Are You and Your Motorcycle Road-Ready?

Are You and Your Motorcycle Road-Ready?

Late summer riding beckons; open roads, open skies, long days, and beautiful sunsets. The flipside? Extreme heat. And also a transition period of reacquainting yourself with the roads and traffic. Use these tips to keep your bike and yourself cool and safe.

 

For Your Bike

Keeping your ride cool and running smoothly through the summer usually entails a little extra maintenance. Here are some of the priority areas to fitness-check before setting out.

  • Tires – Tire blowouts are usually caused by underinflated, rather than overinflated, tires. Make sure to inflate to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. And remember that high external temps cause tire pressure to increase due to expanding gas. Check them each week and adjust as necessary. Also keep an eye on the tires’ condition, looking for any cracks, punctures, bulges, or worn tread.
  • Fluids – Check oil, brake, coolant, hydraulic fluids, and their reservoirs for debris, condensation, and discoloration or changed consistency. Get them changed if they’re due. Check the water pump and hoses regularly for leaks, cracks, and tears. Pro tip: cover your radiator to keep the engine cool (and protect it from dirt, bugs and UV rays). On the hottest days, avoid stationary idling to prevent engine overheating.
  • Gas tank – If your bike has been sitting all winter with fuel in the tank, it might not start up. Drain the tank — if there’s any brown grit in the fuel, your tank has probably rusted. You can take it to a mechanic or DIY by flushing with acid remover. After cleaning, treat the new gasoline with a fuel stabilizer.
  • Electrical connections – If your electrical connections aren’t secure, the moisture from humid environments can short the connection and stop your bike from functioning. Inspect all wires and connections to components (including battery) and fasten any loose ones. If they’re corroded, it’s best to replace them.

 

For You

Riding in extreme heat can increase your chance of health risks, overheating, and accident risk. Follow these tips to stay safe and comfortable.

  • Hydration – Staying hydrated is one of the best preventive measures for summer riding. Drink water at every stop and consider purchasing a CamelBak for extended rides. Avoid alcohol, as it can easily dehydrate you.
  • Sun safety – Even if it’s overcast, you’re still getting hit by UV rays. Wear sunscreen and reapply to exposed skin as often as possible.
  • Clothing – Safe riding means extra layers, even in the summer heat. Here are some hacks to keep you cool in your gear.
    • Form-fitting sportswear can keep your body temperature down – look for moisture-wicking fabric.
    • A lightweight base layer under your jacket and pants can prevent discomfort and keep you dry.
    • When leather pants are too hot, check out specialized jeans that have Kevlar fabric lining and other safety components. Never wear shorts.
    • Opt for ventilated summer-weight boots, which allow airflow to cool the feet and ankles.
    • Mesh-backed gloves will let you grip the handles while allowing for ventilation – as well as hand protection in case of a fall or skid.
    • There are options for jackets that protect while keeping you comfortable in the heat. Ventilated jackets with mesh panels allow for aeration, and many perforated leather jackets come with zip vents, which help you release body heat.
    • A proper helmet – required by law in all but 3 states – is safety rule number one. Investing in a breathable, lightweight and ventilated helmet will keep your head (and by extension, your body) cool and protected. The best ones are usually carbon fiber.

 

Get Re-Accustomed to the Road

If you’ve been traveling mostly by car and are just getting back to the roads on 2 wheels, give yourself some time to re-adjust. You no longer have the wrap-around metal protection of a vehicle, and you may need to fine-tune your reaction time for sharing the road with cars.

Most motorcycle accidents are attributed to unsafe lane changes, car doors, speeding, sudden stops, left-turn accidents, and lane splitting, among others, so make sure you’re visible to the cars around you.

Finally, know the signs of heat stress (check out our article here). It can come on suddenly, so knowledge and prevention are your tools to stay cool and healthy.

 

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.

Preventing Winter Windshield Cracks

Preventing Winter Windshield Cracks

If you’ve ever had your windshield hit by a rock, you know the sinking feeling of watching a crack appear—and grow. 

Cracks happen and sometimes they’re unavoidable. But did you know that your windshield is at higher risk for cracks in the winter? It’s true. Knowing the causes of cracks will help you protect your windshield this season. If you do get a crack, we’ve included a guide on how to handle it, which can hopefully save you an expensive repair. 

 

All About Your Windshield

Your windshield is a protective barrier between you and the road ahead. It also provides a clear line of sight. When your windshield cracks, it compromises your safety and can limit your visibility. 

Windshields are made of laminated glass, which includes two layers of glass with a piece of plastic in the middle. The layers are fused together, making them stronger than ordinary glass. Even though windshield glass is strong, however, cracks still happen.

Tiny cracks can occur from everyday driving. Cracks happen when your windshield is hit by a rock or debris. The metal frame of your windshield expands and contracts in extreme temperatures. This causes stress on your glass which can crack it over time. Finally, our own human error can cause glass to crack, such as when we pour hot water over an icy windshield. A crack between the two layers of glass can trap moisture between the layers. This can weaken the structural integrity of your windshield and cause cracks down the road. 

 

Types of Cracks

In most cases, cracks or chips smaller than the size of a quarter are able be fixed. But you cannot let even a tiny crack alone. Don’t ignore these small cracks or chips; they can start out small and eventually get larger, past the point of repair, and cause you to need a total windshield replacement. 

Not all cracks are the same, and it’s good to know what kind you have. The type of crack determines how you deal with it. 

    • Basic crack – The simplest crack is a line that is not near the edge of the windshield. If the line is less than 1 inch long and doesn’t have other lines extending from it, it can be repaired. 
    • Floater – A crack that occurs away from the windshield edge is known as a floater. These can spread quickly.
    • Edge crack – If the crack is near the edge of your windshield, chances are that the entire windshield needs to be replaced.
    • Chip – If a small piece of glass is missing, you have a chip. A chip less than 1 inch in diameter, without any cracks coming from it, can be filled or repaired.
    • Star – If your crack looks like a small chip with tiny cracks extending from it, you have a star crack. This type of crack could possibly be fixed but the repair may be visible. 
    • Bulls-eye – If your crack resembles a circular bulls-eye target, you have more extensive damage than it appears. This type of crack usually requires a full windshield replacement.

 

How to Avoid Cracks

Remove ice responsibly. In most places in the U.S., you’ll be dealing with icy windshields this winter. You need to clear the ice in order to drive. Glass can be brittle in cold temperatures, so you will want to avoid any sudden temperature changes. 

    • Do not throw hot water on your windshield. Hot water will refreeze, and surprisingly, it does so faster than cold water. Don’t use room temperature water either. This will still be a temperature extreme from the icy conditions and can crack your windshield.  
    • Skip the vinegar and water mixture. Vinegar doesn’t work well when there is already ice there. It also is an acid that can eat into glass causing pits.
    • Don’t use a propane torch, hair dryer, or cigarette lighter. These are extreme changes in temperature and can crack the glass.
    • Do not use a knife or blade that will chip or scratch your glass. 
    • Don’t hit the ice. It doesn’t take a lot of impact to cause damage to the glass.
    • Do not use keys, snow shovels, or spatulas. They can all leave scratches and grooves.
    • Do warm your car up slowly. Use your car’s heater and defrost settings. Wait until your car is warm to turn your car’s defrosters on high.
    • Do use a plastic ice scraper. Ice scrapers are among the must-carry items in your car in winter.
    • Do use a liquid deicer if you would like.

 

Avoid flying debris. While rocks and debris can hit your windshield almost anywhere, you can take steps to keep your car away from this potential hazard.

    • Don’t drive over gravel roads, but if you must, keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. 
    • Don’t follow construction vehicles too closely.
    • Don’t drive in hailstorms if you can help it. The best strategy is to find covered parking while it’s hailing. If you must drive in a hailstorm, slow down to lessen the impact.

 

Park in protected places. Mother nature can be tough on our windshields. Keeping your vehicle in a place with a constant temperature and away from wind, winter storms, snowstorms, and extreme weather can help to protect the windshield.

    • Avoid exposing your windshield to extreme temperatures. If it’s going to be very cold, park your car inside if you can. 
    • You also can cover your car, which will help to protect your windshield wipers from freezing and cracking. You don’t want damaged wipers to scratch your windshield.
    • If you can, park your car inside a garage during the winter months.

Periodically inspect your windshield. You may not even be aware of tiny cracks in your windshield. The sooner you catch them, the sooner you can address them.

    • It’s hard to notice cracks while you’re driving. Make it part of your winter routine to periodically inspect your windshield when you get in or out of your car.
    • Keep the windshield glass clean. This will help you to notice small cracks and chips. 
    • A winter car wash can help, but don’t run your car through one if there are any windshield cracks.
    • Replace your wiper blades before winter hits.
    • Don’t drive around with a crack. The sooner you take care of it, the less expensive the repair will likely be.

 

What to Do if You Get a Crack

Drive carefully. Drive over bumps slowly. Don’t whip around corners or cause any vibrations that could make damage worse.

Guard against dirt and moisture. While you are waiting for the repair, keep the crack clean and dry. Dirt and moisture can make repairs more complicated. (Pro Tip: Even window washer fluid can stain the crack so use a drop or two of dishwashing soap on a damp cloth.)

You only have one chance to get it right. DIY options include inexpensive windshield repair kits. 

Most kits aren’t high quality and won’t last long-term. Some folks have tried to seal the crack with household items like superglue or nail polish remover. Don’t even consider that. It will prevent you from getting a professional repair.

Contact an auto glass repair specialist. California Casualty works with Safelite on claims for cracked windshields. Many glass repair providers offer same-day service and can come to you. A technician can fix repairable cracks in a matter of minutes. Most comprehensive auto insurance policies cover the cost of fixing small chips and cracks in your windshield. Even without insurance, a windshield repair is much less than a replacement. 

 

 

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.

Insurance Coverage for Your Location

Insurance Coverage for Your Location

Droughts, fires, floods, and storms – natural disasters can wreak havoc on your home and your property. Yet, many of us live in regions that are prone to them. If you live in such a place – or if you’re considering moving into one – how do you protect your investment?

Two ways: 1. Know your risks. 2. Have the right protection.

 

Know Your Risks: Is your region prone to a natural disaster?

A natural disaster can happen anywhere at any time. Weather patterns in a region are a good predictor of whether your area will likely be at-risk now and in the future.

The average weather pattern in a place over several decades is called a climate. An area’s climate affects the weather and the type of natural disaster(s) they are prone to. For example, we know the West has a very dry climate that causes frequent wildfires; the Northwest is known for its wet weather, which could lead to severe flooding. The Midwest is associated with brutally cold winters which can lead to devastating winter storms. And the warm coastal climate of the South East is the prime environment for hurricanes.

If you want to know the most common weather risks to your home or in your area, you can do a free climate risk assessment on ClimateCheck.

 

Know Your Risks: 6 Common Disaster Risks

Disasters come in many forms, from tornadoes and hurricanes to floods and droughts. Following are six types of disaster risks that may affect your home or property.

 

1. Heat Risk

Extreme heat occurs when there is high heat and humidity, and temperatures exceed 90 degrees for a period of days. In terms of disasters, extreme heat can sometimes lead to fires. (See the Fire Risk section for more detail.) U.S. counties with the greatest risk for heat include 37 counties in the south with a third of them located in Florida.

 

2. Drought Risk

Droughts occur when there is not sufficient precipitation. Not only does this put a stress on the water supply, but it can also have a severe impact on your landscaping. Soil dryness can also lead to settling issues with your home’s foundation. Unfortunately, for most homeowner policies, settling or shrinking is not a covered loss. U.S. counties with the greatest risk for drought include 34 counties in the west, with 21 in Colorado.

 

3. Fire Risk

When drought occurs and heat becomes extreme, the conditions are right for a fire to start. Wildfires can destroy your home or community. Wildfires account for about $16.5 billion in damages annually in the U.S. In the event of a fire caused by a natural disaster, your home’s dwelling coverage will pay to repair or rebuild your home up to your policy limit. U.S. counties with the greatest risk of fire are located in the West.

 

4. Flood Risk

This includes coastal flooding as well as flooding from surface water or nearby lakes and streams. Rising sea levels and extreme weather have contributed to flooding, which cost as much as $20 billion annually in the U.S. A traditional homeowner’s policy does not cover flooding. For your home to be covered you will need to purchase a separate flood policy. U.S. counties with the greatest risk of flooding are mostly located in the south, including Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

 

5. Severe Storm Risk

Storms include high wind, wet or snowy weather events. These could be hail storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other types of destructive weather. Storm damage in the U.S. averages about $17 billion annually. Your homeowner’s policy may cover some aspects of storm damage, including hail, wind or lightning. If you are unsure, check with your insurance’s Service Department to see what is covered under your policy. U.S. counties with the highest risk of storms are located in the Northeast or Southeast.

 

6. Earthquake Risk

Earthquakes typically occur along fault lines and can cost millions in damages. In the U.S., they are more common in California and Alaska. A pair of earthquakes struck Ridgecrest City, California, in 2019, causing nearly $40 million in damage. Importantly, while earthquakes cause significant damage to buildings and property, they are not covered by the typical homeowner’s policy. In some states, however, you can purchase coverage for earthquakes for an additional premium.

 

Have the Right Protection: Do you have enough insurance for a disaster?

If a natural disaster happens in your community, and your home and property are damaged, you want to be able to rebuild. Yet, many homeowners find themselves having to fund portions of the rebuilding process because they’re underinsured. Here’s what you need to know.

    • During a disaster, your neighbors will be rebuilding at the same time. When demand exceeds supply, that can drive up prices for materials and labor. These increased costs usually aren’t factored into homeowner’s coverage, and you have to pay out of pocket for the difference. Some policies carry a mandatory endorsement added to the policy that provides an additional 25% of coverage to cover these additional costs. There is a fee for this endorsement, known as extended repair/replacement cost.
    • You may be required to meet new and stricter building codes when you rebuild. You may use up to 10% of Coverage A for the increased costs you incur due to the enforcement of any ordinance or law. For an additional premium, increased amounts of coverage can be purchased via an endorsement.
    • If your area is prone to floods or earthquakes, you will want those additional policies. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover these events. Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting policy for flood insurance.
    • Rebuilding a home can take a long time. Your policy’s living expense coverage will provide a flat percentage toward living costs, usually 30% of the Coverage A amount. Some states have time limits (e.g. 12 months) on when you can use that coverage. Plan to cover those additional expenses out of pocket.

 

You want to be fully prepared for a disaster, and not just with a disaster plan. Talk with your insurer about your home and property to ensure that you are fully covered, no matter which location you call home.

 

 

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.

What to Pack in Your Patrol Car This Winter

What to Pack in Your Patrol Car This Winter

It’s cold out there, and if you’re a cop on the beat this winter, you’ll definitely feel it. While winter weather may be uncomfortable, exposure to the cold can be deadly, and frostbite can be permanently disabling. 

Take steps to make sure you’re safe and comfortable this winter with a cold weather survival kit for your patrol vehicle. Most of these items you can find inexpensively locally or online, or you may already have them on hand. So the next time the temperature dips, and you’re driving around this winter, you’ll be ready.

1. Thin wool or fleece gloves – Use these as your backup pair in case you need them, or as additional insulation under your heavy gloves. Inexpensive military surplus glove liners work well because they don’t take up much space. The wool keeps you warm even if it gets wet.

2. Hand warmers – These warmers are oxygen-activated. You can get ones that last for 12 hours, which will cover your shift. You can place them in gloves, boots, hats, vests, or pockets for an extra boost of warmth when you’re patrolling, directing traffic, or standing around in the cold.

3. Snowmobile balaclava – This windproof headwear is thin and stretchable, so it easily fits under hats and works well with uniforms. It’s made to wear under a snowmobile helmet, and it effectively shields your head, face, and neck.

4. Plastic trash bag – Trash bags have great insulating properties, which makes them ideal for covering up a tear in a uniform. They also are effective barriers from wet, icy or snowy surfaces if you might have to sit down on one.

5. Glow stick necklaces – Snap these necklaces and they give off a glow that can be seen at night. If you’re ever about to fall unconscious, wrap one around your arm or attach one to your neck. You can also use them in a pinch if the battery in your flashlight dies. These sticks will glow for 8 to 12 hours.

6. Packets of instant coffee, hot cocoa, tea bags – Pack your hot beverage of choice for a quick pick me up. Just add hot water, available at most convenience stores. A hot beverage can help you maintain body temperature on frigid nights and keep you hydrated.

7. A large zipper food bag or vacuum pack bag – Store your kit in a waterproof bag that’s easy to carry. A large zipper food bag is light and foldable. You also could pack everything in a vacuum-sealed food bag. Whatever you use, make sure your cold weather survival kit is with you wherever you go this winter.

 

More cold weather tips

Working in the cold is an added stress for law enforcement. Make sure you are fully prepared.

  • Police uniforms are not necessarily made for warmth, and you may not even be issued a winter version. Make sure you’re protected with good outerwear and base layers, especially if you’re working in conditions under 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Insulated underwear comes in different weights. Choose the weight you need based on the weather. Remember that a good base layer is odor resistant, quick to dry, and soft on the skin. 
  • Insulated duty boots protect your feet and keep them warm during the toughest conditions. 
  • Warm socks made for the weather will help. Wool retains heat even if wet and lets your feet” breathe.”
  • Insulated hats prevent heat loss through your head.
  • Warm gloves protect your hands but can affect your fingers’ ability to move. Make sure you practice with your gloves on as you deploy your baton, TASER, OC, handcuffs, magazines and pistol.
  • Equipment can freeze and malfunction due to the cold. Keep a small black sack with hand warmers and put your radio in it to keep the battery from freezing. Wrap your flashlight with hockey friction tape so the cold metal won’t stick to your skin if you touch it with bare hands. Put a coat of silicone inside your holster to more easily draw your weapon, and do a half-draw if you’re out in the cold for a period of time.
  • You depend on your cars to keep you warm. Snap-on grille covers help keep the cold air outside from coming in. 

Stay safe out there. 

 

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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