Recap: Sun Safety

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

Did you catch our blog post last week about how to stay safe while enjoying the sunshine? As you enjoy the lovely Boston weather, remember that it is important to keep yourself and your family safe from the potentially harmful rays of the sun.

  • If you’re going to be exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes, make sure to wear sunscreen and reapply it as directed for continued protection.
  • Even though you’re wearing sunscreen, it’s important to protect yourself when you’re in the sun by wearing clothing, hats, and sunglasses to cover your skin. Also take plenty of breaks in the shade and stay hydrated.
  • Know the early signs of skin cancer including the ABCDE rule and see a medical professional if you see any of abnormalities on your body. Also have a doctor check your moles and skin abnormalities annually as a preventative measure.

Make sure that you’re always able to put your health first with the right health insurance policy. To speak to one of our agents about your health insurance needs, just call 617-298-0655. We can help guide you through the sometimes confusing jargon and get a policy that is right for you and your loved ones.

Fun in the Sun: Health Safety Tips

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we want to make sure that our clients and friends make the most of the city that we live in while also being as safe as possible. After all, our number one goal is to make sure that you are protected, both through insurance and otherwise. Nowadays, many of you will be spending time outdoors with your families and friends, so we have gathered some tips to help you practice sun safety. Fun in the sun is great, but we want to make sure that it doesn’t haunt you later in life.

The Importance of Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Using sunscreen when you’re at the beach or the pool (or any day that you’re going to be spending more than a few minutes outdoors) can help prevent certain types of skin cancer.

When choosing a sunscreen, make sure that you take note of their SPF – Sun Protection Factor. The SPF measures the fraction of UV rays that reach the skin, so in SPF 25 sunblock, 1/25 (4%) of UV rays reach the skin. When wearing sunscreen, it is important to reapply the lotion or spray as directed, typically every two hours.

When You’re in the Sun

In addition to applying sunscreen, there are other things that you should do when spending time outdoors to ensure that you stay healthy and protect your skin:

  • Sunblock is effective against the sun’s harmful rays but cannot protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block UV light whenever you are outside, including in the car.
  • Your face is hard to fully protect with sunscreen, so consider adding an extra layer of protection with a hat. Make sure to choose something with a brim that blocks the sun from your face.
  • The best way to protect skin from the sun is to cover it. It may seem illogical in the heat but covering up with a shirt and pants can prevent sunburn.
  • When you are spending the day outside (whether at the beach, pool, park, or otherwise) take regular breaks in the shade to cool down. Also try to avoid the time of day when the sun is strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • When you and your family are out playing in the outdoors, make sure that you stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink, but it’s imperative – especially in warmer temperatures.

Follow these tips and you will be much less likely to suffer from a sunburn. Unfortunately burns will still occasionally happen. If they do, continue reading to find out what you can do to treat a sunburn.

Treating Sunburns

If you or a loved one is afflicted with a sunburn, there are a few things that you can do to help. Apply a cool wet compress to the affected area or take a cool bath. Aloe vera gel is helpful and is available in most drugstores. Taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help.

To relieve itching, use moisturizing cream or hydrocortisone cream. If a sunburn blisters do not scratch or pick at them – it could cause the blister to get infected. For serious burns, or if you suspect infection see a doctor right away.

Early Signs of Skin Cancer

Checking yourself for potential signs of skin cancer only takes a few minutes, and it is very easy. Every month, look at your entire body (you will need a mirror) and notice your moles – you are looking for the “ABCDE”s, as follows:

  • A – Asymmetry: Moles should be symmetrical. If you were to draw a line down the middle and the sides wouldn’t match, that could be a red flag.
  • B – Border: “Good” moles usually have smooth and even borders. If you spot a mole with an uneven border, have it checked.
  • C – Color: Moles with a variety of colors can be a warning sign: healthy moles are often one even color, specifically a shade of tan, brown, or black. Moles that are white, red, or blue should also be checked.
  • D – Diameter: Nearly everyone has small moles, but larger moles might cause an issue. Moles larger than ¼ inch in diameter (about the size of a standard pencil’s eraser) might be malignant.
  • E – Evolution: If a mole changes in any way, have it looked at by a doctor. This could be a change in size or color, or a mole that starts to bleed or itch.

Also look for “Ugly Ducklings,” the name given to moles that don’t fit in with their surrounding skin and markings.

Every member of your family should do this. Make sure that you help younger children and teach them about the importance of proper skin care. If you notice any abnormalities, talk to a doctor right away.

For more tips to ensure that your fun time is both enjoyable and safe, stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog. We love to share useful tips and insurance content that will keep you coming back for more. We also want you to know that our agents are always available to help you with your Massachusetts insurance needs. Just call 617-298-0655 the next time you have a question or need an insurance quote for your home, car, business, and more.

Recap: Bicycle Safety

Did you see our post from last week about how bicycles are an increasingly popular form of transportation here in Massachusetts? As Spring arrives and you brush the snow off of your bike, make sure to consider these tips from your favorite local insurance agency:

  • Ensure that you are visible when you ride, especially at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, don’t wear headphones while cycling.
  • Know the rules of the road before you take your bike out for a spin.
  • Secure your bike when you’re not riding it – always have it locked in a garage or with a U-lock.
  • Avoid being targeted by thieves; vary the location where you lock up your bike.
  • List your bike and its accessories on your home inventory for insurance purposes.
  • Sign up for the National Bike Registry.

Not sure if biking is right for you? Boston has a bike rental program called Hubway where you can rent a bike for a day or get an annual pass for unlimited rentals.

If you have any questions or concerns about insuring your bicycle or its accessories, just talk to a Massachusetts insurance expert at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We are available from Monday-Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm by phone at 617-298-0655 or come visit us in person at our office in Dorchester or Stoughton.

Do You Wear a Fitness Tracker?

When we turn the page on a new year, many people set fitness goals. They want to lose weight, or just get more active. Having a goal is great, but often that’s not enough motivation to get moving. For many people that need a little extra push, a fitness tracker has been the key to getting focused and motivated. Wearing a fitness tracker has many benefits, including:

Accountability: One of the most important parts of setting a goal is to make sure that it is measurable. “Be more active” is a great place to start, but you’ll be more successful if you use your fitness tracker to set a specific step goal, such as “Get 10,000 steps three times a week” or “Get no less than 6,000 steps a day.”

Social Motivation: Fitness trackers are becoming ubiquitous. Almost everyone seems to have a wrist tracker or an app on their smartphone that’s tracking their steps. Leverage this by becoming ‘friends’ with people you know on your tracking platform. Seeing their progress may spur you to ‘step up’ your game!

Lowering Insurance Rates: Did you know that some health insurance providers will offer discounts to clients that share their fitness tracker data with the company? Ask your Massachusetts insurance agent if you’re eligible for this discount!

Are you using a fitness tracker to be more active this year? We would love to hear about the tools you’re using to meet your goals. And if one of your goals is to save money, let Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency help – with one call to 617-298-0655 we can review your Massachusetts insurance policies to find you savings!

A Guide to 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of a new year, there is a huge push for people to set resolutions – to improve themselves or their business, and to get a fresh start on their goals. If you haven’t set a goal for this year, it’s not too late. Don’t shy away from setting goals – it’s an important part of being successful!

There must be something in your life that you want to improve, and studies show that setting a SMART goal will help you achieve your goals faster. Here are just a few ideas of areas that you may want to consider making a resolution:

  • Health – You only get one shot at this crazy life. In order to make the most of it, you need to take care of your body and mind.
  • Recreation – Do something fun this year! You may want one of your 2018 goals to involve scratching something off of your proverbial ‘bucket list.’
  • Social – The connections that you make throughout your life are important. Whether you want to meet more people or bond more with the people you already know, make a social goal.
  • Family – When it comes to the people that you care about, there are many different ways to show love. Which of these could you improve upon?
  • Career – Career goals are very common. Aim high, and take small steps every day that will get you closer to achieving your resolution.
  • Finance – To better yourself financially, you can aim to earn more or to spend less. Lots of people aim to put more money into savings, or pay off debt.

If you have a goal to protect your loved ones or to save some money this year, let Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency help! Call 617-298-0655 and we can review your insurance policies to make sure that you’re getting the right protection at a low price. Our Massachusetts insurance agents are looking forward to helping you achieve your goals!

An Easy Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

In the winter, a lot of activities and gatherings center around a delicious (and calorie-filled) meal. If you’re looking to make it through the rest of the year without padding your waistline, we have a few simple tips for you!

Practice portion control: It’s easy to mindlessly nibble all winter long, but the calories just aren’t worth it. When you’re ready to eat, make yourself a small plate, and wait a while before you think about going for seconds.

Enjoy your treats: Sure, desserts are delicious – but you don’t have to eat a lot to enjoy yourself. Have one small piece of the things that look good and enjoy them without going overboard.

Be more active: Ok, this one isn’t an eating tip, but you won’t have to feel as guilty about holiday calories if you burn a few extra taking a walk or having a snowball fight!

At the end of the day, you have to remember that it’s all about calories. You can have a little bit of just about anything – but moderation is key. So, feel free to have a cookie or two (but not a whole plateful), and opt for the smaller mug of cocoa with a few marshmallows.

And when the celebrating is over, and the holidays have passed, remember to catch up with your favorite Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent for your annual insurance review. One quick call to 617-298-0655 will help ensure that you’re ready to take on 2018!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Did you know that November is American Diabetes Month? Diabetes is a group of diseases indicated by insulin deficiencies or improper reactions to insulin in the body, and result in having too much sugar in the blood. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and many more will develop the condition in their lifetime.

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to lessen the likelihood of being affected by type 2 diabetes:

  • Make healthier choices when you eat. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and cut back on foods high in fat and added sugar. Also decrease your calorie consumption by having smaller portions.
  • Take small steps to be more physically active. Go for short walks a few times every week, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Your goal should be to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight (find your ideal weight with BMI calculations).
  • Quit smoking.

If you take just a few of these steps, you will notice your overall health improve. Your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose should be better, and you will be at a much lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke.

Another very important part of making sure that you stay healthy is seeing your doctor regularly. Make sure that you encourage your family and friends to use their Massachusetts health insurance policies to see their primary care physician regularly, as catching symptoms of diabetes early is crucial. For more health insurance information, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Three Common Myths about Flu Vaccines

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Many people want an excuse to not have to get poked with a needle, but getting a flu shot is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the fall and winter. In this post, we want to clear up a few of the common misconceptions around the flu shot:

Myth 1: The Flu Vaccine can give you the flu.

While it is true that some flu shots are made with an ‘inactivated’ flu virus, it has been scientifically proven that these shots can’t make you sick.

Myth 2: It’s better to risk getting the flu than to get the vaccine.

Some people would rather take their chances, and some will say “I’ve never gotten the shot, and I’ve never gotten sick.” But it’s not worth the risk – the flu can be very serious in some cases, and can on occasion result in complications. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age receive the vaccine.

Myth 3: You don’t need to get the vaccine every year.

Just getting one shot isn’t enough to keep you protected against the flu virus. The protection that the vaccine offers wanes over time, so you need to get a vaccine every fall in order to maintain maximum defense against the flu.

Make sure that you use your Massachusetts health insurance when you get your flu vaccine – many insurance providers will cover part or all of the cost of the vaccine. And if you have any questions about your health insurance policy, you can always reach out to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Four Tips for a Healthier Autumn

Temperatures are slowly dropping here in Massachusetts. As you prepare for the leaves to change (and eagerly await your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year) make sure that your focus stays on being at your best. One of the most important ways to stay at your peak is to stay healthy. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy in the Fall months:

  1. Don’t Skip the Flu Shot: No one wants to get the flu, so prevent it with a flu shot (if you are eligible). Also do your best to avoid getting a cold by keeping your hands clean, among other preventative techniques.
  2. Embrace a Pumpkin Diet: In addition to being a great decorating item, pumpkins are a great food! They are high in vitamins A and C, and the seeds are a great healthy snack when roasted.
  3. Enjoy the Weather: Fall is the perfect time to get outside and exercise. Winter’s harsh cold will be here before you know it, so don’t squander this perfectly crisp and cool weather.
  4. Plan Ahead for Holidays: It’s never too early to start making plans for Thanksgiving. If you’re hosting friends and family, make sure that there are plenty of healthy options on the table.

For more great tips on how to be at your best, stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog. And remember, our agents are here to help with all of your Massachusetts insurance needs – just call 617-298-0655 with your insurance questions, and let us know if you would like a quote!

How to Make the Most of an Afternoon Nap

It is truly unfortunate that napping is associated with laziness in today’s society. In truth, there are many benefits to polyphasic sleep, including lower stress levels and increased mood. Whether you need an emergency nap on a busy day, or you make it a point to get a snooze in every day, ensure that you get the most out of your afternoon siesta with the following tips:

  • Limit your nap to 20-30 minutes. This length has been proven to increase alertness without inducing grogginess or sleep inertia.
  • Choose your environment wisely – a nap while riding the T will never be as restful as one on a quiet couch or bed.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep for a nap, try using meditation techniques like breathing exercises to calm your mind.
  • Combine the benefits of napping and caffeine by having a coffee right before a short nap. When you wake up, you should be feeling the effects of both for a double boost!
  • Lavender is a scent that naturally lowers heart rate and blood pressure, so it can help you relax before you attempt to drift off.

Once you awaken from your nap, you will be more alert and ready to take on any task. Similarly, here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency we are ready to help you with all of your insurance needs! Call 617-298-0655 to speak to one of our agents about a free and no-obligation review of all of your insurance policies – we can make sure that you are fully covered and that you’re not overpaying for your policies. Sweet dreams!