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Personal Lines Firework SafetyThis year’s Fourth of July holiday may look different from most, with many people celebrating from home due to social distancing restrictions still in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All too often, however, Independence Day backyard celebrations can end up with a trip to the hospital for firework-related injuries.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that roughly 18,500 fires are started annually by fireworks. Even a simple backyard sparkler can heat up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you choose to use fireworks at home, follow these tips to keep your holiday safe and fun:

Keep them outside. Never light fireworks inside, and always keep them far away from dry grass, plants, and other flammable objects.

Never point fireworks at others. Make sure your fireworks are not aimed at any people, animals, or property.

Take fire precautions. Keep a full bucket of water or a garden hose nearby and ready to go in case you need to douse the fireworks or anything they may ignite. Make sure you know where the nearest fire extinguisher is located.

Take a look at your outfit. Make sure you’re not wearing loose clothing when using fireworks.

Move back. When you’re lighting the fireworks (always one at a time), make sure no part of your body is directly above the device.  As soon as it is lit, move a safe distance away.

Douse them when done. Once a firework is done burning, soak it with water from the bucket or the hose before throwing it away. If one of your fireworks doesn’t seem to be working properly, do not pick it up or try to light it again. Douse it with water and then throw it away.

Protect pets. Provide a safe place indoors for your pets to stay during the festivities. Consider turning on the television to help drown out the pops and bangs from fireworks nearby.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gulfshore Insurance, we are here to make sure you have a fun and safe holiday weekend.

Personal Lines Hurricane ChecklistAs you continue to take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay prepared for other disasters like hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st. Last month we shared tips on preparing for the hurricane season during COVID-19, but we’ve also created a helpful hurricane checklist that includes COVID-19 considerations such as:

  • Including items in your “go kit” that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap if not available, and two cloth face coverings for each person.
  • Make sure to give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies as some items may be out of stock last minute due to the need during COVID.
  • When checking on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations to protect yourself and others.

 

Download the Hurricane Checklist

While there are many questions that remain about how this hurricane season will play out, we will continue to provide information and updates to keep you in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Ron Lazarto, CPRIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Ron specializes in offering customized property and casualty insurance solutions for successful individuals and their families. Comments and questions are welcome at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com

How to keep yourself, your home, and your belongings safe from lightning.

Personal Lines Lightning SafetyAccording to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), Florida has the highest number of lightning casualties of all 50 states. Lightning can cause damage to your home and belongings—and can cause bodily harm. It’s prudent to take steps to prevent the dangerous effects of lightning and to keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some things you can do according to the I.I.I.:

  • Lightning and insurance. Most standard homeowners and auto insurance policies cover damages, such as fire, that results from a lightning strike. Some policies also provide coverage for the damage caused by power surges. With that being said, it’s far better to prevent lightning damage than to have to deal with the consequences. Contact your advisor today to review your policy.
  • Lightning protection system. A lightning protection system (LPS) provides a specified path on which lightning can travel. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) explains how LPSs work in this infographic. A rooftop network of lightning rods or air terminals is connected to a series of down conductors, which carry the current down to a grounding network. In that way, the system safely directs the destructive power of the lightning strike into the ground, which leaves the structure of your home and its contents undamaged.
  • Surges. Electrical surges from lightning can enter a structure via power transmission lines and cause electrical fires as well as damage to your electrical system, your appliances and your home electronics. Regular power strips offer little surge protection. To assure the best safeguards, UL-listed surge protection devices (SPDs) should be installed to filter and dissipate damaging electrical discharges. To protect valuable electronics like computers, home entertainment centers, gaming systems and smart home technology, install UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors–and consider unplugging expensive electronics when you know a storm is approaching.
  • Protect yourself and your family with precautions. 
    • When thunder roars, go indoors. During a storm, it’s best to take shelter in a house or other fully enclosed building. Inside, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay off the phone and avoid contact with small appliances, like toasters and hairdryers. As water conducts electricity, also stay away from plumbing, sinks, tubs and radiators.
    • If you know a storm is coming, avoid known hazards and dangerous locations. These include areas where you will be the highest object—a golf course, for example. Bodies of water also attract lightning, so avoid lakes, beaches or open water, and fishing from a boat or dock. Never ride golf carts, motorcycles or bicycles during a thunderstorm.
    • If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, take shelter in a hard topped-vehicle or a low area such a tunnel or even a cave if necessary. Stay clear of fences, isolated trees and other conductive objects such as telephone poles, power lines and pipelines. These present a danger from a potential side flash, which is voltage from a nearby, lightning-struck object.
    • If you’re caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end, drop down into a crouch with your hands on your knees, and balance on the balls of your feet. The static electricity in your hair is an indication that lightning is about to strike, and the idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible. Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gulfshore Insurance, we are here to keep you informed and safe.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines Working Around Overhead Power LinesPower lines are a serious and potentially fatal hazard to workers when safety precautions are not followed. Electrocution remains a major cause of deaths in the landscaping and construction industries. Cranes, backhoes, dump trucks, drill rigs and aerial lifts are common types of equipment involved in contacts with overhead power lines. However, low-tech equipment like ladders, tools and tool extensions, and scaffolds are frequently involved.

What should employers do?

  • Initial worksite surveys should include locating and identifying all overhead power lines. The heights of the wires and distance from the worksite should be noted on site diagrams to make sure workers and supervisors are aware.
  • If work must be done near energized lines, contact the local utility company for assistance. The utility company may need to shut down the lines while you are working near them. If overhead lines cannot be shut down, the utility company can install insulation over the lines during the time you will be working near them.
  • Ensure all workers keep conductive materials 10 feet away from unguarded, energized lines up to 50 kilovolts. For every 10 kV over 50, increase distance by an additional 4 inches of clearance.
  • Workers should not operate equipment around overhead power lines unless authorized and trained to do so. Use a spotter.
  • Do not allow use of metal ladders in dangerous situations.
  • Train all workers in emergency communication and proper techniques for providing aid to someone after an electrical accident.

 

At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management for the landscape industry. We work with hundreds of landscapers throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Nick Wichmanowski a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at nwichmanowski@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines How to Properly Protect Watercraft from TheftThe National Insurance Crime Bureau recently released its 2019 Watercraft Theft Report indicating Florida as the number one state for watercraft theft. With most thefts in 2019 occurring during the months of June (517) and July (543), now is the time to make sure you are practicing smart watercraft theft protection.

In a previous article, we offered suggestions for properly securing your watercraft, both in and out of the water. However, in addition to this, monitoring and tracking are additional measures to properly protect your vessel. In a world where you can do just about anything on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only are there a plethora of watercraft monitoring options available, but most go much further than simply telling you where your boat is.

At its simplest, a monitor is just a GPS tracker that relays your boat’s position to a computer, tablet, or smartphone via a dedicated app. You can also pre-set a specific boundary—so-called geo-fencing—in which case it will warn you if your boat ever strays too far, much like an anchor alarm. Most GPS units raise an alarm via local cellphone network and therefore only function in areas with reasonable coverage; even with a booster aboard, your range will be just a few miles. If you’re sailing off the beaten track, a more foolproof approach is to employ a monitor with satellite capabilities. In addition to monitoring the position of a watercraft, additional concerns like whether the bilge is filling up with water; the shore-power connection hasn’t tripped; or thieves haven’t helped themselves to high-end electronics are constant.

With respect to water ingress, nearly all monitoring units on the market support a simple on-off bilge level alarm that warns you if the boat begins filling up. Most also allow you to connect a bilge pump to a relay in order to switch it on remotely. Some will even monitor overall bilge pump activity for any unusual patterns. Many systems can also detect a loss of shore power, which is vital for ensuring your batteries stay in good shape at the dock. In terms of intruder detection, at its simplest, this will typically consist of a magnetic relay that is tripped when someone opens a door, triggering an alarm. Going up a step or two in terms of sophistication, pressure mats and even infrared laser entry detection capability are available as part of more sophisticated systems.

Of course, for those in search of the ultimate in remote security, there is remote video, giving you eyes on whatever may have triggered an alarm. Some systems not only include a built-in camera, but also give you the ability to add on dedicated external camera units as well. Many systems are capable of transmitting video directly to your cellphone or computer and even allow you to direct the cameras.

Of course, if the worst should happen and your boat or equipment is stolen and not recovered, it pays to have comprehensive insurance in place. Gulfshore Insurance offers exceptional, all-risk insurance coverage for the spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels and select charter vessels. For more information on how to protect yourself, contact one of our trusted advisors today.