Techniques to Avoid Crashes

Most crashes are not inevitable. While some are beyond your control, you can do a lot to avoid, or at least reduce the effects of, many crashes. While a defensive driving program will teach you many useful techniques for avoiding accidents, a few of the most important methods are highlighted here.
Left turns at intersections: This is one of the major accident situations involving older drivers. That’s because there can be many elements demanding your attention, such as other cars, pedestrians, kids on bikes, or a changing light – and a driver who is trying torun it. Impaired depth perception and other vision changes can make this a treacherous situation. Exercise greater caution while making a left-hand turn or choose a route that avoids difficult turns.
Rollovers: These types of accidents are responsible for 33% of car fatalities. Of those killed in rollover crashes, nearly 75% were not wearing a safety belt. Vehicles that are narrow and taller, such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans, have a greater likelihood of rolling over. This is another factor to consider when selecting a vehicle. Of course, always wear your safety belt and don’t speed.
Changing lanes: This type of accident is a major problem for adult drivers. As we age, we may have more difficulty turning our heads to look at cars approaching in an adjoining lane. Rear-view mirrors are important safety tools, but they’re not enough. Turn your head and look for approaching traffic in the lane into which you’ll be moving.
• Parking lots: It will be no surprise to anyone who has driven, even for a short period of time, that most parking lots are driving nightmares. Cars are backing up, often with the side views blocked by large vehicles, trucks or buildings; shoppers are hurrying to and fro without a glance left or right; and children newly released from the confines of their cars are running across driving lanes. The best advice:

– Park so that you can drive forward from your spot when it’s time to leave, if at all possible.
– Park farther away in the parking lot if you can, so you will have fewer cars and pedestrians to contend with as you depart.
– Drive very slowly in the lot and be prepared to stop quickly at every intersection, whether or not you have a stop sign.
– Watch for drivers who can’t be bothered driving in the established lanes, and who choose instead to follow their own direct route diagonally across the lot.
– Remember that you want to simply avoid an accident, not to show that you have – and intend to take – the right of way!

Cell phones and other electronic gadgets: Whether you’re talking on a cell phone, texting, using your laptop or any other device not related to driving, you will be distracted from the task at hand – safe driving. State traffic laws are beginning to catch up with the common use of electronic devices, often banning their use while driving. Pull over when you need to use any electronic device.
Dark, rainy nights: These driving situations are difficult at any age, and they’re especially dangerous for us as we age. By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we have already noticed that our vision is less sharp on dark, rainy nights. Do your best to avoid driving in these conditions if you are uncomfortable. Now is the time to ask for a ride or, if possible, to put off the errand or visit until tomorrow.

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Your Pets as Passengers

It is asking a lot to expect a pet to behave in acar, so it’s important to create an environment that’s safe for both your pet and you.
Dogs
Small dogs often prefer to curl up on someone’s lap – and if that lap belongs to the driver, you have an unsafe situation. Car seats for small dogs are available through catalogs and in pet shops. Used with a back seat safety belt and a harness (never a collar!) on the dog, they keep pets in place, are soft and comfortable, and enable little critters to see out the windows – keeping everyone happy!
In addition to car seats, there is a wide range of travel harnesses designed for dogs of all sizes. These buckle into most standard safety belts to secure the dog safely and securely. Some dogs may be more comfortable in a travel crate. If
that’s true for your pooch, be sure the crate is secured within the vehicle.
Cats
Although they don’t generally like riding in cars, cats are safest in carriers – which should be restrained, preferably by safety belts. An unrestrained carrier will do nothing to protect the cat in the event of a crash – and will pose a danger to you and your passengers.
Pet Safety Tips
• Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car.
• All pets should ride in the back seat, away from the passenger side air bag.
• Pets that are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or become ill from having cold air forced into their lungs.
• Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.

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Teenage Driving Safety

Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility. Consider that over half of all motor vehicle accidents could be avoided if drivers would just make intelligent driving decisions. Teenagers are most at risk because they may not have the experience or maturity to be able to consider the consequences of their actions. It’s critical that good driving habits are formed early…they can last you a lifetime!

 Teens and their parents should take a few moments to review the following information. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about things you can do to make your driving as safe as possible:

Statistics that make you think twice

Automobile accidents are the number one killer of our nation’s youth.

Drivers under the age of 20 were involved in 13% of all accidents, yet they account for only 5% of all drivers.

5,000 teenagers die each year from auto accidents.

Alcohol is responsible for almost half of all teen motor vehicle deaths.

25% of all teen accidents involve speeding.

Half of all teenage traffic fatalities occur between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

In one year, drivers 19 and under were involved in close to 3 million motor vehicle accidents.

The price of a bad decision can include injury to yourself or others, loss of life, loss of life style or loss of personal freedom.

Ways to Prevent Accidents

While no one has full control over the circumstances surrounding a motor vehicle accident, there are things that can be done to reduce your chances of being the cause or being involved in one. Here are some smart decisions you can make while you’re behind the wheel:

Always pay complete attention. Avoid cell phone use and putting on make-up in vehicle while driver.

 Drive defensively. If you assume that other drivers are not as skilled and thoughtful as you are, you will instinctively become more careful and cautious when on the road.

Try not to speed. When you speed, you have less time to react, less time to make the right decision.

Never drink and drive. Alcohol can seriously impair your decision-making skills and reaction time.

Take the keys away from friends who have been drinking.

Give friends rides home if they have been drinking.

Ways to keep insurance premiums for teens as low as possible

A number of factors are taken into consideration when insurance companies set rates for automobile policies. Among those factors are the type of vehicle and the age, gender and driving record of the insured. Companies pay close attention to the number of accidents a driver has had and the traffic tickets (from speeding, running a stop sign, etc.) received. In their view, past performance serves as a meter for future behavior — therefore, these drivers pose a higher risk.

 While you have no control over your age or gender, you can influence your driving record by forming and maintain good driving habits. Here are some other ways you might be able to save on premiums:

 Are you a good student, B average or better? Most companies offer discounts for these students.

Complete a driver’s training course. Teens who take Driver’s Ed are considered safer drivers than the average teen.

The longer you drive, the more experienced you become.

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Home Maintenance Tips

Protecting Your Investment

If you know where every nickel of your new home’s down payment came from, shouldn’t you also know where every penny will go? Buying a home will probably be the biggest investment of your lifetime. And that’s why before you sign on the dotted line, you should give the house a thorough inspection. When inspecting a house, especially an older residence, you must try to determine the extent of deterioration, how much work you can personally handle, how much it will cost to have a professional do the work, and what problems you can live with. Most of all, safety should be your major concern.

We  share your concern for a safer house. Here is a checklist of some items the home buyer should look for when inspecting a house. Some points are major and may require consultation with a licensed professional. Others can be taken care of by a person handy with a hammer and nail.  Please take a few moments to review the following inspection and maintenance tips:

 

 

Water damage/Plumbing

  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is located and know how to turn the water off.
  • Inspect all exposed pipes for leaks.
  • Inspect ceilings and walls for water spots, peeling paint, and loose ceiling tiles for hidden leaks.
  • Check all faucets for leaks or corrosion.
  • If exposed pipes in the basement exist, make sure warm air is circulated throughout. An insulating wrap is a good alternative to treat exposed pipes in unheated areas.
  • Bleed all pipes of air.
  • Shut off and drain outside water lines before winter in locations subject to freezing.
  • Inspect the rubber connecting hoses for dishwashers and washing machines. Replace every 3-5 years or sooner if evidence of rot appears.
  • Equip your showers, sinks, and tubs with drain screens to catch the debris, hair, and bits of soap that can cause clogs and back-ups.
  • Never flush items like diapers, Q-tips, sanitary napkins, or tampons down a toilet.

 

Roof

  • Have the roof inspected for damage such as lifting of shingles, missing shingles, holes, or wear. Be careful if you need to use a ladder or climb on the roof.
  • Flat or hot asphalt roofs should be resealed every three years and professionally checked every ten years.
  • Inspect around all roof penetrations (such as flashing and chimneys).
  • Inspect and clean all gutters and down spouts.
  • Repair damaged gutters and down spouts.
  • Have excessive snow or ice build-up removed.

 

Electrical

  • Inspect exposed wiring for wear or damage. Be careful not to touch wiring.
  • Inspect the fuse or circuit breaker box for excessive wear or damage. Look for tripped breakers.
  • Label with a pen or permanent marker each circuit breaker, noting which location it serves. If you have fuses, also note the amperage.
  • Make sure appropriate fuses are being used and all sockets are filled. Do not use pennies or foil to fill the sockets.
  • Eliminate all situations where more than one electrical unit is plugged into a single outlet.
  • Check electrical units for overheating.
  • Major appliances should be plugged into appropriate outlets.
  • Do not place floor coverings (e.g., carpeting) over electrical cords.

 

Heating

  • It’s tempting to use supplemental heating devices (such as electrical or kerosene heaters) during the winter. If they must be used, keep them away from flammable materials and surfaces that can ignite from prolonged dry heat. Do not store additional fuel in the same room.
  • Have furnace/air conditioners professionally cleaned and serviced annually (including the filter).
  • Inspect underground fuel tanks.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean creosote build-up in chimney.

 

General security

  • All exterior doors should have deadbolt locks.
  • Do not leave personal property (such as lawnmowers, bikes or grills) unsecured outdoors.
  • A heat and smoke detector should be on every floor. It’s recommended that detectors be powered by an electrical source with a battery back up.
  • Check heat and smoke detector batteries every 3 months. Test heat and smoke detectors when checking the battery.
  • A fire extinguisher should be located in the kitchen and near the furnace. Household members should be taught to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Motion sensitive outdoor lighting is suggested for added safety and security. If it’s affordable, central station burglar and fire alarms are another security alternative.
  • Neighborhood watch groups are also suggested.
  • Do not hide a spare key outside your premises.

 

Liability

  • Keep walkways, stairs and sidewalk free of obstacles.
  • Shovel snow as soon as possible and use salt/sand substances to reduce ice formation.
  • Keep stairs, porches, stoops and their rails in good repair.
  • Maintain and use outdoor lighting.

If you own a dog, you should enroll it in Canine Good Citizenship classes offered by the American Kennel Club. The dog does not have to be a pedigree to attend.

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Homeowner’s Insurance to Value

Insurance to Value. Properly protecting your single most important asset – your home. Now that’s a big responsibility. Selecting the proper amount of coverage for your home is the single most important decision you can make with your Homeowners policy. Without it, you may not have enough coverage to rebuild after a total loss. In the industry, this process is called Insurance to Value (ITV).

What is Insurance to Value?
Insurance to value (ITV) is the amount of coverage listed under ‘Coverage A’ on your policy declarations page. It is often referred to as “Dwelling coverage” or “Coverage A – Dwelling”. It refers to the amount required to completely reconstruct your home in the unfortunate event of complete destruction.
Why is Insurance to Value different than the value of my home?
A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions, taxes, school districts, the value of the land, location, and other factors that have nothing to do with the actual cost of rebuilding a home and replacing all of its contents. With ITV, you will have the proper amount of coverage to reconstruct your home – not what it was worth on the current market.
Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?
New-home builders typically build many homes at once, and bid out the jobs to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale. For example, they may purchase 20 bathtubs at once, securing a lower unit cost. Reconstruction cost for a single home is more expensive since there are no savings when buying just one replacement bathtub.
How your agent can help.
Selecting the right ‘Coverage A’ amount is your responsibility. Sound like a big obligation? Luckily, we are here to help. We uses the industry leading underwriting tool to estimate what it would cost – including materials and labor – to rebuild your home from the ground up. Like any estimation this will not perfectly capture every specific building item in your home. You should use it as a starting point and add to it depending on your home’s specific features. Be
sure to work with your agent as they can provide you with helpful information to make the right ‘Coverage A” selection.

Follow these simple steps to help ensure your home is insured to full value.
• Work with your agent to provide detailed information at time of purchase to be sure that you receive a thorough and accurate quote.
• Ask your agent about additional coverage options that may be available in your state.
• Review your Insurance to Value calculation on a regular basis with your agent.
• Report any changes or improvements that you make to your home to your agent so that you can re-evaluate your coverage needs.

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Grilling Safety

More than 3 billion barbecues are lit each year. Barbecuing can be fun, fast, and delicious, but also dangerous or even deadly if you are not careful. The Insurance Information Institute offers the following tips to make sure that your grilling experience is a safe and enjoyable one:

When you get ready to barbecue, it is important to protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm.

With gas grills, make sure the gas cylinder is always stored outside and away form your house. Make sure the valves are turned when you are not using them. And, check regularly for leaks in the connections using a soap and water mix that will show bubbles where the gas escapes.

Barbecue grills should be kept on a level surface away from the house, garage, landscaping, and most of all, children.

For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for those grills. Never use gasoline! And use a limited amount of starter fluid. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary, but don’t ever add liquid fuel to re-ignite or build up a fire or you could end up with a flash fire.

Finally, be sure to soak the coals with water before you put them in the trash.  Always remember that grills remain hot long after you are through barbecuing.

In case of an emergency:

If you do get burned, you need to run cool water over the burn for 10 – 15 minutes. You never want to put butter or a salve on burns because they will seal in the heat and just cause further damage to your skin. And, of course, if you receive a serious burn, the sooner you get some medical attention the better.

 

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Buses, Bikes and Cars: Keeping Children Safe

It’s no secret that children view the world differently from adults. They don’t have the skills necessary to analyze dangerous situations or the consequences of their actions. It’s our responsibility as adults and parents to teach them the right way to do things through constant discussion and reminders. By creating good habits from the start, we may be able to prevent accidents from happening. The following tips should be helpful and discussed often with your children: 

Automobile safety: Be aware of children 

Did you know that one out of four pedestrian-vehicle collisions involves a child under 15 years of age. Most fatalities occur among those between ages 5 and 9.  They may be told, but still don’t understand the threat of vehicles to their safety.  

AAA recommends that you keep the following safety tips in mind:  

  • Follow all traffic signs and symbols.
  • Drive slowly near schools, playgrounds and residential areas.
  • Watch for signs that children are in the area, such as buses, bikes, safety patrols and crossing guards.
  • Stop and leave adequate space between your vehicle and a stopped school bus regardless of the direction in which you are traveling.
  • Watch for students rushing to catch their bus.
  • Use extra care when the weather is inclement or when the sun impairs your vision.  

Bus safety for motorists

 

  • Know your state’s school bus laws and obey them. Generally, flashing yellow lights mean caution, the bus is about to stop. Flashing red lights mean stop, children are getting on or off.
  • When red lights are flashing, all traffic (in both directions) must stop.
  • Failure to obey school bus laws carries hefty fines that vary from state to state. In Connecticut, for example, fines of up to $500 are assessed for the first offense. Second offenses carry fines of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail. Also, convicted drivers face cancellation of their current auto insurance policies and find it extremely difficult to get future coverage.  

Bus safety for students 

The Connecticut School Bus Drivers Alliance recommends these simple bus safety rules:

  • Arrive at your bus stop on time.
  • Wait for the bus in a safe place, away from the curb.
  • Enter the bus in an orderly manner and take your seat.
  • Listen to and follow all of your bus driver’s instructions.
  • Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
  • Keep the aisle clear at all times.
  • Do not throw objects inside the bus or outside the window.
  • Be sure to tie your shoes and pack all papers inside your bag before getting off the bus.
  • Do not stand or walk behind the bus since the driver can not see you.
  • Meet your parents on the same side of the street that the bus lets you off.
  • If you must cross the street when boarding or leaving the bus, be sure to walk where you can see the driver (and therefore the driver can see you!). Wait for the driver’s signal for you to cross, making sure that you look both ways for cars.  

Safe biking 

Every day at least one child dies in a bike-related accident, and another 1,000 are seriously injured. Contrary to popular belief, most of these injuries are caused by simple falls due to road conditions and not from car collisions. Many of these injuries can be avoided if cyclists just use proper equipment for protection, follow the rules of the road and remember to treat their bicycles with respect.

Here are some simple rules you should review with your children:

  • Bikes are vehicles, not toys. Treat them as such.
  • Always wear your helmet. A properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce your child’s risk of serious head injury by 85%. In many states, wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the law!
  • Wear reflectors on your clothing after dusk.
  • Walk you bike across busy intersections.
  • Keep your bike in good shape, especially the brakes.
  • Follow the rules of the road just like all other vehicles.
  • Don’t drive against traffic…drive on the same side of the road as cars.
  • Obey all stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Don’t ride more than one person to a bike.
  • Don’t ride at night when drivers can’t see you.
  • Don’t ride in the street unless you know the rules.
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Top 10 Flood Questions

Here are the 10 most frequently asked questions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

10. Can’t I just wait until it starts raining to buy Flood Insurance coverage?

Not if you want to be covered. Under most circumstances you’ve got to wait 30 days from the time the premium and application are received to be covered. So you can buy the coverage when it starts raining, but it won’t protect you until 30 days later. The only way to circumvent the 30-day waiting period is if your community has revised its flood map within the last year or this is your first purchase and it is required by a lending institution to close a loan.

 

9. Aren’t the NFIP limits too low to matter?

Not anymore. The 1994 improvements to the National Flood Insurance Program bumped up the limits on single family residences to $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the structure’s contents. Even commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for contents. Replacement cost coverage is available for structures on a limited basis for single-family dwellings that are primary residences.

 

8. I can’t qualify for coverage because I’m not in the flood plain. Right?

Wrong. Almost everyone in a participating community qualifies for coverage and almost every community participates in the program. Remember to set the policy limits to the full value of your structure and buy contents coverage too.

 

7. Isn’t it too tough to sign up and not worth my time since I’m in a low to moderate risk area?

Today it is even easier for people in zones coded B, C, and X to secure coverage. And more than 30% of all NFIP flood claims come from these low to moderate risk areas.

 

6. Can I finance my purchase?

Sure, Companies accept all major credit cards.

 

5. Do I have to wait until a completed elevation certificate is issued to me?

No. With provisional rating,companies can make coverage available even before an elevation certificate is complete (required on homes built after December 21, 1974 in map zones coded A or V). So you won’t need to delay closing on a loan or settlement of a property.

 

4. Is my basement covered?

NFIP policies have some coverage for basement elements: cleanup expense and items such as furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers, air conditioners, freezers, utility connections, and pumps are included. Contents in a finished basement are excluded, as are a basement’s finished walls, floors, and ceilings.

 

3. Can’t I just hold out for federal disaster assistance.

Hardly. Federal disaster assistance is declared in less than half of all flooding incidents. Besides, the annual premium for a NFIP policy is less expensive than the interest on most federal disaster loans. The only real option is to get insured before the loss. Even if a federal grant or loan is awarded to you after a major flood, you’ll probably be required to use part of the proceeds to purchase a NFIP policy.

 

2. Can I buy NFIP coverage through The Ormond Agency?

You bet. We work with carriers that write through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the administrator of the NFIP so that we can make flood coverages available to our customers.

 

1. Doesn’t my homeowners policy cover floods?

NO. Most major insurance companies  do not offer flood protection as part of their homeowners coverage. Catastrophic risks created by floods are just too costly and would raise homeowners premiums too high. The NFIP is the only way for homeowners to address the risk of flood. 

 

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Helpful Tips When Filing a Claim

When filing a claim, your insurance agent or Company Claims Representative will be able to answer specific questions you have about the claims process. In the meantime, below are some helpful tips for customers filing claims.
DO NOT MAKE PERMANENT REPAIRS:

Cover roof and valuables to prevent more damage.

Make only temporary repairs, those designed to protect your home from further damage, before a claims representative’s inspection.
KEEP RECEIPTS:

Keep receipts for temporary repairs made to protect your home from further damage. If you are unable to live in your home as a result of the damage, keep receipts for any costs incurred for additional living expenses (lodging, meals, etc.).
INVENTORY ITEMS:

 Inventory your damaged items. Include photographs and any information you have about them, such as manufacturer, model and year purchased.
KEEP DAMAGED ITEMS:

Until the claims representative’s inspection, do not discard damaged items. If the items must be disposed of due to safety hazards, be sure to take photos or video footage showing the damage.
USE ONLY LICENSED CONTRACTORS:

Inventory items in home prior to a loss.

When requesting bids for repair work, use only reputable, licensed contractors. Provide photocopies of all estimates and bids received to your claims representative, as available.
REPORT THEFT OR BURGLARY TO THE POLICE:
Before contacting your insurance agent or claims office, report theft or burglary to the police.
WATER LEAKS:

Contact a plumber to determine the source of the water leak. Your insurance agent or claims representative can recommend a water extraction company to assist with clean up and help prevent further damage.

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Tips on Choosing and Using Safe Fireworks

It is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. Items such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks, they are federally banned explosives. They can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that isn’t clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use. Here are some more tips to help ensure a safe Fourth of July:

Have and Fun and Safe Fourth of July!

Fireworks are not toys. Fireworks complying with strict regulations enacted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1976 function primarily by burning to produce motion and visible or audible effects. They are burning at approximately the same temperature as a household match and can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.

NEVER give fireworks to young children. Close, adult supervision of all fireworks activities is mandatory. Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.

Select and use only legal devices. If you choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, check with your local police department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area.

Stay away from illegal explosives. Illegal explosive devices continue to cause serious injuries around the Fourth of July holiday. These devices are commonly known as M-80s, M-100s, blockbusters or quarterpounders. Federally banned since 1966, these items will not contain the manufacturer’s name and are usually totally unlabeled. Don’t purchase or use unlabeled fireworks. If you are aware of anyone selling such devices, contact your local police department.

Homemade fireworks are deadly. Never attempt to make your own devices and do not purchase or use any kits that are advertised for making fireworks. Mixing and loading chemical powders is very dangerous and can kill or seriously injure you. Leave the making of fireworks to the experts.

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Have an adult present.
  • Buy from reliable sellers.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives.
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