Insurance Blog
Monday, 21 November 2016 15:54

Fry the Turkey, Not the House!


 

Thanksgiving is near and visions of fried turkeys already are dancing in more than a few heads.

Yet even as you are salivating, our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent hastens to caution you. The old joke that men love cooking only if it involves flames and danger is not so funny after an accident. Every year too many folks are harmed and homes are burned due to the combination of large pots of hot oil and big turkeys. Your homeowners' insurance may respond for the fire damages and your health insurance for the emergency room visit, but is that really the new Thanksgiving tradition you had in mind?

Fried turkey can be a great alternative to traditional oven-roasted fare, but be certain to take into account the much higher risk factors. Use a fryer designed specifically for turkeys, rather than jury-rigging other cooking equipment. Once you have the proper fryer, follow a few tips from the experts that can make the difference between taste sensation and flaming disaster: 

  1. Turkey deep fryers should always be placed outdoors, on a flat, preferably concrete surface located a safe distance away from anything combustible. Never use a turkey fryer in the garage, on a wooden deck, or anywhere near the house.
  2. Never leave the fryer unattended. Even after you are finished cooking, do not let pets or children near the unit. The oil in the fryer remains extremely hot for hours after cooking.
  3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. The best is a Class K wet chemical fire extinguisher. If fire erupts, do not throw water on it. Water cannot extinguish a grease fire and will cause the oil to spatter violently. Use common sense. If the fire is small, use the extinguisher, but dial 911 for emergency assistance before the blaze becomes unmanageable.
  4. Use oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola.
  5. Do not overfill the turkey fryer. If oil spills over?because the turkey is too large or the oil level is too high?flames can engulf the unit and endanger bystanders. Before frying, conduct this test: Put the unseasoned turkey into an empty fryer. Then fill the fryer with water until the turkey is fully submerged. If the turkey fits comfortably, mark the water level. When preparing to cook, dry the fryer thoroughly. Then fill it with oil to an inch shy of your level mark to allow for expansion of the oil as it heats. 
  6. Thaw the turkey completely and dry it with paper towels. Injected marinades are fine, but season the turkey skin with a dry rub. Excess water in a partially frozen or wet turkey will cause the pot to bubble over, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every five pounds of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
  7. Most turkey fryers do not come with a thermostat, and if left unattended may overheat, resulting in combustion. Turkey fryer thermometers and other accessories are available.
  8. Use heavy oven mitts or well-insulated potholders. The lid, handles, and sides of the cooking pot become very hot, posing a severe burn threat. Protective eyewear is also recommended.

Your Trusted Choice agent at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance always stands ready to offer advice and a comprehensive review of your current insurance coverage and needs. But when it comes to safety, remember: The best claim is the one you never have to make. Whether you’re tending a deep fryer or waiting on the timer to go off on your oven, be safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Published in Homeowners
Friday, 18 November 2016 16:05

Don’t Be a Turkey: Home Safety Myths

From Trusted Choice

 

While there may be no place like home for the holidays, Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance agency hastens to remind you that persistent myths about home safety cause unnecessary home dangers. Here are just a few commonly accepted “safety tips” that may be increasing your chance of damage and injury:

  1. Frying turkeys is safe, as long as you use the proper equipment. Even with the best equipment designed specifically for frying turkeys, experts have an extensive list of additional safety precautions. Those include: proper thawing, proper filling, use of protective gloves and eyewear, proper placement of the fryer on a level surface away from flammable areas, and keeping the correct type of fire extinguisher handy.
  2. You can test a smoke detector just by pushing the button. No, that just tests the battery. What about actual detection of smoke or fumes? One recommendation is to put two or three wood kitchen matches together, light, blow out the flame, then hold near the smoke detector to see if it reacts to the smoke.
  3. Stone countertops are indestructible (meaning, they don’t burn or break). While some materials are clearly more resistive to heat and flame, no countertop is totally immune from damage if extremely hot pots are placed on the surface; cracks, scarring and chipping from harsh treatment or certain cleaners can also make render your favorite kitchen upgrade more susceptible.
  4. If you do it yourself, there is no need for an official inspection. Governmental permitting and inspections are intended to verify that materials and techniques are safe and that they comply with local building codes. Even when doing it yourself, check with local authorities on proper permitting and availability of trained inspectors to help assure your “fix-up” doesn’t turn into a “breakdown” or worse.
  5. Basements sustain water damage through the floor. Most water enters a basement from the sides or above. If you want to protect your basement (can you say “man cave”?) and its valuable contents from water damage, then make weatherstripping the windows a higher priority than waterproofing the floor.
  6. New house equipment needs little or no maintenance. While it is true that newer equipment should be inherently safer, the increased amount of electronics in upgraded models makes following the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance procedures even more important. Those electronics also make newer equipment more susceptible to cold weather power outages and brownouts. And a winter holiday when your home is filled with friends and relatives is the exact wrong time to lose your heater.

Be mindful of these and other common safety misconceptions, so you can spend the holidays celebrating, not frantically redialing your contractor’s emergency number.


When More Than the Turkey Gets Fried

Did you know that a large percentage of home fires occur during the holidays? And while decorations and Christmas trees are major causes, turkey fryers are rapidly becoming a significant cause. According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year deep fryer fires cause an average of:

  • 1,000 home fires
  • Three times the fire damage of other forms of cooking
  • Five deaths
  • Sixty injuries
  • More than $15 million in property damage
Published in Homeowners
Thursday, 03 November 2016 04:42

Manage the "Four C’s" of Winter Fire Risks:

Chimneys. Candles. Cooking. Christmas. Children.

winter fire hazardsThanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—these holidays mean celebrations, many of them in decorated homes filled with merry-making family members and friends.

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents also know that the winter holidays bring greater-than-usual risks of fire in homes.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that, over the course of a calendar year, the 10 worst days for fires in homes fall between December 24 and January 6.

Fortunately, these risks can be reduced with safe practices that address the “five Cs” of winter fires: chimneys, candles, cooking, Christmas trees and children.

Chimneys

Buildup or blockage within a chimney can catch fire. Chimney fires are unpredictable: they can be noisy and fierce, or can smolder undetected.

Common-sense tips:
  • If you haven’t checked or cleaned the chimney in the past two years, don’t use it.
  • Have a pro inspect the chimney for creosote (which is what builds up in a chimney and fuels a chimney fire)
  • Use dry wood. This minimizes creosote buildup.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper, boxes, trash or Christmas trees.
  • Don’t use liquid to start a chimney fire. Use kindling.

Remember fireplace basics, too: use a screen to contain sparks; and let ashes cool before disposing of them in a metal container.

Candles

Home-candle fires happen on Christmas Day more often than any other day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Next worst: New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve. How do they start? Half of home-candle fires begin because an item is left near a lit candle. Four of 10 home candle fires start in bedrooms, with bedding, furniture, and curtains igniting.

Common-sense tips:
  • Make sure all candles are out before you leave a room or go to bed.
  • Keep clothing, curtains, furniture, and other flammable items away from candles and flame.
  • Use candle holders that don’t tip over.

Cooking

The National Fire Protection Association notes that 46% of all home fires start in the kitchen.  

Common-sense tips:
  • Keep an eye on what you fry
  • Be alert when cooking
  • Keep things that can catch fire away from cooking area
  • Never leave your cooking unattended
  • Turn off your cooking equipment when you leave the room

Christmas Trees

The National Fire Protection Association notes that 300 home fires start each year with Christmas trees. It’s not just live trees; artificial trees also burn. Three major reasons Christmas-tree fires start: electric malfunctions, heat too close to the tree, and children playing with matches, candles, or fireplaces.

Common-sense tips:
  • Buy a cut tree that has green, fresh needles.
  • Buy a fake tree that is fire resistant.
  • Use a secure stand.
  • Locate trees a minimum of three feet from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators.
  • Water live-cut trees every day.
  • Use lights listed by an industrial laboratory. Link together, at most, only three strands of bulbs.
  • Throw out lights that have frayed or broken cords.
  • Pull the plug on lights before going to bed or leaving home.
  • When a tree starts dropping needles, it’s time to dispose of it (outside, not in the house, garage or basement).

Children

Perhaps the most unpredictable risks for winter fire are those young people who are, naturally, exploring and experiencing the wonders of the winter world for the first time. Remember that lights and flames are fascinating to children.

Common-sense tips:
  • Watch the wires. Keep kids away from light strands and power cords.
  • Matches, candles, stoves and ovens often get extra use during the holidays, at a time when adults are occupied with cooking, cleaning and entertaining. Stop and ask: “What might draw a child’s curiosity in this house?” Then shield children from those items, physically and through discipline and direction.
  • Put matches/lighters out of children’s reach. Use lighters that have a child-resistant safety feature.
  • Train children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker agents stand ready to assist consumers with a homeowners insurance claim. The best claim is no claim, though. Use these common-sense practices to prevent home fires.

Published in Homeowners

ChubChub

 

July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day and here are some prevention and rescue tips from The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services.

To help reduce the estimated 500,000 pets affected by home fires each year, The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services today launched the inaugural "National Pet Fire Safety Day." This nationwide awareness day educates pet owners about potential risks when pets are left home alone and provides them with proven prevention measures to ensure their safety.

According to a recent AKC study, 88 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be valued family members so it makes sense to include them in fire prevention plans and rescue alerts should a house fire strike. As part of National Pet Fire Safety Day, AKC and ADT have developed helpful prevention, escape and rescue tips for pet owners.

"One of the hallmarks of responsible dog ownership is keeping pets safe and planning for unexpected emergencies, including house fires," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "Pet proofing the home, developing pet-friendly escape routes and alerting rescuers of your pets presence with ‘window clings’ is the best way to keep your four-legged family member from harm."

That’s something Lia Wentworth of Maryland knows well. One Sunday morning she and her family left their Labrador Retriever "Justice" home alone. They didn't realize they left a pot of boiling water with plastic baby bottles on the stove. When the water evaporated, the bottles began to emit a toxic smoke. No one knew Justice was in trouble because there was no flame. Luckily, the Wentworth’s had a monitored smoke detector and the firefighters were alerted. Their prompt response saved Justice's life.

"National Pet Fire Safety Day" Tips to Keep Pets Safe from House Fires:

  • Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Pet Proof the Home - Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as the stove knobs, loose wires and other potential hazards. 
  • Secure Young Pets - Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home.
  • Keep Pets Near Entrances – When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. 
  • Practicing Escape Routes with Pets – Keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.
  • Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Use monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center, providing an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
  • Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. You can obtain a free window cling by going to www.adt.com/pets or at AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days events. Details are available at www.akc.org.
  • Keep Your Information Updated - Firefighters are familiar with pet alert window clings so keep the number of pets listed on them updated. Knowing the accurate number of pets in the house aids rescuers in finding all of your pets.
Published in Homeowners

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