Summer brings more opportunities for outdoor activities around the house. Why not plan a “staycation” in your own backyard; but play it safe:
- Keep your grill on a level surface away from your house, garage and any flammable objects.
- Don’t step away from a grill while it’s on, and keep children and pets at a safe distance from the flames.
- When using charcoal, extinguish properly by breaking up the embers with a long stick or grilling tool, then covering the grill to cut off the oxygen. Or, slowly sprinkle the coals with water. Once the coals are cooled completely, dispose of them in a metal container.
- Before mowing, clear the yard of any loose objects that could fly out from under the lawnmower.
- When using power tools for yard work, wear protective gear and cover your eyes with goggles.
- Wear protective clothing when using pesticides etc and don’t spray around children or pets and precisely follow directions.
- Before you dig a hole in your yard for any reason call your local utility company to avoid underground gas or power lines.
- Install four foot high fence around the pool area and include self-closing gates with latches out of reach of children.
- Keep the pool area clear of toys and other objects that someone may trip over.
- Never allow children to swim without adult supervision.
- Place a sturdy pool cover over the pool when it’s not in use.
- Place swing sets and other play equipment on level ground, and make sure legs are properly
- Inspect play sets regularly for any sharp bolts, screws, nails or rot.
- When celebrating with fireworks, wear safety glasses when handling fireworks, and have water handy to soak spent fireworks before disposing of them.
Be careful of becoming over-exposed to the sun. Drink plenty of fluids, and seek air conditioning if you become overheated, and have fun!
Ideas taken from: https://www.horacemann.com/insurance/property-insurance/summer-backyard-safety-tips
Categories: family, holiday, Home Safety, Home Tips, Organize, Real Estate
Tags: family, grills, home safety, home tips, playgrounds, pool, real estate, safety, staycation, summer, yard
Many people don’t think twice about downloading phone applications, whether to play a game, deposit checks or keep in touch with friends and family. But before you install another app, read these downloading safety tips.
What’s at Risk?
Apps often ask for access to your personal information before you can open them. This information can include but isn’t limited to:
- Your contacts and call logs
- Calendar appointments
- GPS location
- Your phone’s unique ID
- Internet data
- Don’t download just any app. Ensure you’re downloading phone applications from reputable, trusted sources. Your best bet is your smartphone’s official app store.
- Watch out for fake apps. Copycat apps are disguised to look like the real thing. You can tell them apart by checking developer names and reviews.
- Review the app permissions. Verify that phone applications won’t access unnecessary information. For example, it makes sense that a social networking app would want access to your phone contacts, but a game app shouldn’t need access to your text messages.
- Beware of “free” apps. Free apps or games are sometimes supported by advertisements, which could collect your personal information and sell it to third parties.
More App Safety Tips
- Close or log out of phone applications when you aren’t using them. This will prevent apps from accessing your information.
- Don’t share passwords with your children so they can’t accidentally download malicious programs.
- Make sure your phone has a remote lock or wipe function in case it is lost or stolen. Thieves are less likely to steal personal information from a locked phone.
Even when they’re not your home’s primary source of heat, space heaters and woodstoves are great for warming up chilly rooms. But these supplemental heat sources should be operated with a measure of caution. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, portable heaters play a role in 45 percent of all fatal heating fires in residential settings. Help reduce the risk of fire with these tips:
Electric space heaters: Radiant space heaters warm whatever is directly in front of them, while convection heaters can help make an entire room feel more comfortable. To use them safely, consider the following tips:
- Keep heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn, such as upholstery, curtains, pets or people. Approximately half of fires in residential buildings involving a portable heater occur because the unit is too close to a combustible material.
- Keep the unit on a level surface and plug it directly into a wall outlet.
- Never use a space heater to dry clothing.
- Select a unit that automatically switches off if the unit tips over.
- Do not leave a space heater unattended, especially when children or pets are in the room. Do not leave an electric heater on overnight or when you’re sleeping.
Woodstoves: Woodstoves are a more efficient heat source than traditional fireplaces, and many units can keep more than one room warm. However, more than 4,000 residential fires each year are attributed to woodstoves. To keep woodstoves operating safely, consider the following tips:
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure.
- Before buying a stove, check with your local fire department to get local ordinances on solid fuel burning appliances.
- Be sure the unit has been tested and is listed with a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions and pay close attention to clearance requirements. If there are no manufacturer’s instructions or a label on the unit, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests clearances should be 36” or 1 meter away from any combustible item, such as curtains or flooring.
- Install a floor protector that meets the heating appliance manufacturer’s requirements, and extends at least 18 inches on all sides of the heater, unless the manufacturer states otherwise.
- Have the chimney and stovepipe cleaned and inspected annually.
- Burn only seasoned hardwood or wood pellets in the stove, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Wait until ashes have cooled before removing them. Transfer ashes in a covered metal container to an outside location 10 feet or more away from the home, and douse them with water.
Have months spent indoors left you feeling restless? These projects can help you stay busy and productive―and perhaps help brighten your mood―during the final weeks of winter.
Clean Out Clutter
Give yourself a head start on spring-cleaning by streamlining the contents of overloaded shelves and overflowing drawers. Get rid of items you no longer need. In your kitchen, toss out expired goods from the back of your cabinets or pantry, and then rearrange shelves by product. Reorganize a cluttered workbench or overcrowded storage cabinet to store items safely. Dispose of expired medications, and corral scattered supplies such as bandages and pain reliever into a DIY first-aid kit.
Replace Slippery Rugs
According to the National Safety Council, falls are the second-leading cause of accidental death in U.S. homes. Take steps to make your house a fall-free zone by removing worn area rugs. Or add a non-slip pad under each rug to give it a good grip underfoot.
Update Your Kitchen
Even if a major overhaul isn’t in the budget, you can still give your kitchen a new look with simple upgrades that won’t break the bank. Refresh cabinet doors with brand-new hardware, replace a faucet or the sink, add a pretty tile backsplash behind the sink or brighten your cupboards with a fresh coat of paint. Tip: Use a low-VOC paint, which has fewer toxins and associated health risks.
Get spring off to an early start by digging your green thumb into some indoor gardening. Season your meals with herbs grown in a pot right on your windowsill. Or start seedlings to transplant outdoors when warmer weather arrives. For best results—and to lessen the chance for plant disease or volunteer sprouting—start your seedlings in clean potting soil rather than soil from your garden.
Clean Your Dryer Vent
Proper maintenance is the key to preventing dryer fires. Always clean the lint trap after each dryer run. Another important way to keep your dryer from overheating is to regularly inspect the exhaust vent and clean out the built-up lint and debris. If your clothes are taking longer than usual to dry, this could be a sign that it’s time to clean the vent.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources.
Chances are you have security software on your PC to protect your emails against “phishing”— fraudulent messages that attempt to get you to reveal sensitive information such as account numbers and passwords.
But now there’s a new venue for these types of scams: your smartphone.
What Is Smishing?
“Smishing” is phishing that’s conducted over short message service (SMS)—or your texts.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that on average, mobile phone users send and receive approximately 40 text messages a day. That means at some point, you’re likely to encounter smishing. And if your smartphone isn’t secure, your personal information could be vulnerable.
Messages You Might Receive
Common smishing messages often appear to require immediate attention. They may take a format such as:
- A message “from your bank,” telling you your account has been shut down and asking you to call a number to reactivate the account.
- A notification that you’ve been signed up for a service and will be charged unless you take some form of action, such as visiting a bogus website.
- A confirmation of a purchase that directs you to call a number if the confirmation is inaccurate.
If you take the actions as prompted by these messages, you may be sending your personal information right to the scammer. Some programs will spread malware or a virus on your phone or PC. And others may give the scammers the means to eavesdrop on your phone calls.
How to Protect Yourself
If you get a text that’s unsolicited or from an unidentifiable source, protect yourself with these tips:
- If the message appears to be from a legitimate source, contact that source’s main phone number—not the number provided in the text—and verify. Legitimate businesses, such as banks, do not send out texts that elicit a response.
- Delete messages from unknown sources without reading.
- Do not click on links or download apps from an unverified source.
- Never provide sensitive information to an unverified texter.
- Avoid messages that appear to come from the number 5000. This may be an identity that hides a scammer’s real number. The message may have no number at all.
- Add security software to your mobile phone.
- Look into setting up a “text alias.” This cell phone feature hides your actual phone number from the smishing sender.
- Contact your phone provider and alert it to the messages you have been receiving.
tips shared by an Insurance Agent
Here’s one New Year’s resolution you can keep: Help protect your family by making your home a safer place. Use these quick tips to get started.
- Use LED candles. They’re flameless but give your home the warm glow of a real wax candle. Many even flicker like eal flames and are made of real wax.
- Add cabinet locks. Easy-to-install cabinet locks keep household products and chemicals stored securely and away from children.
- Wear safety glasses. Even simple projects can stir up dust, debris or shavings. Have a pair of safety glasses handy in the garage or workroom—and get in the habit of wearing them.
- Turn down your water heater. Prevent accidental scalding by turning your water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees. You’ll likely save money on heating your water, too.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm. These units detect levels of colorless, odorless and potentially fatal carbon monoxide (CO) in your home. Simplify your safety by installing combination CO/smoke alarm units on each floor.
- Clean your dryer vent. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 clothes dryer fires occur each year—often ignited by accumulated dust, fibers and lint in the vent. Clean the lint screen after each use and make cleaning your dryer vent an annual routine.
- Secure your furniture. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that every two weeks a child dies when furniture, a TV or an appliance tips over and falls on him or her. Make sure your furniture is on stable flooring, and anchor pieces to the wall or floor.
- Post emergency numbers. Prominently display a list of emergency numbers in a central location such as on the refrigerator. Include 911, family physician and dentist, poison control, parents’ cell and work phone numbers, and the number of a close neighbor or friend.
- Limit extension cord use. Frayed or damaged cords can be fire hazards. Also, children and pets have been known to chew on cords, causing injury and electrocution. Use extension cords sparingly. Unplug and store them when not in use.
- Clear the stairs. If you place items on the stairs for the next time you’ll be going up or down, break the habit. One false step can lead to serious injuries.
tips shared by an Insurance Agent
During the holidays and throughout winter, the use of fireplaces, candles, furnaces and decorative lights goes up. So does the risk of a home fire, says Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Residential fires during the winter are responsible for more than 900 deaths and 3,800 injuries each year.
Keep your home safe with these precautions:
- Only burn seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Never toss trash, gift wrap or branches from your old Christmas tree into the flames.
- Extinguish candles if you’re feeling drowsy. According to the NFPA, 36 percent of residential candle fires start in the bedroom. Blow out candles before you fall asleep to prevent curtains or bedding from catching on fire.
- Keep your Christmas tree watered. Water it daily to prevent it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. When needles begin to fall off or break rather than bend, it’s time to dispose of the tree.
- Check electric cords for damage. Frayed cords and exposed wires are a major fire hazard, especially when they rest on Christmas tree branches and other flammable materials. When decorating outdoors, prevent cord damage by using clips to hang lights—don’t use nails or staples.
- Have your fireplace professionally cleaned. According to the NFPA, creosote buildup is responsible for 22 percent of home heating fires. Avoid the danger with an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.
- Opt for smoke alarms with battery backup. Winter storms can knock out the power and prevent electric smoke alarms from functioning. Make sure your alarms have a battery in place to keep them functioning no matter what.
- Get the right extension cord. If you need an extension cord for items such as space heaters, make sure the cord is the same size or larger than the cord being plugged into it and that it can handle the amp load.
- Keep walkways clear. Keep Christmas trees, decorations, furniture and other items from blocking from your home’s exits. If a fire breaks out, this will help everyone get out safely. “Make sure that there are two ways out of every room,” Carli says. As an extra safety precaution, Carli recommends that families practice their fire escape plans in the winter as well as in the summer to account for seasonal changes such as ice and snow.
* Lock all doors and windows when leaving the house, even if only for a short time. For an extended leave, have a neighbor or family member get your mail. Install an automatic timer for indoor and outdoor lights.
* Mount your tree on a sturdy base. Keep it at least 3 feet away from furnaces, radiators and fireplaces. For an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-retardant.
* Replace any strings of lights that are frayed or broken. Be sure the lights are certified for indoor or outdoor uses.
* Some plants such as mistletoe or holly berries can pose risks to small children and pets. Keep them well out of reach.
* Never leave candles unattended or near flammable materials such as books, curtains and tablecloths.