It’s no surprise that this year’s top home trends are all about practicality and comfort.
And while you’ve probably already taken steps to improve your space over the last few months, there could be a few more ways to make the most of your property.
Whether you have safety in mind or you’d like some design inspiration, take a look at the most exciting home trends for 2021:
Colors and Moods
Did you see Pantone’s color of the year for 2021? It’s actually two colors: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a vibrant yellow) are together described as “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness.”
And speaking of warm and comforting, natural wood is also on the rise. When it comes to design, 2021 is all about mixing traditional and modern for a cozy feel.
Connecting With Nature
Feeling cooped up at home has motivated people to get closer to nature. You can tap into this trend by buying indoor plants, adding earth tones to your living room, freshening up any outdoor space you have, or going big with a brand new deck, porch or landscaping project.
Smart Features for Health and Safety
Smart and wellness-oriented features such as touchless faucets and flushers, motion sensor lighting, bidets and heated floors will continue to be in demand this year.
This trend began a few months ago and will unsurprisingly continue in 2021. Both homeowners and homebuyers want separate rooms for work, Zoom, play, exercise, intergenerational living and more.
Accomplishing this can be as simple as buying room dividers. Or, you can go big and renovate an existing open floor plan or add a new room or wing to your house.
Do you have questions about how a home update will affect your coverage? Just need to check in? Reach out anytime.
The economic shifts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic likely mean that your business has changed; it may have shrunk or grown substantially since the onset. This may mean changes in operations, staffing and transportation schedules, all of which may change again as social distancing restrictions ease and your business returns to a new normal. Whether you transport cargo or have employees driving regularly for work, some adjustments are likely as you respond to the crisis and adapt to new ways of doing business.
One of the most important things you can do is to engage your employees in the process of restoring operations. Review employee standard operating procedures (SOP). As needed, update procedures, including your employee handbook. Provide training to employee groups on new SOP and include supervisors in the training. Reinforce any new SOP through ongoing supervisory communication and utilize existing corrective action programs to ensure compliance. Consider organizing a COVID response committee, which can help connect management and employees to gather feedback on coordinating both reopening and future concerns.
Before operations ramp up, make sure you review any instructions or requirements from state or local authorities that may be applicable to your business. If reopening, you may want to consider a thorough disinfection of your facility and any tools, vehicles or equipment that are used by your employees. Be sure to include desks, washrooms and break rooms. Product to be delivered may need to be sanitized as well. Consider establishing a program to continue an ongoing cleaning and disinfecting process.
Consider a process for wellness checks and procedures for employees reporting or displaying signs of illness. Work with legal counsel to make sure you are complying with laws and regulations related to employees' health and privacy. Develop social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) policies, taking into consideration state and local public health guidance and overall employee safety.
Consider limiting visitors to your facility.
Driving and Transportation
Just as it is important to disinfect your facility, be sure to clean and disinfect all vehicles. This includes cleaning between shifts and drivers. Make disinfecting supplies available to your drivers and vehicle maintenance staff, and stock these supplies in every vehicle.
Your pool of drivers has likely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. If commercial drivers were furloughed or laid off, review the hiring requirements from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to determine if new applications or drug and alcohol testing are required. Many organizations are revisiting hiring decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure new drivers meet company hiring standards.
Carefully review staffing levels as your operational pace increases. While it may be tempting to try to do more with fewer drivers, over time, fatigued drivers can lead to increased motor vehicle crashes and workplace injuries.
Customer or Delivery Sites
Coordinate safe work practices with your customers before beginning deliveries. Ask about changes to delivery procedures or physical controls at locations where you make deliveries. Work with each customer and supplier to establish a new practice that can help limit contact between delivery employees and customers' employees. For example, delivery employees may need access to a safe waiting area or restrooms within a customer's facility. Also, there will likely be a shift to e-signatures over wet signatures for delivery confirmations. Make sure employees are trained in new delivery practices.
Review routine activities, such as updates to licensing, certification renewals or medical screenings, that may not have been completed as normally required. Revisit any scheduled training or maintenance on vehicles or equipment that may have lapsed.
What did we do before we had backup cameras?
The driver-assist features found in newer cars and trucks often make driving safer, and most of us rely on them every day. But it’s worth remembering: Technology can’t always perform better than your own quick reflexes.
Find out how to make the most of your vehicle’s safety features without letting them lull you into a false sense of security.
Benefits and Limitations
Here are a few features you may be familiar with (along with their limitations):
Regardless of how smart your car seems to be, don’t let go of these essential habits:
While texting may get the most attention, it’s not the only dangerous distraction on the road. Here are other behaviors to avoid:
Check Safety Ratings
When car shopping, search for the year, make and model you’re interested in to review safety ratings. You can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s vehicle ratings.
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
Have you ever looked over a vehicle repair estimate and felt a sinking feeling in your stomach?
Maybe you have reason to believe that something isn’t right, but due to a lack of knowledge, there’s not much you can do about it.
Is it possible to avoid this moment altogether?
There are lots of trustworthy mechanics out there, so you just have to find one. Here are a few tips for connecting with someone reliable.
Ask for Recommendations
While online reviews can be helpful to your decision-making process, they shouldn’t be the only factor. Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbors if they’re happy with their current mechanic.
Check for Certifications
Many reputable mechanics have been certified by particular vehicle manufacturers or the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Ask the shop if they have any certified mechanics on staff and check the website or waiting area for any other licenses or certifications.
Be an Active Participant
Show up informed about the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle as well as any major repairs you’ve already completed. This will help your mechanic be the best possible partner to you. It will also alert you to any red flags, such as a recommendation for a repair that you just had done.
You also want a mechanic who is willing to answer your questions and explain why a repair is needed. The best technicians can also tell you when the repair isn’t urgent but should be completed within a specific timeframe.
Have questions about your insurance coverage? Reach out anytime.
More than 40,000 Americans died on the roads in 2016, the most significant increase in deaths over a two-year period in more than 50 years.1 Whether someone you love has been known to text and drive, or you have found yourself distracted behind the wheel, these tips can help avoid dangerous activity on the road.
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.
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.
Regardless of what’s going on in the world, storm season will continue right on schedule. That means now is the time to prepare your property for potentially severe weather.