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The Perzel Agency Blog – November 2013

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How To Prevent A Dryer Fire

Washing Machine

By: Ashley Weber        Home Sense

Laundry is part of life’s weekly grind, but did you know that dryers cause roughly 15,500 home structure fires, 29 deaths, 400 injuries and $192 million in direct property loss each year?1  What’s more, most dryer fires happen in the winter.2

The Causes

The most common cause of dryer fires is failure to do a thorough cleaning. Because a lint trap is not a foolproof method for catching all the fuzzy stuff your dryer produces, lint can gradually build up and catch fire in the heating element or exhaust duct.

Further compounding the problem is the fact that many people now install dryers outside of their basements. This typically results in dryer vent pipes being much longer. Those longer vent pipes have a greater likelihood of being twisted and turned to accommodate the structure of the home—and that creates spaces for lint to collect

Kevin Sippy, a property adjuster in ERIE’s Wisconsin Branch, inspects about five dryer fires every year. One particularly bad one happened when a Customer laundered an item containing a type of rubber not meant to be dried at a hot temperature. When she turned the dryer to high, the material combusted and caused a blaze that destroyed $44,000 worth of property.

In another instance, a Customer suffered $200,000 of property damage from a fire that started after she took her laundry out of the dryer. That Customer washed towels that had been soaked in a sizable amount of sanitizing solution. She then placed the towels, which still had traces of the sanitizing solution, in the dryer. When the towels dried, they ended up spontaneously combusting and causing a fire that burned through an entire floor.

“We literally had to gut the house,” says Sippy, who changed his own laundry habits after that fire. “Now, I never dry anything higher than the low setting—I’d rather take a little longer to dry my clothes than burn my house down.”

9 Tips to Prevent Dryer Fires

A little maintenance and awareness can make a big difference when it comes to preventing dryer fires. Read on for nine proven preventive tips.

1 Source: NFPA’s Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines, John R. Hall, Jr., September 2012

2http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v13i7.pdf

 

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

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Using a Turkey Fryer This Season?

Turkey Fryer

By Amanda Prischak

Research shows that Thanksgiving is the most common day of the year for home cooking fires—and that turkey fryers are a major reason why.

That’s because turkey fryers hold gallons of oil, a combustible substance. A large turkey can cause the oil to splash, leading to a fire or skin burn.

A Safer Option

Today, you can “fry” without actually frying thanks to oil-less turkey fryers. Oil-less turkey fryers come with a propane burner that produces infrared heat. That heat then seals in the meat’s juices, producing a turkey that’s moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Oil-less turkey fryers aren’t only safer—they’re also healthier. They also let you keep using your favorite rubs and marinades and collect the drippings for any gravy making.

Other Turkey Frying Tips

Still attached to your traditional turkey fryer? If so, you’ll definitely want to keep a few things in mind.

Before Cooking

  • Buy the right-sized bird. A 12- to 14-pound turkey is usually the biggest bird a turkey fryer can accommodate.
  • Let your turkey thaw and dry. Excess water causes oil to bubble up, which increases the chances of a spill. (The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every four or five pounds of whole body turkey.)
  • Find the right spot. Place a propane-fired outdoor fryer on a level spot far away from your house and any other structures. Indoor electric fryers are often safest on porches, patios, garages or an outdoor area within reach of an electrical outlet; otherwise, place it on a countertop that’s a safe distance from any overhead cabinets.
  • Do not exceed the “fill line.” Most fryers have a “fill line” indicating how much oil to put in the fryer. If yours doesn’t, place the turkey in the fryer and fill three to five inches from the top of the fryer.

During Cooking

  • Keep an all-purpose, dry-powder fire extinguisher close by. Never use water on a grease fire.
  • Heat the oil slowly. Also monitor the oil’s temperature. (Check your user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.)
  • Stick around. Many flare ups happen when no one’s keeping an eye on things.

Fires can happen with less risky cooking techniques, too. Keep your family and friends safe this season (and beyond) by following these safe cooking tips.

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

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What’s In Your Garage?

 

What Lurks Within

Find out if your garage is disorderly—or dangerous.

By: Greg Bengel

If you’re like most people, your garage contains lots and lots of stuff. At best, you have some unsightly clutter on your hands. And at worst? Fire hazards that could pose a danger to your garage and your home. (Can you believe that five percent of house fires start in a garage?) Find out if your garage poses a danger by reviewing this list of common garage hazards.

Heating hazards

The danger: ERIE will not typically cover garages that are heated by wood stoves and space heaters unless they are in a specially sealed off area of the garage in which hot air is piped in for heat. That’s because heating devices with an open flame have the potential of emitting gas fumes and igniting the garage.

What you can do: If your heating device is cleared for use in your garage, you’ll want to take a few precautions. “Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of communication at the National Fire Protection Association. This includes combustible items such as car batteries as well as general clutter like piles of rags or stacks of loose papers.

Electrical hazards

The danger: Wiring, extension cords, plugs, circuit breakers, transformers, light fixtures and battery chargers can cause a fire when they malfunction.

What you can do: Make sure your wiring and lighting is up to code, use bulbs with the proper wattage and don’t overload outlets. Have an electrician install more receptacles so you don’t have to use extension cords.

Chemical hazards

The danger: Chances are you have a virtual stockpile of flammable chemicals like motor oil, paint, gasoline, fertilizers and lighter fluid in your garage.

What you can do: Don’t smoke inside your garage—after all, one spark is all it takes to cause a fire. Instead, head out to the driveway or sidewalk. (Even better, kick the habit.) Store any chemicals out of direct sunlight and far, far away from any heat or ignition sources. Also check containers for cracks or defects.

Vehicles and power tools

The danger: When oil and gasoline from cars, motorcycles, power tools and lawnmowers drips and collects over time, the possibility of a fire becomes very real.

What you can do: Regularly check your vehicles and power tools. If you notice any leaks, clean up the spill ASAP by spreading an absorbent material such as kitty litter over them. Then sweep up and safely dispose of the material before taking care of the repair.

Cooking equipment

The danger: Ovens, microwaves, charcoal grills and gas grills can ignite the flammable stuff in your garage.

What you can do: They call it a cookout for a reason, so make sure you only use your grill outside and a good distance away from your garage. Propane tanks pose a special danger, so store them outdoors—they’re sturdy enough to handle the elements.

As a final precaution, make sure to stash a fire extinguisher and install a fire alarm in your garage.

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

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The Latest and Greatest Auto Innovations

Auto With Funnel

By Ashley Weber    March 27, 2013

The latest car tech isn’t just incredibly advanced—it’s also incredibly promising when it comes to saving lives. Read on to learn about four of the most-talked-about technologies.

They’re super cool—and could save your life.

It seems crazy that a car could literally keep you from crashing. Yet that’s exactly what some of the latest technologies are creating.

New crash avoidance features that reduce the frequency of accidents are here—and they’re gaining serious traction. “We’re looking at a future with fewer crashes if technology continues to evolve,” says Dave Zuby, chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Like power windows and antilock brakes before them, crash avoidance features typically come standard only in luxury cars. (You can get them as optional features in some common cars, but they’ll cost you between $1,000 and $3,000.) “As these systems become more widely available across more and more cars, their costs will come down,” says Zuby. “But it will take between 20 and 30 years before all cars on the road have them.”

Here are just a few of the technologies you can expect your future car to have. To see a full list of all the emerging crash avoidance technologies, check out iihs.org.

The technology: Forward collision avoidance

What it does: Let’s say a daydreaming driver is quickly approaching a stopped car. With forward collision avoidance, the moving car’s sensors will detect the impending collision and sound an alarm or even apply the brakes. Some car models will tighten safety belts, close windows and adjust seat positions or head restraints when a crash is about to occur, which helps to reduce the likelihood of any injuries.

Who offers it: The warning and auto brake system is offered by several brands, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Toyota. The warning system alone is available in many other types of vehicles.

Its crash reduction factor: The IIHS reports that forward collision warning systems prevent about seven percent of crashes involving other vehicles; systems with auto braking prevent twice that number.

The technology: Adaptive headlights

What they do: Adaptive headlights respond to steering input to provide a brighter, wider beam of light when you’re rounding a dark curve.

Who offers it: Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Hyundai, Infiniti, Mazda and Volkswagen. .

Its crash reduction factor: The IIHS reports that adaptive headlights can reduce crashes by as much as 10 percent.

The technology: Lane departure warning and prevention systems

What they do: When drivers are distracted or tired, their cars will often drift into another lane and cause a crash. Lane departure warning and prevention systems use cameras to track the car’s position in a lane; when the driver crosses the lane markings sans a turn signal, the steering wheel or seat will vibrate or the car will issue audible or visual warnings. More advanced systems offer prevention systems that direct the vehicle back into the lane via light braking or steering modifications.

Who offers it: Auto makers offering just the warning system include Audi, BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Hyundai. Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota offer both the warning and prevention systems.

Its crash reduction factor: If roads are covered with snow or aren’t well marked, the lane departure warning system could have trouble registering the lane markings. That could be a factor keeping the feature from earning high marks so far.

The technology: Blind spot detection

What it does: This technology monitors the side of the vehicle using sensors; when a vehicle approaches, a visual alert appears on the side view mirrors. If the driver signals a turn and there is a vehicle in the blind spot, the vehicle will make a noise or even assume control of the brakes and steering to keep the vehicle in its lane.

Who offers it: Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Jeep, Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Its crash reduction factor: Research isn’t showing the feature’s clear effects on crash patterns just yet.

 

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

Safety Is still essential

It’s important to keep in mind that even the best crash avoidance features aren’t foolproof. “People should continue to drive safely and not rely on these technologies to keep them from crashing because they do have limitations and will not prevent all accidents,” warns Zuby. For that reason—along with the fact that risks posed by the weather, vandalism and fire remain as real as ever—auto insurance is still something you’ll need to have.

In addition to competitive rates with multiple discounts, ERIE also offers ERIE Rate Lock®*, which locks in your auto premium year after year—even if you file a claim. Your rate only changes if you add or remove a vehicle or a driver from your policy or change the location where your car is garaged.

* Not available in North Carolina, Maryland and New York. Limited to three years in Virginia. ERIE Rate Lock® does not guarantee continued insurance coverage. Insured must meet applicable underwriting guidelines. Premium may change if you make a policy change. Patent Pending.

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Blacklisted Dog Breeds

Snarling Wolf

The ABC 7 I-Team unleashes findings on an insurance trend that has dog owners howling mad. They’re presented an ultimatum: choose between a beloved pet dog or insuring their home.

Typically, the liability part of your home or renters insurance covers the actions of your pet, but dog bite claims are up and insurance companies are making changes. If you own a dog, you may be facing higher rates, or worse– your insurer may dump you all together. Owners say it’s breed discrimination and unfair, while insurance companies insist they’re merely managing risk.

Click On The Link For The Full Story

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2013/11/08/blacklisted-dog-breeds-create-homeowners-insurance#.Un09wyBZvhw.facebook

 

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

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Avoid Chimney Fires This Winter

Fireplace

The fireplace may be a happy spot for the family to gather ‘round. But did you know that fireplaces and chimneys caused 27,200 residential fires in the United States in 2008—and that those blazes caused $147.6 million in property damage and 10 fatalities?1

Statistics like these drive home the importance of scheduling an annual chimney inspection. Ashley Eldridge, director of education at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), says that even homeowners who don’t use their fireplaces should spring for an inspection. That’s because a home’s other heating devices also release toxic gases through the chimney; when debris clogs its escape, those harmful fumes remain in your home.

“Preventative measures are typically much less expensive than repairs when you have a crisis,” Eldridge says. “It just makes sense to be ahead of the curve.”

Why a chimney inspection?

An inspector can check for one big culprit of chimney fires—creosote, which is a thick, gummy substance that’s a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote causes most chimney fires, including one recently inspected by ERIE Property Adjuster Sandi Benes. That chimney’s creosote buildup caused a blaze that destroyed $23,000 worth of property. How’d it happen? The homeowner decided to clean out his chimney on his own.

To reduce the risk of a creosote-caused fire, Benes recommends hiring a pro and burning only designated firewood. “Burning green wood or soft wood with resin in it increases creosote buildup,” she explains.

Chimney inspections usually cost between $100 and $300 and fall into one of two levels.

•Level One Inspection

During a level one inspection, the inspector will spend about an hour to measure all the readily accessible components of the chimney, like the size of the firebox and the clearance from the stove. From there, he or she will decide if your chimney needs a sweep.

A chimney merits a sweep for a number of reasons, but the main ones include debris blocking the air ducts and creosote build-up. “Birds and squirrels are a very real issue,” says Eldridge, who has also seen everything from clumps of leaves to basketballs stuck in chimneys. “Animals can set up camp in there, and it can be really unpleasant.”

Debris that’s not removed is a big risk factor for causing a fire or trapping poisonous gases like carbon monoxide in your home. Besides an annual chimney inspection, it’s also worth checking out a chimney cap. These tools fit over the flue to keep debris—as well as damaging water—out.

•Level Two Inspection

A more thorough level two chimney inspection is a worthwhile investment for new homeowners who haven’t had a level one inspection. A level two inspection requires the chimney sweep to get on the roof to makes additional measurements, such as the distance of the chimney to any combustibles.

To learn more about each level and what it entails, check out this video from the CSIA.

Finding a super sweep

The CSIA lists more than 1,300 sweeps who earned the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® Credential. This credential proves a sweep has a superior understanding of the tools, techniques and processes to get the job done right. What’s more, all CSIA-certified sweeps pledge to uphold a code of ethics.

To locate a CSIA-certified chimney sweep in your area, check out the CSIA home page. Your sweep probably won’t have a Cockney accent and a song a la “Mary Poppins.” But he or she will have the know-how to help you safely enjoy your home and hearth all winter long.

1http://www.cpsc.gov/library/fire08.pdf

 

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

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Take Crime Prevention To Work

Keys In A Lock

Whether your place of business is a restaurant, store, garage, barbershop, corporation or in your home, you should be aware of steps to reduce the likelihood of criminal activity. Almost any crime that can happen at home or in your neighborhood can happen in the workplace.

To help prevent office theft and crime, refer to the following tips based on information provided by the National Crime Prevention Council, the nonprofit leader in crime deterrence:

  • Lock up your valuables – Keep your purse, wallet, keys or other valuable items with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.
  • Be nosey – Check the identity of any strangers who are in your office and create a visitor access policy.
  • Improve your security – Add deadbolt locks to doors and consider installing an alarm system. Monitor, audit and protect keys against unauthorized duplication. Control the access to the building, allowing only authorized employees in working and inventory areas.
  • ID your things – If you bring any personal items to work, such as a coffee pot or radio, mark them with your name or initials.
  • Keep your peepers open – Fix any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, doors that don’t lock properly or broken windows.
  • Find a friend – Don’t stay late if you’ll be alone in the office. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation after hours, or ask a security guard to escort you.
  • Review your policy – If you have a home office, for example, you will likely need an extra rider or endorsement on your policy. Our agency can help with that or any questions you may have about your coverage. Give us a call.

Crime is only one of the many risks that employees and business owners face at the workplace. Through Erie Insurance, we can provide you with a variety of risk control and safety services for your business. For information on the risk control services available to ERIE’s business Customers, contact our agency: The Perzel Agency 215-335-6878

 

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

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Faced With A Disaster – Is Your Business Prepared?

Sorry - Closed 

 

Disastrous and tragic events like Superstorm Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing are reminders of our personal vulnerabilities and the fragility of our peace of mind. After natural or human-caused disasters, you can’t help wonder about your personal safety, property protection and even the long-term viability of your business. Is your business prepared for catastrophes?

To help your business be better prepared for catastrophes, use Open for Business®, the risk control and planning tool, created by the safety experts at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable in disasters. Statistics show that, of the small businesses that close because of a disaster, at least one in four never reopens, according to IBHS. The statistics may be higher since most surveys cover the first two years after a disaster, but the businesses that do hang on may only last two to five years before they give up.

With the Open for Business tool, small to mid-size businesses can follow the same disaster planning and recovery process used by larger companies, but without the burden of big budget costs.

IBHS offers several options, including:

•Open for Business Basic – A toolkit that you can download to help you capture essential information about your business. The toolkit is also available in Spanish.

•OFB–EZ – A new streamlined version of Open for Business.

Open for Business® will help you plan how to reduce potential losses and downtime should a disaster strike. The event can be a natural disaster, an intentional or unintentional human-caused incident, a technological failure, pandemic flu or high absenteeism, or something as simple as a burst water pipe or as disruptive as a power outage.

If you have questions, please contact the safety experts at IBHS, our agency or your assigned risk control consultant at ERIE.

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

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Posts In November

How To Prevent A Dryer Fire

Using A Turkey Fryer This Season?

What’s In Your Garage?

The Latest and Greatest Auto Innovations

Blacklisted Dog Breeds

Avoid Chimney Fires This Winter

Take Crime Prevention To Work

Faced With A Disaster – Is Your Business Prepared?

 

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