Group Benefit Plans 
November, 22 2016, ,
Posted by Administrator
Do you have employees that do not want to enroll in your group’s benefit plans when they are first hired? Generally, if an employee contributes to any portion of their monthly premium, they have the option to waive the coverage they are applying for. However, if the employer pays ALL of the premium, no one should be able to opt out. Please check with your benefits carrier to see how this is handled.

If an employee has waived any of the group benefit plans at the time of their full time hire date, and decide at a later time that they DO want the coverage, you should check with your carrier to see if they will need to prove their insurability at that time.

Fire Safety Week 
October, 18 2016, ,
Posted by Administrator
National Fire Safety Week was October 9-15. As of the writing of this article, it is hard to think about heaters , fireplaces and wood burning stoves when the temperatures are in the 80’s and 90’s in central Kansas, but we are closely approaching a changing season and cool weather will be here before we know it. As we begin to turn on the heaters and start burning wood, it is a good time to check smoke detectors in your house to ensure the safety of your family in the event of a fire in the home.

A recent survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Agency found that Nine out of 10 people in the United States don’t know how often smokes alarms should be replaced. Alarms should be replaced 10 years from the date of manufacture – not the date that the alarm was purchased or installed – printed on the side or back of the device – NFPA states in a press release.
Take time to check your smoke detectors to ensure that they are not out of date. Make sure to test the detector to ensure that it is functioning properly. By doing these two simple steps, you are helping to reduce a potential tragedy should a fire break out in your home.

In addition to fire detectors, you should also make sure that a functioning carbon monoxide detector is installed in your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable by human senses. People can be exposed to carbon monoxide and not even know they are being affected. Some tips to reduce the exposure:

- Hire a trained professional inspect and service your home heating systems annually (this includes venting for fireplaces and wood burners)

- Know the symptoms associated with carbon monoxide exposure

- Headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion.

- Symptoms can be of varying degrees of severity depending on the levels of carbon monoxide and length of exposure. Early detection can prevent serious if not fatal consequences.

Problems can arise at any time and with little to no advance warning. By taking time to install new detectors or test your current detectors will help reduce the chances of a tragedy from occurring.

Fraudulent Impersonation – A Rising Threat to Companies 
July, 05 2016, ,
Posted by Administrator
Fraudsters are continually looking for a way to access sensitive information or have money sent somewhere that it shouldn’t be. News reports of companies being scammed out of large sums money or large quantities of sensitive information are becoming more frequent each year and it is not just big business that is the target of the tricks and schemes to steal information. As we begin to build walls and increase security measures to help avoid these attacks, it seems like new forms of fraudulent activity start.
One threat that is starting to see more attention is fraudulent impersonation. Now, it is referred to differently depending on what research you do on the topic, but the scheme is the same. A scammer gains access to information that they use to deliberately mislead an employee to send money or redirect a payment. This correspondence can come in the form of an email, phone call, fax, letter, etc. No matter how the correspondence is received, the end result can be money or information released that cannot be recovered.
Employees are trusting and want to make sure that they do not challenge those above them when a request is made. There is also the opportunity for oversight when an employee is busy and does not think. They may need to get out of the office for the day or have a pile of work to complete and push the request on due to the ease of getting it off their plate and looking good for being efficient.
1) A hacker gains access to an executives email account. They research the company and are able to duplicate everything so that it appears to be company from the person within the organization. Their research also includes schedule of key personnel. An email is sent to another employee requesting funds to be wired for any number of reasons. The employee goes ahead and wires the money and finds out later that it was a fraudulent email and the money is gone.

2) An employee receives a phone call regarding a vendor that the company uses on a regular basis. The vendor claims that they need to have the money sent to another account due to a change in banks, a problem with their current bank, etc. The employee authorizes the change and sends the money to the new account and receives a call or invoice later from the real vendor questioning why the invoice was never paid and the money is already gone.

3) Fraudulent phone call is made to an employee from a hacker claiming to be a client. They claim that they are unable to access their account and need to have their username and password verified. Once this is completed, the fraudster has just gained access to the clients account and can manipulate it from there.

How to help reduce the risk:
1) Require a two-step verification process for wire transfer payments
2) For vendors, have a direct number that is used to verify information. A number that is different from the main number for that vendor for verification purposes.
3) Know the customers that you are working with. If a request is received that is out of the ordinary for the customer, question it.
4) Train your people to ask questions when something do not seem right.
Fireworks – Fun or Fear 
June, 17 2016, ,
Posted by Administrator
It won’t be long and we will start seeing tents pop-up in our towns and surrounding communities. No there are not a lot of small circus’ or traveling discount markets; fireworks stands make their home in these tents. The celebration of Independence Day can be a time of fun and laughter with family and friends. Unfortunately with the fireworks comes an increase of risk. When fireworks are used as they are intended and under proper supervision, the risks are greatly minimized.

Statistics from a National Safety Council Article noted that “In 2013, eight people died and about 11,400 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, 40 percent were from legal, less powerful devices.”

“Fireworks also are responsible for thousands of home fires each year. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2011, fireworks caused about 1,200 structure fires.”
A few years back, our neighborhood was enjoying watching the children light smoke bombs and small firecrackers. The children would light their fireworks and watch as they went off and the excitement in their faces was priceless. However, one of the children lit a smoke bomb and did not get far enough away and was clouded in the smoke. As we watched the boy collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after inhaling all of the smoke. While there were no permanent or long lasting complications, even something as innocent as a smoke bomb can turn laughter and fun in to fear.

Following some simple guidelines can help ensure that the celebration can remain a celebration and not involve injuries, death, or unnecessary property damage.
- Use fireworks as they are intended. Following the instructions on the package.
- Do not craft your own homemade fireworks from other fireworks.
- If children are going to be lighting fireworks, make sure they are age appropriate and supervise the use at all times.
- Do not light fireworks inside of container to avoid injury from the container should it not contain the blast.
- Once the show is over, soak the fireworks with water to reduce the fire hazard from smoldering pieces.
- If you are going to be disposing of them in a container, make sure that they are not smoldering and avoid plastic containers or trash bags until you are sure that they are not going burn.
- Keep a garden hose or other source of water on hand to extinguish any fires that may start as a result of the fireworks explosion.
- Get as far away from structures and spectators as possible to reduce the risk of structural damage and injury.

Keeping these tips in mind can help ensure a safe and fun holiday. Have a great 4th of July!!

Water Safety 
June, 02 2016, ,
Posted by Administrator
Whether you live in a climate that’s warm year-round or you enjoy outdoor activities during the summer, swimming and water are likely to be a big part of family fun. But the importance of safety around water cannot be overstated. Water safety is a part of daily life no matter where you live. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 14 (Injury Facts ®, 2016).

While many are aware of the importance of safety around pools and at the beach, parents also need to supervise their children near bathtubs. Nearly 30 percent of home drowning incidents occur when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub (Injury Facts, 2016).

Protect Your Children

• Be attentive when your children are near water. Teach children never to go near or into water alone – an adult should always be present. Designate an adult (or two) to be a “water watcher” and actively supervise children who are swimming. Drowning can happen silently, in seconds, and in just an inch of water.
• Stay nearby. When infants and toddlers are in the water, adults should never be more than an arm’s length away. Gather all items you need before starting a child’s bath. And at pools, even though there may be a lifeguard, it is important to watch over older children as well.
• Get a good life jacket. Traditional pool floats, like water wings, inner tubes and pool noodles, aren’t designed to keep kids safe. Use a life jacket approved by the Coast Guard to be safer.
• Know what to do in an emergency. Make sure that you and anyone who takes care of your children are trained in CPR, so you’ll all be ready if there’s ever a need. Find a class in your area.


Learn to Swim

• Start your baby out early. You can introduce your little one to the water as early as 6 months old.
• Sign your children up for swimming lessons. Formal lessons can help reduce the risk of drowning, especially for kids ages 1 to 4.
• Make sure your child knows the basics. Everyone should learn how to float and tread water, and should also know how to figure out how deep the water is.
• Teach kids the differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in open water. Pools or areas specifically set up for swimming are best for young swimmers. Open water in the ocean, creek or other bodies of water can have uneven surfaces, larger waves and strong currents that can make swimming more difficult.
• Keep children out of a hot tub or spa until they can stand on the bottom with their heads above the water. They should also not use the hot tub or spa longer than 5 minutes at a time, especially at the maximum temperature of 104 degrees.

Follow Pool Rules

• Teach children to get into the pool feet first unless they know for sure that it is more than 9 feet deep. Only then is it safe to dive, and only when an adult is watching them.
• Stop horseplay around the pool. Don’t let your kids run or ride bikes near the edge of the pool.
• Don’t let kids eat, drink or chew gum in the pool. They might end up choking. For more on choking hazards visit
• Teach children to never use a pool, hot tub or spa that’s missing a drain cover. They should let a parent or lifeguard know if a drain cover is broken, loose or missing, and avoid the water until the cover has been fixed.

For Children and Parents

• Always watch your child while he or she is bathing, swimming or around water.
• Gather everything needed (towel, bath toys, sunscreen) before the child enters the water; if you must leave the area, take the child with you.
• Empty all buckets, bathtubs and kiddie pools of water immediately after use and store them upside down and out of your child’s reach.
• Install a 5-foot-tall fence with self-closing gate latches around your pool or hot tub.
• Consider installing door alarms to alert adults when a child has unexpectedly opened a door leading to a pool or hot tub.
• Keep a phone and life preserver near the pool or hot tub in case of emergency. Just be sure to keep your focus on your children if the phone rings. The call can wait.


National Safety Council | 1121 Spring Lake Drive | Itasca, IL 60143 | (630) 736 - 9112 |

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