published Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Inside Insurance: Avoid holiday problems

David Colmans

This time of year brings great promise for fun with family and friends, ballgames, big meals and the potential for big problems.

It’s time for Thanksgiving meal planning, and there are a few cautions to review. Not the least of which is how to deep-fry the turkey. Hot grease and frozen birds are an explosive mixture. Make sure the turkey is thawed out before immersing it in hot grease.

With all the good times and good meals, there’s likely to be more cooking. That brings up a few items to consider.

• It is a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area away from the cooking appliances so if a fire starts, the extinguisher is easy to reach.

• Remember to aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, not the top of the flames. To extinguish the flames quickly, the base of the fire must be eliminated.

• Make sure all smoke detectors are in good working order, and test them before meal preparation gets underway.

There should also be precautions taken when outdoor cooking is planned. Fires or heated cooking appliances should not be left unattended and it’s a good idea to consider keeping a fire extinguisher handy in the outdoor cooking area.

As temperatures get lower with the approach of winter, home fire hazards increase especially with the added use of electric heaters and space heaters. Here are several concerns that are mentioned by firefighters at this time of year.

• Keep drapes, clothing and furniture away from space heaters and electric heaters.

• Make sure smoke detectors are in good working order, and if there are no smoke detectors, they should be purchased and properly installed as soon as possible.

• Every family should have a fire evacuation plan that has been rehearsed. Family members should know what to do if one or more exits are blocked by fire or heavy smoke.

• For those in second floor bedrooms, consider purchasing fire escape ladders at hardware or home improvement stores.

During the coldest months of the year, news reports often indicate that a family was either killed or injured by carbon monoxide poisoning.

In some cases, the ventilation in a heating system malfunctions. Another common issue is running a generator following a power outage in a garage. Open fires or generators should not be used in a garage.

A carbon monoxide monitor can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores, and these detectors are as important as smoke detectors for family safety.

There are other measures that any family can take for safety sake, but one that is often overlooked is to always check throughout the home or apartment before leaving for any potential fire hazards such as food left cooking on the stove or appliances or other electrical items left on.

David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or by email at dcolmans@giis.org.

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