gas safety tips

7 Easy Tips That Will Keep You Safe at the Gas Pump

Putting gas into the ol’ tank is something that we as drivers need to do pretty frequently. An estimated 40% of us have to fill up our gas tanks weekly to get us safely from Point A to Point B. We don’t really think about our actions too much at the gas pump, but there can be a lot of dangers when it comes to filling up the tank.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 5,020 fires and explosions occurred at gas stations every year from 2004 to 2008. That means that on average one in every 13 service stations experienced a fire, and these fires caused 2 deaths, 48 injuries, and $20 million in property damage each year. Sadly, many of these fires could easily have been prevented.

Follow these 7 tips below to keep yourself, your loved ones, and others around you safe when you fill up your tank!

*Turn your car off every single time that you’re pumping gas.

*Never leave the pump unattended! There could be an issue with your car or the pump that can lead to an expensive and messy gas spill.

*Don’t reenter your car when you start fueling – it can build up static electricity, which can be dangerous when discharged near the point of fueling. If you do have to reenter for some reason, make sure to touch metal to discharge the built-up charge before going near the pump.

*Stay off your phone when pumping gas. You should be paying attention to your surroundings. From car thefts to others causing accidents, anything can happen, so make sure that you are alert.

*Lock your car when you’re pumping gas. It can be easy for someone to sneak into your vehicle when you are unaware and have left the doors unlocked. Protect your car and yourself by locking your car until you’re done pumping gas.

*Only use approved fuel containers when getting gas. Containers that are not approved don’t have the proper materials that can withstand the harsh chemicals that are found in gasoline. Don’t fill the container too full of gas, and always fill it on the ground and not in the trunk of your vehicle.

*Don’t smoke when you’re at the pump. Fuel vapor is flammable!

We hope that these tips help you stay safe the next time you need to refuel. Keep your car extra safe by speaking with your agent at Madison Mutual Insurance Company about auto insurance. Just call 1-800-766-MMIC today, and we can help you get started!

fire extinguisher

7 Life-Saving Fire Extinguisher Tips You Need to Know

Fire isn’t anything to play around with. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an unwanted fire takes place every 10 seconds. Each year in the United States, more than 2,500 people die while another 13,000 are injured in home fires.

No matter what your current living situation is, you should always be brushed up on your fire safety skills. This includes becoming more familiar with the fire extinguisher that’s been sitting under your sink since before you can remember. Here are 7 tips to help you stay safe in your home should a fire break out:

Act Quickly – Most fires start out small. If the fire is contained – for example, in a trashcan – you can try using a fire extinguisher to put it out. You will have to act quickly, though. A fire that burns for only 1 minute will triple in size and will become much more dangerous.

Get Everyone Out – First thing’s first, make sure everyone is out of the building and call the fire department before you pull out that fire extinguisher. Make sure that the fire isn’t between you and your only escape route, and steer clear of smoke.

Handle With Care – Before a fire occurs, try holding your fire extinguisher and ensure that you are physically able to handle it. Sometimes they can be quite heavy and should be handled by someone who is stronger since handling them and holding them at the same time can be really difficult.

Know How It Works – There will be no time for you to read the instructions when a fire is on the premises. Just remember PASS – Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. You will need to pull the pin or unlock the latch, aim low (at the base of the fire), squeeze the handle, and sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire. Watch the fire in case it comes back, and use the extinguisher again if necessary.

All Extinguishers Are Not Made Equally – There are actually 5 different types of extinguishers, each made for handling different sorts of fire. Class A is used for fires that contain ordinary combustibles like paper, cloth, and wood; Class B is used on fires containing flammable liquids like oil and gas, and Class C is used for fire involving electrical equipment. Classes D and K are typically found in factories and commercial restaurants, respectively. Your best bet is to purchase an A-B-C extinguisher, which contains a dry chemical that can be used on many types of fire.

Keep It Close By – Make sure that you store your fire extinguisher in an easily accessible area in your home and that it isn’t blocked by anything that would get in your way of grabbing it quickly. Tell all the members of your family where the fire extinguisher is located as well.

When In Doubt, Just Get Out – If you’re not too confident in using the fire extinguisher, don’t deliberate. Just get out, stay out, and call the authorities. The professionals will be sure to take care of it. Additionally, if your means of escape becomes compromised at any time, get out of the house as quickly as you can.

Fire extinguishers are incredibly handy to have around the home, but it can only do so much to protect you, your loved ones, and your home from damage. Make sure that your home is protected with the right home insurance policy, too! Call your agent here at Madison Mutual Insurance Company at 1-800-766-MMIC to get started today.

house in winter

First-Time Homeowner? Prepare for the Impending Winter Weather With These 4 Tips!

We’ve been pretty lucky with the winter weather so far. It’s mid-January and we around the St. Louis region have seen maybe one snow event in certain spots and have enjoyed warmer weather than usual, aside from one or two cold snaps. Soon, though, the winter weather will come crashing in, and we will face big freezes and possible snowstorms and ice.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer and this is your first winter in your home, you might not know exactly what to do. Conquer the impending winter weather by following these 4 tips!

Make a Winter Emergency Kit – First thing’s first – make yourself a winter emergency kit! It’s very much like the all-purpose emergency kit that you should have in your home in case disaster strikes, but it includes a few additional items. Your winter emergency kit should include a supply of food, bottled water, medication for all family members and pets in your home, windshield scrapers, road salt and sand, additional hats and gloves, and additional batteries for radios to keep up with the news.

Keep Sidewalks, Stairs, and Banisters Clear – Before a storm hits, make sure to treat your sidewalks and stairs with ice-melting salt. Ensure that your stairs and sidewalks are in good shape and repair any that aren’t. If you are shoveling, take it easy out there, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Go slowly and take frequent breaks, and wear plenty of loosely-fitting clothing to keep you warm.

Inspect Your Furnace – No one wants to be without heat whenever the cold of winter creeps in. Before the weather makes a turn for the worse, get your furnace serviced by a professional. Remember to check the filter every month and replace it if it’s dirty. Typically, you will want to replace the filter once every 3 months so that your furnace will work efficiently.

Stay Safe If the Heat Goes Out – Sometimes not even all of the preparation in the world can prevent the heat from going out, especially if a blizzard or a strong wind comes along and knocks out the power. Should you lose power, stay safe by piling on plenty of clothing and using alternate heat sources with caution. Resist the urge to turn on the oven as a source of heat – it can put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, be sure to use a metal screen in front of its opening to prevent fires.

Taking these 4 big precautions this winter can help keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home safe from the harsh cold and elements that winter presents. Remember, too, to check in with your insurance agent here at Madison Mutual to see if it is up-to-date by calling 1-800-766-MMIC!

STL flooding 2015

Here Comes the Flood: 12 Vital Tips That Will Keep You Safe

The recent flooding that took place here in the Greater St. Louis region and Metro East St. Louis area is nothing short of historic. Rivers everywhere were filled to the very top like the Mississippi or crested over like the Kaskaskia River, flooding plains, roads, and even homes around them. Even stretches of major highways were shut down for days, and many lost everything that they had.

When it comes to disasters, we don’t typically think about flooding here in St. Louis, but, as we saw this past week, it is an occurrence that certainly needs to be thought about and planned for. Follow these safety tips below to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe the next time a flood begins.

Before the Flood

*First and foremost, avoid building property in a known floodplain. If you are looking for a new home, avoid looking at properties built in floodplains.

*Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds. This will help you avoid any seepage that may occur when a flood happens.

*If a flood might occur in your area, make sure that you keep up with the news for important information frequently.

*Remember the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. Just like with tornadoes, a watch means that flooding is possible, and a warning means that flooding is happening or will happen soon.

When a Flood Is About to Happen

*Prepare yourself by packing the most important items in a bag, should you need to evacuate. Include bottles of water, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and any medication that you may need.

*Be ready to evacuate should you be advised to do so. Make sure to turn off the utilities at the main switch, and disconnect your electrical appliances.

During a Flood

*Stay away from moving water. Don’t even attempt to walk through it. It might not seem like a lot, but as little as 6 inches of moving water can make you fall. If you must walk through the water, walk in the areas in which the water isn’t moving if you can. Grab a stick to help you check the firmness of the ground before you.

*Refrain from touching any electrical equipment if you are wet or if you or the equipment is standing in water.

*Do not drive through floodwaters! There were a few people who attempted to do this during last month’s flood, and they needed assistance to help them get out of their cars before they were swept away. If you see standing water on the roads, remember to turn around, don’t drown!

After a Flood

*Listen for the “all clear” from the news reports as to whether your community’s water supply is safe to drink. Stay away from floodwaters as they may be contaminated by gasoline, oil, and even raw sewage. Floodwaters may also be hiding downed powered lines.

*Be careful of roads that have been flooded. These roads, which were saturated with water, may have weakened and could very well collapse under your car’s weight.

*Return to your home only when the authorities indicate that conditions are safe to do so. Clean and disinfect everything that the floodwaters touched, and keep out of any buildings that are still surrounded by floodwaters.

Flooding can be a very serious problem, and being unprepared can be incredibly costly. Make sure that your home’s insurance is up-to-date by contacting your insurance agent at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC. You can learn more about how we can cover you and what matters the most to you by visiting www.madisonmutual.com.