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Get serious about lightning threat

Lightning strike at Swifts Creek, NSW, Australia

Greased lightning, fast as lightning, lightning in a bottle, lightning-bolt ideas. So many positive images of lightning exist that we may forget that lightning is deadly. Especially in Florida. This time of year, almost every locale is subject to a summer thunderstorm. And, we may get so used to them that we forget that thunder is the sound lightning makes. If you hear thunder, go for cover.

A construction worker was killed by lightning this week at a job site in Pembroke Pines, a victim of a direct lightning strike. Another worker at the same job was injured. Earlier this month, lightning caused an apartment fire in Orlando, and eight people had to find a new place to live and deal with replacing their charred belongings. Not all of them had renters insurance.

Winter months mean heightened wildfire risk


When the thermometer hits 80 degrees in January, it is hard to remember this is our winter season. But a drive along Florida’s forested highways is a visual reminder. Much of our greenery is brown, since rainy season is months away. And, that means the wildfire risk is heightened. From January through March, the wildfire risk in Southeastern states increases.

The state Dept. of Agriculture publishes a daily Wildland Fire Danger Index and only a few counties are currently at moderate risk (thanks to some recent thunderstorms). But the wildfire threat is present until we hit the summer months, so you’ll be hearing those Smokey the Bear commercials on the radio. Smokey’s familiar refrain (“Only you can prevent forest fires.”) is a refresher on some of the simple things to avoid, such as making sure your car does not start a wildfire. Hot cars parked on dry grass is like a match to a fireplace log.

Smokey knows 90% of wildfires are caused by humans. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has tips on reducing wildfire risks. Top tips: Create defensible space by removing decayed leaves and trees near your home, and build with fire resistant materials.

Florida tops for lightning damage


Stormiest state in the U.S.? You’re living in it! Of the top 12 stormiest cities, Florida owns 7 spots. (Lakeland tops the chart.) Thunderstorms are just part of the summertime experience, and where there is thunder, there is lightning – and lightning damage. No surprise, then, that Florida ranks #1 for the most lightning claims.

In 2015, Florida had nearly 12,000 lightning claims. A look at the number of claims and average claim cost shows that Florida also leads in

Need a no-risk gift? Hot idea is fire extinguisher!

fire extinguisherA

The quest for the Perfect Holiday Gift can be daunting, especially if you waited this long to start the hunt. Other than giving a loved one cash (which always seems a perfect fit….), giving the gift of safety is an equally safe bet.

This is Home-Cooked Meal Season, Candle-Lighting Season and Keeping the Home Fires Burning Season. So, it is also House Fire Season. Add a live Christmas tree and evergreen-scented candles to the mix, and it’s ever more volatile. Live Christmas trees are easily ignited, serving as kindling for fires that may start elsewhere. December is peak time for home candle fires as well, with many holiday decorations being highly flammable.

Go ahead. Let them label you the Practical Gift Giver. Buy a fire extinguisher. The cook won’t be insulted if you explain your honorable intention was to ensure the house is intact for the next sumptuous meal. While you’re at it, as an extra gift, replace the batteries in your host’s smoke alarm. Or better yet, buy a couple of new ones. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing smoke detectors every 10 years.

Homes are being built with more fire-resistant materials, but what’s inside counts. Fire losses are one thing you can control, any time of year.

Independence Day Safety: Focus on “fire” in fireworks

Buying fireworks this week to scare off a flock of egrets grazing in your yard? (Wink, wink) Sure you are — because to buy exploding or flying fireworks just to shoot off in the street on Independence Day is illegal, according to Florida’s fireworks law. Yet, there’s a loophole in Florida law as big as one of those roadside tents run by fireworks vendors; sellers of pyrotechnics get customers to sign a form saying they are using the fireworks to scare off wildlife. Illegal or not, chances are thousands of dollars in fireworks will be going up in smoke in your neighborhood this weekend. Think about the fire and injury risk beforehand, plus your liability, by reviewing fireworks safety tips before you light a match.

Got a fire alarm? Put it to the test

When was the last time you tested your home’s fire alarm? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to do it. Put your fire alarms to the test today. Please?

This is Fire Prevention Week.  And, it’s one of those times when you really need to take action. It’s great if you have fire alarms in your home, and it’s not great if they are inoperable. As the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says, “Working fire alarms save lives.”