Recent News

Fireplace Holiday Preparation

With the holidays, we want to feature our fireplaces with holiday decorations.  Here are a few tips to keep your safe this holiday season.

It is essential that you have your fireplace professionally cleaned by a chimney sweep at least once a year If it is wood-burning.

Once you’ve assured that you can operate your fireplace safely, there are other things you need to do to eliminate hazards:

  • Be sure your home has working smoke alarms on every level.
  • Get an alarm that alerts you if carbon dioxide poisoning becomes a threat.
  • Dispose of ashes with great care and assurance that an unexpected fire will not start due to hot ashes.
  • Only burn seasoned firewood, meaning wood that is low in moisture.

Some tips specifically for the holidays include:

  • Don’t place wrapped packages or gift boxes near the fireplace because they are highly combustible. Keep all combustible materials at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, and portable heaters.
  • There are additives in wrapping paper which makes it burn at extremely high temperatures; don’t burn wrapping paper in your fireplace.
  • Do not discard garbage in your fireplace, including wrapping paper and boxes.
  • Keep an operable fire extinguisher nearby not only for possible fireplace mishaps but also in case your Christmas tree combusts.
  • Never dispose of a Christmas tree by burning it in your fireplace. The wood of the Christmas tree has not been properly dried or seasoned and is not safe to burn.

Cyber Monday is Here

Cyber Monday is expected to set new online records with a 17.5% increase from last year or $7.7 billion in sales.   If you are one of the millions shopping online, here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Shop from a secure computer since phones and computers can be compromised – use antivirus software and keep your operating system and internet-facing apps up to the latest version
  • Shop using a secure connection – make sure the urls you are using are HTTPS which assists in keeping you safe.
  • Search for deals on retailers sites, not on search engines – rather than use a browser to find your favorite stores, go directly to them.
  • Use trusted vendors – you can be redirected to fakes and open to scammers
  • Don’t fall for “too-good-to-be-true deals – you might get these offers from emails, text messages, pop browsers and social media (especially social media)
  • Plan ahead and don’t be rushed – one tip to follow is to look for an extra “.cc” at the end of a url attached to a trusted website.  Again, go directly to the vendor.
  • Review credit-card and bank statements regularly during the shopping session – we can’t guarantee that a transaction doesn’t match your purchase.  If you see a discrepancy, contact your bank or card issuer
  • Don’t use debit cards online – use a credit card.  If using a debit card, use the prepaid kind with a set spending limit.
  • Use unique passwords and logon information for every site you visit – use different passwords on different sites – why if a hacker gets your password, it can be used on other websites.
  • If you’re shopping from a tablet or smartphone on Cyber Monday, use a trusted vendor’s app, not a web browser – since browsers don’t show the url of a vendor, make sure you go directly to the vendor.
  • Never install software on your mobile device from a website link or code – always use “official” store such as Apple’s iTunes App Store or Google Play store.

Follow these tips and have a safe Cyber Monday.

Source: Tom’s Guide

Holiday Cooking Safety Tips

Here are some cooking safety tips to follow as you get ready for Thanksgiving:

  • Keep your cooking area clean and clutter free.
  • Be cautious of your surroundings
  • Immediately turn off unused burners/appliances
  • Never leave unattended cooking – this is the major cause of fires in the kitchen
  • Keep children and pets away from  the cooking area by declaring a 3 foot “kid-free zone” around the cooking area
  • Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic away from the cooking area
  • Always use turkey fryers outside and a safe distance from the house and on a flat surface
  • Make sure turkey is completely thawed
  • Thaw a turkey approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight

 Follow these tips and have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thanking Our Veterans on Veteran's Day

Twenty-five million veterans are living among us today.  These men and women selflessly set aside their civilian lives to put on the uniform and serve us.  On behalf of all the members of our agency, we want to say “thank you” to all our Veterans. 

Daylight Savings Time Ends

Sunday, November 4th, is the end of Daylight Savings Time.  What does that mean, you gain an hour of sleep?  So don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour before going to be on Saturday, November 3rd.

Domestic Violence in the Workplace

According to a recent National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, approximately a third of women and a quarter of men report being a victim of violence by a partner at some point in their lives.   This means an employee being a victim or perpetrator is higher than you realize.

Protecting our employees at the workplace requires an action plan and implementation plan for prevention and intervention strategies to address domestic violence within the workplace.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, businesses lose $729 million each year in lost productivity related to domestic violence.  60% of employees experience domestic violence reported losing their jobs as a result, either because they were fired or had to quit.

If you’re an employer what signs should you look for:

  • Unexplained bruises.
  • Unusually quiet/withdrawn.
  • Frequent absences.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Wearing concealing clothing, even in warm weather.
  • Depression and/or anxiety.
  • Change in performance attitude.
  • Frequent breaks or appointments with friends/family.
  • Receipt of harassing phone calls.

If you have an employee exhibiting any of these signs, intervening in a sensitive and private manner to encourage he/she to seek help before the problem escalates.

How do you protect your employees; by being proactive.  Establish a comprehensive policy to insure that employees can report abuses, to provide services the employer for the victims, and disciplinary procedures for perpetrators.

Source:  Nobert Alicea, MA, CEAP, EVP of EAP+Work/Life Services

Are your wedding rings insured?

Couples spend thousands of dollars on their wedding rings.  Did you know that your renter’s and homeowner’s insurance has limits? Most policies only pay out a maximum of $1,500 to $2,500, a fraction of what you might have spent.

To insure that your rings are properly covered, let us check out your renter’s and homeowner’s policy. If additional coverage is needed, we suggest you obtain an appraisal and then we can arrange for either a jewelry policy or a jewelry floater.

How much will this type of insurance cost?  Usually an annual rate of $1 to $2 for every $100 your rings are worth.  The average $5,855 engagement ring would run between $59 to $118 annually to insure.

Don’t wait, give us a call at the agency, to discuss.

Source:  Investopedia

Falls Drive Up Construction Workers’ Comp Costs

More than 30% of workers’ compensation claims stem from construction sites are the results of falls from elevated surfaces according to Nationwide Mutual Insurance.

Falls from elevated surfaces are more severe than other injury claims because these accidents result in more time away from work, damage to multiple part parts, and more short- and long-term disability leave.  

To assist you and your workers in fall prevention, you can download the Fall Protection in Construction Flyer.   

Source:  Business Insurance, Nationwide, and OSHA

Safety Driving Tips in School Zones

With children back in school, now is a good time to remind you about safety tips in a school zone.

  1. Look for school zones signals and obey the speed limits posted.
  2. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  3. Never pass a bus loading or unloading children.
  4. Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.
  5. Yield to pedestrians in cross walks, and take extra care in school zones.
  6. Avoid using a cellphone, unless it’s completely hand-free, while driving in a school zone.
  7. Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
  8. Never pass a vehicle stopping for pedestrians.
  9. 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, stop far enough back to allow them to safely enter and exit the bus.

Keep these safety tips in mind when driving in a school zone.

Source: Property Casualty 360

September is National Preparedness Month

Emergencies can create a variety of hazards for workers in the impacted area. Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in insuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs. These Emergency Preparedness and Response pages supplied by OSHA can  provide information on how to prepare and train for emergencies and the hazards to be aware of when an emergency occurs. The pages provide information for employers and workers across industries, and for workers who will be responding to the emergency. Go to https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/index.html for specific plans for tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.