Thursday, March 9, 2017

2 in 3 Small Businesses Lack a Written Disaster Recovery Plan

Nebraska-based seed dealer Dan Oswald never expected rare twin F4 tornadoes to tear through his small rural town in 2014 and destroy his business.
But because Oswald was properly insured through Nationwide with the help of his independent agent, his insurance claim was processed before the governor even landed to declare a state of emergency. Since then, Oswald has rebuilt and increased the square footage of his facility by 66 percent.
“I knew what a tornado could do, but you never think it would hit your place,” Oswald said. “I didn’t even recognize it. Indescribable. You don’t know what street you’re on or what you’re looking at because you don’t have any landmarks or anything in your memory that tells you where you’re at. I think you kind of go into shock a little bit. But two days after the tornado, I had a check in my hand.”
Oswald represents one of more than 100,000 commercial catastrophe claims that Nationwide has processed since 2007. While the number of claims has fluctuated over the past decade, the severity has increased steadily.
Nationwide has seen a 26 percent increase in the average severity of commercial catastrophe claims when comparing the three-year period between 2014-2016 with the seven-year period between 2007-2013. The company has also seen a 14 percent increase in unique commercial catastrophe events that impact a business when comparing those same time periods.
Despite those statistics, most small-business owners (68 percent) still don’t have a written disaster recovery plan — even though about half (49 percent) said it would take their business at least three months to recover from a natural disaster.
Those findings stem from Nationwide’s second annual Small Business Indicator, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from June 10-23 among 502 U.S. small-business owners with fewer than 300 employees.
“Small-businesses owners are crucial to our economy,” said Mark Berven, president of Nationwide Property & Casualty, the No. 1 total small-business insurer[1] in the country. “And they are often the ones impacted the most by a disaster. That’s why it’s so important for people to start preparing now — especially as we head into the spring storm season.”
Nationwide’s survey revealed critical gaps in disaster preparedness for small businesses:
  • 71 percent of small-business owners don’t have business interruption insurance, which can be vital to survival since an estimated 25 percent of businesses never reopen following a major disaster[2]
  • 21 percent of small-business owners without a written disaster plan said they don’t have one because it’s not a high priority for them
  • 22 percent of small-business owners have already been impacted by a natural disaster
While most small-business owners don’t have a formal plan, many have taken various steps to prepare for a natural disaster. The majority reported that they can work remotely in case of a natural disaster (82 percent), have duplicated and stored their company’s vital records off site (75 percent) and have access to alternative suppliers (78 percent).
For tips on creating a disaster recovery plan, check out the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety or Nationwide’s Business Interruption Insurance page.
The Small Business Owner Study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from June 10-23, 2016. Respondents comprised 502 U.S. small-business owners of companies with less than 300 employees, and included 284 small-business owners who do not have a written disaster recovery plan. Results are weighted to be representative of small-business owners in the U.S. Research participants were drawn from the Harris Poll Online (HPOL) research panel and partner sample. Because the sample is based on those who were invited to participate in the HPOL panel, estimates of theoretical sampling error cannot be calculated. Percentages were rounded to the nearest whole percent.
[1] Conning, 2014; Conning Strategic Study: The Small Business Sector for Property-Casualty Insurance: Market Shift Coming.
[2]Source: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

20 Spring Cleaning Hacks to Simplify Your Life

Spring has arrived – which means it’s time to get your home in shipshape. Check out the creative spring cleaning tips and tricks below to make your house sparkle with the least amount of elbow grease.

1. Remove water stains with lemon halves.

Make faucets sparkly clean by rubbing a lemon half on the stains. The citric acid helps remove hard water marks.

2. Organize your fridge and cabinets with rotating turntables.

Rotating turntables and Lazy Susans don’t have to be limited to your tabletops. After discarding old condiments and spices, organize your pantries and refrigerator with this useful storage hack.

3. Use coffee filters to clean screens.

Does your TV screen or computer monitor show fingerprints, smudges and dust? The fiber in coffee filters may be gentle enough to rub them away.

4. Clean dirty keyboards with cotton swabs.

Cotton swabs can clean more than just your ears. Use them to sweep the dust and grime lodged between the keys on your computer keyboard.

5. Cover your showerhead with a plastic bag containing white vinegar to remove buildup.

Mineral deposits accumulate in showerheads over time, causing reduced pressure and water flow. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, secure it over the showerhead with a rubber band and leave it overnight to get rid of buildup.

6. Use a butter knife to clean air vents.

Don’t let that dust build up for another minute. Use a butter knife for easy access. Simply wrap the knife in a rag and wipe between the crevices of the vent.

7. Unpack and stack your spring/summer clothes vertically.

Are your dresser drawers a mess? Instead of putting away folded clothes flat, stack them vertically for easy access.

8. Use cream of tartar to clean toasters and tea kettles.

Combine 1 tsp of cream of tartar with just enough water to create a milky paste. Rub the solution onto your stainless steel appliances and wipe away to reveal their original shine.

9. Clean stainless steel sinks with baking soda.

Simply wet your sink and faucet, sprinkle baking soda, and scrub with a sponge. If you need more heavy-duty scrubbing power, add salt to the baking soda.

10. Wrap a towel over a broom to clean hard-to-reach places.

Cobwebs and dust can collect in room corners and on ceiling fans. Brush them away by securing a towel over the bristle end of a broom with a large rubber band. The dust and cobwebs stick to the cloth.

11. Use a window squeegee to scrape pet hair from your carpet or rug.

12. Use Velcro strips to keep drawer organizers in place.

Attach the grippy strips to one end of your drawer and the other to your drawer organizers. This keeps them in place, but lets you remove the organizer when needed.

13. Know your couch or rug before cleaning it.

Don’t ruin your upholstered furniture by using the wrong cleaner. Not all manufacturer labels state what type of solvent to use. Familiarize yourself with the cleaning codes below.
Upholstery Cleaning Labels:
W: Use water-based cleaning solutions.
S: Use dry-cleaning solvents. Do not saturate. Do not use water.
S-W: Use water-based cleaners or dry-cleaning solvents.
X: Use a vacuum or brush only.

14. Clean your grill with an onion.

Get your grill cleaned up and ready for the warm weather. First, heat it up and spray some white vinegar onto the grates to help loosen the residue. Then, scrub the area firmly using half an onion. The acid from the onion will rid your grill of any leftover remnants.

15. Use newspaper to clean dirty windows and mirrors.

Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the glass and scrub with newspaper for a streak-free window or mirror. The ink acts as a mild abrasive and allows you to make use of old newspapers.

16. Place clean towels under furniture to avoid scratching hardwood and tile floors.

Looking to freshen up your home by rearranging furniture? Slide things around easily without damaging floors by placing folded, clean towels under each end of the furniture.

17. Soak a dryer sheet in water and place on your ceramic stovetop to remove gunk.

Dryer sheets are non-abrasive and a great way to remove burnt-on food from your stove. Place the wet dryer sheet on your stovetop at least 15 minutes before rubbing the gunk away.

18. Use a dustpan to help fill a large mop bucket.

Not all mop buckets fit in bathtubs. If yours is too large, try using a dustpan as a spout by placing it flat on your sink to transfer water to the bucket. This handy hack is also helpful for other large containers you want to fill.

19. Clean your microwave by heating lemon juice and rinds in water.

Cut a lemon into halves, squeeze the juice into 1/2 cup of water and drop the rinds into the mixture. Microwave for 3 minutes and let it stand for 5 without opening the door. The trapped steam will loosen the grime, so you can wipe the microwave clean.

20. Recycle old socks to use as dusting mitts.

Eager to try these hacks? Here’s a spring cleaning plan with more tips to help get you started.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

8 Tips To Keep Your Family Safe From Heating Fires

Hey ya'll although the weather has been great lately I am sure we still have some cold Virginia days ahead.  I found this article about how to take care of your house and appliances to prevent house fires.  If you have ever known someone who has experienced a house fire, you know how terrible they can be.  Follow these easy tips to keep you family safe.  If you need to get your house insured give me a call!

Overall, heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths. There are between 350,000 and 400,000 house fires in the United States every year that result in almost $8 billion in annual damages, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A heating fire can be catastrophic to a homeowner. Space heaters, fireplaces and water heaters are the biggest culprits but any type of heating element, including stoves and heating units, can cause fires.

Here are eight tips to keep you and your family safe from home heating fires this winter:

Inspect your furnace
Contact an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean all the ducts. Remember to change your furnace filter each month during the winter and to remove all flammable material from the area around your furnace.

Clean your chimney
If you use your chimney a half-dozen times or more each year, it is a good idea to have it cleaned of soot and creosote every year. If you don’t want to hire a chimney sweep, consider a Creosote Sweeping Log, which can be bought at any home improvement store.

Check your chimney for structural damage
Make sure your chimney doesn’t have any cracks. If your chimney does have air leaks, it can change the flame in the fireplace and possibly ignite and cause a fire outside the fireplace.

Use a diffusion screen with your fireplace
A diffusion screen will prevent a flaming log from rolling out of the fireplace or sparks from popping out to cause a fire. If you have carpeting or wood flooring in front of your fireplace, it’s especially important to use a diffusion screen.

Be careful with space heaters
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, space heaters are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths. The best way to prevent a home fire caused by a space heater is to purchase one with an emergency cut-off so that it will automatically shut off if tipped over or accidentally knocked down. Otherwise, if it falls on the carpeting and doesn’t turn off, it could easily ignite a fire.
Never leave space heaters unattended. And make sure you place your heater on a flat, level, non-flammable surface such as ceramic tile rather than on a carpet. Don’t place space heaters near curtains, bedding or anything flammable, and make sure you are plugging the space heater into a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) system, so that if a malfunction does occur, the electricity will automatically turn off.

Check your water heater
As your water heater gets older, the thermostat and the heating element inside will start to deteriorate and the flame will become inconsistent. This could cause a flash fire, particularly if the water heater is in the garage where it is susceptible to wind or changes in air supply that could be caused by someone opening or closing a door.

Give your boiler a wide berth
Be careful not to put flammable items, such as boxes and newspapers, around your boiler system.

Don’t forget about the laundry room
Most homeowners don’t realize the laundry room can be a source of home fires due to the duct that connects to the back of the dryer and collects flammable lint. Homeowners should have their duct cleaned at least once a year. Your dryer doesn’t capture 100 percent of your lint and some of it ends up in the ducts, and that material is very flammable. If you have enough dryer lint built up in the duct you can have a huge fire.