Spring Safety Tips 2013 | April 2013
Spring Cleaning and Safety — a Perfect Combo

Keep Safe During Spring Cleaning

After a long winter, there's nothing like getting your house and yard in order with spring cleaning. Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Wear rubber gloves and protective gear when using pesticides, fertilizers and cleaning products containing hazardous chemicals.
  • Never use gasoline to clean skin, clothes, auto parts or floors.
  • Wear proper eye protection when operating power tools, and keep them turned off before plugging them in.
  • Before removing weeds with your hands, make sure you can identify poison ivy and similar toxic plants, to avoid coming in contact with them.
  • Pick up tools, brush and other trip hazards, and clean up spills immediately.
  • When using ladders, do not climb with tools in your hand, do not lean or overreach, and always climb down one rung at a time.

Add safety tasks to your spring cleaning checklist

Consider adding these quick-and-easy tasks to your spring cleaning "to-do" list. They just might save your life.

Test, change and replace: Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they work, and change the batteries if needed. The National Safety Council suggests replacing smoke detectors every 10 years, so it might be time to make the switch! Ensure your fire extinguisher's pressure gauge is in the operable range, and that safety seals, tamper indicators, and the maintenance tag are not broken or missing. Replace extinguishers if needed.

Out with the old: Dispose of expired or unused medications according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Contact your city or county government trash and recycling service, or your pharmacist, to learn about medicine disposal in your area.

First aid updates: Replace missing or out-of-date supplies in your first aid kits. Make sure first aid kits are easy to access in your home and cars, too.

Form or review fire escape plans: Create or review a fire escape plan for your family. Here are some guidelines from the National Safety Council.

Get more home safety ideas by visiting the "My Home" section of the American Family Insurance Learning Center.

Follow Our Safety Tips for the Tornado Season

Know What to Do When a Tornado Is Coming

When Mother Nature throws a temper tantrum, it's called a tornado. Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms, capable of uprooting trees, leveling homes and just about anything in their path. Tornadoes kill about 60 people per year and have been reported in every state in the nation.

Know the difference

When severe weather threatens, be sure you know the difference between a tornado and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that conditions are right for a tornado to form. A tornado warning means that a tornado has already been sighted. Either way, you should seek shelter immediately.

Take cover immediately

Tornadoes can pop up quickly without much warning. When severe weather is threatening, be aware that tornados are a possibility.

If a tornado is approaching, seek shelter immediately. Don't risk watching one to see what will happen.

  • Go to your basement and take cover under a sturdy table or other furniture.
  • If your house doesn't have a basement, go to a small center room (like a bathroom or closet) on the lowest floor.
  • Mobile homes, cars and trucks provide NO protection against a tornado. Get out and go immediately to an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. If you're out in the open, lie flat and face-down in a ditch or the lowest ground possible.
  • In a large building (office, hospital, school, church, etc.) go to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building.
  • Turn on local TV, radio or weather alert radio for storm updates.

Want to know more? Additional information about tornado safety and how you can protect yourself is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Save Money - Extend the Life of Your Roof

Save Money — Extend the Life of Your Roof

Protect your home by protecting what's on top of it.

The roof of your house works hard to keep out wind, rain, snow, winter's cold and summer's heat. Unfortunately, your roof is often neglected when it comes to home maintenance.

Get the most out of your roof

Replacing a roof is expensive. You can extend the life of your roof with these simple tips.*

  • Clean your rain gutters. A clogged rain gutter won't effectively drain rain or melting snow. If melting snow refreezes, it can cause ice dams which can push water up under your roof. Clogged rain gutters can also lead to mold and mildew.
  • Ventilate your attic. This avoids large temperature differences between the outside and inside surfaces of your roof, which can cause condensation, mold and mildew.
  • Clear away any leaves or other debris that can trap moisture and cause premature aging.
  • Trim tree branches at least 10 feet away from your roof. This prevents branches from rubbing your roof and causing premature wear. It also minimizes animals jumping onto your roof and gnawing on your shingles or siding.
  • Make sure the flashing (usually metal around chimneys and other roof openings) is in good condition to prevent water leaks.
  • Visually check your roof from the ground using binoculars. If anything seems wrong, contact a roofer to inspect and/or repair. Taking care of a simple problem now can save a major repair down the road.

Information about different types of roofing materials is available in the American Family Insurance Learning Center.

Having a good roof isn't the only way you can protect your home. For more information about protecting your home and everything in it, contact your local American Family insurance agent.

*These tips are based on generally accepted maintenance practices.

Ride Safe, Ride Smart

Ride Safe, Ride Smart

Spring is here and motorcyclists nationwide are beginning to dust off their bikes to get ready to ride. If you're a motorcyclist, make this your safest riding season yet. Take a few steps to make sure your dream ride doesn't end up a nightmare.

Before taking your first ride, make sure everything on your motorcycle is ready.

  • Check all lights including turn signals, headlamp and brake lights to make sure they're in working order.
  • Make sure all shock absorbers and suspension components are functioning properly.
  • Check all fluids (oil, transmission and brake) so they are at proper levels.
  • Make sure your helmet still fits properly and isn't damaged.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation and sufficient tread.
  • Verify your battery is in good condition.
  • Check all cables to make sure they're tight and don't have any kinks or stiffness.
  • If your motorcycle is chain-driven, make sure the chain tension is correct and the chain isn't worn.

Work the kinks out

When you ride, make sure to wear protective clothing including a helmet, eye protection, sturdy jacket (made of strong material such as leather), long pants, gloves and boots that cover your ankle. Leave the shorts and flip-flops at home. Make sure others can see you as well as you see them. Wear bright, reflective clothing at all times. The brighter the better.

Take it slow and easy on your first ride. Remember to watch for road hazards such as animals, other vehicles, debris and uneven roads. You don't want your season to end on your first ride.

Finally, before you take that first ride, check with your American Family insurance agent to make sure your coverage is up to date.

Your motorcycle is your two-wheeled dream. You dream it, we'll protect it.

Stay Safe This Wildfire Season

Stay Safe This Wildfire Season

Wildfires are devastating and destroy everything in their path. If you live where wildfires are a possibility, there are steps you can take to help keep your family safe and minimize damage to your property.

  • In wildfire "season," be prepared to evacuate. Remember, things can be replaced – lives can't. Pack enough clothes for several days. If you have infants or small children, pack appropriate clothes and diapers.
  • If you need to evacuate, gather up important papers, family records, etc., and take them with you. Don't forget your pets!
  • Create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home to reduce its exposure to flames and high heat.
  • Move all flammable items away from your house including wood piles, lawn furniture, grills, brush, fallen branches, etc.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home.
  • Remove tree branches that extend over your roof.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your home.
  • Prepare/update a list of your home's contents for insurance purposes.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on the property.

If you had to evacuate and are now back home, be aware that debris may conceal sharp objects, downed power lines or smoldering embers. If your home or business was damaged from this fire, contact your American Family Insurance agent as soon as possible.

More information about protecting yourself from wildfires is available from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

If you are concerned that you're not properly insured, contact your American Family Insurance agent for an evaluation of your home insurance needs.

Your home is your dream. With a little precaution, you can prevent your dream from going up in smoke.