Category Archives: Safety Tips

How do we Protect Our Children from Online Scams

Are your children using Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media website?   How do we keep our children safe from scams and protect our families?   As a parent who did not grow up with social media and who is learning right along with my children, it is very difficult to monitor or even understand what our children our doing.


Beware of a scam on Instagram that we should all be discussing with our children.  Scammers are having our children load money on a Vanilla Reload card and telling our children that they will double their money.  All they have to do is go put money on the card and give them the pin number on the back.   Within minutes the money did not double but instead completely disappeared from the acccount.   For more information from NBC CT on this scam click on the link :


Instagram Scam


For more information on how to protect our children and ourselves, please visit



There is  information for parents and children, teens, young adults, adults and older adults.


In regards to the Pre-Paid Card Scams, the  Wants you to Know


A prepaid card is a plastic card that you can use to pay for things. You buy a card with money “loaded” on it. Then you can use the card to spend up to that amount. Once you spend the money on the card, you do not owe a bill, since you are using money you already have.

A prepaid card is also called a prepaid debit card, or a stored-value card. You can buy prepaid cards at many local stores and online. Shop carefully for your prepaid card. Many come with fees and charges that will be deducted from the amount of money you can spend.

Scammers are using prepaid cards as a new way to steal your money. They may call or email you and tell you that to win a prize or pay an overdue bill, you have to go buy a prepaid card. The scammer will tell you how much money to put on the card. Then the scammer will ask you for the serial number on the back of the card. This number allows the scammer to transfer the money from your card onto one of his cards.

Why scammers use prepaid cards

  • Prepaid cards are hard to trace
  • No photo identification is needed to collect or spend money loaded on a prepaid card
  • One card can be loaded with thousands of dollars
  • Transactions are quick


And What to Do.

Prepaid cards can be a useful way to pay for things. But treat them carefully so a scammer doesn’t get access to your money.

How to protect your prepaid cards

  • Never give anyone the serial number
  • Do not send prepaid cards in the mail

  • Never give another person the receipt from something you bought with your prepaid card

  • If an online seller tells you to pay with a certain prepaid card, make sure that the seller is approved by the card company. For example, green dot MoneyPak is one prepaid card that seems to be popular with scammers. If you are told by an online seller that you must pay with a “green dot” card, you can check online to see if that seller is approved by the green dot company. The stores that accept the green dot card are listed on the company’s website at Other prepaid cards also list their approved partners on their websites.

  • If a caller tells you that you have an unpaid bill that you must pay with a prepaid card, it is a scam. Hang up and call the company directly. You can confirm that your account is okay. You can also let the company know about the scam.

If you receive phone calls or emails from scammers asking you to buy a prepaid card, tell the Department of Consumer Protection. Give us as much information as you can. You can email us at

Always remember Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance is here to keep you protected  .

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job


If you haven’t already done so, be sure to go check out our APP.  This APP keeps your insurance needs right at your fingertips.

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When A Tornado Is Near: Where Do You Go?

safest place in your home

photo courtesy of

Tornado season is in full swing and even though we don’t live in tornado alley, the Northeast has seen its fair share of tornadoes in the last few years. During yesterday’s storms Wolcott, CT saw a small F-0 tornado causing a decent amount of damage.  Many of the storms that came through last night also had potential for tornadic activity as well.  This is a good reminder to always be alert, as tornadoes can hit the Northeast.

Do you know the safest place to be in your home if a tornado were to hit your area?

Always head for the lowest level in your home, a basement is the safest place.  Stay away from windows as debris can fly threw them causing injury.  Stay away from exterior walls even if there are no windows.  You always want to have as many walls between you and the storm.  If you don’t have a basement, look for a closet or stairwell. A garage is not a safe option to wait out a tornado, as the walls of the garage can collapse inward.

Where to go if you are in a vehicle?

According to NOAA if the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

Do you know the signs a tornado is approaching? Here are some tips from NOAA.

  1. Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  2. Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base — tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  3. Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  4. Day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  5. Night – Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  6. Night – Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning — especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you here a tornado warning in your area.  Always be sure to be alert, pay attention to your local weather stations and find the safest place to ride out the storm.

Protecting YOU is our Job

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Saving Money At The Pump

gas pumpWith vacation season in full swing and traveling at it’s height, we thought we would share this blog from Monaco Ford, they did a great job explaining various ways you can save money at the pump.

Blog originally posted on

When it comes to your car, make sure to set the car tires to the proper inflation. Properly inflated tires can reduce fuel consumption by up to 3 percent.

You will also want to tune up the engine. A properly tuned engine maximizes power and can greatly enhance fuel efficiency.

Select the narrowest possible tires for your vehicle that will satisfy your driving style and demands. Narrow tires have less frontal area, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. You may also want to choose low-rolling-resistance compound tires. These can increase fuel economy by a few percent.

Check the condition of your engine air filter. A dirty filter will reduce fuel economy, or make the engine stall when idling. You also want to replace the fuel filter according to the car manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

Lightening your load can also help to increase your mileage. Get the lightest car that will serve your needs. If seats that you don’t use can be removed, take them out. If you use your trunk as a storage space for heavy things, find another place for them.

On fuel-injected cars, make sure the oxygen sensors, engine emissions system, and evaporative emissions control systems are in good shape. When getting your oil changed, use a synthetic oil additive to either natural or synthetic oil. This can increase your gas mileage if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended usage.

When you fill up with gas, fill up halfway and try and keep your tank above one quarter full. If your fuel runs low, you could put stress on the fuel pump. Also, 10 gallons adds 60 pounds of weight.

At the gas station, buy quality fuel. No two fuels are the same and the cheaper brands can contain a higher percentage of ethanol, which burns at a faster rate.

Try to avoid using the air conditioner in stop-and-go city driving as it causes the engine to work hard and consume more fuel. However, studies show that at highway speeds cars get somewhat better mileage with the air conditioner on and the windows rolled up.

Monitor how hard your engine is working is key. Air conditioning, acceleration, and speed all affect work but these are not direct indicators. Try monitoring the revolutions per minute your engine is running at.

Some of your driving habits can also impact your gas mileage.

Use cruise control to maintain a constant speed, and slow down. The faster you move, the harder your engine has to work to push through the wind. Speeding can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 33 percent.

When accelerating, do it smoothly and with a moderate throttle. You also want to avoid braking wherever possible. Braking wastes energy from fuel that you have already burned, and accelerating after braking consumes more fuel than driving at a constant speed.

Another thing to avoid is excessive idling. Idling a vehicle wastes a significant amount of fuel. Generally, if you can avoid 10 seconds of idling, you will save gas by turning the engine off and restarting.

Find your car’s “sweet speed.” Some cars get better mileage at specific speeds, usually at 50 miles per hour.

If your car has an automatic transmission with overdrive, make sure you enable overdrive except when towing very heavy trailers.

Select a gear ratio that is appropriate to your engine, transmission, and driving conditions. If you travel on the highway often and do not carry heavy loads, try a numerically lower final drive ratio.

Watching and predicting traffic signals can also help. Stop-and-go driving is wasteful. Don’t circle in a parking lot – creeping and accelerating. Look for a spot in the empty half of the parking lot.

Maintaining a safe following distance will also help you increase your gas mileage. You will brake more and accelerate more to keep that unnecessary and dangerous narrow gap.

Planning ahead will also help.

If you plan your trips and try to accomplish multiple things with each, it will help. It won’t increase your fuel mileage, but it will help you drive less.

You’ll also want to plan your route carefully. Take the route with the fewest stops, turns, and traffic. Take the highway when possible.
These tips will hopefully help you save a few dollars on gas while traveling this season.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job


3 Main Ways Lightning Enters Homes & Buildings

lightning safety for your homeWith the recent severe weather we’ve had in the last couple days, we thought it would be worth sharing this information from a recent article on the weather channel about Lightning Safety Tips.

A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. In assessing the safety provided by a particular structure, it is more important to consider what happens if the structure gets struck by lightning, rather than whether the structure will be hit by lightning. For a shelter to provide protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground.

These mechanisms may be on the outside of the structure, may be contained within the walls of the structure, or may be a combination of the two. On the outside, lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or may follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside a structure, lightning can follow conductors such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, and telephone lines to the ground.

Avoid unsafe shelters

Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small structures do little, if anything, to protect occupants from lightning. Many small open shelters on athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadside picnic areas, schoolyards and elsewhere are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl, or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.

How lightning enters a house or building

There are three main ways lightning enters homes and buildings: (1) a direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and (3) through the ground. Regardless of the method of entrance, once in a structure, the lightning can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio/television reception systems. Lightning can also travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Summary of lightning safety tips for inside the home

  • Avoid contact with corded phones
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.

You can read the whole article here from the Weather Channel.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job



Saving at the pump on your next vacation

save money on vacationVacation season is here. Thousand of people will be hitting the road this summer to reach their vacation getaway. With Summer also comes the increase in gas prices. So here are some great tips on how to save money on gas with your next road trip.

1. Go online or on our smartphone to find gas prices
We are on facebook, twitter and pinterest every day and hopefully our mobile app too, why not check out some of these great websites and apps to keep track of which gas stations in your area have the best prices. Here are two that are widely used.

2. Buy Gas On A Wednesday
According to “gas experts” gas prices tend to be their highest on weekends. If that is true, then Wednesdays would be the day of the week when prices would be at their lowest.

3. Rewards Programs
More and more grocery stores and other retail establishments are offering store discount cards. Investigate your grocery store to see if they offer one.  Many of these discount cards offer up to 20 cents off a gallon, which can add up to a lot of money saved over a period of time.

4. Cash or Credit

Paying with cash versus credit at many gas stations can save you as much as 10 cents a gallon.  Every penny helps.

5. Pump Your Own Gas

Seems like a no-brainer to us, but you would be surprised how many people would rather pay almost 20 cents more to have someone else pump their gas. If you can save that much pumping your own gas, seems like a good trade-off.

6. Renting a Hybrid Car
Consider renting a car for your trip.  If you have a larger SUV or Truck taking that on vacation may cost more in gas then the vacation itself.  Check out your local car rental agencies and see what they have for small hybrid cars available.  Not only will you save on gas, but you won’t put the miles on your car.  Always remember to get car rental insurance as well.

We hope these tips will be helpful in saving some money for next vacation.  Summer is here, so get out there explore and enjoy the open road.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Lightning Safety For Your Home and Business

lighting safety

courtesy of google images

Damage caused by lightning, such as fire, is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of lightning striking a home or business. 

The I.I.I. offers the following tips to protect homes and businesses against power surges and lightning strikes:

1. Install a lightning protection system. A lightning protection system supplies structural protection by providing a specified path on which lightning can travel. When a building is equipped with a lightning protection system, the destructive power of the lightning strike is directed safely into the ground, leaving the structure and its contents undamaged. The system includes a lightning rod or air terminals at the top of the house that can be disguised to look like a weather vane and wires to carry the current down to grounding rods at the bottom of the house. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the lightning protection system needs to be securely anchored to the roof; otherwise it may whip around in a storm and damage the building. So make sure to have a licensed electrician install your lightning rod and protection system.

2. Use surge protectors. Today’s sensitive electronic equipment is particularly vulnerable to lightning. To assure the highest level of protection, UL-listed surge arrestors should be installed on electrical service panels. Installations typically include surge arrestors for the main electric panel, as well as incoming phone, cable, satellite and data lines. Surge arrestors protect against damaging electrical surges that can enter a structure via power transmission lines. By filtering and dissipating the harmful surges, arrestors prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical discharges that can damage a building’s electrical system, computers, appliances and other systems. UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors can also be installed to protect specific pieces of electronic equipment. Keep in mind that power strips offer little protection from electrical power surges.

3. Unplug expensive electronic equipment. As an added precaution, unplug expensive electronic equipment such as TVs, computers and the like if you know a storm is approaching.

Do’s and Don’ts for Lightning Safety

1. When Thunder Roars…GO INDOORS! Take shelter in a home, large building or substantial fully enclosed building, preferably protected with a lightning protection system. Hard topped-vehicles are generally safe shelters, as well.

2. Avoid areas where you will be the highest object. If you are caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end (an indication that lightning is about to strike) drop down and crouch with hands on knees, rocking up on the balls of your feet. (The idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible.) Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.

3. Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms. Avoid lakes, beaches or open water, fishing from a boat or dock, riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motor cycles or bicycles. Take shelter in tunnels, subways, even ditches or caves if necessary—but never under a tree!

4. If caught on high ground or in an open area, seek shelter in a low area and stay away from trees. A small grove of bushes or shrubs is preferable to lone trees.

5. To avoid side flashes (voltage from a nearby struck object) stay clear of fences or isolated trees. Keep away from telephone poles, power lines, pipelines or other electrically conductive objects.

6. Stay off the telephone! In your home, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Source Info:



Tips for Summer Heat

summer heat tipsIt’s early in the season, and we haven’t hit the height of the summer heat yet, but it’s coming.  We look forward to the summer season, but sometimes forget that we also need to make sure we take care of ourselves and homes during this weather.  Here are some great tips to keep yourself and your home cool from the summer heat.

For You:

  • Be sure to keep sunblock handy and apply regularly
  • Wearing a hat can help avoid sunburn and heatstroke
  • Keep bottled water on you at all times when you are planning extended outdoor activities
  • Avoid midday sun, usually from noon to 2pm
  • Wear cotton fabric and light colors to keep you cool in the heat
  • Babies under 9 months should be kept out of direct sunlight
  • During hot summer days, head to your nearest lake or pond to take a dip and cool down

For Your Home:

  • Keep shades drawn during the day to keep out the heat
  • Open windows in the evening to allow cooler air in
  • Avoid using your stove/oven during the summer months.  Cook outside, it always taste better on the grill anyway.
  • Make sure your ceiling fans are running counter clockwise to circulate cooler air
  • Insulate your windows to keep warm air out and cool air from escaping

Summer is a great time of year that we all look forward to, just remember to follow these tips to stay safe and cool during the heat of the summer.  Enjoy!  Happy Summer!

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job