Each year, fall seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. It can feel like it goes from cool evenings and a faint smell of pumpkin spice to snow days and slippery sidewalks before you even have time to put on a toque. When it comes to your home, taking a little time to get prepared in the warmer weather could save you some headaches when winter starts blowing in. Wondering what you can do to get your property ready for fall and winter? Consider these tips:
Clean out your eavestroughs and downspouts. Both are meant to direct water away from your home to prevent leaks all year long — but they can’t do that if they’re damaged or clogged with leaves or other debris. Fall is a good time to remove all debris and repair or replace any damaged sections.
Turn off your outdoor water supply and drain exterior pipes, faucets, and hoses to prevent freezing. Follow this step-by-step guide to turn off the shut-off valve, disconnect your hose, and drain the pipe and valve. If you have an in-ground irrigation or sprinkler system, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to drain it, too.
Get your wood burning fireplace and chimney in order. This means having them professionally inspected and cleaned, as well as making sure the area surrounding your fireplace is set up for a safe burning season. Learn more about fireplace safety before it’s time to light yours up. Bonus tip: Do you have a wood stove or pellet stove? Both require you to take special safety precautions.
Prepare your home’s heating system for the season. This could include:
Calling in a professional if your furnace is due for an inspection or tune-up (check the owner’s manual to find out when this should be done)
Replacing any filters that might still be dirty from last winter
Dusting all heating vents and making sure they’re clear of obstructions like furniture, carpeting, or curtains
Re-programming your smart thermostat
Making eco-friendly updates to save energy and lower your heating bills
Test or replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home — and remember to follow the maintenance instructions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Reverse your ceiling fans. Many ceiling fans can be set up to change direction (from counterclockwise to clockwise) and run on a lower speed in the fall, which allows warm air to be pushed down from the ceiling. This can help you save energy and money.
Re-seal drafty windows and doors. Keep the warm air inside and the cool air outside by re-caulking around window and door casings (if needed), as well as checking the weather stripping on your doors. Bonus tip: Try closing your door on a piece of paper. If you can slide the piece of paper up and down along the doorframe without ripping it, it’s probably time to replace the weather stripping on your door.
Get your roof in shape for snow-load season. Have a professional thoroughly inspect your roof (inside and out) and have any damaged areas repaired before the snow starts.
Cut and clear your lawn. Long grass and piles of leaves can make perfect nests for insects and rodents. Plus, if snow falls before you have a chance to cut your lawn and clear away the leaves, it can lead to snow mould and other fungal issues. When it’s time for the last lawn-mowing of the year (after your lawn has stopped growing), lower your blades one notch and go for a shorter cut. It’s okay to leave some grass clippings on the lawn itself, but you’ll want to clear away any large piles of leaves and other debris, paying special attention to the areas surrounding your home’s foundation.
Repair cracks in your home’s foundation. You can usually do this from the inside, rather than having to dig around the outside of your foundation. This can help protect your basement from flooding when the snow starts to melt next spring.
“As an owner of any business it is our duty to protect our clients privacy and ensure proper security systems and procedures are in place to protect their data.”-privacy officer-Dan Desbiens
8 privacy tips for businesses Based on best practices suggested by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the tips below can help us better protect our customers’ personal information and help create a strong regulatory compliance environment at our brokerage. Please note: These tips offer general topics—
1)Get your customers’ consent to collect their personal information.
2)Limit your collection and retention of that information.
3)Ensure that your staff receive appropriate privacy protection training.Limit and monitor access to personal information and take appropriate action when an employee accesses information without authorization.
4)Think twice before collecting sensitive personal information, and guard against collecting sensitive information you are not likely to need, such as your customers’ social insurance numbers.
6)Protect personal information stored on laptops, USB keys and portable hard drives through technological safeguards such as encryption and password protection.
7)Respond to your customers’ requests for access to their personal information in a timely manner.Safeguard personal information against privacy breaches.
8)Report all breaches that could result in significant harm to an individual.
Q: What’s the difference between privacy and security?
A: There are overlaps between these two terms. Privacy has to do with control over personal information and how that information is collected, used and disclosed. Security refers to how personal information is protected and safeguarded.If, for example, you give your information to a company, and that company then uses secure methods to transmit your information to a third party who in turn uses that information to call you at dinner time, security may not be an issue, but privacy might be.You can have security without privacy, but it’s impossible to have privacy without security.
Q: If our brokerage gets a call asking for roadside confirmation of in-force coverage, how do we know it really is a police officer?
A: You have the right to challenge the caller to confirm that it is a legitimate call. For example, you might want to ask the officer’s name, their badge number, which police force and detachment they belong to, and a phone number for their detachment.Think carefully about the information you are providing and the risk of that information falling into the wrong hands. For instance, you might have told the “police officer” that the coverage on a 2017 Dodge Caravan was renewed in September. Then you call the client and they reveal that they haven’t been stopped by the police for years. You determine that it wasn’t really a police officer who called you. That’s a breach, even though you acted prudently. The renewal date on an insurance policy likely wouldn’t lead to a real risk of significant harm. But if the “officer” had asked you to share the insured’s banking information or the value of scheduled jewellery on their home policy, the conversation should stop there, unless you receive express consent from the insured, a subpoena or some similar court order.
Q: How do I deal with a client with limited English proficiency who had a friend or family member help set up their insurance?
A: First, determine what this person’s relationship is to the insured (neighbour? daughter? work associate?). Second, get clarity around this person’s role (for example, one-time translation help, or a go-between for all future insurance transactions?).If this person is providing ongoing translation assistance, obtain the insured’s express consent, such as by asking the insured to sign a form. Consider using this text:I consent to having any of my (and my family’s) personal information related to my (our) insurance needs shared with or collected from (friend/relative’s name) for (length of time the consent applies).You will need to trust that the translator will explain the form to the insured before getting the signature, which would ensure that the consent qualifies as informed. This consent should be secured in person with both the translator and the insured present, so you can be sure you are obtaining informed consent.
As much as children love to go trick-or-treating and the resulting stash of candy, Halloween can be ghoulish if precautions by homeowners and drivers aren’t taken.
Halloween safety tips!
Clear the path to your door – Reduce the chance that a trick-or-treater will slip and fall on your property by ensuring that the path to your door is well lit and clear of all obstacles.
Clear the yard – Chances are, some kids are going to try to get from house to house as quickly as possible by taking short cuts across your yard. Help them stay on their feet by putting away toys, garden hoses, or anything else that you may have on your front lawn.
Make sure your pets are in the house. With all the activity, pets can easily get spooked possibly causing harm to themselves or others. Generally, it’s suggested that it is best to keep dogs or cats in a separate room while trick-or-treaters are coming to your door.
Avoid using real candles in your jack-o’-lanterns. Minimize the risk of a fire or injury and use a flashlight or battery operated candle instead of a real flame.
Make sure all decorations are away from lights and fire. Keep decorations away from all open flames as well as lights that can get hot.
Minimize the chance your home will be vandalized. Bring your pumpkin in (along with any other decorations), keep your property well lit, and make sure you lock up when the night is over.
Drive with care. If you must drive on Halloween be mindful that children are excited about trick-or-treating and may not always remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Drive slowly and watch for kids at the usual crossing sections and crosswalks but also mid-block too.
Enter and leave your driveway slowly. Excited kids running down the sidewalk can come out of nowhere quickly. Proceed with caution when turning into your driveway or when leaving to go out.
Don’t drive distracted or impaired. It should go without saying, but don’t drive impaired. Also, put away the phone, turn down the music and scan the road (and sidewalks) ahead to be ready for the unexpected.
If you have a garage, park your car in it for the night. Minimize the threat of vandalism to your car and put the car in the garage.
If you don’t have a garage, park your car where you can see it. You’ll want to make sure you can see your car from your home easily. This way you’ll be able to keep an eye on it and your ears open for any weird “bumps in the night”.
Lock your car doors and keep “treats” out of sight. Don’t make it easy for would-be thieves or vandals. Lock your car doors and make sure anything of value is removed from the car or is out of sight in the trunk.
Just because Halloween celebrates scary things doesn’t mean you want any scares of your own. With a few precautions you can ensure everyone has a frightfully fun time.
Are your auto insurance premiums ghoulish?Your auto insurance premiums shouldn’t haunt you every month. Take a bite out of your premiums and give us a call at 519-397-9333 to ensure you are getting the best rate!