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Home Insurance: Protect your home this summer

By Paul Pukis

June 13, 2014

Summer is finally brightening up in Western Washington and the barbeques are rolling out of the garages and onto decks all across the state. Friends are gathering around beer coolers and the sounds of jubilation can be heard far and wide.

And while the long, drawn out days are perfect for lounging on the lawn with the barbecue smoking up your burgers, these summer-time festivities can put your home at serious risk.

Are you protected...

Homeowners insurance is typically required for homes financed through a mortgage. Most lenders require homeowners to carry an insurance policy in case the home is damaged. This protects them while they carry the financial burden of your house. However, even if you own your home outright, maintain your house and are not located in the pathway of natural disasters like tornados or hurricanes, homeowners insurance can prove invaluable in unexpected scenarios.

From a klutzy friend?

Everyone has that one friend who is a little less graceful than others. If he were to trip and fall during one of your summertime barbecues, you could be held responsible for the injury and liable for his medical expenses.

You didn’t mean to invite him over for a round of shooting hoops, but he heard you from down the street. It’s just a friendly backyard game of hoops! But if he’s messing around and gets injured (especially after those couple of brewskies you provided) on your property, his injury is your fault.

A good homeowners insurance policy should pay for the injured party's medical expenses and in turn, protect you from legal problems.

From a BBQ grill oops?

Every year it is recorded that 600 fires or explosions occur with gas grills. Many accidents occur the first time a barbecue is lit for the season or when the propane tank is refilled and reattached. Serious injuries and property damage can result from poor grill safety.

Tips to keep your grilling festivities safe:

1. Check the grill hoses for brittleness or cracking, holes and leaks. There should be no sharp bends in the tubing or hose.
2. Ensure your propane tank has a three-prong gas valve handle and adheres to current safety standards.
3. Always keep propane gas containers upright.
4. Do not store spare propane containers under or near the grill.
5. Never bring a propane container indoors.
6. Avoid storing or using flammable liquids, like alcohol or gasoline near the grill.
7. Do not store a filled propane container in a hot car or car trunk.
8. Ensure the spark igniter is generating enough spark to create a flame and burn the propane gas. If the flame is not visible, the propane gas will escape and could cause an explosion.
9. If using a barbecue grill on a decks or patio, be sure to leave sufficient space from siding and eaves.
10. Keep children and pets far away from the propane tanks, the hot grill and any hot surface.

A turkey fry gone awry?

Lured by the promise of succulent meat, your neighbor insists it’s the only way to cook a turkey… and once you taste that moist bird you might have to agree.

You know how dangerous a vat of hot peanut oil is- after-all you saw the explosive turkey oil incident on YouTube. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for the destruction of 900 homes, 60 injuries, five deaths, and more than $15-million in property damage.

A slip of the hand, a slightly frozen bird or even a wind can destroy not only your hopes of a delicious meal, but also cause extensive damage to your home and belongings.

Tips to keep your turkey fry safe:

1. Always use fryers outside on a level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
2. Do not use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, inside, in an enclosed space or in your garage.
3. Do not overfill the fryer with oil.
4. Watch for overheating. Over hot oil will catch alight.
5. Keep pets and children away from the vat even once you think it’s cool. Cooling oil will take several hours.
6. Protect yourself from splatter with long sleeves, well insulated pot holders, and safety goggles.
7. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before placing in the fryer.
8. Keep an all purpose fire extinguisher at the ready.
9. If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately.

Homeowners insurance is something that you hope you will never need, but if the situation requires it, it becomes invaluable. If disasters like flooding, fire, theft or vandalism, were to catch you or your family, a good home insurance policy will set you right back up on your feet and give back a normal life.