Home Security Technology

Home Security TechnologyHome Security is Easier — and Better — Than Ever

Think home security in Florida is still about bulky camera equipment and wires running all throughout your home? Think again.

Today, things have changed quite a bit, and the playing field has been leveled. Advanced tools and security systems are more accessible and affordable than ever. (And installing them might get you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.)

Full-service systems are still a popular option with many people. Companies offer central monitoring, video surveillance, smoke/carbon monoxide detection and more. Some even include home automation tools so you can control appliances from anywhere, and many will send text-message alerts in response to specific occurrences, such as when the kids enter the house after school.

Do-it-yourselfers who don’t want an all-in-one system have many choices as well. Here are three of the newest and most popular home security tools:

1. Smart (and small) cameras

Cameras today can be tucked anywhere and don’t require wires. With a good battery and wi-fi connection, you can see what’s happening outside — or inside — with a glance at your phone or computer.

2. Key-free doors

Say you have a friend stopping by to check on your dog while you’re gone for the day. You don’t have to risk leaving a key outside. With a code-based entry system, you can simply provide your friend with temporary access that turns on and off when you want.

3. Home Security automation products

It’s easier than you think to give yourself remote access to the lights and appliances in your home. At least one available product can be used with your existing power outlets; simply plug it in and control the power to that outlet from an app on your smartphone. Don’t ever worry about forgetting to leave a light on again.

Of course, even “old-school” tools, such as motion-activated outdoor lights, can still have a big impact on home security. So whether you choose high-tech tools or stick to the basics, you’ll be making your home here in Florida a less attractive target for burglars.

Also, don’t forget about self installed home security systems.

Posted in Home Insurance, Home Security, Homeowners Insurance, Insurance | Tagged , | Comments Off on Home Security Technology

Don’t Wait For a Leak To Replace Your Roof

roof-leakIt’s one of the biggest and most costly mistakes homeowners make: They pay no mind to an aging roof until they see a leak from the inside. The problem: By the time water damage becomes visible from inside the home, there may already be extensive rot and mildew between the ceiling and roof.

All of a sudden, instead of just replacing shingles or laying down some new pitch and gravel on a rooftop, your contractor may be cutting into drywall or replacing sections of ceiling and roof. In some cases, you may have to go through a costly mold eradication project.

Reminder: Unless the damage can be traced to a specific wind or weather event, chances are it won’t pay for damages caused by a leaking roof. Insurance is there in case an act of God or vandalism forces you to replace your roof prematurely. Insuring you replace your roof before natural and expected wear and tear causes a problem is your responsibility.

To avoid these needless expenses, replace your roof before it leaks.

How do you know when it’s time? Look for these signs.

  • Do you smell mold in your attic? Are there dark or discolored spots in the wood or drywall in your attic space? Is insulation discolored or wet? Get up there with some good lighting on a regular basis and inspect it. You want to catch any damage here, before it spreads to your living area.
  • Is there a lot of moss growing on your roof? Moss can add weight to roofs, store moisture causing wet rot and mold damage, and compromise the structural integrity of your roofing materials.
  • Are asphalt shingles losing granularity? The granules on asphalt shingles are vital barriers to sunlight, which can cause your tile to shrink and expand with the temperature. When there are granules missing, the tile itself is exposed to the elements. This can cause cracking and leaks.
  • Are shingles curling or cracking? It’s time to replace them. The barrier to water is now compromised.
  • Check flashings and caulking around joints, angles, sunroofs, etc. Are the flashings in good shape? Is the caulking still intact or is it cracking or becoming separated? Repair these vulnerable areas right away, before the next rain pushes water into the gaps.
  • Check the area immediately around chimneys. This is a notoriously vulnerable point for roofs, because roofing materials expand and contract more than the chimney itself – creating gaps.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

Also, keep in mind that even in the event of a windstorm or other insurable event, your home insurance policy may not cover the entire cost of replacing a roof that gets damaged. This is because many insurance policies don’t  cover roof replacement costs, but rather something called the actual cash value of the roof.

This means they deduct a small amount from the allowable compensation each year as the roof gets older. The older the roof, the lower the actual cash value. In theory, you would be saving money to replace the roof anyway. Actual cash value only pays the depreciated value of the roof (after the deductible.) As the roof approaches its scheduled replacement date, the depreciated value of the roof approaches zero.

In addition, a roof that has been damaged due to wear and tear, which can no longer protect the home from water seeping in may result in a claim that is not covered. The reason for this is, damage needs to be sudden and accidental. Also policies were never intended to cover claims that can be prevented, including poor maintenance of a home. If they provide coverage for these types of claims, it would result in higher homeowners insurance rates to make up for the irresponsible homeowners.

Posted in Homeowners Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Safety Tips | Comments Off on Don’t Wait For a Leak To Replace Your Roof

Tips for Staying Safe During Thunderstorms

thunderstormThere are some workers who face more risks than others. For example, people who work in open spaces, with explosives, near tall objects, with conductive materials or outdoors are more likely to be struck by lightning than people who work indoors in an office or in similar settings. Workers in the following jobs face the greatest risk of being struck by lightning:

– Explosive storing and handling
– Logging
– Plumbing or pipe fitting
– Heavy equipment operators
– Farming or field labor
– Power utility field repair
– Construction and building maintenance
– Telecommunications field repair

It is best to avoid starting any projects that cannot be stopped immediately if there is a chance of thunderstorms. People who work in these types of jobs should pay close attention to the weather forecasts every day to better know what to expect. It is also important to pay attention to any early signs of thunderstorms. Dark clouds, high winds, distant lighting, and rain are all telltale signs that a thunderstorm is approaching.

Workers in these types of jobs should also know their companies’ safety warning programs. If businesses have functions that are higher risks such as storing explosives or repairing them, there should be a formal lightning safety policy in place that meets the following standards:

– Danger warnings should be issued with enough advance notice that all workers are able to make it to a safe place.
– Workers should have access to a safe place at all times.

It is important to assess the risk of lightning strikes and take any necessary measures to prevent major injuries. When there are thunderstorms, outdoor locations are not safe. If a person can hear thunder, this is a sign that lightning is close enough to strike. As soon as thunder is heard, it is important to stop working immediately to find a safe place. A substantial building or vehicle with a hard-topped roof will be safer. It is also helpful to know what equipment or objects to avoid during a thunderstorm. Consider these tips:

– Stay away and off of equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, track loaders, tractors and backhoes.
– Stay away and off of tall buildings, high rooftops, ladders, utility poles and scaffolding.
– Leave any areas that contain munitions or explosives.
– Avoid touching any surfaces or materials that conduct electricity. This includes utility lines, metal scaffolding, water, plumbing, pipes and metal equipment.

If another worker is struck by lightning, keep in mind that he or she is safe to touch afterward. Humans do not carry electrical charges, and they must have immediate medical attention if they are struck. For those who die from lightning strikes, cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death. If a victim receives immediate care, death may be preventable. If another worker is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. If the person is not breathing, it is important to perform CPR when possible. Automatic external defibrillators can also be used if they are available. To learn more about this topic and insurance questions, discuss concerns with an agent.

Posted in Commercial Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Safety Tips | Comments Off on Tips for Staying Safe During Thunderstorms

Understanding Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Saftey Hazards

Illness and injury prevention programs are useful for lowering the likelihood of occupational injuries, fatalities and illnesses. There are many workplaces that have already put safety measures in place. One common way they do this is by participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs. They may also enroll in Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Programs, which are designed for smaller employers. Research shows that workplaces participating in these programs experience fewer injuries, and they usually report transformed cultures in the workplace that lead to higher quality of work. They also report better overall productivity, less turnover, greater worker satisfaction and reduced overall costs.

In addition to several other nations around the world, there are 34 states that encourage or require workplaces to have such programs in place. Since these employers have reported positive experiences with their programs in the United States, OSHA believes that prevention programs can create a solid foundation that will promote positive changes in the ways employers and their employees control and identify hazards. They say this leads to a better, safer and healthier work environment for everyone.

Adopting a prevention program will help reduce the number of workplace injuries, illnesses or fatalities. In addition to this, employers will have the opportunity to better their compliance standards with existing ones, which will give them the benefit of experiencing better finances and a safer environment. Prevention programs should have evaluation, identification and control measures for the workplace. These should be aimed at any existing hazards, which is something that will vary from one workplace to another. Some specific tasks should also be assigned to various workers, managers or supervisors.

There are several elements that comprise an effective plan, and these include the following:

– Management should establish concise and clear health and safety goals for the program, and these should provide definitions for the actions that are needed to reach the goals.

– Management officials should choose one or more workers who are responsible to maintain and implement the program.

– Workers should communicate with other workers who are implementing and developing programs to ensure they are involved.

– Management should provide adequate resources to make sure programs are implemented effectively.

– Management should include designated workers in any workplace inspections or investigations following any incidents.

– All workers should be encouraged to report their concerns about injuries, hazards, near misses and illnesses.

– Management should document and assess hazards in the workplace by asking for workers’ input and looking carefully at any available information about hazards.

– Employers must always inform their workers of known hazards in the workplace.

– Employers must protect their workers’ rights if they participate in these programs.

– If injuries occur, employers should investigate such incidents to identify hazards and what caused them.

– Employers should establish a plan that prioritizes dealing with various hazards.

– Employers should verify that all measures for any controls are effective.

– Management should provide interim controls that are designed to protect workers from hazards that are not immediately controllable.

– Employers must provide training and education to workers in languages they understand to ensure they know what to do.

– Employers should talk about hazard control plans with any workers that will be affected by the specific hazards.

– Workers should understand all of the procedures for reporting illnesses, injuries and safety concerns.

– Workers should know how to identify, control, reduce and eliminate hazards.

– Workers should understand all of the elements of a program and how to participate in it.

– Employers should offer refresher courses for the program periodically.

– Employers should look for ways to improve their programs regularly, and they should evaluate program effectiveness each time.

Employers have many responsibilities when it comes to keeping their workers safe. Every workplace has its own types of hazards. Although precautions reduce injuries, it is important to be fully prepared for when accidents happen anyway. To learn more about this topic, discuss concerns with an agent.

Posted in Commercial Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Cost | Comments Off on Understanding Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Saftey Hazards

What Employers Need to Know about Keeping Workers Safe from Asbestos

asbestosFlooring tiles may contain asbestos, which is a mineral fiber that was used in the past in several different building materials. It was used before people were aware of the dangerous effects it had on human health. Workers who are responsible for buffing or waxing floors with asbestos are in danger of negative health effects. If floor tiles were put in prior to 1980, workers should assume that they have asbestos. However, some workplaces may have had the flooring inspected to confirm that it is free of asbestos. If a floor cannot be confirmed as being free of asbestos, it is essential to take the proper precautions when cleaning or polishing it.

There are several regulations developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect people in workplaces from asbestos. The standard equipment used to clean asbestos flooring requires a pad that is abrasive. Since it runs at high speeds, it chips off tiny particles of asbestos into the air. When these fibers are airborne, they are easy for workers to inhale. The carcinogenic fibers become trapped in the lungs, and they can lead to lung cancer or other forms of lung disease.

Identifying a hazard in the workplace may not always be easy. Airborne fibers from asbestos flooring are small enough that workers will not be able to see them. As a rule, the simplest way to stay safe is to assume that any flooring put in prior to 1980 is dangerous. Even if it is not, the precautions are easy enough to follow that they are not burdensome. To be considered dangerous, a piece of flooring only needs to contain more than one percent asbestos.

Workers who are responsible for taking care of asbestos flooring should become familiar with the OSHA standards regarding this material. It is Part 1910.1001 of the 29 Code of Federal Regulations. For the shipyard and construction industries, there are separate asbestos standards due to varying working conditions. Employers are required to provide proper training that is understandable to all workers. They must cover the location of the asbestos, the health effects of it, how to recognize damaged asbestos-containing materials and how to respond to fiber releases. They should also provide workers with these valuable tips for flooring care:

– Never sand asbestos flooring.
– Use pads with low abrasion for buffing.
– Use wet cleaning methods.
– Keep buffer speeds below 300 rpm.
– If finish is sufficient, dry buffing or brushing is acceptable.

When properly implemented, these methods should be sufficient enough care precautions that personal protective equipment is not needed. Employers are required to keep records of workers’ training and notification. If any workers are exposed to asbestos or dangerous conditions, records should be kept and the workers should be monitored.

The DTSEM FS-3693 is one of the informational fact sheets used for highlighting OSHA programs, standards and policies. There are no new compliance regulations. To find the list of regulations and standards, look at Title 29 in the Code of Federal Regulations. Employers should also let workers know their rights in this matter. They have the right to do the following:

– Experience working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
– Exercise their law-given rights without fear of discrimination or retaliation.
– Review their own records of illnesses or injuries at work.
– Receive training and information in a language they understand.
– Be trained about workplace hazards and prevention methods.
– File confidential complaints to OSHA for workplace inspections if necessary.
– Receive copies of test results measuring and identifying hazards.

Employers who are starting new businesses or buying older buildings with asbestos flooring should be aware of these regulations and training requirements for workers. For more information about insurance to cover possible workplace incidents, discuss concerns with an agent.

Posted in Commercial Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Cost, Safety Tips | Comments Off on What Employers Need to Know about Keeping Workers Safe from Asbestos