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December 13, 2018 - Christmas Tree SafetyTreeSafety
Some tips to help make your Christmas tree not only a joy...but also, safer. John Machnicki, a Travelers Risk Control fire saftey professional offers some great tips.

1. Give live Christmas trees a fresh cut. Machnicki always chooses a freshly cut Christmas tree so it will absorb water and stay fresher longer. “Sap flows out of trees, so without a fresh cut at the bottom, water up-take might not be as good,” Machnicki explains.

2. Water your tree daily. In Machnicki’s household, a dry tree is immediately shown the door. Constant watering keeps trees fresher longer, but the moment the tree appears to drop its needles, it’s a sign that it is drying out.

3. Use approved lights and connect them properly. Choose lights tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Avoid connecting multiple extension cords and more than three strands of lights.

4. Inspect lights and decorations. Before decorating your tree, lay out strings of lights and look for any broken or missing lights. Needles can get stuck in empty light sockets, creating a potential fire hazard, Machnicki says. Electric energy passes through the bulb sockets and can cause needles to ignite.

5. Toss damaged lights and decorations. Don’t attempt to repair light strings if they are worn, frayed or show other problems. Throw them away and buy a new set of lights.

6. Choose your tree’s location carefully. Place the tree away from stairs, where fire can quickly travel to bedrooms. Avoid placing it near heat sources, such as a wood stove or fireplace. Being close to radiators and heat vents can more quickly dry out a tree.

7. Avoid using candles near the tree. In a quarter of Christmas tree fires measured by the National Fire Protection Association, a candle or other heat source was too close to the tree.

8. Avoid combustible ornaments. Pinecones and other ornaments can add fuel to a Christmas tree fire and should be avoided.

9. Keep pets safe. Pets can chew, paw and otherwise damage lights and potentially knock over the tree.

10. Unplug at night. Never leave the tree plugged in when you are away from home or asleep.

11. Close bedrooms doors. Closing your bedroom doors at night can keep out harmful smoke and flames in the event of a Christmas tree fire, giving you more time to escape.

12. Test smoke alarms. Make sure smoke alarms are properly located and in working order.

Taking these precautions to help make your home safer over the holidays can help you enjoy your Christmas tree and help keep your family safe.
 

 

December 5, 2018 - Winter Decorating Safety
 

For many, the winter holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way

to celebrate the season. A little planning can help you enjoy your display all season long. Following are some tips from Travelers

Risk Consultants to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.

 

Planning Your Holiday Display

 • Plan your display according to the number and location of available outlets, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.

 • Use lights that have been tested for safety – look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other nationally-recognized laboratories. Consider using LED lights when possible – they run cooler, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lights.

 • Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.NIAWintPic1

 • Carefully inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires prior to use – these defects can cause a serious fire or shock.
 

Decorating Safely

 • When decorating the outside of your home, keep yourself, your~ decorations and equipment at least 10 feet from power lines. Make sure decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance away from flammable items.

 • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical décor and lights outside as metal ladders conduct electricity.

 • Unplug electric lights, devices and decorations before installing or replacing bulbs, changing parts or attempting other repairs.

 • Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.

 • Secure lights, decorations and cords to prevent wind damage. Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.
 

During the Holidays

 • Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving your home or office, or going to bed.

 • If possible, use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles to avoid the hazards of an open flame. If you choose to light candles, place them away from flammable or combustible materials, including other decorations, fabrics, plastic or paper products. 

 • Do not put candles in places where they might be easily knocked over, and never leave a lit candle unattended. 

 • Extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
 

Packing and Storage

 • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.

 • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.

 • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.

 

November 27, 2018 - Driving In Icy Weather

Icy weather can create challenging, and potentially dangerous, driving conditions in the winter months. Black ice forms on roadways and can produce a nearly invisible hazard. As temperatures approach freezing, icy conditions can develop, especially on roadways where elevation is higher, and bridges and overpasses. Adjusting your driving behavior for these conditions can help keep you, and others around you, safe on the road this winter.
 

Recognize Local Forecast
Changing winter weather can present hazards for drivers unaware of the local weather forecast. Knowing when ice may be present is an important first step. If you plan to drive in an area where snow or ice may be possible, check conditions in advance. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Just make sure not to use your smartphone while driving, as you will want your full concentration on the road.
 

Be Aware of Other Drivers
Even if you know the area and are familiar with driving on icy roads, other drivers may not be as experienced or aware of potential dangers. It’s important to increase your following distance to compensate for the increased stopping time it can take for you and other drivers to stop on slick surfaces. Be aware that larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, may require even longer to stop in adverse weather conditions.
 

Practice Caution in All Vehicle Typesx4snow
While four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, Electronic Stability Control and other safety features can help you to drive more safely in the snow and ice, they may not be able to help drivers to safely drive at regular speed limits during snowy, slushy or icy conditions. The National Safety Council recommends a three-second following distance during ideal road and weather conditions, and suggests slowing down and increasing following distances during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Depending on your vehicle and where you live, you may want to consider whether snow tires are necessary in the winter months.
 

Expect Changing Road Conditions
Even the day after a storm, road conditions can remain challenging as road crews work to clear snow and ice. The roads may be clear in one area and icy in another due to elevation, road treatment and other factors. Freezing and melting precipitation can create new dangers overnight. As air temperatures rise above 32 degrees, roadways may retain pockets of ice that can be dangerous to drivers.
 

Know Where to Stop Safely
Deciding to stay home or to get off the roads when conditions turn icy can be a smart safety decision. Make sure that you choose a safe spot to wait for conditions to improve. Rest stops and parking lots are generally safer than the side of the road, where limited visibility may create hazards from snowplows and other traffic.
 

Encourage Safe Driving
If you have friends or family planning to travel during the winter months, offer them a chance to opt-out of travel if conditions appear hazardous. For parents of newer drivers, consider creating rules about driving in snow and ice, and talk with your teens about the importance of changing their driving behavior during the winter months.
 

November 20, 2018 - Home Security Tips

Did you know that a burglary happens every 20 seconds in the U.S., according to the FBI?1

Your home is one of your most valuable possessions, along with everything inside. It is a place you want to feel safe and secure from the potential dangers of the outside world. Employing and engaging in some basic best practices around home security is the first step to help create a secure environment for your loved ones and family.

Consider these tips to help keep you and your family, and your possessions, safe and secure.

  • Landscape with safety in mind. As you walk around your property, look for areas that could be potential hiding spots for thieves, who prize the privacy they provide. Try and clear away any overgrown areas.Lock
     
  • Talk with your local police department. Ask your police department to come and inspect your home and property and provide suggestions to increase home security. They can also offer insight on past break-in trends in your area.
     
  • Know your neighbors. Take the time to meet and engage with people on your street and encourage them to watch out for any suspicious activity when you are not home.
     
  • Lighting matters. Lighting can set the right ambiance inside your home, but outdoor lighting can be the difference between your home being targeted – or not – by thieves. Motion-sensitive fixtures can help add security and provide light when needed. Also consider using automatic timers or a smart lightbulb that can be controlled remotely to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house to help make it seem like you are home.
     
  • Avoid advertising that shopping spree. Thieves look for and steal newly-delivered boxes on your front porch, a method called porch pirating, so consider having them delivered elsewhere or requiring a signature for delivery. Thieves may also look at clues provided by your trash or recycling, which may indicate the new computer or flat-screen television inside.
     
  • Set a safety routine. Make sure you establish a routine where you regularly lock all doors, shut windows and turn on your alarm system every time you leave your home. Avoid leaving spare keys outside, under a planter or under a welcome mat, as thieves know most of the potential hiding places.
     
  • Manage visibility. Make sure you can see who is at your front door without opening it. Avoid placing valuables where they will be visible from the street, and do not place your home alarm panel in a place where people can see you arming it from the outside.
     
  • Protect your outdoor valuables. Burglars also target sheds, garages and other outdoor buildings. Secure your grill, lawn mower, bicycles and other outdoor gear.
     
  • Create a plan for when you are away. Hold your mail, stop your papers and ask a friend or neighbor to remove flyers from your property. Arrange for snow removal and lawn mowing so you do not advertise when you are away from home.

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