Before You Pick up Your Keys…

Drunkdriving
(Photo Credit: freestockphotos.biz)

As we continue to celebrate this festive holiday season, it’s important to take extra care to keep friends, family, ourselves, and others safe from impaired driving. While not new, the message and preventative steps bear repeating:

  • Plan ahead and designate a sober driver. Keep it fair and rotate who that person is for different days and events.
  • If you find yourself ready to leave a party with keys in your hand, and you know you have had too much to drink, ask someone for a ride, call a friend, or call a cab. Remember “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”
  • Listen to friends and family with you at the party. They know you best. If they are strongly suggesting you shouldn’t drive home, they’re probably right and you should seek an alternative.
  • On the flip side, if you see someone who shouldn’t drive, offer to drive or help find another option.
  • If you see a vehicle moving erratically, pull over to stay out of its way and call the police.

Stay safe and enjoy the rest of this holiday season. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Wood- and Pellet-Burning Stove Safety

woodstove

If this coming winter’s temperatures are even half as cold as last year, we’ll once again be doing everything we can to stay warm. For this, many turn to alternative forms of heating such as fireplaces, space heaters, boilers, and traditional wood or pellet stoves.

Wood or pellet stoves are an increasingly popular form of alternative or supplemental heating during the cold season, but like every form of heating, they must be used with care. As the prevalence of these stoves has increased, so has the number of fires caused by their misuse or improper installation and maintenance. If you plan on heating your home with a wood or pellet stove, make sure you take the necessary precautions by following the tips below:

  • Install the stove in a central room to maximize heating effectiveness.
  • Make sure your stove and chimney are Underwriters Laboratories tested and approved.
  • Hire a professional chimney sweep to keep the chimney’s flue and stove pipe clean and remove any blockages, oils, or creosote that may have built up.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially in the room where the stove is located.
  • Use only the fuel type (wood, corn, pellets, coal, etc.) the stove is specifically designed to burn.
  • If you are using wood, make sure it is dry and well-seasoned.
  • Non-flammable floor protection such as tile should extend out at least 18 inches on all sides of the stove.
  • Always keep flammable materials away from any heating source.
  • Never use liquid fuel such as kerosene in a stove.
  • Prevent small children and pets from getting too close to the stove by putting up a non-flammable safety gate.
  • Run the stove only when your home is occupied.
  • Check the charge on your fire extinguisher to make sure it is full and ready to use in case of emergency.

Before installing a new stove in your home, check to make sure the installation will comply with your local fire and building codes and always hire a licensed and insured installer.

Additional information and safety tips about using stoves can be found at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and at the Insurance Information Institute.