Storm Safety Resources

// Katie Rynard on Friday September 8, 2017

Hurricane season has officially reached the halfway point, and this year's active season has already caused much devastation.

Whether you're dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, are bracing yourself for Hurricane Irma, or are facing other storm damage and flooding, reviewing these safety resources can help ensure you, your loved ones and your organization are ready:

Hurricane Preparedness & Response will help you familiarize yourself with hurricane terminology and get your facility ready to weather the storm.

Emergency Shelter Preparedness highlights what you need to do if your organization decides to open its doors to those in your community who are impacted by natural disasters.

Steps to Take After a Storm is a checklist that will walk you through filing a claim, assessing damage and cleaning up.

Protecting Property & Equipment After a Storm, from Hartford Steam Boiler, GuideOne's equipment breakdown reinsurer, describes the appropriate steps to take before using any equipment, machinery or electrical systems that have been exposed to flood waters.

GuideOne's thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard is a Corporate Communications Specialist at GuideOne Insurance.

When she's not at work, she enjoys decorating, traveling, trying new restaurants and spending time with her husband, daughter and dachshund puppy.

A Healthy Boiler is a Happy Boiler

// Lynne Rush on Tuesday September 29, 2015

Every year around this time, several thousand heating boilers begin a journey which will eventually take them to the “heating boiler graveyard.”  Rather than visit your boiler there, you can take steps to make sure your healthy boiler provides a season of warmth and comfort rather than cold and extra expense.

The leading cause of heating boiler failure is a low water condition.  Trouble often starts with a leak that does not appear problematic at first.  It could simply be a damp spot or a puddle on the floor.  If the boiler’s safety devices are working properly, the small leak will cause problems over time, which will require repair.  If the safety devices are not working properly, serious problems are imminent because low water in a boiler is like an engine without oil.  It’s only a matter of time before a failure undoubtedly occurs. 

The following 12 tips will help you avoid the most common heating boiler problems as you start up your heating systems for the coming winter:

  1. Have a competent service firm thoroughly inspect and start up the boiler.  This should include disassembly of the low water cutoff (LWCO) and make-up water feeding devices.  All parts should be cleaned and reconditioned as required, then tested before the boiler is put into service.  While in service, the LWCO should be tested once a week for steam boilers and once a month for hot water boilers.  
  2. Burner equipment should be cleaned and adjusted to produce maximum efficiency.  Poorly running burners can waste fuel and money.
  3. The boiler heating surfaces, firebox, ash pit, casing, and ducts should be cleaned of all deposits.  Dirty internal surfaces not only waste fuel and dollars but can lead to the burning, bulging, cracking, corrosion, and even explosion of the boiler.
  4. The safety and safety relief valve should be tested for freedom of operation.  The boiler must not be fired if the safety/safety relief valves are inoperative or otherwise defective.  These valves should be tested once a month while in service.
  5. If the boiler water side can be cleaned, this should be done.  Where necessary, a suitable chemical treatment should be used to minimize new buildup of scale and to prevent corrosion.
  6. All pressure and temperature controls and gages should be checked for satisfactory operation and adjusted or replaced as necessary.
  7. The water level gage glass must be cleaned so the proper water level is visible at all times.
  8. Any leaking pipes or fittings on the boiler heating system should be repaired or replaced to prevent loss of water.
  9. Water lines exposed to freezing temperatures should be insulated to prevent freeze-up.  Insulation of steam and condensate return lines prevents unnecessary heat loss, reducing fuel bills and paying for itself rapidly.
  10. All mechanical equipment such as fans and pumps should be checked for smooth operation and proper lubrication.
  11. A boiler log should be kept for a record of maintenance and operation throughout the season.
  12. The boiler room should be kept dry, clean, and free of unnecessary storage items, especially combustible items.

The boiler’s operating manual is always a source for maintenance and operating tips.  Your HSB (Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company) inspector is a great resource for boiler maintenance and operation assistance.  They can provide recommendations for improving your boiler’s efficiency, and that can save you money.  Call the HSB Hot Line at 1-800-333-4677 to contact your inspector if you have questions or want to schedule an inspection.  You may also email us at NSCInsp_Hotline@HSB.com.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Lynne Rush

Lynne Rush

Lynne Rush is a Director of Risk Management with Hartford Steam Boiler. She has been with HSB for over 11 years and has been in the insurance engineering field since 1993. Her background also includes field boiler inspections as well as technical engineering support for welding operations at Caterpillar. She has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Nebraska.  Lynne resides in Victor, Iowa.

Ladder Differences You Should Know to Help Prevent Injuries

// Ellen Wade on Thursday September 17, 2015

Fall is in the air, bringing with it cooler temperatures, football and seasonal outdoor maintenance.  It’s the time of year when people and organizations will take care of some overdue yard work, clean out gutters or put up decorations before the weather turns cold.  Many of these activities require the use of a ladder, which while handy, also can be dangerous.

According to the CDC, falls remain the leading cause of unintentional mortality nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade involved a ladder.

If you have volunteers at your organization who are doing some fall maintenance that requires a ladder, or if you are cleaning up your own backyard, review these ladder safety tips before you climb up the rungs.

Ladder Types

Selecting the right type of ladder for the job you’re tackling plays an important part in avoiding injuries.  Below is a list of the various options:

  • Step ladders – self-supporting portable ladder that is non-adjustable in length with flat steps and a hinged back.  Step ladders should be used for work at low and medium heights.
  • Straight (single) ladders – non-self-supporting portable ladder that is non-adjustable in length and consists of one section.
  • Extension ladders – non-self-supporting portable ladder that is adjustable in length.  Always select a ladder that is longer than what you need to reach.  Extension ladders should be used for climbing up to higher elevations, such as windows, gutters and roofs.

Construction Types

  • Aluminum ladders – should not be used around electrical sources, as they conduct electricity.
  • Wood ladders – a non-conductor of electricity when dry.  Wood ladders age fast, as they are susceptible to drying and splitting with age.  Apply some type of protective, clear finish to preserve and extend its useable life.
  • Fiberglass ladders – do not conduct electricity when dry.  Generally, fiberglass ladders do not require a protective finish to preserve them.

Ratings

In addition to the various types, ladders have different ratings based on weight and use.  Type III ladders should not be used and should be replaced with a Type II or higher-rated ladder.  If you can’t find the rating label on your ladder, replace it.  Not knowing the rating could cause an injury if the user is too heavy. Learn more about the different ratings, including type, weight and duty. 

Maintenance and Training

Even with the correct ladder for the job, maintenance and training are key to avoiding injuries. Over time, the condition of the ladder will deteriorate and eventually become unsafe to use. Periodically inspect ladders for visible defects, and after any incident, as that could affect their safe use.  Some things to check for include loose or missing rungs, nails or bolts; cracks; splinters; corrosion and other damage.

Training is important for anyone using a ladder, but especially for a church or other organization where users will often be volunteers or staff.  Providing the safest ladder on the market only goes so far, and proper usage training helps fill in those gaps.  For more information on proper training, view this Ladder Safety Fact Sheet

Help keep yourself and other safe when fixing up the outdoors for the season.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.

5 Steps to Hurricane Preparedness

// Ellen Wade on Tuesday May 26, 2015

Hurricanes are one of the most destructive natural disasters.  Reflect for a second on the nearly total devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, and it’s easy to see how one storm can impact an entire country.

And Katrina was only the third strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the United States, affecting over 15 million people, causing $81 billion in property damages and impacting about 90,000 square miles

The time of year when hurricanes are most likely to make landfall is just around the corner, running from June through November.  To help those who live in hurricane-prone areas prepare, this week, May 24 – 30, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and was created to help bring awareness about the dangers and destructiveness of these types of storms.  Having a plan is one of the best ways to avoid the hazards associated with hurricanes.  Review these five steps to hurricane preparedness.

  1. Become a hurricane expert. There are various classifications (tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane and major hurricane) for hurricanes based on their maximum sustained wind speeds.  In addition, there are various categories (1 through 5) used for forecasting and categorizing hurricanes.  A category 1 hurricane may only cause damage to a roof or power lines, while a category 5 could cause complete collapse to structures.  Do some research and be able to differentiate between these categories and classifications.  It could be important to the safety of those under your care.
  2. Have a plan. You may not be able to avoid a hurricane, but you can be prepared.  Have a plan in place before a hurricane arrives so you don’t have to think about the next steps.  Ensure you have the proper insurance coverage for your organization, or check with your insurance agent if you’re not sure.  In addition, research the community’s emergency plan, including evacuation routes and warning signals. This information can be used as you create an emergency plan for your own organization.  Lastly, look for potential hazards at your own facility. Be prepared to turn off all electrical power if there is standing water or fallen power lines, and secure structurally unstable building materials.  Prepare a list of items you’d need to take care of if a storm hit.
  3. Prepare your building.  If a hurricane destroyed your building, whether by wind or water damage, what would you lose? Start backing up important information, data, leader contact information, building and equipment inventory, and store it at an off-site location.  In addition, take steps to minimize damage to the building, which includes covering windows with hurricane shutters, installing doors that can withstand a storm, clearing gutters from debris, checking the roof, and securing anything outside that could cause damage to the building.  Inside, ensure all valuable objects are secured and storm-proofed.
  4. Be equipped to open your doors.  After a major storm, there most likely will be many displaced members of your community in need of temporary shelter.  If your organization might be called upon to provide that shelter, prepare your organization to be able to provide that service before the storm.  Stock it with an adequate amount of supplies, including items in this basic disaster supply list from Ready.gov
  5. Manage the storm.  Once the storm hits, you should always follow the advice of your local authorities.  They will advise you to either stay where you are and wait it out, or evacuate.  If you stay, do not go out into the storm until you have been cleared to do so.  If you evacuate, have pre-planned evacuation routes and maps prepared.  Stay informed by using a NOAA weather radio or tuning into a local station.  

It only takes one hurricane to change your life.  Be prepared.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.

There’s No Place Like Home: Keeping Others Safe During a Tornado

// Ellen Wade on Tuesday April 14, 2015

April is National Tornado Awareness month, and for good reason.  According to Weather.com, April is second only to the month of May for dangerous tornado activity.  Of the 59 tornadoes strong enough to be rated since 1950, one-third of them have occurred in April.  And sadly, unlike Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, these tornadic events don’t have technicolor flowers, yellow brick roads and singing scarecrows at the end of them.

As a church or other nonprofit organization, you have an added responsibility to keep all of those under your care safe in the event a tornado hits while you are hosting an activity.  Being prepared and communicating plans with staff and volunteers tasked with managing a severe weather situation is key to helping lessen the panic and chaos that are bound to occur.  Consider the following:

Prior to the storm:

  • Discuss emergency plans with your Safety and Security Team, staff and/or volunteers, and train them on how to handle emergency situations.
  • Have someone monitor the radio if weather looks threatening in order to respond if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Develop a communications plan to let everyone in the facility know what to do and where to go if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Designate a tornado shelter in your location, and communicate that people should gather there in the event of inclement weather, including posting signs, directions and maps.
  • Build an emergency kit to store in the tornado shelter, including the following items:
    • Blankets
    • Weather radio
    • First Aid kit
    • Food and water
    • Mobile phone
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Emergency contact numbers
  • Practice safety and evacuation drills regularly.
  • Evaluate your emergency plan and make changes as necessary.

During the storm:
There’s no doubt that storms are fascinating.  Their ability to destroy entire neighborhoods in seconds is magnetic, and draws storm chasers from across the country to the Plains each year.  But a tornadic event is not the time to try to become a YouTube star.  Make sure you stay inside and heed the following:

  • Listen closely to weather reports and do not go outside.
  • When advised to do so, seek shelter in the designated tornado shelter, and stay there until the all clear is given.
  • Keep any drapes, blinds or window shades closed to protect occupants from the possibility of breaking glass.
  • Once you are sure the storm has passed, use caution in all respects.  Your structure could be damaged, and it could be hazardous getting outdoors.  Further, as you go outside, use extreme caution as live power lines may be down, and there may be large amounts of debris capable of causing bodily injury.

After the storm:
Just because the tornado has passed does not mean the danger went with it.  According to Ready.gov, one study showed that 50 percent of tornado-related injuries occurred during rescue attempts, clean-up and other post-tornado activities.  It’s just as important to be cautious after the storm has passed as you are during the actual event.  After the storm, take the following precautions:

  • Treat those who have an injury or seek medical attention.
  • Assess any damage, and take pictures if possible.
  • Protect property from further damage, using tarps or wood.
  • Contact people who will be needed to secure the facility, including building contractors and utility companies.
  • Contact your insurance company.

Protecting those in your care
Spring is a beautiful time of year, with warmer temperatures, budding flowers and singing birds.  But, in the midst of all that beauty looms the threat of deadly tornadoes.  The best way to stay safe during a tornado is to be prepared, have a well-practiced plan in place, and listen to and follow the instructions given by your local emergency management officials.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.