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January 9 , 2019 - Winter Home Maintenance is Important! Part 1.
December 26, 2018 - Roof Snow Removal Information
There's no doubt that snow covered roofs help may a beautiful winter scene...but the melting and freezing of snow...plus freshly fallen snow...can put more stress on your roof that it was designed to handle.
Snow Removal Tips
Clearing the snow off your roof from the gutters or eaves upwards of three to four feet after each winter storm can help prevent·ice dams·from forming. Remember to avoid using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to professionals.
For Flat Roofs:
If your flat roof is easily accessible from an interior stairway, you may want to shovel the roof, but be careful not to damage the roof covering.
Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, especially one that is covered in snow and ice. If you have any doubt, leave it to professionals.
For Sloped Roofs:
It may be possible to remove the snow and ice from your sloped roof using a roof rake – a long-handled tool designed specifically for this purpose. Stand on the ground and pull as much of the snow off the eaves as you can safely reach.
If you cannot safely reach the roof, contact a homebuilder, landscaping and roofing contractor, or property maintenance company to remove the snow and ice. Before·hiring a contractor, check their references. Always be sure any contractor you hire is qualified, insured and bonded.
The amount of snow and ice your roof can support will depend on a number of factors, including the roof type as well as the age and condition of the structure. But a good rule to keep in mind is if more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice has accumulated on your roof, you should have it removed.
December 21, 2018 - Space Heater Tips
With winter upon us, now's a good time to discuss some safety tips in using space heaters.
When setting up a space heater, remember to keep it at least 36 inches from any flammable or combustible materials and place it on the floor, unless it is designed otherwise.
Areas where space heaters are used should be free of flammable liquids. Do not put them on easily ignitable or combustible surfaces, such as rugs or carpets, or use them to dry wet clothing.
When using a fuel-fired space heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow for fresh air to enter. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup or a depletion of oxygen.
Never take a gas-fired or kerosene heater into a confined space as the results could be deadly.
To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you and your family can get out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly, and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly.
December 13, 2018 - Christmas Tree Safety
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.
• 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.
• 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 Types
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.
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