April 2014
Are You Prepared for Summer Storms? Take Our Quiz!

Are You Prepared for Summer Storms?

Our 14-question quiz will help assess your readiness.

The summer storm season is just around the corner, and includes thunderstorms, flash flooding, tornadoes and more. If a storm is heading in your direction, do you know how to protect yourself and your family?

Here’s a little quiz to test your storm readiness knowledge. (Answers follow.)

1) True or False: A severe storm watch means conditions are right for a severe storm to form. A severe storm warning means a severe storm has been sighted in your area and you should take shelter immediately.

2) True or False: Tornadoes only occur in the summer in “tornado alley,” frequently considered Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

3) If you’re at home, the best place to seek shelter during a tornado is:

a) Anywhere inside.
b) Your basement.
c) An interior room on the lowest floor – preferably one without windows.

d) Outside. If the house collapses, you won’t get hurt.

4) If you’re in a car when a tornado is approaching, you should:

a) Stay in the car for protection against wind-blown debris.
b) Drive as fast as possible to outrun the tornado.
c) Leave your vehicle and go to a shelter. If there’s no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert with your hands shielding your head.

5) The greatest cause of death or injury from a tornado is:

a) High winds that can knock you over.
b) Wicked witches from the east or west.
c) Buildings being knocked down.
d) Falling or flying debris.

6) During, or immediately after, a heavy rainfall, if rising water covers a road, you should:

a) Stop and turn around, avoiding the water-covered road.
b) Only drive in the water if it is less than six inches deep.
c) Drive normally. Your car is pretty heavy and you’ll be safe.

7) True or False: Flash floods only occur in rural areas.

8) Flash floods are caused by:

a) Quickly melting snow and ice.
b) Heavy rains.
c) An overflowing river.
d) Dam failure.
e) All of the above.

9) If a thunderstorm approaches or you hear thunder, you should:

a) Go inside immediately.
b) Avoid contact with anything metal such as water pipes, appliances, etc.
c) Stay away from windows and doors.
d) All of the above.
e) None of the above.

10) If you aren’t near shelter and a thunderstorm threatens, you can reduce your chance of being struck by lightning by:

a) Avoiding open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
b) Avoiding tall isolated trees or other tall objects.
c) Avoiding water, wet items and metal objects.
d) All of the above.
e) None of the above.

11) True or False: “Heat lightning” is caused by high heat and humidity.

12) True or False: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.

13) If a wildfire is approaching, you should:

a) Grab some crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows to make s’mores.
b) Prepare to evacuate immediately.
c) Close all doors and windows to prevent wind-blown embers or sparks from entering your home.
d) Both B and C.

14) True or False: If you have a power failure due to a storm, it’s OK to use a candle for emergency light.

How did you do? Check your answers to see if you’re ready for the summer storm season.


1) True.

2) False. Tornadoes can form in any state, any time of year.

3) B and C. Your basement is the safest place. If your home doesn’t have a basement, go to an interior room on the lowest level and take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture. If you live in a mobile home, immediately go to a designated shelter.

4) C. Leave your vehicle and go to a shelter. If there’s no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine or culvert, with your hands shielding your head.

5) D. The leading cause of injury and death in a tornado is falling or flying debris.

6) A. A water-covered road is dangerous. Even if the water appears shallow, the roadbed may be washed out. It only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult. It takes only two feet to carry away most vehicles including heavier pickups and SUVs.

7) False. Buildings, highways, driveways, streets and parking lots increase runoff by reducing the amount of rain absorbed by the ground. This runoff increases flash flood potential in suburban areas.

8) E. All of the above. 

9) D. All of the above.

10) D. All of the above.

11) False. There is no such thing as “heat lightning.” It is an actual lightning strike from a thunderstorm that is too far away to be heard.

12) False. Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning. In a car, the steel body and frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection as long as you’re not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you’re much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

13) D. Be prepared to evacuate immediately. Closing doors and windows helps prevent wind-blown embers or sparks from entering your home setting it ablaze.

14) False. If there are gas leaks, an exposed flame from a candle could cause a fire or explosion. Always keep a working flashlight handy.


Here Are 4 Quick Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

Here Are 4 Quick Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving infographic
Learn from Jessie Vetter, Olympian, Role Model, Dreamer
Jessie Vetter

Learn from Jessie Vetter – Olympian, Role Model, Dreamer

This women's hockey star is achieving goals and encouraging others to do the same.

Jessie Vetter was raised in Cottage Grove, Wis., where playing ice hockey is as much a part of childhood as learning to root for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. So, it was only natural that Jessie grew up playing hockey with the guys.

Playing competitively was another matter, because few high schools had girls’ hockey teams. Many had boys’ teams, though, and two of Jessie’s brothers had played for Monona Grove High School. Starting her sophomore year, so did Jessie – as a goaltender.

Accomplishments on the Ice

Jessie's accomplishments as an athlete include:

  • 2014 Olympic Winter Games, silver medalist
  • 2010 Olympic Winter Games, silver medalist
  • International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Teams – 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013
  • Three-time NCAA Champion (2006, 2007, 2009)
  • 2009 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner (given to NCAA's best women's hockey player)

“It was definitely an experience,” recalls Jessie, pictured above with her father, Tom. “When I was a freshman, my older brother Joey was a senior and he was awesome. He made sure the guys treated me right, and at the same time he made me compete at every practice and show that I deserved to be on the ice.

“Now, there were guys or coaches from other teams who definitely didn’t appreciate that there was a girl on the ice, so they went up against me a little harder,” she recalls. “But for me, that was motivation to become the best goalie I can be.”

At the University of Wisconsin, Jessie finally found herself playing against other women. It was a less “physical” game, one that required more skill and finesse. Her love of the sport and the support of her family were what remained consistent. At every game, in fact, Jessie could look into the stands and see at least a dozen family members.

“It’s exciting to have that much support,” says Jessie. “If you have people who say, ‘You can do that,’ you use that as motivation to keep working even harder.”

Jessie's Hat Trick for Dreamers

  1. Play the long game. Jessie is just now realizing dreams she first had as a preteen. "When you're looking toward a dream and it seems far away, you've definitely got to take little steps to get there. You can't take one big step. It definitely is a long process."
  2. Find your motivation. Playing with the nation's best female hockey players means Jessie is always on her "A" game. She also finds inspiration in wearing her Team USA uniform. "I still get goose bumps every time I put it on, because I want to feel like I deserve to wear that jersey."
  3. Have fun! Jessie is known for her laid-back style. "If your vision is so set on your end goal, you're going to miss a lot along the way. That is something I've always done: enjoy myself and have fun. It makes the process more worthwhile."

Today, Jessie is fitting comfortably into a relatively new position: role model for young athletes. In 2010, she introduced the Jessie Vetter Award for an outstanding goaltender attending a Wisconsin prep school, and the 2013 edition of her golf tournament (sponsored with American Family Insurance) raised $38,000 for American Family Children’s Hospital.

Ride Safely This Summer
Ride safely this summer

Ride Safely This Summer

Enjoy the open road this motorcycle season.

Summer is approaching and many drivers will be polishing their motorcycles for a new season. While nothing may compare to the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, keep safety in mind so you’ll live to ride another day.

It’s a simple fact that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. Because motorcycles lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, a rider is more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. Per mile traveled in 2011, the number of deaths on motorcycles was more than 30 times the number in cars.

If you ride a motorcycle, here are some ways you can be safer on the road.

  • The number one safety tip is to always wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent.
  • Always wear reflective clothing to make yourself as visible as possible.
  • If you’re a new rider, attend a motorcycle rider training course.
  • Skip the flip-flops and T-shirts. Wear heavy shoes or boots, gloves, pants and a jacket. In the event of an accident, they're all that separate you from the pavement.
  • If you’ll be carrying a passenger, make sure your motorcycle has a passenger seat and foot pegs.
  • Don’t buy more motorcycle than you can handle in terms of size and power.
  • Select a motorcycle that fits. You should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground without having to be on tiptoes. Handlebars and controls should also be within easy reach.
  • Get antilock brakes (ABS). The rate of fatal crashes is 31 percent lower for motorcycles with antilock brakes than for those without them.
  • Some motorcycles are riskier than others. High horsepower supersport motorcycles have driver death rates about four times as high as cruiser or standard motorcycles.
  • Before every ride, perform a "T-CLOCS" inspection – tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands.
  • Practice emergency braking and steering in an empty parking lot.
  • Ride defensively. Watch for drivers who are texting or talking on the phone, cars swerving from lane to lane, and vehicles emerging from side streets. Don’t tailgate and keep a safe following distance.
  • Watch for road hazards such as sand, wet leaves and pebbles, which can cause a bike to slide unexpectedly. Slow down as much as possible before encountering them. To reduce the chance of skidding, approach railroad tracks, potholes and other hazards at as close to a right angle as possible.
  • Avoid bad weather. Rain cuts your visibility and reduces traction. If you need to ride in the rain, remember that the most dangerous time is right after precipitation begins, as the water can cause oil on the road to rise to the top.


Get Ready for the Graduation Season

Get Ready for the Graduation Season

Plan for a fun, rewarding and stress-free celebration.

When winter changes to spring, it signals another fast-approaching season – graduation time! Whether commemorating the end of high school, college or a different institution, graduations recognize the culmination of a student's hard work. It’s now time to celebrate!

If you’re hosting a graduation party, here are a few suggestions for making the event a success without getting stressed out or breaking the budget.

  • Plan your celebration far enough in advance so there are fewer last-minute decisions.
  • Involve your graduate in the party decisions.
  • Determine who’s invited. Family members? Classmates? The entire neighborhood? Teachers and professors?
  • If you'll be preparing the food yourself, cook what you can in advance and freeze it so all you have to do the day of the party is thaw and reheat.
  • Determine the best date for the party. If there are other celebrations the same day, guests may be traveling from party to party, so plan for more of an open house event. If you have guests coming from other parts of the country, consider having your party the night or day after graduation.
  • If you’re planning an outdoor party, have a backup plan in case of bad weather. If the party isn’t at your home, reserve the space early.
  • If you plan on serving alcoholic beverages, keep in mind that some attendees may be under the legal drinking age, or prefer non-alcoholic options. Have plenty of bottled water, juice and soda on hand.
  • Parties can be expensive, so make a budget. Items to consider include decorations, flowers, tent rental, catering and beverages. Spread costs by purchasing non-perishable items such as tableware, invitations and canned beverages in advance. If several friends are graduating together, consider co-hosting a party. This helps you share costs.
  • Allow guests to add a personal touch by singing a large poster board or guest book.

Above all, remember that this event celebrates a major achievement in a loved one’s life. Relax and enjoy the day!