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swimming pool safety

Regardless of our swimming abilities, many of us beat the heat in our backyard swimming pool as summer temperatures soar.  It seems that taking advantage of a residential swimming pool is more popular than ever before. In fact,  over seven million swimming pools and five million hot tubs are estimated to be in residential or public use in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But all swimming pools – from the simplest inflatable wading pool to the most elaborate luxury in-ground variety – can present a danger, especially to children. Between 2005 and 2014, fatal, unintentional drownings in the U.S. averaged over 3500 annually. More than one out of five drowning victims was reported to be 14 years old or under.

The following safety rules will prevent accidents and decrease your potential liability exposure:

  • Empty wading pools completely after each use, and always store them upside-down to avoid collection of rain water. 
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around the entire pool area with a gate that latches and locks.  Never leave furniture or other items close enough to the fence to allow children to climb over.  Pool alarms and safety covers add extra protection. 
  • The powerful suction of a swimming pool drain can trap a child under water.  Cover your pool drain with a safety guard, tie up long hair before swimming, and teach children to stay away from drains and filters.  In particular, teach them never to sit on a pool drain. 
  • Post emergency numbers and CPR instructions in the pool area. Store a first aid kit, a cordless water-resistant phone, reaching poles and ring buoys near the pool area to be used in case of emergency; and do not allow children to play with these items. 
  • Consider having older teens and adults take a course in basic first aid and CPR, and enroll your family’s non-swimmers in swimming lessons with a certified instructor.  Anyone who is not a good swimmer should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest while in your pool. 
  • Adults should not swim alone, and children should never swim without an adult present and watching them constantly. 
  • Keep the pool area clear of glass items, electrical devices (radios, CD players, etc.), and obstacles that could cause a fall or other injury.

Homeowners Insurance and Pool Liability Issues

If you are planning to install a pool at your residence, it is important to consider the insurance implications as well as the safety issues.  The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following:

  • Installing a pool will also increase your insurance liability risk.  So contact your insurance agent to be sure your homeowners policy provides enough additional liability coverage.  If your pool will be costly, this may mean you will have to increase your homeowners insurance coverage and perhaps add umbrella insurance to provide extra liability above what your homeowners policy provides for your home. Of course, your home insurance must also cover the cost of replacing your pool and any pool-related items like deck furniture, should a storm or other disaster destroy or damage it. 
  • Contact your town or municipality since the definition of a pool which drives local building codes and safety standards will vary from town to town. You will want to have this information before you purchase the pool. 

Here at our Laurel, MD agency, our highly experienced Community Insurance Services of Maryland agents are always glad to speak with you about any insurance needs. Before you decide on a pool for your backyard, you owe it to yourself to contact us to be sure you have optimum insurance coverage. We can answer your questions, refer you to other resources, offer a no-obligation policy review and discuss your options.

Friday, 08 June 2018 19:11

burglar proof your house

A residential burglary happened every 15 seconds during 2016 in the United States (according to the FBI’s most recent Crime Statistics report).  This is a fact that could keep you awake at night, especially if you are a new homeowner. 

If you’ve just purchased a home – whether it is your first or your fifteenth, you will undoubtedly want that home to be safe when you move in.  To feel safer, here are a few things you can do to allow you a good night’s sleep from your first night, forward.

Install a Reliable Security System

Home security systems vary in features and price from those that you install yourself to fully-monitored smart systems. So you will want to do your homework and find the one that best meets your unique needs.  To best protect your home, you’ll want to consider an alarm, motion sensors for the doors and windows, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

Harden the Doors

Experts warn that burglars often will enter your home right through the front door.  So you’ll need to inspect that door and, in fact, all the doors in your home to see that they are not hollow and have strong frames and hinges that are protected.  Opt for a solid front door with a peephole and a properly installed deadbolt.   One more thing:  Even the best door can’t keep you secure unless it is locked.

Secure the Windows

Test the strength of the locks on your windows; and, if they are not strong, then replace them with stronger locks or key-operated levers to assure they’ll protect you.  If burglars cannot force the window open, then they’ll break the glass.  To be sure your windows resist breaking, consider tempered or laminated glass, especially on the first-floor windows.  Many home burglaries occur through first-story windows, but don’t forget to protect windows on the basement and second-story levels as well.

Nighttime Protection Means Strategic Lighting

Burglars know that many of the homes they target are empty during the day when everyone is at work. So that is when most home break-ins occur.  However, plenty of crime occurs after dark, so you’ll need to them on timers since they will not be needed during daylight hours.  Use bright lights with motion sensors for added protection. They will place a spotlight on an intruder the moment they move into the range of the light. 

Get Connected in the Neighborhood

Get to know your neighbors since they can play a valuable part in protecting not only your home but the neighborhood in general from a home invasion. Make it a priority to meet your neighbors and begin to forge good relationships as soon as possible.  They will become more comfortable with you and will be quick to call you, should they detect anything suspicious in your area.   Good neighbors might even be able to recommend the best security systems and let you know which home services are most reliable.

Learn About Local Resources

Your neighbors can be quite helpful with how you would contact the local police, and they’ll fill you in on the neighborhood watch program as well as any other resources your area has available for home safety. If your neighbors can’t help, then check with your local police department for information securing your home for your family.

Create Your In-House Security Team

Securing your home as above will give you peace of mind.  But break-ins can still happen; so you can’t ignore the human factor in your home protection plan.  Talk with your family and be sure everyone is clear on family rules for when and how to lock-up and/or use the alarm system, what to do if a stranger calls or appears at the door.  Moreover, be certain that your family knows exactly what to do if a break-in occurs.  Finally but very importantly, have a family exit strategy in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

In the process of purchasing your new home, you have likely worked with your insurance agent for a new policy.  However, if you add security systems and take other protection measures noted above, your homeowners insurance policy could change and might become even more affordable.  It’s worth checking with your agent to be sure that you have just the right coverage for your needs as you settle into your new home.

Here at our Laurel, MD agency, our highly experienced Community Insurance Services of Maryland agents are always glad to speak with you about any insurance needs. As you take steps to secure your home, why not contact us to be sure you have optimum home insurance coverage, get a no-obligation policy review or discuss your options?

Tuesday, 06 March 2018 13:48

keep cold air out of houseIn what is turning out to be a particularly brutal winter season with frigid temps and harsh weather lingering in the mid-Atlantic region, home heating systems are forced to work harder.  As a homeowner, this means you are faced with higher energy consumption which translates to higher electric bills. This is likely the case even if your primary heating source is gas or oil since your heating system likely uses an electric starter and fans to keep your home warm.

Add to this the spike in energy usage with shorter days necessitating more lighting and more time indoors increasing the use of appliances and electronics during winter months. The consequence is greater household expense at this time of the year.

What can you do now to lower your bills?

There are simple things you can do to reduce your energy consumption for the remainder of the winter.  The following are some easy steps you can take right now to see a change in your utility bills.

  • Close the drapes at night. During the day, only open those that receive direct sunlight.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to close out the cold air.
  • Seal window and door leaks with caulk or weather stripping.
  • Turn your thermostat down. Lowering your setting by just one degree could noticeably reduce your bill.
  • Dress with extra layers to stay warm or wrap up in a blanket while you’re relaxing to be more comfortable without turning up the thermostat.
  • Turn off lights when you aren’t using them and schedule outdoor lighting with a timer.
  • Change furnace filters regularly so that your heating system performs efficiently.
  • Wrap exposed pipes and water heaters that are in unheated spaces.
  • Be sure that curtains and furniture do not block heat registers and return air ducts.

 A few home improvement projects to lower your heating bills

  • If you have less than six inches of insulation, consider adding more to prevent heat loss.
  • If you have an older heating system, have it inspected and explore the possibility of upgrading to a more efficient system.
  • If your thermostat is not located on an inside wall and away from windows and doors, have it moved to avoid cold drafts that can cause the thermostat to keep the system running when it should not.

Here at our Laurel, MD agency, our highly experienced Community Insurance Services of Maryland agents are always glad to speak with you about any insurance needs. Before you upgrade your home’s heating system or make any other significant changes, why not contact us to be sure you will continue to have optimum homeowners insurance coverage?

Friday, 02 February 2018 13:12

happy new year computerDo you seem to make the same New Year’s resolutions every year?  Do they usually relate to changing personal habits like getting organized, losing those extra pounds or improving your fitness?  Perhaps this year it is time to focus instead on your relationship with technology and developing habits to keep yourself safer from cyber crime.   

You might think that becoming cyber-safe is only important for business, but it is critical as well for anyone who uses a phone, computer or any other device connected to the Internet. That includes the many “smart devices” incorporated into your vehicle, your television and even your kitchen appliances. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, and each of us must do what we can to stay one step ahead.

Click READ MORE below for five New Year’s resolutions to keep you from falling victim to cyber-attacks in 2018:

Sunday, 07 January 2018 18:48

halloween witch house 400wAs a homeowner, you could be at risk for several liability issues as your community celebrates Halloween.  On this spooky night, mischief can prevail and vandalism can result.  Likewise,  as trick-or-treaters and other guests visit your property, there is greater than usual danger of accidents such as slipping and falling that could cause injury to those that do not live in your home.  Moreover, restraining your pets will be a challenge as the doorbell rings repeatedly and strange voices carry through the house – not to mention all the scary and unfamiliar costumed visitors. 

Click on READ MORE below for Survival Tips...

Friday, 27 October 2017 22:11
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