Merlino & Gonzalez - March 2023

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March 2023




and turning on interior light timers) and perform it every night.

A recent article from the home and personal security company stated that, in 2017, New York had fewer burglaries per 100,000 residents than anywhere else in the United States. Statewide, there were just over 176 burglaries per 100,000 people, compared to about 265 per 100,000 people in New Jersey and more than 858 per 100,000 people in the most-burglarized state, New Mexico. That’s pretty impressive. Still, even though burglaries are relatively rare here, New York and New Jersey homeowners should still take steps to protect their residences from theft. Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or have lived in your current house for years, it is recommended that homeowners take these five steps: 1. Install an alarm system. According to AARP, a survey of convicted burglars found that 83% checked for alarm systems and 60% skipped protected houses. 2. Install a keyless smart lock so you won’t have to worry about thieves stealing or copying your keys. 3. Add motion-sensitive outdoor lights that will help catch burglars in the act and scare them away. 4. Keep your yard neat and tidy to ensure your home looks occupied. 5. Build a safety routine (e.g., locking doors and windows, arming your alarm system,

Hopefully, these steps will be enough to protect your home from burglars. If not, your homeowners insurance will protect you if you experience a break-in since it’s typically designed to cover losses from theft. It’s common sense to invest in security measures and great homeowners insurance. But those aren’t the only steps you can take to protect yourself if something goes wrong in your home. For example, what if your dishwasher fails and floods your kitchen, or your HVAC system goes out? Fixing these problems can cost just as much as dealing with damage left behind by a robber. To prevent that hit to your wallet, you may want to consider purchasing another form of protection: a home warranty. A home warranty is essentially extra homeowners insurance that covers replacing or repairing home systems and appliances when they break down. It’s an affordable way to handle repairs without hiring a contractor or draining your bank accounts. When choosing a home warranty, you should examine the policy closely. First, decide whether you need a more comprehensive policy (recommended for older homes) or a less

comprehensive one. Then, ensure the coverage or offer lines up with the appliances you own and want to protect. After that, look at your budget to see if you can afford the coverage you need. Most home warranty policies in New York can set you back a few hundred dollars a year, and you still have to pay service request fees whenever you require repairs. Last but not least, look for red flags in the fine print. Maybe your warranty won’t cover items with pre-existing defects, or the systems and appliances have to be in “good condition” to receive coverage — whatever that means. Be sure to contact your insurance company directly with any questions so they can help you understand your current contract. They can also assist with setting up a home warranty consultation to discuss your options if you haven’t done so already. Taking these steps will help you protect your home and, more importantly, the people and memories inside it!



Protect Your Child From Being Catfished Online


No. 2: Reiterate the ‘no sharing personal information online’ rule. In school, many kids learn it’s unsafe to share personal data online, but it may seem safe when they think they’re talking to a friend. Make sure your kids know that under no circumstance, even if they think they know someone, should they ever share their personal information online. No. 3: Know what your kids are doing online. By monitoring your child’s activity, you can better pick up on clues of catfishing, like an excessive amount of messages from one person or messages asking for personal information. Then, you and your child can work together to verify that the person is someone they really know. No. 4: Let your kids know that you’re here to help. Sometimes, when kids realize they’ve been catfished and may have given away personal information, they’re too scared to tell anyone and keep their fear and anxiety inside. Make sure your kids know you’re there to help them, no matter what, and if they’re ever catfished, you can help them stay safe moving forward.

There is a popular show on MTV titled “Catfish,” based on a 2010 documentary under the same name. This show is not about an aquatic species but instead about people entering relationships online with strangers who are not who they pretend to be — a “catfish.” While this show focuses on adults who are victims of catfishing, thousands of teenagers are catfished online every year. Typically, people who catfish teenagers are looking to exploit them or obtain private information for fraud. Whatever the circumstances, catfishing is dangerous, and parents should always be aware of the risks these online personas pose to their teen’s safety. So, here are 4 tips for parents to help prevent their children from falling prey to a pretend online friend. No. 1: Talk to your kids about only accepting the friend requests of someone they know. A good rule of thumb is that if your child has not spoken to the person in real life, do not accept the request. While many social media sites show you how many mutual friends you have with new requests, catfishers purposely use this to their advantage by friending people your child knows in real life to get around this feature. This way, it looks like they might know your child when in reality, they’re using a fake account.


6 Fun Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

That’s not his name. As mentioned earlier, St. Patrick is not his real name! When he became a bishop, Maewyn Succat changed his name to Patrick. He didn’t banish snakes. Legend has it that St. Patrick banished all of the snakes from Ireland. In fact, even some portraits depict him doing so. However, fossil records show that snakes were never present in Ireland around his lifetime. Corned beef and cabbage originated in America. On March 17, everyone loads up on corned beef and cabbage in celebration, but did you know that in Ireland, they ate ham and cabbage, and the corned beef tradition actually began in America? In the 19th century, Irish Americans bought leftover corned beef from ships returning from China. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened in America. Many believe that St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in Ireland, but in 1737, the first St. Patrick’s Day parades actually took place in Boston and New York City.

Year after year, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with green shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold, and Lucky Charms, but did you know that St. Patrick was actually British? Even more surprising, St. Patrick isn’t even his real name!

Get ready to celebrate the luck of the Irish while impressing others with some fun St. Patrick’s Day trivia.

The man’s British roots run deep. St. Patrick isn’t Irish — he was born in Britain around the end of the fourth century. Legend has it that at 16 years old, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Irish raiders. After six years, he was able to escape back to Britain and returned to Ireland much later as a Christian missionary. Ireland named him the country’s patron saint after he passed away. March 17 isn’t St. Patrick’s birthday. Many believe that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on his birthday, but it’s actually the day he died in 461 A.D.


LOCAL LUCK OF THE IRISH? 5 Fun Facts About the NY and NJ Irish Connection!

Irish and Italian immigrants worked together to build the Empire State Building. To step into that time period of the city’s history, check out the book “Empire Rising” by Thomas Kelly. 5. Hackettstown, New Jersey, has a sister city in Ireland: Hacketstown. reports that “the ocean-spanning connection began in 1995 when Joe Barnes, a retired firefighter in the Irish town, got a letter from Hackettstown, New Jersey.” The letter came from another firefighter, Jeff Saunders. Saunders wanted to learn more about Hacketstown’s fire department in Ireland, and a friendship was born. Representatives have traveled between the sister cities ever since. There you have it. Now that you’re wise to the ways of the Irish, grab your green and raise a pint to the old country. We’ll see you at the pub on Friday, March 17, for a Guinness.

across the ocean. No wonder we celebrate St. Patty’s with so much passion.

Happy almost-St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns! This is one of our firm’s favorite holidays, in part because we’re surrounded by Irish heritage, history, and culture. To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of fun facts about New York and New Jersey’s Irish roots. With these tidbits, you just might win St. Patty’s Day trivia at your favorite pub. 1. Cape May County, New Jersey, is the most Irish county in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, 30.2% of Cape May County residents claim Irish heritage, putting them .1% above Plymouth County, Massachusetts, in second place.

3. The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is older than the Declaration of Independence. According to the parade’s website, ​, the first procession happened on March 17, 1762. Not only does it predate the Declaration (and thus, the country) it claims to be “the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world.” 4. In the song “The Hands That Built America,” U2 credits Irish immigrants for building New York City. Considering U2 is an Irish rock band from Dublin, they may be a little bit biased. But it’s true that many Irish immigrants

2. The Irish-American population is seven times larger than the population of Ireland. It’s amazing how much traction one tiny, fierce island gained

worked construction here in the 1920s–30s. According to New York City’s Historic Districts Council,





• 1 tbsp white sugar • 1 large egg, beaten • 1 cup buttermilk • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

• 2 cups all-purpose flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp kosher salt


1. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside. 2. In a skillet, brown 1 tbsp of butter.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the beaten egg, buttermilk, and browned butter. 4. In a constant stream, add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients while stirring. Do not overbeat! 5. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1 tbsp of butter, stir until the skillet is coated, and then add a few large dollops of batter (about 3 inches wide) to the pan. Do not overcrowd. 6. Cook 4–5 minutes a side, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with butter, jam, and syrup.



394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314




How to Keep Your Home Safe Page 1

How You Can Prevent Your Teen From Being Catfished

6 St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts Page 2

Fun Facts About Our Irish Locals

Irish Pancakes Page 3

Soak Up Some Vitamin D Page 4

It counters osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, a loss in bone mass, is common as we get older. However, vitamin D is one of the key players in helping to slow down bone loss and prevent or treat osteoporosis so we can maintain a healthy skeletal system. It reduces the risks of depression. Studies have shown that those who are deficient in vitamin D become more prone to mood disorders and depression. To ensure that you support your mental health, step outside and get some happy, feel-good rays! It’s possibly linked to weight loss. While it’s not fully proven that vitamin D helps with weight loss, many studies have found links between vitamin D supplements and shedding a few pounds. In one study, one group of people taking vitamin D and calcium supplements lost more weight than another group taking placebos. It prevents and helps multiple sclerosis. Not only is vitamin D proven to lower a person’s chances of getting this horrible disease, but for those who already have it, it can also reduce symptoms or slow down the disease’s progression. This spring, be sure to get outdoors and soak up some vitamin D; however, don’t forget to protect your skin, too! To avoid overexposure, only about 10–15 minutes a day of unprotected sun is recommended.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D SOAK UP THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN

With spring on the horizon, we all will be able to get outdoors a little more and soak up some sun — and extra vitamin D! Bring on the picnics, pool days, hiking, sports activities, and leisurely walks through the park!

Let’s take a look at the many benefits this vitamin provides for our bodies.

It boosts your immune system. Vitamin D helps your body fight off sickness. In fact, it’s been proven that deficiencies in vitamin D are connected to an increased possibility of developing infections and autoimmune diseases such as the flu, heart disease, and diabetes. 4

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