Is Your Roadside Emergency Kit Ready If You Need It?

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When was the last time you checked your emergency supplies in your car?  At least twice a year, as the seasons change, it’s a good idea to check your supplies and emergency preparedness kit in your car.
Glove Box:  Not all emergency equipment should be behind the backseat or in the trunk. Here are three essential items to stow within the driver’s reach:
  • Mobile phone
  • Phone charger
  • Auto-safety hammer (some have an emergency beacon and belt-cutting tool, too)
In Your Trunk: Use a sturdy canvas bag with handles or a plastic bin to store your emergency preparedness kit, and secure it so it doesn’t roll or bounce around when the car is moving. Be sure to include the following:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets
  • Flares or warning triangles
  • Drinking water
  • Nonperishable snacks, such as energy or granola bars
  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic tool kit that includes, at minimum, flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers, and adjustable wrench
Winter Add-ons: If you live in a snowy climate like me, you’ve probably already faced many snow storms this year and will want to add in these items as well.  (And for more tips on winter driving safety, check out theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recommendations.)
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper
  • Bag of sand, salt, or cat litter, or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Gloves, hats, and additional blanket

Have a new driver in your family? 5 helpful hints for good driving habits for teen drivers

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Getting a driver’s license is an exciting time for a teenager …and a major transition for you. Even if this isn’t the first of your children to start driving, you’re sure to have mixed emotions about their newfound independence. Of course, when it comes to your child driving, safety is your primary concern. While you can’t always be in the car to help them, you can make sure you provide the insight and education they need to develop the safest possible driving habits.
Understanding that every family will have their own approach, here are some helpful hints for dealing with a new driver:
  • Set ground rules. Young drivers need boundaries. Consider setting rules for how many passengers they can have and how far they can go unsupervised. Also, establish (and enforce) consequences for when the rules are broken.
  • Limit driving at night. Statistically speaking, night is the most dangerous time for teen drivers. In fact, the crash risk for teens at night is nearly twice as high as during the day. So it’s a good idea to set a curfew.
  • Make sure they wear seat belts. Seat belts save lives. Yet teen drivers and passengers buckle up less often than adults.
  • Check in early and often. Ask your teen how they feel behind the wheel. Frequent conversations can help you identify problems early.
  • Ride along and observe. It’s the best way to evaluate your teen’s driving. Is the radio too loud? Does she wear a seat belt? Is he checking his smart phone for messages? Watch, learn and point out unsafe behavior.
For some teenagers, getting a license is the end of driver education and the start of a new era of fun. They can often be more concerned with where to go next than with how to become a better driver. It’s an important time for parents, and your job is to find the right balance between celebrating their freedom and helping them become smart, safe drivers.  Talk to you teen today about safe driving.

15 Steps to Be Prepared for a Natural Disaster

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Natural disasters don’t happen every day but, when they hit, the repercussions can be severe.  Planning ahead, when possible, can make a difference, and the planning process doesn’t have to be difficult.   It does take time – which most of us would prefer to spend on more pleasant activities. But the payoff in terms of life safety, reduced stress and a smoother recovery is well worth sacrificing a little free time.
Follow The ABCs of Disaster Planning below to create your plan
Action: Take It!
  1. Know which disasters you are at risk for and how best to prepare for them.
  2. Plan for the possibility that you may have to evacuate your home.
  3. Set up your support network.
  4. Evaluate the risks, abilities and needs of everyone in your household and adjust your plan accordingly.
  5. Make a plan for your pets.
Belongings: Know Them!
  1. Create a home inventory. Start by going room to room with a video or still camera to make a visual record of your belongings.
  2. Prepare a written list to accompany your visual record.
  3. Keep receipts for valuable items and write on your inventory list their make, model, serial number, date of purchase, and other relevant information.
  4. Store a copy of whatever documentation you create away from your home.
  5. Update the inventory periodically.
Connections: Make Them!
  1. Have family conversations about disasters and how you will support each other.
  2. Broaden your support network to include neighbors.
  3. Be specific with others in your network about the tasks that need to be done and who will do them.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed, and reach out to others to offer your help.
  5. Adjust your support network after a major life event, such as a divorce or moving.
For more details on the ABC’s of disaster planning, download (or order) your free copy of It Could Happen to Me: Family Conversations About Disaster Planning.