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Give the gift of safety: counsel your clients to have a memorable--and safe--holiday season with these simple precautions.

As insurance agents tasked with protecting people and property, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to give your clients sound risk management advice.


There is a greater use of candles during this time of year, whether it's part of a religious ritual or for decorating the home--in the window or as a centerpiece at the dinner table.

Remembering some safety tips can make the difference between a warm memory or a frightening event. In my home, when we light the Chanukah candles, we always do it in the kitchen and put them in the sink. This way, if a curious cat happens to knock the candles over, the wet sink will extinguish them. We also use a battery-operated menorah.


Long, tapered candles can sometimes be top heavy and counseling clients to melt a little wax in the holder will help keep them steady and locked in place. Of course there are rubber gaskets your clients can buy that also make sure the candle is snug in its place. Finally, have your clients make a habit of blowing out the candles before going out or going to sleep.

Candles aren't the only source of holiday fire hazards. Overloading electrical outlets and the use of an abundance of extension cords can also spark a blaze. Give your insurance clients these tips for preventing electrical fires:

* Don't try to bypass the capacity of an outlet by plugging power strips into power strips into the outlet. Although the circuit breakers should trip and avert the hazard, why take the chance?

* If you do use extension cords, be sure the cord doesn't get tucked under a rug or cross a highly trafficked area. Depending on the rating of the extension cord and what you have plugged into it, the cord itself can get very hot. In the wrong place, that heat can easily start a fire.

* Make sure to use only extension cords marked for "Outdoor Use" for exterior needs.

* Have a fire extinguisher--for both safety as well as policy discounts--in the kitchen. For a few dollars now, they can prevent a much more expensive loss later.


What also comes with celebrations? Drinking. Whether your clients have people over to their houses or if they go out to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve, having a designated driver can save them from a host of trouble. That goes for your guests, too; hosts can be held liable should someone leave his or her party intoxicated and cause an accident.

With holiday parties come the potential for slips and falls, so tell clients to keep passageways clear, have enough places for people to sit, and place the food and drinks in areas to keep the traffic flowing and not bottlenecked.

I focused on this topic not to change anyone's enjoyment of the holidays but because I believe part of your job as the insurance agent is being a risk manager, too, which is often best done through increasing awareness and education. The best way you can show that you care is by making sure your clients have a happy and safe holiday season.

And may you and yours have a happy and safe holiday season too.

Don't Overlook Wrapping Paper

I loved December as a kid. My birthday is Dec. 3, and my family celebrated both Chanukah and Christmas. For me, December was one long month of opening lots of presents. What comes with presents? Wrapping paper--lots of wrapping paper. We would light a fire in the fireplace and open presents. That can be a dangerous combination!

Rick Gilman, APR, CMP


Rick Gilman is executive director of the Personal Lines Growth Alliance. Contact him at
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Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Gilman, Rick
Publication:Property Casualty 360-National Underwriter
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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