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Safety

As temperatures drop, heaters, fireplaces and candles make their come-back — and with them an increased risk for home fires.  As fire danger increases, re-train yourself to be extra mindful and safety-conscious.

Take a look at the main fire hazards in the average home:

1. Kitchen

 

The kitchen is a danger zone!  This is where most home fires originate, so it’s important to be extra mindful.  Of course, never leave an open-flame stove unattended.  If you are multitasking, set yourself a timer to remind you to turn off burners and ovens.

Keep in mind that an electrical stove does not remove the fire hazard!  Even a simple pot of Mac-and-Cheese can catch on fire when the butter is dropped into too hot of a pot!!  (We are speaking from experience.  Always remove the pot from the burner and remember to turn the heat off.)

That’s why it’s important to always keep a large lid nearby, especially when frying or cooking with grease.  It can be used to cover a pan fire so it will be smothered out.  Never ever attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water.  The consequences can be disastrous as water on hot grease can cause a powerful explosion.  Also, never try to carry a burning pan outside yourself – you may injure yourself, others, AND set your surroundings on fire.

Keep your cook top clean and the surrounding counters clutter-free, and opt to wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.

2.  Heating

There is not much that beats the welcoming feeling of a warm home after some time spent in the cold.  But the same heat that warms you through can quickly burn your home to the ground if not maintained.

Fireplace Safety

Get your fireplace a good cleaning and give your own good luck meter a boost: Call a chimney sweep to come to your house and inspect your fireplace, flue and chimney for creosote, debris, blockages or leaks.   Install a screen or a glass pane in front of the fire place to prevent sparks and embers from ‘jumping’ out and igniting flammable items.  Never use fire-starter to re-ignite a fire that has fizzed out – the vapors can explode.  And, of course, don’t store combustible materials near the fireplace.

Electric Heaters and Space Heaters

If you must have a space heater, be sure to invest in the latest model that is up-to-par with latest safety standards and automatic shut-off.  Older models often lack the safety features of newer space-heaters.

Keep the heater on a sturdy, level, non-flammable surface at least 3 feet from any flammable materials, including drapes, furniture or — pets and children. Avoid using space-heaters in mobile homes.

Similarly, give baseboard heaters lots of room.  Don’t place furniture in front, toys on top, pillows underneath or anything inside… it could catch on fire.

3. Laundry

Almost 15,000 home fires per year happen courtesy of your clothes dryer.

Option 1:  Avoid the dryer and invest in lots of drying racks.

Option 2: Maintain your dryer according to manufacturer’s directions, clean vents and ducts frequently and clean the lint filter after every use.

4. Candles and Holiday Decor

Always place candles on a sturdy, level, non-combustible surface and never leave them  unattended, even if you only plan to leave the room for a few minutes.

And as wonderful and welcoming as it is to arrive to a warmly lit home, it is wiser to turn the lights on yourself once you are home.  Electric shorts or faulty wiring have set many a decorative item on fire.

5. Know Your Safety Tools and Keep Them in Good Shape

What are your fire safety and prevention tools?  Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguisher and a Family Escape Plan!

Install smoke detectors in your kitchen, laundry room and in each bedroom.  It is important to test them frequently and routinely change the batteries twice year. (The daylight savings time switch is a great time to do this!)

When it comes to fire extinguishers, they, too, need a little TLC.  Install your fire extinguisher in plain sight but out of the reach of children along an escape route.  Have it inspected and serviced once a year – fire extinguishers do have an expiration date!  Most importantly, know how to use it and always call 911 before using it.

Last but not least, develop a Family Escape Plan and practice, practice, practice.  The most important elements include

  • each family member knows at least two ways out of their room
  • each family member knows the family meeting spot outside the home
  • each family member knows the ‘stop, drop and roll’ drill

If you observe these 5 tips for added safety in the high-danger areas of your home, you are well on your way to being a fire-prevention and safety expert.  Thanks for Living Proactively with us!

Residents of Washington and other earthquake-prone regions worldwide are gearing up to celebrate the GREAT SHAKE OUT on October 17th, 2013.

Everybody is encouraged to participate in this international earthquake drill, practicing safety measures such as DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.

 

This drill is especially important for Pacific Northwesterners, where earthquake awareness is only slow to take hold:  While Californians have known for centuries that they live on ‘shaky grounds’ and have adapted accordingly in their daily lives – from school drills to emergency preparedness kits – Washingtonians have lived in the illusion that the ground they’re standing on is safe.

This false presumption goes largely back to an early professor of geology, who surveyed the Puget Sound area in 1920 and deemed it safe:  “Seattle […] has a shock absorber which makes the city immune for all time.”

Ooops.  Not so much.  However, it took another 60 years before scientists grasped the full extent of seismic activity in Washington, and promptly made the Northwest the epicenter of earthquake research worldwide.

This should give us a hint.  Washington State is the earthquake hot spot, and the next “Big One” is not only ‘out there’, but it’s also long overdue.

For more information on how to prepare, be safe and protect your assets, please visit our Earthquake Safety Page at “Living Proactively:”

 

 

or request an Earthquake Insurance Quote here.

Please be safe.  We’re here to help!

 

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About McClain Insurance    –    www.AutoHomeBoat.com

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency has represented quality insurance companies (including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive) since 1977.

Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: Auto, Home, Renters, Life, Umbrella, Earthquake, Flood, Boat, Motorcycle and RV Insurance.

McClain Insurance Services is a Trusted Choice agency and a member of the Independent Agents Association of America, the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County and the BBB. They are also Charter Members of NSACE – National Society of Agents for Consumer Education.

Summer’s finally here, and with it comes a smorgasbord of events, celebrations, fairs and festivals.  The City of Everett offers a wealth of entertainment for folks of all ages.

But as much fun as community events can be, they are also a cause of great anxiety for many parents who are keeping track of one or more children.  Getting separated from a child in a busy environment is a terrible experience.  Yet, it can happen as quickly as bending down to help a toddler tie a shoe, only to look up and miss the 7-year old who followed the folks with the cute puppy.

Keeping children safe at public events is a big task, but it’s not impossible.  There are several things that parents, guardians and care takers can do to prevent kids getting lost.

1. Educate

Brief your children on what to do if they get lost.  Depending on the age of your children and the nature of your destination, it may be better for them to stay put if they lose sight of you, or to find a meeting point.  In the woods?  Stay put.  At the mall? Find a meeting point.  In the middle of the road?  Cross the road, get to a safe spot, then stay put.  And of course: Never go near water without an adult.

Think through what the safest action would be, and brief your children accordingly.

Also, talk with your children about safe people to talk to if they can’t find you.  Another mom or dad with kids of their own, maybe?  A police officer?  A worker of the theme park you are visiting?  Depending on the age of your children, practice ways to identify “safe” people.

Teach children that it’s always OK to yell for help if they are in distress, lost, scared, or hurt.  Even in quiet places.

2. Color-Code

Bright colors are priceless in helping you spot your children at a busy park or playground.  Have more than one?  Dress them in the same color for the day, or create family tie-dye shirts especially for outings.

3. Educate. Again.

Upon arrival, before even leaving your vehicle, go over the day’s rules and expected behavior with your kids one more time.  Remind them to stay close.  Encourage older kids to be helpers.  Maybe even offer a reward?  A little preparation will help prevent much need for ‘damage control’ later.

4. Snap Away

Consider taking a family picture immediately upon arrival, before you even enter.  This will not only provide you with a fun souvenir, but can also help you describe your child’s looks with a very recent photograph.

4. Tattoo Temporarily

Busy mom Michele Welsh found herself extremely overwhelmed when she was taking her three children to a crowded theme park.  Just in case that one would get lost, she decided to write her own cell phone number onto her children’s arms.  A brilliant idea!  So brilliant, in fact, that she started her own line of removable, yet waterproof, award-winning safety tattoos for kids.  Please visit SafetyTat.com for more information.

Keep in mind, however, to NOT put your child’s name on the safety tattoo.

5.  Carry a Child ID Booklet.

Do you know all your children’s height, weight, eye color, birth marks and clothing of the day off the top of your head, always? How about in a stressful situation?

How about if you are in shock and panic because one of them is missing?

If children go missing, the first few minutes and hours are crucial in bringing them back safely.  And precise descriptions are crucial in finding the missing child.  Police officers and professionals know that parents are often unable to describe their children or even remember their eye color, when they are distressed, shocked and paralyzed with fear.

A Child ID Booklet can be an invaluable tool.  Fill it out, keep it in your purse or car, and update it annually – and hope that you will never ever need it.

Call us at 425.379.9200 and we’ll happily mail you copies for each child.

 

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency has represented a number of regional and national insurance companies (including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive) since 1977.  McClain Insurance Services offers great insurance options to customers in Snohomish County and Washington.  Our convenient full-service website and our team of licensed, professional brokers make insurance shopping personal, easy, quick and hassle-free.

Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: AutoHomeRentersLifeUmbrellaEarthquakeFloodBoatMotorcycle and RV Insurance.

McClain Insurance Services is a Trusted Choice agency and a member of the Independent Agents Association of America, the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, and the BBB. They are also Charter Members of NSACE – National Society of Agents for Consumer Education

 

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently published a press release on the dangers of teen driver speeding; please see below.  Speeding is the main factor in a third of fatal teen driver accidents!

As summer break begins and teens are enjoying their time off school with more adventures, commutes to work or road trips, please keep in mind that summer break is also the most dangerous time of year for young drivers!  Your team at McClain Insurance Services knows about this!  That’s why we’ve prepared an entire collage of information safety tips especially for teen drivers as part of our project “Live Proactively!” For more information, please click here.

 

Speeding Still a Factor in a Third of Fatal Teen Driving Crashes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speeding is a primary culprit in a third of fatal crashes involving teen drivers, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “Speeding-Related Fatal Crashes Among Teen Drivers and Opportunities for Reducing the Risks,” authored by Dr. Susan Ferguson, states that speeding as a contributor in fatal teen driver crashes has inched up over the past decade from 30 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2011 while total teen fatalities have gone down dramatically during that same period. From 2000 to 2011, 19,447 fatal crashes of teen drivers were speeding-related. The report was funded through a grant from a major national insurance carrier.

Dr. Ferguson, former senior vice president of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, stressed, “Curbing teen speeding is vital since no other age group has a higher crash risk. Speeding is a common factor in the fatal crashes of teen male and female drivers.” Dr. Ferguson continued, “Speeding is more prevalent among teen males, at night, and in the presence of other teen passengers. When three or more teen passengers are in a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old male, almost half of their fatal crashes are speeding-related.”

Despite its significant role, speeding is not getting the attention it deserves and must be addressed if further progress is to be made in the area of teen driving safety. Increases in speed limits in many states coupled with a general belief that speeding is acceptable also exacerbate the problem. Dr. Ferguson notes, “Unless speeding is recognized as a dangerous behavior, much the same as drunk driving, addressing it will be difficult.”

In addition to discussing the problem of teens and speeding, the report also focuses on potential solutions. Graduated driver licensing (GDL), which has sparked record gains in teen driver safety since first enacted in the U.S. in the mid-nineties, has the potential to address speeding.

In addition to an emphasis on enforcement, the report advises states and local jurisdictions to consider installing automated speed cameras — an effective antidote to speeding for drivers of all ages.

Parents are influential in shaping the driving behavior of their teenagers, and many programs are available to help parents manage their beginning teenagers’ driving in a way that will encourage safe driving behavior. The report offers the following tips to parents.

Top 5 Tips for Parents:

  1. Have serious discussions about the importance of observing all traffic laws, demonstrate by example, and establish family rules and consequences for breaking laws.
  2. Avoid allowing teens to have primary access to a vehicle for at least the first year of independent driving.
  3. Make safety the primary consideration when selecting a car.
  4. Consider the many options for in-vehicle speed monitoring devices both in the after-market and increasingly as original vehicle equipment.
  5. Consider participation in incentive-based insurance programs that monitor usage, braking/acceleration, and/or speed.

Researchers noted that despite public resistance toward some of these tools, all show promise for addressing teen-related speeding.

To debit or to credit, that is the question.

Philosophies on this topic vary:  Some folks believe in using (and paying off monthly) credit cards for their benefits, air-miles-per-dollar-spent, warranty benefits, or fraud protection.  Others are staying away from the credit temptation and spend only what they have by using debit cards.

While the cards look virtually identical and can be used interchangeably in most places, credit cards offer an invaluable benefit:  If you discover a fraudulent charge on your credit card, you have the option to contest the charge.  Any payment first comes from the credit institution’s funds and at least doesn’t directly affect your personal bank account.

Not so the debit card.  With it, you are on your own in case of a fraudulent charge.  The thief who copied your card and unlocked your PIN has just gained free access to your bank account, and can plunder it to heart’s content. There is no challenging the charge or deferring the bill.  You best hope is damage control by catching the fraud early.

That’s why credit cards tend to be your safest option to avoid fraud in most places.

But if you’re still convinced about using a debit card, at least avoid these 4 places that tend to be hotspots for debit card fraud:

1. Online purchases

Do not, do not, do not use your debit card for online purchases.  Online shopping leaves you at risk in too many places:  Whether it’s via malware on your own home computer, in a middleman attack where a crook steals your information via the network, or at the endpoint, where data may be compromised via the merchant (or, possibly, the ‘safe’ merchant’s criminal employees); using your debit card for online purchases leaves you very vulnerable.

Protect your bank account and designate a credit card for online purchases.

2.  Restaurants

Restaurants are a popular place for skimming debit card info.  Does your favorite  takeout conveniently have your info on file?  Do you think your data is as safe with them as it should be?

Do you ever think about the logistics of paying for your meal with your card, which involves your card being swiftly whisked away to a private corner for a short while?

Restaurants offer countless opportunities to swipe, skim and steal debit card information.  Be aware and use cash or credit instead.

3.  Gas Stations

Crooks love a good, fully automated gas station.  It’s open, it’s accessible, and it’s minimally supervised.  All it takes is the installation of a skimmer to capture data, a camera, a laptop and an antenna.  Presto.  Instant access to a shopping spree on you.

Avoid using your debit card and use cash or credit to pay at the pump.

 

4.  ATM

Yes, the outdoor ATM, even if it’s on the side of your own bank’s building, is not as safe as it seems to be.  It’s easy for thieves to place a card reader above the actual ATM slot to capture your card’s data, add a camera to capture your PIN, and surveil your transaction while you are taking out cash.

Outdoor ATMs are especially vulnerable, as they are the most accessible to the public.  If you need to use an ATM, protect yourself by using machines that are inside bank foyers, in well-lit or highly trafficked areas, and that don’t show signs of damage or scratches.

If you find yourself being a victim of identity theft, don’t despair.  Some homeowner’s insurance policies offer identity theft protection options as part of their coverage package.   Ask your insurance agent or give us a call at 425.379.9200 for more information.

 

About McClain Insurance Services:

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency represents a select group of regional and national insurance companies, including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive.

Since 1977, McClain Insurance Services has offered quality insurance options to customers in Snohomish County and Washington state.  Our convenient full-service website and our team of licensed, professional brokers make insurance shopping personal, easy, quick and hassle-free.



Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: Auto, Home, Renters, Life, Umbrella, Earthquake, Flood, Boat, Motorcycle and RV Insurance.



McClain Insurance Services is a Trusted Choice agency and a member of the Independent Agents Association of America, the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, and the BBB. They are also Charter Members of NSACE – National Society of Agents for Consumer Education.

 

 

 

Source:  www.bankrate.com

This year’s boating season has kicked off to a great start:  Bright blue skies, glorious sunshine and summer-like temperatures during the past week or so have accompanied Washington’s boaters on their first spring cruises.

Keep yourself and your passengers safe with these 5 Tips:
(Find more information about Boating Safety over in our “Living Proactively” section.)

1. Always have a Float Plan!

Whether you are planning to be gone for the day or spending 2 weeks cruising down the coast, it is always a safe choice to fill out a Float Plan form with your itinerary and time of return, and leave it with a person of trust.

Instruct them to contact the Coast Guard or other rescue organization if you don’t check in as planned or within a certain time frame.

This is true for big boats, day trips, even kayakers, and especially when you head out by yourself.
2. Insist that Every Passenger Wear a Life Jacket

No matter the age, every person on your boat needs to wear a life jacket that is appropriate for their height and weight.  Especially for children, be sure that the life jacket fits snugly and won’t slip over the child’s head.

3. Complete a Boater’s Education Class

Since the passage of this law in 2005, boating safety courses are mandatory for operators of boats with 15 or more horsepower.  In 2013, all boaters aged 50 and under are required to have a boater’s education card.  The course can be taken in classroom or online.

4. Get a Vessel Safety Check

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary and the US Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks at various locations.  All you need to do is schedule an appointment.

5.  Have Boat Insurance

A boat insurance policy covers liability and property damage in case of an accident.  Some perils covered on a boat policy may include:

  • Damage to your boat and/or marine equipment.
  • Pollution damage due to fuel spills after an accident.
  • Liability incurred by your boat hitting another boat, dock or swimmer.
  • Medical expenses for injury to you and passengers as a result of a boating accident.
  • Injury caused by a negligent uninsured boater.

Note:  Boat policies vary from company to company.  Not every boat policy will include every item above.  Be sure to read your policy and check with your insurance agent for personalized information.

Many boat owners falsely believe that their boat is covered on their homeowner’s insurance policy.  This is not true!  Very few boats are covered on a standard Washington State homeowner’s insurance policy, and only under very special circumstances.  Protect yourself on the water (and on the way to the water) with boat insurance.

 

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About McClain Insurance Services:

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency has represented a number of regional and national insurance companies (including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive) since 1977.  McClain Insurance Services offers great insurance options to customers in Snohomish County and Washington.  Our convenient full-service website and team of licensed, professional brokers make insurance shopping personal, easy, quick and hassle-free.

Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: AutoHomeRentersLifeUmbrellaEarthquakeFloodBoatMotorcycle and RV Insurance.

McClain Insurance Services is a Trusted Choice agency and a member of the Independent Agents Association of America, the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, and the BBB. They are also Charter Members of NSACE – National Society of Agents for Consumer Education.

 

Disposal of Old Medication in Snohomish County can Save Lives!

Did you know that unintentional drug poisoning is at a record high in Snohomish County?  Between 2000 and 2011, the number has more than tripled from 46 reported cases to over 150.

You can help prevent drug poisonings by safely disposing of expired or unwanted medications on National Drug Take-back Day on Saturday, April 27th.

To help protect the public’s safety and health, area law enforcement agencies and Bartell Drug will participate in National Drug Take-back Day, Saturday, April 27 at sites throughout the county.  Please see a list, below.   The sites accept unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers and other medications.  Only law enforcement locations can accept controlled substances, such as Ativan and OxyContin. Leave all items in their original containers.

All police departments in the county have drop-boxes available year-round, Monday through Friday, including the NCIS office at Naval Station Everett, the Washington State Patrol office in Marysville, and tribal police stations on the Tulalip and Stillaguamish reservations.

Additionally, two Group Health locations and many Bartell Drugstores accept unwanted vitamins, pet medications, over-the-counter medications, inhalers and unopened EpiPens year-round.

The Everett Herald compiled this handy list of drop-off spots for expired drugs:

Arlington, 10 a.m. to noon, Arlington Police Department, 11 E. Third St., Arlington;

Edmonds, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Edmonds Police Department, 250 Fifth Ave. N., Edmonds;

Everett, 8 a.m. to noon, Everett Police Department North Precinct, 3002 Wetmore Ave., Everett;

Freeland, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Island County Sheriff South Precinct office, 5521 E. Harbor Road, Freeland;

Lake Stevens, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Bartell Drugs, 621 Highway 9 NE, Lake Stevens;

Lynnwood, 8 a.m. to noon, Lynnwood Police Department, 19321 44th Ave. W., Lynnwood;

Lynnwood, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Home & About Home Care, 15121 Highway 99, Lynnwood;

Marysville, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Marysville Police Department, 1635 Grove St., Marysville;

Mill Creek, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Snohomish County Sheriff South Precinct, 15928 Mill Creek Blvd.;

Mountlake Terrace, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mountlake Terrace Police Department, 5906 232nd St. SW, Mountlake Terrace;

Snohomish, 8 a.m. to noon, Snohomish Police Department, 230 Maple Ave., Snohomish.

About McClain Insurance Services:

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency has represented a number of regional and national insurance companies (including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive) since 1977.  McClain Insurance Services offers great insurance options to customers in Snohomish County and Washington.  Between our convenient full-service website and our team of licensed, professional brokers make insurance shopping personal, easy, quick and hassle-free.

Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: Auto, Home, Renters, Life, Umbrella, Earthquake, Flood, Boat, Motorcycle and RV Insurance.

Did you know that there are over 1.5 million deer/car collisions every year?  Especially if you live in a rural area, you may encounter deer on or near the road almost every day.  Car / deer collisions can be very serious – that’s why we decided to share a few tips on how to avoid hitting a deer.

But first, here is our recommendation on what to do if a deer collision is inevitable:

First, don’t panic. Next, hold on to the steering wheel, apply the brakes, aim straight ahead, and take the deer out.

We’re serious.

Whatever you do, do not swerve to avoid the deer. Here’s why…

The most serious accidents occur when a driver swerves to get out of the way of an animal and loses control of their car; striking a tree, another car, or another person.

In case of doubt, hit the deer. He won’t sue you.

If you do strike a deer remember it’s a “comprehensive” claim. This means you don’t get a chargeable accident on your driving record like you’ll get if you hit a tree or another car.

Now, here are some common-sense tips you can share with others to cut the chances of striking a deer in the first place.

1. Deer travel in groups, usually in single file. If you see one, stop to make sure he’s not being followed.

2. Whenever possible, keep your headlights on high beam. You’ll pick up a deer’s eyes much sooner.

3. Deer are out most between dusk and midnight. Be alert.

4. Wear your seatbelt. The deer will damage your car, but a second impact could be you striking the windshield unless you’re belted in like you should be.

Please pass this info on to others; especially younger drivers who tend to panic more easily.

Remember, sometimes there’s no time to react to a deer except to strike it. It’s a much better alternative than hurting yourself, your passengers, or people in another car (who can, and will, sue you).

Safe travels!

Looking for Car Insurance in Washington, Oregon or Utah?  We can help!  Visit our website for instant rate proposals or call 425-379-9200.

 

Today, we’d like to share with you a press release published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Every year, thousands of people are injured or experience property loss and damage while “decking the halls”.  Please be mindful as you put up your decorations, never leave the lights on while you are out, and don’t  forget to always keep an eye on candles and open flames.

 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Maryland’s Office of the State Fire Marshal are helping consumers give the gift of a safe holiday home. Each November and December, thousands of consumers are injured and millions of dollars in property losses are reported as a result of falls, fires, and other incidents associated with holiday decorations.

Since 2009, the estimated number of holiday decoration-related injuries has increased at a rate of 1,000 per year, from 12,000 in 2009, to 13,000 in 2010, to 14,000 in 2011. Between 2008 and 2010, property losses from Christmas tree fires have increased from an estimated $18 million to $19 million. Candle-related fires during this same period resulted in reports of 74 deaths and $347 million in property losses.

“Make sure you water your Christmas tree frequently, use holiday lights that are tested and certified and safe and not damaged, use candles carefully, and do not put a frozen turkey into a deep fryer,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We want consumers to avoid fires and injuries by adding “safety” to their holiday checklist.”

Common incident scenarios involve fires from dried-out evergreen trees and clippings, burns from open-flame candles and falls while attempting to hang holiday decorations. Use CPSC safety tips as a guide to help prevent these and other incidents this season.

“Christmas and the days around it are typically some of the top days for home fires,” said Greg Cade, division director of Government Affairs for NFPA. “With an increased fire risk around winter holidays, following safety tips at this time of year is especially important to prevent fires.”

“Holidays are a time of celebration with family and friends,” stated Maryland State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard. “However, fire and life safety is everyone’s responsibility; by testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, keeping exits clear of obstructions, monitoring water levels for live trees, staying with food while it is cooking, and following basic safety guidelines involving open flame devices such as candles and fireplaces, we can all avoid injury or death from fire.”

Safety tips:

Trees and Decorations

1.      Buying live trees? Check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

2.      Setting up a tree at home? Place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to monitor water levels daily, and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic, and do not block doorways with the tree.

3.      Buying an artificial tree? Look for the label: “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate that the tree is more resistant to catching fire.

4.      Decorating a tree in homes with small children? Take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children, who could swallow or inhale small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.

Candles

5.      Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.

6.      Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Lighted candles should be placed away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

Lights

7.      Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Lights for both indoor and outdoor usage must meet strict requirements that testing laboratories are able to verify. On decorative lights available in stores, UL’s red holographic label signifies that the product meets safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage. UL’s green holographic label, signifies that the product meets requirements for only indoor usage.

8.      Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets and do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.

9.      Check each extension cord to make sure it is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.

10.     Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.

Fireplaces

11.     Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. Fire salts contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting, if swallowed. Keep them away from children.

12.     Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

A recent press release by the Washington State Patrol, covering an accident triggered by road-rage, left the McClain Insurance team stunned.  Emotions often fly high on the road, and added stress during the busy holiday season doesn’t help.  Please stay safe, give yourself some extra time this winter, and follow the seven tips below to return home safely.

An altercation has Washington State Patrol detectives investigating twin brothers and their father for assault as they were returning home from a camping trip last Sunday afternoon.

911 operators were first alerted by witnesses calling to report a vehicle being hit with a stick southbound State Route 167 near Algona.  During the next few minutes, calls continued describing an altercation in progress and two separate collisions related to the altercation.  Troopers were guided to the incident through witnesses and arrived to discover two damaged vehicles and a victim driver with a bloody face. 

The incident reportedly started when a blue Chevrolet Blazer merged onto southbound SR 167 from SR 18 and moved across all lanes cutting in front of a Honda Accord then suddenly slowing.  The driver of the Honda responded with a “what are you doing?” gesture and attempted to move around the slow moving Blazer.  The Blazer was occupied by 25 year old twin brothers from Shelton who began yelling at the Honda and aggressively following it through traffic.  According to witnesses, a second blue Chevrolet Blazer driven by the twins’ father, a 50 year old from Tacoma, was also involved in forcing the Honda onto the shoulder. 

According to witnesses the driver of the first Blazer, Michael Parker, “jumped out and climbed onto the hood” of the Honda while hitting it with a club.  The Blazers’ passenger, Kyle Parker, reached into the Honda and struck the driver in the face multiple times. Fearing for his and his passenger’s lives, the Honda’s driver struck the right barrier in an attempt to flee and dislodge Kyle Parker from his vehicle. Both Blazers fled the scene, but were located moments later on Valley Ave East where troopers took the suspects into custody.

Kyle and Michael parker were booked into King County jail. Their father was released from custody, but the investigation is ongoing for felony charges related to all three suspects.                    

Aside from injuries sustained in the assault to the driver of the Honda, no other injuries were reported in this incident.  A fourth vehicle, a silver Chevrolet HHR, received minor damage to the rear during the incident.

This road rage incident is an unfortunate example of what can happen when people bring life’s frustrations to their driving.  Even a small gesture of what are you doing or the honk of a horn can spark rage in some people.  The most unassuming display of irritation at another driver may set off a chain reaction that may end badly.  When possible, slowing and allowing a driver making poor choices to proceed on without reacting may be the choice that keeps you safe. 

Some tips to help avoid being a victim of road rage are:

•     Slow and stay away from the other car, avoiding eye contact when possible.

•     Try reducing your stress so you are not likely to respond to other driver’s errors. 

•     Allow yourself extra time so you are not rushed in your commute. 

•     Don’t assume that another driver’s mistake is directed at you. 

•     Try not to respond with any gesture, talking or yelling at the other driver.

•     Avoid displaying anger by using your horn or flashing your lights. 

•     When in doubt let the other car go first. 

Being polite to other drivers and staying calm may not solve road rage but it may help you from being pulled into a dangerous situation.  If a situation gets out of control call 911 as soon as possible to get help on the way.

Remember like any officer stopping a vehicle, the unknown of what is going on with another driver’s day could be a danger to you.

 

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