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How to Drive Safely With Snowbanks

The four blizzards in three weeks have left mountains of snow all around New England. Removing the snow has been challenging for towns everywhere, and with nowhere to move it all, the streets have becoming increasingly clogged. Travel lanes have been reduced from four to two, and two-way roads are now one way. Particularly small streets are so clogged up that even sidewalks cease to exist! If they do, they’re so narrow even the smallest of people have a hard time passing the massive snow banks. With nowhere else to walk, pedestrians than take to the road, resulting in further unsafe road conditions.

Here are a few safety tips on how to drive with massive snowbanks:

1. Drive SLOWER. Although that seems like such obvious advice, it really is so important.   In the winter, tires don’t hold to asphalt as well as they do in the summer. A mistake becomes much harder to correct with snow on the ground. Braking distances become longer, and the ability to dart around quickly in traffic decreases. Even when the roads seem cleared up, it’s still important to drive slowly due to decreased visibility from the snow banks. Many the snow piles tower way above 3 ½ feet- which is eye level for most drivers. The safest way to cross is to slowly come to a stop and then inch out to see if a car is coming. Even if you know that there is a stop sign for the intersected street, they might not able to see it due to the snow banks.

2. Make sure you windows are de-iced so you can properly see cars coming. Not only is driving with iced up windows incredibility unsafe, it is also illegal. You can quickly ice proof your windows by spraying them the night before with three parts vinegar and one part water. The acetic acid in vinegar will lower the melting point of water and preventing it from freezing. If you don’t get to it at night, spray the mixture in the morning to make scrapping much easier.

3. Check the pressure and tread of your tires. Too low pressure or bald tires can be extremely dangerous, especially in snowy weather. Having low pressure can cause heat build up, which can cause the tire to pop at high speeds. Most gas station have air pumps that will let you gauge the pressure and add more air if needed. Bald tires, or low tread means less traction to the road, especially in rain or snow. You can check this by placing a penny (the edge with Lincoln’s head pointing down) in one the grooves of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.

4. Drive with your lights on. With snowbanks blocking drivers view, having your lights on with help make you known to other drivers. Even if the sun is out, if it’s snowing always have your lights on. With visibility so low when it snows, having your lights on will help you see other cars coming, and help drivers see you.

Massachusetts has had a record-breaking month with snow, and it will take some time for it all to melt. Keep these tips in mind so you can safely navigate around the snow covered streets!

Driving with Snowbanks

Dealing with Ice Dams

Ice dams go hand in hand with those beautiful looking icicles that form around your house. The snowy roofs and freezing weather that winter brings causes thick ridges of solid ice to form inside the eaves. These dams can cause havoc on your roof by ripping down gutters and loosening shingles. Even worse, they can cause water to pour back into your house.

To prevent them, it’s helpful to know why they form in the first place. Attics tend to collect heat and keep the roof warm. The eaves, however, stay cold. When snow lands on the warmer roof, it melts, slides down into the cold eaves and freezes up. As the ice begins to accumulate, a dam forms causing melted water from the roof to back up behind it, unable to flow off of the house, and comes under the shingles and into the house.

Once this happens, the mountain of problems begins: peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. On top of all of this, the soggy insolation in the attic loses R-Value and becomes the perfect host for mold and mildew.

Fast Fixes for Ice Dams

If you already have ice dams, a quick way to stop the leak is to take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where the water is leaking through. The cold air will freeze the water in its tracks in minutes. Do NOT hack away at the ice dams. Besides causing damage to your roof, it is dangerous for you. Also, throwing salt on the dams will cause more harm to your plants than it will affect the ice.

A more effective way to melt the ice is with panty hose and calcium chloride (yep, you read that right. I said panty hose). Fill one leg of a panty house with calcium chloride ice melter, tie it up, then lay it over the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. A long-handled garden tool may be helpful to push it into position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice to create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof.

Heated cables are a great way to prevent ice dams. Attaching them with clips along the roof’s edge in a zigzag patter will equalize your roof’s temperature preventing the ice dams from forming. Only problem with these heated cables is they must be installed before the bad weather occurs. Another helpful tool to have is a roof rake with wheels that can help you scrape off the snow from your roof without causing damage to the shingles.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage by Ice Dams?

Standard Homeowners Insurance policies do typically cover interior and exterior damage from water flowing into a house because of an ice dam. Many Homeowner Insurance policies have water damage exclusions that applies to water that comes from underground sources, such as seepage through soil or backup in pipes. Ice damage is likely not excluded from your policy because the source of the flooding is coming from your roof.

Most policies, however, will not cover ice dam or snow removal from your roof or anywhere else on your property.   Some companies may provide some ice dam removal out of “good will.” Check your policy for details

Best Solution to Preventing Ice Dams

The most permanent solution for preventing ice dams is keeping the entire roof the same temperature, which can be easier said than done. With increased ventilation, adding insolation, and sealing off all air leaks that could warm the underside of the roof, you should be able to keep the same temperature all around. Check out ThisOldHouse’s tips on taking care of roof trouble spots so you can enjoy a dam free winter.

 

Ice Dams Picture

The Top 6 Boston Parking Space Savers from the 2015 Snowstorms

With record high snowstorms hitting Boston this year, residents are participating in the long tradition of parking space savers. Parking has become a huge challenge for Bostonians with so much snow, Boston doesn’t even know where to put it. Even Mayor Marty Walsh has become a bit frustrated discussing the controversy and competitiveness of them when questioned on the topic at blizzard press conferences. With the amount of snow being so outrageous this year, so are the parking savers. Here are our favorite parking space savers from this season:

6. Although this parking saver is a classic chair, it makes our list because it’s probably the most outrageously huge parking spot ever dug out of snow.

5. This sign out right says what every parking space saver hints, “Do not even think about it”!

4. Parking a bike (or laying it down) as a space saver couldn’t be more clear to others that that is your parking spot. literally.

3. Having the adorable Pooh Bear stand guard of this parking spot doesn’t make the sign any less direct. “NO.” Also, woah that is a tall parking saver.

2. Using the shovel you broke from digging out your car from the snow is a genius way to make sure any parking space thief feels way too guilty to steal that spot.

And for the number 1 best parking saver..

1. Taking a once cute children’s toy and turning it into collateral damage with a frightening message is sure to scare away anyone from taking that parking spot.

There is a hot debate around Boston on whether or not parking savers should be allowed. The best way to approach it respect your neighbors. Everyone is dealing with the aftermath from these storms. There is a lot of snow in Boston, and even more heading our way. On the bright side, we can’t wait to see those crazy space savers continue to pop up around Boston. Let us know the craziest ones you find!

MassDrive Holiday Contest!

Dreaming of a White Christmas? Enter to win to 2 tickets to see the musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, at Boston’s Wang Theater on December 27, 2014! Head on over to Facebook to enter!

Official Rules:

  • Entry Instructions:  Each person may enter by clicking “Like” on the MassDrive Facebook page and comment with your favorite holiday song. You may also enter the Contest by sending us the requested information by a postcard or letter addressed to “White Christmas Contest” to our mailing address at 241 A Street, Suite 400, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110. Please include your submission and how to contact you by phone, email and mailing address.  These complete Contest Rules may also be obtained by sending us a request at our address, above.
  • All entrants must be Massachusetts residents and age 18 or older.
  • Only one entry per person. No purchase of any MassDrive product is necessary and will not increase the likelihood of winning.
  • Entrants may not submit content that contains any elements that violate a third party’s copyrights or trademark rights; or depictions of any individuals that have not granted permission to appear in the entry.
  • The contest will begin on Wednesday December 3, 2014  and will end at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December, 10th.  The contest winner will be selected by MassDrive based upon each entrant’s creativity and unique value and it will be judged upon adherence to our contest rules.  The winner will be announced in a post on our Facebook page the following day.  The winner can inbox us with their email address and we will email the tickets to them.
  • The contest winner will be mailed two tickets for a performance of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas ” held at the Wang Theatre in Boston.
  • Employees and family members of MassDrive or Next Generation Insurance Group LLC are ineligible to enter.
  • MassDrive reserves the right to cancel, modify or suspend the Contest, if in its sole discretion any problem prevents the Contest from running as planned.  All entrants must agree to release and hold harmless MassDrive from any claim by the entrant associated by entrant’s participation in the Contest.  MassDrive is not responsible and cannot be held liable for technical errors or other things that may prevent the promotion from running as planned.  MassDrive also reserves the right to substitute the contest prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the advertised contest prize is not available.
  • These Contest Rules shall be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, excluding its conflicts of laws provisions.
  • All entrants must agree to release and hold harmless Facebook from any claim by the entrant associated by entrant’s participation in the Contest. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Lightning Safety Tips

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Hurricane season is here, and it seems like we’ve been having thunder and lightning storms every week.  While these storms can sometimes be fun to watch, they can also be extremely dangerous.  People are injured by lightning every year, but these simple tips will ensure that you stay safe!

  • It’s important to stay alert and aware of local weather forecasts, whether you’re staying local or going somewhere on vacation, make sure you look up local weather forecasts so you can avoid being outside if a thunder and lightning storm is expected.
  • It is not safe to be outside during a thunder and lightning storm.  Seek shelter immediately, being indoors is the best option but if not stay inside an enclosed metal vehicle.  Even if it is not raining, as soon as you hear thunder or see lightning, immediately stop your activities and head inside.
  • Once you’re inside, stay off porches, away from windows and doors, avoid appliances, sinks, toilets, showers, and tubs.  Lightning can flow through these objects and strike a person.
  • Avoid using corded telephones.  If telephone wires are struck the charge could flow to the phone, Cordless phones and cell phones are still safe to use though.
  • If you are outside and cannot seek shelter, stay away from trees and other tall objects.  If these are struck and fall over, you could be seriously injured.  Avoid high places such as hills, and get to the lowest spot possible.  Crouch down with your feet close together, keep your hands and knees off the ground and never lie down.
  • If you are swimming or boating, get to land immediately and take shelter.  If you are on a boat and cannot get to land, get below deck if possible or crouch as low as you possibly can.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity such as power lines and metal fences.
  • Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last boom of thunder just to be sure the storm has completely passed.
  • If someone nearby is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately and if the person is unconscious, begin CPR if you are qualified.  People struck by lightning do not carry an electric charge so it is perfectly safe to assist them.

Although thunder and lightning storms can happen year-round, hurricane season is the busiest season for these storms, and by keeping these tips in mind, you will greatly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning.

Photo By: John Fowler

Furry Friend Friday With Skul!

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Happy Furry Friend Friday!  Today we have a very special guest, a 7-year-old greyhound girl named Skul.  We know, kind of an intimidating name for such a sweet girl, but trust us when we say there’s nothing scary about her!  She’s currently up for adoption at Greyhound Friends, Inc in Hopkinton and would love for you to pay her a visit!

So Skul, I hear that you’re not originally from Massachusetts, is that right?

Yes!  In fact, I’m a mid-western girl, I came all the way from Kansas!  It’s very different out here, there are so many new things to try and see and so far I’m loving it!  I’m so excited to be here and hopefully find my forever family soon!

What’s your favorite way to spend the day?

I love being outside, we have a fenced in yard that I can run around in, and I get  to play with the other dogs and toys here!  I’m very lucky, and after all that I love being around the people here, they’re so nice and love to pet me!

Do you have a favorite toy to play with?

It’s hard to choose when there are so many options!  If I really have to choose though, I’d say my favorite types of toys are the squeaky, stuffed animal ones.  What dog doesn’t like those?

Is there anything that scares you?

I’d say I’m a pretty self-confident dog, there’s really not much that gets to me except for loud traffic noises.  You know, like horns, sirens, things like that.  Coming from Kansas, I’m not used to hearing those things so often, so sometimes they make me jump a little.

What do you think would  be the perfect family for you?

I really am a people lover, and I would be good with all ages and types of them!  I’m even great with other dogs, not sure about cats yet though.  My only request is to have a fenced-in yard so I can be free to run around as I please.  Even though I’m 7, I’m still a fairly active girl but not overwhelming.  I would just love to find a family that wants me as one of their own, I hope it happens soon because I’m great on walks and the best snuggler you’ll ever meet!

So Skul, why do you think pet insurance is a good thing for all pet parents to consider?

Well, pets can get hurt just like people can, and our doctor’s office can be just as expensive as yours!  Pet insurance seems like a smart way to make sure you don’t have to pay a giant vet bill if your pet were to ever unexpectedly get sick or hurt, and lets face it, are those things ever expected?  No, they’re not, but with pet insurance at least you can be prepared for them!

Skul’s right, if your pet gets sick or has an accident, you never see it coming, but with pet insurance you can be prepared for these things.  It’s a great way to make sure your furry friend can get exactly what they need without you having to worry how much it will cost.  Call one of our agents today for a free pet insurance quote!

 

 

Furry Friend Friday With Bianca!

bianca

Happy Furry Friend Friday!  We’re back with another interview, and today we’re chatting with Bianca.  Such a pretty name for such a pretty girl, are we right?  This little girl is only 5 months old and has already been in the shelter for a whole month!  Do you have room in your heart and your home for this cute little lab mix? She’s up for adoption at the Sterling Animal Shelter, stop by and pay her a visit!

So Bianca, I heard that you came a long way to find your forever home, is that right?

Yes!  I’m originally from Puerto Rico if you can believe it.  I was born in a park there, my mom was a stray and did her best to take care of me and my siblings but eventually a recuse group found us and decided to give us a second chance! So now I’m here, and so far I’m loving Massachusetts but I can’t wait to see more of it.  I hope my new family brings me on lots of fun adventures!

What’s your favorite way to spend the day here?

I love to play!  Whether it’s with toys, other dogs, or people, I’m a very playful pup and love to have fun.  I love playing with squeaky toys a lot, and at the shelter we have tons of options to choose from!  How lucky is that?  I also love being petted and cuddling with my favorite people.

Is there anything that scares you?

Nothing comes to mind, being out on the streets was pretty scary but I know that will never happen again.  I’m mainly just excited to find a forever family, it’s hard to be scared when you have so much to look forward to!

What do you think would be the perfect family for you?

When I say I can really go anywhere, I mean it!  I’m super friendly and get along with people of all ages, and even other dogs!  I haven’t really been around small animals like cats, so I’m not sure how I would do with them.  The only thing I would really need is to go somewhere that I can be active.  I love going for runs, playing outside, and seeing new things.

Bianca, why do you think pet insurance is a good thing for all pet parents to consider?

Well in Puerto Rico I saw a lot of things, and us pets don’t always have it easy.  Accidents can happen, we can eat something that smells really good but is actually bad for us, and then next thing we know we’re at the vet’s office, which is never fun for humans or pets.  Even though we don’t intend to end up at the vet’s, it happens, but pet insurance makes sure that we can get the care we need and you won’t have to drain your savings account to do it!

Bianca’s right! Pets don’t intend to wind up in the vet’s office, but sometimes it can happen whether they like it or not.  Pet insurance is a great way to make sure they get the treatment they need without you having to break the bank.  Call one of our agents today for a free pet insurance quote and see how affordable it can be to protect your furry friend!

 

 

Which Marylou’s Coffee Flavor Are You?

Marylous

If you’ve had the pleasure of trying a dessert flavored coffee from Marylou’s, we’re sure you’re hooked.  If not, you need to make your way down to the south shore ASAP!  This local business is known for their delicious coffee flavors such as mocha mint, raspberry truffle, butterscotch, blueberry cinnamon crumble, and much more.  If you’ve ever wondered which one of these flavors you should be ordering, find out with our quiz!

 

 

Winter Safety Tips For Runners And Walkers

winter run

Despite the bitter cold and early onset of darkness, there are still some dedicated walkers and runners venturing outdoors for their workout.  Even though working out tends to take a back seat during the colder months, it’s still a good idea to stay active and work off all of those holiday goodies.  For those of you that want to avoid crowded gyms and would rather exercise outside, keep these tips in mind and stay safe!

  • Go during the day if at all possible.  Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you have the chance to workout during the day, take it.  Not only will the sun warm you up a bit, you’ll also be visible to drivers which makes running or walking much safer.
  • Make sure you’re visible.  Running or walking at night can be extremely dangerous, and it gets dark much earlier this time of year so it’s harder to get out during the day.  If you do have to be out in the dark, make sure that cars and other pedestrians can see you.  That means a lot of reflective material on your clothing and a headlamp or flashlight.
  • Find a route with a sidewalk.  This will make your route much safer if you’re not directly on the road.  If you must walk on the road, make sure you are always walking facing oncoming traffic.
  • Stay warm.  It’s important to bundle up and wear multiple layers in the bitter cold, and don’t forget gloves!  It may be wise to shorten your typical route if the windchill is extremely cold.
  • Watch the weather!  If temperatures are supposed to drop significantly, if roads are icy, or if it’s supposed to snow, it’s probably a good idea to stay indoors.
  • Stay hydrated.  Just because it’s cold out and you’re sweating less doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water.  Hydrate before and after your workout if you don’t want to carry a water bottle during your run or walk.
  • Get shoes with traction.  Many athletic stores carry shoes specifically made for winter, and have tougher soles meant to brave the snow and ice.  You can also purchase products that slip over your shoes to provide traction, YakTrax are a great option.  Whichever item you would prefer, it’s important to have proper shoes for walks or runs in the winter months.
  • Keep shoes dry.  If your shoes get wet on your walk or run, it can be extremely dangerous.  The air is already cold enough, and if shoes get wet enough to soak your feet, it’s a recipe for frostbite.  Watch the weather and make sure it’s not going to rain or snow during your workout, it might also be a good idea to drive your route before running it and make sure there isn’t snow blocking sidewalks or creating obstacles that you would have to trek through.

Now, who’s ready to run?  Keep these tips in mind before venturing outside to work out, temperatures can drop quickly and it’s important to stay safe and avoid injuries, happy running!

Photo By: bradhoc

 

winter run

Do The Safety Bounce!

Do you do the Safety Bounce?  This new video from the MBTA urges all riders to practice safe behavior including looking both ways before you step off the curb, standing behind the yellow line at T stations, holding on to railings, and being alert to stay as safe as possible!  This unique and funny video is a great way to spread the word and remind all public transit riders to not let the little things get to them, and to use caution in their daily commute.  Be sure to share this fun, and catchy video with friends, family, co-workers, and anyone you know that takes public transit, just try not getting it stuck in your head!

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