Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC

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All Posts in Category: Safety

Home Playground Safety Tips

Each year, more than 200,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms with injuries associated
with playground equipment. Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the
ground. Many backyard playsets are placed on dirt or grass—surfaces that do not adequately protect
children when they fall.

Home Playground Safety Checklist
Use this simple checklist to help make sure your home playground is a safe place to play.
1. Install and maintain a shock-absorbing surface around the play equipment. Use at least 9 inches
of wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber for play equipment up to 7 feet high. If sand or pea
gravel is used, install at least a 9-inch layer for play equipment up to 5 feet high. Or use
surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
2. Install protective surfacing at least 6 feet in all directions from
play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back
and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
3. Never attach-or allow children to attach ropes, jump ropes,
clotheslines, or pet leashes to play equipment; children can
strangle on these.
4. Check for hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends, which can be hazardous.
5. Check for spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder
rungs; these spaces should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
6. Make sure platforms and ramps have guardrails to prevent falls.
7. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
8. Remove tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
9. Regularly check play equipment and surfacing to make sure both are in good condition.
10. Carefully supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.

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Determining Your Home’s Insurance Value

When purchasing a newly constructed home most Policyholders consider the purchase price of the home as the amount of coverage needed for their insurance policy. After all, the home was just built and except for the cost of the lot, the purchase price should accurately reflect the cost to build the house. While this does seem to be a reasonable and practical approach, insuring a newly built house for its construction cost “new” may not provide an adequate amount of coverage to reconstruct that same house in the event of a severe loss.

Regardless of a home’s age, when rebuilding a home with severe damage there are costs associated with reconstruction that are not part of the original construction costs. As a result, these reconstruction costs need to
be included in the insurance value to ensure adequate coverage to completely rebuild the house. Cost incurred to reconstruct a home include:

Economies of Scale
New construction: New homebuilders often realize great savings in the mass purchasing of building materials. Contractors may be building many houses at the same time and can purchase materials in bulk at cheaper prices. Most of these materials will be commonly used throughout all the homes they are building.

Reconstruction: A reconstruction contractor, rebuilding a single home typically will not receive these savings. Materials for the job are unique and specific to the home and therefore, are usually more expensive due to the lack of mass purchasing power. … (Full article HERE – PDF)

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Electrical Wiring Safety

Aluminum Wiring
Aluminum wiring installed in habitational occupancies built between 1965 and 1972 is considered “old technology” aluminum wiring. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS), homes with aluminum wiring manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more electrical
connections reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than a home wired with copper.

There are two acceptable methods of correcting this condition:
1. Re-wire the home with a new copper wire branch circuit system.
2. Repair the existing aluminum wire circuit with a COPALUM parallel splice connector.

Two unacceptable repair methods (these methods are often recommended by electricians, but are not considered acceptable by the CPSC staff):
1. “Pigtailing”
2. Installing CO/ALR switches and outlets

Aluminum wire is normally a useful conductor of electricity and has been widely used in recent years especially for wiring dwellings and mobile homes or trailers. Most of the problems related to aluminum wiring seem to arise from:
? Use of fittings, receptacles and other equipment approved only for use with copper wiring and not intended for use where aluminum is installed, and
? Damage to the wiring during installation. Aluminum wiring is more readily compressed than copper.

Use of equipment not approved for use with aluminum wire leads to oxidation at the connections between the wire and the equipment. The aluminum oxide residue forms a layer of insulation between the wire and the equipment. This insulation leads to an increase of resistance at these connections which produce heat. As the oxidation develops, heat rises and a fire may/could result.

The common problem with aluminum wiring occurs as the aluminum wire is screwed to a wall receptacle or switch plate and becomes loose due to expansion and contraction caused by the flow or non-flow of electric current. This is called ‘cold flow’ characteristic of aluminum metal. This produces an illumination oxidation
layer as it breathes. Oxide, being an insulator of high resistance, produces enormous heat that deteriorates the contact and eventually breaks down. Copper, on the other hand, does not have cold flow properties.  The federal government’s Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), has investigated fire incidents where aluminum wiring appears to be a factor in the cause. The CPSC discourages the use of aluminum for power distribution at low voltage circuits such as 110 volts, 120 volts, 220 volts and 480 volts.

Aluminum wiring in homes and mobile homes, etc., could generally be found in homes built, rooms added, and circuits rewired or updated between 1965 and 1974.  The ERIE’s risk management opinion and recommendation on aluminum wiring is:
? Remove and rewire the structure with copper wiring.
? Replace all wall outlets and wall switch receptacles with those marked as CO/ALR. The ERIE will accept this as a temporary solution, for up to two years, and; within two years, make all corrections to the aluminum wiring system by replacing all switches, wall outlets and light fixture connections via use of the
COPALUM method.

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Mold & Moisture in Your Home

Mold Basics:
? The key to mold control is moisture control.
? If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
? It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Why is mold growing in my home?
Molds are part of the natural environment and serve a purpose outdoors. However, indoors, mold growth should
be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores and are capable of growing indoors when mold spores
land on surfaces that are wet. Of the many types of molds, none will grow without water or moisture.

Can mold cause health problems?
Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic
reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Allergic reactions to mold are
common, and may include sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Research on the topic is ongoing and
for more detailed information it is advisable to consult a physician.

How do I get rid of, or prevent mold from growing indoors?
Mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can be prevented or controlled by
controlling moisture indoors. Here are some tips that will help prevent and control moisture and mold:
? Clean up all water leaks or spills quickly. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried within 24-48 hours
after the leak or spill, it significantly decreases the likelihood that mold will grow.
? Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
? Make certain that the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or
collect around the foundation.
? Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
? Keep indoor humidity low.
? If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, dry the wet surface and reduce
the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
? Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside
where possible.
? Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
? Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever
cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
? Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as
? Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
? Increase air temperature.
Additional Resources
? EPA’s Mold Resources page (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldresources.html)
? The EPA publication, Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
? Other Indoor Air Quality Publications and Resources – (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs)

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Clothes Dryers Fire Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1997, there were 16,700 fires, 30
deaths and 430 injuries associated with clothes dryers. Some of these fires can occur when lint builds
up in the filter or in the exhaust duct. Under certain conditions, when lint blocks the flow of air,
excessive heat build-up can cause a fire in some dryers.

To prevent fires:
? Clean the lint filter regularly and make sure the dryer is operating properly. Clean the filter
after each load of clothes. While the dryer is operating, check the outside exhaust to make
sure exhaust air is escaping normally. If it is not, turn the dryer off and look inside both ends
of the duct for lint. Remove any lint found there. If there are signs that the dryer is hotter than
normal, this may be a sign that the dryer’s temperature control thermostat needs servicing.
? If clothing is still damp at the end of a normal cycle or requires longer dryer times, this may be
a sign that the exhaust or lint screen is blocked.
? Plastic Flexible duct should be replaced with rigid or flexible metal ducts. Inspect all Ducts
for kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.
? Closely follow manufacturers’ instructions for new installations. Most manufacturers specify
the use of a rigid or flexible metal duct to provide a minimum restriction of airflow. If metal
duct is not available at the retailer where the dryer was purchased, check other locations, such
as hardware or builder supply stores. If you are having the dryer installed, insist upon metal
duct unless the installer has verified that the manufacturer permits the use of plastic duct.

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Barbecue Grill Safety

Propane gas is highly flammable. Each year, about 600 fires/explosions occur with gas grills resulting in injuries
to about 30 people. The new safety standard for propane gas tanks requires that an “over-fill prevention device”
be installed in new gas tanks. Beginning April 1, 2002, only the new propane gas tanks, which have valve
handles with three “lobes” (prongs) instead of five (old design), will be sold or refilled nationwide.

An additional industry standard was adopted in 1995 at the urging of U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC). The safety standard calls for a device to limit the flow of gas if the hose ruptures; a
mechanism to shut-off the grill if it overheats; and a device to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between
tank and grill is not leak-proof. People who have grills that do not meet the 1995 standard should either get a
new grill or be especially attentive to the safety tips below.

Gas Grill Safety Tips
Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of fire or explosion with gas grills:
? Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no
sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
? Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
? Always keep propane gas containers upright.
? Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
? Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
? Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which
may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.
? Make sure your spark ignitor is consistently generating a spark to create a flame and burn the propane gas.
If the flame is not visible, the heavier-than-air propane gas may be escaping and could explode.
? Never bring the propane tank into the house.

Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate
to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 17 people die as a result of CO fumes from charcoal
being burned inside. To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:
? Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.
? Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
? Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill
indoors with freshly used coals.

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