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Sep 15, 2014
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March 2014 Archive for Farm Talk on the Front Porch

RSS By: Grinnell Mutual, AgWeb.com

You face risks as you cultivate crops and raise livestock. We’ll share tips, stories and recommendations to help you protect property and prevent costly losses on the farm. It's our Policy of Working Together®.

Five ways to use your ladder safely

Mar 27, 2014

They help you fix roofs, install windows, and hang drywall for your customers. Ladders are so common that we often neglect learning how to use them safely. Unfortunately, thousands are injured or killed each year in ladder-related accidents. 

Before you climb up for your next project, spend a minute checking your knowledge about ladder safety. Remember, ladders are safe tools if properly designed, if properly maintained, and if properly used.

Ways to reduce your chances of falling from a ladder

  • ladderInspect the ladder. Before using a ladder, inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition.
  • Secure the ladder. Place the ladder on level ground and make sure the contact points – floor, wall, etc. – are not slippery.
  • Follow the three point-of-contact rule. When climbing, keep two hands and a foot (or two feet and a hand) on the rungs or side rails.
  • Stay off of the top. Always stay off the top two steps and platform of a step ladder.
  • Do not overreach the ladder. The user should keep his or her bellybutton between the side rails.


To learn more about ladder safety and other safety related information visit Preventing Losses on grinnellmutual.com



Proper medicine management can prevent poisonings at home

Mar 18, 2014

Poisoning is now the leading cause of death from injuries in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As part of National Poison Prevention Week, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company encourages people to use good judgment in storing and disposing of medicines to prevent poisonings at home. 

"Keep your medications where you can keep track of them," said Al Clark, assistant vice president for Special Investigations at Grinnell Mutual. "Keeping medicine in a safe place away from children can avoid an accidental poisoning."

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the nation’s poison centers. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 90 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 51 percent of poisonings involve children under the age of six. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults, especially older adults. 

Poisoning prevention is in your hands. The following medicine safety tips can help you protect yourself and loved ones in your home.

Store medicine in a locked cabinet.  

Ensure children can’t use chairs or stack items to climb to products stored out of their reach. Install safety latches on cabinets used for medicines.

Never leave your medicine out. 

"Look at where you’re keeping your medication," said Clark. "Are they within reach of small children?" 

poison prevention tipsAlways store medicines and household products up high, away and out of sight from children. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside.

Clean out your medicine cabinet periodically. 

Safely dispose of medicines that are expired or no longer needed.

"An ounce of prevention, in this case, is worth more than a pound of cure," said Clark. "Don’t spend a whole day in an emergency room when you could have taken an extra five seconds to put medicines out of reach."

Always relock the safety cap. 

If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or you cannot twist any further. Close medicines if interrupted during use. Many incidents happen when adults are distracted while using these products. Remember that child-resistant is not childproof—it is designed to keep children away from the product for a short time before a parent notices.

Never call medicine "candy." 

Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never call medicine "candy" to get a child to take it.

In case of a poison emergency, contact your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.



Five ways to keep melting snow out of your basement this spring

Mar 11, 2014

Spring’s sunshine and warmer temperatures quickly melt piles of snow and ice, but where does all that water go? Grinnell Mutual recommends inspecting your downspouts, window wells, basement, garage, and sump pump to prevent melting ice and snow from entering your home. 

1. Check your downspout. 

"Where do your downspouts drain? If they drain just beyond the foundation wall, consider purchasing some extensions so they drain five to six feet away from your home’s foundation," says Larry Gallagher, director of Corporate Loss Control at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company. 

"This will help the melted water flow away from the foundation instead of saturating the soil near the foundation or entering window wells and cracks." Also check the downspout for clogs that may prevent water from flowing through the spout.

2. Look at the foundation. 

"Where do utility lines enter the foundation? Make certain all entry points are properly sealed with caulk to prevent water from flowing through those openings," says Gallagher. 

Also check for cracks on the wall and floor where water may seep into the basement.

3. Seal window wells. 

"Consider installing tightly sealed covers over window wells so water doesn’t accumulate in the window well," says Gallagher. 

The perimeter of those windows should be tightly caulked and sealed to prevent any kind of water entry. Do not seal basement windows used for escape or life safety.

4. Check your garage door. 

Make sure the garage door closes tightly against the concrete floor of the garage.

"Does it seal at the bottom? Are the seals in good condition or dry rotted and in need of replacement? Grinnell Mutual’s loss control staff has seen air gaps between the garage door and the floor of the garage. Look for cracking or dry rot. That’s a good indication it needs to be replaced. It’s a low-cost, easy thing to do," says Gallagher.

5. Grade your soil. 

To prevent basement and garage flooding next spring, place soil around your home’s foundation this summer. Properly grading the soil will help to divert water from the foundation.

If water enters your garage or basement

In spite of your efforts to caulk cracks and replace door seals, you may still have water enter your garage or basement. The best way to prevent that water from damaging your home is to have a sump pump in good working condition. 

"Test the pump before you need for it to work to make sure the battery backup is fully charged." says Gallagher. "When you need it is not the time to discover that it’s not working and needs to be replaced."

Inspection can prevent costly repairs

"The key to prevent flooding is to divert water from the foundation instead of saturating the soil near the foundation," says Gallagher. "These basic, low cost solutions will help prevent or divert water from entering your basement or garage."

Spring forward and change your smoke alarm battery

Mar 05, 2014

In the Midwest, March comes like a lion bringing many rites of spring: daffodils, robins, and Daylight Saving Time. This weekend, Americans will trade an hour of sleep for an extra hour of evening sunshine. As you go room to room springing your clocks forward an hour, take this opportunity to check your smoke alarms and change their batteries.

If they’re working properly, smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in home fires by half, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), but smoke alarm maintenance is up to homeowners.

"Many homes may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working," says Alan Clark, Grinnell Mutual’s assistant vice president of Special Investigations. "If a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced."

"Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes," says Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education.  

According to data from NFPA, many homes have smoke alarms that aren’t working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.  Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Does your smoke alarm work?

"A widespread problem we see is that homeowners disconnect or remove the battery rather than replacing it when their smoke detector starts chirping," says Clark. 

NFPA research suggests more than one out of every five homes in the U.S. have a smoke alarm that does not work properly.

"We want residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level, including the basement, outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom," says Clark.

Homeowners can make sure their smoke alarms are maintained and working properly with these tips from Grinnell Mutual:

  • Test your smoke alarms. This weekend push the test button on your smoke alarms. Make sure everyone in your home knows the sound. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Check the batteries. If a smoke alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace old smoke alarms. How old are your smoke alarms? If they were installed before 2004 or if they do not respond properly to testing, replace them. This includes alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms.
  • Connect your smoke alarms. Interconnect hard-wired smoke alarms so if one sounds, all will sound. Contact a certified electrician or purchase wireless systems that you can install yourself.
  • Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.


Visit Grinnell Mutual on YouTube to see a demonstration of how a smoke alarm activates in a home fire


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