So You Need (or Want) to Take a Defensive Driving Course

Whether you were caught speeding (or worse), you’re looking for a discount on your car insurance, or you simply want to be a better driver, there are a wide range of defensive driving and driver improvement courses available here in Rosemount and the Twin Cities metro these days and many can be done virtually!

But, which is right for you? Here are five tips to help you decide:

1. Check with your state or municipality. If you’re taking training to avoid a traffic infraction, not just any course will do. You’ll need to take an approved course – ask for a list before signing up.

2. Check with your insurer. The same goes if you’d like to potentially save on your car insurance. Your carrier may only offer a car insurance discount for completing certain courses. Also ask how much your discount will be — this will help when it comes time to choose a course.

3. Choose the type of course. There are online and classroom options, typically ranging from 4-12 hours depending on the course material. And, there are advantages to each. Online courses offer convenience (and sometimes a lower cost), while in-person settings can provide more interaction.

4. Determine how much you want to spend. If you’re trying to avoid a ticket (and a potential increase in your insurance premiums), the cost might not be much of an issue. If you’re taking a course to receive an insurance discount, however, make sure the total discount you’ll receive is greater than the cost of the course.

5. Check out the reviews. Online review sites, such as Yelp, can show you what others thought of a course. Keep in mind, people who felt “forced” to take a course might have a biased opinion, especially compared to someone who took the course willingly. No matter why you’re considering a defensive driving course, we’re happy to help you weigh the pros and cons. The biggest pro being, once you complete your training, you’re likely to be a little more careful the next time you get behind the wheel. And, that always pays off!

Here in Minnesota, St. Cloud State University offers some great in person and virtual class options. You can check them out here: https://www.stcloudstate.edu/continuingstudies/mhsrc/55-plus/classroom.aspx

Once you’ve completed your course, don’t forget to let us know so we can be sure to add it to your policy for your discount!

After School Safety Tips for Parents & Kids

This week marks the week that all the kids and teachers head back to school here in Rosemount, MN! You’ve likely already reviewed the basic safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school.

Those tips, of course, are:

  • Walk with a buddy
  • Stay in well-lit areas
  • Never accept a ride with strangers
  • Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in

However, Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges you not to overestimate your kids’ safety smarts. Kids under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says.

She suggests teaching them: “Stop. Left. Right. Left.” Meaning that children should, “stop at the curb, look left, right, then left again before crossing, and keep looking as they cross.”

Another thing kids need to know, says Borba, is how to ask for help. Have kids practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance, she says.

Once home, kids will likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too.

Staying Safe Online

Here at the office, we have middle school and high school kids at our homes. So, staying safe online is a top priority in our personal households.

Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff, author of Wit’s End and Google Bomb, says that, “we need to put parental controls/security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.” 

Teach kids about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online. And about using social media responsibly.

While online, it’s best for kids – and adults – to converse and connect only with people they truly know and trust, to keep their social accounts private and to still be cautious even then. After all, photos and information that go online today will still be there years later, when kids apply for college scholarships and jobs.

Above all, stay involved in your kids’ digital lives. Let them know you’re there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear having their Internet removed if they tell their parents they are being bullied online,” she says.

So keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.

We hope your new school year is off to a fantastic start!

When water goes where it shouldn’t!

Even a small leak can become a major problem, so knowing what you’re covered for and how to prevent water damage are equally important. The below tips should help uncover any potential water problems down the road and keep your property dry.

  • Check appliance hoses. Standard hoses are not as durable as they used to be. Replace rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses. This is a low cost fix that can save thousands in water damage.
  • Broken tiles in the shower can allow water to leak into the walls or on the floor. Replace cracked tiles and re-grout when needed.
  • Run dishwasher and washing machine only when you are home. If a leak occurs, you can turn the appliance off right away.
  • When on vacation, turn off the main water supply to your house.
  • Keep storm drains near your house clear of leaves.
  • Install a gutter guard. This can prevent a rooftop disaster caused by drain clogs, and also prevents flooding by water that isn’t carried away from the house.
  • Install a water pressure gauge. An inexpensive gauge can prevent damage caused by water pressure that’s too high. Pressure should be between 60 and 80 PSI.

Many of the insurance carriers we work with offer Water Leakage & Seepage coverage. Contact us today for a free insurance review to see if your current coverage is adequate!

7 Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe

As parents of athletes ourselves, safety of our kids is always just as important as the memories they are making on the field! We know high school sports here in Rosemount are starting up again for fall and your household may be one of the millions this fall in which student athletes are dreaming of victory on their school playing fields. Of course, we here at Sentinel Assurance Group want to see them succeed, but we also want them to be safe.

Rosemount Irish football team

So, here are seven tips for students, parents and school staff to keep in mind as the new season gets underway:

  1. Start off on the right foot: All athletes need a preseason physical and should share any medical conditions, such as sickle cell trait, with coaches. And, parents, don’t forget to provide your contact information and permission for emergency medical care.
  2. Think about nutrition: A healthy diet offers plenty of complex carbohydrates, plus moderate amounts of protein, salt, sugars and sodium. Keep fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to a minimum.
  3. Be smart about injuries: Athletic trainers and consulting physicians, not coaches, should decide whether athletes continue playing following an injury. Athletic staff needs to know how to use defibrillators and keep them nearby during both practice and games. Finally, athletes should always speak up about and seek medical attention for such symptoms as dizziness, memory loss, lightheadedness, fatigue or imbalance after a hit in the head or a fall. In most cases, they should not rejoin practice or play that same day.
  4. Maintain equipment and facilities: Helmets and pads should be properly fitted; gymnastic apparatus well-maintained. Facilities must be kept clean and checked for germs regularly.
  5. Warm up, cool down: Always warm up and stretch before beginning activities. Cool down and stretch when finished, and take plenty of breaks in between.
  6. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water (costly sports drinks aren’t usually necessary) before, during and after a workout or practice.
  7. Build up a heat tolerance: To avoid heat illnesses, especially in sports requiring protective equipment, start slowly and build up to more intensive training requiring the full gear.

We hope these tips help set up your student athletes for success this season. We’ll be rooting for them! And GO IRISH!

Rosemount Night to Unite

Celebrate Night to Unite With Your Neighbors

In 1984, National Night Out — “America’s Night Out Against Crime” — began as a way to promote crime prevention through neighborhood camaraderie.

Since then, according to the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), the annual event has taken root in tens of thousands of communities across the country, with more than 37 million people taking part in block parties, barbecues, parades, marches and more. It’s all about sending a message to criminals: Our neighborhood is organized, and crime is not welcome here.

On Tuesday, August 2nd, you can join the millions who are committed to making their communities safer by taking part in an existing event or planning your own. Even if you only attend a gathering, you’re still playing a part.

The City of Rosemount is partaking in this event and recommends you register your local neighborhood event so that you can receive a visit from Public Safety officials. You can register your event with the City of Rosemount here. You can find all about Rosemount’s Night to Unite here.

Support the Rosemount Family Resource Center with Donations

As in years past, our Public Safety officials will be collecting donations during their party visits. Learn what the most needed items are in our community. The Rosemount community is incredibly generous. Thank you!

Top 5 food items needed: canned fish/meat, cooking/baking items, rice/pasta/cereal, canned fruits/veggies

Top 5 Personal Care items needed: soaps, diapers/baby wipes, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies

Planning a Night to Unite Out event

If your area has a neighborhood watch program, check to see if there’s an event already planned. If so, the organizers will be happy to have your support.

If there’s nothing in the works and you want to host your own, decide what’s appropriate for your neighborhood (and manageable for you). Maybe it’s a small ice-cream social or a big barbecue. The possibilities are endless. And be sure to visit your city’s website or Facebook page; many municipalities offer assistance in setting up an event. Some will even arrange to have law-enforcement representatives stop by.

NATW, the organization that started National Night Out, has great resources as well. When you register your event at natw.org, you’ll receive an official organizational kit with guidelines and suggestions.

Of course, you can have an event without registering or checking in with your city. Getting people together and focusing on making your community safer is what’s important.

Quick tips for all National Night to Unite parties

  • Give your guests as much notice as possible.
  • Have name tags for neighbors to fill out and wear; 67 percent of homeowners in a study by Nextdoor and Harris Interactive said knowing their neighbors helps them feel safer.
  • Briefly explain the purpose of Night to Unite and promote neighborhood watch basics, such as reporting suspicious activity to the police, etc.
  • Gather addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of neighbors, and, with their consent, provide a list to everyone later.

Finally, remember to have fun! Yes, the safety aspect of National Night Out is important, but it’s just as vital to get to know your neighbors better and enjoy their company. After all, that’s what building a stronger community is all about.