Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC

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All Posts in Category: Safety

Smoke Detectors Can Save Your Life

Most home fire deaths happen between 10 o’clock at night and 6 in the morning. Many victims die because of smoke and toxic gases, not the fire itself. Smoke detectors can wake you and give you time to escape. When purchasing a smoke alarm, look for one that is accepted by an independent testing facility, such as Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual.

The best place for your smoke alarms:
? On every level of your home, including the basement and workshop
? Outside every bedroom
? On the ceiling or 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling on the wall. Keep them away from air vents.

Test the alarm batteries once a month.
? Press the test button with your finger.
? Replace the batteries once a year.

Clean the alarm following the manufacturer’s instructions.
? Vacuum the grillwork on the detector periodically to keep it dust-free.

Preventing Nuisance Alarms:
Move the alarm away from the kitchen or bathroom.
? Get a different type of smoke alarm, like a photoelectric that’s less sensitive to
common causes of false alarms.
? Choose a smoke alarm that has a silencing feature, so nuisance alarms can be
stopped quickly and easily.

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Kitchen Safety Tips

Did you know?
One-fifth of all home fires in the United States start in the kitchen? The reason is due to the constant potential
for fire there. For instance, if you cook two meals a day, each day of the year, that’s actually 730 fires!
Controlled, we hope, but none-the-less, potential fire hazards! Let’s help you make sure that the fire department
doesn’t become surprise dinner guests!

Never use water!
The most frequent kitchen fire involves oil or grease that ignites during meal preparation. Care should be taken
to prevent grease build-up in the stove or range hood. Water should never be used on such fires, as it will cause
the burning liquid to spatter, spreading the fire. Have a lid for every pan or skillet that is in use. Put out fires by
using the lids to shut off the oxygen to the fire. Trying to carry a burning pan outdoors or to the sink often
results in spilling the liquid, which causes burn injuries and also permits fires to spread. Remember, put a lid on

Do not wear loose clothing!
While cooking, don’t wear loose clothing, and be very careful not to reach across a burner at any time.
Garments with long, draping sleeves or light-weight sheer materials can catch fire by simply brushing against a
hot burner.

Be careful removing any pans from the stove!
Always use a hot pad. In households with small children, handles of pots and pans should be turned in so a child
cannot reach them and receive a serious scald burn.

Keep the stove clear!
Whether cooking with gas or electric, never place anything on the stove you don’t want to heat. An electric coil
reaches 800 degrees while a gas flame goes over 1000 degrees. Remember dish towels & pot holders ignite at
400 degrees.

Supervise the very young and elderly. Teach the children not to play around the stove, and never leave a stove
that is unattended! Also, keep a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen, and know how to
use it!

Kitchen Fire Safety Overview
? Never cook on high when using oils
? Do not wear loose clothing while cooking
? Keep all handles in while cooking
? No playing in the kitchen
? Keep stove top clear of all flammable items
? Always cover pan fire with lid; never use water
? Keep fire extinguisher close by while cooking
? Never carry a burning pan to sink or outside
? Put a lid on fires!

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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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