Russ Dubisky, executive director of the S.C. Insurance News Service, suggests several things individuals can carry out to assure their safety and protection against losses.
Keep the following tips in mind to help avoid fire:
•Select a freshly cut Christmas tree with flexible needles and water regularly. Place the tree in a secure stand away from a heat source. Never go near a tree with a candle or lighter. If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it is made of fire-resistant material.
•Do not overload electrical sockets with too many cords. Always unplug holiday lights when no one is at home or when everyone goes to bed. Use only Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved lights and discard any damaged cords. Never use indoor lights outside, and do not block exit paths with Christmas trees or other decorations.
•Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Make sure someone is nearby to tend the fireplace when in use.
•Check candles to make sure they don’t burn down too far. Put them in sturdy holders away from combustible materials. Clean and trim wicks to l/8 to 1/4 inch before lighting. Never leave burning candles unattended.
•Make sure that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in good, working order.
Thieves don’t take vacations so protect your property when you are away. I suggest the following preventative measures to keep your home safe: keep your home well lit; mount exterior lights out of reach of potential burglars in your yard or on your house; put indoor lights on a timer; make it time consuming to break into your home since dead bolt window and door locks can slow a burglar down. Make sure you have strong doors in good condition. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1 3/4 inches thick and each door must fit its frame securely. The best lock will not deter a burglar if it is installed in a weak door.
Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. Monitored alarms are most effective because they also alert the police, fire or other emergency service. Most burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm system. A sophisticated alarm system could result in insurance discounts of 15 to 20 percent. Keep shrubbery well-trimmed below window level. Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. When possible, do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk; burglars know where to look. Put critical documents in a lock box somewhere else in the house. Expensive jewelry should also be hidden in another room besides the bedroom. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the internet; you don’t want a hacker at work while you are away. Don’t broadcast your absence in a voice mail or email greeting. Do not share travel plans on social media, such as Facebook.
Theft of personal possessions and damage to the home caused by a break in is covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. However, if you have expensive items such as electronics, jewelry or artwork, you may wish to purchase additional coverage. If you give or receive valuable pieces as gifts during the holidays, be sure to check your insurance coverage: Contact your insurance professional immediately and have the item appraised. Keep a copy of store receipt and add to home inventory; store valuable in a secure location.
It is important to remember that the last three months of the year are the time when deer are on the move. It is recommended drivers be especially cautious just before and after sunrise and from sunrise to midnight when deer tend to be moving more often. Deer car crashes have increased 21 percent over the last five years. South Carolina is rated as medium risk for likelihood of such an accident. To avoid trouble, here are some tips:
•Drive with caution in posted areas.
•If you see one deer, look for others, as they often move in groups.
•Use high-beam lights when possible to reflect the eyes of the deer. Blow your horn to frighten the deer away.
•If a collision seems unavoidable, brake firmly and stay in your lane. If you swerve to avoid the deer, you could lose control of your car or end up in the path of another vehicle.
•If you hit a deer, don’t touch it. Call police to report the incident.
•Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to report damage to your vehicle. Collision with a deer or animal is covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.
We cannot mention the winter holiday season without a reminder—Christmas will be here before you know it. You are special in God’s eyes. May you be blessed this Christmas with the joy and love of God’s Perfect gift.
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace, good will to all." (Luke 2:6-14)