Grill BlogJuly is National Grilling Safety month and whether you are deemed the “Barbeque Master” on your block or not, safety still matters! Most all safety tips really are just common sense, but with the regularity in which we barbeque each summer comes a comfort level that sometimes allows for us to overlook one or more safety items that can put  you, your loved ones, or property at risk.  Knowing what risks you are taking each time you fire up your grill puts you one step ahead of the fire and the potential damage that can come from simply doing something you do quite often.  Here are just a few things to keep in mind when grilling this season or any other season for that matter.

1.       Respect the Fire

I don’t think I need to tell you that fire is a destructive force that can quickly turn into a nightmare if taken for granted.  There are thousands of fires each year that evolve from grilling, causing injury, death and millions of dollars in property damage.  Knowing your flame and how to control it is number one.  Designate one person to watch the fire that is aware of how to cut fuel supplies, extinguish fires, and call the Fire Department. This person should also be familiar with how to treat burns.

2.       Food Safety

Although it’s probably the most obvious risk, fire is not the only one when grilling.  Food safety is key to being able to enjoy the outdoors when on vacation, at a party, or even just a quiet family dinner.  Bacteria can eat and exist on every kind of food that you possibly imagine.  It can grow and multiply at any temperature and if you aren’t careful, can prove to be one of the worst experiences of your life (no joke).  If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you may agree that it may just be the worst type of “sick” you’ve ever been.  Keep in mind when you are done serving up yourself and your guests, everything gets put into the fridge.  A few rules of thumb: Wash your Hands, Cover it Up, Keep it Cool, Get it Hot!, and simply put…Use your Head.   Bacteria can grow on anything that is above freezing and can stay alive until the temperature hit’s 165 degrees F.

3.       Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)…aka Smoke

Acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, and fluoranthene…wait what????  These are just 3 of the 18 of the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) that can take flight when grease begins to burn.  Just like second hand cigarette smoke can give you cancer, so can smoke from grilling.  Although, the smell of a grill can be nostalgic and somewhat enjoyable when cooking up your hamburgers and hotdogs, be sure to keep your distance.  The younger you are, the worse effect it can have on you.

4.       Gas Safety

Do you know what the some of the number one causes of a gas fire is?

a. Gas leak

b. Bugs

c. Organic Materials

d. All of the Above

If you chose “d”, congratulations!  You are one step closer to knowing your grilling safety and keeping yourself, loved ones and your property out of harm’s way.  Any of the items listed above can ignite a gas fire when you start up your grill because they are “hidden” behind, underneath, or inside your grill where you don’t often look.  Check out your grill from all angles before firing it up. Look for anything that could be flammable near or around your grill and remove it accordingly.  In addition to being gross and annoying, bugs can cause all kinds of damage in regards to your grill that may result in a gas flowing where it shouldn’t.  Check for leaks and other possible breakages that can result in a fire.

5.       Drink Responsibly

Most of us like to cool it down with a tasty alcoholic beverage when grilling, but much like driving, alcohol and grilling do not go hand in hand.  Grilling requires clear a mind.  Be sober, be alert, and above all be responsible when grilling!

For more safety tips on grilling, please visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/cooking.shtm.  Be calm and grill on my friends!

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Double check these items to make sure your home is safe (image via Arrow Fence Co)

June is National Home Safety Month and the National Safety Council, in conjunction with partners across the country, is encouraging everyone to participate by doing their part to make their home a safer place to live. 

Here are 8 things you can do this month to reduce the risk of preventable injuries and property damage.

1.     Check Your Smoke Alarms

This is something you are likely to hear several times a year, but there is a reason that it comes up so often – it is important.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, two thirds of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.  Check that each alarm has good batteries and that the alarm itself is in good working condition. Make sure you have enough smoke detectors to provide proper protection for all members of your family.

2.     Have a Fire Drill

Your family needs to practice escaping from a home fire for the same reason that children practice evacuating their school building in the event of a fire; practice makes it easier to do what you need to during a crisis.  The best way to protect your family in a fire is to make sure they know what to do and how to get out of the house.

3.     Make a List of Emergency Phone Numbers

We sometimes take for granted that everyone knows what to do and who to call when there is a crisis but this isn’t always the case.  Make a list of important phone numbers including the police and fire station, close family members, the poison center, neighbors, and family doctors and dentists.

4.     Create a Basic Emergency Plan

Make a plan for basic emergencies that lets all family members know what to do and where to go when something happens.  Your basic plan should include an outside meeting place, the location of basic emergency supplies like flashlights, and the process for shutting off utilities like water and electricity.

5.     Do More than Spring Clean

Clean all lint out of your dryer and exhaust hose.  Have your furnace cleaned and inspected.  Get your septic system pumped.

6.     Keep Things Grounded

Make sure all major appliances like refrigerators, dryers, washers, and dishwashers are grounded.  Locate and test all the GFCI outlets in your house and make sure other family members know where they are.  Don’t overload outlets.

7.     Place Emergency Supplies Throughout the House

You don’t just need a fire extinguisher in the kitchen or near the woodstove.  To be safe, put a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, flashlight, and first aid kit on each floor of the house.  Make sure all family members know where these supplies are located and how to use them.

8.     Eliminate  or Mitigate Risky Areas

If you have a swimming pool, make sure there is a solid fence around the pool that is locked when you are not paying attention to it.  If you have a hot tub, keep it covered when it is not in use.  Protect your family and your neighbors by making it difficult to use these things without you being present.

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Home Insurance

Is your home protected?

No homeowner wants to have to file a claim against their homeowner’s policy.  Whether the claim is a result of Mother Nature or a stroke of bad luck, filing a claim means you have suffered some kind of loss.  Even something that seems superficial can impact our sense of security and if there is any place on the planet where we should feel safe, it is in our own homes.  Our homes hold more than just our possessions.  They also hold the memories of days gone by and dreams of days yet to come, none of which can be replaced by an insurance company, no matter how great a policy you have.

As a homeowner, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of loss and safeguard the safety and security of your family.  While some seem like common sense, we often overlook the most common things that would keep our homes whole and our families safe.  For example, everyone knows that it is very important to have a smoke detector on every floor of your house and to check the batteries regularly.  However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, two-thirds of the deaths caused by house fires in the years between 2005 and 2009 occurred in houses without a working smoke alarm.  Additionally, the majority of smoke alarm failures can be tied back to missing or dead batteries.

Below are 5 tips all homeowners can take to safeguard themselves against loss.

1.     Assess Your Risk of Water Damage

Many people think the only cause of water damage is flooding but water damage caused by plumbing problems, leaking roofs, broken pipes, and other non-flood related events is far more common.   If you have a basement, make sure you have a floor drain or sump pump to remove any unexpected water.  If you use the basement for storage, make sure valuables are stored in such a way that unexpected water will not cause damage.  You should also have your plumbing inspected annually.

2.     Check Smoke Alarms and Fire Prevention Equipment

Verify that all smoke alarms are working and that fire extinguishers are easily accessible throughout the house.   Keep track of fireplace, wood stove, chimney, and heating system inspections and cleanings so you know they are occurring on a regular schedule.  Replace any frayed or damaged cords and be sure you know how to shut-down the power in the house if there is an emergency.

3.     Be Prepared for Storm Season

Here in Arizona, monsoon season brings high winds that can cause serious damage.  Minimize the risk of tree damage by inspecting your property and taking care of loose limbs and dead trees. Make any necessary repairs to siding, windows, and roofs to prevent further damage from high wind and torrential rain.  Create an emergency plan and stock emergency supplies to ensure your family’s safety in an emergency.

4.     Deter Would-Be Home Invaders

One of the best ways to prevent a break-in is to make your home unappealing to thieves.  Installing a home alarm system, exterior motion-sensor lights, and deadbolt locks are all ways to make it harder and therefore less appealing to get inside.  Keep track of all house keys and make sure windows and doors are locked when you leave and when you settle in for the night.

5.     Complete a Comprehensive Home Inventory

In the event that you do experience a loss, it can be very challenging to remember exactly what was lost and to be able to establish the value of all possessions.  Completing a home inventory prior to experiencing a loss ensures you will have the information if it is ever needed. Be sure to include receipts, appraisals, pictures, and video with your inventory and store the physical inventory offsite.