Home Safety Checklist

Children home safety checklistWhether you’re the parent of young children and have diligently baby-proofed your home, a favourite aunt who has the occasional visit from nieces or nephews, a grandparent or even a friend to those with young kids: it’s important to be thorough when making your home safe for children.

Here’s a checklist to help ensure that your children or young visitors are safe in your home.

  • Anchor shelving securely to the wall. Health Canada reports hundreds of incidents each year of furniture falling on children.
  • Keep window blinds and drapery cords out of reach. These cords could be a strangulation hazard.
  • Ensure medications, vitamins and cosmetics are locked away. Be aware of where purses are left in your home, as they may allow easy access to potentially dangerous items to children.
  • Keep lighters and matches in a secure place and out of reach to children. Only use flameless candles around young children.
  • Store cleaners, household chemicals and detergents up high and completely out of sight. Those brightly coloured pods and detergents are an attractive poison risk to children.
  • Learn if your house plants pose a poison danger to children and/or pets.
  • Carefully review your home from the height of children and put away any items that may be a potential choking hazard. Keep electronic cords hidden when not in use.
  • Keep batteries and magnets stored in a safe place. They can not only be a choking hazard but may also cause internal damage if swallowed.
  • Close and latch the dishwasher when not in use. Bright, shiny and sharp utensils may attract and harm children.
  • Test the garage door on a regular basis to ensure that it retracts if an object is in its path.
  • Never leave children of any age unattended in a bathroom, near a pond or swimming pool.
  • Balloons can be serious choking hazards. Properly store and dispose of balloons.
  • Check toys regularly for wear and damage.
  • Remove latches from chests. If a child can open and enter it, they may become trapped.

It’s important to be ever vigilant about the safety of children; whether they live in your home or are just visiting. Be sure to discuss this safety checklist with your family members to ensure everyone is aware of potential dangers and everyone is on board to keep kids safe in your home.

Planning A Home Renovation Project?

Home Renovation Project Contact your Insurance ProfessionalWhen updating your home or property, it is important to be in contact with your insurance professional.

Why? 

  • Home improvements may increase the value of your home, creating gaps in your coverage.
  • You may be eligible for savings on your home insurance premiums with some types of improvements.
  • You’ll want to ensure that you have the proper liability coverage, in the case of accident or injury during construction.
  • If you need to vacate your home during renovations, you’ll want to be confident that your home is covered while vacant and more vulnerable.
  • You or your contractor may want to consider a Builder’s Risk Policy for the duration of your project, to help insure against theft or damage to building materials during construction.

Be sure that any contractors working on your home are fully insured, and keep copies of contracts, warranties and guarantees in a safe place. If your project is of the do-it-yourself variety, or you’re enlisting the help of friends of family members, you’ll want to ensure your liability coverage is adequate. It’s also a good idea to perform a complete home inventory before the start of the project, to help protect yourself from potential theft or damage.

Renovations which may affect your insurance premiums:

  • Additions
  • New Roof
  • Pool and outdoor living areas
  • Addition of home office or at home business
  • Improvements which increase the home’s value, such as kitchen or bath upgrades
  • Upgrades to the value of contents, such as new appliances
  • Updates to home systems, such as plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling or basement waterproofing/finishing
  • The addition or removal of a woodstove or interior or exterior fireplaces

Home renovations can be stressful! Regardless of the type of renovation you’re planning, knowing that your property, home, contents and workers are covered will give you peace of mind, while avoiding a potential financial problem.

Please call us if we can help you prepare for your home renovation project: 519-736-8228

Home Security Basics

Home Security Advice Gibb Insurance Brokers While home security is thought to be a top priority for most homeowners, a recent American study shows results that may indicate otherwise. There are two basic ways to protect your home and valuables:

Locking doors

Nearly 1 in 5 people reported to rarely lock their doors and especially not when they are at home.

  • 63% of those surveyed stated that they know people who rarely lock their doors.
  • These statistics are surprising, particularly when considering that 30% of all burglaries have gained access via an unlocked door.

While only 18% of respondents in this survey hide a key outside, those who do hide it in obvious spots, such as a fake rock, under a doormat or in a barbecue.

Social media

The ever-increasing use of social media has become a common method for savvy burglars to target vulnerable homes.

  • Approximately 1 in 3 respondents reported to posting vacation photos and other related information to social media while away from their homes.

Through location data and open posting, thieves are not only to determine where you are but also where you live and how long you’ll be away; allowing them lots of time to find and burglarize your property.

It’s important to not by lulled into a false sense of security simply because a burglary hasn’t happened to you yet because you live in a safe area or a have security lights or cameras.

Talk to your family today about the importance of a secure home.

  • Always lock your doors when you are away and even when you are at home.
  • Never post vacation plans or daily routines on social media.

Remember to also be a good neighbour by reporting any suspicious activity in your area.

Crime Prevention Starts at Home

Crime Prevention Tips Gibb Insurance BrokersProtect your home and neighbourhood

Just as Canadians are outdoors and more active in the warm weather months, so are vandals and thieves. There are actions we can take to help protect ourselves, our homes and our neighbourhoods.

Be observant and aware: report suspicious behavior as it occurs.

  • If there is an injury or a crime in process, call 911.
  • Report a crime to your local police department or anonymously to Crime Stoppers.

Have you become a little relaxed about home and neighbourhood security over time? While many of these tips are common sense, it’s better to be proactive to help prevent crime than reactive once it has occurred.

  • Don’t hide spare house keys outdoors, instead, leave a set with a trusted neighbour.
  • If you’re going to be away, set times on your interior and exterior lights to give the illusion that someone is home.
  • Never share your travel plans on social media.
  • Be sure your landscaping doesn’t provide a place for a burglar to hide.
  • Ask a trusted friend or neighbour to house-sit when you are away, and ask that they don’t share your travel plans with anyone.
  • Keep your garage door closed and sheds or outbuildings locked up.
  • Always lock your vehicle and never leave valuables in it.
  • Be out and visible in your neighbourhood. Check in and visit neighbours. Encourage them to be proactive with crime prevention.
  • Learn more about creating a Neighbourhood Watch in your area.

For a thorough review of your home and business, please check out this link.

Have a great crime prevention tip? Please leave a comment below.

Spring Forward – Family Safety Actions

Fire safety tips Windsor Essex Ontario GIbb Insurance BrokersWhen changing the clocks for Daylight’s Savings Time, we are reminded to change the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Below are four additional recommendations, which only take minutes to perform and could save a life.

  1. Safely dispose of used batteries. 9-volt batteries (commonly used in smoke and CO2 detectors) need to have their posts covered with a piece of non-conductive tape (such as electrical or duct tape) as they are a fire hazard.
  2. Check the date on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Most models only have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years and may fail completely even if the battery is operational. If you do not remember the last time you replaced these detectors, then it’s best to purchase new ones.
  3. Review your home’s fire safety plan with your family. Springing forward is the perfect time to ensure all your family members know what to do in case of fire. Remember to teach children not to be afraid of the alarm’s sound if/when they hear it.
  4. Check that your fire extinguishers are in the proper location and are in good working order. Bring it in for testing or schedule a recharge.

At Gibb Insurance we believe:

The better you prepare for a disaster, the less likely it will happen.

Please share these recommendations with your family and friends.

Preparing for the Worst of Winter

Prepare Your Home for a winter storm Gibb InsuranceIn Windsor and Essex County, we’re lucky to enjoy fairly mild winters compared to the rest of Ontario and Canada – which means we can become relaxed in preparing for the worst winter can deliver.

Here are some tips to help you best prepare for a severe winter storm.

Stay home – If you don’t absolutely need to go out, then stay home. It’s not worth risking driving in bad conditions and poor visibility.

Have a car emergency kit – Even with a cell phone, if you’re stranded on the road, help might not be quick to come. Click here for our list of items to have in your emergency car kit.

Keep everyone indoors – During a severe winter storm, keep everyone warm, safe and indoors – including your pets.

Prevent pipes from freezing – If some pipes in your home have a tendency to freeze, don’t wait until the damage is done! Warm the pipes with a hair-dryer or for a more permanent solution, wrap them in electric waterpipe warming tape or cable.

Keep up on shoveling out – It’s much easier to shovel an inch or two of snow than a foot! Dress in layers, stretch and keep up on shoveling the accumulating snow from your drive and walkways.

Be prepared for a power outage – Snow, ice and high winds can damage utility lines. Check out this article to ensure you’re prepared for a power outage.

Check your vents – Accumulating and drifting snow can block exterior vents which may result in a build up of dangerous carbon monoxide gas inside your home. During times of falling or drifting snow, check daily that your home’s vents are clear.

Follow instructions on supplemental heating devices – Too many house fires are the result of improper use of supplemental heating devices. Ensure that you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations and check that everyone in your life is doing the same.

During severe winter weather, make it easy on yourself. Prepare to “snuggle in” and enjoy some down-time at home with your family!

Grinch-Proof Your Holidays

Protecting your home during the holidays - gibb Insurance BrokersIt’s a wonderful time of year! Holiday parties, time with family, friends and finding the perfect gifts for the special people in your life!

Beware of the Grinches looking to ruin your holiday fun!

These no-good-doers may be lurking outside your home, at your favourite local stores or trolling on social media looking for easy targets!

Here are some tips to help you Grinch-proof your holidays:

  • Keep your holiday plans off of social media – Sure it’s fun to post pictures of you out and about celebrating the season, but broadcasting your whereabouts can make your home vulnerable to Grinches! Keep your plans and location off of social media, or post after the fun.
  • Secure your home – Be sure your home is locked and the exterior is well lit. Dark homes are inviting to Grinches looking to steal your possessions.While interior lights should be on, be sure blinds and drapes are closed.
  • Don’t leave items in your vehicle – Whether your vehicle is locked or not, Grinches are out there looking in windows for a fast and easy windfall.
  • Keep valuables and gifts out of sight – Oh! How convenient! All your valuable and thoughtful gifts piled in once handy location under the Christmas Tree! If you’re out and your inside tree is lit, it’s like a beacon welcoming thieving Grinches! How does your home look from the outside in?
  • Plan ahead if travelling – If possible, try to arrange for a house sitter. If not, be sure someone is picking up your mail and newspapers, shoveling the drive and walk-ways. Keep the exterior of your home well lit, use timers for interior lights and ask your trusty neighbours to keep an extra eye on your home.

While no one expects a Grinch to ruin their merriment, it’s best to be prepared. If you have any additional ideas on how to Grinch proof your holidays, please leave a comment below!

It’s Easy to Protect Your Family From Deadly Radon Gas

Pipe venting out deadly radon gas

Photo courtesy of Advanced Basement Systems

November is Radon awareness month in Canada. This is what you need to know.

  • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste.
  • The gas can enter a building through cracks in the foundation or seep into your home with groundwater.
  • Behind smoking, Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer accounting for approximately 16% of lung cancer deaths each year in Canada.
  • Dangerous levels of Radon may be found in any enclosed space such as a home, office building or school.
  • The only way to determine if there is Radon in your home is to test for it.

Where can I get one? How do the tests work?

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit is giving away 1,000 free test kits to successful applicants this month. You can learn more and apply here.

Test kits cost approximately $45 and can be purchased at your local hardware store, or from a Radon gas mitigation contractor.

The best time to test for Radon in your home is when windows are closed and airflow from the outdoors is minimal; during the late fall, winter and early spring.

To obtain an accurate analysis, the testing period is approximately 3 months in length.

Follow the directions exactly on your test kit, then return the kit to the laboratory related to the product. Shortly thereafter you will receive the results of the Radon test.

What if Radon is present in my home?

Choose a company that is a full-service Radon gas mitigation contractor.

What is Radon mitigation?

Radon mitigation is the process to remove the dangerous gas from your home.

Here’s what is done:

  • PVC pipe collects soil gasses
  • Radon is piped upwards in the building
  • A radon depressurization vent forces radon out from your house

With Radon causing approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths a year in Canada, and a simple test can determine if your home is at risk; there’s no reason to not protect your family.  Add “radon test kit” to your shopping list today.

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

Protect your family from Carbon MonoxideGet the facts; protect your family from the dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

(From the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs)

Quick Facts

  • More than 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada, including 11 on average in Ontario.
  • Bill 77, an Act to Proclaim Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and to amend the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, received royal assent in December 2013.
  • The first Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week will take place November 1-8, 2014.
  • The Ontario Building Code requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in homes and other residential buildings built after 2001.

Why Should I Care About Carbon Monoxide?

It Kills. 

Many Canadians die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes, most of them while sleeping.

It Injures.

Hundreds of Canadians are hospitalized every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, many of whom are permanently disabled.  Everyone is at Risk – 88% of all homes have something that poses a carbon monoxide threat.

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas that enters the body through the lungs during the normal breathing process.  It replaces oxygen in the blood and prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs.


Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?

Produced when carbon-based fuels are incompletely burned such as:

  • Wood
  • Propane
  • Natural Gas
  • Heating Oil
  • Coal
  • Kerosene
  • Charcoal
  • Gasoline

What Are the Main Sources of Carbon Monoxide in my Home?

Wood burning/gas stoves, gas refrigerators, gasoline engines, kerosene heaters and others.

How Can I Tell if There is a Carbon Monoxide Leak in my Home?

  • Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness.
  • Often mistaken for common ailments like the flu
  • Symptoms improve when away from the home for a period of time
  • Symptoms experienced by more than one member of the household.
  • Continued exposure to higher levels may result in unconscious, brain damage and death.
  • The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.

Environment

  • Air feels stale/stuffy
  • Excessive moisture on windows or walls
  • Sharp penetrating odour or smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on.
  • Burning and pilot light flames are yellow/orange, not blue
  • Pilot light on the furnace or water heater goes out
  • Chalky white powder or soot build up occurs around exhaust vent or chimney.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family?

  • Regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventilated should not produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide
  • Have a qualified service professional inspect your fuel burning appliance(s) at least once per year.
  • Have you chimney inspected and cleaned every year by a W.E.T.T. certified professional.
  • Be sure your carbon monoxide alarm has been certified to the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) CAN/CGA 6.19 standard or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in or near the sleeping area(s) of the home.
  • Install the carbon monoxide alarms(s) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

What Should I Do If My Carbon Monoxide Alarm Starts Beeping?

ALWAYS REACT TO A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM THAT HAS ALARMED!  GET OUT OF YOUR HOME AND CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR ASSISTANCE.

To Keep Safe Please Remember:

You have a responsibility to know about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Your knowledge and actions may save lives.
A carbon monoxide alarm is a good second line of defense. It is not a substitute for the proper care and maintenance of your fuel burning appliance(s).  Take the time to learn about the use of carbon monoxide alarms in your home to ensure you are using the equipment properly and effectively.

Where To Install A Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Since carbon monoxide moves freely in the air, the suggested location is in or as near as possible to sleeping areas of the home. The human body is most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide during sleeping hours. To work properly the unit must not be blocked by furniture or draperies. Carbon Monoxide is virtually the same weight as air and therefore the alarm protects you in a high or low location.

For maximum protection, a carbon monoxide alarm should be located outside primary sleeping areas, in sleeping areas and in each level of your home.

Where NOT to Install a CO Alarm

Some locations may interfere with the proper operation of the alarm and may cause false alarms or trouble signals.
CO alarms should not be installed in the following locations:

  • Where the temperature may drop below 4.4o C (40oF) or exceed 37.8oC (100oF).
  • Near paint thinner fumes or household cleaning products. Ensure proper ventilation when using these types of chemicals.
  • Within 1.5m (5 feet) of any cooking or open flame appliances such as furnaces, stoves and fireplaces.
  • In exhaust streams from gas engines, vents, flues or chimneys.
  • Do not place in close proximity to an automobile exhaust pipe; this will damage the alarm.

Maintenance

Test your carbon monoxide alarm regularly to make sure it is operating properly. The owner’s manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember to check the manual for information on when to buy a new carbon monoxide alarm.

If you have any questions regarding CO safety, please contact your local fire department.

Protect Your Home

family sitting in front of a cozy fireplaceNo one plans on having a fire destroy their home and ruin their lives, but there are measures you can take to protect your home beyond having a working smoke and CO2 detector.

There are simple and inexpensive ways you can help ensure the protection of your valuables, home and family.

  • Fire extinguisher – Keep a fire extinguisher near your kitchen and have it handy when barbecuing or outdoors when enjoying your backyard fire pit. Be sure your fire extinguisher is recharged and everyone in your home knows when and how to properly use it. If you’re unsure of what type of extinguisher you require, speak to a professional or click here to read more.
  • Prepare your family – Have an escape plan ready and practiced in case of fire. It’s also important that your small children aren’t afraid to take action when hearing the smoke alarm. When installing a new alarm or changing the batteries involve your children in the process and let them know what the alarm sounds like.
  • Escape ladder for upper floors – It’s recommended to have an escape ladder in each bedroom that is located on an upper floor. Be sure your entire family is confident in its use and has practiced how to safely use it.
  • Fireplaces – Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly. Use a screen in front of the fireplace to stop sparks from reaching flammable material and keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away.
  • Dryer vents – Clogged and improperly installed dryer vents can be a cause for household fires. Inspect and clean your vents once a year. Don’t leave your dryer running while sleeping or when you leave your home.
  • Portable heating devices – Ensure that any portable heating devices are used according to the manufacturer’s specifications and 3 feet away from any flammable material.

It only takes a little extra effort to help ensure that your home and family is prepared in the event of a fire. It’s better to be prepared for the worse than live with the potential consequences.