June 24, 2019 – As summer celebrations ramp up, AAA Oklahoma’s insurance experts warn of potential dangers to property and party-goers that call for special attention to prevention and liability protection.
“Attentive preparation and safe practices are necessary for cookouts, fireworks use, swimming and parties to be accident- and damage-free, and much more fun for everyone.” said Russ Iden, vice president, AAA Oklahoma Insurance.
BARBECUE GRILLING SAFETY
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the peak months for grilling fires are July, followed by June, May, and August, with 10,200 fires caused by grills, hibachis and other barbecues each year. These fires account for an annual average of 10 deaths, 160 reported injuries and $123 million in direct property damage in the United States.
“Before you barbecue, take a few minutes to review grilling safety tips and ensure your equipment is working properly,” said Iden. “Don’t put your friends and family or property at risk.”
Safe grilling tips
- For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
- If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.
- Never leave your grill unattended when in use.
Following the tips above may help prevent a grill fire spreading to your home, but if a fire does occur, a standard homeowner’s policy typically covers the following:
- Damage to the primary residence
- Damage to personal possessions, such as tables or lawn chairs
- Damage to insured structures on your property, such as sheds or gazebos
- Injuries to a guest, under the liability portion of the policy.
FIREWORKS DANGER, IMPACT AND SAFETY
Many Oklahomans celebrate with their own fireworks displays, but these products, while legal in many places, are extremely dangerous and cause plenty of damage and injuries every year.
- More fires are reported in the United States on the Fourth of July than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those blazes, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires annually in the United States
- Fireworks result in an estimated $43 million in direct property damage in America each year
- In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries
- Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36 percent) of the estimated 2017 injuries.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety for safe use of fireworks:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Do not hold a fireworks item in your hand.
- Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before you discard it.
- After purchasing fireworks, always store them in a cool, dry place.
SWIMMING POOL SAFETY
Although pools are a great source of summertime fun, more than 3,500 people drown each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning is also one of the leading causes of unintentional death in children between the ages of 1 and 9.
“Due to the increased risk of having a pool, you must consult with your insurance agent if you have a pool on your property to make sure you have the right coverage,” Iden advised.
Have proper pool equipment
- Use a safety cover when your pool is not in use. Pool covers should tightly cover the entire pool so children or pets cannot slip underneath.
- Surround your pool with a fence or other barrier. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends securing your pool with a 4-foot high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Keep your pool clean and clear, and keep children away from pool filters and other mechanical devices. The suction from these devices can injure a swimmer and even hold someone under water.
- Keep lifesaving equipment nearby. Life rings, floats or a reaching pole should be easily accessible.
Learn and teach water safety skills
- Keep children under supervision at all times. Have inexperienced swimmers swim with an adult in the pool and wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved vest.
- Limit alcohol use. The CDC reports that alcohol is involved in 70 percent of all teen and adult deaths associated with water recreation. Alcohol negatively impacts balance, coordination and judgment. These effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.
- Regularly check the pool area for any potential accident hazards. Glass bottles, toys and electric devices, such as radios and fans, can pose tripping or electrical hazards.
- Don’t leave toys or floats in the pool when it’s not in use. Kids may fall into the pool trying to reach them.
- Take CPR and first aid training or refresh your training if it has been awhile. Those trainings save lives every year.
HOST SAFER PARTIES
AAA Oklahoma Insurance urges homeowners and renters to keep these tips in mind when planning your event:
- Limit party invitations to guests that you know.
- Encourage your guests to have designated drivers.
- Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages for guests.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the end of the party.
- Do not serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated and never serve alcohol to minors.
- Consider hiring a professional bartender.
- If guests are intoxicated or too tired to drive home, arrange a ride with a sober guest, call alternative transportation, or arrange for overnight accommodations.
- Limit your own alcohol intake so you are better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
Understand your coverage
Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may not cover injuries or property damage caused by an intoxicated guest. Familiarize yourself with social host liability laws in your state before hosting an event where alcohol will be served.
To find out more about what your policy covers and does not cover or for more information about auto and home insurance, call your AAA insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit your local branch.