‘Tis the Season for Giving – Joining Forces With PFFU for Coats for Kids 2022

‘Tis the Season for Giving – Joining Forces With PFFU for Coats for Kids 2022

7.3 million families are living in poverty in the United States. For these families and individuals, the winter months are more expensive meaning they may not have the budget to buy winter coats for their children. 

‘Coats for Kids’ was established in 2013 by the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah (PFFU) to combat one of the most fundamental hardships of childhood poverty- the absence of a warm winter coat.

In Utah, and many other communities across the country, the lack of a winter coat often results in frequent school absenteeism which translates to forgone learning, missed opportunities for socialization and play, and the loss of balanced nutrition provided through the school’s meal program. Helping students stay warm as they walk to and from school helps prevent illness and leads to increased attendance, allowing children of families in need to experience the critical childhood benefits their school has to offer.

For more than a decade, PFFU has watched the problem of childhood poverty creep mercilessly into the homes of the communities it serves. Poverty ravages families without discrimination – and by necessity those struggling to survive naturally prioritize food, heat, and rent above winter clothing.



Each year California Casualty partners with the PFFU to deliver winter coats to children in need in their area through PFFU’s ‘Costs for Kids’ program. There is no denying the joy of a child being zipped into their brand-new coat by their hometown heroes. And to date, we’ve donated over 2,500 coats in fourteen different elementary schools to children in need.

California Casualty Field Marketing Manager, Michelle Hawkins attended this year’s event at Mountain View Elementary School in Salt Lake City. 


*Children’s faces have been blurred for privacy

“This was my first time attending Coats for Kids alongside members of PFFU.,” Said Michelle. “The care and cheer PFFU and Salt Lake City Fire Members brought to the students and staff of Mountain View was magical. This was a special group of people serving their community in a way that will impact those students’ lives forever.  

Students at Mountain View in a variety of grades received a total of 300 coats to help them stay warm and safe during the winter months ahead. 


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 www.calcas.com.

Remembering & Supporting Our Fallen Frontline Heroes & Their Families

Remembering & Supporting Our Fallen Frontline Heroes & Their Families

A moment of silence filled the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado on Sept. 11, 2022. Despite the thousands in attendance, you could hear a pin drop. Firefighters clad in full gear—helmets, packs, boots—stood at attention, some holding high the name tags of fallen frontline heroes, those who gave their lives on that fateful day, so that others may live.

This was the Red Rocks 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb held on the 21st anniversary of our national tragedy. At precisely 9:02 am, the time that the first plane hit the Towers, bootsteps began to echo in the Amphitheatre. Bagpipes played as men, women, and children began the trek that is the equivalent of 110 stories in the World Trade Center, symbolizing the heroic journey made by their fallen peers. Not even the span of two decades could dampen the emotion felt by those in attendance ready to make the climb, including California Casualty employees and their families.

red rocks


When the 9-11 attacks happened in 2001, fearful New Yorkers fled the World Trade Center. Firefighters and first responders headed in the opposite direction—into the danger. Of those heroes who answered the call, 343 did not make it out alive. This day was to remember them and to help the families of other frontline heroes who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) holds these memorial stair climbs nationwide. Proceeds support the families of local fallen firefighters and the FDNY Counseling Service Unit.

As an organization committed to protecting first responders, California Casualty is a proud sponsor of these events. We supported 12 NFFF Stair Climbs this year in Indianapolis, IN; Chicago, IL, Morrison, CO; Dayton, OH; Springfield, MO; Columbus, OH; Imperial, CA; Bishop, CA; Oxon Hill, MD; Scottsdale, AZ; Salina, KS; Tollhouse, CA. Our employees and their families have attended many of these events.

“I wanted to reach out and thank you again for California Casualty’s support of our event,” said Colin Altman at the Gem City, Ohio Stair Climb. “We’ve been working with California Casualty since our first year (2014), and we’re so excited to continue the partnership!”

“Thank you all again for your sponsorship this year,” said Julie Mercer, Marketing Coordinator, Springfield, Missouri Memorial Climb. “It was great seeing you Saturday; thank you for joining us! Thank you also for the wonderful snacks for the climbers, I know they really enjoyed having them. Hope you made it home safe. We hope to see you again next year.”


thank you



National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Partner Award

California Casualty works hand-in-hand with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and their families. Aside from the annual stair climb events, our sponsorship supports training and education, such as NFFF’s Every Firefighter Goes Home and the Taking Care of Our Own program which help prevent in-the-line-of-duty deaths. And some of our funds contribute to financial assistance for families of fallen firefighters and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Scholarship Fund. These scholarships are awarded to spouses, children, and step-children of fallen firefighters.

Because of our continued support of the initiatives of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation we were awarded this plaque for our longtime partnership.




Roxanne Dean, Vice President of Partner Relations at California Casualty, accepted the plaque on behalf of the company from NFFF Consultant, Bill Hinton. This award is given to longtime corporate sponsors of the NFFF to show gratitude for their partnership and support of the Foundation and the families of the fallen heroes.

Join California Casualty in supporting the efforts of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation by visiting their webpage at www.firehero.org and by making a donation to help the families who have lost a loved one at www.firehero.org/donate.


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 www.calcas.com.

Do’s & Don’ts for Halloween Fire Safety

Do’s & Don’ts for Halloween Fire Safety

Creating a spooky Halloween mood often relies on great lighting effects in your home and yard. Glowing jack-o-lanterns, flickering luminaries, and strategically placed uplighting are all classic fare.

But they can also pose a fire threat. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that Halloween decorations cause approximately 800 house fires per year, totaling $11 million in property damage. And that’s not counting the injuries sustained when flammable costumes meet heat sources or open flames.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to make your Halloween safer — without giving up on the spookiness!



Many decorations are flammable due to materials or the use of candles and other heat elements. In fact, . Make sure yours pass the safety check:

Jack-o-Lanterns – These are the ubiquitous, favorite Halloween decoration of most households.

    • DON’T use a candle as your lighting feature. The pumpkin can easily be tipped over and catch its surroundings on fire, whether that’s dry brush or a porch outside, or upholstery or carpeting inside.
    • DO use an LED light, glow stick, or electric candle instead.

Flammable decorations – These can light up in an instant, igniting from live flames as well as heat sources like heaters and light bulbs.

    • DON’T use cornstalks, hay bales, dried flowers, or crepe paper. And don’t put flammable decorations in the path of exits, which creates a serious obstruction risk in case your family needs to exit quickly.
    • DO use flame-resistant or non-flammable materials wherever possible. Avoid having a wood-burning fire inside if it may become unattended due to holiday commotion or trick or treaters. Outside, have a hose and buckets of water ready for any outdoor emergencies.

Paper bag luminaries – Another holiday mainstay, these decorations give a warm, welcoming lighted pathway up to a house.

    • DON’T use live candles. Paper bags are extremely flammable and are prone to tip over with just a slight breeze.
    • DO use an electric candle instead which, even if tipped over, won’t cause any damage.

Candles – More than a third of Halloween home fires each year are started by a candle. A live flame is never safe – inside, outside or anywhere.

    • DON’T use candles for any holiday decorations.
    • DO use electric candles or LED lights instead. Just doing a Google search on “LED lights Halloween” will bring up a range of options for creative, fun ways to give a spooky lighting effect.



Unfortunately, a lot of Halloween costumes pose a fire hazard. Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe.

    • Only choose flame retardant materials.
    • Avoid costumes that are bulky or billowy or have long trailing fabric.
    • Teach kids to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns and luminaries, while they’re trick-or-treating.
    • Give them glow sticks or flashlights to light their way on the big night.
    • If your child’s costume has a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so she/he can easily see out of it.
    • Review “Stop! Drop! And Roll!” with your kids, making sure everyone understands and passes a practice round.

Final Reminders

Make sure well ahead of time that all your fire and smoke alarms are working and ready. Also, remember that even if you take fire-safety steps, your neighbors might not – and if their home catches fire, yours could be imperiled. Review these fire safety tips from firefighters, and update your family’s evacuation plan, just to be on the safe side.

By following Halloween fire safety precautions, you can make this scariest night of the year all about the fun kind of scary instead of the bad kind of scary.



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 www.calcas.com.


6 Reasons to Clean Your Gutters Before Winter

6 Reasons to Clean Your Gutters Before Winter

“Clean the gutters:” It’s one of those perennial to-do list items that never seem to get crossed off. One season runs into the next, and before you know it, winter has arrived and your gutters are still full of debris.

Unfortunately, that can wreak a lot of havoc on your house, from water and structural damage to pest problems and more. And those problems will bring repair and replacement costs that can easily be avoided.

Check out the 6 ways below that clogged gutters can imperil your home, and 6 tips at the bottom to get ahead of the problem.


Structural Damage

Clogged gutters cause water run-off and overflow, which can collect around your home’s foundation. Over time, that water can cause cracks in your foundation, which leads to huge repair costs. When ice dams form, excess water can also seep through your roof.



Damage to Gutter Components

When fascia boards – the long, straight boards running along the lower edge of your roof – are exposed to excess water, they can crack, warp and start shedding paint. If your gutters are weighted down with debris and/or frozen water, they can begin sagging. This can result in tearing and pulling away from the exterior walls, or even coming loose completely.



Interior Damage

Whether from ice dams or a clogged gutter that sends water running in all directions, your home interior is also at risk of damage. This can happen from water leaking underneath shingles and through the roof, affecting electrical systems, appliances, and furniture. Oftentimes, interior walls will show mold, leaks, and water stains, and cracks will appear on ceilings. Window and door frames can also warp and rot.



Ice Dams

These are a main culprit behind all the issues above because they force excess water away from the proper exit route (down the downspout), leaving it up to chance and gravity for water finding its way downhill. In addition, they also cause icicles, which – although picturesque – can injure people and pets, as well as damage your deck and roof.




A gutter full of leaves can harbor infestations of all kinds. Rodents love just about any dark, cozy place and can quickly start nesting and breeding. Before long, they may try to enter your home through the walls, under the roof, etc. Besides rodents, insects will quickly make a home in the decaying matter stuck in your gutters. This means mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies, and termites, all of which can also make inroads into your home. Finally, mold, parasites, mildew, and spores flourish in a damp gutter, posing a health risk to you and your family.



Avoidable Injuries

If you decide to tackle the gutters after winter has already arrived, you may be putting yourself at risk in trying to clean them. Icy and cold conditions make for poor ladder safety and the chances of injury increase. If you spot any structural damage or hard-to-remove ice dams, you may be tempted to fix it yourself, but at that point hiring a professional is much safer.



Gutter Cleaning Quick Tips:

The best time to clean is during autumn, after most of the season’s leaves have fallen (many of which will find a home in your gutters!). Here are 6 tips to get you started.

  1. Use a safe and secure ladder, and practice ladder safety.
  2. Rake debris and leaves off the roof before attacking gutters (be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes).
  3. Wear safety eyewear and gloves.
  4. Use a plastic gutter scooping tool.
  5. Clear the downspouts.
  6. Watch out for power lines.

Once fall gives way to winter, your window of opportunity for safely cleaning gutters closes until spring. Best to start early, before damage – and related repair costs – happen.



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

Mark D. Pitchford Has Been Elected Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of California Casualty


Mark D. Pitchford has been elected Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of California Casualty Management Company (“CCMC”) effective July 25, 2022. In this role, Pitchford will lead the marketing and sales efforts of the company.

Pitchford has more than 30 years of wide-ranging experience, including in marketing, service, and sales, as a senior executive in the insurance industry. He holds an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

Pitchford was most recently head of the insurance practice for Afiniti, applied artificial intelligence provider. Prior to Afiniti, Pitchford was the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Esurance. In this role, he was responsible for Esurance’s advertising, sales and customer service operations, customer experience, and digital transformation. His other previous experience includes leading Allstate’s direct business and time in various senior-level marketing, sales/service, and product management positions at Lumen/Qwest and AT&T/Pacific Bell.

“I am excited about this opportunity,” Pitchford said. “The mission of California Casualty to serve those who are heroes in our communities is inspiring.”

Jonathan D. Adkisson, CCMC’s President & CEO, stated, “Mark brings incredible experience and capabilities which will strengthen our executive management team. I am looking forward to working with him again as we move forward.”

California Casualty is an affinity-based auto and home insurance provider with group partnerships across the nation, offering the highest level of care, service, compassion, and understanding, to people who make a difference for our communities – educators, education support professionals, peace officers, firefighters, and nurses.

Carl B. “Beau” Brown, CCMC’s Chair, commented: “Adding Mark to our team will help ensure that California Casualty can keep delivering on our promise to our members who serve our communities.”


About California Casualty: Founded in 1914 and headquartered in San Mateo, CA, California Casualty has service centers in Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas. The company provides auto and home insurance with special rates, generous discounts, and unique benefits not available to the general public to educators, education support professionals, peace officers, firefighters, and nurses across the country. To learn more about California Casualty, or to request an auto insurance quote, please visit www.calcas.com or call 1.800.800.9410.

Helping Your Kids Become Sun Savvy

Helping Your Kids Become Sun Savvy

If you’ve ever wrestled a wriggling, uncooperative toddler while trying to apply sunscreen, you’re not alone. It’s summer and the kids are excited, which means sun safety sometimes falls by the wayside. Even your older kids may ditch their hats and sunglasses to bask in the sun or they may “forget” to reapply sunscreen after a swim.

Yet it’s so important to protect young skin, which is especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Just one or two blistering sunburns can double your child’s lifetime risk for melanoma, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center. Given the high stakes, how are you possibly going to get your kids to practice sun safety? Don’t worry. Unlike the sunscreen-on-the-toddler scenario, we’ve got you covered.


1. Get them into the habit of applying sunscreen.


Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, make sunscreen a part of your – and their — daily routine. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Note that children’s sunscreens often have the same ingredients as adult versions. They’re just packaged in a cuter bottle. If that cute bottle gets your child to apply it, it’s worth the investment. The bottom line: the best sunscreen is the one your child agrees to wear.

    • Lead by example and apply sunscreen yourself at least 30 minutes before you go outside. Depending on your child’s age and ability, help or encourage them to do the same.
    • For younger kids, make it fun.
      • Put “cheetah” spots of sunscreen and have them rub them in.
      • Pretend the sunscreen spray is a dragon’s breath.
      • Set a timer and count down together. Sing a song that lasts as long as the application.
      • Ask them to stand in front of a mirror and watch to see if you’ve missed a spot.
    • For older kids, add sunscreen to their daily chore chart.
    •  If your child is sensitive to the feel of sunscreen, try different types. Sunscreen comes in spray, stick, and lotion and can be thick or thin, scented or unscented.

Pro Tip: Check the active ingredients, and look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These sunblock ingredients are less irritating if your child has sensitive skin.


2. Teach your child when to reapply sunscreen.


If you’re out in the sun, you’re going to want to reapply your sunscreen to avoid burning. A good rule of thumb is to reapply when kids are wet and sweaty, after swimming, or before the timeframe stated on the sunscreen label. Remember to use a waterproof sunscreen that won’t come off in the pool or when they sweat and that sunscreens need about 30 minutes to absorb into your skin so account for the overlap time.

    • For older elementary kids and teens, have them set a timer.
    • For younger kids, give them a few minutes warning. Then ask where he or she wants to be when you reapply. Having a choice gives them some control and encourages cooperation.
    • Schedule reapplication right before a break for a favorite snack. (Snacks after sunscreen!)


3. Let them choose their sun protective wear.


Sun protective clothing, hats and sunglasses help keep dangerous rays away from sensitive eyes and skin. Involve your child in the choice so that they are more likely to wear the item.

    • Go shopping with your child for hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing. Let them pick out an ensemble…. even if it doesn’t match (sorry, moms!).
    • Consider UV blocking shirts that provide added protection. Avoid tank tops that expose kids’ shoulders.
    • Find a pair of sunglasses that fit your child well. Add a strap that will keep them in place during energetic play.
    • Model wearing your own protective sun gear. Young children might enjoy a matching set! Older kids may be more likely to enjoy “trendy” sunglasses or hats. So, look for ones that have their favorite character or celebrity on the package.


4. Know when to go out and when to seek shade.


The sun’s rays are strongest during midday. Encourage your child to stay out of the sun during the hottest times. Sun safe hours are before 10 am and after 4 pm; that’s when you can offer unlimited outdoor play. During other times, you will want to limit your child’s time in the sun and encourage them to seek shade when possible.

    • Play the shadow game. If your child’s shadow is shorter than he/she is, it means it’s time to find shade. Challenge your child to find all of the shady spots nearby.
    • Set up a shady play area. Include drinks, snacks, games, chalk, balls, dolls, and even a water table to entice children to stay there. For the beach or places where there is no shade, play tents and sun canopies can protect from UVA and UVB rays.
    • Summer rides in the car can also expose your child to dangerous UVA rays which pass right through glass. Add transparent window films to your car windows or provide a light blanket to cover your child’s exposed legs.


5. Explain sun safety in an age-appropriate way.


You want your child to understand why sun safety is important. That ultimately will help them to practice it. Do it in a way that your child can understand and not be frightened.

    • For preschoolers, you can share that the sun can burn you and that will hurt.
    • For elementary school students, share the basics and say that sunburns can damage your skin.
    • For teens, you can go into detail and share the long-term damage that can occur later in life.
    • And for those young adults looking to get a “healthy summer tan,” let them know that there is no such thing. Even tans will damage their skin, and cause wrinkles. Encourage them to use tanning lotions with sunscreen instead.

Be consistent with sun safety precautions and you and your family will enjoy the summer sun that much more!


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 www.calcas.com.


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