December 2014 E-News: TXINS December E-News: Winter Weather Tips, Christmas Tree Safety, Agency Happenings, and More!

Winter Weather Tips: Staying Safe and Warm

With colder weather heading our direction, it’s time to start planning and preparing. Waiting until the first storm hits is never a good idea. Here are a few handy tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter:

Winter Storms

When a winter storm strikes, you and your family may need to remain indoors for several days. A safety kit is a must-have in every household. Suggested items for your winter weather safety kit include:

  • First aid materials. Include prescription medications, over-the-counter painkillers, rubbing alcohol, eye wash kit, bandages, latex gloves, antiseptic spray.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Dry wood stored in a dry place.
  • Enough gasoline or diesel to operate a generator or portable heating device.
  • Blankets and extra warm clothing.
  • Enough dried goods, energy bars and canned goods that do not need heating for each person to eat for three days.
  • Battery- or crank-operated radio to listen to weather updates and notifications.
  • Enough water to last every member of your family at least three days (rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day).

All contents of a winter weather safety kit should be packed neatly into easily accessible plastic storage bins and should be easily transportable.

Winterizing Your Car

Driving in severe winter weather can be a scary for you and your car. Here are some things we recommend you do to keep your car running smoothly when the temperature drops:

  • Flush the cooling system and replace the coolant. The ideal mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50/50.
  • Check your windshield wiper blades. If your car’s blades are worn or older than one year, it’s time to replace them.
  • Replace your windshield washer fluid. Use cold-weather fluid that will not freeze at the coldest winter temperature.
  • Check your battery. Very cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50%. Have your battery serviced and load-tested to check its ability to hold a charge.
  • Check tire pressure. As the temperature drops your tires will likely lose pressure. Make sure there is air in the spare tire and that all the proper tire-changing equipment is in the vehicle.
  • Make sure your tires have plenty of tread. Worn tires on a slick road are extremely dangerous.
  • Keep the gas tank as full as possible. Running out of gas in freezing conditions is extremely unsafe. Having a full tank of gas not only helps in the case of bad weather, but it also helps prevent moisture from freezing in the gas lines.
  • Pack a safety kit . An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time, so it helps to be prepared. Here are some suggested items to carry in your trunk: flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit; jumper cables, a tool kit and tire chains; blanket, warm clothes, hat and gloves; paper towels; bag of salt or kitty litter for added traction when a tire is stuck; extra windshield washer fluid; and extra food and bottled water.

Safeguarding Your Home

Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home. Homeowners should take the following precautions:

Outside Your Home

  • Clean out gutters. Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, a condition where water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.
  • Install gutter guards. Gutter guards prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
  • Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind could cause weak trees or branches to break and damage your home or car, or injure someone walking by your property.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to seal around any wall openings to prevent cold air and moisture from entering your home.

Inside Your Home

  • Keep the house warm. Set the thermostat for at least 65 degrees—since the temperature inside the walls, where the pipes are located, is substantially colder a lower temperature will not keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water can then re-freeze, causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in an ice dam that causes significant roof damage. 
  • Provide a reliable back-up power source. In the event of a power outage, continuous power will keep your home warm and help prevent frozen pipes. 
  • Have the heating system serviced. Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.
  • Check pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have the pipes repaired immediately. Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should be protected with insulation or heat.
  • Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect the system against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.
  • Remove combustible items placed near any heat sources. This includes wood stoves and space heaters.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are working properly. Not only do residential fires increase in the winter, but so does carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, the quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent pipes from bursting.

We Are Here for You 

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority. That’s a promise.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Meet the TXINS TeamNorma Cox

Norma Cox has been part of the Texas Insurance & Financial Services family for 15 years.  She works in the Life & Health department, specializing  in health insurance.  Her vast knowledge about health insurance as well as her dedication to providing outstanding customer service is second to none.  Norma constantly studies all the changes associated with the health care plans in order to educate her clients and protect them against any unforeseen issues. Texas Insurance & Financial Services is blessed to have Norma Cox as part of our experienced team!

To learn more about Norma, please click here.

What’s Happening at TXINS?

The staff of TXINS are active members in our communities. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve been up to as well as what we have planned for the month.

  • TXINS was a proud sponsor of “Team Avery – A Rae of Sunshine” in the 14th Annual Buddy Walk benefiting the Down Syndrome Association of Houston on Nov. 8. Team Avery was captained by Needville agent Amber McDonald and it placed in the top 10 out of 300 teams registered!
  • Our annual Open House will be held at the El Campo office on Thursday, Dec. 4. Bring the kiddos and watch the parade with us. Enjoy free popcorn and desserts and find out who wins the Referral Program grand prize!
  • Visit the the Needville office on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the annual Country Christmas celebration. Main Street will be hopping with fun activities for the entire family!
  • Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D ends Dec. 7. Contact our Life & Health Dept. for more information. 
  • Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (for coverage beginning on 1/1/15) ends Dec. 15. Final day for 2015 coverage is 2/15/15.
  • The 2015 TXINS calendars are here! Check out our Facebook page to find out when and where you can get yours. Hurry…they go fast!
  • All agency locations will be closed December 24-26  and December 31-January 2. We send our warmest wishes for a blessed Holiday to you and your family. We are thankful for your continued business with TXINS and wish you a wonderful 2015!

Did You Know?

– Nobel Prizes are awarded to leaders in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Peace every December.

– On December 3, 1967, 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky received the first human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, thousands of people across the globe are living healthy lives due to organ donations. Every donor can save or better the life of more than 50 people. To sign up as a donor, click here.

– On December 29, 1862, the bowling ball was invented. To bowl a perfect game, a player rolls a strike during every frame, equaling 300 points. How close have you gotten to this magical number?

– December 27 is National Chocolate Day. With all of that Christmas candy hanging around, this one should be easy to celebrate! For a little inspiration, here is a great list of quick and easy chocolate recipes such to please everyone in your household!

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Each year, fire departments respond to many structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Here are a few helpful tips to make your holiday tree a little bit safer.

– If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.

– Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

– Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

– Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

– If you prefer a live tress, throw it out when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

We LOVE Referrals!

If you love Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., tell a relative, friend, or co-worker about us. When they call to receive a quote make sure they let us know that you referred them.

As a thank you, you’ll receive a surprise gift and will be entered into our monthly $50 gift card drawing and our annual Grand Prize drawing for a $1,500 gift card!!!

(Grand Prize drawing will be held on December 4, 2014.)

What Our Clients Are Saying About Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc.:The service I received was extremely helpful and responsive.  All of my questions and issues were resolved in one quick phone call. – Peggie Armstrong, El Campo

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