Winterize your driving: It’s more than mechanics

Winterize your driving: It’s more than mechanics

Most of us understand the importance of preparing our vehicles for winter ̶  making sure tires are in good shape, wipers are good, brakes properly serviced and snow scraper in the car. We diligently address the mechanics in anticipation of expected winter extremes.

But it’s just as important to prepare ourselves for winter driving. We must be ready to adjust our habits to better face the unpredictable challenges that often come with winter driving.  Please consider the following tips before driving during inclement weather:

  • Conduct a pre-trip check. These are extremely important during the winter. Get into the habit of making sure windows and mirrors are clean and wipers are cleared before you start out. Clean all lights; make sure your heater and defroster are working properly. Carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid.
  • Carry a blanket and/or extra clothing in your vehicle. Pack a water bottle and some high energy food bars in case you become stranded. Always ensure that your cell phone is fully charged prior to heading out.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. A 30-minute trip in good weather conditions may require double or triple that time in poor conditions. Warm up your vehicle so that windows are clear and you’re not looking through an “ice tunnel” in the windshield.
  • Have an exit plan. If conditions become hazardous, get off the road at the nearest exit, gas station or other safe place and wait out the storm. Let someone know where you are.
  • Be prepared to be stranded. In most cases, it’s better to stay with your vehicle. Keep a window cracked for ventilation, and make sure the exhaust system is clear of snow. Ration fuel if faced with the prospect of a long wait for rescue.
  • Beware of “snow hypnosis.” Driving and continuing to stare into onrushing snowflakes can cause a state described as the “1,000-yard stare,” when the eyes become unfocused and mental alertness wanes.
  • Take it easy! If your mind and body are telling you it feels safe at 40 mph, drive at 35 mph. Drive 5 mph below what you think or feel is safe.
  • Make gradual directional and lane changes. Signal well in advance, then slowly complete the maneuver. Extend the distance interval between yourself and the vehicle in front of you; it takes longer to stop in sloppy weather.
  • Pay heed to road conditions. Remember, condensation freezes on bridges, overpasses and shaded areas before the rest of the roadway. Avoid lane changes in these areas as well as in intersection zones.
  • Know your brakes! Antilock (ABS) brakes respond and feel different than standard brakes. If you begin to skid, release the accelerator, and steer in the direction you want to go. Do everything gently and turn the steering wheel as little as possible.
  • Avoid using cruise control where the roads might be slick. Cruise control can apply power suddenly or at the wrong time causing a skid or making a minor skid uncontrollable. If cruise is on and you think the road might be slick, use the hand-operated controls to turn it off; tapping the brakes can initiate a skid.
MORE INFORMATION

This post was created by the Loss Control team at the Cincinnati Insurance Companies 

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Time to Double-Check Your Pipes

Time to Double-Check Your Pipes

With winter sending an arctic blast across much of North America, homeowners and business owners will want to increase monitoring to prevent damage from frozen pipes. Watch our video for tips on how to prevent pipe freezes.

The Cincinnati Insurance Companies provides additional information on how to prevent pipe freezes and offer techniques for minimizing damage if you do suffer a pipe freeze:

 

Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow…

Did you know that letting your most weather-susceptible faucets drip during periods of extreme cold can keep your water pipes from freezing? Don’t let cold weather ice your pipes this winter!

First aid for frozen pipes – steps to prevent more problems

With winter not even a month old, there’s plenty of cold weather ahead of us – enough to freeze pipes, causing costly water damage at your home or business. If you suspect you have a frozen pipe – you’ve turned on the faucet, but no water comes out – call a qualified plumber immediately.

Even if you’re not a snowbird, winterize your pipes!

Homeowners who “fly south” for the winter are familiar with the idea of winterizing their home to guard against freezing while they are gone. However, with weather patterns shifting, homeowners who stay home for the winter are finding there can be issues with freezing pipes, even though they are living in their home and running water daily.

Keep business flowing: Prevent frozen pipes

Arctic temperatures can have a dramatic effect on your building, freezing pipes and causing costly damage. Especially vulnerable systems include fire protection equipment and piping; heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment; compressors and piping; water and sprinkler mains; valves; and sanitary systems.


Have questions? Contact us!

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Plan a Safe Holiday Party

Planning a party can be a big task, especially when you consider your responsibilities as host extend beyond when your guests walk out the door. The perfect ending to any gathering is a safe trip home for all of your guests.

Remember, too, if your intoxicated guest is injured or injures someone else on the way home, you could be held legally responsible.

But you can take steps to ensure the safety of your guests and, ultimately, the success of your gathering.

PROVIDE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encourages these precautions when hosting a party:

  • Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events. Entertain guests with music, dancing, games, food and lively conversation.
  • Provide guests with nutritious and appealing foods to slow the effects of alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods like cheese and meats are especially good. They stay in the stomach much longer, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. Avoid salty foods, which encourage people to drink more.
  • Did you know that one in three adults prefers a nonalcoholic beverage? Make sure to offer plenty of nonalcoholic choices such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, soft drinks and bottled drinking water.
PLAY IT SAFE WHEN SERVING ALCOHOL

During your party:

  • If you hire or designate someone as bartender, ask them to measure the correct amount of liquor into drinks and instruct them not to serve anyone who appears to be impaired.
  • Check the ID of anyone who appears to be under the age of 30 (no ID, no alcohol).
  • Stop serving drinks at least one hour before the end of the event. Instead, serve coffee, nonalcoholic beverages and desserts at that time.
  • Recruit people who will not be drinking to be available at the end of the party to help ensure that everyone has a safe ride home.

Finally, had one too many? Call a friend, taxi or rideshare service.

MORE INFORMATION

Play It Safe – Be a Responsible Party Host, Oregon Liquor Control Commission

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact our team for specific coverage advice and service.

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Water & Sewer Backup: What You Need to Know

Water & Sewer Backup: What You Need to Know

Backed up sewers can wreak havoc on a home, causing thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, furniture and electrical systems.  Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost—usually an additional annual premium of $40-$50.

For homes that have been severely damaged and are uninhabitable, homeowners policies may provide Loss of Use coverage, which provides reimbursement for lodging, food and other living expenses you may incur as a result of having to live outside of your home. Loss of Use coverage also reimburses you for the lost rental income if you rent out part of the house.

 Causes of Sewer Backup

Aging Sewer Systems: The Civil Engineering Research Foundation reports that the number of backed up sewers is increasing at an alarming rate of about 3 percent annually. In addition, a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers indicates that the nation’s 500,000-plus miles of sewer lines are on average over thirty years old. The increase in the number of homes connected to already aging sewage systems has also contributed to rapid increases in sanitary sewer backups, flooded basements and overflows.

Combined Pipelines: Problems also arise in systems that combine storm water and raw sewage into the same pipeline. During many rain storms, the systems are exposed to more volume than they can handle, and the result is a sewage backup situation that allows sewage to spew out into basements and other low lying drains.

Blockages Due to Tree Roots: Shrubs and trees seeking moisture will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can cause extensive damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. Tree roots can enter the service pipe at joints and cause blockages. Tree roots can travel a long way, and roots from different types of trees act differently. If city trees are suspected, your plumber can contact the city, and samples of the roots will be used to help identify the trees and who is responsible for cleanup. Sometimes the blockage is a result of a combination of city and private trees. In this case costs are split between the city and the property owner.

Sanitary Main: A blockage can occur in a city sanitary main. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up into homes and businesses through floor drains. Usually this happens slowly, giving the owner time to call a licensed plumber to assess the damage. If water is entering into your basement at a rapid rate, call the city public works office and report the problem immediately.

Water in Basement: Most basement flooding is not related to the sanitary sewer system. In many cases, soil settles adjacent to the building and, if not corrected, leads to rainwater flowing towards the building and down the outside of the foundation wall. This is particularly true in older buildings, where cracks may have developed in the foundation or floor slab that allow water to enter the basement. The cement floor and basement walls of these structures may have deteriorated to the point that they are no longer waterproof. In these cases, water can show up in a basement that has never had a water problem. This will usually happen after a number of rain storms, when the ground is saturated. Drainage can be improved by making sure that water drains away from the building. Owners may also be able to prevent flooding by water sealing the basement.

Most homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral—the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street—and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that extends into the street or public right of way. A cracked or deteriorated lateral or one filled with tree roots can allow groundwater to seep into the system, contributing to the problem.

How to File a Claim

For insurance purposes, take before and after photos of the affected areas and itemize any property losses. Save all receipts related to repair, cleaning or damages and contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Backups In Your Lateral and in the City Main

Dispose of Grease Properly: Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of properly, after it cools off, not in the drain. Washing grease down the drain with hot water is unsatisfactory. As the grease cools off, it will solidify either in the drain, the property owner’s line, or in the main sewer causing the line to constrict and eventually clog.

Dispose of Paper Products Properly:
Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers and feminine products can cause a great deal of trouble in the property owner’s lateral as well as in the city main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, as bathroom tissue does, so do not put them down the drain or toilet.

Replace Your Line with New Plastic Pipe: One way to prevent tree roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have the roots cut periodically.

Correct Illegal Plumbing Connections: Do not connect French drains, sump pumps and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It is illegal, and debris and silt will clog your line. Consult a plumber to correct any pre-existing illegal connections. French drains are common drainage systems, primarily used to prevent ground and surface water from penetrating or damaging building foundations.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your home or business to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve allows sewage to go out, but not to come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. The cost to install one depends on the type of plumbing in the building and the difficulty of installation. Check with a qualified plumber.

What to Do If You Experience a Sewer Backup

A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold or further damage. If you experience a sewer backup situation, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:

  • Wet-vacuuming or removal of spillage
  • Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
  • Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
  • Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
  • Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall covering
  • Cleanup of ductwork

This post was created by and originally appeared at the Insurance Information Institute.

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Make your Brewery a Safe Space for Tasting & Tours

Tips for making your Tasting Room safer and keeping guests safe on Tours.

Most breweries, wineries or distilleries offer tours and a tasting room where guests can enjoy a sample of the product or purchase drinks made on-site. These operations present a different set of exposures than a typical beverage manufacturing facility. If you own a beverage business, closely evaluate your operation to ensure guest safety.

The most common source of liability claims for these businesses are slip-and-fall hazards. To complicate this exposure, many establishments also offer tours that lead guests through the manufacturing side of the establishment, the vineyard or storage areas.

Tours are a terrific way to display your establishment, help guests understand how the product is made and further engage them in your craft. Use caution when creating your facility tour to ensure guest safety.

Here are some items to consider when planning your tour route, tasting room or taproom space:

  • Use nonskid flooring wherever possible, and make sure all spills are cleaned up immediately.
  • While it’s best to have a level flooring surface throughout, if there are changes in elevation, make sure all steps are marked appropriately and are well lit.
  • Ensure that handrails on stairways are secured, that stair treads are a solid surface or that carpeting is properly secured and free of tears.
  • Be sure walkways around the exterior of the establishment (including parking areas) and outdoor gathering areas are in good condition and well lit.
  • Use surveillance cameras where possible.
  • Assign guides for all tours, and train them in safety procedures. Limit the number of guests per tour. Keep guests at a safe distance from operational traffic, moving machinery and hot surfaces.
  • Don’t permit guests to carry food or beverages with them during the tour.
  • Post warnings and liability disclaimers at the tour site and on your website to assure visitors understand potential physical and operational hazards.
  • Provide any necessary safety gear, such as safety glasses or hearing protection.
  • Be sure to follow any state or local safety regulations or health restrictions, including occupancy restrictions for fire evacuation.

By ensuring a safe visit, you protect your business while building customer goodwill.


This post was created by Kevin Getz, Manager of the Craft Beverage Program with the Cincinnati Insurance Companies. Cincinnati is an industry-leading insurance carrier for the craft beverage industry.

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