Static electricity has shocking effect at gas pumps

Static electricity most commonly is experienced when you receive a shock after shuffling your feet across carpet or when your hair stands on end after pulling off your winter hat. But when it’s experienced at a gas pump, that same static electricity can have a much more shocking result — a flash fire.

After investigating 150 reports of fires at gas pumps, the Petroleum Equipment Institute discovered that static electricity can ignite gasoline vapors.

When a driver re-enters his or her vehicle while pumping gas, this creates a buildup of static electricity. If the driver exits the vehicle without discharging the static and then touches the nozzle, the static charge can ignite.

The resulting fire can cause serious harm to the driver, the vehicle, the gas pump, and the surrounding buildings.

Follow these tips to avoid flash fires and stay safe while refueling your vehicle:
  • • Always turn off your engine, even in very cold temperatures.
  • • Never get back in your vehicle while you are refueling. If you need to re-enter your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure to exit the vehicle and close the door while touching the metal before touching the nozzle. This will discharge the static from your body.
  • • If a flash fire occurs while you are refueling, leave the nozzle in your vehicle’s fill pipe and alert the station attendant immediately. He or she will be able to turn off the pumps with emergency controls.

How would you build Santa’s insurance policy?

For property and general liability
Santa would need a substantial property and liability policy with a hefty property damage limit. While he and his reindeer fly with finesse, you never know when he’ll tear through a roof, overestimate the size of a chimney, or get a little too curious about pretty Christmas ornaments.

For transportation
We suggest inland marine for Santa’s sleigh with coverage for loading and unloading gifts. In addition, Santa may want roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown; after all, he is on a tight time limit!

For the livestock
From Dasher, to Dancer, to Prancer, all nine of Santa’s reindeer are precious goods. A farm policy might help ensure a replacement if necessary (but we’d rather not even think about that tragedy).

For the business place
Santa will need manufacturing services and E&O coverage for his workshop, a workers’ compensation policy for the elves – if it’s required in the North Pole – and an employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) roll on. Wonder if his EPLI rate should be cut in half because elves are small?

Fancy – but necessary – additions
We’ve all seen it. The random bearded man claiming to be the real deal, taking hundreds of dollars from unsuspecting parents who want the perfect picture for their holiday card. Santa must have identity theft and restoration coverage. And because there are some heartless people in the world and Santa’s a grand celebrity, he’ll need protection for kidnap and ransom.

Because it’s Santa, there’s no need for exclusions for flying objects or breaking and entering. The way we see it, if the stockings are hung, there’s a tree with room beneath, or a plate of cookies out with nobody’s name on it, it’s fair game for Santa to consider it an invitation to hop down a chimney.

If you have other thoughts about coverages Santa needs, share them with us here. We’d love your creative suggestions!

Holiday outings offer lessons in safe event planning

The holiday season is filled with special events — holiday parties, sleigh rides, recitals, and more. But when you are in charge of planning one of these occasions, it’s up to you to make sure every detail is covered so your guests can have a fun — and safe — time.

Each of these special events offers distinct tips to help you plan a safe holiday function:
  1. Holiday party: Know the venue. Before the event, familiarize yourself with the area and determine any important parking details, as well as emergency and safety procedures. Knowing the area also will help you monitor your event for any unsafe or suspicious activities.
  2. Sleigh Ride: Avoid slip and fall hazards. Create a safe path for guests to get on and off the sleigh. Shovel a clear walkway, and use salt to get rid of any ice. If your guests will be walking inside, keep the floor clear of debris, and cover or tape cords and cables to prevent trips. Use mats to prevent guests with wet shoes from slipping on the floor.
  3. Dance Recital: Maintain sufficient lighting. When the lights go up on the stage and down on the audience, exits still should be clearly visible. Use some form of lighting on the stairs or walkways in case someone needs to leave during the performance. For your own event, determine the appropriate lighting to keep your guests safe and accident free.
  4. Art and Craft Fair: Know your vendors. If you are working with external vendors or exhibitors, make sure you understand all aspects of their activities, including safety procedures. Plus, if you plan to have door prizes or a raffle at your event, review all state and federal regulations pertaining to lotteries and gambling.

Classic holiday movie teaches important safety lessons

What better way to brush up on holiday safety than through observation? We’ve compiled a list of six lessons learned from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. If you haven’t seen this wildly hilarious movie, you still can learn a valuable lesson from the main character, Clark Griswold, who is a walking risk.

Lesson 1: Always check your blind spot
In the opening scene, Clark develops a serious case of road rage on his way to a tree lot. He winds up driving his car beneath a semi-truck’s trailer when he fails to check his blind spot. He escapes, but only to crash his car into a snow bank.

Lesson 2: Ladder safety isn’t for the birds
Clark is determined to have Chicago’s most beautifully lit home. Using no spotter and an unstable ladder, he staple guns his shirt sleeve to the house soffit and eventually falls from his roof – luckily into a nicely padded bed of evergreens.

Lesson 3: Know your policy limits
Shortly before Clark’s fall, he is hanging for dear life from his gutters. When the gutters break from the house’s soffit, an ice “pole” flies from the gutter into his nemesis neighbor’s window, smashing an expensive stereo system. Something like this could feasibly be covered under a homeowners insurance policy with the proper limits since stupidity technically is not an exclusion.

Lesson 4: Keep your attic properly insulated and ventilated

While hiding Christmas gifts in the attic, Clark gets trapped in the freezing cold by his mother-in-law. While it’s not an ideal temperature for anyone trapped in an attic, a properly insulated attic is very cold and can help prevent serious ice damage to your home – and save you a ton in heating costs.

Lesson 5: Don’t overload your circuits or outlets
Clark nearly goes mad trying to determine why his lights won’t work, while the viewer sees an image of clearly overloaded outlets and numerous extension cords in his basement. While Clark eventually gets these lights to work, the real point is that overloading outlets is dangerous. In fact, electrical fires claim the lives of 485 Americans and injure 2,305 each year. This adds up to more than $850 million in property losses annually.

Lesson 6: Properly maintain a fresh-cut evergreen

Realistically you won’t carry a critter into your home via your Christmas tree like Clark did, but it makes for an entertaining fiasco in the movie. What you should do is water your tree every day and keep it away from heat sources to prevent it from drying too quickly. In addition, never leave the lights on overnight or when you’re away from home. As Clark’s family experiences, an over-dry tree can ignite easily.