BBQ Basics: Take the time to review grilling safety tips


barbecue timePlanning to use the grill this holiday weekend? For many, it’s the kickoff to a long and happy season of outdoor cooking. But before you begin – did you know that the top cause of grill fires is failure to thoroughly clean your grill?  That’s not a task to shortchange!  Besides thoroughly cleaning your grill, take a few minutes to review some basic safety information with your family to prevent any problems. The National Fire Protections Association (NFPA) says that, “Each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is the peak month for grill fires followed by May, June and August.”

According to NFPA, the main causes of gas grill fires are:

  • Failure to clean the grill – 19%
  • Grill too close to something that could catch fire – 17%
  • Leaks or breaks – 11%

ESPN Sportscenter anchor Hannah Storm relates her survival experience after an explosive fireball engulfed her when trying to reignite her grill. She faults herself for not having taken the time to review safety procedures – a terrible price to pay.

Take the time to clean your grill properly and review some basic equipment and safety guidelines. In this video, NFPA reviews some fire prevention basics:

These fire marshals offer detailed barbecue cleaning and safety tips

And a few other tips …

Turn to IIHS 2016 Top Safety Picks when shopping for a new car


crash-testsIf you’re in the market for a new car, here’s an invaluable research tool: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks for 2016. There are a lot of new vehicle features and amenities that are fun to shop for and compare, but what’s more important than safety? Fortunately, IIHS has you covered. They issue annual awards that emphasize both crash avoidance and “crashworthiness,” or how a vehicle will fare when put through actual crash tests. For 2016, IIHS picked 61 cars for Top Safety Pick and 48 of those qualified for Top Safety+, the highest award. Here’s the criteria and a short video about the awards.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as a basic rating for front crash prevention.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

 

The IIHS offers a variety of resources to help you in your research. Here are a few that we found particularly helpful.

Insurance losses by make and model

Driver death rates by make and model

Choosing the best vehicle for your teen

“A list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers. There are two tiers of recommended vehicles, best choices and good choices. Prices range from about $3,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.”

Crash avoidance features by make and model

Crash avoidance features are rapidly making their way into the vehicle fleet. Six of the most common new technologies are forward collision warning, autobrake, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, adaptive headlights and blind spot detection. IIHS offers a tool to find out which models come with which features.

Dog owners: protect yourself from an expensive dog bite claim


Do you have a dog? If so, you want to be sure that your dog is trained, that you comply with any state or local restraint laws, and that you are adequately covered by your insurance. Although the number of dog bite claims is trending down, the cost for those claims is trending up – the average dog bite claim is now $37,214. That’s the national average so depending on where you live, the cost might be higher: Arizona was $56,654, California is $44,983 and New York is $44,320. Ouch.

May 15 through 21 is dog Bite Prevention Week. Learn how to prevent dog bites and how to keep dogs from taking a bite out of your insurance.

The Insurance Information Institute has some great information on Dog Bite Liability:

There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:

1) A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
2) The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
3) Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

Also, see our prior post about 10 dog breeds that might cause problems with your home insurance

Some insurance companies will limit homeowners insurance availability based on dog breed or dog history. PropertyCasualty360 has an article on the 10 dog breeds most often blacklisted by home insurance carriers.

Many insurance companies don’t have a blanket breed ban. The MSPCA cites several national insurers that will instead “… work on a case by case basis, considering the individual dog’s behavior and history, and may require a meet and greet with the dog and/or a Canine Good Citizen certification.”

And here’s a good infographic from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

dog bite infographic

Everything you need to celebrate Bike Month


May is National Bike Month, time to dust off your bicycle and pull it out of the garage if you haven’t already. Get it out now – we’re getting close to National Bike to Work Week from May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day on May 20!

Here are a few local bike sites that have coordinated activities

We have a checklist of resources to help you get ready for the season:

First, brush up on your state’s bike laws

Next, the League of American bicyclists offers a short video on a Basic Bike Check

Be sure your bike helmet fits right

And don’t forget to make sure you have sufficient insurance for your bike and protect your bicycle from bike thieves