Make recycling and reducing routine

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Make reduce, reuse and recycle a part of your routine

 

“Reduce, reuse, recycle.” Most likely, you’ve heard that catchy phrase connected with information about saving natural resources and even saving your family money. But how many of us really make reducing, reusing and recycling a part of our everyday life?

 

At Harrington Insurance, we’re happy to say that we try to do our part to protect our environment and use our resources wisely. And we’re hoping you’ll take the time – if you’re not already – to make reduce, reuse and recycle part of your daily routine. Depending on where you’re starting from, it may take a change in mindset, or maybe just a little more dedication. But these tips from the Environmental Protection Agency can help.thCADCRF0W

 

Reducing and reusing

  • Look for products that use less packaging. Companies use less raw material when they use less packaging, reducing waste and cost. This means that you can save money while helping to protect the environment. A great example (though it sounds at odds with “reduce”) is buying items in bulk.
  • Avoid disposable items. Take your own travel mug to the coffee shop, for instance, or bring real silverware to work for lunches, instead of using plastic.
  • Let technology help. New compact fluorescent light bulbs use far less energy than standard bulbs, and low-flow shower heads, coupled with aerators, can reduce your water use without you even noticing.
  • Invest in maintenance. When properly maintained, many items, such as appliances and clothing, won’t need to be replaced as frequently.
  • Don’t buy limited-use items. If you need something that you won’t use more than once or twice, such as a power tool, see if you can borrow or rent instead of buying.
  • Donate! When you’re done with an item, if it’s in good shape, consider donating it to a charitable organization that will sell it or continue using it. You just might get a tax deduction, too! And don’t forget, you can always buy used items as well.

 

Recycling

Recycling isn’t just about putting your cans, bottles and newspapers into a bin, although that plays a big part. Here are some other things to consider.

  • Electronic waste: TVs, computers, cell phones and other electronics should not go into landfills. Many companies offer options now for proper disposal at little to no cost. Even printer ink cartridges can be recycled.
  • Food waste: In many communities, food scraps and waste are collected along with yard waste and used for composting.
  • Restaurants and grocery stores: Some establishments are beginning to offer separate bins for recyclable materials and food waste. Be sure to use these when available, and if your favorite place doesn’t offer this option, ask about it!

 

Though your actions may seem small, they do make a difference in the Bay Area — and the world. And when they’re combined with the efforts of millions of others, the impact is even bigger than you can imagine!

 

Contact Us!

 

At Harrington Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (408)754-9000 or send us a note at info@harringtoninsurance.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Water Leak Prevention

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When Water Goes Where It Shouldn’t

 

Even a small leak can become a major problem, so knowing what you’re covered for and how to prevent water damage are equally important.  The below tips should help uncover any potential water problems down the road and keep your property dry. article-2012march-creating-a-wireless-fig2

 

Check appliance hoses.  Standard hoses are not as durable as they used to be.  Replace rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses. This is a low cost fix that can save thousands in water damage.

 

Broken tiles in the shower can allow water to leak into the walls or on the floor. Replace cracked tiles and re-grout when needed.

 

Run dishwasher and washing machine only when you are home.  If a leak occurs, you can turn the appliance off right away.

 

When on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your house.

 

Keep storm drains near your house clear of leaves.

 

Install a gutter guard.  This can prevent a rooftop disaster caused by drain clogs, and also prevents flooding by water that isn’t carried away from the house.

 

Install a water pressure gauge.  An inexpensive gauge can prevent damage caused by water pressure that’s too high.  Pressure should be between 60 and 80 PSI.

Green Holiday Tips

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Give the gift of ‘green’ this holiday season

 

As the holidays approach, regular habits tend to fall to the wayside. Folks who are consistently rested lose sleep, habitual fitness fanatics sink into recliners and, occasionally, even the most 243environmentally committed citizens loosen up on their personal rules.

 

With a little know-how, along with a promise to give to the Bay Area environment just as you do to your loved ones over the holidays, you can be just as “green” as you are the rest of the year, if not even greener.

 

At Harrington Insurance, we want you and the environment to breathe easy and experience joy this holiday season. Check out these pointers for reducing waste throughout and beyond the season.

 

Wrap it up (and again… and again…).  Are you both giving and getting this year, or holding more than one gift exchange?  If so, re-use items like wrapping paper, ribbon and packing materials. No one will complain about this kind of “re-gifting,” especially the environment.

 

Bring your own. The reusable bags you use for groceries each week work just as well for holiday shopping.  Keep them in your trunk or near the door to your home through the season so you always have them on hand for gift buying and giving trips in the Bay Area.

 

Think “e-everything.” Everything that you traditionally did on paper – party invitations, greeting cards and holiday letters – can be just as meaningful and attractive when created and sent electronically.

 

Opt out. Retailers inundate consumers with catalogs through the holiday season.  Collect them in a pile and dedicate some time to calling each one and asking to have your name removed from their mailing lists.

 

“Recycle-ize” your home. Place recycle receptacles in every room in which you will be cooking, having meals, discarding waste, wrapping gifts, decorating and working. This will keep recycling top-of-mind, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

 

From Harrington Insurance to you and yours, we wish you the greenest holiday season yet!

The Live vs. Artificial Debate

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The Christmas tree conundrum: real or fake?

 

The kind of tree that adorns a person’s home during the holidays can provoke debate as much as Coke vs. Pepsi or Chevy vs. Ford.awesome-classic-traditional-christmas-tree-decorations-with-red-and-gold-ball-ornaments

 

When it comes to Christmas trees, do you choose live or artificial? Do you cut your own down, or do you prefer the convenience of a tree bought at the local store that won’t shed its needles, doesn’t need water and already has lights?

 

Both live and artificial trees have their advantages and disadvantages, and we here at Harrington Insurance certainly aren’t going to try to convince you that one is “right.” But in the spirit of giving, we thought we’d provide some information to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

 

Artificial trees

According to the North Carolina Consumers Council, artificial trees pose fewer safety concerns than live trees, but that’s not to say they don’t have risks of their own. Even fake trees can catch fire when sockets are overloaded with Christmas lights, and it only takes seconds for any tree to become completely engulfed in flames. And yes, flame-resistant artificial trees will eventually succumb to a fire.

 

When using a pre-lit tree, always follow instructions, and place the tree in an open area where a fire won’t quickly spread to furniture or other things in close proximity.

 

The benefits of artificial trees, of course, are well-known. They’re convenient and often less messy than real trees. You can re-use them year after year, saving money and saving the environment. And there’s no need to spend time searching for the perfect tree, since it’s usually easy to adjust the “branches” to your liking.

 

Live trees

OK, so you want the real deal. That’s great! But you’re going to have to take a little more care than you would with an artificial tree. First of all, pick a tree that’s in good shape. If needles come off easily when you give it a shake or a quick pull on a branch, find another one.

 

When you get it home, cut off the bottom two inches of its trunk, and fill the tree stand with water regularly. This is the best way to prevent a fire. Remember not to overload it with lights and decorations. And the longer you keep your tree up, the drier— and the more dangerous – it will become.

 

Dispose of your tree properly as well. Don’t burn it or put it in your fireplace, as a burning Christmas tree can be harder to control than other types of fires.

 

If you’re a fan of real trees, you probably don’t need us to tell you the benefits. Just take in that smell and enjoy the season!

 

No matter what tree you choose, the important thing is to keep safety in mind as well. If you do that, your holiday enjoyment will be real, even if your tree isn’t!

 

Contact Us!

 

At Harrington Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (408)754-9000 or send us a note at info@harringtoninsurance.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Turkey Fryer Safety

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5 Tips for Deep Frying a Turkey This Thanksgiving

 

Those in the Bay Area who have tasted deep-fried turkey usually say there’s simply no comparison to an oven-roasted bird — turkey out of the fryer is moist, with crispy skin and a beautiful color.

 

And, it cooks much more quickly than a turkey in the oven, which means you don’t have to wait for hours on end to get your fix.turkey-fryer2

 

But, if you’re not careful, frying a turkey can ruin your Thanksgiving, too. You’ve no doubt seen videos of people accidentally starting fires with their attempts. In some cases, families have even lost their homes.

 

With a little common sense, though, you can safely enjoy that great taste and fast cooking time. Here are five tips for cooking a great deep-fried turkey — without doing any damage (except maybe to your waistline):

 

  1. Find a safe place to cook. Don’t ever set up a fryer any closer than 10 feet from your home, garage or any other structure. Make sure the area is flat to keep the fryer from tipping, and never put it on a deck or other flammable surface.

 

  1. Don’t use too much turkey. You don’t want to drop a 20-pound bird in your fryer; it’s just too big. Keep your turkey to 12 pounds or less, don’t stuff it and make sure it’s completely thawed and dry.

 

  1. Don’t use too much oil, either. When it comes to the oil, use something with a high smoke point (for example, canola or safflower) and do a test with water beforehand to figure out how much you need. Put the turkey in your fryer and fill with water until it is covered. Then take the turkey out and make a mental note of the water line — that’s how much oil to use. Be sure to dry everything completely after your test.

 

  1. Use caution when it’s time to cook. Don’t just drop the turkey into the fryer, unless you want to splash hot oil on yourself (bad) or the burner (even worse). Gently lower it into the oil, and then monitor everything as it’s cooking. Keep an eye on the oil temperature to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Keep an eye on the clock, because you want your turkey to cook for about 3-5 minutes per pound. And, watch kids and pets so they don’t get too close to the fryer.

 

  1. Be prepared for disaster. If you’re cautious, the odds are you won’t need a fire extinguisher, but you should have one on hand anyway – a multi-purpose model with dry powder. Don’t ever spray water on a fryer fire. If you don’t have an extinguisher, either cover the oil or dump a large amount of baking soda on the blaze. And, if all else fails, call 911 – quickly.

 

Of course, there’s one way to get a deep-fried turkey that can’t fail: Buy one from a professional. They’re available at some grocery and specialty stores, and even restaurants are getting into the act now.

 

Whichever you choose, we here at Harrington Insurance wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Flood Prevention

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Flood prevention and safety

Almost anywhere it rains, it can flood. Even if you live in an area of that you think isn’t at risk, preparation is just as critical as with other types of emergencies.

Before we get into how you can prevent, limit or react to flooding, it’s important to note that flood damage is typically not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. There are specialized flood insurance programs that we at Harrington Insurance can discuss with you. Just contact us at (408)754-9000 or info@harringtoninsurance.com for more information if you live in California.

Preparing for a flood

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends a number of steps to stay safe during emergencies and limit damage from flooding. You should:Flooding

Build an emergency kit for your family containing such items as drinking water and nonperishable food for each member of your family (two-week supply), flashlights,  a radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, necessary medications, personal hygiene items and copies of important documents.

Create a communication plan so family members can reach one another.

Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if live in an area with a high flood risk.

Consider installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

Acting during a flood

If a flood is likely in your area, quick action may be necessary to protect your family and property. You should:

Get information from the radio or television.

Move immediately to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood. Do not wait for instructions to move.

If you need to evacuate, secure your home and move essential items to an upper floor. Turn off utilities if instructed to do so, and disconnect electrical appliances. However, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Do not walk through moving water — it can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If you are caught in your vehicle in floodwater, abandon your car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

If you have evacuated your home, do not return until authorities tell you it is safe.

Coping after a flood

Flooding can cause emotional stress along with physical hazards, so be mindful of the well-being of you and your family during the aftermath.

Floodwater can be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, so avoid contact as much as possible.

Make sure your city’s water supply is safe to drink.

Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with floodwater.

The Red Cross has a free book available called “Repairing Your Flooded Home,” which contains useful information as you clean up. It’s available at www.redcross.org. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us as well — we’re ready to help!

If you have flood insurance, contact the claims center of your provider as soon as possible.

Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Being prepared for any emergency is crucial for the safety of you and your family. Don’t be caught off guard!

Halloween Safety

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5 Questions to Ask to Keep Your Haunting Brood Safe on Halloween

 

Despite the fact that Halloween in the Bay Area involves walking around at night amongst ghouls and witches, it really only takes a little common sense to make the night safe for everyone.

 

Here are five questions to ask so your entire family, even pets, can enjoy a safe and fun evening of trick-or-treating or handing out candy to others:Stampa

 

  1. Are we visible?

Add reflective tape to costumes, clothing and candy bags to make it easier for drivers to see you and your group. That also goes for pets who are tagging along. Put reflective tape or flashing lights on their leashes or collars. Carrying flashlights and glow sticks is a good idea as well — they make you more visible and help you see better, too.

 

  1. How safe are our costumes?

Costumes, including masks and shoes, should fit well to prevent blocked vision, trips and falls. Baggy clothing can also increase the risk of contact with candles. If you purchase costumes, make sure they are marked as flame-resistant. And accessories such as swords and knives should be soft and flexible.

 

  1. Where are we going?

It’s best to have a plan before taking your kids trick-or-treating. You should only go to known neighborhoods and houses that have outside lights on, and children should never enter someone’s home unless an adult is with them. If you have older children going out on their own, have them tell you their plan.

 

  1. What are the kids eating?

It’s always a good idea to examine the items your kids have collected before they dig in. And it’s not just about tampering, either. Be aware of choking hazards, too, particularly for young children. And remember, when it comes to eating treats, moderation is key.

 

  1. How are Fido and Fluffy doing?

Even if your dogs and cats are just hanging out at home while you hand out candy, don’t forget about them. They shouldn’t eat candy at all, but especially chocolate, which can be toxic. Make sure candles are placed in areas where they won’t be knocked down. And remember that, depending on your pet’s personality, having people constantly coming to your door can be stressful. You might want to create a comfortable spot for them away from your home’s entrance.

 

With the right plan, you can make Halloween fun — and safe — for your little ghosts and goblins. And you can probably snag a little leftover candy for yourself, too.

Flood Insurance

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What you should know about flood insurance

You’ve probably heard this horror story before — someone loses a home due to a flood and learns after the fact that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

At Harrington Insurance, we want you to be educated about all of the risks you may face – before a loss occurs – so you can determine what insurance coverage is appropriate. Spring is a prime season for flooding, so now is a good time to review your options.Flooding

Because very few companies offer flood insurance, the U.S. government created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. Available to homeowners, renters and business owners, this insurance often is required to obtain a mortgage in areas at high risk of flooding.

But you might want to look into a policy just for peace of mind, even if you don’t live in a flood zone. According to the NFIP, nearly 25% of the program’s claims occur in moderate- to low-risk areas. Check out the questions and answers below to help determine if flood insurance is right for you.

Is flood insurance available in my area?

To participate in the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance with rules regarding construction in certain flood-prone areas. In exchange, the government makes flood insurance available within that community. We’re happy to help you find out if you’re eligible for flood insurance. Just give us a call at (408)754-9000. You can also visit http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm.

What does it cover?

The NFIP provides coverage for both the structure and its contents. Coverage for contents is optional in some cases, so you may want to give us a call to discuss other coverage for your personal property.

Keep in mind that you typically can’t purchase flood insurance and have it take effect the next day. There is usually a 30-day waiting period. (Exceptions to this rule apply, however, particularly when the insurance is required by a lender and is purchased during the process of securing a mortgage.) If you think you need flood insurance, don’t wait to buy a policy!

What doesn’t it cover?

Generally, government-issued flood insurance will not cover the following: Buildings entirely over water or principally below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, aircraft, wharves, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubbery, land, roads, machinery or equipment in the open and most motor vehicles.

How much does it cost?

As with all insurance policies, the cost of flood insurance varies depending on your situation. If your home or business is in a high-risk area, such as a “special flood hazard area,” your premium naturally will be higher than those in low- or moderate-risk zones. Premiums are based on how old the building is, how many floors it has, the location of its contents, your deductible and more. Renters insurance is typically less expensive, as renters generally insure their belongings and not the building.

Where can I find more information?

As always, we are happy to help you determine your insurance needs. Stop by our office 6920 Santa Teresa Blvd, Ste 100 in San Jose or give us a call at (408)754-9000. The NFIP website, at http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program, has plenty of answers as well.

Fall Home Safety

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Household safety tips change with the season

 

As days get shorter and nights get longer, our habits begin to change. Most of us typically spend more time hunkering down at home and less time frolicking at the beach. That usually means resuming favorite fall pastimes like huddling through 49er games on Mondays and drinking hot cocoa on the sidelines of our little ones’ soccer games.

 

Arriving along with the season of autumn is a host of safety hazards we didn’t have to think about over the summer, creating the need for a little extra vigilance.  As the temperatures drop and you settle in for the approaching cold spell, consider the following pointers for ensuring you and your family stay not just warm, but also safe!Fall_image

 

Warm up carefully. All types of heating units can be dangerous. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, secure it with a screen to prevent sparks, and make sure the fire is completely out before you retire for the night. If you depend on your home’s furnace, make sure it has been inspected before you start to use it again.  And, if you resort to space heaters, make sure they are in good working order (no frayed cords) and out of the reach of children.

 

Enjoy ambiance safely. If you use candles to add a warm glow to a cold night, make sure they are safely out of reach of children, can’t be overturned by pets, and are not close to flammable items such as blankets, paper or other furniture. If you’re known for falling asleep before heading to bed, extinguish all candles early in the night to avoid an unsafe, all-night burning situation.

 

Exercise yard safety. If you’re going to be pruning trees and shrubs, hanging Halloween decorations, raking leaves, or engaging in other yard activities, use caution: be careful on ladders, avoid power lines, and put away yard tools when you’re finished.

 

Be grounded. Make sure you make weather-friendly shoes and boots handy for the whole family.  This is the season for slippery driveways and walkways. Without proper footwear, you can find yourself on your back or in the hospital.

 

At Harrington Insurance, we wish you a fabulous and foible-free fall season!

 

Contact Us!

 

At Harrington Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (408)745-9000 or send us a note at info@harringtoninsurance.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Fall Night Driving Dangers

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A little extra caution can go a long way while driving at night

 

Summer has ended, and while fall and winter have their own pleasures — including Pumpkin Pie — longer nights mean increased danger on the roads.

 

You might think you drive just as well at night, but consider this: Even though nighttime driving accounts for just 23% of vehicle miles traveled, more than 50% of fatalities for vehicle occupants 16 and older occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Safety Commission (NSC).

 

Because we’re big advocates for safety at Harrington Insurance, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at why night driving is more dangerous, and what you can do to decrease that danger.

 

What’s dangerous about night driving?Kennebunkport-Maine-Fall-Foliage-Road-Trip

  1. Decreased vision. We won’t go into all the biological details, but different parts of the eye (such as iris, pupil and retina) work differently at night. Your peripheral vision is actually slightly improved, but it’s more difficult to focus on objects ahead of you. And traveling between well-lit areas and darker roads creates issues as well.
  2. Driving too fast for your headlights. Depending on vehicle speed and headlight setting, many people “over-drive” their headlights. That means, by the time they see something on the road, it’s too late to stop in time to avoid it.
  3. Impaired judgment. Whether due to drowsiness or the use of alcohol or drugs, it appears that drivers at night often don’t use good judgment. According to the NSC, 66% of fatalities at night involve vehicle occupants who weren’t wearing seat belts.

 

So what do you do?

Sometimes, there’s no way around driving at night. So here are some tips to help you make a safe trip — whether you’re just running to the store, or you’re headed all the way to the snow.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition. And not just headlights, but turn signals, taillights, etc.
  2. Avoid speeding. Leave a bigger cushion between you and other cars than you would during daylight hours. Leave yourself more time for the trip.
  3. Be more aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be using your phone, messing around with the radio or trying to find something on the floor while you’re on the road anyway — and distractions are even more deadly at night.

 

Of course, if you’re not comfortable driving at night, the best thing is to avoid it altogether if possible. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ride from a trusted safe driver or waiting for the sun to come out!

 

Sidebar:

We’re open all day!

When you’re driving around during the day, stop in to Harrington Insurance for a review of your coverage. We won’t keep you after dark, we promise. Just give us a call at (408)754-9000. We’re here to help!

 

Contact Us!

 

At Harrington Insurance, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at (408)754-9000 or send us a note at info@harringtoninsurance.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!