Insurance Blog
Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 15:06

Top 3 Causes of House Fires

Home Fires Peak During Winter Months

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) the number one cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries is cooking equipment. But there are two other top causes as well. Learn how to prevent these major cause of home fires.

#1 Cause of House Fires: Kitchen Cooking

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:56

Pellet Stove Safety

It is common for many homeowners to use a pellet stove as a primary or secondary heat source during the cooler months. While these types of stoves can be convenient and economical, it is important to follow some critical guidelines and safety precautions when installing and operating pellet stoves.

First, the pellet stove installation should only be performed by a licensed and/or certified professional installer. (See National Fireplace Institute: http://nficertified.org). Improper installation can potentially lead to fire, smoke damage, and/or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Make sure your installer obtains a permit when installing a pellet stove. This will help ensure that the installation is done properly and will meet current building codes.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:50

Fireplace Safety & Maintenance

When the colder temperatures start to set in, many homeowners will turn to their fireplace, wood or pellet stoves as an additional heat source. While fireplaces can provide warmth and comfort, if you are not careful, they can also be a hazard. Keep in mind the following precautions to help ensure a safe winter season.

Keep Your Chimney Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

  • Have your chimney, fireplace, wood or pellet stove inspected and cleaned by a licensed chimney specialist. They should be maintained annually to help ensure they are functioning safely and efficiently. 
  • Be sure to keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and any other combustible materials.
  • If you have a wood burning, insert or pellet stove, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for additional guidance related to operation and venting.

Keep Fires Burning Safely

  • Be sure the flue is open before lighting your fire to help ensure the fireplace will vent properly. Do not close your damper until you are sure the fire is out.
  • When starting a fire, only use a match or commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Glass doors of a fireplace should be kept open while burning a fire. This allows the fire to receive enough air for complete combustion and to help reduce creosote build-up in the chimney.
  • Metal mesh screens should remain closed whenever your fireplace is in use to help keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Only use dry wood in your fireplace. Wet wood can increase creosote buildup, which can lead to chimney fires.
  • Do not burn plastic because it can release toxic chemicals and cause damage to your chimney, fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never burn a Christmas tree in your fireplace as the sparks from the burning needles can increase the risk for a chimney fire. Also, do not burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper or trash in your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in a fireplace unattended. Before leaving the house or going to bed, you should make certain to fully extinguish the fire.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them — ashes can take several days to cool completely. Never empty ashes directly into a trash can. Instead, place ashes in a covered metal container located at least 10 feet1 away from your home and any other building.

Keep the Outside of Your Home and Your Chimney Safe

  • Firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet away from your home.2
  • Your roof and chimney should be kept clean of leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Prune trees and branches to keep them away from your chimney.
  • Install a chimney cap with spark arrester to help keep debris, leaves, branches, and animals out, and to help prevent burning embers or sparks from escaping and creating a fire hazard.

Keep the Inside of Your Home Safe with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you can get you and your family out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly, and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly.

Source: 
1 National Fire Protection Association. (2015). Wood and Pellet Stove Safety. PDF accessed from http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets.
2 National Fire Protection Association. (2015). Wildland Fire Safety. PDF accessed from http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets.

Why it isn't safe to flash hazard lights while driving in the rain.

 

If you turned on your hazard lights in the rain while driving, then you may be breaking the law, depending on which state you live in. (See the list of New England state laws below.)

Officials stress that flashers should only be used while your vehicle is stopped or disabled on the roadway or shoulder -- hazard lights are a sign for emergency services for motorists who need assistance and may cause confusion and compromise your safety when used while driving.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 15:25

What is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Understanding Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Bodily injury liability coverage provides compensation for injuries to others, related legal expenses and damages your vehicle does if you cause an accident.

 
Monday, 26 November 2018 06:36

6 Ways To Avoid Holiday Package Theft

Online American consumers spent $50.6 billion this year through Black Friday, and sales for Cyber Monday are expected to reach or exceed an additional $7.8 billion. As a result, the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages, for a total of nearly 16 billion deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That means more packages delivered to homes — and more package thieves, also known as "porch pirates" are waiting to grab your holiday purchases. 

In 2017, InsuranceQuotes released a study revealing that 25.9 million Americans had a package stolen from their front porch or doorstep. — and that’s just during the holiday season.

Package theft can happen anytime but tends to happen more often during the holiday season. With more consumers shopping online every year, this number of thefts will undoubtedly climb. Package deliveries increase exponentially the two-and-a-half weeks before Christmas, according to Package Concierge, a company that provides package receipt systems for apartment buildings.

Part of the problem is that it’s so hard to guarantee a package is safe once it’s delivered. While you may add insurance to a piece of mail or package through the delivery service, once the package reaches your doorstep the coverage ends, as the insurance is aimed at covering any physical damage that may take place in transit. Even when dropped off at an apartment building, packages may go missing before recipients can claim parcels. To combat the issue, delivery services, retailers and startups are working to create alternatives to traditional home delivery that will prevent thieves from getting away with your items.

Monday, 15 October 2018 03:53

Can We Stop Robocalls & Scams Calls?

Telemarketing calls are both annoying and, in many cases, illegal. The following information is a compilation of consumer information published at the FCC and FTC websites as well as other sources. It is intended to help you recognize and avoid spam calls. Furthermore, you will discover options to reduce the number of daily calls that you receive.

6 Major Dangers Affecting Teen Drivers

National Teen Driver Safety Week runs from October 21-27. This is a great time to start a conversation about the six major dangers affecting teen drivers. Let them know that obeying the rules of the road is a prerequisite for the privilege of driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) recommends that parents remind their teens about the consequences of breaking the rules.

There were 3 explosions, 60 to 80 structure fires, 25 injuries, and 1 death resulting from the natural gas pipeline explosion in Merrimack Valley earlier this month. More than 8,500 gas customers were affected, according to Columbia Gas. It will be months before residents and business owners and their employees recover. As we continue to hear their stories, many people who were not affected are wondering if a gas explosion can happen to them — and if it does what can be done about it. In this article we answer several questions about what to do after a gas explosion as well as what to do if you smell gas inside or outside of a structure. 

Who oversees and regulates gas pipelines in Massachusetts?

The Office of Pipeline Safety partners with Massachusetts Pipeline Safety Division to regulate and monitor pipeline safety regulatory responsibilities.

The Pipeline Safety Division acts as the enforcement arm of the Department of Public Utilities, ensuring that operators of natural gas distribution companies, municipal gas departments, steam distribution companies, and other intrastate operators are in compliance with state and federal regulations governing safety. The Division also oversees utility operators and excavators to preserve public utility service through enforcement of the Dig Safe Law.

While the students enjoy the freedom and fun of summer, the parents start to count down the days until school starts again. One of the more daunting yet exciting times for both parents and teenagers happens during the summer between graduating high school and starting their freshman year of college. This is the start of many big life changes for everyone, which can also bring a lot of stress and questions. As a parent, an important question you may not be thinking about is what coverage your student will have when they go off to college. Are they covered under your homeowners policy? Do they need more coverage?

Many homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage for your college student while they are away at school. If they are residents of a college dorm, most insurance carriers provide coverage for their personal liability and personal property under the parents’ homeowners’ policy.

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