Electricity, fire and water – Make sure electrical cords are hidden so children can’t bite or tear them. Buy childproof plugs to insert into electrical sockets you aren’t using. Make sure bathroom plugs are designed to switch off if there’s any danger of electrocution. Make sure your children can’t access appliances. Keep anything flammable away from the stove.

Things to keep away – In every house you can find tools and cleaning products. Remember that you should always keep children away from cleaning products. Also, hide all beauty products, medicine and anything else that contains chemicals. If you have plants in your house, be sure they are not poisonous. Some plants look friendly but are toxic if consumed. Also keep latex balloons, coins, peanuts and hard candies away from the child’s reach.  If anything happens, call 911 immediately.

Choking hazards – Choking is a leading causes of injury in children. Any object that can fit through a paper towel tube presents a choking hazard. Any toy that come with this warning: “Not for children under 3 years,” probably presents a choking hazard.

Teach your children – It is never too early to teach your children how to be safe at home. Your child should be informed about possible dangers. Show your child several ways to get out of the house in case of fire or other sudden danger. Explain why it is important to not touch electrical products or play with fire.

List of emergency numbers – Always keep a list of all needed emergency numbers such as your doctor, the fire department and poison control as well as neighbors, grandparents and others whom you trust and are interested in your children’s safety.

 


Your First Apartment

Jul 31, 2013

Getting your first apartment can be very exciting. You’re no longer living with your family, and you’ve got all the independence you want.  But independence also means more responsibility. You are now in charge of paying rent and utilities.  Now that you have your own space, you probably want to protect it, and the best way to do that is with the help of renters insurance. This kind of insurance can help protect you from all kinds of costs associated with apartment accidents .

Many of us mistakenly think that our landlord or building manager would cover the costs of replacing personal property inside our apartment if the apartment floods, a pipe bursts or a fire starts. However, this is not true. All of your personal property, such as your clothes, furniture, TV, and jewelry are not covered by your landlord’s property insurance and is completely your responsibility to replace.

The sense of safety

You might think that you live in a safe building and you are not worried about security. But anything can happen.  Security should not be your only concern; other kinds of accidents happen as well. If you want protect yourself from the things that you can’t predict, a renters insurance policy is a must. It protects you from theft and hazard even beyond things that happen within your apartment. For example, if you are on vacation and your suitcase is stolen, your renters insurance policy will cover you. It also covers property is stolen from your car. And if someone slips and sprains an ankle at your apartment, you will be covered by insurance. Many things, such as fire, vandalism, theft, damage from frozen pipes, or even damage from riots are covered by renters insurance

Price is not a problem

Depending on where you live and how much property you are insuring, a renters insurance policy will cost you somewhere between $10 and $30 a month.  Also, statistical data regarding the safety of your neighborhood has a bearing on the cost of your policy. But generally, renters insurance is very affordable.

Discounts

You may be able to get a lower premium if your apartment has safety features such as dead-bolt locks, smoke detectors, an alarm system, storm shutters or fire retardant roofing. People over 55 or long-term customers can also be offered discounts.

If you are buying or renewing a policy, here are some things to take into account:

  1. Determine the value of your belongings and create a home inventory and estimate replacement costs. Be sure to include electronics, furniture, jewelry, musical instruments, sports equipment, and any outdoor items as well as any other valuable items. If you can, videotape a walk-through of your apartment, and be sure to write down your electronic equipment’s serial numbers.
  2. Decide on a form of coverage.  Policies usually cover property in one of two ways: actual cash value or the replacement value of the household objects. Actual cash value policies pay what a possession is deemed to be worth at the time of the loss, whereas the replacement pays out the equivalent cost if you were to go out and get a similar possession today. Replacement value has a more expensive premium.
  3. Find out how much the deductible affects your bill.

Either way, the first important step is to talk to your insurance agent.


Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

Jul 31, 2013

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 under the Social Security Act to address growing concerns about American seniors and Americans living in poverty. The Social Security Act was designed to protect the vulnerable populations in the United States, providing benefits such as Social Security payouts to seniors to supplement retirement and health care services.

 

 

Unfortunately some of the money that should be going to Medicare and Medicaid is being diverted and used to fight fraud.  Here are some of the most common types of fraud:

Billing for a service that wasn’t performed – This is the most common type of fraud that involves billing the government for a service that was not provided to the patient.

Billing for unnecessary services – This kind of fraud involves providing a service and billing for that service, even though the patient did not need that service.

Performing one service but billing another –  Medical procedures and diagnoses have an assigned code that determines how much the physician or hospital is going to be reimbursed by the government. If a doctor or hospital knowingly uses a code that gets more money, fraud has been committed. For example, a patient has spent a short time in the emergency room but the hospital issues a bill for a prolonged medical visit.

False certifications – Many government reimbursement systems require doctors or hospitals to certify that healthcare services were provided in a lawful manner. For example, if a hospital certifies that it provided radiology services to a patient in compliance with the law, and it is later revealed that billing for the service involved a payment kickback, fraud has occurred.

 

 

Fragmented billing – Some medical events that commonly occur at or near the same time, such as the various medical procedures involved in the birth of a child, are billed under one code. Fraud occurs when a physician or hospital knowingly seeks to maximize profit by “fragmenting” that code and bills for each procedure individually.

Additional services – When someone is offering non-medical transportation or housekeeping as Medicare-approved services.

So, what can really be done to prevent this kind of Medicare fraud?

The government is already making every effort to stop Medicare and Medicaid fraud. What if we make an effort as well and put our forces together? If you or anyone you know suspects Medicare or Medicaid fraud, there are ways to report it 24 hours a day. Websites such as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General, and Medicare.gov are specially designed and easily accessible for us to report Medicaid and Medicare fraud anonymously.

In order to protect yourself from medical fraud use the following tips:

  • If you receive a call from the Medicare or Medicaid departments asking if you would like to update your information, hang up the phone. Medicare scams usually involve some form of identity theft, so do not ever give out information to unknown callers.
  • Be suspicious of any door-to-door or telephone solicitations claiming to be affiliated with Medicare.
  • Be wary of anyone offering you something for free in exchange for your Medicare number. You should remember that Medicare will not pay for medical equipment without a physician’s signature.
  • Review medical bills and if you find questionable charges among them, immediately contact your health provider.
  • Only give your Medicare information to those who have provided you with medical services.
  • Keep accurate records of medical appointments, procedures and medical equipment.
  • Never sign blank Medicare insurance forms.

Remember, be vigilant about simple things, such as keeping your personal information safe, not giving your information out over the Internet or to anyone that comes to your home uninvited. Give personal information only to doctors or other Medicare-approved providers.

 


What to Do in a Disaster

Apr 30, 2013


A Guide to Weekend Getaways

Apr 30, 2013

There’s nothing more satisfying than going on a weekend getaway after a long and arduous week of work. But such getaways take serious planning.  

Before you even leave, here’s what you’ve got to check:

Tires. Make sure that they have been rotated recently and have the proper amount of air.  Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles or so, and must be inflated to their correct PSI (pounds per square inch) level, Be sure to check the manual.

Brake pads. Have your garage ensure that your brake pads haven’t worn through. You’ll know that they must be replaced when they produce a screeching sound when braking.

Oil. It’s recommended that you get your oil changed between every 3,000 and 7,000 miles depending on the type of oil that you use.

Once you have made sure that your car looks good and is safe to drive for long distances, you’ll be almost ready to go.  Next, you need to decide where to go.

California

California can be a great destination for a road trip.  Here are some of the highlights:

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a beautiful retreat only a few hours away from Los Angeles.  With activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and sun bathing, Catalina is as relaxing and beautiful as Hawaii.

Another great option in California is Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is one of the largest and most unspoiled nature habitats in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park supports a diversity of plants and animals, and it has some of the nation’s most beautiful hiking trails.

Escape to the Central Coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Central Coast showcases amazing winemakers, chefs, lavender growers and artisanal food makers.

Florida

If you’re a little closer to the East Coast, Florida might be the vacation destination for you.

Florida’s Best Small Beach Towns Gorgeous coastlines are just one reason to visit St. Pete Beach, Pensacola Beach and New Smyrna Beach, where friendly locals are a dime a dozen; you can have fresh seafood and cool cocktails, sit on the sand, or do some shopping and poolside lounging just a few blocks from the water.

Go back in time at Hollywood Beach – Experience Florida as it once was with this vintage getaway that recalls the “happy days” of the 1950s.

Catch a race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fast is better at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, 35 miles south of Miami. Plenty of racing events from go-cart competitions and motorcycle racing to street-legal car races and NASCAR events, draw crowds 280 days of the year.

Texas

Texas is more than just cowboys and tumbleweed.  It is the second largest state and has plenty to offer:

San Antonio Riverwalk – Situated a story below street level, the San Antonio Riverwalk is a buzzing pathway lined with boutiques, restaurants, bars and galleries. A number of street performers and art exhibits also take their places along the path, providing the area with a touch of culture.

Texas Hill Country Getaway – Try a Hill Country Getaway in the heart of Texas and you will not be disappointed. There are many interesting towns to explore including Fredericksburg and New Braunfels. There are lots of sights to see and things to do. This area is a standout, with its tree covered hills, streams, cold spring rivers, German-style villages, wineries and peach orchards.

Garner State Park – Located approximately 80 miles west of San Antonio in Concan, Garner State Park is an outdoor sanctuary where visitors can swim, hike and enjoy nature. The park is known for its impressive rock formations and wide variety of trees. It’s a good place to study nature.

Beach Towns – For a weekend coastal experience, travel 50 miles southeast of Houston to Galveston. The port city has seafood restaurants and beach shops, and it hosts a number of cultural festivals every year, like Dickens on the Strand and Mardi Gras. Here, visitors can go fishing for trout, charter a boat out to sea, or bird watch along the coast.

Be careful on the road and drive safely!


Save the Planet, Save Some Money

Apr 30, 2013

These days, many are interested in adopting an “eco-friendly” lifestyle. That means making conscious choices about your day-to-day habits that may affect the environment in a positive or negative way. Here are some tips that might help:

 

Ride a bike

Auto exhaust fumes release harmful chemicals into the environment, weakening our ozone layer and ultimately heating up the planet to the detriment of all forms of life.  Instead, why not cut down on your driving by biking where you can. It has plenty of advantages. You get a little exercise, it offers a closer view of the environment than you’d see from a car window, you won’t use any gasoline and it’s good for the environment.

 

Eco-friendly fashion

Plenty of people prefer eco-friendly clothes — no animal skins or toxic chemical are used to make them. The practice of raising animals for the manufacture of clothing is expensive and harmful to the environment. It requires precious natural resources, and toxic chemicals are emitted into the atmosphere. See how some celebrities are using organic, pesticide-free fabrics or even recycled materials in eco-friendly fashion.

 

Recycling

The motto of recycling might be best summed up in two words: reduce and reuse. Recycling means turning certain types of materials (paper, plastic, aluminum and steel) in so that they can be melted down and reused for other purposes. Reusing is the alternative to throwing materials away, and reducing simply means using less of the planet’s resources. These concepts are good for the planet and good for your wallet.

 

Use eco-friendly light-bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) provide more light for less energy when compared to traditional, incandescent light bulbs.  According to Energy Star, CFLs use 66 to 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb and last six to 10 times longer. This is another great benefit of being eco-friendly.

 

Reduce your water usage

Water is a natural resource that does not replenish easily. The amount of clean water we have is getting smaller and smaller.  The only way to make it last longer is to use less of it.
Keep your showers short, only run washing and dish washing machines when they are full and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Don’t forget that you also pay for the water that you use.

 

There are many reasons to be eco-friendly. But remember, saving energy and other natural resources also saves money and prevents global warming.

 


Statistics on Car Accidents

Apr 30, 2013


Self-Diagnosing: Helpful or Harmful?

Apr 30, 2013

Most of us do it. When we feel sick the first thing we do is turn to the Internet to evaluate our ailment. According to USA Today, 77% of people start a search for medical information online using a search engine such as Google or Bing. The Internet is packed with websites about health and medicine, some of which specialize in assessing symptoms. But is self-diagnosis really the best way to care for your health?

About 35% of U.S. adults say they have used the Internet to figure out what medical condition they have, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center  in Washington, D.C. Among adults who use the internet to get any kind of health information, 59% admit to trying to diagnose themselves. Here are a few of the reasons why people self-diagnose:

Price: Medical consultations can be expensive, but it’s free when you do it yourself with the help of the internet.

Privacy: Many people can be embarrassed about their medical conditions, so much so that some people even lie to their doctors.  Using the Internet means not having anyone to feel embarrassed in front of.

Fast: Going to the doctor can mean taking time off work and having to wait in a waiting room.  Online diagnosing can be done whenever you have time and without having to wait.

Information: Some patients feel that they did not get the information they need from their doctors, and may have questions that were not answered during their visit. They see this as a good way of filling in the gaps.

The pros of self-diagnosing:

  • It is always useful to learn more about yourself and the way your body functions
  • It’s affordable for almost everyone
  • It’s quick
  • It can be a relief to find out that your symptoms aren’t serious
  • Technology has made self-diagnosing more accurate than ever

In fact, the USA Today survey found that people who used online resources to make a diagnosis were more likely to have their diagnosis confirmed by a doctor than did those who did not use Internet resources.

Despite some promising results, there are pitfalls with online self-diagnosis. Your assessment may be inaccurate. You should always follow up your research with professional medical advice.

The cons of self-diagnosing:

  • Failure to properly diagnose a serious illness can make the illness worse
  • It is hard to find trustworthy sites that deal with multiple symptoms. Usually, medical websites are run on fairly simple database matching conditions and symptoms. More complicated illnesses or multiple illnesses become increasingly harder to diagnose.
  • Sometimes self-diagnosing leads you to the incorrect conclusion that you have a more serious illness than you actually do. This type of over-diagnosis of a serious illness, a kind of internet hypochondria, has been given its own name: “cyberchondria.”
  • You may not see or be aware of all the symptoms. Trained doctors know what to look for, but you might not.

Dr. Bruce Hyman, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, thinks about the online self-diagnosis:

“This is certainly a growing trend among patients in the last couple of years,” he said  “I think the internet is an incredible resource to patients, as long as they are going to reputable sites for their information. I would rather help guide my patients to reliable sites so they can be well educated about conditions.”

In order to avoid misunderstandings and failures while self-diagnosing, he highly recommends that patients and consumers stick to national organizations such as the American Heart Association or websites affiliated with universities or academic medical centers. This will keep you out of trouble and provides you with the efficient information that you are looking for.

In conclusion, it is really up to you to decide. Keep in mind that while the internet gives us an opportunity to widen our knowledge, it can also bring you harm. No matter what diagnosis you find online, always consult and confirm it with your doctor. Take care of yourselves and stay healthy; your health is the most important treasure that you have.


Having a Safe Prom Night

Apr 30, 2013

Senior prom is one of the most exciting and wonderful events in a teenager’s life. Your teenager will remember everything that happens that night for the rest of his or her life. But while the teens are out dancing and having a great time, you’re probably going to be at home worrying about everything, from the details: whether or not they wore the right evening clothes; to big things: are they driving safely?

Choosing which dress to wear is a personal decision, but driving safely on prom night is not optional — it is a must. Not only can recklessness on the road put the driver in jeopardy, but his or her passengers and others on the road are put at risk, as well. This kind of responsibility should never be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, prom night is a time when many revelers choose to illegally imbibe in alcoholic beverages, sometimes with tragic outcomes.

Driving to your prom

The first thing to remember is no drinking and driving. The risk is never worth it.  According to Statisticbrain.com, more than 50% of all prom-goers have more than four drinks on the big night, and every prom night multiple accidents occur.

But this does not have to happen. Your child needs to know how to be responsible, even when alcohol is in the picture, and the first step is vowing to never drive if you have had anything to drink.

Alcohol-related deaths and injuries are preventable.

So how do you make sure that prom-goers stay safe?

The first step is to make sure there is no drinking and driving.  An easy way to avoid that possibility is to gather a group of friends and rent a limo for the night.  This way, no one has to drive except the chauffeur, whose job it is to safely transport the revelers throughout the evening.

Encourage your kid not to drink. Safety decreases with every drink. But if you are certain that your son or daughter will be drinking, explain responsible drinking.

Teach them to pace themselves and not compete with any of their friends.  Never drink on an empty stomach and be sure to drink plenty of water between each beverage.

If taking a limo is not an option and your child will be driving with others, make sure that they have a designated driver for the night.  If all else fails, encourage them to call a taxi or you if they need a safe ride home.

Be sure to have the proper insurance for your teen driver.  You can always get a quote at BMCC Insurance by calling 1-855-855-BMCC (2622).

Have a fun and safe prom night!


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