Power outages can be a major inconvenience. They can also create problems for you, your family and your home as you shift into "emergency mode" to prevent your food from spoiling, to safely navigate your home in the dark, or simply to keep the heat on. Investing in a home generator can help make being without power more bearable — and can even fuel some fun when not being used for an emergency.
Home generators come in a variety of types and sizes, from portable versions to "standby" and inverter units. Portable generators typically run on gasoline and need to be operated at a safe distance from any structure. Standby generators start automatically when the power goes out, and are run on propane or natural gas. Inverter generators have a more complex engine than the other types, and are much quieter than their conventional counterparts.
Regardless of which type of generator you choose, you will need to follow the manufacturer recommendations for safe operation of the unit.
It's helpful to research this useful home device before you urgently need it, so here are 10 reasons to consider if you're thinking about purchasing a home generator of your own.
1. We can't control the weather.
Most power outages are weather-related. As the number and severity of extreme weather events rises, so does the likelihood of a blackout lasting 24 hours or more.
2. You have well water.
Without electricity, your well pump and filtration systems will quickly lose the ability to provide fresh, safe water for drinking, bathing, heating and more, to your house.
3. You have a sump pump.
If you rely on a sump pump to keep your basement or crawlspace dry — including all the possessions you keep in those areas — losing power means you also lose protection against water damage in those areas.
4. You work from home.
If you run a business or work out of your home, you know every minute counts. Going without power for even an hour can be a major inconvenience — if not a major risk — to you, your clients and customers.
5. Food spoils quickly.
According to the FDA, perishable food items should be thrown out once your refrigerator has been without power for as little as four hours.1
Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
6. You live in a high-risk or severe climate area.
Some states are more vulnerable to weather-related outages. Others have such severe temperature extremes that power to control air conditioning and heating systems can be essential for comfort and safety. If you live in one of these areas, your risk to the potentially devastating effects of a power outage increase significantly.
7. Your property is vacant for extended periods of time.
If you are a "snowbird," frequent traveler or own a seasonal home, having a generator can protect your property from outage-related emergencies — whether you're in or out of town.
8. Someone in your home relies on an electrically powered medical device.
If you or a loved one requires the assistance of a home medical device that runs on electricity, a power outage can be deadly. A generator can help keep those devices running, but you also will want to check with a healthcare professional for suggestions on how to weather power outages with your particular medical device.2
9. You have a hybrid or electric car.
Make a portable generator go the extra mile! When not using it for your basic emergency power needs, keep it in your car to stay charged no matter where the road takes you.
. Generators aren't just for emergencies.
Portable generators can be put to use at work or play in, around and away from your home, too:
Whether it's due to storms, falling trees or some other challenge, power outages can bring an assortment of problems for home owners. A home generator can become one of your go-to remedies for those unexpected situations. Checking out the options before you lose electrical power is one smart way to beat the crowds who'll be racing to scoop up a home generator, for that "next time" outage scenario.
It’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage at least once a year to ensure that your family and belongings are appropriately protected. You’ll also want to review your coverage any time you’ve made a major purchase or experienced a significant life event, such as getting married, buying a house, sending your child off to college or receiving an inheritance. These life moments are considered insurance-qualifying events (also known as life-changing events for purposes of insurance), and it’s important to make sure your coverage is up to date to protect the people and things that matter most to you.
Have you had a life-changing event that might require an adjustment to your insurance coverage? Here’s some information to consider, which can help ensure that you’ve got the coverage you need to protect your loved ones and belongings. A good place to start is by doing an insurance review.
What Is an Insurance Review?
An insurance review is a thorough look at your insurance coverage – the policies protecting your vehicles, home, family members and other valuables. To review your insurance coverages, enlist the help of an experienced agent to tap into their expertise and knowledge. An agent will be knowledgeable about the available insurance products and can provide professional guidance on which coverages may be best for your unique situation.
The Benefits of an Insurance Review
An insurance review helps provide you the peace of mind that your most treasured belongings (and family members) are adequately protected in case something unexpected happens like a fire, theft or weather event. A review could also result in a potential reduction in your insurance costs if, for example, your agent discovers you are eligible for discounts, or that you require less coverage than you did previously.
Why (and When) Should You Review Your Insurance Coverage?It is critical to review your insurance coverage regularly to help ensure that your property, your possessions and your loved ones are well protected. During an insurance review, you should evaluate your home insurance (or renters insurance), car insurance and any other policies you have in your name.
When should you do a review?
When your circumstances have changed, or you have what’s considered a “qualifying event” or a “life-changing event” in insurance terms, you may want to consider an insurance review. As mentioned earlier, these events include things like having a baby, getting married and other big milestones. You should also consider an insurance review any time your policies are up for renewal. This is typically once per year.
What’s an Insurance-Qualifying Event?
Insurance-qualifying events are those moments when life circumstances change. Since these events can occur throughout the period of an insurance policy, you’ll want to check with your agent when an insurance-qualifying event occurs outside of the typical policy renewal time frame.
A qualifying or life-changing event, for insurance purposes, typically means:
Other Times You May Want an Insurance Review
In addition to those life events that might prompt an insurance review, there are other times that you may want to check with your insurance agent to review your coverage. For example, if you have expensive, high-value possessions on your property or are taking steps to increase the safety of your home, such as by adding an alarm system or upgrading your electrical system, those situations may warrant a fresh look at your insurance coverage. If natural disasters (for example, hurricanes) have increased in your area, you also may want to consider updating your policy to reflect these added risks. Check with your insurance agent for guidance.
How Often Should You Change Your Coverage?
Though you might review your policies annually, that doesn’t mean you’ll always need to make a change that often. In many cases, your current coverage may still be adequate. But generally, it’s a good idea to review all of your insurance needs at least once a year. If you have a major life change, contact your insurance agent or company representative, as the change in your life may have an impact on your insurance needs.1
How Current Is Your Household’s Insurance Coverage?
If you haven’t conducted an insurance review recently (or you’ve experienced a major life event or acquired additional property of significant value since you last renewed your policy), it might be time to evaluate your coverage.
For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats contribute to nearly 11,000 collisions and 700 fatalities each year.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? One reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can only take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to control. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and remembering some tips that can help you maintain control of your vehicle.
What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?
Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.
What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like? When a tire explodes while you’re driving, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst.2 If a front tire burst, you should feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you should feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.
What to Do After a Tire Blowout
After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and if safe to do so, put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time now to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Tire Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.
Learn more about what to do if your car breaks down and other steps to take to help stay safe on the roads.
Teens eager to drive often have parents equally concerned about keeping their new drivers safe. In fact, the rate of fatal crashes per mile driven for teen drivers is 3X that of drivers over age 20.1 The reality is that novice drivers can take years to develop real-world experience behind the wheel.
Until then, parents can set expectations for safe driving behaviors, provide opportunities to practice in a safe environment and stay involved, even after their teen earns a driver’s license. Help teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel by preparing them for risks on the road with this teen driver timeline.
One Year in Advance: Set a Good ExampleStarting long before your teen receives his or her driver’s license, demonstrate the kind of safe driving behaviors you will expect from your teen, including never driving while distracted by technology. It should be an easier conversation when it comes to setting expectations when your teen gets behind the wheel if those expectations reflect your own behavior.
While distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, Dr. Charlie Klauer, who studies teen risk and injury prevention at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has found that the risks are much higher for novice drivers who engage in manual-visual tasks, such as texting while driving.2
Less Than a Year in Advance: Discuss Dangerous BehaviorsParents can help teens understand how certain behaviors behind the wheel may increase the risk of a crash. These behaviors include speeding, tailgating, drowsy driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or while distracted. Engaging in two or more of these behaviors at the same time may greatly increase the risk of crashes, according to Dr. Klauer.3 Parents should discuss the importance of safe speeds, a safe following distance and being aware of potentially dangerous conditions.
Six Months in Advance: Set Specific ExpectationsTalk with your teen about his or her plans for driving. If your teen plans to drive, does he or she plan to drive every day? Does he or she plan on owning a car? Discuss the potential risks of driving, including legal and financial responsibilities, which can include insurance premiums, repair costs and fines for unsafe driving.
Establish the rules of the house, including when and where your teen is allowed to drive, so he or she knows your expectations. For example:
There are also teen driver apps that can monitor driving behavior, including speeding.
Four Months in Advance: Know the Rules of the RoadMany states have extensive learner’s permits and graduated driver’s license laws. It is important to learn the rules and guidelines for your state. Strive not to just meet the minimum requirements, such as hours driven with supervision, but to exceed them. Most state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) offer a driver's handbook, which may also be available online.
Three Months in Advance: Plan for the UnexpectedTalk with teens about what to do if they are in a car accident. Do not assume new drivers instinctively know the basics, such as getting the other driver’s insurance and contact information, calling the police, taking pictures, completing an accident report and notifying your insurance company as soon as possible.
Help them pack an emergency kit for the car and discuss what they will do if their car breaks down on the road, including getting the car to a safe place before they get out. Make sure they have the number for roadside assistance, if you have a service that they can call.
Road Test Day and Beyond: Continue the ConversationStay involved with your teen driver even after he or she gets a driver’s license. Let him or her know it’s okay to ask you for help or for more practice. Encourage your teen to only drive in conditions where he or she feels safe. Continually review the safety guidelines, including prohibition of use of portable electronic devices while driving, which you discussed before they earned their license, so it remains top-of-mind.
Remember, even after a new driver takes the keys, continuing to talk about your expectations for safe behavior can help reinforce good decisions.
The Cape Cod Reopening Task Force released a statement regarding the outlook for Summer 2020 today, after Governor Charlie Baker announced the reopening plan for the Commonwealth on Monday.
“We are cautiously optimistic that our friends, relatives and guests will return to the Cape this summer for respite and a return to a traditional vacation,” said Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and Facilitator for the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “This optimism is supported by our recent traveler sentiment survey. The volume and pace of this summer is expected to differ from prior summers, but 67% of our opt-in visitor database is reporting they are likely to visit the Cape this year.”The Chamber is the region’s tourism council, which promotes Cape Cod and the Islands to visitors from around the world.
While beaches officially open statewide May 25th, most town-owned and Cape Cod National Seashore beaches on Cape Cod have remained open and will be open this Memorial Day weekend. There is hope that restaurants will begin to serve dine-in customers and expand to outdoor dining where able, beginning at some point in June. Many restaurants are open for take-out service with new safety and ordering protocols including dozens of the region’s famous take-out seafood establishments, clam shacks, and ice cream parlors. Accommodations of all types are clean, stocked with supplies and are scheduled by the state guidance to reopen in early June as well.
Governor Baker’s reopening plan lists a return to dine-in for restaurants (with a possible restriction to outdoor only seating) and allowance of leisure accommodations in phase 2 of his reopening plan, which would begin no earlier than June 8th. The Governor has made clear that decisions on moving to phases 2, 3 and 4 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will be dictated by public health surveillance data including rates of hospitalization, positive tests, and morbidity.
While Memorial Day has traditionally been the unofficial start to summer, this year’s calendar is creating an ironic opportunity, with 14 more days of summer in 2020, Northcross reported. Memorial Day falls this year as early as possible on May 25th, and Labor Day falls as late as it can, on September 7th; the additional 14 days of summer provide a cushion to summer business cycles that may be muted by stay at home orders just now lifting.
“Over the past several weeks as we have planned for reopening on Cape Cod our aim has been to save lives and livelihoods,” State Senator Julian Cyr (D- Truro) Member and Public Information Officer for the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “We all know that the 2020 summer season will be different than what we are used to; indeed we expect a muted season. But opportunities to enjoy this special place will still be plentiful this summer with all Cape Cod has to offer.”“Moving out of the ‘stay at home’ phase into the ‘start’ phase of reopening, allows everyone to plan, knowing there are at least three weeks between phases,” said Wendy Northcross. “Currently, accommodations and restaurants are serving guests under restrictions in Phase 1. Phase 2 plans for restaurants and accommodations and some attractions to reopen with guidelines.” Those guidelines include social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations training and cleaning rules, which apply to all business and social organizations. Northcross is participating in a working group organized by the Governor’s office on restaurants, accommodations, and tourism to advise on safe reopening prior to Phase 2, when these sectors are expected to begin reopening.
Given the highly seasonal nature of many businesses on Cape Cod, which serve their guests on a leisure travel experience during the warm weather months, the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force has been instrumental in pushing for advancement of the reopening date and guidance for the region and state’s many tourism amenities,” said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) Member of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force. “If we do this right, giving confidence to the consumer and ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and residents, we expect to have the reawakening of our tourism businesses in just a few weeks’ time.”
In order to help businesses follow best guidelines for mandatory safety practices, Sean O’Brien, Director of Barnstable Health & Environment and Member of the Cape Cod reopening Task Force has marshalled county resources to prepare information for businesses to access for best practices on cleaning and operations.
“We will be publishing FAQs on topics like testing, best practices for entities ranging from boating to farmer’s markets and everything in between,” said Sean O’Brien.
The County’s Department of Human Services will compile health metrics, and the Cape Cod Commission will publish a new economic data dashboard and track business impact through a new survey tool. All will be on one central Cape Cod website which will launch in the coming days.
“Guidance to towns on how to quickly ramp up outdoor dining, accommodate more pedestrian flow and town-regulated activities that may need adjusting at this time is being vetted and shared with the 15 towns,” said Kristy Senatori, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission and Member of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force.
“The single biggest determinative factor for what’s possible this summer season depends on the personal responsibility of residents and visitors alike,” said State Senator Julian Cyr. “That means everyone covering their nose and mouth with a face covering when unable to keep distance between others, washing hands and surfaces, maintaining distance from others, and watching out for symptoms. Adherence to these health precautions will both prevent spread of coronavirus and allow us to safely reopen.”“While we expect this summer to be different from any we’ve experienced in our lifetime, we do believe the lure of Cape Cod’s plentiful and beautiful beaches, miles of hiking and biking trails, 47 golf courses, boating and outdoor recreation are the right prescription at the right time. We will be here to safely and warmly welcome our guests,” said Wendy Northcross.
The kitchen is perpetually full of dishes, the living room is overwhelmed by abandoned pillow forts, and the laundry baskets are bafflingly full every day of the week.
“Homes are absolutely on overdrive,” said Dan DiClerico, a smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor. “It’s like having a newborn in the house.”
We’re using our homes differently now and it shows. The kitchen counter may double as a home office. The living room may now serve as a preschool playroom. Reset your thinking about how your home functions, and it is possible to find a rhythm that reduces the amount of grunt work you’re doing to keep the household running.
Bring order to this new configuration by designating spots for specific tasks. If the breakfast nook is now a tele-school classroom, dedicate the space to that task. If space is tight, and the area still needs to play double duty, clear the table of all schoolwork items before anyone eats, storing the materials in a bin or basket on a shelf until they need to be used again. (Of course, no one is coming over, so make do with what you have in the house.)
“Keep things grouped and corralled and contained — it helps,” said Clea Shearer, a co-owner of The Home a Nashville, Tenn., home organizing company. “With no system, it’s a free-for-all.”
If the children need a craft area, choose a table for the activity so glue sticks and glitter do not end up on the coffee table or sofa. Set specific times of day and locations for those messier activities, like finger paints or Play-Doh, and clean up immediately after playtime. If sticky hands do meet the wall, cleaning products like a Magic Eraser can help.The same goes for the living or dining rooms. Designate certain areas for play and others for lounging. Create a reading nook, and stock it with a cozy blanket and plenty of books. Everyone in the household should know that this is a space for quiet reading, and only such items belong there.
Get Control of the Kitchen
With everyone home all day, the kitchen may now feel like a 24-hour restaurant. Put a stop to that. Set times for meals and snacks, so everyone in the household eats together as much as possible. Make a rule that anyone who eats at off hours needs to clean their dishes and the counter before they leave the room.
To keep control of the dishes, limit how many the family uses each day.
Give each family member a set in the morning — a plate, a bowl, a mug and a glass — and they are responsible for rinsing it after each meal and reusing it throughout the day. With fewer dishes, you’ll run the dishwasher less often, extending the machine’s life and your patience.
You are likely using your kitchen differently, with on-the-go breakfasts replaced with morning pancakes, and takeout night swapped for slow cooker creations. All this extra cooking means more dishes to wash and more counters to wipe. Take a step back and reconsider the space and how you use it now.
Start with the pantry. Items like flour or rolled oats that once lived in the back may now be daily staples. Move those items to a more accessible spot and rotate the stuff you’re not using much anymore.
“If you’re making pancakes every morning, maybe your skillet is kept right on the burner,” said Faith Roberson, a Manhattan home organizer.
Plan meals ahead of time, taking advantage of multipurpose ingredients. This will also help you use what you have, and limit your trips to the supermarket. If you’re chopping carrots for a recipe, chop up a few more and store them in a tightly sealed container for tomorrow, or grate a few to use in a carrot salad another day. Aim for dishes that freeze well, too, like chili or stews: Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for another dinner the following week. By thinking ahead, you reduce the work you’ll do later, and make the most of the time you do need to spend on the task at hand.
Give the Appliances a Break
Your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and water heater may all be getting more use than they bargained for. Now is not the time for anything to break down. You need them to be workhorses.
“It’s not like everything is going to start breaking down at once,” said Mr. DiClerico of HomeAdvisor, “but it is important to stay on top of preventive maintenance to avoid having to bring a repair man into the house.”
Your dryer is probably the riskiest appliance because the vent needs to be periodically cleaned of lint once or twice a year. Clogged dryer vents can cause house fires.
Normally, this is a task best left to professionals, but Mr. DiClerico recommends using a Lint Lizard, a flexible vacuum cleaner attachment designed to suck up lint, as a temporary alternative. Your washing machine should be able to handle the extra loads. However, to sanitize it every few weeks, run an empty cycle on hot with a cup of bleach.
If your dishwasher is getting extra use, sanitize it every few weeks by running an empty cycle with a bowl of white vinegar on the bottom rack. Clean the filter monthly — or every two weeks, if it’s running double time. If you have a hood over your range, change the filter if you’ve been doing a lot of cooking. (Check your manufacturers websites on how to change filters.)
Your water heater may also be working extra hard. Read the instruction manual for maintenance recommendations, as many heaters should be drained periodically. This can usually be done with a hose attachment at the bottom of the cylinder.
Less stuff means less to clean up. In a home with small children, limit the available toys at any given time, setting the rest away in a closet to cycle through later. With fewer toys available, you may find that the children are more likely to focus on one for a longer period of time.
“Be deliberate about what is accessible and what is not,” said Karri Bowen-Poole, the chief executive of Smart Playrooms, a Westchester design company. Store the toys in easily accessible bins so the children can play (and tidy up) independently. Label the bins with words or pictures to make cleanup easier for small children.
Resist the lure of online impulse buys. More stuff means more clutter. Instead, hunt for activities among the items that already exist in your home. “Recognizing that less is more can be beneficial,” Ms. Bowen-Poole said. “Put a stapler out for a 6-year-old. Show them how to make books.”
Set Schedules and Dole Out JobsWith no one ever leaving the house, days can bleed from one to the next, making it difficult to keep on top of chores, activities and tasks. But people crave order, especially at a time when nearly every routine has been upended. To stay on top of all that needs to be done, add some structure to the day, and to how the home will be used.
Figure out the chores and divide them among the members of the household — anyone who’s old enough to walk is old enough to do something. “Systems and schedules are going to save all of us,” said Regina Leeds, a Los Angeles organizer and the author of “One Year to an Organized Life.” You can either rotate through responsibilities with a chart, or everyone can choose ones they like and be responsible for getting those tasks done. But agree as a household about how you will go about collectively getting the work done.
Monday could be laundry day and Saturday bathroom cleaning day. Daily household rules help, too. If you finish an activity, put it away. If you take cereal out from the cabinet, put the box back and wash the bowl immediately. Before bedtime, everyone in the family helps tidy up the living spaces so they’re ready for the next day.
“Do a pass at the end of each night,” Ms. Shearer said. “It takes five minutes to tidy up your living space at the end of each day.”
Liken the task to making the bed in the morning — end the day with a clean slate and the next one will start more smoothly. Perhaps, with a little order, the work will feel more manageable.
13 things you should do to keep your car in good running condition while coronavirus lockdowns park it indefinitely, according to experts
Business Insider spoke with experts to learn what drivers should watch out for when parking their cars for longer than usual — but, keep in mind, there's a whole host of additional precautions to take if you're planning to tuck a car away in long-term storage.
Larry Kosilla, the founder of car detailing company Ammo NYC, Ronald Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds, and Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, a nonprofit that educates drivers on automotive maintenance, all shared some tips and tricks for keeping a sitting car well maintained in the near term and in the long haul.
Nearly 59% of small businesses say their revenue decreased by more than 75% since the coronavirus became a widespread concern, according to a Main Street America survey of more than 5,850 small businesses.
If the crisis continues, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing in the next five months, according to the survey, and 3.5 million are at risk of closing in the next two months.
The federal government has issued the Payment Protection Program, which offers $349 billion in forgivable, low-interest loans for small businesses. Still, many small businesses remain concerned about staying afloat, and many individuals are wondering what they can do to help.
Here are four simple ways to help small businesses you care about in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Keep spendingMovie theaters, restaurants, local gyms, and retailers are all hurting. But there are ways to keep spending at these places even while you keep your distance.
Many of us, we purchase things online from Amazon. ... Take a couple more minutes to see what [small] businesses in your area might have the same product.
Let business owners know what you needSome small businesses may be able to adapt their services to offer ones their community needs at the moment.
“Particularly small business owners are more flexible to pivot,” says Dan Honig, owner of the Happy Valley Meat Company, whose business supplied meat from local farms to restaurants. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the company has started shipping and selling meat directly to consumers.
“If all of a sudden I’m realizing, ‘Oh, people are looking for X, Y, or Z,’” says Honig, “maybe that’s an opportunity that I can jump on.” For example, distilleries and breweries throughout the country have started producing hand sanitizer, and some eateries are now offering customers toilet paper along with food and beverage orders.
Reach out to small businesses you patronize on Instagram, Facebook, or through an email they list on their website, and let them know if there’s something relevant you need right now. Even if they can’t supply it, maybe there’s another business in their network that can.
Share their storiesWhat with the chaos of day-to-day life since the stay-at-home orders began, struggling businesses “may not be top of mind” for a lot of people says Campbell. That’s understandable. But sharing their stories throughout social media and in your networks can help raise awareness about their plights and what services they’re offering.
“If there’s a brand that you like,” says Honig, “just share it around to your network and then hopefully more of the small businesses go viral.”
If there’s a brand that you like, just share it around to your network and then hopefully more of the small businesses go viral.
Offer up your skill setAs some companies try to figure out how they can survive and shift their business models to meet the needs of quarantined customers, they may need help with tasks like marketing, web design, or delivery. Reach out to your favorite small businesses and let them know what skills you can offer to help sustain them.
“If you’re a programmer or you’re a digital marketing specialist,” says Honig, “reach out to all your favorite brands that are pivoting because there’s a ton of work that goes into starting a brand new business.”
Some companies might be able to pay or offer you their goods for free in exchange for your efforts, but if you can afford to volunteer, it could go a long way toward helping a small business you value survive.
If a repair is urgent, use these safety guidelinesUnless your car needs repairs immediately, skip the shop — at least in the short term.
That's the advice of Pat Carroll, M.D., chief medical officer of the San Francisco–based telemedicine platform Hims and Hers.
"This pandemic is a significant and serious health concern,” he said. “As people are postponing their own routine health care, you should most definitely postpone routine car care."
Save 25% when you join AARP and enroll in Automatic Renewal for first year. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
Of course, some vehicle maintenance can't wait. To determine if yours can, call your repair shop and ask, says James Garnand, owner of Hi-Tech Car Care in Phoenix and president of the Network of Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals. “The service technician can also explain how you might be able to make a simple repair yourself,” he says. “We appreciate your interest and would like to help you."
How to keep the virus at bayBut you can protect yourself if you need service because of a coolant leak, faulty battery or other serious malfunction. Don't rely entirely on the quick-service centers, even those that work under your car from pits, suggests Brian Haggerty, owner of Cross Island Collision in Floral Park, New York. Ask before you go. “If you don't have to get out of your car, then that's great,” he says. “I think they do want to drive the cars in themselves. They don't let you do that due to liability."
Need roadside assistance?
Many towing companies are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Expect tow truck operators to wear gloves and masks; they'll expect you to do the same. But prepare for the worst before you get behind the wheel.
• Keep antiseptic wipes, gloves and a mask in your car.
• Assume you won't get a ride home from the tow truck driver.
• Ask the towing company to help you arrange for transportation home if you don't have it.
• Wash your hands and face as soon as you can afterward.
"Caution is the operative word,” says Patrick Carroll, M.D., chief medical officer of the San Francisco–based telemedicine platform Hims and Hers. “It's probably a time in our lives when it's good to be a little bit obsessive-compulsive and just assume that [the virus] is deposited in a lot of the hard surfaces."
Even if you find a shop that allows you to drive in and out, Haggerty recommends wearing gloves and a mask. And make sure the technician does the same. Roll the window down only slightly to pay, and disinfect your credit card before you put it away.
No matter what shop you frequent, Haggerty, Garnand and other experts suggest the following precautions.
Follow CDC guidelines and expect others to do so.
“Wear a mask and gloves, and choose a facility that will [mandate employees] do the same,” Haggerty says. “Call and ask if the facility is doing that. We only greet customers when we have gloves and masks on. And we do six feet of social distancing."
Don't touch unsanitized items.
Keys and paperwork are dropped onto counters and sanitized before Haggerty's customers touch them.
Make sure the repair shop sanitizes your car.
"Do not be afraid of asking, ‘How did you make sure my vehicle is safe?’ “ Garnand says. Even better, ask technicians to disinfect the car while you watch.
Wipe down your car, too. Don't rely on others, Haggerty recommends. Disinfect your vehicle even if the technician did so.
Clean hidden spots. Wipe down dashboards, gear shifts, seat belts and any other exposed surface, advises Ragina C. Ali, public and government affairs manager at Wilmington, Delaware–based AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Although cleaning is vital, take care not to use alcohol or bleach on leather or vinyl, she warns, as it could crack and discolor your seats and steering wheel. Check your owner's manual for products that thoroughly but safely clean car surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency also has a list of criteria for effective cleaning products.
Stay alert at the pumpCustomers with vehicles in service bays aren't the only ones who could be exposed to the coronavirus; rather, those who perform routine actions, such as pumping their own gas, increase their risk of infection.
"Assume that all the surfaces have droplets,” Carroll says. “You should wear protective gloves. If you can, [use a disinfectant] to wipe down the pump surface and handle.” Also, take care not to let your hair or clothes come in contact with the gas pump, he says.
Use the AARP Auto Buying Program for a hassle-free purchase experience
"Those are portals of entry for the virus,” Carroll explains. “As soon as you get home, thoroughly wash your hands, your hair and anything that might have come in contact with the pump."
He also recommends washing your face and around your ears. Yet that's not enough. Most of us reach for our wallets and credit cards after pumping gas. Even if you wear rubber gloves when handling those items, they still could transmit the virus to you. So wipe down gloves with antiseptic and wash them or throw them away.
"You have to be fastidious about limiting your exposure to other individuals except when it's absolutely necessary,” Carroll stresses. “Those over 50 are at increased risk, and there's even more risk for those over age 65. You really should be minimizing your contact with people outside of your immediate household."