Beware of falling televisions

College and professional football season prompts many fans to upgrade their televisions. Where viewing is concerned, bigger is better. But bigger can also be more dangerous, with larger TVs creating unanticipated hazards at home.

More than 17,000 children – one every 30 minutes – are treated in emergency rooms across the country for TV-related injuries every year, and the rate of children being hurt from televisions tipping over has nearly doubled in two decades, according to a 2013 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When families purchase new televisions, they often move their older, bulkier sets to other rooms and place them on bookcases, dressers or small tables that were not intended for televisions. That creates instability. Older cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions are front-heavy, making them more prone to tip over.

To help keep your family safe:

  • make sure the new television is anchored
  • ensure older televisions are anchored or placed on sturdy surfaces

Up to 12,700 pounds of force strikes a child when an l unanchored CRT television (screen size 19-32 inches) topples off furniture, based on a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission test. About 2,100 pounds of force strikes a child when a flat screen television in the same size range falls. This is the equivalent of 10 times the force of two NFL linemen colliding at full speed.

The CPSC examined 51 deaths from 2010 to 2012 involving television tipovers and found:

  • 88 percent were children under 4 years old
  • 60 percent involved either 27- or 32-inch televisions

CPSC estimates that emergency rooms treated 9,800 TV tipover injuries to children younger than 9 each year between 2011 and 2013. Children under 3 accounted for most of the injuries.

On its Anchorit.gov website, CPSC offers these tips to prevent injuries from falling televisions:

  • Place the TV on sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV or on a low-rise base.
  • Secure the TV to the furniture with straps, brackets or braces to prevent the TV from sliding.
  • Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure a secure fit.
  • Place any large, heavy CRT TV on a low, stable piece of furniture. If you no longer use your CRT TV, consider recycling it.
  • Secure top-heavy furniture to the wall with brackets, braces or wall straps.
  • Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach and teach children not to play with them.
  • Remove items from the top of the TV and furniture that might tempt kids to climb, for example, tablet computers, toys and remote controls.

Maximize your family time and minimize time in the emergency room by making sure TVs are anchored and stable.

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company
blog.cinfin.com

College students, it’s time to take stock of your stuff

If you are among the millions of young adults packing up to head off to college, now is a great time to take stock of all of your electronics, sports equipment, musical instruments and other items that you would need to replace in the event of fire, theft or other hardship.

Most people, not just college students, have no idea how many things they own. While big-ticket items like computers, cell phones and bicycles may come to mind, other purchases may surprise you. Consider how many pairs of shoes you own, clothing or other personal items; $100 here, $100 there, and soon you’ve tallied up thousands of dollars.

It’s important to know that the amount of insurance you have is sufficient to cover your losses. While most college students living in a dorm or other college housing have some coverage under their parents’ homeowners policy, that coverage may be limited to only 10 percent of the coverage for contents (for example, $10,000 on a $100,000 policy).

More importantly, if you are renting a house, condo or apartment, you may need renter’s insurance because your property may not be covered under your parents’ policy.

A first step in determining if you have adequate coverage is to know what you own. These tips can help:

  • While you’re packing, take a video or photographs of the things you’re taking with you.
  • Record descriptions of each item, making note of brand names and serial numbers.
  • As you make new purchases, keep your receipts as a record of costs and dates of purchase.
  • Store your list along with receipts and other documentation in a safe location away from your living space. You may want to consider uploading it to an electronic storage space.

After you have taken an inventory of your personal property, you should have a clearer picture of how much you have and how much it is worth. Next, you will want to make sure you have a sufficient limit of insurance.

Ask your local, independent insurance agent about adding a Student Personal Effects endorsement to your parents’ policy. You may also want to make sure you have replacement cost coverage, so that in the event of a loss your recovery isn’t limited to the depreciated value of lost or damaged items.

College is a time for new and exciting experiences – most of them good – but if you have the misfortune of having your things stolen or destroyed, your inventory of personal property will facilitate the claims process.

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company
blog.cinfin.com

Fire danger in the construction zone

Fires are a significant hazard on construction sites. A November 2014 National Fire Protection Association report found that between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 5,120 structure fires in residential properties that were either under construction or undergoing major renovation.

Each year, those fires led to an average of nine deaths, 94 injuries and $265 million in direct property damage. Firefighter deaths and injuries are not included in those statistics.

But proper planning and monitoring can improve your chances of completing a project without incident.

PROJECT PLANNING
Before beginning a construction project:

  • Review the construction site, contemplating adjacent exposures that may affect the project Look at how accessible the site would be for firefighters and their equipment
  • Develop a site-specific fire prevention plan, educating employees about what to do in case of fire
  • Establish a Hot Work Permit program that requires operations involving any sparks, open flames or heat-producing activities to follow safety protocols before, during and after work has been completed.

DURING CONSTRUCTION
Throughout construction, conduct thorough on-site inspections. Trained representatives of your project management team should inspect the site daily and retain all documentation. Inspections should include:

  • Active construction areas
  • Material storage areas, including special consideration for flammable items
  • Construction trailers and temporary structures Site perimeter and adjacent property exposures
  • Mobile construction equipment storage areas

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • All construction trailers, storage trailers and offices should be made of noncombustible material and be at least 50 feet away from the construction site and at least 30 feet from each other.
  • Fire department site access areas must be clearly identified, maintained and unobstructed at all times. Access to fire hydrants or qualified water supplies for firefighting must be readily available whether adjacent to or within the boundaries of the project site.
  • Store all combustible materials safely and consider ordering them as needed to minimize the amount on hand. Spontaneous combustion of paint solvents, oily rags and similar materials discarded with trash can lead to a major loss.
  • Establish and strictly enforce a no smoking policy throughout the duration of the project.
  • Provide fire extinguishers, rated not less than 2A, for each 3,000 square feet of the protected building area. The travel distance from any point of the protected area to the nearest fire extinguisher must not exceed 100 feet per Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. When there are multiple levels, OSHA requires an extinguisher be placed near the staircase on every level.
  • Enforce good housekeeping in areas around permanent electrical installations, preventing accumulation of debris or combustible materials near live electricity. Temporary electrical equipment should have ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Install and activate an automatic sprinkler system as soon as possible after the building shell has been completed.
  • Collect all demolition and construction material as soon as possible. Removal of discarded materials should be done by a qualified disposal service on a regular basis – daily, if necessary –to eliminate accumulation of refuse. Position dumpsters away from buildings. Use metal containers with close-fitting lids for rags. Avoid burning any refuse, but if unavoidable, burn at least 150 feet from buildings. Some jurisdictions prohibit open burning; remember to follow any local burning bans and observe any red-flag warnings in wildfire and forest fire areas.
  • Provide safe temporary heaters. Secure them on a solid base away from any woodwork and keep the floor free of all combustible material. Before leaving, be sure the heater is turned off.

Fire exposures are high and constantly changing throughout the course of construction. Key personnel on site must always know it’s their responsibility to follow fire control procedures. Contractors have a responsibility to make sure that a fire control plan is specific, adequate and – most importantly – executed.

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company
blog.cinfin.com

Life insurance may be cheaper than you think

How much does life insurance cost? Probably a lot less than you think. A recent LIMRA study found that 63 percent of consumers polled indicated that life insurance was too expensive, yet 80 percent of consumers overestimate its cost by nearly threefold. LIMRA is a leading insurance and financial services trade association.

Today’s consumers have many sources of data at our disposal. We can research everything from pots to pains, yet many of us make incorrect assumptions about one of the most important and basic decisions concerning our family’s financial future: purchasing life insurance.

Various factors determine your cost for life insurance, the most basic of which are age and health. Generally, your premium is lower the younger you are when you purchase life insurance. Additionally, premiums are lower for healthier individuals, and there are things you can do to lower your insurance costs.

  • Live a healthier lifestyle. Every choice has a consequence. Life decisions regarding tobacco use, food consumption, care for chronic illnesses and driving habits all affect the cost of your life insurance premiums. Making healthy life choices improves your quality of life and can lower your health risk and life insurance premiums.
  • Consider your recreation choices. While jumping out of an airplane may be an amazing rush, skydiving will likely increase your cost of life insurance. Dangerous pastimes such as scuba diving, skydiving and auto racing can adversely affect your risk and increase your premiums.
  • Make decisions based on facts, not fear. When making decisions on purchasing life insurance, make them based on facts. Do your research and know your options. A local independent agent can be an invaluable asset. Your agent can guide you to a plan that best meets your family’s needs and fits your budget.

Don’t just assume that you cannot afford life insurance. Learn the facts, and make an informed decision. Your family’s financial future may depend on it. Contact your Ayres Group Representative today.

Courtesy of The Cincinnati Insurance Company
blog.cinfin.com

Construction zones: Expect the unexpected

Work Zone Ahead signs can frustrate drivers on the road when slow traffic affects our daily routine. But we can lose a lot more than just a few minutes if we don’t follow traffic laws for construction areas.

Construction zones can be dangerous for both drivers and workers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, in the past five years there were 4,400 deaths and 200,000 injuries in road construction zones. Of the 4,400 deaths, 85 percent were drivers or passengers and 15 percent were construction workers.

When driving through construction zones, follow these tips to help reduce your potential for accidents and other problems:

  • Slow down. Most sites are only a short distance overall and it takes only an extra 25 seconds to cover one mile traveling at 45 mph as compared with 65 mph. Virtually all states increase penalties for speeding through highway construction zones, and many mandate jail time for injuries caused by a driver speeding in a construction zone.
  • Maintain adequate following distance. Allow adequate space for controlled speed changes and stops. Riding the tailgate of the vehicle in front of you will not get you through any sooner.
  • Expect the unexpected! Dedicate your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions – such as changing the radio station – and never use your phone while driving, especially in construction areas. Be wary of the vehicles around you that might suddenly drift, stop or change lanes. Many drivers around you will be looking at the construction activity instead of paying attention to the road.
  • Keep your headlights on. Even during daytime, keep your headlights on to enhance your visibility to workers and oncoming traffic.
  • Change lanes sooner rather than later. Vehicles merging at the last minute is a leading cause of accidents in construction zones.
  • Pay attention to the signs. The signs are there to help alert you to what is to coming. Be sure to observe these signs until after you have left the construction zone.
  • Obey the flaggers. They are there to help ensure that traffic flows safely through the site. Drivers can be cited for not properly following flaggers’ instructions.

Don’t become a statistic. Be focused and careful when traveling through construction zones because you’re not only putting your life in harm’s way, but the lives of others.

MORE INFORMATION

National Workzone Safety Information Clearinghouse

Federal Highway Administration Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program

Your roof may be aging faster than you realize

The roof of your home is its first line of defense against the elements. But as a roof ages, its ability to protect lessens.

The manufacturer’s estimated lifetime rating for roof shingles is determined under ideal circumstances, but actual conditions that your roof endures could be far from ideal.

STORM DAMAGE
Storm damage in the U.S. continues to escalate, with hail being a major cause of roof damage. Nearly all supercell thunderstorms produce hail, ranging from pea-sized to baseball-sized or larger. A hail‑producing storm moving through a residential area can cause widespread roof damage.

Many factors can quickly affect the lifetime of a roof shingle:

  • improper installation
  • improper ventilation
  • slope of the roof
  • overall climate

Proper maintenance of your roof, chimney, flashing, vents and gutters can slow the deterioration of your roof.

PROTECT YOUR HOME
Here are some things you can do to protect your roof and your investment in your home:

Inspect your roof regularly so that you can address small problems quickly, avoiding costly roof failures down the road.

  • Watch for conditions that may indicate a problem, such as:
  • Curling, lifting, clawing, granular loss and other deterioration of shingles
  • The presence of moss or algae
  • Waves or ridges in the roof line; these can indicate a problem with the roof decking or framing.

Replace your roof when condition or age indicates it may be losing its ability to divert moisture. Replacing an aging roof can help maintain your home’s top defense. If you replace your roof, please let your insurance agent know immediately to assure that your home is insured for the correct value.

CLAIMS
Finally, if you have a roof claim, look for a local, established contractor to do any necessary repairs. Be careful of unusually low bids – a roof is a major investment and a major protective feature of your home.

In Case of a Flood-Protecting You and Your Family

 

Watches / warnings:

  • Flood watches are issued when rain is heavy enough to cause rivers to overflow.
  • Flood warnings describe the severity of the situation and indicate when and where the flood will begin.
  • Flash flood watches are issued when heavy rain is occurring or is expected to occur.
  • Flash flood warnings are issued when flooding is occurring suddenly. In the event of flash flooding, move immediately to high ground.
  • Educate your family and yourself about your community’s flood warnings.

Evacuation:

  • Plan an evacuation route.
  • Develop a plan for you and your family to communicate if you are separated when a flood comes.

Protecting Your Property

  • If you are moving into a new home, apartment or business location, make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Your bank, local officials or insurance representative can inform you if your location is at risk of flooding.
  • Flood insurance is excluded under homeowners and renters policies, but it is covered under the comprehensive section of standard automobile insurance policies and some coverage is available for floods under special commercial insurance policies.
  • Flood insurance for homeowners, renters and businesses is administered through the federal government and can be purchased from an insurance agent or company under contract with the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA), part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA). Flood insurance is only available where the local government has adopted adequate flood plain management regulations under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Most communities participate in the program.
  • Flood insurance covers direct physical losses from floods and losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels and accompanied by a severe storm, flash flood, abnormal tide surge or a similar situation which results in flooding. Flood insurance also may cover mudslides.
  • Coverage for the structure and contents of the home are sold separately. Buildings are covered for replacement cost but content coverage is available on an actual cash value basis only.
  • Maintain a supply of emergency materials: plywood, plastic sheeting, nails, hammer, shovels, sandbags, flashlight, batteries, battery-operated radio, first aid kit, medication, sturdy shoes, emergency food and water, cash and credit cards.
  • Install a system to prevent flood water from backing up in sewer drains.
  • Locate switches to turn off gas, electricity and water.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions and store it off the premises. If your stuff is damaged, this list will help facilitate the claim filing process.

©Insurance Information Institute, Inc.

Contact your Ayres Group representative for information on flood insurance.

Fire up the grill (but do it safely)

Fire up the grill (but do it safely)

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of backyard grilling season. The Insurance Information Institute estimated that Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year.

Unfortunately, each summer season also brings numerous home fires and burn injuries associated with outdoor grilling activities. A study of residential fires by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported:

  • In 2012, about 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
  • In one of every six (16 percent) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
  • Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported gas grill fires.

A few simple tips and reminders to help you start off the grilling season safely:

  • Read the instructions and owner’s manual. If you don’t have instructions or a manual, go to the manufacturer’s website or call their customer service number to obtain a copy.
  • Use the grill as it was intended – for outside use only and in a well ventilated area.
  • Never leave a grill unattended while it is fired up and keep both kids and pets away from the area.
  • When you refill the propane tank or connect the fuel line at the start of the season, use a leak detection solution to ensure that connections are tight and leak free.
  • Keep the grill clean – check for grease and fat in the drip pans before firing up the grill.
  • Never use gasoline to start a charcoal fire. Use only charcoal starter fluid, and read the directions on its use and storage.
  • Dispose of hot coal ash properly to prevent burns or fires, handling ashes only after they are completely cooled.

Along with the grill instructions and operating manual there are numerous sites to visit to learn more about enjoying your cookout by grilling safely.

So fire up your grill safely and enjoy the season!

Reprinted with permission. The Cincinnati Insurance Companies

A refresher on water sport and boating safety

Water sport and boating safety

As we enter the start of summer, people will spend more time on the water skiing, boating and riding personal watercraft.

But with more people on the water comes more potential for injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 80 percent of all recreational boating injuries occur from May to September.

The personal and economic costs of boating injuries are high  ̶  in 2013, the Coast Guard counted more than 4,000 accidents involving 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries and nearly $40 million in property damage.

According to the Boats U.S. trade association, 36 percent of boating fatalities involved an accident where someone went overboard, and 18 percent resulted from a collision  ̶  usually with a pier or another boat.

What are the five primary contributing factors in recreational boating accidents? Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and defective machinery.

Here are some boating safety tips to prevent you from being injured while on the water this summer:

  • Wear a life jacket – In 2013, the Coast Guard reported 77 percent of boating deaths were caused by drowning, and a shocking 84 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets. Be sure to wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Blow-up mattresses, water wings, foam “noodles” or inner tubes are not a substitute for life jackets.
  •  Avoid alcohol – Whether boating, waterskiing or riding personal watercraft, alcohol greatly increases the risks of an accident, regardless of whether the operator or passengers are drinking. Alcohol influences balance, coordination and judgment, and its effects are magnified by the summer sun and heat.According to the Coast Guard, where the primary accident cause is known, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in nearly 16 percent of all fatal boating accidents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates alcohol use may be involved in nearly 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation.
  • Use the buddy system if swimming – Make sure someone knows where you are at all times and know the water terrain. Scan swimming areas for drop-offs, and be aware of hidden obstacles in the water.
  • Watch for rip tides – Rip tides can occur along any coastline. Signs of a rip tide include discolored or foamy water that moves in a narrow channel away from the shore. If you find yourself caught in a rip tide, remember to swim parallel to shore until you’re outside the current, when you can swim back in
  • Be Aware of Dehydration – Perhaps the most unrecognized danger to water skiers and personal watercraft riders is dehydration. This is especially common when riding on salt water. Water skiing and riding personal watercraft can be a vigorous physical activity, and it is possible to lose a great deal of water without realizing it. When a person becomes dehydrated, reaction time and awareness are impaired.
  • Don’t Let Cool Summer Winds Fool You – While Frank Sinatra sang glowingly about the “Summer Wind,” there is a hidden danger. Cooling winds on the water can convince water skiers, personal watercraft riders or boaters that they are not receiving much direct sunlight. This is false, and many people sustain skin damage from sunburns.

Follow precautions so you can avoid the emergency room and spend more time outside enjoying the water this summer.

Sources

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Water-Related Injuries” (2014)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the United States Coast Guard 2013

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The insurance side of house flipping

It’s a classic TV reality show scenario: A young, ambitious couple purchases a foreclosed property and flips it for a huge profit. This quick cash flow seems too good to be true…and usually i

The thrill of flipping a home often overshadows the harsh reality that profitable house-flipping opportunities are few and far between. I can honestly speak from experience. My wife and I were one of these young, ambitious couples that decided to dabble in the exciting world of house flipping. Although the experience was rewarding and challenging at the same time, we learned some valuable lessons. Potential house flippers should consider some insurance coverage issues before making a commitment:
  • Contemplate the cost of insurance when purchasing a home. If the house does not sell within a few months, insurance is a continuing expense that needs to be included in your budget.
  • Make sure you do your research when selecting an insurance company and policy. Your local independent agent can help you. Some insurance policies provide additional coverages you may need. Consider choosing one that provides limited coverage for water damage and fungi, wet or dry rot or bacteria. These issues often go unnoticed until after a remodeling project begins.
  • Discuss with your agent insurance to value – the need to insure the home for its reconstruction cost. Just because you purchased a home for a certain price does not mean that the home can be replaced for that amount. There can be a huge discrepancy between market and replacement cost values. Your agent can also recommend builders’ risk coverage for the remodeling cost of the project.
  • Consider the cost of building materials going into the refurbished home. Your insurance agent can add an installation floater – coverage for movable property – to your policy to insure construction materials in transit and at the jobsite.
  • Allow plenty of time to purchase insurance rather than waiting until the last minute. Contact your agent and consider an insurance company that will provide coverage for a house undergoing renovation. Some companies may consider this a vacant home and deny or limit coverage for vandalism, theft or other perils.
  • Before you allow contractors to start work on your investment, first confirm that they are insured. The safest bet is to request a copy of each contractor’s general liability policy declarations page. Make sure that the policy has at least a $1 million per occurrence and general aggregate limit.
– Cincinnati Insurance Companies