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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Columbia, S.C. – November 24, 2008 – Unexpected guests are sometimes a part of the holidays, but you don't want the fire department arriving because your feast is going up in flames. Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires. The South Carolina Insurance News Service urges those doing the cooking, indoors and outdoors, to keep safety in mind.

On Thanksgiving Day there are typically more than three times the daily average number of cooking fires. Three in 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen—more than any other place in the home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 1,400 home structure fires involving cooking equipment occur per year.

The leading factor in the ignition of residential cooking fires is food left unattended, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Each year, about 5,200 Thanksgiving Day fires require a fire department response, causing $21 million in property losses and result in roughly 51 injuries and 11 fatalities. Cooking is the cause in approximately 43% of these fires.

In addition to indoor cooking fires, fires related to the use of turkey fryers have been known to cause property damage, injuries and even deaths as house fires and splashing of hot oil occur. Frying appears to be the cooking method with the highest risk of fire. From 1998 to 2007, there were 138 reported incidents involving turkey fryers according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. These resulted in 36 injuries and nearly $8 million in property loss.

Deep fryers involve larger quantities of hot cooking oil than that involved in regular frying, and turkey fryers involve extremely large quantities of hot cooking oil. Tests have shown that many turkey fryers have a risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns.

“Many turkeys are overcooked during Thanksgiving, and frying a turkey is a great way to keep the cooking outdoors,” said Brian Dowler, public relations manager for the National Wild Turkey Federation based in Edgefield, South Carolina. “By following the manufacturer’s directions and safety tips, frying a turkey can be a safe way to cook your Thanksgiving bird.”

The South Carolina Insurance News Service offers the following safety tips for cooking on this Thanksgiving holiday:

Indoors:

• Remain in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.
• If you must leave the home for even a short period of time, turn off the stove or oven.
• Whether you are simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food, check it regularly. Use a timer to remind you the stove or oven is on.
• Stay alert. Don’t cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
• Keep things that burn—including pot holders, oven mitts, paper or plastic—away from the stove.
• Don’t store things that can burn in an oven, microwave, or toaster oven.
• Clean food and grease off burners, stovetops and ovens.
• Wear clothing with sleeves that are short, close fitting or tightly rolled up.
• Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove.
• Use the stove's back burners whenever possible, and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over.
• Never hold a small child while cooking.

Outdoors (Turkey Frying):

• Always cook turkeys outside, away from any structure and on a flat, hard surface, preferably on concrete. Never cook on a wooden porch or deck, as the wood can catch fire in the event of a spillage. NEVER cook in a garage!
• Always wear long sleeves and long pants, and natural fiber clothing, i.e. wool, cotton, etc. Synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester can melt to your skin if they catch fire. Insulated gloves are recommended when placing the turkey into the fryer. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
• Keep all small children and pets away from the cooker and flame to avoid knocking the cooker over and causing burns.
• Make sure the turkey is fully thawed first. Frying a frozen or partially thawed turkey is not safe. Dry the turkey as best as possible prior to placing it in the oil. If it is wet, the water and hot grease will react and cause the grease to pop and spray or cause an explosion.
• To measure how much oil is needed, first put the turkey in the fryer; next add water to just barely above the top of the turkey; remove the turkey and measure the new water level with a pencil or etching tool. This is the level to which you add the oil.
• Peanut oil is recommended vs. vegetable oil. It won't breakdown at the high temperatures (325-350 degrees). Use a 12 inch turkey frying thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil.
• The rule of thumb is roughly 3 minutes per pound of turkey, plus an additional 5 minutes, or until the turkey floats. For example, a 20 lb bird will take 40-50 minutes to cook. When slicing, if the turkey is not thoroughly cooked, microwave uncooked pieces. Don't eat raw or under-cooked turkey.
• Allow the oil to thoroughly cool before emptying. Hot oil can take 3-4 hours to cool back to room temperature.
• Excessive use of alcohol and hot boiling oil don't mix.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.

For more information or to schedule an interview, call 803-252-3455 or e-mail alove@scinsnews.com.

For more than 30 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service, a nonprofit organization, has provided free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues. The News Service is funded by insurance companies doing business in South Carolina.

For more information, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service at 803-252-3455 or use our
contact form.

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Posted by: Malena Farrell AT 08:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 24 November 2009

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Please excuse the mess while we attempt to claim our blog with Technorati.

Posted by: Malena Farrell AT 02:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
 

Here in the United States, each year thousands of traffic accidents and associated deaths are caused in part by aggressive driving.  Showing little regard for others, most aggressive drivers operate their vehicles as if they were the only drivers on the road. They are not; but they may be the most dangerous, and auto insurance companies are taking notice.

So, do you think you’re a good driver? That you're not at all aggressive on the roads? How about an “Eco-Driver”?? Test your mettle at EcoDriving USA, with their quiz and online driving test. Can you get from Point A to Point B safely and eco-friendly? It’s tough! And don't forget to let us know how you did in Comments!

Insurance companies are jumping on board with similar ideas that install right into your vehicle! Technology like Progressive Insurance’s “My Rate” is a small device that allows the companies to base your auto insurance premiums on how hard you brake, or how fast you accelerate. Good drivers can get drastically reduced premiums when installing these items, based on the time of day they’re on the road and how many miles they average.

Remember: Driving is not a contest.  Share the road! Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. They may be lost, in a hurry or distracted by a problem they are facing. Heck, easing up could even save you on your auto insurance premium! So why not take the high road, relax, and enjoy the ride!

 

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Posted by: Malena Farrell AT 10:52 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 09 November 2009

If you have a need for speed and buy a small, sporty car that can burn up the road, you’ll likely face higher insurance premiums. Research shows that small cars are more accident-prone because owners of sporty models drive their cars in ways that make them more vulnerable to crashes. The other reason is that younger drivers who love taking risks typically buy them because they are affordably priced.

Every year, theInsurance Institute for Highway Safety examines statistics concerning the insurance claims associated with the most popular vehicles. Since insurance companies use similar yardsticks to set premiums, knowing what a car will cost to insure prior to purchase may save you from making a costly mistake. This year, the Institute rated the Subaru Impreza WRX, the Hyundai Tiburon, the Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Scion tC among the top 5 most expensive cars to insure.

Surprisingly, the car that heads the Institute’s list, the Cadillac Escalade, is a luxury SUV usually driven by a more affluent and older driver. So what makes this vehicle so expensive to insure? Car thieves love it. The car has developed a cult status because of its association with pop culture icons, making it so desirable among thieves that comprehensive coverage of this vehicle costs six times the national average.

Of course, when you talk about the most expensive cars to insure, you eventually get around to a discussion of the least costly to cover. If you’re looking to cut your insurance bill, look for the current version of what used to be known as “the family car.” Cars in that class are usually large sedans, mid-size SUVs, and minivans. Those who drive these “family cars” have a reputation for cherishing safety. These cars are also rarely found in the commute and, therefore, avoid the risks associated with rush hour. Some of the cars considered the least expensive to insure include the Buick Rendezvous, the Subaru Outback, the Honda Pilot, and the Chrysler Town & Country. The Ford Taurus, a medium-sized sedan, tops this list. Insurers favor Taurus drivers because they prize safety above everything else. Cars like the Taurus are tucked away in garages when not in use, lessening their risk of being stolen. In addition, car thieves typically do not seek out these kinds of cars, increasing their value to insurers.

Before you buy your next car, consider the following tips:

  • Ask your insurance agent if any of the models you are considering have premiums that are substantially different.
  • Find out if any of the models have high repair costs or theft rates.
  • Avoid more expensive cars because they usually come with a higher insurance bill.
  • Shop safety. Look at crash tests results, rollover ratings, recalls, service bulletins, and consumer complaints.

 

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Posted by: Malena Farrell AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 05 November 2009

In the current weak economic environment, competition for jobs is intense. There may be dozens of candidates for each job opening, and hiring companies will have their pick of the crop. Even in times like these, however, employers must be careful about following the law when they make hiring decisions. Charges of illegal discrimination in hiring may become more likely during a tough job market. It is crucial that employers follow federal and state laws that regulate what factors they may consider in the hiring process. Those who focus on the wrong things may find themselves the targets of government inquiries and/or lawsuits.

Several federal laws address discrimination in hiring:

* The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits an employer from refusing to hire, firing, or otherwise discriminating against employees age 40 or older, solely on the basis of age. For example, it is illegal for an employer to offer a benefit such as vision insurance to younger workers but not to older ones.

* The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 forbids discrimination against disabled workers or job applicants. Under this law, an employer cannot refuse to hire a person who has difficulty walking solely on that basis; the employer must have another, legitimate reason.

* The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, sex stereotyping, and sexual harassment of workers. Decades ago, an employer could fire a woman for becoming pregnant. The Civil Rights Act outlawed such actions.

Although these laws have been in effect for several years, some employers still try to get around them. In 2008, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission leveled penalties against employers in the amount of $83 million for age discrimination; $57 million for discrimination against disabled workers; $12 million for discrimination against pregnant women; $79 million for race discrimination; $109 million for sex discrimination; and $25 million for discrimination on the basis of national origin.

What are valid considerations for an employer to use in hiring decisions? Instead of focusing on an applicant’s age, the employer should look at her track record of performance, accomplishments and continuous learning. Rather than assuming that she won’t work at a fast rate or will be slow to adopt new technology, the employer should find out through job simulations, reference checking, and testing. Instead of looking at an applicant’s disabilities (difficulty walking, for instance), the employer should look at his job skills, such as ability to calm angry customers and quickly troubleshoot problems. Rather than ask an applicant whether she is a Christian or a Wicca or an adherent of any other religion, ask what she did to generate leads and close sales when the economy slipped into recession.

Prior to conducting interviews, employers should review with all involved personnel the legal restrictions on what they may ask or say when speaking with applicants. If necessary, training on effective and legal interviewing techniques should be given to these employees beforehand. It should be emphasized that interviewers need to focus on the tasks involved in the job and the applicant’s ability to perform them.

No matter how much preparation and training an employer does, things can still go wrong. It is important that businesses carry employment practices liability insurance from a financially strong insurance company. A good insurance agent can obtain multiple coverage quotes, give advice on the various coverage features, and discuss the claims-handling performance of different companies.

Hiring new employees is always a difficult and uncertain proposition. Finding the right person for the job can be tricky. Complying with legal parameters can be trickier, but it is essential. By avoiding illegally discriminatory practices, employers can build a strong workforce and stay out of regulators’ crosshairs.

 

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Posted by: Malena Farrell AT 08:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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