Insurance Blog
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
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.

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