October 2013
Follow These Halloween Safety Tips
carved pumpkin face on alert sign

Follow These Halloween Safety Tips

Make this year's ghoulish gatherings safe and memorable!

Dressing up in costumes … trick or treating in the neighborhood … festooning the house with “scary” decorations … these are a few reasons why millions of Americans love Halloween. Last year seven in 10 Americans planned to celebrate Halloween and spend a whopping $8 billion on the popular holiday, according to the National Retail Federation.

However, parents’ concerns about Halloween are widespread. In a 2011 survey commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide, 77 percent of respondents expressed concerns about being hit by vehicles, poisoning, abductions and more.

Promote safety this Halloween by following these suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


  • Examine treats for choking hazards and tampering.
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Throw away spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Though tampering is rare, avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
  • Encourage good nutritional habits; consider rationing sweets in the days following Halloween.
  • For parties, provide kids healthier treats and drinks.


  • Wear bright, reflective costumes. Look for labeling indicating they’re flame-resistant.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes, accessories and treat bags.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and hats that fit properly and don’t slide over eyes.
  • Make sure shoes fit well, and that costumes don’t cause tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.
  • Accessories like swords or knives should be short, soft, flexible and not sharp.


  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups, or with a trusted adult. If older children are going alone, plan and review the route, and agree on a specific time they should return.
  • Remain on well-lit streets, and look both ways before crossing.
  • Always use sidewalks, and if none are available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.
  • Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Visit well-lit homes, and don’t stop at dark houses.
  • Never accept rides from strangers.

Treat Providers

  • Remove items on the porch or in the yard that could cause visitors to trip and fall.
  • Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Remove wet leaves or snow from sidewalks and steps.
  • Keep pets away so they don’t jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.

Have a safe, fun and festive Halloween!

Score Big with These Tailgating Tips

Score Big with These Tailgating Tips

Plan ahead, have fun and be safe!

This football season, take your tailgating experience to the next level with these suggestions for maximum fun and safety.

Create a game plan: Contact your fellow tailgaters ahead of time to designate who’s bringing the food, grill, chairs, sound system and fun items like Frisbees or bean toss games.

Get a home field advantage: Arrive three or four hours early to get a nice tailgating spot. Remember, there’s more space at the end of a row.

Don’t fumble the food: Keep these ideas in mind so you don’t commit any “food fouls.”

  • Bring enough ice to keep coolers below 40 degrees F.
  • Pack raw and ready-to-eat foods separately.
  • Cook food to these safe minimum internal temperatures: poultry, 165 degrees F; ground meats, 160 degrees F; beef, pork and chops, 145 degrees F.
  • If anyone in your group has food allergies, plan accordingly.
  • Don’t leave food out of the cooler or off the grill more than two hours (no more than one hour when it’s above 90 degrees F outside).

Want more food prep ideas? Check our grilling safety tips, and these additional food safety suggestions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Safety blitz: Bring a first-aid kit, use sunscreen and stay hydrated with plenty of water. Always be aware of your surroundings, whether it’s vehicles or pedestrians.

Be sportsmanlike: Treat nearby tailgaters like neighbors, with kindness, courtesy and respect. Don’t drink too much, and always have a designated driver.

Have fun out there this football season. See you later, tailgaters!

Save Money With Our Fall Home Maintenance Tips
college girls in front of dorm with boxes

Save Money With Our Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Try these easy ideas to make your home energy-efficient.

October is a great time to tackle those last-minute home repairs before the winter sets in. You’ll not only make your home more energy-efficient, you’ll save money and make it cozier too!

Here’s a fall home maintenance checklist of things you can do to get your home ready for winter:


  • Install storm windows. If cost is an issue, consider adding a few every year. In the meantime, use window insulator kits to keep out cold drafts.
  • Caulk any gaps around the outside of your windows, doors or other access points such as cable or electrical connections.

  • Caulk any gaps around the chimney, flues or other roof openings.
  • Clean your rain gutters (and roof) by removing leaves, twigs and other debris. Make sure the downspout is clear to allow complete draining, and channel the water 10 feet from your house. Clean gutters reduce the chance of ice dams, which can damage your home.
  • Clean your chimney – especially if you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Extensive use of a wood burner can lead to a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can be flammable. Also, check your chimney for critters who have decided to make it their home. (Hint: Consider installing a chimney cap with a screen to prevent animals and other debris from coming down your chimney.
  • Repair or replace damaged shingles.
  • Insulate outdoor water spigots. Even better, install “freeze-proof” faucets.
  • If you have a lawn irrigation system, have water blown out of the lines with compressed air. (Note: This is usually best left to a trained technician to avoid damage to your system.)


  • Add insulation to your attic. As a rule of thumb, if you can see ceiling joists, you don't have enough insulation.
  • Have your furnace checked for proper, safe and efficient operation.
  • Change furnace air filters regularly.
  • If heating ducts go through un-insulated crawl spaces or attics, insulate them to minimize heat loss. Also, check for air leaks at connection points.
  • Insulate water pipes that go through an un-insulated wall, crawlspace or attic.
  • Put new batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to heat the house when you’re home and let the temperature fall back a little when the house is empty. The savings can be significant.


  • Insulate. If you live in an older home, chances are your exterior walls don’t have much insulation. Extra insulation helps keep your home warm in winter and cooler in summer. According to EnergyStar, extra insulation can save up to 20 percent of your home heating and cooling costs.
  • On a windy day, check windows, doors and electrical outlets on exterior walls for a draft. If you feel one, make sure to insulate it to reduce the flow of cold air into your home.

Additional information about seasonal home maintenance and safety is available in American Family’s Learning Center.

Other Articles in This Issue:

Don't Get Burned: Use Common Sense Fire Safety

Don't Get Burned: Use Common Sense Fire Safety Practices

Follow these tips to reduce your chance of fire.

Winter is just around the corner, and with colder temperatures comes an increase in home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), December and January have a higher percentage of home fires and fire-related fatalities than any other time of year.

In conjunction with Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 6-12), here are some tips and recommendations to prevent fires all year through.

  • Use caution with your clothes dryer:
    • Never leave a dryer running if you’re not at home or have gone to bed.
    • Clean the lint screen after each use.
    • Regularly clean dryer ducts.
  • Have fire extinguishers in your home:
    • Know how to use them.
    • Periodically inspect your fire extinguishers to be certain they are still charged and ready for use.
  • Use caution with auxiliary heaters:
    • Leave at least a three-foot space around any heating appliance.
    • Turn off portable or space heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
    • Do not use heaters that burn kerosene or similar fuels inside your home. These units can start fires and generate life-threatening carbon monoxide.
  • Be safe in the kitchen:
    • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave, turn off the stove or oven.
    • Keep flammable items away from your stovetop. This includes potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and curtains.
    • Keep your stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Fireplace safety:
    • Always open the flue in the fireplace before starting a fire.
    • Use a metal screen to catch burning embers or sparks from shifting logs.
    • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from any fireplace.
    • If the fireplace is gas-operated, close the gas valve when not in use.
  • Be safe when grilling – even in winter:
    • Place your grill at least 15 feet from any building.
    • Grill only on a flat surface that can't catch fire.
    • Never use gasoline, alcohol or kerosene to start your coals.

For additional ways to protect your family, check out American Family’s Learning Center.

Fall Into Safe Driving Habits

Fall Into Safe Driving Habits

Avoid autumn's driving risks with these helpful tips.

Ah, fall.

Football, harvest festivals, brilliantly colored tree leaves, cooler and shorter days … It’s a cozy season of transition from the warmth of summer to the chilly winter weather ahead.

However, fall can present dangers for drivers and motorcyclists. Here’s a look at fall driving hazards and how to avoid them.

Slippery leaves: Fallen leaves can be slippery and dangerous as ice on the pavement. Drive slowly through them and avoid quick stops.

Inclement, unpredictable weather: Fall often is marked by rainy, stormy weather, and many parts of the country experience fog, sleet, frost and even snow. Make sure your car’s windshield wipers and heating/defrosting system are in top condition, and clear frost from the windshield and all windows. When driving in fog, use low-beam headlights, because high beams create glare. Increase your following distance, and if you’re being tailgated, let the other driver pass. Be extra cautious on bridges.

Sun glare: The low-hanging sun on the horizon in the morning and evening can be blinding, particularly during commute times. Be prepared by keeping the inside of your windshield clean, having sunglasses handy and de-cluttering your sun visors.

Decreasing daylight: Twilight or darkness can adversely affect your depth perception and peripheral vision while driving. Allow your eyes extra time to adjust from well-lit indoor conditions to the darkness outside. Use your headlights as darkness approaches.

Deer: Deer are more active in the fall, especially between sunset and sunrise. Slow down where deer crossing signs are posted, and increase your following distance. Be especially alert at dawn and dusk, and be on your guard when a deer crosses the road, as others may follow. Read this Learning Center story for more tips on avoiding deer-vehicle crashes.

Fall into better autumn driving habits today! Use common sense when driving, wear a seatbelt, and always drive sober.

Interested in protecting your vehicle this fall and all year round? Contact your American Family Insurance agent for automobile insurance coverage information.