Potholes everywhere! How to handle them safely


It’s an unwelcome sign of Spring across Michigan. Motorists encountering multiple miles of pothole-ridden highways. While a few of them may be small, most of them are quite large and create for a very bumpy, uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous ride to work, school. or shopping.

Many potholes are caused when relentless freezing and thawing of water under the pavement weakens the road and causes large cracks, which, when combined with the weight of vehicles driving over, eventually turn into potholes.  Because of the role freezing can play in pothole formation, severe winter weather can often lead to lots of potholes. But, strong, long-lasting rain storms can also contribute to the number and severity of potholes and even sinkholes.

If you live in a city with lots of potholes, here are a few safety tips from the Michigan Department of Transportation:

⦁    Properly inflated tires hold up better against potholes than tires that have too much or too little air.

⦁    If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it. But don’t brake directly over a pothole, which can cause more damage.

⦁    When driving over the pothole, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.

⦁    Use caution when driving over a puddle of water because it might be a pothole in hiding.

In addition to causing structural damage to the tire itself, potholes may cause additional damage to your tires if they are over- or under-inflated. Potholes may also cause alignment, suspension or steering problems.

Here are some symptoms of pothole damage to vehicles:

⦁    Bulges or blisters on the tire sidewalls.

⦁    Dents in the wheel rims.

⦁    Undercarriage damage, including fluid leaks and wear that could lead to rust.

⦁    Odd noises coming from the exhaust system due to dents or punctures.

⦁    The car pulling toward the left or right, instead of going straight, which could indicate an alignment problem.

⦁    Uneven tire wear, which could indicate an alignment problem.

TIP: If you encounter a pothole, you should report it to your city, county or state transportation authorities. In some cases, your state, county or city may reimburse you for some of the repair costs.

Source: Allstate Insurance

Choosing a safe car for your teen

Teen Car


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the risk of a car accident is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than any other age group.

In 2010 alone, nearly 282,000 teens wound up in emergency rooms after wrecks. Some good news: The most important safety feature in a car — the driver — can be improved through education. For example, about half of teens in a 2011 study by the CDC said they rarely wear their seat belt — but that’s something that can be changed. And, the CDC has found that education is one way to increase seat belt use. While reprogramming the organic software (a.k.a. “the young driver’s brain”) may be difficult, selecting hardware (a.k.a. “a vehicle”) shouldn’t be.

Rather than specific models, focus on how the vehicle is equipped.

ESC, ABS and airbags

First, aspire to get a vehicle with Electronic Stability Control (generically called ESC, but described under various acronyms by different manufacturers). ESC is a computer system that can provide a magical butt-saving by helping to prevent the car from spinning out or plowing straight off the road. Imagine having a professional race driver take the wheel when things get shaky: That’s ESC. Note: ESC is a wonderful invention, but, of course, safety systems don’t replace the need for safe driving practices.

In addition to ESC, vehicles made in 2012 or later must also have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), advanced head restraints and the latest crash structures. Many produced before 2012 had those features, as well. You might also want to check whether the car has side air bags, which are not required by the NHTSA, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you can’t afford a vehicle made in 2012 or later, vehicles built no earlier than about 1999 also had several safety features. These include side-impact structure and dual front airbags, both of which were required on cars built in the late ‘90s.

Buy — and maintain — a ‘safety system’

Understand that you are buying a “safety system” for your teen — but it needs to undergo basic maintenance to do its job of keeping your teen safe. The vehicle’s tires are one main area to focus on when it comes to maximizing its safety features. To keep the safety system at its peak, check your teens’ tire pressure at least once a month. And, consider replacing tires well before they were to the legal minimum (either 2/32 inch or 1/32 inch in states that have a legal minimum requirement). An easy way to measure: Insert a quarter, Washington’s head down, into the most-shallow groove, if you can see the top of George’s wig, replace the tires.

Source: Allstate Insurance

Top 5 home security gadgets priced at $20 or less

glass filmKeeping your family and your home safe is a top priority, so here’s a look at some gadgets you can get that won’t break your bank.

We all have budgets, and these top items can improve your safety for $20 or less.

They’re not a full-fledged security system, but some little things together can provide a big difference.

  • The Mpow Solar Powered Wireless Bright 4 LED Security Motion Sensor is great for your home’s perimeter. Attach it where it will receive natural light, and it picks up motion within 26 feet. Most retailers have it listed for $20.
  • Next is the Doberman Ultra-Slim Window Alarm. Your windows may have locks, but if an intruder breaks the glass, this alarm will sound– and it’s loud at about 100 decibels. It costs around $11.
  • The Artscape Etched Glass Window Film (pictured) comes in a variety of styles, but this simple film sticks on a window and prevents people from seeing valuables that could be on display in your home. It fits the average window at 24 x 36 inches and costs $13.
  • And finally, the UniquExceptional Outdoor Dome Fake Security camera looks as real as they get. A disclaimer: We recommend cameras that work, but these are extremely realistic and could fool a burglar. They cost $8.

According to a study by the Criminal Justice Department at North Carolina University, 2.5 million burglaries occur each year, and homes without security systems are three times as likely to be hit.

Some 83% of convicted burglars say a home security system would deter them from breaking into a home.

For best protection and peace of mind, consider a comprehensive, verified Solucient home security system, contact us to learn how Solucient can professionally protect your home, your family, and your belongings.

Source: WKRN-TV

Mistakes you’re making with your home security systems and what you can do about them

Young Woman Entering Security Code On Keypad: Young woman entering security code on home security alarm system keypad

Many Americans may wrongly think that property crime nationwide has increased year after year, but such thoughts are not in touch with reality.

Statistics has shown that like violent crime, property crime has decreased year after year since 1990. But does that make the task of protecting your home and properties easier or even unnecessary? Of course not.

In recent times, more sophisticated home security systems to help you protect your home and properties have become available. Of course, they exist to make your life easier. But be careful, your choice or use of home security systems could end up complicating your life.

Here are some mistakes you should avoid with your home security system:

Buying the wrong home security systems

Technically there are no “wrong” home security systems. But just like with most other purchases, what is appropriate for someone else may not be appropriate for you. Diligent research is needed before purchasing a home security system.

Scour the internet, especially review sites or just do a Google search of the security system you’re planning to purchase or install. It’s not enough to read reviews from sites like Cnet or PC Magazine. Visit Amazon and read reviews from real buyers there too.

Additionally, check for complaints about the security company. Sometimes there are legitimate issues about billing, contracts, customer service, or monitoring that you need to know about before choosing a home security system. Here are some recommended features of a home security system you should consider:

  • Remote monitoring
  • Real-time notifications
  • 911 and emergency services
  • Input capacity
  • Ease of installation

In the end, to help you save time and/or make the right decision, you may still need to speak to a security professional. This will minimize chances of trial and error.

Not testing your configurations

First a word of caution here. It is rare that one home security system is enough for all your home security needs. A secure home will include different security components for different purposes.
Here are some components:

  • Indoor and outdoor cameras
  • Motion sensors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Glass break detectors
  • Door and window sensors
  • Freeze sensors
  • Water sensors
  • Driveway sensors

The point is, whatever components you’re installing or adding to your home security system, test them.

Lack of/poor maintenance of the home security system

Depending on what you’re looking out for, you should conduct a weekly, monthly, semi-annual or annual check of your home security system. It may involve updating software, changing batteries, changing faulty components, and other measures.

Professional maintenance

This can be done annually or even semi-annually. Check to see if your vendor offers any maintenance package in the service contract. If they do, fine. If they don’t, you may need the services of a home security inspection company to help with professional maintenance.

Keep these mistakes in mind, and avoid them with the tips above, and you’ll find that your home security systems will be a blessing, not a nuisance.

Source: ValueWalk

Home security tips for winter

winter home

Did you know home break-ins increase during the winter months? Since the days become shorter, the evenings become darker quickly, which normally means homeowners are not around when the home is dark.

Motion sensor lighting and video can help to protect a home from burglaries. Coming home to a break-in is a devastating moment for anyone, which is why it is important to consider installing a professionally-monitored, verified security system. Use the following winter home security tips to help prevent serious concerns.

Lock the doors and windows
A thief will search for areas of weakness in a home. The doors and windows are areas of the home that are common weak points. Always check each window and door to ensure they are locked before you leave the home. If you have a home security system installed, the windows will beep if they are not locked properly.

Motion detection
The other thing you need to consider adding to your home is motion detection lighting. Keeping your home well-lit is important to prevent burglaries as most burglaries occur in the darkness. When the lights are on, it makes it harder for someone to break-in unnoticed. A good security system will include automation options that allow you to program the system from your computer or your smartphone. Automatic timers are another option that will help to keep your home safe if you are not around.

Remove greenery
The best way to keep your home safe during the winter is to remove the trees and other things that are around the home. It will eliminate hiding spots, and you can see people’s tracks in the snow. If you have patio furniture and other things outside the home, lock them in the garage so they cannot be used to help a person climb onto a roof.

Shovel the driveway and walkway
One easy sign that no one is home is a driveway that is not shoveled. The best winter safety tips for home and apartment owners is to ensure it looks like you are home. Hiring a company to shovel your walk and driveway is a great way to improve your home safety.

Invest in a security system
The best way to keep your home safe in the winter is by investing in a quality security system. They will alert the police if the windows and doors are opened without the proper code input within a few seconds. Staying safe is vital to your family’s safety and keeping your assets and loved ones protected from intruders. Contact us to learn how Solucient can offer a professional, verified level of home protection.

Ski safety: Tips for the slopes

ski shot

Why do we love to snowboard and ski? That’s a silly question with an easy answer: because it’s fun.

A significant contributor to the fun of downhill snow sports is the sensation of sliding down the hill, in control but at speeds that are higher than we humans would normally be able to achieve without sticks made of wood, fiberglass, metal, and plastic. This flying feeling, obviously, comes with an element of risk, something we all need to be conscious of and manage appropriately while on the slopes.

January is National Ski Safety Month at ski areas across the United States, sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Over 50 years ago, NSAA developed the Responsibility Code, a basic set of 7 key tenets for skiing safety. It focuses on personal responsibility for snow sports participants. However, safety on the mountain goes beyond the basics of the Responsibility Code. There are as many aspects to safety while skiing and snowboarding as there are types of snow. Here are a few ways to be safe on the slopes this winter.

  1. Wear a helmet

Helmet usage has exploded among skiers and snowboarders in the last decade. According to NSAA, 73% of all snow sports participants wear a helmet, up from 28% ten years ago. Helmets won’t protect you in all circumstances, of course, but wearing one is certainly a good idea. Lots of research has been done about the efficacy of helmets, including the website LidsOnKids.Org that encourages parents and kids to wear head protection.

Ski areas have been encouraging their customers to wear helmets for years. Some ski areas, like Whiteface Mountain in New York, provide free helmets for all people renting equipment.

  1. Consider the conditions

Experienced downhill sliders know that the conditions on their favorite trail can vary from blower powder to groomed corduroy to boilerplate linoleum. Sometimes, though, we forget how quickly the conditions can change – even on the same day. Always be aware of the snow surface conditions and alter your skiing and snowboarding accordingly.

Use various cues to monitor the snow surface, including your eyes, ears, and feet. Continuously monitor this feedback to keep yourself in the proper athletic stance, which increases your ability to anticipate and react to changing snow surface conditions.

  1. Watch for others

You must be aware of your surroundings; don’t stop in the middle of the hill, and before re-entering the slopes, be sure to look and yield to others; and watch out for other skiers.

Collisions on the snow can have a serious impact on you and someone else, potentially for the rest of your life. Most ski states have state statues that make careless skiing or snowboarding a potentially criminal offense. So, take it easy and slow down, especially if the trails are crowded.

These are only a couple of ideas about how to keep yourself safe on the mountain this season. Winter snow sports safety also includes a wide range of additional topics and considerations, including avalanche awareness, being sun smart, avoiding tree wells, keeping your equipment tuned and in good working order, and many other matters. Make ski safety part of your normal routine and be safe out on the hill!

Source: Huffington Post



Sitting safe: How to choose a child’s car seat

child car seat

There are three types of child car seats: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seat. Even though there are many different models to choose from, all car seats sold must meet the same U.S. federal safety standards.

Rear-facing car seat. This is your baby’s first car seat, often used from 5 to 40 pounds.

Forward-facing car seat. After age two and when a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat by weight or height, move them to a forward-facing car seat with a harness and use the top tether.

Booster seat. Once your child has outgrown the forward-facing seat with a harness, move them to a booster seat. It raises the child so the car’s adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits over your child correctly.

Read the label
Before you buy, read the label. Look for the weight, height and age limits to make sure the car seat is right for your child.
Buying online? Find this information in the product description. Look for a section called “specification” or “specs.”
Check your car seat expiration date. You can find the expiration date on your car seat label or imprinted on the plastic. When you throw away an expired or unsafe car seat, take it apart and put the pieces in separate dark trash bags to prevent someone else from using an unsafe car seat.

Car seat parts
Buy a car seat that already comes with the extra features you want. If you add those extra features (called aftermarket products) later, such as padding for the harness straps, they can make your child less safe.

Register your car seat
Register your car seat.t allows the manufacturer to notify you if there is a safety recall. Don’t worry, the information you provide cannot be used for marketing purposes.

Used car seats
Be wary of used car seats. Don’t buy a used car seat unless you know the previous owner or the complete history of the car seat. A used car seat is unsafe if it has been in a crash or if it is missing parts, labels or instructions. A car seat is also unsafe if the manufacturer has issued a safety recall and seat has not been fixed. There’s just no way to be sure that a used car seat from a stranger is safe.

Source: Safekids.org

Spotlight on safety: Winter driving tips

winter driving

With our cold, snowy winter in progress in the Midwest and Northeast, drivers should expect more wet weather and low temperatures in the coming months.
The following winter driving tips will help prepare you for whatever Jack Frost throws your way this season:

Be prepared
It’s important to be prepared during this time of year, so be sure to keep an emergency kit in your car that contains such necessities as an ice pick, a snow shovel and brush; a basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and a wrench; a bag of traction material like kitty litter or sand; a flashlight with extra batteries; and items to keep you warm, like extra clothes, gloves, hats and Mylar thermal blankets (also known as “space blankets”).

Finally, make sure your emergency kit contains booster cables and is well stocked with first-aid essentials and nonperishable food items (like granola and energy bars), as well as water, warning flares and reflective triangles.

Check your tires
Your tires are your main connection to the road, so be sure they are inflated properly. Underinflated tires may provide less traction, reduce fuel mileage and can wear out prematurely, so check your pressure at least once a month to ensure you’re driving on properly inflated tires.
As temperatures drop, so does the pressure in your tires — a 10-degree difference in ambient temperature can change tire pressure by 1-2 pounds per square inch (psi), according to Goodyear. Look for your vehicle’s correct tire pressure on an informative tag within the driver’s doorjamb or in your owner’s manual.

Depending on the conditions in your area, you may want to swap into winter tires. If not, make sure you have a safe tread depth for your road conditions.

Remain calm in a skid
Slick surfaces typically require a longer stopping distance, so extend the distance between your car and other vehicles. This may give you ample time to respond to road and weather hazards. Practice gentle acceleration and braking to maintain consistent traction in snowy and icy conditions. If your wheels begin to spin, release the accelerator until traction returns.
If you find yourself in a skid, experts at the Weather Channel advise letting up on the gas and steering in the direction you want the front of your car to go. Experts warn that you should not hit the gas or the brake until you have control of your car again.

Stay in charge
A strong and fully charged battery is an absolute necessity in cold weather. Extreme temperatures can take their toll on your battery’s power, so if your battery is more than three years old, it may be time to consider replacing it before Jack Frost sucks out the last of its life. Also, be sure the connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free to ensure full-strength winter starts.

Step up to new safety technology
Practically every automaker offers electronic traction and stability control systems that work along with the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system to assist drivers in slippery road conditions. Though they all use different trade names, these safety systems all function to help the driver maintain control in curves and turns — especially in wet or slippery conditions — by detecting when the vehicle begins to slip and reducing the throttle and applying the brakes to individual wheels to help correct the vehicle’s orientation. Traction systems also prevent the vehicle’s drive wheels from spinning while accelerating under slippery conditions.

Source: Allstate Insurance

Safety tips for portable electric heaters

space heater

Maybe your furnace is out. Perhaps you’re busy at work in a chilly garage or office. Or you want to turn down your thermostat but keep one room nice and toasty. For these and other scenarios, a portable electric-powered space heater can come in handy at home or at work.

Many portable electric heaters use fan-forced convection heat—circulating air in an interior space—while others use radiant heat in the form of infrared radiation that directly warms people and objects in front of it.

Regardless of the technology, the important thing to remember is that electric-powered portables are the only unvented space heaters safe to use indoors. That’s because they don’t fill your living space with undesirable combustion products like carbon monoxide, which can be generated by liquid-fueled heaters.
But the compact size and convenience come with a tradeoff: Extra diligence and careful operation are required to prevent fires, injuries and property damage.

Three feet from the heat
The most significant risk to safety is placing electric heaters too close to combustible materials like bedding, furniture, drapes, carpets or clothing. Keep these materials at least three feet away from the heater, and prevent anything from getting too close and blocking the release of heat. This could overheat the motor, switch or the wires and cause a fire.

Be the adult in the room
Kids and pets are particularly vulnerable to injury or damage caused by a portable heater. Don’t operate a space heater in a room with a child nearby in a crib or playpen or with an enclosed pet like a dog in a crate. They can become overheated while confined.
For these and other reasons, never leave a working portable heater unattended. Always remain in the room when a space heater is operating.

Plug into safety
Electrical fires can also be avoided with the right precautions. Never plug heaters into extension cords or power strips, as this puts too much resistance on the power draw, raising the temperature at the plug. To prevent shocks or electrocution, never try to open the housing on the device and repair it yourself, and keep it indoors and away from water.

Use with caution and confidence
It’s important to remember a space heater’s limitations. They should never be used as a primary or permanent source of heat. Nevertheless, when operated properly a plug-in portable heater can be a prized appliance in a pinch.

Source: Costco Connection – October 2017

Cold storage: How to prep your garage for winter

winter garage

Garages were born for storage. After all, the name comes from the French word garer, meaning to shelter. But “stored” doesn’t necessarily mean “protected.” A cold, wet garage can wreak havoc on your possessions, which aren’t nearly as rugged as you might think. Everything from power tools to garden hoses can be damaged over the winter months.
So how do you protect these items—as well as the structure itself? Follow these tips from experts—keeping safety in mind around flammable products and sharp objects—and the things you leave in your garage all winter will be just a little more, well, sheltered.

Rake and shovel
Landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy, who created the app Home Outside, recommends not just cleaning the business ends but also sterilizing them—to remove diseased plant material before the tools touch new plantings next year. Plunge smaller tools into a container of sand and mineral oil to prevent rust.

Garage door
Lubricating metal parts is especially important in winter. To keep out snow and add warmth (as well as another layer of protection for valuables), apply weather stripping around the door.

A shelter is only as good as its roof, and gutters are key to channeling off water and snow to prevent a winter cave-in. Scoop out any gutter gunk and flush the gutter with a hose.

Garden hose
“A good-quality garden hose can cost up to $80 and could last for up to 10 years with proper maintenance,” says Messervy. Stretch it out on a downward slope to drain water (which could freeze and expand), then coil it up.

Backpack leaf blower
Clean or replace the air filter and drain the fuel, advises Kris Kiser of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. You can use 10 percent or zero-ethanol gas—but Kiser uses only zero concentration, so any fuel remaining in the tank won’t harm the blower. Replacing dirty spark plugs is also good practice (first, though, safely disconnect battery cables). Invest in a spark-plug tester for upkeep.

Keep spare fuel in a steel jerrycan equipped with a flame arrestor and label it with the date of purchase; never store it for more than 30 days. Any gas with ethanol will need to be mixed with a stabilizer to prevent deterioration.

Gas mower
Clean grass from the undercarriage and sharpen the blades—then run the machine until the gas tank is empty, which prevents corrosion. Do this and “mowers can last up to 20 years,” says Kiser.

Snow blower
Get it ready for action: Change out last season’s dirty oil and add low- to zero-ethanol gas (you did drain last season’s fuel, right?). Replace shear pins and check the shave plate for wear.

Outboard marine engine
Flush out the engine and let it drain. Shut off the fuel supply and treat the engine with fogging spray as it runs out of gas. To store, place it upright without any tilt. Store smaller engines the same way, and be sure to drain the built-in gas tank. A little TLC—changing the oil and lower-unit lube—won’t hurt either, according to Charles Fort, associate editor at BoatUS Magazine.

Source: GEICO Insurance

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