Keep your pool clean and safe

A residential swimming pool often is the centerpiece of the backyard and the focus of attention at weekend gatherings. Like most high-value objects, swimming pools need to be maintained and cleaned frequently to keep them in good condition. 

While you may think it’s vital to have the best looking pool in the neighborhood, it’s even more important to make sure it’s safe.

Follow instructions on chemical labels. If the label is unreadable, don’t guess — return the container to the dealer.

Never mix pool chemicals. Improper mixing can result in water quality issues or harm to your health. Make sure you’re sticking to the instructions.

Store chemicals safely. Cleaning chemicals are toxic — they should be stored in a cool, dry, locked area.

Remove toys from in and around the pool. Cleaning your pool includes taking your children’s toys out. Don’t leave them floating in the pool or out in the open — they could tempt younger kids who can easily fall in.

Look for mold and mildew. More commonly found in pools with ceramic tiles, mold and mildew can cause allergy symptoms, asthma, or respiratory and lung problems. Frequent cleaning should eliminate most mildew and mold spores.

Talk to your children. Remind your kids why safety is important and what they should look for when swimming at a friend’s. It also can be beneficial to have a conversation with other parents to make sure your child is safe under their supervision.

Check out these seven tips for more information about how to keep your family safe in the swimming pool.

Seven tips to prevent backing accidents in company vehicles

No matter what industry you work in, driving a company vehicle includes risk — from the possible cost of property damage to the potential for lawsuits.

And those risks multiply when you need to back up a vehicle. Whether you’re an employer or a driver, it’s important to be trained in proper backing.

Follow these tips to prevent vehicle backing accidents: 

•  Know your blind spots. The larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot. Ask an employee to stand directly behind a parked vehicle with a safety cone. Have him or her walk back from the vehicle, set down the cone when it becomes visible to the driver, and measure the distance of the blind spot. 

•  Walk around the entire vehicle, observing the proximity of structures, other cars, pedestrians, or overhanging wires. Map it out in your head before you get behind the wheel. 

•  Avoid backups when possible. In a parking lot, pull through to the space ahead of you; don’t leave room for someone to park in front of your vehicle. If possible, park in the street rather than a driveway. 

•  Don’t park in alleys where you can’t drive through. Backing out of an alley into a busy street is dangerous for everyone. If you must park in the alley, back in (if local regulations allow it). 

•  Use a spotter for difficult situations. Communicate with hand signals that the driver and spotter understand. This is important for situations where children are present, such as schools, play areas, and residential jobsites. Children are unpredictable and easily hidden in your blind spots. 

•  Get proper rest. Fatigue and lack of rest are major contributors to fleet accidents. Make sure drivers are well rested and alert when driving. 

•  Use technology with caution. Back-up alarms warn bystanders when a vehicle is in reverse. Back-up sonar warns a driver when an object is in the reverse path, and closed-circuit mini TV cameras give a clear view of the path. However, these tools can fail if the driver or surrounding pedestrians ignore or fail to use these devices properly.

ID theft risk doesn't take a vacation because you do

Vacation time is all about leaving your cares behind and focusing on the fun. However, with identity theft on the rise, you'll want to take extra precautions to ensure thieves don't cut the fun short. Follow these tips to help keep your identity safe while on vacation.

Preplanning is key.
Limit what you carry in your wallet on vacation. That means remove any extra credit cards, your Social Security card, and any documents that may have personal information on them. Similarly, don't carry your checkbook and additional bank or debit cards unless necessary.  

Use your hotel safe. Place important documents and credit cards you don't need in your hotel safe. Never assume a locked room will keep thieves from rummaging through your belongings.  

Be cautious with computer use. Whether you brought your own computer or plan to use an Internet cafĂ©, don't assume Internet connections are secure. Avoid accessing any online banking or personal accounts with sensitive information.  

Don't put your faith in a locked car. Don't leave personal information and belongings in your car, whether visible or in the glove compartment. Carry what you need and leave the rest in your hotel safe.  

Don't forget about home. Make sure to halt mail service or have a friend or neighbor retrieve your mail each day. For identity thieves, a mailbox is a treasure chest of personal information. With a little common sense and preplanning, you can ensure your vacation memories don't include months of work to repair damage from identity theft. For an article about this topic and additional tips, click here.  

SECURA offers identity theft coverage and travel insurance with our home and auto policy. Talk to your independent agent to learn more or to see what's included in your policy.

Workers face increased health risks as temperatures rise

When the sun is scorching on a hot day, many of us move inside to get out of the heat. But if your job requires you to work outside, you don’t always have that option — leaving you at risk of heat exhaustion and, in more severe cases, heat stroke.

It’s important to understand the risk of these heat-related ailments, as well as how to stay cool throughout your workday.

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is caused by a depletion of water, salt, and other electrolytes in the body lost through sweat. In addition to flu-like symptoms, victims will experience excessive thirst, rapid heart rate, light-headedness, and moist, clammy skin.

If you notice yourself or others struggling with these symptoms, your first move should be to get out of the heat. From there, remove or loosen tight clothes and apply wet cloths. Drink water slowly, and rest while carefully monitoring conditions. If symptoms progress toward heat stroke,
call 911.

Heat stroke
Anyone experiencing heat exhaustion should immediately be evaluated for heat stroke, which can be a life-threatening medical condition.

Those suffering from heat stroke typically will lose the ability to sweat, causing body temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Your pulse will elevate and skin will become flushed and hot. Hyperventilation, nausea, and vomiting also are common.

Call 911 immediately in the event of heat stroke. While waiting for the emergency vehicle, move to a cool location, apply wet sheets or towels, and fan with air. If you see changes in level of consciousness or vomiting, don't attempt to drink water.

Beat the heat
While you can’t eliminate the threat of heat-related health complications, the following tips can help reduce the risks:

•  Drink water frequently during shifts.
•  Avoid caffeine.
•  Wear loose-fitting, heat-protective clothing.
•  Take breaks in a temperature-controlled area.

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