How to Prevent Kitchen Fires

Cooking – A Watched Pot Never Burns
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, with stove fires dominating this problem. Most cooking fires are caused by people’s behavior, not appliance failures. A majority of these fires happen when people leave food cooking unattended on the stovetop. Other common mistakes include leaving burners or ovens on after cooking, leaving combustibles such as potholders too close to heat sources, and wearing loose-fitting sleeves near hot burners.
Older adults are more likely to be injured in cooking fires than adults aged 18 to 64.
Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of cooking fires with these simple precautions.

Stove and Oven Safety
• Keep an eye on all food being heated.
• Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking and avoid reaching over burners or hot surfaces.
• When using an electric stove, use a burner that is the right size for the pan. Using a burner that is too large can cause the pan and its contents to heat too quickly, which can lead to boil-overs, scorching and burning.
• When using a gas stove, keep the flame entirely under the pan. A flame that surrounds the pan can easily ignite a loose-fitting sleeve.
• Keep potholders, wooden utensils and other combustible items away from hot burners or pilot lights.
• Create a kid-free zone of three feet around the stove, and supervise older children when they cook.
• Keep the stovetop, oven and range hood free of grease and spills that can catch fire.
Grease Fires
Take extra care when frying or deep frying food or when cooking with oils, lard, butter or other grease products.
If a grease fire occurs, remember to:
• Put a lid on the pan.
• Or toss baking soda on the flames.
• Leave the house and call 911 if you can’t put out the fire quickly and safely.
Using a fire extinguisher or water to put out a grease fire in a pan could cause the hot oil to splatter, spreading the
fire instead of extinguishing it.

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Hurricane Season Brings Tornados. What to do…….

Put safety first.
Make personal safety your first priority. Listen to the local radio for up-to-date information. Stay out of damaged buildings. If you’re in an evacuated area, don’t return to your home until local authorities report that it’s safe. When you survey your home, check first for damage to gas, electric or sewage systems. Don’t use damaged systems until they’ve been checked by professionals. If gas is leaking, turn it off at the main shut-off valve, leave the building immediately and call a professional for service. Watch out for broken glass and sharp objects. If you must drive, use caution. Look out for downed wires and debris, and remember bridges and roads may be damaged.
Call to file your claim.
If you have tornado damage, report it to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. During this first call, you should be ready to provide at least a general description of your damage. A representative will talk you through your claim, recording the details. A claims professional will call you after you’ve reported your claim.  If you have serious damage, they will make every effort to get to you first.
Make temporary repairs.
If a tornado has caused damage to your property, it is your responsibility to take action to avoid further damage, once it is safe to do so. Heavy rains often accompany tornados and wind storms. The longer your home is exposed to water, the more damage you’ll see to your roof, ceiling, walls and floors— as well as any personal belongings you have inside. If you can, cover holes in the roof or broken windows with heavy-duty tarps or plywood to prevent additional water damage. Move wet items to drier ground. Wash and dry whatever you can. If you’re not sure it’s safe for you to do any of this the work, professionals can help. You’ll usually find them listed under “contractors” or “water damage restoration” in your phone directory.Make sure to save receipts from any temporary fixes as part of documenting your damage.

Review your insurance policy, so you know what’s covered.
Check your policy to see what’s covered and the deductible you’ve chosen. Reviewing your policy will help you prepare questions for your claims professional. Your insurance policy typically cover the cost to repair common tornado damage —including damage to roofs and walls, cars and your inventory or belongings. However, your deductible does apply — and you also may have a higher deductible for wind/hail damage that applies to tornados. If you can’t live in your home, your carrier will pay additional living expenses, as noted in
your policy, while damage is assessed and your home repaired or rebuilt. If, for some reason, your repairs take longer, you may be eligible for additional assistance from federal emergency programs.
Document your damage.
As soon as you can, start making a list of items that were damaged by the tornado. A good, thorough list will help us process your claim faster. Document the damage with
photos, video tapes, bills and receipts. In the meantime, don’t throw out damaged items — especially expensive ones. Your claims professional will advise you about any specific information we will need to from you to process your claim so you can get started on permanent repairs.
Schedule permanent repairs.
Most insurance carriers requires you to wait until your claims professional has assessed your damage before you begin making permanent repairs. However, we encourage you to schedule permanent repairs as soon as possible because contractors can be tough to schedule after a tornado strikes. Use a local, licensed, bonded and insured contractor, and check references.
Understand your responsibility for home improvements.
The companies will replace damaged items and materials of the same type and quality of the materials you’re replacing. For example, if you have a fiberglass roof, they will pay to
repair or replace damage with fiberglass materials — but they won’t pay to replace it with expensive slate tile. If damage is extensive, people sometimes decide to take the opportunity to upgrade their property with better or more expensive materials. Again, the companies will only pay for replacing materials of the same type and quality. If you want to pay the additional expense to upgrade, you’re certainly welcome to do that out of your personal budget. Any time you make improvements to your property, talk to your agent to make sure
you have enough insurance and to find out if you are eligible for discounts.

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What To Do After the Storm

Be careful to take certain precautions after the storm has passed. Damage to your home can have a dramatic emotional impact, and it’s best to have a plan before the storm strikes for how to reenter your home. Having a plan, and being aware of certain risks, will minimize the threat of harm to you or your family.  

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Stay turned to local news organizations, such as a radio or television station, for important announcements, bulletins, and instructions concerning the storm area, medical aid and other forms of assistance, such as food, water and shelter.  
  • Remember that you may not have immediate access to your home. Emergency rescue crews, power crews and other personnel may be attending to special needs. Roads could be blocked, power lines could be down and people may be trapped and in need of assistance.  
  • Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification check points before being allowed access to your home/neighborhood.  
  • Avoid driving, as roads may be blocked.
  • Avoid sight-seeing or entering a storm ravaged area unnecessarily. You could be mistaken for a looter.  
  • Avoid downed power lines even if they look harmless.
  • Avoid metal fences and other metal objects near downed lines.  
  • DO NOT use matches in a storm ravaged area until all gas lines are checked for leaks (keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand).  
  • Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding present. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first.  
  • Consider having professionals/licensed contractors inspect your home for damage and help in repairs. This includes electricians, as well as professionals to inspect gas lines, remove uprooted trees and check plumbing.
  • Remember that downed or damaged trees can contain power lines that can be a hazard.  
  • Use a camera or camcorder to record thoroughly any damage done to your home before any repairs are attempted.  
  • In certain areas, the flooding rains that accompany a storm can create pest problems. Be aware of potential pest problems in your area, such as mice, rats, insects or snakes, that may have “come with the storm”.  
  • Telephone lines will likely be busy in the area; use a phone only for emergencies.
  • Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contaminations.
  • You should assume that the water is not safe and use properly stored water or boil your tap water.

These are just a few ideas to be thinking about before and after a severe storm hits. Remember to keep your radio tuned to a station issuing emergency bulletins and updates with the latest information.

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Grilling Safety

More than 3 billion barbecues are lit each year. Barbecuing can be fun, fast, and delicious, but also dangerous or even deadly if you are not careful. The Insurance Information Institute offers the following tips to make sure that your grilling experience is a safe and enjoyable one:

When you get ready to barbecue, it is important to protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm.

With gas grills, make sure the gas cylinder is always stored outside and away form your house. Make sure the valves are turned when you are not using them. And, check regularly for leaks in the connections using a soap and water mix that will show bubbles where the gas escapes.

Barbecue grills should be kept on a level surface away from the house, garage, landscaping, and most of all, children.

For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for those grills. Never use gasoline! And use a limited amount of starter fluid. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary, but don’t ever add liquid fuel to re-ignite or build up a fire or you could end up with a flash fire.

Finally, be sure to soak the coals with water before you put them in the trash.  Always remember that grills remain hot long after you are through barbecuing.

In case of an emergency:

If you do get burned, you need to run cool water over the burn for 10 – 15 minutes. You never want to put butter or a salve on burns because they will seal in the heat and just cause further damage to your skin. And, of course, if you receive a serious burn, the sooner you get some medical attention the better.

 

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Buses, Bikes and Cars: Keeping Children Safe

It’s no secret that children view the world differently from adults. They don’t have the skills necessary to analyze dangerous situations or the consequences of their actions. It’s our responsibility as adults and parents to teach them the right way to do things through constant discussion and reminders. By creating good habits from the start, we may be able to prevent accidents from happening. The following tips should be helpful and discussed often with your children: 

Automobile safety: Be aware of children 

Did you know that one out of four pedestrian-vehicle collisions involves a child under 15 years of age. Most fatalities occur among those between ages 5 and 9.  They may be told, but still don’t understand the threat of vehicles to their safety.  

AAA recommends that you keep the following safety tips in mind:  

  • Follow all traffic signs and symbols.
  • Drive slowly near schools, playgrounds and residential areas.
  • Watch for signs that children are in the area, such as buses, bikes, safety patrols and crossing guards.
  • Stop and leave adequate space between your vehicle and a stopped school bus regardless of the direction in which you are traveling.
  • Watch for students rushing to catch their bus.
  • Use extra care when the weather is inclement or when the sun impairs your vision.  

Bus safety for motorists

 

  • Know your state’s school bus laws and obey them. Generally, flashing yellow lights mean caution, the bus is about to stop. Flashing red lights mean stop, children are getting on or off.
  • When red lights are flashing, all traffic (in both directions) must stop.
  • Failure to obey school bus laws carries hefty fines that vary from state to state. In Connecticut, for example, fines of up to $500 are assessed for the first offense. Second offenses carry fines of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail. Also, convicted drivers face cancellation of their current auto insurance policies and find it extremely difficult to get future coverage.  

Bus safety for students 

The Connecticut School Bus Drivers Alliance recommends these simple bus safety rules:

  • Arrive at your bus stop on time.
  • Wait for the bus in a safe place, away from the curb.
  • Enter the bus in an orderly manner and take your seat.
  • Listen to and follow all of your bus driver’s instructions.
  • Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
  • Keep the aisle clear at all times.
  • Do not throw objects inside the bus or outside the window.
  • Be sure to tie your shoes and pack all papers inside your bag before getting off the bus.
  • Do not stand or walk behind the bus since the driver can not see you.
  • Meet your parents on the same side of the street that the bus lets you off.
  • If you must cross the street when boarding or leaving the bus, be sure to walk where you can see the driver (and therefore the driver can see you!). Wait for the driver’s signal for you to cross, making sure that you look both ways for cars.  

Safe biking 

Every day at least one child dies in a bike-related accident, and another 1,000 are seriously injured. Contrary to popular belief, most of these injuries are caused by simple falls due to road conditions and not from car collisions. Many of these injuries can be avoided if cyclists just use proper equipment for protection, follow the rules of the road and remember to treat their bicycles with respect.

Here are some simple rules you should review with your children:

  • Bikes are vehicles, not toys. Treat them as such.
  • Always wear your helmet. A properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce your child’s risk of serious head injury by 85%. In many states, wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the law!
  • Wear reflectors on your clothing after dusk.
  • Walk you bike across busy intersections.
  • Keep your bike in good shape, especially the brakes.
  • Follow the rules of the road just like all other vehicles.
  • Don’t drive against traffic…drive on the same side of the road as cars.
  • Obey all stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Don’t ride more than one person to a bike.
  • Don’t ride at night when drivers can’t see you.
  • Don’t ride in the street unless you know the rules.
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Tips on Choosing and Using Safe Fireworks

It is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. Items such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks, they are federally banned explosives. They can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that isn’t clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use. Here are some more tips to help ensure a safe Fourth of July:

Have and Fun and Safe Fourth of July!

Fireworks are not toys. Fireworks complying with strict regulations enacted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1976 function primarily by burning to produce motion and visible or audible effects. They are burning at approximately the same temperature as a household match and can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.

NEVER give fireworks to young children. Close, adult supervision of all fireworks activities is mandatory. Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.

Select and use only legal devices. If you choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, check with your local police department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area.

Stay away from illegal explosives. Illegal explosive devices continue to cause serious injuries around the Fourth of July holiday. These devices are commonly known as M-80s, M-100s, blockbusters or quarterpounders. Federally banned since 1966, these items will not contain the manufacturer’s name and are usually totally unlabeled. Don’t purchase or use unlabeled fireworks. If you are aware of anyone selling such devices, contact your local police department.

Homemade fireworks are deadly. Never attempt to make your own devices and do not purchase or use any kits that are advertised for making fireworks. Mixing and loading chemical powders is very dangerous and can kill or seriously injure you. Leave the making of fireworks to the experts.

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Have an adult present.
  • Buy from reliable sellers.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives.
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Prevent Home Fires and Carbon Monoxide Detection

 Steps You Can Take Now

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

 Cooking Safely

  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

    Small kitchen fire can spread quickly to the home.

  • Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing— away from the stove.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
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Hurricane Hazards

The main hazards associated with tropical cyclones and especially hurricanes are storm surge, high winds, heavy rain, and flooding, as well as tornadoes. The intensity of a hurricane is an indicator of damage potential. However, impacts are a function of where and when the storm strikes. Hurricane Diane (1955) hit the northeastern U.S. and caused 184 deaths. It was only a Category 1 hurricane but the thirteenth deadliest since 1900. Hurricane Agnes (1972), also a Category 1 hurricane, ranks fifth with damages estimated at 6.9 billion when adjusted for inflation. A storm surge is a large dome of water, 50 to 100 miles wide, that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. It can be more than 15 feet deep at its peak. The surge of high water topped by waves is devastating. Along the coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. Hurricane winds not only damage structures, but the barrage of debris they carry is quite dangerous to anyone unfortunate enough (or unwise enough!) to be caught out in them. Damaging winds begin well before the hurricane eye makes landfall. Tropical cyclones frequently produce huge amounts of rain, and flooding can be a significant problem, particularly for inland communities. A typical hurricane brings at least 6 to 12 inches of rainfall to the area it crosses. The resulting floods cause considerable damage and loss of life, especially in mountainous areas where heavy rains mean flash floods and can also result in devastating mudslides. Tornadoes spawned by landfalling hurricanes can cause enormous destruction. As a hurricane moves shoreward, tornadoes often develop on the fringes of the storm. These hazards can bring other consequences not directly related to the storm. For example, hurricane-related deaths and injuries are often the result of fires started by candles used when the electricity fails. Heart attacks and accidents frequently occur during the clean-up phase. And depending on the industrial facilities in your area, hurricane damage might cause chemical spills that could make the disaster even worse.

Storm Surge
Storm surge is the greatest potential threat to life and property associated with hurricanes.  A storm surge is a large dome of water, 50 to 100 miles wide, that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. It can be more than 15 feet deep at its peak. The level of surge in a particular area is primarily related to the intensity of the hurricane and slope of the continental shelf. The Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model is used by communities to evaluate storm surge threat from different categories of hurricanes striking from various directions. Because storm surge has the greatest potential to kill more people than any of the other hurricane hazards, it is wise to err on the conservative side by planning for a storm that is one category more intense than is forecast.
High Winds
Typically, the more intense the storm (in terms of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale), the more wind damage a community will sustain, particularly if it does not have an effective mitigation program and has not prepared in advance for the storm. Tropical storm-force winds (39-73 mph) can also be dangerous, and it is wise to have evacuations completed before they reach your area.
Heavy Rains
Hurricanes (and some tropical storms) typically produce widespread rainfall of 6 to 12 inches or more, often resulting in severe flooding. Inland flooding has been the primary cause of tropical cyclone-related fatalities over the past 30 years. Rains are generally heaviest with slower moving storms (less than 10 mph). The heaviest rain usually occurs to the right of the cyclone track in the period 6 hours before and 6 hours after landfall. However, storms can last for days, depending on what inland weather features they interact with. Large amounts of rain can occur more than 100 miles inland where flash floods and mudslides are typically the major threats.
Tornadoes
Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane. However, they are also often found elsewhere in the rainbands. Typically, the more intense a hurricane is, the greater the tornado threat. Tornado production can occur for days after landfall. Most tornadoes occur within 150 miles of the coast. The National Weather Service’s Doppler radar systems can provide indications of tornados from a few minutes to about 30 minutes in advance. Consequently, preparedness is critical.

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Hurricane Preparedness Week- Develop A Family Plan

  • Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
  • Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
  • Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.
  • Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
  • Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
  • Check your insurance coverage – flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
  • Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
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Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft and fraud are on the rise. Are you covered? Identity Fraud Expense coverage is available as an endorsement to your homeowners policy. Check with your insurance agent to learn more about the coverage options that may be available to you. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft ranked number one in terms of consumer complaints received by the agency during 2009. Identity theft is big business. If it happens to you, it can cost you not only aggravation and inconvenience, but money too!

The Insurance Information Institute (III) offers some tips to help prevent identity theft. Be especially careful when . . .

Shopping online. Use only secure sites and reputable retailers.

Throwing away trash. Shred bills and documents that include any of your personal or identifying information, such as your social security or account numbers.

Making purchases. Never throw away your sales receipts in public trash cans; always ask for a receipt for items purchased with a bank or credit card.

Traveling. Only carry the bank and credit cards that you absolutely need when traveling. And be sure to keep a copy of your account numbers and contact information for your bank and credit card companies in a safe place, in case you need to report a lost or stolen card.

Selecting passwords. Do not use easily accessed names or numbers, such as your mother’s maiden name or part of your address or social security number, in your passwords.

For more tips on preventing identity theft and fraud, be sure to check out the FTC’s website for consumers. Videos, publications, and an online “test your knowledge …” quiz are also included on the FTC’s site.

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