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Fall Preparation Tips for Your Home

Fall Preparation Tips for Your Home

Fall is the perfect time of year- the summer heat begins to fade, the leaves don their annual colors, football games take over the weekend, and pumpkin-flavored everything hits the shelves.

However, it also serves as a reminder, that as the days grow shorter and the leaves start to fall, it is the perfect time to look around your home and get prepared for the oncoming winter. Fall’s mild temperatures and adequate daylight provide an opportunity to check the heater, repair gutters, and add extra insulation to the attic. An early autumn storm or blizzard is no time to learn you have leaks or other problems.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that winter-related damage causes over a billion dollars in insurance losses annually. So enjoy the nice weather and your pumpkin spiced latte while you can, but don’t forget to look ahead. Prevent your home from being a winter-storm statistic and make the necessary preparations to your home this fall.

Fall Preparation Checklist:

  • Have your heating system checked and cleaned
  • Inspect ceilings, windows and outer walls for cracks
  • Change air filters
  • Check your pipes and plumbing
  • Inspect your roof for wear or damage and clean the gutters
  • Install weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors
  • Seal up foundation and driveway cracks
  • Check your fireplace and chimney for cracks or leaks

Look around your deck or patio and yard; now is the time to clean and store seasonal outdoor furniture and flower pots, drain sprinkler systems, trim trees and shrubs, fertilize lawns and mulch gardens.  Don’t forget to schedule a time to service your lawnmower, before it is put away for the season, and make sure your snowblower is working.

During the fall it is also important to make sure your home is fire safe. Hundreds of fires break out each day during the Thanksgiving and Christmas months. Now is the time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure everything is working properly. The National Fire Protection Association also warns carbon monoxide poisonings also climb during the fall and winter months.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Preparation Checklist:

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on all levels of the home
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries
  • Have all heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected
  • Keep all flammable material at least three feet from heat sources
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Know and practice home escape routes

A vital preparation step for any season is to review and understand your homeowners or renters insurance policy, make sure you know what is covered under your policy and if you need to up your coverage or add additional coverage for the coming winter months.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Covering 9/11 in the Classroom

Covering 9/11 in the Classroom

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

“Never Forget.” Americans associate this saying with the attacks on September 11th.  However, many of our students weren’t even alive when the devastating attacks occurred.  In many cases, if you ask a student about September 11th, they wouldn’t be able to tell you much, if anything, about the event.  This is where our job as educators becomes critical.  Teaching students about September 11th is a delicate, but necessary task.  We’ve gathered tips and resources to help you teach your students about September 11th.


10 tips to remember before you begin teaching a difficult subject:

  1. Make parents aware you’ll be discussing the event in your classroom
  2. Find out what students know
  3. Listen to students
  4. Be as specific as possible, and clear up any misconceptions
  5. Answer questions with facts, and if you don’t know, don’t speculate
  6. Reassure students of their safety at school
  7. Be prepared with plenty of resources – limit graphic pictures and videos
  8. Talk about it – allow plenty of time for questions and discussion
  9. Keep it simple – mostly for elementary students
  10. It’s okay to get emotional – talk about why


Lesson Plans, Resources, and Videos:

9/11 Memorial and Museum – Explore the National September 11 Memorial and Museum’s lesson plans for all grade levels. Each lesson is tied to the Common Core Standards. Grounded in our collections, they are written for use throughout the school year and across subjects, including Social Studies, History, English Language Arts, and Art.

Scholastic: Understanding September 11 – Discover informative and poignant articles, lesson plans, activities, and stories.  Use it as an interactive lesson for students or teach from provided lesson plans (along with printables).

History Channel: September 11 Attacks – Find out more about the history of 9/11 Attacks, including videos, interesting articles, pictures, historical features and more.

The Second Day– Watch this 40-minute documentary directed by a 14-year-old who was a kindergartener in Tribeca on 9/11. She interviews students, teachers, and first responders about the experience, how it affected them, and what they learned from the experience.

PBS: Reflections on the 9/11 Memorial– Watch this short video about the importance of the 9/11 memorial and what it means to the city of New York

Teaching Tolerance: Bringing 9/11 in the Classroom- Useful Lessons– Find multiple resources on the events of 9/11 and different cultural understanding

New York Times: The Reckoning– Discover stories, news articles, photos, and infographics on this interactive website about 9/11 and the world more than a decade later.

Education World: September 11 Lessons and Resources–  Features a large list of lesson plans and resources from various websites that you can use to teach 9/11 in your classroom

BrainPOP: September 11– Find animated videos, related readings, worksheets and more on 9/11 and a basic understanding of what happened that day.

U.S. Department of Education 9/11 Teaching Materials– Find lesson materials based on The Consitution and 9/11 and extraordinary citizens during 9/11, as well as basic teaching resources to learn about 9/11 and strategies to teach the emotion subject.


Recommended Books:

The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss

America at War by Lee Bennett Hopkins

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown

September Roses by Jeanette Winter

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

With Their Eyes: September 11th–The View from a High School at Ground Zero by Annie Thoms

We the People: September 11 by Mary Englar

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Messages from Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11th by Shelley Harwayne

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn

Report from Ground Zero by Dennis Smith

Last Man Down by Richard Picciotto & Daniel Palsner


How do you teach about September 11th in your classroom?  What tips would you give fellow educators when teaching this topic?



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


Someone Got Hurt Watching the Game- Now What?

Someone Got Hurt Watching the Game- Now What?

It’s officially the best time of the year. Football season!

Everyone knows that football is not the same without watch parties and tailgates! You’ve got the cold drinks, the savory BBQ, and the big screen ready for friends and family to come over and watch your favorite teams all season long. However, there could be one thing missing. Homeowners or renters insurance.

Let’s face it, accidents happen. Especially when you have a rowdy crowd on your hands and your team is deep in the 4th quarter. Homeowners and renters insurance protects you if one of your guests stumbles into your flat screen and it falls to the floor. Or, if someone trips and crashes through that glass table in the living room. With the proper coverage, you won’t be penalized.

If something in your home gets broken or stolen while you have people over, your policy will cover it. But, if you have high-value items that could get damaged or go missing like jewelry, antiques, collectibles, or furs, you will need to add extra coverage – scheduled personal property. Accidents are inevitable, but the best way to avoid losing or having to replace your collectibles is to put them in a safe place, away from the crowd when you are hosting events. Think locked room or basement.

What if Someone Gets Hurt in My House?

Any time you are a host, especially for a high energy crowd, there’s the risk that someone may accidentally get injured. Whether it’s from a touchdown dance celebration or tripping on a rug, homeowners and renters insurance with personal liability coverage will cover it.

If you are serving alcohol, be aware, the Insurance Information Institute (III) warns that hosts can be liable if others are hurt by anyone driving from your party while intoxicated. It’s called the social host liability law. Personal liability coverage will also help in this situation by covering payments of medical bills and lawsuits from someone who was hurt on or off (leaving) your property. There are limits, so you talk to your insurance advisor about an umbrella policy, which will provide much greater coverage.

What Else Can I Do?

Here are some important hosting safety tips you can use during football season:

  • Talk with your insurance advisor about any policy exclusions or limitations before you throw a party
  • Install proper lighting inside and outside of your home
  • Remove valuable items and objects that could cause tripping or falling
  • Consider holding your getting together at a restaurant or bar instead
  • Have someone sober in charge of monitoring guests
  • Encourage the use of Uber and designated drivers
  • Lock up pets in a separate location or outside
  • Make guests who’ve had too much to drink turn over their keys

Make sure you’re on the winning team if you are hosting a football party. Contact a California Casualty advisor today to make sure your homeowners or renters insurance will protect you in a liability blitz. Call 1.866.704.8614 or visit


10 Essential Items Every Teacher Should Have At Their Desk

10 Essential Items Every Teacher Should Have At Their Desk

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

You spend about eight hours a day in the classroom; it’s basically your second home.  You never know what your day in the classroom will throw at you, so be sure you’re prepared.  In addition to your basic supplies, stock up with these 10 essential items every teacher should have at their desk.



  1. Good Grading Pens/Markers – You can never have too many colorful grading utensils!  I like Papermate Flair Pens and they come in a variety of bright, fun colors.

  1. Stain Remover – I always spill my coffee on my shirt!  I use a quick stain remover, like Shout Wipes or Tide Pen, to clean myself up in a snap!


  1. Travel-Sized Deodorant – The temperature of my classroom is never consistent!  One hour I’m wearing my parka while I teach and the next I’m down to my sweat-stained shirt.  Keeping a stick of deodorant on hand is also helpful on those warm days that I have recess duty.


  1. Cough Drops – For those days when you’re not sick enough to stay home, but still have a scratchy throat.  Also great for the classroom so you don’t have to keep sending students to the nurse’s office during class.
  2. Pain Reliever – It’s hard to teach when you’re head is pounding!  Keep a small bottle stashed in your desk drawer so you can make it through a tough day.



  1. Disinfectant Wipes – Perform a “classroom wipedown” once a week, or more, to prevent nasty illnesses.  I enlist the help of students who thoroughly clean a designated classroom area.


  1. Bandages – No need to send students to the nurse for minor cuts and scrapes.



  1. Thank You Cards – When students or parents pop in with a gift, or when a colleague helps you out, be sure to send them a note of thanks!  I buy mine at the local dollar store.



  1. Snacks – Keep a few healthy snacks tucked away so you aren’t tempted to go to the vending machine.  I like trail mix, jerky, and fruit strips because they won’t spoil.



  1. Reusable Water Bottle – Try to make a point of filling it up a few times a day so you know you are staying hydrated.

A few extra items that could also help you out include K Cups, a Fun Coffee Mug, a To-Do List, Lotion, Mechanical Pencils, Post- its, Kleenex, Gum, a Desk Fan, and a Bluetooth Speaker 

Worried about shelling out your own money?  Ask parents and families to donate items that are for student use, like cough drops, wipes, Post-its, pencils, and bandages!

Check out our Pinterest Board, Teachers: What To Keep at Your Desk, for more and don’t forget to give us a follow at California Casualty to stay up to date on every new idea we discover! Scan our Pincode with your Pinterest camera to follow:

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. California Casualty does not own any of the photos in this post, all are sources by to their original owners. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

If Disaster Strikes – Are You Ready?

If Disaster Strikes – Are You Ready?

September is National Preparedness Month and each year we are reminded to prepare for disaster situations in our home and communities.


BE PREPARED: Before an emergency or natural disaster strikes, here are 10 things you can do:

  1. Plan and save for the unexpected financially.
  2. Sign up for emergency alerts in your area.
  3. Map out and practice using several different evacuation routes.
  4. Have a safe location planned for shelter if your town is evacuated.
  5. Plan for your pets and know where they will stay if you are evacuated. Here are some pet-friendly hotels.
  6. Have a plan where you and family members will meet and how you will communicate if you become separated.
  7. Create an emergency kit, that meets your family’s particular needs.
  8. Complete a home inventory and document all of your belongings (clothing, mattresses, bedding, kitchen appliances, furniture, electronics, etc.).
  9. Back up important phone contacts and photos physically or on The Cloud.
  10. Check your insurance coverage with an advisor, to make sure you’re adequately covered or add protection (ex. Home, Renters, Auto, Flood, Earthquake, Floater, and Umbrella).


BE READY: If you need to evacuate:

  • To find local shelters download the FEMA app, text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362 (ex. SHELTER 12345), or visit the American Red Cross’ website.
  • Contact California Casualty as soon as possible and save all receipts for living expenses, such as hotels, meals and other essentials.
  • Monitor local media about conditions, further evacuations, or when it might be safe to return home.


BE SAFE: When you return home, there are many potential dangers, such as:

  • Dangerous toxins, and debris
  • Mold
  • Gas leaks
  • Electrical shock
  • Poisonous snakes or other animals
  • Structural instability and collapse
  • Sewage and chemical tainted water


GET HELP: If you need recovery help afterward:


Though it is National Preparedness Month, it is important to remain prepared every month of the year. An emergency or natural disaster can strike at any time or place; and if it does, please remember, you are not alone. California Casualty is there when you need us most, to help make sure you and your family are covered.

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

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