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Holiday Crime

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Holiday Crime

Did you know that per police department statistics all over the United States, crime rates for theft and robbery increase dramatically during the holiday season? The time of year that is supposed to make people tankful, grateful, and feel more charitable, causes certain types of people to prey on those with gifts loaded into cars and piled under the tree.  Burglary, theft, fraud, harassment, stalking, alcohol induced violence, and many other issues and crimes kill the holiday spirit and can happen anywhere.  Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.  Always make sure you lock your doors – at home, your business, and your car.  Don’t leave any shopping bags or personal belongings within clear view.  Keep some lights on when you are gone and avoid keeping curtains open so strangers can’t look inside.

The holidays should be a fun and happy time for you and your loved ones.  Unfortunately, reality has a mean way of reminding us that not everyone has the same respect for each other and that there are bad people among the good ones.  It is easy to get lost in all the shopping chaos and magic of the season – but just keep your eyes open a little wider and takes the couple extra steps to keep yourself and your loved ones protected.  Oh – and the presents.  You want to protect those too!

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Doomsday – oops, Black Friday!

Happy Thanksgiving!!  Well, happy day AFTER Thanksgiving – or better known as Black Friday.

Black Friday.

The one day during the year where some people rush through the holiday family meal where they are supposedly giving thanks to/for all they have, only to go st and in line for hours to get a “deal” on items which, they more often purchase for themselves – and forgetting what it is that they were thankful for in the first place.

I am a fan of putting money into business, but unfortunately it is days like today that can sometimes bring out the worst in people.  Later this evening we will be hearing news reports about people getting in fights, trampled, or even worse.

It is sad, disappointing, and scary.

On another note, this is the perfect time to remind you that you need to either get insurance that you don’t already have ( and need) or update your current polices.  There is not better day than Black Friday to make sure your car is protected during gridlock traffic around the mall, your health insurance will cover an injuries that may occur or flu bugs you pick-up while st anding next to that sick lady in line, and your life insurance – well, just in case.

All jokes aside, we wish you a happy holiday weekend and season and hope you have all the insurance you need for the moments that you need it the most.

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Keeping Your Home Safe

Our previous blog was about protecting and keeping your children safe on Halloween.  There is something else you need to keep safe as well – your home.  Whether you stay home to h and-out c andy or join your kids in the neighborhood, you still need to take steps to keep you home out of harm’s way as much as you can.  It is unfortunate that property crime increases on Halloween, but you can still try to decreases the incidences.

Start by reviewing your insurance.  You want to make sure you are covered in the event of v andalism or burglary – the two mist popular crimes on Halloween.  If something happens, you will want that policy to be updated well in advance.  You also want to review your car insurance policy. If you park your car outside, it is worth it to make sure you are protected from v andalism to your vehicle.

Don’t turn-off all your lights.  Some people do this to let other know they aren’t h anding out c andy.  Other do it when they leave to take the kids out.  Either way, leave a light and television on to make people think someone is home.  A couple of rings of the doorbell might be annoying, but not as much as a break-in would be.  Yes – break-ins happen all the time on Halloween, because there are so many people walking around that hardly anyone notices what is going on. KEEP LIGHTS ON!

Stay off of social media.  Announcing where you will be and when gives criminals the perfect opportunity to find you or your empty home.

We hope you have a safe and happy night!

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Trick-or-Treat Safety

Halloween will be here in three days. I remember when I was younger, I would count down the days until I would be able to show-off my costume at school and then spend the evening filling a pillowcase with c andy from the house around my neighborhood. While Halloween doesn’t seem to be the same huge event as it was during my day, there are still tons of families that celebrate and take their children trick-or-treating. Now, more than ever, it is important to plan ahead and keep you children safe and always have a chaperone.

You can protect your children and allow them to have fun by starting with a safe costume that fits. Make sure it has some sort of reflective capabilities so it can be seen a night – especially by drivers. You always want to opt for face paint over a mask and make sure your child can see clearly. For extra safety, have everyone carry a flashlight.

While walking the neighborhoods, always cross in the appropriate areas and look both ways – multiple times. Make sure kids stay on the sidewalks or walking paths and consider putting a temporary ban on all electronic devices to keep eyes and heads up and alert.

If you opt to drive through the neighborhood, stay off your phone and watch the road. Children can be unpredictable and dart into the street at any time. Go slow and use hazards if needed. Drive on the correct side of the road and avoid blocking any entrances or exits.

It is VERY possible to be safe and have a great time!

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Amusement Ride Safety Considerations

The amusement ride operator/attendant has full control on most rides and must be proactive and capable of reacting quickly to situations as they arise.

The safety record of the amusement ride industry has greatly improved as a result of inspections, ride maintenance, safe operations and better ride designs, and ride operators/attendants play an important role in maintaining amusement ride safety.

Most countries have occupational health and safety legislation designed to protect the health and safety of workers and the public. Herein is a discussion of the role that amusement ride operators/attendants play in maintaining the highest possible level of safety on the rides on which they work.

Amusement ride operators/attendants should work safely, get as much training as possible in the safe operation of the equipment they are working with and stay alert to prevent safety hazards.
Amusement ride operators/attendants should not engage in any unsafe activities such as horse-play, showing off, or any unseemly behavior while on the job.

Every amusement ride operator/attendant is responsible for on-the-job safety. They are responsible for their own safety as well as the safety of other employees and that of the general public.

Here are some basic rules for a safe workplace that amusement ride operators/attendants should follow:

• Be sure that you know and obey all safety rules and procedures

• Keep your surroundings neat, clean and free of hazards

• Immediately report hazardous situations that might result in an accident

• Complete the inspection checklists prior to operating the ride

• Develop safe work habits and participate in safety training

In addition, there are a number of workplace hazards for which amusement ride operators/attendants should be on the look-out and attend to at once:

• Anything that can cause someone to trip

• Anything that can cause someone to bump their head

• Anything that can cause someone to get a splinter

• Anything that can cause someone to fall

• Anything that can cause someone to get a cut

Amusement ride operators/attendants must work in accordance with the Health and Safety legislation in affect in their area. They must also follow their employer’s policies and safety procedures. They should also be sure not to work when they are tired. Breaks should be taken away from the ride in order to enable the amusement ride operators/attendants to properly relax so that they may return to work refreshed and rested.

It is of the utmost importance that amusement ride operators/attendants be totally familiar with the rides that they are operating. They should observe how the ride operates, and the motions involved in their operation until they underst and them completely.

Every ride has a safety zone, which is the area from which the ride is operated. This safety zone is usually designated by the manufacturer or owner of the ride, and should be clearly defined and fenced off, in such a way as to be easily identified by the riders. The safety zone should also be an area that is easily controlled by the amusement ride operators/attendants. The safety zone is for the personal safety of the amusement ride operators/attendants while the ride is in motion, and should never be left while the ride is in motion, or before it has come to a full stop.

The safety of the amusement ride operators/attendants and that of their riders is equally important. Unsafe riding practices are the major cause of incidents on all types of rides.
Rider responsibility should be encouraged, and the amusement ride operators/attendants can play an important role in this. Safety instructions should be clearly posted at the entrance to the ride and the amusement ride operators/attendants should strictly enforce all of them.

It is especially important to reach out to the parents of young children and to enlist their help and support in promoting safe riding practices and in enforcing all safety instructions.

• Be alert to unsafe conditions that could cause trips or falls on the ride platform or steps

• Be alert to unsafe conditions that could cause injury

• Always check that seat belts or safety restraints are fastened and locked in place before the ride starts

• Be careful not to close the door or restraint on any part of the rider’s body while the riders are getting on or off of the ride

• If there is even a suspicion that a rider is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they should not be allowed them

• Remind riders to follow the posted rules for the ride regarding age, height and/or weight restrictions

• Be sure to alert pregnant women and people with heart conditions to possible risks involved in using the ride

• Remind riders to keep h ands, arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times

• Remind riders to remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop

If there are any problems with a rider or parent because of ride restrictions or behavior, amusement ride operators/attendants should not operate the ride. They should stop the ride if in motion and only resume operation after the problem has been settled.
Amusement ride operators/attendants should always report all safety-related matters to their immediate supervisor, the insurance company and local safety authorities. They should also update the ride manufacturer and consult with them.

Amusement ride operators/attendants should never leave the ride while it is operating.

Amusement ride operators/attendants should watch the ride and riders at all times while it is operating.
Remembering and following these rules while operating amusement rides will significantly increase the chances of a safe and enjoyable time for everyone, riders and operators/attendants alike, while lessening the prospect of stricter insurance terms and licensing requirements for the amusement ride hirers/operators.

Pool safety

Pool safety

Every year about 43,000 people are injured in and around swimming pools and more than 600 people drown in home or public pools. Half of the pool fatalities occur in the yards of single-family homes. Here are some pool safety tips you
should follow:

  1. Never leave small children unsupervised—even for a few seconds.
  2. Put fencing around the pool area to keep people from using the pool without your knowledge.
  3. Keep children away from pool filters, as the suction force may injure them or prevent them from surfacing.
  4. Be sure all pool users know how to swim. Learners should be accompanied by a good swimmer.
  5. Don’t swim alone or allow others to swim alone.
  6. Check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards.
  7. Keep CD players, radios and other electrical devices away from pools or nearby wet surfaces.
  8. Don’t allow anyone who has been drinking alcohol to use the pool.
  9. Stay out of the pool during rain or lightning storms.
  10. Never dive into an above-ground pool, and check the water depth before plunging into an in-ground pool. Keep clear of the area near a diving board.
  11. Don’t swim if you’re tired or have just finished eating.

Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org

Lawnmower safety

Lawnmower safety

Each year, approximately 75,000 people are injured seriously enough by lawnmowers to require emergency room medical treatment. Only a small percentage of the injuries are caused by mechanical failure; most are the result of human error.

Here are some tips to follow before and while mowing your lawn:

Become familiar with your mower.

Read the owner’s manual before using the mower for the first time. Note all safety and operating instructions. Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly.

Proper clothing is essential to protect your body from harm.

Always wear non-slip shoes instead of tennis shoes or s andals. Steel-toe safety footwear offers the most protection against the blade. Long pants help protect your legs from objects that may be thrown from under the mower. Use ear plugs to prevent hearing loss caused by exposure to the high noise levels.

Never leave a mower running unattended.

A mower left running unattended can be fascinating to a child. If the mower has an electric start, the key should never be left in the ignition.

Always start the mower outdoors.

Never operate a mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.

Police the area.

Before you start mowing, be sure the lawn is free of tree limbs, rocks, wires and other debris, which can get caught up in the blades.

The main source of danger is the blade.

To perform its task efficiently, the mower blade must be sharp and travel at a high speed. If a h and or foot gets under the mower while the engine is running, it can cause serious injury. Never attempt to unclog or work on a lawnmower while the engine is on.

Disconnect the sparkplug wire.

Any time it is necessary to reach under the mower, disconnect the spark plug wire to ensure that the engine cannot start. It takes a little extra time, but not as long as it does to recover from a serious injury.

Check for frayed or cut wiring.

When using an electric lawnmower, wires can easily get cut by the blade. Keep an eye on the wiring as you move the mower and check for frayed or cut wiring every time you mow.

Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org

Space heater safety

Space heater safety

To save money in the winter, it’s tempting to use a space heater to heat a room rather than to heat the entire house. But it’s important to be cautious with this option. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of room (space) heaters. More than 300 people die in these fires. An estimated 6,000 more receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Setup and use

When setting up a space heater, remember to keep it at least 30 inches from any flammable materials and set it up on the floor, unless it is designed otherwise.

Areas where space heaters are used should be free of combustible materials like wood, paper, rags and flammable liquids. Do not set them up on easily ignited or flammable surfaces, such as rugs or carpets, or use them to dry wet clothing.

When using a space heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow for fresh air to enter. This will prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup or a depletion of oxygen. Never take a gas-fired or kerosene heater into a confined space. The results could be deadly.

All unvented heaters manufactured after 1983 should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). The ODS will shut off a heater if it detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is being used.

All gas heaters should be equipped with a pilot safety valve. This device will shut off the gas to the heater if the pilot light should go out, preventing the risk of explosion by not allowing the accumulation of gas.

If the pilot light goes out, remember the following safety tips:

  • If you smell gas, do not attempt to light the pilot. Turn off all controls, open a window or door and leave the area.
  • Remember that propane is heavier than air and does not dissipate rapidly. If you smell gas, do not touch any electrical switches or use a radio or telephone in the area where you smell gas. Do not smoke. A spark could ignite the gas.

It also is a good idea to light a match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of flashback, which could occur if gas is allowed to accumulate before lighting the pilot.

Electric heaters should be kept out of wet or moist places like bathrooms. Water or corrosion could lead to a fire or shock hazard.

Maintenance and inspection

All gas and kerosene heaters should be inspected annually by a qualified person to ensure that they are properly adjusted and clean.

Maintenance and inspections should include checking the following items:

  • Condition of safety devices
  • Exhaust ducting and flues
  • Efficiency of burners
  • Exhaust flow
  • Condition of fuel lines and tanks
  • Condition of electrical cords
  • Vents and gaskets
  • Condition of guards
  • Missing guards and controls

Hazards

You should be aware of the following hazards when using propane, kerosene or electric space heaters

  • Fires and burns caused by contact with or close proximity to the flame, heating element or hot surfaces.
  • Fire and explosion caused by flammable fuels or defective wiring.
  • Indoor air pollutants caused by improper ventilation or incomplete combustion of fuels.
  • CO poisoning caused by improper ventilation or incomplete combustion of fuels.
  • High humidity released by propane-fired heaters that can lend to mold growth within buildings under construction.

Carbon monoxide

CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing material, including gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. CO is dangerous because it replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of needed oxygen to cells in the body.

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic those of the flu or food poisoning. Early exposure symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Inattention
  • Fatigue

Prolonged exposure can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Increasing fatigue
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Extreme weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Because CO poisoning symptoms mimic the flu or food poisoning, it is important to inform medical responders of the possibility of exposure to excessive amounts of CO. Poisoning can be reversed if caught in time, but acute poisoning may result in permanent damage to the heart and brain.

Emergency treatment

  • Get the victim into the open air as quickly as possible.
  • Check for respiration and pulse. If both are absent, begin CPR.
  • If breathing is absent, but there is a pulse, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and continue until the victim begins breathing or help arrives. Have an up-to-date CPR kit with mouth protector available due to exposures to bodily fluids.
  • Begin administering oxygen as soon as available and if you are trained to do so.
  • Get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible.

Grilling safety

Grilling safety

Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year. But barbecuing can be dangerous, even deadly, if you are not careful

The following tips can make your grilling experience safer:

  • When ready to barbecue, 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 from your house. Make sure the valves are turned off when you are not using them. Check regularly for leaks in the connections using a soap and water mix that will show bubbles where gas escapes.
  • Barbecue grills should be kept on a level surface away from the house, garage, l andscaping, 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. Never add more liquid fuel or you could end up with a flash fire.
  • 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.

Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org

Prevent common household fires

Prevent common household fires

Using our claim data, we’ve developed a list of the most common causes of fire-related losses as well as some things you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty wiring and outlets are one of the top causes of house fires.

  • Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
  • Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  • Be aware of the capacity of your home’s electrical system. Don’t overload your outlets. If you have questions about your home’s electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
  • Underst and the difference between surge protectors and power strips – both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help guard these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable appliances, such as computers and televisions.

Carelessness in the kitchen may also lead to a house fire.

  • Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove.
  • Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • If a grease fire erupts, turn off the heat source. Don’t throw water on the fire because it may cause the fire to spread.
  • If a fire starts in your oven, close the over door and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  • If a fire starts in your microwave, turn off the microwave, and don’t open it until the fire is completely out. Unplug the microwave only if you can safely do so.

Clothes dryers are another common source of house fires.

  • If you’re installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manual. If you’re unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
  • Clean out the lint filter after each load.
  • Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so don’t forget to clean these areas.

Alternative heating sources may also create a fire hazard.

  • Avoid using an older space heater, if possible. When purchasing a new space heater, pay attention to the safety features.
  • Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
  • If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the instructions. If you’re unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.

Dirty chimneys also pose a fire hazard.

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you’ll be using it frequently.
  • Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace – these can all spark chimney fires
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