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Shoveling Snow: Tips on how to do it safely


how to shovel snow safelyWe just found ourselves under a fair amount of the white stuff here in Eastern MA. And while many of us have been shoveling snow for years, that doesn’t mean we’ve all been doing it safely. Popular Mechanics generated a great list some years ago that highlighted moving snow effectively, safely, and hopefully with the least aches and pains following the effort. Here’s a condensation of that list:


Stretch first

Most of us march out into the cold and put more stress on our muscles than we’re accustomed and never think about stretching first! Athletes do it before a workout; you should too. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. And remember to start slow. Moving snow after a blizzard is a marathon…not a sprint!

Don’t move snow twice

Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you’re going to dump the snow. And don’t block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice. (We know…basic common sense.)

Move snow the shortest distance possible

Consider that everything from a driveway to a patio to a walkway is really a rectangle, and rectangles have a center point. Move the snow from the center of the rectangle to the nearest edge.

Clear cars first

Brush snow off cars then clear around the cars. (Think about it…if you shovel everything else THEN clean the car, you will be moving snow twice.) There’s also another important point about that: the state police will give you a ticket if you don’t clean the snow off your car. (Besides…you’re putting drivers behind you at risk as the snow blows off your car. You don’t want that either.) 

Maintain proper posture:

Use your leg muscles as much as possible – push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can’t push it.
Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position.
Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible.
Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible.
Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage.
Don’t twist your upper body as you throw snow.

Keep hydrated

You’ll be sweating while you shovel and you need to replace the fluids, so
take bottles of water out with you and keep them accessible.

Rest frequently

Again…remember when there’s 2 feet+ of snow, removing it is a marathon. And it’s not a race so PACE YOURSELF.

Don’t overdress

You need to stay warm, but if you overdress you’re going to be soaked in sweat in no time. Dress in loose-fitting layers that you can peel off as you heat up.

Whenever possible, team up

First…shoveling with a friend or neighbor is usually more enjoyable than shoveling on your own. And obviously, it’s quicker to get the job done with two or three sets of hands.

Attack it in steps

It’s easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down to have at it. If it looks like your area is going to get dumped on, try to get out there and shovel it in several passes.

Stretch when you’re done

Stretch gently when you’re done and use ibuprofen to take care of inflamed muscles. Rest and remain hydrated.

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Loaning Your Vehicle? You’re Loaning Your Insurance Too!


loan car to friendWhen you give a friend permission to drive your vehicle, keep in mind that you’re also agreeing to loan them your insurance.

Folks frequently have the inaccurate belief that car insurance follows a driver, so it’s not surprising that we get questions from our clients about this very issue. We recommend you consider the following before you hand over the keys or think about borrowing a friend’s car yourself: Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t risk your life with a CO detector past its expiration date.


CO expiration dateHere are several frightening statistics:

  • Only half of the U.S. homes have a working carbon monoxide alarm (U.S. Census)
  • There are 72,000 CO poisoning incidents in the U.S. every year. (CDC)

Add to that the issue that many people think that once installed, carbon monoxide detectors work forever and you have the potential for tragedy. Here’s the reality: The life span of a CO detector is roughly 5 to 7 years. So if you installed your detectors when the MA law was put in effect in 2006…and you still have the same units: IT’S TIME TO REPLACE THEM. Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Know What To Do if Your Pipes Freeze?

frozen pipes



It doesn’t make any difference if your pipes are metal or plastic…if the water in them freezes the resulting expansion puts tremendous pressure on the pipes and that can cause them to break.


Now that doesn’t always happen if a pipe freezes, but it can so if you have water pipes in any poorly or unheated areas of your home (think garages, exterior walls, attics, under kitchen cabinets, etc.) you hopefully have taken preventive measures to insulate them from the cold. If you haven’t, here are tips on preventing and thawing frozen pipes (Courtesy of the American Red Cross!) that can help you avoid serious home damage from a burst pipe. Read the rest of this entry »

Left turns could be getting safer in MA!


Yellow Directional ArrowWe focused in our last article on the dangers of left turns. (Left turns are estimated to be at least one quarter of the intersection accidents throughout the state of MA.) So we were interested when we saw that in early December the MA Department of Transportation announced a $3 million project that will add yellow left-turn directional lights to about 350 traffic signals across the state.


Since you may not have encountered a yellow directional traffic signal in the past, here are the rules: Read the rest of this entry »

Left-hand Turns: One of the Most Dangerous Moves on the Road


left turn signalHow many left turns do you make throughout the week? How many times do you step on the gas to make that turn between two on-coming cars – assuming (hoping) the 2nd car will slow down for you?

Making a bad decision like that isn’t the sole reason for intersection accidents, but it certainly contributes to the fact that making a left turn is one of the more dangerous moves drivers have to make on the road. Consider this:

  • In 2013 (according to Arbella Insurance) 31% of severe accidents (claims totaling at least $100,000 in bodily injury and property damage) involved a left-turning vehicle.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that across the country, over 53% of “crossing-path crashes” involve left-hand turns.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related and the majority of those are the result of making a left turn.
  • A study by New York City transportation planners revealed that left turns were 3x more likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

Read the rest of this entry »

Important Christmas Tree Safety Tips


christmas_treeThe National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that each year, fire departments respond to an average of 240 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. (based on data collected between 2003 and 2006). Those fires caused an average of 16 deaths, 25 injuries, and $13.1 million in direct property damage annually.


To understand just how quickly a catastrophic fire can start with a Christmas tree, CLICK HERE. In 3 seconds, the tree is engulfed in flames…5 seconds it’s racing across the ceiling and in just 40 seconds the entire room is in flames.


Don’t take that risk. Follow these important safety tips prepared by the NFPA for carefully selecting and decorating Christmas trees; they can help make your holidays safer. Read the rest of this entry »

Bogus Emails—How They Can Trick You.


Scammers and hackers seem to crawl out of the woodwork every holiday season. And their activities are not just restricted to attacking retailer databases. This year, there has been a significant increase in emails offering retail gift cards– “just because you’re a great customer,” or as a reward for your input on a survey.


Here’s an example: We recently received this email and it is pretty obviously fraud, but look at all the ways they are trying to get you to click on links in this scam: Read the rest of this entry »

You Don’t Need To Be Rich To Need Umbrella Insurance!



It’s not uncommon to hear people say that they don’t need umbrella insurance because they have auto and homeowner or renters insurance. And they believe that if they are sued for amounts above their coverage limits… “You can’t get blood from a stone.”


What they are not thinking about is that if they are sued, and the judgment exceeds their auto and homeowner policy limits, ALL of their assets (future wages and the proceeds from liquidation of their home, vehicles, possessions) can be targeted.


So it’s more important to think of it this way: You don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued like one! Read the rest of this entry »

Tips to Help You Stay Safe Online This Holiday Season


data-security-hacker-password-security-breach-mobile-patch-theft-370x229The holiday season is huge for retailers! It’s also HUGE for cybercriminals who gear up to take advantage of all that extra holiday shopping activity online. It’s predicted that e-commerce sales will rise 8% to 11% this year to more than $105 billion, and 56% of smartphone users plan to use their phones while shopping.

“As consumers shop, bank and share more while on the go, they open themselves up to threats from criminals who want to steal their personal information,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee, part of Intel Security. “Understanding what to watch out for and how to properly secure their devices gives consumers additional information to protect their digital lives.”

So we thought it would be helpful to share with you what McAfee recently released in an effort to help educate folks on the most popular ways cybercriminals scam consumers during the holiday season as they surf their digital devices.


Here are their “12 SCAMS OF THE HOLIDAYS.” Read the rest of this entry »