Halloween Safety

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.  Accessories such as swords and knives should be soft and flexible.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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, especially chocolate, which can be toxic.  Make sure candles are placed in areas where they won’t be knocked down.  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.

3 Ways to Stay Safe On the Water

Are you thinking about taking the boat out?

There is nothing better than going out on the river or lake, but when you do, you need to make sure you and your passengers are safe. Let’s take a quick look at three ways Shults Insurance Agency in Fort Plain, NY suggests to stay safe on the water. 

Always wear a personal flotation device

First and foremost, you need to make sure you and everyone else who is going out on the lake with you are wearing some type of personal flotation device. In fact, depending on where you are going out on the water, it may be required by law for you to wear a life jacket of some type. Most water laws will at least mandate that you have enough life jackets on your boat at all times for everyone who is aboard. 

Be aware of your surroundings

Another way to stay safe on the water is to make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If you don’t know the lake or river very well that you are boating on, it is imperative that you go very slowly. You never know when a boat may come around a curve that you are unfamiliar with, and you will want to have enough time to move out of the way. 

Don’t drink alcohol or be intoxicated while driving

Lastly, to stay safe out on the water, you must make sure the driver is not intoxicated. It is equally as important that none of your passengers are too intoxicated as well. Many laws make it illegal for you to drink alcohol or become intoxicated out on the water because it greatly increases the risk of injury. 

If you would like to learn more about staying safe out on the water, contact Shults Insurance Agency today serving the Fort Plain, NY area. 

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It!

As you have probably already heard, the credit reporting bureau Equifax was recently hacked.  During the breach lasting more than a month, hackers gained access to people’s names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report is among the 143 million Americans whose data may have been exposed.

Since you can’t just get a new date of birth or Social Security number, the Equifax data breach could potentially have lifelong impact for consumers.

There are a few things you can do now to help protect yourself:

Enroll in a few free credit score services, and sign up for emails to alert you of changes on your credit report.  You can find a list of free credit score services here.

Also, check your credit report now so that you can spot changes quickly moving forward.  You can get your free credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com.  If you see anything on your credit report that you don’t recognize take action immediately:

  • Contact creditors. Contact your creditors about any accounts that have been changed or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department.
  • File a report. File a report with your local police. Get a copy of the police report, so you have proof of the crime.
  • Consider requesting a credit freeze. You might want to place a credit freeze on your credit file, which means that potential creditors cannot get your credit report. This makes it less likely that a potential identity thief can open accounts in your name. First, contact your state’s Attorney General’s office, then contact each credit reporting company.
  • Keep Records. Keep records of your conversations and all correspondence.
  • Get more information. For more information regarding identity theft, visit the following websites:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (You can also call: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338))
FTC Identity Theft Online Complaint Form
www.fraud.org (You can also call: 1-800-876-7060)

In addition to closely monitoring your credit, you may want to consider Identity Theft Insurance.  This insurance does not fix your credit standing resulting from ID theft, but it may help you recover from this crime. It can be obtained as an endorsement added to your homeowners, renters, or in some cases, your auto insurance.  If you are interested in ID Theft insurance our agents can provide you with more information.