First Responders – Be Kind to Your Heart

The men and women of public safety are tough, in control, and working to put others ahead of themselves. It takes a lot of “heart” to do the job. If you wear a uniform, be aware that your risk of heart disease might be higher than the general population.

First Responder Heart Health

February is Heart Month – a reminder that we all need to take care of our hearts so we will be around to celebrate many more Valentine’s Days with our loved ones.

The Risk  

Being a first responder is one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S. Long shifts, life and death situations, and strenuous physical exertion can take a toll on the heart. A number of studies involving law enforcement officers found sudden cardiac deaths accounted for 10 percent of all on-duty police deaths in the U.S.

Cardiovascular disease was found to be the primary on-duty and lifetime mortality risk for firefighters.

The danger increased for first responders who were diabetic, overweight, smoked, used excessive alcohol and didn’t exercise.

Female officers, firefighters and EMTs also need to pay attention. Their rates of heart disease and heart attack have increased, and the Centers for Disease Control lists heart disease as the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.

Recommendations

While we may not be able to reduce the stress involved with public safety, there are clear steps that can cut your risk of heart disease:

  1. If you smoke, quit
  2. Improve and control cholesterol levels
  3. Reduce high blood pressure
  4. Exercise
  5. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  6. Get to a healthy weight
  7. Get adequate sleep
  8. Reduce alcohol intake
  9. Begin aspirin therapy

Police and fire organizations are now calling for mandatory medical exams, wellness and fitness requirements and annual physical fitness performance evaluations. They also recommend that individuals buddy-up and create workout groups, walking clubs and other physical challenges in for their departments.

Law enforcement officers can find heart-healthy tips at https://www.officer.com/command-hq/supplies-services/healthcare/article/20998653/heart-disease-and-law-enforcement.

Firefighters can go to https://healthy-firefighter.org/.

 

10 Kindness Week Ideas for Schools

Random Acts of Kindness Week is the third week of February, with February 17 designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. Here are 10 ideas for teachers and students that can not only be fun, but help others to spread kindness:

  1. Create a kindness wall or bulletin board where students, teachers and staff can write various acts of kindness others can do and cross them off when they happen
  2. Fill a kindness jar with various random acts of kindness and have students and staff take one to do
  3. Put positive sticky notes on cubbies or lockers
  4. Start a bulletin board dedicated to acknowledging kindness students and staff have seen in the class and around the school
  5. Create and share a kindness calendar with a different act of kindness for every day of the month
  6. Begin a kindness coloring contest with students drawing examples of kindness
  7. Start staff meetings or the school day with an inspiring video such as this one featuring ALS patient Chris Rosati
  8. Have students write a positive story about another student
  9. Start a class or school fundraiser for a charity
  10. Remember to show appreciation to custodians and other support staff

Being kind is infectious; it will spread. Find all sorts of ideas for random acts of kindness you can incorporate into your classroom, school and your community at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas/.

Educating Teens about Dangerous Distracted Driving

Like you, we worry that our young drivers are not 100 percent focused when behind the wheel. Even with all the information about how dangerous it can be, younger, inexperienced drivers are still the most likely group to be involved in a distracted driving crash.

In 2007, California Casualty joined educators and law enforcement to form a powerful nonprofit called Impact Teen Drivers (ITD) to address and stop the preventable losses from distracted driving.

California Casualty not only gives funding, but our employees actively work to bring ITD courses into their communities and share the life-saving message with young drivers and their passengers: Focus on the road ahead and get to where they are going safely.

In December, Impact Teen Drivers honored the champions who work with them to help spread this important message. Our Oregon Senior Field Marketing Manager, Sherry Hanacek, and Washington Field Marketing Manager, Michelle Hawkins, were recognized for their hands-on efforts.

Sherry has been tireless in bringing the important Impact Teen Drivers message to schools around Oregon and delivering presentations to the Nurse Practitioners of Oregon, the Oregon Nurses Association and the Portland Police Association. She also stepped in to facilitate the “What Do You Consider Lethal?” two-day program at a Portland-area school when nobody else could do the task. Sherry’s hard work promoting the Create Real Impact Contest has also led to several student and school winners from Oregon.

Sherry said, “I was humbled meeting the parents of affected families, who are so brave to publicly share one of the worst losses a parent can suffer – the death of their child from a preventable crash. They share their stories because they believe they can make a difference so other lives may be saved.”

She added, “I was also honored because we, as California Casualty Partner Relations team members, have the means to share these stories with nurses, educators, police, and firefighter customers every day.”

Michelle was cited for her efforts promoting the Impact Teen Drivers program to law enforcement, EMS/Trauma Care and two different fire departments in Washington. Her promotion of the Create Real Impact Contest resulted in Washington students receiving awards.

Michelle was also moved by the award. “It has inspired me to do more for Impact Teen Drivers,” she said. “After meeting several affected family members at this event, I vowed to them that I will continue to tell their child’s story to as many others as I can. I also want to thank our CEO, Beau Brown, for his continued support of this program – we are saving lives.”

California Casualty CEO, Beau Brown, presented the awards to Sherry and Michelle at the emotional Impact Teen Drivers Affected Family Member Appreciation Luncheon.

“It was a pleasure to be able to honor Michelle and Sherry with an Impact Teen Drivers Distinguished Service Award. They, along with a number of other Partner Relations representatives, are dedicated to trying to assist Impact Teen Drivers with its mission to prevent injuries and death due to reckless and distracted teen driving,” Beau said.

Kelly Browning, CEO of Impact Teen Drivers, is convinced Michelle, Sherry, and the partnership with California Casualty is saving young lives.

TAKEAWAY:

See the many ways that Impact Teen Drivers works to end distracted teen driving, and learn how you can bring the program to your school or community, at www.calcas.com/impact-teen-drivers1.

 

Special Benefits You May Have Forgotten About

When you signed up with California Casualty, you joined a well-respected, 105-year-old, family-owned insurance company. It’s easy, after the excitement of making a change, to forget some of the reasons you chose California Casualty. Not only did you qualify for special group pricing, you also received valuable benefits that came with your auto and home insurance. They include:

  • Rates good for a full year, not six months like many insurers offer
  • Auto insurance that covers $500 for non-electronic items taken from your vehicle
  • $0 deductible for accidents in a rental car
  • Broad policy protection for anyone you allow to drive your vehicle
  • Free ID defense
  • Free pet injury coverage up to $1,000
  • Holiday or summer skip payment options
  • Exceptional towing and roadside assistance availability

However, we can help you in many other ways. Our advisors can also line you up with flood insurance and, in certain states, earthquake insurance. If you have a boat, classic car, RV, motorcycle or snowmobile, California Casualty can get you the insurance you need. We even offer pet health insurance that can save you thousands of dollars if something happens to your furry friend.

TAKEAWAY:

If you need flood and earthquake insurance, or coverage for your pet, boat, collectable car, motorcycle or summer and winter recreation vehicles, contact our Agency Services team at 1.877.652.2638 or email agencyservices@calcas.com. Also, please share your California Casualty experience with your colleagues and family members; we’d love to offer them the same quality insurance with the benefits that you are enjoying, visit www.calcas.com.

Beat the Urge to Use Your Smartphone Behind the Wheel

While we worry about our teens texting while behind the wheel, what kind of example are we setting?  Nearly one-third of drivers of all ages admit to texting, talking or checking a map app while on the road.  With Americans spending an average of an hour a day on the road, that’s too many opportunities for a serious crash.

Technology can give us the boost we need to stay on task, avoiding texting while driving. There are a variety of apps to reduce your temptation to use a smartphone while behind the wheel. Most of us already use apps for workouts, calorie counting, music and banking – why not add one for safer driving?

Five Apps to Stop Phone Use While Driving:

  1. AT&T DriveMode, a free app for iOS and Android that silences incoming calls, restricts texting, and sends alerts when the app is turned off
  2. DriveSafe Mode, an app available for iOS and Android that prevents texting and emailing while driving and sends notifications when the phone is in use or when the driver shuts off the app
  3. Cell Control, a subscription service that allows businesses or families to block sending or receiving texts while driving and sends an alert if it is deactivated
  4. On My Way Realtime GPS (available at iOS app store), a free app that allows others to track where you are in real time without the need to send a text or make a call while driving, and lets them know when you arrive at your destination
  5. LifeSaver, a subscription service for both Android and iOS that blocks phone use, monitors driving behaviors, sends alerts when the driver arrives safely and allows them to earn points while using the app

Your phone may already have a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Search within your phone settings to activate it.

Some other tips to help drivers concentrate on the road and not on technology include:

  • Mapping out the route before getting into the car
  • Creating music lists at home to play on the ride
  • Making calls to friends, work or relatives before the drive and after you arrive at your destination

TAKEAWAY:

Learn more about distracted driving and efforts to prevent it here.

 

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