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Thursday, February 25, 2010

HPD Tips to Prevent Home Burglary

Council Member Brenda Stardig encourages everyone to be vigilant about their safety. HPD released the statement below regarding home burglary prevention.

When traveling, keep your home looking lived-in by having grass cut, mail and newspapers picked up and lights turned on and off.

Keep a current inventory of all your valuables. Include photos or video, descriptions, and serial numbers of all electronic equipment. Engrave valuables with your Texas driver license number (preceded by the letters “TX”). In the event your home is burglarized, this will help police identify the property if it is recovered. Engraving property can also help with insurance claims. Secure cash and jewelry in bonded storage.

Getting Involved

Know who belongs in your neighborhood and report suspicious persons immediately. Be alert in protecting not only your home but your neighbors as well. Don’t tell a stranger that your neighbor is not at home or volunteer any personal information about your neighbor. Never leave notes on your door that reveal that your home is not occupied. Join a neighborhood watch group. If there is not one in your neighborhood start one. Help keep your neighborhood clean.

Alarm Systems

Choose a reputable, well established company. Learn how to use your alarm system properly to reduce false alarms. Fines can be assessed for excessive false alarms. Do not write your alarm code/password on or near the alarm keypad. Put a warning sign on windows and entrances.

Make sure your alarm call back list is always up to date.

Additional Information

« Acknowledge all callers through locked doors.

« Keep doors, windows and garage doors closed and locked even when at home.

« Before moving into a new house or apartment, re-key or change the locks on all
exterior doors, also change the code to your garage door opener.

« Draw all curtains or shades at night to prevent viewing from the street.

« Never leave a house key in an obvious place such as a mailbox, under plants or
a doormat.

Doors and Windows

All exterior doors should be solid core or of metal construction. All entry doors should be equipped with a good quality deadbolt lock having a minimum of a one inch throw. A good quality double cylinder deadbolt lock should be used if there is glass within 40 inches of the lock. If using a double cylinder deadbolt lock, make sure a key is readily accessible in case of an emergency. Use a heavy duty strike plate secured with number 12 gauge three-inch wood screws.

All exit doors with outside hinges should have their hinges pinned. Install a peephole with at least a 180-degree viewing area. Secure all sliding glass doors with an anti-lifting device and a secondary locking device. Windows have latches and not locks, therefore, install secondary locking devices on all windows.

Exterior and Landscape

Install lights in areas around doors, walkways, and driveways. Locate outside lights high and out of reach. Use inexpensive timers or photo electric cells to automatically turn the lights on and off at dusk and dawn. Trim shrubbery and trees so doors and windows are visible from the street. If there is a second floor, prune the trees so that a thief cannot use them to reach a second floor window.

To discourage an intruder, plant thorny hostile plants along fences and near windows. A good fence should not block visibility. Do not leave ladders or tools outside; they can assist a person in gaining entry. Gates on fenced yards should be locked with good quality padlocks. Install large reflective numbers (minimum 3 inches) on your house and mailbox so police and other emergency personnel can find your home quickly.

Visit the HPD website for more crime prevention tips.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Texas Auto Theft Prevention Program Expands

The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) has joined with the Heart of Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority to expand a crime prevention campaign aimed at preventing auto thefts and auto burglaries in central Texas. The program involves the funding and distribution of signs that read, “LOCK your car, TAKE your keys and HIDE your belongings.”

The Heart of Texas (HOT) task force located in Waco will receive LOCK, TAKE and HIDE signs that will be distributed and placed throughout central Texas.

The program is just one of several crime prevention efforts that the Task Force utilizes to prevent auto thefts and burglaries in the area. Other efforts include surveillance operations, intelligence gathering and public advertising.

In Texas, an estimated 100,000 vehicles are stolen and another 250,000 are burglarized each year. It is also estimated that half of the vehicles stolen had the drivers’ keys left in the ignition and/or unlocked doors.

The LOCK, TAKE and HIDE signs will be placed in large public and private parking areas such as shopping malls, city parks, restaurants, apartment complexes and other areas where there is parking congestion.

ICT initially started the crime prevention program in Austin on March 2, 2005, and has since begun similar programs in Round Rock, Garland, Mesquite, Frisco, Celina, Del Rio, Houston, Laredo, Brownsville, Highland Village, Galveston, Beaumont and College Station.

Source: The Insurance Council of Texas,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Consumers understand the value of LIFE

The recent economic turmoil has affected most of us and many of us in profound ways. Recent surveys reveal an interesting result of the challenging economic times: Americans are showing more interest in life insurance.* According to a survey released by the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), 56 percent of Americans say the economic downturn has made it more important to have life insurance, compared to just 9 percent who believe the need has diminished.*

It may seem counterintuitive but if you’ve experienced a recent job loss or salary reduction and are seeking ways to reduce your living expenses, you may have a greater need for life insurance. Remember: One important purpose of life insurance is to provide security for your family by replacing your income if something happens to you. So in difficult economic times, when jobs are harder to find and dependents may need even greater financial assistance, life insurance becomes more critical.

Tough times call for action
Today, most of us understand that life insurance is an essential part of securing our family’s financial security and well-being. Tough economic times call for consumers to take action and reexamine the amount and type of life insurance coverage they have. As your professional insurance agent I can offer information that may help you determine the amount of life insurance coverage that fits your individual needs.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Texas Home Policy Available From Farmers Insurance Group

The Farmers Insurance Group of Cos. has introduced Farmers Next Generation Home Policy, a new homeowner’s insurance policy available in Texas. The policy allows customers to select a policy that they can tailor to fit their specific insurance needs.

Farmers Next Generation Home Policy offers new discounts for professionals such as physicians, educators and law enforcement personnel. Homes with newer roofs will also qualify for substantial savings. Policy features include replacement cost coverage for the home and personal property along with other options such as identity fraud.

Farmers agents throughout Texas can be contacted for more information.

Source: Farmers Insurance Group

Some non-negotiable rules may help save lives

Maybe you’ve seen the dramatic Public Service Announcement on YouTube that graphically illustrates the dangers of texting while driving.* Created by the local police in Gwent, Wales, the video plays like a movie involving a teen texting on her cell phone while driving with two other girls in the car. She veers out of her lane and ultimately there is a multi-vehicle crash resulting in deaths. It is very graphic and for some will be difficult to watch so consider viewing it first to determine if it’s appropriate to share with your family. But it makes the point: Texting while driving can and does kill.

Set the rules; set an example
It may not be easy to set down some rules but Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that lobbies for safer media use, offers some ideas in Rules of the Road for Texting that may help you get started:

Don’t move while texting. Don’t drive, walk, bike or skateboard while texting.
Set boundaries. With power comes responsibility and accountability. Make rules on where and when texting is acceptable and get your children to agree. Make it clear that you will follow through — even take away their phones and ultimately their driving privileges — for violation of the rules.
Set an example. You must stop driving while texting yourself if you hope to enforce the rule in your family.
There are legislative movements afoot to ban cell phone use and other activities that may require drivers to take their eyes off the road. But don’t wait for legislation. Make your own rules and convince your family that no text message is so urgent that it’s worth dying over.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oak Forest Elementary Fall Perfect Attendance

David Lorms, Farmers Insurance Agent, donated money to the Oak Forest Elementary School for a 2009 Fall Perfect Attendance program. Students with Perfect Attendance were entered into a drawing for a new bicycle. Pictured with Lorms are Scott Pollack, Principal, and two student winners, Aiden Crawford and Rebeca Gonzalez.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lu Lu Stevens Perfect Attendance Fall 2009

David Lorms, of Farmers Insurance by David Lorms, donated money to Lu Lu Stevens Elementary School for the Fall of 2009 Semester. Students with Perfect Attendance were awarded prizes purchased with this donation. A Perfect Attendance Board was set up for students to monitor their progress. Pictured with David Lorms is Lucy Anderson, Principal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Active 2010 Hurricane Season Expected

(Feb. 1) -- Even though it's the middle of winter, some private forecasters have already turned their meteorological brains toward the warm season, with forecasts for the 2010 Atlantic Basin hurricane season. WSI, a private forecasting company, and the Tropical Meteorology Project of Colorado State University (CSU) have both issued early season projections of more storms than last year -- and more storms than an average tropical season.

WSI is forecasting 13 named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes), including seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is considered one of category 3 or higher, which is a storm with a sustained wind of at least 131 mph. CSU is forecasting 11 to 16 named storms, including six to eight hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes. The 50-year average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes, and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.

Whenever a long-range or seasonal weather forecast is issued, it's immediately followed by cries such as "They can't get the forecast right for tomorrow, but they think they get the forecast right for six months from now -- please!" While I understand the sentiment behind the statement, short- and long-range forecasts are done so differently that the statement has no relevance.

Hurricane Bill, here in a satellite image, churns in the Atlantic in August 2009.
An accurate short-range forecast is dependent on details -- what is happening now, and how it will change during the next hour, day, or week. A slight change in the wind flow, upper-level temperatures, or track of a specific storm can be the difference between a partly sunny day and non-stop rain or the difference between a chilly rain and heavy snow.

Long-range forecasts are not influenced by these small-scale factors. They're based on general, long-term weather factors, such as temperatures of the Pacific Ocean, temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean, and general position of large upper-level high- and low-pressure systems. The details, which can cause an embarrassing short-range forecast, don't influence the overall accuracy of a seasonal forecast.

There's no comparison between the two types of forecasts, and the ability -- or inability -- to make a quality short-range forecast has no bearing on the ability to make a quality seasonal forecast, such as a hurricane forecast.

The early season hurricane forecasts are based, in no small part, on El Nino, or more accurately, the anticipated lack of an El Nino during the upcoming summer. The presence, or development, of an El Nino during the hurricane season typically results in fewer storms in the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean), which was the case in 2009, a particularly quiet season. The season following an El Nino, however, typically has an average or above-average number of storms.

While the El Nino is forecast to last at least into spring by the Climate Prediction Center, it is expected by these private weather forecasters to dissipate by summer, possibly setting the stage for a more active hurricane season. Other factors will influence the details of the season and the specifics of any seasonal forecasts issued later by these forecasters, other private forecasters, and the Climate Prediction Center.

At this point, though, the forecast of a more active hurricane season is reasonable.