Insurance Blog
Thursday, 03 November 2016 04:42

Manage the "Four C’s" of Winter Fire Risks:

Chimneys. Candles. Cooking. Christmas. Children.

winter fire hazardsThanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—these holidays mean celebrations, many of them in decorated homes filled with merry-making family members and friends.

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents also know that the winter holidays bring greater-than-usual risks of fire in homes.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that, over the course of a calendar year, the 10 worst days for fires in homes fall between December 24 and January 6.

Fortunately, these risks can be reduced with safe practices that address the “five Cs” of winter fires: chimneys, candles, cooking, Christmas trees and children.

Chimneys

Buildup or blockage within a chimney can catch fire. Chimney fires are unpredictable: they can be noisy and fierce, or can smolder undetected.

Common-sense tips:
  • If you haven’t checked or cleaned the chimney in the past two years, don’t use it.
  • Have a pro inspect the chimney for creosote (which is what builds up in a chimney and fuels a chimney fire)
  • Use dry wood. This minimizes creosote buildup.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper, boxes, trash or Christmas trees.
  • Don’t use liquid to start a chimney fire. Use kindling.

Remember fireplace basics, too: use a screen to contain sparks; and let ashes cool before disposing of them in a metal container.

Candles

Home-candle fires happen on Christmas Day more often than any other day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Next worst: New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve. How do they start? Half of home-candle fires begin because an item is left near a lit candle. Four of 10 home candle fires start in bedrooms, with bedding, furniture, and curtains igniting.

Common-sense tips:
  • Make sure all candles are out before you leave a room or go to bed.
  • Keep clothing, curtains, furniture, and other flammable items away from candles and flame.
  • Use candle holders that don’t tip over.

Cooking

The National Fire Protection Association notes that 46% of all home fires start in the kitchen.  

Common-sense tips:
  • Keep an eye on what you fry
  • Be alert when cooking
  • Keep things that can catch fire away from cooking area
  • Never leave your cooking unattended
  • Turn off your cooking equipment when you leave the room

Christmas Trees

The National Fire Protection Association notes that 300 home fires start each year with Christmas trees. It’s not just live trees; artificial trees also burn. Three major reasons Christmas-tree fires start: electric malfunctions, heat too close to the tree, and children playing with matches, candles, or fireplaces.

Common-sense tips:
  • Buy a cut tree that has green, fresh needles.
  • Buy a fake tree that is fire resistant.
  • Use a secure stand.
  • Locate trees a minimum of three feet from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators.
  • Water live-cut trees every day.
  • Use lights listed by an industrial laboratory. Link together, at most, only three strands of bulbs.
  • Throw out lights that have frayed or broken cords.
  • Pull the plug on lights before going to bed or leaving home.
  • When a tree starts dropping needles, it’s time to dispose of it (outside, not in the house, garage or basement).

Children

Perhaps the most unpredictable risks for winter fire are those young people who are, naturally, exploring and experiencing the wonders of the winter world for the first time. Remember that lights and flames are fascinating to children.

Common-sense tips:
  • Watch the wires. Keep kids away from light strands and power cords.
  • Matches, candles, stoves and ovens often get extra use during the holidays, at a time when adults are occupied with cooking, cleaning and entertaining. Stop and ask: “What might draw a child’s curiosity in this house?” Then shield children from those items, physically and through discipline and direction.
  • Put matches/lighters out of children’s reach. Use lighters that have a child-resistant safety feature.
  • Train children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker agents stand ready to assist consumers with a homeowners insurance claim. The best claim is no claim, though. Use these common-sense practices to prevent home fires.

Thursday, 03 November 2016 04:15

Drive Safely: Give Wildlife a “Brake”

Drive Safely: Give Wildlife a “Brake”

Slow down! Plus six more ways to lower your risk of hitting an animal (and what to do if a collision occurs)

The Humane Society of the United States

Animals are forced to cross roads and highways in search of food, water, cover and mates—placing them in the path of our speeding vehicles. So what can you do? First and foremost, slow down! Keeping your speed in check gives you a better chance of stopping in time if an animal darts into the road.

Read and share our lifesaving tips, especially with younger drivers you know. (Reports suggest that young adults ages 15-24 have the highest injury rate of any age group from car accidents involving large animals.)

  • Follow speed limits.Many animals are hit simply because people drive too fast to avoid them. Taking it slow makes the roads safer for other drivers and pedestrians, too.
  • Watch for wildlife in and near the road at dawn, dusk and in the first few hours after darkness.Keep in mind that where there is one animal, there are probably others—young animals following their mother or male animals pursuing a female.
  • Be especially cautious on two-lane roads bordered by woods or fields, or where streams cross under roads.Most animal/vehicle collisions occur on these roads. Slow down to 45 mph or less.
  • Scan the road as you drive, watching the edges for wildlife about to cross. This will also make you more aware of other hazards such as bicyclists, children at play and slow-moving vehicles. 
  • Don’t throw trash out car windows.Discarded food pollutes the environment and creates a hazard by attracting wildlife to the roads. 
  • Use your high beamswhenever possible.
  • Lower your dashboard lights slightly.You'll be more likely to see your headlights reflected in the eyes of animals in time to brake.

How to help injured animals

Sometimes collisions are unavoidable, no matter how careful we are. Here's what to do if you hit an animal or come across an injured one.

Do not put your own safety at risk.Unless you can move the animal from the road in absolute safety, do not attempt to do so. Use your hazard lights or emergency road flares to warn oncoming traffic of the injured animal. Never attempt to handle a large animal like a deer, or one that could give a serious bite, like a raccoon.

Best way to prevent a crash: Slow down.

Call someone with the proper training and equipment. When you need assistance, call the non-emergency number of the local police department (program the phone number into your cell phone right now so you have it when you need it) and describe the animal's location. Emphasize that the injured animal is a traffic hazard to help ensure that someone will come quickly. Stay in the area until help arrives.

Use heavy glovesto protect yourself or avoid direct handling if you try to rescue a small animal yourself. Remember that the animal doesn't know you are trying to help and may bite or scratch in self-defense. An old towel is helpful if you need to move an injured animal.

Gently coax or place the animal into a cardboard boxand transport him/her to an animal shelter,wildlife rehabilitator, or a receptive veterinarian. If there is a delay, keep the animal in a dark, warm, quiet place to minimize fear and stress.

If you accidentally kill an animal, try to move the animal off the road—but only if you can do so in complete safety. Otherwise, report the location of the animal's body to the local police department, and it will arrange for removal. This will prevent scavengers from being attracted onto the road and eliminate a potential traffic hazard.

Monday, 31 October 2016 15:21

9 Halloween Safety Tips

9 Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is tonight and many consumers may not realize how scary this ghoulish night might really be for their personal safety, their property…or their pocketbooks. Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents can help families better prepare for Halloween hazards that may come in disguise or under the cloak of dark. To help families and businesses have a good time and protect themselves against more scary Halloween risks, we are offering the following safety tips:

  1. Prevent Accidents Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
  2. Fire Dangers Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed and use battery operated lights wherever possible. 
  3. Costume Safety Be careful with costumes. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Try to avoid masks that may obscure vision and try to use hypo-allergenic make-up instead. 
  4. See and Be Seen Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes. 
  5. Don’t be a Scary Driver Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
  6. Power in Numbers When walking, travel in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks—never between parked cars—and stay on well-lit streets. 
  7. Unwelcomed Guests Scare away potential property vandals who often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike by keeping outdoor lights on. 
  8. Pet Safety Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest dog or cat or other creatures. 
  9. Candy Inspection Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all children’s treats. Never eat unwrapped items, collect candy only from those you know and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy.

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