Cold Weather Suggestions

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  1. Swimming Pools – Drain water from the swimming pool using the manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
  2. Outdoor Hoses – Disconnect outside hoses from the hose bib and if one is available, close inside valve.
  3. Exposed water lines – check around the house, in crawl spaces, etc to find any pipes that may be exposed to the elements and insulate accordingly.
  4. Heat Tape – Consider installing heat tapes or similar UL-Approved products to exposed water pipes or any water pipes that are adjacent to exterior walls. A low tech, low cost solution if you have no other available option is to wrap pipes in newspaper. This is obviously not the preferred method, but if you do not have the cash available for heat tape, this may work.
  5. Close Garage Doors if there are exposed water lines in the garage.
  6. Open kitchen/bathroom cabinets when the weather outside gets really frigid. Make sure to move any harmful chemicals that may be under the sink if there are children or pets in the home.
  7. Consider relocating pipes that are adjacent to exterior walls and therefore subject to freezing.
  8. Add insulation to appropriate places in attics, basements, crawl spaces, and walls.


Be safe out there!


For more information about Meramec Valley,
or to find an agent near you, visit

It’s Electronic Pickpocket Season

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It takes just a moment to be electronically (RFID) pickpocketed.

With just a wave of the thief’s hand holding the device, he or she will electronically steal all of your personal and credit card information. You will be totally unaware of the theft, and your next billing statement could have THOUSANDS of dollars of THEIR charges on it. Sure, you will (most likely) not be held accountable for the charges, but why not avoid the hassle with a simple, easy-to-use precaution?

That solution?

RFID** wallets or sleeves available at most department stores, office supply stores, and various online vendors including Amazon. For just a few dollars, you could avoid a lot of misery dealing with a problem that shouldn’t have been yours to deal with in the first place.


These sleeves or wallets that hold your cards will block the thief’s device and they’ll have to move along to the next, unprepared, victim.

Please feel free to share this information with your friends.

Be safe out there!


For more information about Meramec Valley,
or to find an agent near you, visit

**RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) is the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data from your credit/debit cards at the store’s terminal for your convenience and protection, but the thieves are already ahead of them.

Weathering the Storm: BLIZZARD/SNOW

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Weathering the Storm: BLIZZARDS/SNOW

snow covered car

The threat of intense or massive snowfall always sends a wave of panic throughout our community. With just a little planning, you will reduce your worries and reduce your need to hit the crowded stores every time threatening weather is forecasted.

Obviously being entirely prepared all at once can be costly, but you can start small with the most important items and add as you go.


  1. HEAT – Have an alternate heat source ready.
    1. If your home has a fireplace or wood stove, make sure the chimney/flue is clean and ready to operate. Flues that haven’t been used in months or years can be potentially dangerous.
    2. Some opt for propane or kerosene heaters. If you do, remember that if not properly ventilated, the gases and/or fumes will kill you. Be careful.
    3. Some opt to use a generator and an electric space heater.
  2. LIGHT/ELECTRICITY – Have a generator.
    1. If you already have a generator, make sure you have fresh fuel. Do NOT store it indoors near any heat or ignition sources (flames).
    2. If you don’t have a generator, do your homework before you buy. There are many varieties and configurations out there. You get what you pay for.
    3. Keep plenty of smaller light sources on hand like battery operated flashlights or candles.
    4. Keep an alternate charging source charged at all times for cell phones and other electronic devices.


  1. FOOD – Always maintain a supply of food to feed your family.
    1. Short Term Foods – Items like canned soup, peanut butter/jelly/crackers, protein bars, canned fruit.
    2. Long Term Foods – Items like Rice, Beans, canned vegetables, canned meat
      Ultra Long Term Foods – Freeze dried foods and other commercially available ‘kits’ like MRE’s.
    3. Staples – Flour, salt, sugar, honey, baking soda, powdered milk, vinegar, yeast
    4. Do you have an alternate way to cook your food in the event utilities are interrupted? A gas grill or camp stove maybe?
  2. WATER – If your water supply should stop, you have to make sure to have an adequate store of water available. The absolute minimal amount of water a person needs on a daily basis is ONE gallon. That’s a half gallon for cooking and basic hydration and a half gallon for hygiene. So, if you have a family of four, and want to have enough water on hand for two weeks, that’s 56 gallons of water.


  1. HYGIENE – Do you have plenty of hygiene items like: shampoo, soap, toothpaste, razors, etc?
  2. FIRST AID – Obviously, the more supplies the better, but what about some basic first aid items such as: bandages, alcohol and hyrogen peroxide, pain relievers, wraps for sprains, etc.


  1. Disconnect all hoses and close any openings in crawl spaces to protect your plumbing from freezing.
  2. Check on the condition of your snow and ice removal tools.
  3. Do you have salt for your driveway? This is one of the FIRST items to disappear from the shelves at your store. Beat the rush and buy some now.
  4. Do you have plenty of flashlights and fresh batteries?


  1. How old is your battery?
  2. Do you have windshield deicer handy?
  3. Check your car’s tire treads.
  4. Some people keep kitty litter or other grit available in the event they get stuck or need some added traction for the tires.
  5. Use an oil viscosity that is appropriate for winter months.
  6. Make sure your car’s cooling system is well-prepared and rated for low temperatures.


Pretend you were stranded somewhere in your car for several days. What would you want or need in the way of Food, Water, First Aid, Blankets, Winter Clothing, a Means of Communication in the event your cell phone dies, etc?

Keep a kit of those items in your car at all times.

Prepare written on multiple road sign


This is not a comprehensive list by any means. These are just a short list of ideas to get you thinking and hopefully started. Each person or family is going to be a little different, but the basics are the same. You need food, water, and shelter. The internet is FULL of other ideas and we recommend you search there to build your own emergency solutions.

Be safe out there!


For more information about Meramec Valley,
or to find an agent near you, visit


Have a S.A.F.E. Halloween!

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Cartoon Illustration of Laughing Jack Lantern Halloween Pumpkin

Have a Safe Halloween Out There!

S – Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.



H – Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house.

A – Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

L – Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.

L – Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.

O – Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

E – Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.

E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.

N – Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.



For more information about Meramec Valley,
or to find an agent near you, visit

Secure Your World. Don’t Become A Statistic

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A burglary happens once in every 15 seconds in the USA. Most of them happen when you are away at work. Here are some quick tips to reduce your chance of a burglary.


1. Get an Alarm System. Do your homework. Find a reputable Alarm Company to provide 24/7 peace of mind. If you feel you can’t afford these services, you may consider simple solutions like the Canary or similar device can provide monitoring of your home through a cell phone app.

2. Lock all your doors and windows and draw down your curtain or blinds before you leave the house. Some of these little devices are very valuable.

3. Fortify your home. The battle for your house begins at your doors and windows. Potential burglars will go home disappointed if they find out how fortified your home is.


4. Don’t give thieves a place to hide. Look at your house objectively and eliminate any bushes, shrubs, or other obstructions that could give a bad guy somewhere to hide.

5. Keep a pet. 32% of burglars interviewed have reported they are afraid of ANY breed of dog in the house. If you don’t want the mess and hassle of a dog, get an Electronic Watch Dog from Amazon.

6. Adequate Exterior Lighting. Bad guys hate light. They prefer to move around in the darkness. Install plenty of light around your home.


7. Finally, be proactive. Don’t wait for bad things to happen. Do your homework BEFORE to avoid these life-altering events.

Even when you’re away from home, practice
Situational Awareness
to protect yourself.

For more information about Meramec Valley,
or to find an agent near you, visit



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The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide in 2014, compared with $27,862 in 2013. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all Homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars aid out in 2014, costing in excess of $530 million according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)….
California had the highest number of claims followed by Ohio in second and New York in third.



Get Smart With Your Smartphone

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Get Smart:
Some Smart Ways to Protect Your Smartphone

multitasking in hands

Smartphones contain a staggering amount of personal data, from family photos to emails and bank accounts. In addition to personal information the devices retail for hundreds of dollars, creating a lucrative black market for stolen phones and parts. These tips are designed to help you secure your smartphone and protect your personal information.

  • APPLE PICKING – Thieves target users who casually leave their phones lying around on tables in cafes and restaurants. Keep close track of your phone.
  • FILE A REPORT – If your phone is stolen, file a report with the police and immediately contact your telephone carrier. Keep those numbers handy.
  • DO NOT USE FREE WI-FI HOTSPOTS – Configure your phone to only join networks you approve. Scammers set up free wireless networks in public places to lure you in and steal your data.
  • USE ANTI-THEFT APPS to deactivate a stolen phone.
  • USE ENCRYPTION TO PROTECT SENSITIVE DATA. It’s best to not use smartphones for connecting to your financial institutions.

For more information about Meramec Valley,

Some ID Theft Warning Signs

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Some ID Theft Warning Signs


  • You see withdrawals, purchases, or other types of errors on your bank account or credit card statement that you can’t explain.
  • Merchant(s) refuse your checks.
  • You receive a credit card or store charge card in the mail for which you did not apply
  • You catch errors  or you find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.How do I order my free report?
    • The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
    • To order, visit, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.BEWARE OF IMPOSTER FREE CREDIT REPORT WEBSITES. They may even have FREE CREDIT REPORT in their name but may actually direct you to sites that will harvest and resell your personal information.


  • There is a warrant out for your arrest for something you did not do.


  • You receive unexpected mail telling you your mail is being forwarded to another address.
  • You have missing mail such as from a bank or other financial institution.
  • Debt collectors contact you about debts that aren’t yours.


  • You find errors on your Social Security Statement. To set up an account with Social Security, go to: to Create An Account
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.Contact the Internal Revenue Service. IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490


  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

Several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is misusing your child’s personal information and committing fraud. For example, you or your child might:

  • be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive

You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account. BUT REMEMBER:

  • Do NOT respond to emails pretending to represent the company in question. They will NOT email you and ask you for personal information.

For more information about Meramec Valley, visit

Kitchen Fires

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Kitchen Fires are a major source of property damage to homes and injuries to residents every year. Take a few steps to help you not be the next victim.

  • Get a fire extinguisher for use in the kitchen
  • Stay in kitchen while cooking
  • Roll up sleeves and/or use appropriate oven mitts
  • Keep flammable items away from burners
  • Keep lid or cookie sheet close
  • Get EVERYONE out -THEN call 911

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  • deckCollapseSplit or Decayed Wood – Check for split or decaying wood. Inspect cracks with a flathead screwdriver; if you can insert it more than ¼ inch into any cracks, or if the wood feels spongy or breaks off without splintering, this could indicate rot. Keep an eye out for holes, which could mean insects have burrowed in and made a home.
  • The Ledger Board is the weight bearing board that connects the deck to your house. Make sure it’s attached securely and that the flashing is doing its job.
  • Grills, Fire Pits, Chimneys, and Heaters – They add atmosphere and ambience to your outdoor experience, but are also a source of potential risk. Make sure you operate safely.
  • Trees – Inspect nearby and overhanging limbs. Trim away as necessary.
  • Electrical – Check all electrical outlets and lighting for proper operation. Install GFCI outlets and make childproof.
  • Railings and Banisters – Are they solid and secure? If not, now is the time to make them safe for you and your guests.

Meramec Valley Mutual Insurance is a Missouri-only (policy-owner-owned) insurance company established in 1887 and located in Hillsboro, Missouri. For more information about becoming a part of this 128 year old company, please contact one of our professional agents nearest you.