Protect Your Family from Mold

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Mold exists everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. We are exposed to mold daily, and it is

virtually impossible to live in a completely mold-free setting. However, it is the prolonged and excessive exposure to mold that can lead to serious health issues. Exposure to mold can cause skin irritations and rashes.  Some people will also begin to experience chronic respiratory problems, difficulty breathing, blurry vision, runny noses and irritable throat problems. More severe allergic symptoms include headaches, fever, headaches, vomiting and dizziness. Mold releases toxic spores into the air which, when ingested, can exacerbate existing allergies or respiratory conditions.  Some forms of mold can attack your immune system and potentially damage your liver, blood and kidneys and even your brain.  Mold has even caused death, infecting infants’ lungs and causing respiratory bleeding. Children, the elderly and generally anyone with a lower immune system are at higher risks of health problems from mold.

 

Mold is a silent offender that is not easily noticed in your home. One reason is that it is often lurking out of plain sight.Mold can be hidden underneath the floors, in the walls, behind the ceiling, or lurking deep in the carpeting. It is not until you smell that pungent musty odor of mold that you realize there is a problem, and by then it will have already spread and done significant damage.

 

However, there are some preventive measures that can be made to prevent this from happening. Be aware the level of moisture present in your home.  Mold needs moisture and dampness to survive. This can be flooding in your house but mold can also occur as a result of less dramatic events such as overflowed drains/toilets, through chimneys, or even poorly ventilated showers. The best way to prevent mold is to make sure that all sources of moisture—leaking pipes, clogged gutters, cracked bathroom tiles etc.—are taken care of accordingly. Install ventilation fans in bathrooms to handle excess steam and moisture created while showering. If your basement tends to be damp, invest in a dehumidifier to help pull excess moisture out of the air.

 

Despite all of your efforts if you do encounter mold in your home, don’t try to rectify the problem yourself. Without experience, you could aggravate the mold, causing it to release even more dangerous toxins in the air. Instead, call a professional certified water damage and restoration company to help you eradicate mold and make your home a cleaner, safer place. 

 

Vargas & Vargas Insurance  is committed to helping you and your family. Questions about if your home is covered in the case of a flooding?Call us today at 877-550-0025.

Getting your Fireplace or Wood Stove Ready

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When there is a chill in the air is there anyone that doesn’t enjoy a blazing and crackling fire to warm their home? Be it,fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove there is something so cozy and inviting about a fire. But to ensure a safe experience it is important to have all your chimney components evaluated and cleaned on a yearly basis or after burning a cord of wood, whichever comes first.

Fires built in fireplaces or wood stoves leave a gummy residue, called creosote, which can stick to the lining of your chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood, pellets, or coal and is created by soot, smoke,gases and other particles. When you burn wood to produce heat, gasses are produced that do not efficiently burn away .These gases now condense into liquid form. The liquid sticks to the inside of your chimney walls and/or liner. Over time it dries in the form of creosote. Insidiously, it continues to build up, layering on like a stalagmite, on the surface of your chimney liner or your flue tile every single time you and your family enjoy a fire. This is a highly flammable substance that can quickly erupt into a blazing chimney fire if subjected to a high enough temperature. That is why it must be removed periodically.

Hiring a chimney sweep is the traditional way to clean the inner surface and restore safety to the home. Chimney sweeps are trained to determine whether chimneys are structurally sound and whether they need to be cleaned. They will make sure the chimney is up to code, especially important in older houses, and make sure there are any birds or animals in the chimney, or anything that would block the flow of smoke. They also check that there’s no water coming into your home. 

How Do I Prevent Creosote Build-up?

There are steps you can take at home to reduce creosote buildup and the risk of a chimney fire.  Foremost is picking dry wood to burn. Dry wood will appear gray on the surface and have cracks on the end. Don’t throw pizza boxes or other trash in the fireplace because it causes a thicker smoke, which lowers the temperature in the chimney. While many people use a newspaper to start a fire, it is recommended that a fire log or fire starter should be used instead. Reduce the risk of a spark flying out o the fireplace, use a screen and stay in the room while the fire is burning. Also install and or check existing smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers to ensure all are in working order.

Chimney maintenance is a priority for your property, as harmful gases can build up inside the flue. Lethal carbon monoxide also builds up inside the flue, and if there’s damage to the inside of your chimney, this can seep in to your home.Have you chimney checked by a qualified tradesman regularly to ensure your family’s safety.

For information on ensuring your home is covered in case of a chimney fire, contact Vargas & Vargas at877.550.0025

Bushels of Fun

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New England’s apple orchards today would have made Johnny Appleseed proud.  While 2,500 varieties of the King of Fruit are grown throughout the U.S., more than 50 of them come from our very own backyards.  Additionally, the Fruit Grower News reports that this year’s apple crop will be over 200 million bushels!  

Picking apples:

Know which apples are ripe.  Apples that are ready to be picked will be crisp and firm.  Also, apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards its center. 

Red Delicious apples are the first type to ripen.  You can tell one is ripe when the center closet to the stem is green and no longer yellow.  Also, it is a good idea to leave the stem on the apples; it helps them stay fresh longer!

Place them gently into the basket.  You do not want your apples getting bruised.  It makes them go bad more quickly.

Storing apples:

Keep them in a cool place.  While a cold basement is ideal, a refrigerator’s fruit/vegetable drawer works well, too.  Most apples can last for several weeks, but their shelf life can vary based upon their kind and how ripe they were when picked.

Wait to wash apples until just before you eat them.  This will help them stay fresh longer.

Eating apples:

From apple strudel and apple crisp, to, of course, homemade apple pie, apples are arguably Americans’ favorite comfort food.  Food Network is a great resource for lots of tasty (and healthy) apple recipes.

So, where should you go to pick your bushels of apples this season?  

Apple Picking Boston provides maps, addresses and websites to apple orchards throughout Boston, Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.  Additionally, Yankee Magazine ranks some of the region’s best orchards.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance cares about protecting the community and its people every season of the year.  Call and speak with one of their friendly agents today at 877-550-0025 to learn more about how they can help you get the coverage you deserve at a price you can afford.  

 

Earthquake Hits Massachusetts!

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We usually worry more about hurricanes than we do earthquakes here in New England.  But just this month, two small earthquakes were recorded off the coast by experts at Boston College’s Weston observatory. In fact, during an average year, 30 to 40 earthquakes strike New England, with a major earthquake striking New England every 500 to 900 years, bookmakers would say the odds of one happening tomorrow are 1 in 255,500. That’s better than the odds of being hit by lightning this year, 1 in 700,000, or of getting a royal flush in a game of five-card stud, 1 in 649,740.

So how much does a basic homeowner’s policy cover should you become a victim of an earthquake?  Well, the truth is your Massachusetts homeowner’s policy  does not cover what is referred to as “Acts of God”, which include earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or any other natural disaster.  On August 23, 2011 a 5.8 earthquake struck the Washington, D.C. area and many homeowner’s found that the unusual incident was not covered by their insurance policies. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the August 23, 2011 earthquake may have caused $200 million to $300 million in damage across the East Coast.

Does this mean that you will be left to pay out-of-pocket costs in the event that your home is damaged by an earthquake? The good news is no! You need not be financially burdened with potentially overwhelming costs of post earthquake damages. Provided you purchase a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover you.  It’s actually not very expensive to buy a rider to your existing coverage. In many cases, the cost may only be $100 – $200.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we want to help keep you informed and aware of the importance of Earthquake Insurance and the risks of not having such a policy. Contact us today to find out more!

Strip Down and Protect Your Asset!

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Your vehicle is essential to your daily life; you use it to get to work or school, you use it to run errands, and to take you to social events. Your car is a valuable asset; you would be lost without it, your freedom of movement tethered. That is why Vargas & Vargas wants to help you do everything in your power to protect it.  However, you may not be aware that you have a few habits that could be damaging your vehicle.

Here are a few simple ways to protect your car from wear and tear:

Strip Down!  
Keep your key chain to the essentials- the weight of a heavy key chain can actually pull on your ignition and cause problems with start up? So, get rid of old keys and heavy decorative additions to your key chain and strip down to contribute to your car’s longevity.

Lose the Junk in Your Trunk!  
Avoid the pitfall of throwing things into your trunk and forgetting about them. That extra weight of a full trunk drags on your car wearing it down and costing you more money in gas. At the end of the day, take a look inside the vehicle and in the trunk be sure you aren’t carrying around unnecessary weight.

Stay Hydrated!
We have all done it…waited till you are riding into gas station on fumes.  But it’s important to make the effort to stop and fill up BEFORE you see the fuel gauge on “E”! Letting your car run on empty can cause damage to your engine over time.

Handle with Care!
Treat your care with a little T.L.C.-Change gears with care. Hastily slamming your car into park or into reverse without coming to a complete stop is detrimental to your transmission. Be sure to come to a complete stop before shifting gears and your car and its passengers will thank you!

Be Prepared!
Be prepared and ensure that you are properly insured with a Massachusetts Auto Insurance policy. No matter how well you take care of your vehicle, the only thing that will protect you from the unexpected is your Massachusetts car insurance. Protect yourself, your car, and your passengers by consulting your MA Insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage.

Follow these few simple guideline and you and your vehicle will live happily ever after!  For more information on MA Auto Insurance contact us at 1-877-550-0025! Vargas & Vargas Insurance can tailor an auto insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage that fits your budget.

 

September is Apple Month!

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September has been declared “Apple Month” by Governor Deval Patrick and the state legislature.  September sis also the month that Apple is expected to launch the iPhone5…so to honor both the apple and Apple we have compiled some Fun Facts you may not know about apples and Apple Inc!  

1.    Although apples are thought of as “All American”, apples originated in central Asia, on the land between the Caspian and Black Seas.

2.    Apple was founded as a partnership on April Fool’s Day 1976 by three people who originally worked at Atari: Steven Gary Wozniak (1950- ), Steven Paul Jobs (1955-2011), and Ronald Gerald Wayne (1934- ). Apple was incorporated on January 3, 1977, without Wayne, who sold his shares back for $800.

3.    It was the Pilgrims that planted the first apple trees in the United States and since then it has become the second most productive fruit in the United States and is grown in all 50 states! Prior to that the crabapple was the only apple native to North America.

4.    Contrary to popular belief Apple Computers didn’t start in a garage, it started in a bedroom in Los Altos.

5.    In colonial time, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.

6.    Apple-1 with the tagline ‘Byte into an Apple’ was the first personal computer to be released by Apple which was designed and hand built by Wozniak. It was sold for $666.66.

7.    Johnny Appleseed was the nickname for John Chapman, a kind and generous American pioneer born in 1774 who planted apple seeds in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

8.    The very first Apple logo was designed by Ronald Wayne and depicts Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree when he discovered gravity by an apple falling on his head; it has a poem all around its border. (Newton… a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought.) The logo was redesigned in 1977 by Ron Janoff to the bitten apple logo we know today.

9.    Apples were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C.

10.    Steve Jobs also created a company called ‘Pixar’ which was later bought by Disney, making him the largest individual shareholder of Disney.

11.    The largest apple picked weighed three pounds.

12.    Before coming up with the name iPod, Steve had already decided its tagline as “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

13.    Apples are a member of the rose family and 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.

14.    The name “Macintosh” was inspired by a sticker on an apple.

15.    Contrary to popular belief, there is no mention of an apple as the forbidden fruit in the Bible. It is referred to as “fruit from the Tree of Knowledge” with no specification as to which kind of fruit. It was Hugo Van Der Goes who first implicated the apple as the forbidden fruit in his 1470 A.D. painting, The Fall of Man. After that, it became popular to depict the apple as the forbidden fruit.

16.    Steve Jobs dropped out of College after one semester.

17.    Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each and it takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

18.    To raise capital for their new company, Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and Steve Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator for $500.

19.    The old saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread.

20.    Apple stores each sell an average of $93,150 worth of products every day, which is equivalent to $3,900 an hour or $65 a minute every day of the year.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance hopes you enjoyed this fun little comparison of Apples to Apple in honor of September “Apple Month”!

Protect Your Family from Mold

mold silent killer.jpg

Mold exists everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. We are exposed to mold daily, and it is virtually impossible to live in a completely mold-free setting. However, it is the prolonged and excessive exposure to mold that can lead to serious health issues. Exposure to mold can cause skin irritations and rashes.  Some people will also begin to experience chronic respiratory problems, difficulty breathing, blurry vision, runny noses and irritable throat problems. More severe allergic symptoms include headaches, fever, headaches, vomiting and dizziness. Mold releases toxic spores into the air which, when ingested, can exacerbate existing allergies or respiratory conditions.  Some forms of mold can attack your immune system and potentially damage your liver, blood and kidneys and even your brain.  Mold has even caused death, infecting infants’ lungs and causing respiratory bleeding. Children, the elderly and generally anyone with a lower immune system are at higher risks of health problems from mold.

 

Mold is a silent offender that is not easily noticed in your home. One reason is that it is often lurking out of plain sight.Mold can be hidden underneath the floors, in the walls, behind the ceiling, or lurking deep in the carpeting. It is not until you smell that pungent musty odor of mold that you realize there is a problem, and by then it will have already spread and done significant damage.

 

However, there are some preventive measures that can be made to prevent this from happening. Be aware the level of moisture present in your home.  Mold needs moisture and dampness to survive. This can be flooding in your house but mold can also occur as a result of less dramatic events such as overflowed drains/toilets, through chimneys, or even poorly ventilated showers. The best way to prevent mold is to make sure that all sources of moisture—leaking pipes, clogged gutters, cracked bathroom tiles etc.—are taken care of accordingly. Install ventilation fans in bathrooms to handle excess steam and moisture created while showering. If your basement tends to be damp, invest in a dehumidifier to help pull excess moisture out of the air.

 

Despite all of your efforts if you do encounter mold in your home, don’t try to rectify the problem yourself. Without experience, you could aggravate the mold, causing it to release even more dangerous toxins in the air. Instead, call a professional certified water damage and restoration company to help you eradicate mold and make your home a cleaner, safer place.  


Vargas & Vargas Insurance  is committed to helping you and your family. Questions about if your home is covered in the case of a flooding?Call us today at 877-550-0025.

 

Green & Lean Coffee Beans?

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Everyone from the ABC News to Dr. Oz is talking about this new “magical” supplement. Green coffee beans are basically unroasted coffee beans that are ground up and used in dietary powders, or made into an extract both of which are sold on the open market as health supplements.

The excitement surrounding green coffee bean extract comes from a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania that revealed that participants given green bean coffee extract lost an average of 17 pounds, and a 16Þcrease in their body fat. Researchers also found participants were able to lose weight, even despite the fact that they did little exercise, and ate more than normal. The participants of the study consumed on average about 2,400calories daily and in their exercise routines burned roughly 400 calories.

Apparently, coffee beans have a lot of chlorogenic acid, a compound that is known to help boost the body’s metabolic function. Once the beans were roasted the concentration of chlorogenic acid dissipates. Scientists also speculate green coffee bean extract may assist the liver to halt the absorption of fat. This not only aids in weight loss, but also reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and improving circulation.

As is the promise of all these benefits is not enough, that participants have no reported side effects. Thus, the “Green Lean Coffee Beans” have become a hot topic of discussion.  

So, next time you walk into your local coffee shop…you’ll have to consider if want your coffee Hot, Iced, or Green?

Vargas & Vargas Insurance is
dedicated to helping Massachusetts’ communities. For questions regarding
home, auto, life insurance and more, call one of our agents today at
877-550-0025.

Know what Your Homeowners Policy Covers

It’s a good idea to check exactly what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. As they say, the devil is in the detail, and this can be especially true when it comes to insurance. It might be a pain to do, but reading the fine print of your policy might turn up some surprises.

For example, should you suffer a prolonged power outage, your homeowners’ insurance might reimburse you for spoiled food in your freezer. In addition, should your Massachusetts home be destroyed in a fire, your insurance company might pay for your home to be rebuilt to comply with the most recent building codes in your area. It might even cover the cost of living in a hotel while repairs are being done to your home. Not all policies are the same, which is why it is important to check.

You might be surprised to find that when your 18-year-old heads off to college, your homeowner’s insurance policy might include limited coverage for the contents of your teenager’s dorm room on campus.  The best way to find out about all the unusual things your homeowners’ insurance covers is to carefully review your policies with your agent.

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