For graduates and their families: Celebrate safely

By Kristen Bomkamp

For graduates and their families: Celebrate safely

Celebrate graduation with safety in mind.

Most teens see graduation as the end of adolescence and the beginning of their next phase of life: a rite of passage into adulthood. It is a time for celebration, but both parents and graduates should consider ways to keep the celebration safe.

Crime Stoppers of Houston offers tips for students and parents:

  • Share your graduation and post-graduation party plans with your parents.
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
  • Wear a seat belt – even in the back seat.
  • Stay with a group of friends and watch out for one another.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Don’t get in a vehicle with a driver that is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Report any illegal drug or alcohol use as well as unsafe behaviors such as threats, assaults and weapons.
  • Discuss your child’s plans for graduation and post-graduation celebrations.
  • Know who your child will be with and talk to their parents to coordinate plans.
  • Make sure your phone and your child’s cell phones are fully charged.
  • Provide your child with alternate adults to call in case they feel unsafe – no questions asked.
  • Wait up for your child to make sure they return safely.
  • Talk about drugs and alcohol with your child and set expectations.
  • Report any illegal drug or alcohol use as well as unsafe behaviors such as threats, assaults and weapons.
Party Hosts

Graduation parties require special planning because of the unusual mix of ages and relationships. Some families find a brunch works well, as alcohol would not be expected at this time of day. Many parents have decided to serve no alcohol at parties given for teenagers even if adults attend them. Consider these tips when hosting a graduation party:

  • An adult should be present throughout the party.
  • Alcohol or other drugs should NOT be served or available.
  • Anyone who leaves the party should not be allowed to return – this will discourage people from leaving with the intent to drink or use drugs and then return to the party.
  • Encourage small parties, limiting attendance to 10-15 teens per adult present. Go over party plans and house rules with your teen prior to the party so all expectations are understood.
  • Plan to have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks available.

Congratulations to graduates – and their parents – on reaching this milestone.

More Information

National Institutes of Health: Parents-Talk With Your Grads About Celebrating Safely

This loss control information is advisory only. The author …read more

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Distracted driving: What could possibly happen?

By Michael Harrold

Distracted driving: What could possibly happen?

Highway safety experts blame inattentive – or distracted – driving for 80 percent of all car accidents. So with just a few seconds of additional awareness of the road around us, we could potentially eliminate around 80 percent of crashes.

How can just a few seconds make a difference? Consider the distance traveled by a vehicle running down the highway at 60 mph, or one mile a minute. That’s one sixtieth of a mile per second, or about 88 feet. So much can happen in 88 feet. So much more can happen when a driver’s attention is somewhere other than the highway. A car with a distracted driver who fails to see stopped traffic ahead would travel nearly six car lengths in that one second.

Let’s look at some facts about distracted driving and do the math. How many seconds are your eyes (and mind) off the road when you drive? And what can happen in one second’s time?


We know all about phones and texting. But anything diverting our attention from the road is a distraction. All of these little distractions add up to create a lot of potential risk.

How many distractions do you have in the course of a single trip?

  • adjusting radios or other dashboard devices
  • listening to, looking at or adjusting GPS navigation systems
  • reading signs and looking at “TV-style” billboards
  • handling kids in the back seat
  • catching a falling beverage cup
  • eating/snacking while driving
  • simply daydreaming or just listening to the radio

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to Figures show that young drivers are especially prone to engaging in risky, distracted behavior according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But distraction is not just a problem for youthful drivers. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and published in the Federal Register shows the likelihood of a crash caused by various tasks that take the driver’s eyes off the forward roadway. The odds ratio is the increased likelihood of being involved in a crash when compared to undistracted driving:

While statistics may show that sending or receiving a text message is one of the riskiest distractions since it takes the driver’s eyes off the road for about 5 seconds on average, imagine adding that to all these other distractions …read more

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Damage to premises rented to you coverage: tenants beware

By Chris Beckman

When you rent space for your business, check the coverage limitations in your insurance policy.

When leasing a building for your business, you have an obligation as a tenant to compensate the building owner for damage caused by your operations. It pays to be familiar with your insurance policy to assure that you have no coverage gaps or surprises in the event of a loss.

Almost every standardized commercial insurance policy provides tenants with some coverage for certain types of loss under these circumstances. This coverage can usually be found in a Commercial General Liability endorsement and is usually very limited.

Historically, the endorsement was known as “Fire Damage Legal Liability,” which explains some of the coverage limitations found in many policies. Generally, insurance protection:

  • Applies only to the premises, not to contents such as furniture or stock.
  • Responds to fire damage only, not water damage or other perils.
  • Is provided only if the insured is legally liable. Liability assumed under a contract is not covered.
  • May be limited to a specified amount, typically $100,000.

Some limitations of coverage worth considering include:

  • Damage to the building could exceed the coverage limits of “Damage to Premises Rented to You”.
  • Not all causes of loss may be covered. For example, a tenant’s employee damages the building while operating a forklift, which is not a covered cause of loss.
  • Damage to the premises is covered but the equipment is not. For example, the tenant rents office space and equipment from a building owner and sustains a fire loss. The policy may cover the building damage, but not the equipment.
  • The leasing contract could make the lessee responsible for damage to the premises, regardless of cause of loss.

To combat the shortfalls of the “Damage to Premises Rented to You,” tenants have options:

  • You can purchase a Tenant Liability Endorsement. This endorsement typically provides coverage up to $1 million, and extends perils beyond fire and explosion to damages for which the insured is legally liable arising from direct physical loss or damage to premises rented to (or temporarily occupied by) the insured with permission of the owner.
  • You can purchase a regular property insurance policy. This route provides broader coverage, but may duplicate limits already provided by the lessor’s policy and is usually more expensive than Tenant Liability.

With a little knowledge, you will be better equipped to obtain the appropriate coverage limits needed to protect your interests and the interests of others in the event of a covered loss. …read more

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Distracted driving especially dangerous near railway

By Cincinnati Insurance

Distracted driving especially dangerous near railway

Distracted driving can take on a new dimension when railroad tracks are nearby. This video from Operation Lifesaver demonstrates why drivers need to be vigilant.

The post Distracted driving especially dangerous near railway appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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Restoring antique furniture

By Doug Eisele

Restoring antique furniture
Part 2 of 2 –

Sometimes the best approach is for a restorer to work in your home.

Antique furniture and mixed-media objects are often among the more challenging projects to restore and preserve due to the combination of materials that may have been used to create them. In general, the furniture that my associates and I are called upon to repair and restore suffers from special problems or is very unique in its decoration. Keep in mind that we are not refinishers; rather, we strive to retain the integrity of the original finish, gold leaf or hand-painted surfaces.

Our restorers are able to preserve paper mâché, wood, lacquer, stone, ivory and metal. Sometimes, the best approach is for restorers to work in your home or office where we clean, hand-polish and apply conservation treatments.


Stripping and refinishing are no longer standard practice, and professional restorers are not as quick to recommend refinishing. An original finish is considered as important as any other element of a fine piece. Maintaining an original finish not only makes a piece historically accurate, providing patterns of wear and use, but it also helps a piece hold its monetary value. If you decide to refinish furniture, be aware that this process is not reversible and will diminish the value of the piece.


Professional restorers have the skills and tools to do the job correctly.

Even if the original finish is not necessarily pleasing, any changes made to it will have monetary implications. The appearance of an early finish can be improved with proper cleaning methods and materials. (See Part 1 for details about caring for your furniture.)

When attempting to clean and restore furniture, we first identify all of the materials that were used to create the piece. Furniture may consist of components that are made of, or finished in, wood, stone, metal, acrylic, fabric, leather, gold leaf, paint and natural or synthetic resins. Each material may react differently to solvents and cleaning agents that may be chosen to restore the surface. It may not be safe to use a single product to treat an entire piece of furniture. In most cases, we suggest seeking the advice of an experienced furniture conservator.


The best way to protect and maintain the original clear finish on furniture is an annual application of a good quality paste wax made of carnauba or micro-crystalline wax. After proper cleaning, a furniture conservator will …read more

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Craft safety into your brewery operation

By Kevin Getz

Craft safety into your brewery operation

Worker safety is an important consideration for a brewery of any size.

There are more breweries operating in the United States now than at any other time in history. Data from the Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American brewers, shows that in 2015, 4,269 breweries provided nearly 122,000 jobs nationwide.

Covering these employees for workers’ compensation can be expensive for brewery owners, and providing for worker safety is a topic that shouldn’t be ignored. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that there are nearly four times more safety violations in craft breweries than at larger breweries. This isn’t surprising, given the fact that most craft breweries are newer operations and many were started by homebrewers who may be operating a business for the first time.

Startup brewers must pay attention to operational tasks such as filing for permits, refining and scaling up recipes. It’s easy to see how developing safe work procedures and implementing a training program could be overlooked. Many craft breweries simply can’t afford to employ a full-time safety or loss control manager as do large regional and national breweries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 database cites falls and contact with another object as the two most common brewery accidents resulting in days away from work. Most of these accidents occur in the production areas. Developing a good employee safety program begins with identifying where the exposures are.

Breweries can take advantage of many low- or no-cost options to help assess risks and get started down the road to safety. Often the brewer’s insurance carrier or agent can assist with hazard assessment and make recommendations to prevent injury. Many state brewers guilds also provide safety information. The Brewers Association offers its members free online safety training as well as information on safe operations in confined spaces, protective clothing and best management practices.

Brewers that work toward a goal of identifying, correcting or mitigating hazards and fostering a proactive approach to safety can create a safer environment for employees and guests. These measures may also help lower costs for workers’ compensation and overall insurance costs

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. For additional insurance advice and loss control information, contact a local independent agency.

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Hang up for safety: Don’t dial and drive

By Cincinnati Insurance

Hang up for safety: Don't dial and drive

Keep your attention on the road when you drive.

It is common to see the vehicle in front of you gradually slow or drift out of its lane, putting you and others in danger. These are signs of distracted driving, often caused by cell phone use.

Don’t be a distracted driver.

Consider the facts before you dial and drive:

  • Cell phone use while driving quadruples the risk of a crash, according to the National Safety Council.
  • Drivers using a cell phone perform no better and sometimes worse than legally drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, according to a study by the University of Utah.
  • When you dial and drive, your eyes are off the road and your mind is in the call, which differs from talking with a passenger. A passenger provides another pair of eyes on the road, alerting you of traffic conditions and weather.
  • Recognizing the potential problems, many states have banned using cell phones and text messaging while driving and others may require hands-free devices.
  • Many businesses now prohibit their employees from using cell phones while driving.

Cummins Inc., a diesel engine technology company based in Columbus, Ind., instituted a cell phone ban for employees. Their case study explains the reasoning behind and benefits of their program.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 14 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws, meaning an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place. The organization also provides information about other cell phone use and text messaging restrictions at the same link.

Organizations that promote safe driving urge all drivers to take the pledge to drive phone-free. The National Safety Council offers an online form and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a downloadable copy.

Additional information about the dangers of distracted driving is available on the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, It offers materials designed specifically for a variety of audiences: teens, parents, educators, employers and community groups.

Read our blog about the dangers of texting and driving: Texting and driving a growing concern

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Stay alert near railroad tracks and crossings

By Cincinnati Insurance

Stay alert near railroad tracks and crossings

Use caution near railroad crossings and tracks.

Railroad tracks and crossings can pose a hazard to motorists and pedestrians alike. To prevent accidents, avoid distractions while driving and never trespass on railroad property. Take our five-question quiz to test your safety knowledge.

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