Panera Bread Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency

Winners of Local Gift Cards Compliments of Shield Insurance Agency!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Every week, Shield Insurance Agency draws a winner from its clients and social media followers. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page to get yourself entered to win and see who the winners are! Shield Insurance Agency has given away thousands of dollars in local gift cards over the last 20 years serving Michigan.

Subway Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency
Shield Insurance gives away another local gift card!
Target Shield Insurance Gift Card Give A Way
Red Robin Gift Card Winner at Shield Insurance Agency

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Your Guide to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Your Guide to Saving for Retirement

Your Guide to Saving for Retirement in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s

Our financial experts weigh in on the money milestones to hit throughout your life.

Most of us dream of the day we can retire from the workforce. That doesn’t mean that we plan to sit around and watch the grass grow all day, but we would love the opportunity to enjoy life without worrying about our finances. And by the time we reach retirement age, many of us have been working for over half a century. We have earned the rest from constant labor. That’s why it is important to begin saving for retirement now. “No matter what your age, or marital status, people should start saving as early as possible,” says Yanela Frias, senior executive for Prudential Retirement. “You’re never too young or too old to start saving.”

People are living longer and expenses are higher than ever, Frias explains, which is why we need to plan to save more for retirement than previous generations. And while it is recommended to begin saving for retirement in your 20s, it’s never too late to start. “Studies have shown that to accumulate enough money to achieve a secure retirement, the average person needs to contribute 12 to 15 percent of their annual salary during their working life. So, for those who didn’t start saving as soon as they entered the workforce, it’s not too late to start,” explains Frias. “If you’re 50 or older, the IRS allows you to contribute more into your retirement savings plan than when you’re under 50. And that is a great way to catch up and make sure your account is growing as much as it possibly can.”

There is also no magic number for a retirement savings amount. It all depends on your goals and your estimated living expenses at retirement. Rich Ramassini, the director of the strategy and sales performance for PNC Investments, suggests asking yourself these questions while working with your financial planning advisor: When do you think you will start your retirement? What do you want your retirement to look like? How much will retirement cost? And, where will the money come from? With the answers to these questions in mind, you can develop a plan to begin saving for retirement.

How to Save Money

It’s critical to practice healthy financial habits throughout your life, not just during times of booms and busts. And it’s important to understand that how we think about money can change dramatically over time. In your 30s, you may be thinking about buying a home or starting a family. In your 40s, you’re probably hitting your earnings peak and maybe want to start a new business or change careers, and in your 50s, retirement is just around the bend. All of those milestones require a shift in how you spend and save.

Michelle Perry Higgins, a financial planner and author of The Everything Binder, College Poor No More and Stocks, Bonds & Soccer Moms, says that following rules of saving are important to help secure your current and long-term financial life, no matter what your age: Keep all documents for your financial, estate, and personal affairs in one location so you—or someone acting on your behalf—can easily access information. Pay down debt, pay your credit card balance each month, and live within your means. And lastly, negotiate for more money—it never hurts to ask. “Your true monetary worth takes into account salary, bonus, retirement plans and employer contribution, stock options, car allowance, and any other benefits a company may offer,” explains Higgins. “Knowing the full value of your compensation package gives you the tools to negotiate wisely.”

In Your 30s

Don’t assume that you can put off saving for retirement or that you don’t need to make a budget if you’re only making a little money. Everything counts, especially when you compound interest early in the game. In your 30s, you should make it a habit to maximize your company’s benefits and contribute to your retirement plan. Your minimum contribution should be the company’s match (so if your employer puts in 50 cents for every dollar up to $3,000 a year, for example, you’ll want to put in at least $3,000 to get the extra free $1,500 from your employer). Increase your retirement savings one percent every year as your salary increases. Start an emergency fund: The goal is six to nine months of living expenses. Other considerations: get rid of student loans and other debt, or consider purchasing your primary home.

In Your 40s

Don’t assume that your retirement contributions can lapse while paying for your kids’ college education. Your retirement comes first. If needed, meet with a financial planner to get on track with retirement planning. If you have children, create or review your estate plan, review beneficiaries, and specify a guardian. If you’re married, talk about money with your spouse. It’s easy to put off thinking about money or hand over duties to someone else, but the person who has the most riding on your financial future is you. “I strongly encourage women to advocate for their financial security, be educated, and take control,” adds Higgins.

Saving For Retirement In Your 50s

Don’t assume you’ll have enough for retirement. Sometimes, people set the process in motion and realize they’re falling short on what they need. Consider downsizing your home or relocating to an inexpensive area in preparation for retirement. Review long-term care needs. Start the catch-up option in your retirement plan—for example, if you’re over 50 you can contribute an additional $6,000 to your 401(k). Evaluate medical needs for retirement and insurance coverage.

Related: Three Financial Stages of Life—Plus, the Goals to Accomplish in Each One

Employer-Sponsored Retirement

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Fire Prevention 52 RV Fire Safety 101 - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Fire Prevention 52: RV Fire Safety 101

20,000 RV Fires Occur Annually

RV fire safety is of premium importance to the conscientious RVer. Unfortunately, fire is one of the leading causes of RV loss in the U.S. today. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 20,000 RV fires occur annually. Don’t let yours be one of them!

RV fires can start when your RV is moving or when it is parked. The following tips can help you recognize the most common fire hazards. 

Before you go:

  • Make a pre-trip checklist and inspect your RV every time you hit the road.
  • Have three fire extinguishers for your RV–one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one outside in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle. Make sure every traveler knows where they are located and how to use them.
  • Test your smoke detector.
  • Have at least two escape routes and an escape plan. Practice it with your travelers.
  • Make sure all travelers can open the front door, hatches, and emergency exits.
  • Ensure that your RV’s carbon monoxide and propane detectors are properly located and functioning.
  • Spontaneous combustion can occur in damp charcoal. Before you travel, buy fresh charcoal, keep it dry, and store it in a covered metal container.
  • Ensure that the power cord for connecting your RV to a campground’s electricity supply is in good condition and of suitable gauge wire to handle the electrical load. Replace damaged cords immediately.

RV Maintenance is important:

  • Have your RV’s brakes checked. A dragging brake can create enough friction to ignite a tire or brake fluid.
  • Bouncing down the road can loosen electrical connections, which can produce heat, and in turn, fire. Tighten them before your trip.
  • Check all 12-volt connections before every trip. Many RV fires are caused by a 12-volt short.
  • Leaking fluids in the engine compartment can ignite. During your pre-trip inspection, check all hoses for firmness, clamp tightness, and signs of leaking. Have repairs made before you travel.
  • Mechanical or electrical failures cause roughly three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires. Proper maintenance will help reduce your chances of having malfunctions on the road.

Safety while driving:

  • At each rest stop, give your tires at least an eyeball check. Remember, a pressure gauge reading on hot tires is NOT accurate.
  • Shut off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving. If you have an accident or tire blowout while the propane is on, your injury and the damage to your vehicle can be significantly worse. If you elect to travel with the refrigerator operating on propane, you must turn it–and all appliances–off prior to entering a fuel stop. (FYI – Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for eight hours without running while you travel.)
  • Be cautious of where you pull over and park. A hot exhaust pipe or catalytic converter can easily ignite dry grass underneath your RV.

RV Fire Safety while you are camping (or parked):

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Never leave appliances that are plugged in and on unattended.
  • Turn off overhead exhaust fans when you leave the RV.
  • Don’t leave 12-volt lights on. Keep clothing and other burnable things away from them (like in storage spaces). They get very hot.
  • If the flame on your galley stove goes out while in use, unless you have run out of fuel, the gas will continue to flow and could result in an explosion. Turn off the stove and air out the RV before trying to relight.
  • Keep all combustibles–from paper towels to curtains–far enough away from your stove that they cannot catch fire.
  • Gasoline and propane can pose an immediate, explosive danger. Deal at once with any leaks or spills, and use all fuels in adequately vented areas. Operate your generator in an area where gasoline fumes cannot reach an ignition source.
  • Keep your campsite fire sources, such as fire rings, tiki torches, and lanterns, away from all vehicles.
  • RVs often have a very limited number of electrical outlets, and sometimes RVers use powerstrips to plug in more things. Don’t overload the electrical outlets! Circuit breakers don’t always prevent overloads from starting fires!
  • It’s best never to use an extension cord in an RV. If you must, make sure you use a HEAVY DUTY extension cord, and make sure the load you put on it is well within its safe load capacity. DON’T run any electrical cord under a carpet or floor mat.

If there is a fire:

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PFAS the extraordinarily costly liability you need to know about - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

PFAS: the extraordinarily costly liability you need to know about

A new and massively costly complication is changing environmental liability: cleanup of hazardous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in aqueous film-forming foams or AFFFs. Commonly used throughout the United States, these Class B firefighting foams are used to extinguish fires involving flammable and combustible liquids, oils, gases, and more. PFAS are held to some of the toughest cleanup standards among regulated contaminants. To make matters more challenging, there are few technologies proven to do the job – and many associated costs.

Cleanup costs of PFAS compounds in AFFF can be 5 to 20 times more than those of fuels released from a petroleum storage facility.1

What creates such high costs?

PFAS waste is managed by waste disposal companies as federal hazardous waste. Disposal costs are often nearly double the typical cost of disposal of petroleum-impacted waste. There are several factors at work here:

  • Limited soil treatment options. The only proven methods for treating PFAS in soil are excavation followed by landfill disposal or destruction via incinerator – both of which are costlier than methods used to dispose of other contaminants. 
  • Limited soil treatment resources. Because of the potential for extraordinary liability, only a limited number of landfills and incinerators accept PFAS waste.
  • High transport costs. With facilities few and far between, transporting PFAS-impacted soil can be four times higher than transporting petroleum-impacted waste.1
  • Limited groundwater treatment options. Only ex-situ technologies that include groundwater extraction wells and above-groundwater treatment systems with granular activated carbon or ion exchange resins are proven to treat PFAS in groundwater.
  • Long-term groundwater costs. A groundwater extraction and treatment system may need to operate for as long as 40 years, entailing significant operation and maintenance costs. 
  • Strict federal standards. The acceptable rate of PFAS is notably low, requiring a greater effort and more funds to achieve.

Breaking down cleanup costs

This outline of cleanup costs associated with PFAS contamination following a typical energy industry fuel fire shows the considerable scope of this threat.

$2.25M
Collection and disposal of 1M gallons of AFFF, water, and fuel at hazardous waste management facility

$12M to $54M
The projected cost for soil cleanup

$10M to $15M
The projected cost for groundwater cleanup

$1.8M
One year of stormwater runoff management (collection, transport, and disposal of 800,000 gallons of runoff at hazardous waste management facility)

TOTAL COSTS
$26.05M to $73.05M

How can vulnerable companies prepare?

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Tracking COVID-related securities litigation 4 reasons cases may be on the rise - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Tracking COVID-related securities litigation

Tracking COVID-related securities litigation: 4 reasons cases may be on the rise

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, many in the insurance industry anticipated a wave of litigation that would mirror the influx of lawsuits after the 2008 recession. During that year, investors trying to recuperate lost funds filed more than 200 new cases, increasing securities litigation by nearly 20 percent from 2007. So far, however, this prediction has not played out—at least not yet.

Courts have experienced a slowdown in securities-related lawsuits since the beginning of the pandemic, with only 29 cases filed since the initial shutdown. But some experts believe a surge of COVID-19-related litigation is on the horizon. In this article, we’ll explore what we know based on the COVID-19 securities cases that have been filed so far, and why there could be a rise in legal activity and related directors and officers (D&O) claims. 

COVID-19 securities litigation: what we know so far

Unlike other events that precipitate stock market crashes, the pandemic has had a unique impact on the economic and legal landscape—in large part because it’s unlike any other financial crisis we’ve experienced. Despite the uniqueness of the situation, however, it’s possible to identify several reasons why the pandemic hasn’t sparked the same rise in securities litigation that we saw in 2008.

Importantly, this time the government quickly provided aid to help offset the pandemic’s impact on the stock market. On top of that, many companies went above and beyond to share information with stakeholders following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) guidance from April 2020 to “disclose as much information as is practicable regarding [your company’s] financial and operating status(…).” These factors, plus the widespread belief that COVID-19 was just a temporary setback, likely kept many investors out of the courtroom.

Even with the litigation slowdown, however, there are a few cases currently working their way through the courts. The following is a breakdown of the three main types of COVID-19-related securities lawsuits experts have observed so far.

  • Outbreak-related cases

A few cases have been filed against companies that experienced outbreaks in their facilities. For example, some cruise-ship companies, prisons, and long-term care facilities are facing securities litigation.

  • Cases against false financial claims 

Companies that claimed to be able to profit from the pandemic are also facing litigation. For example, shareholders at some vaccine development companies recently sued over false claims around the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Cases in heavily impacted industries

Finally, shareholders with investments in companies most disrupted by the pandemic have started to file suits. Heavily impacted industries include real estate investment trusts (REITs) and businesses in the entertainment and travel industries.

4 areas of uncertainty around post-pandemic securities litigation

With so few cases in court today, why could there be a rise in COVID-19-related securities litigation and D&O claims? Here, we review four factors that could make an impact.

1. The nature of the stock market

Since March 2020, the stock market has been volatile, and it will likely continue that pattern for months, or even years. Because of this, reductions in stock prices will take time to develop. Many shareholders may wait until the market levels off to litigate to have a clearer picture of the long-term impact 

2. Stricter regulations from the SEC

According to news outlets, the new administration is signaling a tougher regulatory stance than its predecessor. If the SEC tightens restrictions and enforces stricter disclosures for publicly held companies, this may benefit future plaintiffs.

3. A lack of comparable cases and precedent

As noted above, there have only been a few securities lawsuits to date around COVID-19 losses, and most of the cases are still working their way through the court system. Without precedent to use as a guide, only time will tell if cases survive motions to dismiss and the percentage that is in favor of plaintiffs. If more plaintiffs pursue cases and are successful, it could whet the appetite for more suits.

4. Continued economic uncertainty

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Personal vehicles and business liability what risk managers need to know - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Personal vehicles and business liability: what risk managers need to know

If you’re a risk manager, safety officer, or a company stakeholder, you know the business liability exposure for company vehicles inside and out. You regulate and maintain your fleet and your drivers daily, and do everything you can to avoid being part of the more than 7 million auto accidents that occur in the U.S. every year.

But your liability may not end with your company fleet. If your business allows employees to use personal vehicles to conduct business, even only occasionally, you might be exposing your company to additional risk. Here are six areas to consider so your company can mitigate risk and better protect your employees and company.

1. Establish hiring guidelines

Limiting your company’s liability begins with establishing clear hiring practices. Just as you would for employees driving company vehicles, make sure employees who will drive personal vehicles on the job have valid driver’s licenses. For every driver, obtain a motor vehicle record (MVR) to review accidents, infringements, and other behind-the-wheel behaviors. Evaluate MVRs annually and confirm that all employees driving personal cars continue to maintain good driving records. If employees are found exhibiting unsafe behaviors, take whatever measures you feel are appropriate—including training, suspension, or even dismissal.

2. Clarify expectations for drivers

Require employees who are driving personal automobiles for business purposes to sign vehicle use agreements. This document should describe your expectations for employees while they are behind the wheel. For example, employees should agree to:

  • Abide by all state and local laws and regulations pertaining to vehicle operation;
  • Refrain from activities that could lead to distracted driving, including the use of mobile phones; and
  • Never consume alcohol or illicit substances during work hours.

The consequences for disobeying the agreement’s guidelines should be outlined as well. And remember to review and update these agreements regularly—and then obtain new signatures after staff review the revised agreement.

3. Evaluate liability coverage

Your business should also set standards for employees’ automobile liability coverage. In general, state coverage requirements are typically low. California, for example, only requires $5,000 coverage for property damages, while other states only require $10,000 to $15,000 coverage for bodily injury. But a serious accident, resulting in disabling injuries or fatalities, can result in claims costs in the millions.

Your insurance carrier and broker can help recommend minimum coverage requirements and also suggest changes to your company’s commercial auto coverage based on your potential exposure. Employees who use their personal vehicles for work frequently may also want to consider adding business use endorsements to their personal automobile policies. Maintain copies of employees’ certificates of insurance detailing coverage periods and limits and request updated copies every year.

4. Require regular vehicle maintenance

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National Hispanic Heritage Month - Shield Insurance Blog

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15

About National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

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Shield Insurance Agency - Types of insurance and the insurance companies Shield is proud to represent

Shield Insurance Agency Product List

Types of Insurance Shield Agency Provides

Shield Insurance Agency has been in business for so many years, we can shop a lot of different companies for a lot of different types of insurance to be sure you get what you need for the price you can afford. Check out the list!

Personal

  • Auto Insurance
  • Boat Insurance
  • Condo Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Event Insurance
  • Farm Insurance
  • Flood Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Mobile Homeowners Insurance
  • Motorcycle Insurance
  • Motorhome Insurance
  • Recreational Vehicle Insurance
  • Renter Insurance
  • Term Life Insurance

Business

  • Auto Facilities
  • Bond Insurance
  • Business Interruption
  • Cannabusiness
  • Church Insurance
  • Commercial Auto
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • Contractor Insurance
  • Cyber Liability Insurance
  • General Liability Insurance
  • Group Health Insurance
  • Group Life Insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Security Bond Insurance
  • Workers Compensation

Insurance Companies Shield Agency is Proud to Represent

AAA
Accident Fund
Aegis
Ambetter
American Modern
ASI
Assurity
Berkshire Hathaway GUARD
Berkshire Hathaway Homestate
Blue Cross Blue Shield/BCN
Bristol West
Companion Life
Conifer
Delta Dental

Foremost
Freemont
Genworth
Golden Rule
Grange
Hanover
HAP
Hiscox
Humana
ING
Liberty Mutual
Liberty Union
Medishare
Molina Healthcare
National General
Nationwide

North American Company
Philadelphia
Principal Financial Group
Priority Health
Progressive
Reinsurepro
RLI
Safeco
State Auto
Superior Flood
The Hartford
Transamerica
Travelers
United Healthcare
Unum
Wolverine


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What every new homeowner should know about home insurance - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

What every new homeowner should know about home insurance

Your home is most likely the biggest investment you will ever make in your life. That makes protecting your investment even more important. Home insurance protects lots of different things and all of them are customizable. You need to make sure you have the right type and amount of home insurance. Your independent insurance agent is here to help you make that choice. In Michigan, Shield Insurance Agency has a team of experts who are here for you.

You can choose the type of content coverage you want

Two types of content coverage are available to homeowners. The less expensive option is actual cash value. This pays you what something is worth today. What that means is your 10-year-old washing machine won’t have the value you need to get a new washing machine today. If you want to be able to actually replace things, you need to have replacement cost coverage.

Many things are a liability

Part of your home insurance is liability coverage. This protects you and the members of your family from lawsuits against you. It also pays for medical expenses if someone is hurt while visiting your home. If you have a dog, a pool, or a trampoline, you are at increased risk and should take that into account when choosing the amount of liability coverage you choose.

Home insurance doesn’t cover everything

Like most types of insurance, home insurance has some exclusions. Some may surprise you. Flooding is not a covered peril. Sewer backup is also not covered. Earthquakes and other types of earth movement are also excluded. Termite damage as well as other pest damage is not covered, since as a homeowner it is up to you to protect your home from these types of damage.

When you are ready to get your home insurance, Shield Insurance Agency will be here to help.

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How to Survive a Prolonged Power Outage - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Survive a Prolonged Power Outage

Approach appliances with caution, use gas to cook, and more tips on how to safely get through a power outage.

1. Write Important Information on Paper

During a power outage, your cell phone is your lifeline and you’re likely to want to keep it charged in case of an emergency.

Because you can’t depend on your phone indefinitely, write down phone numbers and addresses you might need, such as a nearby hospital, a school that’s providing supplies, the local library or storm shelter, or other public places that might have power—places where you’ll be able to go to recharge your electronics and contact loved ones.

Then conserve your phone’s battery life by switching the phone to a power-saving setting, such as airplane mode on an iPhone or economy mode on an Android device.

When you make your way to a local shelter or library, it’s a smart idea to take a power strip, says Maria Rerecich, senior director and head of product testing for CR.

This way, when you do find power, you can charge multiple devices at once—or share the makeshift charging station with others.

2. Use Gas to Cook Food That Will Spoil

In homes that have lost power but suffered little other damage, you can safely cook on a gas stove. But you’ll probably need to light the burner with a match or lighter because the electronic ignition on a stove won’t work if the power is out. And if you have a gas grill, cooking with it is another option. If you were able to properly store your grill before the storm, in a dry space such as a garage, and notice no water damage to the grill or gas tank, it should be safe to use it to grill food.

Food in your refrigerator can maintain a safe temperature—below 40° F—for about 4 hours on average. Cook any perishables (raw meat and soft cheese, especially) within this time period; otherwise, toss these items. Even after that 4-hour window, food can spend an additional 2 hours above 40° F before it becomes unsafe to cook. A full freezer should stay cold for about 48 hours after the power is lost; a half-full freezer should stay cold for about 24 hours.

Anything that you cook but don’t eat, you’ll need to throw out after 2 hours because you’ll have no way to keep it cool enough to prevent it from spoiling. (You can always share with the neighbors.) Good to know: Lots of homeowners insurance policies will cover the replacement cost of spoiled food, so it’s really not worth taking the risk of consuming it.

3. If You Have a Generator, Use It Safely

Running a generator improperly can kill you in as little as 5 minutes if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough. And it happens: An average of 60 to 70 people a year die a year from generator-associated carbon monoxide poisoning, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, so you won’t even know you’re inhaling it,” says Don Huber, CR’s director of product safety. “No matter what, resist the urge to move a portable generator inside the house or the garage.”

Operate a generator as far from the house as possible—CR recommends at least 20 feet—and direct the exhaust away from doors or windows. If you don’t have a transfer switch installed, you can run an outdoor-rated extension cord of the appropriate gauge from the generator’s outlets to individual appliances, provided the cords are properly rated and you follow certain precautions. The gauge of extension cord your generator requires will be specified in the user manual.

4. No Generator? Unplug Your Appliances.

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