Tips to Reduce Your Risk

How Effective Is Your Sprinkler System?

The 4th Quarter issue of Fire Protection Engineering contained an article discussing the effectiveness of sprinkler systems in the event of a serious fire. Between 2003 and 2007 research found that sprinklers operated properly in 93% of large fires and were effective in 97% of those fires.

So why didn’t the sprinkler systems work 100% of the time? This study also revealed the most recent statistics regarding the top reasons for sprinkler failure:

  • System shut off (38%)
  • Inappropriate system for type of fire (18%)
  • Water discharged did not reach fire (12%)
  • Lack of maintenance (12%)
  • Problem with water supply or not enough water discharged (9%)

So, how can you help reduce the probability of sprinkler system failure?

  • Check valves and gauges to make sure the system is charged or on
  • Look for tags showing annual maintenance of the system
  • Ensure that the current sprinkler system was designed for the current occupancy
  • Survey your property for areas that are not clearly protected by sprinkling system
Tips to Avoid Barn Fires

Do you own a barn or an outbuilding on your property? If so, check out these quick tips from Hastings Mutual’s loss control team for helpful advice on how to prevent barn fires.

  • The vast majority of barn fires are related to electricity and heating
  • Review your methods for heating the barn
  • Remember localized water heaters use a lot of energy and having more than one or two can stress circuits
  • Avoid low cost household fans in barns. They do not have sealed bearings and are prone to collect dust and grit, which can cause overheating
  • Remove extension cords that could be chewed by horses or other livestock and avoid using cheap extension cords that can easily overheat
  • Pay attention to lightning protection and making sure it is properly grounded and installed
  • Watch for overloaded circuits from older fuse boxes or circuit breakers
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in each outbuilding, but remember if it is anything more than a very small flame to call the fire department and stay away
Distracted Driving – More Than Just Cell Phones

Many national organizations and state legislatures are placing a great deal of emphasis on distracted driving, specifically the use cell phones. New laws are being implemented all over the country that will reduce the use of your cell phone for both talking and text messaging while driving. Cell phones may be one of the biggest distractions and certainly the distraction gaining the most attention, but what about all of the other driving distractions that can contribute to auto accidents?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three main types of driving distractions:

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

Common examples of distracted driving:

  • Reaching for a CD that’s in the seat pocket behind the passenger’s seat
  • Flipping through paperwork to find a phone number
  • Focusing on your GPS directions to get you to your next appointment
  • Trying to remove that grease stain from your shirt from your lunch on-the-go
  • Nodding off at the wheel on your morning commute to work
  • Texting a friend that you’ll be running a few minutes late

It’s important to keep in mind that anything other than focused driving can contribute to an auto accident. Next time you reach for that cell phone or grab a bite to eat at that fast food restaurant – remember that distracted driving can cause serious injury and damage. Stay safe!

For more information check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Is Your Business Safety Strategy In Flames?

Don’t get burned, know your fire safety tips

When you consider your office or your policyholders business, is fire safety a part of each day? The winter months present several fire perils, and they don’t end when the holiday decorations come down. Review the following safety tips that can help protect you and your customers from going up in smoke.

Fire extinguishers: Have at least one fire extinguisher in both your office and home. Know the various types of fire extinguisher and use the correct type if a fire occurs. Using the wrong variety of fire extinguisher can be dangerous or even fatal. If you need to use a fire extinguisher, stand with your back to an exit and stay several feet away from the fire. With a sweeping motion, spray the bottom of the flame. If the fire begins to spread, evacuate immediately and call 911. Learn more at

Portable heaters: Keep these devices away from furniture, drapes, blankets or any flammable item. Make sure portable heaters are turned off each time you leave your office or home. Find portable heaters with safety controls that can automatically shut off the power.

Evacuation plans: Is your office prepared in the event of a fire or other disaster? Does everyone know what their responsibilities are in the event that an evacuation takes place? Answering these important questions can help you be ready for whatever may come and potentially save lives. Use these basic tips when considering the safety of your staff:

  • Designate an evacuation route and practice exiting the building
  • Pick a location for everyone to meet and take attendance once you’re safe
  • Post evacuation plans and cover these plans at new employee orientation

Avoid the stress of potential disasters. Create safety plans and processes that keep you, your employees and your customers safe.

Workplace Safety Tips to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls this Winter Season
  • Remember to salt your sidewalks and parking lot prior to heavy employee traffic
  • Keep all hallways and walkways clear of boxes and debris
  • Report burned out or missing lights to keep areas well lit
  • Frequently clean or replace floor mats and rugs in entranceways
  • Be careful that packages and objects you are carrying do not obstruct your view
  • Report any uneven or broken pavement, sidewalks, or handrails
  • Close doors and desk drawers when not in use