Myth: You Don’t Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance if You Are the Only Employee

injured-worker-illustrationSome states (New York, Nevada, and Utah) require all businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Translation: even if you’re a sole proprietor, you could still be required to carry workers’ comp, depending on where you live.

In other parts of the country, your coverage needs will depend on how many employees you have, how those employees are classified, and what kind of work you do. For example, some states do not require business owners to carry workers’ comp insurance for contract (1099) workers, but do require coverage for full and part time employees (W2). An insurance agent can clarify the laws for your industry where you live.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Myths Small Business Owners Believe About Their Insurance.” For more information, please visit www.smallbiztrends.com.

MADD Provides Tips for Safe Super Bowl Celebrations

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As football fans across the country gear up for Super Bowl XLVII, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is urging party-goers to have a plan for how they’ll get home with a sober designated driver… before the festivities get underway. “MADD’s game-day partnership with the NFL encourages fans ‘to play the most important position in the NFL: the designated driver,’” said MADD National President Jan Withers.

Super Bowl Sunday continually ranks as the second most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving fatalities, just behind New Year’s Day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 43 percent of all traffic fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday (and the early hours of the following morning) are caused by drunk driving, compared to an average of 31 percent for the year as a whole. “This Sunday is the time to take action and reverse this troubling trend of an uptick in drunk driving after the big game,” continued Withers.

exhausted_driver_shutterstock_6488272In addition to party-goers designating a sober driver before kick-off, party hosts can do their part to keep their friends and family safe too. Here are some tips for hosting a safe Super Bowl party:

  • Plan activities like party games or door prize drawings to engage people and reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Offer non-alcoholic drink options for designated drivers and those who are under age 21.
  • Provide plenty of food to avoid guests drinking on an empty stomach and getting intoxicated more quickly.
  • Be ready to step in if a guest has had too much to drink — offer to drive them home, arrange for a ride with a sober guest, call a taxi, or invite them to spend the night.

“From living rooms to stadiums, the message is the same: plan ahead for a safe way home,” added Withers. “Since MADD began partnering with the NFL on the game-day designated driver program in 2010, MADD has helped teams increase their designated driver sign-ups by an average of 28 percent per year. That’s a direct translation to lives saved and injuries prevented.”

The game-day program enhances teams’ existing designated driver programs with a pre-game MADD presence outside the stadiums, distribution of information cards inside, and an audio PSA. MADD and the NFL first announced their partnership in May 2010, and the game-day designated driver program has grown from two pilot teams to a total of 11 teams this season: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins.

For more information about MADD’s partnership with the NFL, visit www.madd.org/nfl.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
maddFounded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “MADD Provides Tips for Safe Super Bowl Celebrations.” For more information, please visit www.madd.org/.

Myth: You Don’t Need Business Coverage Because You Work at Home

work-at-homeActually, most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover business-related damages that occur in a home office. Too many home based small business owners find this out only after they go to file a claim.

Even if your homeowner’s insurance protects some of your business property, chances are good that that coverage won’t be in effect when you are traveling for work, whether that means running to a client lunch or flying across the country for a conference.

A simple general liability insurance policy or business owner’s policy can offer home based business owners the protection they need for both basic business property (such as laptops) and certain types of injuries clients can suffer (such as slander), whether the incidents occur at home or on the road.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Myths Small Business Owners Believe About Their Insurance.” For more information, please visit www.smallbiztrends.com.

How to Quit Smoking

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We get it, quitting is hard. But it is easier if you prepare ahead of time. When you feel like you are ready to quit, START by following these five steps:

1. Set a Quit Date

Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit smoking. This will give you enough time to prepare. Really think about your quit date. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke (for example, a night out with friends, days where you may smoke at work).

2. Tell Family and Friends You Plan to Quit

Quitting smoking is easier when the people in your life support you. Let them know you are planning to quit. Explain how they can help you quit. We all need different things, so be sure you let friends and family know exactly how they can help. Not sure what you need? Here are a few ways to START the conversation:

  • Tell family and friends your reasons for quitting.
  • Ask your friends and family to check in with you to see how things are going.
  • Identify your smoking triggers, and ask your friends and family to help you deal with them.
  • Ask your friends and family to help you think of smokefree activities you can do together (like going to the movies or a nice restaurant).
  • Know a friend or family member who smokes? Ask them to quit with you, or at least not smoke around you.
  • You are going to be tempted to smoke. Ask your friends and family not to let you have a cigarette—no matter what.
  • Let your friends and family know that you may be in a bad mood while quitting; ask them to be patient and help you through it.
  • Do you take any medicines? Tell your doctor or pharmacist you are quitting. You may need to change your prescriptions after you quit.

Support is one of the keys to successfully quitting. Check out additional support options to help you quit.

3. Anticipate and Plan for Challenges While Quitting

Quitting smoking is hardest during the first few weeks. You will deal with uncomfortable feelings, temptations to smoke, withdrawal symptoms, and cigarette cravings. An important part of preparing to quit is anticipating these challenges. To get a head START, be aware of the following:

Uncomfortable Feelings

The first few weeks after quitting, a lot of people may feel uncomfortable and will crave a cigarette. This is because ofwithdrawal. Withdrawal is when your body gets used to not having nicotine from cigarettes. Nicotine is the chemical found in cigarettes that makes you want to keep smoking. Some of the more common feelings that come with withdrawal are:

  • Feeling a little depressed
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Getting cranky, frustrated, or mad
  • Feeling anxious, nervous, or restless
  • Having trouble thinking clearly

You may be tempted to smoke to relieve these feelings. Just remember that they are temporary, no matter how powerful they feel at the time.

Smoking Triggers

Triggers are specific persons, places, or activities that make you feel like smoking. It is important to know your smoking triggers so you can learn to deal with them.

Cravings

Cravings are short but intense urges to smoke. They usually only last a few minutes. Plan ahead and come up with a list of short activities you can do when you get a craving.

4. Remove Cigarettes and Other Tobacco From Your Home‚ Car‚ and Work

You will be tempted to smoke during your quit. Stay strong; you can do it! Removing things that remind you of smoking will get you ready to quit. Try these tips:

  • Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away your lighters and ashtrays. Remember the ashtray and lighter in your car!
  • Don’t save one pack of cigarettes “just in case.’ Keeping one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.
  • Remove the smell of cigarettes from your life. Make things clean and fresh at work‚ in your car‚ and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car. You will be less tempted to light up if you don’t smell smoke.
  • Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. Your teeth will look amazing. When you quit smoking, they will always look that way.

Don’t Use Other Products with Tobacco

Thinking about using other tobacco products instead of cigarettes? Think again. All tobacco products contain harmful chemicals and poisons. Despite their name, light or low-tar cigarettes are just as bad as regular cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco‚ pipes‚ cigars‚ cigarillos‚ hookahs (waterpipes)‚ bidi cigarettes‚ clove cigarettes‚ and herbal cigarettes also hurt your health.

No matter how they are presented in advertisements‚ all tobacco products are dangerous.

5. Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist About Quit Options

It is difficult to quit smoking on your own, but quitting “cold turkey” is not your only choice. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other support options. Most doctors and pharmacists can answer your questions, give advice, and tell you where to get quit smoking help.

Quit smoking medications are also an effective quit option. Many quit smoking medicines, especially Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), are available without a prescription. This includes the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or nicotine lozenge. Read the instructions before using any medications. If you have questions about a medication, ask your pharmacist. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your doctor before using any type of medication. If you plan on using quit smoking medications, remember to have them available on your quit day. Visit ourmedications page to learn more.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Prepare to Quit.” For more information, please visit smokefree.gov.

Myth: You Don’t Need Errors & Omissions Insurance If You Only Provide Advice

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As a subject matter expert, you can be held liable for any negative impact that your advice causes a business. In fact, even if your work simply fails to live up to the expectations you set, a client could bring a lawsuit against you.

verbal-advice-business-shutterstock_118765699E&O policies provide funding for the legal services required to defend yourself against claims of negligence, even if those claims are frivolous. This is essential, since the legal defense costs (including lawyer’s fees) are often the most expensive part of an E&O lawsuit – they can easily range into tens of thousands of dollars.

For example, consider a marketing consultant who tells a client he can help them increase marketing ROI in a six week time frame. Even if the consultant does everything right, the client could be engaging in practices that decrease ROI, and by the end of the contract, could have a lower ROI than they did prior to hiring the consultant. Without a carefully worded contract and proper Errors and Omissions Insurance, the consultant could be at risk of a lawsuit for failure to perform his services.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Myths Small Business Owners Believe About Their Insurance.” For more information, please visit www.smallbiztrends.com.

Online Shopping Tips

Shopping online? A little research can help you get the best deal and avoid unnecessary hassles.

Flood Recovery Action Steps

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The following recommendations were prepared by The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company to assist persons in flood affected areas who own or operate equipment and machinery.

The Risk Does Not Recede With The Water

If your equipment, machinery or electrical systems have been exposed to flood waters, you risk their loss even when the water level has dropped. Equipment and machinery may have water, silt or other contaminants within them. Your equipment could be damaged or destroyed if you attempt to start or test it without adequate cleaning and preparation for operation. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPERATE OR TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT WITHOUT PROPERLY RESTORING IT. Even when your equipment’s exterior appears normal, residual moisture and contaminants can lead to permanent damage.

 Dry and Clean Before Using

The following summarizes the steps to prepare your equipment for operation. Most actions involve careful draining, drying, cleaning or lubricating of equipment before attempting to start or energize it. Taking these precautions now can help you to avoid a major equipment failure and enable you to restore vital operations sooner.

Electrical Equipment

DO NOT ENERGIZE equipment that has been flooded until properly cleaned, dried out, and until insulation has been tested. This includes enclosures, bus ducts, conduit, and cables. Application of power to wet circuits will usually result in serious damage that will require repair or replacement. This is especially to be observed if the equipment is vitally needed and obtaining a replacement could be difficult. It is usually better to spend the necessary drying time than to risk destruction of the equipment.

  • Windings in electric machinery should not be dried at temperatures exceeding the rating of its insulation system. In general, a maximum temperature of 194 degrees For 90 degrees C may be used. Check with the manufacturer for equipment specific information and recommendations.
  • Dry type transformers should be cleaned and thoroughly dried as described for windings.
  • Oil filled transformers should be thoroughly inspected for damage including the insulation bushing and oil samples should be drawn from the tank’s top and bottom for analysis. Examine the sample for free moisture in the form of moisture droplets or a cloudy appearance. The laboratory should be instructed to include a Karl Fischer test for dissolved water content. Maximum water content for equipment rated ≥69kv is 25 ppm and equipment rated at <69kv is 35 ppm. If water is found in the oil, the oil charge must be dehydrated by a competent service firm.
  • Circuit boards that have been immersed can sometimes be salvaged, provided that they were not energized at the time of immersion, and further provided that water sensitive components are not mounted to them. This can be done by carefully washing the individual boards in pure water and thoroughly drying before energizing.

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Before Operating Machinery

  • Contact the manufacturer for its recommendations.
  • Inspect foundations for cracking, weakness, or settlement. If settlement is suspected, check and correct alignment of all shafting, and check all stationary components for level.
  • Inspect all machine internals for silt accumulations and clean as needed.
  • Open the cylinders of all reciprocating engines or compressors that have been immersed and remove foreign material or water.
  • Drain and clean lubrication systems. Wipe oil containing elements with lint-free rags and refill with new lubricants as required. Monitor the lubricant charge during the initial hours after resuming operation for indications of water contamination and change lubricant if necessary.
  • Ball and roller bearings suspected of being contaminated by water and debris should be opened, solvent cleaned, and then re-lubricated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • When cleaning, be especially careful to remove solid debris such as stone particles or metal chips.
  • Carefully clean and TEST governors and controls. Many control systems are electric. Refer to recommendations for Electrical Equipment above.

Boilers

  • Carefully inspect foundations and settings of boilers for settlement. DO NOT OPERATE a boiler if there is any evidence that the foundation has been undermined.
  • Make sure the setting (brickwork, refractory, and insulation materials) is thoroughly dry. Use portable heaters where necessary. If the boiler has been immersed in salt or brackish water, the casing and insulation should be removed at least in wetted areas and the pressure parts should be washed with fresh water. After such washing, new dry insulation material should be applied and the casing re-installed.
  • All safety appliances, such as safety and relief valves, steam gage, water column, low-water cutouts, and blow down must be cleaned and repaired as needed.
  • All controls must be inspected and tested before operation, especially the water level control and low-water fuel cutoffs.
  • Burners should not be fired until checked by a burner technician. An explosion may occur if the combustion controls do not function properly.
  • Boilers should not be operated if proper feed water is not available. If operation is essential, and the boiler is to be run on untreated potable water, it will be necessary to blow down the boiler every eight hours and to open and clean the boiler internals at least once per week until proper water quality is re-established. In addition to frequent blow-down, and provided that clean make up water is available, it is also helpful to run with maximum makeup flow while diverting as much condensate as possible to sewer or drain until the boiler water quality returns to normal.
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Flood Recovery Action Steps.” For more information, please visit www.hsb.com.

3 Myths About Insurance and Working with Clients

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Myth: You Don’t Need Property Insurance Because You Work at Your Client’s Location and Use Your Client’s Equipment

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Your property insurance needs will depend on the terms and conditions outlined in your client contracts. Some clients provide coverage for physical damag
es for work done at their locations, and some do not.

For example, imagine a contractor who repairs a client’s dishwasher but leaves the hose loose after finishing. Say the hose causes a flood at the client’s house; even if the client has flood insurance, the contractor’s insurance would most likely be responsible for covering the damages.

This is because insurance companies provide coverage based on who is responsible for a device or piece of equipment: if you are in charge or in control of the equipment, your insurance is likely responsible for covering any related damages.

Myth: You Need Insurance for Each Client Contract

In many cases, your business insurance will be sufficient for multiple client contracts. There are some exceptions, though. Fidelity bonds, for example, may need to be renewed for each new client, and contracts that involve high or complex risks may require supplemental insurance.

While it’s a good idea to verify that your insurance policies cover you for each new contract you secure, there’s a good chance you won’t need a new policy for every new client. Most policies define the services covered very broadly.

More likely, your insurance needs will change when you add new services, move the business’ location, or change the number of employees who work for you.

carpenter-shaking-hands-shutterstock_69876982Myth: You Don’t Need Insurance Because You No Longer Have the Client You Purchased It For

Insurance protects you as a business owner. While not every client you work with will demand that you have coverage, carrying insurance regardless of your client’s demands puts you in a better risk-management position.

More important, though, canceling and restarting coverage as you need it may trigger red flags at insurance companies and can make it difficult for you to get coverage in the future when you need it.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “10 Myths Small Business Owners Believe About Their Insurance.” For more information, please visit www.smallbiztrends.com.

Chicken Wings with Mango-Tamarind Sauce

wings-fb-shutterstock_100693510More than 1.25 billion wings—that’s over 100 million pounds—will be eaten during the 2012 Super Bowl weekend, according to the National Chicken Council’s 2012 Wing Report. Here’s a wing recipe for you to try, courtesy of Ingrid Hoffman, which incorporates key food safety steps.

Chicken Wings with Mango-Tamarind Sauce
Recipe Courtesy of Ingrid Hoffmann
Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients:
2 large mangoes, peeled, fruit cut off of the seed and roughly chopped
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 pounds chicken wings, wing tips removed, or drumettes, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, for greasing baking sheet

Directions:

  1. Clean work area.  Wash hands and surfaces often. Use two separate cutting boards during preparation, one for raw meats and the other for fruit, vegetables and condiments.
  2. Place the mangoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, oil, red pepper, and garlic in your blender and purée until smooth.
  3. Place the chicken wings in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add just enough sauce to coat the wings (about 1/2 cup, reserve the rest) and toss to coat. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. 
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 °F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease the foil with the oil. Lift the chicken out of the sauce letting the excess marinade drip back into the bowl. Place the wings on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, and then adjust a rack so it’s 6 inches from the heating element. Heat your broiler to high, and broil the wings for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce is sizzling and the internal temperature of the chicken comes to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Hold food hot after cooking (at 140 ˚F or above) by using a heat source such as an oven, chafing dish, or warming tray.
  5. While the wings bake, place the remaining (reserved ½ cup) sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the chicken wings hot with the mango-tamarind sauce on the side for dipping.
  6. Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate promptly within 2 hours. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days.

For more tips about food safety at Super Bowl XLVI parties, follow #FoodSafeSB on Twitter and check out www.FoodSafety.gov.

Related: Don’t Just ‘Wing It!’ – Defeat Food Poisoning at Your Super Bowl Party

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Don’t Just ‘Wing It!’ Defeat Food Poisoning at Your Super Bowl Party.” For more information, please visit www.usda.gov.

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

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snowbuttonWinter Storms & Extreme Cold

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Before the Storm

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

During Winter Storms

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

 

  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

winter-driving-shutterstock_128420186Winter Driving

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone;  keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

Traveling

If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.” For more information, please visit www.ready.gov.