737 Main Street, Suite 100 Buffalo, NY 14203 (716) 883-1833 (855) 836-2676 www.milestoneseventh.com
A Letter fro m th e Fir m
Dear Friends, PUBLISHER John T. Bair
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Andre firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Eva Talley email@example.com Associate Editor Brittany Monbarren firstname.lastname@example.org
As spring unfolds, the days get longer, and the weather gets nicer, please enjoy this latest copy of Living Safer. As a stakeholder in civil justice, an AAJ advocate, and a business owner, I realize the importance of continuing our dialogue with trial lawyers and their clients about best practices and what is needed in the legal space for expert planning. My aim is to inspire people who have suffered tragedy to make both sound personal financial decisions and to also make a positive impact in their communities with the monies they receive. Here’s how: I’ve established a portfolio of companies to serve the interest of civil justice and to provide cutting-edge advice to trial lawyers and their clients. Our latest endeavor, the Bairs Foundation, is breaking the status quo in non-recourse finance by providing capital to families at just seven percent simple interest. Plaintiffs need education prior to settlement. That is why our firm is a consulting firm that provides expert context in life care plans, the effects of Medicaid, the cost of Medicare, special needs trust evaluation, and complex settlement administration through the use of qualified settlement funds. And you thought we were just a structured settlement firm. We are also proud to have been a part of our nation’s recovery for the Beirut marines, and most recently to assist those who were victims of terrorism affected by the US Embassy Bombing of 1998 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. If you appreciate my career efforts and would like to help, please consider sharing this publication with another family or lawyer. Sincerely,
John T. Bair Founder/Member Milestone Consulting, LLC Toll Free: 855.836.2676 www.milestonesventh.com
i n l i f e , t h e r e c om e s a t i m e t o mov e forwa r d t o t h e n e x t m i l e s t on e
Inside This Issue ON THE COVER
THINGS PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE THEY’RE DOING BECAUSE OF DEPRESSION
GAINING FINANCIAL FREEDOM FOR YOU & YOUR FAMILY
IS DIETARY SALT HOLDING YOU BACK?
WHAT DO WE TELL OUR CHILDREN ABOUT POLITICS?
HOUSE RENOVATIONS? HOW TO CHECK YOUR CONTRACTOR’S WORK
32 Reading Between the Lines Educate yourself before your next auto insurance renewal When Florida personal injury attorney Michael McLaughlin lectures to a group about auto insurance, he always begins with the same question; “How many people here have full coverage?” Invariably, much of the room answers with the affirmative—but this is a misconception, says McLaughlin.
STUDIES UNCOVER LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
HOW SAFE ARE VACATION RENTALS SITES & HOMESTAY NETWORKS?
5 DAYS OF HEALTHY MEALS
MY TEEN IS READY TO DRIVE: NOW WHAT?
DOS & DON’TS
Car Insurance Should Not Be Taken Lightly by Bryan Silver A few years back, GEICO ran a rather humorous TV commercial that put forth a rather caustic commentary—that the only people not aware of GEICO’s ability to save a fairly specific amount of money on car insurance must be living under a rock (Try typing “GEICO” and “rock” into your favorite search bar if you want to take a look). So what’s today’s takeaway? If we’re to listen to current advertisers, you’d think car insurance is a light-hearted industry with an easy-to-understand product offering where price point is all you have to worry about. Well, nothing could be further from the truth— no matter what we’re told by talking lizards or overly energetic spokeswomen with overly coiffed hair. While car insurance shouldn’t be viewed as complicated, it is complex and what you don’t know could hurt you. I wish the benefit of knowing your coverage inside and out could be summed up with some colorful idiom or cautionary proverb similar to “measure twice, cut once,” but I don’t know of any sayings that are insurance specific (incidentally, the Russian version of the aforementioned proverb translates to “measure seven times, cut once”—talk about risk management!) Albeit the process of obtaining car insurance might be “so easy, a
caveman could do it,” the effort does require an informed caveman to get the most out of one’s coverage—and in an era when a multi-car accident involving several luxury brands could financially knock you back into the stone age, making the right choices is more important than ever. Keep in mind, all insurance isn’t always aimed at the catastrophic or worst-case-scenario. My father made it a point to fill his trunk with a number of indispensable items like jumper cables, reflectors and patch kits—things he referred to as “cheap insurance”—ready to remedy the problems that have plagued drivers since the days of running boards and rumble seats. Check out the aisles of your local hardware store for the latest modern equivalents (Also see Gadgets, page 6) and make sure you’re prepared the next time such issues strand you on the side of the road. Hopefully reading through this issue of Living Safer will help educate, inform and inspire you to get the most out of not only your car insurance, but your car driving experience. Remember that it’s your peace of mind and financial protection that you’re paying for, not the views of your insurer’s agent, their adjusters or even their chatty mascot that makes everything sound so simple.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 5
Tools to Help During a
Roadside Emergency A breakdown, flat tire, dead battery or accident can happen to anyone at any time. What you have in your car can make all the difference between getting back on the road safety or dealing with a stressful and potentially dangerous situation. Fortunately, there are a number of safety gadgets and technology that can help better prepare you for any bumps in the road. Whether the problem is a flat tire, a dead battery or something you can temporarily fix, we’ve provided you with a list of gadgets and technology you shouldn’t leave home without.
by Brittany Monbarren
Cobra JumPack - CPP 8000 Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced the ominous silence of a dead car battery, but this powerful jump starter pack can charge you up in a pinch. The Cobra JumPack is one of the most compact and portable power pack, offering dual capabilities of jump starting your vehicle and charging your mobile device. This device is great to have on hand in an emergency.
Resqme Car Escape Tool Originally developed for first responders, this 2-in-1 safety and survival tool allows you to cut a jammed seatbelt and to break car windows in case you or someone else is trapped after an accident.
HONK HONK is a free on demand roadside assistance app. It has more than 45k tow truck partners nationwide, and flats can be fixed in as quickly as 30 minutes. All you have to do is open the app, share your location information, and the kind of help you need. This service is available 24/7.
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Automatic Adapter & App Get your car talking with Automatic. This device plugs into just about any car’s on-board diagnostics port and records all kind of data about your car. The Automatic adapter, which pairs with your smartphone, can diagnose engine problems, remember where you parked and can even help in an emergency.
Accutire Tire Pressure Gauge Air. We can’t live without it. And, neither can your vehicle's tires. The Accutire Tire Pressure Gauge is a handy programmable digital gauge that helps keep your tires in good shape. It has a large, easy-to-read LCD display, equipped with automatic shutoff to prevent deflation, and an angled head and rubber coated handle for easy gripping.
Flare Alternative If your car is stranded by the side of the road, it’s critical to give other drivers as much warning as possible. The First Alert 911 LED Emergency Beacons are a much safer alternative to traditional flares. The beacons are weather resistant, compact and lightweight and battery powered.
Urgent.ly This app has Uber-like visibility and a flat rate pay-per-use pricing. Urgent.ly uses thousands of trusted service providers nationwide to get drivers back on the road quickly with immediate help and no annual fees. You’ll see nearby help, pick a service, and watch help arrive in real-time.
ResQ Tire Repair Kit Flat tire? No problem! The ResQ Tire Repair Kit can reinflate your tire and temporarily repair a puncture up to 6 mm wide. This easy-to-use gadget offers the most comprehensive tire repair solution with the integration of a compressor and sealant bottle.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 7
Why the Scale Says You Gained Weight Overnight by Mike Bryant
rying to lose weight? Do you weigh yourself every day? Don't. Why? Because your weight will fluctuate and you will get discouraged. Here's why:
The type of medication you are on. Some medications are known to cause water retention or constipation issues which would play a role in your daily weight gain.
You ate more salt than usual. If you increase your
Gender. Women will see increases based upon their
salt intake, you will see a weight gain based upon the retention of water.
menstruation cycle or retention of water both before and
ou are weighing yourself at different times Y during the day. Depending on your eating, sleeping
You could have consumed something that causes your body to react more significantly. It is not unusual
and exercise schedule, your weight can vary throughout the day.
for individuals to have certain foods that, when they are
You could be having constipation issues. Depending on how much fiber you are eating and your retention of the food that you eat, that could have an effect on how much waste you have in your body which will affect your weight.
after that time period.
ingested, can play a role in the amount of weight they gain overnight. Items such as beer or bread can cause this. The best way to deal with these issues is to keep a diary as to when you see these increases, the type of foods you are eating and what other things changed in your activities to make decisions about what the increase may be caused by. If
The type of food you are eating. This can play a role.
the weight increase is not long-term, it probably doesnâ€™t mean
If you are carb loading or eating heavy carbs, you can see an increase in weight, again because of retention of water.
anything of significance, but may give you clues as to what causes long-term effects on your body. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 9
Does Your Child Have a Tummy Ache? Consider Your Options by Derek Braslow as your pediatrician ever suggested your child take MiraLax (an occasional constipation remedy) when needed? It’s apparently not that rare. However, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), this may not be the best idea. Once thought gentle enough for daily use, ongoing complaints from parents has the FDA looking into the safety of the product. Through the commissioning of a research team at CHOP, the regulatory agency hopes to learn if there is any merit to the alleged claims that the over-the-counter product has produced “neuropsychiatric problems” in young children.
FDA showed that some batches of MiraLax had either degraded to or contained levels of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol— the same ingredients found in most brands of antifreeze and toxic to humans.
What effect is it having on our children? Many parents are alleging that routine exposure to the medication over time has caused their children to go from happy and laughing to dealing with adult-associated issues such as rage, paranoia, phobias and overall anxiety. Worse yet, many report that discontinuation of the medicine does not alleviate the psychiatric side effects.
Why have so many gone off-label with this product? While other laxatives, such as Dulcolax, Senokot and Ex-Lax, have always been taboo for children, MiraLax was believed by many to be different due to the way in which it works. Many other popular laxatives are actually stimulants and directly affect the nerves and muscles in the colon. MiraLax works by pulling water already in the body into the colon to help with constipation, but it’s the active ingredient of polyethylene glycol, specifically PEG 3350, that now has many parents up in arms. Going back as far as 2008, tests done by the
As a parent, what can you do? While the official study has yet to make claims or release final results, many are now coming forward to support the families who might be suffering from such exposure with a Facebook group titled, “Parents Against MiraLax.” For those parents whose children still suffer from constipation, it’s recommended that natural ways to relieve the issue are employed until the FDA offers more details, this includes giving your child prune juice and foods that are high in fiber. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 11
WHY YO UR WEIGH T LOS S PLATE AUS BY JON
It seems as though a ton of people are on weight loss kicks. There are numerous fitness facilities and weight loss programs across the country, and people are obviously taking advantage of the advice they are getting because more and more of these places are popping up around the neighborhoods. The trainers in the good facilities help you focus on your exercise and your eating habits, and it works—until it doesn’t. At some point, the loss of weight reaches a “limit.” What’s the reason for this? Usually, when a person begins to seek out ways to lose weight, it is much easier to burn more calories than you eat. At this initial stage, you are losing more water and fat with muscle. Your metabolism is higher in the beginning of an exercise/weight loss routine, but as you lose the muscle, your metabolism declines. When your metabolism gets to a level where the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau of weight loss. There could be other reasons for the plateau as well, depending on how long you have been focusing on your weight loss. Some research has shown that vitamins C and E antioxidant supplements can stall your weight loss. Lack of sleep can also hinder weight loss as you burn less fat, and it can make you hungrier. You also may not be exercising properly. Studies show interval training is much more effective than simply doing moderate exercise on a daily basis, so you should vary your exercises and intensity. Finally, do you really know what you are eating? Are you preparing your own meals, or are you relying on eating out and thinking you are eating healthy? Restaurant food is very rarely as healthy as one might think. But, even if you eat right, change up your exercise routine, get the right amount of sleep and watch what supplements you are
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taking, you may still reach that plateau. It could be that you are really closer to your ideal weight than you think. You also might have to look at age. As we get older, the harder it is to lose weight. The older you get, the slower your metabolism gets, and the more muscle mass you lose. Also, most people’s stress levels increase as they age, while activity levels decrease. So, what can you do? First, output has to be more than input: exercise more than you eat. If you are losing muscle, engage in strength training. Strength and resistance training not only help you build muscle, but they also help burn significant calories. Some say weight training is the most effective method for burning calories, but, in actuality, it’s weight training coupled with high intensity training that’s probably the most effective way to burn calories and build muscle. In addition, you can also focus more on your diet to help get past the plateau. Drink more water—it keeps you hydrated and helps your body eliminate salt. It can also make you less hungry. Eat more small meals throughout the day. If you eat consistently, your body responds with a regular pattern and regular metabolism. When you starve yourself, you lower your metabolism, and your body adjusts. Try eating more protein and fiber. Learn a new exercise or sport. The bottom line is that our body responds to how we treat it. It also learns from our behaviors and adjusts, so we have to keep our body on its toes. That means changing up our exercise routines, getting the right amount of sleep and eating better. As always, you should seek a medical doctor’s guidance before attempting to lose weight—but follow these suggestions, and you might get your weight loss out of its funk and eventually reach the “plateau” that’s right for you.
Skin Deep: The Effects of Using Old Makeup by Crystal Consylman separate. When this happens, you will find that they will actually reduce the moisture in your lips, causing them to dry and crack. Here are some general guidelines to follow when disposing of makeup:
We all have it—the makeup that we never finish using; now just sitting in a drawer, in our bathroom closet or on top of our vanity. The newest and latest product comes out that you have to have, and you think to yourself that you’ll use up the old products later. However, “later” never seems to come. The problem is that old makeup can sometimes do more harm than good. Different types of makeup play different roles in our appearance. They are meant to make us feel great about ourselves. While many women consider foundation to be the first step of their makeup, it is actually the last step of your skin care. It helps keep the dirt and grime of everyday life from getting into your pores. However, foundations are only good for so long. If you continue to use one after it expires, you could be opening your skin up to irritations and acne. It can be tempting to keep old foundation around, especially since many women will switch between their summer- and wintercolor foundations before they’ve completely used up a bottle. This is not recommended, especially if your foundation is a liquid. The product that is most important to pay attention to is your eye makeup. There are various items that we use on our eyes that, when old, can be very harmful. For instance, gel eyeliners can build up with bacteria—causing sties, irritation and infection in your eye. Mascara can also build up with bacteria over time, reaching a harmful level if used much beyond the product’s expiration. If you pump the applicator into the bottle instead of twist it, the bacteria actually builds up much quicker—so make sure to twist, not pump! Blushes and bronzers might give you that pop of color you long for, but they too begin to break down after a period of time and will cause breakouts and skin irritation if you do not discard them. Lipsticks and lip glosses, if not used, will eventually begin to
Liquid foundations – 1 year
Powder foundations – 2 years
Cream to powder foundations – 18 months
Concealers – 1 year
Cream shadows/blushes/bronzers – 12-18 months
Pencil eyeliners – 2 years (you are able to sharpen these and keep them fresh)
Lipsticks and lip liners – 1 year
Lip gloss – 18 months
Liquid or gel eyeliner – 3 months
Mascara – 3 months
Women tend to have numerous types and colors of mascara, eyeliners, blushes, shadows and lipsticks. The best way to keep track of when you first opened any given item is to take a thin sharpie and write the month and year on the product. This will help you from accidentally applying old makeup and keep your skin vibrant and beautiful. Most importantly, always remember that makeup only enhances the inner beauty that you hold within!
h J g
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 13
15 Things People Don’t Realize They’re Doing Because of Depression by Mark Bello
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any people believe that depression is easily identifiable, manifesting itself as persistent sadness that doesn't go away. They make assumptions about how someone struggling with depression will look and behave. While depression affects a person’s mood, it goes beyond feeling sad or “down in the dumps.” It can last months, years, or—more often than not—a lifetime. From a lack of will to physical pain, depression often drains one’s energy, motivation, and concentration, even in performing normal, daily activities. Additionally, it can affect one’s thinking, interfering with the ability to overcome even the smallest hurdles in life.
You have trouble concentrating on tasks; whether it be schoolwork, a job, or simply staying focused during conversations.
Depression expresses itself in various ways—sometimes obvious, while other times the signs are so subtle that someone personally affected by depression will not even realize it. Sufferers will not only fail to recognize symptoms for what they really are, but develop ways of coping with their problems and hiding their illness from others. Oftentimes, they will think something else is wrong. As a result, many people go undiagnosed.
ou choose to forego feeling altogether. You have a hard Y time responding to affection and concern from others.
So, how can you tell if you are depressed? It seems like a silly question, but a surprising number of people fail to spot the signs. Due to a lack of awareness of what depression consists of or an aversion to admitting a mental or emotional illness, they see themselves as suffering from stress, fatigue, being overworked, or even a physical disease. The signs are ignored—from the dramatic and obvious to the subtle and the secret. Here are 15 factors to consider: You just want to stay in bed. Despite getting plenty of sleep, you still wake up tired or fatigued. On the other hand, you may suffer from insomnia and forgetfulness.
ou engage in behaviors that signal “masked depression” to Y forget your problems. You may drink alcohol or look to food for comfort. You may lose the majority of your appetite as a subconscious need to control something. ou assume your mood is contributing to chronic pain or a Y medical condition or illness. However, some conditions, such as hypothyroidism, cancer, and hepatitis, can cause depression. Nutritional deficiencies and some medications are culprits, as well.
ou work harder, not smarter. The classic example is trying to Y exercise your way to happiness: If you already log a few hours a week at the gym, spending another 30 minutes every day may briefly lift your spirits. ou are experiencing a marked slowing down of your motor Y responses such as eye-hand coordination. It manifests as a slowing of coordination, speech and impaired articulation. Depression is an illness—a chemical imbalance in the brain that takes more than a “band-aid approach” to fix. Symptoms vary from person to person. If you have at least five of the signs listed, and they last for more than two weeks, and are not clearly caused by a medical disorder, drug use, or the death of a loved one, you may be suffering from depression. It is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk heading into a spiral from which you may have a hard time recovering. More importantly, know that depression is highly treatable.
You associate your afternoon slump with the need for copious amounts of coffee. You confuse depression with sadness. For example, you attribute your thoughts and feelings to a major problem or life crisis, such as a job loss or the death of a loved one. ou try to convince yourself you are fine and put on a façade Y everywhere you go. While you make your life look perfect on the outside, you are sad internally. You have difficulty communicating your emotions. ou harbor negative energy inside; the only way to release it Y is to lash out at others. You tend to lose your temper easily and conflicts quickly escalate into fights. ou have mood swings without cause. You cry for no apparent Y reason. You could be happy one minute and crying the next. You may overreact to insignificant sadness and ignore major bad news. You stop socializing and pull away from friends and family or from activities you once enjoyed. You feel worthless and unloved and may be considering harming yourself or ending your life.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 15
7 Ways to Establish A Healthy Morning Routine by Jim Edward
e’ve all worked with that one person—the one who rises with the sun and sends their first emails at 4:30 A.M. Whether this is your goal or not, there is something to be said for starting your day off right and establishing a healthy morning routine. While not simple, it can be very worthwhile. Here are seven tips for getting set with a new morning routine, courtesy of My Fitness Pal:
SET YOUR ALARM AN HOUR EARLIER
The first step to starting a healthy morning routine is by actually, you know, getting up. As much as you might hate to hear it, setting the tone for a healthy and productive day starts with not hitting the snooze. And research shows making the effort to get up earlier really does help the early bird get the worm—studies have found that early risers are more productive, happier and have lower BMIs.
HIT THE GYM FIRST
Yes, waking up in time to make that 6 a.m. spin class can seem like cruel and unusual punishment—but making exercise part of your morning routine really is better for your health than hitting the gym after work. Not only will you feel super accomplished by the time you arrive at the office, studies also show that morning exercise routines help you get a better night’s sleep and burn more calories during your sweat session.
To make the early rise a little easier, get outside—or at least open the curtains if you can’t step out into the fresh air. Exposure to daylight resets your body’s circadian rhythm. In other words, it helps you start your day feeling alert and energized rather than groggy and cranky.
HAVE A DRINK
When you wake up, have a glass of water waiting for you on your bedside table. Drinking 16 ounces first thing in the morning not only rehydrates you but also helps kick constipation, temporarily suppresses your appetite and kick-starts your metabolism.
START WITH AN EASY WIN
Research shows that our willpower peaks in the early waking hours. With that in mind, start your day with something you can easily accomplish—especially if you’re not a morning person. If you love getting a good sweat in yoga, switch to the a.m. class instead of going after work. Putting something you enjoy at the top of your to-do list will make it much easier to capitalize on your morning burst of willpower. 16 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
Not only does eating in the a.m. jump-start your metabolism for the day, studies show that those who eat a healthy morning meal make better food choices all day long. One 2011 study found that breakfast skippers were particularly likely to consume more calories from fat throughout the day.
To round out your morning routine, spend 15 minutes meditating. Not only is meditation a proven way to reduce stress, increase your multitasking skills and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, it will also make sitting in traffic on your morning commute way easier to handle.
Studies Uncover Long-Term Effects of
Traumatic Brain Injury by Lily Grace
octors are beginning to get answers to the question that every parent whose child has had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) wants to know; “What will my child be like 10 years from now?” At a recent meeting, Brad Kurowski, M.D., a physician in the division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Cincinnati
Using neuroimaging and other technologies, scientists are also learning more about brain structure and connectivity related to persistent symptoms after TBI. In a not-yet-published Cincinnati Children's study, for example, researchers investigated the structural connectivity of brain networks following aerobic training. The recovery of structural connectivity they discovered suggests
Children's Hospital Medical Center, presented research on the longterm effects of TBI—an average of seven years after injury. Patients with mild to moderate brain injuries are two times more likely to have developed attention problems, and those with severe injuries are five times more likely to develop secondary ADHD. These researchers are also finding that the family environment influences the development of these attention problems. »» Parenting and the home environment exert a powerful influence on recovery. Children with severe TBI in optimal environments may show few effects of their injuries, while children with milder injuries from disadvantaged or chaotic homes often demonstrate persistent problems.
that aerobic training may lead to improvement in symptoms. Over the past two decades, investigators at Cincinnati Children's have conducted a series of studies to develop and test interventions to improve cognitive and behavioral outcomes following pediatric brain injury. They developed an innovative web-based program that provides family-centered training in problem solving, communication, and self-regulation. Across a series of randomized trials, online family problemsolving treatment has been shown to reduce behavior problems and executive dysfunction (management of cognitive processes) in older children with TBI, and over the longer-term improved everyday functioning in 12-17 year olds. Web-based parenting skills programs targeting younger children have resulted in improved parent-child interactions and reduced behavior problems. In a computerized pilot trial of attention and memory, children had improvements in sustained attention and parent-reported executive function behaviors. These intervention studies suggest several avenues for working to improve short- and long-term recovery following TBI.
»» Early family response may be particularly important for longterm outcomes; suggesting that working to promote effective parenting may be an important early intervention. »» Certain skills that can affect social functioning, such as speed of information processing, inhibition, and reasoning, show greater long-term effects. »» Many children do very well long-term after brain injury and most do not have across the board deficits. More than 630,000 children and teenagers in the United States are treated in emergency rooms for TBI each year. But predictors of recovery following TBI, particularly the roles of genes and environment, are unclear. These environmental factors include family functioning, parenting practices, home environment, and socioeconomic status. Researchers at Cincinnati Children's are working to identify genes important to recovery after TBI and understand how these genes may interact with environmental factors to influence recovery. »» They will be collecting salivary DNA samples from more than 330 children participating in the Approaches and Decisions in Acute Pediatric TBI Trial. »» The primary outcome will be global functioning at 3, 6, and 12 months post injury, and secondary outcomes will include a comprehensive assessment of cognitive and behavioral functioning at 12 months post injury. »» This project will provide information to inform individualized prognosis and treatment plans.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 17
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Social Mediaâ€™s Effect on Teenager Self-Esteem by J.R. Whaley
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 19
hile parents have had to deal with, and attempt to
But all hope is not lost. Parents have an opportunity to combat
successfully raise, teenagers for eons, no previous
this trend. Here are some strategies that experts recommend
generation of parents has ever had to do so when
to deal with teenage use of social media and the possible toxic
faced with the challenges of social media.
effects caused by it:
Selfies. Likes. Thumbs up. Check-ins. Emojis. Stories. It can be
»» Take social media seriously. Understand that teenagers are
exhausting trying to understand, much less manage, all of the
dealing with a technology that no other teenager has dealt
facets of social media. But like it or not, social media is here to
with before. Don’t minimize the impact that social media can
stay. And today’s parents must be made aware of the impact social
have on teenagers’ self-esteem, even though wiser (and older)
media can have on the self-image and self-esteem of teenagers.
heads might not experience the same impact.
In fact, a survey titled “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image” recently found that many teens who are active online fret about how they’re perceived. Some of the statistics showed that: »» 35% are worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos »» 27% feel stressed about how they look in posted photos »» 22% felt bad about themselves if their photos were ignored »» 41% of survey takers admit to using social media to make themselves look “cooler” While it is a wonderful technology that allows us to connect and stay in touch with friends, to receive news, enjoy entertainment, and to communicate with the larger world about daily events— social media also has serious pitfalls. A recent U.K. study determined that confidence in teenage girls has fallen dramatically in the last seven years. The health department that conducted the survey works with local authorities to assess the health and wellbeing of secondary school pupils across the country. It conducts a study of 17,000 teenagers each year. The survey showed that just 33% of girls aged between 14 and 15 felt good about themselves—compared to 41% in 2007. Researchers believe that the decline in girls’ confidence and selfesteem could be directly linked to their online activity. They cited two factors—images easily exchanged online and the changing face of bullying. Social media can create not only an impossible standard of celebrity lifestyle to compete against but can cause teens to
»» Ask questions. Try to understand how social media might impact your teen’s self-esteem and instruct them that— perhaps—everything they see online is not real. Ask questions about what they are seeing. Ask if they think certain photos have been copied or edited. Ask how it feels to get likes or for posts to be ignored. »» “Do as I say but not as I do” doesn’t work. Not sure if this parent’s age-old instruction has ever worked, but it certainly won’t with social media. Be aware of how you interact with your mobile devices in front of your kids. Do you walk in the door from work, head buried in your iPhone to check those last e-mails? Are you checking your Facebook page when you could be interacting with your kids? Social media and digital technology can dilute the parent-child relationship. Be aware if you are the one guilty of the dilution. »» Set limits—on ourselves. Set limitations on when and where social media and digital devices can be used in the house. These technology-free zones/technology-free hours should apply to everyone in the house. No iPhones at the kitchen table, no checking social media until all homework is done and after a certain time at night. Some even go on a “digital diet” wherein they take one day a week to completely take off from all digital media. It is not as hard as it sounds. Give it a try. »» Encourage your teen’s outside interests. Help your teen build esteem about what they do, rather than how they look online.
judge themselves against their peers. Each post seems designed
Lessons learned during the teenage years are critical for
to encourage envy because of the fun, or the good looks, or the
socialization and assimilation. Social media can help in that
fabulous lifestyle of the teen making the post. While teenagers of
process by allowing teenagers to communicate with peers and
a previous era had to deal with such competition during the school
become aware of the larger world. But there are pitfalls that
hours, images are now blasted out all day, every day. This constant
parents need to be aware of and have a strategy.
bombardment, and the failure to put it in proper perspective, has an effect on some teenagers’ self-esteem.
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Part 2 of this article will run in the next issue of Living Safer.
Car Won’t Start? In the Future, Your Blood Alcohol Level Could Be to Blame
by Eric Chaffin The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is fed up with drunk driving. The agency wants to do more to prevent drunk drivers from causing highway accidents. With over 10,000 people killed every year, they are pushing for the development and implementation of “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS),” safety technology that can help detect a driver’s blood alcohol concentration and prevent drivers from starting a vehicle if they are at or above the limit. The agency announced that together with the state of Virginia, it is providing an additional $5.1 million to help further develop and deploy DADSS. “Drunk driving crashes are no accident,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, “they are 100 percent preventable…with the help of our safety partners we’re looking at a technological path forward to create a world where there is no more drunk driving.”
Government Researching New Technology It was back in 2008 that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled new technology that could eliminate drunk driving altogether. They assigned the acronym DADSS to the program that was researching the technology, which has been described as a more advanced version of the well-known breath-based systems. The program brings together the NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), which represents the world’s leading automakers. Research and testing are being overseen by a team of independent engineers and scientists. The actual technology that the program is testing involves two types of systems: Breath-based system: This would be similar to the breathalyzer test, but would measure a driver’s natural
exhale so he or she wouldn’t have to exhale forcefully into any sort of device. As the driver breathes normally, the device would draw the exhaled breath into a sensor, and then take instantaneous readings and prevent the car from starting if blood alcohol levels were determined to be at or above the limit. Touch-based system: This technology would actually measure the blood level of alcohol under the skin’s surface, in the small capillaries that run through the fingers. When the driver touches a button, it would shine infrared light through the fingertip, and take multiple readings in less than a second. Researchers are still looking into details, such as where best to position the sensors in a vehicle and how to allow the technology to distinguish between the driver and passengers. Right now, they’re considering putting the breath-based system on the driver’s side door and the steering column, or having multiple sensors throughout the cabin to help the system differentiate between the driver and passengers. For the touch-based system, researchers are considering putting it on the vehicle start button, and may design it to work together with sensors in the front seat that determine if it is the driver being tested.
More Drunk Driving Deaths in 2017? The next step is to integrate the prototypes into a small number of vehicles and conduct a series of field tests. An average of 28 people were killed each day in DUI accidents. Rosekind stated they are trying to figure out why the numbers are increasing, while the NHTSA steps up its efforts to do more. Estimates are that the new DADSS technology could start showing up in vehicles by 2020.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 21
How Yoga Can Impact
Your Physical and Mental Strength by John Bair or many people who have family members with special physical needs, finding ways for them to relieve pain, improve their mobility and to improve how they feel is often a major priority. Some have turned to yoga for these major physical benefits. The New York Post recently featured a story in which an 86-yearold woman discovered the healing power of yoga to treat the effects of a herniated disc, scoliosis (a curvature in the spine that usually develops during puberty), and osteoporosis (a condition that weakens the bones and can lead to spine curvature). The combination of her back problems made it difficult to walk. “I tried everything: acupuncture, a physical therapist and seeing a chiropractor,” she told the Post. “You feel good temporarily, but [I’d be] in pain again soon after.” The woman began working with Rachel Jesien, a certified yoga instructor who also suffers from scoliosis and specializes in back care. Rachel wore a brace for five years as a child to treat her condition and later discovered the healing effects of yoga. She now works closely with her clients to empower them “…to have an innate understanding of both their structural and habitual patterning. Through conscious awareness-building techniques, Rachel provides her students with the tools needed to begin their healing process.” According to Jesien, yoga under the guidance of a back care specialist can strengthen both bone density and muscles and alleviate back pain caused by certain conditions.
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During their sessions once a week, she learned restorative poses and stretches—and after just one month, the 86-year-old was able to walk again. After two months, she knew which poses to use to relieve pain in a specific area of her body. Houman Danesh, M.D., director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, told the Post that people should go to a physical therapist first for a proper diagnosis, but one-on-one care with a specialist is key.
Yoga for People with Special Needs According to the group Asanas for Autism and Special Needs, one of the most important skills yoga can teach is the ability to cope and respond to stress, tension, worry, anxiety and depression. Many people with language or sensory processing difficulties experience anxiety, which activates the nervous system’s sympathetic system. Responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response, the sympathetic system can negatively impact a person’s health, mood and behavior. By understanding and employing certain breathing strategies and yoga poses, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs explains that a person has the tools to voluntarily activate the parasympathetic nervous system—responsible for rest and relaxation. “Children with autism and special needs can learn coping strategies through the practice of yoga so they may live calmer, happier, more peaceful and healthier lives,” the website explains.
Are Vacation Rental Sites and Homestay Networks? by Shelly White
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nline vacation rentals and homestay networks are extremely popular right now, as they allow travelers to rent great residential places in which they can feel at home wherever they go. These residential properties have been known to be very reasonable price-wise when compared with hotel stays, as well as very comfortable and convenient. While the renter is benefited by this new phenomenon in travel, so is the individual residential property owner wanting to list or rent out their residential properties for some extra income. More companies are branching out into this industry, including giant Airbnb and Expedia’s HomeAway with its newly acquired VRBO. With their overwhelming popularity and the availability of residence rentals that benefit owners and travelers, there also comes concerns over problems such as safety and scams. Right now, an issue rearing its ugly head is that, while Expedia’s HomeAway is trying to go head-to-head with Airbnb with its acquisition of VRBO, the company is being accused of rolling over loyal property owners in its quest. New service fees, matching algorithms and guarantees are causing property owners to cry foul. Many feel the company is going back on its original intent and trying to put its success before the rental and guest relationship. Operations are being switched up to the point that property owners feel like they are working for the homestay network company rather than the network working for the owners and renters. A class action suit is even in the works with Expedia’s HomeAway being accused of “bait-and-switch tactics, which have materially damaged Plaintiff and hundreds of thousands of other vacation home owners and managers.” When property owners are taken advantage of and losing income, this unfortunately gets passed on to the renter and ultimately damages the owner-renter relationship. It is important to add that, while owners might feel things are at a disadvantage to them in changes like those of Expedia’s HomeAway, matching features, guarantees and the like are security measures that can be protective for both the property owners and especially renters. In addition, there is, of course, safety and security issues that can cause injury and even death. With each property rented through these networks being unique—rather than the cookie cutter accommodations of the hotel industry—comes the challenge of each property having unique safety and security issues that are less than predictable. Vacation rental websites and homestay networks don’t do much in the way of guaranteeing safety, rather they just make the statement that safety is of the utmost importance and then give disclaimers of their liability or responsibility for safety issues. The industry is not regulated like the hotel industry with health and safety rules or inspections. The safety and security risks range from sexual or physical assaults to physical injuries, with no guarantees that renters or property owners will not suffer harm. One example of safety going awry is the story of a man killed in 2013 by a fall he took when he tried to sit on a charming rope
swing that was part of an Airbnb network rental. Unfortunately, the tree trunk was rotten and broke, ultimately falling on the man and causing massive brain injuries that were fatal. Yet another horror story involves a 19-year-old male who was locked into a room he rented in Madrid through the Airbnb network and then sexually assaulted by the property host. Although the young man desperately tried to get help by texting his mother over and over, Airbnb would not give the parent any information about the property due to privacy issue concerns. Since that time, Airbnb has added a spot for individuals to list an emergency contact while booking properties. If this litany of problems has brought vows to never utilize it, take heart, as there are things property owners and renters can do to be proactive in safety and security. Despite these stories, the industry is not doomed. Consider these tips to keep yourself safe and protected: Alert others to the details of your stay. Keep emergency contacts and information on other services at the ready. Research the area where the rental is located and make a decision on whether it might be better to stay in a hotel with 24-hour on-site management. Look for reviews or testimonials online and familiarize yourself with the FAQ section of any homestay network website. You’ll not only find information that describes safety and security issues, but you’ll be part of an online community in which members give real life recommendations and bad experiences. Don’t be afraid to be picky when narrowing down possible rentals. L ook for properties willing to cite safety and security factors and ones with hosts willing to answer questions about things like the property, safety, security, rules, and cancellation policies. atch out for either property owners or renters who want W to do everything through email services like Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail. Property owners that take payment methods that are reversible, such as PayPal or credit cards, are preferable and immediately seen as more professional and secure for both parties. It is important to know that thousands and thousands of stays occur without a hitch while using online homestay networks. However, even a handful of bad experiences and tragedies are too many. The main safety advocate in one’s life has to be one’s self, so it is important to do the homework and research—as well as ask all the questions—before committing to rent one’s property to others or rent a home-style experience from a property owner. Doing so could assure enjoyable, safe travels and literally save one’s life.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 25
Spend More on Coffee than Retirement by Leah F. Walsh
A recent online article claimed that millennials spend more on their daily coffee than they spend on investing in their retirement. It’s hardly surprising that this claim quickly spread like wildfire throughout the Internet community. It seems that millennials have captured the attention of everyone these days—from investors to employers—and it’s easy to understand why. Their generation forms the largest generation in U.S. history and, as such, these 90-plus million young adults are increasingly becoming the driving force in our economy. But as this fledgling population enters their prime spending years, we should take a step back and ask ourselves not just what are they spending their money on, but why? Because whether you are looking to fill a job at work or simply better understand your millennial child, what recent research shows about them just might surprise you.
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Who are Millennials? While there is some disagreement on the precise definition, the general consensus is that the millennial generation—also known as “Generation Y”—consists of those people born between 1980 and 2000. Chances are therefore high that you regularly deal with at least a few of these people as the definition encompasses anyone currently in their late teens, 20s, and even up to their mid-30s by 2017. When they were born, however, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what defines this dynamic group of young adults who came of age in a world surrounded by rapidly growing technology. Further, though they were once broadly condemned by the masses as being self-entitled and spoiled, these tech-savvy individuals are now proving to be even more resourceful in early adulthood than some might have expected.
How Millennials are Adapting as they ‘Grow Up’ In stark contrast to their childhood years—in which millennials were generally perceived to have every advantage over prior generations—the millennial was thrust into young adulthood with a number of obstacles standing in their way. Most notably, the majority of them entered the U.S. workforce during our country’s greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression and therefore had an immediate disadvantage in terms of finding meaningful employment. Further, despite being the most educated generation in history, most millennials came out of college facing an oversaturated job market, shockingly high student loan debt, and the forced reality of accepting a low-paying, entry level job— not exactly the easy transition into the “real world” that they may have been expecting! As a result of these harsh economic circumstances, millennials have been forced to adapt by delaying many of the traditional financial milestones their parents had achieved by their age. With respect to buying a home, for example, the most common living arrangement among the millennial generation—for the first time in modern history—is living at home with their parents, as they simply can’t afford the rising costs and tightened lending restrictions associated with home ownership. Many millennials are also delaying the process of buying their own vehicle, opting instead to rely upon public transportation or vehicle sharing options. But if they aren’t spending their money on housing and vehicles, then what are they spending their money on? According to the study mentioned above—which was released by a company that is working on an investment app for young generations—what they aren’t allocating money toward is their retirement. Considering the economic hand they have been dealt, maybe this isn’t as easy to explain as simply saying they have irresponsible spending habits. Maybe they deserve a more balanced explanation.
As a result of being forced to accept the reality of high student loan debt and relatively low wages, millennials seem to have adopted a financial strategy best summarized as “survive in the moment.” Further, they have emerged into adulthood with a sense of distrust in traditional investment models and financial planning options, having grown up with corporate scandals like Enron and the stock market and mortgage industry crash of 2008. Perhaps it’s understandable then that they aren’t investing in their retirement or 401(k) accounts at the same rate as their parents. Instead, millennials are choosing to spend their limited disposable income on what really matters to them; their experiences. Whether it’s saving up their pennies to travel abroad to an exotic destination or simply having a cup of coffee with friends, they are making the most out of their entry level wages. And despite the fact that they may be willing to spend too much on their daily caffeine fix from their local coffee shop, the financial strategy of this generation may not be all that bad. In fact, many of the same surveys which report the low retirement savings also show that millennials are also less reliant on credit card debt and more likely to live within their means than prior generations were at their age. At least that’s saying something positive about their attitude towards fiscal responsibility!
What Does This Mean Going Forward? So while millennials may have a long way to go in terms of learning how to manage their money and invest in their future, the bottom line is they are doing the best with what they have and it isn’t all that bad given the hand they have been dealt. And though it’s too early to tell whether they will be able to pull it together and survive in retirement, their unique adaptability in this unpredictable economy may prove to be one of their greatest advantages yet. So for now, let’s try and give them the benefit of the doubt because, whether we like it or not, they are our future.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 27
to Gaining Financial Freedom for You and Your Family by Michael J. Swanson
here’s no time like a new year to take a fresh step toward earning real financial freedom. Like so many Americans, you may be living with credit card debt or feeling discouraged about saving for college or retirement. No one is immune. There are many challenges to balancing life’s budget. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start—or start over. To help you navigate a rocky financial landscape, here are a few tips to point you and your loved ones in the right direction.
Maximize your credit score.
We’re all judged by how we’ve handled money in the past. A strong personal credit score helps you qualify for a car loan, buy a house, leverage credit cards and so much more. However, even if you have a low score that dates back to when you first started earning and learning about financial responsibility, it’s not too late to raise it. For example, you can dispute errors on online reports like Equifax; negotiate the erasure of old debt that went to collections; apply for a traditional or secured credit card to boost good credit; and, very importantly, pay your bills on time. Over a third of your credit score is based on a history of paying.
Focus on cash savings.
As hard as it may seem, stashing away a little more money each month to build an emergency cash savings fund of at least six months’ worth of living expenses should be a high priority for anyone seeking true financial freedom. Unexpected expenses are just a part of life: a family member gets laid off. The car needs a huge repair. The reason you need a large chunk of liquidity is so you don’t have to tap an alternative resource that will cost you more in the long run. A credit card will charge a huge finance fee to borrow—no one wants to take out another loan—and 28 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
retirement funds are intentionally tied up for a future, not present, emergency.
Pay off your credit cards every month.
Work with a professional financial advisor.
As you probably know, having a couple of credit cards is actually good for your credit—if you use your plastic responsibly. The first rule of thumb is to pay it off religiously. If you can’t, this is a huge sign that something is off. Another key is not charging everything to a credit card, even if you want those flight points. You are demonstrating a sound financial practice if you try to keep charges around 30 percent of your credit limit. Maxing your credit card—even if you can pay it off each month—will not help improve your score.
Everyone can benefit from talking to an advisor, but especially if you’re not a numbers person by nature. A qualified consultant who considers credit scores all day long can help you uncover new places to save and unexpected ways to live smarter financially.
Create a budget.
Simply sitting down and looking at your finances, including long-term savings, could be a helpful wakeup call. Review your annual credit card statement to see where expenses are out of control and write down realistic, step-by-step goals for the new year. Putting a plan in writing is the first step in working toward financial freedom. Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online at www.ConsumerFinance.gov for additional information that will help you reach your financial goals in 2017 and beyond!
for the Newest Tax Scams by Lily Grace
he Internal Revenue Service recently released its annual
Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid improperly
“Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, and, needless to say, it’s
claiming the fuel tax credit—a tax benefit generally not available to
scary. The annual list highlights various schemes that
most taxpayers. The credit is usually limited to off-highway business
taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, many of which peak
use, including use in farming. Taxpayers should also avoid misuse
during tax filing season.
of the research credit. Improper claims often involve failures to
Here’s the list of tax scams you could encounter:
participate in or substantiate qualified research activities and/or satisfy the requirements related to qualified research expenses.
Phishing: Be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact
Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should
with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund. Don’t click on one
avoid the temptation to falsely inflate deductions or expenses on
claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that
their returns to pay less than what they owe or potentially receive
may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
larger refunds. Think twice before overstating deductions, such as charitable contributions and business expenses, or improperly
Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS
claiming credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child
agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a
surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation,
Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Don’t invent income to
among other things.
erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers are sometimes talked into doing this by con
Identity Theft: Tax season seems to be the highest time when
artists. Taxpayers should file the most accurate return possible
your identity could get stolen. Taxpayers need to watch out and
because they are legally responsible for what is on their return.
This scam can lead to taxpayers facing large bills to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. In some cases, they may even face
Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous
return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers
Abusive Tax Shelters: Don’t use abusive tax structures to avoid
who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud,
paying taxes. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and
identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true.
Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting
Frivolous Tax Arguments: Don’t use frivolous tax arguments
contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar
to avoid paying tax. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage
or nationally known organizations. Contributors should take a
taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims, even
few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to
though they have been repeatedly thrown out of court. While
legitimate and currently eligible charities. Visit IRS.gov to check out
taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no
the status of charitable organizations.
one has the right to disobey the law or disregard their responsibility to pay taxes. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000.
Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Be wary of anyone who asks
Offshore Tax Avoidance: The recent string of successful
taxpayers to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before
enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the
looking at their records or charges fees based on a percentage
financial organizations that help them shows that it’s a bad
of the refund. Fraudsters use flyers, advertisements, phony
bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best
storefronts and word of mouth via community groups where trust
served by coming in voluntarily and getting caught up on their
is high to find victims.
tax-filing responsibilities. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 29
Reading Between the Lines
Educate yourself before your next auto insurance renewal by Bryan Silver
When Florida personal injury attorney Michael McLaughlin lectures to a group about auto insurance, he always begins with the same question; “How many people here have full coverage?” Invariably, much of the room answers with the affirmative—but this is a misconception, says McLaughlin. “People most likely mean to say that they are ‘legally’ covered, because there is always the potential for a situation where the amount and type of coverage they do have will not cover them fully.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you should panic about your level of auto insurance just yet, but you should definitely be aware—both of what you most likely need and what you actually have. For starters, do you know what your state’s minimum insurance requirement is to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads?
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The thing to remember is that, while there are some general consistencies, every state has different requirements. The state of California only requires 15/30/5. States like Texas and North Carolina require 30/60/25. Alaska? They require 50/100/25. Before you start to worry as to whether or not you meet your state’s minimum requirements, don’t—the fact that you have auto insurance from a reputable carrier says you have a
policy that meets your state’s minimum. The problem is
MOST INSURANCE PAYS OUT ON MORE
that it’s most likely not nearly enough.
EXPENSES THAN YOU MIGHT THINK: What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover?
IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS Before explaining the disparity many people experience between what is required and what is more likely necessary, it’s important to understand what is meant by the aforementioned numbers that are used by most every state to specify the absolute
• Medical expenses • Legal fees • Loss of income • Pain and suffering • Funeral costs
minimum amount of coverage allowed. While not all states express insurance minimums in the same way, most use a format that relies on three numbers to convey the total amount of coverage they expect every driver to carry for each of their vehicles. The first number expresses the limit of bodily injury coverage per individual, the second number is the limit of bodily injury payout per accident, and the third and final
What Do Medical Payments Cover? • Ambulance transportation to the hospital • Emergency room care • Initial hospital stay • Other reasonable medical and funeral expenses resulting from the accident
number is the limit on property damage per accident.
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THE FIRST AND SECOND THING YOU NEED TO KNOW: BODILY INJURY LIABILITY Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) is an important component of your auto insurance coverage. If you are found to be at fault for a car accident that has resulted in injuries for one or more people other than yourself, bodily injury liability coverage is
The Advantages of a Higher Limit Auto Insurance Policy
what pays for the costs associated with those injuries—it will
Many people try to justify lower levels of auto
As an example, let’s say your policy states that your BIL is
insurance as a "smart decision" because of the short
25/50. What that means is that you will be covered for dam-
term savings. However, there are many advantages
ages up to $25,000 per person with a cap of $50,000 for any
to higher limit policies that far outweigh the savings
and all injured individuals involved in the accident. Anything
you may receive from a policy that does not truly
over either of these amounts will be your responsibility. You
cover your driving needs.
might now start to see the fallacy of “full coverage.” Cause
also pay for your legal defense if you are sued for damages by an injured party. Makes sense, right? But it’s the first two of those three numbers that apply to bodily injury liability, and it’s important to understand how each of them relates to your coverage.
an accident that injuries one or two individuals, and you’re YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR LESS. The entire point
covered up to $25,000 for each person. Cause a multi-car
of having auto insurance is to keep your finances in
crash where each vehicle has multiple passengers—certainly
order. Remember that you are responsible for all
a possibility on today’s fast-moving and overcrowded road-
aspects of the accident that your insurance company
ways—and you could be looking at half a dozen people with
is not contracted to pay. For most people, it’s easier
injuries and only an average of $8333.33 to cover their costs.
to pay a little at a time than paying a lot at once. BUT WHAT ABOUT PROPERTY DAMAGE? PEACE OF MIND. One second of misplaced attention
Before we get too deep into the discussion over what’s
can cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands
“enough” coverage in the way of bodily injury liability,
of dollars that probably took you quite a while to
it’s important to understand that third and final number
earn. Higher levels of insurance keep your mistakes
of minimum insurance—property damage liability. Again,
from bankrupting your finances and stalling out your
when you are found at fault for a car accident, property
damage liability is the amount your insurance policy will pay up to in order to cover the costs associated with
PROTECTING YOUR LOVED ONES. Remember that
repairing or replacing another person's property. More
it’s often more than you who will be affected by an
than likely, this will involve any damage done to someone
accident. While most are minor, many auto accidents
else's car, but it could also apply to items damaged that
can result in serious injury or even death. Whether
were inside a vehicle or even your neighbor’s fence if you
it’s you as the driver or those who are passengers
were to back into it. So, if you have a 25/50/15 policy,
in the vehicle, a serious accident can put physical,
the amount up to which your policy will pay out for other
psychological and financial burdens on your family.
people’s property would $15,000. Note the wording, “other people’s property.” Don’t make the mistake in
PROTECTING YOUR ASSETS. If you are not properly
thinking that property damage liability will cover
insured and at fault for an accident, you must pay
damage to your vehicle, because it won’t. Remember,
the opposing party for damages and injuries. If you
these components of your insurance coverage are in
don’t have the money, that party may go after your
response to state-imposed minimums, and your state is
personal assets. Depending on the level of damage,
only concerned about any harm or cost you may cause
your house, car, business and other assets may be at
others—if you’re worried about your brand new convert-
ible, you’ll need to ensure you have collision coverage and most likely comprehensive as well.
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SHOPPING FOR CAR INSURANCE / by Niel Fick You may not think that you have the room in your
• An affordable policy won’t help much if the carrier
budget for the level of coverage that most experts
provides subpar service or gives you a hard time
recommend. This is most likely not the case, as savvy
about paying a claim, so check online ratings first.
insurance shoppers know. Before making any changes
Remember that the best choice for you might
to your policy, consider the following points:
differ from that of your neighbor or your online
• The market for auto insurance is highly competitive, and you can find some great prices if you are willing
peers, so weigh your options carefully. • Take stock of your situation. A single individual
to do just a little bit of research. Where once drivers
has different needs than a head of household with
chose between two or three top national carriers,
children. Realize that state minimums are simply a
the marketplace in most states is now quite large.
metric, they do not take into account your specific
Look for comparative rate data either on the Web
property, living situation or standard of living.
or you can call providers directly.
• Make sure you get the level of coverage that will
• Always look at insurance from the protection
allow you to drive safely and confidently in all
that it provides, not the price you pay. If you
situations. Realize that you need coverage for
are ever in a serious accident, better coverage
any mistakes you might make and the mistakes
becomes invaluable and any savings you might
of other which you cannot avoid. Don’t let state
have enjoyed with reduced coverage will seem
minimums influence your level of coverage, but
insignificant by comparison.
get what protects you and your family best.
THE TWO Cs OF AUTO INSURANCE:
pays out on damage done to your own vehicle—damage
COLLISION AND COMPREHENSIVE
done to another person’s vehicle in an accident is
Some insurers call this category “enhanced” or
covered by property damage liability. If you do have a
optional protection, but it’s viewed as pretty standard
“collision,” note that this type of insurance is not picky
coverage by many—depending on the current worth
about what you collided with. Whether you hit another
of your vehicle and whether or not it’s paid off. There
vehicle or a telephone pole, collision coverage should
is a long-standing school of thought that most vehicles
take care of all repairs—usually minus a deductible.
will, at some point, depreciate to such a level that it’s no
This is an important aspect of both collision and com-
longer worth carrying these optional coverages, but it’s
prehensive. While you are able to choose the deductible
a debatable concept and the choice is ultimately up to
amount for either type of coverage, it’s the value of the
deductible that directly varies the premium you will pay. Another thing to consider with this type of insurance
IF YOU BREAK IT, WHICH COVERAGE PAYS FOR IT?
is that it’s usually considered mandatory if you don’t own
Collision coverage is pretty much a self-explanatory type
your vehicle outright, so you’ll definitely want to opt for
of coverage, but it’s important to remember that it only
the coverage if your vehicle is either leased or financed.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 33
GET THE INSURANCE COVERAGE THAT’S BEST FOR YOU AMOUNT OF LIABILITY COVERAGE.
UMBRELLA POLICIES. So called
“REPLACEMENT” OR “ACTUAL CASH
Most experts agree that the amount
because they “cover” a number
VALUE.” This is where many people
of coverage that is proper for the
of major assets such as a home,
get tripped up, and not knowing the
average driver is 100/300/100. This
car, businesses or even watercraft,
difference could mean you’re in for a
is equivalent to $100,000 for per-
an umbrella policy adds the most
big disappointment. If you do have
sonal bodily injury, $300,000 for the
amount of money to your protection
replacement coverage, never settle
total amount of bodily injuries in an
and is designed to work when your
for depreciated value—you may have
accident, and $100,000 for the total
basic policies exhaust their coverage
to first replace the item(s) out of
amount of property damage in an
protection. Depending on the
pocket, but you should then be able
accident. However, this basic cov-
company that is underwriting the
to get full reimbursement with the
erage does not protect you from all
policy, a $1 million policy could only
situations. Depending on your needs,
cost from $200 to $400 per year—
you may also require different kinds
and many people will carry as much
of coverage to fully protect yourself
as $5 million in coverage.
and your loved ones.
STATES WITH MOST UNINSURED DRIVERS COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE CAN COME IN HANDY
So what happens if your vehicle is dented or dinged
while standing still? Weather-related damage often falls into this category, as hail and storm-blown tree limbs can do a number on your car even while it’s
parked in the driveway. Luckily, you have the option
of securing comprehensive coverage for your vehicle, effectively covering you if you fall prey to an incident as opposed to an accident. Other events include flooding, fire and even vandalism. Again, this type of coverage is only considered optional if you’ve fully paid for the vehicle—lenders and lessors usually want reassurance that any issues will be rectified while the vehicle is still on their books. So collision and comprehensive coverage come into play when there’s physical damage to your vehicle and no one else is at fault, but what happens when you suffer a physical injury and another driver’s insurance isn’t stepping up to the plate? That’s when it’s important to have yet another type of coverage.
34 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
STATE WITH LEAST UNINSURED DRIVERS MASSACHUSETTS
MAINE 4.7% NEW YORK
Source: Insurance Research Council 2012
THE “OTHER” COVERAGE: UNINSURED VS. UNDERINSURED
Unfortunately, this is not the case, as the Insurance Information
In an ideal world, everyone driving on the roads today would
Institute estimates that one in eight drivers on U.S. roads is currently
have adequate auto insurance coverage, and, in the event of an
uninsured—and there’s very little data to suggest how many drivers
accident, it would simply be a matter of determining who was at
are “underinsured” as the question of how much is enough varies
fault and then having his or her insurance carrier pay for damages.
with each accident as well as the extent of damages.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE, THESE MILESTONES CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Over the course of one’s lifetime, certain landmark events can
when, you can be prepared and keep your insurance premium
trigger a change in the cost of your car insurance—both good
on course. Note that rates shown here are approximate and
and bad. The upside is that if you know what’s coming and
based on the national average, your costs may vary. BUYING A HOUSE Insurance premiums always get better when you bundle—combining auto coverage with homeowner’s insurance can save most couples $250 or more
thanks to standard multi-policy discounts.
On average, college grads save $80 a year compared to those without the sheepskin— the thought being that a higher education implies a higher level of maturity.
Whether it’s a reduction in
There’s no getting around the fact that adding a teen
premiums or newfound savings
driver to your policy is going to cause a sharp increase
from combining two policies,
in your premium. While teenage boys tip the scales a
“settling down” usually equates
little more than teen girl drivers, most parents will see
to hundreds of dollars in hand,
either add about $1,500 to their bottom line. The good
as insurers assume your reckless
news? If your child is a good student, most insurers
(driving) days are now behind you.
offer discounts for kids who keep their grades up.
RETIREMENT Unfortunately, entering your golden years could mean giving up even more HAVING A BABY
to your insurance company. Depending
While most insurers won’t reward you simply
on the carrier, rates often start climbing
for expanding your family, it’s the trading in
at age 65 and peak at age 70. Slower
of that two-door for a family-sized, safety
reflexes and diminishing eyesight are
feature-packed minivan that can have your
the usual culprits, but less time behind
premium go down by $250 or more.
the wheel and fewer miles per year can help to even things out.
So how does a responsible driver avoid such circumstances
Whether mandatory or not in your state, McLaughlin recommends
when they are out of one’s control? The answer is uninsured or
that you use your amount of bodily injury coverage as a guideline.
underinsured motorist coverage. The first thing to understand is
“I often see where a driver is carrying a high level of bodily injury
that they are not interchangeable, as each covers a specific situation
coverage, but not a similar amount to cover themselves if they
that could potentially put you at financial risk. You should also note
are injured by the wrong person,” he says. “If you have 100/300
that many states are starting to require one or the other and some
in bodily injury, you should match that with 100/300 in uninsured
actually bundle the two together in one form of coverage.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 35
WHEN AND WHY YOU SHOULD SEEK ADVICE FROM AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY The main reason most people contact a lawyer in regards to an auto accident is that they want to take the issue to court. Of course, this begs the question,
WHAT A LAWYER MIGHT TELL YOU • In most states, you are not required by
“Can you sue your insurance company?” Well, such a simple question deserves
law to allow your insurance company to
a straightforward answer—and the answer is yes. Your car insurance policy is
record your telephone conversation.
a contract between you and the insurer. If they fail or refuse to settle a claim
Any negotiations involving a settlement
which should be paid under the terms of the policy, they are in breach of
should be handled formally in writing.
contract. And when the insurer violates such a contract, the insured can pursue
• Don’t automatically accept the estimate or
all available legal remedies—including filing a lawsuit against the company. In
appraisal of losses by your insurer’s adjuster,
addition, depending on state law and the circumstances of a specific case, the
it’s a good idea to have an independent
insured may also sue for damages and other expenses that include the costs
contractor do an evaluation on your behalf.
incurred in pursuit of the lawsuit.
• Don’t accept any check that says “final payment” unless you agree that the
YOUR CLAIM HAS BEEN DENIED. NOW WHAT? Before you contact an attorney, get your insurance company to put any coverage denial in writing, specifically citing any specific policy language that is pertinent to your claim. In this way, an auto accident lawyer that specializes in claim denials can review your information and quickly tell you if you have a legitimate dispute. The lawyer can also advise you as to the initial steps you should take first, as sometimes it’s best to follow the insurer’s internal appeals or dispute process before pursuing legal action.
payment will close the claim. Often, it’s a good idea not to sign any release or waivers until you seek legal advice. • Don’t ignore time limits set by the policy—this can include filing a proof of loss statement and your ability to pursue legal action, etc. • Remember that your policy is a contract and
DISPUTE RESOLUTION IS BEST DONE BY YOUR LAWYER. From negotiation to arbitration, an experienced accident attorney will be best able to convey the aspects of your case to your insurer while negotiating a fair settlement.
your insurer has a legal obligation to provide both the coverage and any compensation (laid out) if a covered event occurs.
This doesn’t mean hashing it out in court, thought. Sometimes your insurance policy will stipulate that arbitration be used to settle the dispute between you and your insurer—the reason being that a neutral arbitrator can often settle disputes in less time and for a lesser cost than a court proceeding.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE IN AN ACCIDENT CALL YOUR AGENT – Obviously you should request
KNOW YOUR COVERAGE – Don’t trust your insurance agent
emergency care if needed, but otherwise contact your
to explain every detail of your policy. Read through it yourself;
agent before anything else—even calling a tow truck.
especially the “Coverage” and “Exclusion” sections as these
He or she can help with invaluable advice and ensure you
change from policy to policy and could make a big difference
take full advantage of your policy’s benefits.
if you’re ever in an accident.
TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES – If possible, pictures of your car,
IDENTIFY ANY COVERAGE CROSSOVER – Often, people have
the damage, the area where the accident took place, the
other policies that cover part or all of certain car claims. Check
other vehicle, any injuries… you get the picture.
your homeowner’s umbrella policy (if you own a home) or find out
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS – Definitely document all money
if your credit card offers any secondary coverage on car rentals.
spent in pursuit of your claim. Beyond vehicle repairs and
BE HONEST AND UPFRONT – It’s best if your insurance agent
car rental, this could also include other purchases such as
knows all the details as failing to be (honest) could invalidate
meals or lodging incurred in the process.
your policy and result in a denial of coverage.
The good news is that you probably won’t need to involve a lawyer
aspect of coverage), and this is why being an informed consumer is
in most cases. Today’s insurance companies are interested in settling
half the battle. When you are familiar with and understand all aspects
claims and moving on, so they will usually be somewhere in the
of your insurance policy, you’re in a much better position to negotiate
ballpark of a fair offer when dealing directly with you. Often, the only
with your insurer. Be firm, be informed and don’t back down—you’ll
indiscretion might be one of omission (i.e. failing to mention a certain
find that, often, this is all it takes to get what you deserve.
36 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
e ea l t h y a l s M H by Hillary Rinehardt
SALMON EN PAPILLOTE
Ingredients: 4 6-ounce salmon filets, skin on Two lemons, peel and rind cut off and sliced into ½ inch rounds Basil, fresh or partially freeze dried Salt and pepper 1¹⁄³ cup dry white wine Parchment paper Kitchen string or bullnose/binder clips 4 sweet potatoes One lb. asparagus or other green vegetable
Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes. With 15 minutes left on the timer, prepare the salmon packets. Place 4 large rectangles of parchment on a large rimmed cookie sheet. Place one salmon filet in the center of each piece of parchment. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with about one Tablespoon chopped basil. Place 3-4 rounds of lemon on each piece of salmon. Gather the parchment on top folding over several times to seal. You may place a bullnose clip, if using, on the top portion to secure. Seal one end with a bullnose clip or with kitchen string. Carefully pour ¹⁄³ cup white wine in the open end. Seal that end with a second bullnose clip or with kitchen string. Repeat with remaining fillets. Bake salmon for 20 minutes (The sweet potatoes may remain in the oven with the salmon). While the salmon is cooking, wash the asparagus. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a teaspoon of butter or oil to the water. Blanche the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Remove from water and sprinkle with salt and pepper (the fat in the water will allow the seasoning to stick).
To serve: Remove the peel from the potatoes and place in four shallow bowls. Open one end of the salmon packet and pour juice over potato. Remove salmon filet from skin and place over potato. Add asparagus around salmon and serve.
38 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions) 2 tablespoons good olive oil 2 cloves minced garlic 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and large-diced 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and large-diced 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the turkey breast in 1 tbsp. oil until cooked through breaking up with a wooden spoon. Remove the cooked turkey to a bowl. Heat remaining oil in pot, and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the turkey, crushed tomatoes to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving. Also delicious over spaghetti.
3 one-pound packages ground turkey breast Freshly ground black pepper
For Serving: Fresh basil leaves, chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, light sour cream to taste
Ingredients: small chicken breasts, best sourced 4 from a local butcher ½ cup flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 1 teaspoon paprika 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup fresh lemon juice 1 cup dry white wine
Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally by placing your hand on top of the breast on a cutting board and carefully cutting the breast in half while lightly pressing on the breast. Alternatively, lightly pound the breast between two sheet of wax paper or saran wrap with a meat pounder until thin and even. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Combine lemon juice and wine and set aside. Dip each chicken breast in flour mixture to coat. Gently shake off excess. Heat oil in a large skillet. Place chicken breasts in hot pan (as will fit) and cook until nicely browned on both sides. Remove chicken to a baking dish and repeat until all chicken is cooked, adding a little oil as necessary. Pour the lemon/wine mixture into the hot pan to deglaze. Simmer for 1 minute, then pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serve with Israeli couscous and fresh or frozen peas, or with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 39
Ingredients: skinless cod fillets (5 to 6 ounces each, 3 to 4 inches 4 across and 1 inch thick; may substitute hake, halibut, salmon or haddock) 2 tablespoons red miso paste 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 teaspoons tamari or dark soy sauce 2 teaspoons rice vinegar 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
Instructions: Mix all ingredients except the fish together until smooth. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the cod filets on the foil and, using a spoon, spread the marinade all over the fillets. Position an oven rack so it is 5 to 6 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the pan of cod on the rack and broil for about 4-5 minutes until the cod is nicely browned, but still tender inside. Serve with steamed rice, and your favorite vegetables.
BAKED EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Ingredients: Olive oil, for baking sheets 2 large eggs 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs cup finely grated Parmesan, ½ plus 2 tablespoons for topping 1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon dried basil Kosher salt and ground pepper large eggplant, peeled and sliced 2 into ½-inch rounds cups (48 ounces) store-bought chunky tomato 6 sauce or your favorite homemade tomato sauce 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush two baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, ¾ cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20-25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20-25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then ½ cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a simple salad, like arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.
40 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
Holding You Back?
by Bret Hanna We all need salt (aka sodium or sodium chloride) in our diets. Salt allows the body to conduct electrical signals in the gastrointestinal tract, the heart and the nervous system. It also helps the body maintain blood pressure and keeps cells healthy. Salt is also pervasive in our foods. It is used for taste, of course, but also for texture and as a preservative. But since too much dietary salt is generally considered bad for you, there are dietary guidelines for consumption. For most people, it is recommended that sodium intake be limited to less than 2,300 mg per day. For those 51 and older, and those with kidney disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, it is recommended that sodium intake be limited to less than 1,500 mg per day. Tracking consumption is relatively easy, one simply needs to check food labels for per-serving sodium content. While consuming dietary salt is necessary for certain bodily systems and functions, consuming too much clearly is bad for you. Average consumption of 2.3 grams of sodium or more can result in high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause kidney disease, dementia, coronary heart disease, stroke heart failure and atrial fibrillation. High levels of sodium consumption can also cause obesity, inflammation and autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, dehydration, bloating and water retention, and stomach cancer. Given the risks associated with high sodium consumption, it certainly makes sense to lower consumption to the recommended levels or below. The Mayo Clinic has outlined several strategies for doing this: »» The first is to learn how to read nutritional labels so you know what you are consuming: ·· Sodium free or salt free means less that 5 mg per serving.
·· Very low sodium means less than 35 mg per serving. ·· Low sodium means less than 140 mg per serving. ·· Reduced or less sodium means at least 25 percent less per serving than the regular version of the same thing. ·· Lite or light sodium means at least 50 percent less per serving than the regular version of the same thing. ·· Unsalted or no salt added means that no salt was added as the food was processed, but that does not mean that the food in question does not contain natural sodium—check for that. »» Choose “low” sodium products. »» Eat more fresh foods, meaning foods that don’t have sodium used as a preservative. »» Remove salt from recipes and don’t put salt on the table when eating. »» Minimize the use of condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish, sauces/dips, salad dressing and soy sauce, because they are often sodium rich. »» Replace salt with herbs and other spices to improve taste. Do not substitute sea salt because it contains as much sodium as table salt. »» Pay attention to your bread consumption. Bread often contains high levels of sodium, and this can be true of whole or multi grain breads. Check the labels. The takeaway is that it is not that difficult to reduce sodium consumption, but the benefits in doing so are significant.
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 41
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies! by Jim Edward A fruit and vegetable intake above five-a-day shows major benefits
Dagfinn Aune, M.D., lead author of the research from the School
in reducing the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early
of Public Health at Imperial. “Our results suggest that although five
death. This is the finding of new research led by scientists from
portions of fruit and vegetables is good, 10 a day is even better."
Imperial College London, which analyzed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. The team found that, although even the
Reducing Disease Risk
recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables a day reduced
The results revealed that even a daily intake of 200 g was
disease risk, the greatest benefit came from eating 800 grams (g)
associated with a 16 percent reduced risk of heart disease, an
a day (roughly equivalent to 10 portions—one portion of fruit or
18 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 13 percent reduced risk
vegetables is defined as 80 g).
of cardiovascular disease. This amount, which is equivalent to
The study, which was a meta-analysis of all available research
two and a half portions, was also associated with a four percent
in populations worldwide, included up to 2 million people and
reduced risk in cancer risk, and a 15 percent reduction in the risk of
assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke,
81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases and
Further benefits were observed with higher intakes. Eating
94,000 deaths. In the research, published in the International Journal
up to 800 g of fruits and vegetables a day, or 10 portions, was
of Epidemiology, the team estimated approximately 7.8 million
premature deaths worldwide could potentially be prevented every year if people ate 10 portions, or 800 g, of fruit and vegetables a day. The team also analyzed which types of fruits and vegetables provided the greatest protection against disease. “We wanted to
»» 24% reduced risk of heart disease »» 33% reduced risk of stroke »» 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain
»» 13% reduced risk of total cancer
the maximum protection against disease and premature death,” said
»» 31% reduction in dying prematurely
42 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
These risks were calculated in comparison to not eating any
“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol
fruit and vegetables. The current UK guidelines are to eat at
levels and blood pressure while boosting the health of our blood
least five portions, or 400 g, per day. However, fewer than one in
vessels and immune system,” he said. “This may be due to
three UK adults are thought to meet this target. As an example,
the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance, they
an 80 g portion of fruit and vegetables equals approximately
contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and
one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin. Three heaped
lead to a reduction in cancer risk.” He added that compounds
tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli
called glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli
or cauliflower also count as a portion. The team was not able to
activate enzymes that may help prevent cancer. Furthermore,
investigate intakes greater than 800 g a day, or approximately 10
fruits and vegetables may also have a beneficial effect on the
portions, as this was the high end of the range across all studies.
naturally occurring bacteria in our gut. The vast array of beneficial
The researchers also examined the types of fruit and
compounds cannot be easily replicated in a pill, he said; “Most
vegetables that may reduce the risk of specific diseases. They
likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by
found the following fruits and vegetables may help prevent heart
eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial is health. This is why it
disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and early death: apples
is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of
and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such
taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements (which have not been
as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such
shown to reduce disease risk).”
as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They also found that the
In the analysis, the team took into account other factors such
following may reduce cancer risk: green vegetables such as
as a person’s weight, smoking habits, physical activity levels,
spinach or green beans, yellow vegetables such as peppers and
and overall diet—yet, still found that fruits and vegetables were
carrots, and cruciferous vegetables. Similar associations were
beneficial regardless of other life aspects that might be deemed
observed for raw and cooked vegetables in relation to early
“unhealthy.” Aune added, “We need further research into the
death, however, additional studies are needed on specific types
effects of specific types of fruits and vegetables and preparation
of fruits and vegetables and preparation methods. The team says
methods of fruit and vegetables. We also need more research on
the number of studies was more limited for these analyses and
the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake with causes of
the possibility that other specific fruits and vegetables may also
death other than cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it is
reduce risk cannot be excluded.
clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold
Aune said that several potential mechanisms could explain why fruits and vegetables have such profound health benefits.
tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet.”
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 43
F A M I LY
A Dadâ€™s POV:
My Teen Is Ready to Drive by Matthew Devoti @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 45
“Am I ready for this?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself that question over the past year. My oldest daughter, Sophia,
in the car or without purpose. Data shows that car crashes are the leading cause of death for
turned 16 this last month. With that landmark, Soph moved from
American teens ages 15 through 20. And, teens crash at three
“permit driver” to “intermediate driver.” The state of Missouri now
times the rate of more experienced drivers. The risk of injury
allows her to drive without me—or any other adult—over its roads.
resulting from car collisions for teen drivers is especially high
I know I’m not alone in worrying about Soph’s safety. I regularly
between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a period dubbed the “100
speak with high school students about the dangers of distracted
Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers.” Experts believe the following
driving through my firm’s participation in the “End Distracted
factors contribute to these deadliest days:
Driving” program. I haven’t talked to a school yet where a
»» Summer driving tends to be more recreational and not as
teacher, administrator or parent hasn’t approached me after the
purposeful, such as driving to see friends rather than driving
presentation to discuss their concern for the students and children
to school or work
in their lives. So, what must we do as parents to prepare our teens and minimize those risks our sons and daughters will encounter on the road?
First, practice driving with your teen. Driving is a complex task for new and inexperienced drivers, including your teenage son or daughter. Time with your teen while she’s learning the skills necessary to safely drive is absolutely essential. Sit beside her
»» Teen drivers carry friends more often and passengers increase the risk of a fatal crash involving a teen driver by at least 44 percent »» Teens stay out later at night when crash risk surges »» Teen drivers may be tempted to speed with warmer weather and clear conditions No discussion about preparedness would be complete without
while she drives, before and after earning her license, offering
reminding you of the need to properly insure your teen driver.
both constructive criticism and support. Soph hates my criticism,
Your teen is a “permissive user” if she is driving your car with
whether I’m suggesting that she’s driving too fast or taking turns
your permission. However, you should still notify your insurance
too quickly. Yet, my daughter always adjusts her driving.
company when your teen driver receives her instruction permit. Many policies require notice of the teen’s licensure once she will
Second, speak with and model safe driving practices for
be regularly driving as a condition of insurability. Be prepared to
your teen. Prepare for your discussion by inventorying your own
tell your agent or broker which vehicles your teen will be driving
driving habits. Be honest. Ask yourself where you direct your
when you call.
attention when you’re behind the wheel. Remember that you are
The call to your agent is a tough one for most of us. Insuring
the #1 teacher of your children, which means you must set a good
a teen driver can be daunting. However, options do exist that
example. Know that your teen is always watching you when you’re
may save significant money for your family. Some carriers offer
behind the wheel. So, if you’re not already doing so, set a good
discounts for teen drivers who have completed a driver safety
example. Your example will reinforce those safe practices you
course, maintain a certain grade point average (the “Good
discuss with your son or daughter.
Student” discount) or show a commitment to their community by volunteering a particular number of service hours. In these ways,
Also, you must carefully monitor and direct your teen’s
planning ahead and encouraging your teen to work hard in school
driving. In fact, some states require that an adult approve a teen’s
and investing in her neighborhood may benefit your family’s
application for a driving permit. Missouri requires the teen’s parent
or guardian to sign the teen’s application before the teen may
Natalie Bess, a St. Louis-based American Family agent, suggests
obtain either an instruction permit or intermediate license. In this
that it is also beneficial to discuss coverage options available to
way, you determine your teen’s readiness to drive rather than a day
your family before purchasing a vehicle for your child. Bess advises:
on the calendar.
“Often it is significantly cheaper to insure a teen who shares a car with another family member versus assigning a car to them.”
Take an active role in your teen’s development as a driver
Bess also points out that you can save money by purchasing an
and be familiar with her strengths and weaknesses before
older vehicle, especially if property or replacement coverages are
accompanying her to your local driver’s license office.
bypassed because of the vehicle’s age. Finally, Bess says that she
Your participation in your teen’s development as a driver
encourages her clients to call her before a given vehicle model is
doesn’t end at the license office. Before handing over the keys
purchased “so that we can price what options are available before
to the family car, discuss your family’s rules as they relate to
the commitment has been made.”
driving, curfews and your respective responsibilities during those
Sophia earned her Missouri intermediate driver’s license just a
early years when your teen is gaining driving experience. Make
handful of weeks ago. My stomach turns with anticipation every
sure that your teen understands that you will continue to monitor
time I see her get behind the wheel and buckle her seat belt.
her driving. Your message must be that driving is a privilege, a
But, I’m proud. Soph is well prepared to handle herself on the
privilege that is constantly earned through the exercise of diligent
road; she listens to instruction, continually heeds advice and
and safe actions.
remains constantly vigilant and focused on the primary task at
Monitoring becomes essential as your teen gains confidence
hand—driving her car from Point A to Point B. Am I ready for the
and drives around with others in her car. My biggest fear for Sophia
independence provided by her driver’s license? No. But she is, and
involves those situations where she’s driving either with other teens
we will continue to work to make sure that she remains prepared.
46 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
Youth Soccer and Concussions: A Growing Trend by Tatum O’Brien ach year, more than three million children in the U.S. participate in youth soccer, nearly twice as many as in 1990. While soccer is an extremely popular sport, soccer injuries are sending more and more young players to the emergency room with concussion symptoms. According to a CBS News report, the rate of injuries from playing soccer ranks second only to football, likely because of the increased popularity of soccer and the fact that kids are playing the sport year round in multiple leagues. While football-related concussions result in more ER visits than any other sport for boys, the top concussion-related sport for girls is actually soccer.
What Is a Concussion? A concussion is a type of brain injury in response to head trauma. Concussions are a common type of sports injury, and may be suffered due to a blow to the head or hitting the head during a fall. Many soccer-related concussions occur when heads collide as players jump up to head the ball. People with concussions often cannot remember what happened immediately before or after the injury and may act confused. Paramedics and athletic trainers who suspect a person has suffered a concussion may ask the injured person if they know their name, what month or year it is and where they are.
Concussion Symptoms Symptoms of a concussion may not become apparent immediately, and may start days or even weeks after an injury. Some signs to look for in children include: »» Unusual tiredness or listlessness »» Changes in eating habits »» Changes in sleep patterns »» Slurred speech or says things that don’t make sense »» Variations in school performance »» Lack of interest in previously favorite activities »» Loss of certain newly-acquired skills »» Loss of balance and unsteadiness »» Nausea and vomiting In most instances, a single concussion will not cause permanent damage. A doctor will use a neurologic exam and imaging tests to diagnose a concussion, and most people will recover fully, but it can take some time. Rest is very important to help the brain to heal. A second concussion soon after the first one, however, can be permanently disabling. Thus, it is extremely important not to release the child back to play the contact sport without medical approval. @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 47
You Can Afford It by Elizabeth J. Scheffee and Rachel S. Violette
ou may think that you cannot get out of an unhappy marriage because you cannot afford it. Your spouse may make substantially more than you or controls the accounts, and you don’t have access. This article will show you where the law helps a lower-income spouse in the divorce process. Note that divorce laws and procedures differ from state to state and you should always check with the court system in your area before taking any action.
living exactly the same lifestyle as before, but you will be comfortable. Maine courts require you to go through mediation. You can do that through the court or you can choose private mediation. This is usually paid for by the higher-income spouse.
After the Divorce Is Final The legal system ensures your continuing support after a divorce in three ways:
Initiating the Divorce The initial filing for divorce isn’t complicated, and you can do this yourself. It requires filling out a complaint, a summary sheet, and a Social Security disclosure form, all available on the Court’s website with instructions. You will need to get a Family Matter Summons and Preliminary Injunction from a court clerk for $10, and then serve it and the other documents on your spouse. The preliminary injunction automatically issues upon service and offers you protection. It stops either party from voluntarily removing the other party or a child from health insurance coverage and from transferring assets, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life. If you have access to your accounts, then you can withdraw the amount needed for a legal retainer. Paying your attorney in family law is considered a necessity of life. Once the initial retainer is paid, you can ask to be repaid by filing for Orders Pending Divorce. In the state of Maine, these are orders you can request from the court for items such as spousal support, child support, exclusive possession of the home, contact schedule, and attorney fees. Many family lawyers provide “Unbundled Legal Services”—also called “limited scope representation.” Using this method of legal service, you can speak to an attorney at his or her hourly rate and obtain good advice on finding forms, valuation of your case, residential plans for minor children, alternative dispute resolution, and even preparing for trial.
During the Divorce If the court issues have Orders Pending Divorce, you may not be 48 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
Equitable Division of Marital Property
An “equitable division” means the division is fair but not necessarily equal. Courts will take into account the contributions as a homemaker and each spouse’s economic circumstances, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in it for a reasonable period of time, as well as which party has physical custody of children the majority of the time. Homes, cars, houses, businesses, pensions, retirement accounts, and stocks are all marital property if you acquired them during your marriage regardless of whose name they are in.
In Maine, child support is based on a statutory calculation. There isn’t much wiggle room in terms of amounts, but calculating it can be complicated. A lawyer can best let your know what to expect, but there are online tools to help give you an idea.
Spousal Support is not a statutory calculation. Depending on how long you have been married, you may be entitled to lifetime support. The Court looks at many different factors to determine spousal support, including ability to pay. A lawyer will be able to go over whether you are entitled to spousal support and, if so, how much. The law provides financial assistance to the lower income spouse every step of the way, and a trained family law attorney is there to ensure you receive that assistance.
Moms Wish Theyâ€™d Known Before Baby by Stephanie Andre @LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 49
ongrats on having a baby! It’s such an exciting time.
you feel better as it continues, but it will help postpartum
Chances are, you’ve already gone out and bought some
with losing the weight.
books, set up your pregnancy calendar and signed up
Video your tummy when the baby is kicking.
for your “This is Week XX” emails. There’s so much information out there; it’s surely overwhelming. So, to combat the pushy prose and longform articles, we’ve collected some of the best thoughts and comments from the best resources on pregnancy — other moms.
You don’t have to be Pinterest perfect. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t DIY the best nursery ever. There will be plenty of time to get crafty as your child gets older.
It’s OK to be tired. You’re going to have good days and bad days. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have everything done before baby comes.
Be honest with your childfree friends. Chances are, you still have friends who don’t have kids. It sounds cliche, but if they’re really true friends, you’ll be able to be honest with them — whether it’s about how you feel physically, your fears, etc.
Tune out some of the advice. Everyone has an opinion. You’ll learn quickly who you actually want to hear from.
Consider changing the eating habits in your household. It’s never too late to change your eating habits. Get your partner on the same page as you so that you can minimize eating bad foods during and after pregnancy.
Make more time for your significant other. While it’s definitely a time when women are encouraged to be selfish, don’t neglect your significant other.
It’s hard to remember what it was like after they’re born. Try to capture this if you can.
Take care of yourself as much as possible. Take long showers. Get a pedicure. Do it now because there will be no time later.
Don’t compare yourself to other pregnant women and your pregnant friends. Another recipe for disaster. This can only end badly.
Order the stuff you need for the baby. Gifts are great, but you never know what people won’t buy you before the baby comes. Make sure to get what you need.
Think about your own needs for after the baby was born. Consider what’s going to make your life easier: stock up on foods you love, plan some time out with friends (without the baby), schedule a massage, and maybe hire a weekly laundry or cleaning service for the first month if someone can swing the cost.
Don’t be ashamed to plan for help. It takes a village. Line up friends and family to help you both during the pregnancy and once baby comes.
Get your paper goods. Stock up on paper plates, plastic silverware, and as many takeout menus as possible. You’re not going to want to cook!
You will be unprepared — and that’s OK. Each pregnancy is different. Each child is different.
Labor and delivery is not always beautiful. Not going to lie; it can be a scary and harrowing experience.
Don’t Google everything.
It’s typically painful (on varying levels). And, well, you’re
Hitting the message boards can be a recipe for disaster as
delivering a baby — from your body! — it’s going to be
stories and circumstances may range from the weird to the
messy. Digest that now. Maybe tell your partner too.
fictitious. Talk to your doctor, family and friends. You don’t want to stumble upon a conversation debating the pluses and minuses of chickpeas during pregnancy.
Educate yourself more on post-birth recovery. Take time after you give birth to recover. It’s different for each mother. Some of us just physically bounce back faster
Work out more before trying to get pregnant.
than others. Make sure you stay mentally well and know the
Working out before and during pregnancy will not only help
signs if something isn’t right.
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C O M M E N TA R Y
What Do We Tell Our Children About Politics? by Charles Murray In the days after the 2016 election, many people were in shock. Some may have been a part of the electorate who felt pleased with the outcome, while others were confused and disappointed. Unpacking the data, we can see that a large majority of the younger generations did not vote for Mr. Trump, and furthermore, that they were likely to have been supportive of the Bernie Sanders “revolution.” This election has drawn out their opportunity to vote for concepts, and the youth need to feel they are not going to be drowned out by the elected officials. In our home, we talk about politics (and religion). We talk about the importance of being part of something much larger than you. We want our children to know that their opinions matter and that they will one day be in positions of leadership, so they need to be informed. They need to know who their elected officials are, and what the issues of the day might be. We encourage them to read or watch the news, conduct their own research and write or vote with their conscience. We remind them to vote early, either in person or absentee. And we discuss the issues and the candidates, and what this election will mean now and in the future. Talking to our children while they are young and living in our home helps them to know what we see and why we see it that way. It helps them to know that we are engaged and have looked beyond the surface for information before we form our opinions. But we talk not just in order to convince them to see everything the same as we do, but instead to discuss the history behind the issues and candidates. We talk about the economy, health insurance, the U.S. Supreme Court and all the courts in Ohio. We talk about unions, workplace benefits
and the history behind Social Security and the implications of privatizing individual retirement plans. And we discuss tax levies and the effects on public and private schools. We engage them because their opinions matter and they need to know that. These are evolving conversations, because our children are now well informed and they bring their own experiences and context to the dialogue. These children are now beyond high school and have transitioned into college and the workplace. They have been engaged in the conversations early, and now they see their role in our family as continuing along a lifetime. Our children have to decide how they want to respond to what is happening. In their workplaces, will they support a wage increase or enhanced benefits? In their communities, will they support public schools or vouchers, and what will the implications be for their children? Are they going to manage their own investments or are they going to rely on professionals to help them make wise decisions toward their retirement savings? Have they incurred debt to reach their goals, and what will be the impact on social programs if they are not supported by the next generations? These are important conversations. We want to help our children make informed decisions that are well-reasoned and wise. And we do not want to learn that, when they were in the voting booth or checking the boxes on the ballot, they didn’t know the issues— causing them to either not vote, or, worse yet, vote for a superficial reason such as simply recognizing a name. We are engaged, and we want our children to be engaged also. Don’t you?
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 51
Have You Heard About the Box for Your Baby? New Jersey Becomes First State to Offer Free Boxes to New Parents by Jim Edward ew Jersey has become the first state in which all expecting and new parents can receive a free Baby Box as part of the globally integrated program Baby Box University—a service designed to improve family health care outcomes and reduce Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) through better parent education. The Baby Boxes, which are made from a durable cardboard, can be used as a baby’s bed for the first months of life. In 2017, the program will distribute approximately 105,000 Baby Boxes, ensuring that every expecting family in New Jersey has access to this free resource regardless of socioeconomic background. Parents can also choose to have their Baby Box delivered to their home.
In this way, the Baby Box University program model pays its ultimate homage to the Finnish tradition, which is committed not just to universal product distribution, but to supporting families with access to health care and education.
In 2016, an estimated 93% of infant fatalities associated with SUIDS were directly related to sleep and sleep environments, according to a report by the Child Fatality & Near Fatality Review Board (CFNFRB). The Baby Box program is a project of New Jersey’s CFNFRB and utilizes a grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reviews fatalities and near fatalities of children in order to identify their causes, relationship to governmental support systems, and methods of prevention.
national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years. The use of Baby Boxes has been credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. The initiative, which enables every expecting woman in the country to claim a free Baby Box once she receives prenatal care and parenting information from a healthcare professional, is credited with helping to decrease Finland’s infant mortality rate from 65 deaths for each 1,000 children born in 1938 to 1.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013, according to the World Health Organization. The success of the Finnish Baby Box intervention has inspired the founders of The Baby Box Co. to adapt this tradition with enhanced multimedia parenting curricula through Baby Box University to the benefit of nonprofits, hospitals, government institutions and individual families worldwide. The exponential growth of the Baby Box University program has solidified the model as an impactful safe sleep and parenting education intervention for millennials who are expecting or new parents.
Educating All Parents While parents appreciate the Baby Boxes and quality care products included, it is the educational component and closer communication with local healthcare providers that is at the center of the Baby Box University distribution model. Families will be required to view their community’s online curriculum related to prenatal health, breastfeeding, safe sleep practices and newborn care before receiving a free Baby Box.
52 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
The Baby Box Movement According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which draws on current research and serves as the first update to the Academy policy since 2011, approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths—including SUID, ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation and strangulation. The number of infant deaths initially decreased in the 1990s after a
How Often Should You Be Throwing Out that Kitchen Sponge? by Katherine Allen
be passed via the kitchen sponge to humans. Before you know it, you have a food poisoning outbreak on your hands that affects one member of the family after another like a wave. While the symptoms of such an illness might only last a couple of weeks for the majority of people, in some instances individuals can experience more serious, long lasting conditions such as post-infective irritable bowel syndrome and even organ failure. There is a lot of advice available about how kitchen sponges should themselves be cleaned to reduce to risk of disease. The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) recommends that they should be hygienically cleaned after every use either by:
a Washing them in a washing machine at 140 degrees fahrenheit
b Cleaning with detergent and warm water, then rinsing them and immersing them in disinfectant solution which is effective against bacteria and viruses for at least 20 minutes
C Cleaning them with detergent and water and then immersing them in boiling water for
Do you pride yourself on your domestic hygiene? Do you think of your kitchen as a germ-free zone? Well, if you use a kitchen spongeâ€”you might have to think again. The absorbency of a sponge is the very reason why so many of us have them in our kitchens in the first place. We use them
20 minutes The sponge must be left to dry once it has been cleaned in any of these ways. However, it is not always practical in a busy household to
to mop up spillages from drinks and food, we use them to wash
follow such a routine every time a sponge has been used so the
plates, cutlery and cooking utensils, and we use them to wipe
IFH have also suggested using disposable sponges and cloths as
down kitchen surfaces.
But absorbency is not always a good thing, as sponges will often
The Internet provides a wealth of advice on this issue and, per-
suck up far more than what we initially intended. Your sponge
haps unsurprisingly, the advice as to how often a kitchen sponge
could also be absorbing, and becoming contaminated by, poten-
should be replaced conflicts from one site to another. Some
tially harmful bacteria. And, as a sponge is often left damp after
suggest it should be replaced weekly, others suggest fortnightly
use, it becomes an ideal environment for the bacteria to multiply.
and then some recommend that a monthly change is sufficient.
No doubt we have all seen headlines from time to time proclaiming
So what do you do?
that the kitchen sponge is many times dirtier than a toilet seat, and,
Trust your judgment. You know what you use your kitchen
with studies showing that kitchen sponges can contain 10 million
sponge for day-to-day and it is clear that there are no hard and
bacteria per square inch, such claims are hard to refute.
fast rules. What can be said is that the higher the risk of contam-
Contaminants including bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter and E-coli, as well as viruses like norovirus, may all
ination, the more frequently you will want to switch your sponge. The health of you and your family depends upon it!
@LIVINGSAFER / LIVINGSAFER.COM / 53
Home Renovation Time?
How to check your contractor’s work by Lily Grace ou’ve asked around. You’ve looked online. You think you found your home renovation contractor. But not so fast. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask to see a project your potential remodeler has already completed. Remember that pictures only show so much. Getting into the space and examining it with your own eyes—and hands—can help ensure that the quality is on par with what you expect. Here are a few things to look for, according to Houzz.com.
A. Tile A good tile installation is one in which all the tiles are square (meaning they all butt up to each other at 90 degree angles), level and installed so that there aren’t any tiles jutting out or caving in. The grout lines also should be level, evenly sized throughout and as thin as possible. Some designers like to pick funky-shaped tiles or install them in funky ways. But a good rule of thumb is that the tiles should look smooth and evenly placed, and the grout should be skinny.
B. Paint When observing the quality of a paint job, walk up to the area in question, close your eyes and feel it. Do you feel any rough patches, drip marks or overall inconsistencies? If the answer is yes, then it isn’t a high-quality paint job. Other markers of a decent paint job include clean cut-ins at the ceiling (no wobbly lines between the wall color and the ceiling color) and an even finish throughout (for example, if the walls are supposed to be matte, they should look matte everywhere).
C. Trim A quality trim installation is similar to a quality tile installation in the sense that it is very geometrical and straight. Look up at the crown molding; are the corners mitered together seamlessly? Check out the casing around the doors and windows; are they level, and do they have neat corners? The answers to both of these questions should be yes. In addition, you shouldn’t be able to see any nail holes in the trim or any obvious seams. This means the trim carpenter filled in the nail holes with putty and took to heart the phrase “measure twice, cut once.”
D. Doors and Cabinets When you’re invited into someone else’s home, it’s hard to check the quality of doors and cabinets without getting too personal and gawking at all their stuff. However, a good, quick test for 54 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
doors and cabinets is to open and close a few of them to ensure they move smoothly without sticking. Side note: if a house’s foundation moves and there has just been a period of excessive rain or drought, it’s likely that doors may stick because of extraneous conditions, not because of the contractor’s level of craftsmanship.
E. Countertops Countertops with weirdly placed seams or big gaps that have been filled with caulk are a sign that the original templating of the tops wasn’t done well. You remember that whole “measure twice, cut once” thing? If you see odd seams or gaps, the countertop fabricators probably didn’t follow that rule.
F. Lighting Look up and see if all the can lights are in line and evenly spaced. Ensure that there aren’t any flickering or flashing lights. While this could be because a lightbulb is getting old, it also could mean that there’s something faulty in the light fixture’s wiring. Also, double check to make sure dimmers are functional. A common mistake I’ve seen, specifically with the introduction of LED lights, is that the LED bulb and the dimmer aren’t paired correctly—causing lights that should dim to flicker, act funny or not dim at all.
THE CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO ALL THINGS SAFETY
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Dos and Don’ts
After A Car Accident by Brittany Monbarren
Call the police to the scene of the accident.
Apologize or cast any blame.
Take pictures of damage to your vehicle, the accident scene and your injuries.
Move your vehicle after an accident unless necessary for safety or required by law.
Exchange information with everyone who’s at the scene (names, contact, insurance, license number, etc.).
Post things about your accident on social media.
Talk to any witnesses, including any passengers, and document their names, addresses and phone numbers.
Assume that your injuries are minor, or that they’ll resolve on their own.
Pay attention to, and record the details, including time, weather conditions, road conditions, landmarks and anything else you feel may be important.
Give a recorded statement to the insurance company.
Call an attorney.
Settle without consulting an attorney.
56 / LIVING SAFER / VOL 9 ED 1
The Ins and Outs of Deferred Attorney Fees by John T. Bair
or attorneys who want to create a supplemental retirement fund, manage the cash flow of their law firm, or protect themselves from being bumped into a higher tax bracket, attorney fees should be considered as a viable investment option. In Richard A. Childs, Et al. v Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that attorneys who elect to structure their fees will not have to pay taxes on those payments until the year the income is received. This allows attorneys to spread out their income, rather than getting hit with a large tax bill in one year.
What if I worked on the case with another attorney? Am I still eligible? Yes, you can still structure your fees. The stream of payments can be split among more than one attorney. Should more than one decide to structure, each gets their own unique payment schedule.
Is an attorney fee flexible? Yes. You should choose a plan that best fits your individual needs.
How is my “attorney fee deferral” accomplished?
You must elect to structure your fees prior to settlement; it must be included in the settlement agreement. You can’t have constructive receipt of the money to be structured. It should be paid to the life insurance company via an assignment company.
The attorneys deferred assets are custodied at TD Ameritrade Institutional, and our team develops an investment strategy that is customized specifically do you and your family. The best wealth management approach for most of our attorney clients is a well diversified individual stock portfolio that is mid and large cap dividend growth heavy.
What factors should I consider?
How are payments made?
There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding whether or not to do an attorney fee structure:
Payments can be made either to you or to your firm. Fee payments can be affected by a number of factors, including the type of incorporation the firm has (e.g. LLC, PC, etc.), dissolution plans of the firm, tax advantage, etc.
At what point do I need to decide to defer my fees?
»» Age »» Health »» Present financial needs and goals »» Future needs and goals (college, retirement, etc.) »» Tax bracket »» Risk tolerance
Can I elect to defer a fee if my client elects to receive their settlement proceeds in a lump sum? In most cases, you may create your fees regardless of what your client decides to do.
About the Firm
What does it cost to do a deferral? As administrator, our firm charges 1% annually on the assets in the program. Monolith Advisers is our Registered Investment Adviser that provides the investment advice. Disclaimer: Milestone Consulting, LLC does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult an attorney and/or estate planning expert if you have questions regarding the legal or tax implications of your structured attorney fees.
Milestone Consulting, LLC is a comprehensive settlement planning and management firm. We believe that injured plaintiffs and their families deserve strategies designed to ensure a lifetime of financial security. Our consultants are licensed in all fifty states to provide guidance on settlementrelated issues including government benefits preservation, trust planning, Medicare Set-Asides, wealth preservation and annuities. We also provide mediation support to assist the plaintiff in reaching a settlement that will meet their present and future medical and financial needs.
737 Main Street, Suite 100 Buffalo, NY 14203 (716) 883-1833 (855) 836-2676 www.milestoneseventh.com
In addition to our work with plaintiffs and trial attorneys, we actively support a number of civil justice organizations, including The Injury Board, the American Association for Justice, EndDD and statewide associations in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit our website at www.milestoneseventh.com.
Your partner. Your advocate. Your Milestone. At Milestone Consulting, we are focused on providing a seamless transition for your clients as they enter the settlement portion of their litigation. We understand that the most important thing is to look after the client’s best interest and serve as an invested fiduciary as we guide them through the often overwhelming settlement process. Our belief is that the only successful outcome is one that properly addresses and safeguards the legal, financial, and emotional well-being of your client. By leveraging our expertise and years of experience navigating the ins and outs of all manner of settlements, we are able to help your client develop the right plan for a bright future. Our Services: Consulting Government Benefits Planning • Trust Planning • Qualified Settlement Funds • Settlement Planning
Attorney Fee Deferrals Special Needs Trust • Mass Torts • Medicare Set-Asides • Workers’ Compensation
John Bair | Founder / Member | m. 716.864.8917 737 Main Street, Suite 100 | Buffalo, NY 14203 | 716.883.1833 | milestoneseventh.com
Reading Between the Lines — Educate yourself before your next auto insurance renewal