How to Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation

Jul 1, 2018, 5:14:00 PM

Let us be the first to wish you and your family a safe and happy July 4th holiday and an enjoyable summer vacation! 

While we care about helping you prevent losses to your property and belongings, we care more about your family's safety! In the interest of assuring a safe summer, we're providing some information and some links that you may want to share with your family members.

And right up front, we'd like to remind you that the Franklin Fire Department warns that home use of fireworks purchased out of state is both highly dangerous and illegal in Massachusetts.  We urge you to heed their warning.  Burns from fireworks are truly horrific. Please, leave it to the town professionals!

Keeping Home Safe on Vacation

Burglars Don't Go On Vacation

When you're on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is a home break-in. So before you leave, take some simple precautions. They'll help protect your property and give you peace of mind.  

  • Lock all windows and use dead-bolts on exterior doors.Install security bars on sliding doors to prevent them from being lifted off their tracks. 
  • Leave a few shades or curtains open to maintain a "lived-in" appearance. 
  • Leave a car parked in your driveway and ask someone to move it every day or two. Even ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway if you only have a single vehicle.
  • Set light timers in a few rooms so that it appears people are at home when it's dark. 
  • Stop newspaper delivery so that papers don't pile up at your door. Also have your mail held at the Post Office or line someone up to collect it daily for you.
  • Store cash, jewelry and other valuables in a bank safe-deposit box.
  • Don't leave an outgoing message on your answering machine announcing you are on vacation. Lower the volume on the machine and your telephone ringer.
  • Don't post your vacation plans on social media.

Hold those vacation photos until after you return home. 

  • Install outside lights, preferably with motion detectors. 
  • If you can afford one, install and activate a security system.(Or at the very least, put security system warning decals on doors and windows to deter intruders.) There are simple home alarm systems available that you can install yourself and that link to your cell phone. Also popular are motion-activated door bells with cameras linked to your cell phone that let you see and talk with potential burglars and activate alarms.

Finally, ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your property and to notify you if they suspect a problem. Better yet, ask a friend or relative either to house sit or to stop by frequently. Even better, share our agency contact information with your neighbors so they can contact us if there is an incident.  We can start your claim process even before you return. 

Where to Find More Safety Information

Here's some of the sites you can visit to find summer safety information.

  1. Bicycle Safety: A properly fitting helmet can reduce the number of head injuries by 45%.  Yet less than 50% of kids under 14 wear them. Plus two people per day die in bike accidents- up 6% since 2006.

 *  Bike safety info from NTSA

 *  safekids.org  

  1. Pool Safety: MA law requires that your pool have a locking fence.

 *  pool safely.gov

 *  American Red Cross 

  1. Boating Safety: Enjoy your days on the water with these simple tips.

 *  U.S. Coast Guard guidelines

 *  National Safety Council 

  1. BBQ Grill Safety: An unattended grill is a recipe for disaster.  35% of grill burn victims treated in ERs are kids under age 5.

 *  National Fire Prevention Assn.

 *  iii.org on grilling safety and insurance 

  1. Tick and Mosquito Safety:Lyme disease is on the rise.  But that's not the only insect-borne threat to health.

 *  Health finder.gov 

  1. ATV Safety: Purchasing the right size ATV for the size and strength of family members is essential. 

atvsafety.org

ATV Safety Education

  1. Lawn Mower Safety:These powerful tools can cause serious injury with improper use. 

 *  healthychilden.org

 *  FamilyHandyman.com

  1. Fire Pit Safety: There's nothing like sitting around the fire on a summer night.  Today's low cost fire pits and chimenas put this experience within everyone's reach.  But there's a downside.

 *  HGTV Fire Pit Safety 

We'll be taking a publishing break for the summer! But we'll be back in September with more information you can use to keep your property and family well protected! Meantime, follow us on Facebook for more ideas.

When it comes to insuring your family's home, vehicles, possessions and lifestyle, we take our responsibility to keep you properly protected very seriously.  The trust you placed in us when you chose the Keefe Insurance Agency means you count on us to keep you informed of things you can do to avoid potential claims.

We are always available during business hours to answer your questions or address your concerns. Stop by or call us at 508-528-3310 or toll-free at 888-528-3310. There is also additional information available 24/7 on our web site for your convenience.

Sincerely,

Bob Keras & Peter Brunelli
Keefe Insurance Agency

Bonus! Did You Know?

Are helmets required for ATV operation?  

Yes.  MA law requires that helmets be worn.

At what age can kids ride ATVs?

ATVs come in many sizes and types. Some are made in child-size taking into account the size and strength of the operator.  Your local dealer can help you find the appropriate ATVs for family riding.

If you are in the market for a new ATV, ask your dealer about the new keyless models.  These take a code to start the engine.  If you have an older adult model, please keep the key in a secure, child-proof place.  Each year there are tragedies because kids just can't resist taking out the ATV if the parents aren't around.

At what age should kids be allowed to use a power mower?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 12 years for a walk behind and 16 for a riding mower.  These are powerful and dangerous tools requiring judgment and strength... and a commitment to wearing appropriate shoes and clothing to help avoid injury.  But only you know the maturity level of your teenager.  Power mowers are not toys and only for use by responsible operators.

The AAP also warns that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should children be passengers on a riding mower or in a cart pulled behind.

What is my liability if I serve alcohol at a cookout and a guest causes an accident?

There is Social Host Liability in MA.  If you allow someone who is impaired to leave your party and drive under the influence, you can be held liable for the damage or injury they cause.  Take their keys and have someone drive them home.

If you permit underage drinking on your property, you will be liable for prosecution. 

If you plan to do lots of entertaining this summer, ask us about an Umbrella Liability Policy to cover your social host liability.

How far does my grill need to be from the house for safe operation?

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends a distance of AT LEAST ten feet from any structure. Also, during inclement weather NEVER operate a gas grill in a covered porch or garage because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  

Do we need to have a fence around our pool? 

Yes. In MA you are required to have a secure fence around the pool with a latching gate... preferably with the latch on the inside where a toddler can't reach it. Also, keep all lawn furniture away from the fence where children can use it to climb over the fence.  If you have small children, you can get a pool sensor that will sound an alarm if someone falls in the pool while the sensor is activated.

What is the prediction for the severity of tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease this summer?

The CDC reports an elevated risk this summer as Lyme disease appears to be steadily moving north.  There is also a new tick that is marked with a "star" on its back that is making its way into New England from Texas and that also carries disease.  Be sure to check your kids daily, especially if they are playing in tall grass, for tiny deer ticks.  If you or a family member develops a circular shaped rash around the bite, seek medical attention immediately.

We'd like to get one of these portable fire pits. What are some of the precautions we need to take?

Basically, the same rules apply as for a traditional campfire... except you can't tip over a campfire like some of the portable fire pit models. 

First, and most important, never leave the fire pit unattended.  Do not let children or pets run and play in the vicinity of the fire pit. The models that come with a screened cover to prevent sparks from blowing in the wind and starting grass fires are always preferable.  Make sure the fire is completely extinguished, using water or sand, before you leave the area. 

Peter Brunelli

Written by Peter Brunelli

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