Tips for Safe Holiday

Tips for a Safe Holiday

The holidays are fun and exciting and busy. Holiday decorations add to the atmosphere and excitement, but they also pose potential safety issues. Follow these simple tips to stay safe this holiday season.

Inspect Strands of Lights

Lights are beautiful and really set the tone for the holidays, but always play it safe when dealing with electricity. Before stringing lights inspect the entire strand. Look for frayed or exposed wires, cracks in the housing where bulbs screw in or any other damage. If you find anything wrong or damaged do not use the strand. Replace damaged strands with new and safe strings of lights. Always unplug a strand when replacing a bulb and make sure to use replacement bulbs that are the correct voltage.

Turn Lights Off at Night

Turn holiday decorations off overnight. Lights become warm the longer they are on and this can pose an ignition risk, especially when hung on a tree. Consider using a timer to ensure the lights go on and off each night to save you from remembering and ensuring safety. Also shut the lights off when you head out to work or to run errands. The same goes for candles. Never leave a candle burning unattended.

Safely Burn the Yule Log

A fire creates a cozy ambience, but before lighting a fire make sure the structure and equipment is safe. For a gas fireplace that means the glass should be intact and in place. For a wood burning fireplace, be sure the chimney has been cleaned and keep the size of the fire under control. Store wood a reasonable distance from the fireplace and keep fire rated gloves and fireplace tools, such as a poker close by.

Test Your Alarms

Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure everything is in proper working order. You should routinely check these devices to ensure safety, but with all of the extra decorations and activities during the holidays giving everything another check is a good idea.

Value of Safety Checks

Ensure the holidays are a festive time, but also a safe time by putting these tips to use. With all of the hussle and hubbub of the holidays taking the time to watch out for these safety issues can keep your family and loved ones safe and secure.

Insurance involves more than just a policy. We want all of our customers to be safe and celebrate an enjoyable holiday season. If you have questions, click here contact BJI. We are glad to help.

Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams and Rip-Offs

Avoid Holiday Scams and Rip-offs

As the holiday season begins, the sales start rolling in. But in an effort to buy great gifts at discounted prices, many shoppers fall victim to scams and rip-offs this time of year. Whether it’s hackers trying to steal your payment info or companies trying to pawn off low quality products, it pays to be diligent when placing orders during holiday sales.

To protect yourself this shopping season, follow these simple tips.

Exercise Caution

This time of year, you may run into some online scams disguising themselves as great deals. While it always pays to go with your gut.  If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  Knowing what to look out for helps too.  Watch out for emails disguising themselves as legitimate companies so they can steal your information.  Keep reading for more information.

Be Conscience of Too Good Pricing

As holiday shopping ramps up, you may be excited to explore the sales and score big deals on items from your wishlist. But be careful – if you come across a price that’s too good to be true, it could be a warning sign that you’re not going to get your money’s worth. Even paying a fraction of the regular price could be a waste of money if it’s a crummy product. If possible, test the product as much as possible to ensure that it works and is in good condition before you purchase it.

Use Trusted Retailers

When it comes to online shopping, this time of year you may receive an abundance of emails boasting major discounts and promoting great deals on hot ticket products. In some cases, they may duplicate their website to look like a trusted brand’s online store, in order to lure you into leaving your payment information. Always exercise caution when dealing with an online store that you’re not familiar with, and double check that you’re at the correct site when placing an order with a trusted online store.

Avoid Shipping Email Scams

A common holiday scam derives from spam emails that are masked to look like they came from a shipping company. Often, they will try to get your financial details by telling you there was an issue with your order that requires payment.

  • Do not open attachments to the emails.  They may contain a computer virus.
  • Do not click links that are in the email.  Instead, type in the web site address that you know is correct.
  • Always check the tracking information from your confirmation email before giving any information to a strange company.
  • If you’re unsure if the email is legit, you can always contact the seller to confirm their shipping company.

Do Your Homework

A little research goes a long way, especially when it comes to spending money. Take some time to make sure you know all the details you need to make an educated purchasing decision.

Be Aware of Retailer’s Return Policy

Sales are usually great for shoppers – unless you try to return an item you purchased at a discount. Even trusted retail brands can have some odd return policies when it comes to sales items. Before making a purchase, make sure that you understand the return policy completely to protect yourself if you need to return the gift.

Know Your Extended Warranties

Purchasing an extended warranty seems like a smart idea, especially for expensive electronics. Except, they may not do much if your product already comes with a warranty, or if one is built into your credit card policy. Before making a large purchase, be aware of the warranties that already are applied to the product before purchasing additional protection.

Read Seller and Product Reviews

If you’re buying a product online or using an online retailer for the first time, see what others are saying about the item or service. Ratings can let you know if it’s a sound purchase or if there are any red flags you should avoid.

Protect Your Funds

A lot of money changes hands during the holiday season, and your credit card probably gets a workout. Unfortunately, hackers use the unusual purchasing activities of the holidays in their favor, and tend to target victims for identity theft this time of year. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Check Your Bank Account Frequently

Detecting fraudulent activity early will increase chances of your bank reimbursing your account and prevent hackers from spending too much of your money. To stay on top of your activity, check your bank account at least every two to three days throughout the holiday season.

Keep Payment Information Secure

Never use wire transfers or cash when purchasing items online – otherwise, you may fall victim to a scam without any tracking or protection to be reimburse your funds. Instead, use trusted payment systems, like Paypal, to place your online orders.

 

While the holidays are filled with cheer, a credit card scam or identity theft can quickly rob you of the holiday spirit. These simple steps can help protect you during the holidays.  If you want extra protection against identity theft, be sure to contact us for more information.

 

 

 

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

When most of us think about the holidays, we imagine gathering the loved ones together and sharing in some spectacular memories. However, for our pets, the season can be more than a little stressful, not to mention dangerous. 

The fact is that things that seem innocuous to us could be a big deal for our furry friends. Crackling fires, guests visiting at various times, and foreign plants and objects in the house can turn the holidays into a danger zone if you’re not careful. 

So, with that in mind, let’s go over some safety tips to keep your furry friends protected during the holidays. 

Stow Away Medications

Family visitors bring a lot of baggage with them, and some of it can include medicine. Even if it’s something as benign as Tylenol, it can wreak havoc on your pets if they ingest it by accident. Be sure that everyone keeps their medicine out of paw’s reach. 

Don’t Feed Them People Food

It’s tempting to want to include your dog or cat in the holiday feast, but much of the food that we eat can be troublesome (or downright toxic) to our pets. Make sure that everyone who comes over respects this rule as well. 

Have a Safe Space

Many animals can get wiry and stressed out when visitors come over. Thus, before the family arrives, make sure that your furry pals are out of harm’s way. Whether it’s a designated room in the house or somewhere else, having a safe space for them will ensure they don’t freak out (too much). 

Fire Safety

A roaring fireplace can be warm and comforting, but it can also pose threats for your pets. Not only can dogs and cats get too overheated from the flames, but they may accidentally knock something into the fire, creating a dangerous situation. Keep all flammable objects away from the fireplace, and be sure that you have a cover in front of it at all times. 

Clear and Present Danger

Neatly wrapped gifts under the tree are appealing to us, but they can be more so to your pets. Ribbons and bows may look tempting to cats, which means that they may chew them up. If ingested, these materials can make your kitty sick, so you might want to avoid them or keep them out of the reach of your purring feline friend.

Decorations 

Cats are notorious for playing with fragile objects, knocking them to the ground for no reason at all. Christmas trees can also be a hazard as your feline attempts to dismantle all of your decorations. Overall, it’s best to keep all fragile items out of reach or secure them so they can’t be destroyed. 

Candles

Yes, lighting a few scented candles can make your holidays brighter, but as with the fire, pets can turn a pleasant evening into a rendition of Backdraft if you’re not careful. Keep candles out of the way, and remove any flammable materials nearby to avoid them getting knocked over.

This season, your pets deserve to have as much fun as you, which is why you want to take steps to keep them and your home safe. Hopefully, following these tips will avoid any disasters. 

10 Ways to Honor Vets on Veterans Day

As one of the more solemn holidays that we celebrate in the US, many people want to pay their respects on Veterans Day. While Memorial Day is about remembering those we’ve lost, this holiday is all about honoring veterans both alive and dead. 

This Veterans Day, we want to help you find the best way to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed services. Here are 10 ways that you can. 

Display the Flag

It’s a simple gesture, but it highlights what they fought to protect and preserve. 

Listen

Talk to any vets you know about their experiences and let them know you care.

Say “Thank You”

Again, it’s a small gesture, but it means a lot. Any vet you see deserves your gratitude. 

Spend Time Together

Whether it’s a relative or a stranger, spending the day with a vet can be a highlight for them and show that they matter to you. 

Donate

There are many different organizations dedicated to helping veterans, and they always need support. 

Research Your Family History

Discover how many relatives have served in the armed forces, both here and abroad. 

Write a Letter

If you know a vet far away, writing a letter of thanks can mean a lot. 

Visit a Vet

Take the time to show them that you care about their experiences and sacrifices. 

Learn About Vets

Veterans face a multitude of struggles that we don’t get to see. Take the time to learn more so that you can understand their experience. 

Share

Social media is a great place to raise awareness of vets and share your love and support of them, especially any in your family. 

You can find these ideas and more at http://www.wallawalla.va.gov/Misc/Honor_Veteran.asp.  The page has a list of 45 things you can do to honor a Veteran.

At Bob Johnson Insurance, we salute all of our veterans, and we honor their sacrifices. We thank you all for your service, and we are forever in your debt. 

How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Most of us take our health for granted. However, as soon as the sniffles or coughing fits begin, we realize how vital it is to stay in good shape. Unfortunately, the holiday season can bring many different challenges that will put your health to the test. 

Colder temperatures, holiday stress, and germs getting passed around like candy are just a few of the ways that illness can derail your holiday plans. At Bob Johnson Insurance, we want to make sure that you avoid getting sick so that you can enjoy the season, rather than suffer through it. 

Get a Flu Shot

If you want to be more proactive about avoiding the flu this season, you should go in for immunization. In some cases, you may feel a little under the weather after the shot, but you should be good to go for the rest of the winter. 

Get Plenty of Rest

The end of the year can be hectic and stressful, which is why you need to make sure that your sleep schedule doesn’t suffer as a result. Yes, you may have more on your plate, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your Z’s in the process. Even a few extra naps can help mitigate illness. 

Eat Healthily

For many of us, the holidays are the perfect excuse to forgo our diets for a few weeks (or months). However, overeating unhealthy food can wreak havoc on your insides, so you want to do so in moderation. In between celebrations, be sure to gorge on fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks. 

Protect Yourself Mentally

While our physical health is essential, so is our mental health. The stress of the season can exacerbate underlying issues like depression, which is why you need to be aware of any emotional changes that happen. If necessary, talk to someone about how you feel and see what you can do to alleviate the problem. 

Stay Active

Yes, it may be getting cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid activity until spring arrives. Whether it’s going to the gym or taking the stairs at work, be sure to include some physical activity this season. Your body (and your mind) will thank you. 

This winter, don’t let the weather bring you down. Follow these tips, and you’ll make it through unscathed (although we can’t do anything about that ugly Christmas sweater). Here at Bob Johnson Insurance, we wish you a very happy time during the entire holiday season!

Helpful Tips for Deep-Frying Your Turkey This Thanksgiving

Tips for Deep Frying a Turkey

Although Thanksgiving usually gets overshadowed by the holidays surrounding it (i.e., Halloween and Christmas), the fact is that it’s still one of the most important days of the year. Celebrating with family around the dinner table is an excellent way to give thanks for the season, and the food you prepare will be integral to your festivities. 

In Knoxville, one of the most popular recent trends has been to deep-fry the turkey. While there are many different ways to prepare this succulent bird, frying has become a ritual, all thanks to the crispy, tender results it offers. 

Unfortunately, though, this process is not that simple. In fact, many people get injured when trying to deep-fry their turkeys every year, so we at Bob Johnson Insurance want you to stay safe this holiday season. 

So, with that in mind, here are five tips to follow. 

#1 Create a Safe Space for Cooking

If you’ve never deep-fried a turkey before, you should know that you need a lot of clearance. It is very important that your deep fryer is placed a good distance from your house and anything flammable.  Since you have to heat so much oil, you need space to allow the heat to dissipate. Also, you want to be careful of any spatter that may come from the fryer. Ideally, you’ll have about 10 feet of clearance or more, and the ground will be flat to avoid tipping. 

#2 Use a Smaller Bird that is Thawed

While it may be tempting to fry a 30-pound turkey, the fact is that it can be too much meat to handle. If it’s your first time, you want to start small so that you don’t create a dangerous situation. Typically, about 12 pounds should be ideal. 

In addition, be sure that your turkey is completely thawed.  Wonder why? Check back here tomorrow for a video!

#3 Use Less Oil

One reason why deep-frying can be so hazardous is that you have to heat the oil to a high temperature.  When deep frying, the oil can erupt into flames for several reasons if you’re not careful. Research the smoke point of different oils and use one that won’t get close to burning. 

To test how much oil you need, put the turkey in your fryer and fill it with water until the whole bird is covered. Also, be sure to dry it out completely afterward, as water and fryer oil can create even more of a hazard. 

#4 Be Cautious With Every Step

Typically speaking, when you put the bird into the oil is when the situation can go south. So, make sure that you have more than enough clearance, and move carefully when dropping it in. Also, pulling it out can be tricky, so it helps to practice that as well. Wear protective clothing so that hot oil splatter won’t burn your skin or eyes. 

Check back here tomorrow for a video about why you should never deep-fry a frozen turkey!

#5 Be Prepared for Anything

Should the worst happen (your fryer tips over, the oil catches fire, etc.), you want to be ready. While we hope that nothing bad occurs, it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard. As stated previously, position your fryer away from the house in an area that is free from anything flammable.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy (one designed for oil fires), and keep the area around the fryer as clean and empty as possible. Also, be ready to call the fire department if necessary. 

Frying a turkey can be a delicious way to spend the holiday, but don’t forget that safety is always a priority! At Bob Johnson Insurance, we’re committed to helping you and your family stay safe this season. 

5 Dos and Don’ts for Black Friday

5 Dos and Don'ts for Black Friday

Although Black Friday is an excellent day for shopping and saving money, it can also be more than a little stressful. With so many people and the hectic atmosphere of everyone searching for the same discounts, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let the stress get to you. 

However, although you may be justified in being less than cordial on this day, we at Bob Johnson Insurance want you to enjoy the holiday, not be miserable. So, with that in mind, let’s go over some do’s and don’ts for this upcoming Black Friday. 

Write Down Your Parking Location

Depending on how long you plan on spending out and about, it’s easy to forget where your car is, and that’s the last thing you want to deal with after a full day of shopping. Make a note of where you park so you can find your car easily.  You might write it down on a note or snap a photo of the location. Some maps apps for your smartphone will let you drop a pin and will guide you right back to your car.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings, Including Other Shoppers

Even if you’re calm and collected, that doesn’t mean other people will be, too. Now is the time to stay vigilant and keep an eye on everyone else to avoid any altercations or stressful situations. 

Keep Your Cards or Money Handy

Ideally, you’ll only bring a single card so that it’s easier to keep track of throughout the day. Also, make sure to have one place you keep it in so that it doesn’t get lost. 

Have a Plan

If you’re shopping with friends or family, it’s easy to get separated as you’re all searching for your next deals. Thus, you want to set a rallying point for everyone, as well as a time to meet so that no one gets lost or left behind. 

Keep Your Keys Handy

It’s easy to lose track of personal items when you’re so busy throughout the day, so make sure that you check on your keys throughout the day, as well as any other valuables (i.e., your phone). 

Black Friday should be a safe and enjoyable holiday, and we hope that you spend it having fun, not fighting crowds and feeling miserable. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and get Black Friday shopping tips all through the month.

Happy shopping!

Help Your Pets Travel Safely for the Holidays

Help Pets Travel Safely During the Holidays

For many of us, our pets are family. So, when it comes time to leave Tennessee and visit relatives out of state, it’s only natural to want to bring your fur babies along for the adventure. While you could keep them cooped up at home with a sitter, having them share the holiday with you is so much better. 

So, with that in mind, let’s go over some travel tips that will enable your pets to come along for the ride. 

Make Sure Your Pet is Up to the Challenge

Some animals can have a hard time traveling, which can make the experience all the worse for both you and them. If you’re not sure, then try taking your pet on an extended car ride and see how they hold up. If they’re a nervous wreck by the end, it may be better to leave them home this season. 

Check With Your Travel Arrangements

Many airlines, trains, and other travel services have strict rules about pets. In some cases, they may not allow them at all. Usually, though, you will have to keep your animal in a separate compartment, which can be more than a little stressful. 

Thus, before you pack your bags, talk to your travel company and see what regulations they have in place, and consider the impact it will have on both you and your pet. 

Pack a Travel Bag

As with humans, pets will need to be cared for along the way. Bathroom stops, snacks, and water breaks are necessary, so it helps to bring a travel bag along with the rest of their belongings. If you can keep your pet nearby during the trip, be sure that you’re prepared for anything, including accidents that need to be cleaned up. 

Overall, bringing your pet along for the holidays can be a fun and rewarding experience. As long as your fur baby doesn’t get too nervous about traveling, the process shouldn’t be too complicated. 

From us at Bob Johnson Insurance, we wish you and your pets a safe and enjoyable holiday season. 

Traveling Safe This Holiday Season in Tennessee

Traveling Safe This Holiday Season in Tennessee

The holidays are about spending time with family and friends, which means that many of us will be traveling. However, winter weather can bring a variety of challenges, especially when driving to your next destination. Whether it’s in Knoxville or you’re going out of state, we at Bob Johnson Insurance want to help you stay safe. 

So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of travel tips and tricks that will ensure you spend the holidays with family, not in the hospital. 

Inspect Your Vehicle

While you probably get the oil changed and monitor the engine regularly, now is the perfect time to get a full diagnostic of your car’s internal systems. For example, how are your wiper blades? What about the tread on your tires? It’s better to inspect and repair these items now before you’re stuck in bad weather on the road. 

In addition to getting your car tuned up for the holiday season, you should pack it with some emergency gear just in case. Jumper cables, blankets, snacks, flares, and water are all essentials if you get stuck somewhere, so you want to be prepared. Remember, a flat tire or a dead battery can leave you stranded just as much as flooding or heavy snowfall. 

Prepare for Travel

Even if you’ve made the trip dozens of times before, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan in place beforehand. If you’re going through some rural areas, maybe bring along a map in case your GPS can’t get a signal. Look at the weather conditions along the road, so you know what to expect. Also, make sure that people know which route you’re taking, just in case something happens. 

Be Ready for Anything

While Tennessee doesn’t get much snow and ice compared to some locations, if you’re planning on driving out of state this winter, you want to be prepared for any kind of weather coming your way. Rain and thunderstorms can appear out of nowhere, and driving in snowy conditions can be more than a little nerve-wracking. 

Be careful on the road and drive slow if necessary. Having all-wheel or four-wheel drive helps, but it won’t prevent you from slipping or skidding on ice or wet roads. Remember safe driving tactics, like avoiding braking too sharply and maintaining a firm grip on the steering wheel. 

What if the Worst Happens?

If you do wind up stranded on the side of the road, don’t panic. If you have an emergency kit, you should be good shape until help arrives. Hopefully, you’ll have cell service and can call someone, but if not, it’s best to wait by your car and try to flag someone down. Flares and lights can also make you more visible, especially if the weather is treacherous. 

Staying safe this holiday season is all about preparation. Hope for the best, but the more you can plan just in case the worst happens, the better off you’ll be and the more peace of mind you’ll have. Happy holidays!