5 Car Features to Protect You on Winter Roads

With nearly 70 percent of the nation’s roads in snowy regions, the majority of Americans have had a “white-knuckle” driving experience in their past. Winter roads claim the lives of 1,300 people every year and injure 116,800, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Fortunately, new features including forward collision alerts and lane departure warnings, are protecting Americans on slick roads. The impact of these new safety features has been substantial.

Vehicles made after the year 2000 helped to prevent 700,000 crashes, saved the lives of an estimated 2,000 people annually and kept one million people safe from injury, according to a report conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“There’s no question, vehicles are safer today than they were a decade or two ago,” says Phil Marzolf, manager of i25 Kia outside of Denver. “Consumers are embracing new features that provide additional safety during bad weather conditions.”

An increasing number of new vehicles are now equipped with these five technological safety advances:

1. Forward collision warning and auto-braking

Vehicles can sense hazards in the road, warn the driver and brake the car to prevent a crash. If a driver is following someone who slams on the brakes, for example, a combination of sensors, laser beams and cameras detect the problem and alert the driver. Assistive technology automatically applies the brakes to prevent a crash. The driver resumes control as soon as he or she applies pressure to the brake.

“It’s amazing technology,” Marzolf says. “In most cases, the technology senses the problem before the driver does. Even if it engages the brakes a second sooner, it could save a driver’s life.”

2. Lane departure warning system

Keeping drivers in their respective lanes on slippery roads is essential to highway safety. If a car starts to drift into another lane, the driver is alerted to the hazard by a buzzer, warning light or vibration. Assistive technology will start to correct the problem, slowly moving the car back into the proper lane (though the technology does not work when snow covers lane markings). The driver resumes control as soon as he or she starts to make the correction.

3. Adaptive headlights

Visibility can be an issue on winter roads. Traditional headlights shine straight ahead, but adaptive headlights react to the steering wheel. If a driver turns the wheel to the right, the headlights follow to increase visibility.

“It sounds like a simple feature, but adaptive headlights can really help drivers follow the road,” Marzolf says.

Insurance companies have noticed a 10 percent drop in the number of property damage liability claims in cars that have adaptive headlights, according to a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

4. LED taillights

When snow is falling, spotting taillights ahead can be a trying task. Halogen light bulbs were the standard, but now more manufacturers are moving to LED bulbs, Marzolf says. LED bulbs outshine halogen bulbs, which gives winter drivers an edge when visibility is low.

“All the vehicles we sell have LED lights now,” Marzolf says. “Again, it’s a small change but one that gives drivers added security.”

5. Traction control

In slippery conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. The traction control feature helps tires grip such slippery roads, Marzolf said. In wet conditions, tires can lose traction and spin. Traction control uses sensors to measure rotational speed in tires and triggers the engine to adjust the level of power the vehicle needs to regain control. If needed, the sensors can pump the brakes to keep the driver from losing control.

More features become standard

Traction control and LED taillights are already becoming standard features in most vehicles, which means there isn’t an added cost for them. In time, Marzolf expects the assistive-driving features will become standard as well.

“There was a time when anti-lock brakes were new,” he said. “Now, they’re an afterthought, and they have been standard in cars for some time. We’re not there yet, but I do expect assistive-driving features to become just as standard as anti-lock brakes.”

Currently consumers have to pay extra for assistive-driving features. These features could add $1,800-$4,500 to the price tag of a new car, according to Marzolf and

“The added cost is sometimes a problem, but we’ll see reductions in time,” Marzolf says. “In the near future, I think drivers will embrace these tools and be glad they have them at their disposal on winter roads.”

(article courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

Autumn Driving Tips For All Drivers

Winter gets the bad reputation for difficult weather-related driving conditions, and while it’s well deserved, fall has some surprisingly difficult driving challenges as well. Hot and cold weather, extra rain, possible snow, slick fallen leaves and more turn fall driving into a bit of a dicey experience. Arm yourself with these tips, and look forward to a smooth driving season.

Watch out for deer

There’s a reason deer hunting season spans over fall and winter in most states. At this time of year, deer are going through their prime mating season. Young deer, males especially, are known to act erratically at this time, seemingly throwing their usually cautious nature to the wind. This increased movement makes it easier to track them, but unfortunately it also makes it easier to collide with them on the road.

There are three key points to remember if you encounter a deer on or near the road:

  1. Slow down and watch out: deer are rarely alone, and there are often more than one of them crossing the street at a time.
    Tip: Some drivers will signal if they’ve seen a deer in a certain area by flashing their high beams to oncoming traffic. If you notice another driver do this, drive slowly and carefully through the area, especially if you’re in or at the edge of wooded areas

  2. Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer. The best method is slowly but firmly step on the brakes. Keeping control of your vehicle is key. Deer cause many accidents by causing inexperienced drivers to overcorrect when trying to avoid hitting the animal. Overcorrecting can have deadly consequences as often the only other directions your vehicle can go are off the road or into oncoming traffic.

  3. Always exercise caution while driving at dawn or dusk. Deer are most active at this time. Deer also tend to congregate in fields at the edge of woods, in meadows or other partially wooded areas. Take special caution when driving at these times or in these settings.

Don’t brake on leaves

In fact, it’s wise to avoid any sudden shift in momentum or direction while driving over leaves. Wet or decomposing leaves can be as slick as ice; they decrease the friction between your tires and the road, making it easier for your vehicle to spin out of control.

Fallen leaves can also obscure lane lines and other markers on the road. Be attentive and make an effort to be aware and keep to your designated lane when driving. Also keep an eye out for stop signs, as their signature red color is less distinct against similar fall colors.

Plan ahead for the weather

Autumn brings many of us a taste of every kind of weather our climate has to offer. At this time of year, the rising and setting sun aligns almost perfectly with east and westbound roads, treating drivers to difficult glare. Rain also tends to be more abundant in the fall, so remembering rain safety and etiquette (if your wipers are moving, your headlights should be on) is important. Finally, as temperatures dip, bridges and other similarly exposed roadways are prone to freezing and must be navigated with care.

Grab some good sunglasses, stock up with new wipers and rain repellent for your windshield, and drive with care over raised roads.

Prepare the car for travel

The late summer heat can take a toll on any vehicle, and with alternatively severe weather on the horizon, preparing the car for autumn travel is essential. These are the basics:

Test the car’s battery
Hot weather can severely strain a car’s battery, and cold weather isn’t much better. As fall is a time during which much of the country experiences drastic temperature changes daily, consider being proactive in testing your car’s battery and buying a replacement, if necessary.

Get an oil change
Engine oil should be replaced at the recommended intervals stated in the vehicle owner’s manual. You should check the vehicle’s oil level on a monthly basis.

Inspect tires
Warm weather adds pressure to tires, which could lead to a blowout. Inspecting the vehicle’s tires on a regular basis, including the spare, could help to prevent an issue.
Use a tire gauge to check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare at least once a month. Check to make sure that the tires are set to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.

Maintain fluid levels
If your vehicle lacks appropriate fluid levels, there’s a chance the car may break down. Maintaining proper fluid levels can also add thousands of miles to the life of the car.
Check the following systems:

  • Engine

  • Transmission

  • Radiator/cooling system

  • Brakes

  • Battery

  • Window washer

  • Air conditioner

(This article is courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

How Much Air Should You Put in Your Tires

Tire maintenance is one of the most important things you can do for your car from a safety and cost standpoint. The easiest way to care for your tires is both quick and inexpensive: maintain the correct tire pressure.

Driving on under-inflated tires is one of the biggest causes of tire failure, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and under-inflated tires present many other problems. They wear out more rapidly, handle poorly and reduce fuel efficiency. In addition, over-inflated tires are more susceptible to damage from road irregularities, and this also creates a bumpier ride. Overfilling your tires is just as dangerous as under-filling them, so it’s important you know what is recommended for your vehicle.

Determining your tire pressure requirements

Since tire pressure is so important to your safety and your car’s overall performance, it’s important to know what tire pressure is right for your vehicle. Air pressure in tires is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI; usually, the recommended pressure ranges between 30 and 35 PSI.

To learn what your tire pressure should be, look for your manufacturer’s recommendation, which is printed on a label inside your car. Depending on the vehicle, this label may be on the edge of the vehicle’s door, on the doorpost or in the glove box. The label will usually give recommendations for the front and rear tires as well as the spare, and it’s important you stick to those guidelines. (While you’re at it, check the air in your spare tire, too. It loses air pressure over time.) Even after you’ve replaced your tires, the same pressure guidelines on your car’s label apply to new tires of the same size. If your tires are larger than the stock models that came on your car and you’re unsure of the recommended PSI, check the tire’s sidewall to find the maximum cold PSI level.

Check the pressure first thing in the morning or wait at least three hours after driving; this provides sufficient time for them to cool back down.

Maintaining ideal tire pressure

Of course, knowing your recommended PSI isn’t enough. You have to ensure you’re checking your tires regularly. Some experts recommend you check the air pressure every time you refuel; others say once a month is sufficient. Monitoring the amount of air in your tires will let you know if you have a small leak and can help you avoid an unexpected flat tire.

Frequently checking your PSI becomes even more important in the fall and winter, when outside temperatures drop and weather conditions fluctuate causing your tires to lose air more quickly. Generally speaking, your tire will gain or lose one PSI for every 10-degree change in temperature, which means if you have a sudden drop of 30 degrees, you could lose three PSI overnight. If your tires were already low, this could cause tire damage, steering problems or even a flat tire.

Knowing and maintaining the right air pressure is important to the safety and longevity of your tires. All it takes is a few minutes of your time.

Once you have the right tire pressure, make sure you also have the right coverage. Learn more about how Nationwide auto insurance can help protect you and save you money.

This article is courtesy of Nationwide Insurance.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

These tips are courtesy of Cousino Restoration

Learn more at The Red Cross

6 Reasons to Start a Garden

Get out your gardening tools and stock up on seeds. Growing your own food provides fresh ingredients for your meals, but you’ll soon see other benefits of home gardens that you may not have expected. Here are six ways to make the most of growing your own vegetables:

1. Control your crops

Growing your own produce lets you control what ends up on your family’s table. You decide what fertilizer, water and pest control to use, as well as whether to grow organic.

2. Live the ‘fresh is best’ lifestyle

Nothing beats the flavor-and-nutrient-packed power of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Once harvested, produce begins to lose moisture and nutrients. At the grocery store, the freshness of your vegetables is largely out of your control. But when you’ve grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can know exactly when they’ve been picked and how fresh they are.

3. Make your yard inviting

A vegetable and fruit garden can add life, color and beauty to your backyard. The smell of ripening strawberries and the sight of crisp cucumbers are a warm invitation to people and pollinators alike. Plants that sport beautiful flowers to encourage pollination—like beans, peas and fruit trees—can really make a splash in your backyard. Plus, the insects they attract will likely pollinate other plants as well, making your whole garden grow faster.

4. Cut down on your grocery budget

One of the biggest advantages of growing your own food is that it can save you money. The price of a pack of seeds is almost equivalent to what you would pay for a single vegetable or fruit at the store. It may even cost less when you factor in the money spent on the gas used to drive to the supermarket. Plus, you can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of what they retail for in store. When taking food costs into consideration, gardening can become an appealing option to cut back on your grocery bill.

5. Make gardening a family hobby

Gardening is a fun, family-friendly activity that allows kids to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from. From planting seedlings to building salads together, starting a vegetable garden is a great way to get your family off the couch and onto their feet.

6. Make your health a priority

There’s one important nutrient gardening can give you before you even take a bite of your produce: vitamin D. The sun’s rays promote vitamin D production, which is vital to our health. Tending a backyard garden for about 30 minutes daily can promote better sleep and positive energy. Just rremember the sunscreen.

Now that you see the benefits of starting a vegetable and fruit garden, learn how to plant one in 10 simple steps.

(This article is courtesy of


Chemical-Free Lawn Care

Did you know that the average family yard can have more chemicals acre for acre than the average farmland?  Lawn and garden chemical fertilizers and weed control products are the main culprit.  While it's convenient to have a lawn service treat your grass periodically throughout the season, over time what is the health affect on your family and pets who come in daily contact with those chemicals.

You can decrease the toxicity of your lawn by not using the nitrogen-rich, fast-releasing fertilizers.  In its place, use a mulching lawn mower so that your soil is fed by the clippings.  In addition, applying compost once or twice a year also helps keep your lawn's soil healthy, and a thick, healthy lawn will choke out weeds over time.  Raking the larger bare spots and applying grass seed is also helpful.  Seeds need to be kept moist by rains or daily watering until the grass seed sprouts and the roots are well-forming.  Spring and Fall are the best times for seeding as we get many good soaking rains which will cut down on hand watering.

There are organic lawn care products you can apply yourself that work well.  Some of the most common yard weeds in our area are crabgrass and dandelions.  Both of these weeds thrive in poor and compacted soil.  Aerating your lawn is helpful, as well as testing your soil's PH, and using lime or sulfur to adjust it.  In the case of dandelions, your soil most likely has a calcium imbalance.  Corn-gluten meal is a natural pre-emergent herbicide that is best applied in early Spring.

Dandelions have many herbal health benefits so you might want to dig them up rather than kill them.  When I was young, my grandma used the flowers to make wine, and the leaves were used in a wilted salad with bacon, onion and a vinegar dressing.  Dandelions are rich in Vitamin A, C, iron, and calcium.  It is a great detoxifier, and is often used for liver, kidney, and urinary tract and digestive issues, as well as skin ailments such as eczema, achne and ringworm.



Grilling Safety tips

Labor Day is almost here, and chances are you will be doing some grilling over the long weekend.  Here are some grilling safety tips to keep you and your family safe.

Before you start grilling:

  • Charcoal grills should be at least 15 feet from any building.  Never use gasoline, alcohol or kerosene to start coals, and don't put more lighter fluid on coals once they are on fire, glowing or smoldering.
  • Gas grills should be at least 3 feet from any building.  Make sure all hose connections are tight and in good condition
  • Grill only on a flat surface that can't catch fire

When done cooking:

  • Soak coals with water.  Close grill lid and any vents tightly.
  • don't move grill or remove coals for 48 hours, unless you can safely move coals into a stainless steel pail.
  • For gas grills, close the valve on the gas cylinder.

If your grill catches fire:

  • Close the lid or shut off gas if you can get close enough without getting burned.
  • Get completely away from the grill.
  • Call the fire department.

Don't invite tragedy or financial ruin from legal liability.  Follow these steps, and be sure you have Homeowners or Renters insurance to protect your home and neighbors.



Fun things to do with your kids

Summer is almost here, the kids are out of school or will be any day now, and they'll be looking for things to do.  Here are some fun things you can do with your kids to keep them from getting bored and away from the television and computer:

1.  Charting the Sun's movement - Place a piece of paper on a clipboard and put a mound of Play-Doh in the middle;  stand a pencil on end in the Play-Doh.  Mark the edges of the paper "North, South, East and West."  Then use a compass to line up the clipboard correctly in a sunny place.  Every hour, mark where the tip of the pencil's shadow hits the paper.  At the end of the day, you'll have a map of the Sun's movement.

2.  Homemade Chemistry Set - Chop a red cabbage into wedges and put it through a blender.  Strain the juice out using a sieve lined with a coffee filter and pour into the different segments of a styrofoam egg carton or cups.  Then add household substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda solution to test whether they're acids (pink) or bases (green).  After a few tests, ask the kids to turn solutions back and forth from pink to green by adding known acids or bases.

3.  Backyard Exploring - Tie paper onto a tree and use crayons to make bark rubbings.  Or take a "microhike" outdoors;  put a circle of string on the ground and see how many living things you can find inside.  Try to imagine how they live, how they move, what they eat.

4.  Horticulturists training - Choose fast-growing seeds, like radishes or beans, and plant them in a variety of soils that you collect in different places (sand, potting soil and dirt from the backyard etc.).  See where the seeds do well and where they don't grow at all, then ask why.  And add variables;  change the amount of water you add or add fertilizer.  If you have a lawn, put a brick on a patch of grass for a week;  how does that change its growth?