Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Safety in the Workplace

Today will end our Holiday Safety series. We hope you have enjoyed it and have learned some new tips on how to stay safe during the Holiday Season.

Remember, all of this information can be found on Travelers’ website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Here are some helpful hints to consider when putting up, taking down, and living with holiday decorations in the workplace:

  • Make sure new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities. While they may have a lot of industry experience, your unique facility is still unfamiliar territory.
  • Train employees in proper lifting techniques and ladder safety.
  • Ensure that your candles are battery operated. Decorations also go hand-in-hand with potential accidents and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top 4 highest days of the year for candle fires happen between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. So in a busy retail environment, or even in the office, faux candles may be best.
  • Choose your decorations wisely. Many of them are combustible, or will burn. Things like paper, decorated trees and wreaths will increase the fire load in a small business. Keep them away from heat or other ignition sources.
  • Use extension cords properly, and be sure you aren’t “daisy-chaining” them in order to extend a decoration or a theme to an area where the plug cannot reach. Aside from a potential trip and fall incident, this is also a fire hazard.
  • Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays and products. Be sure you are not covering up emergency exit signs, over-crowding aisle ways—anything that would make it difficult to get out in an emergency situation.
  • Be sure decorations are secured properly and traffic can navigate easily around them, especially when it comes to big displays.
  • Maintain appropriate inventory levels. Over-stocking shelves could lead to items toppling onto staff or customers.
  • As a general rule, always take the time to scan your facility to make sure it’s safe for customers and employees. It should be a part of your daily process to open and/or close up shop.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog; and remember, to think of us next time you need insurance!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Home Improvements

The energy-efficient home upgrades tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31st this year.  If you need to make improvements to your home, this could be an incentive to do it before the end of the year.  If you have already made qualifying improvements without realizing the tax credit is available, it may seem like a holiday gift you weren't expecting.
energy home.pngThe equipment must be installed to qualify for the credit which can put you under a time crunch.  Heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and home weatherization may qualify.
The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been available for purchases since January 1, 2011.  The tax credit is 10% of up to $5,000 of qualifying improvements which would make a maximum of $500 tax credit.
The cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in the different years this law has been in effect is $500.  If it has been claimed in previous years, the taxpayer is not eligible for this credit for additional new purchases.
For more information, see energy.gov or talk to your tax professional.

Holiday Safety Tips: Packing and Storage

Christmas is only 9 days away!

It seems hard to believe, but 2014 is also just around the corner. This also means that in only a few short weeks it will be time to put away the holiday decorations.

It’s a sad time when the Christmas tree and stockings are put away, but it’s also a sad time if someone gets hurt.

Here are some helpful reminders from Travelers for you to remember when it’s time to take down the holiday decorations.
  • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.
  • Disassemble, pack and store all decorations according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.
  • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.

Visit Travelers’website to find more holiday safety information https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Tomorrow will end this little Holiday Safety series, and we will be discussing safety in the workplace during the Holidays.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Emails and Attachments

Today we are going to look at ways to protect yourself while sending emails and viewing attachments and some general online safety.

This information was taken from Traveler’s website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx

Emails and Attachments
  •  Do not send personal information in email or instant messages. Emails are out of your control once sent, and can be easily intercepted.
  • Only open attachments from senders you know and trust. If unsure, you can run a virus scan on attachments before opening.
  • Do not download files or programs or click on links from senders you do not know and trust. Consider whether to open emails from retailers if you know you are not on their email list. If you are unsure if an email came from a trusted source, hover over the link to see where it leads.
  • If you receive unsolicited spam email, do not respond or click on any links in the email.
  • Be cautious of emails you receive regarding your financial accounts. If you are not sure of the email's validity, contact your financial institution directly.
General Online Safety
  • Limit personal information you put on the Internet. Social media sites can be good for networking, but identity thieves can use the information you share.
  • Keep your Web browser up to date. This can help ensure the latest security features are installed.
  • Avoid storing personal information, account numbers and personal identification numbers on your computer.
  • Install firewall and anti-virus software. This can help protect you from exposure to malicious cyber attacks.
  • Choose strong passwords and keep them private.
On Monday we will look at ways to safely pack and store those holiday decorations.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Online Shopping Safety

Today we are going to look at ways to protect yourself while doing online shopping.
This is taken from the Traveler's webiste:
  • You should research retailers to make sure they are reputable and have a secure network and website. Avoid buying from a site that does not have a secure socket layer (SSL) encryption installed. Look for the 's' at the beginning of a URL – HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// – to help determine if a site is SSL secured.
  • Read the site's privacy policy to learn how the personal information you provide will be used.
  • Use only one credit card for online purchases. Be sure to open statements when received to check for fraudulent charges or activity.
  • If you receive an email regarding sales or discounts from a particular retailer, log on directly to the official website for the business. Avoid linking to it from an unsolicited email.
Tomorrow we will look at emails and attachments.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Holiday Theft

Today we will be looking at ways theft happens over the holidays. There is porch pirating, parking lot pilfering, and personal id theft.

Below are ways to prevent such theft from happening to you. These tips are taken from Traveler’s website: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.

Porch pirating
When having packages delivered to your home, beware of “porch pirating” – when a thief steals delivered packages from your doorstep or porch. Thieves can follow delivery trucks, watching for prime targets. These thieves commonly strike during working hours as many homes are empty at that time. To help avoid this situation, when possible, have your packages delivered to a location where they can be received in person, such as a neighbor’s or relative’s house. If your employer allows it, consider having your package delivered to work.

When making a purchase online, if the retailer provides the option, choose a specific delivery time. If purchasing from a larger retailer, consider having your package delivered to a local store for pick-up. Take advantage of delivery alerts so you can be notified when a package arrives at your home. If you are not available to pick it up, ask a trusted neighbor to take your package inside for safekeeping.

When possible, request the delivery company to hold your package at their closest pick-up facility until you can pick it up. You also can ask the shipper to require a signature confirmation of delivery in order to prevent packages being left when no one is home to sign for them. It also is helpful to provide delivery instructions so packages can be left out of sight from your yard or the road.

Parking lot pilfering
Your parked vehicle can be a prime target for thieves. They often will break windows or punch locks to gain access to items left in plain view. Open windows and unlocked doors also can make your car an easy target. To help reduce the risk of theft from your vehicle, always lock your doors, even if you are quickly running in somewhere, and be sure to put the windows up in your car when leaving it unattended.

Park your vehicle in well-lit, high-traffic areas and away from larger vehicles or shrubs. Thieves can target cars in isolated areas in order to “work” without drawing attention.

Do not keep any items – including your purse or wallet – in plain view. Clearly visible items can catch the eye of a thief. Be sure to stow and secure all items prior to reaching your destination. Thieves often watch parking lots for people stowing items in their trunk. Also, be sure to remove any portable accessories, such as GPS units and stereo faceplates, when leaving your car.

Personal ID theft
Sixty-two percent of Americans worry about the potential for ID theft, according to the
2013 Travelers Consumer Risk Index, and the holidays are a prime time for thieves to target their victims. To help reduce the chances of falling victim to ID theft, keep the amount of personal information you carry in your wallet or purse at a minimum. Always take credit card and ATM receipts. Do not throw them into public trash containers or leave them on the counter as thieves can pick up the receipt.

Guard your credit card or debit card when making purchases or using an ATM machine. Shield your hand when typing in personal identification numbers. It is critical to always be aware of who is around you, as some identity thieves have been known to copy credit card information or even use cellphone cameras to snap pictures of cards.

Tomorrow's blog will talk about online shopping safety!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Ladder Safety

The following information is taken from Traveler's website where it features different tips on how to stay safe this Holiday Season.


Ladder Safety 

Ladder safety should start before even stepping foot on one. The improper use of a ladder, or using an object other than a ladder to reach an item, can result in serious injury due to over – reaching or falling. Statistics suggest that workers are more likely to abuse and misuse ladders rather than use them correctly in the workplace.

There are a number of factors that must be considered when working with ladders, and following key practices of ladder safety can help prevent a potential injury.

  • Inspect a ladder for cracks, loose rungs, slivers and sharp edges prior to every use. If the ladder appears to be in poor condition, do not use it.
  • Use caution while carrying or moving ladders.
  • Practice team lifting if the ladder is too long or heavy for one person to move.
  • Ladders should be carried horizontally rather than vertically, unless it is lightweight or under eight feet tall.
  • Ensure ladders are set on firm ground and against a solid support during use.
  • When using a non-self-supporting ladder, which must lean against a wall or other support, be sure to position it at such an angle that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is about 1/4 the working length of the ladder.
  • Always completely open the step ladder and make certain it is stable before using it.
  • Make note of the maximum intended load and manufacturer's rated capacity when selecting and using ladders.
  • Do not stand higher than the second step from the top.
  • Never stand or sit on the top step.
  • Do not use metal ladders near electrical exposures.
Tomorrow we will look at holiday theft.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Winter Driving

The following information has been taken directly from Traveler's website. To see the original article, please go to https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/holiday-safety.aspx.
Winter Driving Tips:
· Make sure your car is prepared for cold temperatures and wintery conditions like snow and ice. Keep your equipment properly maintained and include a winter survival kit in your vehicle: blankets, clothing essentials (sweatshirts/warm sweaters, gloves), security items (flashlight, candles, small knife, waterproof matches), water and food (energy bars or trail mix), first-aid kit, ice scraper, sand and salt, snow shovel, jumper cables, tow rope/strap.
· Clear snow and ice off your car – including windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk.
· Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.
· Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.
· Avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions. In adverse conditions, you want as much control of your car as possible.
· Know how to brake on slippery surfaces. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes operate much differently from those that do not have anti-lock brakes. You should consult your vehicle's owner's manual for instructions on how to brake properly if your vehicle should start to skid.
· Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. This helps ensure you have a source of heat if you are stuck or stranded.
· If you do venture out or are unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, stay in your car and wait for help. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent the buildup.
· Keep your windshield washer reservoir full, and make sure your car has wiper blades that are in good condition.
· Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
· Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.
· Avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of them could be worse than the road behind.
· Monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites.
· If you must travel during a snowstorm or in blizzard conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend or coworker know where you are headed and your expected arrival time. Avoid the temptation to check or be on your phone while driving as all of your attention should be on arriving safely.
· Make sure all scheduled maintenance is up-to-date. This can help reduce the risk of a mechanical breakdown.
· Ensure that your tires are in good condition, properly inflated and have ample tread. If you live in an area where heavy snow is common, consider having snow or winter tires installed.
· Make sure your heater and window defrosters are working properly.
· Make sure your battery is in good condition.
· Consider putting all-weather or winter floor mats in your car.
Tomorrow we’ll look at ladder safety!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Fire Hazards - Decorations

Welcome to the second blog dedicated to helping keep your home fire free this holiday season!

Today, we are going to look at fire hazards relating to holiday decorating.

Here is a list of decorating tips:

1. Use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations.
2. If you have a fresh tree, make sure it is well watered at all times, and take it down after 4 weeks.
3. For menorahs use dripless candles.
4. Keep decorations and trees away from candles, fireplaces, and heaters.
5. Use lights tested for safety: look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other notionally-recognized laboratories.
6. Consider using LED lights when possible:they run cooler, use less energy, and last longer than incandescent lights.
7. Inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires.
8. Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together.
9. Unplug electric lights and devices before replacing bulbs or changing parts or doing repairs.
10. Turn off all lights before leaving your home, office, or going to bed.
11. Use battery-operated candles.
12. Never leave candles unattended.

Outdoor decorations

1. Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters to reduce the risk of shock.
2. Secure lights and decorations and cords to prevent wind damage.
3. Never staple or nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation.
4. Keep your self and decorations at lest 10 feet from power lines.
5. Make sure decorations are well ventilated.
6. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical decor.

All of this information can be found on Traveler's website:

Monday we will look at Winter Driving tips.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Safety Tips: Fire Hazards - Cooking


Travelers and Triplett Insurance want to make sure you have a safe and happy holiday season. Over the next several days we are going to post a series of blogs relating to holiday safety.

Travelers has a wonderful website filled with information to help keep your holiday hazard free. We will be using this website for the information in the blogs we post over the next several days.

Our first two blogs will focus on fire hazards.

Did you know that home fires peak between December and February?

Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round?

Below is a list of ways you can prevent cooking fires; because after all, only you can prevent cooking fires:

1. Never leave your range or cooktop unattended while cooking.
2. When cooking, it is important to wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves.
3. Keep your cooking area clean and free of combustible materials.
4. Be sure to clean up any spilled or splattered grease.
5. Keep a fire extinguisher readily available.
6. Never throw hot grease in the garbage as it can ignite combustible materials.
7. Do not store food in your oven.
8. Always be alert when cooking.
9. Before using, make sure your kitchen appliances, including microwaves and toasters, are plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord as it can overheat or overload the circuit and cause a fire.

What to do if a cooking fire flares up:

1. If you don't know if it is safe to fight the fire, leave the scene and call 911 for help.
2. If a fire flares up and you are going to attempt to fight it, call 911 for help first.
3. Smother a grease fire - never throw water on a grease fire.
4. If a fire starts in your oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat source. Do not open until the flames are completely out.
5. If a fire starts in the microwave, turn off the microwave and do not open it until the fire is completely out.

Visit Traveler's website to learn more about how to prevent cooking fires

Tomorrow we will look at fire hazards relating to holiday decorating.