Thursday, December 17, 2009

Safe Driving This Holiday Season

This holiday season, I am sure you all have a party or two to go to. Here is some information on the dangers of drunk driving & how to keep yourself safe this holiday season.

Every day, 36 people in the United States die, and approximately 700 more are injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.

The latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study revealed there were nearly 13,500 alcohol-related fatalities—one death every 39 minutes.

What can I do to help reduce drunk-driving incidents?
The best way to help curb the nation’s drunk-driving crisis is not to contribute to the problem. If you’ve had too much to drink, do not attempt to drive. Instead, call for a cab or ask a sober friend to take you home.

Likewise, never accept a ride from someone who has been drinking. And, do not allow intoxicated friends to get behind the wheel of a car.

How can I protect myself from drunk drivers?
It is estimated, approximately four million innocent people are injured or have their vehicles damaged in alcohol-related accidents each year.

To protect yourself, wear your seat belt at all times, and make sure children are secured in child safety seats in the back seat. Also, be aware of the warning signs of drunk drivers.

What are the warning signs of a drunk driver?
Be cautious of any driver who:

  • makes unnecessarily wide turns;

  • straddles lanes or drives on the median line;

  • drives at night without headlights;

  • drives at speeds below the speed limit;

  • brakes erratically or stops without cause;

  • accelerates or decelerates rapidly; and/or

  • nearly strikes an object or curb.

What should I do if I encounter a drunk driver on the road?
If you notice a driver displaying any of the warning signs, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle and do not attempt to stop it.

Instead, note the vehicle’s license plate number, the vehicle’s description and the direction in which it is traveling. Then contact the police from a cell phone or nearby pay phone. Your action could save lives.

I’m hosting a party and I’m concerned about my guests drinking and driving. What can I do to reduce the risk?
Home hosts have a duty to serve alcohol responsibly and conscientiously. They need to see intoxicated guests do not get behind the wheel of a car, creating a risk of harm to themselves and others on the road.

Follow these tips to ensure safety when serving alcohol at your next party:

  • Serve alcoholic drinks only upon request, and offer nonalcoholic beverages such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks and soft drinks.

  • Avoid making alcohol the main focus of the social event. Entertain guests with music, games and dancing.

  • Always serve food when serving alcohol. High-protein foods such as meat and cheeses take longer to digest, slowing the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. However, try not to serve salty foods, which make people thirsty and inclined to drink more.

  • Be careful not to serve alcohol to minors. Limit access to the bar if minors are on the guest list, and verify the ages of young guests before serving them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It’s winter—pay special attention to fire safety

December, January and February are the leading months for home fires and fire deaths in the U.S. On average, more than one-third of home fire deaths in the United States occur during the winter months. Here are tips to help you protect your family and your home.

How can I heat my home safely?
According to a report from the National Fire Prevention Association, heating equipment fires are the second-leading cause of fire deaths in American homes and the biggest fire culprit December through February. According to the association, most fires could be avoided by taking simple safety precautions.
  • Select equipment that bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Be sure the equipment is installed by a trained professional, in compliance with local fire and building codes.
  • Keep all portable heaters (whether powered by electricity or fuel) at least 36 inches from anything that can burn—including furniture, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
  • Run space heaters only when you are in the room and awake. And, supervise all children and pets when the heaters are in use.
  • If you are using a portable kerosene heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Store the kerosene away from heat or open flame in a container approved by your local fire department, and be sure it’s clearly marked with the fuel name.
  • Have your chimney inspected (and cleaned, if necessary) prior to the start of every heating season.
  • If using a wood stove, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation, use and maintenance.
  • When disposing of the ashes from your fireplace or wood stove, first make sure all embers are extinguished. Put water on them to be sure. Discard away from the home.

What hazards should I look out for during the holiday season?
’Tis the season for celebrating—more entertaining, more cooking and an increased risk of fire. Keep your family safe this holiday season with these tips.

  • Use care when burning candles. Make sure they are in sturdy holders, kept well away from decorations and out of the reach of children or pets.
  • Never use candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Don’t leave items you’re cooking unattended—it’s the leading cause of fire in the U.S.
  • Choose an artificial or fresh Christmas tree and place it well away from heat sources. Water fresh trees every day.
  • If using an artificial tree, make sure it’s flame retardant.
  • Replace any lights with frayed or damaged cords. And, always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Be sure the candles in your menorah have burned out before you leave the house or go to sleep.

Also, be sure your homeowners insurance reflects the amount of coverage you need to replace your home and possessions. This could mean checking to be sure you have replacement cost coverage.

Call our agency. We’ll be glad to review and explain your coverage to you. 888-565-2212