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The Perzel Agency Blog – December 2013

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Dec 27 – Making Good On Your New Year’s Resolve

  The New Year

Don’t drop the ball on your New Year’s resolutions. This year, try some resolutions that are easy to keep and will protect you and your  family well into next January and beyond.

  1. Don’t be a distracted driver – Many vehicle crashes are avoidable if you pay attention to the road. Inattentive driving accounted for nearly 6,000 crash fatalities and an estimated 515,000 injuries in police-reported crashes in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Distractions typically include talking, eating, grooming, attending to children, watching a video, reading, adjusting a navigation system and using a cell phone.
  2. Keep your home warm – The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, resulting in about $1 billion in insured losses annually. The average water damage and freezing claim was $5,531 in 2007, the most recent year for which there are figures from ISO’s Property Claims Services.
  3. Protect your home – Each year billions of dollars are paid out in homeowners insurance claims, with residential theft averaging more than $1,800 in losses per burglary, according to I.I.I. Keep your yard well lit and put indoor lights on a timer. If you’re going on vacation, have mail and packages picked up and ask a trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on things. Before the trip, invest in an alarm system — it’ll help keep your house safe and could earn you a discount on your coverage.
  4. Check your coverage – Homeowners spend billions on additions, alterations, maintenance and repairs each year. Review your insurance coverage to include improvements, major purchases and increased rebuilding costs. If a new addition or gazebo, for example, is destroyed or damaged before you increase your coverage, then you may be responsible for the cost of repairing or rebuilding the addition.  If you rent and don’t have renters insurance, talk to your ERIE Agent as soon as possible.
  5. Test the detectors – You’ve heard it before, but many families simply forget to test their smoke detectors.  Make sure yours is in working order with new batteries and that one is installed on every floor and in every bedroom. Test them regularly. The National Fire Protection Association offers a free       smoke alarm installation guide online. Also make sure that your home is equipped with at least one working carbon monoxide detector.  Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can help protect you and your family by providing an early warning before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. (If you need a new detector, there are BRK/First Alert models available at a discount.)

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

For more ideas on how to protect your home and family throughout the year, contact  your ERIE Agent. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, they can help with that, too.

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Dec 21 – The Tem Commandments Of Candle Safety

Advent Candle 

By: Amanda Prischak   December 16, 2013  Home Sense

Whether it’s a menorah, a candelabra or a single taper, it’s safe to say that candles are everywhere this holiday season.

Are you planning on lighting up a few this holiday season? If so, you’ll want to follow the 10 commandments of candle safety.

  1. Thou shall not leave thy candle unattended. This one is pretty obvious, but don’t be tempted to ignore it. Research shows that 19 percent of home candle fires happen when no one is keeping an eye on things.
  2. Thou shall keep candles away from small children and pets. Keep your candle well out of reach of prying hands and pets—and never let a child fall asleep beside a candle.
  3. Thou shall not place candles on an unstable surface. Instead, place your candle on a steady piece of heat-resistant furniture.
  4. Thou shall keep thy candle far, far away from other materials. This one’s a biggie when you consider the fact that 56 percent of home candle fires happen when some form of combustible material comes too close to the candle’s flame.
  5. Thou shall trim the wick so it’s 1/4 inch at all times. Long or warped wicks are more likely to burn unevenly, drip or flare up.
  6. Thou shall read the manufacturer’s recommendations on burn time and proper use. Each candle is unique, so read the sticker instructions on yours. No sticker? Then seriously reconsider purchasing or using that candle. If it doesn’t meet labeling standards, it probably doesn’t meet other important fire safety standards.
  7. Thou shall not burn a candle to the very end of its life. Burning your candle all the way down is a fire hazard. Instead, toss it when there’s two inches of wax left in a freestanding candle or ½ inch in a container candle.
  8. Thou shall use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. In addition to adding an element of old-school formality to your candle burning ritual, a snuffer prevents hot wax from splattering.
  9. Thou shall place thy candle in a proper candleholder. Is your candleholder heat-resistant, sturdy and able to catch drips? If not, it’s time to invest in something new.
  10. Thou shall extinguish a candle with a high or flickering flame. This is a definite fire hazard, so extinguish the flame, let the candle cool, trim the wick and inspect your home for any drafts before relighting.

If all this makes you wary of burning candles, consider flameless candles. Today’s models look surprisingly real. Plus, some even let you control the flicker speed with a remote control while others even emit scents.

Whether you opt for a real candle or not, there really is a way for everyone to safely light up the season.

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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 ‘Tis The Season To Prevent Fires

Baking 

Keep you, your home and your family safe when making tasty treats

By Amanda Prischak

There’s no doubt that some of the best holiday indulgences (turkey! cookies! cake!) come out of an oven, not a gift-wrapped box. But along with the many, many good things that originate in the kitchen throughout the holiday season, there’s something undesirable and all-too-common: fires.

The kitchen is the most common origin for home fires and  fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Cooking  is the leading cause. Burns are the third most likely cause of fatal home injuries, too, according to the Home Safety Council. (For kids, they’re the most likely cause of fatalities). And now, for the kicker: November and (especially) December are two of the most common months for home fires to occur.

But don’t throw in your spatula just yet. “The good news is that most fires and injuries can be prevented by taking simple precautions,”  says Lorraine Carli, vice president of Public Affairs for the National Fire  Protection Association. “Start by being aware of the risks.”

Follow these no-nonsense tips for keeping you, your family, and your home safe each time you fire up.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Keep the kids away. Consider cordoning off the stove area with colored tape to teach little ones to steer clear of this danger zone.

Roll up your sleeves and slip on long mitts. Loose clothing can catch fire while bare hands and arms are easily burned or scalded. Also, make sure to wear mitts when removing food from a microwave—things have a way of heating up more than you think in there.

The Heat Is Off

Not every holiday eat requires heat. For instance, take appetizers: no matter what your cultural and religious traditions are, there are lots of delicious cold options from which to choose. These two recipes—both a cinch to make—add up to great heat-free holiday hors d’oeurvres.

Bite-Sized Bocconcini             Israeli Pepper Tomato Salad

Share Your Favorite Recipes. Does your family have a favorite holiday dish you simply must serve each season? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Visit  the Eriesense Facebook page to post  your recipe. And while you’re there, make sure to click the “like” button to  stay connected.

Use the back burners and angle pot and pan handles toward the back of the range. This  greatly reduces the chance of accidents that could lead to injury.

Place hot foods as far away from counter edges as possible. Anywhere else makes it easy for kids to topple dishes.

If you have young children, ditch the tablecloths and placemats. It only takes one tug to  spill hot liquids and foods.  Cap your tap water temperature at 120 degrees. “Faucet water that is too  hot is a very overlooked source of scalds,” says Shannon McDaniel, spokesperson  for the Home Safety Council. “It’s best to turn your hot water heater down to 120  degrees. If your don’t have direct access to your hot water heater or  don’t feel comfortable handling yourself, call your gas or electric company.”

Treat burns and  scalds immediately. “Even a  little bit of heat continues to burn the skin for 24 to 48 hours if it’s not  properly treated,” says McDaniel. To cool a burn or a scald, run the affected  area under cold water for at least three minutes. Don’t put any ice or lotion  on the injury, and always call 911 if your condition is severe.

Protect Your Home

Never, ever leave  the kitchen while food is cooking. Leaving food unattended—even for just a  minute—is the most common cause of kitchen fires. “Holidays are busy, and  people can become easily distracted by doorbells and guests, so it’s very  important to remember to pay attention to what you’re cooking,” says Carli.

Regularly peek  into pots, pans and roasters. This will help you spot any potential flare-ups  ASAP.

Keep a close eye when frying food. Grease fires are the most common kind of kitchen fires, so pay  extra attention to anything in your deep fryer or frying pan.

Stay alert. Make sure to get a good night’s rest before a marathon cooking session and  enjoy any alcoholic drinks after you  power down the oven and stove.

Make sure your kitchen is clean and clutter-free. Grease buildup on ranges and ovens makes  it easier for fires to start. Also, oven mitts, food packaging, towels and curtains can go up in flames if they’re close to heat sources.

Ensure smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are in good working condition. Test every  alarm in the house and review the instructions on how to use fire  extinguishers. (Get discounts on BRK smoke alarms and a kitchen fire  extinguisher here.)

Consider installing a home fire sprinkler system. Talk to your local fire department  about having a home fire sprinkler system, which quickly quells or reduces the  impact of a fire, installed in time for the next holiday season. (Added bonus:  installing one often lowers your home insurance premium. Contact your ERIE  Agent to learn about a possible discount.)

Review your home fire escape plan. If the worst happens, you’ll want to be prepared. Decide  on a place where everyone will meet, post the plan on your refrigerator door,  and do a walk-through with every person in your family. Also, remind everyone  of these two life-saving rhymes: “get low and go” (the air near the floor is  clearer and easier to breathe) and “stop, drop and roll” (what to do if you  catch on fire). 

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Dec 17 – Five Tips For Curbing Employee Theft At Restaurants

Employee Theft 

By: Carolyn Sennett    November 11, 2013   Business Sense 

While we’d like to think that our employees are honest, that’s just not always the case. Some employees will pilfer food, alcohol or other items from restaurants while others will go for cold hard cash.

In one extreme case of employee theft, federal authorities said, “Pancake houses were turned into crime dens.” Federal authorities indicted 18 people in Ohio last year in a series of criminal charges, including money laundering, insurance fraud and identity theft, which led to a national restaurant chain  losing about $3 million.

While that number is remarkably high, employee theft in restaurants is a broad problem that can drain already lean budgets. Analysts estimate employee theft losses at one percent of revenue, which may seem low, but restaurant profit margins are typically only two to five percent.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), small businesses are particularly vulnerable to fraud because they may lack the resources and internal controls for financial matters. The ACFE reports that the five most common fraud schemes for organizations with fewer than 100 employees are:

  • Billing fraud
  • Corruption
  • Check tampering
  • Skimming
  • Expense reimbursement fraud

So how do you keep your employees honest and your bottom line healthy? Here are five tips to help you get started:

  1. Keep a close eye on food and beverage costs: Have your food and pour costs increased while your sales have remained the same? Good record keeping can help you determine when your purchases and sales don’t add up—and may indicate a deeper problem.
  2. Watch the till: If you’re noticing that your cash register is consistently over and/or under, it may be a sign that someone is skimming from the register or purposefully not ringing items and taking the wrong amount from the till.
  3. Listen: Often, your employees and customers will see things that you can’t. If you start to hear rumblings around the restaurant, there’s no need to go on a witch-hunt, but it may be time to take extra precautions to protect yourself.
  4. Trust your gut: If someone or something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Take some time to talk to employees who are acting strange or suspicious to make sure everything’s all right. You may be surprised at what you find.
  5. Know your team. It’s easier for an employee to steal from someone they don’t know. Take a personal interest in your employees and talk openly about theft and its consequences.

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Dec 16 – Holiday Shopping Has Begun – Keep Your Valuables Safe

 Christmas Gifts

By Leah Knapp    November 14, 2013    Home Sense 

The holiday shopping season is here, and the National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion this year. That’s a lot of money being spent on gifts for loved ones, making homes a big target for theft during the holiday season. If you have jewelry, electronics or other big ticket items on your wish list this year, make sure you’re protected long after the gift wrap and ornaments are put away.

 “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and flurry of the holiday season,” says Erie Insurance Vice President and Product Manager Joe Vahey. “But it’s important to remain practical and responsible when it comes to gifting and receiving high-priced items like electronics, jewelry, family heirlooms, automobiles and more. Without the proper insurance coverage, you could become a victim to a real-life Grinch looking to ruin your holiday.”

Make sure your valuables are covered:

  • Have the gift appraised. This can help establish the item’s value. If a piece of jewelry is an antique or was purchased several years ago, it will need to be appraised for a dollar value. While it might be difficult to put a price tag on sentimental value, this is a necessity to ensure your priceless possessions are accounted for and protected.
  • Check your insurance coverage. Review your current policy to make sure your valuables are covered. If not, speak with your insurance representative to discuss your options. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do include coverage for expensive personal items but many policies will limit the reimbursement amount if they are stolen. In this case, you might want to purchase an additional rider to expand the coverage on the policy.
  • Consider expanded policy coverage. For an additional premium (the amount paid for coverage), you can increase your coverage limits for each theft loss. Your insurance agent can help you decide what makes sense, based on the value of your items.
  • Keep your store receipt. Save it with your home inventory records and take a picture of the item. Photos and documentation will help speed up the claims process if you ever have to file one.
  • Store the item in a secure location. If it’s something that you don’t use on a regular basis, you may want to consider keeping it in a safe deposit box. Otherwise, use an in-home lock box.
  • Get a home security system. Consider installing a home security system for added protection. Many times, just having a sign in your yard from the home security company is enough to dissuade intruders. ERIE offers a discount for preventive measures such as having a security system installed.
  • Alert the authorities and your insurance agent. Should your items go missing or you suspect theft, fill out a police report and alert your insurance agent right away. This will speed up the claims process and will probably increase the likelihood of getting your personal items returned.

This holiday season, if you want to make sure your valuables are protected, talk to your insurance agent to find out just what your options are.

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Dec 09 – How To Care For A Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

You might love your Frasier fir. But do you know all the ins and outs of how to care for a Christmas tree?

Read More At:  http://www.eriesense.com/how-to-care-for-a-christmas-tree/#.UqXMUfUo6M

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Posts In December

Making Good On Your New Year’s Resolve

The Ten Commandments Of Candle Safety

‘Tis The Season To Prevent Fires

Five Tips For Curbing Employee Theft

Holiday Shopping Has Begun – Keep Your Valuables Safe

How To Care For A Christmas Tree

 

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