Secure Your Packages & Home

An uptick in online shopping can also mean an uptick in package theft. To help keep your packages and home safe, here are a few helpful tips. Consider these tips while you’re online ordering this summer to be sure your packages and home are safe. 

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Package Theft

  • Consider having packages delivered to your place of employment, rather than your home. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about a package sitting unattended on a front porch all day. 
  • See if it’s okay to have your package delivered to a relative or friend if you know they will be home during delivery. Be in touch with whomever is going to receive it, so you can give them a heads up and coordinate getting it promptly from them. 
  • Check in to having your items held at a local post office for pickup. By doing this, you can get the package whenever you have time and it will be waiting in a secure location. 
  • Some stores offer a “ship to store” option. This is a good option for getting the package delivered close to home at a nearby store – for easy pickup when you have time.
  • You may be able to stipulate that your package requires signature confirmation for delivery or ask the carrier to leave your items in an area out of view. 

What Smart Home Devices Can Help Secure Your Home? 

  • Secure package dropbox. You can purchase and install a heavy-duty, secure dropbox to go on your front porch. Then you can leave delivery instructions for your carrier to deposit the package in the dropbox – the carrier can use it, but thieves have a hard time penetrating the dropbox. These boxes have been invented in recent years due to the uptick in packages being stolen from porches.
  • Smart doorbells. These advanced doorbells normally feature cameras and can detect motion outside a front door. If connected to WiFi and a smartphone, the doorbell camera can show you at any time and from anywhere what is happening live on your front porch.
  • Smart door locks. There are many options for smart door locks, including some that unlock with a fingerprint scan, a mobile app, a keypad, or even a voice command. Smart door locks provide advanced options and can free you from a traditional house key. Some will even let you provide unique visitor codes to guests or delivery drivers.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These devices can help keep your home safe from fire and fumes. Some new versions of smart detectors can include advanced features that send alerts/alarms to your smartphone or that go as far as contacting local firefighters if there is an issue while you’re not at home.

These tips and smart devices can help improve the safety of your packages being delivered and your home as a whole. Having the right amount of home insurance coverage can also help ensure your home and valuable assets stay protected. Contact an agent today to see how much coverage you may need.

Safety Tips for Severe Weather

A storm can be thrilling to watch, but knowing when to take action and seek shelter could save your life in the case of a severe storm. As we go through another storm season, keep these safety and awareness tips top of mind when bracing for severe weather. 

Understand Storm Alerts 

Weather services label storms with a “watch” or “warning” to describe the potential threat to an area. A “watch” means conditions could potentially lead to the development of a storm. A “warning” means a storm has already developed and has been spotted nearby. Most times, a warning warrants taking shelter immediately. 

When assigning watches and warnings, the National Weather Service typically uses county names to inform people of the location. This means that knowing the name of your county and surrounding counties will be helpful in identifying when a storm may be approaching your area. 

Prepare your Home 

There are many precautions you can take to protect and prepare your home for storm season. Consider the following preparations if a severe storm prediction is in your area and you have time: 

  • Identify your sheltering place. If you don’t have a storm shelter, take cover in an interior room with no windows that is on the ground level. 
  • Charge your phones and computers before the storm is near in case you lose power.
  • Bring the pets inside to ensure their safety.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged. 
  • Close and shutter windows.
  • Unplug high-dollar appliances and computers in case of a power surge. 
  • Have an emergency plan and ensure all members of the household are aware of it. 

Stock up on Supplies

Make sure to have non-perishable emergency supplies, like batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a portable weather radio and a three-day supply of water and food. While you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, it’s also beneficial to compile a grocery list of non-perishable food. One can never be sure of the extent of damage a storm may cause, so being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best case. 

What to Avoid

Avoid using corded phones, electrical equipment, and even doing the dishes or taking a shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. According to the CDC, about one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors. Also, be sure to stay away from windows, doors and concrete walls or floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, which could allow lightning to travel through. 

What to do During and After a Storm

As a storm is passing through, try to stay calm and alert. Make sure to take cover in your designated shelter if your area is under a warning. Be mindful that many facilities and hospitals will not be able to offer public shelter during severe weather at this time due to social distancing practices. Have a place in mind that you know you can access for safety. If your power goes out, use your phone or radio to listen for updates on the location and severity of the storm. 

After a storm passes, watch out for downed power lines, fallen tree branches and other debris that could be around. Once you’ve checked for damage and feel safe, be sure to check in on friends and loved ones that may have sustained damage as well. 

Preparing for storm season is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety. Talk to your agent to make sure your personal property is covered in the case of storm damage.

Assemble a Roadside Emergency Kit

From unpredictable weather to unexpected emergencies, there are many things that could leave you stuck on the side of the road when traveling from point A to point B. No matter how short the distance you’re traveling, keeping a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle can help give you peace of mind. Follow these steps to assemble one of your own, and make sure to take routine inventory. 

Emergency Supplies

A first aid kit is essential to have in your vehicle in case of an injury while on the road. Consider assembling your own kit or buying a pre-made kit. Use the American Red Cross guidelines to ensure your kit includes all the essentials. Some other emergency supplies you may want to keep in your vehicle include:

  • Bottles of water
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Matches
  • Phone charger

Vehicle Tools

Your vehicle will need its own toolkit in case of a roadside incident, like a flat tire or dead battery. You may be able to buy a vehicle toolkit or you can compile one of your own with these necessary items: 

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Work gloves and rags 
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Hazard triangles or warning lights 
  • WD-40
  • Tow rope
  • Fire extinguisher 

Severe Weather Supplies 

Extreme weather events can happen suddenly and pose some serious risks if you’re unprepared. Should you find yourself facing freezing temperatures, ice or tornadoes while on the road, you’ll want to have these items stored and ready in your vehicle: 

  • Warm, waterproof boots
  • Hat, scarf and gloves
  • Antifreeze
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel 
  • Road salt or sand

Keeping these items in your vehicle will help ensure you’re prepared for roadside emergencies, but you’ll also want to make sure you have auto insurance that offers you the protection you need. Contact your OKFB agent to discuss your auto policy and see if you may be eligible for our roadside assistance policy addition. 

Friday the 13th – 13 Hidden Risks

Many people are afraid of or superstitious of black cats, broken mirrors and walking under ladders around Friday the 13th, which will take place this December. However, what’s even more cause for caution is all the hidden risks that can be present in daily life. Check out these top 13 risks to be aware of: 

Eating while driving

Next to texting and driving, eating while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. Reaction time drops by nearly 50% while eating. Next time you pick up food, make sure to wait until arrival before eating. 

Car maintenance

Without proper vehicle maintenance, driving a car can pose some risks. Change the oil in the vehicle as recommended, get tires checked regularly and make sure to have roadside assistance as part of your insurance policy. 

Lightning

While not extremely common, lightning can strike your car or home and cause damage that may require repairs. Make sure your insurance plan covers damage caused by lightning and help prevent damage by installing a lightning rod or other protection.

Cyber security

As the internet increasingly becomes part of the daily routine, cyber security is a necessity. Take steps to protect your information online from hackers or data breaches, including using complex passwords and being aware of email phishing scams. 

Texting 

Texting while doing other things is a huge distraction. Whether walking across the street or driving down the road, avoid texting and pay better attention to surroundings. 

Home security

Make sure to lock all doors and windows when leaving and consider installing an alarm system. If you’re an OKFB member, you may be eligible for a discount for installing a home security system. 

Fire 

It’s nice to have the fireplace crackling or a candle burning to provide warmth and comfort, but make sure to take the proper safety precautions. Always extinguish candles and fires before leaving a room, and make sure to keep them out of reach of children.  

Food storage

Improper food storage can result in spoiled foods, and if these foods are consumed they can result in illness. Hold cold foods at 40°F or below, and keep hot foods at 140°F or above. Regularly monitor your refrigerator and freezer to ensure they are at the right temperature. 

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless flammable gas that can be deadly. CO can accumulate wherever fuel is burned, whether by a kitchen stove or a car in the garage. Help avoid CO poisoning by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home. 

Appliances

Appliances, especially those in the kitchen can pose some safety risks. Stay nearby appliances when cooking and always check that appliances are off before leaving the kitchen.  

Screens

Staring at a screen all day, whether via a phone or a computer, can pose some health risks. Excessive use can result in a decrease in vision abilities, and it can also lead to back pain, joint pain and headaches. If possible, try reducing daily screen time.

Going to work 

From farming to construction, some jobs require working with dangerous equipment or substances. Make sure to be aware of and follow workplace safety guidelines to help prevent accident and injury.

Showering 

Slippery floors in the shower can lead to injury or even death. Showers can be especially risky for the elderly and children, who often require help to enter and exit the shower safely. Install a support bar, clean up wet floors and be extra vigilant in the bathroom.