Emergency Kit for Power Outages
When the power goes out, immediate concerns involve food and safety. (Read more about how to manage a power outage.) If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t worry about losing your perishable foods; an unopened fridge will keep foods cold for about four hours. Here are some helpful things to have on hand:
- Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers preserve food when packed with ice.
- Digital quick-response thermometers check your foods’ internal temperatures to ensure they remained cold enough to consume.
- Generators are especially essential if you live with someone who depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment. (Read our list of 9 things to know if you have a backup generator.)
- Flashlights provide safety by guiding you through a dark house and preventing fires from candles.
Emergency Kits for Winter Storms
During a nasty winter storm, staying warm and safe take priority. Make sure you have these safety items:
- Sand, rock salt or non-clumping cat litter make walkways and steps less slippery.
- Warm coats, gloves, mittens, hats, boots, extra blankets and warm clothing are essential for all household members.
- Fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves provide necessary alternative heat. Pro tip: No matter which heating source you use, keep a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher in the same room it’s in. Read more in our guide to safe home heating.
Emergency Kits for Hurricanes and Floods
Hurricanes and floods often mean evacuation. Have these additional items on hand so you’re ready to hit the road if needed:
- Tools and supplies for securing your home.
- Emergency blanket(s), extra clothing, hats, sturdy shoes and rain gear will help protect your family from extreme weather elements.
- Insect repellent and sunscreen can come in handy if you are unable to be sheltered.
- Map(s) of the area help you navigate out of the area, especially if cell service is unavailable.
- Extra set of car keys and house keys can be used in case one set is lost while evacuating or if you and other household members split up.
- Camera for photos of damage.
If you’re safe enough to weather the storm but under a hurricane or flood watch, here’s how to prepare.
- Fill plastic bottles you have on-hand with clean water for drinking. Learn more about how to store drinking water during a natural disaster.
- Fill bathtubs and sinks with water to keep your household running. Never drink or bathe young children in this sitting water because lead can leak from the glaze in bathtubs and sinks into water stored in them. Use this water to clean floors, do laundry and flush the toilet.
- Fill your car with gas, in case you need to evacuate later.
- Make sure your food and water are safe if flooding occurs. Flood water can be contaminated with waste or other contaminants that lead to illness. Discard food and beverage products and anything you use to eat and drink that have contacted flood water (even if it’s only a little bit), including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. The Red Cross says: “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Emergency Preparation for Tornadoes
Tornadoes can form quickly. While your basic emergency kit covers your basic needs, it’s also important to take these major steps well in advance to stay protected:
- Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
- Decide on a safe space within your home where everyone knows to meet when tornado watches or warnings appear. Basements are the best place to shelter. Your next safest option is the lowest lying level of a sound structure in a hallway or an area without windows. According to the American Red Cross, mobile homes are never safe during tornadoes. It is best to safely get to a sturdy shelter immediately.
- Always wear a seatbelt if you must drive your car during a tornado and toward safety.
Emergency Kit for Wildfires
In wildfire-prone areas, experts recommend having supplies to stay at home for up to two weeks. However, if you have to evacuate, it’s recommended to have three days’ worth of supplies on hand – so make sure it’s portable if authorities say you have to move now. Beyond your basic kits, here are some tips to prep for wildfires in the long term:
- Portable air cleaners work best when run continuously with doors and windows closed.
- Water sources outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool should be identified and maintained, so they can be easily accessed if needed to fight flames.
- Gather tools like a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel that you can use as fire tools before emergency responders arrive.
- Regularly clean roofs and gutters. Dry, loose debris can spell trouble if sparks fly. See what else can happen if you don’t clean your gutters.
- Keep a long garden hose that can reach all areas of your home and other structures on the property.
- Install outdoor outlets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. Make sure they are freeze-proof exterior water outlets. In addition, you may want to install outlets 50 feet away from your home for more electricity accessibility.
- Clearly mark your house number or address where fire vehicles need to enter your property.
Printable Checklist for Disaster Preparedness
Looking After You
Emergency situations can be stressful, but you can feel confident knowing you’re prepared with the right tools on hand. When you’re with ERIE, you can rest easy knowing that your local agent is here to provide a little kindness on even the most difficult day.
For more than 95 years, we’ve been committed to providing claims service that comes from actual people, with empathy, in real-time. Depending on the size of the storm or weather situation, ERIE will deploy our Catastrophe Team to the scene to help service our customers who have claims. A helping hand and friendly face are a phone call (or walk to the CAT van) away.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48% of Americans do not have emergency kit supplies.
Building a basic emergency kit for evacuations or stay-at-home orders will help to keep your family safe. (Having the right homeowners insurance helps give you peace of mind, too.)
You might already know the basic 31 items that should be in every home emergency kit. But when it comes to survival kits, one size doesn’t fit all. Here are five different ways to personalize yours so you’re prepared for whatever weather flies your way.
Posted on 30 June 2022 | 9:00 pm
When looking for a house, there’s certain details you’ve dreamed about. Maybe it’s the peaceful back porch to sip your morning coffee on or the large kitchen with an open concept first floor, perfect for hosting family get-togethers.
While the home itself can be painted and made your own, the location it’s in can be make or break. We’ve compiled a list of items to check off when searching for your next home.
The Right School
If you have (or are planning to build) a family, you may be focused on the quality of local schools. Even if kids aren’t in your future, the school district you reside in has a huge impact on your home’s value. On average, housing costs are nearly 2.5 times higher near high-rated school districts.
For your child, the district you choose is where they will spend a large portion of their day, so it’s important to entrust them to a worthy school. Be sure to check school reviews, testing statistics and sign up for a tour. If the district you’re considering isn’t hosting a school up to your standards, you may find surrounding private and charter schools that could provide alternative options.
Culture and Visual Appeal
Even the perfect house can be in the wrong neighborhood, for you. There’s a lot to consider when looking for a home, but ultimately it should feel like you were meant to live there. When looking at houses, take a walk around the block and take in the sights. Are lawns mowed and landscaped? Is there a high amount of noise pollution? Are houses maintained? Are sidewalks and roads clean? Does the culture match your lifestyle?
Consider visiting the neighborhood at different times to get a feel for what an average morning or evening is like and how the culture may change. Whether you need a quiet, family friendly block for your growing household or an area with a bit more night life, the neighborhood you choose should make you feel comfortable.
Home is where you can rest easy knowing your family is safe and secure. There are a handful of ways to learn the crime rate in a potential neighborhood. Check out the local police blogs or go on CrimeReports.com for a map of offenses as well as trends. On FamilyWatchdog.us, you can access a map and details of nearby sex offenders. Just a few streets can separate a safer neighborhood from a more dangerous one, so be sure to center your research around your potential home’s street address.
Do you like city life or prefer rural living? Is it desirable to be just minutes from work, your child’s school, and grocery stores, or is it better to be away in your own personal oasis? Living in close proximity to these locations will help you save time, gas money, and may ultimately reduce stress levels (not to mention increasing your happiness and overall mental health). But, if the extra peace, privacy, and beautiful views trump that, more power to you!
Taxes, Fees and Rules
From the moment you purchase your home you will begin paying taxes on it (and your surrounding property). Depending on the area, these rates can be quite high. You can typically access your areas property tax on your local tax assessor or municipality website.
Another expense to look out for is homeowner association fees, especially if you’re moving into a condo, but many housing developments have fees, too. Check to see if the neighborhood you’re look at has an HOA and ask for a list of rules or expectations. You may be limited on certain renovations or expected to follow rules around fences, pools and even your mailbox.
Protect Your New Home
Life is full of uncertainties. Finding the right homeowners insurance shouldn’t be one of them. With ERIE, you can find a local ERIE agent who knows your neighborhood and the coverages you need. Find an independent insurance agent in your area to get a no-obligation homeowners insurance quote today.
Posted on 26 June 2022 | 9:00 pm
Sometimes life can be unpredictable. And you may find yourself in a situation where your car — which used to take you back and forth to work every day — is left sitting in the garage.
Whether you’re working from home, following social distancing guidelines or storing your convertible for the winter, parking a car for long periods of time can take a toll on your vehicle.
The result? You may have trouble getting your car started when it’s time for your next drive.
But with the proper preparation, it’s possible to let your car sit for months (or even years) with no issues at all. Here’s everything you need to know to get your car ready for long-term storage.
HOW LONG CAN YOU PARK YOUR CAR WITHOUT DRIVING IT?
The time it takes for your vehicle to be damaged by long-term storage will vary based on several factors, including the location of your parked car and how well you prepared it. However, the negative effects of time on an undriven vehicle can be observed sooner than you may think:
- Fuel: Did you know that gasoline can go bad? When it’s not in an airtight container, fuel reacts with oxygen, which causes it to degrade. This process begins after about 30 days. And it only takes three-to-six months for a tank of gas to go bad. Old gasoline loses its engine-igniting abilities and develops gummy deposits and varnish which can damage other components of your car’s fuel system.
- Battery: When you’re driving your car frequently, a battery should last between three and five years. But when your vehicle is sitting, your car’s battery will likely go dead in just two or three months. Why? Because when you drive your car, the vehicle's alternator continually recharges the battery to replenish the power you’re using. No driving means no charging — and a dead battery.
- Rust: Rust is another byproduct of oxidation — and it’s highly dependent on the environment where your vehicle is parked. Because rust requires water to form, damp conditions will often lead to rusted metal. And chemicals, like the salt used on winter roads, accelerate the process. You can expect bare metal to start forming surface rust in less than a week. The more time your vehicle is left unprotected, the deeper the rust can form.
- Tires: When your car sits stationary for a long period of time, flat spots can start to form in the tires. Essentially, the tires develop a type of memory that prevents them from being completely round. This phenomenon causes vibration when you drive the car after storage. Flat spots can begin to form after a month of a car sitting parked — and they’re made worse by low tire pressures. In many cases, driving a car for a while after storage can remove the flat spots. But often, the damage can be permanent, requiring a new set of rubber.
- Belts and Hoses: As rubber components age, they can start to dry out and crack. Because drivers are accustomed to replacing most vehicle parts based on mileage, they may neglect to inspect their belts and hoses. But when a vehicle is in storage, these parts may need to be replaced in as little as three-to-five years.
- Pests: For that mouse in your garage, a parked car can become a ready-made home. And when they move in, mice can do major damage to a vehicle — chewing wires, plastic and insulation to build their nest. Rodents can move in overnight. And the longer they’re left undisturbed, the more damage they can do. See for yourself in our video, “Rats in the Hood.”
HOW DO I PREPARE MY CAR FOR STORAGE?
We’ve looked at the damage that can be done if you let your car sit without any preparation. But luckily, a little prevention is all it takes to protect your vehicle and keep it running smoothly — long after it’s been parked.
- Add fuel stabilizer. To keep your gasoline from degrading, add a chemical fuel stabilizer to your gas tank. Products like STA-BIL® can be purchased at any auto parts store and will keep your fuel fresh for up to two years. Just follow the instructions on the container. Measure the appropriate amount of stabilizer, pour it in your gas tank, then top off the tank with gasoline.
- Charge your battery. Preventing a dead battery is as easy as hooking it up to the right charger. Keep in mind that there are two types of battery chargers — one is designed to quickly charge a dead battery; the other is designed to maintain a charged battery. You’ll want to buy a battery maintainer or “trickle” charger. These chargers, which can be purchased at any auto parts or hardware store, are designed to be left plugged in and connected to your car the entire time it’s parked. They send a slow, steady stream of electricity to maintain your battery’s charge.
- Wash your car. Before parking your car, give it a good wash. Removing all the dirt and other contaminants, like road salt, will help prevent rust and paint damage. If you’re in an environment where rust is common, you may also want to consider a vehicle undercoating or other rust-protection.
- Keep it covered. If you’re going to park your vehicle for a long period of time, it’s best to leave it in a controlled environment — like your garage. If you don’t have a garage, invest in a car cover to keep dirt and moisture away. And avoid parking on grass — the excess moisture underneath the vehicle can accelerate rust.
- Put it on blocks. To prevent flat spotting your tires, you may want to consider putting your car “on blocks.” You can do this by jacking up the vehicle and safely supporting it with jack stands. By taking the weight off the tires, you’ll avoid tire deformation.
- Add fresh fluids. If you plan to park your car for more than a few months, consider changing the fluids. Used engine oil, brake fluid and power steering fluid trap contaminants that could damage your vehicle over time. By adding brand new fluids, you’ll give your car a better chance of avoiding any future issues.
- Don’t engage the parking brake. Under normal circumstances, it’s wise to use your vehicle’s parking brake. But when storing your car for a long period of time, rust can cause the parking brake shoe to fuse with the drum or rotor, leaving you stuck. If you want to prevent your car from rolling, use a block or wheel chock behind a tire instead.
- Mouse-proof your car. To keep rodents away, consider adding some mouse repellents inside and under your vehicle. Mousetraps, scent deterrents and even electronic sound deterrents all make for good options.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I START MY PARKED CAR?
One of the myths of auto storage is that starting your engine regularly can protect your vehicle while it’s not being driven. The truth is, if you’ve taken the precautions outlined above, simply idling your car can do more harm than good.
When you start your car without driving it, or only take a short trip around the block, your vehicle won’t reach its full operating temperature. This leaves condensation in the exhaust and oil which won’t be burned off — and can cause damage in the long run.
Of course, it’s better to drive your car than to leave it sitting. If you want to take it out for a spin a few times a month, make sure you drive for at least 10-15 miles and reach speeds above 50 mph.
DO I NEED AUTO INSURANCE FOR A CAR IN STORAGE?
When you won’t be driving your vehicle, it may be tempting to save some money by dropping auto insurance. However, removing your auto insurance can leave your car vulnerable in the event of a fire, theft or other damage that would be covered by comprehensive insurance.
Fortunately, your ERIE auto policy comes with your very own local insurance agent who can help you understand your options and select the amount of coverage that works for you.
Additionally, a lapse in coverage may make insurance more expensive when you decide to insure the vehicle again. Looking for ways to save? Learn more about what affects the price of your auto insurance or available auto insurance discounts.
GET SOUND ADVICE FROM A PROFESSIONAL YOU TRUST
At ERIE, our local agents live and work in the same communities you call home. When it comes to your auto coverage, your local agent is ready to help you make the best choices for your situation. Talk to your local ERIE agent or get a free online auto quote.
Posted on 23 June 2022 | 9:00 pm
There’s no question that technology is transforming the auto industry. While we’re still a few years away from being able to buy a fully self-driving car off a dealer lot, advancements in automation and driver assistance technologies have made new vehicles smarter—and safer—than ever before.
And there’s one safety feature in particular that’s been generating a lot of discussion lately: automatic emergency braking (AEB). It’s been touted by some as one of the most important developments in car safety since the invention of the seat belt. But what exactly is AEB, and how does it work? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Automatic Emergency Braking?
Automatic emergency braking is a vehicle safety system that’s designed to sense an impending collision and apply the car’s brakes automatically. By eliminating the human reaction time involved in braking, an AEB system can help reduce the likelihood of a crash, or at least lessen the severity of the impact.
Every AEB system can detect an oncoming vehicle and respond accordingly. But many can also brake for pedestrians, cyclists or a deer in the roadway helping you safely bring your vehicle to a stop if you don’t press the brake pedal in time.
See also: How to Avoid Hitting a Deer
How Does Automatic Emergency Braking Work?
AEB systems can vary by automaker. But generally, here’s how it works:
- Sensors “see”: The system uses a series of sensors or cameras—or a combination of both—to detect a possible forward collision. This can be a combination of radar, lasers or video data.
- Software “thinks”: Software in your car estimates the potential for a crash. This is based on multiple data points, including the car’s speed and its distance from surrounding objects.
- Your brakes react: If the distance between your vehicle and another object decreases suddenly, the AEB system will automatically apply the brakes.
How Does Automatic Emergency Braking Improve Driver Safety?
By taking a driver’s reaction time out of the braking equation, AEB systems can significantly reduce the likelihood of a crash. With the growing proliferation of new cars equipped with AEB systems, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that the technology will prevent 28,000 crashes by 2025.
Are There Different Types of Automatic Emergency Braking Systems?
Not all AEB systems are created equal. There are a few distinctions, including:
- Low-speed AEB: Some automatic emergency braking systems only work at lower speeds (typically below 55 miles per hour). These systems are designed to prevent collisions in parking lots and in heavy city traffic, but they will not engage when driving at highway speeds.
- Full-speed AEB: As the name suggests, these AEB systems will work at highway speeds. They have advanced sensors that enable the vehicle’s computer to see farther down the road, which allows the system to slow your vehicle when traveling at speeds above 55 miles per hour.
- Reverse AEB: Reverse AEB systems come into play when you’re backing up. This feature helps prevent low-speed collisions when backing out of a parking lot or driveway.
- Pedestrian detection: In addition to helping you avoid collisions with other vehicles, these AEB systems also watch out for pedestrians and cyclists that may be traveling into your path.
Is Automatic Emergency Braking Mandatory for New Cars?
Unlike safety features such as seat belts, airbags and backup cameras, the federal government does not legally require all new vehicles to be equipped with AEB. However, this hasn’t stopped organizations like the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from advocating its widespread use.
In fact, according to the NHTSA, 20 of the world’s largest automakers have already committed to making the system a standard feature on all vehicles by September 2022, covering more than 99% of the U.S. auto market.
Can You Turn Off Automatic Emergency Braking?
Since most new vehicles are equipped with AEB, you may be wondering if there’s a way to turn the system off. The answer: yes, nearly all vehicles do allow you to deactivate AEB after the car has been started.
Some will also allow you to alter settings within the system, so you can adjust the sensitivity of when the brakes are automatically applied.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Automatic Emergency Braking?
We’ve already established that AEB systems can significantly improve your safety on the road, so the pros definitely outweigh any cons. But these systems aren’t 100% accurate at predicting an impending collision.
For example: If your car’s AEB system senses a false positive, it could hit the brakes unnecessarily, making you susceptible to causing a rear-end collision yourself. On the other hand, if there’s an error or a fault within the system, you may not find out until it’s too late.
For that reason, it’s important not to become dependent on vehicle safety systems like AEB. Remember that these features can offer an added layer of protection, but they are not an excuse to be complacent about safe driving practices.
See also: Drowsy Driving: Is It Really That Bad?
What About Automatic Emergency Braking Recalls?
It’s true. In recent years, some automakers have issued recalls for their AEB systems.
In most instances, these recalls have addressed the two scenarios described above (engaging the brakes unnecessarily or not engaging them when they’re needed). To make sure your AEB system is working properly, it’s important to check regularly for any recalls and know what to do if your car is affected.
Looking Out for You
At Erie Insurance, our promise is simple: to be there when you need us. You can count on us to offer the best car insurance for you and your trusted ride —along with practical help, reliable solutions and service that exceeds your expectations. Talk to your local ERIE agent to learn more.
Posted on 15 June 2022 | 9:00 pm
We’ve been through a lot these past two years. It’s easy to admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on our lives. Now our new survey takes a look at how.
Our wide-ranging survey on several societal changes, post-pandemic, asked questions from the importance of financial security to the pros and cons of returning to work. Some results were a little surprising.
Two-thirds of the people who took our survey said they are more concerned about their financial security than they were before—and many are taking steps to address it by getting a life insurance policy.
Here are some other important take-aways:
- 61% said the pandemic made them more concerned about how their family would be taken care of financially if they became seriously ill, or worse, could no longer provide for them.
- 49% said the pandemic made them question whether they had the right type and amount of life insurance as part of their overall plan for financial security and 25% contacted their insurance agent about it.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) value spending quality time with family more today than they did before.
- More than half (55%) value financial security more.
- Nearly half (54%) value spending quality time with friends more.
“It’s been said that life insurance is a product you buy with the hope you don’t need it right away, but our survey found that having a policy provides value,” said Louis Colaizzo, senior vice president of Erie Family Life, Erie Insurance. “In fact, 44% of respondents said the pandemic made them appreciate the peace of mind they get from having life insurance even more than they did before.”
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
One in five respondents (21%) said they moved during the pandemic while 79% said they stayed put.
Here’s why people moved:
- 36% to live in a place with a better quality of life
- 26% to live closer to family
- 26% to lower cost of living
- 18% to have a larger home so everyone could spread out more
- 16% to be in a nicer climate
- 9% got sick of their house after spending so much time in it
PETS OVER PARTNERS
For many people who worked from home during the pandemic, returning to the office brings mixed feelings. Our survey revealed what they miss or will miss most about working from home and what they like or will like most about going back.
Believe it or not, more people (21%) said they will miss their pet over the 19% who said they will miss their spouse or significant other.
Here are more results:
Among a list of 11 things people like or will like most about going back to the workplace, having facetime with the boss came in last, with only 14% saying this. However, men were four times more likely than women to say facetime with the boss is one of the things they’ll like the most. Almost a quarter of men (24%) said this compared to only 6% of women.
As national traffic safety organizations sounded the alarm about the speeding crisis intensifying during the pandemic, we wanted to know if people think drivers are still speeding more than usual.
- 38% of respondents agree that it seems like the number of speeding drivers increased a lot earlier in the pandemic and that hasn't changed – drivers are still speeding to about the same degree.
- When asked about their own speeding habits, only 15% said they found themselves speeding earlier in the pandemic and still do.
- 69% said they didn’t speed before the pandemic and don’t now.
Check out our previous survey on speeding during the pandemic to see the most popular reasons drivers said they were putting the medal to the petal.
Whether you are considering adding a life insurance plan to protect your family or want to know more about the right coverage for you, find a local agent in your neighborhood to ask questions or get a quote.
This survey was conducted online by Falls & Co. on behalf of Erie Insurance from April 1 through April 8, 2022, among 500 U.S. residents ages 18 and older. Falls established the sampling quotas, designed the questionnaire, tabulated the survey responses, and managed the overall project. Falls used Dynata (Plano, TX) to administer the survey via the internet, including mobile devices, to Dynata’s captive U.S. panels who met the age, gender, and regional demographic criteria.
Posted on 9 June 2022 | 9:00 pm