Like it or not, winter is here in northern Illinois. Winter means snow, and while it can be magical watching the snow fall while you’re cozy inside, it is quite another story when driving in the midst of a snow or sleet storm. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all car accidents happen in the winter months, thanks to treacherous road conditions caused by snow and ice.
If you are in a car accident, or if your vehicle breaks down during the winter months, it can feel especially stressful. Empower yourself and keep yourself safe by keeping a winter emergency kit tucked in your trunk. Here’s what to include.
Emergency Blankets If your car loses the ability to push out heat, you and your passengers will feel the chill quickly. Keep warm while waiting for help by pulling out emergency blankets from your car’s winter kit.
Cell Phone Charger Your cell phone is your key to getting the help you need, especially if you are in the middle of nowhere. Keep a charger handy in your emergency kit to assure you will not run out of battery when you desperately need it.
Flashlight and Batteries Daylight quickly fades in the winter months and trying to navigate your situation in the dark can be dangerous. Keep a flashlight and extra batteries in your emergency kit to combat the darkness.
Snacks While bottles of water will likely freeze in your trunk during the winter months, you should toss a few snacks into your emergency kit. Protein bars can be a welcome relief while stranded alone or with passengers.
First Aid Kit If you or your passengers are injured in an accident, a first aid kit can give you the tools you need to remedy minor problems while waiting for medical assistance.
Phone Numbers and Notebook In case your cell phone is damaged or unusable, keep a list of emergency contacts in your kit. Include your physician and family members, as well as your personal injury lawyer. You can also use the notebook to record license plates, insurance information, or other accident details about the other parties involved. This information can be valuable as you seek to receive compensation for your ordeal.
Perhaps you have already noticed it this season – slick surfaces. Whether you are out walking the dog in the morning and catch a glimpse of an icy spot on the sidewalk, or if you notice an icy patch under a leaking gutter at your workplace, ice is a serious danger for midwesterners this time of year. Thousands of injuries occur each winter thanks to slips and falls due to icy surfaces. Keep yourself safe this winter season by following a few of these tips.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled Ice can be especially dangerous as it can be difficult to see. This winter, train your eyes to look for official warning signs that draw attention to slick spots. You can also look for hidden slick spots by looking for glistening spots on sidewalks or driveways, steering clear of essentially anything that appears to be “wet”.
Use Railings Stairs leading into businesses or homes can be especially dangerous. Ice can accumulate on stairs and make walking up or down them treacherous. To keep from slipping, always use railings when navigating stairs, even if they don’t seem slick.
Choose the Salted Path When possible, walk on sidewalks or walkways that are treated with de-icing materials like salt. While you should still remain vigilant and step carefully on all surfaces, a salted surface is a safer option than an untreated surface.
Tell Someone If you are entering someone’s home or a business and encounter dangerous conditions, tell someone. Ice can accumulate quickly, and business or homeowners may be unaware their paths are unsafe.
Seek Help if You Are Injured Slips and falls can happen even if you are diligent. Icy surfaces are dangerous! If you slip on an icy surface, get the help you need, even if you feel more embarrassed than injured. Like many unexpected injuries, slipping on ice can cause pain and damage you may not feel immediately. However, if you seek medical attention right away, you can receive the treatments you need to feel your best in the days to come.
If you slip on the ice this season, remember to call the team at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates. We have decades of experience advocating for injured clients, and getting them the compensation they deserve. We would be honored to work with you as well.
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is devastating. The holidays can be especially tough, especially when celebrating the first holiday without your loved one. Grief can rise up at any time, even after someone has been gone for many years, but there is something especially tender about those first major celebrations without an important part of the family.
At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we have worked hand-in-handwith grieving families for decades. Our compassion for our clients, and our dedication to serving them well, has given us first-handexperience helping people who are going through their first winter holidays while actively grieving a loved one. While nothing will compare to having your loved one with you this season, there are a few ways you can cope and survive during this tough time.
Say No Your holiday this year is going to look different, and that is okay. Take care of yourself, and those in your family, by knowing it is perfectly acceptable to say “no thank you” to invitations to celebrations, events, dinners, coffee, or other opportunities. Even better, you don’t need to offer a reason for declining; just say no. You also have the right to cancel if you just aren’t feeling up to it.
Surround Yourself With People You Love Grief can feel isolating, but research has shown that support from others is crucial during the process. Resist the urge to keep your grief a solo sport, instead choosing to invite people you love and trust into it with you.
Honor Your Loved One People grieving the loss of a loved one are often shocked and saddened when others are too nervous to mention the person who has passed away. This season, honor your loved one in a tangible way. Add a special ornament to your tree, light a candle for them all season long, share good stories about the person around the table during dinner.
Focus On Yourself and Your Health Grief can make it extremely difficult to put yourself, and your needs, first. However, without a focus on proper sleep, nutrition, and activity, you can feel like you are drowning (and you will likely get sick). Do what you need to do to get the sleep you need, the food you need, and the activity you need to feel well and cope with stress. Ask for help from those around you, who will happily rally to support you.
We are thinking of you this holiday season, and hope you find moments of peace.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, winter months are especially dangerous times for house fires. Before our northern Illinois winter weather fully sets in for the next four months, take time to assure that you, your family, and your home are safe from potential fire hazards.
Check Your Fire Alarms Fire alarms and smoke detectors are a crucial component of your family’s fire safety plan. However, without working batteries, you are missing the chance to detect a fire in enough time to safely get out. Ideally, you should check your fire alarm at least twice per year. Most Americans choose to do the checks during each time change. It’s not too late to check your detectors – do a quick test and swap out the batteries to assure your detectors are ready to work, if they need to.
Beware of Open Flames The winter holidays and chilly weather can leave many of us lighting candles to feel cozy and calm. However burning, too many candles at once can create a serious fire hazard. Be sure everyone in your family knows to blow out candles when leaving the house, even if it is just for a short amount of time. Further, keep your candle wicks trimmed and your candles far from curtains, fabrics, or other flammable materials.
Be Careful With Your Twinkle Lights Christmas trees can catch fire frighteningly fast. Your strands of twinkle lights, whether on the tree or elsewhere, can be the culprit for igniting your tree and your home. When putting up your lights, assure that strands are not damaged and that wires are not exposed. Opt for LED lights when possible, as they do not get as hot as other options.
Ditch the Space Heater Space heaters may help your home feel warmer, but these devices can quickly become deadly. If you must use a space heater, keep it shut off when unattended and keep all fabrics far away.
Finally, use the winter season as a reminder to talk with your famiy about safe fire evacuation plans. You can work together to designate a meeting spot outside of your home, and remind one another about how to safely evacuate the home in case of fire.
Recently, some car insurance companies have been mentioning “split limit” coverage in their TV ads. This is nothing new.
Split limits refer to separate liability limits for each person injured in an accident, each occurrence, and for property damage caused in that accident. Property damage coverage is just that, the amount of coverage you have for property damage you may cause. If your property damage isn’t sufficient you may be left owing the other diver money.
The liability limits for bodily injury are much more problematic. A typical insurance policy provides 100/300 coverage, but it can be lower or higher. This means that you have coverage up to $100,000 per person injured, and $300,000 for all people injured in the occurrence.
This may sound like a lot of coverage, but it is relatively easy to incur medical bills for initial treatment far in excess of $100,000 for a serious injury. If you are liable for injuring someone, and have $100,000 per person coverage, any amount more than that awarded by a jury would be your responsibility to pay.
The “per occurrence” limit is just that, the amount of coverage your insurance company provides to compensate all people who are injured in an occurrence. So if you injure one person in a car accident, and fair compensation to her would be $100,000, this coverage would be sufficient. If there are 3 people injured, each one would have available compensation of $100,000 (so $300,000 total). The problem is if there are more than 3 injured, there is only $300,000 available to pay them all. If fair compensation to each one is $100,000, you may be left without complete coverage and be responsible for any additional amounts.
If you are the one hurt, you have no control over how much coverage the other driver has to compensate you. But if the other driver has insufficient coverage, you can look to your own “Underinsured Motorist” coverage to make up the difference. Most insurance policies provide the same amount of underinsured (UIM) coverage as you have in liability coverage. So if your coverage is 100/300, you’d have up to $100,000 to compensate you if the other driver has less than that.
But if your injuries are truly significant, $100,000 may not even pay your medical bills. That’s why we encourage people to buy as much coverage as they can afford, and to actually talk to an insurance company agent to get the proper amount of coverage for your particular needs. You need this insurance to cover you in a worst case scenario situation. Additionally, you’d be surprised how inexpensive this extra coverage can be.
Liability limits in policies come in many sizes, for instance 25/50, 50/100, 100/300, 250/500 and even higher. You want to make sure that you carry enough so if you are injured, you’ll be covered. If you can’t work for 6 months, how much would you need to make to pay your bills? These are all issues you should think about when buying the proper amount of coverage for you and your family.
And remember, if you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, call MacCloskeyKesler & Associates at 815-965-2000. We can explain everything to you. Put our many years of experience to work for you.