Three steps to an organized home

Storing excessive amounts of items in your home, whether they’re used regularly or just collecting dust, can create an unsafe environment — even if confined to one area.

If a visitor tripped over clutter in your home,
you could be liable for his or her injury. What’s more, chemicals or other flammable materials stored improperly could lead to a fire.

Plus, if you were to have a loss, the disorganization may make it difficult to identify everything that was damaged, slowing the claim process and the time it takes to get your home back to normal.

Here are three simple ways to reduce your risk and keep your home organized:

1. Start with the biggest offenders
It’s easy for clutter to accumulate in storage areas such as garages and basements. Make sure flammable chemicals are stored away from sources of heat, which could cause them to ignite. Store materials such as paper or clothing in bins away from any chemicals. If a fire started, they would only help it spread faster.

2. Designate stations and compartments
Set up areas to store items that could become trip hazards, such as shoes or coats. You also can designate stations to organize mail, phones, and keys.

3. Create a home inventory
A home inventory is a record of belongings in your home. It could be a list or a video showing the contents of each room. In case of a claim, this inventory would help restore your home and possessions quickly.

Visit or for tools to help you create your own home inventory.

Tips to make sure your bird is fully cooked

“My mother is such a lousy cook that Thanksgiving at her house is a time of sorrow.” – Comedian, Rita Rudner

Yup, the pressure is truly on for cooks of a Thanksgiving feast. Guests might overlook the poorly executed sweet potatoes. They might even hold off on panning the over-seasoned, soggy stuffing.

But cook that bird wrong and your dinner table will deflate faster than the Snoopy balloon after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. However, with some careful planning and following of the tips below, you’ll ensure your bird is safely roasted.

•  First things first. Make sure your turkey is thawed before cooking. If thawing in a refrigerator, allow 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. That means a 12- to 16-pound bird will need three to four days to completely thaw.

•  Heat it up. Set your oven temperature for 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

•  165 is the target. Use a meat thermometer to remove any guesswork. The turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, which means a cook time of roughly three to four hours for a 12- to 16-pound bird.

•  Leave it unstuffed. While many stuff their birds, it’s recommended that stuffing be cooked in a separate casserole dish. If you do stuff the turkey, it will require additional cooking time.

•  Know your variables. Among the variables that can impact cook times are the accuracy of the oven; whether the bird is stuffed or not; if the cook pan is dark or shiny (dark roasting pans cook faster). An oven-cooking bag also can accelerate the cook time.

For additional safety tips about cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, download a PDF from the U.S. Department of Agriculture here.

SECURA’s fourth annual breast cancer research campaign a success

Together with our agents, we’ve supported breast cancer research by raising awareness and funds in our fourth annual One by One campaign.

From Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, we donated $10 for every new MILE-STONE® home and auto policy written. As a result, we will present a check to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for $9,730, bringing our four-year campaign total to nearly $81,000.

We donated these funds in honor of the loved ones of our agents and community members. See the names of those we’ve honored.

Thank you to our agents and everyone who helped make this campaign a success. Though our drive has ended, the battle against breast cancer continues. It’s up to each of us to keep spreading awareness, promoting early detection, and supporting those affected by this disease.

From the FAQ files — can business and personal mix?

In the insurance business, surprises are not a good thing. Independent agents work very closely with policyholders to make sure they have all the information necessary to provide ample insurance protection in the event of a loss.

Equally important is that policyholders themselves keep agents apprised of changes that may impact coverage. Asking questions is a good thing.

For instance, when does a hobby become a home-based business that needs additional coverage? Let’s say Kate is known throughout her community as an excellent cake baker and often is asked to apply her craft for special celebrations. Does she need additional coverage? What if someone picking up a cake slips on flour in her kitchen and breaks a leg? Will homeowner’s coverage apply?

Another example. Ernie is a skilled craftsman and loves building furniture in his basement workshop. He sells his pieces at a local consignment shop. Does he need business coverage? How about Sally, who does home party sales in the evening to supplement her income? Clearly, there are many variations of home-based businesses.

Likewise, each insurance company may have its own standards related to such ventures and the need to purchase additional coverage. If you are involved in a home-based business similar to the ones discussed above, speak with your independent agent to make sure you have the proper insurance protection.

When it comes to insurance, nobody wants to uncover any surprises.