Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with family and food. It allows families to come together and to give thanks to all the blessings in their lives. This holiday begins in the kitchen and ends on the couch sleeping off all that food that is consumed throughout the day!

According to the NFPA, Thanksgiving is the peek day for home cooking fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 4,000 fire happen each Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is also the most traveled holiday of the entire year!

With the holiday approaching, Frederick Mutual wants everyone to be aware of the dangers that could arise from either cooking in the kitchen, or through distracted driving. 

Below are some helpful safety tips to utilize during the holiday:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking and remember to frequently check on the food.

  • With family and friends in attendance – user a timer to help guide you when to check on the food!

  • Remember not to use a glass container or lid on the stove or burner – Try using an aluminum foil pan, safer, and less cleanup!

  • Ensure all smoke detectors and sprinklers are working.

  • Never use water to douse a grease fire! – Turn off the burner and use either baking soda or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

  • Make sure you have enough pot holders and hand mittens to handle hot food.

  • Remember to unplug and turnoff appliances after using, especially the oven and stove!

  • When traveling, make sure to give yourself enough time and utilize your phone’s navigation system.

  • If you are traveling with supplies or a food dish, make sure to secure them in either the backseat or the trunk of the car.

  • If you are traveling far, make sure to get enough rest and stay hydrated to keep focus throughout the drive.

  • Put the cell phone away and keep your eyes on the road - Technology distractions are preventable and a leading cause of traffic accidents.

  • Use Rideshare or Designate Drivers – Even if you don’t drink and drive, there may be others that do. Take precaution to promote safe roadways and remain alert of those around you. Call the police if you notice a vehicle excessively swerving or engaging in unsafe driving practices.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

This year’s hurricane season began in June and lasts until November has the potential to cause significant damage to one’s home and business. September is within the peak of hurricane season. Hurricanes have the magnitude to change periodically, where even at times meteorologists have difficulty assessing the severity of the storm.

Please utilize the safety precautions below when preparing for a Hurricane:

  • Locate a safe room within your home. If asked to evacuate, the safest place may not be within your home but elsewhere in the community.

  • Formulate a family emergency plan to address responsibilities during a weather-related event.

  • Designate an escape route and meeting place in case you are separated from your family members.

  • Include pets in your planning – food, water, treats, leash, medications, carrier or cage.

  • Check your insurance coverage before the season begins to ask questions and understand your coverage’s.

  • Brace or board windows and doors, including other structures on the property (i.e. – sheds, barns, garages).

  • Remove any yard debris and secure outdoor furniture, trash cans, etc.

  • Make sure your vehicle(s) has a full tank of gas.

  • Emergency phone numbers should be stored in your mobile phone or posted near a landline. Make sure your children know how and when to dial 911.

    Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit – items to include:

  • Water – 1 gallon daily per person for 3-7 days

  • Non-perishable packaged or canned food for at least 3-7 days

  • Non-electric can opener

  • Cooking tools/fuel

  • Paper plates/plastic utensils

  • Blankets/pillows

  • Battery operated, portable radio

  • Clothing including rain gear and sturdy shoes

  • First aid kit/over-the-counter medicine and prescription medication

  • Toiletries, hygiene items, moisture wipes, antibacterial gel, diapers

  • Flashlights and batteries

  • Cell phones  - fully charged with extra battery and/or a traditional corded phone for a landline

  • Cash – include small bills and credit cards

  • Important documents in waterproof container including home/health, medical records, immunization records for pets, bank account numbers, etc.

  • Keys

  • Tools

Labor Day Safety Tips

As Labor Day signifies the enjoyment of the last bits of summer weather before the seasons change, it also tends to have increased travel, crowds, water activities and alcohol consumption. While none of these things are particularly unsafe, it still requires taking safety into consideration when making plans. Below are some helpful tips to enjoy a safe and fun Labor Day weekend:

  • Buckle Up! - Seatbelts save lives. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), Labor Day is one of the highest traffic weekends of the year. NSC estimates several hundred traffic-related fatalities, will send over 40,000 citizens to emergency rooms seeking medical treatment from car accidents.
  • Put the cell phone away! - Technology distractions are preventable and a leading cause of traffic accidents.
  • Share the Road – The holiday weekend may include parades with additional pedestrians, motorcyclist, and bicyclists. Be conscientious of other types of motorists.
  • Slow Down - Allow extra travel time to account for the influx of traffic on main highways.
  • Use Rideshare or Designate Drivers – Even if you don’t drink and drive, there may be others that do. Take precaution to promote safe roadways and remain alert of those around you. Call the police if you notice a vehicle excessively swerving or engaging in unsafe driving practices.
  • Keep Children off Main Roads – While children soak up those last days before going back to school, make sure kids on bicycles wear properly-fitting helmets. And, children should avoid cycling on main roads where possible, especially with the influx of holiday traffic.
  • Use Rest Areas – Never leisurely pull over on the side of the highway. Use rest areas when possible. If you develop a car maintenance issue like a flat tire, pull over as far as possible on a shoulder or roadside, even in grass to avoid being hit. Using flares around a perimeter is advised.

Let Freedom Ring, Not Sting!

Americans spend approximately seven billion dollars annually to celebrate Independence Day, making it one of the largest holiday celebrations in the United States. While many are enjoying time spent with families and friends at cookouts or watching fireworks, homeowners should remain alert when having guests on the 4th of July. Below are some useful tips to keep your family and friends safe while celebrating our great nation:

Supervise Children
A recent Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) study found 7,600 people are injured each year in the month span from June 18th and July 18th, with 2,600 of these injuries resulting from smaller varieties of fireworks such as sparklers, fire crackers and bottle rockets on residential and commercial property. Children under the age of 5 have one of the highest rates of injury at 4.4 per 100,000 individuals. Prevent injury by following the directions on product packaging.

Grill Responsibly
According to the National Fire Protection Association nearly 75% of consumers will be grilling this 4th of July.  Always exercise caution when grilling by having a 4-5ft radius around your grilling area, follow the instructions of use from the manufacturer, and always grill in areas that are uncovered and away from railings or siding. Lastly, keep you grill clean as 1 in 5 grill fires is the result of leftover food particulates and debris.

Do Not Make Your Own Fireworks
Buy professionally made fireworks, as they are tested for safety and meeting consumer product guidelines. Injury and fatalities from direct impact or misfire due to faulty homemade equipment does occur. 

Enforce A Safe Distance
Fireworks should be lit and positioned in a direction that is away from crowds, trees, homes, and businesses. Destruction of residential and commercial property is an unfortunate occurrence when fireworks are not on a safe trajectory. 

Give Fido A Break
Keep dogs and other pets restrained or kept away from large crowds to reduce opportunity for canine or human injury. Some pets become aggravated during firework blasts due to noise and human excitement. Check your homeowner’s policy for any state or carrier-specific breed restrictions.

Supervise Trampoline Usage
The Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care & Cure reports roughly 250,000 trampoline injuries require medical attention each year. Over 2/3 of these injuries are in children under the age of 14. Some insurance companies will not provide policy coverage if a trampoline is on the residential property, even with an enclosure.

Keep Your Cool With Pool Safety Tips!

Summer pool parties and cookouts are a great time for making memories with family and friends, but require an insurance-savvy host to reduce the likelihood of a homeowners insurance claim. Before making a big splash with your next gathering, follow these tips to help protect your loved ones and property this summer.

  • Learn CPR! As a homeowner with a pool, knowing CPR can save lives and improve injury outcomes when is it started quickly by a trained person. Classes are available through the Red Cross, American Heart Association, and many local resources like Fire Departments.
     
  • Supervise all activities in and around the pool parameter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day in the United States two children under age 14 die from unintentional drowning. Using life jackets for young or inexperienced swimmers provides safe, reliable flotation.
     
  • Install a motion-sensed, outdoor alarm system that is triggered when movement is caught in the pool area during a restricted time. Instant notification can make all the difference!
     
  • Surrounding a pool with a 4-foot fence with a locking gate, can be a simple deterrent for under age children or unwanted visitors from entering the pool premises. Gate latches that open outward and are positioned higher to be out of reach of small children are preferred.
     
  • Consider a pool with a slide, instead of a diving or jump board. Statistics show increased spinal cord injuries occur when individuals dive into pools from a higher platform.
     
  • Prevent slip and fall injuries by utilizing construction materials that provide adequate traction and minimize heat absorption around a pool, such as cement-blended spray on deck coatings, natural stone, textured wood decking, or man-made pavers. Clearing the pool area of toys when not being used is also an easy way to prevent accidental slips.

Memorial Day Fire Prevention

We are fortunate to live in a great nation. The sacrifices of our men and women in military service has given all United States citizens the benefit of a holiday for remembrance. While your family and you enjoy this Memorial Day weekend, exercise proper safety as we honor those that gave so much for the freedoms we have. 

Grilling Safety - Prevent A Fire Claim

  • Children and pets should be several feet away from any open flame.
  • Grills should only be used outside, but not under a covered porch or in an open garage. Grills should not be set against your house, deck, or fence. 
  • Once on, a lit grill should never be left unattended. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher onsite and nearby when grilling is underway.
  • For gas grills, check hose connections for a tight seal before turning on. You can do an easy check by rubbing a small amount of soapy water along the hose to reveal leaks. 
  • For charcoal grills, use only the fluids that are specific to a charcoal grill. Gasoline should never be used on a charcoal grill. Do not reuse charcoal lighter fluid after a fire has already been burning. The vapor is highly flammable. 
  • Clear any dry leaves or brush near the grilling site to reduce the risk of fire coming in contact with flammable debris if wind-blown sparks occur.
  • Clean your grill before use so grease that is left behind does not act as an accelerant when the grill is first turned on. 
  • Secure loose fighting clothing when leaning over any open grilling area. 

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

 

Don't "Sweat" HVAC Maintenance This Summer

These tips are designed to help you maintain your air conditioning unit when transitioning to cool air in the upcoming months. Seasonal and monthly maintenance can improve your system's energy efficiency and lower utility bills. Make sure your family stays cool this summer with preventative HVAC maintenance!

Clean, Inspect or Change Air Filters Monthly
Changing filters often can prevent claims associated with dirty filters, which increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.

Schedule Seasonal HVAC Maintenance
Scheduling annual system maintenance before the summer season begins is optimal. Keeping your system running effectively may save up to 20% on your cooling costs.

Clear The Area Around Your HVAC System
Keep the condensing unit clear of debris from plants, shrubs, and sticks to ensure proper air flow and circulation.

Clean Evaporator and Condenser Coils
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends cleaning condenser coils biannually. 

Maximize Air Flow Inside Your Home
Clean vent registers help circulate air more efficiently.

Install a Programmable Thermostat
Digital or programmable thermostats can adjust the temperature of your home while you’re away.

Replace a Unit Before It Breaks Down
If your HVAC unit is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it.  Your HVAC unit is a complicated piece of mechanical equipment and delaying the inevitable may prove more damaging and costly than proactive replacement. 

When Lightning Strikes, Take a Hike!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities in the United States.  Since the old adage that you have better odds of getting struck by lightning than winning the lottery is true, here are some helpful tips to protect your property and you during a thunderstorm:

  1. If outdoors during a thunderstorm, taking shelter in a non-concrete structure or your vehicle, can provide a safe alternative to being outside. If no cover is available, crouching down with knees to chest, feet on the ground, and head tucked is the recommended stance. Never lie on the ground when lightning is visible.
  2. Check the weather forecast before an outdoor activity. If thunderstorms are predicted, it may be best to plan an indoor alternative.
  3. Stay away from concrete as lightning travels through the metal wire framing located within walls and floors made of concrete.
  4. When indoors, do not take a shower or run water during a thunderstorm. If lightning is present, the electrical current can travel through plumbing pipes and cause injury.
  5. Televisions, computers, and other electronics are susceptible to power surges during a thunderstorm. This is a good time to put the electronics away and pick up a good book!
  6. Lightning strikes to your property may spark a fire. In the event of a fire, evacuate immediately and call 911.

 

 

Identify and Prevent Spring Rainstorm Damage

While a rainy day can be an opportunity to catch up on a good book, damage from a rain shower can ruin that great book club find! Often times a few simple maintenance tricks and a quick inspection can be all you need to keep the interior of your property dry. 

  1. Check and seal caulking around windows, attic vents, and doorways. This is an inexpensive way to keep pesky leaks from becoming costly water damage. 
  2. Assess your foundation, basement, and/or crawlspace for standing water or water stains on the basement floor. Do you see any efflorescence on exposed basement walls made of concrete? This white or grayish tinted sheen typically represents salt deposits from water coming into direct contact with an exposed masonry surface. This may be indicative of a french drainage system not directing groundwater away from the basement foundation. The resulting water pressure against the foundation may lead to efflorescence. 
  3. Does your sump pump(s) have a battery backup? If so, test the batteries to make sure they are working properly for notification in the event groundwater seeps into your basement.
  4. Check carpets, carpet pads, rugs and floors under windows or near doorways. If you feel moisture, act quickly to stop the start of mold growth! Pulling up affected areas, positioning a dehumidifying fan on a high setting directly at the wetness, and using a wet vac may lessen the likelihood of a mold presence. If the water is puddled and significant in volume, replacing floors and carpets may be necessary. 
  5. Examine insulation in an attic space for signs of dampness. If the insulation is wet, it should be removed to lesson the chances of rot in floor joists and mold forming on the adjacent walls. 
  6. If any dampness is noticed in the basement, under windows, or in carpet, it's possible for the walls to be affected. Check walls for peeling or bubbling paint, stains and other noticeable discoloration. 
  7. Clear gutters of excess debris and leaves to keep water flowing easily and downspouts draining away from your home. 
  8. If you cannot located the source of a leak and/or smell dampness in the air, contact a licensed waterproofing professional for an evaluation.

 

Spring cleaning is a great way to reduce Homeowners insurance claims!

With an extra hour of daylight and more sunshine in the Spring, it's a great time to safeguard your home from common property claims and make it feel refreshed! Below are some of our quick tips to help reduce potential risks: 

  1. Change out batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in proper working order. 
  2. Clean the dryer hose annually to check for trapped lint.  A clogged dryer hose can leave the laundry areas susceptible to fire when lint and heat are combined together.
  3. Check caulking around windows and doors looking for cracks where moisture can enter and cause damage.  Replace old and dried out caulking.  
  4. Clean or replace HVAC filters.  A clean filter can help save money and prolong the life of your HVAC unit.
  5. Check water heaters for any leaks or corrosion, and have them repaired by a licensed professional.
  6. When transitioning from heat to AC in the warmer spring months, ensure your system is in proper working order. 
  7. Clear branches away from utility wires and all shrubbery away from windows to help prevent theft.
  8. Clean gutters and downspouts by removing debris and leaves to continue to direct water away from the roof and house, preventing damage. 
  9. Repair outdoor areas like sidewalks and driveways for any broken, uneven or cracked surfaces.  Fix as necessary to prevent accidents on your property.

Saint Patrick's Day Fun Facts

While our mission is Providing Peace of Mind to our policyholders, we also like to take time to stop and smell the roses...well, in this case - shamrocks! Here are a few fun facts about the Saint Patrick's Day holiday:

  • In Ireland, the national holiday of Saint Patrick's Day allows businesses to close for families to celebrate. Historically, the holiday was celebrated to bring people together with food and shared cultural, religious, and political backgrounds in Ireland. 
  • Celebrated as a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970, pubs were then able to open for business to sell alcohol. Today, nearly 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed worldwide!
  • Saint Patrick did not drive snakes out of Ireland. It is believed the word “snakes” was used metaphorically to describe religious immorality.
  • Saint Patrick wore a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity by showing the 3 leaves with one stalk. The shamrock evolved into a symbol for the modern holiday.
  • The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the U.S. was held in Boston on March 17th, 1737...
    39 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence!
  • New York City touts the largest S.P.D. parade in the world and have continued the tradition drawing crowds of 2 million spectators and 150,000 marchers.
  • According to the U.S. Census, nearly 32.7 million residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2015, which is more than 7 times the population of Ireland (4.6 million).
  • 45 pounds of green (vegetable-based) food dye turns the Chicago River green each year for their parade! The green color lasts for approximately 5 hours.
  • Annually, the President of Ireland gives the President of the United States a crystal bowl of shamrocks as a gesture of shared ancestry and support between the two nations. (We also have 16 towns named Dublin, just to be clear!)

Please enjoy your green beer responsibly from all of us at Frederick Mutual!

 

March 2018 Winds - "In Like a Lion, Out Like A Lamb?"

Wind can be one of the most destructive forces in nature. Even moderate storm gusts may cause damage to your property and belongings. In anticipation of high winds associated to the Nor'easter this weekend in the Mid-Atlantic region, we've compiled a few helpful tips to safeguard your home or business from wind-related events. Here's hoping Spring behaves more like a lion cub! 

Important Tips

  1. Gravel in driveways or logs in woodpiles can cause exterior damage to vehicles, siding and windows when blown around from high winds. Cover these areas with a tarp and secure with stakes for added prevention. 

  2. Have the number of your Utility company kept in a place accessible to family members or coworkers to call at the first sight of a downed power line and/or loss of power. 

  3. Keep high-end electronics plugged into surge protectors as wind can interrupt the flow of electricity to your home or business. 

  4. A power outage disables well pumps for those on well water. This will prevent toilets from flushing without water flow. Filling a bathtub with water prior to a wind storm can assist with water transfer for flushing waste. 

Exterior Prevention:

  • Check roof shingles looking for properly nailed down, tightly-fitted patterns.
  • Move patio furniture, children's toys, and potted planters inside a shed, garage, or other storage space to avoid puncture damage.
  • Spot check the gutters and downspouts around the home making sure they are secured properly.
  • Hire a professional to cut or trim loose tree branches. Limbs should be at least 20 feet from your structure.  
  • Siding and windows should have a sealed caulking to prevent strong drafts.
  • Close exterior doors, shed doors and other detached structure doors; deadbolt if possible to keep debris from striking the main structure. 
  • For commercial properties, overhead and dumpster doors, outdoor lighting and signs should be secured, locked, and/or braced. Any inventory, equipment or supplies should be tied down and/or anchored.  
  • HVAC units should be affixed appropriately by a professional to sustain high wind impact. 
  • Make sure the exterior walls and roof have a tight seal to prevent updrafts capable of lifting a roof or causing separation. 
  • Park vehicles away from trees or large branches. 
  • Close and lock windows. It's best not to stand in front of windows during storms with high wind speeds. 

FIRE PREVENTION

A fire at your home or business is an emotional and financial devastation. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a fire can become life-threatening in just 2 minutes and an entire residence may be engulfed in flames within 5. In addition, newer homes and the newer materials in carpets, drapery and furniture contain synthetics which burn faster. Read these helpful tips to keep your family and coworkers safe.

Identifying a Problem – If you smell or see smoke, this may signal the start of a fire or one igniting soon!

Important Tips

  • Keep an appropriately rated fire extinguisher in key areas of your home or business (i.e. - kitchen/boiler or furnace room)
  • Make sure your house number or business unit is easily readable from the street for Fire & Rescue staff.
  • Create a fire escape plan with your family and coworkers. This drill should be practiced once a year.
  • Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors once a year for battery life and proper operation.

The List of Nevers:

  • Never leave a fire in a fireplace or in an outside fire pit unattended!
  • Never leave a burning candle or burner on a stove unattended!
  • Never smoke in bed!
  • Never pour water on a grease fire!
  • Never leave a space or kerosene heater on in an unoccupied home or business!
  • Never store flammable liquids near a heat source!
  • Never allow children to play with matches or lighters!

Prevention – Interior & Exterior

  • Put out cigarette butts completely before properly discarding them.
  • Do not smoke cigarettes in a home or business where an individual is using medical oxygen.
  • Leave at least 3-5 feet of area around a space heater away from curtains, plastics or other flammables.
  • Maintain & clean furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys by hiring qualified and insured contractors.
  • Check fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.
  • Keep flammable liquids sealed and stored properly in areas like garages or storage sheds.
  • Fix or replace exposed electrical wiring, loose outlet plugs, or frayed extension cords.
  • Install dual smoke/carbon monoxide alarms on all floors of your home or business.

If Your Home or Business Has A Fire

  • Evacuate immediately to an area a safe distance away from the fire. 
  • Call 911!
  • If clothing is on fire – STOP, DROP & ROLL.
  • If a fire starts in a cooking pan, place a lid over the fire and turn off the burner.

A Great Host is a Safe Host During the Big Game

On Sunday, February 4th many sports fans will gather to watch Super Bowl LII. Here are a few quick tips for having fun, while keeping your guests, property and family safe.

  1. Encourage guests to eat plenty of food (this shouldn’t be difficult!) and drink plenty of water to balance alcohol consumption.  Remember to pace yourselves.
  2. Make sure guests have designated drivers, ride-share services or cab company numbers available to get home safely.

  3. If frying foods, keep fryers on level surfaces to avoid oil spilling onto a cooking burner for fire prevention.

  4. Keep a rated fire extinguisher in areas where frying, grilling, and other cooking methods take place.

  5. If hosting guests or sharing your home during the Super Bowl, remember to review your homeowners or renters policy for liability statutes.

Fast Fact:  According to the National Highway Traffic Association, young men aged 21-34 are the core audience for the Super Bowl and more likely to drive intoxicated or not wear a seat belt. 

Be Prepared for Winter Power Outages

Being without power during a winter storm can affect your home and the well-being of your family. A few days without power in freezing temperatures is concerning if not properly prepared. Below is a comprehensive list of essential items to have ready for a winter power outage or severe snowstorm:

  • Plenty of blankets, extra hats, socks and gloves
  • Winter boots
  • 5 day supply per person of snack foods with protein for energy
  • 5 day supply per person of dry good foods that can be eaten cold
  • Daily medications for adults and pets
  • Shovel
  • Broom
  • 5 day supply per person of Bottled water
  • Flashlight with additional batteries
  • Battery powered radio
  • First Aid kit
  • Emergency Flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle
  • Tool kit
  • Matches and a lighter
  • Coolers for food storage, if needed (*see below)

Important Tips

  1. If using a space heater as an alternate heat source, keep it in a room with at least 3-5 feet away from any fabric or flammable materials in the room.

  2. Check the expiration of all canned and dry goods, bottled waters, batteries and medications quarterly before placing in a survival kit for seasonal storage.

  3. Make sure electronic devices such as cellphones or tablets are fully charged in preparation for inclement weather.

Food Spoilage Prevention

  • Stock your refrigerator with a full supply of ice.
  • Leave food in the refrigerator and freezer with limited opening of the doors.
  • If ice in the freezer begins to thaw, remove food and place in coolers with ice to use as needed.