Keep the Chill Out with a Space Heater, but Be Sure to Be Safe

By Meemic Insurance

Each year, fire claims the lives of 4,000 Americans, injures tens of thousands and causes billions of dollars of damage. People living in rural areas are more than twice as likely to die in a fire as those living in mid-sized cities or suburban areas. The misuse of wood stoves, fireplaces, portable space heaters and kerosene heaters is especially common in rural areas.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes fire problems can be reduced by teaching people to recognize potential hazards. And remember: Having a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector (with battery backup) dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

The following precautionary steps from the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness can greatly reduce an individual’s chances of becoming a fire casualty:

Electric Space Heaters

Only buy heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) safety listing. Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater tips over. “Space” heaters need their space. They are not dryers or tables; don’t dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Keep combustibles at least three feet away. Never use an extension cord and always unplug your electric space heater when it is not in use.

Kerosene Heaters

Buy only UL-approved heaters, and check with your local fire department on the legality of using a kerosene heater in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Never overfill any portable heater or fill when it is still hot. Only use the kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room.

Wood Stoves

Wood stoves cause more than 9,000 residential fires every year. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually, and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least 3 feet away from your wood stove. For more information, visit our Wood-Burning Stoves Safety page.

Wood Burning Fireplaces

Fireplaces regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. Fireplaces need to be cleaned out frequently, and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires. Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote build-up and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting carpet, furniture or other combustible items. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

For more information, visit Meemic.com/Safety.

Prevent Ice Dams from Damaging Your Roof and Ceiling

By Meemic Insurance

Ice dams occur when ice and snow that build up along the roof melt during the day, and then refreeze when temperatures drop overnight. It is common for this water and ice to work up under shingles, eventually causing damage to the ceilings, wall and contents.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of ice dam formation:

· Clean all leaves, sticks and other debris from your gutters and down spouts. This lets melting roof snow flow into gutters and through down spouts, just as they were designed.

· Minimize the amount of snow on your roof. Hire a professional contractor to remove the snow or, for do-it-yourselfers, purchase a “snow roof rake,” which lets you stand at ground level and pull snow off the roof. Keeping heavy snow loads off your roof reduces the chances for both ice dam formation and roof failure due to the weight. If you don’t have access to a roof rake, you may want to consider this do-it-yourself project which tells you how to make a roof rake from PVC.

· Seal vent pipes, chimneys, attic hatches, wiring, exhaust fans, light fixtures and any place that would allow warm air to leak from the interior rooms into the attic. Use silicone caulk, foam sealant or other similar products to stop the air flow around these areas.

· Install electrical heating cables/tape in gutters and along roof edges.

· Install an ice guard membrane under the first three to four feet of shingles.

· Install or improve the vents in your roof.

· Evaluate attic insulation and ventilation. Experts agree the R-value of insulation should be at least R-30 (R-38 is preferable in northern climates).

If You See Ice Dams

If you do get ice dams along your gutters, here are some tips:

Do

· Remove snow from your roof and gutters using a roof rake or push broom by carefully pulling the snow down vertically. Melt built-up ice dams using calcium chloride tablets.

· Chisel out grooves in the dam to allow water to flow through. Use caution not to damage the roof or gutter.

· Use extreme caution when using a ladder.

Don’t

· Climb, walk or stand on your roof!

· Remove your gutter from the house. This will result in further damage.

· Pull snow and or ice horizontally across your roof. This can damage the roof shingles.

For videos and more tips, visit Meemic.com/Safety.

Stay Safe During Holiday Shopping

By Meemic Insurance

Shopping for that perfect gift or groceries for the week can be stressful enough without the threat of theft or other crimes. Unfortunately, busy people can become careless and more susceptible to potential problems. Remember to be careful, prepared and aware, especially during the holiday season.

Paying attention and taking precautions can eliminate your chances of being victimized:

· Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you do shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

· Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Also, make sure they can describe your clothing and vehicle.

· Dress casually and comfortably, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

· Keep cash in your front pocket and avoid carrying a purse or wallet.

· Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

· Pay for purchases with a credit card or check if possible.

· Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card has been lost, stolen or misused.

· Keep a record of all credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

· Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

· Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason, especially in parking lots. Con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

· When returning to your vehicle, check around it and in the back seat. Have your car keys in your hand to avoid unnecessary time unprotected from the security of your vehicle.

· Don’t leave packages visible in your vehicle. Use the trunk or take them directly home.

· Keep your credit card or checkbook stowed away until the last minute to keep thieves from seeing numbers while behind you in line.

· Stay alert to your surroundings, but do ENJOY the time spent shopping for something that will make someone’s special occasion perfect!

For more tips, visit Meemic.com/Safety.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Applications

Wisconsin participates in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program. Schools, districts, and early learning centers seeking nomination must submit an online application by December 1 each year. Applications are reviewed each winter, and winners are announced close to Earth Day each spring.

The award recognizes schools, districts, early learning centers, and IHEs* that:

· Reduce environmental impact and costs;

· Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and

· Provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

The online application is the same one used for Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin. The application can be completed over time and not all questions need to be answered.

For questions, contact Victoria Rydberg, DPI Environmental Education Consultant at (608) 266-0419.

Two Grant Opportunities from The Meemic Foundation!

Do you know of a school in need? Whether it’s your child’s school, a former school you attended or a local school in your community, you have an opportunity to show your support by nominating them for a $500 For Our Schools grant that they can use exclusively at Office Depot, Inc. Find out more at MeemicFoundation.org/ForOurSchools.

Need new math manipulatives? Microscopes? Art supplies? A special school-wide speaker? Whatever the need, our third quarter Traditional grant provide

s funding up to $500. Get details at MeemicFoundation.org/Traditional.

Not a Meemic Foundation Club Member? It’s free and exclusively available to all school employees. Sign up today at MeemicFoundation.org/Register.

Applications accepted Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2018.