Insurance Blog
Sunday, 16 October 2016 20:30

Preventing Home Fires - Heating Safety Tips

The National Fire Protection Association has these important tips as the weather gets colder, Make sure your fireplace and heating equipment are in top condition!

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

Click here for more - Heating Safety Tips

How to choose a backpack for your child. 
Kids walking home from school


By September 16, National School Backpack Awareness Day, over 79 million students will go back to school. Many will carry a heavy load to school, especially if they’re starting middle school, where they carry more books, supplies, equipment and electronics than before. It seems like they pack their school lockers in their backpacks and carry them to and from school every day. But overloaded backpacks on children can cause pain and injury that often continue throughout adulthood.

In fact, a 2009 University of California study showed that 64% of American students aged 11 to 15 complained of back pain from heavy backpacks, and 21% reported that the pain lasted more than six months. Moreover, experts say 80% of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives, and it can start in childhood.

But it’s not just kids’ backs that can be harmed by weighty backpacks.

“Shoulder rotator cuffs and joints, elbows, wrists, hips and legs can be injured by improper lifting or carrying of heavy backpacks,” warns chiropractor Wm. Todd Fisher, DC of Chantilly Chiropractic Center, PC in Chantilly, VA. “Further, a child’s growth plates and the discs in their back and neck can be damaged, setting them up for a lifetime of back problems,” he states.

So what’s the solution? Choose the right backpack for your child’s size and needs. Here are some keys to choosing the right backpack.

Choose Back Safety Over Stylishness

We know kids love to be “cool,” especially tweens and teens. And it’s important to get your kids things they won’t stuff in the back of the closet and refuse to use. But preventing a lifetime of back injuries may mean sacrificing a little style. Moreover, says Dr. Fisher, “Bigger isn’t better, either.” And neither is cheaper.

So how do Dr. Fisher and other experts recommend you choose a backpack? “Start with knowing your child’s weight and height,” he says. “A backpack should never fall more than four inches below the child’s waistline, nor should it be heavier than 10% of their weight.” A backpack that’s too heavy and too low causes the child to bend forward to balance it, leading to neck and back strain. So it should be at shoulder level and never sag away from the body.

Sometimes the most stylish backpacks lead to serious, long-term musculoskeletal problems in children because they break all of these rules.

Gary Sato, DC, a California chiropractor, Assistant Coach of USC Men's Volleyball and Assistant Coach of USA Men’s Volleyball during the 1988, 1992 and 2012 Olympics, agrees. The father of three, including two teens, he says, “It’s terrible to see kids have back pain that continues into adulthood, so it’s critical that parents convey to them the importance of back care over stylishness.” In other words, this is another area where peer pressure can have long-term health consequences. Besides, you can buy some stylish backpacks and still keep your kids’ backs safe.

What Features Should a Good Backpack Have?

In addition to being high-quality, meaning durable enough to hold heavier loads without excessive sagging and having a reflector, Dr. Fisher suggests backpacks have the following features:

  • Have wide, thick, padded, adjustable, well-made shoulder straps. This type of straps helps keep the backpack on securely and distribute the weight more evenly across the shoulders and back. They also prevent damage to the child’s flesh and muscles from cutting into the shoulders.
  • Be the right size for the child and their uses. Again, bigger is not better, but smaller than needed (like many of the drawstring bags) is not cool, either. Both can be harmful, since kids are likely to overload bigger backpacks, and the poor construction of many drawstring bags makes them inappropriate for heavier loads.
  • Have sternum and hip straps. These straps across the stomach and around the hips help balance the load of the backpacks and stabilize them on your kids’ backs.
  • Have ample compartments. Not only is this a way for kids to carry more delicate items more securely and with less damage (especially if the compartment is padded for electronics), but also the weight of the backpack gets more evenly distributed.
  • Be padded on the back and have air bladders in the right places. Both keep the contents of the backpack from injuring the body and help balance its weight.
  • Have wheels, in some cases, with sturdy pulling handles. Wheels allow backpacks to be rolled, which takes most of the strain off children’s growing bodies. But be careful with these, because wheels often mean users overload them; they have to be lifted to be carried onto the school bus and down stairs. Lifting heavy bags can cause strain, and these can cause other safety issues, too. So make sure your child’s school allows them.
choosing a backpack
 
 

Dr. Sato agrees with these features, adding, “Backpacks should also be breathable so kids don’t sweat while carrying them.” Breathability will help backpacks last longer (since the salt in sweat can break some fabrics down) and not carry odors.

How Should Your Kids Load and Carry Their Backpacks?

In order to choose correctly, you’ll need to know what your child will be carrying and how. In addition to this nifty chart provided by The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA),which shows parents and students how to both pack and wear their backpacks, Dr. Fisher has a few other suggestions. “Backpacks should not be worn lower than four inches below a child’s natural waistline because that forces them to lean forward to balance the load,” he explains. That can cause strain across the child’s musculoskeletal system, including back, neck, hip flexors, ankles and feet.

He adds they should be securely fastened on a child’s body to make sure the backpack is high and close to the body. He suggests children, “stand in front of a mirror after loading their backpack to check posture.” If they find themselves leaning forward, they should remove some of the contents of the backpack. Watch this Boston University video for additional considerations about properly choosing, loading and wearing a backpack.

Also, this video provides additional wearing information, including warning signs the backpack is too heavy. Dr. Sato says it’s OK for kids to carry additional bags if their backpacks are too heavy but, in general, kids should not be overloaded carrying them.

Where Should You Purchase Backpacks?

Start with the school’s supply list to determine what kind of backpack your child is allowed to carry to school. Then go shopping. It’s likely that the more children you have, the more budget-conscious you’ll be. Both doctors agree that this is understandable, but say that it’s just as important to consider your child’s long-term musculoskeletal health when purchasing their backpack. Don’t automatically choose the cheapest option at a discount retailer. That may not be the best backpack for your child’s size or needs.

Moreover, while there are numerous high-end brands to choose from, Dr. Fisher recommends the AirPack brand. Other popular brands are REI, JanSport, L.L.Bean, Kipling, Herschel and North Face. But whatever brand you choose, make sure it meets the criteria above, including those from the AOTA. Dr. Sato recommends that you go in to the retailer, look at backpacks and try them on your child, and then go online to buy them at the best price.

If you follow these strategies for choosing, loading and wearing a backpack, your child is less likely to be injured carrying one.

Business owners have enough to worry about besides uncontrollable threats that prevent success. Business liability insurance is one way to help prepare for and protect your business from the biggest risks you face.


Top Business Risks in 2016

A recent study done by Allianz concluded that the following three risks are considered by business owners to be among the most significant business risks for 2016:

 

You can protect your business from these threats with a variety of business insurance policies, including business liability insurance—specifically cyber liability insurance and employment practices liability insurance.


Protect Against the Top 3 Risks with Liability Insurance for Your Business

Liability claims are among the most expensive business insurance claims. Without appropriate liability coverage, one lawsuit or unexpected event can force you to close your doors. Business liability insurance can help you protect your business from the 3 top risks named in the survey.

In order to protect your business from cyber incidents, PR disasters, and the impact of new technologies, you need:

  • General business liability insurancealso known as Commercial general liability insurance (CGL) is the most basic form of business liability insurance.

General liability insurance definition: A contract that protects a business against claims due to injuries, accidents, and negligence. It can protect your business from costs related to bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, legal costs, judgments, and personal injury claims such as libel and slander. To protect your business from more specific types of emerging threats, you may need to purchase additional liability policies.

  • Cyber liability insuranceis important for any business that uses electronic information. If you are sued because of a data breach or other cybercrime, your business could be responsible for paying legal fees, court-ordered judgments or settlements, and any other court-mandated costs. Your general liability policy may not appropriately cover these costs.

Cyber liability claims are also extremely costly in terms of fines, public relations costs, and other expenses you must pay on behalf of your affected customers.

While cyber liability policies continue to evolve because of the ever-changing nature of the threats, most cyber liability insurance policies protect your business assets by covering your legal defense costs, as well as any settlements and judgments that you are ordered to pay. Cyber liability insurance also helps businesses repair their reputations and damage to their brands in these situations by providing coverage for PR and other related expenses.

  • Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)is another form of liability insurance for your business that is becoming more important as technology changes. EPLI provides protection from claims and lawsuits brought against a business, its officers or directors, or its employees and managers for discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and other employment-related allegations.

In addition, EPLI covers claims related to employee benefits mismanagement. In today’s interconnected society, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which new technology makes it possible for an employee’s benefits enrollment or personal health information to be made public inadvertently. EPLI insurance would protect you in such a circumstance.


Other Kinds of Business Liability Insurance to Consider

In addition to the risks named in the Allianz study, most businesses face a variety of other threats that could lead to a liability claim. Depending on your type of business, you may need to consider a number of additional business liability policies to protect your assets.

  • Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance:Also referred to as professional liability insurance, this policy will protect you from loss or damage arising from poor or misleading advice, or an act of negligence that leads to a client's financial loss.
  • Liquor liability insurance:Coverage that protects any business that sells or serves alcoholic beverages, including restaurants, nightclubs, and bars, that can be held liable for damages or injuries caused by intoxicated patrons.
  • Product liability insurance:If your product causes any form of injury or damage, product liability insurance will cover compensation and possible legal fees if you are sued.
  • Environmental impairment liability (EIL) insurance:A specialty insurance policy created for companies and contractors who engage in jobs or production that have toxic by-products. EIL insurance will cover many of the costs related to spills, leakage, or contamination, including fines and cleanup costs.
  • Pollution liability insurance:A business insurance policy that covers the costs associated with pollution cleanup, as well as liability claims for pollution-related injuries, illnesses, or deaths.
  • Event liability insurance:Standard personal or commercial liability policies will not cover the varied exposures related to special events. Event liability policies can be tailored to your specific event, from small, one-time events to large, elaborate affairs.

How to Know if Your Insurance Policy is Right for You

Business liability insurance—in all of its forms—is essential to the long-term success of your business. Every business liability policy must be tailored to your unique business, or you face having limited or no coverage when you really need it.

Consulting with an independent agent who represents multiple insurance companies is the best way to ensure that you can find the best basic and specialized commercial liability insurance to address all of the insurable risks inherent in your business. Working with your local independent agent, you will determine the type and amount of coverage you need based on:

  • Business size, type and value
  • Type of work you do
  • Type of risks
  • Level of liability

Your agent can seek out the best coverage—from multiple insurance companies—to meet your needs and budget.


How to Find the Right Commercial Liability Insurance Agent

Our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker insurance agents are trained to be one of your most trusted business advisors—no different from your accountant, lawyer, or banker. Don’t trust your business to just anyone. Choose an independent insurance agent who will be as invested in protecting your business as you are. Whether you need small business liability or corporate liability insurance your agent can help you evaluate specific business risks and the various liability risks your company faces.

Our agents represent multiple insurance companies, providing you with a broad range of options to meet your needs. Find an agent in your community today and start addressing your top business risks.

Contact Us Today

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