Category: Home Insurance

How to put out a Kitchen Fire

How to safely put out a Kitchen Fire

More fires start in the kitchen than in any other place in the home. Learn how to safely put out a kitchen fire. Aside from being common, cooking fires can also be deadly. Kitchen fires caused by cooking equipment make up on average 49% of home fires, 21% of home fire deaths and 44% of home fire injuries, according to a 2014-2018 study by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

Here are few ways that kitchen fires can start and some firefighting prevention tips. Read on to learn how to put out a kitchen fire. Also make sure you have home exit strategies in place — and know when to give up. Sometimes getting out and to safety is the best plan of all.

Causes of kitchen fires

Some of causes of kitchen fires are:

  • Unattended or distracted cooking. Unattended equipment was involved in 31% of cooking fires, according to the NFPA. Fires and injuries can happen even after the cooking process is over. It’s surprising how often a burner is left on after cooking, forgotten in the rush to finish the job.
  • Grease or messes. Grime buildup in burners, on the stovetop or in the range hood is a cause for concern. Frequent cleaning will prevent this buildup and a fire from igniting or spreading. Cooking grease (from deep frying, sauteing or greasy foods like bacon) also cause fires and will spread quickly if not extinguished properly. Never throw water on a grease fire — use baking soda, salt or a kitchen-appropriate fire extinguisher (more on this below).
  • Clutter or poor organization. Never leave handles facing outward where children, pets or other people can knock the cookware off the stove. Cooking on a range top necessitates constant attention to prevent fires and injuries. Flammable items left too close to open burners or electrical heating devices can cause fires, too. Always leave flammables such as dish towels, oven mitts, plastics, packaging and aerosol cans (such as nonstick spray) away from open flame or radiant cooktop surfaces.
  • Clothing. Do not wear highly flammable fabrics or dangling fabrics (such as scarves or flowing sleeves) when cooking. They can catch fire easily and cause flames to spread or fabric to melt into your skin. Tie back your hair while cooking so it doesn’t fall into open flame areas.
  • Moving or spilling hot foods. The path from the range or stove to the sink, table, or countertop should be checked for obstacles before the hot food is moved.
  • Lack of planning or panic. Once a fire starts, it can spread within seconds. The opportunity to spread a fire is even higher in a kitchen when there are no proper fire extinguishing methods nearby or a plan in place. Keep a pot lid, metal sheet pan, box of baking soda or container of salt within easy reach. Do not use kitchen towels, clothing or aprons to try to beat out a fire. Fabrics are flammable (some more than others) and spread the flames even farther.

Fires can be prevented with caution and a plan. Take some time to assess your kitchen and make sure that you’ve eliminated hazards. Make a plan and rehearse the plan with your household.

Make a plan

Fire extinguishers

Make sure to have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Learn how to safely put out a kitchen fire. These fire extinguishers are formulated for general use and can cover many normal home fire situations. These ratings generally stand for:

  • A — Woods, trash, paper, plastic, textiles, fabrics
  • B — Liquids, grease, oil, gas, kerosene, paints
  • C — Electrical

The class K fire extinguisher is also rated for kitchen use and is normally recommended for commercial-grade kitchens.

  • K — Combustible cooking materials (grease and fats)
  • Class K might be appropriate based on your kitchen appliances and activities (like deep fat fryers or griddles).
  • Unlike ABC-rated fire extinguishers, class K is formulated specifically for kitchen use and should not be used on fires outside of the kitchen.

Read the instructions, understand how to use your fire extinguisher and practice using it. The ratings of fire extinguishers matter because different chemical formulas are rated for different types of fires. You would not fight a chemical fire, for example, with a home extinguisher designed for things like woods, drywall or fabrics.

Exit paths and strategies in the event of a kitchen fire

Look around your kitchen and determine which exits are available in case a fire breaks and you need to leave your house. Try to plan for at least two ways out. (If one exit is blocked by fire or smoke, for example, is there a window you can open or break to escape?) Rehearse this plan with the people who live with you.

Young children and pets

Always teach children never to hide from a fire, no matter how scared they feel. That’s why planning and practicing is important — they will be less likely to panic.

  • The NFPA does not recommend that you teach children how to fight a fire. Instead, you should teach children to get out as soon as possible (a fire can overwhelm even an adult, so a child should not be expected to handle the stress of fighting a fire).
  • Make sure your children know it’s okay to break windows or anything else in order to escape.
  • Reassure your children that they will not get in trouble for the fire or anything resulting from the fire — that your only concern is their safety.

If you have pets, order pet fire rescue decals for your home.

  • Affix them in windows so they are facing outward and can be read from the outside. This alerts firefighters that pets are inside.
  • You can order these decals online or inquire at your local pet supplies store.

In case of a kitchen fire

Always err on the side of safety and have a safety plan so you’ll know what to do in case there is a kitchen fire in your home. Here are a few tips:

  • If a small kitchen fire starts, use an ABC-rated fire extinguisher. Make sure you understand how to use the fire extinguisher before you are in a fire. Read all instructions and videos so you will know how to react if the time comes.
  • If the device on fire is connected to an electrical outlet (such as a toaster), never throw water on it. Remember, water is conductive and you can be electrocuted. Use baking soda or salt to smother the fire or use a fire extinguisher.
  • If you have a grease fire, never use water. Pour baking soda or salt on the fire to smother it. You can also use a metal baking sheet or pot lid to cover the flames. Your goal is to smother the fire by removing oxygen.
  • If you are unsure what type of fire it is, do not use water; use a fire extinguisher.
  • If your oven is on fire, do not open the oven door. Instead, turn off the oven if you can and leave the oven door closed. Just as water can spread a grease fire, opening the oven door lets oxygen in (more fuel for the fire) and the flames will grow. Have your extinguisher ready in case the fire begins to spread from the oven.
  • If you cannot fight the fire or are losing control of the fire — do not stay and keep trying. Get everyone out of the house.
  • If you have a door that closes off your kitchen from the rest of the house, close the door behind you as you leave.
  • Make sure everyone is out of the house. Fires spread fast and you must make saving lives a priority. Remember: It is always better to lose your kitchen or house to a fire than to be injured or lose your life, or the life of a loved one.
  • Stay low and find a way out.
  • Call the fire department from a cell phone or portable phone once you are safely out of the house — or call from a neighbor’s house. Do not stay in the house to make the call.

When in doubt about any of these situations, get out and call 9-1-1. It’s better to call the fire department than to make an error in judgment (trying to fight a fire on your own) and lose your life or endanger your loved ones.

Don’t fight the fire if you don’t know what you’re doing

Fire personnel will tell you that half of the people who attempt to put out a fire in their home do so improperly.

It’s easy to make things worse, such as opening the door of an oven that is on fire or throwing water on a grease fire. Once a fire starts, it grows fast. Smoke and flames can overwhelm a home — and people — in minutes.

If you ever feel you cannot fight the fire for whatever reason — get out. There’s no shame in it. Time is of the essence. Your kitchen or house is not worth your life.

Community training and fire prevention

Take advantage of fire safety programs and get your community involved. They may include classroom training and various prevention and fire extinguisher techniques. If not, ask your fire department if they have fire safety resources. Install smoke detectors on every level and test them twice a year. Buy the proper fire extinguishers for your home.

Stay safe and use prevention techniques, but don’t take risks when it comes to fires. When in doubt — it’s time to get out

Learn more at: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/

Give us a call for a review of your home insurance or request a quote online at: https://hcandcinsurance.com/get-a-quote/home-insurance-quote/

How to Prevent a Holiday Season Home Burglary

How to Prevent a Holiday Season Home Burglary

Obviously, you want to protect your home against burglary risks year-round. But thieves know that the holiday season is a time when your home is likely to be filled with brand-new gifts, cash and other expensive items, so extra awareness and security measures are needed.

Protect yourself and your belongings (and maybe even save on your insurance premiums) by practicing a few simple safety precautions.

While away from home during the day or evening

  • Lock all doors and windows whenever you leave the house, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Turn on your lights and the radio or television – a timer can help with this.
  • Keep your front door clear of package deliveries. Online shopping is popular this time of year, so don’t give porch pirates the opportunity to snatch your holiday gifts. If you ship something to your house, set up email or text alerts to confirm when packages arrive. Also, consider asking your mail carrier to deliver packages to your back door.
  • Keep your curtains closed so that would-be thieves can’t see inside your house. Similarly, don’t put expensive gifts near a window, which could invite a smash-and-grab theft.
  • Don’t leave any spare keys hidden outside during the holidays. Instead, give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Put away ladders and tools that could be used to break into your home.

While home

  • Keep doors and windows locked (including on upper floors), even when you’re home.
  • Be wary of strangers at your door. Criminals sometimes pose as charity workers or couriers delivering gifts.
  • If you have a garage, pull your car inside and close the door before you unload all those gifts you purchased. Burglars have been known to watch shoppers leave malls, follow them home and then grab packages from your unlocked car as you are carrying them inside. If you don’t have a garage, always lock your car as you’re carrying packages inside, even if you’ll be right back for more.
  • After the holiday, be careful about discarding packaging that held expensive gifts – thieves will know that those expensive items are now in your home. Instead, cut up the boxes and turn them plain-side out for disposal or recycling.

While traveling

  • Don’t talk about upcoming travel on social media. Wait until you get home to share details and photos.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Have mail and newspapers suspended while you are away so they don’t pile up outside.
  • Use a timer to turn your lights on in the evening and off during the daytime, so it looks more like you’re home.

Keep in mind, devices that make your home safer, such as dead-bolt locks, window grates or bars, burglar alarm systems and security camera systems, may be a smart option. Most insurance companies provide discounts for qualifying security devices.

No matter how cautious you are and how much you try to keep your home safe, if a burglar wants to break into your home, they’ll eventually find a way. This is why insuring your property against theft is important. Be aware you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect special items like expensive jewelry, collectibles or rare antiques.

Having adequate homeowners or renters insurance is one of best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season. Contact your insurance professional for specifics on possible discounts and to ensure your policy is adequate and up to date.

Save Money

Save Money and Cut Stress This Holiday Season

The spirit of giving is part of what makes the holiday season so special. Too often, however, outsized expectations create financial and emotional stress. Read on for some ideas about how to remain generous without breaking the bank.

Holiday Financial Stress
Even before the pandemic, 61% of Americans said they dreaded the holidays because of the financial strain, according to a 2019 Holiday Spending Survey by LendingTree. And yet, according to the consulting firm BRG, 76% of people expect to spend the same or more this holiday season.

Data from the LendingTree survey show that the pressure to overspend is leading to significant stress:

  • Seven in 10 people feel pressured to buy gifts.
  • One in three people lose sleep over financial concerns during the holidays.
  • About one in four people expect to go into debt to purchase presents.
  • Almost one in five individuals are still paying off debt from 2020 holiday purchases.

Presence Instead of Presents
For many people, the social distancing aspect of the global pandemic has increased the importance of being together. This could be a great year to reset expectations and create new traditions around time instead of money.

There are countless ways to give of your time, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • As you prepare meals, make extras and then share them with family, friends or neighbors.
  • Provide transportation to medical or other appointments for an acquaintance in need. It can save them money and provide you with opportunities to talk.
  • For friends or family with children, offer to babysit so they can have an evening to prepare for the holidays or just take time for themselves.
  • Decorate, hang holiday lights or offer to do yardwork for a neighbor who needs an extra hand.
  • Get a group together and volunteer at a food bank or another community organization.

Set Limits
Giving of your time is always a wonderful option. But, realistically, you’ll also be making some monetary purchases. As you prepare for the holiday season, keep these tips in mind:

  • Share financial limitations with family and friends. It may be a relief to them, too, if they are also facing financial limitations. Being transparent about finances can be mutually beneficial, and together you can find low-cost gifts for the holidays.
  • Limit the number of gifts you buy. Tell friends that you’ll have to meet for coffee instead of exchanging gifts this year. If you have a large family, draw names so that each person only buys for one other family member.
  • Ask people what they need. Providing funds for rent, utilities, groceries or car repairs could mean more than any store-bought gift.

Be Aware of Your Needs
As you look to make the holidays special for those around you, keep your own financial and emotional needs in mind. For additional help, talk to your employer about financial education, mental health offerings or other benefits that could make a difference this holiday season.

Does my home policy cover me for Earthquakes?
How to Insure Your Rental Property

DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT COVERAGE FOR YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY?

Rental InsuranceHow much is too much? How much is not enough? Your insurance policy requires you to carry enough coverage to avoid penalties.  Most policies written on a multi-family home that is held for rent contain a “coinsurance clause”.  Depending on the percentage in your policy… it states that you must carry at least 80% or 90% and sometimes 100% of the replacement cost of the home.  Know your percentage!

REPLACEMENT COST

What is Replacement Cost?  It has absolutely nothing to do with the market value of the home!  It is the cost to replace/rebuild your home at the time of loss. I can tell you that this amount is much higher than the market value. Where a 3 family might sell for around $300,000, the replacement cost is north of $600,000!

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Waterproof-your-basement

Waterproofing your Basement

Though water is great for plants, animals, and life all around, it is not for the home! This is why waterproofing your basement is so important.

Water can weaken foundations, damage floors, and cause mold, all of which are dangers to your home.

Mold is especially dangerous. It forms in a dark, poorly vented area with high moisture levels and the basement is often neglected, allowing the mold to grow for a longer period of time.

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ENGAGEMENT RING INSURANCE, Humphrey Covill and Coleman

Engagement Ring Insurance

Down the drain!

Did you read about the bride in NYC that dropped her engagement ring?
This past Monday the New York Times ran a story about a couple who lost an engagement ring. The ring was a little too big and slipped off the bride’s finger on a Friday night into the abyss of a Times Square sidewalk grate just a few hours after grooms proposal. Think, Engagement Ring Insurance.

Paying several thousand dollars for an engagement ring only to lose it or have it stolen would not be a good thing. And finding out that your homeowners policy doesn’t cover that loss would be another blow.”

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Humphrey Covill and Coleman Insurance

5 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe This Holiday Season

The holidays are an exciting time, but without proper protection, what seems like a holly, jolly season can take a devastating turn for the worse. Keep these tips in mind when you’re planning for the upcoming holidays to make sure your home stays safe and sound.

Keep Travel Plans Private

If you’re traveling for the holidays, it may be compelling to tell friends, coworkers, and acquaintances while making small talk, but do your best to avoid this. Letting people know your house will be sitting unattended can be a recipe for disaster, putting your personal property at risk for theft and vandalism. Instead, keep travel plans close to the vest. Don’t post about your vacation plans on social media, share images of your time away from home before you return, or do things like allow mail or newspapers to pile up. The more you do to stay quiet about travel, the less of a target you will be.

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Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy

Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy

Sounds pretty straightforward, but it is not. The named insured is the person(s) shown on the declarations page of the policy. The person(s) listed here should be the same as recorded on the deed. Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy it’s a question you need to ask yourself when a property is left to you and your siblings.

Anyone recorded on a deed should be listed on the insurance policy, avoid doing this at your own peril.

It gets tricky when you have more than one person owning a home. Some homes are owned in part by people, often brothers and sisters, who may live elsewhere. They’re called “non-resident owners.” Here is a fictional example of what could go wrong and what should be done.

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Massachusetts Renter's Insurance

Massachusetts Renter’s Insurance

Massachusetts Renter’s Insurance

Renters insurance may seem like an extravagant purchase for many renters. For Massachusetts Renter’s Insurance families they may assume that they don’t have enough material goods to insure or that renters insurance is far too expensive to fold into their monthly budget.

But the truth is that not having Massachusetts renters insurance can cost you far more than you save.

See how this type of insurance works in your state before you entirely dismiss it.

Renters Insurance Covers Your Possessions

No matter how little you think you have in your life, you may want to consider what it would mean if you had to replace it all. From electronics to jewelry to clothing, it’s not going to be easy to put everything back the way it was if you don’t have any type of financial assistance to do so. Renters insurance is also excellent for covering your things even when you don’t happen to be in your rental. So if your tablet or laptop is stolen when you’re on a business trip from your car, you have some recourse to replace it. If you were hoping your auto insurance was going to cover this, then you may be out of luck. This is why having a Massachusetts renters insurance policy is important.

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