Agency Honored with Community Service Award

John Wearda, MAX Regional Sales Manager, presented FUA President Josh Vickerman and Agents a Community Service Award at the March 4, 2020 Statewide Meeting Banquet in Alexandria, MN.

Farmers Union Agency, Inc. of St. Paul, Minnesota was honored with the Community Service Award from insurance carrier MutualAid eXchange (“MAX”).  The MAX Community Service Award recognizes Farmers Union Agency’s significant contributions to the community through its staff’s and Agents’ time, actions and dedication.

Josh Vickerman is President of the Agency.  In December 2019, they participated in the MAX Agent Community Grant Program, where they chose two different non-profit organizations to be recipients: Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG) and Second Harvest Heartland.

“At Farmers Union Agency we try to fulfill the same values of fairness, faith and social responsibility that MAX believes in, whether it’s at work or volunteering in the community,” Vickerman said.

FUA President Josh Vickerman and MAX Regional Manager John Wearda

Farmers Union Agency is an independent insurance agency representing MAX Insurance© in St. Paul and throughout Minnesota.  MAX Insurance©, based in Overland Park, Kansas, is a unique fair, faithful and socially responsible insurance enterprise.  Founded on religious principles, the company’s mission is to restore wholeness to communities and individuals in need.  It lives out its mission through a variety of quality, fairly-priced insurance products, outstanding personalized customer service and its unique Mutual aid Ministries program.

“MAX is a company built on faith, strong values and service to others.  That’s the kind of Independent Agents we look for and we’re proud to recognizes Farmers Union Agency for being among the best of these,” said David Wine, President and Chief Executive Officer of MAX.

Dave Wine, CEO of MAX Insurance, sent his congratulations and gratitude to the Agency for our dedication to the community.

Farmers Union Agency is located at 305 Roselawn Avenue E, St. Paul, MN 55117.  Phone: (651) 639-1064.  Email: josh@mnfuia.com.  Website: www.mnfuia.com.

MAX Insurance© is headquartered at 4400 College Boulevard, Suite 250, Overland Park, KS 66211.  Phone: (877) 971-6300.  To learn more about MAX, visit www.maxinsurance.com.

Farmers Union Agency Donation to Second Harvest Heartland

A $1,000 grant from Farmers Union Insurance Agency and our partner company, MutualAid eXchange (“MAX”) was presented as a donation to Second Harvest Heartland as part of MAX’s Mutual Aid Ministries Agent Community Grant program.  Second Harvest Heartland is the leading contributor and authority on hunger solutions in the Midwest, partnering with local food banks, Ag surplus programs, produce cooperatives and other non-profit initiatives to serve those who are the most vulnerable – predominantly youth, the elderly, working families and post-secondary students.

President Vickerman and Farm & Personal Lines Sales Director Hickey Volunteering

In addition, the staff and Agents packed 500 boxes of food (or 18,000 pounds) for senior citizens during a two hour shift, which equated to 15,000 meals!

Josh Vickerman has been named the new President and General Manager of the Agency, replacing Rodney Allebach. “Our office staff and Agents enjoy volunteering at the Maplewood location,” Josh said.  “Sorting and distributing food at Second Harvest Heartland is not only a great team building exercise, but it is also an important part of our plan to give back to our community.  Our Agency is pleased to partner with MAX Insurance® and its Agent Community Grant program to make this donation to Second Harvest Heartland possible.”

MNFUIA Staff and Agents Packing Meals for Senior Citizens During Volunteer Shift

Farmers Union Insurance Agency is an Independent Insurance Agency representing MAX Insurance® in St.Paul and throughout Minnesota.  Company partner MAX Insurance®, based in Overland Park, Kansas, is a unique fair, faithful and socially responsible insurance enterprise.  Founded on religious principles, the company’s mission is to restore wholeness to communities and individuals in need.  It lives out its mission through a variety of quality, fairly-priced insurance products, outstanding personalized customer service and its unique Mutual Aid Ministries program.

“MAX is more than an insurance company.  We truly care beyond the contract,” said David Wine, President of MAX and Chief Executive Officer.  “That’s why we are excited to partner with Farmers Union Insurance Agency and help support Second Harvest Heartland in their community.”

MNFUIA Staff and Agents Packing Meals with other Volunteers

Director of Operations Rohde Keller and Director of Commercial Sales Harding joined Agents and other volunteers packing meals during a shift

For more information:

Farmers Union Insurance Agency
Josh Vickerman, President
305 Roselawn Avenue E, Suite 100
St. Paul, MN  55117
email: josh@mnfuia.com
phone: (651) 288-4070
website: www.mnfuia.com

For more information about MAX Insurance® and Mutual Aid Ministries, visit www.maxinsurance.com.  For more information about Second Harvest Heartland, to volunteer or donate, please visit www.2harvest.org.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Your Pet

 

Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. But these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer.  Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws.  To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please take the following cold weather safety tips for pets from experts at the ASPCA:

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin.  Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in between the toes.  Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.  
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth during cold weather.  If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes.  If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.  For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws.  After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals – and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold weather.  Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin.  If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.  
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside in cold weather can help protect from salt and chemical agents.  Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.  Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.  
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats.  Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.  Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.  
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime.  Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and make sure she has plenty of water to drink.  This will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.  A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.  If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed.  In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

You can find more helpful tips on the ASPCA website’s Pet Care Blog, including crucial animal poison control information to protect your furry friends.  Thanks to company partner Foremost for sharing this information.  

Find your local, pet-loving Farmers Union Insurance Agent here!  

Electrical Cord Safety

Know Electrical Cord Safety

In addition to keeping cords out of sight, electrical cords should be kept out from underfoot to prevent tripping. They should always be kept in good condition so they don’t become fire hazards.  Here are some tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Electrical Safety Foundation International on electrical cord safety.

  1. Keep unprotected electrical cords out of the path of foot traffic and furniture to prevent fraying, overheating, and tripping.
  2. Never run an electrical cord under a rug.  The cord won’t be able to release its heat and could lead to a fire.
  3. Don’t leave electrical cords dangling anywhere where they can be pulled down and tripped over.
  4. Make sure there is no crimping or pressure on electrical cords, and don’t force them into small spaces or behind furniture.  Over time this could lead to a breakdown of the cord’s insulation.  When using cord-bundling devices, such as Cable Turtles or plastic spiral wire wrap, avoid cramming too many cords together – keep it loose.
  5. Never use staples or nails to attach electrical cords or cord bundlers to a surface, such as a baseboard or wall.  They could puncture the insulation and create a shock or fire hazard.  
  6. Don’t overload outlets or extension cords with too many appliances, or appliances with too much wattage (space heaters or microwave ovens, for example).  Check the maximum capacity of an extension cord, and make absolutely sure you don’t exceed its rating.
  7. Don’t use an adapter to get an extension cord with a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet.
  8. Don’t plug extension cords together.  Instead, use one long enough for your task.
  9. Don’t use an extension cord to plug in a power strip.  Instead, buy a power strip with a longer electrical cord.
  10. If a cord is hot to the touch, do not use it!

How to Hang Holiday Decorations without Burning Your House Down

The festive season is officially in full swing and that means that lighting displays are, too.  Whether you’re decking the halls with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree or a light show to end all light shows, there are plenty of ways to show your cheer!  But with holiday decorations starting an average of 780 home fires per year, it’s important to keep electrical cord safety in mind while on your hot chocolate-induced caffeine high.  

 

 

“Know Electrical Cord Safety” originally published on RealSimple.com on August 17, 2014, by Sarah Engler.  

“How to Hang Holiday Decorations” originally published December 13, 2019, by Jenna Careri, SaveOnEnergy.com.  

Holiday Fire Safety Facts can be found on the National Fire Protection Association’s website.

Goodbye Fall, Hello Winter Driving Safety

Winter Driving Safety Tips

From the MN Department of Public Safety,

brought to you by Farmers Union Insurance Agency

Another autumn is on the books, and winter is coming on faster than we’d like (for some of us, it has already arrived).  Before the snow begins to fly in earnest, take some time to get brush up on winter driving safety.

Over the past five years in Minnesota, law enforcement officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in almost 80,000 crashes, which led to 214 deaths and 20,761 injuries.  That’s a lot of reasons to remind yourself about how to stay safe on snowy, icy roads.

The bulk of winter driving safety happens before you even get behind the wheel.  Take a few minutes to put together a winter driving kit, including:

  • A scraper/brush
  • Small shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow chain
  • Sand or cat litter (for traction)
  • Blankets
  • Heavy boots
  • Warm clothing
  • Flashlights
  • High-energy foods (chocolate, energy bars)

Once your safety kit is stowed, make sure your cell phone has a full charge, and tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to get there.  Be sure to check road conditions, too – you can do that by calling 511 or visiting www.511.org before you take off (remember, accessing the internet or using your phone while driving a vehicle is illegal now).  And here’s the important part: If the road conditions are too bad and your travel isn’t absolutely necessary, stay home.  If you do need to set out, give yourself plenty of extra time to get there, and carefully clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, hood, roof, headlights, brake lights and turn signals.

While you’re driving, be sure to drive appropriately for the conditions.  In other words, if you need to go slower than the speed limit to stay safe, do so.  Be sure to give plenty of space to the drivers ahead of you – and if it’s a snowplow, give it at least five car lengths.  If it’s snowing or sleeting, turn your headlights on, even if it’s in broad daylight.  Skids can happen quickly, but stay calm.  Ease your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the car to go.

Finally, if you crash, don’t get out of the car.  Dial 911, then grab that emergency kit.  If it’s a particularly bad weather day, it may be a bit before emergency crews can get to you.

If our beautiful summer make winter driving safety strategies go right out of your head, don’t worry.  You’re not alone.  Just take a few minutes to take the proper precautions and remind yourself how to stay safe in the car during our Minnesota winters.

Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for contributing to the content of this blog.  For more helpful tips, check out their blog at https://dps.mn.gov/blog/Pages/default.aspx.

Remember to contact your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent for your auto insurance needs.  Don’t forget, we insure snowmobiles too!

8 Steps to Ensure a Safe Harvest

Tips to help ensure a safe harvest

As fall harvest goes into full swing, farmers need to remember to be safe out in the fields and on the roadways.  Farm safety is always important!

Penn State Cooperative Extension has created a list of eight things farmers should remember to ensure a safe harvest:

1.  Use a rollover protection structure.  Many farmers use older equipment not equipped with a rollover protection structure (ROPS).  Dennis Murphy, Penn State professor of agricultural safety and health, says farmers should always use a tractor equipped with an ROPS when possible.  He says to make sure all guards are properly positioned in order to keep equipment in good condition.

2.  Turn off the machine.  Clogs can happen in the corn harvester.  But if you don’t turn off the machine before taking care of the problem, you could be putting yourself in danger.  Turn off the machine before you need to fix a clog.

3.  Take breaks and get enough sleep.  Farmers will be spending lots of time in the fields these next couple of weeks.  Don’t forget about taking a needed break.

Murphy says farmers should take short breaks throughout the day to get out of the cab and stretch.  He says it is important to stay hydrated, for instance, and eat good snacks and meals throughout the day.  Also, get a good night’s rest.

4.  Properly train workers.  Not everyone is accustomed to working with a combine or other harvesting equipment.  It’s always a good idea to reteach proper safety procedures to prevent accidents and injuries.  Consider the idea of a briefing for your workers, even if it’s only family.

5.  Be careful with young workers.  Family members are crucial to getting work done on the farm, and on some farms those family members can be young.  Murphy says farmers should make sure their young workers are mentally and physically able to do the work.  He also says farmers should provide additional training for young workers and check in often to see how they are doing.

6.  Practice proper lifting.  Some crops require workers to go out and harvest by hand.  So, Murphy says, workers should make multiple trips with lighter loads as this will put less stress on the body.  He says that, when carrying an object, to always hold it as close to your body as possible and lift with your knees rather than your back.

7.  Consider using a hitching system.  During chopping, it is not uncommon to get on and off the tractor to hitch and unhitch wagons.  Murphy says to consider using a hitching system to reduce the number of times you have to get out of the cab.  

He also says to maintain three points of contact when getting out of the cab and to avoid jumping off the tractor or the steps to protect your joints.

8.  Be safe on the roads.  Many farmers harvest fields in heavily populated areas, so be careful on the roads.  This includes putting down the cell phone during transit.  

Murphy says farmers should avoid driving combines, tractors or other pieces of equipment on roads during the busy morning and afternoon rush hours.  He also says to use an escort vehicle, if possible.

Thanks to company partner 40 Square Cooperative Solutions for providing the content of this blog.  For this and other safe harvest practices, check out farmprogress.com

Be sure to check out our website to find information on the insurance services we provide and to connect with an Agent in your area.  Be safe out there!

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Life Insurance

September if Life Insurance Awareness Month

Life Insurance Awareness Month happens every September,and while some people have the notion that this level of protection is a scam, the hard truth remains that it is inevitable that you will eventually die.  Hopefully it won’t be for many years… but it will happen.  It’s intended to assist your loved ones financially when you do pass away, and we feel part of our job as your Trusted Choice® insurance advisor is to educate and inform our clients.  So we gathered some information for you from LifeHappens.org, a free resource for anyone interested in learning more about Life, Disability, or Long Term Care Insurance.


“Life insurance blah blah blah.”  Is that what you hear when someone mentions it as part of your new job’s employee benefits round-up or when you see something about it on TV or social media?  Not to worry: we’ve got the low-down on what you need to know.  And it’s really not as overwhelming (or underwhelming) as you might think.

1.  It’s part of a sound financial plan. 

You know about savings, you know about retirement.  You might know a bit about investments and long-term financial planning for your health and happiness.  And life insurance helps with planning for your loved ones’ long-term health and happiness, especially those who depend on your income, in case something were to happen to you.

2.  There are different kinds.  

In addition to employment-based life insurance (which typically only lasts as long as your employment at your job), there’s term and permanent life insurance.

  • Term: You typically pay lower premiums for term life insurance, but your coverage is just for a specified amount of time, say 20 years, for example.  At the end of the term, your insurance coverage ends.
  • Permanent: With permanent life insurance (whole, universal, variable) you typically pay higher premiums in the short term, but then these policies generally allow you to accumulate cash value over time.  Your coverage is designed to last as long as you continue to pay premiums.

3.  It is surprisingly affordable for most people.

Sure, there are forms of life insurance that get pricier the more features you add on to it, and the price goes up if you’re a smoker or dealing with health problems.  But most people think life insurance costs about three times as much as it really does, according to the Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA.  Just as a general guide, a healthy nonsmoking 30-year-old man can get a $250,000 20-year level term policy for about $16 a month.

4.  Key life events are often the best time to get on board.  

Getting married?  Having kids?  Changing jobs?  Bought a house?  Significant life events are often the time you become the most aware of the need for life insurance – and on that note…

5.  You can change your benefit.  

Perhaps you have a life insurance policy that your parents got for you when you were a baby.  Perhaps you have a term policy from when you bought your house but now you have a bigger family and you’re concerned about getting them all through college.  Or perhaps you want to bump up your coverage because your overall cost of living has changed.  And on *that* note…

6.  You may well need more coverage than you think.

Sometimes people think this policy is to pay off their own debts and funeral expenses.  But a key advantage of having this benefit is to ensure that the people who depend on you will be okay with their ongoing and future financial needs if something happens to you.  Need help figuring out how much?  Go to this online calculator: www.lifehappens.org/howmuch.

7.  The policy benefit pays out quickly.  

Because life insurance doesn’t get tangled up in estate claims, it generally pays out quickly, sometimes in days or weeks, usually inside of a month.

8.  The proceeds are generally tax-free.  

Compare this to, say, crowdfunding options like “GoFundMe” that have become so popular yet create tax consequences for the people they’re meant to help (to say nothing of fees and the lack of guaranteed benefit).

9.  It protects your family, but only if you let it.  

Keep your premiums paid up and your beneficiaries up to date, and the door with your agent open so that your loved ones know who to call if they need to.  Keep your paperwork with your other vital documents.

10.  It can be more than just life insurance.

Using “riders,” or an addendum to a life insurance contract, or even a specific kind of policy, these benefits can become “living benefits,” money you can access before you die, or use to pay for long-term care, as two examples.

If you still need help getting a handle on all this, talk to an agent.  They can help you understand the ins and outs and the best policy for your budget and needs.  Because of course – the most important thing to know about life insurance is that it’s there to help the people you love the most.


Click Here for a special message from actress, model and mother, Brooke Shields, official spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM).

Thanks to LifeHappens.org for the content of this blog, and author Helen Mosher.

Rural Counseling Services

Rural Counseling Services

Farmers often struggle to seek help for themselves.  Many of us were taught to be independent and to “grin and bear it” when tough times come around.  Please do not let your pride stand in the way of getting what you need.  Approaching someone – be it spouse, parent, relative or friend – who needs help can be just as challenging.  What if they do not want help?  How can I even tell for sure if they need help?  Here are some common warning signs from Rob Holcomb, UMN Extension Educator, which may indicate that someone needs a hand or counseling services:

  • They isolate themselves
  • They abruptly sell land/livestock or their equipment/farmstead falls into disrepair
  • Their substance use increases
  • They lack motivation, become less productive, or their mood changes
  • They use statements of hopelessness or giving up
  • Their sleep patterns are altered
  • Their spouse/significant other/children exhibit stress

The most important thing is that if you see something, please say something.  Below is a list of phone lines, websites and other rural counseling services that can be used by farmers and others in rural communities.  And do not underestimate the power of a cup of coffee and a conversation.  Taking five minutes out of your day to call someone may make the difference for a farmers and their family.

Financial Assistance

Remember, you are not alone.  It is not a sign of weakness to receive help or aid from counseling services.  

Thank you to our parent company, Minnesota Farmers Union, and UMN Extension Educator Rob Holcomb for the content of this blog entry.

For a free, comprehensive insurance review of your farm operations, contact one of our local Agents in your area HERE.  

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

With Summer in full swing and the kids out of school, you may be looking forward to cookouts, children playing in the pool or yard, and gatherings of friends and family.  Make sure you and your guests stay safe and happy this Summer by taking steps to keep your home cool and protected from costly damage.  Here are a few Summer Home Maintenance tips to get you started.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 1: Inspect your porch or deck. 

  • The last thing you need is a painful splinter in your toe, or worse!  Carefully inspect your porch or deck supports, floors, stairs, and railings for any damage or hazards that happened over the Winter or Spring.
  • Then, be sure you make repairs before you invite guests over.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 2: Check for water leaks inside and out. 

  • You’ve probably already turned on the water to your outside faucets.  Inspect the pipes and any appliances attached to them to see if there is any sign of leaks inside or outside your home.
  • Pay attention to your water bills, as they can be a good indication of a leak somewhere that’s not obvious, like an underground sprinkler system.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 3: Patch cracks and potholes in the driveway. 

  • Avoid damage to your vehicles by smoothing out your driveway.  You can hire someone to resurface it or patch it yourself if the cracks and holes are small.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 4: Clean your grill before lighting it. 

  • Before you start barbecuing this Summer, give your grill a thorough cleaning, both inside and out.  With the propane tank turned off, remove the briquettes and cooking grates, and carefully detach the gas tubes and burners.  Then, wash the grill with warm, soapy water, dry it with a towel, and reassemble.
  • During the season, take time to burn off the grease on the grates.  This can eliminate unwanted fires.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 5: Cool your home efficiently. 

  • Instead of keeping your air conditioner on full blast all Summer, try lowering the blinds, investing in blackout curtains, closing off unused rooms, and placing a bowl of ice in front of a large fan.
  • If temperatures are too hot upstairs, move to the basement floor.  Be sure to let the cool night air in by putting fans in the window after the sun goes down.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 6: Keep your lawn in good shape. 

  • As a general rule, your lawn needs between one and one and a half inches of water per week.  During the hot Summer months, water your lawn during the last couple hours before sunrise to keep the water from evaporating.  Be sure to follow any city limitations or bans on watering.
  • Sharpen your mower blades to give your grass a clean cut.  This will help it conserve moisture better.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 7:  Trim trees and bushes. 

  • If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, keep your trees and bushes trimmed around your house.
  • Pick up any lawn or garden debris, as it can feed fires.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 8: Inspect your pool. 

  • Before opening your pool to swimmers this Summer, be sure to clean it and balance the chemicals properly.  According to swimuniversity.com, thousands of pool owners end up in the emergency room each year due to poisoning from pool chemicals.  Use safety goggles and extra care when handling your chemicals.
  • Make sure any steps, ladders, railings, slides, and diving boards are in good condition and installed securely.  Make sure your pump and filter are working well, and the pool is brushed and vacuumed often to head off algae problems.
  • Be sure to shock the pool at the beginning of the season to kill all the bacteria and get your water sparkling clean.  After dealing with chemicals in the pool, spray down the pool deck completely.
  • Test all of your pool’s safeguards: gate locks, door alarms, and storage for chemicals.  Set out your rescue and first aid equipment and flotation devices.

Summer Home Maintenance Tip 9: Consider your liability. 

  • Summer is a time for outdoor accidents.  Review your liability insurance policy to make sure you are completely covered for any unfortunate accidents that may happen on your property.
  • Consider additional liability insurance coverage if you own a pool.
  • Your insurance agent can help you decide how much you’ll need, so contact your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent to set up your appointment.  Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!

Thanks to company partner Chubb for contributing to the content of this blog.  Find more helpful resources on their website’s Resources tab.

Grilling Safety Tips

You’ve been waiting all winter to head outdoors and fire up the grill.  Got the burgers and brats?  Check.  Got the propane or charcoal?  Check.  How about the fire extinguisher?  If not, you’re not quite ready.  Barbecuing is fun, but it comes with hazards.  Consider these safety tips for grilling season to keep your home and family safe.  

Create a Dedicated Space

Place your grill outside and away from any structures.  Many homeowners like to use their grill against the side of the house of the garage.  Cooking too close to the home can cause a house fire.  In fact, more than 10,000 grills start home fires each year, and some of these fires are deadly.  Make sure to pull your grill away from any fire hazards.

According to LawnStarter, the average Minnesota backyard is about 8,000 square feet so choose a spot that’s far away from buildings, walkways, and trees.  It’s easy for an awning or tree branch to catch fire, especially when it’s windy.  Consider creating a grilling station set apart from outdoor dining areas.  The area underneath the grill should be stable and free from dry grass or plant life.  Placing your grill on concrete is the best option to keep the grill stable and away from flammable grass.

Clean It Up

Grilling outdoors keeps the mess out of the kitchen, so it’s easy to forget about the spills and grease that could be accumulating underneath.  Make sure your grill is clean before you start it by scraping away any leftover grease or fat.  Empty the grease pan underneath and check for any nests or other flammable material that a bird or critter could have added to the grill.  Cleaning your grill is an essential part of grilling safely.

Know Your Flammables 

Propane and starter fluid are responsible for thousands of grilling accidents each year.  Make sure you’re aware of how to safely start your grill and teach others in the family as well.  Just because the flame goes out does not mean the gas is out.  Many accidents happen when igniting or trying to reignite a fire that has gone out.

Don’t light a gas grill when the lid is closed.  This can cause a dangerous buildup of gas and create a fireball.  If the flame goes out, turn the grill off, wait five minutes before you relight it.  

Charcoal grills are safer… unless you add lighter fluid to coals that are already burning.  The flames can quickly erupt into a fireball, igniting the lighter fluid container and the person holding it.  And never use a charcoal grill in the garage or a closed space.  Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide when it’s burning, sending more than 400 people to the emergency room each year.

Stay Nearby

Grilling involves an open flame that can be dangerous.  Never leave the grill unattended when cooking out.  Flames can get out of hand quickly, which can mean disaster for your home and property.  Homeowners with young children should also be careful to stay nearby to keep little hands from getting burned.  

Be Prepared for Fires

Older grills have a tendency to create more grease fires than newer models.  Make sure you’re always prepared to put out a fire if the flames get out of hand.  Tossing baking soda on a grease fire is one option for extinguishing the flames.  Having a fire extinguisher nearby is better.  Consider storing these items in a permanent station next to the grill.

These grilling safety tips aren’t intended to rain on your outdoor cookout, but to keep you safe while you enjoy the best part of the Spring and Summer.

Content provided by Kathleen Johnson of LawnStarter, who can be reached at (720) 213-8030 or on Facebook

 

Be sure to contact your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent if you do have an unfortunate fire caused by not following these grilling safety tips – we’re here for you, especially when you need us during claim time!