Are You Prepared for Another Cold Minnesota Winter??

Prepare for the Coldest Part of Winter

Bundled Up GirlIf you thought that November was cold…Welcome to January, the coldest month in Minnesota!  With average high temperatures in the 20’s and lows around 4 degrees, it is not surprising that nearly half of the home’s energy is used for heating this time of year.   During the winter season not only can energy costs skyrocket, but there is a greater risk for accidental fires in the home.  Alternative heating sources such as propane/space heaters, wood stoves, and fire places are a great way to reduce the fuel costs, but may be an accident waiting to happen if improperly used or maintained.  This type of negligence is the leading cause of fire related deaths during the season.   The cold weather in Minnesota sneaks up on us quickly.  When you get ready to use your furnace, be sure that the filters have been replaced, and it is working properly.  Also, change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly. Taking the necessary precautions to prevent hazardous situations could decrease the risk of fire and prevent the loss of priceless possessions, your entire home, or even the life of a loved one.

If you own your home, Homeowner’s Insurance will protect you in case of a fire.  If you are a renter, some rental properties will be required to carry insurance that covers the dwelling, but you may want to research Renter’s insurance to protect your belongings and to ensure you have a place to stay in case you are displaced due to a fire.

To avoid accidents in the home and keep your family safe while trying to conserve energy, follow some of these tips below for the cooler months ahead:

Winterizing the Home

  • Cover the windows with plastic inside and out to prevent drafts
  • Seal off any air leaks with caulking
  • Check weather stripping around the doors
  • Turn off water valves outdoors and properly drain
  • Clean chimneys chutes, flues, and fire place interior prior to use

 Heating Alternatives

  • Keep flammables away from the heat source
  • Use a heavy duty screen around the fireplace to keep ashes and sparks contained.
  • Be sure to have a working carbon monoxide detector, smoke detectors
  • Never use your oven for heating purposes

Energy conservation

  • Monitor your thermostat
  • Turn space heaters off at bedtime or when you are not at home
  • Keep lights off in areas that are not in use
  • Use LED lights when possible
  • Close doors to rooms that are not in use

If you have any questions on your Home Insurance call (763) 536-8006 or visit DivingRates.com

Christmas Tree Safety

Before you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas Tree can grow large very quickly.

Picking the tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall of when touched

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Do not block any exits with your tree.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off the Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Christmas Tree SafetyAfter Christmas

Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried out trees are a fire hazard, and should not be left in the home or garage, or leaning against your house. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

Fireplace Safety

Fireplace and Home Fire Safety

Fireplace Safety TipsWarm, cozy fires are very inviting, especially around the Holidays. We decorate our fireplaces with beautiful ornaments and fragrant pine and of course the stockings that are filled with goodies. Keep in mind, however, you will want to be vigilant about keeping it clean and safe.

The U.S. Fire administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility.

• Keep Fireplaces clean.
• Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
• Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
• Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures the fire receives enough combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
• Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from getting into the room.
• Always use a metal mesh screen if you do not have a glass door. This keeps embers from getting in the fireplace area.
• Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned, dry wood.
• When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container at least 10 feet away from your home and other buildings. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Source:  U.S. Fire Administration

By: Jane Williamson

Homeowners Insurance & Your Firearm

Owning a firearm is a major responsibility and requires significant insurance to go along with that responsibility.

Minnesota Homeowners Insurance, Minnesota Firearm SafetyIf you own a firearm, it’s a good idea to know what kind of coverage is available under the standard home insurance policy. You will need to consider both the personal property and the liability aspects of the policy. The property portion of your policy will cover your firearms if they are stolen or destroyed, whereas the liability coverage applies due to the accidental discharge of a firearm causing injury up to the limits of the policy; typically $100,000 to $500,000.

Like many items that are small, valuable and easily transportable, firearms are subject to a limit. In many cases, the firearm sub-limit is $1,000 – $2,500. If you need more coverage than is normally available on the home insurance, you’ll have to look for more specialized coverage. Your options will be to add a “rider” to your existing home policy; or you can purchase a separate, stand-alone policy. Riders are very common for items such as jewelry and antiques. In the case of firearms, you will need to ask your agent just how much coverage you would have. Because of the risk factors associated with firearms, it would be beneficial to purchase an Umbrella policy which provides additional liability protection.

A few tips for firearm storage and safety:

  • Store guns safely and securely to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Guns and ammunition should be stored separately.
  • Use a trigger or cable lock so it can’t be fired.
  • Store unloaded in a lockable container.
  • Don’t store firearms where visible.
  • Don’t store firearms with other valuables such as jewelry or cameras, etc.
  • If you have children, be EXTRA vigilant for obvious reasons.

On average, one Minnesotan dies every day by firearms while others suffer injuries. Firearms are the state’s second leading cause of traumatic brain injury deaths.

Sources: homeinsurance.org/firearms
iinc.org
Minnesota Department of Health

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