Insurance Blog
Monday, 21 November 2016 16:03

Safety Tips for Black Friday Shoppers

By Trusted Choice Staff Writer

 

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year.  When it comes to cashing-in on the day’s deals, the motto is “If you snooze you lose.”

Many stores will open at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and some retailers will even open their doors on Thanksgiving eve in hopes that they can entice people out of their post-turkey dinner food coma. For serious bargain-hunters, the day is the ultimate shopping extravaganza that requires a strategic plan, including store maps and item locations, that’s hatched days in advance. Others take a less organized approach, but are still hungry for a deal or this year’s hottest holiday toy.

The combination of too-good-to-be-true deals and shoppers hopped up on copious amounts of caffeine and tryptophan can be dangerous, though. Overzealous drivers can make parking lots a zoo and sleep-deprived shoppers are less likely to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, Black Friday, which is considered the unofficial start to the holiday season, also brings out thieves, pickpockets, and others who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.

Whether you’re leaving the house at the crack of dawn (or dusk) in search of Black Friday deals or saving your holiday shopping for the last minute, keep these safety tips in mind when navigating the parking lots and wandering the aisles.

On the Road and in the Parking Lot:

  • When backing out of a parking spot, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time, and motorists who speed through lanes.
  • Lock all doors and roll up all windows even when leaving the car for a short period of time.
  • When shopping, keep gifts in the trunk or hidden from view in the interior of the car. Also, put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
  • Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from general vision of others.
  • Make a mental note or write down exactly where you park your car to avoid wandering around longer than necessary.
  • During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from car doors or shopping carts. At night, avoid secluded areas and park directly under lights whenever possible.
  • Have your keys in hand when leaving a store. Also, look underneath your car before you reach it; criminals have been known to lie underneath in wait.
  • Bring gifts in the house with you instead of leaving them in the car.

In the Store:

  • Use a credit card to avoid thefts of large amounts of cash that are irreplaceable.
  • Shopping with a single credit card is preferable because it’s easier to cancel one, rather than several, if your wallet or purse is stolen.
  • Keep purses zipped and close to your body. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart where it is more susceptible to theft.
  • Keep a reference list of phone and account numbers for all your credit cards in a safe place at home.
  • If possible, carry keys, cash, and credit cards separate from each other.
  • For freedom of motion and clear visibility, do not overload yourself with bags when leaving a store and returning to your car. It’s difficult to defend yourself with when you’re carry a lot of packages.
  • Use ATMs in well-populated, well lit locations. Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
  • Remember there is increased safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone and leave malls and stores well before closing time to assure a more active parking lot. Ask mall security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.

In additions to remembering these safety tips, you should also review your insurance policies with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to make sure you have the proper coverage in case an accident or theft does occur. Liability coverage will protect you if you hit another motorist, collision coverage will cover the damage to your car, and comprehensive coverage will insure you for damage by vandals or theft of your vehicle.

Monday, 21 November 2016 15:54

Fry the Turkey, Not the House!


 

Thanksgiving is near and visions of fried turkeys already are dancing in more than a few heads.

Yet even as you are salivating, our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent hastens to caution you. The old joke that men love cooking only if it involves flames and danger is not so funny after an accident. Every year too many folks are harmed and homes are burned due to the combination of large pots of hot oil and big turkeys. Your homeowners' insurance may respond for the fire damages and your health insurance for the emergency room visit, but is that really the new Thanksgiving tradition you had in mind?

Fried turkey can be a great alternative to traditional oven-roasted fare, but be certain to take into account the much higher risk factors. Use a fryer designed specifically for turkeys, rather than jury-rigging other cooking equipment. Once you have the proper fryer, follow a few tips from the experts that can make the difference between taste sensation and flaming disaster: 

  1. Turkey deep fryers should always be placed outdoors, on a flat, preferably concrete surface located a safe distance away from anything combustible. Never use a turkey fryer in the garage, on a wooden deck, or anywhere near the house.
  2. Never leave the fryer unattended. Even after you are finished cooking, do not let pets or children near the unit. The oil in the fryer remains extremely hot for hours after cooking.
  3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. The best is a Class K wet chemical fire extinguisher. If fire erupts, do not throw water on it. Water cannot extinguish a grease fire and will cause the oil to spatter violently. Use common sense. If the fire is small, use the extinguisher, but dial 911 for emergency assistance before the blaze becomes unmanageable.
  4. Use oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola.
  5. Do not overfill the turkey fryer. If oil spills over?because the turkey is too large or the oil level is too high?flames can engulf the unit and endanger bystanders. Before frying, conduct this test: Put the unseasoned turkey into an empty fryer. Then fill the fryer with water until the turkey is fully submerged. If the turkey fits comfortably, mark the water level. When preparing to cook, dry the fryer thoroughly. Then fill it with oil to an inch shy of your level mark to allow for expansion of the oil as it heats. 
  6. Thaw the turkey completely and dry it with paper towels. Injected marinades are fine, but season the turkey skin with a dry rub. Excess water in a partially frozen or wet turkey will cause the pot to bubble over, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
  7. Most turkey fryers do not come with a thermostat, and if left unattended may overheat, resulting in combustion. Turkey fryer thermometers and other accessories are available.
  8. Use heavy oven mitts or well-insulated potholders. The lid, handles, and sides of the cooking pot become very hot, posing a severe burn threat. Protective eyewear is also recommended.

Your Trusted Choice agent at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance always stands ready to offer advice and a comprehensive review of your current insurance coverage and needs. But when it comes to safety, remember: The best claim is the one you never have to make. Whether you’re tending a deep fryer or waiting on the timer to go off on your oven, be safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Friday, 18 November 2016 16:05

Don’t Be a Turkey: Home Safety Myths

From Trusted Choice

 

While there may be no place like home for the holidays, Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance agency hastens to remind you that persistent myths about home safety cause unnecessary home dangers. Here are just a few commonly accepted “safety tips” that may be increasing your chance of damage and injury:

  1. Frying turkeys is safe, as long as you use the proper equipment. Even with the best equipment designed specifically for frying turkeys, experts have an extensive list of additional safety precautions. Those include: proper thawing, proper filling, use of protective gloves and eyewear, proper placement of the fryer on a level surface away from flammable areas, and keeping the correct type of fire extinguisher handy.
  2. You can test a smoke detector just by pushing the button. No, that just tests the battery. What about actual detection of smoke or fumes? One recommendation is to put two or three wood kitchen matches together, light, blow out the flame, then hold near the smoke detector to see if it reacts to the smoke.
  3. Stone countertops are indestructible (meaning, they don’t burn or break). While some materials are clearly more resistive to heat and flame, no countertop is totally immune from damage if extremely hot pots are placed on the surface; cracks, scarring and chipping from harsh treatment or certain cleaners can also make render your favorite kitchen upgrade more susceptible.
  4. If you do it yourself, there is no need for an official inspection. Governmental permitting and inspections are intended to verify that materials and techniques are safe and that they comply with local building codes. Even when doing it yourself, check with local authorities on proper permitting and availability of trained inspectors to help assure your “fix-up” doesn’t turn into a “breakdown” or worse.
  5. Basements sustain water damage through the floor. Most water enters a basement from the sides or above. If you want to protect your basement (can you say “man cave”?) and its valuable contents from water damage, then make weatherstripping the windows a higher priority than waterproofing the floor.
  6. New house equipment needs little or no maintenance. While it is true that newer equipment should be inherently safer, the increased amount of electronics in upgraded models makes following the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance procedures even more important. Those electronics also make newer equipment more susceptible to cold weather power outages and brownouts. And a winter holiday when your home is filled with friends and relatives is the exact wrong time to lose your heater.

Be mindful of these and other common safety misconceptions, so you can spend the holidays celebrating, not frantically redialing your contractor’s emergency number.


When More Than the Turkey Gets Fried

Did you know that a large percentage of home fires occur during the holidays? And while decorations and Christmas trees are major causes, turkey fryers are rapidly becoming a significant cause. According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year deep fryer fires cause an average of:

  • 1,000 home fires
  • Three times the fire damage of other forms of cooking
  • Five deaths
  • Sixty injuries
  • More than $15 million in property damage

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