10 Space heater safety tips

With cold weather gripping many parts of the country, space heaters can help keep our homes warm. If you use a space heater, keep these safety tips in mind.

• Have a gate, guard, or grate around the space heater's elements.

• Make sure the space heater meets the safety standards of Underwriters Laboratory (UL).

• Keep a space heater at least 3 feet away from drapery, furniture, waste baskets, and other combustible materials.

• Never allow children or pets near a space heater.

• Turn a space heater off when you leave and while you sleep.

• Do not use heaters in wet or damp areas, by a sink, or in a bathroom.

• Discard any space heater that is old or damaged.

• Keep a space heater on a level surface.

• Install a working smoke alarm in any room where a space heater is located.

• Do not use a space heater to dry wet clothing or to warm bedding. Use space heaters only to warm a room.

Agency Spotlight – Millhiser Smith Agency

SECURA agency partner, Millhiser Smith Agency in Cedar Rapids, Ia., shined in the community and business world this year. The agency received both the "Agency of the Year" award by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and was named the top insurance agency by the Corridor Business Journal, a publication in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area.

Millhiser Smith Agency was one of only three agencies in the nation to receive the "Agency of the Year" award by FEMA and NFIP. A major factor in the selection of the agency was its hosting and organizing of the Cedar Rapids Flood Forum to help the flood victims in Iowa.

More recently, it was named the top insurance agency by the Corridor Business Journal. The award showcases the agency's ability to stand out among others in the area, focusing on client relationships and risk management services.

We are proud to partner with Millhiser Smith Agency, and we extend our sincerest congratulations on its achievements this year in both business and the community.

SECURA agents raise $22,000 for breast cancer research

A big "thank you" goes out to SECURA agents who participated in our breast cancer research incentive. The drive was a success! Eighty-one agencies helped raise funds by selling our MILE-STONE home and auto package policy during the months of August, September, and October.

We are humbled and impressed by everyone's compassion and drive. Together, we are helping fight the battle against breast cancer. Statistics show that more than one in 10 women will face this disease in their lifetime.
We will present a check to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on behalf of the participating agencies and the honorees they choose to recognize.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in making this fundraiser a success. We are proud to work with such a fantastic group of agents.

An insider's perspective

Kathy Hietpas, a breast cancer survivor and SECURA veteran of 25 years, shares her thoughts on the program:

I would like to extend a personal thank you to our wonderful agents who helped raise funds for breast cancer research! As a breast cancer survivor, it's hard to express how grateful I am to have SECURA and our agents support this cause. The research and treatments have come so far in the last 20 years, but the research can't stop until a cure is found. Together we can beat this!
Thank you and may God bless you!

Kathy Hietpas
Personal Lines Underwriter

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." – author unknown

Wisconsin bans texting while driving

Wisconsin joins more than 30 other states enforcing a ban on texting while driving Dec. 1, 2010. With the rising number of accidents caused by distracted driving, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the legislation into law in an effort to make Wisconsin roadways safer.

Other states including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Minnesota already enforce a texting ban. To see what driving laws apply in your state, check out the Governors Highway Safety AssociationThough there is controversy surrounding the effectiveness of texting bans, it is important to understand the facts of the ban to avoid an unexpected stop by the police, complete with a hit to your pocketbook.

Quick facts about the ban on texting while driving:
• It's punishable as a primary offense, meaning an officer can pull a driver over solely for suspicion of texting.
• Drivers pulled over for texting while driving can expect fines ranging from $20 to $400 for the first offense.
• Second and additional offenses carry fines of $200 to $800 each.
• The legislation applies to text messages sent from PDAs, computers, and any other electronic device.
• E-mailing from phones or computers violates this law.
• The law applies to all drivers.