COLUMBUS, Ohio– Holiday vacations, cookouts, parties, fireworks and boating are all common Independence Day activities that carry costly risks. AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency offers advice to avoid common mishaps while celebrating this 4th of July.
1- Theft During Holiday Travel
AAA expects the second highest Independence Day holiday travel volume on record (third highest in Ohio) this year. As many head out for the first time in more than a year, they leave their homes and belongings susceptible to thieves. AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency recommends travelers:
.Avoid the social media temptation: Posting a photo while on the beach or enjoying a popular destination simply lets everyone know you aren’t home. Instead, post about the vacation afterward.
.Make your house look lived in: Stop mail and newspapers, arrange for lawn care and put lights on timers. These can all help throw off would-be thieves, by making them think someone is home. You can also install cameras to monitor your home while away.
.Notify the right people: If you have an alarm, let the alarm company know how long you will be gone. You can also let your local police department know, and ask them to periodically check on the home. A trusted neighbor can also help keep an eye out for you.
.Secure belongings on the road: Always keep car doors locked, windows closed and keys out of the vehicle. Don’t leave valuable items in the vehicle, and beware of what you leave in hotel rooms. Use the provided safe whenever possible.
In most cases, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies protect personal property anywhere in the world; it’s limited and a deductible may apply. It’s very important to speak with your insurance agent before leaving on vacation, so you know exactly what’s covered.
2- Impaired Driving
About 28 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s one person every 52 minutes. To prevent impaired driving this holiday, Ohioans should:
.Plan ahead: Designate a sober driver, or call a cab or ride-sharing service.
.Host responsibly: Serve non-alcoholic drinks and be aware that Ohio’s host liability law holds those who serve alcohol liable if their drunken guests are involved in a crash on the way home. Homeowners’ insurance policies may cover this liability, but it can be avoided by making sure nobody drives home drunk.
3- Grill Fires
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, some 5,700 grill fires take place on residential properties every year. Most are caused by malfunctioning gas grills. These fires cause an average of $37 million in damage annually, and send thousands to the emergency room with burns. When grilling at a park or at home, remember:
.Place your grill at least 10 feet away from walls or tents
.Keep a fire extinguisher nearby
.Never leave a grill burning unattended
.Clean grease from the grill and grill trays
.Cook food thoroughly
If a grill fire occurs, a standard homeowners’ insurance policy will typically cover the damage. The liability portion of the policy will also cover any burns or food-borne illnesses suffered by your guests. If a hot grill catches your vehicle on fire, the comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy can help cover the damage. More information and additional tips are available at: https://insights.ohio.aaa.com/dont-get-burned-by-barbecue-accidents/
4- Fireworks Injuries
Ohio law requires a license to discharge large fireworks, but sparklers and smoke bombs, which are legal in Ohio, can still cause damage or injury if not used responsibly.
“Nearly one-third of all firework injuries are related to sparklers,” said Ed Conley, director, Insurance Operations at AAA Ohio Auto Club. “While they won’t be the most exciting display you’ll see over the holiday, it’s important to take steps to minimize your risk while using them.”
AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency recommends Ohioans:
.Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks. If you’re unsure, check the Ohio Revised Code: https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-3743
.Supervise all children with fireworks. Children under the age of 15 account for nearly 40% of fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
.Protect your home. Light fireworks in a safe area, away from any structures. Look out for tree limbs, bushes or dry grasses that could catch fire.
.Fully extinguish fireworks. Keep a water bucket or hose nearby, and never place hot fireworks in a trash can. Allow used fireworks to soak in a bucket of water overnight.
More information and tips are available at: https://insights.ohio.aaa.com/fireworks-safety/
5- Boating Accidents
“If you’ll be enjoying Independence Day on the water, safety is key,” said Conley. “Taking a few extra steps before you head out can ensure your day on the lake goes off with a bang.”
.Don’t drink and boat: Just like in your car, drinking alcohol while operating a boat is extremely dangerous and could result in harming yourself or others. Having a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit while driving a boat is also considered a federal offense with hefty penalties.
.Check all lights: If you plan to be out after the sun goes down, it’s critical that others can see you.
.Carry proper supplies: Make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board, and remember, all children under the age of 13 are required to wear them on the water. Also pack a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, tool kit, flashlight and a phone or radio for communication purposes.
.Have proper registration and certificate: If you’re operating a boat powered by more than 10 horsepower in Ohio and you were born after 1982, you’re required to obtain an education certificate.
.Have proper insurance: Make sure your insurance policy is up to date and you have the right policy for your watercraft. If you’re unsure, talk with your insurance agent before hitting the lake.
Additional boat safety information is available at: https://insights.ohio.aaa.com/boat-safety-checklist/