Congratulations to Ryan Corrigan for passing the Missouri Bar Exam! He is the son of Karen O’Connor Corrigan and grandson of Cheryl O’Connor, our agency owners. The O’Connor and Corrigan families enjoyed the very special private swearing-in ceremony last Sunday at Karen’s home presided over by Judge William Corrigan, Ryan’s grandfather.
Congratulations to Ryan Corrigan!
Seven Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe
Your household may be one of the millions this fall in which student athletes are dreaming of victory on their school playing fields. Of course, we want to see them succeed, but we also want them to be safe.
So, here are seven tips for students, parents and school staff to keep in mind as the new season gets underway:
- Start off on the right foot: All athletes need a preseason physical and should share any medical conditions with coaches. And, parents, don’t forget to provide your contact information and permission for emergency medical care.
- Think about nutrition: A healthy diet offers plenty of complex carbohydrates, plus moderate amounts of protein, salt, sugars and sodium. Keep fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to a minimum.
- Be smart about injuries: Athletic trainers and consulting physicians, not coaches, should decide whether athletes continue playing following an injury. Athletic staff needs to know how to use defibrillators and keep them nearby during both practice and games. Finally, athletes should always speak up about and seek medical attention for such symptoms as dizziness, memory loss, lightheadedness, fatigue or imbalance after a hit in the head or a fall. In most cases, they should not rejoin practice or play that same day.
- Maintain equipment and facilities: Helmets and pads should be properly fitted; gymnastic apparatus well-maintained. Facilities must be kept clean.
- Warm up, cool down: Always warm up and stretch before beginning activities. Cool down and stretch when finished, and take plenty of breaks in between.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water (costly sports drinks aren’t usually necessary) before, during and after a workout or practice.
- Build up a heat tolerance: To avoid heat illnesses, especially in sports requiring protective equipment, start slowly and build up to more intensive training requiring the full gear.
We hope these tips help set up your student athletes for success this season. We’ll be rooting for them!
Five Tips to Prevent Back-to-School Backpack Overload
Each year, tens of millions of kids head off to school with backpacks full of books and supplies, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. Thousands of those kids will end up with injuries caused by their backpack.
It sounds ridiculous, but imagine an 80-pound child carrying a 20-pound backpack (yes, it happens). How well would your back hold up lugging around 25% of your weight in books every day?
Fortunately, more and more parents — and schools — are aware of the damage heavy backpacks can cause. Here are five things the National Safety Council says you can do to make sure your student’s academic workload doesn’t turn into a physical one as well:
- Watch for warning signs. A backpack might be too heavy if your child struggles to put it on or take it off, changes posture while wearing it or feels pain, tingling or numbness.
- Check the weight. A good rule of thumb: Kids’ backpacks should not weigh more than 5 to 10 percent of their body weight. Any more than that and they run the risk of bending forward while carrying it, which can put stress on the back, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
- Get the right pack. The fit of a backpack is extremely important. Shoulder straps should be wide and padded for comfort, and the pack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A comfortable backpack encourages proper use, so that kids aren’t carrying packs around by one strap, which can lead to neck or back problems. And watch the size, too! Getting a backpack with too much room can encourage overloading.
- Don’t just throw stuff in. Make sure kids put some thought into what they pack. They should only carry what they need for the day and leave things they don’t need at home. And pack it well. Distributing weight evenly increases comfort and safety.
- Be vocal. Talk to your child’s teacher or a school administrator if you need help getting the weight down. There may be solutions, such as bringing home handouts or workbooks instead of heavy textbooks.
A little bit of thought can make a big difference when it comes to backpack safety. And those lighter loads make for happier — and healthier — kids. Here’s to a great school year!
Shedding Some Light on Boating in the Dark
A warm evening in Missouri can be a wonderful time for a cruise on your boat. But, just like when you’re driving a car after sundown, it’s important to make some adjustments to keep yourself and others safe.
Here are some tips to ensure you’ll make it back to shore to enjoy the rest of your evening:
Before You Get on the Boat
Know where you’re going. Everything looks different when it’s dark, so stick to familiar places when you’re on the water at night. A GPS device and a good old-fashioned compass are good things to have on hand to help with navigation.
Make sure someone else knows where you’re going. Give a “float plan” to a trusted friend or family member. Include your intended route, your boat’s registration details and description, the names of passengers and when you plan to return. Nobody will know if you’re missing if they don’t know you’re gone!
Have the right safety equipment. You need navigation lights that work (test them before you go), a horn or other sound-producing device, a radio, a flashlight, flares and fire extinguishers. And don’t forget life jackets — for everyone on board.
Check the forecast and your fuel. Getting caught in a storm or running out of fuel can be even more dangerous and troublesome at night. Visibility is already hampered, and a storm will only make things worse. If you’re stranded without fuel, help may take longer to respond.
Once You’re Afloat
Watch your speed. You can’t see as well at night, and there’s no road to give you an indication of where other vehicles and obstacles might appear suddenly. Take it slow, and always obey speed limits.
Watch the lights. You should already know what the lights on other boats indicate — now you have to look for them. Lights from anchored or drifting boats can be particularly difficult to differentiate from lights onshore.
Avoid distractions — and drinking. Drinking while operating a boat puts you and other people at risk, so don’t do it. And, since your vision is limited at night, sound becomes more important. A loud stereo could drown out the horn of an approaching boat.
Above all, remember that it’s not just you out there. There may be all kinds of vessels in the water, depending on where you are, from commercial ships to kayaks. So be mindful of the right-of-way rules, keep your distance when passing others and be courteous.
There’s room for everyone on the water, as long as you keep an eye out for each other!
Six Tips to Keep you Swimming Safely
When the temperature heats up, all you can think about is swimming at the pool or even taking a dip in one of the many rivers and lakes around St. Louis. Just remember: Where there’s water, there’s risk.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t jump in (carefully) and have some fun with family and friends. It just means you should keep these safety tips in mind any time you take a dip:
- Don’t go it alone. Swim only in designated areas, with a lifeguard if possible, and use the buddy system – even adults shouldn’t swim when no one else is around. As for children, they should never be left unattended in or near the water or supervised by another child.
- Mind the rules. If an area forbids diving or is closed for swimming, that means it’s unsafe to do so. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and follow all posted rules and warnings.
- Keep away from drains. In a pool or spa, a drain’s powerful suction can trap children and adults. Be sure everyone knows to keep their distance. The same goes for riptides and currents if you’re in an open body of water.
- Know how to respond. When someone is missing, especially a child, always check the water first. Learn CPR and other skills that can save lives.
- Use common sense. Don’t use drugs or alcohol during water activities. Do have life jackets for inexperienced swimmers, and keep plenty of sunscreen and water on hand to help everyone beat the heat.
- Alert a lifeguard if you see someone struggling. Alternately, you could throw the person a floating object or reach out with a long object.
With a little caution, and a whole lot of supervision, you can help ensure your day at the pool or lake goes swimmingly. Have fun getting wet!
Hot Day Behind the Wheel? Here’s How to Beat the Heat
August in Missouri is notoriously hot. Really hot – which can make for troublesome travel.
When the temperature increases, decrease your risk on – and off – the road with these safety tips:
- Check those tires. You’re already checking your tire pressure every month, right? Even if you are, keep a closer eye on them during the warm months. Heat can increase tire pressure rapidly.
- Keep cool under the hood and inside your car. If you don’t remember the last time you had your engine coolant checked and flushed (mechanics recommend flushing and refilling every two years), now is probably a good time – before you hit the road. Give your air conditioning a test run, too. If it’s not cooling you down, get it serviced.
- Act quickly if your car starts to overheat. When your car’s temperature moves above the halfway mark on the dashboard, try turning off your air conditioning and turning on your heat to give your engine a break. Pull over if it’s safe to do so, and give your engine even more of a break. Call for roadside assistance if there’s steam or smoke, and get away from the car if it’s smoke. More of a do-it-yourselfer? Be careful opening the hood of an overheated car, and don’t add coolant or water until the car cools down.
- See to the comfort – and safety – of your passengers. Within just 10 minutes of parking your car on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can hit 110 degrees. Don’t leave kids or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes, and bring plenty of water for the trip. The back seats and cargo areas of many cars don’t get as much air as the fronts seats, so make sure your kids, both human and furry, stay hydrated.
- Proceed with caution in an electric car. High temperatures (and cold ones, too) can reduce the charge of your battery, sometimes by as much as 40 percent. You’ll want to take that into account when planning a trip.
Different seasons bring different car maintenance needs. Follow these tips to help make sure you and your car both stay cool in the heat.
Staying Cool When the Power Goes Out
In the heat of summer, a power outage can be more than an inconvenience — it can be downright dangerous, especially if you don’t have a game plan to keep cool and minimize risks.
This list of tips can help you create that game plan, stay safe and maintain your sanity. Print it out and keep it handy; after all, if the power’s out, you won’t be able to fire up the computer for help!
- Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine; they can cause dehydration.
- If you feel overheated, dizzy or weak, rest in the coolest part of your home and wipe yourself down with a cool, wet cloth. Seek medical help if you don’t improve quickly.
- Minimize physical activity as much as possible.
- If you must be outside, use sunscreen and wear protective items such as a wide-brimmed hat.
- Don’t forget your pets! Animals need plenty of water, too, and shaded areas if they go outdoors.
- Cool showers (or better yet, a dip in the pool, if you’re so lucky) don’t just feel good in the moment. When you get out, the water on your skin will evaporate and cool you even more.
- Applying cold water or ice cubes directly on your wrists can have a wonderful cooling effect.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing or a wet shirt, and add a damp bandana around your neck.
- Use silk or satin bedding if you can — it will feel cooler than other materials.
- When the sun is out, keep the windows and blinds closed. At night, if it’s safe, open as many windows as you can to create a cross-breeze with the cooler air.
- Open your refrigerator and freezer as little as possible. It’s tempting to open the freezer and stand there, we know. But that will accelerate the spoilage of perishable food (24-48 hours for the freezer; about four hours for the fridge).
- Unplug your electronics and appliances. This won’t keep you cool, but you don’t want a surge to fry your computer when the power comes back on.
Finally, one of the best strategies for getting through a summer power outage is to distract yourself. How about reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to? Or writing a letter (yes, an actual letter) to that old friend? Try to relax, because the power will be back soon — along with your normal, hectic life!
Keep Your ATV Adventures Safe
Unique among motor sports, driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) combines an exhilarating workout with a test of maneuvering skills (and a hearty dose of adrenaline). Fun as it is though, it can be a risky activity. So, take a systematic approach to keeping things safe before, during and after your outings.
Before You Go
- Take a Course
Formal hands-on training courses cover how to control ATVs in commonplace situations. The ATV Safety Institute typically offers its ATV RiderCourse free to anyone who buys a new qualifying machine from an institute member. Call 1-800-887-2887 or visit atvsafety.org for class information.
- Dress for Success
A motorcycle or other motorized sports helmet, certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is a must. You’ll also want to suit up with over-the-ankle boots and long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, goggles, and gloves.
- Remember Insurance
Riding on state-owned land? Many states require ATV insurance, which offers coverage options similar to what’s available for motorcycles – liability, comprehensive, collision, safety apparel replacement, roadside assistance and more.
During the Ride
- Don’t Share the Seat
You’ll want to be free to shift your weight according to the terrain and the situation. Passengers make it difficult – and dangerous.
- Stay Off the Road
ATVs simply aren’t street-legal machines, at least not in most states. The solid rear axle with no differential means they can be hard to handle on pavement.
- Let Kids Be Kids
Children should never be allowed to drive or ride on an adult ATV. Someone under 16 on an adult ATV is twice as likely to sustain an injury as a child riding a youth ATV, according to ATVSafety.gov.
After the Outing
- Wait to Celebrate
This is when you get to unwind with a cold one, not before. You need sharp reaction time and judgment, so don’t ever drive ATVs under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
We want you to enjoy your ATV and four wheeler outings this summer, while staying safe. Just give us a ring if we can help you explore ATV insurance options!
So You Need (or Want) to Take a Defensive Driving Course
Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there are a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available these days.
But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:
- Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.
- Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to potentially save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.
- Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.
- Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.
- Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly.
No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!
Four Tips to Cut Road Trip Costs
There’s no better way to see the country than a road trip, and it’s also the way to travel if you’re looking to keep costs under control. To that end, here are a few ideas to help ensure you have a frugal good time out there on the road.
- Cut your gas costs. Planning your route in advance will help you estimate your gas costs for the entire trip. Then, when you’re on the road, use the GasBuddy smartphone app to search for the lowest gas prices near you. Of course, you’ll also want to stick to the speed limit and keep your tires properly inflated to help improve your gas mileage.
- Cut your food costs. Think about picnicking and cooking in rather than eating out. Packing healthy snacks in advance won’t just save you money, it may help save your waistline from the drive-through line, too. You’ll also get to explore the local grocery stores and see the different foods available in different parts of the country. Don’t forget your reusable water bottle to fill up at water fountains.
- Cut your lodging costs. Why not book a “room” outdoors? As long as you have room in the car for your camping gear, that is. Oftentimes you can book campsites in advance online. Look for campgrounds with nice facilities, such as showers and even Wi-Fi, and you won’t even sacrifice much in the way of comfort. But, you will save a considerable amount compared to staying in hotels. If the outdoor life just isn’t for you, look for last-minute hotel deals using apps from Hotels.com, Priceline, or Orbitz.
- Cut your entertainment costs. No matter where you’re headed, you can likely find some enticing entertainment options that are either free or low-cost. Check the official tourism websites of the cities and states on your route. Depending on the season, you might come across free concerts, lectures, or plays at local parks and libraries. Check with museums about free admission days – you may get lucky.
Whether you’re planning a long weekend or a couple of weeks on the road, we at O’Connor Insurance wish you happy travels! Remember, we’re here to handle all of your car insurance needs to help keep you on the go.
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