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Mark Lewis Agency

Sponsored Post: Mark Lewis Agency announces this month's Quotes for Good recipient

By Lisa Ace

The Mark Lewis State Farm team is very excited to announce that this month’s Quote for Good recipient is Open Arms Rescue of WNY! They had a couple of visitors recently and they did a great job convincing the team that their rescue should be the recipient of this month’s Quotes for Good.
For the month of May, for every person who calls, emails or stops by for an auto insurance quote, Mark Lewis will donate $10 toward the Open Arms Rescue of WNY to help find homes for rescue dogs in our area.
If you don’t already have State Farm Insurance, now would be a great time to call, we offer excellent, LOCAL service, a great team and extremely competitive rates, and now, your call will help local dogs fine their “fur-ever home.” The Mark Lewis Team is looking forward to giving the rescue a large donation at the end of May and you can help! Call today!

Sponsored Post: Call Mark Lewis Agency today and help Batavia Girls Fastpitch Softball

By Lisa Ace

We’re excited to be sponsored by our local State Farm® agent as this month’s Quotes for Good organization. This month, for every person we send their way and who completes an auto quote, they’ll make a $10 donation to our organization.

For the quote to qualify, the individual cannot be a current State Farm customer, but please refer friends and family to help support this organization. 

When calling in/stopping by for a quote, be sure to mention Quotes for Good and our organization’s name for the quote to qualify. We are excited about the opportunity to generate donations and create awareness about this cause. Call 343-4959 or visit our office at 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

Thank you for supporting us through Quotes for Good. Together, we can make a difference in our community.

Sponsored Post: Call Mark Lewis Agency today and help Batavia Girls Fastpitch Softball

By Lisa Ace

We’re excited to be sponsored by our local State Farm® agent as this month’s Quotes for Good organization. This month, for every person we send their way and who completes an auto quote, they’ll make a $10 donation to our organization.

For the quote to qualify, the individual cannot be a current State Farm customer, but please refer friends and family to help support this organization. 

When calling in/stopping by for a quote, be sure to mention Quotes for Good and our organization’s name for the quote to qualify. We are excited about the opportunity to generate donations and create awareness about this cause. Call 343-4959 or visit our office at 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY 14020

Thank you for supporting us through Quotes for Good. Together, we can make a difference in our community.

Sponsored Post: State Farm - Mark Lewis Agency - Get your home winter ready

By Lisa Ace

Be energy efficient
Since your heating system will probably be running constantly throughout the winter, remember to change out your HVAC filters every month. Inspect the insulation in your attic and crawl space. Warm air rises and leaves the house through the roof, so you should focus on insulation in your ceilings. Seal areas around recessed lights, the attic hatch, and plumbing vents that may be allowing warm air from the living space below to enter the attic. Proper attic ventilation, adequate attic insulation, and a tight air barrier between the attic and the interior of the house will work together to prevent ice dams.

If you don't have double-paned windows, remove the screens and install storm windows to ensure that the heat stays in and the cold stays out. If you're on a tight budget, pick up an inexpensive plastic-film sheet kit from your local hardware store. These will only last one season, but they do help with energy efficiency and are able to halt the cold flow of winter drafts. If you have a fireplace, burning firewood is another way to save energy costs. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly -- about an inch -- and close doors leading into the room. That will prevent the fire from drawing warm air out of the rest of the house and replacing it with cold air. And remember to store your firewood in a dry place at least 30 feet from your home to avoid a fire hazard.

Protect your pipes
Pipes located in attics, crawl spaces, basements, and near outer walls can be susceptible to freezing in extreme temperatures. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures, let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight. Also try keeping cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate in places like below sinks. If you open the cabinet doors, be sure to remove anything inside the cabinets that may pose a safety to hazard to children, such as household cleaners. For exposed pipes in your attic, basement or crawl spaces, add extra insulation around them. View the tips to avoid frozen pipes for more information.

Be ready for an emergency
Blackouts and snow-ins can occur during winter months, so take a moment to prepare yourself and your family for such emergencies. Having the following items ready will help you make it through safely.

  • Flashlights
  • Bottled water
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Blankets
  • Phone numbers for your utility companies
  • Battery backup to protect your computer and other important electronic equipment
  • First-aid kit

Decorate safely
'Tis the season to be festive, but remember to stay safe with your holiday decorations. Inspect the wires of your light display before switching them on—they may be frayed and present an electrical fire hazard. Same goes for the Christmas tree inside -- always check the light strands for any sign of wear and tear from being in storage. If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it watered, since dry trees catch fire easier. Check with your local municipality for instructions on how to dispose of the tree once the new year arrives.

Don't forget yard care
Even with the cold weather conditions, your yard still needs to be maintained. Make sure tree and shrub branches are well away from the house and windows. Icy conditions can cause branches to break and damage your home. Walk around your home and survey the roof to see if any ice dams have formed; call a contractor if you suspect this is the case. As you walk around your house, check the foundation for small cracks or openings where mice or other pests can tunnel in. Winter is when they seek the warmth of your house, so seal up any possible entrances. While you're outside, clear snow off gas meters and away from basement windows and your dryer exhaust vent.

Sponsored Post: State Farm - Mark Lewis Agency offers Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

By Lisa Ace

Keep everything clean

  • Scrub hands with soap under warm water for 20 seconds. Do the same after handling food, especially raw meat or poultry, to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Clean counters, cutting boards, dishes and silverware with hot water and soap before and after preparing each food item.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables to remove surface dirt, but do not rinse raw meat or poultry —  this makes it more likely for bacteria to spread.

Heat food to proper temperature

  • Color is never a reliable indicator of safely cooked food. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature — typically 165 degrees.
  • Frying your turkey? Follow our turkey fryer safety tips.

Keep foods at appropriate temperatures

  • Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or warmer with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.
  • Keep cold foods at 40 degrees or colder. Nest serving dishes in bowls of ice and store moist desserts, such as pumpkin pie and cakes with whipped frosting, in the refrigerator until serving.
  • Never let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

Store leftovers safely

  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers, which allow rapid cooling, before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Use a microwave or oven to reheat foods to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Eat leftover food within three to four days.

Sponsored Post: State Farm - Mark Lewis Agency offers deer safety tips

By Lisa Ace

No matter where you live, or what time of day you are driving, it’s important to remain alert. Keep your eyes up and focused on the road. This helps you take action in the event a deer is suddenly in your path. Other tips to help keep drivers safe include:

  • Slow down, particularly at dusk and dawn;
  • If you see one deer, be prepared for more deer to cross the road;
  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs;
  • Always buckle up — every trip, every time;
  • Use your high beams to see farther, except when there is oncoming traffic;
  • Brake if you can, but avoid swerving; this can result in a more severe crash;
  • Remain focused on the road; scan for hazards, including animals;
  • Avoid distractions; devices or eating might cause you to miss seeing an animal;
  • Do not rely on products such as deer whistles; they are not proven effective;
  • If riding a motorcycle, always wear protective gear; keep focus on the road ahead.

Mark Lewis Agency - State Farm, 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia. Call today 585-343-4959 > Click here to visit us online <

Sponsored post: Mark Lewis Agency - Water Damage Tips - how to protect your home!

By Lisa Ace

Inside your home - Kitchen

  • Dishwasher – Periodically check for leaks under the sink where the hose connects to the water supply. Look around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks, such as discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials, or water damage to nearby cabinets.
  • Refrigerator – If your refrigerator has an icemaker, make sure the hose connection is securely attached to the water supply line. Also, a wet spot on the floor may be a sign of a crimped icemaker line about to burst.
  • Sink – Replace deteriorated caulk around sinks, and check the pipes under the sink for leaks. A slow-draining pipe may indicate a partially blocked drain that needs cleaning.

Click headline to read more after the jump:


  • Showers and bathtubs – Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked caulk and grout. Water can leak through these damaged sealants, causing stains or soft areas around nearby walls and floors.
  • Sinks – Check under the sink for leaks from water supply lines or drainpipes.
  • Toilets – Clogs can result from too much toilet paper or objects such as hanging bowl deodorants. Also, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode internal plastic or rubber parts, leading to a leak.

Basement, Laundry or Utility room

  • Washing machine – Check hoses regularly for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around hose ends. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program. To help make sure the hose doesn’t kink, leave at least four inches (or 11 centimeters) between the water connection and the back of the washing machine.
  • Water heater – Most water heaters last eight to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a leak. Water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home, next to a floor drain, or inside a drain pan piped to the floor drain.
  • Sump pump – Battery-operated back-up sump pumps can help protect against power failure or failure of the primary pump. Test the sump pump before the start of each wet season. Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years and must have some components replaced or serviced within those 10 years.

Since water may still come through an overflowing drain or cracks in the foundation walls, make sure items stored in the basement are kept off the floor. Furniture should be on casters or shims and arranged away from floor drains.

Stopping leaks at the source

  • Check for hidden leaks. First, turn off faucets and all water-using appliances, and don’t flush toilets for one hour. Then, record the water meter reading. If the flow indicator (triangular or diamond-shaped rotating button) is spinning or the meter reading has changed while no water is being used, a leaking pipe may exist.
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it. Check it frequently for problems, and shut off the water if you will be away from your home for several days or longer.

Outside your home - Roof

  • Keep the roof free from leaves, twigs, and other litter to allow for proper drainage. 
  • Make sure air can flow freely through all soffit and roof vents. This will reduce the buildup of heat and moisture and help extend the life of the roof.
  • Consult a professional on using a preservative or cleaner (depending on the type of roof you have) to help limit the weathering effects of moisture and retard growth of molds and mosses.
  • Keep trees trimmed to prevent them from rubbing against the roof or providing excessive shade.
  • Replace missing, curling, cupping, broken, or cracked shingles.
  • Watch for damage in valley areas of the roof, and around the flashing at chimneys, vents, and other junctions.
  • Check your attic around flues, plumbing vents, and chimneys for roof leaks, especially if you’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling.

From the gutters to the ground

  • Clean debris from your gutters and downspouts, and inspect them regularly. Think about installing gutter shields if your gutters frequently fill with debris.
  • Place splash blocks at the end of downspouts to carry water away from the foundation, or add an extra length of downspout if necessary.
  • Every spring, have the air conditioning (A/C) system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their service includes inspecting and cleaning the A/C condensation pan drain line. Change the air filters on a regular basis.
  • Before winter starts, disconnect garden hoses from all spigots and turn off each spigot’s water supply.
  • Replace any damaged caulk around windows or doors.
  • Repaint wood siding as needed.
  • Fill in any low spots next to the house to help water drain away from the foundation.

Hardware that can help

Even after taking the preventions we’ve discussed here, check frequently around the house for signs of leaks. It’s important to find them before they cause serious damage. Of course, it’s impossible to keep watch for signs of trouble 24 hours a day. Fortunately there are water leak detection systems that can help.

Water alarms

  • These systems are usually battery-operated, stand-alone units. The moisture sensor on the device will sound an alarm when it senses moisture.
  • Water alarms are inexpensive and easy to install. They can be placed on the floor or mounted on a wall. They should be located in high-risk areas such as under sinks and near appliances and equipment that use water. 
  • This device can help only if someone is inside the home, hears the alarm, and takes action. 

Individual appliance systems

  • These systems are installed on a specific appliance and will automatically shut off the water supply in case of a leak. 
  • Depending on the type of device, you may be able to install this system without any special tools. However, in some cases, a qualified plumber may be needed.

Whole-house systems

  • These systems feature a shut-off valve that is installed on the main water supply pipe. When a leak is detected, the system will automatically shut off the entire water supply.
  • If you travel often, this type of system could help you rest assured while you are away from home.
  • Whole-house systems typically take between four and six hours to install and a qualified plumber is normally required. For a product list, visit®

For more information on how to prevent water damage and improve home safety, please contact Mark Lewis at State Farm® at (585) 343-4959 or visit us online at:

Sponsored Post: Mark Lewis Agency - Spring into home maintenance!

By Lisa Ace

Roof, Attic and Gutters
  • Check your roof for loose, missing, worn or damaged shingles. Make sure flashing is secure around vents and chimneys.
  • Gutters should be clean, properly aligned and securely attached. Downspouts should direct water away from the house.
Outside Walls and Framing
  • Check soffits, siding, brick walls, trim, and flashing for damage, looseness, warping and decay.
  • Look for termite damage and signs of other insects or rodents.
Foundations and Basements
  • Check foundations for signs of settling, such as bulging or shifting. Have a professional inspect cracks more than 1/8-inch wide.
  • Look in basement and crawl spaces for dampness and leakage. Standing water could be a sign of improper drainage, which can weaken the foundation.
  • Test your sump pump before every wet season. Consider installing battery-operated backup sump pumps to protect against a power failure or mechanical failure of the primary pump.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Check that detectors are functioning; change batteries at least once a year or as needed.
  • Replace units every eight to 10 years.
Doors and Windows
  • Add deadbolt locks to all exterior doors, including the door between the garage and your home. Use a heavy metal strike plate with three-inch screws and Grade 1 deadbolts for the highest level of protection.
  • Check all windows for proper operation. Consider adding supplemental window locks.
  • Replace caulk and weather-stripping that has lost contact with surfaces.
  • Look around and under appliances and fixtures for leaks or wear. Check shutoff valves at all fixtures and the main water line annually.
  • Insulate or relocate exposed water pipes to protect them from freezing and bursting. Think about replacing outdoor faucets with frost-proof models.
  • Replace washing machine water hoses every three to five years.
  • Check your water heater. Most water heaters last eight to 12 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a problem. Water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home and always be located next to a floor drain.
Electrical and Mechanical Systems
  • Have professionals check your air-conditioning and furnace. Consider having your air ducts cleaned.
  • Have an electrician inspect your electrical system.
  • Plug sensitive electronic equipment and appliances into UL-listed surge-protector power strips.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and damper, and the space under the dryer. (Lint buildup may cause a fire.)
Landscaping, Walks and Porches
  • Check for loose handrails, banisters and stair coverings.
  • Repair buckled or cracked walkways.
  • Trees should be healthy and placed at a safe distance from the home. Trim shrubbery branches away from siding to help prevent insect and moisture damage. Mulch and earth should be kept eight inches below siding.
For more information or insurance coverage: please call the Mark Lewis Agency at: (585) 343-4959 or stop by -- we're located at: 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY. Visit us online at:


Sponsored Post: Mark Lewis Agency - Tips for Burglary Prevention!

By Lisa Ace

Here are some tips on burglary prevention for both inside and outside of your home:

Inside the House

  • Set timers on interior lights: This goes a long way in deterring burglars, who often look for crimes of opportunity. Don't allow your house to appear as if no one is home.
  • No status updates: Never broadcast your location on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you think that it's only your friends or colleagues viewing your online profile, it's safest not to leave any sort of opening for a possible burglar.
  • Alert alarm company: If you have an automatic security system in place, call your representative, announcing you'll be away from home for an extended period of time. Make sure the alarm is set properly when you leave.
  • Secure valuables: If you don't already have your jewelry or other valuables in a safe deposit box, now might be the time to do so. Doing this also ensures that you don't leave out anything valuable in plain sight that a burglar might be able to see from a window.
  • Lock all doors and windows: It might seem obvious, but double-check just to be sure.
Outside the House
  • Arrange for lawn care: Have your landscaping tended to by a friendly neighbor or local service. Before you leave, trim tree branches that might allow access to a climbing burglar.
  • Newspaper and mail: Stop mail and newspaper deliveries, or have them regularly picked up by a neighbor. Again, you don't want to easily clue in a burglar to your absence by the mounting newspapers on your doorstep.
  • Exterior lighting: Set these lights on timers as well, to deter burglars.
  • Don't leave spare keys outdoors: Collect any hidden spare keys from around the exterior of your home. Remember, burglars know the most popular hiding places, like beneath mats and in potted plants.
  • Lock up garage: Even if there is no entrance to your house from the garage, there's still a chance for numerous things to be stolen. Secure the door and any entrances to the garage.

For more information or insurance coverage: please call the Mark Lewis Agency at: (585) 343-4959 or stop by, we're located at: 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY. Visit us online at:

Long-time member of Mark Lewis agency staff retires today

By Howard B. Owens

When you walk into the Mark Lewis Agency office on East Main Street today, it's not hard to spot who the retiree is -- Jean Clarke's desk is festooned with balloons and flowers.

There's a day-long reception at the office to celebrate Clarke's retirement after 26 years with the insurance agency. There are refreshments available. Clarke -- who appeared to be actually working this morning during our visit -- wraps up her final day at 4 p.m.

Use Your Social Security Statement as a Guide

By Mark Lewis

Once you reach age 25, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send an annual report on your individual account. This report will highlight potential benefits from your account and is a valuable tool for your use when considering ways to plan for your retirement and other financial needs.

Social Security should be only one of a number of sources for income during retirement. Other sources may include an employer pension and your personal retirement savings in the form of an individual retirement account (IRA).

When you receive your statement, take some time and go over its contents. Are the reported earnings correct? If not, report any errors to the SSA. It’s much easier to do now than after you retire.

How do the projected benefits fit within your retirement needs? Will you have enough from other sources to fill any gaps?

These are important questions a financial professional can help you answer. A financial professional can also help you find ways to plan for a retirement that relies less on Social Security and more on options that are suitable to your needs and comfort level.

There are a number of products and services available to help you attain the retirement you desire. An early start at developing your personal plan will make your goals more attainable.

Perception is not reality

By Howard B. Owens

When it comes to American families and financial planning, perception is not reality. Although they are overwhelmingly optimistic about their financial future, their financial planning habits paint quite a different picture, according to a recent study commissioned by State Farm Life Insurance Companies and conducted by KRC Research.

The study reports that although 82 percent of Americans are optimistic about their financial futures, American families in reality are not adequately saving or protecting their finances.

From saving habits and financial goals to life insurance coverage and retirement saving tools, American families have room to grow when it comes to protecting their financial futures. Americans cannot just “hope for the best”; they must take a critical look at where they are financially and lay out a clear roadmap that guides them to their hopes and dreams.

Key highlights from the study show the gap between perception and reality:

Savings habits
    Perception: Most Americans (82 percent) are optimistic about their financial futures.
    Reality: Nearly four in 10, more than 77 million Americans, say that they live paycheck to paycheck and are not able to put money into savings.

Life insurance
    Perception: More than seven in 10 Americans are confident that they have enough life insurance.
    Reality: Only 12 percent of Americans report having the industry recommended coverage of seven or more times the family’s annual income.

Retirement savings
    Perception: The majority of Americans (58 percent) are not worried about outliving their retirement savings.
    Reality: Many Americans are not utilizing a full range of retirement tools. Social Security is the most prominent source of retirement income over other retirement savings tools, with a fifth of Americans reporting that it is their only or main source of retirement income.

The sooner you start planning for your future, the better off you’ll be. Small investments made early can make a big difference in your financial health later in life. Don’t put off planning for your future.   

Ice dams and attic condensation

By Howard B. Owens

Two types of attic water damage are common in cold climates: ice dams and condensation of water vapor on cold surfaces in the attic.

Ice Dams

Ice dams sometimes occur on sloping roofs in climates with freezing temperatures. When the temperature in your attic is above freezing, it causes snow on the roof to melt and run down the sloping roof. When the snowmelt runs down the roof and hits the colder eaves, it refreezes.

If this cycle repeats over several days, the freezing snowmelt builds up and forms a dam of ice, behind which water ponds. The ponding water can back up under the roof covering and leak into the attic or along exterior walls.The right weather conditions for ice dams is usually when outside air temperatures are in the low 20s (°F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof.

Research shows keeping the attic air temperature below freezing when the outside air temperature is in the low 20s can reduce the occurrence of ice dams. Research has also shown sun exposure in the winter has little effect on attic air temperature. Warm air from living spaces below penetrating into the attic is usually the culprit in the formation of ice dams.

Attic Condensation

Condensation of water vapor on cold surfaces in attics can cause attic wood products to rot, which can lead to costly repairs. Condensation typically occurs when warm, moist air migrates into the attic from living spaces below. Research indicates unusually high humidity levels in the home's living spaces is strongly associated with attic condensation problems.

Building codes have some requirements that attempt to prevent the problems of ice dams and attic condensation. But codes do not address all the issues, and many houses are built without following building codes. It is the builder or designer's job to understand the relationship of humidity and air movement when designing and constructing the house so these problems don't occur.


  • Prevent warm, moist air in living spaces from infiltrating into the attic with a good air barrier and appropriate water vapor control at the base of the attic.
  • Provide good attic ventilation to replace warm air in the attic with cold outside air.
  • Provide adequate attic insulation to reduce the transmission of heat into the attic from living spaces below.
  • Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.
  • Tips on saving energy and more at home.

What not to Do

  • Do not routinely remove snow from the roof. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
  • Do not attempt to "chip away" the ice of an ice dam. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
  • Do not install mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics, especially in cold climates.
  • Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow on a roof. These chemicals are very corrosive and can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts and flashings. Runoff that contains high concentrations of these chemicals can damage nearby grass and plants.
  • Keeping the gutters clean of leaves will not reduce the occurrence of ice dams. However, clean gutters can keep them from overflowing and spilling rainwater next to the house. This can cause moisture problems in the house.

If ice dams are causing water damage

The following are short-term fixes. In order to avoid the same problem in the future, a qualified contractor should assess the amount of attic insulation and attic ventilation (especially around where the ice dam formed), and look for holes in the air barrier between the living spaces and the attic.

  • If you see water staining at an exterior wall or ceiling where there is snow on the roof above it, act quickly to avoid extensive damage.
  • Hire a contractor to carefully remove most of the snow from the roof above the ice dam. The contractor should avoid touching the roof with the removal equipment or even walking on the roof if possible. Cold roofs are more prone to damage because they are more brittle than they are in the summer.
  • Have the contractor create one or two grooves in the ice dam to allow the ponding water to drain off. These grooves should not be taken down to the roofing as this may damage the roof. If necessary, the contractor can use heat tape in the groove on a temporary basis to keep the groove open.

State Farm® believes this information is reliable and accurate. We cannot, however, guarantee the performance of all items demonstrated or described in all situations. Always consult an experienced contractor or other expert to determine the best application of these ideas or products in your home.

Check fuses and wiring to help avoid fire risk

By Howard B. Owens

Chances are, either your home or the home of someone you know, has a fuse box. Fuses function the same way breakers do -- to cut off power if an electrical circuit is overloaded. Both fuses and breakers can be very effective in protecting your home against an electrical fire.

However, one problem that can arise with fuses occurs when someone inserts a fuse of higher amperage than the circuit is designed for. 

For example, a homeowner tires of replacing blown fuses and inserts a 30-amp fuse where a 20-amp fuse should go, the 30-amp fuse allows more current into the circuit than the circuit was designed to accommodate. 

The fuse "blows" indicating that the circuits are overloaded. These must be replaced as the fuse element burns up. 

A fire can result.

If you have a fuse box, it's a great idea to have an electrician inspect it and check the wire size to install the proper fuse bases. Type S fuses should be used in aging fuse panels to prevent over fusing. Type S fuses are the only type allowed by the National Electrical Code in new fuse box installations.

Whether you have a fuse box or a breaker box, have your electrician tell you the size of your electrical service to make sure it is sufficient. Years ago, 60-amp or 100-amp service wasn't uncommon; but most families today have electrical appliances that demand more service. It's smart to get an electrician's opinion on whether an update is needed since modern homes are typically wired for minimum 200-amp service.

Electrical fires are all too common, and many homes in the U.S. need electrical updates.  Please take whatever action necessary to update the electrical service in your home.

Tips on safe driving when deer are out and about

By Mark Lewis

When people get ready to walk across a public road, they usually look both ways first to see if any motor vehicles are coming. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with animals, including certain large ones.

Too often, the result is a motorist's nightmare: a collision with a deer, moose or elk. The animal usually comes out second-best in this type of close encounter, but the toll on vehicles and their occupants can also be substantial.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 150 people die in animal-vehicle collisions each year. The Insurance Information Institute estimates some 1.5 million such collisions cause about over $1 billion in damage annually.

While animal-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year, fall is the peak season for deer-car crashes. That's mainly because autumn is both mating season and hunting season, so deer are more active and more likely to roam beyond their normal territory.

No foolproof way has been found to keep deer, moose and elk off highways and away from vehicles. Deer whistles have their advocates, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there's no scientific evidence to support claims they work as intended. Some studies suggest roadside reflectors - designed to reflect light from vehicle headlamps and cause deer to "freeze" rather than cross the road - reducing crash frequency to some extent.

There are ways you can lessen an unplanned meeting with a deer, moose or elk. Here's how:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to "deer crossing" signs. Look well down the road and far off to each side. At night, use your high beams if possible to illuminate the road's edges. Be especially watchful in areas near woods and water. If you see one deer, there may be several others nearby.
  • Be particularly alert at dusk and dawn, when these animals venture out to feed.
  • If you see a deer, moose or elk on or near the roadway and think you have time to avoid hitting it, reduce your speed, tap your brakes to warn other drivers and sound your horn. Deer tend to fixate on headlights, so flashing them may cause the animal to move. If there's no vehicle close behind you, brake hard.
  • If a collision seems inevitable, don't swerve to avoid the animal; your risk of injury may be greater if you do. Hit it, but control the vehicle. Report the crash to the police.
  • Always obey the speed limit and wear safety belts.
  • Being alert at all times while driving is your best defense against any type of accident.

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