Oklahoma’s Burn Ban Grows

Over the past few weeks, there have been an increasing amount of grass fires sweeping across parts of Oklahoma. With only minimal chances of precipitation later in the week, counties all over the State are being placed under a burn ban. Yesterday morning KOTV, News Channel Six, posted a list of 20 counties including Creek, Payne, and Rogers that have all been placed under a burn ban. At around 2:30 Monday afternoon, the article was updated to also include Okmulgee County. If you are caught violating the burn ban that has been put into place you will receive a minimum of a $500 fine.

The growing list comes after another large grass fire caused a power outage in Inola on Sunday evening. Firefighters believe the fire started after the wind knocked down a power line causing it to spark and ignite. The wind only served to spread the fire at a rapid pace. According to Fox 23, who spoke with Inola Firefighters, the fire began around 10 p.m. At one point, the fire stretched over 2 ½ miles wide, burning acres and acres of land. Although no homes were damaged by the grass fire, most of Inola Citizens were left without power from Sunday into Monday. The Inola School Superintendent was forced to call off school on Monday simply due to the power outage.

I am sure that everyone is well aware of the lack of rain and high winds lately, but I am not sure that people understand exactly how quickly these fires take off. A few weeks ago (prior to any burn bans) I wanted to clean up the limbs in my yard from the snow and ice storms. It was going to be nice out, and since the ground was still wet from snow and ice earlier in the week I figured I would not have to worry about catching the entire yard on fire. Well, I was right about one thing, it was wet. It was so wet I may have used an excessive amount of lighter fluid to get my fire started. Eventually I had a small fire. After a while I noticed small areas of my grass catching on fire. I could not believe it! Even with all the moisture we had recently received, the grass dried out and burned quicker than all the twigs and limbs I stacked.

We encourage everyone to be diligent when working outside with anything that could create a spark. I understand that individuals who are welders or electricians encounter these problems daily, but just be aware of your surroundings. For a complete list of counties under the burn ban check out: http://www.newson6.com/story/24555522/another-oklahoma-county-adopts-burn-ban

Channing Spence

October is National Fire Prevention Month

http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week

Each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually. Home fires can be prevented!

To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won’t have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.
Information Provided By: http://www.ready.gov/fires

It is extreamly important that everyone in your household knows what to do in the event of a fire emergency, make sure that you draw a floor plan and have at least two ways of escaping from every room in the house.

Make sure to test windows and doors, making sure they open easy enough that everyone in the home can open them.

Have a meeting place outside the home, that everyone meets once out of harms way.

Practice your escape plan monthly with the entire family, so everyone is clear on where to go and how to get there.

Teach childeren not to hide from fire fighters.

Test smoke alarms monthly.

Replace smoke alarms every 8-10 years.

Information Provided By: http://www.firesafetytips.com/

To Prevent a House Fire:

Cooking
•Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
•Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
•Do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
•Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove.
•Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Blog fire

Smoking
•If you smoke, smoke outside. Most home fires caused by smoking materials start inside the home. Put your cigarettes out in a can filled with sand.
•Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. The cigarette really needs to be completely stubbed out in an ashtray. Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
•Check for cigarette butts. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast. Don’t put ashtrays on them. If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions.
•Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
•Be alert – don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.

Electrical and Appliance Safety
•Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
•Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
•If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
•Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
•Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Portable Space Heaters
•Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
•Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
•Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
•Check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community.
•Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves
•Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
•Never burn trash, paper, or green wood.
•Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
•Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
•Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Children
•Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
•Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
•Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately.
•Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
•Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.

More Prevention Tips
•Avoid using lighted candles.
•Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
•Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.
•Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
•Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.

Information Provided By: http://www.ready.gov/fires

Fire Truck Blog

Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

Although insurance cannot do anything to ensure your love and dreams are fulfilled, it can ensure that they are not crushed when disaster strikes. Oklahoma has had its share of catastrophes the last few years – tornadoes, ice and snow storms, earthquakes, hail damage, and most recently, massive wildfires.

Many Oklahomans have lost their homes and all of their belongings and are without insurance to replace their possessions. With Oklahoma’s increasing disasters, homeowners and/or renters insurance is extremely important.

One of the questions I get asked the most when writing an Oklahoma Home Insurance is, “Why are you putting that much coverage on my home when I could only sell it for half of that? It’s too much coverage!” This is something I hear on an almost daily basis – and a great question!

The answer is that I am covering your home on a replacement cost basis – the amount of coverage it would take to rebuild the home with the same like, kind, and quality of home and at the same location as your current home.

There are several factors that are considered in figuring the replacement cost of a home – how big the home is, how many bathrooms, the quality of the kitchen and bathrooms, the materials used to build the home, attached garages and/or carports, the type of foundation the home is built on, and any attached porches, decks, or patios.

The amount you would be able to sell the home for is called the actual cash value or market value of the home. You can take the exact same house and put them in two different neighborhoods – one neighborhood is a gated community on the golf course and the other neighborhood is the “enter at your own risk” kind of neighborhood. The house on the golf course would easily sell at a higher price than the house in the sketchy part of town. This is the market value of the home. However, if both of these homes were completely destroyed, it would cost essentially the same amount to rebuild each house.

Fireworks in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Each year, the Fourth of July rolls around and I look forward to it every year. It’s not just about spending time with family and friends, enjoying the hot weather of July, or grilling out and eating some good American food (or in our case, ordering some pizza), or even watching an amazing fireworks show or two.  It’s a chance to celebrate our nation, the great United States of America, and our freedom.  Every time I hear our national anthem, I get goosebumps. I realize what those before us and those right now have had to sacrifice so we could become “one nation under God.” It’s a humbling moment for me.

This year, we enjoyed several fireworks shows, Rockets Over Rhema in Broken Arrow on Sunday, the Kiefer Fireworks Show in the small town of Kiefer, Oklahoma on Tuesday, and my personal favorite,  2012 ONEOK FreedomFest in Tulsa on Wednesday.  Each show was amazing, but there is something about going to Riverside and watching a spectacular show (minus the awful year they caught fire and there was no show at all). I love it! The grand finale was absolutely breathetaking. If you missed the FreedomFest show or would like to see it for yourself, click here.

Too many times, I think we (myself included) take for granted all the wonderful things and opportunities we have in America.  Yes, our nation is slowing making a comeback from an economy slump, but take into a count what you do have. Be grateful for the little things, the small things that can get over looked. Why focus on what you don’t have, you’ll end up missing out what you do have.

Fires can happen quickly and without notice. However, sometimes lighting some amazing fireworks can help that fire get started just a little bit quicker. There were many fires in our area last night. The Tulsa Fire Department was definitely busy! I’m sure there were people that witnessed fires in their neighborhood, their backyard, or even their home. Tragedy may have struck their home, and I just  hope they had an Oklahoma Homeowner’s policy to help cover their expenses and loss. And God forbid, if someone was injured while shooting off fireworks, my first thought is did they have a Health Insurance policy in place in case of an injury? Maybe other people don’t think those questions; maybe I do because I’ve worked in insurance for many years. Either way, I hope this morning starts the day with people getting restored back to where they were before the loss occurred. And it begins with having the right insurance in place long before an incident happens.

Colorado Fires and Oklahoma Homeowner’s Insurance

Right now, many of our fellow Americans are struggling with something we all dread. Their home being destroyed and there isn’t a thing they can do to stop it. Right now, in Colorado the fires rage on and on consuming everything in its path and leaving nothing behind but ashes. All those families are now without homes and many of their possessions.  How scary would it be to wake up one morning and you’re told to pack an emergency kit. You have to go through your house and pick what you would take with you and what you would leave behind. It’s just stuff but it all means something to you. How can you choose just a few items? If you were in this situation, what would you do?

Thankfully, many of us can say we have an Oklahoma Homeowner’s policy. The standard home policy automatically covers fire. If you were in the situation on our Colorado neighbors, your homeowner’s policy would cover the damages, minus your deductible of course. All your possessions in your home would be covered as well. Now keep in mind, there are exceptions and rules to certain items in your house like jewelry, fine art, guns, cash, and furs. These items if you have them in excess or quite a bit of high valued items, it is highly recommended that you speak with your insurance agent about “scheduling your property.”

What is “scheduling your property?” All that means is if you have more than $1500 to $2500 in value of any of these items, unless you list them specifically on your policy, chances are the insurance will not pay you what they are worth in some cases. Rather, the company will lump all of the items together, and give you a very miniscule amount for all of them.  Example, my husband has ten rare old guns in a glass case in his office at our home. We never really mention it to our agent, other than yes we have some guns in our house. If these guns are not listed out on our homeowner’s insurance policy and someone breaks into our home and steals them, the insurance will only pay us $1500 for all ten guns. However, if our home is destroyed by a fire, the guns would be covered for full value with documentation proving their worth.  In order to make sure you have the best coverage, it is always best to schedule your property on your Homeowner’s policy. Sorry, a little side note.

If your home was totally destroyed, how would you remember what you had and owned? I recommend using a video camera and filming everything you own. You can also take photos as well. Once you have finished this major project, keep the photos or video in a safe place not located inside your home. This way, should you lose your home, you have an easy way to remember what you owned and the adjustor can see everything as well. As stressful of a time as it would be to lose everything you owned, it would be so nice to already have a way to show what you owned instead of having to sit down and remember it all and make a list when you’re not in your right state of mind.

Let’s remember to keep the people living in Colorado in our thoughts and prayers. I personally have most of my relatives living in that area. I know they would appreciate your prayers.

So if you lost everything in a fire, would you have an Oklahoma Homeowner’s policy in place to cover what you lost? Just something to think about…

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

Whether you are dreaming of a white Christmas, rockin’ around the Christmas tree, enjoying the eggnog, or just absorbing the glow of the holiday season, we want to make sure that you and your families are as safe as possible during the most wonderful time of the year.

Each year fires occurring during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage, according to the United States Fire Administration.

Here are some suggestions to help prevent injury to yourself and prevent fire at your house (don’t want to have a claim on your homeowners’ policy right before the holidays!):

  1. Many artificial trees are fire-resistive. Check the label before buying.
  2. If you buy a real tree, make sure it is fresh. Older, drier trees are more likely to catch fire.
  3. Make sure the tree is not near any heat source – fireplace, heaters or heat vents, candles, or lights.
  4. Turn the lights off at night.
  5. Make sure your smoke detectors are working and have fresh batteries.

Most importantly, have a very Merry Christmas!

Who Ya Gonna Call… Ghost Busters???

Parents, it’s that time of year again, to gear up and get those college kids into school.

Ahhh, to be the parent of a college student………

You know the all grown up, independent adult that is perfectly capable of making decisions without your advice. They magically obtained all the answers as soon as the clock struck midnight on their 18th birthday, and they just can’t wait to move out on their own. Well, their version of out on their own anyway.

They have spent the summer plotting and planning on where to go to school, what classes to take, and where to live; apartment vs. dorm…….hmmm decisions, decisions. And the winner is…….apartment, because that would be soooo cool dude. Yet, all these machinations didn’t really include a way to finance this little independent adventure.

Teenagers put little thought into declining job markets, rental lease agreements, security deposits, cost of furniture, monthly utility bills, grocery bills, etc. And they put even less thought into exactly how much of those expenses a part-time minimum wage job will actually pay for. Those things aren’t a reality………yet.

So, it’s the beginning of August, school starts in two weeks and the apartment hunting has begun but…………(drum roll please)…………..the landlord wants the first and last month’s rent in advance, the utility companies want a security deposit, no one has called back for a job interview, there’s no furniture to sit on and no plates to eat off of, heck, there’s not even any food to eat. Things just got very real!

We parents have just sat back and watched our omnipotent little teenagers plot and plan away, missing just about every detail in the book. What the kids don’t realize is that we have spent years getting ready for this moment. Savings plans for tuition and housing and stockpiling old furniture and household necessities. Here you go kids…..problem solved…..go get yourselves a higher education.

If only it ended there. After we get them all set up and safely tucked away at school, effectively depleting our savings accounts in the process, real life strikes again. It’s an unfortunate reality that college campuses and the surrounding housing complexes have some of the highest statistics for theft.

So, when someone breaks in while the kids are at that 9 p.m. freshman orientation class and cleans out just about everything in the apartment worth a dime because they were late for class and forgot to lock the door……….who are they gonna call?

I’ll be willing to bet you a Benjamin Franklin that it won’t be the Ghost Busters.

Mom and Dad, you’re up……again.

After depleting the savings account just getting them out the door, don’t get caught trying to finance their life lessons right along with their college education. A simple and inexpensive Oklahoma renter’s insurance policy will make sure that those stolen items are replaced without you having to take a second mortgage out on the house.

This policy will also cover anyone who may inadvertently get injured in the apartment during that ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ party that you told them sounded like fun but probably wasn’t the best idea.

Visit our website today and let us put together a policy that will protect your teenager’s as well as your pocket book.