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Tips on Fireplace Safety

Since the nights have dipped into the low 30’s this past week, my family and I have enjoyed turning on the fireplace for some added warmth. Both my wife and I feel that the crackling glow from the fireplace is wonderful for creating memories with our three kiddos. And, they enjoy the stories that we read there, and, most importantly, the smore’s that we roast on the fireplace.

But, as an insurance agent, I am always weary of the dangers that such a fire can create. The cozy wood store and/or fireplace literally has an ash pan of potential problems if they are not properly managed.

Be Sure To Use The Right Wood

It is best to use hardwoods, such as oak.  And, always make certain that your firewood is properly seasoned and dry. Did you know that soft woods, such as pine, will burn extremely hot & fast? And, if softer woods aren’t properly dried, the water content in their resins can produce high amounts of creosote buildup in your chimney, which can lead to a house fire.

And, it is very important to note to never put non-wood items in your fireplace, even other cardboard or paper products.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Do you have a fully charged fire extinguisher near your fireplace?  If not, you should purchase one of these.  This, along with working smoke detectors, are a “must” if you are planning on using your fireplace this season.
  • Have a professional clean and inspect your chimney each year. While the professional is up there, have them check that your chimney cap is secure and properly attached to the chimney.
  • Never, ever, ever go bed with the fire unattended. Make certain that it is completely distinguished and all embers are cooled off.
  • Always use a fire screen to contain escaping embers.
  • Keep the area clear around the fireplace and chimney. I know that as we go into the Christmas months, many of us decorate for the holiday. But, please make certain that there are not decorations around the fireplace and/or chimney that can lead to a fire.

I hope that you are able to enjoy a nice, warm fire with loved ones this season. But, it is always important to understand that dangers are present.  Therefore, please take the proper precautions to keep you, your family, and your home safe.

As always, please don’t hesitate to give any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency a call with any of your insurance questions. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

A Recipe For Safe Cooking

If you have kids, and they are anything like my kids, they love fresh, homemade cookies.  So, some nights, I take off my insurance hat and put on my chef hat to make a baked treat for the kids. Dad for the win!

But, what I have learned since being in the insurance industry is that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. In fact, kitchen fires are a significant safety problem. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that approximately 172,000 home fires occur each year, which is on average 471 cooking fires per day. These terrible incidents result in over 530 deaths each year and approximately $1.1 billion in property damage.

So, as your trusted insurance advisor, there are a few “recipes” for safe cooking that I would like to share with you:

Working Smoke Detector

Experts recommend having a working smoke detector, which should be located near the kitchen area so that a cooking fire is detected right away.

Fully Charged Fire Extinguisher

It is important to have a fully functioning fire extinguisher – which is designed for kitchen use – located in an easily retrievable area in the kitchen.

Keep Potholder Nearby

The National Fire Protection Association also recommends keeping a potholder, oven mitt, and/or lid nearby your stove.  In case of a grease fire, carefully slide one of these over the pan that is on fire. Turn off the burner and leave covered until the fire is out and the pan has completely cooled.

If In Doubt, Just Get Out!

Probably the most important tip I can offer is this – If in doubt, just get out! Do not put yourself or your loved ones in jeopardy if there is a house fire. If it is not easily distinguishable, leave the premises, call 911 and do not re-enter your home until your dwelling is declared safe by the fire department.

Don’t Open The Door

For oven and microwave fires (yes, your microwave can be set on fire too), do not ever open the door.  Why?  For one, this will expose you to the flames.  In addition, when you open up the door, oxygen will enter, which will fuel the fire.

So, if you do see flames in your oven or microwave, turn off and unplug the appliance. Then, call the fire department. Please do not use the device again until it has been properly cleaned and serviced.

In Conclusion…

And, as always, if you have any questions or sustained damage, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-2106. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

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Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Home Insurance Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Are you buying a home for the very first time? This process will have you running the full spectrum of emotions: fear, exhilaration, confusion, extreme highs, coupled with some low points. These emotions definitely make sense since you are about to undertake what is, most likely, the single biggest purchase of your life.

(Actual photo of Matt and I the week that we purchased our first home.)

We work with many first-time homebuyers at Langlois Insurance Agency, and we have found that there are many things first-time buyers wish they knew before they made the jump into home ownership.  Below are some tips and tricks on how to navigate homeowners insurance for your first home.

1) How can I save money on this insurance policy?

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “How can I save some money on this insurance policy?”. One of the best ways is to bundle your policies. Bundling will help lower your rates by granting you savings when you purchase multiple insurance policies. For example, if you bundled your automobile insurance with your home insurance, this should save you money on both insurance premiums.

Another tip that I give to our first-time homebuyers is to not wait to purchase your home insurance until the last minute. We get it – the fun part of first-time home buying is with your realtor. The search for the perfect, dream house — that is the exciting part. But, there is a lot more to home insurance coverage than just signing up for a policy. Give yourself time to get a few quotes from trusted insurance professionals so that you can make the best decision and aren’t “surprised” with unexpected costs or issues at a future date.

2) Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?

Another question that I often get asked is, “Why isn’t my insurance premium the same as the previous owner’s insurance premium?”. When a first-time home buyer is purchasing their new home, they often ask the current homeowner how much they pay for electricity, property taxes, etc…when deciding on buying the home. But, how much the current homeowner pays in insurance is not a good indicator of how much you will pay. This is because insurance policies take into account very personal information in order to establish a cost. For example, a person’s age, credit rating, etc…are all taken into account for your insurance rate. So, your price might be lower – or higher – for the same dwelling for homeowner’s insurance. Your best course of action is to meet with your trusted insurance agent and get a price on your insurance before you close the deal.

3) Review, and improve, your credit score

Let’s talk credit score. Credit Score. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough to all my first-time homebuyers. Not only will a good credit score help you get a better interest rate on your mortgage, it should also help you save on homeowner’s insurance. In many states, including the state of Illinois, insurance companies use your credit rating when calculating your premium to help determine your level of risk as a policy holder.

So, if you have less than optimal credit, you should take the time to reduce your spending, get rid of debt, reduce as much debt as you possibly can, and pay your bills on time. If you take these steps, you can improve your credit score.
Also, we recommend running your credit rating at least once to twice a year to ensure that there aren’t any mistakes/errors on your credit report.

4) Why shouldn’t I just get the cheapest coverage?

Langlois Insurance Agency is an independent agent and we office a choice of multiple insurance carriers, coverages, and prices. Because of this, we might recommend that you purchase homeowners insurance that is a bit higher than the bare-bones-cheapest coverage. The reason is because our main focus is to find the insurance coverage that best suits your overall needs. And, this might not be the “cheapest” coverage. In addition to protecting your dwelling, personal belongings, and liability, there may be other optional coverages that we recommend, to fully protect your investment. Again, this is why it is important to find an insurance agent that you can trust; an insurance agent that will be there for you in case you have a claim and need to have your investment properly protected.

So, as you venture forward with your first home purchase, take a deep breath, have fun, and don’t forget to contact us with any questions you might have. We have many more tips that we can discuss with you in order for your dream home to be properly protected.

In the meantime, if you have a few minutes, you can watch the following video with your local real estate, mortgage, and insurance professionals. This video gives you some additional tips and tricks on how to better your first home buying experience.

And, as always, don’t hesitate to give Langlois Insurance Agency a call with any questions or comments. We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,
Erin Haughton-Langlois
erin@langloisinsurance.com