Safety Tips


Wintertime Heat and Fire Safety

 

As the cold weather settles in, we’re spending more time inside our homes. It’s that time of year where we turn up the heat, cook indoors, and build a few fires. It is a fun time to cozy up with family and friends, but it’s also important to stay aware of household heating and electrical hazards. Follow these safety tips to make sure that you keep your home as safe as possible.

 

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Colder seasons increase the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a clear, odor-less gas produced by sources such as heating systems, fireplaces, and car exhaust. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home is an easy way to alert you of this potentially fatal gas. Similarly, place smoke alarms in each bedroom, in the hall, and on each floor of your home. Alarms should also be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly.

 

Candles

We all love the romantic glow and comforting fragrance of candlelight. But, in a NFPA study from 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles. Most candle fires begin because they were too close to flammable items, were left unattended in a room, or simply because they were knocked over. Be cautious of this when lighting candles in your home and be extra careful when they are around children and pets.

 

Cooking

Cooking is one of the main causes of home fires, especially during this time of year. Rather than grilling, people stay indoors to cook.  The main source of kitchen fires comes from cooking on the stove. With open flames and hot oil, it’s essential you pay attention and keep your eyes on the stove at all times when cooking. Keep your clothing and flammable materials away from open flames. Also do not leave anything on the stove even when it’s not in use. Most importantly don’t get distracted!

 

Electrical Appliances

Fires are also caused by electrical system failures, as well as poor maintenance and misuse of electrical appliances. Be sure to have correctly installed wiring and do not overload circuits and extension cords. Also make sure you have the right cord for the appliance: keep the heavy duty cords for outside use.

 

Portable Space Heaters

Space heaters are the easiest temporary sources of heat to keep your room toasty in the winter. It is highly recommended to keep these at least three feet from combustible materials such as towels, clothes, and newspapers. Do not leave them on when you leave the house and do not attempt to heat the entire home with them. They are meant to be for small spaces.

 

Fireplaces

There is nothing more comforting than hanging out around the fireplace in the colder months. Take simple precautions to minimize their risk as a fire hazard. Have the chimney inspected and cleaned annually. Be sure to use the right kind of logs and don’t use an excessive amount of materials to build large fires. Keep them at a management size, enclosing the front of the fireplace with a screen to keep the sparks from jumping out into the room.  Also, keep the damper open, never closing it when hot ashes are in the fireplace.

 

Keep your homes and families warm, cozy, and safe this season by following these simple safety tips!

BBQ Safety Tips!

Nothing says summer like a good ole barbecue! Although this summer staple can be loads of fun, it can also be a dangerous activity if the right precautions are not taken. Before you light up, keep in mind these helpful safety tips from the NFPA!

Before You Grill

– Where you place your grill is crucial for safety.  Keep grills away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves, overhanging branches and other flammable structures. You never know when a grease fire may start and when the wind may blow it a little too far.

– Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.

– Check the propane tank hose for the potential leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.  Once you turn on the propane tank, the propane will release bubbles around the hose if there is a gas leak. In no bubbles appear, it’s safe to use.

– For a charcoal grill, if you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

– Clean your grill. Grease and fat may have built up on your grill from previous uses and they provide more fuel for a fire.

– Choose your clothing carefully. Don’t wear clothing that has hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.

While You Grill

– The biggest risk with grilling is fire.  ALWAYS keep a fire extinguisher within a few steps of the grill, and make sure you know how to use it!

– Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won’t harm your food, so dinner won’t be ruined!

– If you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners immediately.  If the smell continues to persist, move away from the grill and call the fire department right away.

– Never, ever leave the grill unintended! If the griller needs a bathroom break, make sure there’s someone else watching the grill carefully. An unattended fire can double every minute.

– Don’t overload your grill with foodespecially fatty meats. The basic reason behind this is if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up.

– Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.

After You Grill

– Make sure to clean grill to prevent build up of grease and fat in trays and below the grill. Cleaning it after you’re done will keep your grill safer for use next time.

– Let the coals from a charcoal grill completely cool before disposing in a metal container

– Never move a hot grill! Let the grill cool completely, which can take over an hour, before moving,

Enjoy your barbecues and stay safe this summer by keeping these tips in mind before you fire up the grill!

New Years Eve Tips & Tricks to Stay Safe

With the new year approaching, there is much to celebrate! While New Years Eve can be an awesome celebration, there are a few precautions you should take to keep the night safe and fun.

1. Choose Transportation Wisely

While it should be obvious, it has to be said- Do NOT drink and drive. Besides the fact that it’s incredibly risky for your safety and others, there will a ton of cops out patrolling and looking for drunk drivers.  Instead of scrambling for a safe ride home last minute, plan ahead your transportation. If you’re going to a bar, look in advance what your transportation options are. Cabs, Ubers, or Lyft are typically available in larger cities. While they can be more expensive on NYE, it’s worth the price of getting home safe and sound. If you are driving to a friends house and plan to drink any alcohol at all, stay over night or have a designated driver you can trust to drive you back- this is especially important if you are in an area where there is limited access to taxis and ride sharing apps.  Another options is hiring a driver for the night. With group options or splitting the cost among friends, it may be more affordable than you think.

2. The More the Merrier

You’ve probably heard the phase “strength in numbers.” Remember this on NYE. Don’t find yourself alone on leave any one behind. While it’s safe to assume much of the population will be drinking on New Years Eve, it’s best to stick together with your friends. Don’t let friends wonder off alone either.

3. Enjoy a Delicious Meal!

Who doesn’t want an excise to eat a nice delicious big meal?? New Years Eve is the perfect night for that. Avoid starting the new year with a massive hangover by eating a healthy & hefty meal before you go out.  A substantial, healthy meal will help absorb some of the alcohol and even better, may keep you from snacking on junky appetizers and sweets later on the night which can be prevalent around NYE parties.  Even if you can’t do a fancy meal, be sure to have something in your stomach before you go out. Your body will thank you for that January 1st.

4. Dos and Don’ts to Drinking

While there’s nothing wrong with a celebratory drink on NYE- that is if you’re 21- but it’s important to be smart about it. Know your limits and only drink what you can handle. To prevent your head from feeling completely foggy the next morning, a good rule of thumb is one glass of water per every serving of alcohol. If you or one of your friends over drinks and may have alcohol poisoning, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 immediately.

5. Communicate With Your Comrades

Communication with your friends is key on big party nights like NYE which also tend to be long nights out. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you head out the door. Consider bringing a portable charger if you have one, or at least a wall charger for emergencies. That way, if you do get separated from your friends, you’ll be able to contact them. Have a meeting spot or end of the night plan- that way if you can’t get in touch with each other or do get separated, at least you’ll have a time and place to meet up. Also, always make sure you and your friends know each others’ whereabouts- even if its just a quick trip to that bathroom.

6. Have a Blast!

Have a wonderful New Years Eve! Don’t put too much pressure on the night and just enjoy the night with you friends or family. Celebrate your accomplishments of 2015, and look forward to all that is to come in 2016!

 

Driving from Dusk til Dawn- What You Need to know!

With the days getting shorter and the sun setting earlier, there a good chance you’ll be driving between dusk and dawn more and more the next few months. Unfortunately, those can be some of the most dangerous hours to get behind the wheel.  Use these simple safety tips to keep you and your family as safe as possible when on the road.

1. Have a pair of spare sunglasses in the car– While sunsets are beautiful, driving into one can be difficult and dangerous.  The sun at that angle can be incredibly blinding.  Save your self the trouble of desperately searching for those sun glasses when that sun comes down and always keep a spare pair in your car. On the other hand, be sure to remove them as soon as the sun goes down.

2. Use headlights- the right way!– Often people don’t turn on their headlights until they realize they need them- and that’s usually too late. Contrary to popular belief, headlights should be used at all times throughout the day, including dusk and dawn.  While there may be light in the sky, the ambient light at dusk or dawn doesn’t allow for full visibility.  Even if your headlights won’t be completely effective in the ambient light, they do allow other drivers to see you more clearly. High beams or “brights” are rarely appropriate to use.  They can be extremely blinding to oncoming traffic and are not recommended for use except in rural areas with little street lights.  Even so, when using them be very aware of your surroundings. If you hear a car coming towards you, turn off your high beams immediately.

3. Avoid driving tired– The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving, and early morning at dawn are when some of the most tired drivers hit the road.  Unfortunately, we understand working hours dictate many of our schedules and the times we have to drive. If you have to drive very early in the morning, give your self at least half an hour to fully wake up before jumping behind the wheel.  More than anything else, the best way to avoid tired driving is getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

4. Stay on the look out for wildlife– When it starts to get dark, many timid animals feel safe enough to start peaking their way out to investigate the dazzling lights from the passing cars.  While this mostly occurs in rural areas, it’s good to keep in mind that if you see something rustling in the grass on the side of the road, it could mean a furry friend is approaching.

Driving from Dusk Til Dawn (2)

 

BBQ Safety Tips!

Nothing says summer like a good ole barbecue! Although this summer staple can be loads of fun, it can also be a dangerous activity if the right precautions are not taken. Before you light up, keep in mind these helpful safety tips from the NFPA!

Before You Grill

– Where you place your grill is crucial for safety.  Keep grills away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves, overhanging branches and other flammable structures. You never know when a grease fire may start and when the wind may blow it a little too far.

– Check the major connection points between the gas (propane) tank hose and the regulator and cylinder, and where the hose connects to the burners. Tighten if loose.

– Check the propane tank hose for the potential leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.  Once you turn on the propane tank, the propane will release bubbles around the hose if there is a gas leak. In no bubbles appear, it’s safe to use.

– For a charcoal grill, if you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

– Clean your grill. Grease and fat may have built up on your grill from previous uses and they provide more fuel for a fire.

– Choose your clothing carefully. Don’t wear clothing that has hanging shirt tails, frills, or apron strings that can catch fire, and use flame-retardant mitts when adjusting hot vents.

While You Grill

– The biggest risk with grilling is fire.  ALWAYS keep a fire extinguisher within a few steps of the grill, and make sure you know how to use it!

– Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won’t harm your food, so dinner won’t be ruined!

– If you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners immediately.  If the smell continues to persist, move away from the grill and call the fire department right away.

– Never, ever leave the grill unintended! If the griller needs a bathroom break, make sure there’s someone else watching the grill carefully. An unattended fire can double every minute.

– Don’t overload your grill with foodespecially fatty meats. The basic reason behind this is if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up.

– Use barbecue utensils with long handles (forks, tongs, etc.) to avoid burns and splatters.

After You Grill

– Make sure to clean grill to prevent build up of grease and fat in trays and below the grill. Cleaning it after you’re done will keep your grill safer for use next time.

– Let the coals from a charcoal grill completely cool before disposing in a metal container

– Never move a hot grill! Let the grill cool completely, which can take over an hour, before moving,

Enjoy your barbecues and stay safe this summer by keeping these tips in mind before you fire up the grill!

How To Care For Your Car After Winter

With temperatures heating up into the 70s this week, we’re getting closer and closer to Spring! While Winter might not be over just yet, it’s time to start de-winterizing your car. From the snow, salt and freezing temperatures, your car has had a rough winter. Here are 6 ways you can care for your car after the winter season.

1. Wash your car! Many times people get lazy in the winter washing their car because they know it’s going to get dirty from the snow and salt the next day. Buy washing regularly, about every 7 to 10 days, you’ll prevent the corrosive salts used to de-ice roadways that can cause rust and damage to your paint. Pay extra attention to the undercarriage, where salt likes to hide and corrode the body of your vehicle.

2. Check your tire pressure. This is especially important to those of you who saw the tire pressure light pop on during the winter. Because air is a gas, it contracts when cold, and expands when heated. If you inflated your tires during the colder months, they could become over inflated during the warmers months.

3. Check ALL fluids levels. Your car engine works on overdrive during bad winter conditions. The can cause fluid levels to drop faster than usual. Be sure to check antifreeze/coolant levels, engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power-steering fluid.

4. Vacuum your car mats. From snow, slush, rain, mud, and more dragged in your car, your interior mats could use a shampoo, or at least a vacuum, to keep your car in prime condition. Bonus** This will help with any allergies you may have.

5. Listen to your brakes. This may sound like an obvious one- if your brakes sound like they’re grinding or squeaking, get them checked. But this is double important after winter. Snowy driving conditions can result in salt and debris building up on your brakes, causing them to bind, and ultimately lead to premature wear. In very severe cases, rust from road salt can cause brake failure. If something sounds or feels off, consult a mechanic ASAP.

6. Rotate your tires. To extend the life of your tires, rotate them as the beginning of each season. Wheels tend to wear quicker in winter driving conditions. If you invested in snow tires, think about putting them away in the next few weeks until next winter. The special tread and rubbery consistency that make them perform great in snow, also make them wear much more quickly that all-season tires.

*Bonus tip: Don’t put off minor repairs! Many people wait with minor repairs if their car still gets them from A to B. But the longer you put off minor repairs, the more likely they will turn into most costly maintenance problems in the long run.

HOW TO car for car-1

How to Drive Safely With Snowbanks

The four blizzards in three weeks have left mountains of snow all around New England. Removing the snow has been challenging for towns everywhere, and with nowhere to move it all, the streets have becoming increasingly clogged. Travel lanes have been reduced from four to two, and two-way roads are now one way. Particularly small streets are so clogged up that even sidewalks cease to exist! If they do, they’re so narrow even the smallest of people have a hard time passing the massive snow banks. With nowhere else to walk, pedestrians than take to the road, resulting in further unsafe road conditions.

Here are a few safety tips on how to drive with massive snowbanks:

1. Drive SLOWER. Although that seems like such obvious advice, it really is so important.   In the winter, tires don’t hold to asphalt as well as they do in the summer. A mistake becomes much harder to correct with snow on the ground. Braking distances become longer, and the ability to dart around quickly in traffic decreases. Even when the roads seem cleared up, it’s still important to drive slowly due to decreased visibility from the snow banks. Many the snow piles tower way above 3 ½ feet- which is eye level for most drivers. The safest way to cross is to slowly come to a stop and then inch out to see if a car is coming. Even if you know that there is a stop sign for the intersected street, they might not able to see it due to the snow banks.

2. Make sure you windows are de-iced so you can properly see cars coming. Not only is driving with iced up windows incredibility unsafe, it is also illegal. You can quickly ice proof your windows by spraying them the night before with three parts vinegar and one part water. The acetic acid in vinegar will lower the melting point of water and preventing it from freezing. If you don’t get to it at night, spray the mixture in the morning to make scrapping much easier.

3. Check the pressure and tread of your tires. Too low pressure or bald tires can be extremely dangerous, especially in snowy weather. Having low pressure can cause heat build up, which can cause the tire to pop at high speeds. Most gas station have air pumps that will let you gauge the pressure and add more air if needed. Bald tires, or low tread means less traction to the road, especially in rain or snow. You can check this by placing a penny (the edge with Lincoln’s head pointing down) in one the grooves of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.

4. Drive with your lights on. With snowbanks blocking drivers view, having your lights on with help make you known to other drivers. Even if the sun is out, if it’s snowing always have your lights on. With visibility so low when it snows, having your lights on will help you see other cars coming, and help drivers see you.

Massachusetts has had a record-breaking month with snow, and it will take some time for it all to melt. Keep these tips in mind so you can safely navigate around the snow covered streets!

Driving with Snowbanks

Lightning Safety Tips

lightning

Hurricane season is here, and it seems like we’ve been having thunder and lightning storms every week.  While these storms can sometimes be fun to watch, they can also be extremely dangerous.  People are injured by lightning every year, but these simple tips will ensure that you stay safe!

  • It’s important to stay alert and aware of local weather forecasts, whether you’re staying local or going somewhere on vacation, make sure you look up local weather forecasts so you can avoid being outside if a thunder and lightning storm is expected.
  • It is not safe to be outside during a thunder and lightning storm.  Seek shelter immediately, being indoors is the best option but if not stay inside an enclosed metal vehicle.  Even if it is not raining, as soon as you hear thunder or see lightning, immediately stop your activities and head inside.
  • Once you’re inside, stay off porches, away from windows and doors, avoid appliances, sinks, toilets, showers, and tubs.  Lightning can flow through these objects and strike a person.
  • Avoid using corded telephones.  If telephone wires are struck the charge could flow to the phone, Cordless phones and cell phones are still safe to use though.
  • If you are outside and cannot seek shelter, stay away from trees and other tall objects.  If these are struck and fall over, you could be seriously injured.  Avoid high places such as hills, and get to the lowest spot possible.  Crouch down with your feet close together, keep your hands and knees off the ground and never lie down.
  • If you are swimming or boating, get to land immediately and take shelter.  If you are on a boat and cannot get to land, get below deck if possible or crouch as low as you possibly can.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity such as power lines and metal fences.
  • Stay inside for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last boom of thunder just to be sure the storm has completely passed.
  • If someone nearby is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately and if the person is unconscious, begin CPR if you are qualified.  People struck by lightning do not carry an electric charge so it is perfectly safe to assist them.

Although thunder and lightning storms can happen year-round, hurricane season is the busiest season for these storms, and by keeping these tips in mind, you will greatly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning.

Photo By: John Fowler

Motorcycle Riding Safety

motorcycle rider

Now that the weather has warmed up, motorcycle riding season has begun!  If you’re a bike owner, you know that cruising on the open road with the wind in your hair can be an exciting experience, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.  We’ve come up with a few tips to keep in mind so that you can be as safe as possible on the road.  Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a new rider, it’s always helpful to have a reminder of some basic safety tips!

  • Get your bike ready!  It’s been a long and cold winter, and your bike may need a few adjustments to get it rider ready.  You’ll want to check the oil and fuel levels, make sure the headlights and turn signals are all working, and check all cables to make sure they’re not frayed.
  • Get yourself some good gear.  Having the right gear for riding a motorcycle is extremely important.  When you’re on the back of a bike, there’s not much between you and the pavement, which is why having the right gear is so important, especially if you were to ever crash.  Wearing leather is your best bet, bikers don’t just wear it for style, it’s for protection too.  Leather is extremely tough and durable, and in the event of an accident it’s strong enough to protect your skin from the road surface.  It’s also a good idea to get non-slip gloves and boots that cover your ankles.
  • Wear a helmet!  For starters, it’s the law here in Massachusetts that all motorcycle riders need to wear a helmet.  This is the most important safety tip to remember when it comes to motorcycle riding.  Your head needs to be protected in the event of an accident, and not just any helmet will help with that.  Look for a helmet that has been approved by the Department of Transportation, and ideally one with a face shield to protect your face from bugs and gravel.  You also need to make sure that it fits properly and doesn’t obstruct your vision.  Having a good helmet can mean the difference between life and death if you’re in an accident, so make sure you take the time to find the right one!
  • Watch the weather. Before you go out for a ride, you need to make sure heavy snow and rain aren’t in the forecast.  Riding on a motorcycle is much less stable than riding in a car, and not to mention the fact that you’ll be directly exposed to the elements.  We suggest opting for a car or staying indoors if that’s not an option.  If you must take your bike out in the rain, make sure to leave extra space between your bike and the car in front of you should you need to stop.
  • Know your limits.  You need to not only know your bike’s limit, but you need to know your own limits as a rider.  Becoming an expert rider takes time and experience to build those skills, and if you’re a new rider you may not be able to quickly weave in and out of traffic or maneuver your bike on extremely windy roads.  Take time to build up to these skills and even consider taking an advanced riding course, many motorcycle dealerships offer them and they’re a good way to practice your skills in a controlled setting.
  • Always follow the rules of the road.  From going the speed limit, to always using turn signals, the rules of the road are there to protect you and your fellow drivers, so follow them.  Don’t weave in and out of lanes, and always make sure you’re leaving enough room between yourself and the car in front of you in case you need to brake suddenly.  Make sure your fellow drivers can see you and you’re not riding in their blind spot.
  • Make sure you look twice.  Before changing lanes, crossing an intersection, or going through a light, make sure to look twice before you cross.  Other cars may have difficulty seeing motorcycles since they are smaller, so always double check before you hit the gas.

Motorcyclists are exposed to more dangers than the typical driver, but if you keep these tips in mind and drive responsibly you’ll stay as safe as possible on the road.

Photo By: Rob Swyston

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