What You Need to Know About Lightning Safety

by Erie Insurance on 

This week marks Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Though disasters like hurricanes tend to get more attention during the summer months, it’s important to know how to stay safe from lightning. That’s because lightning presents serious dangers to both people and property.

Lightning safety and people
Lightning can occur during any time of the year, but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning. Lightning strikes often occur in the afternoon. Two-thirds of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6 p.m. According to the National Weather Service, here are some more interesting facts:

  • Males are five times more likely than females to be struck by lightning; around 85 percent of lightning fatalities are men.
  • People aged 15 to 34 account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41 percent).
  • About one-third (32 percent) of lightning injuries occur indoors.


Lightning safety and property
From 2007 to 2011, local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires. Fires in nonresidential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent. Vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.

How to avoid lightning
There are important things to know when it comes to how to avoid lightning. Once you hear that first clap of thunder, remember to:

  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Heed the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building or automobiles with a hard top (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment before the storm arrives.

You are not safe anywhere outside. Run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark threatening clouds developing overhead. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. Do not shelter under trees.

If it’s not possible to get indoors or in a vehicle, these actions may reduce your chances of being struck by lightning:

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lightning.
  • Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
  • The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, do not go out. If you are out and cannot get back to land and safety, drop an anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels, are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces. Stay off the radio unless it is an emergency.

When it comes to how to avoid lightning, you should also take precautions once you’re indoors:

  • Avoid contact with corded phones.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes or do laundry.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Unplug electrical equipment

It’s important to prepare for natural and weather disasters. It’s also important to make sure you’re covered if something happens to your vehicle or home during a storm. Connect with the Scott Lynch Agency to make sure you have the coverage that’s right for you.

Renters Insurance explained by a hamster.

Are you looking to rent a new place in 2018? We not only have great rates on auto, home, business and life insurance – we have great rates on renter’s insurance too. You may think you don’t need the insurance, but you never know what your neighbor is doing that may cause damage to your stuff. It’ is very inexpensive to protect your stuff. Call us at (317) 886-0081 or get a quote on line at Scott Lynch Agency.

Do you know your host liquor liability?

by Erie Insurance on 

As a party host, you probably don’t want to think about your potential liquor liability. But it’s something you’ll want to consider as your party planning gets under way this holiday season.

That’s because most states hold party hosts who offer excessive alcohol to their guests responsible for those guests’ actions behind the wheel. In those states, anyone injured by a drunk driver has the right to sue the host of the party who served the alcohol. Sometimes, criminal charges may even apply.

Recommendations on how to host your holiday party

This doesn’t mean you need to call off your party. Instead, keeping a few things in mind may significantly reduce your exposure to social host liquor liability.

  • Limit guests to people you actually know—and seriously consider cutting from your list anyone who habitually overindulges.
  • Encourage your guests to choose a designated driver before they arrive.
  • Serve plenty of nonalcoholic drinks and food to help counter the effects of the alcohol.
  • Have activities like dancing or games going on that don’t involve alcohol.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
  • Offer to call a cab or be the designated driver for anyone who appears intoxicated.

To limit your exposure to liquor liability even more, consider:

  • Hosting the event at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license rather than at your home.
  • Hiring a professional bartender. Pros may be better able to recognize the signs of intoxication—and it’s easier to cut off someone you don’t know. This is especially true if a bartender completed the ServSafe® Alcohol program.

As a final precaution, review your homeowners or renters policy. It may offer coverage for damages sought by someone injured by a party guest.

For more information on liability insurance, contact an ERIE Agent in your community.

Ways to Prevent Porch Pirates from Pilfering Your Packages

by Erie Insurance on 

There’s almost nothing more convenient than online ordering. But when your work hours don’t align with the delivery schedule, it can leave a nice crime of opportunity for package thieves. One study by InsuranceQuotes.com estimates that 23 million Americans have had a package swiped from their doorstep before they could retrieve it. With two-thirds of Americans reporting they shop online at least once a month, the problem is likely to stick around. Here are a few steps to protect your deliveries from so-called “porch pirates.”

Go-go gadget. Various smart gadgets on the market can be helpful devices when it comes to securing packages. A video doorbell could let you view and speak to the delivery person at your door through your mobile device, so you can simply request they leave the package in a less conspicuous spot — or you can activate your smart lock and have them leave it inside your door.

Contact your carrier. Do a little detective work, and you may uncover some options through the delivery service. Many carriers now offer flexible options that let you schedule or reroute deliveries. For example, you could have them dropped off and held at a retailer near you, or deposited in a secure locker. Before you order, check the alternative offerings from the carrier.

Check your credit card policies. Some credit card companies offer protection against package theft to help you recover your losses. For specifics, get in touch with your credit card company to find out if this protection is available and for how much.

Alternative deliveries. Avoid the unwanted situation altogether and send the deliveries where swiping is far less likely. Your workplace, if your employer allows it, is one excellent option. You can also ask neighbors or family members who are home during the day to accept your deliveries and have your packages routed to their place. Just be sure to give them a little something for their trouble.

Finally, read about holiday burglaries.

To review your home insurance, call us at (317) 886-0081 or visit www.lynchagency.com.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Direct Gas Grill Lines

by Nancy Daniel on May 23, 2017

When my husband and I first decided to go with a natural gas grill that hooked up directly to our home gas system, we were thrilled to say farewell to propane canisters and the hassle of refilling them. But a 600° overnight mistake has me wondering if it was such a great idea.

We had family visiting and,after enjoying a delicious steak dinner, my husband, the grill master, failed to turn off the grill. This was after he had turned it up to high to burn off the steak remnants left on the grill.

The next morning as we readied for a day of boating, my sister-in-law went outside to retrieve something and made the discovery. The grill was so hot the siding on our house behind it was melting.

I shudder to think what might have happened if she hadn’t gone out there and we had left the grill on all day long . We might have had a serious fire with our pet dog and cat at home to face it alone. So, what are the pros and cons of connecting a grill to your natural gas line?

Advantages of natural gas grilling

  • You’ll never run out of fuel — even during your biggest barbecue (unless you forget to pay the gas company).
  • Natural gas is less expensive than propane.
  • You no longer have to lug heavy propane tanks back and forth for filling.
  • Natural gas is classified as a greenhouse gas, so it’s environmentally friendly.

Disadvantages of natural gas grilling

  • The location of your grill is fixed, so you won’t be able to move it.
  • Professional installation is required, and the initial cost of the gas plumbing can be expensive.
  • Natural gas grills are more expensive than propane grills.

What to know before you go for it

If you decide to go with a natural gas grill connected to your home gas system, there are some things you should know before you make your grill purchase.

First, natural gas grills and propane grills are not the same thing, so be sure to shop for the right type.

Some areas require a permit. If you live in a community that has a homeowners’ association, certain types of grills may be subject to restrictions. So you’ll want to check on these things.  Hopefully your locale only requires that you install a quick connect shut-off valve at the house.

Speaking of the installation, there are a couple of different methods of hooking up your grill to the gas line. The safest is with a gas plug safety quick disconnect.  Your best bet is to hire a natural gas plumber to do this for you.

Time to (safely) fire up the grill

According to the 27th annual Weber GrillWatchTM Survey, 75 percent of Americans will fire up the grill for a Memorial Day cookout this year. Regardless of your fuel source, be sure to follow these grill safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Only grill outdoors—don’t move the grill into the garage or on the porch when it rains.
  • Position the grill well away from the house and deck railings and out from under eaves.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean, removing grease buildup from the grills and the trays below.
  • Never leave a hot grill unattended.
  • Turn off the supply of gas to the grill when it’s not in use.

And one final safety tip, learned the (almost) hard way: Be sure your home’s grill master turns the grill off before presenting his or her delicious char-grilled fare!

Original Article: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Direct Gas Grill Lines

This story was originally published on August 24, 2016. It was updated with new information.