Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving – and use caution on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

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.
See our tips for preventing kitchen fires and our past post on the dangers of deep fried turkeys.
What should you do if a fire breaks out? According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

We’d add a final step if damage occurs: File a report with your insurer or your local insurance agent.
Be safe and enjoy the holiday!

Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving – and use caution on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday – here are some tips for keeping things safe & healthy!
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.
If you plan to brave the crowds, here are some tips for a Black Friday Personal Safety Plan to keep from being trampled, mugged, scammed, or otherwise abused. You might also want to check out these Black Friday Shopping Tips from Consumer Reports for some best shopping practices.
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.
  • Before shopping, it’s a good time to update your passwords. Create unique passwords for each site – here are some tips for creating secure passwords.
  • 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.

Here are a few more tips:
11 Tips for Safe Online Shopping from PC Magazine
Holiday Shopping Dos and Don’ts
Consumer Reports Guide to Online Security
OnGuard Online

Delectable holiday dangers: deep-fried turkeys

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.