Farmers Cares, by Paul Quinn

Ten Steps to Safely Deep Fry a Turkey

The following post on how to safely deep fry a turkey always gets a resounding response. As this cooking method for cooking a turkey becomes increasingly popular, it is of utmost importance that safety is priority. So, please share with family and friends to ensure that everyone can have the safest holiday season possible…

I will never be a naysayer when it comes to the holidays. I love everything about them; the food, getting together and sharing memories, and the food. Okay, I mentioned food twice, but the food is important because it represents our family traditions. Over the years, many have taken on the tradition of deep frying their turkeys. If you have never tasted a deep fried turkey then you are missing out. But, know that there is a right way and a wrong way to deep fry a turkey and the wrong way could result in fire, serious injury or both. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage each year.

Working with homeowners insurance for many years, I have seen many reports of damaged homes or burnt garages because customers did not deep fry a turkey properly. So, I decided to do some research and found information from resources, such as the Keizer, Oregon Fire Department and others, to compile the safety tips below. Note that these are general safety tips only and it is very important that you also follow the cooking instructions and safety tips that are included with your commercially built fryer.

1) Make sure you use a commercially built fryer, do not try to make your own. Follow the instructions.

2) Your fryer should be outside and far away from combustible materials or surfaces. Make sure you use the fryer on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.

3) The turkey should be no more than 12 lbs and all innards, pop timers, wrapping etc. should be removed. Also cut off the wingtips and remove the tail.

4) Do not overfill the fryer with oil. To get the right amount, experts recommend that you put your turkey in its basket and then place it into the fryer. Add water so that it is covered until it reaches about a half inch over the turkey. Remove your turkey, then mark the fill spot and then drain the fryer. Dry the fryer and the turkey thoroughly to prevent splattering.

5) Fill the fryer up to your mark with oil that has a high smoking point such as peanut (watch out for peanut allergies), canola or safflower and heat to the appropriate temperature.

6) Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use the all-purpose fire extinguisher and call for help.

7) When placing the turkey in the fryer, wear appropriate attire and place the turkey carefully in the oil to avoid spilling.

8) Do not leave the fryer unattended at any time and make sure there are no pets or children in the area.

9) Once cooked, carefully remove the turkey to avoid spilling.

10) Let the oil cool and dispose of it properly. Do not put your grease down the drain because it could clog your sewage pipes. Filter the oil of any food bits and put it in an air tight container. During the holidays, many commercial facilities like biofuel companies or restaurants expand their drop-off points. Taking your oil to these types of facilities will ensure proper recycling or disposal.

Be careful, be safe and enjoy Thanksgiving. Remember that anywhere indoors, including the garage, is not a good environment for deep frying a turkey. And, if you are worried about rain, snow or getting cold, have another Thanksgiving when it is warmer and try deep frying then. You can never give thanks too often and precipitation hitting the oil may cause hot steam that may cause burns. Plus, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” never gets old. It will be worth the wait.

I am hungry already. Let me know how it goes. Contact me at farmers-cares@farmersinsurance.com.

The following links provide more detailed information about deep frying a turkey.

http://phoenix.gov/FIRE/deepfry.html

http://cesanjoaquin.ucdavis.edu/files/12485.pdf

http://www.wkrg.com/alabama/article/deep_fried_turkey_safety_tips/21128/Nov-20-2008_1-36-pm/

Photo credit: FireFightingNews.com

Freezing Weather Maintenace Checklist

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As cold weather hits the Midwest this week, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has issued a quick reminder infographic on preparing your property for such extreme temperatures. I have written past posts that touch on all these points and I will be updating them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, follow these infographic guidelines and stay safe and warm.

Home Generator Safety Tips

This past weekend brought snow storms to much of the Northeast and hence widespread power outages. For those who experience these conditions quite often, a generator is looked to as a backup power source. While generators are great to keep “life as usual,” they also come with the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical and fire hazards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that dated, portable generators can cause carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. In other words, generator safety is of utmost importance. The following is a description of the types of generators and safety tips from the commission.

Standby Generator – Connected directly to your electrical system and provides power to your structure’s internal wiring.

  • A transfer switch is required to keep the generator from backfeeding.
  • Have a building inspector inspect all of your wiring before using the generator.
  • Notify your power company of your new standby system so they can alert utility workers in your area in the case of a power outage.
  • Have a standby generator installed by a qualified professional.

Portable Generator – The most common type of generator that comes in variations of size and power output and must be plugged in to operate.

  • To avoid carbon monoxide always use portable generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery backup) carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Test CO alarms often and replace batteries when needed.
  • Avoid electrical hazards by keeping the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure.
  • Dry your hands before touching the generator.
  • Plug appliances directly into generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Make sure the entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug as all 3 prongs, especially a grounding pin. NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as backfeeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and the others served by the same utility transformer.
  • If necessary to connect generator to house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment. Or, your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch.
  • Avoid fire hazards by turning off the generator and letting it cool. Always store fuel outside of the living areas in properly labeled glass containers. Store fuel away from any fuel-burning appliance.

Always follow the directions of your generator system and have a licensed electrician do any installation. Stay warm this winter but also be smart, it could save your life. Photo credit: homeadditonplus.com

Halloween Safety Driving Tips

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This evening there will be many children out trick-or-treating. The following are Halloween safety driving tips to make sure the evening is safe for everyone.

  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits
  • Always use your proper turn signals
  • Watch for children walking or bicycling (both on the road and the sidewalk)
  • Watch for children who may be darting into the street
  • Avoid distractions such as your mobile phone. If you must use your phone make sure it is hands free.

I hope you all enjoy Halloween. Let’s make sure it is safe.

Photo credit: Billings Gazette

Teen Driver Safety Week: Discuss the “5 to Drive”

TeenDriver

This week is the National Department of Transportation’s Teen Driver Safety Week.

The USDOT has a set of rules called the “5 to Drive” and is asking parents and guardians to discuss these five basic rules for safe teen driving:

  • No cell phone use or texting while driving
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • No driving or riding without a seat belt

If you have a teen, please go over these guidelines. You may also read my past post Youthful Driving Tips: Is It That Time Already? which also has safety tips.

Fire Prevention Week: Smoke Alarm Tips

firepreventionweek

This week has been Fire Prevention Week. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign includes the following smoke alarm tips given by the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement
  • Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do
  • Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or earlier if they don’t respond properly
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it

You may also read my older post on Fire Escape Planning. Remember to always perform routine maintenance to your smoke alarms and always have an emergency plan for your family. Being prepared may save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Photo credit: www.nfpa.org

Map Identifies Your Region’s Risk for Disaster

InteractiveMap

Research has found that communities, families and individuals who prepare in advance for possible disasters are better able to recover and adapt to new or changing conditions. The first step in preparing for a disaster is knowing what risks you face. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety  (IBHS) has an interactive risk map on its website to help you identify your region’s risks by entering your ZIP Code.

Remember it is important to strengthen your home and business against damage. Strengthening your building will make it more likely it will still be there to return to after a disaster; that it will sustain less damage.

 

Getting Ready For Fall

School has started and now there is a chill in the air. And, with fall it is time for homeowners to start prepping for winter. The JournalTimes has a good article about fall home maintenance. Some of the biggest tasks on the fall to do list are:

  • Clean out your gutters to make sure there isn’t any water build up during the cold weather
  • Have your furnace tuned up for the winter
  • Have your chimney and flue checked as part of yearly maintenance
  • Cover up your air conditioning unit to protect it from ice and snow
  • Drain and store garden hoses, install insulating covers on exterior spigots and have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Inspect washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check the dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests. Make sure the exterior vent door closes.
  • Look for rotted, cracked or damaged wood around the house, especially the trim around the garage door.

So enjoy the cooler weather and the holidays that come with it, just keep in mind that as you spend time with your family, don’t forget about your home as well.

5 Low-Cost Projects To Prepare for the Next Storm

As Tropical Storm Odile is expected to become a hurricane off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, we are reminded that hurricane season is still in full force.  The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reminds homeowners to take action now to protect their homes against the high winds and wind-driven rain from hurricanes.

Below are five low-cost project ideas that homeowners can do to prepare for the next storm.

The Five S’s – Shingles, Soffits, Seals, Surroundings and Shutters

Shingles - Spend $4 on a 10 oz. tube of roofing cement and use it to re-adhere loose shingles to prevent water damage to your roof decking. One tube = 25 feet of shingles.

  • Focus on shingles near the roof edges and near gable ends.
  • Place three one-inch diameter dabs of roofing cement under each shingle tab (near the edges).
  • On gable ends, secure the three shingle tabs closest to the gable edge.
  • This should be done at least two weeks in advance of a storm to allow the cement to adhere properly.

 Soffits - Spend $6 for 10 oz. of polyurethane sealant and stainless steel screws, and use to secure your soffits to the walls and fascia to prevent them from blowing off. IBHS research has found that soffit materials are missing in approximately 75 percent of homes that suffer significant hurricane damage. When soffit materials are blown off, the result is wind and water damage to the roof decking, attic and possibly the home’s interior.

  • Apply a bead of sealant along the joint between the edge of the channel and the wall and the track holding the soffit panels.
  • Install sharp pointed stainless steel screws through the fascia and channels so that they connect the soffit material.
  • Apply sealant in the grooves where the fascia material butts up against the fascia and wall channel.

 Seal Gaps - Spend $2 on 10 oz. of caulk and use to seal gaps in outer walls to prevent water intrusion. Focus on the following areas:

  • holes where wires, cables and pipes enter and exit the house;
  • openings for cable TV and telephone lines;
  • all the way around electrical boxes and circuit breaker panels;
  • pipe penetrations including air conditioning refrigerant lines and  condensate lines, water heater pressure relief lines and water pipes; and
  • cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and kitchen vents and electrical devices such as wall lights.

Surroundings – Secure your surroundings to prevent damage from flying debris.

  • Spend $3/bag and replace gravel/rock landscaping materials and walkways with a softer material, such as mulch or dirt. In a particularly strong hurricane, gravel has been found in mail boxes and has shredded vinyl siding. Work with neighbors to make sure everyone’s home is protected from this risk.
  • Secure loose objects in the yard, such as lawn chairs, toys, garbage cans or signs, so they don’t become flying missiles during high winds.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.

Shutters – Spend $9-$30 per square foot of openings for shutters to protect against wind-borne debris and pressurization.

  • Determine what openings need protection; this should include all windows, entry doors, sliding glass doors, garage doors and gable end vents.
  • Choose permanent window and door protection, or install permanent fasteners before storm warnings, and pre-cut shutter panels so they can be put in place quickly.
  • Choose shutters with the proper approval for impact-resistance. Look for these ratings: Florida Building Code TAS 201, 202, 203; ASTM E 1886 and 1996-03; and Miami-Dade Protocols PA 201, 202, 203.

In addition to these preparedness tips, please pay close attention to local weather forecasts and follow evacuation orders if given by local authorities.

Photo credit: AccuWeather.com

Hurricane Norbert: Rip Current Safety

Forecasters have warned that this weekend dangerous rip currents will develop along south-facing beaches in Southern California due to Hurricane Norbert. Rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore which may sometimes be very strong. The United States Lifesaving Association attributes 80 percent of all surf zone rescues to rip currents. The following information and tips are from www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Read these tips thoroughly, they could save your life.

Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards. The seaward pull of rip currents varies: sometimes the rip current ends just beyond the line of breaking waves, but more powerful rip currents continue to push hundreds of yards offshore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes.

A daily rip current outlook is included in the Surf Zone Forecast, which is issued by many coastal National Weather Service offices. A three-tiered warning structure of “low”, “moderate”, or “high” is used to describe rip current risk. This outlook is reported to lifeguards, emergency managers, media and the general public.

If caught in a rip current:

  • Stay calm
  • Don’t fight the current
  • Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle – away from the current – toward shore.
  • If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water.
  • When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself:
  • Face the shore, call or wave for help.

How to help someone else without being a victim

  • Get help from a lifeguard
  • If a lifeguard is not present, yell instructions on how to escape.
  • If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats.
  • Call 9-1-1 for further assistance.
  • When you arrive at the beach, ask lifeguards about rip currents and any other hazards that may be present.

So, of course enjoy the beach this weekend, but pay attention to the Surf Zone Forecast and always listen to your lifeguard and stay in designated swimming areas. You want your time at the beach to be fun and memorable.