Farmers Cares, by Paul Quinn

How To Deep Fry A Turkey Safely

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

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

Photo credit:

How Do I Stay Safe While Driving In A Snowstorm


As parts of the country are experiencing their first snow of the season, it is important to stay safe. The following are tips for a winter survival kit for your car and what to do if your car gets stranded. These tips are provided by Foremost Insurance Company, a member of the Farmers Insurance Group.

All drivers should carry a survival kit in their car that contains:

  • Cell phone
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Knife
  • High calorie, non-perishable food
  • A can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sand or non-clumping cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Water container
  • Compass
  • Road maps
  • Extra winter clothes and boots

Also, try to keep the vehicle’s gas tank full in case the car gets stranded and to keep the fuel line from freezing. If the road is too snowy to see while driving:

  • Pull off the road and turn on the hazard lights.
  • Stay inside the vehicle. It is easy to become disoriented in the wind and snow. Do not set out on foot unless there is a building in sight where people can take shelter.
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a crack to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.
  • Exercise frequently to keep blood circulating and to keep warm, but don’t overexert.
  • Huddle with other passengers and use coats or blankets to stay warm.
  • In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering — anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
  • Be visible to rescuers by turning on the dome light at night (being careful to not wear down the battery), tying a distress flag (preferably red) to your antenna or window, and raising the hood to indicate trouble after snow stops falling.
  • If it is necessary to leave the vehicle and proceed on foot once the storm is over, follow the road if possible.
  • If it is necessary to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain a sense of direction.

With a little planning and know-how, it is possible to make this winter a safe and warm one for everyone.

How Can I Prevent Flood Damage To My Home?


Parts of Texas and the south are still experiencing damaging amounts of rainfall. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety gives the following guidelines to help prevent flood damage to your home.

  • Raise Electrical System Components—Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE) for your area. You can find out your property’s BFE by contacting your local building department. Raising electrical system components above the anticipated flood level will help prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid the potential for fire from short circuits in flooded systems.
  • Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment—Floodwaters can extensively damage heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) equipment. The extent of the damage depends upon the depth of flooding and how long the equipment is underwater. A good way to protect the HVAC equipment is to have a contractor move it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.
  • Direct Water Away From Building—Make sure your yard’s grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  • Anchor Fuel Tanks—Unanchored fuel tanks outside your home can damage your building or be swept downstream, damaging other properties. The supply line to an unanchored tank in your basement also can tear free and fuel can contaminate your basement.
  • Install Sewer Backflow Valves—Flooding in some areas can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up through drain pipes. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow into the house.
  • Sump Pumps—Make sure your sump pump is working properly and battery is fully charged.
  • Protect Wells From Contamination by Flooding—Floodwater that enters a well can contaminate it and make the water unsafe to drink. A licensed well-drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.

So as the rainfall continues to add up and the floodwaters still rise, please be safe and be sure to listen to any evacuation orders by local authorities.

Photo: Tom Reel / San Antonio Express-News

How Can I Prepare For A Flood?

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As some areas of Texas have received 20 inches of rain since Thursday, causing serious flash flooding, the following are some tips on how you can prepare for a flood:

As I’ve mentioned before, I recommended that if you are new to a region, check with your city to see if it is disaster prone and find out if you live in a flood area. If you are, be aware that your homeowner’s policy probably does not cover flood damage. Most flood insurance is underwritten by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program. You can contact them directly by visiting their website. Their site also has a great tutorial on what a flood can cost you if you are uninsured. The site may also help you find out if you are in a designated flood prone area.

  • Like with most emergencies, have an emergency go pack ready and if you are called to evacuate, go. Do not think you can ride out a flood. Water is a very destructive force of nature and cuts off escape routes rapidly.
  • But what is it like when you come home after a flood? It is probably unlike anything you can imagine. Two things you will definitely need are flashlights (with fresh batteries) and a supply of fresh drinking water. Your water supply will probably be impacted for several days after the flood waters have receded. Two sites will help you get ready for going back to your home. FEMA has some good information on the do’s and don’ts and this site from New South Wales, Australia is informative as well.

I have experienced two severe floods to a summer cabin in Northern California. The second one caused us to raise the cabin about ten feet to avoid subsequent floods. It was good-bye fireplace, and hello two flights of stairs. But, the peace of mind was worth it.

I said earlier that floods really impact entire communities. But, you will find that most communities come together when they need each other most.

Be ready, be careful, but most of all be safe.

Photo Credit: Jerry Larson, AP

How Do You Determine The Replacement Cost of Your Home?


With mudslides damaging homes in Southern California this past week, this is a time when many homeowners may question the replacement cost of their home.

Replacement cost becomes an issue if you have to replace all or part of your existing home. However, in today’s economic climate, the cost of rebuilding a home is increasing while the market value of the exact same home is going down. How come?

First, what is market value? It is the value you can sell your home to a willing buyer. I have sold several of my homes through the years as I have moved across the country while working for Farmers. I found market value can be determined by comparing your home to similar recently sold homes or having your home appraised and inspected. Either method is acceptable but the factors that will most determine your home value are the overall economy, supply and demand, interest rates and location. For example, if too many homes are on the market, your asking price will more than likely be affected.

Now that I’ve defined market value, let’s look at how it influences replacement cost. Replacement cost is the amount it will take to rebuild your home to its pre-loss condition. Let’s assume you have to rebuild your entire home due to a fire. But, you cannot replace your ten-year-old roof with a ten-year-old roof so you have to go with new materials. It is the same for much of the building materials in your home. This increases the cost. And, unfortunately, the same economy that makes your home less valuable from a resale standpoint can also cause building costs to escalate sharply. gives a great example. Two homes are built in the same year with the same features but are separated by fifteen miles. Within a week, each is totally destroyed by fire. The replacements costs are the same but due to location, the market value of the homes can differ by tens of thousands of dollars.

So, to determine the replacement cost of your home, I recommend you talk to your professional insurance agent. While it is your responsibility to set the final amount, an in-depth discussion about your home’s features and upgrades will go a long way to help you. Farmers has a Find an Agent search on our site.

For more information how to determine market value, go to

Photo Credit: AP

What’s the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane?


As Tropical Storm Marty brings flood threat to the Mexican coast, many may ask “What is the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane? gives the following descriptions and helps decipher the difference between a tropical depression, a tropical storm and a hurricane:

Tropical Depression

A tropical depression forms when a low pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce a circular wind flow with maximum sustained winds below 39 mph. Most tropical depressions have maximum sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph.

In the U.S., the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is responsible for issuing advisories upgrading or downgrading tropical activity.

Reconnoissance aircraft missions are sent by the NHC flying into tropical storms to gather data, like wind speeds, to aid in making these classification changes. Surface data from islands, buoys and vessels can also be used to make changes.

Tropical Storm

An upgrade into a tropical storm occurs when cyclonic circulation becomes more organized and maximum sustained winds gust consistently at or above 39 mph, and no higher than 73 mph. Tropical storm status is when the naming of the storm takes place.

Hurricane Classification 

A tropical storm is then upgraded into Category 1 hurricane status as maximum sustained winds increase to between 74 mph and 95 mph.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate hurricane intensity in the Atlantic Basin. A 1-5 rating system is used, with Category 1 being a less intense storm and Category 5 very intense (see below).

  • Category 1: Wind speed 74 – 95 mph
  • Category 2: Wind speed 96 – 110 mph
  • Category 3: Wind speed 110 – 130 mph
  • Category 4: Wind speed 131 – 155 mph
  • Category 5: Wind speed greater than 155 mph

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How to Prepare Your Family For a Wildfire Evacuation


More than 17,000 people have been evacuated as of Sunday afternoon due to a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California.

This brings to light how important it is to have an emergency response plan; because you never know when your area will be threatened by a wildfire. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection provides valuable wildfire emergency tips, but perhaps the most important is how to prepare your family for an evacuation.

First, listen to your Fire and Police Departments. If you have been ordered to evacuate, follow their instructions. Next, it is important to organize your family. Know where all your family members are (whether it is the neighbor’s or the movies) and make sure you can communicate with each of them in case you have to arrange a time and place to meet.

Pack your car with enough personal items for a few days. Be sure to include items of sentimental value that you know you can never replace. This will be a great comfort to you when you leave. Back your car in the driveway and roll up the windows to keep embers and smoke from coming in.

Gather all your pets into one room with leashes, food, bowls and toys. If you need to leave quickly, you do not want to take up valuable time trying to look for them.

Take a video of your home both inside and out. The inside video will help inventory your possessions and the outside video will give you an account of your home and landscaping. When it is time to leave, turn off your air conditioner, gas and any LP tanks but leave power and water on as well as your interior and exterior lights.

Also, remember to leave your contact information with a friend or relative so you can let them know you are safe. Hopefully you will never have to evacuate for a wildfire but it is always best to have your family prepared.

Photo credit: AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee

Insurance Discounts for Student Drivers

Did you know that if you are under 25 years of age and a full-time student in high school or college with good grades, you may qualify for a discount on your car insurance with Farmers?  The Farmers Insurance web site has an Insurance Discounts page to look up discounts by state.

As most students are getting ready for the Fall semester, good grades are everyone’s goal but knowing that it could help with your insurance rate is motivation as well.

Here’s wishing all the students a safe and fun school year!

Tire Safety Tips for Summer Driving


As the summer is winding down, and some are driving to their final vacation destinations, it is important to remember tire safety. Below you will find some information available on (a site by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration) regarding tire safety.
According to the NHSTA :

  • Under inflation & overloading are the major causes of tire failure
  • An estimated 30% of all cars and light trucks on the road have at least one tire under inflated by more than 8 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)
  • You should inspect all of your tires at least once per month for overall condition and irregular tire wear/inspection should be both visual and with your hands to identify any bumps or bulges
  • It’s extremely difficult to tell if a tire is under inflated strictly by visual inspection
  • You should purchase and use an accurate tire pressure gauge
  • You need to observe tire pressure and loading limits

Other in-depth tire safety information on the site includes:

  • Tire Pressure & Loading Limits
  • Checking Tire Pressure
  • Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure
  • Understanding Tire Pressure and Loading Limits
  • Tire Maintenance
  • Balance and Alignment
  • Tire Repair
  • Tire Rotation
  • Tire Size
  • Tire Tread
  • Tire Ratings, and more…

Also, be sure to check the site to see if your tires are subject to a safety recalls. So enjoy your travels this summer, but just make sure your tires are safe.
Photo credit: Photo from

Reducing Roof Vulnerability During Wildfires

As the U.S. experiences triple digit temperatures this week and wildfires continue to be prominent in the news, it is important to remember that winds can cause embers to travel more than a mile which can ignite a home.

An article on has the following tips on reducing roof vulnerability during a wildfire. In reading them, keep in mind that following emergency instructions during a wildfire is crucial, but preventative measures are just as important.

Reducing Roof Vulnerability

Limit the amount of debris that accumulates at the intersections between vertical walls and roof:

  • Regularly removing vegetative debris from the roof.
  • Replace combustible siding with noncombustible (such as a fiber cement product) or ignition-resistant material (such as exterior rated, fire-retardant treated wood).
  • Add metal flashing at the base of the wall to provides additional protection to the combustible siding.
  • Regularly clean and remove debris from gutters.
    • Consider gutter covers, which can minimize the accumulation of debris in gutters.
    • Some gutter covers (for example, those that have a rounded design) can result in the accumulation of debris on the roof side of the cover.
    • Do not expect gutter covers to eliminate the need for maintenance to remove debris.
    • If a cover is used, flat covers that are parallel to the slope of the roof covering should minimize the accumulation of debris behind the cover.
    • IBHS recommends the use of an integrated gutter (a combination of gutter and roof edge flashing) will help protect the fascia and roof sheathing.
  • Block gaps between the tiles and roof deck on barrel tile roof coverings and other roof types.
    • Use either manufacturer supplied materials or with a mortar or cement mixture.
    • IBHS recommends the use of end-stopping products that minimize the accumulation of debris in the space between the roof deck and covering and the entry of embers during wildfire