Are These the 4 Best College Tailgates in the Country?

For die-hard tailgaters, the football game is only a side show. The main event is the parking lot action before. Of course, for any football fan, the “best” tailgate is arguably the one taking place at the school you attended.

But there are some schools that take tailgating to the next level, well worth a road trip. Here are 4 winning college football tailgating locales around the country.

1. University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”)

Tailgating in “The Grove” is a combination of the best party you’ve ever been to and a family reunion, says one alum, who’s tailgated in the same grassy spot next to the same tree for 26 football seasons with 3 generations of family and friends.

The Grove encompasses 10 acres in the center of the Ole Miss campus, where fans start early and stay late: the action continues even after the game. The excitement is heightened as the band, cheerleaders, and Rebelettes lead fans in the Ole Miss cheer, “Hotty Toddy.” Acres of red and blue tents and beautiful tables hold food and drink to rival the finest wedding reception.

2. University of Washington

Set up an awning for your tailgate? Been there. Placed some chairs around the back of your truck? Done that. But you haven’t truly “tailgated” until you’ve joined the flotilla that hangs out before games at the University of Washington, located directly on Lake Washington. “Sailgating” before a Husky game is not to be missed.

Although Seattle has a rep for rain, its falls are typically sunny, crisp, and gorgeous. And the UW stadium is one of the most scenic venues in college football, with views of the lake and 2 mountain ranges: the Cascades and the Olympics. The Dawgs welcome 4-footed friends to many of their tailgate parties, including, of course, Dubs, the live Husky that is UW’s official mascot.

3. Notre Dame

It’s estimated that more than 150,000 people tailgate at Notre Dame, even though only 80,000 can attend the game. Notre Dame is arguably one of the most storied football programs in the nation, which is why the games attract alumni from all over the country, returning to pay their respects to Touchdown Jesus.

Forget hot dogs and nachos here. You’re more apt to be greeted by Southern favorites, like beef brisket and smoked pork. Anywhere from 5 to 6 tents are strung together at many spots, with generators running big-screen TVs. And the best part? People often say the Fighting Irish are just as friendly to opposing fans as to those wearing the blue and gold.

4. University of Southern California

You’ll hear a USC tailgate before you see it, as fans start to play their famous (some might say infamous) fight song even before the band arrives. The parking lot full of tents is ringed with motor homes, many hosting fraternity and sorority parties. Come early for the action as it’s an all-day affair — yes, the party starts at 6 a.m.

Conversations cease as Trojan fans stop to hold up the “Fight On” signal when the band parades through. New this year is the “Trojan Family Game Day Experience,” which is free and open to the public in Alumni Park. The kid-focused event features games, big-screen TVs showing college games, and a selection of food and drinks (but don’t worry, they have the adult kind too!).

While you’re packing up to get on the road, don’t forget your tailgate essentials. That includes your safety basics (a designated driver, good car insurance), and of course, your best game face.

8 Ways to Prepare For a Natural Disaster

September is National Preparedness Month — and it’s the perfect time to organize a community “PrepareAthon.” Rest assured, that’s not the same as waiting for doomsday. We’re just talking about taking smart steps to help you and your neighbors be ready in the event of a natural disaster.

There’s value in being informed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently conducted a survey to measure household and individual preparedness and found that those who’d been exposed to information on how to prepare for a natural disaster were significantly more likely to have taken steps to safeguard their home and family.

They say it “takes a village,” and no time is that more applicable than during a crisis. So why not take the lead in getting your village ready to work together? Here’s how.

1. Host your neighbors for a low-key get together

Don’t create panic or gloom and doom. The purpose is to get to know one another and talk about preparation. Consider hosting a potluck that includes some eat and greet time, followed by a short presentation.

2. Invite a speaker knowledgeable about natural disaster response

Your local American Red Cross, police, fire station, or city council can likely help you identify a representative who can give a short talk on how households can prepare. They can cover the items that should be in an emergency kit, along with best practices for communicating after a disaster.

3. Collect contact information

Speaking of communication, take the time to collect information for each household present. Create a master list that includes each person’s home address, email, contact numbers, and how many are in the family (pets too!).

4. Make special note of your neighbors

Assign someone to check in on anyone who’s older or has special needs in case of a natural disaster (or even extreme heat and cold).

5. Create safety checklists for your neighbors

Encourage them to make their own family readiness plan using templates such as these. Even better, print copies of the templates to have on hand and set aside 15 minutes during your event to have families gather together and make their own plan. It’s a task that’s easy to push off but vital to accomplish.

6. Contact your city offices for local emergency numbers

Many school districts, cities, and other government agencies offer text messaging in case of emergency. Find out how to access the system and share the information with your neighbors.

7. Thank them for attending

Assure them you’ll keep them posted with the master list once you’ve compiled it.

8. Consider sending out monthly reminders

This is especially important during seasons of severe weather. And you might also include short safety tips with your reminders.

Whether you live in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, or just severe winter weather, it’s smart to have a plan of attack. And at the top of that to-do list: having the right insurance. Get a quote today.

Be Smart About Zika: 4 Things Travelers Need to Know

For many people, taking a vacation during off-peak times is a smart way to save money while traveling. But with the WHO declaring Zika a public health emergency and the CDC issuing alerts for visiting areas where Zika is spreading, the Zika virus pandemic is raising major concerns for travelers, particularly those heading to impacted countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. If you’ll be packing your bags this fall, here are 4 things to know before heading into a Zika zone.

1. What is Zika virus?

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease, mostly spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito (notorious for their daytime biting). You can also get Zika from having unprotected sex with someone who has the virus. The virus is usually mild and brief — many people who contract it have no symptoms. Others experience fever, rash, joint pain and/or red eyes that resolve within a week or 2. But Zika poses a major risk to pregnant women who can pass the virus on to their unborn fetuses, resulting in complications and serious birth defects like microcephaly.

2. Where is Zika actively spreading?

Zika is currently spreading in parts of North, Central, South America, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Florida. If you’re traveling to a Zika zone, take the time to carefully research Zika activity at your destination. Check out the Center of Disease Control’s map of Countries & Territories with Active Zika Virus Transmission and review their frequently updated travel advisories. Also be aware that travelers returning from other locations where Zika is active may be carrying the virus and should take precautions to keep it from spreading.

3. Can I go to a country where Zika is spreading?

If you’re pregnant, the CDC strongly advises against visiting areas where the virus is actively spreading. If you must travel to a Zika zone, talk to your doctor or health care provider first and follow the strictest measures for preventing bites during your trip. Partners of pregnant people who are traveling to a location with Zika should abstain from sex or use condoms for the duration of their partner’s pregnancy to ensure they don’t pass on the virus. Because Zika can cause other health issues, even to people who are not pregnant, it’s a good idea for all travelers to do what they can to prevent contracting and spreading the virus.

4. How do I prevent getting Zika while on the road?

There is currently no vaccine or other medicine available for treating the virus. If you’re traveling to a Zika zone, preventing mosquito bites remains the very best way to avoid contracting the virus.

To help prevent mosquito bites:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil-of-lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
  • Wear clothes that provide full coverage of the arms and legs (yes, even in the crazy heat)
  • Adults should treat their clothing, shoes, and gear with the insecticide Permethrin
  • Stay indoors in places that have air conditioning or screened windows and doors
  • Remove or treat standing/stagnant water around your home where mosquitos are likely to breed (think puddles and bird baths)

For more details on avoiding mosquito bites in Zika zones, check out the CDC’s detailed list of preventative measures. And talk to your doctor before traveling to a Zika zone so you can take all the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Is Your Backyard Pool Safe?

While Labor Day signaled the official end of summer, September still has a couple of warm weekends to spare. And what better way to celebrate those pre-fall-weather days than by inviting everyone over for a pool party? Of course, it’s easy to focus on prepping your grill and stocking the cooler, but it’s also important to ensure your pool area is safe for your guests. From installing alarms, nets, and fences to maintaining your pool’s chemical levels, make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent water-related injuries and accidents from happening on your watch.

Here are 5 things you can do to help ensure a safe pool party.

1. Be an active supervisor

With over 200 children drowning in their backyard swimming pools each year, pool safety is serious business. When a child falls into a pool, it can be an eerily quiet event — sometimes without any splashing or yelling to signal distress. Kids playing anywhere near a pool, hot tub, or other body of water must be continuously supervised by an adult who’s paying close attention (being within earshot and staring at your phone won’t cut it). Toddlers and babies should be kept within arm’s reach and actively supervised, even when using baby pools (babies and toddlers can drown in just an inch of water). Keep lifesaving equipment on hand and make sure supervising adults are familiar with first aid, basic water rescue, and CPR.

2. Teach your kids how to swim

Getting kids comfortable in the water takes time, so start early by enrolling them in age-appropriate water safety and swim classes. Learning how to tread water, float, and get out of a pool (elbow, elbow, tummy, knee) are critical swimming safety milestones. And remember: though swim aids like water wings and noodles are fun, they aren’t substitutes for active supervision or U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs).

3. Establish pool rules

No diving in the shallow end. No running near the pool. Always swim with a buddy. Never swim during a storm. Determine what the rules are for your backyard pool, communicate them with your family and guests, and don’t be shy about enforcing them.

4. Use barriers to secure your pool

Enclosing above- and in-ground pools with a fence is now a requirement in most states. While specific code requirements vary between jurisdictions, fences are usually required to be at least 4 feet high with self-closing, self-locking gates in most cases. Installing properly fitted safety covers on pools, hot tubs, and filters is also a must. Additionally, pool alarms, floating motion sensors, wearable alarms (for kids), and pool nets are great ways to improve your pool security.

5. Keep pools clean and clear

Cloudy pool water caused by algae, bacteria, or inadequate filtering and cleaning is not only bad for your health — it can also contribute to drowning deaths. Decreased visibility makes scanning a pool and locating a person in distress much harder, especially during a rescue when every second matters. Make sure pools are properly maintained by keeping chemicals within their ideal range and regularly cleaning and checking your filters. Pool vacuums are great for maintaining a clean pool environment, but they should be removed or turned off before anyone gets in the water.

By being mindful and taking the necessary precautions, you can help your guests stay safe while they’re having a blast. And you can also relax, knowing your homeowner’s insurance policy has you covered.

The Minor League Baseball Home Field Advantage Award Winners

There’s something about that hometown pride that runs deep. And when it comes to Minor League Baseball, you can bet there’s nothing quite like that hometown pride for that hometown team. Plus, what else could incentivize you to head to the local ballpark more than Star Wars night, chili pepper races, and egg tosses? That’s what we thought.

Which is why Esurance and MiLB have collaborated to award those fans for doing what they do best: cheering on their home team in their home ballparks. And lucky for them, 1 of the MiLB teams in each of the 14 leagues has been named the Esurance Home Field Advantage Award winner.

The winning teams who’ll be honored at the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings™ in National Harbor, Maryland this December are:

  • Charlotte Knights (International League)
  • El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League)
  • Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
  • Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Southern League)
  • Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas League)
  • Visalia Rawhide (California League)
  • Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
  • Daytona Tortugas (Florida State League)
  • Dayton Dragons (Midwest League)
  • Greenville Drive (South Atlantic League)
  • Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League)
  • Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League)
  • Pulaski Yankees (Appalachian League)
  • Billings Mustangs (Pioneer League)

So, you get the bragging rights, of course, plus you get to throw a poppin’ party for your fans at the start of the 2017 season. (Can you tell we’re jealous?)

Our commitment to homeowners insurance makes this award particularly meaningful, knowing that whether it be your home or your hometown team, home is important. The Home Field Advantage award is an opportunity to provide a home-like environment for the fan and their local teams.

With over 42 million fans in 160 communities, Esurance knows that baseball fans are some of the most committed in all of sports. We love to tell that story through our relationship with both the MiLB and MLB®. And we’re all about tapping into that fan passion. Whether it be awarding fans for voting in the MLB® All-Star® ballot, or MLB Fans of the Year, Esurance recognizes who gets the teams to where they are — you, the fans.