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.