First Community Financial Group, Inc. Blog
Whether your East Texas home is a three-story Tudor, a skyline-grazing apartment or an RV on wheels, you need at least one fire extinguisher for it. But if you don’t have the right one, or you haven’t checked it recently, you may have a false sense of security rather than a fire-fighting device.
There are a few important things to know about fire extinguishers, but they aren’t complicated. Here are three things to help you get up to speed:
1. There are extinguishers for each type of fire. Class A: ordinary combustibles, such as wood; Class B: flammable liquids or gasses, such as gasoline or propane; Class C: energized electrical equipment like appliances; Class D: combustible metals; and Class K: cooking oils and greases. An extinguisher that isn’t rated for the fire you’re trying to fight likely won’t help.
2. Multipurpose extinguishers are widely available. Typically rated for Class A, B and C fires, they are good for most living areas and also work on small grease fires. You need at least one for each level of your home, and one in the garage is a good idea, too. Store them in an accessible area and inspect them regularly for rust and other damage. Also follow any maintenance instructions included with the device. Some need to be shaken regularly, for example.
3. Remember “P.A.S.S.” when you use your extinguisher.
And always keep your back to an exit when fighting a fire. You need to be able to escape quickly if necessary.
Even more important than knowing how to use your fire extinguisher is knowing when not to use it. If you’d be putting yourself at risk trying to fight a fire, leave the area immediately. You should already have a family fire escape plan in place, so don’t hesitate to use it if there’s any question about your safety.
After all, your life is irreplaceable. Your insurance, however, can help you rebuild your home and replace your belongings. If you’d like to check up on your coverage, give us a call today. Contact Us - First Community Financial Group Inc (firstcfg.com)
Trees are pretty amazing things. They produce oxygen. They serve as natural air conditioners, both by blocking sunlight and through evaporation. And they even absorb sounds, helping to keep things peaceful.
These benefits, along with countless others, are great reasons to keep the trees on your East Texas property in good shape. Looking for another? Unhealthy trees can actually pose great danger to your home and property, as well as to your family and other people.
With these tips from the National Arbor Day Foundation, you can help prevent tree trouble – and potentially save yourself from a home insurance claim:
1. Inspect trees frequently. The size, color and condition of leaves, and overall leaf cover, are good indicators of a tree’s health. Cavities or disfiguration can be a warning sign, although they don’t always mean a tree is a hazard. Just keep a close eye on it. Dead branches are a big risk, because they can fall easily. Those that cross or rub can create weak spots.
2. Plant in an appropriate space. Putting in a tree that will grow to be large? Don’t put it near power or sewer lines, or close to your home. And avoid brittle trees – their limbs are weak and more likely to break and fall. Examples include Silver Maples and Willows.
3. Prune correctly. Cut outside the branch collar, and prune regularly as trees age. Don’t allow a tree to be topped.
4. Leave it to an expert. Once a year, have a qualified arborist thoroughly evaluate the trees on your property. An arborist can identify ones that need to come down immediately, as well as those to watch. In particular, trees that have been topped, or that have lost large limbs unexpectedly, could cause trouble. Taking down trees can be very dangerous, so leave it to a professional.
5. Remember, you’re responsible. Property owners are generally responsible when their hazardous trees cause damage or injury to others. So keep your trees healthy, your space beautiful and your liability low!
When a tree does fall, you may or may not have coverage through your homeowners policy for any damage it may cause. If you’d like to discuss your coverage, please give us a call today. It may be a good time to think about adding extra liability coverage to your insurance portfolio with an umbrella policy.
When it comes to power tool safety, there’s a simple way to think about it: Use your head, keep your fingers.
All joking aside, it’s extremely important to your entire well-being to use power tools with the utmost of care.
1. Read all about it. You love the feeling of firing up and wielding a tool that’s abuzz with power. Just don’t do so until you’ve read the instructions. The instructions will help you get the most out of your tool, both in terms of safety and performance.
2. Take notes. When you get a new tool, jot down the details and add the notes to your home inventory. Include a description, serial number and a copy of the receipt if you have it, because it will all come in handy if your tools are ever stolen, or damaged in a fire or other disaster. Not big on writing? Photos or videos are great, too.
3. Get to work. Finally, it’s time to work, so long as you’ve got the right safety gear. This may include: eye and ear protection; a mask or respirator if the project will kick up a lot of dust or other fine debris; and protective clothing that isn’t loose.
4. Don’t rush. Working too quickly can lead to injuries. Always stay in control by making sure your work area is stable and clean. Use both hands to operate your power tools, and avoid distractions while you work. Don’t ever use powerful tools if you’re tired, sick or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Not only will you jeopardize your safety, you probably won’t be happy with your work.
5. Take good care of your tools. Keep your tools clean and stored in a safe, secure area. Replace parts, such as blades, as soon as they become bent or warped, and don’t ever use tools that have been damaged. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, along with using a little common sense, should help ensure your tools remain in good working order for years to come. Let’s hope that deck you’re building will, too.
It’s hard to imagine a time before power tools existed – think of all the calluses! Just be sure to wield the power responsibly each and every time you tackle a new project on your East Texas home.
Leaving your lights on — is it really a good way to keep burglars away from your Livingston, Texas home, or can it actually attract them? Or, is it just a “good” way to increase your electricity bill?
As with so many questions in life, there isn’t one “right” answer. Using lights to enhance your home security can be effective, especially as part of a larger overall strategy. With that in mind, here are five things to consider:
1. Remember that variety is key. If your exterior lights are always on, even during the day, that can be a signal to burglars that nobody is home. Otherwise, you’d probably turn off the lights after sunrise, right? Don’t leave your lights on constantly while you’re on vacation or at work. Use timers or lights that can be turned on and off remotely to create different looks.
2. Try motion-detecting lights. These allow you to leave your lights off while you’re away or asleep, but, if someone is lurking around your house, the lights will come on. This often will scare off a burglar.
3. Consider your home’s surroundings. If you have overgrown bushes or trees on your property, burglars might be able to take cover even in the light. And, if you live in a rural area, with nobody around to notice uninvited guests on your property, lights may not do much to thwart them.
4. Connect with the neighbors. Even if you do have neighbors nearby, would they know when something – or someone – was out of place? Build a relationship with them, so they’ll know when you’re at work or on vacation, and so they can tell when something doesn’t look right.
5. Switch up your interior lights. A house that’s dark inside for a few days looks unoccupied, no matter how many outside lights are on. So, remember to set timers or turn lights on in different rooms of your house occasionally as well. This can help create the illusion that someone is home.
Of course, there’s no one perfect way to keep your Livingston, Texas home safe. The best strategies oftentimes involve a number of different deterrents. So, mix it up, with your lights and other things, to keep burglars guessing whether or not anyone’s home.
Unsure of what the symbols on your dashboard mean? Use this guide for descriptions of the most common lights used by auto manufactures or check your owner’s manual.
What Do the Dashboard Lights in Your Car Mean? | U.S. News (usnews.com)
What Do Your Dashboard Warning Lights Mean? | AutoZone Gauge Cluster Lights Meaning Guide
Spring is here in Deep East Texas, which means you'll likely see more motorcycles on the road. And the key word here is "see." People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, partly because they're not accustomed to looking for them.
It's obvious yet bears repeating: Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there's no such thing as a "fender bender" for a motorcyclist. Even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention total the bike, so it's important to always give motorcycles extra space and an extra look.
Below are six tips to help you safely share the road with motorcyclists.
Objects in mirror. The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears — especially if it's a motorcycle. Due to its size, it can be harder to determine how close a motorcycle is and how fast it's moving. When turning into traffic, always estimate a bike to be closer than it appears to avoid forcing a rider to quickly hit the brakes — or worse.
Watch those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents involves a car making a left turn directly in front of a bike at an intersection. Give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles coming toward you when turning into traffic.
Double-check your blind spot. Carefully checking your blind spot before changing lanes is always a good idea. When it comes to motorcycles, it's critical. A bike can be easily obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillars, or blend in with cars in other lanes, so make a habit of checking carefully before changing lanes. Plus, always use your turn signal.
Don’t tailgate. This is another general rule for all drivers, but it's especially important when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many riders decrease speed by downshifting or easing off the throttle, so you won't see any brake lights even though they are slowing down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to safely slow down or stop when necessary.
Stay in your lane. Obviously, motorcycles don't take up an entire lane the way cars or trucks do. But that doesn't mean you can cozy up and share a lane with a bike. Just because the rider may be hugging one side of the lane doesn't mean you can move into that space. Riders are likely doing this to avoid debris, oil on the road, or a pothole, so a bit of mild swerving within the lane can be expected. Do not crowd into the lane with a bike.
Think about motorcycles. Making a habit of always checking for bikes when you drive will make the above tips second nature and make you a better driver. To personalize it, think about your friends and family members who ride bikes and then drive as if they are on the road with you. Motorcyclists — and everyone else — will thank you.
Content provided by Safeco Insurance.
First Community Financial Group Incorporated (safeco.com)
Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.
Spring rainstorms in Texas are a fact of life in many areas of the state, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. But when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home.
The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!
Where is all that rain going?
Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.
Are you checking everywhere?
Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.
And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.
What about around your property?
Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.
And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.
What should you do during the storm?
During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there – you could be trapped and even drown.
Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, should be on your mind a lot more frequently, because the next one could be tomorrow.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
First Community Financial Group Incorporated (safeco.com)
Transitioning from a home where you have roots in one place to a full-time life on the road is a drastic change, but there are many things that draw people to this “nomad” lifestyle. It could be the flexibility, the love of traveling, or maybe you just want to get out of your comfort zone and try something new! Whatever the reason may be, if you’re preparing to be an RV full-timer, kudos for having the courage to embrace this exciting lifestyle change.
We know it can be overwhelming to think about the details involved with living full-time in an RV, and your choice to welcome the open road may seem impulsive to others, but that’s okay. Life is short, and who knows … you may end up regretting not doing this sooner!
Here are some tips to help you prepare for living in an RV full-time.
Become a Minimalist.
Adapting a minimalist lifestyle often requires major changes. You’re probably going from a normal-sized home to a roughly 270 square foot space, which forces you to ask: “What do I really need?” To determine this, start by writing down everything you want to bring, then write another list of everything you actually need. This will help you visualize and prioritize your possessions.
Bring all the necessities, of course – clothes, toiletries, shoes, cookware, etc. However, you won’t need 10 pairs of boots, or the many t-shirts that have been sitting in your drawers for 2+ years, or 20 drinking glasses that you currently have in your kitchen.
You may need to make some tough decisions, but take this opportunity to de-clutter your belongings. Make a “take” pile and a “donation” pile. It’s always a good idea, even if you aren’t planning to RV full-time!
Life on the road means you won’t be home to pick up your mail and see if you received any bills. Move all of your bills (cell phone, medical, credit cards, auto insurance, etc.) to automated billing so you don’t need to worry about it. Once you make the switch, you should get all notifications for your bills via email moving forward. Plus, this helps save the environment!
Sell or Keep Your Home?
This brings us to our next question – will you make the commitment to sell your home and have your RV be your only residence? This depends on how much you plan to travel throughout the year. Also, can you afford to keep your home while traveling? You will still have your mortgage payments, maintenance on the home and other obligations. If you decide to keep your home, there’s always the option of renting it out so you won’t have to worry about any mortgage payments. If you don’t start renting, make sure you have someone regularly stopping by your home to get the mail and take care of any maintenance needed as the seasons go by.
If you do decide to sell your home or cancel a lease, you will need to choose a domicile state and receive mail. Getting a domicile means you are choosing a state for your legal residence. This state will be listed on your driver’s license, where you purchase your health insurance, where you can vote and where you will accept mail. (There are lots of mail-forwarding services that will set you up with a street address so you can officially establish residency. This is helpful because a P.O. Box address will not be accepted as your legal residence). The best states for full-time RV-er domiciles are Texas, Florida or South Dakota.* People usually choose these states because they are income tax-free!
Selling your home will also allow more financial freedom for your RV travels! Get that estate sale ready, or find a storage unit to put all of your furniture in, just in case you ever want a break from the RV life.
Determine a Monthly Budget.
You may think you’ll be saving a lot of money when you live on the road – but you will be surprised. Since your expenses will be drastically different from when you lived in a home, you need to budget and keep track of everything you spend. Things like campsite fees, eating out frequently, gas and unexpected RV repairs can add up. Once you get a good idea of how much you’re spending each month, you can adjust your budget accordingly.
Purchase Full-Time RV Insurance.
Since your RV will be your permanent residence, you need a specific type of insurance coverage called “Full-Time RV Insurance.” You will be covered against liabilities, Additional Living Expenses, medical expenses in the case of an accident and more! The agents here at First Community Financial Group can get you information on how you can get covered, so you can enjoy your travels across the U.S.
Stay Connected with Family and Friends.
Communicate with your friends and family on a regular basis. (They will miss you!) It’s also a good idea to let a few people know your current location and where you’re headed next on a regular basis, just in case of an emergency. To make your loved ones feel like they’re part of your adventure, post pictures frequently on social media or send them via text or email. It will let everyone know you and your companions are safe, and also allows you to stay connected with everyone even when you’re not physically with them.
Enjoy Every Minute.
Living life on the road is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will see amazing things, meet one-of-a-kind people and make the best memories. Don’t take it for granted! With traveling, you will always run into some bumps in the road – but that’s part of the journey. Don’t let it discourage your long-term goals. You’re not tied down to a routine now, so enjoy the freedom and independence that comes with RVing full-time. Stay safe and happy travels from Foremost and First Community Financial Group!
Content provided by Foremost Ins.
Did you know that over 200 people will go to the emergency room each day in the months surrounding the Fourth of July because of firework-related injuries? Follow these safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety to enjoy the fun at your next show.
Never light more than one. One sparkler is enough responsibility for one person.
Keep water nearby. Even after a sparkler fizzles out, the sticks stay hot. Toss used sparklers in a bucket of water to help ensure your feet don't get burned by used sparklers. Soak them for a few hours before discarding.
Wear closed-toe shoes. Flip-flops aren't a good fit for Fourth of July festivities that involve handling sparklers.
Closely supervise kids. Keep a close eye on sparkler-wielding little ones. Make sure they hold their sparkler at arm's length, stay at least six feet from one another, and don't run with, throw or hand their sparkler to a pal.
Consider using glow sticks instead. For a fun and flame-free way to light up the night, consider picking up a few glow sticks for kids to play with.
Watch a professional show. Consumer fireworks aren't necessary to enjoy the holiday. The safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show, according to the Council.
Watch this safety video from Foremost Insurance:
Fireworks Safety For The Fourth