Memorial Day seems to be the unofficial day to break out the watercrafts and boats. Before you get too far in the season, though, make sure you’ve done a thorough pre-season check. From the engine and propeller down to your trailer, a little preparation as you get your boat out of storage can help you start off the season right — and get the most out of your time on board.
Here are ten tips from Discover Boating to get you started:
1. Check your safety gear. Do you have enough life jackets? Are they in good shape? What about onboard fire extinguishers? Are your navigation lights working?
2. Consider adding safety items. Should disaster strike, an emergency position indicating radio beacon can help rescuers find you and your boat. If you have an enclosed space on the boat, you should have a carbon-monoxide detector.
3. Examine your fuel system. Any leaks or damage should be addressed immediately.
4. Look at all belts, hoses and cables. Those that appear brittle or cracked most likely need to be replaced.
5. Check fluid levels, such as engine oil. Change or add as needed.
6. Have your battery and electrical system checked. Look for corrosion on your electrical connections.
7. Make sure your propeller isn’t banged up. Dings and distortion can cause vibration, as well as damage your drive train.
8. Look at the hull for blisters and cracks. Repair or patch damage, and make sure to use an environmentally safe solution when washing the exterior and interior.
9. Don’t forget the trailer. Treat your trailer with as much care as you show your boat. Inspect the hubs occasionally, and check your lights before every trip. If you go boating in salt water, give the trailer a very good rinse afterward.
10. Don’t forget insurance, either! It’s a good idea to check your coverage as you head into boating season, too. Just give us a call, and we can help you with a quick insurance review.
There’s nothing quite like a sunny – and safe – day on our lakes and rivers in Missouri. We’ll see you out there!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Despite the fact that Halloween involves walking around at night amongst ghouls and witches, it really only takes a little common sense to make the night safe for everyone.
Here are five questions to ask so your entire family, even pets, can enjoy a safe and fun evening of trick-or-treating or handing out candy to others:
- Are we visible?
Add reflective tape to costumes, clothing and candy bags to make it easier for drivers to see you and your group. That also goes for pets who are tagging along. Put reflective tape or flashing lights on their leashes or collars. Carrying flashlights and glow sticks is a good idea as well — they make you more visible and help you see better, too.
- How safe are our costumes?
Costumes, including masks and shoes, should fit well to prevent blocked vision, trips and falls. Baggy clothing can also increase the risk of contact with candles. If you purchase costumes, make sure they are marked as flame-resistant. And accessories such as swords and knives should be soft and flexible.
- Where are we going?
It’s best to have a plan before taking your kids trick-or-treating. You should only go to known neighborhoods and houses that have outside lights on, and children should never enter someone’s home unless an adult is with them. If you have older children going out on their own, have them tell you their plan.
- What are the kids eating?
It’s always a good idea to examine the items your kids have collected before they dig in. And it’s not just about tampering, either. Be aware of choking hazards, too, particularly for young children. And remember, when it comes to eating treats, moderation is key.
- How are Fido and Fluffy doing?
Even if your dogs and cats are just hanging out at home while you hand out candy, don’t forget about them. They shouldn’t eat candy at all, but especially chocolate, which can be toxic. Make sure candles are placed in areas where they won’t be knocked down. And remember that, depending on your pet’s personality, having people constantly coming to your door can be stressful. You might want to create a comfortable spot for them away from your home’s entrance.
With the right plan, you can make Halloween fun — and safe — for your little ghosts and goblins. And you can probably snag a little leftover candy for yourself, too.
Have you heard? The Great American Solar Eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017!
This full solar eclipse will traverse the United States from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. The last total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast-to-coast was 99 years ago in 1918. Missouri is projecting especially heavy volume – up to a million eclipse visitors! As a result, streets and highways across the state will be susceptible to very heavy traffic in the days before and after the eclipse. Take a look at this map of the eclipse path and review the tips below to stay safe and maximize your enjoyment of the eclipse.
If you plan to travel:
* Arrive in your viewing location at least one day-or ideally two days-in advance of August 21. Some interstate highways in or near the path of totality may become parking lots on the morning of the eclipse.
* Be aware of distracted drivers. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the car ahead as there may be drivers on the road who are unfamiliar with the area.
* If you have not yet secured lodging, plan to camp or take an RV. There will be plenty of temporary campsites on farms and empty lots.
* Be as self-sufficient as possible. Keep your gas tank topped, and if safely possible, carry extra fuel. Bring plenty of water, food, and toilet paper. Don’t forget sun-screen and hats.
* If you absolutely must stay in touch with family or work, rent a satellite phone. Cell phone systems may be overwhelmed. Carry extra cell phone batteries/chargers and bring an old-fashioned paper map in the event limited cell service disrupts navigation apps. It may be helpful to download a traffic app to stay informed of real time traffic data.
* Bring eclipse glasses, and be sure to grab them now before shortages occur. You’ll need these to watch the partial stages of eclipse. Learn how to safely view the eclipse.
* Get good eclipse maps of the path. These will be invaluable if you need to relocate, and they’ll make a great souvenir of the event!
* Watch the weather report on your local TV station in the days before the eclipse. Broadcast meteorologists will be giving eclipse weather forecasts. Try to relocate to another area early if your target destination has a poor weather prospect.
For those not travelling:
* Stock up on necessities up to a week ahead as stores may run low on supplies.
* Avoid the areas of peak congestion as much as possible. Consider rescheduling non-critical appointments to a day and time after the eclipse has ended.
Finally, enjoy the eclipse! This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience-the next solar eclipse to touch only American soil won’t occur again until January 25, 2316!
*This article is from Progressive Insurance, and reprinted with minimal changes. *
For many of our neighbors in St. Louis, summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It also means working in the yard – often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.
Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don’t let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips.
Tool safety tips from the U.S. CPSC
- Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes, and no jewelry. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the device is.
- Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass, or stones.
- Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. And never assume children will remain where you last saw them.
Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
- Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
- Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
- Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
- Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.
Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University
- If you use chemicals to control weeds or pests in your lawn, read the product label carefully so you understand the potential effects on humans, animals and the environment. Follow all instructions.
- Keep children and animals away from the application area, and protect your skin, eyes and nose during and after application.
- Remember, use only the recommended amount. Using more of the chemical will not do a better job.
- Ask yourself if you truly need to use a general pesticide. Is there a product that will specifically treat only the problem you need to solve?
Here’s to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!