5 Surprising Household Hazards

We know you do everything you can to keep your house safe, especially if you have small children or adventurous pets. You’ve tied up the drawstrings on your blinds, placed non-slip grips on the shower floor, secured your cleaning liquids in an upper cabinet, and changed the batteries in the smoke detector, so everything checks out as safe, right? Well, not necessarily.

There will always be hazards anywhere you go, so home will never be completely safe, but here are a few common household hazards that are easy to miss, and easy to fix.

  1. Trash Cans

A trash can that closes well is important to keep curious noses and little hands from digging into rubbish that could contain a multitude of hazards. Items like broken glass, toxic substances, and spoiled food can still pose a threat, even after they’re in the trash can. So, forego the cheap flip lids and purchase a lid that closes well enough to keep kids and dogs away.

  1. Broken Garage Door

Electronic garage doors are made to sense objects (or people!) underneath them and retract to keep injuries from occurring. Like all electronic things, garage doors experience malfunctions and breakdowns which, in this case, can be harmful or even deadly. If your garage door starts acting funny or experiences some damage, call a professional to come service it for you – an important fix of this magnitude shouldn’t be left up to instructions from the internet.

  1. Window Screens

You want to throw those windows open with abandon because the weather outside is irresistible! We get it, but don’t think that a child is safe just because the window has a screen. The small, transparent frame that keeps bugs from getting in isn’t enough to catch the weight of a falling or pushing person, so make sure the windows on your upper floors have bars! At least until the kids get older.

  1. Treadmills

Treadmills can easily be one of the most dangerous items in your house for both children and adults if they aren’t operated with care. Falls on a treadmill can result in traction burns, broken bones, pinched skin and snagged clothing, and more. Every treadmill should come with an attached safety magnet to be worn during workouts. Make sure every user wears the clip, and turn on the safety switch or unplug the treadmill when it isn’t in use.

  1. Electronic Appliances

From blow dryers to microwaves, electronic appliances have the ability to malfunction and cause fires or electrocution. Always pay attention to any unusual display messages on your appliances, and carefully follow instructions for proper use. If you know you’ll be running many outlets at once, invest in a surge protector to protect you and your other appliances.

And Don’t Forget Home Insurance

No matter what happens in your house, a good home insurance policy with liability coverage will always have your back. Independent agents have the ability to shop multiple carriers for good policies that fit your unique risks and budget! So, if you don’t have your home insurance policy yet, get in touch with your independent agent to find the right coverage for you.

Will My Home Insurance Policy Cover My Dog’s Breed?

As dog owners, we love our furry little companions more than anything. Unfortunately, some insurance companies don’t if your pooch falls under certain breed categories. There are a number of breeds that many insurance companies are hesitant to offer coverage for because statistics show that they are more likely to bite and cause injuries. This, of course, can cause problems when it comes time to buy home insurance. Be prepared to work with an independent agent who can shop multiple carriers if you own a full-breed or mix of one of these breeds:

  1. Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
  2. Rottweilers
  3. Doberman Pinschers
  4. Great Danes
  5. Perro de Presa Canarios
  6. Chow Chows
  7. German Sheperds
  8. Akitas
  9. Alaskan Malimutes
  10. Siberian Husky
  11. Bull Mastiffs
  12. Wolf Hybrids

What to Keep In Mind

The average claim payout for dog bites is $30,000. If you’re found responsible for rehabilitation costs and/or lost wages, not to mention your legal fees, you could quickly find yourself in a lot of financial trouble. Your homeowners policy should include liability coverage, typically starting somewhere around $100,000. If you own a dog that made it on this list, ask your provider how much more it would cost to upgrade that amount to $200,000 or more.

On that same note, some carriers may require you to purchase an umbrella policy if your dog is labeled as an aggressive breed or has a bite history. Whether it is required or not, you may want to consider this additional policy because it raises your liability coverage close to the $1 million mark! Plus, it could come in handy for any incident that occurs on your property, not just dog bites.

Prevention

Every dog is a liability, regardless of its breed. Reduce the likelihood of a dog-related lawsuit by socializing & training your dog early on, playing non-aggressive games, and being aware of your dog’s behavior and removing it from situations it finds stressful. As always, make sure to spay/neuter your dog, heavily supervise it around small children, and keep it securely fenced or on a leash when outside.

If you own one of these breeds, it is going to be more difficult to procure home insurance, especially at a good rate. If you’re in the market for a new home right now, contact our agency to get ahead of the curve and find a company that will insure your home (and your pup) at an affordable rate!

Smoke Detector Best Practices

Every homeowner knows that smoke detectors are crucial, but do we really utilize them to the fullest degree?

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. This number is drastically lower than the number of deaths caused by home fires before smoke alarms were required in every home, but it is still too high considering the advanced technology we have to prevent fire deaths today!

Keep reading to learn some basic tips about smoke alarm usage and routines to keep your home safe for years to come.

Place Smoke Detectors Strategically

Unsurprisingly, most deadly house fires occur when everyone is asleep. If your family sleeps behind closed doors, it is important to install a separate smoke alarm in every bedroom. This ensures that no one sleeps through the sound of more distant alarms or the smell of smoke. If anyone in your family is hard of hearing, you should install alarms that also flash bright light so they can be alerted visually.

To avoid nuisance alarms from normal smoke and steam, don’t install the detector in close proximity to your stove or your bathroom. At the same time, avoid placing them by windows, doors, and air ducts, which can keep hem too ventilated and interfere with their operation. Depending on how much control you have over the installation process, opt for interconnected fire alarms that trigger the entire network to go off when one sensor is triggered.

Keep A Maintenance Schedule

If we said that checking our smoke detectors was easy to remember in our busy day-to-day lives, we’d be lying. That’s why it’s best to make it easy for yourself and just set a reminder on your mobile device reminding you to test your alarm system once a month just to make sure everything is in working order.

Batteries in your smoke detector need to be changed once per year. This not only ensures that your alarm should always have battery power, but it will prevent the dreaded “chirping” noise that comes when smoke detectors have dying batteries.

Every 10 years, the smoke alarms themselves should be replaced. An easy way to keep track of this is to keep a sticker on the back of the battery cover with the replacement date written on it, so you’re reminded each month of when you’ll need to replace your smoke detectors.

Make A Fire Escape Plan

Have you developed and practiced a home fire escape plan with your family? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t – only 26% of families have, according to the American Red Cross. Regardless, this is an important tip to take from the home fire prevention experts. All a smoke detector does is alert you to the presence of a fire. From there, it is up to you to get out of your home safely. Panic can seriously impede safety measures and waste precious minutes in an emergency, so it is imperative for your family to have a plan in place and know exactly what to do if your home catches fire.

Potentially Save on Home Insurance

Some types of smoke detectors can reduce your home insurance premium cost. This mostly applies to central monitoring systems that connect to emergency services and alert the authorities when the system is triggered. These are particularly useful for homeowners who travel a lot, but they are a great safety option for anyone to have. However, these systems cost more than the average smoke detector. Ask your independent agent if a home insurance discount could help offset the cost of a central monitoring system!