Insurance Blog
Items filtered by date: March 2017
Thursday, 23 March 2017 15:04

Uninsured Dog Owners Beware!

 

From our IIABA Trusted Choice friends - 

Dogs bite more than 4.7 million Americans each year—and one of every six of those requires medical attention—yet many pet owners are not properly insured against this potentially expensive liability, says Dave D’Orlando, President of Baldwin / Welsh & Parker (BWP) Insurance Agency in Wayland, Hudson, Bedford and Winthrop.

“Homeowners and renters who own dogs should never go without liability insurance, which is part of most standard homeowners or renters policies, or they may be in for a rude awakening if sued,” says D’Orlando. The insurance industry estimates that one-third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claims may be related to dogs.

Many home-based business owners and renters are at particular financial risk when their dogs bite. “Because homeowners’ policies exclude coverage for business-related losses, an in-home entrepreneur without business insurance may not be covered if sued by a customer who was bitten by the entrepreneur’s family dog,” D’Orlando cautioned. Renters also are subject to higher risk because many people who rent are still uninsured for personal property losses and liability claims. Some mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover their losses.

Owners whose pets are among the more aggressive breeds such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, or those with dogs that have demonstrated aggressive tendencies, may want to purchase an umbrella liability policy which provides increased coverage in case of an attack. But others should be cautious as well, says D’Orlando. All dog owners should be cautious around children. They represent more than half of all dog bite victims—which usually occur in the face, from dogs owned by family or friends.

“Dog owners need to be aware of the financial as well as physical implications of letting dogs roam free and of not taking precautions to prevent injuries, even at home,” says D’Orlando. It is estimated that 70% of attacks occur on the dog owners’ property.

Leash and muzzle laws vary from state to state as do owner liability. Consumers should be aware of the presence of such statutes and the potential legal and financial repercussions of disregarding them. In many cases, a dog doesn’t actually have to bite someone for the owner to be liable for a victim’s injury. On the other hand, the owner may not be liable for injuries caused by an animal if the injured party was negligent, if the animal has no history of aggression, or if the owner posts approved warning signs.

Most importantly, take precautions to protect others, but don’t forget to protect yourself as well, the IIABA reminds consumers. For more information, contact BWP Agents by clicking here.

And here’s more information from the CDC on preventing dog bites.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 15:02

Teens and Drowsy Driving Alert

Baldwin Welsh Parker 37864463 sDrowsy driving is a serious issue for time-starved drivers today, especially teenage drivers, according to the latest research:

  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that between 2010 and 2015, more than 1,300 drivers aged 25 and younger were involved in fatal drowsy driving crashes in the United States
  • According to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver, and drivers aged 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk for being involved in a drowsy driving crash.
  • A CDC report indicates that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States

The NTSB recently published a blog post about a teenage driver who lost control of her vehicle just over a year ago at about 1:57 in the afternoon. While driving with three other teenage passengers in the car, she lost control of the car and collided with a semitrailer on the opposite side of the highway. The driver was seriously injured, and her three friends died. NTSB investigators determined that that the driver’s loss of control was due to inattention resulting from her fatigue; they discovered that during "the 24 hours before the crash, the driver had very little opportunity for sleep—only about 5 hours on the morning of the crash."

What can parents do to keep teens safe?

Lack of sleep is the leading cause of drowsiness while driving. It slows reaction time as well as reduces lack of focus while driving. As a result of the alarming number of teen accidents and fatalities due to drowsy driving, the NTSB has released a new safety alert: Drowsy Driving Among Young Drivers. The alert outlines steps that both parents and teens can take to stay awake and responsible behind the wheel. The safety alert lists the following tips for parents:

  • Help teens create a good environment for sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends keeping electronic devices such as TVs, video games, computers, and cell phones out of teens’ bedrooms. Research shows that doing so leads to longer sleep times.
  • Advocate for later school start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools delay the start of classes to 8:30 a.m. or later. Earlier school start times are associated with higher risk of teen crashes.
  • Teach new drivers that drowsy driving can be as risky as driving drunk, drugged, or distracted.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that teens have a safe ride to and from late night and early morning events.

Download the full safety alert (SA-061 February 2017)

*Original Article Author: By Dr. Jana Price | Original Article Source: NTSB.gov

*Some parts of this article may paraphrased or are direct quotes of the original author and original blog post at NTSB.gov. Both the author and the source are credited in this blog post. Baldwin | Welsh & Parker does not claim to be the author, and shares this article for information purposes only as part of its mission to offer breaking news that may be deemed helpful to readers.

Published in Auto Insurance
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 22:11

Stress Relief Tips for the Workplace

Relieve stress while you're at work.

Stress is something that every person deals with. For most, however, the workplace is the point of origin for stress. According to a study conducted by the APA in 2011, 80% of employed individuals reported being under some type of work related stress on a regular basis. 40% of respondents admitted that they were under extreme levels of stress, and 40% said they were often burned out or stressed by their work. 25% of those surveyed said that their jobs were the number one cause of stress in their lives. Whether it’s due to workload, job security, pay rates or personal issues, chances are that work related stress affects you and your family. There are a few things you can do in order to lower your stress levels and maintain a cool head at the workplace. Here are a few tips to reduce stress at the workplace:

1. Breathe

Breathing is one of the best ways to relieve stress. When we become stressed, our bodies release adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones which raise our blood pressure and cause that stressed out feeling, according to the Textbook of Natural Medicine. Try taking a step back, and giving yourself a breathing break. Focus on breathing deeply, and exhaling completely. Try to conjure up a relaxing day-dream while you complete this exercise, or re-live a relaxing moment.

2. Create a Calm Working Atmosphere

Surround yourself with things you enjoy. This may be a photo album of a recent vacation, a Zen garden to help you relax, or a few trinkets from home that remind you of your favorite place. No matter what it is, bringing a few loved items to your workplace to enjoy can help you escape stress during the day. Also consider bringing essential oils to work. A 2009 study by the Department of Nursing at Youngnam Foreign Language College in Korea addressed the benefits of essential oils in reducing stress. Take a sniff during high stress times, as aromatherapy has been proven to help relieve stress. Choose a few websites that have relaxing images or music, and bookmark them on your computer. Look them up during stressful days, or have them running in the background.

3. Take a Break

Unfortunately, a startling number of people skip out on required breaks in order to finish more work. This not only keeps your body at a constant level of high stress, but also makes burn-out and exhaustion more likely to set in. In fact, looking at a screen all day without a break will stress out your eyes and your body. Even if it is just a ten minute break, take it. Go on a walk around the building, call your mom, or go enjoy a small snack somewhere private. Breaks from work are essential in maintaining a healthy working attitude.

4. Connect with Others

Businesses are starting to realize the importance of co-worker connection. Many organizations are encouraging employees to start groups for socialization and interaction. This may be a lunchtime walking group, a cooking group, or a book club. If your business doesn’t have any opportunities like this, inquire at your place of work about starting one. Being able to connect with your co-workers on a non-professional level helps everyone maintain cool heads during stressful times. For instance, Google offers employees internal groups within their companes that offer specific benefits or outings to encourage interaction and bonding.

5. Exercise

Whether at home before work, or on a break, make sure to get time in for exercise. Getting exercise is an essential part of ridding your body of stress. Try to find some time during your day to get in some exercise. The University of Maryland conducted a study in 2012 showing that exercise not only helps reduce current stress, but may help stave off future stress as well.

6. Eat Stress-Reducing Food

Even if you already eat well, consider taking an orange with you to work. A 2002 study at the Center for Psychomatic and Psychobiological Research, University of Trier, Germany found that a dose of vitamin C helps the body cope during stressful situations.

7. Think Ergonomics

Take an outsiders look at your workspace. Is your seating arrangement comfortable? Is it healthy for your body? Ask your employer about bringing in an exercise ball to sit on. While it may not be proven to help your posture, it won’t hurt it - and encourages core movement during the workday. It will also help protect your muscuoskeletal system, says a 1997 study by the CDC.

8. There’s an App for That

There are many de-stressing apps available on your phone. Download a few and use them when you feel the stress levels rising.

9. Organize Your Day

If you feel distracted or overwhelmed, write down a to-do list or a general schedule for your day. The act of actually writing down the list by hand will help you remember tasks more than typing them on a computer, and will help you organize and focus your thoughts, which will decrease stress, according to Patrick E. McLean's "Defense of Writing Longhand."

Published in Insurance Tips
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 21:40

Driving Tips for Pothole Season

Pothole

Potholes and poor road conditions aren’t just an inconvenience, they are an expensive and dangerous result of harsh winters. Winter wrecks havoc on our roadways. The cycle of freezing and thawing, and snow, sleet, and rain, bring Springtime potholes that can do significant damage to your car. Severe potholes have led to accidents which may impact your insurance rates, as premiums are determined by past claims, accidents and driving violations. Here are important tips to keep in mind. 

Make sure you contact one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance Agents to make sure you have the right amount of coverage.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has repaired more than 1,300 potholes this winter, including 210 on the MassPike from Springfield to Weston in the last two months, and now the agency is asking the public to report more of these pavement craters.

MassDOT has expanded its online and telephone pothole information system to all areas of the state.

Potholes can be reported through MassDOT's Pothole Hotline number at 857-368-6999.  Potholes can also be reported to MassDOT by calling 857-DOT-INFO (857-368-4636) or 877-MA-DOT-GOV (877-623-6846) or by contacting MassDOT online at http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/ContactUs.aspx#Contact.

Pothole Driving Tips

  1. Properly inflated tires hold up better against potholes than tires that have too much or too little air.
  2. If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it. But don’t brake directly over a pothole, which can actually cause more damage.
  3. When driving over the pothole, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control.
  4. Use caution when driving over a puddle of water because it might be a pothole in hiding.
  5. Report potholes to MassDOT.  


And, if you have hit a pothole and notice any of these problems, take your car to a repair facility to have it checked for damage by a professional.

 

Report Potential Damage  

  • Bulges or blisters on the tire sidewalls.
  • Dents in the wheel rims.
  • Undercarriage damage, including fluid leaks and wear that could lead to rust.
  • Odd noises coming from the exhaust system due to dents or punctures.
  • The car pulling toward the left or right, instead of going straight, which could indicate an alignment problem.
  • Uneven tire wear, which could indicate an alignment problem.

 

Published in Auto Insurance

Keeping organized records will make life easier for you and your loved ones. Here are easy to follow tips for your spring cleaning and organization efforts.

The Four Box Method to Tame the Chaos

The four box methodis just a modified version of keep/donate/toss. Instead of three boxes, you'll make four: Keep, Sell/Donate, Store, and Trash.

  1. Keep are items you need or use regularly, and have space for.
  2. Sell/Donate will go to Goodwill or your favorite charity, or hopefully make you a little money on eBay or Craigslist.
  3. Trash is junk: papers to be shredded, broken things that you know you'll never repair, you know the deal.
  4. Store is the most ambiguous: these are the boxes of things that you can't part with that don't play a role in your daily life. They're to be stored, but only so much that you have available storage space.

Saving your records in digital format allows you to store and access information easily. However, an organizing system can be as simple as a three-ring binder. Others use a filing cabinet. Use the system that works best for you. 

Four Key Categories to Batch Your Records

LIVESTRONG suggests that you batch your most important information in these four categories:

1. Important Financial Records

Start by collecting and reviewing the documents and information that you already have, including:

  • Employment benefit records.
  • Insurance policies, receipts and other insurance records.
  • Home / Apartment inventory.
  • Social Security benefit records.
  • Health records including prescription receipts.
  • Personal financial records.
  • Advance medical care and financial directives.
  • Will, living trust and guardianship directives.
  • Copies of letters about your health care and insurance.

Request copies of the important documents that you do not have. Arrange them in order by categories and by date. That way you will be able to quickly find information.


2. Legal Documents

Give copies of important legal documents directly to the person who is responsible for seeing that your wishes are followed. If you do not want to do that, tell them where you keep the copies. Also, keep a copy of these documents for yourself.

Store your documents in a safe place. Make sure that trusted loved ones or friends know where these documents are. They may also need to have access to a key and know how they can get to the documents if they are ever needed.

Here are suggestions about where to store some important documents:

  • Medical Directives: Give the original copy of all advance medical directives to your health care providers. Copies of your advance medical directives should be kept by you and the person you have chosen to act on your behalf in a medical emergency.
  • Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Guardianship, Financial Directives: Give the original copy of each of the above types of documents to your attorney. He or she will store them for you and your loved ones. Copies of these documents should be kept by you (include a note with your copy that states where the original is stored) and others who might be involved later such as the legal guardian for your children.

These types of documents should not be stored in your bank safe-deposit box. It would be difficult to get to them quickly in an emergency.


3. Medical Treatment Records

Keep a copy of all of your medical records so that you will have accurate details about your medical treatment. Share this information with your physician and other health care team members. This will help you to get the best health care.

  • Medical records and receipts, invoices and statements for prescriptions, medical equipment and health care provider and hospital visits.
  • All contact information for your current and past health care team members.
  • Information about prescription and over-the-counter medications and vitamins.
  • Your medical treatment history that lists dates, diagnoses and treating health care providers.

Your health information can also be used when you prepare tax returns. It will be useful as you complete forms for insurance claims. In addition, these records can be used to document the need to request changes in your work schedule or job.


4. List of Instructions

A list of instructions can serve as a guide to your home, health, family, legal and financial matters. A trusted friend or loved one can use this information to pay bills and take care of your household in case of an emergency.

Your list of instructions should include all that is needed to keep your home and finances in order. Include a guide to your filing and record-keeping system. Some of the information in your list of instructions may be confidential.

Keep the following types of information in a safe place so that only a person you trust can get to it:

  • Banking and other financial information.
  • Credit card information.
  • PIN numbers.
  • Usernames and passwords to accounts.
  • Safe combination numbers.

Allow yourself the time you need to organize and store your records. You don't have to do it all at one time. Ask someone you trust to help you if it becomes too overwhelming.

Published in Blog
What is Umbrella Insurance?
 

Umbrellas

From IIABA’s Trusted Choice website
 

Umbrella Insurance Policies Provide Extra Protection

A rain umbrella protects you from getting wet, but doesn’t stop the raindrops from falling. Umbrella liability insurance is similar in that it cannot prevent accidents or mishaps, but can make those things less devastating financially.

Your primary insurance coverage, like your homeowners and auto policies, includes liability coverage up to a certain limit. Liability is your legal responsibility to pay for damage to a person or to a person’s property. An umbrella policy increases your liability coverage substantially—more types of claims are covered and at a higher limit.

To get all the information you need about umbrella liability insurance, contact one of our Baldwin or Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® agents. We are here in your area and ready to discuss your needs.


Who Can Benefit from Umbrella Insurance?

  • Anyone with assets to protect
  • Everyone who drives a vehicle, including a car, motorcycle, boat or ATV
  • Everyone who owns or rents a home

In our litigious society, we must protect our assets from lawsuits. The primary reason for carrying umbrella insurance is that you never know what you may be responsible for. Accidents happen, and when they do, you may be held legally responsible for resulting bodily injury and property damage as well as legal fees, all of which can quickly escalate to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you cause an accident, the legal system makes a judgment that, between you and the injured person, you should be the one to shoulder the financial repercussions. The person who suffered damage is then entitled to collect what is owed by claiming insurance proceeds. If the money provided by the insurance company is inadequate, a claim may be made on your income, assets and savings.

Adequate liability insurance protects you from these financial consequences. Pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and property damage are some of the items you may be sued for that are covered by umbrella liability insurance.



What Does Umbrella Insurance Cover?

A personal umbrella insurance policy provides additional protection by increasing coverage for liability in two ways:

  • Increases the dollar limit of liability coverage for primary policies
    Example: Assume the coverage limit on the liability portion of your auto insurance totals $300,000. If you purchase an umbrella policy of $1 million, and you cause an accident that exceeds your the $300,000 limit on your auto policy, your umbrella insurance can cover the remainder, up to $1 million dollars (a total of $1.3 million total liability coverage, in this case)
  • Covers claims excluded by primary policies
    Example: Typical liability policies may not cover damage claims resulting from false arrest, libel, slander, or defamation of character. If you are held liable for damages caused by these types of claims, the umbrella policy can help you cover costs.

The $300,000 liability limit in the prior examples may seem like a lot of coverage in the abstract, but can easily be exceeded in serious accidents.



How Much Umbrella Insurance Do You Need?

The right amount of liability insurance for any individual, family or business depends upon a number of factors. These include the risks you face and the assets you want to protect. For example, if you have a passion for speed boating, you have an increased risk over someone who only takes a dinghy out on the occasional fishing excursion. And if you have a high income, you are more likely to be sued in the event that you are at fault for injury to others.

Some professionals recommend that you add up all of your assets and then double that figure to determine the amount of liability coverage needed. Others look to the costs of medical payments and legal fees, which can vary considerably by region.

To figure out the right amount of liability insurance for you, talk to a knowledgeable agent. Independent agents in the Trusted Choice network will discuss what kind and amount of liability coverage you should purchase. These agents work with multiple insurance companies and they advocate for you, the consumer, not any one company. They can compare rates and options on your behalf.



Umbrella Liability Claim Examples:

  • Accident: Despite your careful driving and best intentions, you cause a serious accident. Your umbrella policy kicks in when the property damage exceeds the $300,000 liability coverage limit on your auto policy.
  • Dog Bites: Your dog escapes the yard and attacks a neighbor, resulting in extensive medical costs. The umbrella policy covers the excess costs of hospitalization, care and rehabilitation after your homeowners liability coverage is used up.
  • Trampoline: Your son’s school buddies are playing on the trampoline in your yard and one of the boys flies off, suffering a spinal cord injury. Your umbrella liability manages the excess costs after you you exceed the limits on your homeowners or renters liability policy.

You hope these situations never occur, but statistically they sometimes do. You can limit the consequences with an umbrella insurance policy.



Do You Need More Liability Coverage?

You may want to give special consideration to an investment in umbrella insurance in the following circumstances:

  • You are at greater risk for liability if you own a pool or trampoline or ride a powerful motorcycle. Statistics indicate that these activities and others are more likely to lead to expensive liability claims.
  • If you have assets at risk, including retirement savings, business income, college funds, and other assets with total values that exceed the liability maximum on your home or auto policy.
  • One of the best reasons to own an umbrella policy is the attractive price for peace of mind. The premium you pay for the maximum claim payout tends to be low. In other words, relative to the protection afforded, umbrella insurance can be a great deal.

Get a free quote from one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker independent Trusted Choice member agents and get all of your questions answered. Your agent can give you information on the kinds of liability risks and costs associated with your particular situation. Contact us today for an umbrella insurance quote.

Published in Insurance Tips

St. Patty

Our friends at Utica National sent along these important reminders from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Please read and share! 

St. Patrick’s Day is Friday, March 17. Whether you’re celebrating the weekend before, that day or the weekend after, keeping yourself and others safe is important. Remember these tips from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:

Attending a party or celebrating elsewhere?

1. Before the party begins, designate a sober driver or plan another way to get home safely.

2. If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to get you; or just stay in for the night.

3. Use your community's sober ride program.

4. Never let friends drive if they have had too much to drink.

5. Always buckle up – it's still your best defense against drunk drivers.


Hosting a party?

1. Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.

2. Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.

3. Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages.

4. Stop serving alcohol at a certain point and begin serving coffee and dessert.

5. Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.

 

Enjoy your St. Patty's Day Celebrations and share these safety tips! 

Published in Auto Insurance
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 19:34

Spring Cleaning—and a Safety Check

clutter

From our Trusted Choice Friends

It's Spring and everyone is optimistic that our forecast will bring warmer and sunnier weeks are ahead. With these seasonal changes, millions take on “spring cleaning” of homes, garages, and yards.

When you’re longing to get outside in the spring months, consider several simple steps to enhance safety for you and your family. After all, the numbers show where the danger is: Home accidents result in 10 million emergency room visits each year in the U.S., according to Home Safety Council estimates. Many injuries occur in garages and near doorways to a home.

Here are some suggestions for an effective spring safety sweep:

Check fluids

Look under sinks, in bathrooms, closets, garage and basement for liquids that include chemicals. Look for potentially hazardous liquids including: cleaning solvents and disinfectants; oil-based paints, primers and thinners; gasoline, kerosene, motor oil, anti-freeze, windshield washer, and other car products; insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers; and charcoal lighter fluid.

Safely discard any liquids that are unneeded or expired, based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper disposal is usually best accomplished with a community-based program. Typically, pouring hazardous materials down a sink, on the ground, or in a storm sewer—or placing them in the garbage—is not a safe option.

Cap, label and raise

Safely cap containers containing chemicals of any kind. If these materials need to be kept, make sure they are labeled correctly. Raise up (out of the reach of children and pets) any containers with hazardous materials.

Ventilate

Make sure petroleum-based products and other products with noxious fumes are not stored in a confined space such as a basement or closet. Nor should they be near a heat source. Springtime also is a good time to have chimneys professionally cleaned.

Check alarms

Housing codes typically require smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms in a residence. Consider adding these safety devices in garages and basements. Check the batteries in all smoke and CO alarms.

Clean up clutter

Many trip-and-fall or fall-from-above accidents happen because houses are cluttered near doors. Garages, basements, and attics are places where many homeowners put things out of the way—only to find them “by accident” come springtime. Clean up for safety’s sake.

Separate for safety

In the garage and basement, make an area for bikes, balls, and toys—away from potentially dangerous areas and items such as fuels, paints and power tools.

Prepare for an emergency

Make sure all entrances and exits to your home, including through the garage or basement, are clear. Place a first-aid kit and flashlight in the garage and basement. Mount a fire extinguisher in the garage, and train adults how to use it based on manufacturer’s directions.

Check appliances

Check appliance hoses for dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, and dryers. Danger signs: crimping, cracking or other damage on power wires, supply/discharge hoses, and vents. If you have a sump pump, test it—before spring downpours and melting snows do.

Talk to one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® insurance professionals for additional tips on how to protect your family and home.

Published in Homeowners

smoke detector

With spring comes a feeling of renewal. Families everywhere begin cleaning out their basements and garages. Windows are opened, flowers bloom and the days grow longer thanks in part to Daylight Saving Time, which this year began on March 12.

When you set your clocks forward, the National Safety Council reminds you also to review a safety checklist for your home.

1) Smoke Alarms. Smoke alarms save lives – if they are powered by a fresh battery. Have you changed the batteries? You should test them every month to make sure they work and replace the battery at least once a yeaer, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If the alarm makes a "chirping" sound, replace it immediately.

Smoke alarms should be located in every bedroom and in the common areas on each floor of a home. Mount them at least 10 feet from the stove to reduce false alarms, less than 12 inches from the ceiling and away from windows, doors and ducts.

Did you know smoke alarms can be interconnected wirelessly? That means, when one sounds, they all sound. A Consumer Product Safety Commission survey found this is the best way to notify everyone in a home if there is a fire. Be sure to purchase smoke alarms with the label of a reputable testing agency, like Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, according to NFPA.

2) Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas, and it can kill you. Anything in the home that burns fuel can potentially become a source of carbon monoxide. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each bedroom and on every level of the home. The safety tips for CO detectors mirror those of smoke alarms: change the batteries, test them and interconnect them, if possible.

Also, make sure vents for your gas appliances (fireplace, dryer, stove and furnace) are free and clear of snow or debris.

3) Family Emergency Plan. The National Safety Council recommends every family have an emergency plan in place in the event of a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. Spring is a great time to review that plan with family members to make sure they know what to do.

Have a home and car emergency kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says an emergency kit should include one gallon per day of water for each person, at least a three-day supply of food, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, filter mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape, and medicines. Visit the FEMA website for a complete list.

The emergency plan also should include:

  • A communications plan to outline how your family members will contact one another if they are not in the same place and where you should meet if it's safe to go outside.
  • A shelter-in-place plan if you are unable to leave your home or office or if outside air is contaminated. Your home or car emergency kit with food, water, flashlights, batteries should be readied and refreshed from time to time.
  • A getaway plan including various routes and destinations in different directions.

Published in Homeowners

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