Are You Ready for April Showers?

The first quarter of the year has passed, and April has arrived. Even though temperatures are still struggling to get above 50 degrees here in Boston, we are ready to welcome warmer weather. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” meaning that this month has a history of being on the dreary side.

To help you prepare for the rainy weather associated with the month of April, we have amassed an “April Showers” guide for the rain. Here are tips for dealing with downpours and sprinkles alike:

Storm Preparedness

First and foremost, we have some tips about how to get ready for the storms themselves. In case of a severe storm, you should have an emergency kit in your home (and one in each car). Make sure that these kits include a flashlight and extra batteries! Also include nonperishable foods in case of an extended power outage (and make sure that you have a manual can opener in the house).

Make sure that your home is ready to take on a storm by performing some maintenance, including cleaning your gutters and trimming trees around your property. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we deal with a lot of Massachusetts home insurance claims related to broken tree limbs. Taking time ahead of spring and summer storms to prune weak branches could save you a headache in the future.

Gardening

It is still definitely chilly, but those of you with green thumbs may want to start planning out your garden soon so that you’re ready for planting season. Soon it will be time to plant seeds for winter harvest (like squash and potatoes) and even some flower and fruit seeds. Just make sure to wait to plant seedlings until it warms up a bit, otherwise you risk them dying due to frost!

Pest Control

The increased amount of rain in April makes it a perfect atmosphere for bugs and critters. Do your part to prevent mosquitoes by ensuring that your property isn’t a magnet for standing water.

Rain also gives you the perfect opportunity to check for leaks. And any place that water can get into your home, a bug can too! Pay special attention to doors and windows, as that is the most common place for a gap. Also check for small holes around electrical outlets.

If you are having a pest problem, a trained Massachusetts pest control professional can help get the issue under control as quickly as possible.

Plumbing

It may sound silly at first, but all of the excess water falling from the sky can put a strain on your home’s plumbing. This is especially true in Massachusetts, where we also have to deal with the yearly snow melt as Spring temperatures arrive.

Pay special attention to your sump pump (if there is one in your home). It is critical that your sump pump works properly so that excess water doesn’t cause mold and mildew, or worse, a flood! Test to ensure that it is working by pouring water into the pit and waiting for the motor to start. Watch to see it pump water out and away from your home. You should also ensure that the pump is free of leaves and debris.

Driving and Vehicle Tips

Some people like the dreariness of rain, and it is relaxing if you’re trying to sleep or want to cozy up and read a good book. On the other hand, though, rain can create treacherous driving conditions. This makes it so important to make sure that your car can handle slick roads – after all, there are over 1 million weather-related vehicle crashes every year, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Before you drive in the rain, be sure that your tires are ready for the wet roads. They should be properly inflated according to the specifications in your car owner’s manual. The tread on your tires and your car’s brakes should also be checked.

When you are behind the wheel in the rain, you should increase the distance between you and the car that you are following, turn on your car’s headlights (it’s the law in Massachusetts!), and know how to handle your vehicle if you start to hydroplane.

Rain Gear

At some point in the next month or so, you are probably going to get caught in the rain. Now is the perfect time to make sure that you are ready when that moment arrives. After all, you don’t want to be running through a rainstorm thinking, “I should have bought that raincoat!”

A raincoat is a perfect place to start when it comes to buying gear. You should also have some waterproof boots and even a hat (otherwise make sure that your jacket has a hood). Everyone also should plan to have a few umbrellas. One for your home, one for your vehicle, and maybe even an extra for your workplace.

Hopefully this blog has helped you prepare for the rain-filled Spring months ahead. If you want, tell us about some of your favorite Spring activities on our Facebook page. And make sure to stay tuned to the blog for more insurance tips and tricks.

Avoiding (and Treating) Frozen Pipes

You turn on the water on a frigid morning, and… nothing. You know immediately that it’s frozen, and a sense of dread overwhelms you – and for good reason. Frozen pipes may sound harmless, but they can cause a lot of damage to a home’s plumbing. Water expands and contracts as it freezes and thaws, and doing this inside your pipes can cause breakage, leading to water damage.

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

If you haven’t already, make sure that all of your outdoor pipes (over-ground sprinklers, pool lines, even garden hoses) are drained and stored. Ensure that the inside of your home is warm enough that water in the pipes stays liquid, and on especially frigid nights open cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms to let the heat circulate. Let faucets drip to ensure that water keeps moving through the pipes. Pipe insulation can also be useful for tricky exposed pipes.

Treating Frozen Pipes

Frozen water in your pipes is not something you want to ignore. Turn off your home’s main water line immediately in order to prevent additional water from flowing in and causing a flood. Once the water is off, call in a licensed plumbing professional to help with thawing the pipes safely and checking for any burst pipes.

If you are unlucky enough to be affected by frozen pipes, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency – we can help you start a claim on your homeowner’s insurance and will get you on the road to being good as new. During regular business hours, call 617-298-0655. Outside of those hours, you can call our 24/7 emergency line at 617-322-5289.

“Change is hard, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”

“Change is hard, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”
-Robin Sharma

Change is hard. I know this for a fact, as I’m experiencing it right now!

Picture this…I’m sitting in my house right now instead of sitting in traffic like I’ve done for 37 years.

As you probably know from my online posts, Kathy and I moved from our Stoughton home of 33 years to Dorchester Lower Mills, just around the corner from the Vargas and Vargas office. Believe me, this change has not been easy all the time, but change never is – even when we know it is the right thing to do.

One of the upsides of our move has been that we now spend less time in traffic, and have more time together, more time to get regular exercise, and more time in the wonderful community of Dorchester.

Recently, Vargas and Vargas has also made some changes. We have updated our client management system and our website (you can now send us a TEXT to our agency 617-213-2820 and much more to come, stay tuned) to help customers and friends like you contact our trusted referral partners!

We’ve always had a partners page on our site, but we hope that this will be a resource for you and anyone you know that is looking for any of the following professionals:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Contractor
  • Electrician
  • Estate Planner
  • Financial Advisor
  • Home Inspector
  • Loan Officer
  • Plumber
  • Realtor®
  • And More!

(Send me a message and I can let you know how you be on our partner’s list)

And while you are visiting our new website, don’t forget to check out our blog. It is always being updated with insurance tips, helpful advice, and much more.

How to Start Recycling – We Can Help!
Auto Insurance Q&A: Borrowing the Car
Best and Worst Places to Store Your Wedding Rings
Building Permits for Residential Renovations

So what does our change of address have to do with making you more money?

Many professionals start their businesses filled with excitement and passion for their new venture, but quickly realize that building a brand is hard work! Once that realization sets in and business problems begin to surface, it is very easy to get disgruntled and lose your motivation for what you originally set out to accomplish.

In the beginning, your passion creates energy that keeps you moving forward, builds excitement for the next project, and helps overcome fears and obstacles. However, maintaining that passion can be difficult as time goes on, and you might find yourself in a “rut,” or longing to reconnect with the spark that once drove your business. Whether this longing resonates with you currently or you’re teetering back and forth on the fence of business growth, it’s imperative to implement 6 practices into your business to regain focus and reignite your flame! We’ll cover the first 3 this week, so stay tuned for next week’s insider to tie all 6 together!

1. Stay focused on your core business – There are a million money making ideas out there that can distract you from what your core business is all about. If you can’t draw a direct connection from a new loan or listing to your new venture, scrap it! It will only distract you from making money and growing your business.

2. Take inspiration from SUCCESSFUL professionals – Surround yourself with positive individuals who have achieved success and are passionate about what they do. They’ll motivate, excite and remind you of why you’re in business. The right individuals will build you up with a “can do” attitude, and offer you proven methods of achieving your goals.

3. Manage your time effectively – Unfortunately, if you don’t set aside time to do important tasks like following up with new clients and building referral relationships (making FROG calls), phone calls and emails can keep you busy all day long! Make sure that you schedule time in your day that’s committed to taking care of the fundamentals of business development which make you money and keep you excited! If you need assistance with time blocking, I can help!

And know that you are LOVED!

Carlos