With colder weather comes an increased fire risk. Homeowners and renters insurance can help you rebuild and recover from a fire, though it’s better to avoid those claims altogether.
Contact your agent or carrier to discuss your policy – what’s covered (and not covered), your deductible amounts, and more. Remember, renters, your landlord’s policy covers the structure – not your personal property!
As you get ready to warm up by the fire, keep these tips in mind:
- Inspect your chimney annually, before the first use each year.
- Ensure the flue is open and protective items, like screens, are in place and in good condition to contain sparks and embers.
- Only burn appropriate items in your fireplace.
Candles are a popular holiday decoration, but candles cause an estimated 15,600 house fires, 150 deaths, and 1,270 injuries each year.
- More than half of all candle fires start when something that can burn, is combustible, such as furniture, bedding, mattresses, curtains, or decorations are too close to the candle flame.
- About 20% of these fires start from candles left unattended.
- Always put the candle out when leaving a room or going to sleep.
- Most candle fires and fire deaths occur during the month of December between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.
Christmas trees are a holiday staple for those who celebrate, but they come with risks as well.
- About 160 home-structure fires that occur in the U.S. each year are attributed to Christmas trees.
- When you’re tree shopping, shake the branches to see how many needles fall off, as loose needles mean a dry tree.
- At home, trim the stump, water it daily and unplug electrical cords at night.
- Since artificial trees can catch fire, too, buy one that’s fire retardant.
- Never place any tree near a heat source such as a fireplace, furnace or space heater.
If you’re enjoying fireworks to celebrate the new year, keep these tips in mind:
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
One critical item to have in your home is a working smoke detector. If you need assistance, your local fire department may be able to help. Since 2005, ICT’s “We’re Out to Alarm Texas" program has distributed over 25,000 smoke alarms to fire departments across Texas.
When on the road to and from those holiday parties or during winter weather, your auto insurance is there to protect you and your vehicle.
- Auto thefts can occur at any time, but the highest reports of auto burglary appear during the heavy holiday shopping season starting in November.
- ICT’s Hide, Lock, and Take program works with police departments across Texas to post signs in shopping complexes to remind motorists to Hide their possessions, Lock their car, and Take their keys and when they leave their vehicle.
- According to the Texas Department of Transportation, approximately 1,000 people in Texas are killed in alcohol-related crashes every year. If you’ve had too much holiday cheer at a Christmas party, arrange for a sober ride home.
- During freezing temperatures, Texas motorists are urged to slow down and use caution especially on or near bridges and overpasses. Any unnecessary travel when roadways are icy is discouraged.
- November and December are months with a high incidence rate of auto/deer collisions. If driving through a deer-crossing zone at night, use your high beam lights. High beam lights will increase your visibility and better your chances of spotting any deer before impact. COMPREHENSIVE insurance coverage protects your vehicle from collisions with animals.
If you’re doing your holiday shopping online, keep these cybersecurity tips in mind:
- Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links. If you receive an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
- Do your homework: Fraudsters are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information.
- Consider your payment options: Using a credit card is much better than using a debit card; there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Or, you can use a third party payment service instead of your credit card.
For more cybersecurity tips, visit our Cyber Security Awareness page.
The other risk that comes with online shopping is package theft. Keep those boxes where they belong with these tips:
- Track your package.
- Install a doorbell camera or a large porch security camera.
- Sign up for Key by Amazon.
- Consider getting a Lock box.
- Solicit help from your neighbor.
- Request to have packages delivered elsewhere.