Firefighters’ Summertime Do’s and Don’ts

Firefighters’ Summertime Do’s and Don’ts

Firefighting is a hot job no matter when you do it. But during the summer months, with all that extra heat and humidity, it can be brutal. How do you keep your cool — and cool down? Read on.

A blazing fire can be 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. In your heavy gear, the perspiration builds up and your core temperature can be as high as 160 degrees. After 20 minutes, you’re exhausted.  Couple that with a hot summer’s day and it seems like there’s no relief in sight. 

Here are some “do’s and don’ts” to help you cool down and stay safe on a hot summer’s day on and off duty.


Do: Stay hydrated.

Water is your drink of choice. (Or try coconut water which contains potassium, a great source of electrolytes.) Drink water whether you are thirsty or not. And drink it three days leading up to your shift—because it will help keep you hydrated. When you’re fighting an active fire, your body will evaporate 1 liter of sweat for each hour of work. Make sure to replace that loss by drinking electrolyte beverages as soon as you are able.

Don’t: Drink caffeinated beverages, sugared drinks, or alcohol. 

Caffeine constricts blood vessels which makes you warm. Coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages are a diuretic, which means they cause you to urinate. Sugary drinks actually make you thirsty and can provide a crash in energy. Alcohol causes dehydration. Drink it the night before your shift and you will feel the effects the next day.


Do: Eat for the heat.

That means light healthy meals so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to process them. Include foods that help replenish electrolytes that are lost through sweating. These include watermelon, peaches, apricots, and radishes. Leafy greens also contain a large percentage of water, which helps keep you hydrated.

Don’t: Eat a heavy meal.

It takes a lot of energy for our bodies to digest a steak dinner. When our body breaks down protein, it creates heat. You don’t have to eliminate meat altogether; just take it easy and substitute more carbs.


Do: Stay physically fit.

When you’re in shape, you have a lower heart rate and body temperature. This allows you to adjust to heat stress twice as fast as your fellow Americans who are unfit.

Don’t: Push your physical limits.

It takes time to acclimate to working in the heat. Start gradually and increase over time. It takes about 10-14 days to get used to it. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you’re ready for a break.


Don’t: Run the air conditioner on the way to the fire.

The temperature change from cool to very, very hot can affect your body. Instead, keep the windows open and the air blowing but the air conditioning off on the way to a call.

Do: Use ice, water, and cooling technology.

Set up a bucket filled with ice water so that you can immerse your hands and forearms. Put a damp towel in the freezer and wrap it around the back of your neck when you need relief. Apply cold pressure to other pulse points: your wrist, chest, temples. Spritz yourself with a garden hose; dribble water down the back of your neck from your water bottle. Try a cold pack vest if it fits under your gear. But stay away from misting fans in a humid environment. They’re good for dry environments, but in high humidity, these fans can increase the chance of burns.


Don’t: Ignore the symptoms of heatstroke.

More than 700 people die each year from the heat. If you are feeling warm, light-headed or experiencing muscle cramps, get out of your jacket to let the heat escape. Apply icepacks to your forearms. 

If you experience any of the symptoms of heatstroke, seek help immediately:

    • Body temperature above 103 Fahrenheit
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Headache
    • Red, hot and dry skin
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Confusion

For more information on First Responder heat stress prevention, click here. 


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

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

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

Your car is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a companion on life’s journey. But like any good friend, it needs a little care to keep it going strong. Whether you’re a road trip enthusiast or someone who relies on their wheels for daily commutes, extending the life of your vehicle makes sense. So, buckle up as we explore some simple yet effective ways to make your car last longer.

Ditch the heavy keychain.

When you put the key into the ignition, a heavy keychain can drag it down. That puts pressure on the tumblers inside the ignition. Over time, that can cause the ignition switch to fail. If your car keys share space with lots of other keys, consider a car-only keychain.

Watch for this warning sign: your key sticking in the ignition when you turn on the car. Get the ignition replaced before it leaves you stranded.

Use your parking brake.

The parking brake has an important job: to keep your car from rolling when parked. However, you don’t just need a parking brake on an incline; you need it whenever and wherever you park. Parking brakes help take the stress off the transmission. In addition, if not used, your parking brake can corrode over time. This can lead to expensive repairs. So, engage that parking brake whenever you park.

Don’t idle in the driveway.

It’s not a good idea to idle your car for long periods of time. Not only does it waste gas, but it can also do some damage. During idling, the oil pressure may not send oil to every part of the engine. The engine also won’t operate at its peak temperature. That means there could be incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on cylinder walls, contaminated oil, and damaged components.

Be mindful of moisture.

Moisture can do a lot of damage to your vehicle. Water that seeps into your car’s body panels can cause rust. Extreme heat and humidity can reduce your car’s battery life. Moisture inside your car can also lead to mold and mildew. Finally, salt water can damage your car’s paint. Don’t drive through water, which can expose your undercarriage to unnecessary moisture. Clean corroded battery terminals if you live in humid areas. Make sure to keep your car dry and as cool as possible during the hot, humid months to avoid expensive future repairs.

Change the oil and the air filter.

If your oil is dirty, it can affect the components in your engine. Without proper oil changes, your engine could seize up, which will cost you more than nearly any other car repair. Most manufacturers suggest changing the oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. Newer vehicles will alert you when you need an oil change. You also need to change the air filter, although not as often as the oil. The air filter removes dirt and debris, which also can harm your engine. Change your air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 miles.

Help your tires wear evenly.

Tires naturally wear down over time. Keep them working well by inflating them at the recommended pressure. That will help prevent blowouts. Tires also wear unevenly; that’s why it’s important to rotate them every 6 months or 6,000-8,000 miles. Otherwise, your tires will wear out faster and have to be replaced.

Wash your car.

Cars get dirty, and that dirt buildup is more than cosmetic. It can slowly destroy your paint, which can lead to rust. That’s why washing your car is important. How often depends on the weather, whether you park outside, and if your car is exposed to pollen, bugs, sap from trees, salt on winter roads and more. Wash biweekly or as needed and wax every month or so.

Prevent pests.

If you leave food and wrappers in your car, you could attract mice and bugs. They in turn can do damage that requires repairs. Clean up all food items, wrappers, and containers. Block broken seals or holes where they can get in. If you suspect pests, have your upholstery professionally cleaned.

Protect the interior.

Leather can become dry and brittle after years of exposure to the sun. Apply a conditioning solution routinely to help prevent cracks and keep seats in good condition. Use a windshield shade to help slow upholstery fading.

Don’t fill your tank if you see the tanker.

Gasoline tankers can stir up sediment as they refuel the tanks at gas stations. That could cause you to get dirty gasoline, which can clog your fuel filter or fuel injector. Avoid filling up at a station when it is being filled by a tanker. You’ll avoid a potential expensive repair.

Avoid bad driving habits.

Certain driving habits can reduce the lifespan of your car. Don’t brake hard all the time, it can lead to deterioration of your brake pads. Don’t turn at high speeds; that’s hard on your tires. Don’t strongly accelerate when the engine is cold. Don’t rev your engine when your car isn’t properly warmed up. Avoid potholes and running over curbs which can harm your tires. Good driving habits can help reduce the need for expensive repairs.

Pay attention to maintenance lights.

Don’t skip routine maintenance. It may cost you now but save you money in the long run.

If you have a newer car, it will let you know when it needs service. When the maintenance light is on, schedule your appointment. However, you can look out for things, too. If you hear an unusual noise, take your car in. Watch for puddles under your car. It’s better to get ahead of potential problems than to pay for them as they become big issues.

Keep your car protected.

You may do everything right but accidents still happen, including some that could total your car. Your car is one of your greatest investments. Protect it with the right auto insurance for added peace of mind.

Check out our blog on Pro Tips to Keeping Your New Car Ageless for more tips.


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


Beating the Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Beating the Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder

If the winter months get you down, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people, and it’s more than just the winter blues. It can affect your mental and physical health.

Here’s what you need to know about SAD, including how to recognize signs and symptoms, some available treatments, and how to help those around you if you think they suffer from this condition.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression. It is more than feeling sad or unhappy, and it is not a condition that can be wished away. Symptoms start in the late fall and continue into the winter months. They are most severe during December, January, and February. Generally, SAD resolves itself during the light-filled days of spring. (There also is a form of summer SAD, thought to be caused by the heat, humidity, and allergies. Summer SAD is much less common.) SAD usually starts in adulthood. It is rare among people who are under age 20. It is more common among women than men.

What causes SAD?

The exact cause is not known, but it is thought that SAD is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. Light stimulates the hormone, serotonin, in our brain which makes us feel happy. Increased darkness on the other hand prompts the brain to make more melatonin, causing sleepiness and reduced energy.

What are the signs of SAD?

SAD can affect how you feel, think, and behave. The symptoms are persistent and can be severe. While not every person experiences all the symptoms, here are some common ones for winter SAD.

  • Losing interest in activities: If the activities that usually interest you lose their appeal, that’s a symptom of a low mood or depression.
  • Low energy and sluggishness: You may find it difficult to muster the energy to do the most basic tasks. You might experience extreme fatigue.
  • Sleeping too much: You find yourself sleeping more than usual, and you have difficulty waking up. You may experience daytime drowsiness.
  • Appetite changes: You crave the mood and energy boosting comfort of carbs. However, overloading on carbs can lead to weight gain.
  • Difficulty concentrating: You may be unable to focus and have trouble thinking clearly.
  • Negative thinking: You may feel hopeless, worthless, or even suicidal. You might be anxious and irritable.

What are options for treatment?

Without treatment, SAD can last months. However, most people who seek help can see improvement in a matter of weeks. The symptoms of SAD may look like other mental health conditions, so it’s important to get a diagnosis. A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose SAD and offer options for treatment. Treatments may include:

  • Light therapy: This involves sitting in front of a special light in a lightbox or panel for a specific amount of time each day.
  • Sunlight exposure: Spending more time outside during daylight hours can help. Consider a daily walk or outdoor exercise.
  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy can help you to understand SAD and manage its symptoms from anxiety to depression.
  • Medications: ln some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed to correct the chemical imbalance caused by SAD.

Here are some ways to help prevent SAD.

You can take steps to prepare for winter SAD, which may help to reduce its effects.

  • It may be tempting to go into hibernation mode when it starts to become dark early. However, that can perpetuate the feelings of depression. Instead, plan activities to stay social. This will help to boost your mood.
  • Exercise regularly. If you can exercise in the sunlight, that’s a double boost.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. If you’re tempted by carbs for a quick energy boost, go for complex carbohydrates instead. For example, choose whole grain breads and fruits over sweets and chips.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, especially before bed.

Finally, seek professional help if your symptoms persist. SAD is treatable, and fortunately, does not last forever.


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

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 to 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

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