Top 6 ways to avoid sweet temptation during Halloween

Mmmmm… Halloween candy can be a Life Saver… not to mention a Snickers, Twizzlers, Tootsie Roll, M&M, and Skittles. And don’t forget the stomachache and those few extra pounds that go along with it all.

It’s fun to see children dressed up and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. But before long, your kitchen table is mounded high with piles of sugary candy to tempt and tease.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the sweet temptation and have a guilt-free Halloween.

1. Establish rules.
Designate a small container for treats. Your child decides what to keep. Then, develop a plan together for how much and how often candy can be eaten. What do you do with left-over candy that doesn’t fit in the jar?

2. Donate the treats.
Operation Gratitude will accept donations of unopened Halloween treats to be sent to troops serving overseas. Also, check with local food pantries.

3. Contact your dentist's office.
Some dental clinics will "buy back" unopened Halloween treats. Check with your dentist to find out if they participate in a similar program.

4. Bring it to the office.
That’s right; why not have some help consuming those extra calories?

5. Give non-food items.
Consider handing out items like pencils, glow sticks, tiny decks of cards, bookmarks, small containers of play dough, key chains, stickers, and other non-food items as treats. It ensures you won’t be enticed by that half-empty bag of Kit-Kats that’s left over after Halloween.

6. Incorporate fun and fitness.
Challenge kids to skip or hop from door to door, walk backwards, or other energy-burning activities. Maybe even give them inexpensive pedometers and reward the child with the most steps (just don’t reward them with more candy!).

You don’t have to be scared stiff when Halloween rolls around. Besides, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and turning down another helping of pumpkin pie is a whole other story...

Four reasons why you need to check your furnace

The heat is on... We’re not talking about the classic Glenn Frey song (admit it — it's in your head right now); we’re talking about the heat in your home or business.

Furnaces are being fired up all over the country, and it’s vitally important to have your furnace inspected. Why?
  1. Reduce your operating costs
    Routine maintenance helps your furnace run as efficiently as possible. Homeowners should check furnace filters every month, but annual visits from a service technician will keep all the internal parts clean and lubricated.
  2. Avoid costly problems
    Regular maintenance helps uncover small problems before they turn into bigger repairs. A damaged part can put added stress on other internal components. Plus, you’ll pay more if you need an emergency service call. 
  3. Keep your furnace longer
    Dust, corrosion, and friction all increase the likelihood your furnace will fail prematurely. Proper maintenance will extend its life.
  4. Reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
    Aside from the main furnace unit, make sure your furnace flue is clear and free of debris or other obstructions. (Some furnace flues extend through the roof while others go out the side of your home.) A blocked flue can cause carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases to accumulate inside your home.

    Even if the flue isn’t blocked, your furnace might not be venting properly due to age or other home improvements you’ve made.
If you haven’t had your furnace serviced in several years, have that done now. A professional technician can detect any ventilation issues or other problems. You also should install a carbon monoxide detector nearby. 

You and your furnace both stand to benefit from regular, yearly service. A well-maintained furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable...and safe!

Top 6 Work Comp questions answered

Workers’ compensation benefits provide the medical treatment employees need to recover from a work-related injury and return to work safely. Laws vary by state, but employers generally carry work comp insurance for their workers, and it just makes good business sense to do so. 

Here’s what employers and employees need to know:

  1.  Who pays for benefits?
    Employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance, and the insurance company provides benefits if you are injured.

  2. What kind of help will an injured employee receive?
    In general, employees injured in the workplace receive compensation for medical bills, medication costs, and mileage to doctor appointments. Many cases include payments toward lost wages. If you are unable to return to your previous job, you may also receive vocational rehabilitation benefits.
  3. What’s the first step if I’m injured?
    If an injury is a threat to life or limb, call 911 immediately. For less serious injuries, contact a supervisor first. If your employer has insurance through SECURA, call Nurse Hotline (888-333-3334) with your supervisor present. A registered nurse will help assess your condition over the phone and help you determine next steps.
  4. How does the claims process work?
    If you’re the injured employee and need to seek medical treatment after consulting Nurse Hotline, a SECURA claims representative will contact you within 8 business hours to explain the claims process, ask questions, and make recommendations. Employers need not fill out extra paperwork because a call to Nurse Hotline automatically starts the claims process.
  5. How will an employee know when’s the right time to return to work?
    Part of the SECURA claims process is their Return-to-Work program, designed to get injured employees back on track. A claims rep will work directly with the injured employee, their doctor, and the employer to determine appropriate work duties. 

    If the employer is unable to provide light duty work to match any medical restrictions, the claims rep may recommend a transitional return-to-work or temporary placement at a local nonprofit.
  6. Does Work Comp cover emotional distress caused by a traumatic work experience?
    Most work comp benefits only provide physical medical care. But when a workplace incident goes beyond injury to tragedy, it can result in emotional trauma, too. SECURA’s Crisis Care is included with all its work comp policies. If a traumatic incident occurs in the workplace, counseling and psychological support may be available.
If you're an employer, be sure to check out the benefits of SECURA's Work Comp policy — it can provide the best care for you and your employees. And if you're an employee, ask about your work comp benefits and recommend SECURA to your employer.

Warning! Cleaning could be bad for your health

If at first you don’t succeed, try it another way. Right? Not when it comes to household cleaners.

Imagine this: You’re using a common toilet bowl cleaner but just can’t remove a stubborn stain. So you switch to another product, and then another.


Mixing chemicals is dangerous. Combinations of bleach, ammonia, vinegar, or hydrochloric acid can create toxic gases or dangerous acids. You can cause permanent lung damage, chemical burns, or even death.

Read about a Philadelphia area man who died after mixing bleach and ammonia to unclog a toilet, or the British pub worker who nearly gassed himself after pouring two different cleaners down a urinal.

What’s in your cleaner?
  • Ammonia is a common ingredient in multipurpose cleaners, glass sprays, and floor cleaners. Manufacturers (and consumers) like it because it’s an effective chemical for cutting through soap scum, grease, and wax buildup.
  • Bleach is contained in many other products to take advantage of its disinfectant, brightening, and mold-killing benefits. Bleach is commonly found in cleaning sprays, toilet bowl cleaners, and scouring pastes.
  • Hydrochloric acid, found in some toilet bowl cleaners, lime and calcium removing products, and air fresheners, goes by multiple names including muratic acid and hydrogen chloride. So even if you think two products could be used in tandem, you might be mistaken!

One and done
Check the ingredient lists on your cleaning products to ensure you’re not accidentally using these products together.

Better yet, just stick to one at a time. Wipe down an area with clean water, open windows, and make sure drains are running freely before switching to a different cleanser.

What's an endorsement? Confusing insurance terms explained

Endorsements. No, we’re not talking about a superstar endorsing a soft drink, a popular athlete displaying a sporting goods logo on their hat or jersey, or a celebrity behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle. In the insurance industry, an endorsement has a much less glamorous image, yet it serves a very important function.

When you purchase insurance for your home and auto, farm, or business, you will typically receive a base policy that covers common risks like a fender bender, an employee's work injury, or property damage. Enhancements, restrictions, or changes that are made to the original policy document are considered endorsements, and are considered legal and binding.

Some common types of insurance endorsements include:

Added coverage
Say your business is growing and you need to add a vehicle to your commercial fleet. Rather than write up an entirely new policy for a single vehicle, your agent would provide an endorsement to your existing policy to include the additional vehicle. Sometimes coverage is added at no cost as an enhancement to your existing policy, like roadside assistance.

As the name suggests, an exclusion lists items that may be excluded from your coverage. As an example, some insurers will exclude dog bite coverage for homeowners who own a high-risk breed, or limit claims involving asbestos or lead paint for a business owner.

Modification of coverage 
Some endorsements expand an existing policy to increase a liability limit or property value. For example, a homeowner may need to increase their property coverage limit from $100,000 to $250,000 because of a building addition, renovation, or increased property value. 

Administrative changes
Perhaps you have a new mailing address — an endorsement is needed to make sure your policy information is up to date.

Not all endorsements are created equal. Talk with your independent agent if you have questions about your policy and any endorsements you may have or need. Make sure you’re properly covered for when the unforeseen happens.