FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2023
Frozen pipes happen when the temperature dips low enough that the water within the pipe begins to freeze. When water freezes, it expands, and if the water within the pipe freezes long enough and continues to expands it will burst the pipe. Once the temperature moves above freezing and the ice in the pipe starts to melt, you are left with a hole in your pipe and leaking water.
The easiest way to spot frozen pipes is actually pretty simple. When a pipe has frozen, water can’t really flow. So, when a faucet isn’t working at all, or can’t deliver more than a trickle of water, a frozen pipe is a very possible cause. Look for more information about how to fix frozen pipes later on in the 12 Days Winter Warnings.
Yesterday was all about determining when pipes are frozen. Today we’ll be talking about ways to prevent frozen pipes in the first place. The process is pretty simple: since pipes freeze when they’re exposed to low temperatures, keeping them warm keeps them safe. Wrapping pipes with pipe insulation is a good start. This insulation can be purchased fairly easily, and is simple to cut to size and wrap around the exposed pipe. Heat tape is another good option. Since this tape generates its own heat, it is especially good for any pipes that are prone to freezing. Finally, it’s important to keep the heat on in any rooms with pipes running through them throughout the winter. It’s amazing what a difference household heat can make!
Today, we’ll be finishing up our information about frozen pipes with an easy way to help prevent freezing without any advance preparation. When temperatures plunge, a freeze can be prevented by leaving the taps open at a trickle. For maximum freeze-stopping power, let the tap run enough to get the water flowing through the pipes, but it doesn’t need to be full blast. When water is moving, it’s a lot less likely to freeze – protecting otherwise at-risk pipes during cold snaps, or when there hasn’t been time to insulate. Outside faucets is another key area of concern. Preventing freezing and avoiding leaks is always the goal. You will want to disconnect the garden hose from the outside faucet and use the shut-off valve inside the home to shut off the water source to the outside faucet. Once the water is turned off outside the home, you will want to open the outside faucet to allow any excess water to drain from the sillcock.
Today we're switching gears from frozen pipes to ice dams, starting with how to spot one that's formed or forming. Ice dams come to exist for slightly more complicated reasons than frozen pipes: warmer outdoor temperatures cause snow on a roof to melt into water, but colder temperatures on the eaves cause the water at the edges to freeze. Water flowing down from above is blocked, and it forms a small pool behind the frozen ice dam on the eaves, leaking in through the shingles on the roof. Spotting ice dams is not too tricky. Look for any visible ice along the edges of the roof - it is not necessary to go up on the roof to spot them, and we don't recommend it in winter weather. Be especially careful to check on any surprise warmer days when conditions are ripe for snow above to melt, but the eaves to freeze. Ice and icicles along the eaves with snow above is a telltale sign of an ice dam.
Yesterday we talked about spotting ice dams; today we'll talk about clearing them. Always be careful when clearing one; getting to them can be tricky, and the areas around them can be very slick. Don't hesitate to call in professionals if needed!
Here are three tactics that can help with ice dams:
- Blow in cold air. If the leak is clearly ice dam related, get into the attic and place a box fan under the leaking area. This can help cool the area down, re-freezing the water and stopping the leak.
- Use a roof rake (carefully!) A long handled roof rake, used from the ground while standing safely out of the way of any falling snow, can pull snow off the roof and remove the hazard.
- Targeted ice melting. Another option is to deliver a targeted dose of ice melt right at the location of the ice dam (and the leak). Fill a semi-porous material (pantyhose work nicely) with ice melt (not salt) and place it perpendicular to the ice dam, crossing over it and overhanging the gutter. This ice melt will eventually melt the ice, giving the trapped water a way to run off.
Today we’re going to switch gears and talk about how to protect a property during a long trip. Many folks are going away for the holidays, and it’s crucial to have a property checked regularly when property owners are away. But just having someone walk through isn’t ideal – here are some tips to make that check-in really count.
- Have mail/newspapers collected daily - have a person, neighbor, friend, or family member do this daily.
- Arrange daily checks for leaks or other maintenance issues. Spotting any issues early – and within a certain window of time from their start – will be a great help.
- Ensure that the check-ins are documented. The best way to do that is to use a cellphone camera to take photos or videos of the property. It’s important to document visits even if everything looks normal. If something breaks tomorrow, it can be vital to show it wasn’t broken today.
Today we’re going to keep talking about protecting a property during a long trip. This time, we’ll cover steps that should be taken a week or so before departure, and then immediately prior to leaving.
A week or so before leaving:
- Connect a few lights to a timer and set them to go on every day after dark. This will keep the property from being totally dark – a sure giveaway that no one is home.
- Don’t close blinds and shutters or install new perimeter lighting. Changes like these make it obvious that a property will soon be unattended, which can make it a target.
Right before leaving:
- Turn the heat down to no lower than 55 degrees. Don’t turn it completely off during the winter; as the temperature drops, the risk of frozen pipes goes up dramatically.
- Lock the house. That includes pet doors, garage doors, and windows that might normally be left open.
- Throw away any perishables if the trip is planned to last more than 3 days or so. It’s no fun to come back to a rotting mess in the fridge!
Today is all about snow safety. When we think of winter hazards... frozen pipes and ice dams might be the first things that come to mind, but heavy snow can cause problems too. Here’s what to do when heavy snow hits
- When the storm arrives, stay put if possible. The best way to keep safe in a big snowstorm is to avoid exposure to the hazards entirely. Stay with supplies, sheltered inside a building, unless you find it absolutely necessary to go out.
- If planning to remove snow from the roof, be safe. Removing the weight of heavy snow from the roof can help prevent a possible roof collapse, but only if care is taken to remove that snow in a safe manner. Never step out onto a roof covered in snow; instead, use a snow removal roof rake.
- Heat the home safely. Read and understand all instructions for heaters and other sources of warmth. Make sure that no heat source is ever too close to anything flammable. Never leave a fireplace or other open flame burning unattended.
Candles are often a beautiful part of holiday decorating, but if they’re not used with some care, they can quickly turn into a hazard. These tips will help ensure candle safety throughout the holiday season:
Consider battery operated candles. Nowadays they look great, come in all different shapes and sizes, are very realistic, and are much safer than an open flame.
Place candles on sturdy, flame resistant bases. Metal, glass, and ceramic holders are all good choices. The bases should be wide, sturdy and difficult to knock over.
Never leave candles unattended or burning overnight. When leaving a room, or turning in for the night, blow out the candles.
Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. Drapes, bed sheets, furniture, even certain types of wood become fire hazards when near a candle. Give the flame at least 12 inches of space.
Don’t put candles in the window. Electric candles that look great in the window have been around for years. They never have to be re-lit, and they’re a whole lot safer.
Yesterday we talked about candles – today we’ll talk about the safest ways to enjoy their bigger cousin, the fireplace.
- Have the fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected once a year. This step is important whether the fireplace sees regular use, or burns just once a year.
- Keep the area around the fireplace clean. This area needs to be free of debris, especially anything flammable. The walls and floors around the fireplace should made of (or covered with) a fire-resistant material like stone or metal.
- Keep the mesh screen closed at all times. The mesh screen helps keep embers from escaping the fireplace and causing a fire hazard. If a fireplace does not have a mesh screen, buy one and use it.
The holidays are about many different things, but for a lot of people, food is one key ingredient that makes the season special. But when it comes to cooking food - and especially some of the hearty dishes that we often see in winter - it's important to do so safely. In particular, it's key to know how to handle a grease fire if one should start.
Grease Fire Dos
- Put on oven mitts for hand protection.
- Eliminate the heat source by turning off the stove or grill.
- If possible, put out the fire with an extinguisher.
- If no extinguisher is available, cover the pan with a lid. If it’s a grill, shut the lid.
- As a last resort, cut off the fire’s oxygen supply by smothering it with baking soda or salt.
Grease Fire Don’ts
- NEVER throw water on a grease fire. It will actually splash and spread the flames, making a fire harder to control.
- NEVER use flour or sugar to smother a fire. Rather than helping put out the flames, these can actually cause a powder explosion and do even more damage
Today we're going to take a quick trip back to a topic we've already discussed: ice dams. Today we'll look at what can be done to prevent ice dams, rather than dealing with spotting and removing them after they've formed. The key to preventing them in the first place is to get temperatures even across the entire roof - rather than warmer inside and colder on the eaves.
- Insulate the attic. Insulation keeps hot air from rising up and heating the roof.
- Ventilate appropriately. Make sure that ridge and soffit vents are placed appropriately, and make sure that baffles are installed at the eaves to keep the airflow path clear.
- Seal lights, hatches, and ductwork. All those little things in the attic give off heat! Make sure they’re appropriately weatherstripped, sealed, and insulated.
We hope you have enjoyed our 12 Days of Winter Warnings.
Everyone at Rutt Insurance wishes you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, a safe and joyous New Year.
--Content used in this post was originally published by Mammoth Restoration & Construction and is used with their permission.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2023
Teen driver safety has always been a top concern for parents and communities nationwide. Now, a new company is taking proactive steps to address this issue head-on.
How's My Teen Driver is proud to announce its launch as a dedicated and innovative solution for enhancing the safety of teenage drivers. How's My Teen Driver was started by two fathers of driving aged teens in an effort to promote safe driving habits. Being worried for their own kids, these two dads delved deep into understanding the unique challenges and risks associated with young drivers on the road. With the mission to promote responsible driving habits and reduce accidents among teenage drivers, this Idaho-based startup is set to revolutionize the way parents and guardians monitor and support their teen's driving experience by relying not on new technology, but something as simple a bumper sticker. HMTD’s unique approach to teen driver safety offers parents real time, community-sourced information on their teen’s driving habits. How’s My Teen Driver relies on community members, dubbed Road Guardians, to report dangerous or commendable driving habits anonymously by telephone or online. That information then gets passed onto the subscriber of the service.
When I started researching HMTD, I was shocked to find out that according to the NHTSA, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury and death amongst teenagers in the United States,” said Andrew Fullmer, CEO and co-founder of How’s My Teen Driver.
The number of vehicle-related teen deaths increase year over year despite investments in technologies such as family tracking apps and cars embedded with automated driver assistance. Technology notifications often drown themselves in white noise and information can get lost. “You wouldn’t send your kids out on a field trip without a guardian, so it would make sense that our kids shouldn’t be on the road by themselves either. Road Guardians are people in the community that recognize that we all play apart in ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable on the road,” said Fullmer. How’s My Teen Driver picks up where technology fails by harnessing the power of community because there is no substitute for a Guardian who cares.
Subscribers of the How’s My Teen Driver service receive a bumper sticker kit that can be placed on their teen’s vehicles. The cost is $20 for enrollment and $8 monthly. “When someone see the How’s My Teen Driver sticker on a car, the Road Guardian network is visually activated. A bumper sticker on a teen's vehicle is a simple way to tell the community when to take extra precautions and pay more attention,” said Matt Carter, the COO and Co-Founder of How’s My Teen Driver." We understand that allowing your teenager to hit the road for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for parents. How's My Teen Driver aims to ease those anxieties by engaging the watchful eyes of the Road Guardians network. In the absence of a parent, if a bumper sticker can activate that network and save a life, we can all share in that success," said Carter. For more information on How’s My Teen Driver, please visit www.howsmyteendriver.com
This is not a paid endorsement, but an announcement of a new option now available to parents. Used with permission.
Posted 1:39 PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2023
With cooler weather upon us, you may want to make sure your home is sealed up tight and ready for winter. It’s much easier to tackle these tasks now, rather than wait to do them in the rain or snow.
1. Check your home for leaks in your window seals or roof. If your home’s eaves have stains, that can indicate a leak. If you find any stains, call a roof contractor to make any repairs before winter.
2. During the next rainstorm, check your gutters and ensure the water drains away from the home. If your area experiences snow, any back-up of gutters may result in ice damming and lead to water damage. Before winter arrives, shut off all outside water faucets or garden hose connections, then drain hoses and store them in the garage.
3. Clean overgrown vegetation and trim dead branches from trees that are close to your home. Also give your lawn one last cut before cleaning and storing your lawn mower.
4. Clean out your grill and firepit. Cover up or store any outdoor furniture, so it’s out of the elements and stays nice for next year.
5. If you have a HVAC service contract, have them stop by. Otherwise, replace filters and install covers on the AC condensing units on the outside of the home.
6. Call a professional to check your fireplace – especially if you plan to use it during the winter. Nothing is worse than smoking up your home when the weather is cold because your fireplace flue wasn’t cleaned. If you do use your fireplace, be sure to dispose of the ashes properly using a fireproof metal bucket.
7. Make sure everything you’ll need for winter is in good working order. If your area gets snow, test your snowblower and have it serviced. Ensure your outdoor activated night lights or security system components are all operating correctly.
- Originally posted by CHUBB https://www.chubb.com/us-en/individuals-families/resources/7-tasks-to-prepare-your-home-for-fall-weather.aspx?utm_source=prs_client&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pcc-october-fall-prepardness
Posted 7:18 PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2023
As kids head back to school, traffic patterns can undergo a big change. School buses are back in neighborhoods picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, and busy parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It’s a good time to remember to slow down and pay attention when kids are present – especially before and after school.
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
Originally posted by our carrier partner Progressive Insurance Connect
Posted 5:43 PM
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2023
Everyone can benefit when landlords ask or require their tenants to secure proper renter’s coverage. As an agent, you have a very important role to educate your clients of the benefits of securing this protection. Doing so can help you build long-term trust while providing the security that BOTH landlords and renters need! Many renters don’t understand why they need homeowners (renter’s) insurance. Some don’t even know if they have it or not. In fact, there are many reasons why renters don’t purchase renters coverage. Let’s review the myths driving the choice not to secure renters coverage, so you can help dispel some of these myths when reviewing coverage with your clients:
Myth #1: Coverage is Expensive
Renters or contents insurance is quite inexpensive. A typical Renters Policy is only about $100 per year. Many companies also offer a multi-policy discount if you bundle your Car Insurance and your Renters Insurance with the same company. This sometimes results in an annual savings on your Car Insurance of more than $100.
Myth #2: Exposure is Already Covered
Many renters believe their personal property is covered by the landlord, when actually the apartment or building owner’s coverage is only for the building itself and the common areas for the apartment owner’s liability.
Myth #3: Coverage is Unnecessary
Many uninsured tenants are younger adults who may not realize the high value of their clothing, furniture, computers, smart phones, valuable jewelry, and music collections.
Myth #4: Coverage is Narrow in Scope
The renter’s policy covers loss in the event of a destructive fire or another major type of loss. If a covered loss makes the apartment unit uninhabitable, the insurer would pay for the necessary hotel costs until the insured moves into another apartment.
If you are a Landlord, talk to your tenant about the importance of having a Renters Policy.
If you are a Renter and don't already have a Renters Policy, give us a call today.
Content for this article taken from original article "Reminder to Landlords and Tenants" from Lititz Mutual Insurance Company.
Posted 11:43 AM