Part 3: Driving with your Knees

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

More people than you may think drive for a few seconds at a time with their knees. Usually, they need both hands for something else for a short period of time.  In one account we read online, a person said they had seen someone actually driving down the freeway reading a newspaper which would require both knees to steer.

While driving with your knees might be convenient, it is very dangerous.  It simply is not possible to react to changes in traffic or even execute proper driving with your knees.

Choose to drive safely. Use your hands instead of your knees.

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

In December 2014, two school buses crashed killing two young girls and a teacher’s aide as well as causing injuries for many more riders.  After a six-month investigation, it was determined that the driver was driving while distracted due to sending and receiving texts.

Although this story is tragic, it is not unusual.  98 percent of adults say that they know that texting and driving is unsafe, yet 49 percent of adults admit doing it.

How dangerous is texting and driving?

9 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating.

  • There is a 25% chance probability (1 in 4) that a motor vehicle crash involved a cellphone.
  • 40% of teens say they have been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cellphone in a way that put them in danger.
  • 33% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 report reading or writing text messages while driving in the previous month.
  • 341,000 motor vehicle crashes in 2013 involved texting.
  • Using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of a crash 4X.
  • 2 seconds is the length of time that a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.
  • On average, a driver sending a text takes their eyes off the road for 5 seconds.
  • Texting is banned for all drivers, regardless of age, in 46 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A 2012 survey found that the most likely age group to text and drive is 21 – 24 years old.

 

As you can see, texting and driving is a dangerous combination.  Choose to drive safely and be a focused driver rather than texting.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Reading the gps while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Most drivers rate their driving safety by how few accidents in which they have been involved.  However, that is not what distinguishes a safe driver from an unsafe one.  In this series, we present 10 dangerous actions that drivers commonly do.  Follow BJI on Facebook and Twitter so you can check out each action and see how safe a driver you are.

Part 1: Reading while Driving

Can you picture a person driving down the highway while reading a big newspaper that blocks their view?  While you might not imagine that a person could be so foolish, consider that people drive and read quite often – and it’s dangerous.  Text messages.  Checking a magazine.  Checking Google Maps.  They all distract you from focusing on the road and just 2 seconds distraction doubles your chance of being in or near a crash.

Avoid reading while driving, and, if you know others who do so, urge them to stop.  If you child(ren) fuss, share statistics to help them understand.  (See our next post: “Texting While Driving”.) If they do not listen, take away the keys.  If you or your children need directions, pull over to start Google maps and use the speaker function instead of looking at the screen.

Choose to drive safely. Drive focused, not distracted.

Staying Cool in the Summer

Staying Cool in the Summer

Summer is a wonderful time of the year.  Kids are out of school, we go on vacations, going swimming, hiking, walking, camping — there are all sorts of wonderful outdoor activates to do with the family.  Along with summer activities comes a few things of which to be mindful — animals, bugs, storms and heat to name a few.  So let’s talk about heat for a few minutes, because it is important to stay cool and hydrated.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Adding a little lemon helps taste and even provides vitamin C.  Get your children in the habit of drinking plenty of water.
  • Park in the shade and open your windows slightly. Cars in the summer can reach a whopping 120 degrees!  That’s dangerous for both children and pets.
  • If you work outdoors:
    • Stay hydrated and take breaks in cool locations such as indoors or in the shade.
    • Work with a buddy and keep tabs on one another to stay safe.
  • For babies who will be in the sun, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lightweight clothes, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats.  It is ok to place a minimal amount of sunscreen in small areas.
  • For kids in the sun:
    • Try to keep them out of the sun during the peak hours of 10AM-4PM.
    • Wear hats and sunglasses and make sure the glasses are rated to block out the UVA and UVB with 97-100% effectiveness.
    • Clothing should be tight weave.
    • Wear sunblock of SPF15 or better and reapply it every 2-3 hours.

Have fun and stay safe this summer!

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Swimming and spending time in or on the water is something most of us look forward to in the summer.  It helps us stay cool, gives us a reason to get a tan and is lots of fun!  There are a few things to consider while swimming in order to keep the merriment going.

Do not Swim Alone

It is important to have someone or a lifeguard nearby.  Do not assume one is there. If you are not sure ask, because your life could depend on it.

Stay in Communication

Have a phone nearby.  If something happens that requires professional help (such as medical attention), you will be able to call for help at a time when speed is of utmost importance.

Pay Attention at the Pool

Although toys are fun, they are not always safe at the pool.  They can get in the way and may cause an accident.  Keep electrical appliances away from the pool to avoid shock and/or electrocution.  It’s also best to walk, not run, to avoid slipping and falling on the pool’s wet surfaces.

Know CPR

With swimming comes the chance of someone drowning.  Knowing CPR could save the person’s life.  When CPR is needed, the sooner it is started, the better the chances.

Be Prepared

If a person is an unsure or weak swimmer, wear a life jacket. Take swimming lessons and learn the basic and advanced skills.  Not only will you be able to swim, but you may also develop the ability to help someone who cannot.

Why is Car Insurance Important

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Some people choose not to get it for financial reasons or perhaps because they consider themselves to be “good drivers.”  However, there are reasons why it is important to carry adequate car insurance.

It is Required by Law

Getting caught without car insurance can impact your ability to drive.  You might get your driver’s license taken away.  If you are pulled over or in an accident and you do not have insurance, there can be a high likelihood that you could lose your license for up to a year.  For repeat offenders, it could be longer or even include jail time.  There’s often a fine involved.

It Protects You and Your Family

Another reason to carry car insurance is because it protects both you and your family as well as other drivers and their families.  If you are involved in a wreck or property is damaged, insurance can provide for property repair and/or medical expenses.  It helps you save money when you need it most.  No one expects to get into a car accident, but they happen.  Consider it like an umbrella.  You may not need it, but it’s great to have one when it rains.

 

Save Money on Rental Insurance

Do you go on trips during which you rent a vehicle?  You might be able to avoid having to pay for the insurance offered by the rental company.  Check with your agent.  Your vehicle insurance may cover you while you are driving a rental.

Roadside Assistance

It’s not uncommon for an insurance policy to provide some type of roadside assistance.  Whether you run out of gas, hit some black ice and slide off the road or just have a flat tire, you should be covered by the roadside assistance in your policy.  Help is just a phone call away.  Be sure to check with your agent to see what is covered in your policy.

What to Do Next

 

As you can see, car insurance is not just an annoyance.  It is important to have adequate coverage from a company you can trust.  If you wonder about your coverage and you live in Tennessee or Kentucky, Bob Johnson Insurance is glad to help.  Please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form.

The Difference Between Types of Insurance Agents

Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance in TN

Those insurance commercials on TV can be so amusing, but when it really comes down to it, which kind of insurance agent do you want?  Let’s take a look.

There are three types of insurance agents:  independent, captive and direct through the internet.  Our post “Why should you choose an independent insurance agent over online insurance?” explains why getting insurance online may not be your best choice.

A “captive agent” works for just one insurance company.  The benefit is that they are very well-trained in their company’s products, and they usually will know fairly quickly if you qualify for a particular product. They also generally offer good customer service as well. They will be able to answer your insurance-related questions and help guide you through purchasing a policy. On the other hand, they are limited in options that they can provide to you, because they can offer products from only one insurance company.

Why an Independent Agent is the Best Choice

An independent agent stands out from the rest. Because they do not have an exclusive relationship with one company, they do not have the limitations of online insurance or a captive agent.  The result is you get more from an independent agent.

  • They can provide quick quotes across multiple insurance companies to help you find the best rate.
  • Based on their experience and knowledge, they can advise you about the differences between companies as well as the benefits of each insurance company so that you can choose the one that balances the coverage you want with the rate you can afford.
  • You get personalized service centered around your needs and wants.
  • If you need multiple policies (such as auto, home, and life), you are not limited to one company for all your insurance needs. Your independent insurance agent can provide you with information about your options so that you can make the best choice for which company or companies will provide your insurance.

We would like to help you!

We would love to answer any questions you may have or to provide a quote for you. For questions, please give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here and fill out our contact form. One of our experienced agents will contact you as quickly as possible.  If you prefer, you can click any of the links under “Quotes and Information” (in the upper menu bar) to receive a free quote.

Grilling Safety Part 4: Flavoring your Food with Wood

Grilling Safety Part 4: Woods to Use for Flavoring

Sometimes safety is about using the right materials rather than less desirable choices. When it comes to using wood to help flavor the food, make sure that you choose the right one.

There are many types of woods available for grilling or smoking food.  Here are some tips regarding your wood choices.

  • Softwoods burn quickly and many times the flavor that the smoke adds to the food is undesirable.
  • Hardwoods burn longer and provide more heat. They also provide more flavor because of the aromatic smoke produced while burning.
  • If you are using another fuel source such as charcoal, you can toss in wood in small quantities.  The flavor from the burning wood will add unique flavor to the food.

Woods that Should Not be Used

Some woods are better not to be used such as softwoods that can influence the flavor negatively.  However, some types of woods SHOULD NOT be used because they are hazardous.  Here are a few.

Lumber Scraps in General:  It is difficult to determine the type of wood in lumber scraps whether new or used, and, therefore, what effect it may have on the food. In addition, it is possible that used lumber could have come in contact with harmful substances that could be absorbed. It can pose a danger when burning.

Pressure Treated / Chemically Treated / Painted / Stained Lumber: Pressure- and chemically-treated woods are often used in projects such as outdoor decking.  Of course, paint and stain are used on many wood surfaces.  When these woods are burned, they release hazardous and releases toxic smoke and fumes.  At best, it will add undesirable flavor to your food. At worst, you are exposing your body to harmful substances.  Do not use these woods for grilling.

Mold or Fungus Covered Wood:  The smoke produced when mold and fungus are burned leaves a very undesirable tastes in food.

Popular Woods Used in Grilling

Sweet Flavor

  • Alder
  • Apple
  • Birch (smoky and sweet)
  • Blackberry
  • Cherry
  • Corncob:  The heart of the corncob can be ground into small granular bits that can be combined with other woods.  It can provide a sweet flavor that may overpower the food.  Start with small amounts and check until you get the desired flavor.
  • Grape Vine
  • Maple (smoky and sweet)
  • Mulberry
  • Peach
  • Pear

Smoky Flavor

  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Hickory (smoky bacon flavor)
  • Maple (smoky and sweet)
  • Pecan

Distinctive Flavor

  • Cedar
  • Mesquite
  • Oak
  • Pimento (peppery with possibility of flavors of other spices)
  • Seaweed (spicy, natural flavor)
  • Walnut
  • Wine or Whiskey Barrels

 

Grilling Safety Part 3: Gas Grills

Grilling Safety Part 3 - Gas Grills

A story was reported on NBC news a few years ago.  Julie was grilling hot dogs.  She looked outside and “saw 5-foot flames spewing from her family’s gas grill.”  Her friend emptied their kitchen fire extinguisher on the fire, but it didn’t stop.  She called 911 who advised her to wait until the flames died down and then shut off the propane.  Once the fire was out, she saw that the knobs and the shelf were melted off!

Julie was lucky.  She caught the fire before the tank blew up or anyone was hurt. It could have been worse.

Don’t let Julie’s experience happen to you.  Keep your outdoor barbecuing experience fun and reduce your risk with these tips.

Safety Checks

Many gas grill fires happen when using a grill that has been left inactive for a period of time.  They can also happen just after refilling and reattaching the gas container.  It is important to check them thoroughly.

Check your gas cylinder hose for leaks before your first use each year (or periodically if you use your grill year-round).

  • Bubble test:  Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.
  • Smell test:  Pay attention for the smell of gas.

Check for blockages in the tubes that might be caused by insects, spiders, or food grease. If found, a pipe cleaner or wire can be used to push the blockage out of the tube.

Check for hoses in bad condition.  In addition to checking for leaks, look for any cracking, brittleness, or holes.  Ensure that any hoses or tubing have no sharp bends.

Position gas hoses properly.  Move them as far away from hot surfaces or where hot grease might drop.  If that is not possible, install a protective heat shield.

Check your connectors.  Replace any that are scratched or nicked.

If You Find a Leak or Break

If you find a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Keep fire/heat sources away from a leaking grill.  This includes, but is not limited to, cigarettes, matches or any open flame.

Do not attempt repairs yourself.  Go to an LP gas dealer or qualified repair person.

 

Starting the Grill and While Cooking

Open the lid before turning on the gas — always!  Gas can build up inside a closed lid. If ignited, the lid can blow off and cause injuries and/or burns.

If the flame goes out while cooking, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

Only use a grill outdoors. It should be at least 10 feet away from any building.  Do not use it in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

After Cooking

Completely close off the valve.

Store equipment correctly:

  • Your grill and propane tank should be stored outside and away from your house.
  • Flammable liquid (LP gas, gasoline, etc.) containers should be stored upright and away from the grill. Never store them indoors.
  • A filled gas container should never be kept in a hot car or car trunk.  Heat causes gas pressure to increase.  This causes the possibility of the relief valve opening and releasing gas into the vehicle.

Grilling Safety Part 2: Charcoal Grills

Charcoal Grill Safety

There is one time when you do not want your party to be a “blast” — when you are cooking on the grill.  In Part 1, we provided 5 general tips for grilling safety.  Here are some tips to stay safe when using a charcoal grill.

Prepping the Grill

  • Check for rust damage in metal grills. Charcoal can fall through holes and cause a fire.
  • The location of the grill and the items around it matter.
    • Do not place objects that can burn near the grill even after the flames are gone. The grill can continue to remain hot for many hours.
    • Keep combustible items that may be blown by the wind away from the grill.

Starting the Grill and Increasing Heat

  • There are several ways to get your charcoal started.
    • Charcoal chimney starters use newspaper as fuel.
    • If you use starter fluid, make sure you get charcoal fluid and do not add it when coals or kindling have already been ignited.
    • Electric charcoal starters to not use file to ignite your charcoal. When using an electric starter, be sure you have and extension cord for outdoor use.
  • If the fire needs to grow, use dry kindling or more charcoal. Liquid fuel can cause a flash fire.

Finishing Touches

  • About 50% of all grill-related injuries are thermal burns.  When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before removing them.
  • Dispose of old coals in a metal container.
  • Store your leftover charcoal away from children and heat sources.