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New Year’s Home Safety Checklist

The start of a new year is an ideal time to tackle goals and projects that you may have been putting off for a while. In addition to setting new career goals and working on your health and fitness, you should consider reevaluating your home safety. From fire hazards to energy savers, your home may need more updates than you realize. We’ve put together a list to help you get started on assessing your home’s safety.

Health

  • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and replace as needed.
  • Verify that all fire extinguishers are operational.
  • If you don’t already, form a fire escape route and educate the entire family.
  • Install light switches at both ends of staircases to reduce the chance of a fall.
  • Dust all surfaces as well as ceiling fans and vents.
  • Change HVAC filters.
  • Replace water purifier filters.
  • Check wires and plugs for frays.
  • Deep clean areas of your home that experience the most traffic.
  • Clean out expired or unused items from your refrigerator and pantry.
  • Clean oven, range, and range hood filters.

Maintenance

  • Replace furnace filters and schedule a furnace inspection.
  • Inspect gutters and roof or schedule a professional inspection.
  • Evaluate efficiency of weather stripping and replace as needed.
  • Clean our clothes dryer vent and pipes.
  • Clean refrigerator coils.
  • Check window screens and replace as needed.
  • Test locks, handles and doorknobs for proper operation.
  • Inspect and flush water heater.
  • Update or install home security system if necessary.
  • Schedule any needed maintenance calls or inspections.
  • Mark a calendar with recommended maintenance dates for appliances and systems.
  • Take an inventory of your valuable possessions, to be used in the event of an insurance claim.

Following this list to evaluate your home’s safety is a wonderful way to begin the new year. You should also visit your insurance agent to discuss and determine if any coverages need to be added, dropped, or changed. Working with an independent insurance agency is the ideal way to determine your insurance needs, since independent agents are on your side – not the side of the big companies. Reach out to us today if you would like to speak with an experienced agent.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Homeowners

Most of us see Thanksgiving day as a time for joy. Making memories is the only thing on our to-do list while we kick off the holiday season with good food and family. However, believe it or not, Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous days of the year for homeowners. With all that cooking, socializing, and drinking (sometimes too much!) happening in the same place, tragic accidents occur every year on this otherwise great holiday. Keep reading to learn more about how to protect your home when the festivities start.

Prevent Cooking Fires

Nothing stops the festivities cold turkey like a house fire. Unsurprisingly, cooking is the leading cause of home fires on Thanksgiving. Make sure you don’t leave cooking food unattended. If you’re frying a turkey, make sure to keep the fryer outdoors and away from all structures that can catch on fire. Check your smoke alarms beforehand to ensure that they’re in good working condition in case a fire does break out, and keep fire extinguishers and baking soda close by to nip flames in the bud.

Diminish the Risk of Injury

Of course burns are a likelihood on Thanksgiving, but the chances of a scald or burn can be reduced by refraining from wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking, and keeping children at least 3 feet away from the stove at all times.

Also be cautious of which family member gets to wield the large carving knife, even if they swear they’re the man or woman for the job! Remain aware of who has been drinking, and be prepared to discreetly reduce the flow of alcohol if it appears that some folks have had more than their share. These may sound like obvious warnings, but knife and alcohol-related accidents are two of the biggest reasons for emergency room visits on Thanksgiving!

Secure Your House

Hosts aren’t the only ones who need to watch out for their homes on Thanksgiving. Break-ins always increase around the holidays because burglars know that people are less likely to be home. If you have to travel for Thanksgiving, especially if you’re gone for several days, be sure to set your burglar alarm, put lights on timers, and let trustworthy neighbors know when you’ll return so they can report any suspicious activity to the police.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

These are just a few things to keep in mind before you celebrate the feast of the year. It’s important to always practice safety, but a day like Thanksgiving isn’t a time for worry; that’s what insurance agents are here for. As long as your home is covered with a good insurance policy, you should relax and enjoy the food and fun with relatives and friends!

5 Surprising Household Hazards

We know you do everything you can to keep your house safe, especially if you have small children or adventurous pets. You’ve tied up the drawstrings on your blinds, placed non-slip grips on the shower floor, secured your cleaning liquids in an upper cabinet, and changed the batteries in the smoke detector, so everything checks out as safe, right? Well, not necessarily.

There will always be hazards anywhere you go, so home will never be completely safe, but here are a few common household hazards that are easy to miss, and easy to fix.

  1. Trash Cans

A trash can that closes well is important to keep curious noses and little hands from digging into rubbish that could contain a multitude of hazards. Items like broken glass, toxic substances, and spoiled food can still pose a threat, even after they’re in the trash can. So, forego the cheap flip lids and purchase a lid that closes well enough to keep kids and dogs away.

  1. Broken Garage Door

Electronic garage doors are made to sense objects (or people!) underneath them and retract to keep injuries from occurring. Like all electronic things, garage doors experience malfunctions and breakdowns which, in this case, can be harmful or even deadly. If your garage door starts acting funny or experiences some damage, call a professional to come service it for you – an important fix of this magnitude shouldn’t be left up to instructions from the internet.

  1. Window Screens

You want to throw those windows open with abandon because the weather outside is irresistible! We get it, but don’t think that a child is safe just because the window has a screen. The small, transparent frame that keeps bugs from getting in isn’t enough to catch the weight of a falling or pushing person, so make sure the windows on your upper floors have bars! At least until the kids get older.

  1. Treadmills

Treadmills can easily be one of the most dangerous items in your house for both children and adults if they aren’t operated with care. Falls on a treadmill can result in traction burns, broken bones, pinched skin and snagged clothing, and more. Every treadmill should come with an attached safety magnet to be worn during workouts. Make sure every user wears the clip, and turn on the safety switch or unplug the treadmill when it isn’t in use.

  1. Electronic Appliances

From blow dryers to microwaves, electronic appliances have the ability to malfunction and cause fires or electrocution. Always pay attention to any unusual display messages on your appliances, and carefully follow instructions for proper use. If you know you’ll be running many outlets at once, invest in a surge protector to protect you and your other appliances.

And Don’t Forget Home Insurance

No matter what happens in your house, a good home insurance policy with liability coverage will always have your back. Independent agents have the ability to shop multiple carriers for good policies that fit your unique risks and budget! So, if you don’t have your home insurance policy yet, get in touch with your independent agent to find the right coverage for you.

Will My Home Insurance Policy Cover My Dog’s Breed?

As dog owners, we love our furry little companions more than anything. Unfortunately, some insurance companies don’t if your pooch falls under certain breed categories. There are a number of breeds that many insurance companies are hesitant to offer coverage for because statistics show that they are more likely to bite and cause injuries. This, of course, can cause problems when it comes time to buy home insurance. Be prepared to work with an independent agent who can shop multiple carriers if you own a full-breed or mix of one of these breeds:

  1. Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
  2. Rottweilers
  3. Doberman Pinschers
  4. Great Danes
  5. Perro de Presa Canarios
  6. Chow Chows
  7. German Sheperds
  8. Akitas
  9. Alaskan Malimutes
  10. Siberian Husky
  11. Bull Mastiffs
  12. Wolf Hybrids

What to Keep In Mind

The average claim payout for dog bites is $30,000. If you’re found responsible for rehabilitation costs and/or lost wages, not to mention your legal fees, you could quickly find yourself in a lot of financial trouble. Your homeowners policy should include liability coverage, typically starting somewhere around $100,000. If you own a dog that made it on this list, ask your provider how much more it would cost to upgrade that amount to $200,000 or more.

On that same note, some carriers may require you to purchase an umbrella policy if your dog is labeled as an aggressive breed or has a bite history. Whether it is required or not, you may want to consider this additional policy because it raises your liability coverage close to the $1 million mark! Plus, it could come in handy for any incident that occurs on your property, not just dog bites.

Prevention

Every dog is a liability, regardless of its breed. Reduce the likelihood of a dog-related lawsuit by socializing & training your dog early on, playing non-aggressive games, and being aware of your dog’s behavior and removing it from situations it finds stressful. As always, make sure to spay/neuter your dog, heavily supervise it around small children, and keep it securely fenced or on a leash when outside.

If you own one of these breeds, it is going to be more difficult to procure home insurance, especially at a good rate. If you’re in the market for a new home right now, contact our agency to get ahead of the curve and find a company that will insure your home (and your pup) at an affordable rate!