Aug 07 2017

Summer Home Safety Tips

The oversized beach ball is being tossed around in the pool, the kids are playing baseball in the yard, you’re throwing one-of-a-kind Ina Garten-style cookouts on the weekends, and, being the neighborhood’s “host with the most,” you, of course, always have drinks chilling in the cooler. It’s been a long wait for these summer days, but now you are committed to really taking advantage of the season, 90-degree days and all. For many of us living in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the summertime is all about getting outdoors, relishing the sun and heat, and entertaining and relaxing as much as possible.

Bearingstar Insurance does not want to do anything to burst your summer bubble; however, it is our job as your local insurance agents to bring up some things that probably do not cross your mind when you’re having such a good time, unwinding on the lounge chair, and indulging in a refreshing frosé. Many of your beloved summer activities are associated with additional risks and the potential for injury or damage. That’s why we’ve decided to use this latest blog to highlight a few of the most important summer safety precautions that can help you prevent something unexpected from happening to you, a loved one, or a guest at your home.

We will do a deep dive into safety guidelines around the swimming pool, fire up some grill-and-chill preventative measures you can take, and kick around some food for thought surrounding outdoor activities for the kids. However, even if you follow these recommended steps, it doesn’t ever guarantee that it will be an accident-free summer. So, we will also share information about a very affordable insurance option, Umbrella Insurance, that you may want to consider. This is one of the best ways to ease your mind as a homeowner because this coverage can provide extra personal liability insurance above and beyond the limits of your homeowners, auto, and watercraft insurance policies. In fact, it is specifically designed to help protect you from any claims and lawsuits that could arise from a significant injury or damage that you might be held liable for.

Trust the knowledgeable and experienced team at Bearingstar Insurance – you will enjoy that cool dip in the pool and those juicy steak tips straight off the grill much more when you have the type of peace of mind an umbrella policy can provide.

SUMMER HOME SAFETY TIP #1: SWIMMING POOLS

Your party patio turned out just as you imagined it would – a dream pool replete with a cascading waterfall and a hot tub/spa for totally vegging out with your spouse when the kids have gone to bed. However, your new social gathering space does require your added awareness and attention to safety matters.

A sad statistic from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that, nationwide, drowning is the cause of about 300 deaths yearly among children under five years old, and most of these happen in home swimming pools and spas. In addition, many non-fatal injuries often occur due to slipping, falling, electric shock, and roughhousing around and in the pool. And it’s certainly not just the children that you need to worry about; adults can injure themselves just as easily and severely.

The CPSC has several useful summer safety tips, alerts and educational materials for homeowners, like you, that have a pool or hot tub/spa, including the following:

  • Secure your pool by a fence at least four feet tall around the perimeter.
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates.
  • Install a child-proof locked safety cover on hot tubs to keep children out.
  • Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers.
  • Assign at least one adult to the exclusive task of watching young swimmers, and make sure they refrain from drinking alcohol when supervising.
  • Have life-saving equipment on hand such as a safety ring life preserver and a long reaching pole.
  • Take a class in CPR.

Another important step to take to ensure a safer summer is to have a talk with your family and friends about pool rules and the safety precautions you require everyone to practice if they want to enjoy the pleasures of utilizing your personal oasis. Tastefully posting pool rules someplace where they can’t be missed by your guests is another avenue you can take to remind everyone to practice safety first.

SUMMER HOME SAFETY TIP #2: KIDS AND TRAMPOLINES

Being the neighborhood hangout for your child’s friends can be a blessing and a curse. Of course, you love having them around, hearing them giggle and shout for joy as they play in your backyard, but it also adds another level of summer safety responsibility for you as a parent and a homeowner. Gone are the days when all you had to worry about was little Jimmy from next door scraping his knee playing kick-the-can with your kids. Today, homeowners with children often fill their backyards with trampolines, electric cars, flying drones, and playsets that rival some school playgrounds.

Although these items can bring hours of joy to your children, they can also be quite dangerous without the proper supervision and planning. For example, a recent article in Slate.com talked about the dangers of trampoline ownership. The article shares data provided by the CPSC, based on information collected from a sample of hospitals nationally, which estimates that last year, among kids under 18, there were 103,512 ER visits due to trampoline accidents. The same article shares that there are 23% fewer ER visits due to injuries from the use of playground climbing equipment.

At Bearingstar, we want you to be aware of both the risk associated with owning a home trampoline and the CPSC ‘s recommendations for minimizing injuries often connected with these backyard “toys”:

  • Only allow one child on the trampoline at a time.
  • Always have adult supervision when children are using a trampoline.
  • Children under six should not use a full-size trampoline.
  • Avoid installing near trees, poles or fences, which a child may hit.
  • Make sure springs are in position and the bolts well tightened, and install safety pads to cover frame, springs, and hooks.
  • Purchase good quality high trampoline safety nets to enclose your trampoline.
  • Ban stunts such as somersaults, back flips and any other acrobatic moves that could cause head or neck injuries.

If you have not yet invested in a trampoline, your advisors at Bearingstar would like to point out that many in the medical community are adamantly opposed to home trampolines in the first place. Trampolines present such a high risk for children, according to a recent article published in June by the Mayo Clinic, that the American Academy of Pediatrics “…strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home.” Additionally, some homeowners insurance policies will not cover trampoline-related injuries, so we highly recommend you reach out to your Bearingstar representative today to inquire about special coverage solutions you may need if you currently own or plan to purchase this equipment.

SUMMER HOME SAFETY TIP #3: CHILLING & GRILLING

It’s no secret that we, Americans are head over heels in love with barbecuing! Who among us doesn’t feel their mouth water just thinking about grilling some burgers, fish skewers, and ribs? Just catching a whiff of your neighbor cooking that spicy BBQ chicken can get your stomach growling with anticipation.

It’s a scientific fact that smells can evoke memories, which means that the grilling scent can trigger your brain to remember a recent time when you and all your friends were gathered around a table in your backyard talking, laughing, and just enjoying the feast you created on your Weber. In the same vein, the smell of grilling could evoke a childhood memory of when you use to have summer family barbecues at your grandparents’ house. The simple act of putting food on the grill does so much more than provide us with sustenance; it’s a wonderful excuse to gather friends and family together and can fill us with warm feelings of nostalgia as well.

Creating nothing but happy memories is what the team at Bearingstar hopes all our clients will achieve this summer, which is why we would like to remind you how important it is to grill safely, not just this summer, but always. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), outdoor grilling causes an average of 8,900 home fires annually, with gas grills producing most of these accidents.

Since August is one of the peak grilling months annually, our team thought it was a perfect month to share some helpful tips to keep things happy at your outdoor gatherings and, most important, safe around the grill:

  • Place all grills well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area at all times.
  • If you favor a gas grill, tank hoses should be checked for leaks regularly. If your grill has a gas leak, immediately turn off the gas tank and the grill, get away from the area, and call the fire department.
  • If charcoal is more your speed, make sure you let the coals cool completely before removing them from the grill and always dispose of charcoal in a metal container stored outside of your garage or shed and away from anything flammable.
  • Keep grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from grills and trays.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

SUMMER HOME SAFETY TIP #4: AROUND THE HOME

We all do our best to keep our homes free of obvious hazards; however, you cannot always foresee how the most innocent situations can go terribly wrong. Should something happen to someone while on your property, or even after they leave it, you could be liable for damages and medical and legal expenses that are potentially well beyond the liability limits on your homeowners insurance.

Consider these two very realistic summertime (or anytime) scenarios that could happen to you:

  • It’s Book Club night and, per usual, the French rose is iced down and a batch of your famous G&T’s is ready to pour over ice and lemon. The bruschetta, cheese plate, and your famous guacamole dip are already half eaten and the music is gradually getting turned up. You always intend to talk about the book, but mostly you just catch up, talk, dance and end up having several cocktails with friends you generally only see this one time a month. As the sun sets, the “book club” starts to wind down. Your guests leave in a crowd of jokes and hugs, and you tell everyone to be careful driving home. While many of us will enjoy hosting gatherings like this over the summer, there is something that we would like you to remember; there is a huge responsibility that falls on you as a host. The Social Host Liability, or Dram Shop Laws, in the state of Massachusetts and Connecticut can create personal host liability on you; if you knew or should have known a guest has had too much to drink at a gathering, and after leaving the event causes an accident resulting in injury to another individual or damage to property, the host of the party, as the supplier of the alcoholic beverages, could possibly be found the liable party and responsible for the damages.
  • It’s Labor Day Weekend and time for the last summer barbecue of the season, so you have invited your family and a group of friends over to celebrate the end of another beautiful New England summer. The kids, as usual, are playing in the driveway and the side yard, away from the adults. Your youngest, who is always leaving his games, toys, and equipment strewn about the house, drops his bike as he runs to join some other kids in a game of tag. Making a late appearance to the party is your older neighbor up the street. When he gets out of his car he doesn’t notice the bike when he turns the corner. He trips over it and takes a terrible tumble. Yes, of course, it is just an accident, but if his injuries are significant and he decides to claim damages, you could be accountable for hundreds (or thousands) to cover his medical bills.

If you’re thinking that these scenarios don’t sound so far-fetched, we agree! We also understand that it’s never going to be easy to deal with any unexpected accident, especially if someone is hurt. However, when our clients have the proper insurance protection, it does relieve a good deal of the stress involved. This is where personal umbrella insurance makes such a difference. This extra coverage offers the peace of mind you need to know you are protected if an incident, like the ones described above, should occur. Thankfully, umbrella policies do not come into play often, and thus, these policies are reasonably priced. In fact, for just about $250 a year, you can secure as much as $1 million in additional liability coverage. And, if a claim ever does get made against you or someone in your family, you will be grateful that you took the initiative to contact your Bearingstar representative and made the small investment in this extra coverage.

SUMMER HOME SAFETY TIP #5: TALK TO YOUR BEARINGSTAR AGENT ABOUT UMBRELLA INSURANCE

A personal umbrella policy is an extra layer of coverage that protects you over and above your personal home, auto, and watercraft policies twelve months a year. So, whether you are taking advantage of the summertime activities we mentioned in this blog, driving up north this fall to take in the foliage with your family, or hosting a Christmas Eve party at your house for friends, your personal umbrella policy is waiting in the wings if you ever need it.

Our Bearingstar Insurance advisors have a great deal of experience evaluating the personal risk profile of homeowners like you. Our team will help you determine what level of protection is right for you as well as guide you through the eligibility requirements. We recommend you contact us today so we can explain the benefits of adding this additional insurance coverage to your insurance portfolio.

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