Is Your Garage Safe?
Americans suffer nearly 21 million preventable household injuries each year, and many of them occur in the garage. That’s because most of the 65 million U.S. garages are cluttered, disorganized and potentially unsafe!
Nearly all homeowners have at least one potentially dangerous item in the garage, including sharp tools and chemicals. What you may not know is that many of the chemicals stored in the garage are highly flammable – and may even be susceptible to spontaneous combustion. If not stored properly, gasoline and oily rags containing linseed oil or turpentine oil can be fire hazards.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the garage is the most common area of origin for home structure fires (20 percent of fires), and oily rags were the most common item to ignite first.
To help you safely store household items that may be flammable or combustible, here are some important safety tips from the NFPA
- Store gasoline in a tightly sealed metal or plastic container that has been approved by local or state fire authorities or an independent testing laboratory. Never store it in glass jars or non-reusable plastic containers such as milk jugs.
- Do not use or store gasoline near possible sources of ignition.
- Fill portable gasoline containers outdoors only, and place the container on the ground before filling.
- Keep rags that have absorbed oils, such as linseed oil or turpentine, in a covered. metal can with a tight-fitting lid.
- Be sure the oily rags are thoroughly dried before collection or transport.
- Make sure pesticides, paint thinner, antifreeze and poisonous products are stored on high shelves out of reach or in locked cabinets.
- Mount a fire extinguisher & first aid in the garage.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector rated for the garage.
- Install a smoke alarm.
Sources: MN Safety Council
Insurance Coverage for Your College Student
When preparing to send your child to college, be sure to review their insurance coverage. It’s a good idea to take an inventory of your student’s property that will be moved to a dorm or an apartment.
Insurance companies consider college students to be residents of their parents’ home, temporarily residing elsewhere. Your homeowners insurance will generally cover your student if living in a dorm. They consider dorm-room contents to be “personal property, located off premises”. The liability limits will be the same as your homeowners policy, but coverage for personal belongings may be limited to 10% of your total possessions coverage (rules vary by insurer). Add up the value of your student’s property and make sure you have enough coverage…you may want to buy some extra coverage if this includes an expensive computer system and other valuable electronics.
Your home insurance policy may not cover your student if living in an off-campus apartment with a 12-month lease. In this situation, check with your Insurance Advisors Representative regarding how to handle the insurance coverage. Also, ask about any coverage limits if your student is traveling abroad…some companies, such as Chubb and West Bend provide worldwide coverage, but some others do not.
Let your auto insurer know that your child is going away to college even if without taking a car. If your student goes to school more than 100 or 150 miles away from your home and doesn’t take a car, you could get a big discount on your auto insurance premiums but still have coverage when your child comes home for holidays and vacations. If a car is taken to school, the premiums may rise or fall depending on the location of the college, where the vehicle is parked, and how many claims the insurer has had to pay in that area. Either way, many insurance companies continue to offer discounts on car insurance if your student maintains at least a B average.
Bikers & Motorists Need to Share the Road
Heavier than normal traffic during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally requires bikers and drivers to share the road for safety, officials with the South Dakota Highway Patrol and Office of Highway Safety caution.
Motorcycle traffic has increased since early summer and likely will continue to be heavy through the end of August. There has already been eight fatal crashes involving motorcycles this year. “Rally Time” puts thousands more motorcycles on the highways. Many of the fatal injury crashes involving motor cycles happen to inexperienced drivers.
The Highway Patrol reminds motorcyclists and motorists alike of the rules for sharing the road. Once again, it pays to follow a few safety tips.
- Motorcyclists should ride in single-file lines and avoid crowding he center line or crowding motorists.
- Motorists should remember not to crowd cycles. Motorcycles have the same rights on the road as motorists.
- Motorists and cyclists should follow the recommended speed limits. Motorcyclists should be especially aware of speed limits on curves.
- It is against the law to drink and drive. Motorists and cyclists must be sober when driving.
- Motorists, remember to buckle up. It’s the law.
- Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear helmets.
Every year dozens of people are injured and hundreds of fires are reported because of grilling accidents. With the popularity of outdoor cooking, the problem promises to get worse before it gets better.
The leading cause of injuries and fire from gas grills is leaking fuel lines. Improperly connected hoses, cracked or broken hoses, misaligned venturi tubes can release unlit propane that can quickly build up and cause an explosion. Modern gas grills are vented to prevent gases from building up inside cabinets so a slow leak doesn’t pose much of a danger, but turning off the gas at the source (the propane tank) is always the safest strategy.
When it comes to out-of-control gas grill fires, identify the source of the fire. If the fire is the grill itself then carefully turn off the control knobs and let the fire die down.
If the fire is under the grill and you can get to the fuel tank, turn off the tank. This should kill the fire almost immediately. If it does not, or if you cannot get to the tank valve, get away from the grill and call the fire department.
Charcoal presents its own risk due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Burning charcoal produces a lot of this gas. There were over 20 deaths in the US last year alone from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with charcoal grilling.
The leading cause of injury related to the use of lighter fluids, is attempting to relight charcoal. Pouring lighter fluid onto hot coals causes the fluid to quickly vaporize. These vapors can be extremely flammable. Without a strong wind the explosive vapors will not dissipate and will wait around for you to light the match.
Everything has risks. Knowing what those risks are and how to reduce them is key. When cooking outdoors, whether hot and fast grilling, or low and slow barbecue, there are a few things you need to know to make sure nothing goes wrong and how to get the most out of your cooking. There is more to outdoor cooking safety than just fire…continued in next week’s blog.