Safety During Thunderstorms or Tornadoes – Car

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of driving during a severe driving in tornadothunderstorm or tornado? If it’s one of the awesome scenes from Twister, it’s time for a reality check. There are ways to stay safe in your car during these events, none of which are demonstrated in that exciting, fictional representation of the ultimate summer storm.

For us regular folks, keeping safe during a severe thunderstorm or tornado in Wisconsin or Minnesota begins with preparation. For starters, if there are any indications that a thunderstorm or tornado is headed your way, don’t go driving. This is true whether you hear a “watch” or a “warning.”

Watch: A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch is an indication that the current weather conditions are favorable for one (or both) of these weather events in your area. Stay home, and see our article, Safety During Thunderstorms or Tornadoes – Home.

Warning: A severe weather warning means there is a storm or tornado currently occurring in your area. Take shelter immediately, and continue with your emergency plan.

Dangerous weather can pop up quickly, and you may get caught in your car. If a heavy rainsevere rain wave hits while you’re driving, pull over and set your hazard lights on to avoid accidents. Keep the car running so the air bags work, just in case.
If there’s a tornado, please don’t try to outdrive it. Twisters are unpredictable, and what is clearly behind you one minute could switch course and be directly in front of you the next.

Instead, try is to find a sturdy structure close by. It might even be okay to run to a nearby house and ask if you can shelter there. Midwesterners tend to come together during emergencies.

If there’s no shelter available, park your car, raise all the windows fully, and crouch ascollapsed tunnel far below the windows as you can get, in the passenger side well or on the back seat floor.

NEVER go near or under a bridge or tunnel. The storm can cause them to collapse, and you’d be buried in the rubble. That usually doesn’t end well.

We need to know about severe thunderstorm and tornado safety while driving in Wisconsin and Minnesota, because these are common events. Be sure to check with your Baldwin Woodville agent before the storm comes, to make sure you have the coverage you will rely on after having come safely through the storm.

Be sure to read our post on safety during thunderstorms and tornadoes when you are at home.

Safety During Thunderstorms or Tornadoes – Home

tornadoWhen was the last time you heard the sirens shrieking, telling you run, find shelter, stay safe? Because we see many severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in Wisconsin and Minnesota, probably not that long ago. When you purchased your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, your Baldwin Woodville agent made sure you were covered for damages that might occur to your home.

But what about your body? Your family? Your life?

Most home storm safety happens BEFORE the storm. Make sure you have a detailed safety plan, and everyone in your home knows it, including the babysitter. Perform drills with your family (kids consider this great fun) to make sure everybody knows what to do.

Make an emergency kit containing clean water, a hand-crank radio, non-perishable foods (and a can opener), flashlights, and batteries. Yes, your cell phone has a flashlight. But if the power goes out and your phone dies? Heavy D-cell flashlights will be your best friend. Keep the kit in your family’s emergency shelter location. You might even take an emergency preparedness class. Your Baldwin Woodville agent can guide you to finding one.

When there seems to be “a bit of weather,” listen to the local emergency station. Alternatively, you keep track of potential storms using an app on your smartphone. Either way, pay attention once you hear a “watch” or a “warning.”

Watch: A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch is an indication that the current heavy hailweather conditions are favorable for one (or both) of these weather events in your area. Stay home, and stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.

Warning: A severe weather warning means there is a storm or tornado currently occurring in your area. Go to your safety shelter immediately, and continue with your emergency plan.

Where to shelter? If you have an underground basement, there. If not, choose a location on the first floor with no windows, such as a laundry room or bathroom. If you live in a trailer home, go to the local community shelter you have planned out at the watch stage. Don’t wait for the warning.

It may be tempting to start grabbing irreplaceable things: photos, homemade quilts, handmade Christmas ornaments. While understandable, remember it’s you and your family that are most important. Then your pet. We at Baldwin Woodville can provide you with storm and tornado insurance to replace nearly everything in your home. Even though sentimental things are very important, they’re not worth risking your life.

Be sure to check out our post on safety during thunderstorms or tornadoes in your car.

Buy or Lease Your New Car? Hints to Help You Decide

Last week, we talked about the factors to consider when deciding if you should buy a new or used car. This week, we’re assuming the decision was for a new car. Now you face another question: lease or buy the new car? There are many things to consider when deciding to lease or buy a new car in Wisconsin or Minnesota. The correct answer will be different depending on your situation. Use the following tips to help decide which choice is best for you.

Leasing

Pros of leasing a new car:high tech dashboard

  • Lower payments – you’re not paying for the whole car.
  • Lower to no down payment.
  • Walk away clean. Drop the car off at the dealer when the lease ends, and pick up a brand new lease the same day.
  • The bumper-to-bumper warranty remains intact for the entire period of the lease.
  • You always have the newest and safest technology.

Cons of leasing a new car:

  • Limited annual mileage is the biggest drawback.
  • You’re not allowed to make additions or alterations.
  • You never earn equity in the car, and you never escape from monthly car payments.
  • The financing company requires full coverage insurance, which can be expensive. Of course, at Baldwin Woodville, we will help you get the best deal possible when you lease a new car in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

signing a contractBuying

Pros of Buying a New Car:

  • Once the last payment is paid, you own the car, with no further payments.
  • There are no mileage or alteration restrictions.
  • You gain equity in the vehicle, and have something of value at the end of the loan period.
  • Once the loan period is over, you can adjust the insurance to fit your needs and save money. Contact your Baldwin Woodville agent to find the best balance between your needs and your wallet.

Cons of Buying a New Car:

  • The vehicle loses its value as you drive it off the lot.
  • A large down payment is typically required, up to 20%.
  • Your car will outlive the warranty, and you will be out of pocket for anything that insurance doesn’t cover.
  • Unless you have an enormous down payment, you will face larger monthly payments, because you’re paying for the full price of the car, including all interest, taxes, and fees.

Consider these facts as you decide whether to buy or lease your new car. And as always, your Baldwin Woodville agent is always available to talk with you about how these factors affect you and your personal circumstances.

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Exterior

First impressions count, right? Do you want to make a great first impression when you meet new people while you’re out and about?

The best way is to keep your car clean, shiny, and bug free. You know those cars that are always so dirty that a good rain is actually helpful? Don’t have one of those cars. If your car is always clean and shiny, just like new, you will be much happier, and feel more confident.

Not only that, but you’ll benefit financially when you get ready to trade up. A car that has been kept clean all along will always look better than a car given a quick clean before trading it in. At Baldwin Woodville Insurance, we know the benefits of keeping a clean car, especially during summer driving in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Here are 5 simple tips to keeping your car exterior clean:

  1. Wash your car on a regular basis, and then again when necessary. How often depends on your circumstances. What’s important is that you keep on schedule. Your winter schedule may be different. You want to get off the scum from the salted roads, but don’t ever wash your car when it’s below freezing. Why? Try it once, and then try to open your car door when you get home.
  2. You will not get all the bugs off just by washing your. But there’s a simple hack for that. Just use a fabric softener dryer sheet dipped in warm water. It’s like magic. Make this a regular part of washing your car during Wisconsin or Minnesota summers.
  3. Wax your car once a month when you get it washed. This, in addition to regular washing, will help prevent your car from getting rusty. Another way to keep the value up, and look good.
  4. Don’t forget to take care of the windshield. After every car wash, apply Rain-XWash Me written in dirt on car to your windshield. This will help keeping it clean, and increase your safety when you drive in a Chippewa Valley thunderstorm. At the same time, clean the windshield wipers with rubbing alcohol. This will prevent streaking on your windshield.
  5. Finally, keep your car in a garage whenever possible. The benefits to this are obvious. No worries about hail damage, bird droppings, or stray baseballs. The added benefit is that your car interior won’t be too hot in the summer, or too cold in the winter.

If you need any further advice on how to keep your car in the best position for a good trade in or resale value, feel free to contact your Baldwin Woodville agent today.

If you’re interested in keeping the inside of your car clean, see our post: 5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Interior.

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Interior

dog hammock to keep car cleanHave you just gotten the interior of your car detailed? Well, if not, maybe you should. At Baldwin Woodville Insurance, we know the value of a clean car.

Keeping your car clean is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, the look and smell of a clean car will refresh you each time you hop in. Second, you won’t be embarrassed if your boss or the cute new neighbor need to ride in your car. Finally, looks matter when you get ready to upgrade and trade your car in.

Now, how do you keep your car fresh and clean? It will involve a little work on your part, but if you maintain the cleanliness, you might not have to shell out for another full detailing job.

Here are 5 simple ways to keep your car (or minivan, or SUV) interior clean, looking and smelling new:

  1. Don’t eat or drink in the car. You may think you can pull it off. But remember how those cup holders looked before the detailing? Right. Just avoid it.
  2. Shake the floor mats out regularly. Every time you go to the car wash, pull them out and give them a good vacuuming, along with the rest of the interior. Those little rocks and leaves that your shoes carry in start looking messy after a couple of weeks.
  3. Keep a trash bag and backseat activity bag in your car. You can use a niceCar Activity Bag looking bag for trash, because you’re not eating in the car, so you don’t have dripping, greasy trash. Fill the activity bag up with interesting things for any kids riding in your car. This will help them forget how hungry they are, what with the no eating rule.
  4. Use seat covers f you have a dog riding with you. There are special seat covers made just for that occasion. Another good use for them is with children, because even though they are enthralled with their activity bag and not eating, they’re just messy.
  5. Finally, because we know that you are eventually going to eat in your car, keep a magic eraser and gentle cleanser in the glove box or trunk, and clean up spills as soon as they happen. Also keep cleansing wipes to rub down the surfaces when they start getting dusty.

If you have any questions about how the interior cleanliness of your car might affect it’s value, give your Baldwin Woodville agent a call, and he or she will be happy to discuss it with you. Happy driving.

If you’re interested in keeping the outside of your car clean, see our post: 5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Exterior.

Backyard Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Owning a swimming pool, whether under or above ground, is a big responsibility. Following these swimming pool safety tips can help ensure your family and friends stay safe in your pool. You don’t want them to be one of the 5,500 home pool drowning victims each year.

Before you purchase your pool, be sure to check with your Baldwin Woodville agent about the extra insurance you need to purchase to cover all possibilities. You can find the Wisconsin pool laws here, and the Minnesota pool laws here. Read on to find out the best pool rules, equipment, and safety gear.

Home Swimming Pool RulesPool Rules Sign

  • Constant, active adult supervision at all times.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Everybody who uses the diving board or pool slide must know how to do it in the correct, safe way.
  • No running around the pool. This can prevent everything from a skinned knee to a cracked head, or worse.
  • No extreme horseplay in the water. Of course, there will be some splashing, water polo, and other games. At least one adult should stay outside the pool and remain vigilant, to notice right away if somebody goes down and doesn’t come right up.
  • No swimming when drunk or using prescription meds that say “don’t operate heavy machinery.”
  • Never push someone into the pool. No matter how funny it seems, it is incredibly dangerous.
  • Stay away from drain covers in the pool.
  • Young children must wear life jackets.

Pool Safety Equipment

  • The state required fence should include a self-closing and self-latching gate, out of reach of children, with an alarm on the door.
  • Also maintain an alarm attached to the side of the pool that detects motion under the water.
  • During the summer, use a strong, mesh cover to prevent falls when in the area but not using the pool.
  • When the pool is out of season, use a rigid pool cover to prevent accidents.
  • Posted signs with pool rules, whether hand made or purchased.
  • Side rails and steps with rubber grips and covers, to allow swimmers to safely enter and exit the pool.
  • Depth markers should be applied when the pool is built.

Pool Safety Gear to be in Pool Area at All TimesPool Safety Equipment

  • First aid kit
  • Throw rope
  • Lifesaver ring
  • Buoys to separate shallow from deep end
  • Shepherd’s crook
  • Long pole

Following these guidelines can help you, your family, and your friends enjoy your pool for the little bit of summer that we get in Wisconsin and Minnesota! Remember, nothing beats constant adult supervision for Minnesota or Wisconsin home pool safety.

Be sure to contact Baldwin Woodville if you have any questions about installing a backyard swimming pool in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

New or Used Car? Hints to Help You Decide

It’s time to get a new car. You have squeezed out the last shaky mile the old one had to give. Or perhaps you are just ready for something different. Maybe something better for the environment, or bigger, or smaller. Whatever your needs are, it’s that time.

Buying a car is a big decision, and part of your decision will be insurance costs. At Baldwin Woodville, we have insurance packages for any need. So while you are purchasing your new or used car in Minnesota or Wisconsin, contact your BW agent.

To start you on your way to making the best decision for you, we’ve put together some of the pros and cons of purchasing new and used cars to give you some things to consider as you shop for your next vehicle.

New CarsGirl with new car keys

Pros of buying a new car

  • Manufacturer’s Warranty – You could get up to a 5-year, 10,000 mile manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Latest Technology – You have the newest safety features, such as advanced air bags, backup cameras, and driver assist.
  • Customize – you can choose any color of car you want, any stereo and internet setup, any kind of wheels, and many other options.

Cons of buying a new car

  • Instant Depreciation – Your new car immediately loses 10% of its value when you drive it off the lot.
  • More Expensive – A new car is more expensive, and so are the sales tax and licensing fees.
  • More Expensive Insurance – Your insurance will be higher because of the car’s value and the insurance requirements when you finance a car.

Used Car/ MinivanUsed Cars

Pros of buying a used car

  • Better Value – A car that is only one year old has a much higher value for the price you will pay.
  • Manufacturer’s Warranty – If you buy a recent model, you could still get a manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Less Expensive – A use car costs less, as does the sales tax and licensing fees.
  • Less Expensive Insurance – The state requires lower coverage limits than the financing company.

Cons of buying a used car

  • Maintenance History – You might not know if the vehicle has been involved in an accident, flood, or other destructive event.
  • Why Traded In – You won’t know if the previous owner traded the vehicle in because there are impending mechanical failures.
  • Lack of Warranty – You can purchase warranties for used cars, but not as good as the factory warranty.

Of course this list is not comprehensive, but it covers the main differences in new and used cars. Your Baldwin Woodville agent is available to help you make the decision of purchasing a new or used car in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

If you have chosen a new car, let us help you make your next decision – buy or lease?

Use Q-Tips To Get Your Damage Deposit Back

You’ve been living in your rental home for awhile, and now you’re moving on to a new city, to a house, or just to a new rental home. Back when you moved in, you paid a damage deposit, likely the amount of one month’s rent. No matter how much it was, you want it back.

Let’s assume you didn’t break the house. That you have kept it clean and well maintained. That your western Wisconsin renter’s insurance policy has paid for any damage you have been responsible for. The only thing you have left to do is follow the Girl Scout rule, and leave the place better than it was when you arrived.

General Cleaning

ceiling fanIf you have a cleaning checklist from your landlord, follow it. The obvious stuff is to clean all surfaces, including walls, appliances, fixtures (yes, take that fixture down from your ceiling-mounted lights, throw away the bugs, and wash it), and even doors. Don’t miss the tops of your ceiling fan blades.

Clean your stove (including the hood and under the top if yours lifts up), your oven, and scrub out your sinks and cupboards. A good cleaner for the kitchen is Dawn dish soap. It really does take care of the grease.

Use the vacuum extensions to get rid of any cobwebs back in the corners of your closets or other places they have formed. Clean your bathroom fixtures, using a bleach cleaner if there is any sign of mildew. Replace the shower curtain(s) if applicable. Pick up all the little things that have fallen into the baseboard heaters if applicable. Then vacuum them for good measure. Wash the mirrors and windows.

Why Q-Tips?

After the masterful job you have done cleaning all surfaces, why would you need to use Q-tips? First, take a look at all the light switches. Around the rectangular switch, and then around the opening for the switch itself, gunk has likely gathered. Dip a Q-tip in bleach, or other cleaner of your choice, and wipe the gunk away.

Then do the same for all doorknobs and locks in the home, any sconces or other lighting fixtures, and inside the window tracks. It’s this extra cleaning that will ensure you get not only your full deposit back, but a glowing recommendation from your landlord should you ever need it.

One Last Thing

After everything has been moved out, even if you know your landlord is going to replace the carpet the next day, vacuum everything. Appearances count!

If you want to know about renter’s insurance, contact your Baldwin Woodvile Insurance rep today!

Get Your Motorcycle Ready

Whether you like to get out on the road by yourself, or travel with a group, there’s nothing like getting out there on your motorcycle. Here in the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin, you’ve got a limited amount of time before the ice and snow hits, so you want to get as much riding in as you can.

You may be tempted to pull the cover off your bike and just take off. But, as with any precious possession, you want to take better care of it than that. The first thing to do is change your storage insurance policy to your full Minnesota or Wisconsin motorcycle insurance coverage. Your agent at Baldwin Woodville can help you with that.

Then, follow the guidelines below to properly prepare your bike for a fun and safe summer of traveling the open road.

Dust, Clean, Fuel, and Oil

Take off the cover, blocks, plugs, and/or rags used to store your bike, and give it a good washing. Check the fluid levels and consistency, and fill or replace fluids that need it. Check the fuel tank, lines, and fittings for cracks or breaks, and repair and replace as necessary. Finally, change the oil, even if you did so before storing your bike.

Safety First

There are a number of things to check before your bike is safe for the road.

  1. Battery – The battery must be fully charged, which you may have done over the winter. If not, do so now, and if you need to replace it, do so before riding.
  2. Tires – Check your tires thoroughly for cracks, bulges, or other problems. Replace if necessary. Otherwise, fill them up to the proper air pressure. Also check the wheels for dents and repair spokes if necessary.
  3. Brakes – You’ve already checked the brake fluid, and filled or replaced it. Now, visually inspect the brake pads, discs, and shoes. If they have gotten too thin, replace them. Clean the rotors, and make sure the brake handle and throttle cables are well lubricated. Just before you head out, test the brakes by taking a short test run.
  4. Suspension, Frame, Steering – Check all around the frame, focusing on any joints or connections, to make sure there are no slight cracks. Lubricate the bearings and kickstand for smooth operation, and make sure the steering is working smooth and easy.

After you’ve checked all these things, check the controls, rev her up, and hit the road.

See our previous posts on preparing your boat and preparing your RV.