Winter Driving Tips With storm season looming you know that means any kind of weather is possible, especially in Texas. It could be torrential rain, fog, icy roads, tornado, hail, and yes, even snow.

The question is: “How prepared are you if you get stuck in your car due to bad weather?”

If you’re caught in a tornado in a car, your only slightly safer. If you can see the tornado in the distance you might be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Most importantly, seek shelter in a sturdy building or underground if possible.

What about torrential rains that prohibit good visibility? First, pull over preferably under an overpass or shelter of some kind; just stop driving until it lets up. Keep your radio tuned to weather or check your iPhone. Let somebody, friend or family, know where and how you are.

Sometimes fog can be so thick that it’s safer to pull over and stop the car rather than blindly creeping along. If so, let someone know where you are. If you can’t reach friend or family, contact the local police or fire station.

The smartest thing you can do in a hail storm is take shelter under a bridge, overpass, gas station, anywhere that protects you and your vehicle from bombardment.

Snow and ice usually give you fair warning to ‘stay home’ and ‘don’t get on the road’ if you don’t have to. But, if you must travel in snow, make sure your car has snow chains. Driving on ice is another matter and should be avoided; however, if you must drive on ice, drive slowly and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. If you must pull over, keep the car running for warmth and call someone to come help.

No matter what the weather issue, be prepared by keeping a survival kit in your car. Include plenty of bottled water, a couple of flashlights with extra batteries, packaged snacks, two or three warm blankets, a rain poncho (in case you need to get out of the car temporarily during a downpour), aspirin or Tylenol, band-aids, antiseptic for minor cuts, and a fix-a-flat is not a bad idea. And don’t forget your cell phone charger.

Other handy carry-alongs for your car include a portable car battery charger; plug-in portable heat devices; and a windshield ice scraper with a can of de-icer.

It’s easier to survive unexpected weather if you take a little time in advance to be prepared. Of course, making sure your car insurance is up to date and in force goes without saying. Keep your insurance agent’s number handy in case you need to call.

Do Babysitters Need Liability Insurance in Texas?Very often, babysitting is a young person’s first job, usually starting with siblings, cousins or close friends. Usually 11 to12 years of age is considered the youngest recommended age, depending on the babysitter’s level of maturity and responsibility. And there are a number of things that you need when you babysit – the safety checklist, the contact numbers, the bag of games, but what about one question that comes up – whether a babysitter needs liability insurance.

In Texas, the answer is no. A homeowner’s policy can cover a babysitter while visiting your home; however, be sure to check your policy for limits and exclusions. If you feel the coverage is not enough, you may want to adjust your policy accordingly. Your independent insurance agent can advise you on what’s best.

Of course, babysitting every week or two in someone’s home is very different from providing professional childcare in your home or in an independent building. In Texas you can care for up to four (4) children at a time without a license. However, if you provide regular child care for fewer children than this, you may only need to list your home with the state, but need no license. Childcare centers are required by law to carry professional childcare liability insurance.

If you occasionally need a babysitter, there are several good things to know when start looking:

  1. Check the sitter’s references thoroughly
  2. Ask relevant questions that pertain to your children, their needs, and yours
  3. Find a babysitter that fits what your requirements, location and timewise
  4. Have the sitter over to meet your children and see how they interact
  5. Trust your instincts and if it feels odd, keep looking

It’s comforting to know you have someone reliable and trustworthy to call on for babysitting, allowing you to have some free time. Just remember to do the groundwork to settle on the right person for your personal babysitter.