#ThisIsMyMoment – Hannah Davis





 

Hannah Davis is an educator and NEA Member. She works every day to inspire and educate her middle school science students. When she faced serious personal challenges, she turned it into a learning opportunity for her class. Watch the video above and learn how the support she received from students and her fellow educators became a defining moment in her career.

What’s Your #Moment?

Are you an educator, firefighter, nurse, or peace officer with an inspiring story? Share it on social media with #ThisIsMyMoment and tag us, and we’ll help spread the word!

Choosing the Right Home Security System

Choosing the Right Home Security System

You’ve got a few tools at your disposal for protecting your possessions. First, there’s homeowner’s insurance in the case of theft or loss, but you can also take steps to prevent theft in the first place, by getting a quality home security system.

There are lots of great options out there, and as technology continues to progress, the choices keep expanding. In fact, it can all be a bit overwhelming, so let’s dive into the top considerations you’ll want to look at when choosing a security system – including your first decision point: whether to go with a DIY or a professionally installed system.

 

DIY vs. Professionally Installed

DIY systems come as packaged kits that you need to install yourself. For most, you’ll be doing the security monitoring, usually via a smartphone app, but some require you to pay for professional monitoring. Professionally installed systems, on the other hand, are installed by a technician, and monitoring is done by the company (trained dispatchers verify triggered alarms and dispatch authorities when needed).

DIY Systems:

Pros

      • Flexibility in tailoring a system to your needs
      • Less expensive and usually no monthly fees

Cons

      • Requires you to install the system correctly
      • You’re responsible for monitoring (i.e. not missing a smartphone alert!)

 

Pro-Installed Systems:

Pros

      • System is expertly installed by a trained technician
      • 24/7 monitoring by professionals who can dispatch at a moment’s notice

Cons

      • More expensive, with installation and monthly service fees (as well as potential false alarm fees, add-on components, and other fees)
      • Usually require multi-year contracts

 

Popular Systems

Here are some of the most well-known and top-rated systems on the market. In your research, you may find others as well.

DIY Systems:

 

Pro-Installed Systems:

 

7 Additional Considerations

As you further hone your choices – be they DIY or pro – here are some other things to take into account.

1. Wireless vs. wired. Systems can be wired or wireless (or sometimes have elements of both). The basic difference is that your control panel and network of sensors are on either a cellular or a landline connection. What you choose will depend on what you need from the system. That said, always make sure to choose a system that includes two-factor authentication for extra security.

2. Pick a system that fits your lifestyle. For instance, is it mainly for when you’re out of town, or also while you’re at home? Do you want it to do smart-home integration, like turning lights off/on, controlling the thermostat, or have sensors for fire, water leak, and glass breaks?

3. Tailor it to your home. For instance, homes with large yards or outdoor areas typically need cameras; condos or apartments can get away with simpler systems.

4. Do your research. No matter if you’re installing your own system or going with a company, learn about all the components available – oftentimes, your system will be a tailored combo of what makes the most sense for keeping your home safe and secure. Systems can include any of the following: control panels, base stations, keypad, locks, contact sensors, motion sensors (interior and exterior), entry sensors, key fobs, glass break sensors, security cameras, door and window sensors, and a variety of different alarms and/or sirens. Most also have signs for your yard or windows to advertise that yours is a secure home.

5. Freedom vs. convenience. If going the DIY route, weigh whether you want the added security of having professional monitoring or if you want to do this yourself. If you’d rather not have that constant responsibility (or stress), that will limit your choices for DIY systems.

6. Conduct due diligence. If you’re leaning towards pro-installed, make sure you get three custom quotes and are clear about how the contracts differ and their terms. Also, take advantage of an in-home consultation if the companies offer it.

7. Check with your local police department. Some municipalities require that anyone running their own security system with professional monitoring obtain a permit. This ensures that their law enforcement and authorities are aware of alarm systems in their jurisdiction.

Choosing the right home security system is a highly personal choice that depends on your lifestyle, budget, home features, and the value of your belongings. Do your research and take your time – but also give yourself a high-five for taking action! Security systems can not only save you money from potential theft, but also prevent the trauma of dealing with a break-in (no one needs that stress right now!). Good luck and also remember to make sure your home insurance is up to date.

 

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.

The Pet Effect: Boosting Our Mental Health

The Pet Effect: Boosting Our Mental Health

We’re coming up on a year of the pandemic, and one of the biggest side effects has been loneliness and isolation. For some, that’s especially trying during Valentine’s Day (on the heels of the winter holidays!). Stress, anxiety, and depression are among the top adverse mental health effects emerging from a year of lockdowns and quarantine.

For many pet owners though, their furry family members have been a solace – even a source of joy and grounding – during an unprecedented time of difficulty. This is no surprise to scientists, who have long studied how animals help combat loneliness and provide companionship. Here are some of the ways our four-legged (and other!) lifesavers have been helping us emotionally and boosting our mental health.

 

purpose

They give us a sense of purpose

Having a routine and caring for another being gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Animals don’t know we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so there’s comfort in seeing them carry on life, as usual, content and happy in the moment.

 

companionship

They provide companionship

They’re our friends and companions – making us laugh, inviting us to be present, and loving us no matter what. And for so many of us, they’re suddenly our new workmates, bombing our zoom calls and taking over our keyboards. They offer their steady presence – at the bedside in the morning, in our laps as we’re trying to read, underfoot at dinner time. No matter what happens in our day, they’re there for us.

 

dog

They keep us active

Well, at least in the case of dogs, who will keep us to a walking schedule (whether we like it or not!). Once out and moving, we can reconnect with nature, wave to neighbors, and fill our lungs with fresh air. They can help us break up the monotony of the day with some movement and downtime.

 

horse

They’re our family

No matter how big or small, there a reason we call them our “babies.” We form deep, emotional attachments to our pets, a neurological bonding process that goes back to our pre-history of animal domestication. They have a seemingly endless supply of love to dole out and are there for us whatever mood we’re in. For children and teens, this can be especially important during the pandemic.

 

rabbit with owner

We’re wired for connection

Pet and animal therapy have been proven to help the elderly and those with cognitive conditions. We may not fully understand the science, but it’s well-known that just being around animals helps so many. It can lower stress, improve emotional self-regulation, decrease pain symptoms and boost positive hormones.

Given all the benefits pets bring us, it’s no wonder pet owners are feeling extra grateful these days and that pet adoptions have been skyrocketing. If you’re thinking of adopting, do your research, make sure you’re ready to commit long-term, and be a responsible adopter.

 

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.

Finding Motivation After Winter Break

Finding Motivation After Winter Break

Congratulations on surviving another semester of pandemic schooling, which could be considered enough stress for an entire school-year itself. You’re now savoring the last of your winter break and some hard-earned R&R. But the mornings are dark; it’s cold and snowy (or wet) outside. Chances are, you’re not itching to get back to early morning zoom classes!   

Motivation at the peak of winter takes a hit every year. But this year, the pandemic and remote education have delivered an extra heavy hit.

Here are some tips to fire up your and your students’ motivation to get through these last winter months with renewed energy and focus.

 

For Teachers

1. Start and end the day with joy – Bookending your day with little pleasures – anything that brings a smile – can help your mindset for the whole day. This could be as simple as using a beautiful, high-quality planner, sipping your morning coffee from a favorite mug, or setting photos of family and friends in view. Or it could be taking a daily walk to connect with nature, keeping a gratitude journal, or any other little ritual that brings joy.

2. Know that you’ve got this – Take a moment and look back at how you met and rose to the challenge of 2020. Taking time to acknowledge your achievements and resiliency can help you find the motivation to forge ahead into 2021. Having confidence in yourself will help fortify you when overwhelm creeps up from time to time.

3. Practice self-care – We all know the drill about airplane masks: Take care of yourself first, or else you won’t be able to help others. List out the things that replenish and energize you, and then take steps to prioritize those in your week. Maybe it’s reading, hiking, or connecting with friends. Tending to your own health and well-being will have a spillover effect of being a better teacher.

4. Communicate with your administrators – Your administrators are there to support you, so ask for assistance when you need it. Use clear communications to let them know about challenges or workload issues – and remember that just like at every other school in the nation, pandemic-era education is a work in progress. Patience and open communications are some of the best tools for thriving amid the challenges.

5. Remember why you’re doing this – At the end of the day, it’s about the kids. When overwhelm and stress threaten to overtake you, try to reconnect with the reason you became a teacher in the first place. Acknowledge it’s not easy and everyone’s doing the best they can. Compassion – for yourself and your students – goes a long way.

6. Pace yourself – Sometimes, having the finish line in sight helps with the final push. Put up a calendar and mark the days until spring break. You’re only a couple of months away – you can do it!

 

 

Helping Your Students

7. Share your experience – By acknowledging with your students that everyone’s been having a hard time, it gives them permission to feel their feelings. By sharing any struggles you yourself have had, they’re likely to feel less alone, ashamed, or self-critical.

8. Be optimistic – Optimism is contagious. The more positivity and optimism you bring to the classroom, the greater the chance it’ll rub off on your students. It may well help buoy them and ignite their natural resilience. Remind them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – spring break is around the corner!

9. Encourage kids to designate a cheerleader or two – If kids surround themselves with people who encourage and support them, they’ll get through this year with a lighter mental load. Encourage them to find a few people in their life whom they can check in with on their successes and struggles. Support and community are more important than ever right now.

10. Make this crazy time a learning experience – No matter their age, kids will take away life lessons from this pandemic year. By framing this year as a challenge that you all tackled and surmounted together, they’ll gain lessons on resilience, community, and collaboration that will serve them for years to come.

11. Celebrate successes – Celebrating students’ successes – whether those are individual or collective – will be extra meaningful this year. Recognizing their hard work and achievements will help them feel seen and acknowledged. Successes can be academic, behavioral, or something you see in their personal growth.

12. Make it fun – Find simple ways to give your students a lift as they return from winter break. This might mean sending welcome-back messages or scheduling something fun for them to look forward to, such as a competition or creative group project. Infusing passion and creativity into their lessons and subject matter will go a long way towards engagement.

Finding motivation (this year especially) to get through the rest of winter might take every ounce of energy you’ve got – but in the end, you may just end up being surprised by your own strength and resilience.

 

 

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.

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

5 Tips for Safe Night Driving

When daylight savings ends and our days become shorter, motorists will find themselves driving more often at dusk and in the dark.

As we turn our clocks back, it’s important to keep in mind that night driving is more dangerous than daytime driving – mostly due to reduced visibility and difficulty judging speed and distance. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, while we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, it’s when 50 percent of traffic fatalities occur.

Here are five ways you can stay safer on the roads at night.

 

1. Be Headlight Savvy

Proper headlight usage and maintenance will go a long way toward safe night driving. Remember the general rule of turning headlines on before sunset, and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise, which will help other drivers see you. Also:

    • Aim headlights correctly (ask your dealer or mechanic/repair shop to double-check them next time you’re in).
    • Make sure they’re clean.
    • Regularly test your high beams, low beams, running lights, turn signals, and brake lights.
    • On rural roads or other dark areas, use high beams. Dim them when you’re within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

 

 

2. Slow Down and Give Room

Due to reduced visibility, drivers at night often need more time to both see other cars, pedestrians, and obstacles, and also to react safely. Give yourself the advantage by slowing down a bit and also giving yourself some extra room on the road.

    • Increase your following distance from other vehicles.
    • Allow more time for your journey.
    • Be a(n extra) defensive driver, as others may be intoxicated or driving erratically.
    • Watch out for pedestrians and wildlife. For the latter – collisions with deer are most common at dusk or at night, usually October through January (see our 30-second video on what to do if you hit a deer).

 

 

3. Give Your Car’s Interior a Once-Over

A little extra attention inside your vehicle can greatly affect how you see and react to things outside your car.

    • Clean the windshield – inside and out – removing all streaks, smudges, and fogginess.
    • Clean the other windows as well to reduce glare and condensation.
    • Use your car’s defroster or heater to prevent your windshield from fogging up.
    • Dim your dashboard lights so controls are still visible but not distracting.
    • Use visors to shield the glare of outdoor street lighting.
    • Avoid using cabin lights as much as possible when driving at night.

 

4. Stay Alert

Two big risks on nighttime roads are drunk driving and drowsy driving. Always remember and stay alert for other drivers who may be impaired due to alcohol, fatigue, or distraction. For yourself, never drive intoxicated and use the tips below to keep yourself alert.

    • Take breaks if you need to – get out and do jumping jacks, shake out your limbs, stretch, take some deep breaths.
    • If you’re on a long trip, try these things to stay awake: coffee or caffeinated drinks, windows rolled down for fresh air, talking, or singing to yourself.

 

 

5. Be Kind to Your Eyes

You can take steps, both in the moment while night driving, and in the longer term to take care of your eyes so they can take care of you on the road.

    • Make sure you get your eyes checked regularly, which will alert you to any vision changes. If you wear prescription lenses, you may need a different prescription at night.
    • Make sure your glasses are anti-reflective.
    • Never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.
    • To protect your eyes from drying out, aim your car’s vents away from your eyes.
    • Keep your eyes moist by blinking regularly, especially if you wear contact lenses.
    • Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights; instead, look at the road marker to your right until the car passes.

 

Finally, avoid two-lane highways at night if possible, as they’re especially dangerous. This and the other tips above will help you stay stress-free and safer during nighttime driving.

 

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.

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