The purpose of insurance is to offer you financial protection from accidental risks and calamities that may befall you. But even when you are properly insured, it's still in your best interests to try to manage those risks as best you can because insurance may not make you whole - particularly when the risk involves life and limb. We often don't do a good job of managing our risks. Sometimes, what we fear the most is actually less risky than other common every day occurrences - so human nature being what it is, people often worry more about rare events and can be too casual about dangers that are more pervasive. What's really dangerous? This graphic about danger and "20 surprising safety statistics" illustrates that point pretty well - we found it interesting so thought we'd share. Click here to view a larger version and the source.
Even seemingly innocuous over the counter medication can be harmful to a child - test your own ability to spot the difference in this Pills or Candy interactive quiz -- and if you pass Level 1, move on to Levels 2 and 3.
The point of the game is to raise awarness about how attractive medications can appear to toddlers. March is Poison Prevention Month, which has a goal of raising awareness of the dangers lurking in our homes. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines or household products while parents or caregivers were not looking. 90% of poison incidents happen at home in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry rooms; more than half of all incidents happen to kids under the age of 6.
Here are some household items to watch out for:
Medications, including over the counter drugs that seem innocuous
Bug sprays and pesticides
Paint and household maintenance items
Antifreeze and auto supplies
Batteries - especially the tiny easy-to-swallow button batteries
Single load laundry packets - colorful, soft, attractive
Cosmetics and perfumes
Arts, crafts & school supplies
The Label It Foundation reminds us that poisonings can happen to people of all ages - they offer a sheet that breaks down age groups and the most common types of accidental poisons for that age group.
Keep the Poison Control Emergency Number in a handy place in your home and on your smartphone For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222
Here are some resources. If you have kids, these will help you keep you do a home audit to ensure your kids are safe. Even if you don't have kids, why not help spread awareness by posting infographics, fact sheets or games on your Facebook and Twitter pages?
Thanksgiving weekend used to be all about turkey, football, and family but in recent years - for better or for worse - it's all about the shopping. One can now progress from the biggest shopping day of the year - Black Friday - right through to Cyber Monday in a whirlwind frenzy of shopping. Except this year, Black Friday may start early at some of the nation's biggest box stores. In what many are calling "Grey Thursday," some stores are starting sales early, on Thanksgiving Day itself - much to the consternation of some store employees.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 is Small Business Saturday, a day we can really get behind. The purpose of this day is to to celebrate and support local small businesses. Why not support your friends and neighbors? It's a great way to ensure that your local community continues to thrive and grow.
Cyber Monday is all about online shopping - no crowds, but be alert for scammers, spammers, and phishers. Shopping online can be fun and comfortable, but you need to take steps to ensure that your shopping is secure and safe.
Here are a few safe shopping tips:
Make sure that your web security, anti virus and malware detection programs are updated and that your firewall is on. Many experts suggest the "belt and suspenders" approach of having more than one program as a backup.
Make sure that your browsers are up to date.
Watch out for email phishing offers, they are getting pretty good at creating authentic-looking emails spoofs of mailings from big name entities. Don't click the link, type in the website.
Make sure that any purchases are made in a secure environment - check for "https" in the address in your web browser - that all-important "s" stands for "secure" - never conduct a transaction without it.
Public Wi-Fi is not secure so avoid doing banking and transactions that would expose your credit cards, passwords, or personal info.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for "free" gift offers and contests from unknown sites - don't give away any personal information or credit card numbers to anyone you don't know. Stick with reputable sites and brand names.
If you have an older driver in your household - or if you are an older driver yourself - you may be wondering what your state law is about when and if you need to be tested. Some states have no special requirments based on age. Some require older drivers to renew in person. Many require vision tests or proof from an optometrist that vision has been tested.
Few, if any, states require road tests for aging drivers. Several states have looked into laws to impose manadatory tests after a certain age (often age 75), but these have generally been defeated, either because there was not sufficient evidence that they would reduce collisions, or because they were viewed as discrimantory. However, most states will accept reports of potentially dangerous drivers from police, family or other observers and may require tests based on such reports. Some states also allow tests to be required at renewal based on observations of potential impairment by registry of motor vehicle employees. Selective tests based on reports or observations aren't necessarily restricted by age! Some states will revoke licenses based on any problems that turn up, while others impose restrictions, such as driving only in daylight hours.
It would be ideal if everyone could self-assess and make the decision to limit or stop driving as they feel abilities diminish - some peopel do indeed do that. But because giving up a car is so tied with independence, many are reluctant to give up driving. And some may lose objectivity - they may "feel" like they are still driving safely. It often requires intercession of a caring family member or friend. See our prior post on Helping senior drivers to make a tough decision: hanging up the keys.
This short video offers some great school bus safety tips from the the Insurance Information Institute. They note that, "There is a blind spot all around the bus, and unfortunately children think that if they can see the school bus, that the bus driver can see them."
They suggest that parents should teach children these safety rules:
Get to the bus stop 5 minutes early
Stand on the same side of the street as the door
Stand 6 feet from the door.
Posted by Renaissance Group on September 13, 2012 9:05 AM
There's a few weeks left to summer and August is a big beach month. One of the most highly touted scare stories each season are the shark attack reports. Here in New England, people may be more nervous than usual in the light of a pretty horrific recent white shark attack off Cape Cod. Thankfully, this encounter between man and beast was not fatal - you can hear the survivor talk about his experience.
It's understandable why these events are riveting - it's the stuff of our nightmares. But should it be? This was the first confirmed white shark attack in Massachusetts in 76 years. For all the media attention they get, shark attacks are pretty rare. Ocean observers tell us that you have more of a risk of dying from a sand hole collapse than a shark attack but you probably aren't having nightmares about sand castles. But maybe you should be.
Another very common hazard at the ocean are rip currents. Beach-goers should be alert for these narrow, powerful channels of water that pull swimmers directly away from a beach. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, sadly illustrated by the recent drownings in Lake Michigan and the Toronto area. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, more than 80 percent of water rescues on surf beaches are due to rip current and they account for about 100 drownings per year.
You can learn more about rip currents at the National Weather Service Rip Current Safety site. There's a lot of information, current rip current weather alerts, and safety tips and resources to educate you and your kids.
Great insurer minds think alike - after we posted this, we saw on Twitter that Chubb also featured a blog post on rip tides and currents today! See Catch A Wave, Not a Current.
Posted by Renaissance Group on August 9, 2012 11:24 AM
While cooking out is arguable the most basic American rite of summer, it can be hazardous to your health and safety. Fires caused by grilling accidents cause about $70 million in damages each year nationwide and injure more than 7,000. How can you prevent you and your family becoming one of those statistics?
Good Morning America featured an eye-opening video and ten handy barbecue tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer - and still enjoying eating outside!
The most important thing to remember is to keep your grill well away from other structures, such as your house or garage, that could ignite. Even though it's convenient to be able to grill for your party guests right there on your deck or patio, it's not a good idea. If there are going to be kids at your cookout, consider drawing a 10 foot circle in chalk around the grill and making it a strict no go zone for anyone under 12.
It's smart to make sure your grill is always in the best possible shape. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has a safety checklist for all grill owners, gas or charcoal, to make sure your grill isn't posing any hidden dangers. The National Fire Protection Agency has two helpful, short videos on gas grill safety.
Once you're sure your grill is in good working order and safely located away from the house, it's time to think about what to serve. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot, and never use the same plate for raw and cooked meats as the US Health Department reminds us in this list of grilling food safety recommendations. Consider grilling more fruits and vegetables and less meats, because while you don't have to give up burgers altogether, charred meat can be hazardous to your health. Precooking slightly can help, as can marinating, a tip that's not only safer, but delicious.
In case you're not scared enough already, here's a safety tip you probably haven't heard before. A Rhode Island hospital admitted six people last March with stomach perforations caused by wire brush bristles that were used to clean a gas grill. But don't worry too much: this one is simple to fix. After you've scrubbed the grill clean with that wire brush, wipe it down again with a sponge, just to make sure.
Posted by Renaissance Group on June 18, 2012 10:59 AM
Have fun, but remember - Super Bowl Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk
Everyone loves a party, but don't let fun run away with you. Our best party tip is to remind you that it's important to be responsible hosts so that you or your guests don't end up in the local headlines on the day after. Rest assured, law enforcement and DUI patrols will be doing double duty to catch impaired drivers. And if you are a party host, you may have liability if your guests drink and drive.
The NFL, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and other groups have all teamed up to raise awareness about drunk driving in a Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign. This site offers two guides of safety precautions and tips, one for if you're a Super Bowl party host and the other if you're a party guest at one. In both situations it is important to take precautions for the safety of everybody.
Got a cruise planned? With all the coverage of the recent Costa Concordia disaster, you could be forgiven for feeling a little bit uneasy. The survivor reports, the footage, and the photos are unsettling to say the least. It certainly doesn't help to hear the stories of an irresponsible captain and crew!
But take heart. About 14 million people take cruises each year, and calamities are rare. There's a reason they are such a popular vacation choice. Remember, nothing in life is without risk, even walking to the corner store. The media tends to overplay these large, rare events precisely because they are rare, they have a lot of drama, and they involve large numbers of people. In reality, your relative risk is greater on your drive to the cruise ship than it is while you are on the cruise itself.
That being said, it's always a smart idea to prepare ahead for your travels. Here are some good articles about how you can prepare and plan to optimize your safety during a cruise:
Don't forget about insurance
If you are planning a major trip, talk to your insurance agent about insurance. Some of your existing policies may cover you for some things, but you may need supplemental insurance, particularly for the trip arrangements. Here are some travel insurance resources:
Here in the Northeast, it's been a mild winter so far -- if you exclude the freak Halloween storm that caught us all by surprise. But the roads are slick today so you may need a refresher in winter driving and car care.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation offers a great page of safe winter driving tips - including everything from preparing your vehicle, supplies you should have in the car, safe driving pointers, and advice for what to do if you are stranded while driving. One of the things that always seems difficult is sharing the road with plows and snow clearing equipment - to pass or not to pass? So the common sense tips for driving near plows offers some good guidance. The graphic that accompanies the tips is excellent so we are reprinting it below.
Have fun this New Year's Eve, but be careful! It's a good idea to plan in advance for your safety - and that of your friends and family.
As a rule of thumb, you should consume only one drink or less per hour. Effects will vary based on a person's body weight and body chemistry. Plus, alcohol has a cumulative effect so how many drinks you consume over how many hours has an effect. In general, your body can only metabolize about one drink per hour. And be careful about how you define "one drink" - this equates to 12-ounces of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or one shot (one ounce) of 80 proof alcohol.
The Blood Alcohol Calculator from the Police Notebook will estimate your impairment level and tell you if you are "legal." The calculator works by giving an estimate of your "blood alcohol count" (BAC) or the ratio of alcohol to blood in your system. Enter the type of drink, how many drinks you consumed/plan to consume, your weight, and the amount of time you have been/will be drinking. This will produce an estimated BAC, and will tell you if you are impaired and at risk of arrest should you be stopped by police.
The site also includes some handy reference charts for men and for women, and charts that describe the type of impairment that people experience at various BAC levels. There are also a list of common myths and suggestions for how to get car keys away from an intoxicated person.
If you are out on New Year's Eve, have an advance strategy to ensure your safety:
Plan for a designated driver.
Plan to sleep over.
Look for a Tipsy Taxi service in your area. Many communities sponsor a free taxi service that can be called to get a ride home. You can call a local police department to see if there are any operating in your community.
Drink non alcoholic beverages.
Have one or two drinks early in the evening and switch to non-alcoholic beverages for a few hours before you drive home.
If you are hosting a party, take your responsibilities seriously. You would never forgive yourself if a guest were injured or killed - or killed another driver - after leaving your house. Plus, you might have either criminal or civil liability for any accident ensuing from intoxication that occurred at your home. Here is a good Responsible Party Host Tip Sheet (PDF) to help you plan a safe party.
And one final note of caution:
People can and do die from alcohol poisoning when they consume more alcohol than their body can safely process in a short period of time. Tragically, many young people succumb to alcohol poisoning every year due to ignorance about the facts of excess alcohol intake. Call 9-1-1 if you see someone exhibiting behavior that might indicate alcohol poisoning, evidenced by any of the following symptoms:
This short video clip will walk you through ergonomic best practices for cell phone use. And for safety rule #1: Only hands-free use while driving - and even that, only where allowed.
Check out State Cell Phone & Texting Laws.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced its Top Vehicle Safety Picks for 2012. There are 18 new picks for a total of 115 winners in the following categories: 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans, and 3 pickups. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all 4 of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection.
If not, go do it now. Really! Here's dramatic evidence of how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree that is watered regularly. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.
Earlier in the week, we talked about electrical safety for outdoor holiday decorations. We'll wrap up the week with some tips on inddor holiday decorating safety from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Trees & Decorations
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
You certainly aren't alone. Below, we've posted some of our favorite video clips featuring extreme holiday home light shows -- but first, we'd be remiss in our role as insurance advisors if we didn't offer a few words about the importance of safety. In Deck the Halls But Do It Safely When Working with Electrical Lights, EHS Today notes that, "during the 2 months surrounding the holiday season, more than 14,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries related to holiday decorating. In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association stated that holiday lights were involved in an average of 150 reported home structure fires per year during 2004-2008. Those fires caused an average of eight civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $8.9 million in direct property damage per year."
If you are doing decorating outside your house, their article offers the following handy tips on safety from SafeElectricity.org:
Never throw holiday lights or other decorations into trees near power lines
Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep ladders, equipment, and yourself at least 10 feet from all power lines
Use only lights, cords, animated displays and decorations rated for outdoor use. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use them
Cords should be plugged into outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)
Use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets are not equipped with them
Do not staple or nail through light strings or electrical cords, and do not attach cords to utility poles
Outdoor holiday lights are for seasonal use, up to 90 days. Bring them inside after the holidays
Avoid decorating outside on windy or wet days. Choose to decorate in favorable weather conditions and during daylight hours.
Later this week, watch for indoor decorating safety tips.
With any luck and proper planning, you won't find Thanksgiving as perilous as the turkeys in our video clip do, but be aware that Thanksgving is the leading day for residential fires (PDF), averaging about 2,000 for the day, double or more the number that would occur on an ordinary day.
If you plan to hit the stores or the websites to shop this Thanksgiving weekend, you should give a few minutes to thinking about your safety before you do. People can get wacky over a baragain, particularly in these tough economic times. Plus, thieves love crowds - it's a perfect time for snatching purses or wallets, or stealing sensitive info that can lead to identity hijacking. Crime prevention experts suggest that You Need A Personal Safety Plan for Black Friday
Here's a few more things to watch out for and tips to stay safe:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has weighed in on the safety risks of driving hybrid and electric vehicles. Their conclusion was that hybrid and electric vehicles are more hazardous to pedestrians and cyclists. Electric engines are near silent compared to combustion engines and don't give the same audible warning as previous cars, especially when traveling at low speeds. Children and the visually impaired are often cited as being the most at risk, and the low noise engines are reported to be putting many pedestrians at higher risk of an automobile collision.
Car manufacturers are reacting to the new threat by adding artificial sounds to hybrid vehicles to warn pedestrians. The Nissan Leaf EV now makes "wooshing" sounds despite its near silent engine, and Ford held a Facebook poll for users to vote on which artificial engine noise their new car should make, having posted a series of potential noises on YouTube. The noises ranged from more traditional engine sounds to futuristic spaceship noises. These fake engine noises are still being rolled out so they may not stick around since reactions appear to be mixed.
While the ostensible danger of silent vehicles is to pedestrians, drivers can also be at risk of not hearing a hybrid, increasing the potential for collisions. Plus, responsible drivers need to be hyper vigilant about the safety implications for pedestrians. Striking a pedestrian is a highly traumatic event that can result in injury or death. Depending on fault, it can also result in criminal charges or lawsuits. The liability portion of your auto insurance offers some financial protection should you strike a pedestrian. According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability insurance is compulsory in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Only New Hampshire does not have a compulsory auto insurance liability law. The chart on this page offers a breakdown of minimal liability limits for auto insurance by state.
This year, we focus on pets. ABC News has posted Tips for Making Halloween Safer for Pets. Halloween is one of the most dangerous days of the year for pets because of the myriad of hazards it presents.
The abundance of candy lying around is a huge issue, since chocolate is poisonous to dogs. National Geographic has an excellent interactive doggie chocolate chart that tells you when to worry. According to the NRF, Americans spend close to $1.8 billion on Halloween Candy. That's a lot of candy lying around just waiting to be ingested by animals. Not only that, but many of the wrappers are choking hazards for pets. Even the health conscious households who hand out boxes of raisins instead of candy should know that raisins are also dangerous to dogs and can result in kidney failure.
Here are a few more pet perils:
Heavy traffic to your front door gives your pets more than ample opportunities to escape. Many pets become lost or injured. Halloween is the second most reported day of the year for pets escaping, the first being the 4th of July.
Decorative candles may look festive but many pets receive injuries from them every Halloween. Whether it's your cat knocking a candle off the mantle or sticking its head into a Jack-o-lantern, candles can burn and injure your pets if you're not careful.
Owners who dress their pets in Halloween costumes should always maintain supervision. Many costumes poses choking hazards, overheat animals, or cause them to get tangled up and take nasty falls.
Lots of people don't invest in pet insurance and that is clearly a mistake. If you don't have pet insurance already why not connect with a Renaissance Alliance insurance agent near you?
We frequently offer advice about protecting your property against theft and natural disasters ... but what if the natural disaster walks on four paws? Recently, a Pomeranian swallowed $10,000 Worth of Diamonds. Dogs specifically seem willing to eat any variety of items lying around the house. Underwear was cited as the most ingested household item by dogs. A contributing factor might be owners tend to leave underwear lying around on the floor, but doing so may lead to an unplanned trip to the veterinarian.
This is not anything new, in fact the the lack of dietary discretion in animals led Sound Elkin, a veterinary imaging company, to sponsor an annual "They Ate What?" X-ray Contest. Entries included a hound mix that ate 309 nails and a Labrador retriever who swallowed a 5 inch paring knife.
Diamonds, nails and knives might seem obvious things for pets to avoid, but VetStreet complied a list of Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs and Cats that might not be so apparent. Follow the link for details on what makes these foods toxic to dogs and cats and to learn more about the accompanying symptoms. Here is a quick overview of their top 10:
Whether it is house hold items or human food, it is important to keep potentially dangerous items away from your pets. If your pet has swallowed something potentially harmful or poisonous it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. And if your pet is a compulsive and indiscriminate eater, in addition to a visit to the vet, you may want to visit your insurance agent to ask about pet insurance!
Posted by Renaissance Group on September 19, 2011 9:23 AM
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a helpful back to school safety tip sheet. And when it comes to kids health and safety, who should know better than the doctors who treat them? They cover a lot of great topics like making the first day easier, how to handle bullying, and how to develop good study habits, so it's well worth a look if you have school age kids, or know someone that does. We're reprinting the safety tips that deal with traveling to and from school and vehicle safety.
School Bus Safety
If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.
Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
Do not move around on the bus.
Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.
Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a selt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger's seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting to prevent driver distraction; and limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state's graduated driver license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see www.healthychildren.org/teendriver
Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
Use appropriate hand signals.
Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
Know the "rules of the road."
Walking to School
Make sure your child's walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider starting a "walking school bus," in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
Posted by Renaissance Group on September 13, 2011 8:32 AM
If you own a pool or a spa, you need to see this excellent video from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. It takes a three-step approach to minimizing the risks associated with pools and spas: steps for making a safer water environment; steps to ensure that your kids are safer; and steps to ensure that you are prepared should an emergency occur.
Posted by Renaissance Group on June 15, 2011 2:05 PM
June 19 to June 25 is Lightning Safety Week. It's good timing because we are approaching the heaviest lightning season. Hopefully, we've already had our fill of extreme weather this year, but there are no guarantees. In an average year, there are 57 fatal lightning strikes, most occurring in June, July and August. There have been 4 lightning fatalities so far this year - three of them occurring during agricultural work and one related to tornado search-and-rescue. The National Weather Service keeps track of lightning fatalities for the current year, as well as for prior years going back to 1959. Last year, there were 29 fatalities, a remarkably low year. The top 5 states for lightning fatalities over the past 10 years are Florida (62), Colorado (26), Texas (24), Georgia (19), and North Carolina (18).
Your odds of being hit by lightning are about 1 in 700,000 - but experts all agree that you should take care not to make yourself a target. For a little motivation, you might visit Human Voltage, a page that NASA compiled to document what happens when people and lightning converge.
"There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.
The best way to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply don't want to be caught outside in a storm. Have a lightning safety plan, and cancel or postpone activities early if thunderstorms are expected. Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place before the weather becomes threatening. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, small sheds, and open vehicles are not safe.
When inside, do not touch anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet, plumbing, and corded phones. Cell phones and cordless phones are safe. Also, keep away from outside doors and windows and do not lie on a garage floor.
Lightning Victims: If someone is struck by lightning, they may need immediate medical attention. Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Call 911 and monitor the victim. Start CPR or use an Automated External Defibrillator if needed."
Tips for claims reporting:What consumers should know when faced with a loss - Important, but sometimes difficult, filing a claim can be one of the most frustrating processes during a crisis or following a major disaster. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers tips for what your insurance company needs to help you avoid problems getting your claims paid.
We're all for any reason to keep kids safe so we're more than happy to inform you that this week is National Playground Safety Week. Safe Kids USA asks "do you know what to look for to make sure your playground is safe? Sometimes the risks don't appear as obvious as those associated with swimming or biking; but, they're there and easy to spot. You just need to know what to look for."
And the risks are all too real - not just at public playgrounds but at home and school playgrounds too. Consider these sobering stats:
The leading cause of death related to the playground and playground equipment is strangulation, accounting for over 50% of the deaths.
Nearly 70% of all playground related deaths occur on home playgrounds.
Falls are the most common mode of playground injury accounting for approximately 80% of all playground-related injuries and about 20% of all deaths.
About 45% of playground-related injuries are severe, which include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations.
If you are a parent or if you have kids in your life, these stats should put you on alert! It's important for parents to advocate for their kids to ensure safe public playgrounds. It's also important for parents who are homeowners to ensure that any private play areas meet the best and safest standards, too. Don't forget about the pools!
Here are Top Playground Safety Tips from Safe Kids:
Playground surfacing material should be 12 inches deep and extend 6 feet in all directions around equipment.
Look for playgrounds with shredded rubber, mulch, wood chips or sand. Grass and soil are not good surfaces.
Make sure playground equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair. If it's not, report this to your local parks and recreations office.
Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children's clothing and outerwear and don't let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or scarves on the playground.
Don't allow your kids to engage in, or play near, any pushing, shoving or crowding around playground equipment.
Keep toddlers under age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids.
Actively supervise kids on a playground. Just being in the same area isn't good enough - they need your undivided attention while playing on or around the equipment.
Heavy snowfalls aren't particularly unusual here in New England, we pride ourselves on our ability to deal with the white stuff. But hospital emergency room staffers would be the first to tell you: a seemingly simple task like snow shoveling can cause a lot of grief - every year, they see thousands of people with snow-removal related injuries ranging from back strain and hypothermia to heart attacks and amputations.
Snow shoveling can be a fairly strenuous activity and you should approach it the same way you would any vigorous activity. Take health factors into consideration and check with your doctor if you have any question about the suitability of this type of activity. If you have heart disease or have experienced a heart attack, or if you have elevated blood pressure or cholesterol levels, you should get someone else to do your shoveling. Other populations that should exert extreme caution before picking up a shovel: smokers, the elderly, and out of shape, sedentary types.
Here are some basic shoveling safety tips:
Dress for the task. Wear multiple light layers of water-repellent clothing. Cover your extremities. Wear a hat, warm socks and gloves.
Pick the right tool. Make sure you don't use a shovel that is too big for you. Generally, smaller, lighter shovels are better than big ones. Many ergonomists recommend a curved rather than a straight handle. Space your hands apart when gripping the handle to maximize your leverage.
Before shoveling, start by warming up. Walk or perform stretching exercises for 10 or 15 minutes.
Pace yourself. Start slowly, don't rush. Maintain a moderate, steady pace. Take occasional breaks.
Make your legs do the work. Keep your feet apart for balance and keep your shovel close to your body. Bend with your knees and lift with your legs, not with your back. Avoid lifting if pushing will do.
Avoid twisting your torso. It's better to take a few steps to dump your load of snow than to twist and throw. Keep your feet pointed in direction you are lifting and throwing.
Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, but avoid caffeine and other stimulants that may increase your heart rate.
Stop immediately if you feel any sign of dizziness, shortness of breath, pain, sweating, or nausea. If you experience pain, particularly in your chest or arm, get it checked out asap - better to be safe than sorry.
Snow blowers are also a source of many winter trips to the emergency room - usually for injuries to the hands or fingers, including amputations. If you have a snow-blower, take a minute to review these snow-blower safety tips from Consumer Reports.
Posted by Renaissance Group on January 12, 2011 9:51 AM
As you decorate your home this holiday season, safety should be your first and foremost guiding principle. Not to harsh your holiday mellow, but this is a big season for in-home fires and accidents. A little pre-planning and a quick review of best practices from the experts can keep your holiday safe and fun.
According to the US Fire Administration, holiday fires claim the lives of more than 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage. They offer a quick holiday fire safety tip sheet.
The National Fire Protection Association offers a complete Project Holiday tool kit, which includes tip sheets, videos, and reports covering tree safety, candle safety, cooking safety, and overall decorating safety. Below, we've posted one of their videos, a demonstration showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly.
1. When purchasing a live tree, DO check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
2. When setting up a tree at home, DO place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Because heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, be sure to monitor water levels and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic, and do not block doorways.
3. When purchasing an artificial tree, DO look for the label, "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate that the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
4. In homes with small children, DO take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children who could swallow or inhale small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
5. Indoors or outdoors, DO use only lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.
6. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. DON'T use electric lights on a metallic tree.
7. If using an extension cord, DO make sure it is rated for the intended use.
8. When using lights outdoors, DO check labels to be sure that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
9. Keep burning candles within sight. DO extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
10. DO keep candles on a stable heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Lighted candles should be away from items that can catch fire and burn easily, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains, and furniture.
Posted by Renaissance Group on December 7, 2010 12:22 PM
Don't drink and drive. Don't text and drive. Don't sleep and drive.
If you think the latter goes without saying or if you think it could never happen to you, don't be so sure. In Asleep At the Wheel, Evelyn Kanter documents the scope of the problem: "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or fatigue is the principal cause of up to 100,000 police-reported passenger vehicle crashes every year, killing at least 1,500 people and injuring 71,000. Many more fatigue-related crashes go unreported. But don't blame it on the long-haul truckers: Less than 1 percent of all sleep-related crashes involve truck drivers, who are prohibited, by federal regulation, from driving more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period."
Next week is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of fatigue and driving, particularly among teens. If you're a parent, an educator, or an employer, check out the Drowsy Driving Prevention Resource Center and Toolkit which was created by the National Sleep Foundation. It includes event ideas, bilingual fact sheets, and materials.
The folks at DrowsyDiving.com point out high risk situations:
Special at-risk groups for drowsy driving include young people, shift workers, commercial drivers, people with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, and business travelers. However, any driver can experience fatigue at one time or another. Your risk for drowsy driving increases if you are:
--Sleep deprived or fatigued
--Driving long distances without proper rest breaks
--Driving through the night or mid-afternoon
--Working more than 60 hours per week
--Working more than 1 job and your main job involves shift work
--Drinking even small amounts of alcohol
--Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road
--Taking sedating medications such as cold tablets, antihistamines or antidepressants
--Experiencing jet lag or reduced sleep as a result of traveling across many time zones
They offer these safety and prevention tips:
Before a trip, do the following to reduce your risk:
--Get enough sleep—most adults need 7-9 hours, and most teens need 8.5-9.5 hours, to maintain proper alertness during the day.
--Schedule proper breaks, about every 100 miles or 2 hours during long trips.
--Arrange for a travel companion—someone to talk with and share the driving.
--Avoid alcohol and sedating medications—check your labels or ask your doctor.
Countermeasures to prevent a fall-asleep crash while driving
--Watch for the warning signs of fatigue.
--Stop driving—pull off at the next exit or rest area, or find a place to sleep for the night.
--Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15-20 minute nap (more than 20 minutes can make you groggy for 15 minutes or more after waking).
--Consume caffeine--the equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours, and usually takes about 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. Caffeine is available in various forms (coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chewing gum, tablets), and in various amounts. For example, the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee (about 135 mg) is about the same as 2-3 cups of tea or 3-4 cans of regular or diet cola.
--Try consuming caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
--Let a passenger take over the diving.
Posted by Renaissance Group on November 5, 2010 9:16 AM
With Halloween just around the corner, we offer Ray Villafane's gallery of pumpkins for inspiration. Ray just might be the pumpkin master - so his pumpkin carving tutorial might be instructive. Of you can see him in action - he was featured on CBS news.
For more pumpkin carving inspiration and advice, we point you to Extreme Pumpkin, which has some terrific and suitably terrifying / horrifying examples of bizarre pumpkins (...but as your insurance advisers, we advise you to take great care with any of the power tool and pyrotechnic options.) The Pumpkin Gutter's galleries are also impressive, offering a combination of artistry, humor, and horror. And if you are of a mind to do-it-yourself, check out Pumpkin Carving 101, which had a lot of useful how-to information.
To reduce the risk of fire, we recommend glow sticks or battery-powered flickering LED lights to illuminate your pumpkin. (For even more Halloween special effects, check out battery-powered flame lights).
Have fun, stay safe
It's important to have fun on this great holiday - but it's also important to be safe. While we are focusing on zombies and monsters, it's important not to forget about the more traditional hazards to people and property. Courtesy of the Independent Agents & Brokers of America, we offer the following safety tips:
Prevent Accidents: Remove or move lawn furniture, or any other obstacles, to avoid accidents or damage. Ensure your home’s entry is in good condition, free of loose or broken pieces on stairwells and walkways to avoid trick-or-treaters’ injuries on your property.
Fire Dangers: Prevent fires by making sure pumpkins containing candles are placed at a distance where a child’s costume cannot be ignited or a curious guest may tip it over. Extinguish all candles before going to bed and use battery operated lights wherever possible.
Costume Safety: Be careful with costumes. All disguises should be made from flame-resistant materials and shouldn’t be too long or contain sharp accessories. Try to avoid masks that may obscure vision and try to use hypo-allergenic make-up instead.
See and Be Seen: Encourage each trick-or-treater and adult chaperones to carry a flashlight. Apply light-reflecting material to costumes.
Don’t be a Scary Driver: Drive sober, slowly and even more carefully than usual on Halloween. Watch for children who may be running or wearing dark costumes in the road.
Power in Numbers: When walking, travel in groups and cross only at corners and crosswalks—never between parked cars—and stay on well-lit streets.
Unwelcomed Guests: Scare away potential property vandals who often use the chaos of Halloween night to strike by keeping outdoor lights on.
Pet Safety: Keep pets inside. Warn your children to stay away from animals as they go door-to-door. Halloween night can be stressful, even on the friendliest dog or cat or other creatures.
Candy Inspection: Cavities aren’t the only candy-related risks on Halloween. Inspect all children’s treats. Never eat unwrapped items, collect candy only from those you know and ask the local police department if it offers a candy x-ray and/or inspection service. Throw away any suspicious candy.
Posted by Renaissance Group on October 26, 2010 9:57 AM
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) assessed 72 kids' booster seats to check for the ones that offer a good fit, one of the most important safety criteria. They designated 21 booster models as "Best Bets" and 7 as "Good Bets." That's a marked improvement over last year's list, when only 9 models earned the highest grades. They have also rated 8 models as "not recommended." See the full list: 2010 IIHS Booster Evaluation Ratings.
These ratings are important because they offer guidance on fit. While there are other tests and ratings for boosters - such as crash performance tests and ease of use - there are none that address fit. IIHS says, "Belts do the main job of keeping kids in boosters safe in crashes, but belts along with vehicle seats are designed for adults, not children, so it's important for boosters to lift kids into position for lap/shoulder belts to provide proper restraint. Children 4-8 who ride in boosters are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes than children restrained by belts alone."
There are approximately 77.5 million pet dogs in the U.S., and some of them are driving their owners to distraction ... literally. In terms of distractions that interfere with driving, dogs are right up there with cell phones and texting. According to a recent survey on habits of dog owners and driving conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and pet product company Kurgo, 80% of the respondents said they've taken their pets on errands, day trips or vacations, yet only 17% said they use any form of restraint system. In fact, 21% admitted that they have let their dog to sit on their lap.
Survey respondents admitted to other potentially distracting behaviors, like patting (55%), feeding (7%) or playing with their dog (5%) while driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash. In 2008, there were 6,000 fatalities due to accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In addition to being a potential risk for accidents, driving with unrestrained pets is also very dangerous for the pet.
"Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well," cautioned Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National, Traffic Safety Programs manager. "An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path."
On the CBS News Early Show, Veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell shared some easy ways drivers with pets can prevent some of these dangers. You can read her dog restraint safety tips or check out the video below.
Posted by Renaissance Group on August 20, 2010 1:09 PM
When it comes to summer driving safety, there are definitely some spots that are hotter than others. The Daily Beast crunched the numbers on data 5 years of data from the National Highway Safety Administration to come up with a list of 100 U.S. interstates most likely to generate a fatal crash.
Jon Burner of Forbes recently wrote an interesting article about America's fastest roads - highways where speeds often exceed 90 mph. While many of these roads tend to be long, straight highways in desolate areas, but the article cites some notorious urban areas too:
"The fastest road near an urban area is California Route 73, a six-lane freeway in Orange County that connects Santa Ana and San Juan Capistrano through the San Joaquin Hills. While the speed limit on that stretch is 65 miles per hour, the fastest 5% of drivers average speeds around 82 miles per hour over 17 miles of roadway.
Inrix's statistics also show that New Yorkers really do drive fast. The Westchester County suburbs of New York City are home to the fastest road in the eastern U.S. — and one of only two East Coast roads that made the list. Drivers on the winding, heavily traveled Saw Mill River Parkway frequently reach speeds of 78 to 85 miles per hour between the towns of Elmsford and Hawthorne, despite the 50-mile-per-hour speed limit.
Connecticut has the fastest stretch of Interstate highway in the country, according to Inrix. Over a one-mile distance on Interstate 84 northeast of Hartford, the fastest 5 percent of drivers routinely flaunt the 65-mile-per-hour speed limit by driving 85 miles per hour."
For more on deadly roads, see our prior post about the deadliest US roads - which includes a bonus breath-taking video on Bolivia's death road, called the most dangerous road on earth.
Firework safety - Every year, there are thousands of injuries and an estimated 30,000 fires caused by fireworks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2008 there were 7,000 injuries and 7 deaths, with 70% of the injuries occurring between June 20 and July 20. Even devices that many might consider safe can pose risks. For example, the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of about 2,000°F – hot enough to cause third degree burns. The US Fire Administration offers advice on firework safety. And remember - many states ban all or some fireworks: Use this clickable map to check state firework laws.
Traveling safety - if you will be spending the holiday away from home, you may want to be careful with what you share on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Unless your networks are private and you are careful about not linking to personal information, announcing your plans to be away might inadvertently tip off a would-be burglar that your home will be vacant. See our prior post: Please rob me: when social networking turns risky. Of course, not all crooks use technology to target empty homes, some just use old-school powers of observation. Before you go away, it's good to take precautions to protect your home when traveling. And here are some tips for preventing identity theft while you travel.
Driving Safety - The Fourth of July weekend is one of the deadliest times of the year to drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been tracking car crash statistics for 25 years, and the Fourth of July often tops the lost for fatal car accidents. And of the July 4 fatalities, usually more than half are related to alcohol. Most states will have intensive DUI checkpoints set up over the holiday weekend. And all you sober drivers need to be on particular alert, driving defensively on a busy traffic weekend. Check out our holiday road trip tips
Researchers collected childhood-related injury information from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a nationally representative sample of 98 U.S. hospital emergency departments, comparing records for eight major holidays over a 10 year period. The study did not include car-related injuries or minor injuries that did not require emergency room treatment.
According to an analysis of the research report written by Rachel Rettenr of LiveScience.com:
62% of the holiday injuries happened to boys
29% of the injuries happened to children under 5
41.6% of the holiday injuries were sports or recreation related
About 20% of holiday injuries were "home structure" related, including injuries from doors and countertops
About 16% of holiday injuries were related to home furnishings, including chairs and tables
29% of he injuries were lacerations
Here are a few tips to help keep your kids safe on Memorial Day:
Right after Memorial Day each year, about 2 million kids flock to the workplace to take seasonal summer jobs. This year, with a teen unemployment rate of about 30%, the numbers may be a little lower. And with intense competition for jobs, there is one potential side effect that may come into play: teens may be tempted to take on tougher jobs, ones that pose greater potential risks to their health and safety.
Just about once every two minutes, a teen worker is injured on the job. Even worse, about 50 to 80 kids a year lose their lives while working. Kids are particularly vulnerable because they are inexperienced, they often have a false sense of invincibility, and they want to please their new employers. They haven't built up the work stamina, muscles and judgment that more experienced workers have. And they may not want to call attention to themselves or appear dumb by asking questions.
Because of this, it's important that employers, supervisors, and older co-workers look out for teen workers. Employers should provide safety training that is explicit about job hazards and the things that could go wrong. As with all workers, employers should also explain safety policies and procedures. Supervisors, managers, and coworkers should be asked to focus special attention on the safety of young workers. Employers might even want to "buddy up" young workers with a more experienced worker for the first few weeks of the job.
Parents play a special role in keeping young workers safe. At Workers Comp Insider, there's a good post on this topic: Parental alert: 2010's Five Worst Teen Jobs. The post lists the five least safe job sectors for teens, along with a variety of links and resources to help parents ensure that they and their kids ask the right questions about safety during the hiring process and after the job begins. If you have kids who will be entering the work force this summer, it's worth your while to check it out.
Posted by Renaissance Group on May 26, 2010 10:20 AM
A review of 2003 pediatric data from more than 3,000 hospitals in 36 states showed that in that single year, 2,7 million children were treated for choking, and nearly 2,000 died - an average of more than 5 deaths each day. Though airway obstructions in young children occur less often than other types of injuries, the death rate is higher, according to new research from the Children’s National Medical Center. Read more about the study in the Consumer Reports on Safety blog: Choking deaths are alarmingly high, new study says.
While conventional wisdom and many warning labels are geared to children under age three, Consumer Reports on Safety says:
Apparently, age three is not the magical year when choking stops being a risk to children. Even though toys with small parts carry a warning that they are "not for children under 3," a recent study shows that the average age of children who die from choking incidents is 4.6 years. In fact, 25 percent of the products involved in choking deaths passed the toy-labeling criteria set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
While small toy parts and foreign objects accounted for most of the choking incidents, food items were the cause of 42% of incidents. According to American Academy of Pediatrics research, hot dogs are to blame for around 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations among children. Seeds, nuts, grapes and raw carrots also often pose a threat.
According to the USFA's National Fire Incident Reporting System data and the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the United States each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2006, ten firefighters died as a result of arson. In addition to needless injury and death, an estimated $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually.
In conjunction with this event, FEMA has issued a 22-page booklet, Community Arson Prevention (PDF), which includes tips and resources for arson prevention including:
5 steps for starting a community watch program - pages 2 - 3
Arson prevention tips for businesses - pages 3 - 4
Arson prevention tips for churches - pages 4 - 5
Arson prevention tips for schools - pages 6 - 9
Wildfire prevention tips - page 13
State & local initiatives - pages 10 - 17
Links & Resources - page 20
Materials from prior years are also valuable. Last year, the Arson Awareness Week theme focused on Arson For Profit (PDF, 16 pages), covering such topics as vehicle arson, arson in abandoned buildings, property arson by those who have fallen behind on mortgages or boat payments, house flipping arson, arson to recoup monies from a failing business, arson to eliminate competitors or to take revenge.
In this day of road rage and road rudeness, it seems a little crazy to take issues with drivers who are polite -- but in an article by Joseph Younger entitled When Courtesy Turns Dangerous, CarandTravel reminds us that there are times when politeness can inadvertently get you into trouble. This is generally at intersections or right of way situations. "Drivers who cede their legal right of way out of courtesy, thinking that they’re doing you a favor, might actually put you at risk." They offer a handy list of "Dos and Don'ts" - if you are in the "courteous driver camp" it might make you think twice about the error of your ways; and if you are a recipient of such courtesy, it explains why a traffic favor may not be such a favor after all.
Massachusetts right of way rules can be found in the driver's manual beginning on page 17. We've excerpted the main rules, but the manual offers a handy refresher for these and other traffic laws.
Intersections not controlled by signals
You must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle that has entered the intersection from your right or is approaching from your right.
Look for any traffic approaching from the left. Even though you may have the legal right-of-way, make sure that the other driver is yielding to you before you proceed.
At an intersection controlled by stop signs in all directions, you must yield the right-of-way to...
Another vehicle that has already come to a full stop at the intersection
A vehicle on your immediate right that has stopped at the intersection at the same time as you
At a four-way stop, vehicles must proceed in the order they stopped. The first to stop is the next to go. If in doubt, give the right-of-way to the driver on your right.
Confusion can develop at four-way stop intersections. You should try to make eye contact with the drivers of other vehicles at the intersection to better judge their intentions and avoid accidents.
When making any left turn, you must first yield the right-of-way to any:
Vehicle already in the intersection
Pedestrians or bicyclists crossing your intended path of travel
Private Roads, Driveways, and Unpaved Roads
If you are entering a paved thoroughfare from a private road, a driveway, or an unpaved road, you must stop first and give the right-of-way to pedestrians, bicyclists, or vehicles traveling along the road you are entering.
If you approach a designated through-way, you must yield the right-of-way to traffic on the through-way before you turn.
Intersection of Single or Two-Lane Road and Multiple-Lane Road
If you are traveling on a single or two lane road and come to an intersection with a larger road, you must yield the right of way to vehicles driving on a divided highway or a roadway with three or more lanes.
Traffic moves in a counterclockwise direction around a rotary. You must always yield the right of way to vehicles already in the rotary (unless directed differently by local signs or police officers) and to pedestrians. You should use your turn signals in the same way as any other intersection: travel through the rotary and, when you are ready to exit, use your right turn signal.
Other situations that require you to yield the right-of-way
Pedestrians who are walking in or crossing a roadway
Any animal that someone is leading, riding, or driving
Funeral processions (in MA, it is against the law to disrupt or cut through a funeral procession)
On average, about 98.7 million fans tune into watch the game on Super Bowl Sunday. If you're going to be hosting or attending a Super Bowl party this weekend when the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts, you should plan in advance for your safety and that of your guests.
"According to the most recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, alcohol-impaired-driving crashes accounted for 32 percent of total motor vehicle traffic fatalities. On Super Bowl Sunday (February 3 to 5:59 a.m. February 4), 49 percent of the fatalities occurred in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. Overall, more than 13,000 Americans died that year in crashes involving an impaired driver."
Whether you plan to be a party host or a party attendee, III offers a list of tips and suggestions to help you stay safe. Plus, party hosts have a particular imperative to protect guests. It's the right thing to do - plus, it may protect you from liability.
Tips for party hosts
If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in an impaired driving crash. To protect both yourself and your guests:
Make sure all guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.
Serve lots of food—and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.
Tips for party attendees
If you are attending a Super Bowl party or watching at a sports bar or restaurant:
Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself—eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
Designate your sober driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.
If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come get you; or stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
Research and use a local Sober Rides program.
Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.
Always buckle up—it’s still your best defense against other impaired drivers.
Good Morning America has been airing a series on aging and one of the difficult topics they are tackling is the issue of senior driving. In Mom & Dad, we need to talk, they explore the ways that adult children can help their parents make the difficult and often painful decision to hang up the car keys.
It's not an issue that should be put off because, at some point, it's a matter of safety - both for the elderly drivers and for the general public. GMA cites some grim statistics:
"Although most senior citizens are careful behind the wheel, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers older than 70 have a higher fatality rate per mile than any other group, except people under 25. And most of those fatalities happened at some kind of crossroads.
A 2007 study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 40 percent of serious crashes at intersections involved people older than 70. Add to this the fact that the number of elderly drivers is projected to double to 70 million by the year 2030 and you have the makings of a potentially dangerous problem."
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has issued new ratings for children's auto booster seats. They've examined 60 models covering almost all models sold in the U.S. right now, and they've issue 9 "best bet" recommendations and 4 "good bet" recommendations. In addition, they've indicated 11 products which aren't aren't recommended due to poor fit.
IIHS states that more than 1,000 children 12 and younger in passenger vehicles die in crashes every year, and more than 100,000 are injured. Parents can reduce the risk to their kids by properly securing them in the back seat of their vehicle.
"Parents can't tell a good booster from a bad one just by comparing design features and price," says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. "What really matters is if the booster you're considering correctly positions the safety belt on your 4-8 year-old in your vehicle. Our ratings make it easier to pick a safer booster for kids who have outgrown child restraints."
Every holiday season, child and consumer protection groups offer lists of the year's most unsafe toys, as well as tips for how to shop for safe toys. If you have kids on your shopping list, take a few minutes to review these valuable guides.
There are three main toy safety hazards: Choking, Noise, and Toxins. For children over 3 focus on Noise and Toxic hazards. For children under 3 also avoid choking hazards from small toys, toy parts and balloons. Here's a handy guide to hazards that you can call up on your mobile phone while shopping: Toy Safety Hazards - you can also report any hazards you encounter in your shopping trips.
Wayne Wiersma of Wiersma Insurance found a fascinating video clip that demonstrates just how far highway safety has come over the last 50 years. The test was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to commemorate the organization's 50th anniversary. The test compares crashworthiness then and now: a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in 40 mph frontal offset crash test. The original crash video and photos can be found at the IIHS anniversary page, and we've found another clip with commentary from Consumer Reports.
See how your vehicle would fare
Use the Consumer Reports Crash Test Selector to see how your make and model would fare thanks to IIHS crash test videos.
Halloween is one of the nation's most popular holidays. We love the annual ritual of scaring ourselves and our favorite kids silly, all in the spirit of good-natured fun. But as much fun as it can be, when you tally up the associated risks to kids, pets and property, the holiday can truly earn its nickname, "fright night."
Unfortunately, kids experience a lot of injuries at Halloween. While the media can play up the dangers of poisoned candy and predators, the most common injuries to kids at Halloween are more pedestrian: eye injuries, burns, and being hit by cars. Other Halloween dangers include an increase in fatalities related to driving while under the influence; a high rate of fires, vandalism, and property crimes; and a spike in incidents of animal cruelty. For the property owner, there's a veritable witches' brew of liability issues. Any injuries that occur on your property can be considered your liability - whether it's a little Cinderella who trips on her gown or a vandal who breaks his leg while egging your house. If partygoers drink too much alcohol while at your house, you may be held liable for any injuries that occur when they drive home. And if your teen's Halloween "pranks" result in any property damage, you might have parental liability for the cost of that damage, depending on your state law. Other risks you may encounter include vandalism to your home or your auto and home fires triggered by candles and decorations or overloaded electrical outlets.
Most people enjoy a fun, safe Halloween and odds are in your favor that you will too. But there are simple steps you can and should take to minimize your risk and keep things safe. One thing you can do in advance is to check with your insurance agent to be sure your homeowners or rental insurance is up to date and that you have adequate protection. Find out your deductible (how much you have to pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in) and the extent of your liability coverage.
Keeping kids safe:
Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or illuminating trim on their costumes.
Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
Ensure costumes don't impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
Masks can limit visibility - colorful face paints are a cute, creative, and safer alternative.
Make sure kids are dressed warmly enough and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft - no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
Don't let kids walk while eating candy on a stick - very dangerous if they trip.
Don't let kids eat homemade treats unless they were made by someone you know very well
Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
Kids shouldn't enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
Kids without adults should keep in groups
Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.
Drive with great caution over the weekend, particularly after dark - excited little goblins may dart out from anywhere.
Other safety matters
When decorating, avoid candles - use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
Don't forget about your pets - they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don't frighten or nip at your guests.
Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.
Halloween vandalism can range from "mild" pranks to more serious and willful property damage. A well-lit house and motion-activated lights may help to protect your property. If you have a garage, keep you car locked up. If you don't, you might want to check your car before bed or very early in the morning - that way, if your car has experienced any "mischief" such as a dousing of shaving cream, silly string, eggs, or other food matter, you may be able to hose it away before the sun bakes it in. Some of these substances can cause scratches or dents; others can be corrosive to your paint. Pressurized water from your hose is your best clean-up ally.
Call your agent
If you should suffer any damage to your property or have any accidents during Halloween weekend, file a claim as soon as possible to get the claim process in motion. Be ready with the details of where and when the event occurred, along with the names and addresses of any injured parties or witnesses to the event. If there is damage to your property, report it to the police, take photos, and record the details so you won't forget them later.
It's that time of year again: peak deer-car collision season. More than half of all vehicle-deer crashes annually occur in October through December, with November being the peak month. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 150 fatalities each year are caused by vehicle-deer collisions. Deer are fast, unpredictable and can appear out of the blue. A police camera caught this startling video clip of a near-miss with a deer.
But deer aren't the only four-legged danger - moose and elk are serious road hazards, too. Larger, taller and with more body mass than deer, a bull moose can reach up to 1500 pounds. And because they are tall with long legs, they often come right in through the windshield when hit, a serious danger to car occupants. See this mammmal size comparison illustration to get an idea of how big moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife can be.
"Most of the crash deaths occurred after a motor vehicle had struck an animal and then run off the road or a motorcyclist had fallen off a bike. Many of these deaths wouldn't have occurred with appropriate protection. The study found that 60 percent of the people killed riding in vehicles weren't using safety belts, and 65 percent of those killed riding on motorcycles weren't wearing helmets."
Driving tips to avoid colliding with deer and moose
Wear your seat belt
Be particularly cautions at dawn, dusk. Most collisions occur between 5 and 10 pm.
If you see one deer, there may be others - deer travel in herds
Heed posted signs warning about wildlife - they are there for a reason
Avoid speeding. Slow down around curves
Scan the sides of the road - watch for movement.
Be particularly alert on roads with woods, farmland, and water
Be cautious and slow down at night. You may see deer eyes reflected in your lights, but moose eyes don't reflect light.
Watch other traffic - if you see cars stopped or slowing, it may indicate an animal
Flash headlights to warn other drivers
Don't try to outrace or beat a crossing animal
Use high beams when you can
If you see an animal, honk your horn. Your lights may freeze or confuse an animal.
Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable - a cyclist may even be charged by a large animal
What to do if you hit a deer or a moose
Stop your car, put on hazard lights. You want to be visible so that no other car will hit you, your car, or the animal. Avoid approaching an injured animal, which can be very dangerous. In some states, if there are no injuries and your car is drivable, you would not be required to report the collision to the police. If you are unsure of the state law, call police. They will alert game wardens or the appropriate authorities to handle the animal. Some states will let you keep an animal for the meat, but you may need a permit. Report the accident to your insurance agent as soon as possible.
October is National Fire Safety Month. To kick things off, the Home Safety Council (HSC) is teaming up with Lowe's to hold Safety Saturday on Saturday, September 26, 2009, a day-long safety celebration.
Lowe’s stores nationwide are planning family safety activities geared to educating you and your family on how to keep safe from fire and other home dangers. Some stores are partnering with local fire departments to host a side-by-side burn demonstration to show how quickly a home fire spreads and becomes deadly when it isn’t controlled. The demonstration compares the limited damage in a room that is protected with a home fire sprinkler system with the extensive damage that occurs in a room without a sprinkler.
Even if you can't attend one of these events, the idea of dedicating a Saturday to making your home safer is a pretty good one. According to the HSC, the home is the second most common location of unintentional fatal injuries, with moving motor being the first. About 20% of all fatal injuries occur in the home. The top five leading causes of unintentional home injury death are falls, poisoning, fire/burn, choking/suffocation, and drowning; together these account for 90% of all unintentional home injury deaths. And for every one death, there are approximately 650 nonfatal injuries. HSC says that children under age 5 and adults over age 70 are the highest risk groups for home injury, both fatal and nonfatal.
When it comes to driving distractions like cellphones and texting, most people underestimate the danger that they pose and overestimate their own ability to multitask at the wheel. The New York Times has created a text while driving simulator, an interactive game that measures how your reaction time is affected by external distractions. Try it out and see how you do.
"Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated. Research also shows that hands-free devices do not eliminate the risks, and may worsen them by suggesting that the behavior is safe.
A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.
Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Instead, they increasingly use phones, navigation devices and even laptops to turn their cars into mobile offices, chat rooms and entertainment centers, making roads more dangerous."
June 7-13 is Tire Safety Month, an event organized by the Rubber Manufacturers Association to promote safety and to raise awareness about proper maintenance and care. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 600 deaths and 33,000 injuries per year are due to under inflated tires. And in addition to being a safety hazard, tires that are improperly inflated also lower a car's fuel efficiency. Consumer Reports offers tips on tire maintenance.
Conventional wisdom has been to use a penny to measure tire tread for safety, but Consumer Reports notes that based on driving performance in a battery of tests, using a quarter would be a safer gauge:
"It has long been the standard that tires are worn out when their tread depth reaches 1/16 inch (or 2/32 inch as found on standardized tread-depth gauges). The easiest way to measure this, if you didn't have a gauge, was to hold a penny upside down in the tread. If the top of Lincoln's head was visible, you needed new tires. See test results of foul weather comprises with worn-out tires.
But CR's tests show that using a penny is too stingy and that most consumers should consider replacing their tires when the tread reaches 1/8 inch."
In addition to maintaining good tire pressure and tread, the age of your tires can be a safety factor - rubber breaks down over time. Many safety experts suggest replacing tires that are more than 5 years old to avoid the potential for a blowout or tread separation.
Posted by Renaissance Group on June 11, 2009 8:06 AM
If you are one of the more than 8 million households fortunate enough to have a private swimming pool on your property, responsibility for safety comes with the privilege. Each year, 280 children under 5 years old drown every year in swimming pools across the country. For children aged one to fourteen, drowning is the second-most common cause of accidental death. Even if you don't have children, be aware that about a third of all child pool deaths happen at pools where the owners have no children.
Nothing is more important to the safety of a swimming child than the eyes of attentive parents.
Keep a landline phone near the pool, so that if there is an emergency you can call 911 and the operator will be able to instantly trace the call and send help.
Surround your pool with four-sided fencing and a gate that locks.
Never leave children unattended in or near the pool. Drowning takes only a few seconds.
Even when there is a group of adults present, make sure one is dedicated to keeping an eye on any children in or near the pool. Giving one person that responsibility makes it far more likely potential problems are noticed right away.
Make sure your pool is outfitted with approved safety drain covers and an anti-entrapment device to prevent drain entrapment, the often deadly tragedy of a swimmer becoming trapped by a pool drain's suction. Public pools are required to adopt anti-entrapment measures by law, but PSC encourages private pool owners to follow suit.
Take a CPR class to ensure potential drowning victims do not have to wait for paramedics to arrive.
When not in use, keep hot tubs covered and locked.
This is the first summer that the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act will be in place since the law's enactment in December. This law is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas. Between 1999 and 2008, there were 83 child entrapment incidents reported to the CPSC, including eleven fatality reports, one of them being the one that took 7-year old Virginia Graeme Baker's life in 2002. Under the law, all public pools and spas must comply with federal standards, which is great - but bear in mind that the accident that took Virginia's life happened at a private home. If you are a private pool owner, you may want to voluntarily comply with these standards, too - this news article provides compelling evidence for why.
Check your insurance coverage
In addition to talking every possible safety measure, pool owners also need to ensure that they are adequately covered against any potential risks. If you have a pool or hot tub or are considering adding one or the other, be sure you talk to your agent to ensure that you have appropriate coverage. Here's some advice from the Insurance Information Institute about swimming pool coverage:
Let your insurance company know that you have a ool, since it will increase your liability risk. Pools are considered an "attractive nuisance" and it may be advisable to purchase additional liability insurance. Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. Pool owners, however, may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000.
You may also want to talk to your agent or company representative about purchasing an umbrella liability policy. For an additional premium of about $200 to $300 a year, you can get $1 million of liability protection over and above what you have on your home. This would also provide added liability protection when you drive.
If the pool itself is expensive, you should also have enough insurance protection to replace it in the event it is destroyed by a storm or other disaster.
Posted by Renaissance Group on May 28, 2009 11:52 AM
Are you one of the 32.4 million Americans who will be traveling at least 50 miles from home this holiday weekend? If so, you may find some travel bargains - at least in comparison to last year. According to AAA, the average gas price is not expected to top $2.50 over the summer - a big drop from last year's price, which averaged about $3.80 on Memorial Day. AAA also reports that hotel rates are running about 7% to 12% less than last year.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds you to buckle up and drive defensively. NSC estimates there will be 366 traffic fatalities and an additional 19,400 nonfatal disabling injuries. And remember, from May 18 to May 31, the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign will be in full force - law enforcement agencies join forces day and night, from coast-to-coast, for an enforcement blitz. The primary audience continues to be men ages 18 to 34, which research shows are less likely to wear seat belts.
Prepare your car. Ideally, you should have your car checked before long road trips. At minimum, check your gas, oil, windshield wiper fluid and tire pressure. Clean headlights and mirrors. Be sure you have a spare tire and the essentials in a roadside emergency kit.
Be well rested. Driving can be hypnotic - if you are yawning or having trouble keeping focused, pull over and take a short nap. Even if you aren't sleepy, take a break every few hours to stretch your legs and keep alert.
Allow extra time to reach your destination. Leave early and plan to avoid peak traffic hours, if possible.
Wear your seat belt and ensure that all passengers wear theirs.
Obey speed limits. Speeding is unsafe at the best of times and even more dangerous in heavy holiday traffic. And remember - it's also illegal. Police will be out in force over the long holiday weekend.
Minimize distractions. Turn off the cell phone and bring games for the kids. Read your maps before you go, or pull over if you need to consult one.
Don't tailgate. Keep a good distance from the car ahead of you to allow maximum reaction time. A good rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 miles of speed for cars. Double that for trucks.
Use caution around trucks and large vehicles and give them a much wider berth. Don't pull out in front of them or brake suddenly because trucks require more stopping time. Only change lanes when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rear view mirror. Be aware that truck divers can have many blind spots - pass on the left not on the right.
Don't drink and drive. This should go without saying! Also be careful about overindulging in food - that can make you sleepy.
Plan for emergencies. Bring phone numbers for your insurance agent and your insurer. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Bring a spare car key. The University of Oklahoma Police Department has a great emergency checklist that you can print out to ensure that you have all the info you would need should you run into an emergency or have a lost or stolen wallet.
Posted by Renaissance Group on May 21, 2009 11:39 AM
Our workers' compensation service partner Lynch Ryan had previously posted this on their Workers" Comp blog - we thought it was important advice that bears repeating as we approach the summer months.
If you are a parent of a high school or college age kid, you are probably familiar with the quest for the summer job. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, more than 2 million teen workers flock to the workplace, many for the first time. Think back to your first job - it can be an exciting thing to earn that first paycheck. It can also be very dangerous. Every year, about 70 teens are killed on the job and about a quarter of a million suffer injuries on the job. That means that about once every three minutes, a teen gets hurt at work.
All first-time workers are vulnerable to work injuries, teens especially so, often because of youthful feelings of invincibility. New workers aren't yet work hardened. Because they don't know their limits, they are more susceptible to overexertion, strains, and sprains. Young workers typically aren't seasoned enough to have good judgement about risks. Eager to make a good impression, they often don't want to ask for help, question authority, or call attention to themselves in any way.
Most work-related teen deaths occur as the result of motor-vehicles or as a result of machine related accidents. Agriculture has accounted for more than 40% of these fatalities, followed by the wholesale/retail trade, and construction. Frequent nonfatal injuries include lacerations, contusions, abrasions, sprains, or strains. Weather related injuries are also common - sunburns, heat exposure, and the like. The pattern of nonfatal injuries follows the most common types of employment: wholesale/retail and service industries.
Over the month, we'll follow up with more information on this topic. today, we'd like to address parents, and urge parents (or aunts, uncles, friends) to be proactive about teen worker safety:
Familiarize yourself with child labor laws in your state. Know the hours they can work, and restrictions on the type of work they can do. For example, according to the the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE):
" ...by law, your employer must provide protective clothing and equipment necessary for your job, payment for medical expenses if you are injured at work and training in on-the-job safety; and, that on a school day, a 15-year-old is only permitted to work up to three hours a day. Sixteen year-olds are limited to the type of work they can do. For instance, out of these jobs -- A. operating a meat slicing machine at a deli counter, B. driving a forklift at a warehouse, C. waiting tables at a restaurant, or D. performing demolition work at a construction site -- a 16 year-old is legally only allowed to work waiting tables.
... Teenagers are not allowed to work in mining, logging, meatpacking, roofing, excavation or demolition, according to labor laws. They cannot drive a car or forklift or work with saws, explosives, radioactive materials, or most machines."
Take a detailed interest in your teen's work - talk to your child about what they do on the job and talk specifically about safety matters. Ask a lot of questions:
-Do you work alone?
-Who is your supervisor? Is he or she in your work area with you?
-Do you use any equipment or machinery? Have you had training?
- What would you do if…
Trust your instincts - call or visit a workplace before your teen starts work. If you have any misgivings after work starts, follow-up with the boss or the supervisor.
With spring in the air, it's a good time to issue a reminder that bicycles are associated with more serious childhood injuries than any other consumer product except automobiles. Every year, about 300,000 kids wind up in the emergency room because of bike injuries. Head injuries can result in serious brain injury or death. Most states have laws about mandatory bicycle helmets - some laws are for all riders. Most pertain to kids under age 18.
The number is up from about 120 bills in just 18 states 10 months ago, according to an analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a safety research group funded by insurers. Four states -- Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina and Texas -- are considering banning all types of cellphone usage behind the wheel, including hands-free devices."
These laws are controversial - many of the public, particularly younger drivers - are opposed to any restrictions whatsoever. While police often support some restrictions, they worry about enforcement. Many favor a broader policy aimed at all "distracted driving" issues, and many others suggest that prohibitions should focus on novice drivers or drivers of public transportation. But others are in favor of total restrictions. Some of the legislative activity was spurred by the National Safety Council's (NSC) call for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. This recommendation was based on a study by the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis which found that cell phone use while driving contributes to 6 percent of crashes, equating to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC also cited several other safety studies in their recommendation.
CA, CT, DC, NJ, NY and WA ban hand-held phones outright for all drivers; several other states allow banning by jurisdiction or have provisions limiting the use of handhelds. Some states treat cell phone use as a larger distracted driving issue.
No state completely bans all types of cell phone use (handheld and hands-free), but many prohibit cell phone use by certain segments of the population, such as novice drivers or school bus drivers.
8 states AK, AR, CA, CT, LA, MN, NJ and WA ban text messaging
Posted by Renaissance Group on April 2, 2009 3:22 PM
Planning any spring or summer travel? One silver lining to the bad economy is that travel prices are dropping and there are some good deals to be found...but you might want to protect your investment with travel insurance. The Insurance Information Institute's Travel Insurance Quiz offers a good overview of what travel insurance does and doesn't cover:
Posted by Renaissance Group on February 22, 2009 10:10 PM
Fox news just issued their list of The Top Ten Deadliest Stretches of Road in America. To compile this list, they analyzed five years of crash reports to determine which roads had the highest number of deadly accidents. For those of us in New England, the good news is that none of those roads are located here. California has four roads on the list; Florida and Arizona both have two roads on the list; and Texas and Nevada both have one. See a comparison chart of all states auto fatalities and fatality rates.
But New England drivers shouldn't relax. Nearly 60% of all highway deaths occur on rural roads, and two New England states appear on a 2005 report of states with the highest percentage of rural road fatalities:
North Dakota (90%)
South Dakota (89%)
South Carolina (83%)
West Virginia (80%)
If you'd like to check the safety of the roads in your neighborhood or on your commuting route, there's a terrific tool developed by University of Minnesota researchers which allows you to do just that. It combines information from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System with Google Maps to offer a visual representation of traffic safety across the U.S. You can enter an address and view the roads that have the highest number of traffic fatalities in a specified area, or you can view data for your state.
Most dangerous road in the world
As treacherous as some U.S. roads can be, they pale in comparison with Bolivia's Death Road, a 60 to 70 kilometer mountainous stretch between La Paz and Coroico, which is often cited as the most dangerous road in the world. It's been the subject of numerous televised reports - watch a 6 minute clip:
Posted by Renaissance Group on February 17, 2009 9:07 AM
If you are risk averse, avoid driving on Saturdays in August. According to a recent article in Forbes, those are the most dangerous times to drive. The article is accompanied by a short slide show filled with interesting accident and fatality statistics.
But as Mark Twain was fond of saying, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In reader comments about the article, several people point out that it is not the sheer number of fatalities that is significant but the relative risk. If numbers alone were significant, then motorcycles would be the safest means of transportation since the sheer number of fatalities is low in comparison to autos. As the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety notes: "Risk is characterized by the bad outcomes for a given level of exposure." To determine the risk, it would be more significant to determine the fatality rate in relation to the number of cars on the road at a given time or in relation to the number of miles driven.
That being said, the Forbes article sheds light on an important topic and notes one indisputable and sobering fact: auto accidents kill upwards of 40,000 people each year or about 110 per day, far too many by any yardstick one might care to use. And most accidents and related injuries are attributable to human error: distractions, speeding, drunk driving, failure to use a seat belt, driving too fast for the weather conditions, and failure to keep a safe stopping distance from other vehicles.
If you want to delve into the statistics yourself to learn the relative risk for specific factors such as geography, demographics, or day of the week, try Traffic STATS, an interactive website developed for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety by the Carnegie Mellon Research department. If that is more involved than you would like to get, John Tesh has collected some interesting data points on relative driving risks from Traffic Stats analysis:
A cautious 82-year-old woman is more likely to die in a car crash than a risk-taking 16 year old boy. Why? Because the 82 year old is more fragile
The second most likely group to die in a car accident, after little old ladies, young male drivers between the ages of 16 and 23. Their fatality rate is 4 times higher than average
Drivers in New England are the safest. They get in the fewest crashes of any region
The safest passenger in the car? A baby or toddler secured in a car seat during morning rush hour traffic
The safest vehicle is a school bus
The most dangerous vehicle is a motorcycle
The safest driving day is Wednesday. There are the fewest crashes and fatalities
Saturdays are the deadliest days on the road
The safest driving month: February
The deadliest month: October
And the drivers with the lowest risk of death are adults between 40 and 50 years old
Posted by Renaissance Group on January 27, 2009 9:24 AM
That statistic leads into a topic that we've been planning to introduce: How much do you know about fire extinguishers? If you're like most people, probably not too much. But using the wrong type of fire extinguisher might be more dangerous than not using any fire extinguisher at all. Paul Caret of MEMIC Safety Blog has a great post on fire extinguishers that includes a chart on various types of fire extinguishers and their ratings, along with links o interactive sites that provide information on anything you might need to know about the selection, use and maintenance of fire extinguishers. We particularly liked the animated and interactive fireextinguisher.com, available in English and Spanish.
The Escondido Fire Department offers a quick one-page summary for fire extinguishers in the home, including where to put them, how to maintain them, and when to use them. But have you ever actually used a fire extinguisher? In this short video, Captain Joe Bruni offers a quick demonstration.
If you haven't disposed of that live holiday tree yet, this video is a sobering reminder that now is a good time. Experts say that live trees shouldn't be kept for longer than three weeks, even when properly watered. The best way to dispose of the tree is to recycle it ... either as wood for your own or a neighbor's wood stove or fireplace, or through a community recycling program - some communities offer pickup services and programs that will chip trees to make mulch. This site offers links to Christmas tree recycling options by state.
Posted by Renaissance Group on December 30, 2008 10:01 AM
With a major ice storm under our belt, many area residents are just getting power and heat back and we are facing more potential adverse weather over the weekend.
The American Insurance Association offers handy tips to homeowners following the northeast storm, which include pointers on how to start the insurance process. And if your home has been damaged or destroyed, you may want to invest two and a half minutes to watch the Insurance Information Institute's advice on how to file a homeowner's claim:
Preparing for the next storm
With some advance notice, there are things you can do to prepare for winter storm emergencies. Here are a few good resources:
The American Red Cross suggests a list of supplies to include in a home emergency kit, covering such items as water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items.
Winter Power Outage Tips - an excellent resource on what to do before, during, and after an outage compiled by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After an Emergency - The Centers for Disease Control inform us that every year, more than 500 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning and, sadly, here in New England, we have had carbon monoxide-related deaths after the recent storms. In Massachusetts, the law states that you must have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, excluding unfinished basements, attics and crawl spaces. You may need more than one per floor because detectors must be placed within 10 feet of a bedroom door. This is good advice for homeowners whether or not your state has a law. Be sure to refresh your batteries periodically.
Posted by Renaissance Group on December 18, 2008 12:35 PM
Many New Englanders are waking up to icy driving conditions today. In light of this, we bring you this noteworthy video clip shot during a January 2007 ice storm in Portland Oregon. One resident awoke to a racket outside his window and captured footage of an unplanned ice-top demolition derby involving at least 15 separate accidents in a span of a just a few minutes.
With experience, an abundance of caution, and good tires, snowy conditions can generally be navigated - but ice is another matter. It's generally best to wait until the sanders and plows have treated the roads before venturing out in ice storms.
Safe winter driving actually starts before a storm and before you even get in your vehicle. Check your tires and your tire pressure, keep your antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and gas tank topped off, and store shovels, scrapers and an emergency kit in the trunk of your car - include a bag of sand or kitty litter to give your car traction if you get stuck. It's also a good idea to ensure that you and any drivers in your family review safe winter driving tips. AAA offers a good list of tips for winter driving. And who should know better than our neighbors to the north? The Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety has a comprehensive page of winter driving tips. RoadRagers also offers excellent tips specifically for driving on ice.
Tasty regional dishes have a way of migrating throughout the nation and that's been the story of deep-fried turkeys. What used to be largely a southern dish, much-beloved in Louisiana, has become a popular new way for adventurous chefs to prepare turkey - and no wonder, it's totally delicious.
But this Thanksgiving, L.A. firefighters have a question for the would-be turkey fryers : Your turkey or your life? They've produced some dramatic footage of exactly what can go wrong to highlight these dangers.
You can see that it is a dangerous endeavor. Dangerous enough that Underwriters Laboratories has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with their trusted UL Mark. If you decide to fry that bird regardless, please read the linked article to get some safety tips from the fire experts of the LAPD.
Thanksgiving fires are common
You don't have to be frying a turkey to run into trouble on Thanksgiving - cooking fires nearly double on the holiday, occurring more than twice as often as any other day. According to the United States Fire Administration, Thanksgiving sees an average of 4,300 residential fires resulting in 15 deaths, 50 injuries and over $27 million in property damage each year. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home this year - to prepare for a safe holiday, take a minute to review some best practices for cooking safely issued by the U.S. Fire Administration.
Posted by Renaissance Group on November 25, 2008 1:15 PM
Did you replace your smoke alarm batteries last week during daylight savings? Traditionally, fire prevention authorities suggest that daylight savings is a good time to check your smoke alarms ... it's suggested that when you change your clocks, you also get in the habit of replacing your smoke alarm batteries, a simple bit of housekeeping that might just save your life. So if you remembered, you should be protected, right? Maybe not!
This year, you may want to go one step further because firefighters have some important new advice on smoke detectors. The nation's largest firefighter union is suggesting that you do more than just change your batteries - they are suggesting you change the type of smoke alarm that you use. Deputy Chief Jay Fleming of the Boston Fire Department states that around 50% of everyone who dies in a Massachusetts fire dies when the smoke detector operates, and in the vast majority of those cases, they are killed by smoldering fires
Most homes are equipped with ionization smoke alarms, which are good at detecting flames but photoelectric smoke alarms are more sensitive to smoldering, smoky fires. WBZ's I-Team reported on the two types of alarms, including video footage of testing various fire alarms. The clip dramatically demonstrates just how dangerous a smoldering fire can be before a traditional fire alarm will sound. Case in point: a recent smoldering kitchen fire that killed a Cleveland resident without tripping the smoke detector.
No home should be without a smoke detector. Some fire authorities suggest the belt-and-suspenders method of having both types of fire alarms installed. You can get insurance to protect your property but no amount of insurance can replace a life.
Posted by Renaissance Group on November 7, 2008 9:30 AM