Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Did you know that cooking accidents – and subsequent fires – are up to THREE TIMES more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year?

A house fire on Thanksgiving would really ruin your whole day. So to make sure you’re not left feeling like a turkey when your home burns to the ground, take heed of the following safety tips!

1. Don’t overfill your fryer. When you lower your turkey into the bubbling grease cauldron, oil can spill over the edges, hit the burner, and cause a fire.

2. Thaw your turkey completely before cooking, and lower it slowly into the pot.

3. Avoid using water or ice to cool down oil or put out an oil fire. Water and oil do not mix, and the steam bubbles will cause the oil to spit. If the oil goes into your eyes, a burning house will be the least of your worries.

4. Keep your turkey fryer away from other structures, and – obviously – don’t use it indoors. Avoid placing it on wooden decking or other flammable surfaces.

5. Don’t leave your fryer unattended – if left unwatched, the oil in your fryer will continue to heat, eventually catching fire.

Happy and safe turkey frying this Thanksgiving Day!

Top 5 Christmas Safety Tips

The most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most dangerous! Keep an extra close eye on the following sources of holiday woe…..

  1. FIRE, FIRE EVERYWHERE! Even Texas can get cold in winter, so make sure your seldom-used woodstove or furnace is well-maintained. Keep flammable objects such as clothing, Christmas decorations, cats and children well away! Candles and drapes do not go well together so be sure to NEVER leave naked flames unattended.
  2. ELECTRICAL DISASTERS Christmas is the season for wannabe electricians to practice their skills with the Christmas lights. Avoid the chance of electrical fires by checking for frayed wires or corroded sockets, and do not overload your outlets or extension cords. Save money on your electricity bill and further reduce the chance of a fire by switching off your Christmas lights at night.
  3. KITCHEN CATASTROPHES More people in the house means more traffic in the kitchen, and a higher chance that your big bubbling pot of boiling liquid could end up getting knocked off the stove top and give someone a Christmas they will never forget. Keep children, guests and pets out of the kitchen while the cooking is happening!
  4. WRECKS Multi-tasking much at Christmas? The roads are busy, the weather can be bad, and people are racing around to beat Christmas deadlines. Allow extra time and don’t be tempted to text and drive!
  5. BOOZE Did you know you could be held liable in court if you allow an intoxicated person to drive home from your Christmas party? The solution: offer a rideshare service such as Uber, or make up the spare bedroom – it is much better for your inebriated guest to crash there and NOT on the highway!

Home Fire Safety Tips

Thank you to our friends at Lighthouse Insurance for the following essential safety advice.

“In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That’s why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Smoke alarms give you an early warning, so you can get outside quickly.

SMOKE ALARM TIPS

•Install smoke alarms in every bedroom. They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
•It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
•Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
•A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
•People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
•Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

IF THE ALARM SOUNDS

•If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.
•If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to find your way out.
•Call the fire department from outside your home.

GENERAL SAFETY TIPS

•Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
•Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
•Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
•Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
•Practice using different ways out.
•Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
•Close doors behind you as you leave.

U.S. fire departments respond to a home fire every 86 seconds. That’s over 1,000 fires a day. Home fires can occur for a variety of reasons, but many are preventable. Over 365,000 fires and 2,650 civilian deaths occur every year, resulting in $7 billion in property damage. Memorial Insurance Agency can help tailor your policy to provide the best coverage for your home and needs in case of a fire”.

The original article can be found here: Home Fire Safety Tips.

Eight Top Tips for a Safe Barbecue this Labor Day

With Labor Day coming up, the thoughts of many Texans are turning to barbecues. But how can you be sure you’re grilling safely? Follow our top tips to avoid spending time this weekend in hospital or on the phone to your insurance company:

1) Operate the grill well away from your house. Ten feet should be the absolute minimum – and make sure you’re also far from overhanging structures such as porches, unless you want them to be fuel for your fire!

2) Keep your grill clean and do not overload it. Caked-on oils and grease can make your barbecue flare up in ways you never expected. Throw too much meat on, and the dripping fat can spark a blaze that will flame-grill not only your steaks but your eyebrows too.

3) Check for gas leaks. Rub a soap and water solution over the hoses and connections. If large bubbles appear, the hoses may have holes or the connections may be loose. At this point, either invest in quality grill repairs or call for a pizza, because a gas explosion would really ruin your whole day.

4) Keep decorations far away from your grill. This is pretty obvious. Basically, keep ANYTHING away from your grill that may catch fire. This includes pets, unless you want your dog to go “woof”.

5) Keep a spray bottle of water and a fire extinguisher handy. The former can be used to dampen minor flare-ups without ruining dinner. The latter may be the only thing that stands between you and a catastrophe if your barbecue gets out of hand.

6) Open your grill lid BEFORE turning on the gas. The alternative is having a fireball explode in your face!

7) Focus your attention on the grill at all times. Fires can spread FAST so don’t let your grill out of your sight. Alcohol will impair your focus and judgment, so don’t knock back too many beers before you’re done cooking and the grill is safely extinguished.

8) Barbecues are for outdoor use only. Do we really have to say this? Grills need to vent fresh air. Use one indoors – even a small one – and you risk not only burning your house to the ground, but also ending up dead from inhaling lethal carbon monoxide.

Mine’s a Rib-eye, cooked rare! Happy grilling this Labor Day weekend!

10 Tips for Staying Safe this July 4th!

Ensure your Independence Day weekend is filled with celebration and not regret with these 10 fire safety tips, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

  1. Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
  2. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
  3. If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
  4. If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
  5. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
  6. Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
  7. Open your gas grill before lighting.
  8. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
  9. Declare a three-foot “kid and pet-free zone” around the grill to keep them safe.
  10. Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.

The Red Cross also has plenty of useful information and tips about firework, water, and picnic safety, at http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Have-a-Safe-Fourth-of-July.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Why You Should Take Photos Of Everything You Own

Apart from having adequate flood insurance coverage, one of the most valuable lessons that emerged from Hurricane Harvey was the importance of documenting your possessions. Just one hour spent photographing your belongings now could save you a lot of time and stress later.

If your possessions are damaged, displaced, or destroyed by fire or flood, it can be surprisingly hard to remember what you had. Not only that, but your insurance company is going to want copies of receipts or photos in order to prove you actually owned the items in the first place.

Here is how to do it right:

  • Use your cellphone, iPad or digital camera to take high quality images in daylight.
  • Open drawers, cupboards and closets and take photos of the contents.
  • Take photos of valuable items separately, with a card alongside them showing price and date of purchase.
  • Back up your photos to a cloud server, to make sure you can access them even if your computer, phone and camera are destroyed.
  • Don’t forget to update your photo inventory when you make a new purchase!

Why not take this opportunity to make sure you have enough personal property coverage on your homeowners’ and flood insurance policies? Be sure to call your account manager at Memorial Insurance if you need expert guidance.